A puzzling question about Metr. Laurus' position
2006 January (?)
A puzzling question about Metropolitan Laurus' position.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The most recent Epistle of the First Hierarch Metropolitan Laurus (dd. December 9, 2005) is a curious document that proposes an 'alternative view' of ROCOR history. For example, I am unaware of the Soviet Church ever having been viewed by our late Hierarchs of blessed memory as "the Mother Church", "the Sister Church", or even "part of the Russian Church" as stated by Vladyka Laurus below, in the 85 year legacy of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. As a convert, I have always been taught that the other "part of the Russian Church" was and continues to be, the Russian Catacomb Church -- the glorious New Martyrs and Confessors, as well as the faithful lay people, priests, and bishops that continue to be persecuted by "the official church" -- even to this very day. Notably, Vladyka Laurus states in his most recent Epistle,
"I wish to remind everyone that at this moment, we are not talking about 'unification', 'mergin'g or 'union' with the Moscow Patriarchate, but of reconciliation of the two parts of the Russian Orthodox Church."
I can think of no other way to decipher this statement, apart from an understanding of the literary device the great George Orwell described in his discourse on the English language, as "Newspeak". In a nutshell, "Newspeak" is an attempt to rewrite history through the distortion of language. To illustrate this point, compare the above statements with that of Blessed Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky) +1985 concerning this matter:
"When Metropolitan Sergius promulgated his criminal Declaration, then the faithful children of the Church immediately separated themselves from the Soviet church, and thus the Catacomb Church was formed. And she, in turn, has anathematized the official church for its betrayal of Christ."
• Metropolitan Philaret, Letter Concerning Father Dmitri Dudko, 1980.
These two statements represent two very different ecclesiological views on the Synod's stand in regard to the Soviet church. In fact, they are diametrically opposed. The former is something of a newcomer to the scene -- a strictly political philosophy that is being slickly marketed to the faithful to be 'in step with the times'; while the latter is steeped in the tradition of ROCOR - 'the mind of the fathers'. Vladyka Laurus continues with a description of the ecclesiastical arrangements that will follow the proposed forthcoming union in May 2006:
"...one Chalice, that is, joint services, but two entirely separate ecclesiastical administrations. In short, our Church will preserve its independence in all administrative, property, educational and pastoral matters, and we will remain what we were before reconciliation—a self-governing part of the Russian Church."
To this I might be so bold as to ask -- What would be the point of this fraternal arrangement? Either the Synod will be in communion with Moscow, or She will not be. To give an illusion of autonomy to the Synod faithful, (such as currently exists between "the MP" and its KGB-created offshoot known as "the OCA") is a distortion of reality at best, and a blasphemy against the unity of the Church of Christ at worst. His Eminence continues,
"No one can meddle in the internal workings of our beloved Church, the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia will continue to appoint bishops to their sees, and our ruling bishops will appoint priests to their parishes."
Are we to believe that "the internal workings of our beloved church" have not already been meddled with? Given the massive amount of documented KGB penetration into the Moscow Patriarchate, it seems necessary at this juncture to come to terms with the degree to which our own Synod has already been compromised. Instead, we are exhorted in the Epistle below to cooperate with the Unionists: "...it is necessary for us on our part", "the process... we must not shy away from"; and to shut our eyes to the further dismantling of our Synod: "this should be of no concern at all".
Finally, it seems the author of this Epistle has been practicing the currently fashionable ecumenical diatribe with great diligence, as the Epistle is peppered with WCC-inspired prose such as, "the process of coming to know each other", "through constructive cooperation and fraternal meetings", "embark upon this road of peacemaking through dialog", "being conducted in a frank and constructive spirit", "receptive to the idea of reconciliation and of spiritual unity with the Church in Russia."
What a far cry from the First Hierarch we stood confidently behind only three short years go when the same Metropolitan Laurus gave his blessing to print the following concerning the state of The Russian Church Abroad in 2002:
"Many people still remain under the influence of hierarchs who for some reason refuse to reject the legacy of the Moscow Patriarchate... If Saint John (Maximovitch) in 1960 wrote that 'The church authority in Russia (i.e., the Moscow Patriarchate) is an image of captivity and spiritual powerlessness: neither is there freedom of will, nor action', then surely his words apply in our days. Now one can say that the bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate are held captive only by their own incorrect way of reasoning. The fruits of such captivity are participation in the ecumenical movement (which has as its secret agenda the creation of a "universal church" for the coming antichrist), and the willingness to serve any civil government - under the present circumstances, the spiritually antichristian 'New World Order'."
• (Rassaphor-monk Vsevlod, Commentary on the Contemporary State of Church Life).
Metropolitan Laurus is the inheritor of the great spiritual succession of First Hierarchs that spans the greater part of a century. However, it is clear that this most recent Epistle signed with the name of "Metropolitan Laurus" is not a part of the tradition of Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. Whether the mind of the First Hierarch has been darkened, or whether these are not really Vladyka's words at all but those of an imposter, is perhaps not for us to know. Let us not forget the 'Official Declarations' attributed to Saint Patriarch Tikhon giving validity to the Living Church, that he in fact, never issued. It is not for us to judge our brothers and sisters, much less our own hierarchs, as only God knows what they have endured and been subject to. Rather, it is imperative that we pray for them and forgive them, as each one of us is capable of becoming a Judas. As servants of the one true God - may we not lose heart when all seems lost, but find the strength to fight against these God-hating philosophies dressed up in sheep's clothing and passed off as an "Epistle from the First Hierarch". God is infinitely just and merciful in His wisdom - may His will be done.