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Fundamental Question

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  • Fr. Alexander Lebedeff
    On the question of grace in the Moscow Patriarchate. I would like to hear an intelligent response to one simple question, but first some background. during the
    Message 1 of 117 , Jun 4, 2003
      On the question of grace in the Moscow Patriarchate.

      I would like to hear an intelligent response to one simple question, but
      first some background.

      during the 1930's, 1940's, 1950's, 1960's, 1970's, 1980',s and 1990's, the
      Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia issued a large number of official
      Epistles, addressed to either its flock abroad, or to the faithful under
      Soviet oppression, or both.

      Many of these official Epistles express and explain the position of the
      Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia toward the Moscow Patriarchate,
      so that the position of the Church Abroad would be perfectly clear to all
      of the faithful, both in the homeland and abroad.

      Now the question.

      Please explain why, in all of these official Epistles, the Russian Orthodox
      Church Outside of Russia **never once** declares that the Moscow
      Patriarchate is heretical or graceless, or that the Mysteries performed in
      its churches are invalid?

      Why, if the Anathema of Patriarch Tikhon of 1918 is binding and definitive,
      do none of the Epistles of the Church Abroad, even the most lengthy one, of
      1933, which goes on for 23 pages describing in detail the view of the
      Church Abroad regarding Metropolitan Sergius's capitulation to the Soviet
      authorities--even mention this Anathema?

      Why were the bishops of the Church Abroad residing in the United States and
      Canada, including Archbishop Vitaly (Maximenko), who voted at the
      Metropolitan Council in 1943 to commemorate Patriarch Sergius (and later,
      in a separate resolution, to commemorate his Locum Tenens and successor,
      Metropolitan, later Patriarch Alexei I), in all parishes of the Church
      Abroad in North America never censured by the Sobor of the Church Abroad,
      nor was St. John of Shanghai ever censured for himself commemorating and
      requiring his clergy to commemorate the Moscow Patriarch in 1945?

      Why was Archbishop Vitaly (Maximenko) never censured for his Epistles and
      Articles, in which he consistently and frequently explicitly calls the
      Moscow Patriarchate "the Mother Church," and, in fact, his collected
      writings were published in two editions by Jordanville?

      Would not the Church Abroad, if it truly believed that the Moscow
      Patriarchate were a heretical and graceless organization, which had fallen
      under the Anathema of Patriarch Tikhon, be required protect the flock both
      in the homeland and abroad from this false Church and unequivocally state
      that no one should attend services in churches of the MP?

      Instead, the Epistles of the Church Abroad constantly and continuously
      **praise** the faithful under Soviet oppression who, notwithstanding danger
      to themselves, continued to attend and receive the Mysteries in the temples
      of the official Church that still remained open.

      Why is this?

      Why did the Church Abroad (under Metropolitan Philaret) issue a special
      encyclical to the faithful flock decrying the edict of the Soviet
      government forbidding minors to attend church or receive Communion
      there--the Encyclical of the Church Abroad explicitly stating that this
      would deny children communion with the Life-giving Mysteries.

      Could the say that if they considered that the Mysteries given in MP
      churches were graceless and invalid?

      I await a rational explanation.

      With love in Christ,

      Prot. Alexander Lebedeff
    • vkozyreff
      Dear Father Alexander, bless. You write: 4) Therefore, it is completely correct to call the clergy appointed by either name -- a Judicial Commission or an
      Message 117 of 117 , Jun 23, 2003
        Dear Father Alexander, bless.

        You write:

        "4) Therefore, it is completely correct to call the clergy appointed
        by either name -- a "Judicial Commission" or an "Ecclesiastical
        Tribunal," since they were a **Judicial Commission, acting as an
        Ecclesiastical Tribunal**. "

        May I ask what the difference is between an "Ecclesial Tribunal" and
        a "Judicial Commission"? When is one used, and when is the second
        used? Why was a commission used in this case, and what precautions
        were taken in this case to ensure that the judges had no personal
        enmity towards the accused, or no political disagreement with them
        that might bias their judgement? A judge is always biased, even when
        he tries not to be.

        You write:

        "5) The clergy that comprised the Judicial Commission/Ecclesiastical
        Tribunal all completed a full theological education, including
        courses in Canon Law, and were well versed in both the Canons of the
        Church and the Regulations of the Russian Orthodox Church. The three
        clergymen had a combined one hundred years of service to the Church
        as clergymen,..."

        These remarks surprise me. The knowledge of the law is not what makes
        a judge fair. If the judge considers that it is fair to condemn a
        bishop for typos, the fact that the judge in question has a good
        knowledge of the law does not reassure me. How many "years of Church
        service" did the condemned French clergy have?

        The fact that the judges are versed in the canons and regulations
        does not guarantee that their decision was not influenced by grief
        and hostile personal or political feelings. When a judgement is
        challenged in appeal, the fact that the judges of the questioned
        judgement are knowledgeable is not an argument to convince about the
        equity of the judgement.

        How come the commission was appointed, the judgement was pronounced
        and confirmed by the Sobor in two week-end days, without the accused
        even being informed that they were being judged and without them
        later being personally notified of their own condemnation?

