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Personal opinion of Bishop Agafangel - Our..........

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  • byakimov@csc.com.au
    http://www.ipc.od.ua/ (in Russian)
    Message 1 of 2 , Jul 27, 2004
    • szmyte
      ... I thought it may be useful for us English-speaking members of this list to be able to read Bishop Agafangel s opinion in English. My translation of Vl.
      Message 2 of 2 , Aug 2 9:59 PM
        --- In orthodox-synod@yahoogroups.com, byakimov@c... wrote:
        >
        > http://www.ipc.od.ua/ (in Russian)

        I thought it may be useful for us English-speaking members of this
        list to be able to read Bishop Agafangel's opinion in English. My
        translation of Vl. Agafangel's text follows:

        [PERSONAL OPINION

        <<OUR RAPPROCHEMENT SHOULD BE WITHOUT MERGING>>

        The conference of ROCOR clergy and Sobor of Hierarchs in 2003 decided
        that the rapprochement of the two parts of the Church, ROCOR and the
        MP, may be useful and yield good fruit. However, from the first
        meeting of the commissions for this rapprochement the fundamental
        contradiction regarding the different internal organization of our
        churches was clearly revealed: in ROCOR - it is sobornost, but in the
        MP at the present time - if it is not a dictatorship, then, at the
        very least, it is the undivided authority of the "synod
        members."
        At one time at the very end of the 1980s, when we, a group of
        laypeople in the MP, were fighting for the return of a half-destroyed
        building of one of the abandoned churches to the Church, we demanded
        a decision from the regional executive authorities. Because we did
        this very persistently - pasted circulars across the city, gathered
        the Orthodox people for a reading of akathists at the walls of the
        Church of Adriana and Natalia on French (at that time
        still "Proletariat") Boulevard, broadcasts were aired by the BBC,
        taking into account that the current laws were on our side - the
        bureaucrats opposed to us seemed to be in a very awkward position.
        Then at the next meeting, one of the vice chairmen of the regional
        executive committee openly admitted to us that they could not give
        the church back to us, in so far as they never have the right to make
        serious decisions without the appropriate sanctions of the regional
        committee of the Communist Party. He explained to us in sufficient
        detail the active mechanism of making decisions. Any important
        question must be discussed at a meeting of the committee of the
        Communist Party, at which information is not fixed and protocols are
        not written. When a determination is finally made there, it is
        followed by a telephone call to the municipal executive committee,
        and it is stated that the regional committee is of the opinion that
        such and such a question needs to be resolved in such and such a
        way. And only after this call does the executive authority begin to
        act. That is to say, apparently, according to the official
        paperwork, the executive committee is making all the decisions. But
        really it is the communist party leading everyone, and secretly -
        without leaving a trace of its leadership, not even in its own
        archives. That same method of decision-making existed, during the
        time of the construction of Communism, in the Moscow Patriarchate,
        which was, as is well-known, a part of the Soviet system. The
        appropriate department of the Central Committee of the Communist
        Party either set the task or the Synod of the MP itself went out on
        its own initiative, and a document was created and submitted in the
        strictest secrecy for approval from the appropriate department of the
        Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. After
        this, the prepared document, naturally, without a trace to the fact
        that the Communist Party approved and recognized it as advantageous
        for their own goals, came down to the Synod or Sobor of the MP and
        was unanimously approved there. With this was strengthened the
        appearance that all democratic norms were observed without exception.
        To corroborate the above, one can open at random any of the journals
        of the Moscow Patriarchate of those years, where the stamp of the
        Communist Party of the Soviet Union clearly and intelligibly
        appears.* I cannot assert that now, too, all important documents in
        the MP are submitted and approved by someone on the side, but that
        the same method of preparing documents remains now is without any
        doubt. For example, in the strictest secrecy "The Foundations of
        Social Concepts of the MP" were developed, and before the very
        election at the Sobor, which continued for three days,
        these "Foundations" were delivered to the hierarchs who all
        together, not even reading them, successfully voted for them. And
        now, to the present day, the hierarchs are trying to comprehend what
        it was they approved. An analogous situation exists with the
        majority of other key decisions "made" by the MP Sobor.** In our
        ROCOR, there has never been such a situation, and naturally, there
        should not be. The strictest secrecy in the process of drafting
        documents is necessary in order that a sobornoe, that is "foreign"
        opinion didn't interfere with the outlined plans of the leaders. A
        certain plan has been outlined by the "higher ups" and it is
        necessary to realize that plan. In this case, the "subordinates"
        (that is, Sobor) in reality are a simple decoration needed only for
        conferring the appearance of legitimacy to the decision that was
        prepared earlier. At the very bottom lies the "mass of people" who
        devour everything that comes to them from above, if not immediately
        then after the appropriate revision, and they don't even notice. A
        small number of those who disagreeĀ…this is normal, like a medical
        diagnosis, according to the words of metropolitan Kirril (Tundyaev).
        Again I repeat: this is the usual Soviet method of making a decision -
        from the village party meeting to an MP Sobor and Congresses of the
        Communist Party of the Soviet Union of those years.

