WAITING FOR THE OTHER SHOE TO DROP.
Eugenia and Paul Richard
Our Holy Church – a beacon of light and truth to the world, what will become of You? The light has dimmed, we are cast into utter darkness, into a web of deceit and dark despondency. Has the light been extinguished and replaced with a false light? Has it been placed under a bushel? Your fate is unknown to us, your children. All the true details, negotiations and plans are being kept secret from us, perhaps so that we should grow tired and fall away from our Mother, and our faith, and our God. We had strength and ammunition prior to the IV Pan-Diaspora Sobor, while we were quoting the Holy Fathers, the Scriptures and the Holy Canons of the Orthodox Church, forewarning our brethren in Christ to not be overcome with the rush-to-unite tidal wave which was looming over us. We could still quote our beloved Metropolitan Philaret, who is a beacon in this age of apostasy, who single-handedly led the church on a narrow path resisting contemporary apostasy, a path which earned the Russian Church Abroad the respect of the entire world. But now, after the Sobor, our battle lies with secrecy and willful distortion of the Truth in the matter of our own Church!
We know that the agenda behind the Sobor was well thought-out, planned, making sure that program speeches, written information and press releases were geared toward unification with Moscow. Unlike the 3rd Sobor, where there was a system of secret ballots with sealed envelopes, allowing the delegates to vote their consciences with peace of mind, this Sobor forced a system of open voting, under the gaze and scrutiny of the Sobor organizers who positioned themselves strategically in order to have full view of the voters. All communications devices were prohibited during the meetings, as well as any recording of notes. Every effort was made to confiscate the original draft of the “Resolution”, when it became evident that it would not be ratified. This confiscation was performed even to the point of searches of delegates' materials during break periods! It is reported by the media that there were no credentialed western press representatives reporting throughout the course of the Sobor, and only 3 Russian News Agencies received daily releases, which were widely reported in Russia as “pro-unia victory”. We have now learned that even the major documents (particularly the Resolution) were penned in advance to Moscow's fiddle.
How is it that the ecumenical Metropolitan Amphilochius of Montenegro (world-orthodox Serbian) was the star of the show, concelebrating at the first liturgy of the Sobor? He revealed his close ties to Moscow after the Sobor, when he delivered the consolation gift of the precious hand of the Holy Forerunner to the Moscow Patriarchate, just one week ago. (Interfax reports that ROCOR Bishop Michael Donskov was on the special flight from Montenegro to Moscow as a member of the esteemed entourage.) Time was permitted in the Sobor schedule to open with greetings from the leading world Orthodox ecumenists (Catholicos of Georgia, Patriarch Maximos of Bulgaria, Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarch, Optina Pustin, which provided the icon of the 7 Ecumenical Councils – and blessed it). Yet, only reluctantly was the plea to the Sobor from the Lesna Convent and nuns in the holy land finally read after much protest, followed by a sheepish apology on their behalf for un-monastic conduct. Time was not permitted for the plea from South America, or the Metropolitan Anthony Society, or for the hundreds of letters which begged to be heard at the Sobor, which had been written over the last several months to our First Hierarch, the Synod, the Hierarchs and to the IV Pan-Abroad Sobor. Fr. Viktor Dobrov had to break up his address into rigid increments of 4 minutes (after which the microphone was unceremoniously turned off) to get the word out on the WCC and the MP. Likewise, Subdeacon John Qualls, was denied public presentation of his remarks and was forced to deliver them in writing to the assembled hierarchs. Other “opponents” of the union were rudely interrupted, and their miserable 4 minutes were absorbed by heckling and interruption. Observers from the 3rd Pan-Abroad Sobor note the stark contrast in the area of freedom of expression. At the 3rd Sobor, there were no time limits. Each delegate spoke to his heart's content; all aspects of every issue were brought to light, in a true spirit of brotherly love and conciliarity for the sake of the well-being of the Church and the flock. Were such crude, obvious maneuvers deployed at the IV Pan-Abroad Sobor sanctioned as Christian behavior?
