Five Years of ROCOR-MP: The ROCOR-MP is now just the MP

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Five Years of ROCOR-MP: The ROCOR-MP is now just the MP

Yesterday marked the Fifth Anniversary of the union between the official ROCOR and the Moscow Patriarchate. While some news sites have celebrated this fact as just a joyful anniversary, we here at NFTU always know to pay attention to the activity in the background….

Anyone remember this?

Acting in the spirit of ecclesiastical oikonomia , the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia envision a five-year transition period for the full regularization of the status of former parishes of the Russian Church Abroad on the canonical territory of the Moscow Patriarchate, through their entering into the jurisdiction of the local ruling bishops. Before this period elapses, such parishes which are not on the territory of Self-governing Churches have the opportunity to be under the protection of a Vicar to the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, who, with the blessing of the Patriarch, may participate in the work of the Council of Bishops and Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia by invitation of her First Hierarch.

Now, why isn’t this being brought up at all? Well, the answer is simple: the implementation is simply impossible. ROCOR-MP as it has stood for five years is a legal fantasy:”ROCOR-MP” is a complete deviance from the temporary statute of the ROCOR from 1936— a foundational document– as well as the  statute of the ROCOR as concieved in 1956 and 1964. (In case these links suddenly no longer work, NFTU is retaining copies to the documents. Let us know if they disappear!) And these people know it. Look at the powers of the first-hierarch enumerated in Statute #37. Has anyone the gall to believe that Metropolitan Hilarion of New York retains any of these powers? Of course not.

Let’s look at that interesting addendum one more time: “the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia envision a five-year transition period for the full regularization of the status of former parishes of the Russian Church Abroad on the canonical territory of the Moscow Patriarchate, through their entering into the jurisdiction of the local ruling bishops.”  Now, of course, one could argue that this is only referring to parishes of the ROCOR-MP in Russia. Of course! The ROCOR-MP would never give up its “independence”. Except for one annoying little detail.

The Addendum (just look at the top of the link) was a modification of Chapter 8 of the “Regulation of the Russian Orthodox Church” titled “the Self-Governing Churches”, which, conveniently, is online in English. In other words, the Addendum must be read in the context of this document. Chapter 8 is interesting because it notes that there are only four self-governing jurisdictions of the Moscow Patriarchate. And the ROCOR-MP isn’t one of them. 

Of course, we saw this coming the moment we saw that the ROCOR-MP Bishops were inserted by rank into the lists of the Moscow hierarchy. And this is exactly why this five year anniversary is important. The goal of the five-year period is very clear. It is to regularize the former Church Abroad parishes as Moscow Patriarchate parishes.

In other words, ROCOR-MP was never envisioned after this five-year period.

It’s interesting to see what will happen with the court cases around the world at this point: since the ROCOR-MP is now a juridical fiction, only parishes which are part of the “scattered schismatics” (which used to be what the Moscow Patriarchate called all of ROCOR anyway) can legitimately claim to be part of the ROCOR. Why?

Because unless changes are made to the current law governing the union between the MP in Russia and the ROCOR-MP hierarchy are made immediately, there is no provision by which another head of the ROCOR-MP can be independently elected. From a completely legal standpoint, Metropolitan Hilarion is now simply the Moscow Patriarchate’s Metropolitan of New York, and the ROCOR-MP is in fact nothing more than a local meeting of Bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate.

The Moscow Patriarchate and the “ROCOR-MP” addressed the “scattered schismatics” on their official websites, as well as exactly what we are writing about here.  From the ROCOR-MP website:

The Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church noted that over the last five years, the Russian Church has refrained from hasty measures in strengthening unity: “We need to be cautious lest awkward steps, inaccurate expressions or careless actions mar the unity we have achieved or hinder our relationship, which is developing well,” noted the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

Referring to those who have not accepted this unity to this day and are in schism, His Holiness stated that there is an insignificant number of such people on the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church, though the existence of parishes abroad which have not united presents a problem and evokes pain among the faithful. “This division sometimes exists within families, that is, it affects real human lives,” said His Holiness, emphasizing that the Russian Church is prepared to do everything “to aid in overcoming this illness and sorrow in any way possible.”

And from the MP website itself– the last sentence is telling:

Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York thanked His Holiness Patriarch Kirill for consideration shown to the problems of the Russian Abroad. He confirmed that the separated communities constitute a small part of the ROCOR.

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, presented a report on the activities of the working group for discussion of the issues of strengthening church unity, noting the constructive and kind nature of the work.

The participants in the meeting exchanged views on the ways to further consolidation if [sic] the Russian Orthodox diaspora.

It’s not an accident they are still talking about the “schismatics”. If everyone had gone with the program five years ago, there’d be no ROCOR at all except in history books. Five years of court cases, personal battles, property seizures involving the Russian government, and more have passed, and if you look past this “joyful celebration”, the reality should set in: there is no more “ROCOR-MP”.  There’s just the MP. For those “scattered schismatics” who continue to hold to the statutes of the ROCOR, the waiting game is over.

It’s about to get interesting.


Posted by Dcn Joseph Suaiden (via Nabble)
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