        However, this activity from the Communist past is happening today
        before our very eyes. Now in the "higher ups" of the MP, it is
        obvious, a certain decision regarding ROCOR has been approved, and
        this decision is "advancing." The commissions are working on the
        course of this resolution. Naturally, all working documents are in
        the strictest secrecy. Those who have the appropriate resources in
        the Russian Federation are creating the common backdrop for its
        successful realization. From the widely authoritative mass media to
        the small workers of the secret service somewhere in the remoteness
        of Canada, acting as the parishioners of the Church Abroad. *** We
        will see, in the end, what will happen in the October Sobor of the MP
        in 2004, and how they present this resolution to us all. Of course,
        in any case, one shouldn't hope that its decisions will be the
        authentic will of the sobor of MP parishioners who have long
        forgotten about sobornost. In the Orthodox Church for all of her
        history, the Sobors, beginning from the writings in the "Acts of the
        Apostles," were gathered in a diametrically opposite situation -
        when the necessity arose to <<work out>> or <<determine>> (even by
        the protocol, Sobor and Synod <<determine>>) this or that problem or
        decision. In this lies the essence of the deep distinction between
        ROCOR and the MP. And in this fundamental question we shouldn't -
        not having the right to - adopt the methods and the practice of the
        MP. But on the contrary, we should protest against such practice as
        far and with as much strength as possible. Because the question is
        about the preservation of one of the most important characteristics
        of the Orthodox Church - its sobornost.

        Therefore, if I am also for rapprochement with the Moscow
        Patriarchate, then only under the condition that such rapprochement
        in no way makes provisions for merging with this organization,
        transferring from it Soviet methods of administration or even the
        smallest elements of its administration, into the structure of
        ROCOR. Moreover, we are now going through what may be the most
        crucial stage of our rapprochement, on which, strictly speaking, the
        future of our Church depends.


        + Bishop Agafangel
        Odessa, July 13/26, 2004, Cathedral of the Archangel Gabriel

        Footnotes:
        *A revealing example - a call by Stalin in 1943 at three o'clock in
        the morning to three hierarchs of the future Soviet MP, without any
        attention to their reaction, with deep "paternal" interest into the
        problems of these hierarchs, telling them what they need to do, and
        the text of the communication of this meeting is in the
        newspaper "Izvestia":
        "At the time of the conversation metropolitan Sergius brought to the
        attention of the Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars that
        in the leading circles of the Orthodox Church there is the intention
        in the near term to call a Sobor of Bishops for the election of the
        Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and for the formation of the Holy
        Synod under the Patriarch. The head of the government, Stalin,
        treated these intentions with sympathy and announced that from the
        stance of the government, there would be no obstacles to it."
        According to this, the result was a veritable symphony.

        **From here, incidentally, it often happened that directly
        contradictory decisions came out in the course of a short period of
        time in connection with changes in the opinion "at the top." For
        example, with the judgement against ecumenism in 1948 and the
        acceptance of it in 1961. Or with the canonization of the Royal
        family. The "ok" was received from above, and Metropolitan
        Yuvenali (the chairman of the commission on canonization) "not saying
        anything against it" swung around 180 degrees!

        ***Unfortunately, we must note, this work is successful. First and
        foremost because the longer it goes on, the more indifferent we
        become to the truth. "Salt overwhelmingly prevails," so wrote
        Vladyka Averky (Taushev) of blessed memory about our times. The
        current topic now is especially in need of serious work that
        sanctifies the legacy of prominent Orthodox saints beginning from the
        19th Century and up through the present time, in so far as the labors
        and lives, for example, of our representatives like Metropolitan
        Philaret and Archbishop Averky, Protopresbyter Michael Polsky,
        professor Ivan Andreevski and many others whose lives and ways of
        thinking we did not separate from the essence of the Russian Church
        Abroad already now do not support us on the way undertaken by some
        part of the ROCOR, but on the contrary, quite impartially condemn
        it. ]

        End Translation

        In Christ,
        Eric (Thomas) Szmyt
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