14/27 October 2000 - ROCOR SOBOR Epistle
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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
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
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
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.
President of the Council
Members of the Council:
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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