Abp Andrew of Pavloskoe & Rockland (ROAC): Statement on the GOC-K/SiR Union

union photo
Pictures from GOC (K) led Union Celebrations
March 24, 2014
GOC(K) and Met Agafangel celebrationis
March 10/23 2014 GOC(K) Encyclical
March 25, 2014

Abp Andrew of Pavloskoe & Rockland (ROAC): Statement on the GOC-K/SiR Union

andrei-featured

andreiThe following was written concerning the recent union from Abp Andrew, Bishop of the American Diocese of ROAC and is published, as always, in the public interest.

About the recent merger of the Synod in Resistance,

 the GOC, and the ROCOR(A)

APOSTOLIC CANON 46
We order  any  Bishop or Priest, that has accepted any heretic’s baptism or sacrifice (eucharist)  be  deposed;  for  “what  consonance  has Christ with Belial? Or what part has the believer with an unbeliever?”

APOSTOLIC CANON 47
If a Bishop or Priest baptize anew anyone that  has  had a  true baptism, or fail  to  baptize  anyone that has been  polluted by the impious,  let  him  be deposed,  on  the  ground  that  he  is  mocking  the  Cross  and  Death  of the Lord and for failing to distinguish priests from pseudo­priests.

It seems to me that, based on the two above­cited canons, the Apostles had an expectation that the clergy should be able to tell the difference between where the grace of the Mysteries of the Church was present and effectual, and where it was not.

But here we are not talking about grace in general.

The grace of the Holy Spirit is the life­ creating force at work in all of creation. Everything that has breath breathes by the grace of the Holy Spirit. His grace is everywhere present and fills all things. Everything that is alive lives by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Birds fly by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Grass moves in the wind by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Fish swim by the grace of the Holy Spirit. He takes the grace of His Spirit away and all things return to their dust. Man, being the crown of creation, is certainly not foreign to the action of this grace, Which is at work in the world to draw all things to Itself. So, in a way, it is fair to say that all men have the grace of the Holy Spirit, just like the rain, which falls on all men, or the sunlight, which illumines all men, good and bad alike.

However, that grace which descended upon the Holy Apostles on Pentecost Day while they were gathered in the locked room (symbolizing the finite borders of the Church), that FULLNESS of grace, the grace of the Church, the grace of the Sacraments, resides only in those upon whom
the Holy Apostles have laid their hands (or their descendants – the bishops). This grace is not common to all men. When a man leaves the Church, he loses this grace. But he is not grace­less. But rather, he falls back into the category of those who experience the grace which is common to all. This grace again begins to work on him to draw him back to the Church.

Often, men who experience this general grace, not knowing the difference between these two states (either because they have never tasted the grace of the Church, or because they have lost the ability to distinguish between the two), mistake it for the grace that they read about in the
Scriptures, and they think that what they experience must be the grace of the Church, the grace of the Sacraments. But what they are really experiencing is the grace which moves all men to seek God.

It seems to me that in these recent statements made by these synods, there is really nothing new. No one has repudiated Cyprianism. No one has called it a heresy or repented of it. The basic premise of Cyprianism is that the grace of the Church, the grace of the Sacraments, exists in the True Church as well as in the false “church.” The statement made by the Cyprianite Synod seems to me to be rather vague. The GOC, which has condemned Cyprianism on paper, nevertheless practices it, both in Greece, and in the US. This was the case in the past several years, and is still the case.

All of these men rightly condemn ecumenism. But they fail to see how their imprecise understanding of where the grace of the Church, the grace of the Sacraments, truly resides, and where it is absent, gives reason for the True Orthodox to believe that they have accepted a veiled form of
ecumenism, or crypto­ecumenism. This is the essence of Cyprianism. And so, we see another trick of the devil in capturing men’s souls by the error that they think they have eradicated. I have no doubt that they sincerely reject the idea of Cyprianism, but they don’t understand that, although they reject it in word, they continue to practice it in deed.

+Archbishop Andrew,
of Pavlovskoye and Rockland
March 10/23, 2014

  • Thymoleon

    It is unfortunate that Archbishop Andrew is joining the bandwagon of those that wish to malign the unity of the Church.

