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Part 2: Discord as a "Preventive" Measure within the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad

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  • Fr. John Whiteford
    http://www.stjohndc.org/official/0109g.htm The decision of the Bishops of the Church Abroad, made at their October 2000 Council, to establish a committee to
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 2, 2001

      The decision of the Bishops of the Church Abroad, made
      at their October 2000 Council, to establish a
      committee to study the questions of unity of the
      Russian Church have evoked discord. In the following
      article, Michael Nazarov, one of the most serious
      Orthodox journalists of the Russian Diaspora addresses
      the question �What paths truly lead to unity of the
      Russian Church?�. While we cannot agree with all of
      Mr. Nazarov�s contentions, there is no question that
      he has clearly presented the positions of those who
      favor dialogue with the Moscow Patriarchate. The
      article was translated into English by Isaac. E.

      3. The Psychology of the �Right-Wing Protesters�

      In the foregoing we have already noted several vexing
      errors in the documents of the Council of Bishops
      Abroad. But by the same token practically nothing is
      said in them of the dangerous global background,
      against which alone is it possible to assess reliably
      what is happening in Russia: the New World Order
      rapidly developing as the kingdom of the Antichrist.
      Let us remember that in the epistle of the Council of
      Bishops of the ROCA in May of 1993, the following was
      said of this:

      �We distinctly sense in the modern world the activity
      of a system of evil, which controls social opinion and
      co�rdinates actions for the annihilation of Orthodox
      Christianity and nationally stable nations; the
      present, destructive torrent of the freedom of sin is
      directed into Russia by a worldwide center of evil.�
      (Orthodox Russia, #11, 1993)

      Of course, the omission of any mention of this in the
      documents of the Council of 2000 does not mean that
      the bishops of the ROCA have now repudiated such a
      view of the modern world; but among some it may create
      the impression that the last Council was excessively
      optimistic against the background of an increasingly
      coalescing universal apostasy. Herein, apparently, is
      one of the latent psychological reasons for the
      protests of the right-wing.

      Considerable criticism of this sort was elicited by
      the above-quoted letter of the Council of Bishops of
      the ROCA to the Patriarch of Serbia, with its request
      to aid a �spiritual rapprochement� with the MP. It is
      difficult for us to judge whether such an intermediary
      can help in the removal of the obstacles to
      unification described above.

      But reproaches in this spirit (viz. that the Serbs are
      �ecumenists,� and for this reason the ROCA �has fallen
      under its own anathema against ecumenism�) are hardly
      justified. Such specialists in the passage of death
      sentences on whole Churches and in the distribution of
      grace are reminded of the following:

      Firstly, the anathema against ecumenism adopted by the
      ROCA in 1983, as Metropolitan Philaret explained it,
      applies to active ecumenists: it does not signify the
      rejection of Orthodox Local Churches, taking into
      consideration the healthy powers in their midst.
      Metropolitan Vitaly, in his Christmas epistle in 1986,
      explained further:

      �At the present time, the majority of the local
      Churches are shaken throughout their entire organism
      by a terrible twofold blow: the New Calendar and
      ecumenism. However, given their woeful state we do
      not dare (and may the Lord save us from this!) to say
      that they have lost the grace of God. We have
      pronounced the anathema against ecumenism for the
      children of our Church only, yet by this we very
      modestly but firmly, gently but decisively, as it were
      inviting the local Churches to reconsider. We, de
      facto, do not concelebrate with New Calendarists or
      with ecumenists, but if any of our clergy, by
      economia, offend by concelebrating, the bare fact of
      this has no effect upon our standing in the Truth.�
      (Orthodox Russia, #1, 1987).

