Meeting Minutes May 2009

Minutes Part I
of the Joint Meeting of the Russian Hierarchical Members, 
Members of the Higher Church Authority, 
and Clergy of the ROCA Central Russian Administrative District
May 7\20, 2009

The meeting opened at 1200 with the Paschal troparion, “Christ is risen from the dead…”

Attendees:  Metropolitan Agafangel (Meeting Chairman), Archbishop Sofroniy, Bishops Georgiy, Ioann, and Afanasiy; HCA members – Archpriest Georgiy Petrenko, ArchpriestValeriy Kravets, Rev. Leonid Plyats; CRAD members – Rev. Evgeniy Koryagin, Rev. Sergey Kriulin, Hieromonk Nikon (Iost), Archpriest Roman Kravets, Rev. Sergey Televinov, Deacon Mikhail Buryakov, Deacon Antoniy Gunin, Rev. Aleksandr Martynenko (Odessa Diocese), Hieromonk Dula (Patoska) (Bolgrad Diocese), Y.V. Sosyurko (Odessa Diocese), V.S. Kozhakar (Bolgrad Diocese).

The Chairman reads the proposed Synod Agenda, consisting of 12 points, and notes that they can be added to or changed during the course of the meeting.

Abp. Sofroniy proposes to discuss the establishment of monasteries.

The Chairman proposes to discuss the terms of service for clergy to receive awards.  At the conclusion of a discussion on this point, a proposed plan was formulated for approval by the Synod of Bishops.

The legal status of our Church was discussed.

Archpriest Georgiy Petrenko warns of the need to consider all legal aspects of this issue.
After discussing the matter, it was decided that all aspects of this matter must be considered thoroughly.

Chairman: A house has been bequeathed to the Holy Trinity Church in Astoria, NY, USA.  At a meeting of the parish, it was decided to provide it to the Synod.  There is a great need for such a residence, but how will we cover its expenses?  Two to three thousand dollars a month are required.  The travel expenses of members participating in meetings of the Synod must be provided for.  They propose to establish a Synod Assistance Council to gather funds from donors.

The matter was discussed further with various comments from the attendees and answers from the Chairman.

The Chairman notes that the question of the SAAO’s status be decided.

The Chairman discusses the matter of establishing monasteries.
Archpriest Georgiy Petrenko notes the possibility of establishing a monastery or skete in Brazil.

The Chairman discuses the election of the new Patriarch of the ROC MP and what statement should be issued.  We should express the traditional views of our predecessors and avoid apocryphal extremes, as well as comments infused with zealotry.

The Chairman reports requests have been received to define the ecclesiological position of our Church, and to annul certain documents, which were approved in the past and confuse the church members.  Discusses the circumstances of the way in which the unfortunate letter to the Serbian Patriarch Pavle was written.

After a spirited discussion, the attendees decided that personal opinions regarding ecclesiological topics (ex. whether sacraments in the ROC MP have grace) should lead to renewed intolerance and a break in relations within our Church.

The Chairman expresses the opinion that all contentious issues should be decided with the spirit of pastoral wisdom and with the involvement of all sides of the question.

After a break for lunch, the meeting resumed at 1525.

The Chairman proposes that a Theological Committee be formed within the Synod to research and examine any such issues that may arise, to avoid any premature decisions.  The work of the Committee will then be reviewed by the Synod of Bishops and the Council of Russian Hierarchics.

The attendees of the Meeting propose the Committee consist of Archpriest Konstantin Busygin, Archpriest Oleg Mironov, Archpriest Valeriy Alekseyev, Rev. Evgeniy Koryagin, Rev. Aleksandr Lipin, and Rev. Leonid Plyats.  A proposal is made to name B. Georgiy as Chairman of the Committee.  The possibility remains to include other members depending on the issues being considered by the Committee.

The Chairman raises the important, though delicate, issue that in his opinion, the episcopate needs to grow larger, speaks of the needs of South America, and proposes to ordain Archpriest Georgiy Petrenko as the bishop of this cathedra.  All the attendees strongly support the Chairman’s proposal.

Archpriest Georgiy Petrenko asks that this decision be postponed, even though the attendees repeatedly ask for his agreement throughout the meeting.

Archpriest Georgiy Petrenko reads a report by Archpriest Vladimir Shlenev and Rev. Aleksandr Ivashevich of matters in Argentina; discuses a request by clerics in South America to decide the form of commemoration of the ruling bishop.  He also proposes the issuance of awards to some of the clerics.

The Chairman speaks of the lack of clerics in South America and how this makes the situation there more difficult.  The matter is energetically discussed by the attendees and Rev. Georgiy.  They discuss likely candidates and their qualifications.

Archpriest Georgiy Petrenko asks for a clarification for commemoration of the “Russian Land” during the Liturgy, whether it should be “suffering,” or “long suffering,” or something else.  After discussing it, the Chairman recommends having the Synod approve the use of “long suffering.”

Archpriest Georgiy Petrenko asks whether there should be a consistent usage of “from enemies seen and invisible” or “from the godless authorities” when saying “free us from…”

The Chairman explains that even though the Synod did approve particular usages, there was never a demand for complete uniformity.  He offered additional liturgical examples.  Uniformity is preferred, but one must be careful in certain circumstances.

Archpriest Georgiy Petrenko explains many of us have friends, acquaintances, fellow alumni from the seminary, who now belong to ROCOR(MP) or RTOC.  Can we commemorate them during the proskomidia, or memorial services (Met. Laurus, B. Peter, etc.)?

The Chairman advises to consider whether that person would want us to commemorate them.  If they consider us schismatics or heretics and avoids us, then it makes no sense to commemorate them.

B. Georgiy notes St. Simeon of Thessaloniki’s teaching that it is not possible to commemorate at the proskomidia those who are no longer within the church.

The Chairman says parishes have recommended that Archpriest Valeriy Kravets become the bishop for the parishes in the CRAD; others have suggested Hieromonk Nikon (Iost) from Siberia.  Since they are present, he recommends choosing a candidate through secret ballot.  A lively discussion ensued, even heated at times, at different ways to decide the issue.  Among those who spoke out were, Rev. Evgeniy Koryagin, Hieromonk Nikon (Iost), Deacon Mikhail Buryakov, Deacon Antoniy Gunin, Rev. Aleksandr Martynenko,and others.  It was discussed that bishops are needed for parishes in the Siberian, Saratov, Volgograd oblasts among others.

The Chairman suggests Hierarchs Ioann and Afanasiy help in with these parishes.

The matter of complaints against clergy was discussed.  The Chairman decides if a Church member accuses another member, they must provide proof at a Meeting.  If there is no proof, the accusing member must ask for forgiveness from the other at the Meeting and publish it in the appropriate forums.

