from SIR Metr. Cyprian 2007
July 9, 2007
TO BISHOP AGAFANGEL FROM METROPOLITAN CYPRIAN
TO HIS EMINENCE BISHOP AGAFANGEL OF ODESSA AND TAVRIS AND THE CLERGY AND PEOPLE OF THE RUSSSIAN CHURCH ABROAD ASSEMBLED IN ASTORIA NEW YORK, JUNE 2007
Your Eminence, dear brothers and sisters in Christ our God and Saviour,
It is with the greatest pain of heart that we have witnessed the fall of the glorious Russian Church Abroad from its confession of Orthodoxy against the twin evils of Ecumenism and Sergianism, and its acceptance not only of subjection to the Moscow Patriarchate, but also of full communion with all the other local Orthodox Churches, which are almost all more deeply involved in the apostasy of ecumenism than is the Moscow Patriarchate itself. The Russian Church Abroad, which, over the years 1992-94 entered into full and official communion with the Old-Calendar Churches of Romania, Greece and Bulgaria , and last year, at the request of the Moscow Patriarchate, severed communion with them, advised these three Churches to follow their own example and to unite with their new-calendar so-called “Mother Churches”. This call we have all, naturally, rejected, as we are fully aware of what is the purpose of our struggle as Orthodox pastors.
Our pain is however relieved by the fact that one of the bishops of our sister Russian Church, who, what is more, had consistently refused to accept the severance of official communion with us, has resolutely refused to follow the path of apostasy, or, as has been succinctly expressed by our brother, Bishop Photii of Bulgaria, of descent from the cross of Orthodox confession, and, followed by a number of clergy of the ROCA, has resolved to continue its witness and its confession of pure Orthodoxy. As Bishop Agafangel has never severed communion with us, nor we with him, he continues to be for us the representative of the Russian Church Abroad, and we encourage all those who wish to continue the witness of the ROCA to follow him, and to help him to re-organize the structure of the remaining faithful part of your Church.
In order for this to be realized, it is clear that other bishops will have to be consecrated, and we have already expressed to Vladyka Agafangel our willingness to taking part, together with representatives of the Romanian and Bulgarian Churches, in such ordinations at some date in the future. This would be a wonderful way to repay the debt which we owe to the Russian Church Abroad, which, in 1960-61 consecrated a new episcopate for the Greek Church of the Old Calendar, which had remained without bishops since 1955. We also take this occasion to warn you that there will be other Old Calendarist groups from Greece which may well approach you, probably with various accusations against us; such accusations were fully examined by the episcopate of the ROCA which decided in 1994 that these are baseless, and that our ecclesiological position corresponds exactly with that of the ROCA. From then until the falling-away of the majority of the ROCA, she was in full union with both us and our sister-Churches in Romania and Bulgaria.
The process of union with Moscow has been underway for several years, with the result that a number of groups broke away from the ROCA previous to the union itself. Some of these have adopted positions inconsistent with the history of the ROCA , while others have divided in such a way as to lose all semblance of churchliness. However, the one group that has preserved both a serious witness and a true continuation of the teaching of the ROCA is that headed by the late Archbishop Lazar, and now by Archbishop Tikhon. We fully recognize the canonical problems involved, but there are ways in which these can be overcome, and, at this critical moment for the Russian Church, it would be tragic if its forces were divided between these two entities whose aim is, in essence identical. As we have received from this group their appeal to serve as intercessors, we implore you to find every way possible within the context of good reason, to achieve unity with them. We are certain that such an event would convince many others, who are at present uncertain where to turn, to follow your good example.
We pray that our gracious Lord may enlighten you all, Vladyka and dear brothers in Christ, to make wise and well-considered decisions which may assure the future of the Russian Church Abroad; it is our prayer that you, together with the three local Orthodox Churches here in the Balkans, may continue in harmony the same struggle for the preservation and preaching of our true Orthodox faith.
In the love of Christ our Lord and God and Saviour,
+Cyprian, Metropolitan of Oropos and Fili,
President of the Holy Synod