Fr. Igor Responds to Bp. Gabriel

Fr. Igor (Chitikov, ROCOR-PSCA) Responds to Bp. Gabriel (Chemadakov, ROCOR-MP)

November 24, 2008
Dear in the Lord Bishop Gabriel!

I received your “accusatory” letter. I thought long and hard, what to write back. Finally, I put pen to paper and followed your example.

I’ll begin by reminding you how, in April of 1992, the Most Reverend Mark, Archbishop of Berlin and Germany, accepted me into the ranks of the clergy of the England diocese of the Church Abroad without a so-called “release.” At that time, he demonstrably explained to me that I was leaving a SCHISM and joining the TRUE CHURCH.

Along with that, I was required to repent that I was part of the “sergianist schism.” Fifteen years went by and it turns out that what we called a schism is now called the true church. Our bishops suddenly understood something or another which they did not understand in 1992. While those distinguished diaspora priests, who cried out louder than everyone else about the disgraceful actions of the Moscow Patriarchate, and wrote books, and made accusations in the pages of newspapers and magazines, and spoke on the radio, and staged demonstrations in the 1970’s against the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of America, now convince their flock of just the opposite. That the Moscow Patriarchate is not a schism, but our Mother Church, and that the diaspora never considered it to be in schism. Forgive me, dear Bishop, I did not know that the term “sergianism” was thought up in the MP and not in ROCA. Is it possible that for over 50 years, in our seminary in Jordanville, no one ever heard of the “sergianist schism,” though the so-called “karlovtsy schism” was well known to all in the MP? Your parents and teachers were a part of this schism. You were born, baptized, tonsured and ordained in this SCHISM.

In my opinion, the Moscow Patriarchate made a heroic act in accepting the “karlovtsy schismatics” WITHOUT THEIR REPENTING. It knowingly committed a violation of the Canons, and not those, which you use against me. (Those dutiful citations which the bishops always use, though they did not prevent them from remaining in schism.) The MP trampled the basic principle of territorial sovereignty of the local churches, and also violated the Tomos of 1970 it had with the American church. This was all done for the sake of love and unity within the One Orthodox Family.

I do not judge you or Metropolitan Hilarion. Who am I? A simple Russian priest. I do not have the right to denounce or judge all of you bishops. You certainly have your reasons for which you deserted the Church Abroad. Apparently, you think you are right. My relationship to both of you has not changed because of it. I continue to love both of you and continue to consider you my friend.

But you made your choice. Why do not you let others make their choice? Even if they are wrong from your point of view. But it is their choice. The choice of our brothers is not to be under the omofor of the Moscow Patriarchate. What are we going to do, punish them all, so that it “does not happen again”? Where did our bishops get the idea that they are always right? They thought they were right while in the “karlovtsy schism,” and now they are right while in the “sergianist schism.” Or perhaps a bishop’s ordination imparts wisdom? Though, as we know, “even in the emptiest of heads, love often begets extreme fabrications.” (Cosima Prutkov)

You never considered why out of all the priests of our diocese who did not want to leave ROCA for the MP, I was the only one who was censured. Why, right after I received your letter, did I receive the grave order from Metropolitan Hilarion announcing the dismissal of the parish council, and making claims on our parish property, parish accounts, etc.? Is it possible that Metropolitan Hilarion is interested only in our property? He is after all one of God’s Bishops, and not a synodal clerk. Why “engage in this farce” of censure and “threaten” the priest?

Is it possible that you still do not understand that there is no place for me in your new system? And that is not because the Metropolitan wants it that way. It is because his “lackeys” (excuse me for calling them that) want it that way. They are the true administrators of ROCOR(MP) and receive their orders from their real bosses in the Moscow Patriarchate. I watched this farce for a whole year. Forgive me, dear Bishop, I cannot do it any more. You can continue putting up with it alone. Maybe with time, you will understand me and forgive me. I do not believe it is possible to have a serious conversation with your superiors. They have already made up their minds about me.

I deeply appreciate your letter.
Yours,
Fr. Igor




_____________________________________
ROCOR-MP Bp. Gabriel's letter which prompted the above response:


Nov 18, 2008

Dear in the Lord Fr Igor:
After our long conversations over recent weeks, I have felt it my archpastoral duty, and responsibility as a friend, to address you in the form of a missive, and have decided to make it an open letter. I do this because the situation in which you find yourself is the result of errors committed, unfortunately, not only by you.

I will not repeat here how saddened I was when I heard of what happened. Without warning to either Vladyka Metropolitan, whom, by the way, you have known personally for many years, nor me, a bishop who, as instructed by our Synod, has ministered to your parish for many years (not to mention our own friendship of many years), you arbitrarily convened a meeting of the parishioners, where a decision was adopted which completely violates the Holy Canons to which you constantly refer in your articles, and the Regulations of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, the paragraphs of which you often cite. You did not await my arrival in Florida, you did not give me an opportunity to address the parish, knowing that then, the false, hasty decision that was made that day probably would not have occurred.

Dear Fr Igor, let us call things by their proper name. Under the influence of feelings of aggravation and insult which have gripped you, you abandoned the confines of the Church and you now lead a portion of the flock entrusted to you into the abyss of schism. Having brought down upon yourself suspension by your lawful Bishop, you continue to conduct services; this is a fatal action both for you and for the flock you have deceived, for it directly harms your salvation. You commemorate the name of a suspended bishop, who dared to head an unlawful, sinful assemblage, the so-called VVTsU [Temporary Supreme Ecclesiastical Administration—transl.], which even calls itself the "traditional" or "genuine" Church Abroad, which is an intentional deception of the flock. No matter how you try to justify your actions by saying that you were treated unfairly, you remain a violator of basic church rules on the relationship of a presbyter to his Bishop. For you know these laws well: the presbyter shall not condemn his own Bishop (1st & 2nd Council, 14), he must do nothing without the will of his Bishop (Apostolic 39, Laodicea 57) and if any presbyter, despising his own bishop, shall collect a separate congregation, and erect another altar, not having any grounds for condemning the bishop with regard to religion or justice, let him be deposed for his ambition (Apostolic Canon 31). May the Lord protect us from such consequences for your actions. You cannot be ignorant of the fact that to stand for ecclesiastical truth while at the same time being outside of the lawful Church is a temptation and error. No political, administrative, managerial, property or other quarrel arising between servants of God, members of the Church Militant, that is, as human beings on earth, who are subject to sin and death, none of the above diminishes or abrogates the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

References to "tradition" and "authenticity" is always wickedness. For instance, over the course of many centuries, the Church established the list of books which comprise the Holy Gospel. What would you now say to those who, under the banner of "tradition," would include in the list of books of the Gospel something that the Church already declined or rejected in the 1st or 2nd centuries?

The Russian Church Abroad could not at one time be in communion with the Russian Church in the Fatherland due to various forms of persecution on the part of the state, which hindered the Church's freedom. Today, the Russian Orthodox Church in the Fatherland is free in Her holy service to the benefit of our much-suffering people. You cannot deny this obvious fact. Can we reject communion with Her with the excuse that She, in Her human composition, has not yet thrown off all the consequences of this brutal persecution? Is it acceptable on this basis to think and act like the Pharisee from the Lord's parable in the Gospel?
Again and again I earnestly beseech you to reconsider. In the name of your salvation, for the sake of holy obedience, submit to the suspension laid upon you, no matter how unfair it would seem to you. Break all ties with the schismatic groups. Then your right to appeal to the Hierarchy with a request to reexamine your case will be restored, when you can provide additional arguments, if you have any.
For the faithful flock, pastors and archpastors of the Church of Christ, there is no other way.

