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14/27 October 2000 - ROCOR SOBOR Epistle

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  • Priest Seraphim Holland
    Also online at http://www.rocor.org in the following formats: Russian HTML Russian RTF format English HTML English RTF format Russian and English, side by side
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 31, 2000
      Also online at http://www.rocor.org in the following formats:
      Russian HTML
      Russian RTF format
      English HTML
      English RTF format
      Russian and English, side by side HTML


      Epistle of the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church
      Outside of Russia to the Beloved Children of the Church in the
      Homeland and in the Diaspora

      14/27 October 2000

      Overshadowed by the presence of the miraculous Kursk-Root Icon
      of the Mother of God, the Council of Bishops of the Russian
      Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, assembled at the Synod
      Building in New York, addresses itself to its faithful flock, scattered
      throughout the whole world and in our homeland, the much-suffering
      Russian land, wherein we perceive the beginnings of a genuine
      spiritual awakening.

      We have never taken for granted that the return of the people of
      Russia to our common spiritual Orthodox roots would be simple
      and like a triumphal procession.

      For this reason, with benevolent sympathy, we welcome the turn to
      prayer of the whole Russian people to all the holy New-martyrs of
      Russia, and especially the martyred Imperial Family, which has
      henceforth become possible thanks to the recognition of their
      sanctity by the Council of Bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate.
      And we are likewise given hope by the adoption of a new social
      concept by that Council, which in essence cancels out the
      1927"Declaration" of Metropolitan Sergius by acknowledging the
      supremacy of the commandments of God over those demands of
      temporal powers which might lead to the violation of religious and
      moral principles.

      We venerate the martyric struggle of the many Russian soldiers
      when they were captured by infidels during recent wars, refused to
      renounce the Orthodox Faith and convert to another religion, for which
      they endured torture and death. Such confession has shown that the
      Russian people have preserved faith in Christ within their hearts to an
      unexpected degree, despite eight decades of the erosion of the Faith by
      the godless regime.

      However, our Council has noted the absence of any understanding by
      the Moscow Patriarchate of the position of the Russian Church Abroad,
      which has carefully been preserving the heritage of the Russian
      Orthodox Church. Especially lamentable are the aggressive actions of
      the Patriarchate in the forced confiscation of churches and monasteries
      from the Church Abroad, the preservation, and at times the salvation, of
      which has cost the Russian emigration great effort and represented a
      real struggle of sacrificial service to those Russian holy places which
      are beyond the borders of Russia.

      To these grievous circumstances must be added the fact that at its
      Council, the Moscow Patriarchate in fact confirmed its dedication to
      broad participation in ecumenism, and took no steps to protect its own
      younger generations from that pan-heresy.

      Nor did we see the Council of the Moscow Patriarchate offer an honest
      assessment of the anti-ecclesial actions of Metropolitan Sergius
      (Stragorodsky), his Synod and their successors, even though the

      Council came close to historical truth in its Act of the Glorification of the
      New-martyrs, and, both in the aforementioned Act and in its now social
      concept, obliquely acknowledged as praiseworthy the path of the
      confessors who refused to accept the path of Metropolitan Sergius.

      Guided by the spirit of the Gospel, we acknowledge, with due
      understanding, how difficult it is to free oneself from the consequences
      of the Church's enslavement by the Soviet governmental structure with
      its atheistic ideology. This understanding moves us to deal
      sympathetically and kindly with the faithful of the formerly enslaved
      Church, and to welcome substantive steps toward the healing of Church
      life in Russia.

      On the other hand, the relationship of these measures to the
      fundamental points which we have enunciated for many years in our
      care for the purity of the Church persuade us to remain faithful to the
      course of the Church Abroad. Even now we must fulfill our historic
      mission of standing for the Truth, until all who have been redeemed by
      the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ are convinced of it.

      The Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of
      Russia addresses to its flock a new, urgent call to be loyal to the end.
      Your archpastors must be able to have confidence in your love and your
      trust in the Russian Orthodoxy of the Holy Fathers which is being
      preserved by our Church, a loyalty which all the members of the Council
      of Bishops, without exception, confess again and again in unanimity.

      The eighty-year history of our exiled Church has borne clear witness
      before the world that we have not turned ourselves into an exclusive,
      self-enamored society, but remain a Church possessed of the fullness
      of soul-saving grace. Those who depart from us have not been able to
      undermine the authority of our Church, since its glory has not derived
      and does not derive from earthly power or any sizable membership, but
      from immutable adherence to the Truth, to the righteousness of God.

      We hold it our duty to remind our flock of the paramount importance of
      each member of the Church preserving the personal piety which is the
      principal token of our salvation within the Church.

      Frequently among us the critical stand taken against social vices,
      against the retreat of today's world from the divine and moral laws,
      begets an inattentive attitude toward one's personal spiritual peace, and
      as a result the level of personal piety falls. So it happens that, while
      criticizing apostasy, we ourselves become participants in the universal
      abandonment of piety.

      Conversely, feats of personal piety: prayer, fasting, abstinence,
      repentance, brotherly love, patience, humility and meekness, have
      been, and remain, the principal weapon against the destruction of the
      whole world and the salvific means not only of one's personal salvation,
      but of that of the universal establishment of the One, Holy, Catholic and
      Apostolic Church.

      Yet we will proclaim to the whole world our stand for the Truth in vain if
      the members of our Church prefer not the personal life of virtue but of
      suspicion towards others, arguments, the formation of groups for the
      condemnation of others, and various actions which shatter the life of
      parish and diocese. This ruination, which draws into everlasting
      destruction each who participates in it, inevitably besmirches the face of
      our whole Church and weakens its witness.

      With gratitude toward God that we belong to the true Church which is
      founded on the Rock of Faith, our Lord Jesus Christ, we urge you to
      remain its faithful members and to strengthen its saving work by feats of
      personal piety, mutual love and the patient bearing of "one another's
      burdens" (Gal. 6: 2). Be mindful of the words of Christ: "By this shall all
      men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another" (Jn.
      13: 35).


      +Metropolitan Vitaly
      President of the Council

      Members of the Council:
      +Archbishop Lavr
      +Archbishop Alypy
      +Archbishop Mark
      +Archbishop Lazar
      +Archbishop Ilarion
      +Bishop Veniamin
      +Bishop Evtikhy
      +Bishop Agathangel
      +Bishop Aleksandr
      +Bishop Amvrosy
      +Bishop Kirill
      +Bishop Mitrofan
      +Bishop Gavriil
      +Bishop Mikhail

      Priest Seraphim Holland St Nicholas Orthodox Church, Dallas, Texas, USA
      seraphim@... Ph:972/529-2754 MOBILE & VOICE MAIL 214 336-3464
      FAX: 603/908-2408 Home Address: 2102 Summit, McKinney, TX 75070, USA
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