        Is this like any serene, compassionate and wise way of behaving for
        a "tribunal". Does that not recall the expedite justice of
        dictatorial regimes that condemn before they have judged? What is
        incomprehensible, is that apparently no precautions were taken to
        guarantee a likelihood of fairness of the judgement. A frequent
        character of justice is that it is perverted. What precautions were
        taken in this case to see to it that justice would not be perverted?

        " 'Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or
        favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly. (Leviticus
        19:14-16)

        Christian Justice, is the highest justice. It is the justice of the
        Christian heart. The basic wise and at the same time clear and
        understandable principle is expressed in the Gospel in these words:
        Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you,
        do ye even so to them: (Mathew 7:12).

        In God,

        Vladimir Kozyreff

        --- In orthodox-synod@yahoogroups.com, "Fr. Alexander Lebedeff"
        <lebedeff@w...> wrote:
        > Serge Rust wrote:
        >
        > >Fr Alexander,
        > >
        > >- when you judged «fr Benjamin and other clergy», without
        > >hearing them, did you make the above implied assumptions?
        >
        > Those are **your** assumptions.
        >
        > Don't presume to make them mine.
        >
        >
        >
        > >- how could your judgement defrock «fr Benjamin and other
        > >clergy», since you claim that
        > >
        > >«**no** commission and **no** tribunal can "defrock" any
        > >clergyman»
        > >(your post dated Tue, 27 May 2003 15:40:11)?
        > >
        > >- was it a *tribunal* or a *commission*? (already repeatedly asked)
        > >
        > >Not doubt that this List will find it symptomatic that the members
        of
        > >this *thing* cannot answer whether this *thing* was a *tribunal*
        or a
        > >*commission...!
        >
        > Serge here again displays a remarkable lack of knowledge about
        judicial
        > procedures in the Orthodox Church, and, here, specifically, in the
        Russian
        > Church Abroad.
        >
        > In order not to be misunderstood again, I will try to patiently
        make things
        > clear.
        >
        > 1) In each Diocese, there exists a standing Ecclesiastical Tribunal
        > that typically hears cases that come up in the Diocese.
        >
        > 2) In addition, the Synod of Bishops can and does, when it
        determines it to
        > be necessary, appoint a special ad hoc Judicial Commission, which
        acts as
        > an Ecclesiastical Tribunal.
        >
        > 3) In the case of the "French Clergy," the Synod of Bishops
        appointed a
        > special Judicial Commission, which acted as an Ecclesiastical
        Tribunal.
        >
        > 4) Therefore, it is completely correct to call the clergy appointed
        by
        > either name -- a "Judicial Commission" or an "Ecclesiastical
        Tribunal,"
        > since they were a **Judicial Commission, acting as an
        Ecclesiastical
        > Tribunal**. (This is similar to the situation in many states that
        allow
        > appointed Commissioners to act as Judges--they are really
        Commissioners,
        > but their powers are exactly the same as judges--and when a
        Commisioner or
        > a Judge makes a ruling, it is equally binding, no matter what the
        person on
        > the bench is called).
        >
        > Therefore, the question of whether it was a "commission" or
        a "tribunal" is
        > completely irrelevant, since it was. in reality, both.
        >
        > 5) The clergy that comprised the Judicial Commission/Ecclesiastical
        > Tribunal all completed a full theological education, including
        courses in
        > Canon Law, and were well versed in both the Canons of the Church
        and the
        > Regulations of the Russian Orthodox Church.
        >
        > The three clergymen had a combined one hundred years of service to
        the
        > Church as clergymen, and all three had many years experience as
        Secretaries
        > or Chancellors of their respective Dioceses. Each had the
        experience of
        > decades of service as members of Ecclesiastical Tribunals in their
        > respective Dioceses, as well.
        >
        > 6) It must be emphasized that an Ecclesiastical Tribunal (or a
        Judicial
        > Commission acting as an Ecclesiastical Tribunal), does **not** have
        the
        > canonical authority to actually "defrock" or depose from office any
        > clergyman--that authority belongs solely to the Synod (or Sobor) of
        Bishops.
        >
        > The Ecclesiastical Tribunal hears the case and determines whether,
        in its
        > opinion, the accused clergyman should be subject to deposition from
        office
        > or not, and prepares a formal Resolution expressing its judicial
        opinion.
        >
        > If the decision of the Ecclesiastical Tribunal is that the
        clergyman should
        > be deposed, this does not happen automatically. The decision of the
        > Ecclesiastical itself does not actually depose anyone, as I stated
        on the
        > list before.
        >
        > Such a decision is sent to up to the Council of Bishops, who can
        modify,
        > reject, send back for further deliberation, or confirm that
        decision of the
        > Ecclesiastical Tribunal.
        >
        > Only if the Synod of Bishops confirms the decision of the
        Ecclesiastical
        > Tribunal and passes its own Resolution stating that the individual
        > clergyman is deposed from office does the actual removal from holy
        orders
        > take place.
        >
        > To reiterate, it is only the Synod or Sobor of Bishops that can
        depose a
        > clergyman from ecclesiastical orders. The Ecclesiastical Tribunal
        is an
        > integral and required part of the process, but not the ultimate
        > decision-making body.
        >
        > I hope that this will clarify the matter for all who may have
        misunderstood
        > my previous posts, or if I had not been sufficiently clear before.
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > With love in Christ,
        >
        > Prot. Alexander Lebedeff
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