3 Diaspora Communities Leave ROCOR Over Union with MP


In ways that are beyond our understanding news that our Brotherhood
has placed itself under the omophorion of Metropolitan Cyprian of
Oropos and Fili, Synod of Resistance, in Greece , has leaked out and
diverse opinions have already been quite widely disseminated on the
worldwide web. We, therefore, thought that we should make a short
statement for the record.

In fact three former ROCA communities have joined the Synod of

a) the Convent of the Annunciation in London, which was founded by
St John of Shanghai in 1954, and until 1999 was under the spiritual
guidance of the Ever-Memorable Abbess Elisabeth (Ampenoff);

b) Saint Edward Brotherhood founded in 1984 with the blessing of the
Blessed and Ever-Memorable Metropolitan Philaret of New York and
Eastern America, then First Hierarch of the ROCA;

c) the nascent Mission of St Boniface at Ryde on the Isle of Wight.

The reasons for our leaving the Church Abroad were summarised in a
letter which I wrote on 13th December (n.s.) last year, namely: “In
all conscience, members of the Brotherhood do not feel that we can
accept the present rapprochement. The question of Sergianism does
not seem to have been adequately addressed, and the Moscow
Patriarchate’s involvement in ecumenism seems to be growing,
although they have made some concessions on paper.

More fundamentally, our acceptance of this mode of rapprochement
requires us to accept that the Patriarchate is, and has been for
decades, the Mother Church of Russia – this is not something that we
have ever been taught. One may claim that the MP is the de facto
Church in Russia, that she is established, even flourishing, – but,
for a number of reasons, her canonical basis is not as firm as
ROCA’s was until in the last few years she has decided to allow that
to be questioned.”

Having thought and prayed about our dilemma and written to ruling
ROCA hierarchs without receiving substantial replies, on our own
initiative we opened a correspondence with Bishop Ambrose of Methoni
of the Fili Synod. On 23rd December / 5th January, I wrote to
Archbishop Mark, asking for letters of dismissal so that we might
join the Synod in Resistance. His Eminence replied on 9th January
that he could not issue such letters, saying: “I cannot grant such
letters of dismissal by which I would agree to you placing yourself
outside the Orthodox Church.” As the Synod in Resistance had for
many years been a Sister Church of ROCA, and there was no evidence
that she had changed her confessional course, this response appeared
to us to lack foundation and spiritual sobriety.

On 28th December / 10th January, Mother Vikentia and her sisterhood,
Fr Stephen Fretwell and I were received by Metropolitan Cyprian into
his spiritual and archpastoral care. I wrote to Archbishop Mark
explaining why in all conscience we felt compelled to make this move:

“Thank you very much indeed for your letter December 2, 2006 /
January 9, 2007 (sic). We appreciate that you did not feel able to
give our communities a blessing to seek spiritual protection under
the omophorion of Metropolitan Cyprian of Oropos and Fili, but thank
you for at least leaving the door open for us to leave, and not
forbidding us to do so.

“Personally, I could not understand your objection, that by placing
ourselves under the Synod in Resistance we would be placing
ourselves outside the Church. One of the decisive factors in our
joining Fili was that until recently they were a Sister Church of
the Church Abroad, that in 1994, the Council of Bishops of ROCOR
published minutes of a meeting held on 28th June / 11th July, in
which they stated that the “Synod of Metropolitan Cyprian adheres
wholly to the exact same ecclesiological and dogmatic principles as
our Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia,” and you yourself
praised the witness of the Synod in Resistance when you visited
Brookwood, shortly after going to Fili in your efforts to sort out
the troubles which ensued when the Prophet Elias Skete on Athos was
snatched from us.…

“Again I would like to thank you for your care in the past, and
express our sorrow that in all conscience we feel unable to follow
Your Grace and those with you into union with the present
administration of the Moscow Patriarchate. We feel no sense of
triumphalism over this move, but a sadness that the Church which we
have tried faithfully to serve for years has changed her course to
one which we do not recognise.”

I hope this notice will help you understand our situation, and the
reasons for our move. We have no desire to cajole anyone into
following us if they consider our present course misguided, we have
no wish to enter into polemical dispute with any one, but we hope
and pray that, through our unworthy ministry, the Good Shepherd will
continue to nourish and care for the flock entrusted to us and those
that follow us.

In the love of Christ Jesus our Saviour and Benefactor,
the sinful monk and unworthy priest,
Archimandrite Alexis,
Brookwood , England