Statement from the Chairman

A Statement from the Chairman of the ISCA of the ROCOR Bishop Agathangel
A Statement from the Chairman of the Interim Supreme Church Authority of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, Bishop Agafangel of Tavrichesk and Odessa.

I am not pursuing the objective of uniting all the fragments of Orthodoxy.
The period of time we are now undergoing is marked by a striving to unite many of the Orthodox who currently exist as separate entities. In and of itself this is a praiseworthy endeavor. However in order that this intention become a reality, it must unavoidably be strengthened by an inner rearrangement of values, i.e. through repentance. In order to be lifted to a new spiritual plane, to a truly positive level of interaction or even unity, we may accomplish this only through repentance and to some degree through transforming our inner essence.

Those who are currently proposing the initiative of reconciliation suggest that everyone unite “as they are” (which in and of itself is quite primitive and looks very much like a type of “alternative” ecumenism). Unfortunately, we are too different to unite in such a direct manner. Therefore, I see for myself a current priority to be not the unification of the Church’s disjointed parts, but primarily preserving faithfulness to the principles of spiritual life which formed in the Russian Church in the abroad, as well as the strengthening and confirming of these principles. In other words, the main goal for us right now is the preservation of the traditional Russian Church Abroad.

Out of all the parts of the Russian Church, spiritual succession of the historic Local Russian Church has been preserved only by the ROCOR. The Moscow Patriarchate under the close patronage of the theomachists was broken and was not capable of carrying the Legacy of the fathers of the Russian and Universal Church in all required fullness, while the Catacomb Church, as a result of persecutions, unprecedented in the history of the Church, withered inside the godless cordon, not being regenerated with fresh, healthy forces from the people. Only the Church Abroad became the fully-fledged and full-blooded keeper of patristic Tradition during that period of time. This Tradition primarily involves the passing on of the living Orthodox faith and practices from one generation to the next, i.e. the very condition of the Orthodox soul. In the Orthodox Church this thread of spiritual succession stretches unbroken from the Lord Himself and His apostles to us who live now. Thanks to the Russian Church Abroad it remains unbroken even at the current time despite all the efforts of the theomachist-communists.

In order to unite, one must select a certain reference point or norm which should become the center of unification. For me and all those around me who support me, in order to unite, one must select a certain reference point or norm which should become the center of unification. For me and all those around me who support me, this norm and goal is the Russian Church Abroad in its condition under our ever memorable First Hierarchs, metropolitans Anthony, Anastasy, Philaret and Vitaly. And therefore we may only unite with those who wish to remain or desire to join the spiritual heritage of the Church Abroad, and through this heritage, the Holy Tradition of the Universal Church. For this reason we are forced to protect ourselves from those who could introduce a foreign spirit and different practice into our church enclosure. Hence, in the current phase I consider it possible to enter into discussions of union only with those for whom our Russian Church Abroad is dear, and not with the multiple “sister churches”. Therefore in accordance with the aforesaid I consider that for the sake of re-establishing the oneness of ROCOR, repentance is indispensable for those who have in some way stepped away from that Tradition, not excluding myself as well in that regard if this is demonstrated to me convincingly or if I suddenly see my own transgression.

In this manner, summarizing the above, I will repeat myself: the center of unification can only be Living Holy Tradition, which for us, the faithful sheep of the Russian Church Abroad is the history and life of ROCOR. We cannot consider any imaginary or newly created, newly invented “jurisdictions”. (For instance that same RTOC does not have a tradition of spiritual heritage, besides the life it experienced in schism from 2001 onward.)

***

I am grateful to the representatives of the RTOC for attempting to point out to me what they feel are my inadequacies – our supposed union with a “neo-occult sect of D. Korchinsky” and the commemoration of the Ukrainian civil authorities (this refers only to their latest letter, since in their previous writings they saw far more inadequacies). As well in that letter, RTOC representatives presented me with an ultimatum: “Our refusal to commemorate the civil authorities in divine services and our rejection of the ‘Korchinsky sect’ as well as dubious persons and forces (as I understood they are implying I reject ‘collaboration with the CIA’ - +B.A) are contingencies directly linked to a possible future dialogue and union”. But these claims made against us by RTOC, as always, are contrived. We are not in any union with any neo-occult sects nor have we ever been. The fact that a group of youth belongs to the political party “Brotherhood” and wishes to found a parish within our Church may in no way be considered a crime, and I have no intention of expelling them from ROCOR to please RTOC (incidentally this demand, even though it was presented as a wish was already made to me by Ukrainian officials; and again in this case there appears to be a strange synchronized action by the officials and RTOC*). The program and ideology of this political party never and in no way influenced us nor can it ever influence us. The commemoration of civil authorities is one of the traditions of the Russian (Rus’) Orthodox Church and I see nothing criminal in praying for those who rule the country in such a way that they do not interfere in our internal church life and attempt as much as possible to protect the freedom of conscience of its citizens. The prayerful commemoration of a state which does not persecute the Church of Christ, but on the contrary gave asylum to Russian refugees and gave them an opportunity to live freely and prosper – such is also one of the traditions of ROCOR and we do not intent to reject it to please RTOC. Our parishes in Byelorus, Moldava and the Russian Federation, where the regime violates its own laws governing religion in one form or another, do not commemorate the regime in divine services.

Meanwhile, I also have some questions for the RTOC representatives, but not in the format which they proposed in their letter to me; austensibly being prepared to repent, for “supposedly we (i.e. RTOC - +B.A.) took advantage of the distressed situation of the Church Abroad in order to satisfy our ambitions and organize a church group ‘under us’”. Although this indeed was and is occurring, it is not the main object of my concern. I am far more disturbed, for example, by the very path and practice of RTOC. I am prepared not to bring up its premature inception and its seven-year existence in schism from ROCOR. I can, as they say, “grit my teeth” and forget even all the subsequent anti-canonical actions of this group (including deceipt and speculation over Metropolitan Vitaly’s directives, as well as the unilateral proclamation of their own Synod which can only be formed by a decision of the supreme Church authority; this includes also proclaiming themselves to be a new church, separate from ROCOR, supposedly in the catacombs.) But even this is not what disturbs me the most. Mostly I am grieved by the constant deliberate falsehood in the actions and publications of RTOC, lies aimed at discrediting others and enhancing their own popularity. (I am convinced that this is also the intent of their last letter to me and Bishop Daniel.) One can forgive many things and disregard much for the sake of reconciliation and unity. But what does one do with these lies? Must one reconcile with them too? I am convinced that namely this is unacceptable and impermissible for us.

Therefore my sentiments to RTOC representative are that they carefully read over their voluminous writings (which they, incidentally, not sparing the expense, have sent by mail to all of our clergy without exception), and determine the source of the lies which these writings abundantly contain and finally cut off this fowl flow. Otherwise our dialogue will not yield, nor can it yield good fruits based only on good intentions.

Of course a union with whomever, whenever and on what terms is not for me to decide, but for our supreme Church authority, which has not yet been formed. I have merely expressed my view of our church union, desired by all. In the current phase I am convinced that we may receive representatives of the RTOC into our Church only through repentance and in the rank they occupied at the moment they split from ROCOR.

+Bishop Agafangel
Odessa, May 27/June 9, 2007
St. John the Russian, Confessor


*An example of other strange synchronized actions of the civil authorities and RTOC was the joint, most active endeavor to ruin ROCOR, and in the same context, the joint, active slander campaign against me together with the strange increase in the popularity of RTOC on the internet among pro-soviet and pro-mp activists. +B.A.

http://sobor2006.livejournal.com/287300.html

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