The Chairman tells the attendees that requests have been received by bishops from other jurisdictions asking to establish relations with ROCA.  The matter is discussed.

Rev. Evgeniy Koryagin adds that it is essential that such clergy have proper certificates of departure; including their status, where they are assigned, whether they have their own parish or not, etc.

The Chairman explains the difference between a priest without a parish, one who is assigned to a parish, and a certificate of departure to another diocese.  He explains the significance in today’s world.
The matter is discussed by Abp. Sofroniy, B. Georgiy, and Rev. Georgiy Petrenko.  Examples are given.

The first meeting day was concluded at 1730 with paschal troparions: “The angel cried…” and “Shine, shine…”

Minutes Part II
of the Joint Meeting of the Russian Hierarchical Members, 
Members of the Higher Church Authority, 
and Clergy of the ROCA Central Russian Administrative District
May 8\21, 2009

The second day of the meeting began at 1000 with the Paschal troparion, “Christ is risen from the dead…”

The attendees are joined by Rev. Valeriy Leonichev and Reader Aleksandr Khitrov, who arrived from Moscow.

The Chairman acquaints the new arrivals with the discussions that took place the day before and reminds them of the procedure of how to resolve accusations between members of our Church and taking responsibility for such accusations.  He insists that all problems be resolved in a spirit of Christian love and agreement.

The minutes of the first day are read and corrections are made.

Reader Aleksandr Khitrov asks a general question about the Statutory Acts, which form the basis of the life of our Church.

The Chairman explains that our Church is informed by the Status of the ROCA of 1964, as well as Councils of Bishops and Synods of the ROCA before the signing of the Act of Eucharistic Communion with the ROC MP on May 4\17, 2007.  Any changes must be avoided.  It is possible that church bodies be created that will help with administering the Church and would have the right of a consultative voice, without making any changes to the Status. 

Reader Aleksandr Khitrov asks on what canonical basis was the Council of Russian Hierarchics founded. 

The Chairman explains there are corresponding decisions from ROCA Councils of Bishops.

Reader Aleksandr Khitrov asks that these decisions be published.

A discussion of the need and point of retaining the Council of Russian Hierarchics in the current circumstances ensues, with Archpriest Georgiy Petrenko, Rev. Evgeniy Koryagin, Reader Aleksandr Khitrov, and the Chairman participating.  The benefit of the existence of this church body is confirmed.

The Chairman explains about letters received from Reader Aleksandr Khitrov about the canonization of certain saints performed by Bishops Ioann and Afanasiy, who recently joined ROCA.  He offers to pass the letters to these bishops to review them and provide a written explanation.  Later, the Theological Committee will also review them, as well as the Synod.

Abp. Sofroniy advises that such matters, which relate to the internal life of our Church, should not be published first on the Internet. 

Reader Aleksandr Khitrov, on behalf of a meeting of his parish, announces there exists grievances against Rev. Evgeniy Koryagin and offers to provide a written explanation to the Synod.

The Chairman offers to discuss them in this meeting.

Hieromonk Ermogen (Petrov) arrives and joins the meeting.

After reading the grievances against Rev. Evgeniy Koryagin, a lively discussion ensues about life in the Moscow parishes, joined by the Chairman, Archpriest Georgiy Petrenko, ArchpriestValeriy Kravets, Rev. Evgeniy Koryagin, Rev. Aleksandr Martynenko, Rev. Valeriy Leonichev, and Reader Aleksandr Khitrov.  In conclusion, the Meeting does not find any serious reasons for disagreement.  All are called to reconciliation and forgiveness in a Christian spirit.

The Meeting ends at 1200 with paschal troparions: “The angel cried…” and “Shine, shine…”

of the Joint Meeting of the ROCA Synod of Bishops,
Council of Russian Hierarchics, 
and the Higher Church Authority, 
May 8\21, 2009
Attendees: Metropolitan Agafangel (Synod Chairman), Archbishop Sofroniy, and Bishops Georgiy (Synod Secretary), Ioann, and Afanasiy; HCA members – Archpriest Georgiy Petrenko, ArchpriestValeriy Kravets, Rev. Leonid Plyats.

1. A short report from each hierarch of matters in their dioceses.
2. A further elucidation of the status of the North American Administrative District.
3. Regarding a house for the Synod.
4. Commemoration of a bishop in South  America.
5. Registering the Synod Assistance Council.
6. The creation of a Theological Committee attached to the Synod of Bishops.
7. The creation of a convent in the USA.
8. The creation of a convent in the St. Petersburg diocese.
9. Regarding the newly-elected MP Patriarch.
10. Regarding the borders of the dioceses and adding members to the episcopate.
11. Regarding rules for awards.

Part III   Minutes
of the Joint Meeting of the ROCA Synod of Bishops,
Council of Russian Hierarchics,
and the Higher Church Authority,

May 8\21, 2009


Attendees: Metropolitan Agafangel (Synod Chairman), Archbishop Sofroniy, and Bishops Georgiy (Synod Secretary), Ioann, and Afanasiy; HCA members – Archpriest Georgiy Petrenko, ArchpriestValeriy Kravets, Fr. Leonid Plyats.


1.       A short report from each hierarch of matters in their dioceses.

2.      A further clarification of the status of the North American Administrative District.

3.      Regarding a house for the Synod.

4.      Commemoration of a bishop in South  America.

5.      Registering the Synod Assistance Council.

6.      The creation of a Theological Committee attached to the Synod of Bishops.

7.      The creation of a convent in the USA.

8.      The creation of a convent in the St. Petersburg diocese.

9.      Regarding the newly-elected MP Patriarch.

10.  Regarding the borders of the dioceses and adding members to the episcopate.

11.  Regarding awards regulation.

Discussed:  the Chairman noted that representatives of an Old-Calendar episcopate have expressed a desire to open talks with the ROCA.

Resolved:  Create a commission, to include B. Georgiy, Archpriest Valeriy Alekseyev, Fr. Leonid Plyats, to examine the proposals.

Discussed:  a letter to the Synod by Archpriest Valeriy Alekseyev (Odessa diocese), which discusses preparations by the Churches belonging to world Orthodoxy for the so-called Supreme All-Orthodox Council and the looming danger of union with the Roman Catholic Church.  The Chairman agrees with the letter in general and Fr. Valeriy’s concern about the possible dramatic new phase in apostasy of the world.

B. Georgiy tells of the Dogmatic Constitution of the Vatican II Council and offers other facts that support the realness of such a threat.

Resolved:  To accept all information provided.  To express our thanks to Archpriest Valeriy Alekseyev for his valuable contribution.

The Chairman asks about novice Diodor, a member of our Church in Voronezh, and his long absence from church services and the lack of any information about his whereabouts.