I pray the Lord that He give you wisdom.
You are ever in my prayers and I wish you well.

+ Bishop Gabriel







___________________________
UPDATE: VERY STRANGE - SEE JANUARY 22, 2009 OF THIS BLOG

Vth All-Diaspora Council



Vth All-Diaspora Council
This page will contain documents pertaining to the Vth All-Diaspora Council.

PSEA Chairman's Report below in purple
Act of Canonization below in blue
Decision on Act below in green
Decision on Sergianism below in red
Fr. Nikita's on Sergianism:

Proposed Council Determinations
1. Directive
2. Opening Ceremony
3. ROCA PSEA Declaration of the Opening of the Vth All-Diaspora Council
4. The Council Schedule
5. The Order of the Services for the Opening of the Council
6. The Council Agenda
7. List of delegates
Commentaries related to the forthcoming Sobor
1. Fr. Andrey Trachuk - Some comments on our spiritual priorities.
2. A Letter from Archpriest Igor Chitikov and the Parish Council of the Church of St. Andrew Stratelates and Bishop Agafangel's Answer.


Directive
To convene the Vth All-Diaspora Council with the participation of the clergy and laymen. 
I.
  1. This Directive is for the convocation of the Vth All-Diaspora Council with the participation of the clergy and laymen.
  2. The All-Diaspora Council of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad will be based on the Word of God, the Holy Canons, and the legal provisions of the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as the legal provisions set forth by the Bishops’ Councils of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.
  3. The Vth All-Diaspora Council with the participation of the clergy and laymen will be held at the Comfort Inn Hotel in Nanuet, NY, USA.
  4. The ROCA PSEA Chairman will open, close, and chair the Council.
II.
Attendees of the Vth All-Diaspora Council:
  1. The Vth All-Diaspora Council with the participation of the clergy and laymen will be made up of:
    1. the episcopate of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad;
    2. clergy and laymen, who have been elected according to the rules of the All-Diaspora Council;
    3. representatives of parish schools;
    4. guests invited by the ROCA PSEA Chairman;
    5. representatives of the local organizational committee;
    6. according to accepted tradition, all delegates of previous Councils, who have remained loyal members of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and who are not under church censure;
  2. Every Council delegate has the right for one vote.
  3. The agenda of the All-Diaspora Council is tentatively decided by the ROCA PSEA, and later, at the Council, by the Bishops’ Council.
  4. The determination that the All-Diaspora Council was held properly will be made by the ROCA Bishops’ Council.
 III.
The General Meeting of the All-Diaspora Council:
  1. A binding quorum will be considered when half of the delegates to the All-Diaspora Council are present.
IV.
Regarding the Advisory Council and committees of the All-Diaspora Council:
  1. The Advisory Council of the All-Diaspora Council is composed of the Council Chairman, the Vice-Chairman (with the office of presbyter), the Senior Secretary and his assistants, and who are all elected by the Bishops’ Council.
  2. The Advisory Council of the All-Diaspora Council determines the procedures for the meetings, carries out directives of the All-Diaspora Council, and if necessary, has the power to conclude the Council and also has the authority to decide all questions.
  3. The Bishops’ Council establishes the following committees:
    1. Credentials Committee, which will verify the credentials of all delegates arriving at the All-Diaspora Council, as well as informing the Meeting of who is present and who is absent.
    2. Tabulating Committee, which tallies all votes during voting.
    3. Editorial Committee, which prepares drafts of resolutions, epistles, and other documents as directed by the Meeting, and also, confirms official releases of the All-Diaspora Council to the press.
  4. The members of each committee will be confirmed by the Bishops Council of the All-Diaspora Council.
V.
Procedures for discussing issues at the All-Diaspora Council.
  1. The Vice-Chairman officiates at each meeting, leading the discussion, and if necessary, admonishes speakers.  If a speaker is warned twice or more, he can suspend a speaker’s right to speak.
  2. Each delegate will be allowed no more than 5 minutes to speak during a discussion of any issue at the All-Diaspora Council.
  3. Each delegate has the right to speak out no more than two times on any one topic.
  4. A delegate who wishes to speak, may allot his time to another delegate only once.
  5. All-Diaspora Council delegates are obligated to conduct themselves in a Christian manner, with respect for others, and not use any sharp or offensive words or expressions during discussions.
  6. All issues at the All-Diaspora Council will be decided by a majority of votes.
  7. The Chairman has the right to ask for a closed vote, using ballots.
 VI.
The Bishops’ Council at the All-Diaspora Council.
  1. All the bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad are members of the Bishops’ Council, which can meet as needed during the proceedings of the Council.
  2. The Chairman of the Bishops’ Council is the Chairman of the ROCA PSEA.
VII.
The Secretariat of the All-Diaspora Council.
  1. The Bishops’ Council names the Senior Secretary and his assistant for the All-Diaspora Council.
  2. The Secretariat handles the minutes of the All-Diaspora Council.
  3. The Secretariat continues its work until the end of the All-Diaspora Council, after which it prepares all the documents of the Council and submits them to the Secretary of the Synod of Bishops.
  4. The Secretariat also contains an administrative office, which is organized by the Senior Secretary of the All-Diaspora Council.
Draft
Directive of the ROCA PSEA on the opening of the Vth All-Diaspora Council.
 In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
 
The Provisional Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad gives thanks to God, who has allowed the wishes of our God-loving flock to be fulfilled, and announces the opening of the Vth All-Diaspora Council.  May the All-powerful Bishop of heaven and earth, our Lord Jesus Christ, our God, who created His holy Church for our salvation, turn His loving gaze upon our Sobor and send down upon us His Holy Spirit and bless us with His Grace, so that our minds may become enlightened, that our decisions may be wise, that our will may be strong, and that we approach each good deed with love and zeal, so that we come together as one in a spirit of peace and love in order that all the works of the Sobor fulfill His commandment: seek first the Kingdom of God and His truths, glorify His holy Name, so that together, with one heart and one lips, we can unceasingly confess our God, One by the Trinity, for ages and ages.  Amen.
Signatures
Draft
 Opening Ceremony of the Vth All-Diaspora Council

The church bells will toll at 08:55 on November 18, 2008.  The bishops will gather in the altar preparing for the meeting of the ROCA PSEA Chairman, dressed in their mantiyas.  A Gospel and a cross lie on a lectern in the center of the church.  A table for the bishops stands on the ambo, where the archpastors will sit during the opening.  On the soleas, on either side of the Royal Gates, there will be lecterns with sacred items upon them.  The delegates of the Vth All-Diaspora Council, both clergy and laymen, will enter as their names are called and will take their places in the chairs on either side of the church interior and around the bishops’ cathedra (laymen will be seated behind the clergy), and then the laypeople will occupy the rest of the church interior.  Priests must be in cassocks, wearing their crosses and kamilavkas (if they have the right to wear them).  If not, then with skufias or nothing on their heads.  Choir members will join on the left kliros.

Then the Royal Gates will open, and after the bishops venerate the altar table, they will come out in mantiyas without staffs to meet the ROCA PSEA Chairman.  Sub-deacons and attendants holding the staffs will stand at the entrance to the church.  The bishops will stand in order of seniority, as when priests gather to meet bishops.  The church rector will stand there with a cross on a tray and the protodeacons of the church will stand facing west, with their backs to the cathedra, holding censers and the dikiriy and trikiriy.

