2006 Address by Bishop Daniel of Erie
- 2006 ADDRESS OF BISHOP DANIEL OF ERIE
VICAR OF THE CHAIRMAN OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS,
SERVICING OLD-RITE BELIEVERS
To the Clergy, Monastics and Parishioners
Of The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad
On the Threshhold of the IV the Pan-abroad Sobor 2006 In San
Speaking: Bishop Daniel, Vicar of the First Hierarch of the Church
Abroad on Old-Believers Affairs.
I wish to address you and share some of my thoughts on matters which
are troubling us, which I had written down a year ago, yet have not
lost their significance at the current time.
Dear Vladikas, Fathers, Brothers and Sisters in the Lord!
At one time I had addressed you in connection with the dialogue which
is being conducted between our Church Abroad and the Moscow
Patriarchate. I feared that this dialogue would lead to the
unification of our Churches under the authority of the Moscow
Patriarchate, and subsequently, to the complete annihilation of our
independence, which we have had for more than eighty years now.
I was reassured that the issue was not unification of the Churches,
and not our subordination to Moscow, but merely improving relations
between our Churches.
I have nothing against that, and allowed myself to be persuaded that
nothing threatens the existence of our Church as self-sufficient and
Then I received an entire package of documents from our Church's
Synod of Bishops on these matters and it took me quite a while to
read them and think them over.
Therefore, I find it indispensable to address you again, since the
documents that were sent to me far surpass my worst fears, and I will
unlikely be able to personally be present in conciliar discussion of
In the beginning much is said about mutual relations between the
Church and the state, about ecumenism from an Orthodox point of view,
and we can only rejoice at this, since in the recent past,
or "yesterday" on a historical scale, the Moscow Patriarchate was
under full and unequivocal submission to the godless, communist
authority, which seized our Fatherland and would have belonged to any
organization on instructions from that authority.
Our Church never was in a union with the godless authority and never
belonged to any ecumenical organizations, therefore none of this has
any direct relationship to us. One can only hope that the Moscow
Patriarchate will not elude these principles.
All the talk that unification or subordination to the Moscow
Patriarchate is not being conjectured is absolutely unsubstantiated.
At first nothing is mentioned about commemorating the first hierarch,
probably so as not to aggravate the flock abroad, but then it turns
out that the election of the First Hierarch of the Church Abroad is
subject to confirmation by the Patriarch and the Synod of Bishops of
the Moscow Patriarchate, and the name of the First Hierarch will be
commemorated only after the name of the Patriarch; a commemoration
which hitherto had not been mentioned.
The Patriarch together with his bishops is given the right to ratify,
and consequently not ratify, i.e., the right to veto all important
decisions on leadership within our Church, including election of
Is this not the union of the Churches and is this not the
subordination of our Church unto Moscow?
What is this?
According to the candid admission of the Patriarchate, our Church
must become one of its self-governing parts similar to the Churches
of Latvia or Estonia. To say thereby, that no unification or
subordination is presumed, as it is done in the draft letter to
Metropolitan Kiprian, simply means to consciously lead people into
delusion, i.e. to deceive them.
In becoming dependent on the Patriarch et al, our Church will no
longer remain independent, i.e., autocephalous de facto, as it had
been and continues to be now more than eighty years, having something
greater than autonomy, namely independence. Our Church has no need
for any autonomy, no matter how alluring this autonomy may seem to
poorly informed people.
It is revealing that the word "independence", which precisely defines
our position as of today, is painstakingly avoided by the compilers
of the documents under review, with reference to the Church Abroad,
and it is quite clear why the Moscow Patriarchate wishes to deprive
us of this self-sufficiency and independence and make us subordinate
unto itself, using any kinds of truths or falsehoods.
In view of the fact that it has become clear where further talks with
the Moscow Patriarchate are leading: to unification with it, under
the power of the Patriarch of Moscow, it appears to me to be
advisable to cease further talks with the Moscow Patriarchate until
such time that their position on this matter is clarified.
If they agree to recognize our independence, then we may have
discussions with them on equal grounds, about improving relations
between our two independent Churches, even to the point of
Eucharistic communion, but if not, we can continue our independent
existence with no need of Moscow's blessing.
The compilers of the documents under review omit from view the fact
that religion and patriotism are different subjects. Orthodoxy and
the Moscow Patriarchate are not one and the same. One may be Russian
and still be Orthodox, and not belong to the Moscow Patriarchate.
Ethnic Greeks belong to various autocephalous Churches, such as
Alexandria, Antioch an others. Their adherence to these Churches does
not make them Orthodox to greater or lesser degrees than others, and
they do not cease being Greeks.
Our common descent from Russian ancestors does not oblige us to
submit to the Patriarch of Moscow, particularly since he and the
majority of his circle were appointees of the soviet regime, hostile
to Russia, yet now they create the impression that nothing
extraordinary happened, and that we must submit to their authority.
We must decidedly set this aside!
If we were to submit to the Patriarch's authority, not only would we
lose our self-sufficiency and independence, but also the many
thousands of our flock, descendants of those Russian refugees for the
fulfillment of whose spiritual needs our Church was established, as
well as the majority of our clergy and a part of the hierarchy.
All church rules have as their only, if not sole purpose, the
spiritual benefit of the flock. If our Church joins now with the
Moscow Patriarchate, then many thousands of these people will be left
without a Church. Who needs that?
Can it be that our pastoral conscience will permit this to happen?
Many thousands of people belong to our Church. If they have a desire
to be under the authority of the Moscow Patriarchate, they can join
it at any time, but they are not doing that. That means, they prefer
to be in a Church which is independent of it, and they do this
consciously and not by happenstance. Can it be that the majority of
people who belong to our Church belong to it through
misunderstanding? It is ridiculous to even imagine this!
If we were to join Moscow now, then we would betray our brethren who
trusted us. This would be an act of the self-anihilation of our
Church, in other words, suicide.
What would we receive in return? Decidedly nothing! We would not
become Orthodox, since we never ceased being Orthodox. If there is
not one but two independent Russian Churches, then what is wrong with
that? There are many Greek Churches. The number of independent
Orthodox Churches was never a subject in the teaching of the faith.
Also, important questions such as to be or not to be with certain
Churches cannot be decided by a simple majority of votes. In this
case unanimity is necessary, or an almost unanimous decision by all
the members of a given Church. It's doubtful that we have unanimity
in this matter of interest to us.
Therefore, it is better for us to adhere to our old status quo and
set aside unification with the Moscow Patriarchate as a frivolous
* * *
This interview with His Eminence Bishop Daniel was recorded by G.
The video and taperecording of this address are in the editorial
office of "Fidelity".
Prof. G.M. Soldatow
3217-32nd Ave. NE
St. Anthony Village, MN
Secretary & Treasurer:
P.O. Box 27658
Golden Valley, MN