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Epistle of the Council of Bishops

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  • Rev Mark Gilstrap
    http://www.rocor.org/letters/2001-sobor-epistle-to-homeland.html Octobor 2001 - Epistle of the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox ChurchOutside of
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 2, 2001
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      http://www.rocor.org/letters/2001-sobor-epistle-to-homeland.html

      Octobor 2001 - Epistle of the Council of Bishops
      of the Russian Orthodox ChurchOutside of Russia
      To the Divinely Saved Flock in the Homeland

      Brethren and Sisters!

      At the last Council of our Church, in October of 2000, documents were
      adopted
      which have elicited various reactions among our flock. The greater part of
      the
      faithful wholly approved of the Councils actions; but part of the flock was
      confused by certain assertions in the documents we adopted. These confusions
      were caused, firstly, but the Letter to Patriarch Paul of Serbia, and also
      by
      several clauses and statements regarding the Moscow Patriarchate.
      We acknowledge that various views on the course of the Church of Russia
      exist
      among us, and it happens that these views do not always coincide. This is
      natural, since to define the one true path on the one hand, without falling
      under the process of universal apostasy, and on the other hand, without
      straying
      into sectarianism and schisms devoid of grace is a very complicated matter
      in
      our times. Thus, it often happens that careful correction must be applied to
      positions previously espoused, which are the result either of unwarranted
      opinions, or misinformation, or other causes. Such positions, which have not
      been thoroughly thought through, sometimes lie as a heavy burden on the
      conscience of more and more people.
      The Letter referred to above, which in essence was private in character,
      is
      not a declarative expression of the general opinion of our whole Church.
      Also,
      not everyone considered objectively certain things said concerning the
      Moscow
      Patriarchate, in which our desire to see there positive changes turned out
      to be
      ahead of the real state of affairs.
      However, even these imprudently uttered statements do not alter, yes, and
      should not alter, the general course of our Church, which is founded on the
      Sacred Scriptures and is uncompromising with regard to innovation in and the
      perversion of our dogmas. Notwithstanding, we have considered it necessary
      to
      make this statement.
      Thus, for example, the Committee on the Unity of the Church of Russia was
      not
      conceived by us as a committee on unity with the Moscow Patriarchate, but as
      one
      to raise questions concerning the fragmentation of the Church of Russia into
      a
      multitude of sects, and how to halt this process and turn it around. Every
      right-minded Orthodox person must admit that this is not an idle question,
      but
      one which concerns us all.
      No few such unjust reproaches were made during the period between the
      Councils. Accusations that we are uniting with an unrepentant Moscow
      Patriarchate have dogged us already for fifteen years. However, nothing of
      the
      sort has happened yet, inasmuch as this does not depend upon us, but upon
      the
      Moscow Patriarchate itself, on those processes which can bring about its
      return
      to health. And we truly desire that this healing take place as quickly as
      possible.
      The schisms within our Church cause us immense pain and suffering, the
      moreso
      because they are often brought about or provoked by false information. It is
      essential to resolve questions of doubt and argument in frank and open
      dialogue,
      without unwarranted bitterness and preconceived opinions, and, all the more,
      without outside, ill-intentioned prompters.
      We call upon those who have left the fold of our Church to reconsider the
      position in which they have placed themselves. It is not possible to watch
      with
      indifference as groups of reckless people, who call themselves Orthodox but
      in
      fact are stubborn in their errors, multiply in our days. While it is still
      not
      too late, we must exert all our efforts to stop this destructive process.
      Every Orthodox believer must clearly understand that there is only one
      true
      Church, and there is nowhere else to flee; all around there yawns only the
      abyss
      of hell. For this reason one must with all one's powers avoid the temptation
      that our personal opinion is infallible; straining for the letter of the
      law, we
      often risk slipping from a firm footing. In the history of the Church in
      latter
      times there are only too many lamentable examples of such falls.
      We call upon all of our faithful children in the homeland to cling with
      confidence to the Ark of the Church, and not to give in to the temptations
      of
      the spirits of wickedness, which thirst for our destruction. Trusting in our
      Lord Jesus Christ, we hope to abide forever in the Church He founded, for
      the
      purity of which the new-martyrs and confessors of Russia shed their blood.
      With trust in God and His all-pure Mother,
      The hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia:
      [Signatures:] Metropolitan Laurus
      Archbishop Alypy
      Archbishop Mark
      Archbishop Hilarion
      Bishop Kirill
      Bishop Eftikhy
      Bishop Agafangel
      Bishop Amvrosy
      Bishop Michael
      Bishop Gabriel
      Bishop Agapit



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