The rumors started from a note on the Russian news site Portal-Credo.ru, which indicated that Bp Stefan had both met with two Bishops of the ROCOR-A and would be received in existing rank. While the rumor did make it to our comments, unofficial denial also occurred shortly thereafter, and so we chose not to follow the lead any further.
The official statement is below, with our comments following:
On May the 6th, an anonymous announcement appeared regarding my ostensible meeting on May 3rd with Bishop Gregory (Petrenko) at the home of Fr. Wsewolod Dutikow in New York, and the same information was posted on ‘Portal-Credo’ on May 10th.
I was not in New York and did not meet with Bp. Gregory (Petrenko). I had asked him over the phone to send me the ‘Address’ through the mail. On no occasion did I express to anyone ‘my readiness to join’ them and have made no similar statements. It was only today (May 10th) in my own home that I received and opened the ‘Address’.
+ Bishop Stefan of Trenton
(not ‘Toronto’ as printed in Portal-Credo) and North America.
The hope of union among the divided flock– after the Moscow Patriarchate’s consolidation of about 2/3 of ROCOR in 2007– unfortunately allows some of these rumors to gain credence very quickly. Sadly, we must unfortunately beware of “agent provocateurs” that put out these sort of stories, like the one found on Portal-Credo.ru, to damage positive and actual dialogue between the Russian jurisdictions, so we encourage our readers to always take such stories with a grain of salt. These stories put superfluous pressure on innocent parties (and the biggest victims in this are the hopeful flock of what remains of ROCOR) and cause needless hostility and administrative annoyance for their respective Synods.
One hopes that these awful, destructive, and all-too-common rumors, which probably caused difficulties for Bishop Stefan, the RTOC, Bishops Gregory and Joseph (as well as Fr Vsevelod Dutikow) of the ROCOR-A, and other parties at this imaginary “meeting” do not damage the existing goodwill between them. We would like nothing better than to see the Russian flock united– but such union can only occur honestly and respectfully, not through pressure and scare tactics placed by third parties and troublemakers.