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THE CHURCH IN RUSSIA

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  • byakimov@csc.com.au
    In the opinion of the Church Abroad, suspending relations between the two Churches did not at all mean that the two were divided. The Church Abroad continues
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 1, 2003
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      In the opinion of the Church Abroad, suspending relations between the two
      Churches did not at all mean that the two were divided. The Church Abroad
      continues to maintain that all the Russian Churches, the Patriarchal
      Church, the Church Abroad, and the Catacomb Church, are part of one Russian
      Church. The question of what part of the Russian Church followed the
      correct, canonical path, preserving the traditions and heritage of the old
      Russian Church, is one which, in the opinion of the Church Abroad, can be
      determined only by a freely-elected All-Russian Local Council of the
      Russian Church, in which would participate representatives of the
      Patriarchal Church, the Church Abroad and of the Catacomb Church.


      ?Hernot Zeide, The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad: Jubilee Collection
      , Jordanville, 1988, p. 344



      "The Church of Christ must be totally clear and unambiguous about her
      agenda. All faithful are part of it.

      "...in our day, .. Orthodox Christians are losing the savour of
      Orthodoxy and virtually all the Local Orthodox Churches are giving in
      to the apostasy of our times. The strength of the true Christian in
      the terrible times ahead is the apocalyptic expectation of the Second
      Coming of Christ: "The spirit of a constant expectation of the Second
      Coming of Christ is the original Christian spirit, which cries out in
      prayer to the Lord: Even so, come, Lord Jesus (Apocalypse 22:20)".
      (Father Seraphim Rose: Archbishop Averky, his significance for the
      ecumenical Orthodox Church)."


      "Once again?I believe that our senior hierarchs throughout the last
      70 years have never equated the Moscow Patriarchate with the
      Mother-Russian Church. But they never excluded from the Mother Church
      those clergymen and faithful that were part of of the Moscow
      Patriarchate but remained true to the spirit of the historical
      Russian Church." (Fr. Aexander Lebedeff)


      "....With all to whom the treasured heritage of Orthodoxy is dear we are
      prepared to clarify as a unified whole, the canonical and dogmatic
      questions brought about by the split between the various parts of the
      Russian Church. The goal of such dialogue cannot be compromise between
      truth and falsehood. The unshakable cornerstone of our sure hope is the
      Lord Jesus Christ Himself. There can be no joining of darkness with light.
      But we are all responsible for the seamless cloak of the One Russian
      Church, and only from this pure source can we draw the strength to carry
      out our Christian struggle in the modern world. We rejoice that healthy
      forces are appearing in the Patriarchate...." (Epistle of the Hierarchical
      Council of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, 1994),



      THE CHURCH IN RUSSIA


      Parishes of the Free Russian Church


      In 1988 in Russia the life of the emigration and with it the Russian Church
      Abroad ceased to be a taboo subject. Sympathy with Orthodox compatriots in
      the Diaspora clearly began to become evident at the same time as the real
      problems inside the Moscow Patriarchate. The lies of communist propaganda
      billow like clouds of smoke, while the unshakeable position of the Russian
      Church Abroad witnesses to its ecclesiastical steadfastness.


      After the festivities on the occasion of the millennium of the Baptism of
      Russia, a discussion began in ecclesiastically orientated circles about the
      possibility of opening a "podvoria" (representation), or a parish of the
      Russian Church Abroad in Russia. More and more often and urgently this
      question was being raised in conversations with believers and priests who
      went to the West from Russia on visits, and at the end of 1989 it even
      found its way into the Soviet Press.


      The Russian Church Abroad could not, however, open a "podvoria" in Russia
      because the Russian Church is not "another national church." The Russian
      Church Abroad itself is neither autocephalous nor autonomous.
      Administrative subordination to the new church hierarchy in Moscow which
      was called into being by the power of the atheist government in 1927
      through the "declaration of loyalty" of Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky)
      was inconceivable and was rejected. But a separation from the resulting
      illegal church administration in Moscow did not mean separation from the
      Russian Church. The life of the Russian Church is based on the enactments
      of the All-Russian Church Council of 1917-1918. This council, in a free
      expression of its intention reinstituted the Patriarchate after an
      interruption of 217 years by electing a Patriarch of all Russia (5/18)
      April 1918). The newly formed Moscow Patriarchate of 1927, however, in many
      cases violated the holy canons of the Church and the intentions of the last
      free All-Russian Council. The hope that the Moscow Patriarchate would
      return to the spirit of this Council ended in bitter disappointment in
      1990?in Russia as well as abroad.