Abp. Sofroniy, Fr. Valeriy, B. Georgiy, and Fr. Georgiy discuss the matter.  The Chairman directs Fr. Valeriy to collect all information about novice Diodor.

The Chairman reports on dioceses under his authority.

            The situation in the Odessa diocese is stable, without any significant changes.  Construction continues, but they lack workers and funds.  It is unfortunate.  As a result, it is necessary to turn down many opportunities that present themselves to rebuild churches or obtain new property for the construction of new church buildings.  All is well at the St. John convent and they have begun building the monastery chapel.  One problem is, they do not have a permanent priest.  Currently, there is no persecution of our Church from the Ukrainian government, but there is from the Moscow Patriarchate.  The Chairman tells of the slander campaign from the pro-Russia TV company ATV, and the filing of a claim against them by the ROCA Odessa diocese.  The Chairman tells of the desire by priests in other jurisdictions to join the Odessa diocese.

            The Chairman tells of the status of the house in New York, USA, made available to the Synod, and of the proposed creation of a convent headed by m. Agapia somewhere in new York State.

            There is no news from Hegumen John (Smelic) in Australia.  The Belarus parish in Melbourne is complaining about the lack of care by Fr. John and is asking the First Hierarch to send them another priest.  Unfortunately, there are no available priests and the parish is encouraged to find one of their own to become a priest.

            The Chairman believes we need to do more to preserve our identity as the historical ROCA, to avoid the temptations of the contemporary world, and not be drawn into any political movements, or engage in any dogmatic or canonical deviations.

Abp. Sofroniy reports on his diocese.  All is well, which can be considered the main achievement in the year passed.  There are no contentions or displeasure among the clergy, and any problems that arise are resolved through discussing them.  Tells of clergy that came over from other dioceses, some that left the priesthood and their replacement by newly-ordained clergy; of a new group in Novgorod; of the diocesan Lenten retreat the third week of Great lent; of his visit with Bishop Feodosiy, which was requested by the First Hierarch.  Bishop Feodosiy belongs to a different jurisdiction and seeks to join the ROCA.

B. Georgiy reports on his diocese.  Relations between the flock and clergy are peaceful and good.  The only exception is the case with the former priest of our Church, Hieromonk Adrian (Zamlinsky), who along with Deacon Ardilyan, avoided their bishop.  After Hieromonk Adrian was censured, he suddenly declared himself to be a “bishop” in the uncanonical jurisdiction RusOC, which is led by “metropolitan” Damascene (Balabanov).  The main challenge in the diocese is the construction of a church in the city of Bolgrad.  they have had to ask for help from the ROCA Assistance Fund.  The diocese has also received an offer of a small plot of land with a house near Belgorod-Dnestrovsk and there is someone who is willing to start a monastery there.  In Kongaz, in the large parish of Archpriest Vasiliy Ikizli, they are building a church and they hope to establish a sisterhood, and later, perhaps a monastery.  Archpriest Vasiliy also has a person interested in becoming a priest and the desire to establish another one or two parishes in Kongaz.  There is a possibility of establishing a monastic skete in the parish in Chadyr-Lung.  B. Georgiy ends by saying they are having problems getting registered in Moldova, but it is important to keep trying, just as it is important to keep trying in Ukraine.

The Chairman offers his advice about the construction in Bolgrad and shares his experiences.  They discuss the need for children’s camps, choral concerts and other ways to enrich the lives of the parishes and dioceses.

B. Afanasiy reports on his diocese.  After they joined the ROCA, a parish in Moscow left them, and a campaign of slander in the mass media (radio, press) was begun against them by the MP.  In Ferapontovo, the local city administration is making it difficult to acquire a plot of land to build a church.  They have filed a claim against the MP for their slander.  They have also set up a church for services, are preparing candidates for priesthood, and are offering the possibility to go to a seminary.

B. Ioann says life in his diocese is more like the traditional catacomb church.  Despite many problems and concerns, the overall situation is good.  One of the parishes has begun building a house church.  Several priests and one bishop from other jurisdictions have asked to join the ROCA.  A lack of funds prevents creating a full life in the diocese.

Resolved:  In case the bishop from the other jurisdiction contacts B. Ioann again, he will ask Abp. Sofroniy to visit the bishop at his church and become acquainted with life there.  All information about this bishop and his flock should be reported to the Synod of Bishops. 

ArchpriestValeriy Kravets provides a brief overview of matters in the CRAD, and then discusses the need for official certificates for the priests and antimens.  In the course of discussions, the Chairman raises the issue of blessing Holy Myrrh.

Archpriest Georgiy Petrenko reports on matters in Brazil.  ROCOR once had 12 churches in this country.  Then there were 11, and later, 7.  Four of these parishes stayed with ROCOR(MP), because there were not enough priests and there was no money for visiting the parishes.  Fr. Georgiy tells of the parishes in Rio de Janiero, Sao Paulo, and other places.  All is well, there are not many parishioners, there are few Russians left.  Catholicism has waned in the country and some locals have even converted to Orthodoxy.  Fr. Georgiy also speaks of matters in Argentina, Uruguay, and Venezuela.  Trips to Uruguay to minister to the faithful there may be necessary.  Fr. Georgiy says church members who have remained with ROCA remain strong in their opposition to union with the MP.  Fr. Georgiy ends by asking on behalf of the South American clergy about the recognizing the possible canonizations of Czar Ivan the Terrible, Gregory Rasputin, and others, which may have taken place in the Catacomb Church dioceses that joined ROCA and have not been recognized by us.  Fr. Georgiy also asks about several bishops of other jurisdictions that are conducting talks regarding joining us.

The matter of the status of bishops of other jurisdictions and the way in which they might be accepted is discussed by the Chairman, Abp. Sofroniy, Bishops Afanasiy and Georgiy, and Archpriest Georgiy.

B. Afanasiy explains that no decisions in any Catacomb diocese have been made about canonizing Czar Ivan the Terrible, Gregory Rasputin, or anyone else, and could not possibly be made, but if someone chooses to honor them privately, he believes that is on the conscience of that person.

The Chairman reminds everyone of the letters submitted by Reader A. Khitrov and of the decision to have them reviewed by Bishops Ioann and Afanasiy and have them provide a written explanation.  The matter will also be reviewed by the Theological Committee and the Synod.

Discussed:  the Chairman spoke of the settling the status of the North American Administrative District.

Resolved:  the NAAD is considered a temporary legal entity necessary for registration of the ROCA Synod of Bishops in North America.  When the status of this legal entity is received, it will apply equally to the status of the Synod.

Discussed:  the Chairman spoke of the house donated to our parish in New York.