 The ROCA PSEA Chairman will be met at 0900, with the choir singing “The Sun from the East” and “Ton Despotin.”  The Chairman will venerate the Gospel and cross laying on the lectern in the middle of the church.  A moleben will be served to open the Vth Council.  At the end, while “Ton Despotin” is sung, His Eminence will bless the faithful from the ambo.  Then one of the bishops will take his place on one of the soleas and will read the following ROCA PSEA Declaration on the opening of the Vth All-Diaspora Council:
 In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The Provisional Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad gives thanks to God, who has allowed the wishes of our God-loving flock to be fulfilled, and announces the opening of the Vth All-Diaspora Council.  May the All-powerful Bishop of heaven and earth, our Lord Jesus Christ, our God, who created His holy Church for our salvation, turn His loving gaze upon our Sobor and send down upon us His Holy Spirit and bless us with His Grace, so that our minds may become enlightened, that our decisions may be wise, that our will may be strong, and that we approach each good deed with love and zeal, so that we come together as one in a spirit of peace and love in order that all the works of the Sobor fulfill His commandment: seek first the Kingdom of God and His truths, glorify His holy Name, so that together, with one heart and one lips, we can unceasingly confess our God, One by the Trinity, for ages and ages.  Amen.

ROCA PSEA Chairman
(the signatures of the ROCA PSEA members will follow)

Having declared the Vth All-Diaspora Council open, the Most Reverend Bishop Agafangel will ask everyone to sing the Creed and “Dnes blagodat Svyatago Dukha nas sobra.”  The Chairman prays facing the altar table.  The Council participants sing.  Then the bishops take their seats at the bishops’ table.  Sub-deacons and attendants holding the staffs will stand behind the ROCA PSEA Chairman, who sits at the Chairman’s place at the table.

 The Council participants take their seats.

The ROCA PSEA Chairman, Bishop Agafangel, will make an opening remark.  Then the Vth All-Diaspora Council Declaration will be read, along with the decision of the ROCA PSEA, which will have been made the day before, as to the make up of the Sobor Council, and the Secretariat, Editorial, Credentials, and Tabulating committees.  Then the bishops and delegates of the Vth All-Diaspora Council will come up to venerate the Gospel and cross, just as the ROCA PSEA Chairman did, and according to rank.  Having venerated these sacred items, the bishops and delegates of the Vth All-Diaspora Council will go to the ROCA PSEA Chairman, who will bless the clergy, deacons, and laymen with Holy Water.  Everyone will gather for a group photograph.  After that is done, the Chairman and the bishops will enter into the altar through the Royal Gates, and after bowing to the altar table, remove their vestments.

Draft
The Order of the Services for the Opening of the Vth All-Diaspora Council

ovember 4\17, 2008, in the year of Our Lord, in  the 27th week after Pentecost, in the Church of St. Sergius of Radonezh in Valley Cottage, NY, at 4:15 PM, a panikhida for the Hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad; Metropolitans Anthony, Anastasy, Philaret, and Vitaly, will be served, officiated by the bishops and clergy.  Vigil will begin this day at 6:00 PM.
November 5\18, 2008, at 7:30 AM, Divine Liturgy will take place, after which, the bishops, clergy, and delegates of the Vth All-Diaspora Council will conduct a moleben and the ceremonial opening of the Vth All-Diaspora Council.


Draft
 Directive of the ROCA PSEA on the opening of the Vth All-Diaspora Council.
 In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

he Provisional Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad gives thanks to God, who has allowed the wishes of our God-loving flock to be fulfilled, and announces the opening of the Vth All-Diaspora Council.  May the All-powerful Bishop of heaven and earth, our Lord Jesus Christ, our God, who created His holy Church for our salvation, turn His loving gaze upon our Sobor and send down upon us His Holy Spirit and bless us with His Grace, so that our minds may become enlightened, that our decisions may be wise, that our will may be strong, and that we approach each good deed with love and zeal, so that we come together as one in a spirit of peace and love in order that all the works of the Sobor fulfill His commandment: seek first the Kingdom of God and His truths, glorify His holy Name, so that together, with one heart and one lips, we can unceasingly confess our God, One by the Trinity, for ages and ages.  Amen.
Signatures

Draft
 Directive

To convene the Vth All-Diaspora Council with the participation of the clergy and laymen.
 I.
  1. This Directive is for the convocation of the Vth All-Diaspora Council with the participation of the clergy and laymen.
  2. The All-Diaspora Council of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad will be based on the Word of God, the Holy Canons, and the legal provisions of the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as the legal provisions set forth by the Bishops’ Councils of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.
  3. The Vth All-Diaspora Council with the participation of the clergy and laymen will be held at the Comfort Inn Hotel in Nanuet, NY, USA.
  4. The ROCA PSEA Chairman will open, close, and chair the Council.
II.
Attendees of the Vth All-Diaspora Council:
  1. The Vth All-Diaspora Council with the participation of the clergy and laymen will be made up of:
    1. the episcopate of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad;
    2. clergy and laymen, who have been elected according to the rules of the All-Diaspora Council;
    3. representatives of parish schools;
    4. guests invited by the ROCA PSEA Chairman;
    5. representatives of the local organizational committee;
    6. according to accepted tradition, all delegates of previous Councils, who have remained loyal members of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and who are not under church censure;
  2. Every Council delegate has the right for one vote.
  3. The agenda of the All-Diaspora Council is tentatively decided by the ROCA PSEA, and later, at the Council, by the Bishops’ Council.
  4. The determination that the All-Diaspora Council was held properly will be made by the ROCA Bishops’ Council.
 III.
The General Meeting of the All-Diaspora Council:
  1. A binding quorum will be considered when half of the delegates to the All-Diaspora Council are present.
IV.
Regarding the Advisory Council and committees of the All-Diaspora Council:
  1. The Advisory Council of the All-Diaspora Council is composed of the Council Chairman, the Vice-Chairman (with the office of presbyter), the Senior Secretary and his assistants, and who are all elected by the Bishops’ Council.
  2. The Advisory Council of the All-Diaspora Council determines the procedures for the meetings, carries out directives of the All-Diaspora Council, and if necessary, has the power to conclude the Council and also has the authority to decide all questions.
  3. The Bishops’ Council establishes the following committees:
    1. Credentials Committee, which will verify the credentials of all delegates arriving at the All-Diaspora Council, as well as informing the Meeting of who is present and who is absent.
    2. Tabulating Committee, which tallies all votes during voting.
    3. Editorial Committee, which prepares drafts of resolutions, epistles, and other documents as directed by the Meeting, and also, confirms official releases of the All-Diaspora Council to the press.
  4. The members of each committee will be confirmed by the Bishops Council of the All-Diaspora Council.
 V.
Procedures for discussing issues at the All-Diaspora Council.
  1. The Vice-Chairman officiates at each meeting, leading the discussion, and if necessary, admonishes speakers.  If a speaker is warned twice or more, he can suspend a speaker’s right to speak.
  2. Each delegate will be allowed no more than 5 minutes to speak during a discussion of any issue at the All-Diaspora Council.
  3. Each delegate has the right to speak out no more than two times on any one topic.
  4. A delegate who wishes to speak, may allot his time to another delegate only once.
  5. All-Diaspora Council delegates are obligated to conduct themselves in a Christian manner, with respect for others, and not use any sharp or offensive words or expressions during discussions.
  6. All issues at the All-Diaspora Council will be decided by a majority of votes.
  7. The Chairman has the right to ask for a closed vote, using ballots.
VI.
The Bishops’ Council at the All-Diaspora Council.
  1. All the bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad are members of the Bishops’ Council, which can meet as needed during the proceedings of the Council.
  2. The Chairman of the Bishops’ Council is the Chairman of the ROCA PSEA.
VII.
The Secretariat of the All-Diaspora Council.
  1. The Bishops’ Council names the Senior Secretary and his assistant for the All-Diaspora Council.
  2. The Secretariat handles the minutes of the All-Diaspora Council.
  3. The Secretariat continues its work until the end of the All-Diaspora Council, after which it prepares all the documents of the Council and submits them to the Secretary of the Synod of Bishops.
  4. The Secretariat also contains an administrative office, which is organized by the Senior Secretary of the All-Diaspora Council.

