Well, this is what we’re here for, so I am going to say it:
Bishop Daniel of Erie is a finally a free man.
According to the website of the ROCOR’s Eastern American Diocese under Metropolitan Hilarion:
On Monday morning, April 26, in his 79th year, His Grace, Bishop Daniel of Erie (born Dimitri Borisovich Alexandrow), vicar bishop of the First Hierarch for the care of Old Believers, reposed in the Lord. His Grace Jerome, Bishop of Manhattan, released a statement in response to Bishop Daniel’s passing, which read in part: “I call upon all of the faithful of our diocese to lift up their prayers for the repose of the soul of the newly departed Bishop Daniel. I ask that all of the rectors commemorate Vladyka during the Great Entrance on the Midfeast of Pentecost. ”
Likely to remained unmentioned in the official eulogies we will undoubtedly be deluged with is that Bishop Daniel, very early on in the official process of union, was a voice of discontent against the union with the Moscow Patriarchate. In an interview with Brother Nathaniel (Kapner) in 2006, he stated his opposition to the union in no uncertain terms:
Sbn Nathanael: “Vladyka. This week you issued already two statements expressing your strong objections to the MP-ROCOR union. In both statements you spoke of the dangers of the ROCOR relinquishing their indepedance to the Moscow Patriarchy. Why is this “independance of the ROCOR” sucn an issue for you?”
Bishop Daniel: “I made these statements for I have been recently asked to sign some documents that favor the union. But I can not hide my objections to this union. Wo I have now publicly stated what I truly believe is the correct path for our Church.
“The ROCOR has enjoyed independence for over 80 years. Why should we *now* give away our independence as a gift to the MP? We already have our independence. We do not need the MP to grant to us what we already have!
“For uniting with the MP will mean our self-destruction. This self destruction could even be called suicide. For though in the best of circumstances, the Moscow Patriarchy promises us our continued independence, it will soon be taken away.”
Sbn Nathanael: “But doesn’t Metropolitan Laurus assert that the ROCOR will remain administratively independent?”
Bishop Daniel: “This is nothing but conjecture. Let’s see what will happen in reality!
We have not yet been able to locate copies of the statements but are sure someone has them in their possession. UPDATE. Located: Bishop Daniel’s 2007, which he was required to publicly recant.
Bishop Daniel remained in communion with the ROCOR under Metropolitan Hilarion, but his actual stance concerning the union remained unclear. In 2007, there was considerable controversy over a proposed visit of Bishop Daniel to Tolstoy Farm, where some of the arrangement of the ROCOR-PSCA (now the ROCOR-A) took place. In a defensive and somewhat disjointed letter (which we have saved in case it disappears), Fr Pimen Simon, rector of the Nativity Parish, both admitted that Bishop Daniel was against the union (and that Fr Pimen himself was very much in favor) and denied Bishop Daniel was being “controlled” by people in Erie.
After the union, in 2008, Bishop Daniel participated in the consecration of Bishop John (Berzins) of Caracas.
We wish Bishop Daniel all the best on his future journey, where the only canonical communion is between Christ and His faithful departed from this life who contended well for the faith. Eternal Memory.
Footnote. Since we don’t know how long this will remain up on Portal-Credo, we are copying his 2006 Address to the Sobor of the ROCOR as well.
Address of bishop Daniel of Erie vicar of the Chairman of the Synod of bishops, servicing old-rite believers. To the Clergy, Monastics and Parishioners of The ROCA on the Threshhold of the IV th Pan-abroad Sobor 2006 in San Francisco
Speaking: Bishop Daniel, Vicar of the First Hierarch of the Church Abroad on Old-Believers Affairs.
I wish to address you and share some of my thoughts on matters which are troubling us, which I had written down a year ago, yet have not lost their significance at the current time.
Dear Vladika’s, Fathers, Brothers and Sisters in the Lord!
At one time I had addressed you in connection with the dialogue which is being conducted between our Church Abroad and the Moscow Patriarchate. I feared that this dialogue would lead to the unification of our Churches under the authority of the Moscow Patriarchate, and subsequently, to the complete annihilation of our independence, which we have had for more than eighty years now.
I was reassured that the issue was not unification of the Churches, and not our subordination to Moscow, but merely improving relations between our Churches.
I have nothing against that, and allowed myself to be persuaded that nothing threatens the existence of our Church as self-sufficient and independent.
Then I received an entire package of documents from our Church’s Synod of Bishops on these matters and it took me quite a while to read them and think them over.
Therefore, I find it indispensable to address you again, since the documents that were sent to me far surpass my worst fears, and I will unlikely be able to personally be present in conciliar discussion of these issues.
In the beginning much is said about mutual relations between the Church and the state, about ecumenism from an Orthodox point of view, and we can only rejoice at this, since in the recent past, or “yesterday” on a historical scale, the Moscow Patriarchate was under full and unequivocal submission to the godless, communist authority, which seized our Fatherland and would have belonged to any organization on instructions from that authority.
