[orthodox-synod] Digest Number 1270
- Glory to GOD! (Yes, you may send it or post it as you like......m. Agapia)
This origianl posting was meant to be posted while the delegation was
still in Russia but due to technical reasons was not posted... nonetheless
we should be firm & speak up while we can....
---------------------- Forwarded by Basil Yakimov/AUST/CSC on 01/06/2004
08:27 AM ---------------------------
"Srs. Martha & Maria" <bethany_mm@...> on 01/06/2004 05:39:24 AM
Please respond to firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: RE: [orthodox-synod] Digest Number 1270
Dear in Christ Fr. Alexis, Your blessing!
Thank you for your observation on Fr. Serge's method of argumentation. My
(friend) here in Bethany, sr. Martha, was becoming quite weary of hearing
mutter "Straw man, straw man" every time I checked out this List on the
Though living in Jerusalem I manage to keep up contact with a fair number
ROCOR parishioners in the States and I am pained to hear how many are so
frustrated by the hasty change in direction our bishops appear to be taking
in the present dealings with the MP.
It is certainly justifiable that at such a significant juncture in the life
of the Russian Church all involved, both clergy and laity, be allowed to
offer critical commentary on the events now unfolding. As a nun living in
the Holy Land I can confirm that a large majority of the ROCOR monastics in
our convents and monasteries here are greatly alarmed on how events are
In particular many are puzzled by the speed of the deliberations. In one of
the few offical documents to come out of the current visit of the ROCOR
delegation to Russia we read: "An important role in the resolution of
problems which hinder the
restoration of the fullness of communion is reserved for the Committees
which were established in December 2003 by the hierarchies of the Moscow
Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. The
Committees, having earlier worked separately, will in the near future
commence working jointly."
Would anyone on this list be able to tell me the following: Who sat on the
committees of each Church, when, where, and how many times have they met
separately since December 2003, and what (general terms will suffice) did
That they have in such a quick time separately defined and seemingly come
a satsifactory resolution of issues that have separated and festered within
the churches for some eighty years I find outstanding. Perhaps the members
of these committees could be persuaded to come to Jerusalem and utilize
their superb negotiating skills to bring about peace in the Middle East as
Besides being nervous about the undue speed of the process of
many I know are frustrated by this tactic Fr. Alexis highlights -- of
painted into a corner and labeled an extremist (HOCNA, ROCie, whatever)
in fact they are simply calling for ROCOR to remain faithful to positions
has always held viz a viz modernist trends in other Orthodox jurisdictions.
It is a position that does not presume to determine who does or does not
have grace but keeps its distance from others to serve as a warning bell
a witness to the wrong direction they are taking. It does not presume that
any INDIVIDUAL is "better" than others but does argue that its (ROCOR)
hierarchs in its statements and official actions remains faithful to the
traditional tenets of the Orthodox faith at a time when hierarchs of other
jurisdictions take steps away from traditional Orthodoxy. Fr. Seraphim Rose
explained this position well when he wrote, "We still believe in the
Orthodoxy of most of the basic jurisdictions in America, but view them as
being in different stages of falling away from Orthodoxy, and different
priests and laymen in each jurisdiction trying more or less hard (or not at
all) to remain Orthodox." (p. 38, Letters from Fr. Seraphim.)
As Bishop Gabriel of Manhattan rightly pointed out in a talk he gave to
monastics while on a pilgimage to the Holy Land last week, "In the 30's and
40's we did have closer relations with other Orthodox jurisdictions.
over the years THEY changed while we remained the same, faithful to
Indeed it has always been understood that the only validity for that
"isolation" which so grieves some on this List is that we (as a Church)
remain faithful to Orthodoxy. Again I'm reminded of the words of Fr.
Seraphim: "The sad thing is that our Synod has justification for separate
existence only if it is zealot and gives an example to the other fallen or
falling-away jurisdictions, but to be wishy-washy and just dragging along
has no meaning at all. But Christ our God is with us, and Vladika John has
pushed us in the right direction (he told us to keep right on accusing
[Patriarch] Athenogoras, even if people didn't like it), and all of our
trials are only to strengthen us for the very difficult times ahead. God is
with us!" (p. 125)
Now if today some of our ROCOR hierarchs feel comfortable in moving toward
position that will soon bring us into increased contact and eucharistic
communion with "world Orthodoxy" this must meant that ROCOR's example and
faithfulness to Orthodoxy is not necessary anymore and other Orthodox
jurisdictions have returned from their forays into modernism and ecumenism.
Is this so? A look at some recent actions by Russian Orthodox jursidictions
currently allied with the MP around the world provides ample evidence that
this is not so.