Draft
 Agenda of the Vth All-Diaspora Council 
  1. Determination about the Supreme Church authority in the ROCA.
  2. Ruling on the Act of Eucharistic Communion of May 17, 2007.
  3. The canonization of Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky), Hierarch of the ROCA.

Delegates of the Vth All-Diaspora Sobor
 EPISCOPATE
Most Reverend Agafangel, Bishop of Taurida and Odessa
Most Reverend Andronik, Bishop of Ottawa and North America
Most Reverend Sofroniy, Bishop of St. Petersburg and Northern Russia
Most Reverend Georgiy, Bishop of Bolgrad
Most Reverend Ioann, Bishop of Buinsk and Volzhsk
Most Reverend Afanasy, Bishop of Vologodsk and Velikoustyuzhsk
 Australian Diocese
Hegumen John (Shmelts)
Protodeacon Vasiliy Yakimov
Aleksey Serdtsev
 South American Diocese
Archpriest Vladimir Shlenev
Archpriest Georgiy Petrenko
Fr. Aleksandr Ivashevich
Fr. Vladimir Petrenko
 Eastern American Diocese
Archpriest Wsewolod Dutikow
Fr. Daniel Meschter
Fr. Nikita Grigoriev
Protodeacon Iov Chemerov
Deacon Dimitri Dobronravov
George Gerasimowicz
Mark Kotlaroff
 Western American Diocese
Archpriest Aleksy Mikrikov
Fr. Elias Warnke
 Canadian Diocese
Fr. Andrew Kencis
Hieromonk Arseniy (Manko)
Vladimir Skok
Nicholas Timtsenko
Aleksey Freis
Odessa Diocese
Archpriest Valery Alekseyev
Fr. Leonid Plyats
Fr. Aleksandr Martynenko
Hieromonk Methodius (Gerb)
Aleksandr Mutilin
Yuriy Sosyurko
Georgiy Sakharuta
Sergey Savchenko
 St. Petersburg Diocese
Fr. Aleksandr Shchipakin
Reader Mikhail Balashov
 Vologodsk Diocese
Fr. Aleksandr Lipin
 Central Russian Administrative District
Archpriest Valery Kravets
Archpriest Oleg Mironov
Hieromonk Nikon (Yost)
Fr. Valery Leonichev
Monk Diodor Pashentsev
Reader Aleksandr Khitrov
 Pre-Sobor Committee Members
Archpriest Igor Hrebinka
Archpriest Gregory Kotlaroff
Archpriest Sergey Klestov
Archpriest Konstantin Busygin
Fr. Victor Dobrov
Dimitri Gontscharow
Peter Koltypin
Nikolai Tchertkoff
 Delegates of Previous All-Diaspora Sobors
Archpriest Igor Chitikov
Reader Daniel Olson
John Herbst
Andrey Kotchoubey
George Schidlovsky
 Mission Representatives
Archpriest Gregory Williams
 Representatives of Organizations
Evgeniy Magerovsky
Oleg Rodzianko
Sergey Sauer
 Sobor Guests
Most Reverend Cyprian, Bishop of Oreoi
His Eminence Vlasie, Metropolitan of Slatioara and Suceava
Most Reverend Photii, Bishop of Triaditza
(and those invited by them to accompany them)


A Commentary on Our Spiritual Priorities
 “..we do not desire victory, but the return of brothers,
as the separation from them torments us.”
St. Gregory the Theologian Discourse 41: “On Holy Pentecost”  

In anticipation of the Vth All-Diaspora Sobor of the ROCA, I would like to touch on some important topics related to our past and present Sacred struggle. To properly orient ourselves for the the foreseeable future, it is necessary to correctly identify the main spiritual priorities of our common efforts. To do this, we need someone to act as a clear spiritual focal point, capable of consolidating around him all the disparate forces of the «fragments» of the old ROCA. I hope no one is not in doubt, that for the reunification process to pccur, we need an honest reassessment of the past and present, coupled with Christian goodwill. The entire “holy remnant” of the ROCA needs to focus on our old traditional spiritual values which dominated our Church from 1964 to 1985. We need an authoritative person from the past, an unimpeachable authority of the church, whose spiritual image has the ability to unite all the divided groups. There is no doubt that the image and work of the Holy Confessor Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky), the Third Hierarch of the ROCA, can help us in this difficult undertaking. Why does the image of Met. Philaret attract our special attention? Precisely, because he specified the points of orientation, which should be used to guide our church life. Much has been said lately about the correctness of the course upon which the humble Met. Philaret led the ROCA, because he certainly tried to lead the church on the Royal way. In those days, our Holy Church was the undisputed forepost of True Orthodoxy. It became enriched spiritually and grew in number, to become a life-saving Vessel for many who sought the Truth, and was the foreshadowing of the Philadelphia Church. Now ROCA is diminished not only in number, but unfortunately, spiritually as well. The recent Union with the “sergianist-ecumenical” MP confirms the sad fact of the universal spiritual confusion and widespread loss of appreciation of true Orthodoxy. Now we are reaping the evil fruits of many disloyal actions and an almost complete departure from the prudent course charted by Met. Philaret. This is a fair cost for the slyness, careerism, and excessive desires of some church leaders who changed the entire inner spirit and structure of the Church. They plunged the ROCA truly into a Laodicean state. The dissimulation, hypocrisy, and baseless, Pharisean “hyper-correctness” pushed many true-orthodox Christians sincerely desirous of the glory of God away from the ROCA.

We imperceptibly lose the salt of the earth, but many do not want to see this! The “fragments” of the ROCA have become bogged down in internecine warfare for the so-called “legacy” of the historic ROCA. Time is passing relentlessly, and sooner or later, the Lord will ask strictly all the “church leaders” who have artlessly squandered the opportunity for reconciliation, given to us all not for our merits, but by the special grace of God for the sake of bringing peace to the warring factions before the coming Apostasy.
 As we know, God resists the proud and blesses the humble with wisdom and grace. Therefore, we will not achieve apparently any time soon desired spiritual unity.

Unfortunately, the historic moment has been lost, while hostility is gaining momentum. Competition is known to be an integral part of market economics or even the primitive bazaar, but it should have no place in the Holy Church. Unfortunately, though, competition is firmly entrenched even in the camps of those who defend the principles of the TOC and the “old” ROCA in internet publications. I tell you Fathers and Brothers, our case is very bad! The momentary successes offer no consolation, as there is no change for the better! We need to change our behavior and way of thinking, to confirm not only by word, but by deed, that the impending canonization of Met. Philaret, is not just a tribute to fashion and not the fruit of that same competition, but a conscious, penitential act. Only in this way can we please God and His Holy Servant Met. Philaret!