    The archbishop speaks of grace as if it is a material, self-subsisting substance, which is possessed as an object by men and things, when in fact it is the eternal activity of the Triune God. Grace is God working and acting. Unless sanctified by the Church, inanimate and non-rational material substances are not grace-filled. Rather, they participate in divine activity only to the extent that they are the result of divine activity.

    The archbishop seems to have missed two important points made in the Common Ecclesiology: a) that without a correct confession mysteriological unity is impossible (heretics therefore are outside the church by definition), and b) that bishops that preach heresy or commune with heretics are pseudo-bishops (that is, they either forfeit or do not have apostolic succession).

    Finally, one cannot grant an assurance of validity if there is no validity. The “grave consequence” of heresy is precisely invalidity.

    • Marlon Scott

      Was ROCOR in communion with SiR when the bishops inside Russia were ordained??

      • Deacon Joseph @ NFTU

        No. The Bishops were ordained before the 1994 union; however by 1994 the situation between ROCOR and the FROC had deteriorated. However, at the time — despite Moss’ nebulous implication that Metr Valentine was forced to sign documents (presumably the union documents) from his hospital bed– there was little discussion concerning the SiR until the consecration of Bp Gregory of Colorado, who made it a “pet issue”.

        Indeed, throughout the early 2000’s Metr Valentine simply referred to the issue as problematic, though many faithful demanded a formal condemnation.

        Finally In 2007, on the basis of a study of Bishop Andrew (now Abp Andrew as above), Cyprianism-as-heresy was formally condemned by ROAC.

        • Marlon Scott

          Fr. Deacon,

          Moss said ROCOR was in communion with Romanian Old Calendarists (who were in communion with the SiR) before 1993.

          • Deacon Joseph @ NFTU

            To my knowledge ROCOR entered into communion with the Romanians in 1992, though I’ve never seen formal documentation of that. However, they were at least in 1992 loath to “make a choice” between Greek Old Calendarists.

            The ordination of the Russian Bishops was Bp Varnava- 1988 and Bp Lazarus (RTOC),Bp Benjamin (RTOC) and Bp Valentine (ROAC)- 1990. The 1994 consecrations (which included Bp Agafangel, later of ROCOR-A) led to the separation of the FROC and ROCOR.

            As you can see, it all dovetails quite nicely and can see all the major parties we are discussing now, right at the beginning. They all knew each other. Source– Moss’ FROC history; at the time he was a member of the ROAC. http://www.st-sergius.org/News/FROC.html

          • Deacon Joseph @ NFTU

            It is a shame how so little was written down of that period– we got to know fascinating events. When Metr Vitaly was removed, for example– many people thought he would soon “breathe his last” in the Synod building that week. Metr Vitaly wrote his protest– and a visiting Metr Valentine in New Jersey got wind of it, raced down with Fr Vladimir Shishkoff, got Metr Vitaly out and drove him home directly to Canada!

            Those were indeed chaotic days.

          • Deacon Joseph @ NFTU

            Metr Valentine, eternal memory to him, was not always the most theologically reknowned, but one of the most fearless men, let alone Bishops, I ever met. I am grateful to God for that short time.

          • HmkEnoch

            The Theotokos saved him from being beat to death by Russian gangsters. God was watching out for him.

          • Theophan

            I was just reading through this thread, and though I’m commenting quite after the thread’s date, I found the comments very helpful and instructive, with a few exceptions. One thing that comes to mind as we pick back through the past (a very helpful exercise if done in a remedial kind of way) is that I, and others, must be sure to remember that there were indeed agents provocateur at work for decades, who had infiltrated the ranks of the Orthodox with malicious intent. Not making excuses, but even hierarchs are human and subject to deceits and subterfuge just like anyone else.

            That said, I think there are useful models from the past in ‘world “christianity”/”orthodoxy” (a chilling oxymoron, lost on some). As an example, if the SiR (‘union aside’) are still “carriers” (in the medical sense) of their cryptic ecumenism (by way of their ‘ecclesi-illogical’ wordplay) then is it possible that the GOC/K may be “infected” as were those in the ROCOR who capitulated… with the same tragic result?