Metropolitan Laurus recently gave an interview to Itar-Tass, (the official state propaganda vehicle of the USSR) on the status of the unification (see ROCOR official website), with which he says “I am pleased”. But thousands of ROCOR sheep are on the edges of their seats, particularly on the territory of the former Soviet Union, starving for information on exactly what is happening, what is the truth in this confused situation, wondering, what do the Resolution and the Epistle really imply? From the many interpretations of the intent of the Resolution, we believe that the words
“in obedience to our Archpastor, Christ”, “in the appropriate time,” “upon the foundation of the Truth of Christ”, “the participation of the ROC MP in the WCC evokes confusion.. we ask the hierarchy of the ROC MP ...to expediently remove this temptation.”, and finally that “the forthcoming Local Council of One Russian Church will settle remaining unresolved church problems.” (i.e. Sergianism, the uncanonical status of the MP and its hierarchy)
are assurances that the rush to unite has been soberly tempered with prudence and piety. Yet we also know that the Resolution was voted on paragraph by paragraph, thereby avoiding the sum of its parts – a direct yes or no vote on rushing into union. Regarding the “Act on Canonical Communion”, in an excerpt from Bishop Gabriel's interview to Pavel Korobov of “Commercant” for “Gazeti.Ru” he responded to the question, “Are there problems with the Act?”, by saying,
“You know that at the Pan-Abroad Sobor diverse opinions were expressed on the issue of unification and possible eucharistic intercommunion. The main problem is the membership of the Moscow Patriarchate in the World Council of Churches. In this matter the blade hits a rock. Some feel that we could enter communion in prayer without Moscow first withdrawing from the WCC, but others say that we cannot. According to the latter, Moscow must demonstrate its good will and desire to withdraw from the WCC, thereby laying a foundation for full intercommunion. Now much depends namely on the Moscow Patriarchate. Everything is in its hands.. the ball is in their court.”
Yet according to the interview given by Protopriest Viktor Potapov to the journal “We in Russia and the Abroad” dated June 14, he states,
“Yes, unconditionally (the Sobor) achieved its objective...We are not stipulating an immediate withdrawal from the WCC as a condition for unification, although we would wish that it would occur in time..”
Also he states, much to general bewilderment that,
“The IV All-Diaspora Sobor was consultative in character and did not have the right to decide anything; its delegates expressed their views and opinions and formulated resolutions which state unambiguously that we look toward eucharistic communion with the Church in the native land... The issue has been decided in principle, and we have only to wait patiently for full eucharistic communion will be finally re-established.” (ital-trans).
The question of timeframe was key in the aforementioned interview of Metropolitan Laurus. Will we be commemorating Alexii tomorrow, the next day, within 6 months, and on what terms? But instead of assuaging the anxiety of the flock, the First Hierarch confirms that “the Russian Church Abroad is prepared to the best of its abilities to cooperate in improving world opinion of contemporary Russia”! (see ROCOR website.) Does this mean we have accepted the role of sergianism? Naturally the evasiveness and obscurity in addressing these vital matters brings to mind yet again the same treatment the flock had received prior to the Sobor when thousands of letters over the fate of the church went unanswered and unacknowledged.
The anticipated instantaneous unification (as Priest Nikolai Balashov (MP Dept. External Relations) had assured would occur after the Nyack meeting of the Joint Commissions in February) obviously did not occur in San Francisco, no matter how strong an attempt was made to push it through with resolutions, epistles and the notoriously secretive “Act”, again “author unknown”, which spelled out the specifics of the unification. Our very Church history prior to 2002 and legacy have been expunged from the official ROCOR website. The controversial ROCOR/MP “pre-Sobor information website, Let us Confess With One Mind” was so pro-unia slanted that it was bombarded with complaints of bias. It brazenly responded by saying that the opposition had nothing of value to contribute, therefore none of its materials were posted!