Resolved:  once all legal requirements are satisfied, the house may be used as a Synod Headquarters and Residence of the First Hierarch.

Discussed:  Archpriest Georgiy Petrenko asks for a clarification of the form of commemoration of the ruling bishop in South America.

Resolved: Send an Ukase about the form of commemoration to the parishes in South America.

Discussed:  the Chairman’s proposal to form a Synod Assistance Council.

Resolved:  to approve the creation of the Synod Assistance Council and ask the Chairman to handle all details.

Discussed:  the Chairman’s proposal to form a Theological Commission attached to the Synod of Bishops.

Resolved:  to approve the creation of the Theological Commission attached to the Synod of Bishops.  To name B. Georgiy as its Chairman.  To name the following as members: Archpriest Konstantin Busygin, Archpriest Oleg Mironov, Archpriest Valeriy Alekseyev, Archpriest Roman Kravets, Fr. Evgeniy Koryagin, Fr. Aleksandr Lipin, and Fr. Leonid Plyats.

Discussed:  the Chairman’s discussion about establishing a convent in the USA, to be headed by Mother Agapia.

Resolved:  to approve the establishment of a convent in the USA, to be headed by Mother Agapia.

Discussed:  Abp. Sofroniy’s request to establish a convent in honor of St. Nicholas in the city of Dudachkino in the Leningrad oblast, and to be headed by m. Sofroniya and name her the Hegumena. Abp. Sofroniy provides a brief history of the creation of this group (ten women, 2 of which are nuns and 2 novices), and of m. Sofroniya.

Resolved:  to approve the establishment of the St. Nicholas convent in the city of Dudachkino in the Leningrad oblast.  Recommend that m. Sofroniya stay at the St. John convent in Odessa for training.

Discussed:  the Chairman’s opinion of the newly-elected MP Patriarch.

Resolved:  to issue a statement from the Synod of Bishops similar in tone to synodal statements of the past.

Discussed:  the Chairman spoke of the borders of the dioceses and adding members to the episcopate.

Resolved:  to dissolve the Central Russian Administrative District.  To place the Moscow diocese (Moscow and the Moscow oblast) under the temporary authority of the ROCA First Hierarch.  To designate Abp. Sofroniy in charge of the diocese in Siberia.  To establish the Voronezh diocese (to include the Voronezh, Volgograd, and Rostov oblasts).  To designate ArchpriestValeriy Kravets as the Administrator of the Voronezh diocese and also to serve the Kuban diocese.  To consider ArchpriestValeriy Kravets as a candidate to become bishop of the Voronezh cathedra.

Discussed:  the Chairman spoke of the establishment of awards regulation for clergy.

Resolved:  to approve the attached draft of awards regulation.

Discussed:  Abp. Sofroniy’s request to elevate B. Ioann to the rank of archbishop.

Resolved:  to issue an ukase to elevate B. Ioann to the rank of archbishop.

Discussed:  the date and location of the next meeting of the Synod of Bishops.

Resolved:  to hold the next meeting of the Synod of Bishops in Odessa, from November 5\18 – 7\20, 2009.

The Meeting concluded at 17:15 with paschal troparions: “The angel cried…” and “Shine, shine…”

Synod of Bishops Chairman Metropolitan Agafangel
Archbishop Sofroniy
Archbishop Ioann
Bishop Afanasiy
Bishop Georgiy

Higher Church Authority members:
Archpriest Georgiy Petrenko
ArchpriestValeriy Kravets
Fr. Leonid Plyats


Awards Regulation
Approved by the ROCA Synod of Bishops

May 21, 2009

Clergy, who faithfully carry out their clerical obligations, who are not under censure by their Ruling Bishop, and do not have any other restrictions placed on them by the Higher Church Authority are hereby authorized to receive awards according to the following terms of service:

1.      Nabedrennik – 1 year after ordination.
2.      Skufia – 1 year after the previous award.
3.      Kamilavka – 3 years after the previous award.
4.      Pectoral cross– 5 years after the previous award.
5.      Rank of Archpriest or Hegumen – 3 years after the previous award.
6.      Pectoral cross with decoration – 5 years after the previous award.
7.      Palitsa – 5 years after the previous award.
8.      Mitre\Rank of Archimandrite – 7 years after the previous award.

For clergy accepted from other jurisdictions, the start date will be their chirotoniya and they will then begin to receive awards.

Awards given above and beyond the regulations, for special occasions, will be approved by a decision of the Synod of Bishops


√ New Exciting Fundraising Appeal ∞ TITHE/ALMS ∞ We're growing!

√ The Minutes of the May 8/21 Meeting of ROCA(A) Bishops in Voronezh is available in English. I expect it will be on Vladyka Andronik's website soon.

One question addressed in the Minutes was who we should and should not commemorate. The answer was that we should consider whether that person wants to be commemorated or not. What else of the discussion is not included in the minutes. This is something I'd like to hear more about. For myself I follow that rule, since I definitely DO NOT want any of my ROCOR(MP) friends commemorating me in their New Church or any World Orthodox church. So far none of my World Orthodox friends have asked me not to commemorate them, some have even specified they DO want me to commemorate them. What about children who can not reason for themselves? Or for the (ROCOR-MP) dead who may feel differently now than they did when they were blinded on earth? -jh

√ Don't miss this LaRussophobe article:

Truth About The Suzdal Schism


(This is a PRIMO explanation and a factual history of what is wrong with the 'Suzdalian-Schismatics' from their inception, and the questionable part that Bp. Gregory (Grabbe) played in it.  And, it is quite topical today, very! -Reader Daniel)

[The Suzdal schism is referring to ROAC under Met. Valentine -jh]

An Open Letter About The Schism of the Suzdal “ROAC”.
The Leaders of the Schism in the Russian Church, Lazar and Valentine.

To: His (titles)….
Metropolitan Vitaly, First hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church out of Borders
From: Archpriest Lev Lebedev

Your Eminence, 

On 16 May this year, I received by mail a package from Suzdal without any sender’s name or address to me, this package containing photocopies of a document entitled "Resolutions of the ROCOR Bishops Synod dated 5 Apr, 1994 № 7/90/76" on the "formation of a new organization, the “ROAC” and a reply letter to it from that self-appointed “Provisional Supreme Church Directorate of the Russian Orthodox Church” (ROAC) dated April 19, 1994, number 56. 

As can be seen, this newly founded "ROAC" finds it necessary to inform the ROCOR clergy on its actions.  Well, if it so begs for an answer, a response is warranted, with attention not so much to the schismatic leaders (Bishops Valentine and Lazarus), as they clearly, out of ambition "suffer and are saddened", as to those numerous ones who, by simplicity of mind or insufficient knowledge, could be tempted by the actions and publications of the first. 

