Re: Let's Cut to the Essence of the Matter--the Orthodox Russian Faithful
- Fr. Alexander, bless.
Your recent commentaries about discussions with the MP are well-known
on this list, but I am curious about some of your not-so-recent
but also not-so-archaic (i.e. post-Soviet communism) writings on
the subject. I have a copy of a letter cowritten by Fr. George Larin
and , I assume (please correct if it's not the case), you, Fr.
Alexander Lebedeff, to the Hierarchical Sobor of the Russian Orthodox
Church Outside Russia, dated 1/14 November 1994. The letter is in
Russian and it's my understanding it was sent to many parishes
throughout ROCOR at one time. At any rate, views to which you
apparently committed a signature then were clearly not in support of
conversations with the MP. The letter is in Russian, and I
haven't the time to translate it in its entirety here, but I will
present an excerpt in English:
" [ellipsis mine] Unfortunately the Moscow Patriarchate has
proved that it is not an honest keeper of its promises. A good
example of this is the promise of the Moscow Patriarchate, while
presenting the notorious `Autocephaly' to the American
Metropolia in 1970, to give over to the newly formed `Orthodox
Church of America' parishes in the USA and Canada which are
directly subordinate to Moscow and to withdraw the patriarch's
Almost 25 years have passed and all these parishes remain under the
authority of the Moscow Patriarchate, whose bishops are still
assigned in turns to the USA to direct these `patriarchal'
How is it possible to enter into discussions with such violators of
agreements, reached and authenticated with all their signatures and
What doesn't reach the consciousness of the authors of `The
Appeal' [a letter by 8 laymen apparently calling for
discussions/unification with the MP] is another circumstance, of a
purely practical character. The hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox
Church Outside Russia are only 15, at the same time when the
hierarchs of the Moscow Patriarchate are almost 10 times more.
[italics in the original] How can one expect that by the
desired `merger' of the authors, the interests of our Church
to be true to Christ, the Holy Canons and the testaments of the Holy
Patriarch Tikhon will be defended or even heard? Having submitted
to `His Holiness' and such a numerous Sobor of heirarchs
appointed by soviet authorities, the voice of the free Russian Church
will be muffled forever. The Bishops outside Russia could then be
quietly removed, sent into retirement, and replaced with soviet
By whom is this desired?
It's well-known by whom " [ellipsis in the original]
There are 4 pages in this general vein, with some condemning remarks
of the MP for sergianism and ecumenism as well.
What has changed in the last 8 years that has altered this scenario
described above? Have these archpriests ordained by communism
retired or repented over these few years? Also, communism had fallen
a few years prior to this letter. If the church was not free at that
time, at what point precisely had the Russian Orthodox Church
attained freedom? And what has it done in that time while exercising
its freedom to prove to you that it has become worthy (specifically,
substantially in the infrastructure, not simply through baptisms,
membership, marriages, reconstruction of churches, etc.) of reunion
with ROCOR, which has preserved the ecclesiastic interests you
Despite some of the later letters from group members on this subject,
a) The task of guiding the MP back to the truth certainly seems a
challenging one. If that is the case, I'm also afraid we're
a small fish trying to teach a big nuclear submarine the nuances of
swimming in the sea.
b) I don't think that not being convinced of the prudence of
discussions with the MP at this time is being stubborn, I think it is
just being cautious. I'm sure the faithful feel they are
entrusted with the truth and do not want to inadvertently betray it.
With Love in Christ,
Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral, Chicago