Commission suggests opening dialogue

Hat tip to A.A.

Minutes: Meeting of the ROCA Ecclesiastical Commission: November 518, 2009

Held in the Church of Archangel Michael in Odessa.

Attendees: the Most Reverend Bishop Georgiy (Commission Chairman), the Most Reverend Bishop Afanasiy (substituting for Fr. Aleksandr Lipin), Archpriest Valeriy Alekseyev, Archpriest Roman Kravets, Fr. Yevgeniy Koryagin, Fr. Leonid Plyats. Reader A. M. Khitrov attended at the invitation of the Chairman.


1. Discussion of Old Believers
2. Discussion of Orthodoxy and today’s world
3. Discussion of Czar Ivan the Terrible
4. Discussion of those who separated from ROCA before May 17, 2007
5. Discussion of future work of the Ecclesiastical Commission

1. Discussed: The relationship between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Old Believers before the Revolution until today should be examined more closely, especially the many opinions written by Metropolitans Anthony and Anastasy.

Decided: Reader A. M. Khitrov will prepare a full report.
2. A. Discussed: The normalizing of relations between the MP and the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople, and how this is leading towards attempts to establish Eucharistic and canonical relations with the Roman Catholic Church. This will cause greater problems for more conservative denominations throughout the world.

Decided: Submit a proposal to the ROCA Synod of Bishops to discuss with representatives of the Old Calendar Churches of Greece, Bulgaria, and Romania the possibility of establishing an intra-denominational church body, which would formulate responses to these developments.

B. Discussed: the letter from Serbian Patriarch Pavle to the Bishops’ Council in 2000, and the concelebrating of a number of ROCA clergy with Metropolitan Amfilohije during the IV All-Diaspora Council.

Decided: Ask the Synod of Bishops to issue a statement explaining why it is not permissible to concelebrate with bishops or clergy of the so-called “World Orthodoxy.”

3. Discussed: the controversies surrounding Ivan the Terrible, Gregory Rasputin, and others, which remain hotly debated.

Decided: the Ecclesiastical Commission recommends to the Synod of Bishops that discussions regarding such individuals have no place in the Church.

4. Discussed: Those groups who separated from ROCA before May 17, 2007. The issue is being pushed from below, from the flock, for which this is a difficult and personal matter. There are two general opinions on the question.

The first school believes these groups must return to our Church, but it is clear they will not, which makes this approach untenable. Meanwhile, while we are divided, and this deepens with time, the MP is actively persecuting the former parts of the ROCA, like ROAC in Suzdal, the diocese of Bishop Anastasy (Surzhik) in the Far East, and others. It is possible, that we will be next.

The second school believes we can begin a dialogue, reconcile, and establish Eucharistic communion without being in one administrative body. Then, while being together on the same canonical territory, work on slowly uniting together. This would be a temporary situation until the Local Council of a free Russian Church. There are historical precedents for this arrangement. For example, Patriarch Tikhon did not recognize the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Poland, which it received from the Patriarch of Constantinople, but the bishops who put off a final decision on the matter for the future, did establish Eucharistic communion with the Polish bishops.

All agreed that talks should be limited to the RTOC, ROAC, and ROCA under Bishops Vladimir (Tselishchev) and Anastasy (Surzhik).

Decided: After a spirited discussion, all agreed that it was essential to continue meeting with representatives of the “groups who separated before May 17,” to determine each other’s ecclesiastical views and intentions.

5. Discussed: The Chairman spoke of how the work of the Ecclesiastical commission should be organized. It is important that reports be prepared carefully and seriously, and work based on sources should be conducted likewise. The members heard an explanation of how such work should be performed by Reader A. Khitrov, a graduate student of the Institute of General History of the RAS (Russian Academy of Sciences).

The Chairman proposed to create an Archaeography commission.

Decided: The Ecclesiastical commission should address questions whenever they arise, in accordance with requests made by the Synod of Bishops.

The Commission meeting concluded at 1600 with the prayer “It is Truly meet…”.

Commission Chairman
Bishop Georgiy

Commission Members

Bishop Afanasy
Archpriest Valeriy Alekseyev
Archpriest Roman Kravets
Fr. Yevgeniy Koryagin
Fr. Leonid Plyats