      Secondly, in the 20th century the ROCA never ceased to
      concelebrate with the Church of Serbia even during
      Communist times, and this [concelebration] was an
      important and courageous support on the part of our
      Orthodox brethren, which permitted the ROCA to remain
      in canonical fellowship with the Orthodox world,
      despite all of its sins, sicknesses and shortcomings.
      It also permitted us to be, if only to a certain
      degree, the touchstone of true orthodoxy for that
      world. As regards the shortcomings of the Church of
      Serbia, in it, as in the majority of local Churches,
      the ROCA has always distinguished various wings: that
      inclined toward ecumenism and that opposed to it.
      Thus, the previous Patriarch of Serbia was more
      inclined toward ecumenism than the present Patriarch.
      So why at this point in time has the ROCA �fallen
      under its own anathema?�

      True, lately a number of Serbian bishops have
      participated in �conversations� with the heterodox,
      hoping for the support of Western Christians to
      counter the aggressions of NATO (about half of the
      populations of the Western countries did not approve
      of it). It is possible that some bishops were present
      at Catholic services (photographs have been cited as
      evidence, but this does not imply that joint prayer
      took place; here precise facts are necessary).
      However, it is scarcely possible to apply the conduct
      of such hierarchs to the whole Church of Serbia, which
      has never officially acknowledged ecumenical services.

      Not long ago, Archbishop Mark of Berlin & Germany
      visited Serbia and there posed a direct question about
      �the turmoil which has arisen in the flock because of
      such conversations� by the Serbs with Catholics. To
      this, the Serbian Bishop Ireneje of Bachko said that
      �the faithful and clergy must trust their hierarchs.
      The hierarchy is acting according to its Orthodox
      conscience. The Serbian Orthodox Church participates
      in these ecumenical measures because the heterodox are
      turning to it with questions, and the Serbian Orthodox
      Church considers it improper to refuse to answer them.
      The Serbian Orthodox Church is doing this while
      cognizant of its responsibility for the return to the
      bosom of the Church of those who have fallen away from
      unity with it.� (One should take into account in
      particular that the Yugoslav nation is divided into
      Catholic and Orthodox, all of whom speak the same
      language.) But the Serbian Orthodox Church cannot
      conceive of the unity of the Church in any other way
      than within the framework of Orthodoxy alone. The
      Serbian Orthodox Church does not participate in any
      joint services and does not compromise the purity of
      Orthodoxy� (Herald of the German Diocese [of the
      ROCA], #2, 2001). More characteristic of the Church
      of Serbia, Archbishop Mark is convinced, is the legacy
      of St. Justin (Popovich) of Serbia, one of whose
      disciples Vladyka Mark is himself. It is on just this
      basis that his fellowship with the Serbs proceeds
      (basically with other disciples of St. Justin who have
      become bishops: Metropolitan Amfilokhije (Radovich) of
      Montenegro, Bishops Afanasije (Evtich) of Bosnia &
      Herzegovina, Ireneje (Bulovich) of Novi-Sad, Artemije
      of Kosovo. Three years ago the latter tried to
      engineer the withdrawal of the Church of Serbia from
      the World Council of Churches. If such Serbian
      hierarchs mediated in the establishment of contacts
      between the ROCA and the more welcoming circles of the
      MP, this might prove beneficial to all of Orthodoxy.
      Here what is spoken of is the looked-for �spiritual
      unity� (sensing ourselves to be parts of the one
      eucharistic body of the Church, without accusations of
      �the Karlovci Schism,� etc.), and not of
      administrative unity with the MP, which is a
      distinction that many critics do not make when
      discussing the given problem.

      Among those who do not agree with the documents of the
      Council Abroad there are, of course, no few respected
      persons possessed of a sincere fear of God. The
      situation developing in the world is spurring them on
      to a certain zeal (preventive, forestalling an
      abandonment of the Truth which, in their
      understanding, is capable of being perverted. They
      belong to the stauncher members of the ROCA, as the
      dismayed clergy in Omsk emphasized (Fr. Basil Sevel�ev
      and others, who were later satisfied with the
      explanations of their bishop). But one cannot fail to
      see that on the whole people of another type provoked
      this disturbance long ago and are deepening it from
      two sides.