Our Church never was in a union with the godless authority and never belonged to any ecumenical organizations, therefore none of this has any direct relationship to us. One can only hope that the Moscow Patriarchate will not elude these principles.
All the talk that unification or subordination to the Moscow Patriarchate is not being conjectured is absolutely unsubstantiated.
At first nothing is mentioned about commemorating the first hierarch, probably so as not to aggravate the flock abroad, but then it turns out that the election of the First Hierarch of the Church Abroad is subject to confirmation by the Patriarch and the Synod of Bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate, and the name of the First Hierarch will be commemorated only after the name of the Patriarch; a commemoration which hitherto had not been mentioned.
The Patriarch together with his bishops is given the right to ratify, and consequently not ratify, i.e., the right to veto all important decisions on leadership within our Church, including
election of bishops.
Is this not the union of the Churches and is this not the subordination of our Church unto Moscow?
What is this?
According to the candid admission of the Patriarchate, our Church must become one of its self-governing parts – similar to the Churches of Latvia or Estonia. To say thereby, that no unification or subordination is presumed, as it is done in the draft letter to Metropolitan Kiprian, simply means to consciously lead people into delusion, i.e. to deceive them.
In becoming dependent on the Patriarch et al, our Church will no longer remain independent, i.e., autocephalous de facto, as it had been and continues to be now more than eighty years, having something greater than autonomy, namely independence. Our Church has no need for any autonomy, no matter how alluring this autonomy may seem to poorly informed people.
It is revealing that the word “independence”, which precisely defines our position as of today, is painstakingly avoided by the compilers of the documents under review, with reference to the Church Abroad, and it is quite clear why the Moscow Patriarchate wishes to deprive us of this self-sufficiency and independence and make us subordinate unto itself, using any kinds of truths or falsehoods.
In view of the fact that it has become clear where further talks with the Moscow Patriarchate are leading: to unification with it, under the power of the Patriarch of Moscow, it appears to me to be advisable to cease further talks with the Moscow Patriarchate until such time that their position on this matter is clarified.
If they agree to recognize our independence, then we may have discussions with them on equal grounds, about improving relations between our two independent Churches, even to the point of Eucharistic communion, but if not, we can continue our independent existence with no need of Moscow’s blessing.
The compilers of the documents under review omit from view the fact that religion and patriotism are different subjects. Orthodoxy and the Moscow Patriarchate are not one and the same. One may be Russian and still be Orthodox, and not belong to the Moscow Patriarchate.
Ethnic Greeks belong to various autocephalous Churches, such as Alexandria, Antioch an others. Their adherence to these Churches does not make them Orthodox to greater or lesser degrees than others, and they do not cease being Greeks.
Our common descent from Russian ancestors does not oblige us to submit to the Patriarch of Moscow, particularly since he and the majority of his circle were appointees of the soviet regime, hostile to Russia, yet now they create the impression that nothing extraordinary happened, and that we must submit to their authority.
We must decidedly set this aside!
If we were to submit to the Patriarch’s authority, not only would we lose our self-sufficiency and independence, but also the many thousands of our flock, descendants of those Russian refugees for the fulfillment of whose spiritual needs our Church was established, as well as the majority of our clergy and a part of the hierarchy.
All church rules have as their only, if not sole purpose, the spiritual benefit of the flock. If our Church joins now with the Moscow Patriarchate, then many thousands of these people will be left without a Church. Who needs that?
Can it be that our pastoral conscience will permit this to happen?
Many thousands of people belong to our Church. If they have a desire to be under the authority of the Moscow Patriarchate, they can join it at any time, but they are not doing that. That means, they prefer to be in a Church which is independent of it, and they do this consciously and not by happenstance. Can it be that the majority of people who belong to our Church belong to it through misunderstanding? It is ridiculous to even imagine this!
If we were to join Moscow now, then we would betray our brethren who trusted us. This would be an act of the self-anihilation of our Church, in other words, suicide.
What would we receive in return? Decidedly nothing! We would not become Orthodox, since we never ceased being Orthodox. If there is not one but two independent Russian Churches, then what is wrong with that? There are many Greek Churches. The number of independent Orthodox Churches was never a subject in the teaching of the faith.
Also, important questions such as to be or not to be with certain Churches cannot be decided by a simple majority of votes. In this case unanimity is necessary, or an almost unanimous decision by all the members of a given Church. It’s doubtful that we have unanimity in this matter of interest to us.
Therefore, it is better for us to adhere to our old status quo and set aside unification with the Moscow Patriarchate as a frivolous fancy.
This interview with His Eminence Bishop Daniel was recorded live by G. Soldatow.
The video and taperecording of this address are in the editorial office of “Fidelity”.