5451EPISTLE OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS
- Dec 16, 2001EPISTLE 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
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
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
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
- Next post in topic >>