Among our brothers from various self-styled, small, true-Orthodox groups, as well as among our part of the ROCA that recognizes the authority of the PSEA, the need to restore the “old” ROCA is raised more and more often. This fact cannot but please all the supporters of this idea, which is absolutely correct. But as it turns out, in fact, the term “old ROCA” is not understood in the same way, and unfortunately, “old ROCA” means something different to everyone. Inevitably, the obvious question emerges. How do we all understand “old ROCA”? What is the meaning we invest in this name? What are we going to restore, and what are our priorities? The spirit and principles of which period of “old ROCA” do we intend to restore? It is important to clarify! Will we chose as a model of governance the period of St. Philaret of New York? Or do we seek to restore the spirit and principles of “old” ROCA the period of the late Met. Vitaly (Ustinov)? We certainly have to honestly confess, without considering either one personally, that the spirit, methods, and principles of Church Orthodoxy of these two periods are very different.
 For our common spiritual benefit, we need to resolve to conduct a critical, honest audit of all that has occurred in our church from 1986 to 2007. Without an honest analysis of the past, we certainly will be unable to avoid wrong actions and tragic mistakes in the future! It should be done soberly, without the undue emotions of arrogance and critically reflect on what happened during the above-mentioned period of time. What problems must be addressed first?

First, we must decide our position in regard to the Anathema on Ecumenism of 1983. There is a great need to clarify the extent of the boundaries and limits of this Anathema. This is a very important issue that requires its immediate resolution. It is directly related to the revisionism of our past. What opinion will we hold to now?  Will we continue to uphold the ambiguous positions expressed by Met. Vitaly (Ustinov) in the mixed message of the Christmas Epistle of 1986? Or do we have enough courage to listen to the critical arguments and fair comments made by the other True Orthodox Churches (TOC)? We must calmly, without any extreme emotions, consider and weigh all the reasons “for” and “against”. For the sake of fairness, we need to recognize that we have violated the regulations of that ban. It is necessary and desirable for all our “fragments”, the entire “holy remnant” of the ROCA to return to the original position of the Holy Met. Philaret of New York.

Through this re-evaluation, we would not only by word, but by deed confirm our sincere commitment to the views of St. Philaret and His “old” ROCA. Otherwise, the future canonization of St. Philaret is not much different from the “sergianist” canonization of the Holy New martyrs.  After all, in recognizing their undeniable holiness, they did not recognize their sacred beliefs and ideals of struggle. Let us say in all conscience, such a canonization would be a mere formality and nothing more. In the Holy Scripture, such a formal version of the glorification of the Prophets, because of the presence of wickedness is deplored uncompromisingly. What transpired before the Anathema of 1983 has not been refuted by anyone.  Nevertheless, in 1986 and in subsequent years, the Anathema was regularly violated by ROCA, especially during the time of Met. Lavr and this is awful! Who understands the force of an anathema will not persist in their errors, even those that may not have been deliberate. De facto and de jure, because of these violations we are still reminded of the words known to all: “... and fall under one’s Anathema.” We tasted the bitter fruits of the terrible consequences of these violations in 2007. We should reflect on how it might affect us not only here, but most importantly, for eternity! This is no joke, and now is not the time to save face and strike distinguished poses!

In discussing this matter with humility, let us determine for ourselves the clear boundaries and spread of this holy Anathema.

Secondly, it is necessary for the good of our Church to review the matter of the censures placed on those members of ROCA who, for various reasons, withdrew from it from 1986 to 2007, during the times of Metropolitans Lavr and Vitaliy. The difficulty in addressing this issue is clear, but with Christian goodwill it can get a fair settlement. That is, of course, if we sincerely desire to have an atmospehere of brotherhood and fairness. For the Lord himself has commanded us to bless those who speak ill of us.

During the time of the Hierarch Met. Philaret, ROCA teemed with various contradictions among the episcopate, clergy, monastics and lay people. Even then the future division loomed between the so-called “Party” and this historical fact, but due to the wise and fair policies of the Hierarch Met. Philaret, who did not belong to any of the “parties”, feuds were not allowed in ROCA and freedom of opinion was preserved. He was like an invisible wall separating rivals, for he was not guided by the principle of expediency, but strictly adhered to the principle of conscience and maximum impartiality in his judgments. Many had great respect and admiration of him for this fact! In those years ROCA grew and was worthy of being called the Philadelphia Church, and among all the local TOCs, its head, Met. Philaret was known as the Angel of the Philadelphia Church. Contemporary church historians rightly named the period of his rule as a Golden era. ROCA at that time was dominated by pastoral love, strict spiritual discipline opposed to any despotism and moderate observance of absolute official Orthodoxy!

Beginning in 1986, a narrow party line of one of the “groups” prevailed over the church, and as a result, the balance of forces was disrupted, resulting in increased authoritarianism and violation of sobornost. Some who protested against the innovations were expelled from ROCA, others were “put out to pasture” for the good of the cause, while others, in order to survive, transformed themselves like chameleons. As a result, these turncoats completely surrendered our Church in 2007 into the “paws” of the “church of the dissemblers”.

Bp. Gregory (Grabbe) of blessed memory, admitted with great sorrow, that with the death of Met. Philaret, charity within ROCA was replaced by very strict discipline and intolerance of dissent. Bp. Gregory himself became a victim of the intrigues and the change in the church’s course. Here are his words: “... We have before us the example of Los Angeles diocese, where because of severity instead of love and the desire for punitive action to bring down a small diocese (about 10 parishes) - to just one!” (Bp. Gregory’s Letter to Met. Vitaly, 24 March / 6 April 1994).

Bp. Gregory writes in another of his letters: “You are mistaken about the ones who left us. First of all, it is not only the Greeks, but there are also Russians and Americans. I have always been able to work easily with them. They moved away from us, because our Bishops drove them away. These are the fruits of adversarial plotting and chauvinism on our part (of some bishops), and the elimination of the guidance of love in our deliberations. After all, Fr. Panteleimon was condemned without any investigation. Not a single investigator ever went to the monastery, let alone Met. Vitaly. None of the psoitive material that I passed along  was taken into account; the prosecution was built on the testimony of people who, according to the canons, cannot be witnesses against priests. It is significant that all the brothers remained with Fr. Panteleimon. The system of the main investigator, Abp. Anthony of Los Angeles, was simple; to force a person into despair at the unfairness, to compel him to leave and then defrock him. It is an easy system, but un-Christian.  Applying it in the cases of Fr. Panteleimon and Fr. Anthony was admitted by Metropolitan in a conversation with a delegation of clerics. I was removed because I always reminded everyone of the canons. It was not possible to conduct unlawful hearings with my involvement... By the way, Fr. Panteleimon had always spoken out earlier against the fact that we would have a Greek bishop. He left only when the selected hegumen was approved, who himself was accused without trial within a few days, while the pastorship was given over to Abp. Anthony of Los Angeles, who clearly acted as a ram to destroy the monasterym which had large and very valuable assets, collected by Fr. Panteleimon.”

Therefore, recognizing the clearly flagrant injustice and prejudice, and taking into account the possibility of a wrong judgment, it is necessary to review the lawfulness of the determinations. Instead of agreeing with the repressive past decisions of our previous Synods made after 1986, we should, at least for the sake of our consciences, review these decisions to make sure once again that they were just.