      On the one side are those unfamiliar with the concepts
      of Church discipline and who have �zeal without
      knowledge,� and on the other are those (both in the
      diaspora and in Russia) who have simply found a
      convenient opportunity to display their own
      �uncompromising Orthodoxy.� In the diaspora, such
      persons often wash their hands of the Russian Orthodox
      people, which they do not know and do not distinguish
      from the leadership of the Patriarchate; any sense of
      love for [the Russian people] is foreign to them; they
      see in Russia a �religious desert;� they would like
      not changes in the �black-and-white� status quo which
      has developed, and with which they have become quite
      comfortable living in their own countries, doing
      nothing for their former homeland.

      In Russia itself several �protesters� of the
      jurisdiction of the Church Abroad, with the ardor of
      neophytes, now want to be �more royalist than the
      king� and, whether intentionally or not, are
      exacerbating the situation (firstly counting on praise
      and help from the emigr�s, as well as on their own
      immigration in the character of a �zealot;� and in the
      latter case the indiscriminate denigration of the
      Church in Russia is often employed to justify one�s
      own flight therefrom). Others, on the contrary,
      sensing themselves abandoned by the diaspora (in this
      they are often right, the moreso in that this
      important question was to all intents and purposes not
      discussed at the Council Abroad), are keenly and
      suspiciously afraid that things will improve for their
      own parishes, which will turn out to be �offered up as
      sacrifices� to the powers that be in the Patriarchate.
      And in general, for those who have left the MP it
      will be psychologically very difficult to return
      (under the omophoria of those hierarchs whom they were
      forced to because of their transgressions?). Hence,
      such an opposition to the very idea of uniting even in
      the future. And now it seems that the end of the
      world would be greeted more warmly by certain
      �protesters.� Hence also the disbelief in the
      possibility of any healing of the �utterly perverted�
      MP, and even the censure of those who are trying to do
      something to aid in its cure.

      On the other hand, dissension is being provoked by
      malicious forces who are spreading misinformation and
      inciting the ardor of the rebels, so as to divide and
      weaken the Church Abroad. For this reason,
      unfortunately, the partial rightness of the
      �right-wing protesters� is drowning in a sea of the
      exaggerated accusations, false conjectures and simply
      provocative rumors being spread by opponents of the
      ROCA and the enemies of Orthodoxy as such.

      For example, in Europe there have been many cases of
      misinformation concerning �concelebration with the
      MP,� �going over to the MP,� which fail of
      confirmation. Yielding to this provocation, the
      protesters who possess zeal without knowledge allow
      themselves to act with unacceptable insolence toward
      their hierarchy, and in essence are playing their
      opponents� game, the objective of which is the
      destruction of the Russian Church Abroad. It is not
      surprising, for example, that the Valentinians are
      speaking with ill-concealed glee of the �end of the
      mission of the Russian Church Abroad� (Vertograd, #12,
      2000), hoping to snatch from the ROCA a part of its

      In this, the presumption of innocence accepted even in
      secular jurisprudence, and which is all the more
      applicable within the Church, is supplanted among the
      protesters with a presumption of guilt, when in any
      unclear case (whether this applies to an individual or
      to the entire Council of Bishops) they immediately
      suspect guilt, betrayal and other transgressions.
      Viewed thus, the Council�s documents are all
      misrepresented (thus, pastoral condescension toward
      those who have sinned is taken for �a fawning tone�
      and �self-abasement�) and unbelievable, exaggerated
      predictions are issued (in January, two respected
      priests disseminated the announcement that �only a
      week� remained before official liturgical unification
      with the MP!). Such a presumption of guilt is
      possible to such a degree in counter-espionage, but is
      it appropriate for pastors of the Church?