Retribution and silencing tactics were employed over the last four years, forging the pro-union plan at any cost. An evident shift in the world-view of our Church has been implemented. Metropolitan Laurus himself said “fear not the ecumenists, but the zealots”. We, the spiritual sheep of Metropolitans Anastassy, Anthony and especially Metropolitan Philaret whose incorrupt relics lie unglorified, feel that we have been abandoned and betrayed. The REMNANT OF CHRIST's CHURCH which trod the narrow path “not of this world” have been treated like non-entities. Archbishop Alypy, when asked about the proposed Pomestny Sobor, dejectedly announced that it will most likely only occur when “none of us are around any longer”. Sources say that he was directly threatened with a “monastic-style retirement” if he voted against union at the Sobor. Is this the “How good it is for brethren to dwell in unity” (Psalm 132:1), applied to the “spirit of union” at the Sobor? We know from the very limited information leaking out after the Sobor (this is the ultimate outrage, when delegates were supposed to represent the laios and every sobor of the Church has been with the full knowledge and participation of the laios), that we are being kept mostly in the dark with innuendo, speculation and uncertainty, colouring the aftermath of this Sobor. It is clear and evident that this particular “Sobor” was an attempt to disrupt and de-rail the traditional course and established practice of church management and decision-making, specifically designed to achieve the “instantaneous unification” with the MP. NOT THE MOTHER CHURCH, but the Stalin-instituted apparatus, devoid of canonicity and grace, the servant of the Soviet and post-soviet state, still lingering as an entity which has not been validated by a Supreme Church Authority, which, were it to truly REPENT would retire its hierarchy and allow an untarnished, new hierarchy to be elected canonically to make way for the purification and resurrection of the church in Russia and Russia as a whole. What was witnessed at the Sobor was not a genuine intention guided by the Holy Spirit, for when the Holy Spirit manifested His affect on the Sobor, it dawned on the delegates that the Resolution placed before them for signature was in dire need of correction, as well as the outrageous “Act on Canonical Communion”. If the Sobor organizers were truly seeking guidance from the Holy Spirit, they would have put the “Act” up for a vote, right there and then. The outcome would have been clear and final.
Bp. Agafangel Praiseworthy
In this mad delusion to rush into union with the “Russian Church”, we have sadly lost sight of our faith, our Orthodoxy, which while being Russian secondarily, was primarily of Christ in nature. We, who have spent our entire adult lives striving for the truth, have somehow succumbed to the persistent brainwashing and submitted to signing endless promises of allegiance in a dark time when we did not know the extent of the conspiracy. Now we see – the pro-union faction displayed its Soviet-learned behavior at the Sobor. We know that the “resolution” was modified to at least include our groveling eleventh hour attempt to include some mention at least of making an issue of the MP’s ecumenical involvement. As the MP’s ecumenical involvement escalates and broadens in scope, (the MP will host the Summit of All World Religious Leaders in the near future in Moscow), do we honestly believe that the MP cares about our obsequious, weak “demand” (request) that they “please remove the temptation” of their ecumenical involvements? The information we had, unfortunately from the shot-gun Moscow press, that the unification had occurred, that division was overcome, and all the other premature victorious reports serve to make us realize the degree of confidence the MP had, that this was a fait accompli! Yet, after the notorious “Act” elicited a strong reaction at the sobor, it was passed on to the bishops in the hopes that the hierarchical sobor could be maneuvered more easily, yet we know that Bishop Agafangel (who by virtue of residence has a clear picture of the MP), as well as Bishop Daniel of Erie, Bishop Alypy and Bishop Gabriel refused the entire notion of “instantaneous union” as was depicted in the “Act on Canonical Communion”. Indeed, Bishop Agafangel courageously revealed that there was no such thing as a “vote on approval in principle of the Act on Canonical Communion” as had been erroneously reported by Itar Tass, the latter leading many of our flock into confusion, and a sense of hopelessness and being betrayed. Yet Bishop Agafangel is outrightly accused by Father Viktor Potapov of contributing to the spread of disinformation because of his particularly staunch position. Bishops Daniel, Gabriel and Agafangel were opposed to the Act, and not only did not sign it but disagreed with it in principle. Yet our official Church sources provide the information that the “Act” will be “reworked by the joint commissions” - How can anything be reworked by a small group of people who were “appointed” to merely work out the preliminary materials which were to be either adopted or rejected by the general sobor? How can they now hold the fate of the entire church in their hands? And confidently, the swift-unification proponents are saying that now this “new Act” will deserve a special ceremony, or as they call it a new “rite” of signing, in order to legitimatize this rash unification, despite all of the voices of reason which have spoken out against this forced, immediate unification, citing the outstanding issues of Sergianism, ecumenism and the broadening neo-soviet heavy hand on the world arena.
Bishop Evtikhy flip-flops
Archbishop Mark is now officially acting within the ranks of the DECR of the MP (Dept. External Church Relations) in regulating the situation in the Sourozh diocese. Indeed, that diocese has now been accepted by the Patriarchate of Constantinople, as have other former MP jurisdictions – the logic is that “better with Constantinople than with pseudo-Orthodoxy Moscow!” Bishop Evtikhy upon boarding his flight from Ishim had assured his flock, that he was headed to San Francisco to resist the union, but Portal-Credo Ru reports that he stopped in Moscow for a visit reportedly with Prot. Nikolai Balashov (dialogue commissions mastermind), after which he was overcome with a “pseudo mystical enlightenment” which inspired him to dash back into the MP’s lap!