For the sake of gaining benefits from the actions by the church and our Holy Struggle, everyone must refrain from making statements about someone's lack of Grace and schismatic actions. May all the “fragments” of the traditional ROCA for whom the legacy of St. Met. Philaret is dear not just in words, make similar proper judgments on the relationship of these Minor Sobors to the topics above. It will show what everyone is “made of” and who is closer to the Truth. This will help us to gradually reach a consensus, agreement, and to the sense of reliance on each other.

If we stand on the firm foundation of the ecclesiology and sensible church policies professed by St. Philaret, then we will have the prerequisite for real unity. Otherwise, if we do not understand the main priorities, and each small Sobor of the TOCs elevates their authority among the churches to the rank of infallibility, then we definitely have to forget for some time to come any ideas of reconciliation, unification, or oneness of belief.

 It is now evident that all the TOCs have big problems brewing inside and small successes in terms of acquiring small groups, which then align themselves with Synods at war with one another.  This should not give them any comfort or ally their vigilance and Christian conscience. Everyone should understand that by gathering faithful from other jurisdictions, as well as counting the church “tourists,” a real superiority is not achieved by anyone. The merger and consolidation is necessary of some of the autonomous TOCs, that are close to one another views. It may seem from the outside that the situations for the TOCs is perhaps slightly better compared to the way it was before, but the inner condition of the circumstances of the so-called “merged” and “defectors” has not changed for the better, perhaps even - on the contrary. In fact, in the words of St. Basil the Great: “The circumstances are strongly tending toward the destruction of churches”, and “the general situation of the Church ... is likened to old clothes that are easily torn by trivial reasons”. We are also gradually sinking into a state of strife which St. Basil said was akin to a state of self-destruction. “What will we compare this state to? ... Is not this storm among Churches fiercer than any marine tempest? ... Attacking each other, denigrating each other. If an opponent wounds one of us (in our case a 'sergianist,' 'ecumenist,' or an 'atheist'), our defenders also attack! If the enemy is deposed and fallen, your previous defender attacks you... and evil seem so rooted that we have become foolish, mute beasts, because if they are of one nature they live as one herd, and we must battle our own.”  And now, “everyone is a theologian, even though there are thousands of stains on his soul”.

Elsewhere St. Basil also said: “In this evil time ... love in all of us has grown cold, unity among brothers has disappeared, and consensus has become a thing of the past.  Respect among friends has stopped, Christian charity is nowhere to be found, a compassionate tear is not shed. Now one trips the other, others mock the fallen, while others applaud”. (St. Basil the Great, “On the Holy Spirit”, chapter 30, par. 76, 77, 78)

Therefore, let us be tolerant of the views of each other. And here we can all benefit from the useful experience of church policy of the “old” ROCA in the times of St. Met. Philaret.  As was said earlier, conditions within ROCA in his time were not very quiet, but nevertheless, freedom of opinion and expression were preserved. Criticism of specific people in the Church was tolerated and this criticism often led to serious clashes between the “parties”, but the spiritual culture and the great credibility of Met. Philareta did not allow anarchy and the annihilation of the warring factions.

Unfortunately, the spiritual authority of the magnitude of St. First Hierarch of ROCA Met. Philaret no longer exists among us. However, if the above-mentioned Christian goodwill exists, along with polite written statements on the Internet and respect towards the views and critical articles of our opponents, then we can gradually attain the desired unity (at least) on the Eucharistic level, and later, if necessary, on a canonical-administrative level. We are all for the unity of all true – Orthodox groups, and we must decide what is spiritually dear to us and most valuable from the past of the TOC and ROCA. This will help us regain “underfoot” a really solid spiritual foundation by the grace of God, devoid of any deceit, pettiness and personal ambitions. We are obliged to adopt a uniform system of spiritual priorities for all of us, and a common point of reference is need for that purpose. It is necessary to honestly determine the moment in history, when all the unrest began in ROCA and the departure from the life-saving course charted by St. Philaret, the Third Hierarch of ROCA. Such a pledge can contain the remedy to our current difficult situation.

Only with such an honest approach, without any fuss and ambiguity will we have a reason to hope that we will be celebrating a new Week of the Triumph of Orthodoxy. May this occur as soon as possible by the prayers of the Most Holy Theotokos, the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors and all the Saints. Amen.

Fr. Andrew Trachuk

A Letter from Archpriest Igor Chitikov and the Parish Council of the Church of St. Andrew Stratelates
and 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?

  1. 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.

  1. 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


•••

The PSEA Chairman's Report to the Vth All-Diaspora Council

            Honorable delegates of the Vth All-Diaspora Council, dear brothers in Christ!

            Blessed is God, having gathered us this day with the hope and sincere desire to accept and act upon His Holy will!

            All of us gathered here are different people with different opinions.  Nevertheless, since we are Christians, we are directed to be of one Spirit not only with one another, but with the brothers and sisters who came before us, who preserved and practiced the Orthodox faith.  We must remain in one Spirit with the entire Catholic Orthodox Church.

            We possess the spiritual legacy of the Russian Church Abroad, as expressed in its conciliar decisions and in the efforts and thoughts of its faithful members.  Since we believe that our Church can save us, then we must apply all effort not to fall away from this Church.  Our every step must be carefully checked against the works of our Councils, with care, and our hearts must hearken to the words and reasoning of those more attuned spiritually.  We are obligated to be the guardians of the legacy we have inherited and not its squanderers or interpreters.  There is no other path.

            The turbulent events of the beginning of the 20th century resulted, on one hand, in an open opposition to the Church, and on the other hand, in an atheistic political system.  From the first day the atheists came to power their “hell-sent” efforts to destroy the Church began.  We know from history what sophisticated plots and torments were conceived by people such as Tuchkov and his accomplices.  I personally believe that the work begun at that time continues, albeit in different forms and directions, depending on the circumstances, and stronger or weaker at various times.

            Please forgive me for this reminder, I make it only because I see the same similarities in events occurring today in the Russian Church, and which have their origin in those years that were so terrible for our homeland.

            We are all recent witnesses and participants of those sorrowful days, when, having surrendered to outside pressure and in contradiction to the conciliar will of the Church itself (as expressed in its statements in Nyack and the IV All-Diaspora Council), a part of the body of the Church separated and largely merged into the administrative and political system of the Russian Federation.  The artificial way in which the process of “union” was carried out clearly shows one of the characteristics of “sergianism,” a policy which unfortunately still has not received a final judgment or assessment.  In fact, I believe the issue is no longer only about the Moscow Patriarchate, which is still not totally free and not sufficiently independent, but to what extent the government officials of the Russian Federation now present themselves as conduits of God’s will.  As a result, the MP is part of the secular government structure and must serve it.  It is clear that contemporary governments (not only the RF, but others as well) differ greatly spiritually and literally from the standards of Orthodox governance of the days of Constantine the Great.  In light of that, it is not clear why the Orthodox Church needs to be so tightly interwoven with contemporary secular government structures.  The usual answer, to have a positive influence of political power, is insufficient, because in reality, everything turns out backwards.  Our parishes, which joined the MP, sadly have become (or are steadily becoming) integral parts of the political system of the RF, “embassies of Russia” if you will (as former ROCA Archpriest Victor Potapov put it).  This assumption of a political nature is the first consequence one expects from the union of a part of our Church Abroad parishes with the MP.  It is unavoidable that other changes will follow, further distancing our former brothers and sisters from the Church Abroad of the time of the first metropolitans. 