Item: "East and West meet in Westminster" The Times (of London) January
15, 2004 The article states, "A Russian Orthodox service of Great Vespers
celebrated at the Roman Catholic cathedral in Westminster for the first
in its history on Saturday, in what has been described as a "significant
step forward" in relations between the Catholic and Orthodox churches?
Bishop Basil of Sergievo, (the MP representative in London) comments, "We
have to make a fairly clear distinction between relations between the
Orthodox and Roman Catholics in this country and the situation that applies
in Russia and parts of Eastern Europe. I would consider the situation to be
completely normal here. In other parts of the world relations are strained,
but that is a result of local situations."
Item: Nativity 2004 in Vienna "Before the beginning of the Eucharistic
Cardinal Schoenborn (Catholic Archbishop of Vienna) and Bishop Hilarion of
Vienna and Austria, Representative of the Russian Orthodox Church to the
European Institutions, exchanged the kiss of peace". Concluding his
welcoming address, Bishop Hilarion congratulated his guest on the Feast and
expressed his wish that the almighty God strengthen him in his service to
the Catholic Church and to Christian unity. (
Much more could be discussed about Bishop Hilarion, born only in 1966, and
faithful disciple of Metropolitan Kyrill, head of Dept of External
of the MP. His theological views (decidely of the Paris School) and his
in the WCC and the European Union can be further investigated by checking
out his website, www.orthodoxeurope.org.
What I found most intriguing was in the section of the site dealing with
church history -- of all the documentation a Russian Orthodox theologian
could find on the history of the Russian New Martyrs Bishop Hilarion sees
fit to post the works of Andrea Riccardi on the persecution of Christians
the USSR after 1917 (http://orthodoxeurope.org/page/13/2.aspx). For those
who may not know Andrea Riccardi is the founder and president of the
Community of Sant'Egidio, a famous lay Catholic center that, along with
other activities, promotes ecumenism. The St. Egidio community holds an
Annual Meeting of Prayer for Peace which is attended by Orthodox Christian
churchmen. The events that took place at the latest gathering (17th Annual
International Meeting of Prayer for Peace organised in Aachen by the
Community of St. Egidio Sept 7-9 2003) make past World Council of Churches
gatherings look like child's play!
Bishop Hilarion makes no bones about his admiration for the so-called Paris
School of theology. In a paper of his "Orthodox Theology on the Threshold
the Twenty-First Century" posted on his website we read, "At the time when
Russian theological scholarship had been totally crushed in Russia itself,
it continued to flourish in the West, among the Russian emigration. It was
in exile that the gap between pre-Revolutionary Russian
and contemporary Western science was bridged by theologians of the Russian
emigration, in the works of representatives of the so-called "Paris
? The theologians of the Russian emigration fulfilled this task
Thanks to their works the Western world encountered an Orthodoxy which
then it had known only from hearsay?"
He continues, "I would distinguish five main streams within the theology of
the "Paris school,"? The third prepared the ground for the "liturgical
revival" in the Orthodox Church and is related to the names of Fr. Nicholas
Afanassieff and Fr. Alexander Schmemann."
Anyone familiar with the works of Fr. Seraphim Rose or Fr. Michael
Pomazansky knows that they would take a completely contradictory position
that of the young Bishop Hilarion. Indeed he himself is aware of this
opposition when he writes further down, "Nor will I do more than mention
critique of the "Paris school" that can be heard in circles of Orthodox
fundamentalists and zealots for the "purity of Orthodoxy" (read ROCOR
theologians). With a few rare exceptions, such criticism comes from
unqualified persons lacking in theological education."
So much for our brothers in Christ, if only Vl John or the humble,
clear-thinking Fr. Michael Pomazansky were alive today to refute such
effrontery? and that our own ROCOR priests would recall and cherish this
And the esteemed Bishop Hilarion isn't finished. He concludes his article
listing a number of points, among them:"9. The renaissance will take place
when Russian theological scholarshipleaves the "ghetto" where it has
already spent eighty years, when it reaches
the level of modern Western research."
A question for our bishops -- if we unite with the MP will the voice of the
"ghetto" (and by this let us be clear we mean the thinking of such
traditional luminaries as Vladykas' Averky and John, Fr. Constantine
Zaitsev, Fr. Michael Pomazansky, Ivan Andreyev, etc.) be consigned to the
gutter once and for all?