      For this reason, in forming the Committee to Discuss
      Questions concerning the Unity of the Russian Church
      it would be preferable not to see any �traitorous
      negotiations with the MP� immediately, but to interest
      oneself in its plans and mandate. On March 12, 2001,
      in answer to just such a question, Archpriest Nikolai
      Artemov, a member of the Committee, told us the

      �No one is conducting any negotiations with the MP.
      When the Committee to Discuss Questions concerning
      Unity of the Russian Church meets in three months, we
      will discuss exactly what it might be possible to do,
      but without proceeding to the task. The Committee
      operates under the Synod of Bishops, and as such has
      no authority of its own. It must present all its
      proposals, desires and conclusions for consideration
      by the Synod. The Synod will issue its decisions as
      to what may and may not be done. I suggest that in
      the end we will agree upon a form conversation similar
      to those held in Germany, but on a more comprehensive
      level. The results can be submitted as
      recommendations for consideration by the Synod of
      Bishops. This may seem too slow [a process] to some,
      or unacceptable to others, but on the part of the
      OVSTs and Metropolitan Kyrill (Gundyaev) it is most
      probable that the policy aimed at the annihilation and
      disintegration of the Church Abroad (and which are
      being aided by unqualified attacks within our own
      milieu, discrediting us) will continue.�

      The very name of the Committee, expressed in its
      title, is rooted in the Russian diaspora�s traditional
      hope for a return to the homeland and the reuniting of
      the sundered parts of the Church of Russia. It is
      possible to see something �suspicious� in this only if
      one ignores this aspiration.

      The critics point to several bishops (one of whom
      declined to sign the Council�s epistle [though he did
      so in violation of the rules, for he did not express a
      contrary opinion at the Council itself], another
      later, for some reason, wrote an emotional letter to
      the flock (that the true believers in Russia to this
      day celebrate Pascha �in a whisper� and creep about
      �on tiptoe� in their cramped apartments, and for this
      reason the ROCA �will never unite with the MP�), yet
      later reconfirmed the decisions of the Council; and a
      third and fourth, on returning to Russia and thinking
      it over for several months, withdrew their signatures
      from the letter to the Patriarch of Serbia. Yet with
      all our sincere respect for the personal spiritual
      stature of all these archpastors, one may see in their
      belated reactions their political susceptibility to
      the influence of the rebellious groups. It is a pity
      that all of this is impairing the flock�s trust in the
      Council and is further deepening the discord. This is
      especially so when the First Hierarch wavers (first
      signing the Council�s resolutions, then expressing his
      disagreement with them, then again confirming them.
      This has even given some people cause to suspect that
      �they are compelling him to put his signature [to the
      documents] by force� (these people are probably
      unaware of the staunch character of our First

      Apparently, all of this taken together has become the
      reason for the �right-wing protesters� psychological
      (sooner say intuitive-emotional and preventive, than
      well and soberly grounded) refusal to accept the
      documents of the Council of Bishops.

      Yes, there are imprecise and vexing opinions in the
      Documents of the Council of Bishops Abroad and in the
      speeches of its members. Yet one may relate to the
      unfortunate expressions in different ways, depending
      upon the disposition of one�s soul: either to elevate
      them angrily to the degree of �treason� and
      �capitulation before the MP,� putting first and
      foremost not a more precise elaboration of the Truth,
      but an over-emphasis on one�s personal infallibility,
      even to the point of leaving the �offending� Church
      Abroad; or calmly to determine the Truth with
      precision, admitting that the main reason for the
      unfortunate expressions lies in the conditions of
      haste [under which the documents were written] and the
      absence of a proper editor. We favor the second
      approach: Such discrepancies should be patiently
      discussed and wisely rectified, finding correct
      formulations, as opposed to the casting of aspersions
      and the severing of relations. Among these the
      preventive fears of the �right-wing protesters� should
      also be attentively discussed, agreeing with their
      general apprehensions regarding the apostatic
      influence of the New World Order upon world Orthodoxy,
      yet pointing out to them the inappropriateness of the
      unproved accusations they have directed at the Council
      of Bishops of the ROCA.

      Those who are protesting must not direct their
      attention solely to the �letter� of one or another of
      the disputed formulations in the documents of the
      Council of Bishops; rather, they should also take into
      account the genuine spirit and cast of mind of our
      archpastors, who do not deserve to be accused of

      IV. The Mission of the Church Abroad
      One may agree with those who are calling for the
      convocation of a Fourth Pan-Diaspora Council of the
      Russian Orthodox Church Abroad�it has now become
      particularly necessary. (In the course of the
      preparations for it, it might be a good thing to
      submit this present article to its future participants
      for their review.) Yet prior to the Council no
      one-sided, unappealable accusations, application of
      influence and splitting away, are permissible. Those
      who are accused must have the right to respond. The
      discord should be healed and the unity of the Church
      Abroad preserved; schism should not be promoted, to
      the delight of our enemies.