            A similar case exists with ecumenism.  After various discussions and an unsuccessful attempt by Metropolitan Hilarion to raise the subject at the Council, the MP (and that means the ROCA parishes that are a part of it) has decided to endorse this heresy, which is borne out by the Patriarchate’s growing level of ecumenical activity.  The Church Abroad has proclaimed anathema against ecumenism twice already; by Metropolitan Philaret, and it was reaffirmed later by Metropolitan Vitaliy.  In light of this, we cannot have anything to do with its proponents, not anything.

            Unfortunately, in recent times, it has not been possible to come to an understanding with those who left the Church Abroad before May 17, 2008.  There is only one reason; they have created new “movements” in Orthodoxy and the majority of them do not want to return to the ROCA.  Nevertheless, the hope remains that we will be able to normalize relations with some of them.  I met with RTOC Bishop Dionisiy, who also spoke for Bishop Iriney, and they and their clergy and parishes are ready to join us, as they consider the ROCA to be the canonical Church and they disagree with the current RTOC administration and its creation of a new church body ostensibly called the Catacomb Church, established at the “Holy Council” in Odessa in October, 2008.  The only remaining question is whether we will accept them as brothers and not be overly strict with them, as with those who broke off relations with the Synod of Metropolitan Laurus before we did.  In this regard, I would like to recall the words of the Epistle of the Provisional Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad on December 6-8, 2007: “In light of the pending Vth All-Diaspora Council and our sincere desire to see all of the clergy and laypeople of the Church Abroad, who remained faithful to it and did not accept union with the Moscow Patriarchate, to be one in brotherly love, we declare that we do not dare judge those who left the ROCA Synod of Bishops before May 17 for religious reasons and call on all faithful members of the ROCA to make all efforts to restore the unity of the church.”

            I believe it should be noted here that the destruction and division of the Church begun by the atheists in the beginning of the 20th century is being perpetuated today of our own volition by many of us who call ourselves Orthodox Christians, whether through being inflexible, or bitter, or having false feelings of uniqueness, or lack of charity to one’s brothers in Christ.  We will have no future and we will be condemned to further division and hostility if we do not learn to love our brothers even if we think they have strayed, while trying to remain loyal to Christ.  Certainly, we must distinguish heresy from folly and ambition from true sacrifice and draw the proper conclusions; that a person who makes mistakes is not necessarily a heretic, and we should not give in to provocations from those lusting for power.  I am convinced that above all we must not allow outside influence or pressure in any way to affect our church community.  While observing and respecting civil law, we cannot rely on anyone except for God.  There are no political, patriotic, or material priorities that are more important than the Church and they cannot dictate certain actions to anyone, let alone the church administration.  We must always remain ready to leave our possessions behind and even some supposed spiritual riches if they become an obstacle between us and Christ.  The early Christians lived like this and this is the standard for all of us, exemplified by our Savior Himself.

            By the Grace of God, we have been able to remain free, and I believe and am sure that one of our main tasks is to safeguard this freedom in Christ.


            By God’s Providence, a meeting was held on July 10, 2007 in Astoria, NY, USA, and a provisional administration was formed, whose first task was to prepare for the convocation of the Vth All-Diaspora Council, which would have the authority to restore our Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority – the Holy Synod and the ROCA Hierarch.  At this Council, we have gathered to elect our new Synod and the authority of the PSEA has expired and it should be dissolved.  But I, as its Chairman, must first present all the actions and decisions of the Provisional Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority for consideration by the Council.

            At the end of November and beginning of December, 2007, in the Old Calendar monastery of the Holy Martyr Cyprian and Martyr Justinian in Greece, I worked with the Synod of Resistance and we created the “Act of the Essential Principles of the Combined Efforts of the Greek and Russian Anti-Ecumenists.”  The signing of this Act confirmed the unity of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and the Old Calendar Church of Greece (and the Romanian and Bulgarian Old Calendar Churches).  At the request of the PSEA, the Synod of the Old Calendar Church of Greece decided to help us with the bishops’ ordinations of candidates who were selected in our diocese, guided by a spirit of sobornost.  In December, 2007, in Odessa, Bishops Ambrose of Methone and Georgiy of Alania and I consecrated Archimandrite Andronik and Hegumen Sofroniy as bishops.  I feel we at the Council must express our gratitude to the episcopate of the Sister Church for this assistance and support of our Church during that difficult time for our Church.

            Later, in May, 2008, in the Church of St. Sergius of Radonezh in the USA, the Most Reverend Andronik and Sofroniy and I ordained Hegumen Georgiy, who was elected in the Odessa diocese, as Bishop of Bolgrad and Vicar Bishop in the Odessa diocese.

            At the five previous meetings of the PSEA, we also made the following decisions, which require approval by a council:

1.      The first PSEA meeting, on 11 JUL 07 in Astoria, approved the following decisions:
To create the Northern American Administrative District, which will temporarily include the Eastern American, Chicago-Detroit, Western American, and Canadian dioceses.  To elect Hegumen Andronik (Kotlaroff) as the Administrator of the Northern American Administrative District.
To elect Archpriest Georgiy Petrenko as the Administrator of the South American diocese.
To create the Central Russian Administrative District to include the Moscow, Suzdal, Siberian, and Kuban dioceses.  It will also include parishes in countries of the former USSR (except for Ukraine, Belarus, and Modova).  To elect Archpriest Valeriy Kravitz as the Administrator of the Central Russian Administrative District.
To elect Hieromonk Sofroniy (Musienko) as the Administrator of the St. Petersburg diocese.
To elect Hieromonk John (Smelic) as the Administrator of the Australian-New Zealand diocese.
To temporarily assign the parishes in England and Europe to the PSEA Chairman.
To create the ROCA Mission.

2.      The second PSEA meeting, on 06-08 DEC 07 in Odessa, approved the following decisions:
To form the Pre-Council committee for the preparation and convening of the Vth All-Diaspora Council, and to include the following sub-committees:
-         Administrative-organizational; responsible for organizational, administrative, and financial tasks in preparation and convening of the Vth All-Diaspora Council.
-         Liturgical-canonical; responsible for providing research materials for the decisions and determinations of the Vth All-Diaspora Council, in part to assess the actions of the ROCA church administration from the early 1990’s until May 17, 2007.  It is also responsible for setting the schedule of services during the Vth All-Diaspora Council.
-         Secretariat; responsible for preparing the Statement calling for the Vth All-Diaspora Council, the daily schedule, the draft versions of decisions and determinations, providing necessary information for planning the Vth All-Diaspora Council, and coordinating any organizational questions leading up to the Council.
-         Canonization; responsible for preparing all the necessary materials to decide if the Third ROCA First Hierarch, Metropolitan Philaret, is to be canonized.

3.      The third PSEA meeting, on 13-15 MAY 08 in New York, reviewed and approved the documents collected for the Council and also approved the following decision:
Determination of the ROCA PSEA
Regarding relations with the Moscow Patriarchate
and those who separated from the ROCA before May 17th, 2007.

The ROCA PSEA does not consider the “Act of Eucharistic Communion” to be in accordance with the traditional relationship of the ROCA to the Moscow Patriarchate.  Therefore, it is deemed necessary to issue a final judgment on it at the coming All-Diaspora Council.  Until a corresponding collegial determination on the matter is issued, the basis of our relationship should be the Status of the parishes of the free Russian Orthodox Church, approved by the ROCOR Synod of Bishops on May 2/15, 1990.

Since the last year did not bring the anticipated decision of those who separated from us to restore their affiliation to the Church Abroad, the following determination is announced:

Regarding ROCOR(V) – they are deemed a self-proclaimed church group and the ordinations performed by them are considered incomplete.