            Having a potential precedent from history, this should give some pause about celebrating the union with no thought about what it may portend for the future. Another example from the past: a close look at the ‘run-up’, actualization and aftermath of Vatican II can be very instructive about what one might expect from the upcoming 2016 ‘council’ of the world-orthodox leaders. I spent 25 years, roughly, in that very hellish post Vatican II ethos… up close and personal. The same ‘forces’ are at work. If you find a moment, look up Pope John 23rd’s opening address to the Vatican II Council (’62) and note the phraseologies used.. and overlay that on the 3/2014 EP’s Synaxis Message from their meeting, and look closely at the parallels, again in the placement and accenting of phrases and themes. Just a thought. Also of interest, at least for me, is the fact that the preparations for the “Great and Holy” Orthodox Council began in the ’60’s as well. (Vatican II: 1962-1965). The anti-Vatican II RCC traditionalists (who called/call it a “false council”) still are filling the air (and Internet) with quotes from Fathers and Saints and Canons trying to justify their positions… in utter and painful exasperation. Their major enemy, besides the obvious… AMBIGUITY and WORDPLAY in the canons and Vatican II documents. They just can’t excommunicate any of the ‘popes’ who rode the great Trojan Horse into their midst… they “have to wait for a Council to judge and excommunicate these heretical Vatican II Popes”. And the sedevacantists among them are beside themselves. They all deserve much prayer and many tears from us. They have been cast down by the same enemy. One that operates on both sides of the great Schism. They too have sought to cling to Tradition and renounce ecumenism and modernism. Orthodoxy is so very precious and welcome to one of these when they discover it. I know firsthand. I spent decades in the wilderness of protestantism and Roman catholicism. So I understand with deep joy what the host at the Wedding in Cana said: …”but thou hast kept the good wine until now.”

            I laud the Autonomous Orthodox Metropolia for their “Open Letter to Traditional Roman Catholics”. THERE is a fertile ground for TRUE Orthodox ecumenical striving.

          • HmkEnoch

            Theophan, the issue with the Sede’s is that they don’t want to give up even the ghost of the Vatican. I wrote the letter along with Fr. Joseph. We sent it out. Those who responded were flustered at the idea at the ideas! They didn’t believe there was a true pope, but, they were saying we had to submit to the Pope! It made no sense. However, we did have some positive responses, someone was just recently baptized by us this past Holy Saturday as a result of the discussion the letter generated. It took a year of discussion, explaining the Scriptures, the Fathers, showing the heresies of Rome, the errors in their thinking, etc. The SSPX is extremely confused as well since they basically claim to be under the Pope (who they say is a true Pope with all his supposed powers) but say they don’t have to obey anything he says that they don’t like (I recently knew an SSPX person who we baptized that documented how he was constantly ‘corrected’ in theological papers whenever he even said the Pope was heretical; eventually it was too much for many of them)
            . True Orthodoxy is the only answer!

          • HmkEnoch

            Yeah. Despite the depositions they leveled against FROC and Met. Valentine, and everything else, Met. Valentine (along with Fr. Vladimir Shishkoff) saved Met. Vitaly from the clutches of 93rd street! And thus, inadvertently helped found ROCiE (and even perhaps the RTOC?!).

          • HmkEnoch

            I can only speak from having known personally someone who was at St. John’s Glorification (though I did kind of confirm what I’m about to say by having seen a video someone took of the festivities) and related the following: Met. Vlasie and Met. Cyprian were both at the Glorification of St. John; they had originally been invited to concelebrate by Archbishop Anthony of San Francisco. While Met. Cyprian was vesting in the Altar, Met. Vitaly walked in, and became extremely upset, and demanded that Met. Cyprian (and Met. Vlasie) take no liturgical part of the ceremonies. In a dinner held after the Glorification, there was a raised daise. At the table Met. Cyprian and Met. Vlasie were invited to set. Met. Vitaly came in, and was again extremely upset at their presence there, he didn’t stay long and left.

            This does seems to have relevance in that Archbishop Anthony, according to the account, seemed to have no issues with the Romanians (or the SiR Greeks); on the other hand, Met. Vitaly seemed to consistently oppose union with them. He only went along because the Synod was against him on the issue; this coupled with the fact that he no longer had his major allies either in HTM (which had left ROCOR to later form HOCNA), or in the person of the great Bp. Gregory (Grabbe) who was against the union, but, who had fallen out of political favour with Met. Vitaly (even though Bp. Gregory was supposed to have been instrumental in getting Met. Vitaly elected).