This question frames the essence of the question of reconciliation with the
MP. Those who refuse to be labeled fanatics or intransigents do recognize
that times have changed and indeed there are positive changes in church
in Russia and that discussions can BEGIN with representatives of the MP. We
must ask ourselves however why were we separated in the first place? The
relationship between the ROCOR and MP is not a simple legalistic one. It
does not suffice for our bishops to tell us that Communism is now over so
must unite. The reason for the ROCOR's separation and isolation was because
it believed that it retained the legacy of "Holy Russia", of an Orthodox
Church that retained its internal freedom that its brothers in Russia
relinquished (by virtue of the stance of Metropolitan Sergius), of an
Orthodox faith untainted by the modernism and ecumenism forced upon most of
the world's Orthodox jurisdictions most emphatically by the Ecumencial
Patriarchate of Constantinople. Do we really believe that by forsaking that
legacy, by burying underground the issues of Sergianism and ecumenism, by
not asking (or in healthier spiritual conditions of all parties involved,
demanding) of the tainted hierarchs of the MP a tangible act of repentance
for their past actions (instead of the continued justification of
Sergianism, see Patriarch Alexis' sermon at M. Sergius' grave only a week
ago!) we will bring about the resurrection of Holy Russia?
If our bishops can return from Moscow and tell us that yes, this is so,
by relinquinshing our independence and internal freedom (which any form of
reconciliation will by definition have to do)and by joining together with
the MP we will best be able to bring about the continued resurrection of
Orthodox church life in Russia, glory be to God! However, based on the very
recent actions of the MP here in the Holy Land, based on the continued
present statements and more significantly, actions of the hierarchs of the
MP as outlined above with regard to the issues of Sergianism and ecumenism,
based on the all too hasty and vague negotiations now taking place between
"committees" of the MP and the ROCOR it will take much more to convince
that hoped for day of reconciliation and renewal is soon upon us. What
has to offer is too precious to give up without thoughtful and considered
deliberation. As Fr. Constantine Zaitsev wrote, "Within the depth of
conscience is the key to the future ? to the earthly future. If this is so,
then maintaining ourselves in Truth is not only a salvation of our souls in
faithfulness to our Church, but also a service to our Homeland. And then
word wait takes on its real sense with a special power. That is not a
passive waiting out, but a stubborn firm endurance" (The Spiritual State of
the Contemporary World and the Russian Church Outside of Russia).
May God grant our hierarchs the wisdom to know when and how far to go along
this most critical path of reconciliation.
In Christ, m. Agapia
- --- In email@example.com, "Srs. Martha & Maria"
> "It is certainly justifiable that at such a significant juncture inthe life
> of the Russian Church all involved, both clergy and laity, beallowed to
> offer critical commentary on the events now unfolding".JRS: Unfortunately, in our Church circles such things tend to result
in a mess, rather than in anything being resolved.
And then, no such "critical commentary from all involved, clergy and
laity" was asked for or accepted in the earlier period when the
present situation was, as it were, set up.
No one, for example, was asked if they approved of ROCOR's acceptance
of Greek communities in the 1960's, nor were they asked if they
wanted to break off ties with the Greek Archdiocese (not that we ever
Nobody was asked if they wanted to see ROCOR establish its own
parishes and dioceses in Russia, either.
Many other changes were introduced within my memory, and none of us
was ever asked for our opinions.
> As a nun living inmonastics in
> the Holy Land I can confirm that a large majority of the ROCOR
> our convents and monasteries here are greatly alarmed on how eventsare
> moving.JRS: As a parish priest in the central part of the U.S., I can
confirm that the overwhelming majority of our parishioners are
delighted at the way events are now moving.
> In particular many are puzzled by the speed of the deliberations.JRS: Many people are puzzled, not because of their own personal
reactions, but because things have been presented to them in a
negative and often misleading fashion, by some partisan.
Thus for example on Pentecost, at our church dinner, some
parishioners of ours were telling me about a Romanian lady, who
attends a Greek Archdiocese parish near them, and who is not involved
However, she is now very upset and confused about the horrid accounts
of ROCOR's "captiulation to the Moscow Patriarchate", that she has
heard from a Greek O.C. priest she knows!
Much the same thing was to be met with in 1986, when HOCNA split off
from ROCOR, and many innocent peoiple were disinformed and
deliberatedly misled about what was going on.
> That they have in such a quick time separately defined andseemingly come to
> a satsifactory resolution of issues that have separated andfestered within
> the churches for some eighty years I find outstanding.JRS: People have been talking about "such a quick time" now, for at
least 4 years.
And yet, only 2 years had passed since the repose of Patriarch St.
Tikhon in 1925, and the breach with Metropolitan Sergius over his
declaration in 1927.
That was twice as fast, wasn't it?
> Perhaps the membersutilize
> of these committees could be persuaded to come to Jerusalem and
> their superb negotiating skills to bring about peace in the MiddleEast as
> well?JRS: It seems to me that it should be a lot easier to start with
something within reach: to work with individuals -- for example, to
persuade people like George Stephanopoulos to recognize the error of
America's policy against the Serbs in the Balkans, under the Clinton
Fr. John R. Shaw