Letter Exchange between Fr. Igor Chitikov and Vl. Agafangel

A Letter from Archpriest Igor Chitikov and the Parish Council of the Church of St. Andrew Stratelates 
Bishop Agafangel's Answer.

His Eminence 
Most Reverend
Bishop Agafangel
PSEA Chairman

October 5\22, 2008
Hieromartyr Phocas

Your Eminence, bless,

The Parish Council of the Church of St. Andrew Stratelates in St. Petersburg, Florida, met on October 5, 2008, and reviewed the current status of our parish.

After the Act was signed, our parish remained with its bishop, the Most Reverend Bishop Gabriel, who spoke out, as you had, against the signing of the Act. Our rector, Archpriest Igor Chitikov, wrote and spoke about the unlawfulness of the Act and called for the dissolution of ROCA. After the Sobor of Bishops, we were finally convinced that the bishops who had left ROCA would not return. Then when our beloved Bishop Gabriel was removed from the Synod administration and transferred to Canada, we made the difficult decision to leave ROCOR(MP).

We carefully investigated the circumstances of your censure and saw that the game-playing of the "two ukazes" was symptomatic of the cheap "political strategies" of the functionaries of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate. Unfortunately, those who never lived or worked in the former USSR, often do not see or understand what is truly occurring there. For us, the entire last year was a year full of political maneuvering. Before we knew it, we found ourselves in a ROCOR MP which had become a banal, post-Soviet department outside of Russia.

We are deeply grateful to you, that you understood our circumstances and took us under your omofor. Yet we have concerns regarding the forthcoming Vth All-Diaspora Sobor. We are troubled by the following issues:

1. In our opinion, ROCA has fulfilled its mission. What grounds are there to create a church body outside of the borders of the Homeland, similar to the many divisions in the Greek Church based on the calendar? Would it be more correct for the parishes in the US and Canada to integrate into the bodies of the lawful churches here? 

2. What is the basis for the canonization of Metropolitan Philaret? What documentation exists for this? How does one become familiar with this documentation? Who makes up the committee for canonization? Since when is Met. Philaret more venerable in the Church Abroad than Metropolitans Anastasy or Anthony? 
The reason we are writing this letter to you was the decision to include our parish in the ranks of parishes in Bishop Andronik’s diocese. We believe this was done prematurely. We did not make any requests to Bishop Andronik, since there was no administrative district here in our Church before May 17, 2007. We turned to you not as the head of some new church body, but as the only ROCA bishop (out of the ones listed on May 17, 2007) who did not agree with the "Act of Eucharistic Communion." We do not consider the MP to be our enemy. But we firmly believe that there is no one in North America who has the right to force us to be an "Embassy of Russia" (in the words of Archpriest V. Potapov). On the other hand, we are even more worried about becoming part of another orthodox schism.

Your Eminence’s humble servants,
Archpriest Igor Chitikov and the members of the Parish Council


Dear Friends in Christ Fr. Igor and members of the Parish Council!

You brought me great pleasure that you react in an engaged and straight-forward manner to events transpiring in the Church. This is a testament to your concern for your salvation, which can also help us to see and recognize our possible errors.

The questions which you pose to me should be decided rightly only at a Sobor. I can only give my personal opinion of them.
1. My personal opinion can be summed up by saying ROCA will fulfill its mission only then, when a lawful and free Local Sobor of the Russian Church is held at which ROCA will have to give an account of all the time of its existence as a part of the Russian Church separated from it because of political events, and whose dogma was changed due to these events. Our founding bishops, along with all those who split with Met. Sergey (Stragorodsky), considered such sobors to be the supreme administrative bodies of the ROC and we are subject likewise to them. We are not self-contained and exist independently only until the situation of the entire Russian Church is finally settled. Before we consider the matter of "integrating into the bodies of the lawful churches here," we should, I believe, carefully consider these bodies, and if possible, develop good relations with them. Only after that, should we consider your question. We do not have the right to make decisions that will lead to confusion among our flock and push our now much smaller Church to the edge of schism. We should be able to prove and explain the correctness of any of our decisions. All decisions must be made at a sobor and we should learn how to obey decisions made on a sobor level. 

2. A final decision about the canonization of Met. Philaret must also be made at our Sobor. The grounds for it are: the incorruptible remains of the holy man, the many miracles resulting from praying to him (these accounts were even printed earlier in Pravoslavnaya Rus (Orthodox Russia)), his disciplined and ascetic life, as well as his steadfastness in confessing the Orthodoxy of the Holy Fathers. Accounts of the miracles are being gathered and will be presented at the All-Diaspora Sobor. This reverence of Met. Philaret does not diminish in any way our love and respect for Metropolitans Anastasy or Anthony. 
The decision to accept your parish was made personally by me, because of the desire of the parish to engage in missionary activities. Therefore, the final status of the parish must be decided together with you and Bishop Andronik, since the parish is located in territory under his authority. In spite of this, I pledge to you that the status will not be imposed upon you. It will be confirmed only with everyone’s agreement. This is spelled out in our list of parishes.

Yours in Christ,
+Bishop Agafangel

October 7\September 24, 2008 – Holy Protomartyr and Equal-to-the-Apostles Thecla

source: http://revniteli.livejournal.com/42546.html

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