      It would be desirable for all of us, on all levels
      (from the laity to the hierarchy) to introduce into
      the strained atmosphere that has developed in all
      parts of the Church of Russia, in the homeland and in
      the diaspora, tranquility, wisdom and good-will,
      acting upon strictly reliable facts, and not on
      conjectures and emotions which result in irritability
      and suspicion. What is important is not the good
      intentions of one or another statement [made by the
      critics], but their results. And the higher the rank
      of the person [making such statements], the greater
      the responsibility he bears for his words.

      For example: What is the meaning of the resounding
      affirmation that the Church Abroad �will never enter
      into union with the MP?� Even if the MP is healed in
      the future? The diaspora has always hoped that at
      some point in the future this will become possible.
      People in Russia can take this categorical �never� for
      arrogance and a refusal by the diaspora to help its
      own nation. If �never,� then the Russian Church
      Abroad must renounce its own title, its traditional
      self-consciousness, and its own governing laws. If
      such were to happen, its canonical right to further
      existence would be called into doubt, for the famous
      resolution #362 of the Patriarch, the Holy Synod and
      the Supreme Church Council, dated 7/20 November 1920,
      which became the indisputable foundation of the ROCA�s
      existence, applied to dioceses of the Church of Russia
      separated from the [ecclesiastical] center in
      anticipation of a probable future �restoration of the
      central Church authority;� moreover, in such a case
      measures �would be taken to confirm the latter� (�10).

      In this sense, the most recent, pacific statement of
      the Synod of the ROCA (dated January 26/8 February
      2001) rightly said: �The very Regulations of the
      Russian Orthodox Church Abroad defines our existence
      and binds our actions to responsibility before the
      whole Church of Russia.� The mission of the ROCA is
      totally incomprehensible to those who with quickness
      of temper allege that �in the Regulations of the
      Russian Orthodox Church Abroad there is nowhere, not
      in a single word, any mention of any responsibility
      before the whole Church of Russia! To say so is an
      open, not even a disguised, lie.� (Church News, USA,
      #1(93), 2001). One can but marvel at the naked
      emotions which compel the author of these words to
      force the mission of the ROCA into her narrow,
      self-satisfied framework.

      We have already pointed out above that the ROCA, in
      calling itself Russian, has not considered its
      canonical existence to be separate from Russia and its
      enslaved people, responsibility for whom has imbued
      the epistles of the Council Abroad at all times in the
      past. This bond and the hope for a future return were
      the bases of the ROCA�s self-consciousness, regardless
      of what regime governed in the homeland at any
      particular time. Over the course of 75 years a
      physical return was not possible, yet a spiritual bond
      was maintained, without which the Russian emigration
      would have lost the meaning of its own existence and
      would have absorbed into other ecclesial organisms.

      Today, the post-Communist regime of the Russian
      Federation is, in its constitution and disseminated
      ideology (in the system of formation also of the mass
      media), of course, also un-Christian. But it is no
      longer openly opposed to God. There already exists
      the possibility for emigr�s to return to their
      homeland to take part in the rebuilding of the
      strength of Russian Orthodoxy. The guiding structures
      of the MP, of course, are not giving this regime
      proper appreciation, and are still not ready to become
      the uncompromising spiritual leaders of the Russian
      people (this aspect, unfortunately, has also gone
      unremarked in the documents of the Council Abroad).
      Yet powers are growing among the lower echelons in
      Russia, which are opposed to the occupation of the New
      World Order, and with whom it is possible to cooperate
      in common, concrete works, without paying attention to
      which of the various ecclesial jurisdictions one
      belongs to.

