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2002.02.22 ROCOR: STATEMENT

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia http://www.rocor.org/letters/2002-02-22--synod-statement-re.html#e ... STATEMENT from the Office of the Chancery of
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 1, 2002
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      Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia

      http://www.rocor.org/letters/2002-02-22--synod-statement-re.html#e
      ------------------------------------------------------------------------

      STATEMENT

      from the Office of the Chancery of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian
      Orthodox Church Abroad


      During recent months, the Synod of Bishops has become the object of
      persistent and severe attacks from those who call themselves zealots and
      protectors of His Eminence Metropolitan Vitaly from so-called "Synodal
      pretensions." They endlessly repeat that the Synod of Bishops allegedly
      "strives to seize the personal property and money of Metropolitan Vitaly
      that he had put aside for his old age." The regrettable disingenuity of
      these accusations ought to be, it would seem, clear to all church-minded
      servants of God. For if one allows that the retired Metropolitan Vitaly
      "set aside" Church property registered in his own name, donated by
      God-fearing people, then his false-defenders implicate the elder bishop in
      a grievous crime. Moreover, according to Sacred Canons, if a bishop,
      abiding in his place of service, received any money or property, he must
      absolutely return it to his Church. Otherwise he will be regarded a thief
      of ecclesiastical property. It can be supposed that these zealots are not
      well-versed in Sacred Canons, but it is impossible to imagine that
      Metropolitan Vitaly did not know them. When under past circumstances
      donations and bequests left by generous lovers of God of good memory
      intended solely to serve the needs of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside
      of Russia were registered in the name of Vladyka Vitaly, he clearly could
      not imagine that he could "put aside for his old age" this church property
      given to him for preservation. The truth, diligently hidden from naive and
      bewildered people is that the grave infirmities suffered by the
      elder-Metropolitan unfortunately render him incapable of acting
      independently. This fact is being taken advantage of by those who are
      possessed by pride, who have lost the ability to reason, who are tempted by
      status. Still, we hope that they simply do not see what they do, for their
      insane deeds are being directed in turn by those, unseen by them, who are
      the original enemies of the Lord, coldly plunging our Church into the abyss
      of schism, hoping to deal a final blow at the pastors and scatter the flock
      of Christ.

      The Synod of Bishops has already twice stated its attitude towards the
      regrettable events of November 9/22 in Mansonville, recognizing that any
      violence in connection with Metropolitan Vitaly is inadmissible. The Synod
      also has decided temporarily to divide the Canadian Diocese into two parts:
      Eastern and Western. The Western half is under the care of Bishop Kyrill of
      Western America and San Francisco, and custody of the Eastern portion is
      entrusted to Bishop to Gabriel of Manhattan. But we will follow the ancient
      rule: "May the other side be heard." It is necessary to take into account
      that the events of that day in many respects could have resulted from the
      provocation of ill-intentioned individuals. This is what was said in the
      Statement from the Office of the Canadian Diocese at the time (quoted in
      part): "Already at the entrance [to the Monastery] Bishop Michael was
      prevented from approaching Metropolitan Vitaly in every possible way.
      Nevertheless, he managed to do so, and the Metropolitan agreed to the
      expressed desire to a private conversation. They intended to set off to the
      Metropolitan's chambers. But this was prevented by Fr. Vladimir
      (Tselistchev), who asked the Metropolitan to bless him to accompany him
      with Sergei Agu, bearing a videocamera, and with Fr. Sergius (Kindjakov).
      For this reason, a portion of the conversation in the Metropolitan's
      chambers was conducted in their presence. Bp. Michael and Fr. Pavel
      Iwasjewicz spent only about fifteen minutes [alone] with him. In the course
      of the conversation with Vladyka Metropolitan, in response to his question
      as to what was happening, Bp. Michael said that despite the Metropolitan's
      own announcements of his retirement, those surrounding Vladyka Vitaly
      placed him at the head of some parallel church structure in exile. All this
      had created a schism and conflict. Bp. Michael also offered to Vladyka
      Metropolitan to go with him to the Synod, where they could go immediately.
      The Metropolitan agreed to this. He donned his skufia and, with the help of
      those around him, the coat of Fr. Pavel Iwasjewicz. But as soon as Vladyka
      Metropolitan, Bishop Michael and Fr. Pavel Iwasjewicz left the room, they
      were literally beset by a crowd. The Metropolitan was shoved also, and,
      tripping, he fell. Passions reached their climax near the car, and Bishop
      Michael was struck hard in the face, which caused injury to his eye. Still,
      he was able to sit inside the car next to the Metropolitan. At this time
      the police arrived and prevented the visitors from leaving. Negotiations
      lasted about an hour. Then word arrived that the court received an appeal
      of the other side, which was accepted for consideration."

      In publishing the present statement, the Synod of Bishops in no way wishes
      to prolong the conflict, but again and again calls for everyone to come to
      their senses and to turn to the Lord with the words of the Psalm-singer:
      "Show me the way, Lord, and I will follow."

      In order to prevent the theft of church property entrusted to him by the
      Church Canons, the Synod of Bishops was forced, against its wishes, to turn
      to the civil authorities. This does not mean that we are involving them in
      internal church troubles, for the false-protectors themselves have publicly
      stated that they left our Church. We also categorically deny accusations
      that allegedly "the Synod is suing the Metropolitan." This is not so,
      brothers and sisters. In seeking to protect Church property, which belongs
      to the whole Church, intended only for the needs of Church life, at the
      same time we hope to protect our beloved elder-Metropolitan from being
      included among the thieves of this property. As was already stated many
      times, we would be happy to receive Vladyka Vitaly in the United States. We
      would do everything humanly possible to provide him with care and attention
      suitable to his rank, his years and his service to the Church. Should His
      Eminence Vladyka Metropolitan so desire, he could of course stay in
      Mansonville. But then let the above-mentioned individuals not separate him
      from the other bishops, his long-time spiritual friends and colleagues. To
      our great sorrow, those who are in fact holding Metropolitan Vitaly
      captive, possessed by unrighteous fury which has made them alien to the
      Church, are prepared to take any steps to achieve their goals. But "Ye ask,
      and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your
      lusts." (James 4:3) To those who as a result of confusion or bewilderment
      have found themselves among these people, we turn your attention to other
      words of the Apostle: "For he that will love life, and see good days, let
      him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile."
      (1 Peter 3:10)

      +Bishop GABRIEL
      Secretary
      Synod of Bishops

      February 9/22, 2002
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