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12050Re: Personal opinion of Bishop Agafangel - Our..........

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  • szmyte
    Aug 2, 2004
      --- In orthodox-synod@yahoogroups.com, byakimov@c... wrote:
      > http://www.ipc.od.ua/ (in Russian)

      I thought it may be useful for us English-speaking members of this
      list to be able to read Bishop Agafangel's opinion in English. My
      translation of Vl. Agafangel's text follows:



      The conference of ROCOR clergy and Sobor of Hierarchs in 2003 decided
      that the rapprochement of the two parts of the Church, ROCOR and the
      MP, may be useful and yield good fruit. However, from the first
      meeting of the commissions for this rapprochement the fundamental
      contradiction regarding the different internal organization of our
      churches was clearly revealed: in ROCOR - it is sobornost, but in the
      MP at the present time - if it is not a dictatorship, then, at the
      very least, it is the undivided authority of the "synod
      At one time at the very end of the 1980s, when we, a group of
      laypeople in the MP, were fighting for the return of a half-destroyed
      building of one of the abandoned churches to the Church, we demanded
      a decision from the regional executive authorities. Because we did
      this very persistently - pasted circulars across the city, gathered
      the Orthodox people for a reading of akathists at the walls of the
      Church of Adriana and Natalia on French (at that time
      still "Proletariat") Boulevard, broadcasts were aired by the BBC,
      taking into account that the current laws were on our side - the
      bureaucrats opposed to us seemed to be in a very awkward position.
      Then at the next meeting, one of the vice chairmen of the regional
      executive committee openly admitted to us that they could not give
      the church back to us, in so far as they never have the right to make
      serious decisions without the appropriate sanctions of the regional
      committee of the Communist Party. He explained to us in sufficient
      detail the active mechanism of making decisions. Any important
      question must be discussed at a meeting of the committee of the
      Communist Party, at which information is not fixed and protocols are
      not written. When a determination is finally made there, it is
      followed by a telephone call to the municipal executive committee,
      and it is stated that the regional committee is of the opinion that
      such and such a question needs to be resolved in such and such a
      way. And only after this call does the executive authority begin to
      act. That is to say, apparently, according to the official
      paperwork, the executive committee is making all the decisions. But
      really it is the communist party leading everyone, and secretly -
      without leaving a trace of its leadership, not even in its own
      archives. That same method of decision-making existed, during the
      time of the construction of Communism, in the Moscow Patriarchate,
      which was, as is well-known, a part of the Soviet system. The
      appropriate department of the Central Committee of the Communist
      Party either set the task or the Synod of the MP itself went out on
      its own initiative, and a document was created and submitted in the
      strictest secrecy for approval from the appropriate department of the
      Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. After
      this, the prepared document, naturally, without a trace to the fact
      that the Communist Party approved and recognized it as advantageous
      for their own goals, came down to the Synod or Sobor of the MP and
      was unanimously approved there. With this was strengthened the
      appearance that all democratic norms were observed without exception.
      To corroborate the above, one can open at random any of the journals
      of the Moscow Patriarchate of those years, where the stamp of the
      Communist Party of the Soviet Union clearly and intelligibly
      appears.* I cannot assert that now, too, all important documents in
      the MP are submitted and approved by someone on the side, but that
      the same method of preparing documents remains now is without any
      doubt. For example, in the strictest secrecy "The Foundations of
      Social Concepts of the MP" were developed, and before the very
      election at the Sobor, which continued for three days,
      these "Foundations" were delivered to the hierarchs who all
      together, not even reading them, successfully voted for them. And
      now, to the present day, the hierarchs are trying to comprehend what
      it was they approved. An analogous situation exists with the
      majority of other key decisions "made" by the MP Sobor.** In our
      ROCOR, there has never been such a situation, and naturally, there
      should not be. The strictest secrecy in the process of drafting
      documents is necessary in order that a sobornoe, that is "foreign"
      opinion didn't interfere with the outlined plans of the leaders. A
      certain plan has been outlined by the "higher ups" and it is
      necessary to realize that plan. In this case, the "subordinates"
      (that is, Sobor) in reality are a simple decoration needed only for
      conferring the appearance of legitimacy to the decision that was
      prepared earlier. At the very bottom lies the "mass of people" who
      devour everything that comes to them from above, if not immediately
      then after the appropriate revision, and they don't even notice. A
      small number of those who disagreeĀ…this is normal, like a medical
      diagnosis, according to the words of metropolitan Kirril (Tundyaev).
      Again I repeat: this is the usual Soviet method of making a decision -
      from the village party meeting to an MP Sobor and Congresses of the
      Communist Party of the Soviet Union of those years.