      Emigr�s may, of course, do this from abroad. But the
      fact that the guiding center of the ROCA has for the
      present, if only in part, not been transferred to
      Russia, powerfully weakens also the understanding of
      what is happening in the country, and also the
      possibility of exerting influence by our moral
      authority. Across the border much, passing through
      the prism of the mass media, which bears us no good
      will, is seen from both sides in distorted
      perspective. The moreso in that criticism from afar,
      aloof from the difficulties and realities of Russian
      life, loses its power to convince, especially when it
      originates in the USA: this center of the New World
      Order is viewed as a prototype of the empire of the
      Antichrist, and is quite incomprehensible as a place
      for the true Russian Church to reside in our times.
      In exactly the same way is it incomprehensible to pray
      for the authorities in the countries of the diaspora;
      this was keenly felt during NATO�s aggression against
      Orthodox Serbia. It is thus essential to discuss
      these extremely important questions at a future
      Pan-Diaspora Council.

      The very same emigr�s who, because of their age or for
      other reasons, are not ready to take part in Russian
      life must not hope that the emigr� Church can become
      self-sufficient. Without Russia it will lose its
      reason for existence and will not survive as a Russian
      Church. Without Russia it will not be able to realize
      its principal mission- �the struggle for Russianness
      under conditions of apostasy� - for the outcome of the
      struggle between Christ and the Antichrist will be
      decided in the Russian land. And he who wants to help
      strengthen the powers of Christ among the Russian
      nation, which has yet to recover its health and come
      to its senses, will simply be excluded from
      participation in that struggle.

      This is where the responsibility of the Russian Church
      Abroad lies: in participating in the work of salvation
      �not only of its own parishioners, but of the Russian
      people, of Russia; yes, and of the whole world,� as we
      are reminded by the St. Petersburg clergymen of the
      ROCA (Archpriest Vladimir Savitsky, Hieromonk
      Valentine [Solomakh] and others) in their debate with
      those �protesters� who had cut themselves off. It is
      therefore strange when because this question [of the
      possibility of the hoped-for union of the various
      parts of the Church of Russia] is posed, individual
      hotheads begin to seethe, refusing to bear the burden
      of responsibility, and fall into [the sin of]
      condemning our Church, and depart into schism. �We
      will remain faithful to our calling, to our stand in
      the Truth, for the sake of the resurrection of
      Orthodoxy in Russia, for the sake of the salvation of
      our much-suffering land itself.�

      Those judges who see �Phyletism� in this (i.e., the
      exalting of the national over the spiritual, of which
      the Evlogians accused the Russian Church Abroad in
      their time, and the Vertogradians are doing now) are
      not aware that Russia is not �a country like all the
      others,� and therefore what is Russian is not merely
      �national,� but genuinely universal, in that it is
      closer to the ideal of the governmental organization
      of one who restrains, which is proper for all the
      nations of the world. The Third Rome is just such a
      historic, spiritual significance of the Russian
      Empire, for in it what is national and what is
      religious is united indivisibly and without confusion,
      following the analogy of the unconfused and
      indivisible union of the divine and human natures in
      Christ. Such are the Russian national-patriotic and
      imperial sensibilities, of which we ought not to be

      The rejection of this pan-Russian patriotic mission of
      the ROCA is often explained by the fact that on seeing
      the present spiritual demoralization in Russian
      society today, which the official Church is doing
      little to counteract, one has little confidence not
      only in the healing of the MP, but even in the rebirth
      of Russia itself. Here the one follows from the
      other. Well-known is the theory of Fr. Lev Lebedev,
      that there is no longer a Russian people, but in its
      place there is a qualitative something else: something
      Soviet and degenerate. In recent times, this thesis
      is being supported more and more frequently by certain
      of our highly respected opponents and pastors: �The
      spiritual and bodily harm inflicted on our people
      during this century by their enemies is already
      irreversible in character.� (Dormition Bulletin, #38,
      2001) Hence there is arising a desire for
      self-isolation in new semi-catacombs, for one�s own
      salvation: such is the psychology of no few of the
      Russian parishes of the ROCA. �Our path is different;
      our Church turns to the world only so as to draw from
      it those who desire to inherit salvation, so that they
      may be clearly separated from the world.� (Hieromonk
      Dionysy and the Priest Timothy, On the Position of the
      Russian Parishes of the ROCA in the Light of the
      Results of the Patriarchal Council).

