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Re: Mr. M. Nazarov's letter to Mr. N. Ohotin

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  • byakimov@csc.com.au
    Who Is Rejecting the Reason for the Existence of the Russian Church Abroad? An Answer to Mr. Nicolas Ohotin     (Transl. by Timothy Fisher)     My
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 7, 2004
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      Who Is Rejecting the Reason for the Existence of the Russian Church Abroad?
      An Answer to Mr. Nicolas Ohotin
          (Transl. by Timothy Fisher)

          My electronic address received Mr. N. Ohotin's call to sign [a
      petition] in support of the present fraternization of our bishops with the
      MP and with the government of the R[ussian] F[ederation]. Ohotin asserts
      that many of us who disagree with this, have no idea of the true state of
      affairs in the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, and do
      not know the reason for the existence of the Russian Orthodox Church
           Mr. Nicolas Ohotin assumes that he, as a citizen of the USA, from
      America evidently [knows] better "the true situation" of matters in Russia,
      than we, the Russian citizens living here, who consider the present
      fraternization a legitimization of a criminal anti-Russian regime.
          It would seem that each sees that which corresponds to his choice of
      citizenship and residence: some try to fight for a healthy Russian church
      in the Russian land, others worry about the welfare of the church buildings
      in the countries of their residence and to this end need to curtail
      opposition there to the institutions of the MP.
         To Mr. Ohotin those who allegedly "advance conditions for association
      with the MP, based on ignorance or incorrect information" "are shameful and
      offensive". But we only remind our bishops of those conditions which were
      repeatedly formulated at our episcopal councils.
         We suggest Mr. Ohotin become acquainted, for example, with a document of
      the Council of 1990, which prescribed to our parishes in Russia not to
      enter into Eucharistic contact with the MP, "so long as it has not rejected
      Metropolitan Sergius's declaration; [so long as] it has not repented of the
      errors added by it subsequently; [so long as] it will not remove itself
      from the control of hierarchs who have compromised themselves by
      uncanonical and by immoral acts, who are involved in corruption and
      embezzlement, who have set up means of interference from secular
      authorities, and also have allowed distortions in the liturgical practices
      of the Russian Orthodox Church ". ("Prav Rus" 12, 1990).
          Even the documents of the Episcopal Council of 2000 that caused an
      unnecessary disturbance said: "There remain still other serious ulcers in
      the management of the Russian church, which prevent our spiritual
          In particular they noted: the "absence of an understanding by the
      Moscow Patriarchate of the position of the Russian Church Abroad, which
      with great care preserves the spiritual heritage of the Orthodox Russian
      church" - the "acts of aggression of the Patriarchate in forcibly taking
      from the Church Abroad its churches and monasteries" - "The Moscow
      Patriarchate at its council actually confirmed its adherence to extensive
      participation in Ecumenism and is not concerned to protect its younger
      generation from this pan-heresy".
          They drew from this the following conclusion: "Henceforth we must
      fulfill our historical mission of remaining steadfast in the truth, until
      all have returned to it... to be faithful to the end... We remain the true
      church, which possesses the completeness of soul-saving grace".
         This steadfastness in the truth and its preservation for the sake of
      curing the church in Russia is the reason for the existence of our Church
      Abroad, about which, in the opinion of Mr. Ohotin, we have no idea.
          And in 2001, even after the disturbance had begun in our church, in
      answer to a message from the MP, our episcopal council emphasized that the
      problems of differing relations to participation in the Ecumenical
      Movement, to the policy of Metropolitan Sergius and to the unrepented
      collaboration by the Russian bishops with the KGB still remain
      unsurmounted: We only pray God to send to these hierarchs the courage to
      expose and condemn the sin of this collaboration, otherwise it is very
      difficult to speak about our mutual understanding ("Prav. Rus." 21, 2001).
         Perhaps something in the MP has changed since then?
         The purpose of the declared dialogue with the MP was correctly stated in
      the same answer of the Abroad council: We see no benefit in an unprincipled
      compromise of "fraternization".  We inseparably connect progress toward our
      unity with progress in the celebration of truth.
           We believed this promise of our bishops and protected them from the
      accusations of our colleagues, who without just cause saw in the very
      dialogue "betrayal" and went into schism, forming their uncanonical
          However, in the fall of 2003 this conciliar promise was suddenly
      broken: an accelerated process of rapprochement with the MP began on its
      terms, i.e., without attaining the truth. The members of the Abroad
      delegation which went to the RF stated in May, 2004, that the fundamental
      problems had already been removed, only technical intra-church questions
      remained (Protopr. Nikolai Artemov, www.pravoslavie.ru).
          In June the very same, after arriving in Moscow as a co-worker in the
      negotiating commission of the RPTsZ [ROCOR], in a personal conversation
      frankly clarified for me its position: they say, since we cannot force the
      MP to change, it is necessary to be united with it such as it is, since the
      people support the Patriarchate.
           We cannot agree with this, in the first place, because, in reality, a
      substantial portion of the people do not support the unrepentant conformist
      politics of the management of the MP, and it is precisely this healthy part
      of the Church people the on-going fraternization betrays. It was just those
      parishioners of the Abroad parishes in Russia who demonstrated no small
      spirit of sacrifice in faithfulness to our Church. Is not this treachery
      shameful to you, Mr. Ohotin?
          And in the second place, even if no one remained in Russia who would
      resist this policy of the upper echelons of the MP, then all the more would
      it be important for the Abroad part of the Russian Orthodox Church to
      preserve the true criteria of truth. Refusal to do this will indicate the
      end of the restraining and constant [????????????]* mission of the Russian
      Church Abroad for the entirety of oecumenical Orthodoxy - this purpose is
      persecuted by both the ruling circles in the democratic world, which are
      preparing a new world order, and their proteges, who have seized authority
      in the RF.
          And all of us, Mr. Ohotin, will have to give an answer before God for
      how we acted in this instance.
          This is why many (as you correctly admit), listening to the voices of
      their consciences, protest against so sad an end to the Russian Church
      Abroad, remaining its members without going into schism. You, for this
      action, call us "unworthy", and your Patriarchal nationalist-conformists
      call us even "agents of the CIA; and "opponents of the strengthening of
      Russia" - but indeed there will not be a strong Russia without a healthy
      Church, which will be most of all weakened by a denial of the Truth.
          We will pray and hope that the All-abroad Council we were promised will
      return our bishops to observing the promises they made in council.
      Otherwise, according to Canon 15 of the First-Second Council of
      Constantinople,** it is clear that it will be necessary to consider as
      schismatics those who have departed from the decisions affirmed in council
      about the goals of dialogue with the MP, but not those who remain faithful
      to these decisions.

      M. V. Nazarov,  Moscow,  22/6-5/7, 2004

      * I have used two words to translate this single Russian term as it carries
      both meanings, both of which have great significance to Russian ears.  The
      first meaning, for example, perhaps would suggest the restraining mission
      of the Orthodox Tsars of the 19th c.

      ** ...But as for those who...sever themselves from communion with their
      president, that is, because he publicly preaches heresy and with bared head
      teaches it in the Church, such persons are not only not subject to
      canonical penalty..., but are worthy of due honor among the Orthodox. For
      not bishops, but false bishops and false teachers have they condemned, and
      they have not fragmented the Church's unity with schism, but from schisms
      and divisions have they earnestly sought to deliver the Church. Canon XV of
      the First-Second Council of Constantinople (681)
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