Even a cursory reading of the "ROAC" letter № 56 strikes in this, that, in contrast to the “Resolutions” of the Synod, its tone is so rebellious, defiant, proud even gloating - angry, as though it replied, not to the most senior bishop in chirotonia and position relative to his brother-bishops, but to demonized enemies, while hypocritically and falsely calling them “inspired by God, the Bishops and the Fathers” (with obvious, irony though), and that it declares that they, the schismatic, remain in love, faith and hope that Christ, was, is and will be among us until the end of the times”. 

The tone and spirit of the letter, however, say that its authors are not guided by the Holy Spirit, but by the evil spirit of this world, and so, that not Christ is among them, but someone else is ... 

This is totally confirmed by their numerous stretches, tricks and subterfuges aimed at accusing the ROCOR Synod of the very sin of which the authors of the letter themselves are guilty, which is putting things "upside down" or falsely accusing ("falling from the sick head to the healthy one"). 

Such a "snake" tactic is well known; in their time, it was famously used by the renovationist. This is typical Bolshevism in the Church.  The authors of the “ROAC” letter, in their endeavour to wound the First Hierarch and the Synod at any cost, do not even disdain the use of old wives’ gossip (about the Metropolitan’s Secretary, L.D. Rosnyanskaya). In its polemic with ROCOR, even the Moscow Patriarchate did not fall so low in ignominy!

For those poorly informed, let us recall the essence of the case.  Archbishop Lazarus (Zhurbenko), followed by Bishop Valentine (Rusantsov), having received their episcopate from the ROCOR a while ago (in 1993) and dreaming about being autonomous, independent of the ROCOR hierarchy, rebelled against it. 

The occasion for them was the following.  The ROCOR First Hierarch and Synod initially accepted them with joy and helped them in all matters.  Gradually noticing however the capricious ambition and acts of their Russian colleagues, the ROCOR First Hierarch and Synod started not always to meet the requirements of the former, or not always to respond to their complaints and requests. 

It was neither Lazarus, nor Valentine, but Bishop Barnabas of Cannes, whom the Synod appointed as its representative in Russia, with the task of general guidance of the newly formed communities of the Free Church in Russia. 

Bishop Barnabas allowed many mistakes to be committed in the Russian Church affairs (this is actually true). Having understood that the ROCOR First Hierarch and Synod do not (and will not) allow them to be “masters” (“small princes”) in the Russian Church life, Lazarus and Valentine went as far as deciding that they would secede from ROCOR.  In this, Bishop Gregory (Grabbe) started increasingly to collaborate with them.  The Russian bishops more than once referred to the latter’s authority in his capacity of “most senior member of the Synod”, and in particular, in their letter N° 56. 

They ignore obviously the following.  On the one hand, Vladyka Gregory is known to be a really experienced canonist, having accomplished extraordinarily much for the Russian Church Abroad, especially in the polemic with the Moscow Patriarchate.  On the other hand, however, the whole world knows that he often acts against the First Hierarch and the Synod, because of a purely personal grievance that he has over his suspension as well as that of other members of the family Grabbe from the actual administration of the ROCOR! 

Bishop Gregory presented Valentine and Lazarus with an entire set of canonical arguments in favour of their separation from ROCOR.  Willing to secede, they understood that neither any imaginary nor even any true mistake on the part of the ROCOR leadership in the Church affairs, nor the grievance and injustice which, in the opinion of those separating, they might have suffered from the First Hierarch and the Synod, are not sufficient grounds for a canonical separation. 

Even the inability to manage the affairs of Russia “from over the ocean”, about what the new schismatic have been repeatedly criticizing the ROCOR Synod, is not a canonically sufficient cause for secession.  These are all "too human" things, as those which are very much present in the history of any local Church, but which were never and are not recognized as a valid reason for a violation of the unity of the Church! 

Bishop Gregory (Grabbe) too understood this. Therefore, he put the question differently: the ROCOR did not have the right to manage the Church affairs in the “Russian territory”, as he puts it!  According to Bishop Gregory and the Suzdal “ROAC”, it is not the Russian bishops who must obey ROCOR, but, on the contrary, it is ROCOR who must obey the Russian bishops. 

These ideas are contained in the report of Bishop Gregory to the ROCOR Synod, written on February 22, 1994, which is even before the "ROAC" letter № 56. 

In support of such an astounding position, they put forward UKAZ (Ordinance) of Patriarch Tikhon number 362 dated November 20, 1920 and the 1st paragraph of the document entitled “The position of the ROCOR”, issued in 1932, in which is stated that the Russian Church Abroad is an integral part of the Russian Orthodox Church and that its autonomous status is only temporary, until the abolition of the godless power in Russia and the restoration of the legitimate Church Highest Authority, and of its conciliatory court to which ROCOR, in due time will have to report about her actions, and will be in obedience to the Russian Highest Church Authority (VTsU), as per the ordinary rights of her eparchies out of borders. 

Nowhere and never, bishop Gregory argues, did ROCOR state that she claims to be the supreme religious authority for the “Russian territory”. 

Therefore, according to the word of the same bishop Gregory and the “Suzdalians” who follow him, the Russian bishops (having obtained their episcopacy from the ROCOR!) from the beginning were not expected to submit themselves to the ROCOR allegedly as per Decree number 362, but can and should act autonomously, while ROCOR should only help them as quickly as possible to consecrate as many new Russian bishops as possible, so that these bishops would create a Synod and a Highest Church Authority (ROAC) in Russia and do there that they wish, as now there is a “complete freedom” and “all possibilities” are open to “complete the revival of Church life in Russia”, which is what ROCOR always wanted. 

If the ROCOR leadership refuses this, but will “illegally” continue to claim the management of the Russian bishops, it will fail to fulfill the "historical mission" of the ROCOR with regards to the beloved motherland, will put itself in a situation of schism and even sectarianism (?!), will show to all that it is motivated by ambition, that it defies the canons! No more, no less! .. 

Inspired by Bishop Gregory (Grabbe)’s ideas, Lazarus and Valentine behaved accordingly.  Upon receipt of the ROCOR Synod decrees on their dismissal from the leadership of their dioceses for breaching the Church’s unity, they conspired and, without the knowledge or consent of ROCOR, whose power over them they had always recognized before (!), started to consecrate hastily new bishops, thereby committing an anticanonical, schismatic act. 

Together with these bishops that they illicitly consecrated, they formed “The Provisional Highest Church Authority of the Russian Orthodox Church” and, on behalf of the entire (!) Russian Church, declared their independence from the ROCOR, providing falsely, that they recognize her as a “sister” Church, (an expression of Lazarus), that they retain Eucharistic communion with her and will use statutorily the name of Metropolitan Vitaly (in what capacity?). 

