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5451EPISTLE OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS

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  • byakimov@csc.com.au
    Dec 16, 2001
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      EPISTLE OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS

      APPEAL FOR PEACE AND UNITY
      http://www.synod.com/letters/2001-12-13-epistle-re.html (in Russian)

      "From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence,
      even of your lusts that war in your members?" (James 4:1)

      Honorable fathers, dear brethren and sisters in Christ:

      In connection with the flood of false accusations, personal ambitions
      and flaring passions, our Church is suffering a difficult time. For
      this reason we call all of you--both clergy and laity--to redouble
      your prayers and direct all of your efforts towards ending the
      dissension and towards restoring peace to our Church.

      Each of us, great and small, must become a peacemaker!

      "Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye
      may know how ye ought to answer every man." (Colossians 4:6)

      Firstly it must be said that it was utterly unacceptable to employ
      force in the events of 9/22 November in Mansonville. We all deeply
      regret and grieve over this.

      If one examines the essence of these problems, then in fact, there is
      nothing to argue over. We all agree that Sergianism and ecumenism are
      evil, and none of the bishops is prepared to alter the fundamental
      course of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, and no one
      is discussing unification with the Moscow Patriarchate or of the
      unilateral liquidation of our Church. Our values and ideals have not
      changed.

      What has changed is the attitude towards the Church in our
      much-suffering Homeland. For over 80 years, the Russian faithful have
      prayed to the Lord to emancipate our Homeland from the godless state,
      and He heard our prayers: without any external intervention, without
      bloodshed, communism suddenly collapsed.

      A spiritual rebirth is occurring in our Homeland-- perhaps not as
      quickly as one would like--but nonetheless: this process is rising
      from among the simple believing people, through the ranks of the
      clergy and is gradually infusing the episcopacy. We are all witnesses
      of the genesis of this spiritual rebirth, which was foretold by
      several saints of the revolutionary era.

      It remains for us to thank the Lord for this miracle and to patiently
      await the continued spiritual healing of the ROC/MP.

      In the recent Church events the most gratifying was the fact that all
      the sessions of the Council and Synod of Rocor were conducted in a
      businesslike and amicable manner. Everyone expressed his opinion and
      no one was forced to sign anything against his conscience. At these
      sessions, Vladyka Metropolitan Vitaly was in agreement with a
      majority of the bishops, thanked everyone several times for our unity
      of spirit and for the resolutions reached.

      Then suddenly, unfounded and insulting accusations against our
      episcopate poured forth bearing his signature. It immediately became
      clear that they were composed by someone else, and that they were
      presented to the elder-metropolitan for his signature. Being at the
      Synod, we all noticed that Vladyka Metropolitan quickly forgot what
      was just said. At all the sessions and meetings with Vladyka
      Metropolitan Vitaly, all the bishops treated him with respect and
      love. We are all witnesses to this. Even after he accused us, in
      writing, of falling into sin (though what sin was unclear), and that
      we comprised a "rogues' council," we all wished that the elder would
      return to the Synod and enjoy his esteem as the elder of the
      hierarchs. We understood that he fell under the influence of wicked
      church politicians who used his name for their own goals and
      ambitions. All of us bishops desired that the First Hierarch's staff
      would pass to the new First Hierarch, Metropolitan Laurus, as
      peacefully and serenely as it did from Metropolitan Anthony to
      Metropolitan Anastasy and from Metropolitan Anastasy to Metropolitan
      Philaret (Metropolitan Philaret died suddenly).

      And yet, alas! Those who surrounded Metropolitan Vitaly were able to
      besmirch the ceremony of the enthronement of our new First Hierarch
      Metropolitan Laurus, whom everyone loves and respects, both the
      bishops and the faithful flock. May God judge those who rend apart
      the Church and sow hatred! St. John Chrysostom said that there is no
      sin greater than inflicting schism on the Church. This sin is not
      washed away, even with the blood of martyrdom.

      Several words must be said about the newly-formed "Russian Orthodox
      Church in Exile" (it is to be noted that these "exiles" now once
      again call themselves the Rocor, and subsequently the Rocor [V]). The
      powers of the First Hierarch are great, but not unlimited. The Church
      canons require that the eldest of the bishops (in this case, the
      Metropolitan) accord all important decisions with the other bishops,
      as stated in the 34th Apostolic Canon: "the first hierarch may do
      nothing without the counsel of the rest." The Metropolitan had
      neither the right to remove suspensions meted out by the Synod, nor
      to consecrate new bishops unilaterally --especially after he
      voluntarily retired.

      The candidacies of the recently-made bishops, hastily consecrated by
      Metropolitan Vitaly were approved by no one. This fact alone makes
      their consecrations uncanonical.

      The first consecration was conducted by Metropolitan Vitaly and the
      former bishop Varnava, who not long before was defrocked, therefore
      all of his clerical acts are invalid. In fact, he is now merely a
      monk. It must be clarified that among the bishops, Bishop Varnava was
      known as an impetuous person, often acting thoughtlessly and
      repeatedly violating Church canons. As early as 1993, Bishop Gregory
      (Grabbe) insisted that Bishop Varnava must be removed from the ranks
      of the clergy; "The number of the canonical violations of Bishop
      Varnava is so great that it is impossible to enumerate them." The
      latest grave violation was the revolt he led against his ruling
      bishop, Bishop Ambrose, and the personal creation of his own diocese
      in Western Europe.

      It is known that over the last three years, Metropolitan Vitaly did
      not serve, and only attended services inside the altar, deferring to
      his infirmity. Here he suddenly performs consecrations of bishops,
      without the presence of a single lawful bishop, and seeking the
      counsel of no other bishops. These actions do not resemble the
      actions of the Metropolitan we know, who always stood in defense of
      the purity of Orthodoxy and canonical severity!

      And so the self-created new ecclesiastical organization in
      Mansonville appeared through an outrageous disdain for Church laws.
      It is our deep conviction that it is uncanonical and can bring no
      good. Since this was not a work of God, it will no doubt splinter and
      disintegrate, to the shame of its creators.

      It is painful unto tears that the wicked advisors of the elder
      Metropolitan, upon the sunset of his fruitful life, have defiled his
      good name.

      Let us all pray that Vladyka Vitaly is freed from the influence of
      these schismatics and returns to the bosom of the Church Abroad, for
      which he labored so much. Metropolitan Laurus is now attempting to
      meet with Metropolitan Vitaly to halt this unrest, but those who
      surround Vladyka Vitaly are thus far preventing this from happening.

      In conclusion, we call upon all of you, dear brothers and sisters, to
      unite around Metropolitan Laurus and support him in every way!

      "Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered."


      November 30/December 13, 2001
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