Epistle of the Council of Bishops
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
which have elicited various reactions among our flock. The greater part of
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
several clauses and statements regarding the Moscow Patriarchate.
We acknowledge that various views on the course of the Church of Russia
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
into sectarianism and schisms devoid of grace is a very complicated matter
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,
not a declarative expression of the general opinion of our whole Church.
not everyone considered objectively certain things said concerning the
Patriarchate, in which our desire to see there positive changes turned out
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
make this statement.
Thus, for example, the Committee on the Unity of the Church of Russia was
conceived by us as a committee on unity with the Moscow Patriarchate, but as
to raise questions concerning the fragmentation of the Church of Russia into
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,
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
sort has happened yet, inasmuch as this does not depend upon us, but upon
Moscow Patriarchate itself, on those processes which can bring about its
to health. And we truly desire that this healing take place as quickly as
The schisms within our Church cause us immense pain and suffering, the
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
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
indifference as groups of reckless people, who call themselves Orthodox but
fact are stubborn in their errors, multiply in our days. While it is still
too late, we must exert all our efforts to stop this destructive process.
Every Orthodox believer must clearly understand that there is only one
Church, and there is nowhere else to flee; all around there yawns only the
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
often risk slipping from a firm footing. In the history of the Church in
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
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
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
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