The Suzdal impostors have no right to claim all of this on behalf of the Russian Church, because the Russians who still are in sound mind, the Russian members of the Free Church, recognize the canonical authority of the ROCOR over them and are not going to secede from her! 

What is actually happening?  In reality, from the canonical point of view, what is the situation of ROCOR relative to the people of whom she takes care in Russia and what is the situation of the latter relative to the ROCOR? 

First of all, is it true that the decree of Patriarch Tikhon N° 362 gives a basis to Valentine, Lazarus and those with them to behave as they do? 

The "Resolution of the Most Holy Patriarch, of the Holy Synod and of the Church Supreme Council of the Russian Orthodox Church", dated 7/20 Nov., 1920 number 362 was issued as a response to emergency conditions which were those of the revolution and the civil war in Russia of those days. 

Its objective was to give a canonical basis for the uninterrupted existence of a Central or Highest, as it is called in the resolution, authority in the Russian Church, no matter which external circumstances. 

Paragraph 2, therefore, provides that "in case a diocese (as a result of war) finds itself cut away from any communication with the highest ecclesiastical administration or in case the highest church authority headed by the Patriarch, for some reason ceases to be active, the diocesan bishop must immediately enter into relations with the Bishops of the neighbouring dioceses, with the objective of organizing a highest instance of Church authority for that number of dioceses that find themselves in identical conditions". 

Clause 3 states: “Taking care of the organization of the highest ecclesiastical authority for the whole group of Dioceses caught up in the position set out in paragraph 2 is an indispensable duty for the Bishop who is most senior in that dignity in the group in question." 

Clause 4 provides that, if a diocese will be in complete isolation from other dioceses, then the ruling bishop shall assume "the full authority granted to him by the ecclesiastical canons." 

Clause 7 specifies: "If, in the circumstances set out in Clause 2 and Clause 4, a diocese will be deprived of its Bishop, the Bishop who is the nearest or most accessible for easy communication to the diocese" shall assume the care of its administration. He either “sends to the management of the widowed diocese a vicar, or he himself undertakes to do the management". That means, in this case, that paragraph 7 explicitly provides for the management of the diocese from out of its borders, from the side. 

Furthermore, clause 9 states that, if in such a "widowed diocese" some individuals and parishes will not recognize the power of that external bishops, then the latter must organize the management for those individuals and parishes that are loyal to him, "breaking ecclesial communion with the disobeyers." 

Lastly, clause 10, says: "All locally taken... measures, consequently, in case of restoration of the central Church authority, must be reported for confirmation by the latter." 

It is obvious that Resolution 362 uses the concepts of "central" and "highest" church authority in two different meanings. 

In the normal state of affairs, the Patriarch and Synod in Moscow are the highest and the central Church authority. In the eventuality of their isolation or destruction, any "highest ecclesiastical authority" organized by the bishop most senior in dignity for a group of dioceses, "finding themselves in identical conditions" is, naturally, "central" too. 

But, if the central authority of the Patriarch of Moscow and his Church institutions is restored, then, in relation to him, the aforesaid "most senior in dignity" again finds himself in the situation of being "local" and, naturally, must submit his actions to the confirmation of that central or highest authority. 

Thus, Decree N° 362 does not give any (!) basis to any bishop or group of bishops, to act on their own, without the knowledge and consent of that "most senior in dignity” bishop, who, in extraordinary conditions, organized the supreme ecclesiastical authority, if they are able to communicate and have connection with this highest authority to them! 

On these canonical grounds indeed, ROCOR was established and then developed a "Decree" about her existence. 

In that time, in the early 1930's, the Russians abroad still believed that "the restoration of the central church authority” in Russia, which is provided for in paragraph 10 was possible. 

In the prisons, and in the catacombs, there were still many legitimate Russian bishops and priests, who had not taken the path of betrayal of Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky), including the Metropolitan - priests Martyrs Peter and Cyril. 

Under their omophor, in one way or another, there were a lot of "catacomb" congregations of the ROC, or the Catacomb Church. 

And if then the godless power had been abolished and all would have become free and would have left the camps and the catacombs, then, naturally, Metropolitans Peter, Cyril, other faithful bishops, together with the ROCOR bishop would have constituted a common synod and restored a legitimate highest Church Authority (perhaps immediately with a newly elected legitimate Patriarch) in Russia, to whom the bishops abroad too would have submitted. 

But by God’s providence, things developed differently.  Metropolitan Peter and Cyril were shot, then the remaining faithful bishops being in Russia lost their life too. Consequently, the Catacomb Church was widowed, that is to say, fell into the situation of a "widowed diocese". 

The communications with the ROCOR first Hierarch and Synod were not existent for many years (except for rare contacts). 

And yet, in 1981, the ROCOR found an opportunity secretly to consecrate Lazarus (Zhurbenko) as bishop for the Catacomb Church, as provided for by the letter and intent of the relevant paragraphs of regulation number 362. 

What, if right after his consecration, Bishop Lazarus had said to the ROCOR Synod that he considered himself as being "autocephalous" and would stop obeying ROCOR? … Perhaps he would have been considered as not totally sane.  At that time however, nothing like that came to his mind! ... 

Over time, it became clear that the sergianist Moscow Patriarchate had become a totally consenting, and not unwilling agent of the atheist regime in Russia and moreover, in the 1960's, it leant towards the heresy of “ecumenism," which made communication with it quite impossible, as it had become a heretical community and had deprived itself even of the appearance of a legitimate Supreme Orthodox Church Authority in Russia. 

In this state of affairs, it turned out that the only legitimate Orthodox Church Authority for the Local Russian Church was actually the Authority of the First Hierarch and Bishops of the ROCOR Synod. 

So it was perceived and understood by all truly Orthodox in Russia, although the First Hierarch and other ROCOR bishops did not in fact call themselves that way. 

The situation changed dramatically in 1990. 

The "iron curtain" was taken away. Formally at least, the power of the CPSU in Russia disappeared, the game in democracy started as well as the various "freedoms", including the "freedom” of the Church. 

And still suffering from the apostasy and heresy of the MP, the people in Russia, received a real possibility to have permanent links and communication with the ROCOR and her hierarchy. 

These people, priests and laity, whole parishes, individual groups or individuals, turned to the ROCOR Supreme Church Authority to be taken into her care. And they were taken care of! 

One may ask: in which canonical position at that time were all these people (and parishes) in Russia, relative to the ROCOR Church authority? 

Certainly not in the position of the Church centre relative to the periphery or vice versa, and not as an independent, autocephalous Church, but in the position of "widowed diocese”, requesting the appropriate bishop to take them under his authority, in accordance with paragraph 7 of Decree number 362. 