Regarding those who split off from ROCA earlier, and in light of their unwillingness to be a part of ROCA and their establishment of new church structures, relationships with them should be governed by collegial and synodal decisions approved previously.

Regarding ROAC – the Resolution of the ROCOR Bishops’ Sobor of 1996 to deny Bishop Valentin clerical standing remains in force and his future actions as a cleric will not be recognized.

Regarding RTOC – the Decision of the ROCA Holy Synod on May 3/16, 2003, to forbid Archbishop Lazarus and Bishop Venyamin from serving remains in force.  Therefore, all of their later actions as clerics may not be considered valid.

4.      The fourth PSEA meeting, on 02-04 SEP 08 in Odessa, approved the following decisions:
The documents forming the basis of the schedule of the Council were approved.
After reviewing the submitted documents and some discussion, it was decided to accept Archbishop John (Zaitsev) with the office of bishop, and Bishop Afanasiy (Savitsky) remaining as bishop, into the body of the ROCA, along with their flocks.  After the laying on of hands, they are known as Bishop John of Buinsk and Volzhsk, whose diocese will include the republic of Tatarstan, and the Mariy El, Chuvashiye, and Ulyanovsk oblasts; and Bishop Afanasiy of Vologodsk and Velikoustyuzhsk, whose diocese will include the Vologodsk oblast.
To re-establish the Council of Russian Eminences.

5.      The fourth and final PSEA meeting, which was held on 18 NOV 08 before the start of the Council, gave final approval to all documents prepared for the Council, and it was decided to invite RTOC Bishop Stefan (Sabelnik) to the Council per his earlier request.

I have listed the primary decisions which were made at all the meetings of our PSEA and which require approval at the Council.  All decisions made at our meetings were discussed and approved in the sincere desire to strengthen and affirm the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, which we consider a historical part of the Local
Russian Orthodox Church and which was created with forethought to be a free religious entity.

Our Church currently consists of 6 bishops, 70 priests, 15 deacons, 102 parishes (not including the catacomb parishes), 2 monasteries (male and female), and 2 smaller female cells.  The Mission is conducting its business and we have a correspondence seminary in Odessa.  This is what we have as we begin the Vth All-Diaspora Council.  The question now is not whether there are many of us or only a few, but to what extent the principles of the Gospels are maintained, to what extent we will accept in our hearts the faith and spiritual wisdom of the preceding generations of faithful members of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.

            In conclusion, I would like to say that I hope the primary result of our Council is the firm establishment of sobornost in our Church.  I personally await open and honest discussions at the Council of all matters forming the basis of our future life.  I also expect all of us to accept all the decisions, even if someone does not fully agree with them.  If those who disagree remain convinced they are right, then let them prove they are right at the next Council, so that a decision that was accepted perhaps without sufficient discussion can be changed for the better.

            We should not fear making mistakes and try to hide them.  We should learn to admit and correct them, since God abides in truth, not in stubbornness.  Without humility and mutual understanding, it is not possible to achieve all of this.  Truth and peace, charity and honesty always live together in God’s Church.  May they abide in us, so that we may live according to the words of the Apostles: “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.(Ephesians 4:2-3).

            May our Lord Jesus Christ dwell among us, now and forever, and for all ages!

            Humble Servant of the Vth All-Diaspora Council,
            The Most Reverend,
            + Agafangel
            Bishop of Taurida and Odessa
            ROCA PSEA Chairman

            November 5\18, 2008, New York
            Martyrs Galacteon and Episteme


•••

Act
of Glorification among the Saints of
Holy Hierarch Philaret
First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad

The Vth All-Diaspora Council of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, having;

-         examined the findings of the Pre-conciliar committees

-         taken into account the notable, hierarchical service of the Third First Hierarch of the ROCA

-         attested to the miracles performed through his prayers, as well as those performed in accordance with appeals in prayer to him after his blessed repose

-         taken into account the discovery of his honorable remains as incorrupt and the reverence shown him by all the people,


RESOLVES:

  1. To glorify Metropolitan Philaret, the Third First Hierarch of the ROCA, in the choir of saints.

  1. To consider Holy Hierarch Philaret’s incorrupt remains as holy relics.

  1. To paint icons of Holy Hierarch Philaret and to compose a service in his honor and an account of his life.

  1. To consider the works of St. Philaret as an inalienable part of the Sacred Tradition of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.

  1. To institute the celebration of Holy Hierarch Philaret’s commemoration on the Sunday closest to November 8\21, the day of his Blessed repose.

  1. To notify the Sister Churches of this Act of the Council.


•••

DECISION
Of the Vth All-Diaspora Council
On the Nonacceptance
Of the “Act of Canonical Communion”
Of the ROCOR(MP) of May 4\17, 2007

            The following are the main reasons we do not accept this Act:

1.      In the course of the many meetings that occurred before the signing of this document, two issues which have always divided us from the ROC MP were not resolved satisfactorily – the Declaration of 1927 and the church policies based on it, and the Moscow Patriarchate’s involvement in the heresy of ecumenism.

2.      The Act did not receive the necessary conciliar review and approval.

The signing of the Act signified a renunciation of the traditional ecclesiological principles of the ROCA.  In its relations with the ROC MP, the Church Abroad always insisted on the resolution of the two fundamental problems which divided us.  The first is what is known as “sergianism,” and secondly, the ROC MP’s involvement in the heresy of ecumenism, which the Synod of Bishops of the Church Abroad proclaimed anathema in 1983.

Only if these two obstacles are removed, will it be possible to unite the Russian Church at a Local Council.
It is these questions that were deliberated at the previous, IVth All-Diaspora Council in San Francisco.

Governed by a spirit of sobornost, the delegates approved the idea of union in the final Resolution, but at an appropriate time and founded on Christ’s Truth.  The appropriate time for the restoration of unity was predicated again by the renunciation of “sergianism,” the resignation of the ROC MP from the WCC, and the cessation of ecumenical activities.  In fact, the delegates rejected the first draft of the Resolution, which called for immediate Eucharistic and canonical communion with the Moscow Patriarchate.

As a result, the “Act of Canonical Communion” was not approved at the sobor level either at the IVth All-Diaspora Council or at the Council of Bishops, which followed it.  Therefore those who wanted the union of the ROCA with the ROC MP at any cost were unsuccessful, as this document did not grant legal authority to the Synod.

Nevertheless, in September, 2007, the ROCA Synod of Bishops willfully approved the “Act,” even though two of its permanent members did not agree.

            On the basis of the aforementioned facts, the Vth All-Diaspora Council of the ROCA considers that the entry of the Synod of Metropolitan Laurus into union with the Moscow Patriarchate was not approved at a conciliar level and is not canonical.

•••

DECISION
Of the Vth All-Diaspora Council
On Sergianism

            Our Council considers it necessary to note that Metropolitan Sergius’ Declaration, issued in 1927, which caused schism and has been renounced by the Church Abroad and Catacomb Church bodies of the Russian Church, has not yet been properly judged within the Moscow Patriarchate.  The contradictory and diffuse opinions put forth by several representatives of the Patriarchate cannot be considered a general repudiation of the aforesaid Declaration. 

At the same time from the Patriarchate, we still hear statements and witness actions which glorify not only Metropolitan Sergius, but his church policy as a whole.  The ambiguity of this question is the reason that the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and the Moscow Patriarchate remain divided.  We continue to await a conciliar, clear and definite renunciation of the Declaration of 1927 from the Moscow Patriarchate, as well as the undesirable consequences and practises that resulted.