Two American Priests Recommended For Inclusion in ROAC Sobor Commission

The most recent meeting of the Commission to make a determination on the agenda and timeframe of the next clergy-laity Sobor of the ROAC voted to include into its membership two American priests as consultants: Protopresbyter Victor Melehov and Hegumen Andrei (Maklakov) of the North American Administration of the ROAC. This is of importance since at least two of the issues the planned for the Sobor by the already controversial commission have immediate effects on the American parishes: those of the reception of converts and of communication with other True Orthodox Churches.

The commission apparently plans to recommend chrismation unilaterally as a form of reception (with a “baptismal option”) to the Hierarchical Sobor, including recognizing the orders of clergy so chrismated. Besides adopting a use that is most well known for its use the creation of one of the priested Old Believer communities, the recommendations are somewhat unclear since they deal primarily with “World Orthodox” communities (regardless of what form of reception was used by the community) but includes no information on how to deal with ROCOR or Churches in communion with Metropolitan Cyprian of Fili. Because of the numbers of clergy and laity of these Churches that live in America, this question is of importance to Americans and must be addressed.

According to reports on the commission’s work, a draft will also be submitted concerning a framework for relations with other True Orthodox Churches. The reason for this is unclear as ROAC already has a number of documents which state that the mysteries of other Churches are indeed recognized. It is not certain whether general principles will be laid out or perhaps more clarification on what ROAC sees as a True Orthodox Church. What is certain is that in America, where virtually all of the True Orthodox Churches in the world have some sort of jurisdictional representation, the clergy of course will have to adapt their current practices to the Sobor’s recommendations, and in the Diaspora, the decision of the Hierarchical Sobor will have the most visible effect.

How ROAC in America will relate to other True Orthodox in America after the commission completes its work and submits its recommendations to the Hierarchical Sobor remains yet to be seen. Many are still very leery of ROAC after the tenure of former Archbishop Gregory of Colorado, who was retired by the Metropolitan and the ROAC Synod in 2004 for, ironically, his methods of the reception of converts and his relations with other True Orthodox Churches.

The next meeting of the commission will be on June 22.