ROCOR-MP Nun Vassa rewrites history
Met. Philaret now called an "isolationist"
A list of some of the traitors...
The last 5 years have been characterized by bewilderment and outrage at the manner in which the ideology of ROCOR has been persistently eroded and distorted (see Nun Vassa’s rendition of our Church’s history on the ROCOR website, calling Metropolitan Philaret an “isolationist”). On ROCOR's website, all of the history prior to 2002 has been expunged and the “legacy” presented there is carefully selective in its content. Has this happened without the knowledge and blessing of its First Hierarch? Despite the active slander campaign after Metropolitan Vitaly “was left” (as the Russians say) it cannot be denied that he firmly resisted even talk of rapprochement with the MP, yet the succeeding Metropolitan has been discovered to have received an award in 2002 and again in 2004 in Moscow for meritorious service to Russia, particularly in the area of the unification of the ROCOR and MP http://www.nagradanaroda.ru/gallery-lavr.html and http://www.nagradanaroda.ru/laureat-blago.html What are the faithful to make of this? The pro-union faction includes Archbishop Mark, who had acted unilaterally in the 1990’s entering into dialogue with the MP, despite being censured by the Synod for these dialogues with the MP, as a bishop of our church; Fr. Viktor Potapov, who was reproached by Metropolitan Philaret for his involvements with Russia and the MP, then in 1993 wrote, “Truth is betrayed by Silence”, exposing the KGB essense of the MP; Fr. Peter Perekriostov who in his church publication “Russian Pastor” condemned the MP severely and in 1998 wrote, “I simply cannot imagine how our hierarchs could sit at the same table with members of the 'Holy Synod' of the Moscow Patriarchate.”; Fr. George Larin, who had called the MP clergy “Chekists in riassa’s” at the press conference given by former Russian presidential hopeful General Lebed; Fr. A. Lebedev, who had written his well-known book “Evil Fruit” in 1994, condemning the MP. Prominent church figures, such as Peter Budzilovich have asked the unanswered question: WHEN DID THE MP CEASE TO BE A SOVIET APPARATUS AND BECAME THE MOTHER CHURCH? Yet now we have heard the ardent statements from the clergy who are urging an instant unification with the Moscow Patriarchate. This sudden change in perception and the deviation from the traditional course of the Church are disturbing. In attempting to understand the modus operandum, the flock unwittingly asks, “have they become “of this world”, as a result of contact with the MP behind the scenes, news of which only filters down to us in a most alarming, distorted, bewildering form, so far from the truth?” But clearly evident is the fact that they have taken our Church, our very faith in Christ into their own human hands and have devised a plan to make us reject what we believe and follow them in their ambitious alliance with the MP, which, incidentally, since the “fall of the Soviet Union” (Putin still proudly retains his Communist membership card) remains the same apparatus, with the same key players, leading the country in the new neo-soviet political orthodoxy. One can only fear for the souls of those who have been lured by the glitz, glare and glory of the MP into collaboration with Moscow's ambitious world agenda, forsaking the narrow path of Our Savior and the gospel, having chosen to ignore the 2,000 years of struggle and martyrdoms for the purity of the faith. The big fish became tired of swimming in a small pond. “Let us swim in the ocean with the big fish and we will inherit the earth,” they thought. But we, the faithful children of our precious ROCOR will cherish our pond. It may be small, aging and poor, but it is TRUE and TRUTH, as is Our Lord and Savior Who promised the flock would be small, yet told us not to fear.
St. John would not support the union
The trend of the last few years to attempt to recruit St. John Maximovich's tacit approval for the pro-union agenda was made clear by the choice of venue for the Sobor. Yet, from St. John's own “Talk on the Dread Judgement”, in his own words, which cannot be refuted or distorted, he says:
“The Antichrist.... will have a personal hatred for Christ. He will live by this hatred and will rejoice at seeing men apostatize from Christ and the Church. There will be a mass falling away from the faith; even many bishops will betray the faith, justifying themselves by pointing to the splendid position of the Church. A search for compromise will be the characteristic disposition of men. Straightforwardness of confession will vanish. Men will cleverly justify their fall and an endearing evil will support such a general disposition. Men will grow accustomed to apostasy from the truth and to the sweetness of compromise and sin. Antichrist will allow men everything, if only they “fall down and worship him.”