In turn, the Highest ROCOR Church Authority the canonicity of which nobody doubts, even her current enemies, now becomes the highest, and, hence, as shown before, also the centre not only for the Russian Orthodox dioceses abroad (overseas), but also for the "widowed diocese” (or even a group of dioceses) occurring in Russia itself. 

By the blessing of the ROCOR First Hierarch and Synod, first Valentine of Suzdal and Vladimir, later Bishop Benjamin of the Black Sea and Kuban were ordained as bishops for Russia. 

Vladyka Lazarus ceased to be a catacomb bishop, and was legalized in 1990 with the title of bishop of Tambov and Morshansk (then, of Oboyansk). 

The Dioceses had a largely conditional character, as they did not have defined territorial boundaries.

But each of the bishops had a more or less defined number of parishes-congregations.

Together with some surviving catacomb communities and individuals, all those parishes with a bishop that they commemorated, constituted what became often known as the Free Russian Orthodox Church, or, in a simpler way, the Russian Orthodox Church. 

She, of course, obeyed the ROCOR Supreme Church Authority, and even more, voluntarily. 

Therefore, saying that ROCOR illegally "claims" power, or in an even less substantiated way, "usurps" power in the Russian Church, as do the authors of this letter of the Suzdal 'ROAC "- shows that they have a pathological fantasy, or that they deliberately lie and are wicked, which is the case here. 

In what canonical situation is the SRPTS now relative to ROCOR? 

In fact, in the same situation, with the only difference that now the SRPTS is no more "widowed dioceses”, but dioceses with their bishops having received their episcopacy and authority from the ROCOR Supreme Church Authority and are, therefore, dioceses in a normal position with respect to the ROCOR, to the Metropole (Patriarchate), to their First Hierarch and Church Authority, with all the canonical consequences. 

And the latter are determined, inter alia, by the fundamental canon of the Holy Apostles for the life of the Church number 34, which states: 

"The Bishops of each people must know the first of them and acknowledge him as their head, and must do nothing in excess of their authority without his approval: 

They must only do things that concern their diocese, ... As in that way only will there be unity and will God be glorified in the Lord in the Holy Spirit, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. " 

In 1971, in his explanations on this "fundamental position," as he said, nobody else than Bishop Gregory (then - protopriest George Grabbe) beautifully established the rights of “the First Hierarch-Metropolitan” and of “the Synod of the bishops of his territory”. 

But that, for Bishop Gregory was another time! 

But now, inspired by the Suzdalians in their letter number 56, they prefer to call Metropolitan Vitaly not “the First Hierarch”, but the “Chairman of the Synod”... 

In this matter, however, it is difficult to blame bishop Gregory, because he did not author letter number 56, as is clear from the style and character of that document. 

The author deftly (as it seems to him) uses bishop Gregory’s idea, but adds something of himself. 

It is no coincidence that this author does not put forward the 34th canon of the Holy Apostles, but instead absolutely irrelevantly puts forward canon 35th and a few other rules, which have no bearing to the case. 

Playing with words and concepts ("central authority", "highest directorate", “highest power”, "centre of church authority"), the letter of the Suzdal “ROAC”, pretending amazement, “catches” the ROCOR Synod of Bishops on this that it now “for the first time openly and officially declared himself the Central Church Authority, thus expressing the claim to be the Supreme Directorate of the Russian Orthodox Church." 

The Synod was not in any need of "expressing" this in any particular way before, or of "claiming" anything, because this itself derives from Decree number 362, as we have seen. 

The authors of the Suzdal schism claim that, allegedly, as per Decree number 362, only the Patriarch and the Local Synod in Moscow can be called Highest and Central. 

And since there is no such Centre, then there is no, for the Russian Orthodox Church, highest and central Church Authority! And therefore, the Russian bishops can act on their own. 

What is this, stupidity, or deliberate deception, intended for the ignorant? Apparently, the latter is the case. 

From all of what was considered above, it is clear that Decree number 362, rightly called by the schismatic "wise" and "prophetic", was meant to create such canonical standards that would forever, in any environment, maintain the "highest ecclesiastical authority" for all of the Russian Church. That authority might be temporarily that of any, but more probably that of the local most senior bishop in dignity, who organizes the authority (for a group of dioceses which are in identical conditions)! 

This deeply corresponds to the dogma of the “catholicity” (conciliarity, universality) of the Church! 

One should not only read the Canons, one must also understand them, and then, honour them. 

Feeling the weakness of their loud exclamation about the “illegitimate demands” of the ROCOR Synod and his "usurping" authority in the Russian Church, the letter of the Suzdalians reminds that, effectively, Decree (Ukaz) 362 “prescribes the establishment of a Provisional Supreme Church Directorate for the dioceses which are in identical conditions” (and again, they godlessly lie! It is not “temporary” and not “directorate”, but simply, as we have seen, “the highest Church authority”!). "

But the living conditions of the dioceses out of borders and in Russia are too different", so the Suzdalians say. 

And then they explain what they have in mind: "In Russia, the dioceses are ... surrounded by the OMON, the Soviet" Cossacks "... and also the bishops and clergy of the MP and their civilian and non-civilian agents. 

Even those who dream to become the Central Church authority in Russia did not dream of such conditions, looking at it from overseas, from the other end of the Earth. " 

In Decree 362, they have in mind not similarity in living conditions, but canonical similarity! 

If there are ties and communication between the SRPTS and the ROCOR, they are canonically in identical conditions, precisely because, for them there is no historic “centre” of the Church in the person of any legitimate Patriarch and his Highest Church authority in Moscow. 

With it, they cannot communicate with him, they can only communicate with one another. 

Hence, for the SRPTS and the ROCOR, only the "Highest ecclesiastical authority" remains, which is provided for by Decree 362 for extraordinary situations, such as those in which the ROCOR First Hierarch and the Synod find themselves! 

Can this authority be abroad, and from there can it manage the dioceses in Russia? Yes, it can!

This is also evident from the meaning of Clause 7 of Decree 362 about “widowed diocese” and of the historical and canonical precedents, for example, of the 39th canon of the 6th Ecumenical Council, which tells about the pre-eminence of Bishop John on the island of Cyprus. 

"With his people" (of course, with some part of his people), he had to "move" from Cyprus "to the territory of the Hellespont, because of the barbaric invasions, and in order to escape pagan slavery”. 

The Ecumenical council keeps for him all the benefits and rights to manage the Cyprus Church. 

The authoritative canonist Bishop Nicodemus (Milash) gives the detailed interpretation of this rule, the essence of which is that the bishops that find themselves forced to be in territories out of the borders of their historical dioceses bishops, under certain conditions, retain authority over those dioceses. 