      However, this activity from the Communist past is happening today
      before our very eyes. Now in the "higher ups" of the MP, it is
      obvious, a certain decision regarding ROCOR has been approved, and
      this decision is "advancing." The commissions are working on the
      course of this resolution. Naturally, all working documents are in
      the strictest secrecy. Those who have the appropriate resources in
      the Russian Federation are creating the common backdrop for its
      successful realization. From the widely authoritative mass media to
      the small workers of the secret service somewhere in the remoteness
      of Canada, acting as the parishioners of the Church Abroad. *** We
      will see, in the end, what will happen in the October Sobor of the MP
      in 2004, and how they present this resolution to us all. Of course,
      in any case, one shouldn't hope that its decisions will be the
      authentic will of the sobor of MP parishioners who have long
      forgotten about sobornost. In the Orthodox Church for all of her
      history, the Sobors, beginning from the writings in the "Acts of the
      Apostles," were gathered in a diametrically opposite situation -
      when the necessity arose to <<work out>> or <<determine>> (even by
      the protocol, Sobor and Synod <<determine>>) this or that problem or
      decision. In this lies the essence of the deep distinction between
      ROCOR and the MP. And in this fundamental question we shouldn't -
      not having the right to - adopt the methods and the practice of the
      MP. But on the contrary, we should protest against such practice as
      far and with as much strength as possible. Because the question is
      about the preservation of one of the most important characteristics
      of the Orthodox Church - its sobornost.

      Therefore, if I am also for rapprochement with the Moscow
      Patriarchate, then only under the condition that such rapprochement
      in no way makes provisions for merging with this organization,
      transferring from it Soviet methods of administration or even the
      smallest elements of its administration, into the structure of
      ROCOR. Moreover, we are now going through what may be the most
      crucial stage of our rapprochement, on which, strictly speaking, the
      future of our Church depends.

      + Bishop Agafangel
      Odessa, July 13/26, 2004, Cathedral of the Archangel Gabriel

      *A revealing example - a call by Stalin in 1943 at three o'clock in
      the morning to three hierarchs of the future Soviet MP, without any
      attention to their reaction, with deep "paternal" interest into the
      problems of these hierarchs, telling them what they need to do, and
      the text of the communication of this meeting is in the
      newspaper "Izvestia":
      "At the time of the conversation metropolitan Sergius brought to the
      attention of the Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars that
      in the leading circles of the Orthodox Church there is the intention
      in the near term to call a Sobor of Bishops for the election of the
      Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and for the formation of the Holy
      Synod under the Patriarch. The head of the government, Stalin,
      treated these intentions with sympathy and announced that from the
      stance of the government, there would be no obstacles to it."
      According to this, the result was a veritable symphony.

      **From here, incidentally, it often happened that directly
      contradictory decisions came out in the course of a short period of
      time in connection with changes in the opinion "at the top." For
      example, with the judgement against ecumenism in 1948 and the
      acceptance of it in 1961. Or with the canonization of the Royal
      family. The "ok" was received from above, and Metropolitan
      Yuvenali (the chairman of the commission on canonization) "not saying
      anything against it" swung around 180 degrees!

      ***Unfortunately, we must note, this work is successful. First and
      foremost because the longer it goes on, the more indifferent we
      become to the truth. "Salt overwhelmingly prevails," so wrote
      Vladyka Averky (Taushev) of blessed memory about our times. The
      current topic now is especially in need of serious work that
      sanctifies the legacy of prominent Orthodox saints beginning from the
      19th Century and up through the present time, in so far as the labors
      and lives, for example, of our representatives like Metropolitan
      Philaret and Archbishop Averky, Protopresbyter Michael Polsky,
      professor Ivan Andreevski and many others whose lives and ways of
      thinking we did not separate from the essence of the Russian Church
      Abroad already now do not support us on the way undertaken by some
      part of the ROCOR, but on the contrary, quite impartially condemn
      it. ]

      End Translation

      In Christ,
      Eric (Thomas) Szmyt
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