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Ecclesiology & the Communion of Heretics

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  • Athanasios Jayne
    ... and Alexandria via Moscow.
    Message 1 of 22 , May 6, 2007
      Fr. A. wrote:
      >...In 12 days we shall also be in communion with Antioch
      and Alexandria via Moscow.<<


      Dear Father (et al),

      I think it would be more accurate to say that "In 12 days
      ROCOR shall be in Communion with Antioch and Alexandria
      because ROCOR will be PART of the Moscow Patriarchate."

      We will not be "in Communion with Moscow," we will be
      PART of the Church of Russia--under the Moscow Patriarchate.

      So, we will be in Communion with Antioch and Alexandria--not
      "via" anybody else, but rather, we will, ourselves, as a
      Church, be in Communion with Antioch and Alexandria, directly,
      through our own Hierarchs, because Patriarch of Moscow will
      be our supreme Hierarch on earth.

      This is a *crucial* difference and change from ROCOR's past
      relations with Churches such as Antioch or Constantinople,
      despite the efforts of many to confuse and obscure this
      matter, intentionally or unintentionally.

      The Canons address Communion with heretics. To my knowledge,
      they do *NOT* address, per se, "Communion with those who are
      in Communion with heretics who are in Communion with
      schismatics." Previously, ROCOR distanced itself from Local
      Churches which were *themselves* involved in heresy.
      So long as there was no manifest heresy in a Local Church,
      ROCOR did not distance itself from them, even when they were
      in Communion with Churches that were increasingly entangled
      with heresy.

      We see this in the precedant of ROCOR's Communion with
      the Serbians and the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. These
      Churches still maintained an Orthodox confession, and
      so we were in Communion with them. But we were increasingly
      separating from Churches like Constantinople and Antioch,
      due to their increasingly manifest departure from
      Orthodoxy. Thus, ROCOR did not have normative relations,
      did not have unhindered Hierarchical Communion with
      Local Churches whose Hierarchs made heretical

      This distance, or gradual "walling off" from the sick
      members of the Church, will no longer hold true for
      ROCOR after 17 May. On that day, it is the intention
      of our Hierarchs to *unite* with the MP, a Local Church
      which is in direct, full, normal, unhindered, and
      Hierarchical Communion with Local Churches that are
      ailing under Hierarchs of heretical confession. Therefore,
      ROCOR will no longer be, itself, innocent of a breach of
      the Canons which prohibit Communion with heretics.

      This is a new situation, and, I contend, a clear departure
      from ROCOR's previous ecclesiastical relation to heresy
      within Orthodoxy. It is a change in practice reflecting
      a change in Ecclesiology. Previously, our Hierarchs
      affirmed that the Ecclesiology of the Holy Synod in
      Resistance, for example, was "identical" to that of ROCOR,
      and ROCOR's actions in the real-world substantially
      supported this claim. ROCOR's present course, then, is
      demonstrably a departure from this Orthodox and Patristic
      Ecclesiology, which avoided Communion with heretics, fully
      in accordance with the Canons and Holy Fathers of the

      Those who have attributed a sort of "contamination" or
      "electric" or even (and let me say that childish words have
      no place here) a "cooties" Ecclesiology to me, have seriously
      misunderstood me, and are attempting to discredit me by a
      false association with erroneous Matthewitism. I do not
      ascribe to the errors of Matthewitism, which I have often
      repudiated as both false and schismatic. As I have said
      before, I hold to the moderate Eccesiology of Resistance
      which was previously also professed by our own ROCOR
      Hierarchs, and I believe that this is one and the same with
      the Patristic, Canonical, and Traditional Ecclesiology of
      Orthodoxy itself.

      I do not "unchurch" the Antiochians and Alexandrians. I say
      that their Hierarchs have confessed heretical errors, and
      have for years now, openly, and in essence "bare-headed
      and in the Church," by official, Patriarchal, and Synodal
      statements. Therefore, on the basis of the holy Canons
      and teaching of the Holy Fathers, I say that they are
      *liable* to Anathema and deposition. I do not say that they
      have *already* been Anathematized by the Church, or that
      they are *already* deposed, because the Canons are not
      self-enforcing or automatic. Such application of the Canons
      can *only* be done by a great Synod of Orthodox Hierarchs,
      after a just examination of their case, and if the offending
      Hierarchs do not repent of their errors. Until that time,
      they remain Grace-bearing Hierarchs of the Church; that is,
      their Mysteries are true Mysteries. At the same time, they
      are also ailing members of the Church. Those who separate
      themselves from the Communion of such ailing members, pending
      a hoped-for Canonical and Synodal judgment, are not only not
      schismatic, but are even worthy of praise, according to
      St. Photios the Great and the Holy Hierarchs assembled in
      Council with Him, because their act of separation has, as
      its ultimate purpose, the preservation of the purity of the
      Orthodox Faith, and the unity of the Orthodox Church in

      Those who say that there is no difference between being in
      direct, unhindered, and direct Hierarchical Communion with
      a Local Church, and being "in Communion via an intermediate,"
      assert that which is untenable. If such a theory were correct,
      then it would also be correct to say that ROCOR never ceased
      to be in Communion with the MP, which would make the historic
      Act of 17 May largely superfluous and insignificant. But it
      is neither superfluous nor insignificant. We are, in part,
      "restoring" that which once did not exist before in the same
      way--namely, Communion: full, direct, unhindered, and
      Hierarchical, as between members of one and the same Local
      Church, which ROCOR and the MP will be, in every sense, on
      that day.

      Athanasios Jayne
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