A Split to End the Splits? Archbishop Andronik Holding 6th All-Diaspora Council to Try Metropolitan Agafangel

Long-simmering divisions in the ROCOR under Metropolitan Agafangel have finally bubbled to the surface, as the unity of his Synod has begun to tear amidst Archbishops Andronik of Syracuse and Sofrony of St Petersburg’s call for a 6th All-Diaspora Council, with trying the Metropolitan’s actions on the agenda. Worthy of mention is a statement last month which points out that this is not the first time Bishops have separated from the Metropolitan, but the second: the first being the unlawful removal of Bishops Dionisy and Iriney. Meanwhile, the two Bishops and a large contingent of their flocks have become concerned about a quasi-Papal attitude surrounding Metropolitan Agafangel’s actions, and the Metropolitan himself has claimed to have suspended the Archbishops, although the flocks rightly protested such a virtually papal action.

The parishes and clergy then agreed in their minutes to hold an All-Diaspora Council.

In St. Petersburg, they argue that the Metropolitan’s inclusion of a controversial parish (with an icon of Rasputin holding the Tsarevich Alexis on the iconostasis!) has caused severe problems in their diocese; Metropolitan Agafangel’s response was to attempt to have Archbishop Sofrony suspended. In America, Metropolitan Agafangel proposed a “power-sharing agreement” with Archbishop Andronik over America in July which Archbishop Andronik originally agreed to, but then retracted on the basis of the agreement’s uncanonical nature.

Meanwhile, the two Archbishops and their flocks intend to unite the fragments of the ROCOR, presumably in the same spirit it was done in 2007. Pre-conciliar conferences are currently being held to have formal talks with other groups which were also opposed to the 2007 union. Further, Archbishop Andronik has clarified that he is not “breaking communion” but simply applying the normative self-rule found in the foundational documents of the ROCOR.

Questions linger about the future of the ROCOR under Metropolitan Agafangel; according to Archbishop Sofrony, Archbishop Kallinikos of the True Orthodox Church of Greece asked the Metropolitan to stop making rash decisions, but apparently nothing has changed. So the ROCOR Synod under Metropolitan Agafangel, currently listing seven Bishops, may be down to six, as well as– per the documents– a sizable contingent of the American parishes.

The documents concerning the Council are here.