      During all these years, however, there existed both abroad and in the
      catacombs in Russia that part of the Russian church which did not go the
      way of the Moscow Patriarchate, the way of imaginary and false advantages.
      The question always remained open: how would the return to pure
      ecclesiology, the reunion of the alienated parts of the Russian Church, be
      possible?


      The solution to this question has always seemed the same to the Moscow
      Patriarchate?as in the 30's under Stalin, also under Kruschev and Brezhnev
      in the 60's?or at present in the 90's (or even NOW). At variance with
      ecclesiastical and historical truth, it is a matter of subjection to the
      center at Moscow according to the formula: Moscow Patriarchate = Russian
      Church. How nice, indeed, if it were so simple!


      The true cross of the Russian Church Abroad is not so simple or visible,
      especially in regard to its canonical position where the possibility of a
      central church administration was paralyzed by the interference of the
      atheist system, which led to bitter inner consequences.The standpoint of
      the newly formed Moscow Patriarchate that it possessed exclusive authority
      over the Russian Church was shared neither by Metropolitan Anthony (K.),
      the senior Russian hierarch after the death of Patriarch Tikhon, who
      presided over the Bishops Council abroad which consisted of 34 bishops, nor
      Metropolitan Cyril (Smirnov) the senior hierarch in Russia, who was
      designated by Patriarch Tikhon as first patriarchal locum tenums (regent).
      Concerning this theme, Metropolitan Cyril wrote that those who do not
      recognize as legal the succession of the administration of Sergius may
      exist up until the time of a general council which will pass judgement on
      those who do recognize it. (Jan. 1934 see: L. Regelson, Tragedy of the
      Russian Church, Paris 1977, p. 495.)


      Metropolitan Cyril based his view on ukase 362 of the legal church
      administration of 7/20 November 1920, the canonical basis on which the
      Russian Church Abroad also exists.


      Metropolitan Joseph of Petrograd also referred to the same patriarchal
      ukase when he wrote the following to Metropolitan Sergius: "When by the
      authority of this ukase certain bishops have taken upon themselves
      fraternal administration... then it would not be possible to object to such
      a free association. If you... with such a group of hierarchs have set up a
      Synod, that does not mean that your decisions are binding on the whole
      Russian Church; then there would be no objection to such a grouping. Then
      you would not need to burden your conscience with numerous bans and
      interdictions... Only by a return to the patriarchal ukase of 7/20 November
      1920... can you give back to the Russian Church its canonical welfare..."
      (15/28 July 1933, see L. Regelson, p. 491)


      In Russia. there are today, as there were before, believers who live in the
      tradition of Metropolitan Joseph and Metropolitan Cyril, such as Bishop
      Lazarus of Tambov and Morshansk. As has been already reported (elsewhere),
      he was consecrated bishop in Russia with the blessing of the hierarchy of
      the Russian Church Abroad in 1982. That was already then an expression of
      the lively connection of those parts of the Russian Church in the homeland
      and abroad which have remained free of communist interference.


      The Moscow Patriarchate has, since Stalin's time, according to its own
      basic assumptions, called upon the Russian Church Abroad to return to "the
      saving bosom of the Mother Church." The same call echoed again in 1987. In
      the reply by the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Church Abroad of 6/19
      November 1987 it was stated:


      "The authors of the epistle (from the Moscow Patriarchate) call on us to
      return to a place from which we have never departed. We have never regarded
      ourselves as outside the Mother Church, but rather as preserving the unity
      of spirit and prayer with the martyrs, who suffered for the faith, and who
      went into the catacombs, with all true Orthodox Christians, and with the
      whole fullness of the Russian Church, for which time and space have no
      meaning: "The Spirit blows where it will." Those of us living abroad did
      not break with the name of Russia, we did not look for a foreign omophore,
      we bore insult and contempt from false brothers and those who not only hate
      our Church but also our Fatherland. And now you call on us to return... but
      from where?"


