A Necessary Step
by Fr. Victor Dobroff
On the canonicity of the acceptance of the Izhevsk priests of the ROC MP under the omofor of the First Hierarch of the ROCA, Metropolitan Agafangel.
The significant step of accepting the priests from Izhevsk under the omofor of the ROCA First Hierarch while allowing the parishes to remain a part of the Moscow Patriarchate was an unexplainable action for many members of the Church Abroad. For the many enemies of our Holy Church it was another opportunity to attack Her with the usual baseless “canonical” accusations.
The accusations directed toward the ROCA Synod of those wishing us ill reached such absurd heights that not only was the Synod accused of changing the traditional course and policy regarding the MP, but even accusations that the ROCA was entering into union with the schismatic “Gundyaev” Patriarchia, which was created by Stalin in 1943.
Such things rock the stability of the Church Abroad and that is why I would like to share some thoughts with the ROCA faithful.
I believe it is necessary once and for all to explain the abbreviation “MP” and decisively make clear the difference between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Moscow Patriarchia, the former being related to the Russian Church and the latter being of the Soviet Church.
Unfortunately, the enemies of the ROCA are successful in playing with words and deviously equate the abbreviation MP with both the Moscow Patriarchate and the Moscow Patriarchia, thus ignoring the difference between the fallen administration of the MP and the Orthodox flock and lump together Patriarch Kirill (Gundyaev) and the religious Russian people. They do this with one goal, to destabilize, break apart and if possible tear away something from the ROCA. It is especially distasteful that these instigators are not concerned with their own uncanonical status and those that give in to these instigations do not evaluate the statements on canonicity that arise from schisms and parasynagogues.
The document under discussion is the Encyclical of the ROCA Council of 1927, a document that forms the canonical foundation of the traditional path of the Church Abroad and Her relation to sergianists and the Moscow Patriarchate.
Reviewing this document in light of the acceptance of the MP priests leads to the following conclusions:
1. The ROCA Synod has not introduced anything new or anything that contradicts its former position and maintains the traditional approach to relations between the ROCA and the Moscow Patriarchate, formulated by the Encyclical of the ROCA Council of August 27, 1927.
2. Just as the first ROCA First Hierarch Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) categorically repudiated Sergius but not the Moscow Patriarchate and its martyrs of the faith and loyal clergy, so does the current ROCA First Hierarch Metropolitan Agafangel (Pashkovskiy) and the ROCA Synod he heads categorically repudiate sergianism, ecumenism and the loathsome administration of the Moscow Patriarchia, while not repudiating the MP martyrs of the faith, loyal clergy and laypeople of today.
3. It is clear from the cited Synodal document that Met. Anthony, the bishops and the clergy of the ROCA considered themselves to be a lawful and canonical part of the ROCA and the Moscow Patriarchate at the same time and considered the idea of being excluded from the list of clergy of the Moscow Patriarchate to be uncanonical.
4. It is apparent that the Moscow Patriarchate discussed in this Synodal document is completely different from the sergianist Moscow Patriarchia created by Stalin in 1943.
5. It is also clear that the atonement of the MP priests for sergianism and the ecumenism that arose from it, which these priests did not sully themselves with, is equal to the refusal in the past of the clergy abroad to sign the Declaration of Met. Sergius and to join in spirit with the clergy of the MP in opposing the Moscow episcopate. This is also clearly shown in the Encyclical of the ROCA Council of 1927.
6. The declaration of the priests accepted under the omofor of the ROCA First Hierarch to retain their status as clergy of the Moscow Patriarchate completely conforms to the spirit, letter and views of Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) in the Encyclical of the ROCA Council of 1927.
7. It is worth noting what is said in the Encyclical of the ROCA Council of 1927 about the manipulation of names:
“This combining of two separate entities – the Provisional Supreme Church Administration abroad and the Synod of Bishops – has been attempted by the enemies of the Church to confuse its faithful members and to deepen the turmoil in the church abroad.”
As we see, history repeats itself and the enemies of the ROCA today also play with words such as “Moscow Patriarchate,” “the Stalinist Moscow Patriarchia” and “MP” to lead the faithful into confusion and to sow disarray.
