Epistle of ROAC Synod to ROCA Sobor - part 1/2
- EPISTLE OF THE HIERARCHICAL SYNOD OF THE RUSSIAN (ROSSIJSKOJ) ORTHODOX
CHURCH TO THE HIERARCHICAL COUNCIL OF THE RUSSIAN (RUSSKOJ) ORTHODOX CHURCH
21 August / September 3, 2000. No. 70.
Your Eminence, honourable Archpastors - members of the Hierarchical
Council, and also clergy and children and of the Russian Orthodox Church
The Hierarchical Council of the Church Abroad opens at a time when, on
the one hand, the whole world is being shaken by events, each more terrible
than the one before - catastrophes, elemental disasters, wars. On the other
hand, the whole world is seized by a certain fever for unification: this is
observable not only in the political life of the world, but also in its
religious life. On the one hand, endless disputes, on the other - a haste to
unify everyone and everything: states with states, churches with churches,
religions with religions.
The fever for unification that embraces the earthly globe manifests
itself in various external forms - sometimes political, sometimes economic,
and sometimes also in an ecclesiastical-ecumenical form - but its profound
essence remains unchangingly the same.. And in this the zealots of
unification place definite hopes on the hierarchs of the ROCA.
But can the Orthodox Church surrender to this spirit of the times -
Church which is unshakably "built on the foundation of the apostles and
prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone" (Ephesians
"Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to
you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are
saved", says the holy Apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Corinthians (I
Corinthians 15.1-2). In another epistle, to the Galatians, he says: "But
if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel that what we have
preached to you, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1.8). But to those who have
preserved the holy gospel there is the promise of being comforted. "by the
mutual faith both of you and of me" (Romans 1.12).
If we open the Acts of the Holy Ecumenical Councils, we see that the
holy builders of the Church struggled for nothing more than for the
preservation and support in its unchanging form of the faith of the fathers.
"We pray you that you keep the faith of the fathers unchanged". "We beseech
you to investigate the novelty that has been introduced against the former
faith" - this is how the zealots of the Orthodox Faith addressed the Holy
Councils. And, having investigated the novelty, and rejected the
and confirmed the Dogmas of Orthodoxy unshaken, the Holy Fathers exclaimed:
"Yes, this is the faith of the fathers! This is how we all believe!"
If we open the works of the Russian teachers of the faith that are
closer to us, we see the same care first of all for keeping the patristic
teaching unchanged. "Human teachings all strive for that which is new, they
grow, they develop. Thus is has become a law: forward, forward! But in
to our faith it was said from on high: stand. remain unmoved. All that
remains for us to do is to be confirmed and to confirm others," appealed the
noted holy hierarch of the Vladimir lands Theophan, the Vishensky recluse.
We have to look over all that has passed in order to see whether the order
teachings that was outlined for us has in any way been disturbed." ("On
Orthodoxy with warnings against sins against it," Sermons of Bishop
Moscow, 1991. From his sermons to the flocks of Tambov and Vladimir).
In 1918 "he who restrains" was taken away - and this had fateful
consequences not only for Russia, but also for the whole world. Already
within two years of the murder of the holy Martyr Tsar Nicholas II, in 1920,
the Constantinopolitan Patriarchate in the person of the Locum Tenens of the
Patriarchal Throne, Metropolitan Dorotheus of Prussa, issued an encyclical
which encroached on the very foundations of Orthodoxy. Heretical communities
that have been separated by the Orthodox Church from Her communion were
declared to be "churches" having equal rights with her, and Orthodoxy was
given the aim of the speediest possible unification with all the apostates.
In contrast to this treacherous document, which marked the beginning of
the global apostasy of "World Orthodoxy", in the same year of 1920 the holy
Patriarch Tikhon together with the Holy Synod and the Higher Church
that is, undoubtedly with the whole fullness of the Central Ecclesiastical
authorities of the Russian Church - made a most important resolution, Ukaz
no. 362 of 7/20 November, 1920, on the self-definition of dioceses in
conditions of possible persecution. The other name for this Ukaz - the Ukaz
on decentralization - underlines the fact that the aim of the resolution of
the Russian Ecclesiastical Authorities was contradictory to the aim of the
encyclical of the Ecumenical throne, which called for the centralization of
all confessions of faith.