            Met. Vitaly did even repudiate any help offered by the SiR during all the troubles in the midst of his ouster. Met. Vitaly did go along with the ROCiE condemnation of Met. Cyprian’s teaching.

          • Marlon Scott

            Fr. Deacon,

            As early as 1974 ROCOR decided:

            Synod of Russian Bishops Abroad 1974

            Concerning the question of the presence or absence of grace among the new calendarists the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad does not consider herself or any other Local Church to have the right to make a conclusive decision, since a categorical evaluation in this question can be undertaken only by a properly convened, competent Ecumenical Council, with the obligatory participation of the free Church of Russia. (Thirty Years of Trial: The True Orthodox Christians of Greece, 1970-200 pg. 9 by Vladimir Moss)

            That sounds similar to the SiR stand taken on uncondemned heretics. Not to mention Moss says that ROCOR was still in communion with Serbia and Jerusalem in the 90s (they had to commemorate the Jerusalem patriarch or close their monasteries there) and this helped to undermine their mission inside Russia. PLUS, wasn’t Met. Valentine consecrated by Archbishop Anthony of Geneva?

            ROCOR simply cannot stand under the strictness that many want to hold, yet ROCOR is the foundation on which they desire to stand. Instead of people rejoicing over the GOC-SiR union, they’re undermining it with overly simplistic statements that just don’t hold up under scrutiny.

          • Deacon Joseph @ NFTU

            Marlon,

            That’s just silly. Your saying that an uncertain statement (“a categorical evaluation in this question can be undertaken only by a properly convened, competent Ecumenical Council, with the obligatory participation of the free Church of Russia”) is more stable (“ROCOR simply cannot stand under the strictness that many want to hold”) than a certain one.

            The 1974 statement, in fact, virtually killed existing communion with the True Orthodox of Greece, spurred on intense debate between the two sides of ROCOR, including the first hierarch, whose positions on a lack of grace in World Orthodoxy were already well-known, and led to the anathema against ecumenism, which was to avert a break in the Synod over the two sides– which eventually began to unravel with the Free Russian Orthodox Church problems of 1990-94. (Bp Gregory Grabbe, for example, along with some clergy, ceased commemorating ROCOR and commemorating FROC/ROAC altogether).

            Constant band-aids are not a model of stability. Even the SiR’s figured that out. Whether you are a friend of union or against it, it’s obvious that no part of the former Synod thinks that World Orthodoxy is part of the Church– which was the difficulty of the 1974 statement, but not now.

            The free part of the Church of Russia is obvious, as well as in Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria, Western Europe, the Americas, Africa– True Orthodox are everywhere, and they are increasingly resolving their differences. Nothing is stopping them from holding council one day– perhaps in response to the coming robber council, if the state churches can actually ever get it together by 2016. (BTW, a false “ecumenical council” is in fact a harbinger of Antichrist in many writings in the Church– although it’d have to crown Antichrist, which the false Council of Florence did not do).

          • Marlon Scott

            Fr. Deacon,

            I’m sincerely glad that True Orthodox are resolving their differences. I rejoice that there is less enmity in the True Orthodox confession. I also sincerely believe that to depose and anathematize each other and still claim to be one Church is a subtle form of ecumenism anyway (only because I take anathemas and depositions quite seriously).

            The 1974 statement killed communion with the Matthewites. Many Greek Old Calendarists sought communion with ROCOR after that statement. It’s nothing new, it was the same as the Synod’s ruling in 1961. Private opinions of hierarchs don’t really matter do they? Everyone knows that ROCOR (and therefore Met. Philaret) was in communion with with World Orthodoxy, at least in some degree. ROCOR was in talks with the OCA at the same time it was in talks with the Greek Old Calendarists:

            Fr. A. Lebedeff

            “Throughout the 1970s, under Metropolitan Philaret, there were ongoing secret negotiations, by his explicit blessings, with the OCA with the goal of establishing canonical and eucharistic communion, if not outright union with it (notwithstand the Autocephaly that had been granted to the OCA by the Moscow Patriarchate in 1970).

            Metropolitan Philaret, in 1973, sent me to meet with Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann to discuss possible ways such a rapprochement could be accomplished.

