Variety of views on foreign church dispute
ECHO OF CHURCH SCHISM
by Pavel Korobov
Kommersant-Daily, 19 November 2001
In the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) a schism has occurred, accompanied by sensational events. The former first hierarch of ROCOR, Metropolitan Vitaly, refused to retire and turn over the ROCOR church property that was ascribed to him. He has been subjected to psychiatric observation which determined that Metropolitan Vitaly is psychologically healthy. Returning from the medical examination to the Mansonville monastery in Canada, Metropolitan Vitaly issued a decree creating a new Russian Orthodox Church in Exile (ROCE). Kommersant reporter Pavel Korobov asked several Orthodox bishops and priests to comment on the situation that has developed.
ROCOR Bishop Agafangel of Simferopol and Crimea (ROCOR):
"All of this has not been Metropolitan Vitaly's doing; behind the schism are people whose ambitions have not been satisfied. And they are using Metropolitan Vitaly as a cover. I hope that these people will sober up, and if they do not then they are unworthy to be in the church. There cannot be two foreign churches; the church is one. The election of Metropolitan Laurus to succeed Metropolitan Vitaly as first hierarch was completely legitimate. Metropolitan Vitaly himself recognized this at first while he was still at the council. The so-called new church in exile is not a canonically originated movement and it violates all church rules. This is an illegal, arbitrary movement that clearly has separated itself from the church. But I hope that in time reason will come to those who have created this church."
MP Bishop Merkury of Zaraisk, administrator of parishes of the Moscow patriarchate (RPTs) in USA:
"What has happened is very sad. In my view, the future of the 'church in exile' is the same as for all sects. This is a self-appointed organization; it formed itself and has no canonical basis whatever. And if someone thinks that those who formed this sect will come to their senses they are mistaken because these people are too ambitious. But of course everything is in the Lord's hands."
MP Archimandrite Mark Golovkov, vice chairman of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow patriarchate (RPTs)
"I think that the people who organized this new church are not thinking of the welfare of the Orthodox church. Their inspiration does not lie on the level of the church. I do not think that this organization can become an alternative to ROCOR. The new 'church in exile' will not be an influential church because it is a marginal grouping that believers will not follow. In my view, all these events should not disrupt the healthy thinkng of ROCOR, and it will take the path of unity with the mother church."
ROAC Archpriest Mikhail Ardov, dean of the Moscow district of Suzdal diocese of the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church:
"I think that by this step Metropolitan Vitaly and his associates have saved the honor of the foreign Russian church. I think that to a certain extent the Russian Orthodox Church in Exile can become an alternative to ROCOR because the better parishes of France and a parish in Belgium will follow it, and very many in Canada itself will support it, and I hope that almost all churches of ROCOR in Russia will transfer to ROCE. ROCOR will spend some time in a suspended state and in the end will fall into the clutches of the Moscow patriarchate, which will swallow it up as a pike devours a carp."
pro-union ROCOR Secretary of the St. Petersburg deanery of ROCOR, Nikolai Savchenko:
"This is a schism. I think that this new church will not be able to exist for long because it now relies only on the authority of Metropolitan Vitaly. But it never will be able to become an alternative to ROCOR. Other than two or three parishes in America and Canada, nobody will follow them. Russia is a different matter because there are radicals among the clergy who do not believe that the Moscow patriarchate will be able to recover from its enemies. I think that all of this is a deception and lie." (tr. by PDS, posted 21 November 2001)
I determined that Nikolai Savchenko is pro-union by a report of his speech given at the May 2006 "Sobor" in San Francisco.