      But firstly, can one so categorically maintain that
      departure from the world is the sole path to
      salvation, and that those who hope to restore Orthodox
      Russia will not be saved by their activity? Cannot
      paths to salvation be outwardly different but one in
      their spiritual being?

      Secondly, with regard to the �irreversible
      degeneration of the Russian people,� it is possible to
      take exception to the theory of Fr. Lev that, since a
      result of man�s first fall into sin the earthly world
      was ruined beyond repair; yet God became incarnate for
      him and Himself preached to the fallen, founded His
      Church, ordered His apostles to preach to the whole
      world instead of hiding in catacombs, providentially
      planned for the spreading of Christianity throughout
      the world and the formation of the great Orthodox
      Empire and its army. It is understood that at the end
      of history there awaits us the irreversible decline of
      Christian authority on our sinful earth under the
      onslaught of the �mystery of iniquity� - for the sake
      of a new, transfigured world. But we do not find in
      the Sacred Scriptures any theory that fallen human
      souls and peoples are incapable of redemption; on the
      contrary, all throughout time, the Lord, His prophets
      and leaders dealt with the sinful and sluggish masses
      of the people, and nevertheless roused and led them to
      a fulfillment of the goals set by God.

      The irreversible degeneration of man�s soul most
      likely occurs only during a conscious serving of
      Satan. This one cannot say of the prevailing majority
      of the Russian people even in its present, lamentable,
      ignorant state. In our people, despite everything,
      there has been preserved from a thousand years of
      Russian culture much inner goodness, breadth of soul,
      idealism; there has been preserved a striving to seek
      the Truth and a readiness to accept it with a fitting
      approach to man.

      It seems that it is with just such eyes that it is
      proper for a priest to look at his people, finding and
      cleansing in the people fragments of goodness, and not
      rejecting them because of the accumulated filth of the
      age. In this lies the basic aim of the Orthodox
      pastor: he is primarily saved in achieving it. The
      holy and righteous John of Kronstadt has provided us
      with an example of this, for even while prophesying
      the imminent Revolution, he did not withdraw into
      seclusion or the wilderness, but lived in the world
      like a monk, for the conversion and salvation of his
      people, who were running amok in the conditions of
      increasing sin which prevailed in the capital.

      Though our pastors today lack such great stature, yet
      there are those who are setting such a pastoral goal
      for themselves. Thanks to their efforts, today,
      simultaneously with the process of demoralization,
      and racing neck and neck with it, a noticeable process
      of spiritual selection and a consolidation of
      spiritual powers is proceeding within Russian society.
      It is they who, applying pressure upon the Church
      leadership from below, obtained the glorification of
      the new martyrs and the repudiation of the heretical
      interpretation of the Apostle�s words, �There is no
      authority that is not from God;� the noticeable
      ambiguities of the MP�s Council (the attempts to
      correctly resolve developing aims without repenting
      for what was previously incorrect) are explained only
      by the inertia of the inveterate leaders, but not by
      the desire of the people of the Church.

      Though the powers for good in Russia are as a whole
      not comparable in number with the powers of evil, yet
      such battles have never been decided by numbers, but
      rather with the help of God; and it is only given when
      there is someone to help. In this one may see the
      significance of the Russian Church Abroad and the
      objective of its pastoral work in Russia, with the
      Russian people and Church which is being free from its
      long sickness (the so-called �Sergianism� began long
      before the Declaration of Metropolitan Sergius; let us
      remember the conduct of a considerable number of the
      members of the Holy Synod during the February

      One thing is beyond doubt: only with the restoration
      of a healthy Church as a spiritual guide for the
      nation is the rebirth of Russia possible �this is an
      immutable condition).