            Secret meetings were held between Protopresbyter George Grabbe and Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann at the Commodore Hotel in NYC…I was a member of this Commission, so I have first-hand knowledge of it…This information has been quite closely held over the past decades, but recently, the Memoirs of Fr. Alexander Schmemann were published in English, and just now, his Diaries have been published (in Russian).

            In these Memoirs and Diaries, he recalls the meeting with me in 1973 (he called me “a young priest – 23 years old!, sincere and in his own way, broad-minded,”) recalled the meetings at the Commodore Hotel with Fr. George Grabbe, and the Special Joint Commissions on negotiations between the ROCOR and the OCA–so they are no longer much of a secret.”

            You likely don’t trust him but Met. Philaret corroborates the story in his reply A. Solzhenitsyn:

            “Not long ago, when the American Church declared herself autocephalous, we invited her to unity anew, but our invitation went unheeded. In spite of this, in painful consciousness of our lack of unity, our Council recently decided to approach our brothers with another invitation. And still we sincerely and warmly hope for unity, and are convinced that, with goodwill on their side, conditions of unity could be found, as they were in America in 1936.”

            What’s the purpose of me stating all this? Not to deliberate about World Orthodox being in the Church in 2014. If that’s how GOC-K feels then they should come right out and say it, anathematize Cyprianism and the World Orthodox. This GOC has done it before, so it needs to be done again because people seem to be confused as of yet. My point is that I question how Abp. Andrew can be so judgmental of SiR and this union when Met. Valentine was ordained by Abp. Anthony of Geneva, an ecumenist bishop in a church that was in some form of communion with World Orthodoxy. ROCOR of the past, the very foundation of his synod, could not stand up to the same scrutiny he’s utilizing to judge the GOC-K.

          • Oh.

            Well, don’t mind me then! I invite you to be as critical as possible. As long as you aren’t muddling the time periods then by all means continue. 🙂

          • One note, however: the 1974 statement also severely damaged relations with the Florinites.

          • Anonymous

            The RTOC was in communion with the Cyprianites for years, even after the ROCOR broke communion with the Cypriantes. Yet, in regular “TOC” contradiction and hypocrisy, Moss recognizes the RTOC.

  • Jean-Serge Katembue

    I think he rightly points the problem of parapraph VI of the ecclosiological agreement, that might create unity on bad bases. For now, this paragraph being problematic, as I explain in my open letter, I ask everybody to put some pressure on the bishops to get a clear and official clarification, and until such clarification is provided, reject the ecclesiological document in its current wording: http://orthodoxie-libre.over-blog.com/article-a-union-with-many-questions-123067866.html Those agreeing are invited to spread the word. For now, condemnation for semi-cyprianism are prematurate because the “accused people” are allowed to have their say.

  • Monk Symeon Silos

    The document published by SiR in regards to this recent unity was worded in a very pro-Orthodox manner. Reading it one would think, “Great! They’ve returned to the Faith”. But nowhere has there been a joint or separate clear and directly repudiation of “Cyprianism” as a heresy. Without such clear anathematizing “Cyprianism” we know not how pure or impure this union really is.

    • Deacon Joseph @ NFTU

      Benedicite! If they have dropped the position that heretics can comprise part of the Church, what more is there really? Isn’t that the essence of “Cyprianism” as condemned anyway?

      • Monk Symeon Silos

        I agree with Archbishop Andrew of Pavlovskoye and Rockland in that a specific denial of, an anathema of, “Cyprianism” is needed. When one converts from one of the form of Protestantism or another the convert must clearly state they henceforth deny their past affiliations during their exorcism. Same should be here with SiR/GOCs. No? Forgive me an unworthy servant.

  • Anonymous

    Met. Valentine was convicted of pedophilia in 2003. All, or most of “TOC” bishops are corrupt, of bad will, and unethical power-mongers.

    • Herman

      It is a grave sin to falsely slander bishops of the Church. For your information, Metropolitan Valentine was accused and brought to court in Russia over a false accusation of molesting a boy in Russia. He wasn’t even in Russia when this was supposed to happen, and the boy himself admitted that he was put up to it by bribery by a certain man who hated Metropolitan Valentine. The case was thrown out and Metroploitan Valentine was acquitted. ROCOR at the time acquitted him too. Quit slandering people! You have mental problems!

  • Anonymous

    Andrei is another phony of bad will.