This is not something new...they martyred Christians only because they professed: “Worship God Alone and serve Him Alone.” When Archbishop John was made head of the Palestine committee by the Synod of Bishops, he clearly spoke about the MP:
“The Patriarchate is striving to subjugate and spread its influence to all nations.. To this end, the Soviet government, an enemy of the Church and religion.. is positioning itself in the Near East as their protector, and is trying by all means to establish the influence of the Moscow Patriarch, who is under their control. If there is no opposition to this activity, it could be very successful, and places dear to the entire Christian world might well become bases for anti-Christian influence. Aware of the submission of the Moscow church authority to the Soviet government, and knowing that the Moscow Patriarch is not a free servant of God and His Church but rather a puppet of the godless authorities, those holy communities and institutions refused to recognize his authority and have remained in submission to the authority of the free part of the Russian Church – to the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church abroad, although such recognition would have brought great advantage materially.” (From St. John's address “Appeal for Help to the Holy Land” Man of God Saint John of Shanghai & San Francisco, Nicodemos Orthodox Society).
We know that the common laity within the MP has pleaded for a Pomestny Sobor to be held in Russia for 15 years, but to no avail. The MP structure is not interested in accepting any blame (Nuremburg style) for the repercussions of its collaboration with the atheist regime. In fact, the unification of ROCOR would de facto exonerate the MP of all its misdeeds during those treacherous years, allowing them to avoid revealing the spiritual and physical damage caused by Sergianism, and most importantly it would invalidate the issue of forcing the resignation (true repentance) of all KGB hierarchs. This is not ancient history. On June 15th, Radio Freedom reported from London on the Sourozh Diocese events, that,
“Now, when the church (in Russia) has gained freedom, it voluntarily became a slave of the state. It submits to the demands of the state. It has become a state church. This is felt very strongly here in the West. This is what prevents, to a large degree, the return of the Russian churches in France. They don't want to return to Moscow. We sense the same thing here... Russian Orthodox tradition will not submit to Russia's state pressure on our church”.
Many voices have spoken about the supposed gain of unification – there appears to be not a single benefit, only sheer loss for us and for the common faithful in Russia. Many have stated that as an ideological mirror of conscience, if we permit ourselves to unite with Moscow, particularly in eucharist, then we are freeing them from the responsibility to change. There will no longer be any voice of conscience reproaching them for having been a tool of the soviet government and continuing to do so under the new regime. If they truly want a resurrected, new Russia, they must not merely pay lip service to our requests; they must rush to cleanse themselves of Sergianism, ecumenism, and step aside to allow a pure generation, undefiled, without blood on their hands, to take up the leadership of the church in Russia. This is an echo of Bishop Gabriel's statement to the press after the Hierarchical Sobor, “the MP hierarchy needs to repent” as well as his observation that they did not even show good will by returning a single church property which they had seized from ROCOR.
When those who seek world recognition, acclaim and fame have left the ROCOR, a small remnant will remain, but St. Archbishop John of San Francisco foretold that the ROCOR would become very small but pure as crystal. Some say they agree that there should be union with the MP, however insist that the MP meet the conditions (withdrawing from the WCC, ecumenism and renounce sergianism). But what if the MP is unable to meet those terms? Do we unite anyway? Will we accept the newly formulated “Act of Canonical Communion” which will strike a tone of inescapable, convincing compromise and appease our consciences? The test has come – do we stand firmly and hold what we have as Metropolitan Philaret commanded in his last testament, or will we allow ourselves to be deluded and persuaded into taking the broad path which leads to perdition?
Had this intention to unify with Moscow precipitated in a genuine natural fashion based on a truly renewed church structure in Russia, which was demonstrating its integrity and true desire to be a pure Orthodox church, not a single voice would have been raised against such a union. But the more words and justifications are heaped onto the pile, the more suspicion is aroused as to what is hidden beneath. Already more than one third of our Church has fallen away because of ideological and ecclesiastical opposition to this premature and unnecessary union, and the resistance continues. If only our loving Archpastors would have mercy on the flock which is quickly scattering and remove this exercise in temptation from our midst. Is it too late to turn back now or has too much been invested in this process? Is there any way to salvage our Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and admit that we were hasty in rushing into this union venture? Can we write off the IV Pan-Abroad Sobor as the greatest mistake in the history of our Church? Or are we to sit and wait for whoever it is whose court the ball is in? AND THEN WHAT????