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16077Apostolic Tradition

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  • Fr. Alexander Lebedeff
    Feb 12, 2006
      Vladimir Kozyreff continues to maintain that apostolic succession
      exists only if the body claiming it preserves the true and correct
      teaching of the Church (orthodoxy).

      That is NOT the accepted teaching of the Russian Orthodox Church.

      I could cite twenty sources (if I tried a bit, I could find hundreds)
      of official sources, in pre-revolutionary textbooks of Canon Law,
      History of the Church, Comparative Religion, or Handbooks for Clergy,
      and other official texts of the Russian Church, where it is
      unequivocally stated that the Roman Catholic Church has apostolic succession.

      But one will suffice.

      Vladmir Moss has recently quoted from it -- the official Epistle of
      the Holy Synod of the Church of Russia to the Ecumenical Patriarch in 1903.

      In it, it states:

      "As regards our relations with the two great ramifications of
      Christianity, the Latins and the Protestants, the Russian Church,
      together with all the autocephalous Churches, ever prays, awaits, and
      fervently desires that those who in times of old were children of
      Mother Church and sheep of the one flock of Christ, but who now
      have been torn away by the envy of the foe and are wandering astray,
      "should repent and come to the knowledge of the truth," that they
      should once more return to the bosom of the Holy, Catholic and
      Apostolic Church, to their one Shepherd. We believe in the sincerity
      of their faith in the All-Holy and Life-Originating Trinity, and on
      that account we accept the baptism of both the one and the other. We
      respect the Apostolic Succession of the Latin hierarchy, and those
      of their clergy who join our Church we accept in the Orders which
      they then possess, just as we do in the case of Armenians, Copts,
      Nestorians and other bodies that have not lost Apostolic Succession."

      What could be clearer?

      The Holy Synod of the Russian Church proclaims that the Latins,
      Armenians, Copts, Nestorians (and others) have NOT lost Apostolic Succession.

      This, notwithstanding the fact that they are clearly heretical in
      their teaching.

      Why do you think that you know better than the Local Russian Church, Vladimir?

      And, if these Churches maintained apostolic succession
      notwithstanding their heresies, how can the Moscow Patriarchate,
      which teaches no heresies whatsoever, be considered to have lost
      apostolic succession?

      Let us listen to Metropolitan Anastassy on this issue:

      "The President [Metropolitan Anastassy] proposed making certain
      conclusions from everything that was said.

      "Do we recognize in principle the authenticity of the ordinations of
      today's Patriarch and his bishops? But can we even question them?
      Then we would have to declare the entire Church without grace. Do we
      have the audacity to declare her entirely without grace? Until now we
      have not posed this question so radically.

      "When Metropolitan Philaret was asked about the Catholics, he said:
      'How can I judge a Church which the entire Ecumenical Council did not
      judge?' What example shall we take? The President feels that it was
      not idly that that he asked that the First Rule of St Basil the Great
      be read aloud. The Holy Father says in it that one must take a broad
      view. He speaks about baptism very well. Ordination is less important
      than baptism. Metropolitan Anthony was guided by this rule of St
      Basil the Great when he said that he was prepared to accept through
      the third rite both Catholics and Anglicans. He was of the view that
      as soon as organic ties to heresy are torn and Orthodoxy is accepted,
      grace is received, as if an empty vessel were filled with grace.

      "We hold to the principle that we can accept those through the third
      rite whose thread of succession had not been torn. Even the
      Armenians, who confess a definite heresy, are accepted in their
      existing rank. Concerning the Anglicans, the question arose because
      they themselves are not certain that they have succession. If we
      accept those who depart from heresy, how can we not accept our own?"

      (Minutes of the Sobor of Bishops, 1953)

      How indeed?

      With love in Christ,

      Prot. Alexander Lebedeff
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