The issue of the transfer of the name of the ROCOR First Hierarch seems to be anecdotic to the schismatic. 

They are very "disappointed" that the Synod determined the inadmissibility of such a commemoration, and cites the example of Russian catacombs, where the name of “the most senior Russian Bishop” was commemorated. 

In those days, in the catacombs, it was right because they considered that Bishop as canonical and as the head of the Church. 

The statutory transfer of the name of the bishop is an expression of subordination to him. 

But if the Suzdalians refused to obey the ROCOR First Hierarch, then in what capacity did they prepare to commemorate him? 

Now with regards to “those who dream to become the Central Church Authority in Russia” ... 

The ROCOR First Hierarch and Synod not at all dream about forever retaining the position of Highest Church Authority of the Russian Orthodox Church, which they rightfully hold now. 

Therefore they do not want to stress that this is their position! 

They, like all truly Orthodox Russian people in the homeland and in the Diaspora dream of something else, that in Russia, in Moscow, the legitimate Patriarchate and its central institutions are re-established for real! 

But for this to happen, true conditions are needed! And not what we see now! 

The present time showed that no mass (as expected) departure of the Russian people from the MP did happen.  And it will not happen in the foreseeable future, even if a hundred ROCOR bishops started to work here now! 

It depends on the deplorable spiritual state of the people, “having turned their back to the love of the truth” and therefore having received, according to Apostle Paul from God (“God will send to them”), “acts of delusion, such that they began to believe in lies.” 

At the present time, except for a few large parishes of Valentine in Suzdal and nearby communities, the SRPTS congregations in Russia are very modest in size. 

Their number is marginal in comparison with the parishes of the MP (about 150), the number of people in each of them is also negligible. 

They are hopelessly weak in material terms, and in spiritual terms (almost none can build even a small church)!  So there are no “all possibilities” for the “full revival of the Church life in Russia”!  One must not get distracted or distract others with chimeras, but soberly assess the situation and face the reality. 

And in this state of affairs, two (only two!) Bishops, Lazarus and Valentine, collecting a total of about 35 clergy, 14 monks, and 15 lay people declared themselves independent from the ROCOR, that is the autocephalous Russian Orthodox Church (!), led by a Provisional Supreme (!) Church Directorate! .. "All this would be ridiculous if it were not so sad." 

If (supposedly), these bishops, aware that they received their episcopacy and authority from the ROCOR, and that they have the duty to obey her, managed to convince the First Hierarch and the Synod of the need to create a highest Church Authority in Russia at the present time (not taking anything into account!) and if, with the knowledge and consent of the ROCOR First Hierarch and Synod, they undertook such an establishment, then in such a case, on their part there would be no crimes, no schism. 

But the Russian bishops understood correctly that ROCOR authority will not give such a consent. 

And not for any other reason, except for the one that that Authority "from abroad" sees well what those who have eyes can see in Russia itself, namely, that now is not the time to create a highest Church Authority in Russia! 

Then, under the pretext of "saving the Church" (a very familiar excuse since 1927!), Valentine and Lazarus went another way. 

They obeyed themselves and impudently refused to obey the Church Authority and began to justify themselves with such “arguments” which, as we have seen, are entirely false and untrue, are a “distortion of the cards” of its own kind. And this caused a plain schism! 

"The Synod Resolution of 8 April 1994, paragraph 4 reads: "Without strict canonical interdiction (such are the indulgence and patience of the Church!) and waiting for an address on the part of those who separated themselves from the unity of the Church, the Synod of Bishops breaks with them every prayerful communion." 

Instead of an address, the schismatic declared that the ROCOR Synod caused a “break in relationships”, not with them, bishops Lazarus, Valentine, and several of illegally ordained false bishops, but with the whole Church in the Motherland" (no more, no less!) . 

And they added that it is an act of “blasphemy and humiliation to the Holy New Martyrs, including the Hierarchs-Martyrs, who do not live to see this time ....” 

No, on the contrary! The divisive laughable "ROAC" in Suzdal is indeed a blasphemy and a desecration of the feat of the Saint Martyrs, by those who were not, because of their ambition, able to reject it as other temptations and tortures! 

The schism threatens to spill over to the Russian Diaspora, as there are already some who support it, as was shown.  Maybe na├»ve and hotheads people will appear, who will be unable to fight for the union with Russia ... 

But this is the question is: who benefits from this? Who benefits from the schism in ROCOR? 

It is advantageous for the current authorities of the Russian Federation, as they have been for a long time united with the MP and also do not want to see in Russia any community being “free” from their Church, not supporting them (as “the Patriarchy”), but supporting the Synod, based in New York. 

For the moment, banning and forbidding these communities is impossible, one must pretend to be democrats. 

So, only one way out: they must arrange for ROAC congregations to be established here, in Russia, and change openly or secretly “their” people into a simple duplication of the MP! 

And since the ROCOR First Hierarch and Synod certainly will not go along with this, it would be very easy to tarnish them in the eyes of the Russians abroad as “ambitious” and “enemies” of the cherished Revival of the Church in the beloved Motherland! And thus they support the schism in the Russian Abroad. 

A schism in ROCOR is profitable to the antichristian international forces, as they also do not like the free voice of the true Orthodoxy which comes from ROCOR, the candlestick which is immune from the heresy of ecumenism, especially when, in recent time, Orthodox circles in Romania, Greece, and Serbia began to gravitate around the ROCOR. Breaking up and continuing to crack ROCOR, turning, washing it, as they say, in powder, that is in the direct interest of the world forces of evil. 

And they use as usually, the ordinary human passions of pride (personal grievances), ambition and self-love of the members of our Church. 

The Russians abroad who support the (ROAC) schismatics often "justify" them with all that can be combined to determine the external apparent weakness of the ROCOR, of her leadership, their numerical reduction, the alleged impoverishment of the forces of the Russian Church Abroad.  We must reply: "God is not in force, but in Truth," and: "the power of God realizes itself in weakness." 

And it is better to remember that the Lord Almighty says in the Revelation to the angel of the Philadelphia Church: "... I know your case ... you do not have a lot of strength, but you kept my word ... And, as you have kept the word of my patience, I protect you from the time of temptation which comes to the whole world to try the living on earth.  Behold, I will come soon; keep what you have, so that nobody take thy crown "(Revelation, 3, 8-11). 

The time of temptations has come!  Now, however weak we are, we are firmly in patience of confessing the word of God, we hold what we have, not falling in temptation to have more, we hold the trial of those who live on earth, to have the joy and boldness to exclaim to the Lord who is coming soon: "Come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation. 22, 20) ... 

Archpriest Lev Lebedev. 
May 1994

(translated by Vladimir Kozyreff)

Related Post: A Tribute To Archpriest Lev Lebedeff