From now on the broad path and all conditions for unification were
created only for the unfaithful: but for those faithful to Christ a violent
disunion lay in store: the two parts of the Russian Church were disunited:
the one found itself exiled from its native land, while the other was driven
into the catacombs by persecutions unprecedented in their ferocity. But in
these terrible years the Church of Russia did not cease to constitute one
The force enabling both parts of the Russian Church to hold out and
preserve Their unity in all temptations, especially in the approaching most
terrible period - the epoch of the sergianist schism - was their unanimous
confession of the faith of the fathers.
"Schism is not antiquity, but novelty", pointed out Theophan the
Recluse. This remarkable definition has a universal character and allows
always accurately to establish the one who is truly guilty of schism.
By his treacherous Declaration of 1927 Metropolitan Sergius
(Stragorodsky) opened wide the gates of the Church for renovationism. It
consisted in the undermining of the very meaning of the existence of the
Church on earth - not as the pillar and ground of the truth and of eternal
Authority, but as the weapon of earthly power.
Both parts of the Russian Church - the part in Russia, and the part
Abroad - were completely unanimous in their attitude to the Declaration of
1927. The Hierarchical Synod of the Church Abroad, headed by his Beatitude
Metropolitan Anthony, broke communion with the schismatic metropolitan and
his synod. The bishops in the homeland that were faithful to the Russian
Church did the same. The essence of the sergianist schism was very
expressed by New Martyr Bishop Victor (Ostrovidov), when he called Sergius
anti-ecclesiastical heretic. The faithful children of the Russian Church did
not visit the sergianist churches, they justly made no distinction between
sergianists and renovationists. "We shall not go to renovationism," said the
Orthodox. Communications were lost with Metropolitan Peter (Polyansky), the
lawful head of the Russian Church, who was in prison, and the treachery of
his Deputy forced the Church, both in the Homeland and abroad, to be ruled
its canonical existence by Ukaz no. 362 of the holy Patriarch Tikhon
concerning the self-definition of dioceses. With the death of Metropolitan
Peter (Polyansky), the Central or Supreme Authority of the Russian Church
ceased even its nominal existence. Such an eventuality was foreseen by Ukaz
no. 362, which contained detailed recommendations for the ordering of the
Church which would avoid schism in this event. But through the efforts of
Metropolitan Sergius, a dual authority was introduced, and then a false
patriarchate (a common phenomenon, alas, in Church history during the
when heresy was dominant).
From now on the Russian Church trod its path in the conditions of the
absence of Central (Supreme) Ecclesiastical Authority. When the last
churches were closed in Russia in the 1930s, the Russian Church finally
departed into the catacombs, preserving communion in prayer with Her half
that was abroad and commemorating Her First Hierarchs Metropolitans Anthony,
Anastasy and Philaret. Following the spirit and aim of the Ukaz no. 362 of
the holy Patriarch Tikhon of 7/20 November, 1920 kept the Orthodox Church
reliably free of false strivings for unification.
This was not the case with the sergianist church - it grew strongly
what is now commonly called "official world orthodoxy". The latter was also
ruled by a document of 1920, but the document of an opposite tendency - the
ecumenical encyclical of the Locum Tenens of the Ecumenical Throne
"World Orthodoxy" became an inalienable part of the ecumenical movement and
dragged the sergianist church after it into the abyss. Into the gates opened
by Metropolitan Sergius there now poured without the slightest resistance
the false teachings by which the enemy of human salvation has, in the course
of the whole of his struggle with the Church, and especially in the 20th
century, undermined the teaching of Christ.
The sergianist church accepted all the most destructive innovations of
the 20th century - both communism, and ecumenism, by which it clearly marked
its complete attachment to the most terrible schism that has ever tormented
the Universal Church.
(end of part I)