A Mathematical Solution to the MP/ROCOR Problem


A Mathematical Solution to the MP/ROCOR Problem

Posted: Fri 4 May 2007 8:40 pm    Post subject: A Mathematical Solution to the MP/ROCOR Problem

With the signing of the “Act of Canonical Communion” on May 17, 2007 the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR), established by a ukase of the former Patriarch St. Tikhon of Moscow prior to his martyrdom in the 1920’s, will enter under the canonical jurisdiction of the current “Patriarch” of Moscow Alexei II (Ridiger.) Those within the current ROCOR administration of Metropolitan Laurus (Skurla) have recently decided that the current Moscow Patriarchate (MP) is a canonically legitimate administration of the Russian Orthodox Church. Others have disputed the canonical legitimacy of the current Moscow Patriarchate, in line with the longstanding edicts of the ROCOR Synods prior to 2001, which have never recognized as legitimate the election of the various Soviet state-appointed “Patriarchs” of the Moscow Patriarchate since the time of the martyrdom of St. Tikhon and his appointed Locum Tenans hierarchs in the 1920’s.

Without presuming to judge whether the current Moscow Patriarchate is a legitimate Orthodox Church authority, which is beyond the scope of this analysis, there still remain a number of logical conclusions that derive from basic premises and Orthodox Church canons, as follows. At the very least, the people of the ROCOR have a right to expect internal, logical consistency in the deliberations and acts of their hierarchs.

Premise A: Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that the Moscow Patriarchate is a legitimate, canonical Patriarchate of the Orthodox Church.

If premise A is true, then it follows that the Orthodox Church of America (OCA) is the proper, canonically legitimate, autocephalous administration of the Orthodox Church in the geographical locale of America .* According to Orthodox Church canons, there can be only one unified Orthodox Church administration and hierarchy serving any one geographical area. It is also a heresy of the Orthodox Church, called “phyletism,” for two separately administered Orthodox Church hierarchies to exist in the same location, segregated on the basis of nationality or ethnicity. Since the Moscow Patriarchate, itself, granted official autocephalous status to the Orthodox Church of America in 1970, it would be countermanding its own official edicts by sanctioning and supervising the administration of a separate “Russian” Church in North America now. It would also be participating, officially, in an heretical act of “phyletism,” and, hence, in open “schism” from the true Orthodox Church.

The logical conclusion is that, if the Moscow Patriarchate is a legitimate Patriarchate of the Orthodox Church, it can have no administrative role in establishing or supervising a separate “Russian” Church in America . To avoid committing an heretical act, it must, lawfully, direct the former ROCOR parishes of America on May 17, 2007 to move under the jurisdiction and administration of the autocephalous Orthodox Church of America, established by the Moscow Patriarchate, itself, in 1970. Independently of any decisions of the MP and ROCOR hierarchs, people within the ROCOR who believe that the Moscow Patriarchate is legitimate should move to the OCA, individually, or collectively, after May 17, 2007 to avoid becoming “schismatics,” who are actively participating in the Orthodox heresy of phyletism.
Premise B (not A): If, on the contrary, we begin with the assumption that the current Moscow Patriarchate is not a canonically legitimate Patriarchate of the Orthodox Church, the logical consequences are quite different. 

Of foremost importance for the ROCOR, if premise B is true, is the fact that the ROCOR will be subsumed under the supervision and direction of an illegitimate “church” authority on May 17, 2007 . Hence, people in the ROCOR will have no proper choice but to leave the ROCOR. But where should they go? If the MP is not a legitimate Church administration, then neither is the OCA, since it was established as an autocephalous church by the MP, itself, in 1970. Furthermore, the various ethnically-organized (phyletistic) administrations of the Orthodox Churches in America (Greek New Calendarists, Antiochians, etc) are also unacceptable, canonically, since they have been in active communion with the illegitimate “Patriarchate” of Moscow, and are, themselves, violating Church canons regarding phyletism (and ecumenism.)

Hence, if premise B (not A) is true, the only logical choice for people in the ROCOR is to move to a traditional Orthodox Church that is not affiliated with the MP, or with the modern Orthodox Church administrations of the New Calendar Greeks, Antiochians, or OCA, a rather grim and difficult choice, indeed.

Either A or B must, of necessity be true, (since B is “not A.”) It is noteworthy, in this analysis, that regardless of whether one accepts premise A or premise B as true, there is a logical conclusion that people in the ROCOR cannot, canonically, move under the direct administration and jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate after May 17, 2007, as Moscow has planned. They must decide, individually or collectively, to move to the OCA, (per premise A) or to a traditional Orthodox Church that is not in communion with Moscow (per premise B.) Otherwise, they will be either “schismatics” (actively engaged in the heresy of phyletism), or participating in a church that is administered by a canonically illegitimate hierarchy.

*If it is argued, in refutation, that the Moscow Patriarchate is canonically legitimate now, but was not in 1970, we must logically ask when and how it became canonically legitimate. Many of the current hierarchs of the Moscow Patriarchate, including Patriarch Alexei II (Ridiger) were active in the MP in 1970, or were subsequently appointed and promoted by those who were actively managing the MP in 1970 when the OCA was granted autocephaly. There has never been a single, public resignation from the MP hierarchy by those who were identified as KGB “agents” in the KGB files reviewed by Father Gleb Yakunin after the fall of the Soviet government, or in those published by Vasily Mitrokhin at Cambridge University in 1999, which definitively identified Alexey Ridiger of Tallinn , Estonia as KGB agent “Drozhdov.”


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