      The �right-wing protesters� in Russia consider that
      the activity of the ROCA in Russia must be limited
      only to the parishes of the jurisdiction of the Church
      Abroad included in it (but this path is a �withdrawal
      from the world.� A healthy Church, able to carry out
      its r�le as a spiritual guide on a nation-wide scale,
      must not be an emigr� Church with a center located
      abroad, but a single Church with a leadership in
      Russia itself, for no Church in diaspora can compete
      with the Russian Church authorities to exert an
      influence on society; it will always be taken as� not
      entirely ours.� To change the structures of the MP by
      some simple and rapid mechanical means is impossible;
      it is flesh of the flesh of post-Soviet society, with
      all its sicknesses, and this means that it must be
      patiently cured together with society.

      For example, even now the MP is not with total
      sincerity �appropriating the spiritual legacy of the
      diaspora,� but only �in the capacity of an enticement
      for simple souls and the formation of a deceptive
      appearance of Orthodoxy,� as the above-mentioned
      friendly critics and opponents write to us, but does
      this mean that the �labor of education carried out
      among convinced adherents of the Patriarchate has
      drained us?� Is the sowing of the Truth really
      capable of draining us? This is not our monopoly
      (Glory to God! let anyone who wants �appropriate� it.
      The �simple-minded� people of the Church accept this
      Truth with total sincerity and all the more live in
      accordance with it, demanding it also of their
      hierarchs -and for this reason such labor is not
      without benefit. It is in general strange to hear
      such expressions as �the Patriarchate is
      appropriating,� �the Patriarchate is engaging in
      trade,� �we do not believe the Patriarchate� (as
      though the Patriarchate is not composed of millions of
      parishioners and thousands and clergymen, but were a
      single �voluntarily and irreversibly� corrupted
      personage. Is it not time for such authors within the
      ROCA to address their reproaches to those persons and
      structures which in actuality deserve them, and not
      antagonize the people of the Church?

      The future of Russia and the Russian Church is in the
      hands of God, as the St. Petersburg clergy (Archpriest
      Vladimir Savitsky and the others) truly remind us. We
      can only try to live and act in accordance with the
      hoped-for goal, trusting in the help of God. And
      here, as distinct from the theory of the �irreversible
      degeneration� of the people, are possible another hope
      and another approach, likewise indemonstrable
      rationally, yet nonetheless, it seems to us, not
      bereft of a definite spiritual logic: It is not
      possible that the 83-year suffering of Russia and the
      struggle of her throng of new martyrs might have no
      meaning for the final stage of its earthly existence.
      Sufferings are permitted so that we may learn from the
      inverse. And insofar as they are still continuing
      even more than eighty years after the fall of the
      monarchy of �he who restrains,� and the end of history
      has still not arrived, this means that there remains a
      chance of our learning from the inverse and of the
      rebirth of Russia �for a short time� (to uproot and
      conquer on earth the growing evil of the world) for a
      final proclamation of the Truth to the whole world.
      Thus, the Lord is prolonging the periods of time, not
      considering the fall of our people to be
      �irreversible� (otherwise, there would be no reason
      for Him to prolong them, merely dragging out our agony
      (see the book The Mystery of Russia concerning this).

      And if there were now to appear in the official Church
      even one bold bishop who agrees wholeheartedly with
      the position of the ROCA, he could unite around him
      the best of the people, who have long awaited this.
      Those who categorically deny such a possibility, and
      for this reason have departed from the Russian Church
      Abroad, have no faith, it would appear, even in God�s
      help in the regeneration of our homeland. But it is
      hardly worth it for them to foist the point of view
      that they possess the one, true Orthodoxy upon those
      who have faith and act upon it.

      N. Nazarov
      � Herald of the German Diocese of ROCOR

      * Fr. John Whiteford IC -|- XC *
      * ----|---- *
      * St. Jonah Orthodox Mission | *
      * Spring, Texas \| *
      * http://www.saintjonah.org/ |\ *
      * http://groups.yahoo.com/group/orthodox-rocor/ NI | KA *

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