8. After the Declaration of Loyalty of Met. Sergius was issued the ROCA continued to be and considered itself a part of the Moscow Patriarchate, was in Eucharistic communion with the loyal ant-sergianist clergy of the Moscow Patriarchate and commemorated the name of Met. Peter (Polyanskiy) during services.
9. In accordance with the Encyclical, the part of the All-Russia Church abroad only severed its relations with the church administration in Moscow, but did not sever its ties to the clergy under it and was one with those who did not commemorate Sergius.
Therefore, the clergy of the Moscow Patriarchia (like the priests of Udmurtia who have been accepted under the omofor of the ROCA First Hierarch) who repudiate sergianism and ecumenism, condemn the sergianist schism and heresies of the MP also sever their ties and no longer answer to the church administration in Moscow, but their names are not excluded from the list of clergy of the Moscow Patriarchate and they renew their unity with the ROCA episcopate and unity with the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Fr. Victor Dobroff
PS. The provisional status of the Church Abroad, set down in the first paragraph of the Regulation of the ROCA, was understood by the fathers of the Church Abroad to be a state of affairs up until a final determination at a free Local Council of the Russian Church in the future at which all three of its parts would be present: the Church Abroad and the two parts in the homeland – the Moscow Patriarchate and Catacomb Church. In light of this, the ROCA remains free in anticipation of this highly important event in the Church and which will herald the resurrection of our long-suffering Fatherland.
A legal All-Russian Local Council can be convened only by a lawful canonical administration, which in light of events in history is represented by the ROCA Chairman. http://daily-courier.
As a result, the responsibility rests on Met. Agafangel’s shoulders to prepare the Church for the upcoming Local Council and the temporary acceptance of clergy of the MP under the omofor of the ROCA First Hierarch while retaining their status as part of the Moscow Patriarchate is a decision of the ROCA Synod that is not only canonically sound but also far-sighted.
It is difficult to say how matters with parishes of the MP will unfold in the future, but one can imagine that the upcoming diabolic “Eighth Ecumenical Council” will become a spiritual catalyst for many in the MP to gather together under the nucleus that is forming under the omofor of the ROCA First Hierarch. One can imagine that if such a strong influx begins then it may be possible for the ROCA Synod to create a canonical episcopate for the Moscow Patriarchate by ordaining new bishops or by amending the ordination of MP bishops who might join up, as it was done earlier for the real Catacomb Christians who were accepted into the Church Abroad in 2008.
If the Encyclical of the ROCA Council of 1927 laid the basis for relations between the ROCA and the sergianist MP, then the Resolution of the IV All-Diaspora Council of 2006 laid the canonical basis for relations with the MP.
While discussing the traditional course of the ROCA, it is helpful to review the Resolution of the IV All-Diaspora Council (http://www.rusidea.org/?a=
40123) which was convened especially to determine relations between the Church Abroad and the Moscow Patriarchia.
If the decision by the ROCA Synod to accept the MP clergy and the elucidation of the canonical status of the admitted parishes fits into the framework laid down by both documents, then it can be said that the ROCA Synod continues to follow its traditional course.
It is stated in this historic document, that “at the appropriate time, the unity of the Russian Church will be restored upon the foundation of the Truth of Christ, opening for us the possibility to serve together and to commune from one Chalice.”
The Supreme Conciliar Authority – the IV All-Diaspora Council – also declared that for the ROCA to enter into Eucharistic communion with the clergy of the MP it was enough for the MP episcopate simply to cease its involvement in ecumenism.
“From discussions at the Council it is apparent that the participation of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate in the World Council of Churches evokes confusion among our clergy and flock. With heartfelt pain we ask the hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate to heed the plea of our flock to expediently remove this temptation.”
Further the All-Diaspora Council once again indicates when all the remaining disagreements will be resolved and when full Church relations and the unity of the Russian Orthodox Church will be restored, as Eucharistic communion of all the participants of a joint Council is not a goal, but is a necessary condition for conducting a joint Council:
“The forthcoming Local Council of One Russian Church will settle remaining unresolved church problems.” A Council at which “it is necessary to confirm the canonical status of the Russian Church Abroad for the future as a self-governing part of the Local Russian Church, in accordance with the Regulations of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.”
Apparently, the appropriate time indicated in the Council Resolution is coming to pass and the acceptance of the MP priests overcomes a necessary step on the path towards a forthcoming Local Council.