      The union of the free Russian Church has always existed. The Moscow
      Patriarchate, on the other hand, is not accustomed to reasoning in terms of
      freedom and catholicity but rather in terms of power, reflected in its
      fatal submission to the anti-church directives of a totalitarian
      government.


      With changes in the outer circumstances and the inner atmosphere in Russia
      the hardened presuppositions and structures have begun to break down. This
      raises for those inside the Moscow Patriarchate, who only with greatest
      effort have born the atmosphere of suffocating oppression, the question of
      the convergence of the divergent streams of the all-Russian Church. In this
      larger perspective the question of "parishes of the Church Abroad" in
      Russia is only an isolated question which, however, at the same time is of
      great basic significance.


      As discussion about this question come to a head, in February 1991,
      Metropolitan Vitaly, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad described
      a facet of the basic position of that part of the Russian Church which is
      abroad, when, in an interview for a Russian language broadcast The Voice of
      America, he emphasized: "For us the main thing is not to have parishes over
      there, but rather that the Moscow Patriarchate changes it course, that it
      repudiate 'sergianism'..." The Metropolitan expressed the opinion that
      this, together with the recognition and glorification of the new-martyrs
      not only abroad, but in Russia as well, is essential. "That (change of
      course) is our expectation, not increasing the number of our parishes. And
      if that happens, then it would be an unbelievably great event of spiritual
      dimension. The Moscow Patriarchate would then again be on its legal path.
      Then there would be no more talk of parishes, then we would all be one.
      That is what we want, what we strive for, what we pray for." (Orthodox
      Russia, No. 7/1990, see p. 5)


      Already many in Russia have exposed the duplicity of "sergianism" which is
      solely the product of forces alien to the Church. Veneration for the
      new-martyrs has become apparent. A new path is opening up for the Moscow
      Patriarchate, but they prefer, on the one hand, to continue to defend
      "sergianism" and, on the other hand, in matters concerning the new-martyrs,
      to obstruct and, as much as possible, to sow deception. Both are closely
      related matters. They do not want to think about a just solution which
      treats the Russian Church as a living whole. The solution is possible only
      on the way to freedom and truth. But the question as a whole does not suit
      the Moscow Patriarchate and so the hierarchy decided, as its newly elected
      head Alexis II subsequently showed most clearly, that it was better to
      distort the appeal of Metropolitan Vitaly so that it would appear that the
      Synod of the Russian Church Abroad had broken with the free part of the
      Church in Russia, and decided: "The Russian Church Abroad will have no
      parishes on the territory of the Moscow Patriarchate" (Central TV 6/23/90).
      They preferred to talk about "interference" or "noninterference" in the
      affairs of the Moscow Patriarchate based on the formula: Moscow
      Patriarchate = Russian Church.The injustice of this simplistic formula and
      its application to the territory of the Russian Church with the methods
      which?to put it mildly?are unworthy of the Church, is well known. It is not
      worthy of the Orthodox Church to cling to that which was gained by force
      and atheistic methods. That which the hierarchy of the Moscow Patriarchate
      is absolutely determined to stop and to suppress came clearly into view.


      Priests and believers who have fought under difficult circumstances for the
      opening of churches (sometimes for two decades), for the broadening of
      church activities, and the renaissance of the Russian Church, usually
      remain without the support of the hierarchy of the Moscow Patriarchate.
      Complaints about internal church abuses remain without answer. With the
      partial change in the external circumstances the consequences came to
      light. There has now appeared, on the other hand, people who, with those
      who made an exodus, do not accept the position of the Moscow
      Patriarchate......................


      Translated from Der Bote ("The Messenger") 3/1991, a magazine of the
      Russian Church Abroad in Germany.


      From Orthodox Life: part I in Vol. 41, No. 4, 1991 (pp. 47-50) and part II
      in Vol. 41, No. 5, 1991 (pp. 21-31).
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