Why RTOC Is Not Canonical

Dr. Magerovsky's letter to Bp. Photius in 2008 

Eugene L. Magerovsky, Ph.D.
Consultant, North-American District, Provisional Supreme Church Authority
Russian Orthodox Church Abroad
5 Round Hill Road
Kinnelon, New Jersey 07405
Tel. [973] 492-3068 E-mail elmager@gmail.com

30/17 April 2008

To His Grace Photius, Bishop of Marathon
Secretary of the Holy Synod of
True Orthodox Church of Greece
106 Kangios Str.
106 82 Athens, Greece

Christos Anesti!

Dear Right Reverend Bishop Photius!

I am addressing Your Grace in the capacity of the Consultant to the North-American District of ROCOR concerning a matter of grave importance.  It has been reported in the news that you recently met at the Lesna Monastery in France with "Archbishop" Tikhon, the head of the so-called "Russian True Orthodox Church" on the subject of the possible establishment of eucharistic communion.  I bring this to your attention, if you do not know this already, that this "church" is absolutely uncanonical.

In the year 2001, after our late Metropolitan Vitaly of Blessed Memory had retired and Archbishop Laurus was duly elected by the ROCOR Council as Metropolitan, a group of dissident bishops pursuing their own agenda prevailed upon the ailing Metropolitan-in-retirement to illegally return himself to power and create a schism known as the "Russian Orthodox Church in Exile" also known among people as ROCOR[V-italy].  This group numbered three Bishops of ROCOR:  Bishop Varnava [who did penance and returned to ROCOR in 2006] and two Bishops from Russia -Archbishop Lazar' and Bishop Veniamin.

To clear the matter somewhat, it must be said that earlier two ROCOR Bishops: Archbishop Lazar' [the architect of so-called True Orthodox Church of Russia Schism], together with Bishop Valentin now "Metropolitan" and head of the so-called Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church schism] - both ordained as Bishops by ROCOR solely to provide for the spiritual needs of ROCOR parishes in Russia, sought to create for themselves in the 1990's their own Russian synod independent from ROCOR, but at that time it was possible to heal this schism, as both hierarchs did penance, sought atonement and returned to ROCOR.

The difficulty to accommodate the desire of these Bishops was the fact that ROCOR could not do so because according to St. Patriarch Tikhon's Ukaz No. 362 of 1920, ROCOR is not allowed nor capable to create autocephalous bodies, independent of itself.  Although ROCOR has a perfectly legal and canonical independent status of its own, nevertheless it is a temporary one, and lasts only until a freely elected Local Council is called and convened where unification of the fullness of the Russian Church must take place.  ROCOR is not an autocephalous Church and cannot grant that status to other Churches or Synods.  Its limited authority will end when such a Local Council is called and convened,

For the creation of the Church in Exile schism 2001, both Archbishop Lazar' and Bishop Veniamin were suspended by ROCOR and a Spiritual Court was appointed to try them.  Metropolitan Vitaly was not suspended, since he was in retirement, and Bishop Varnava was suspended several months earlier for other transgressions.  Both Lazar' and Veniamin, not waiting for a trial, declared that the "true" ROCOR is the church of Metropolitan Vitaly - the Russian Church in Exile - and continued to serve, stating that any canonical actions against them by the real ROCOR Church [of Metropolitan Laurus] have no bearing.  As a result of all this, the said bishops had lost their episcopal status.

This now former Archbishop Lazar', did not lose his hope of obtaining a Russian Synod of his own.  He had brought unprecedented pressure on the ailing Metropolitan Vitaly to allow him to create his own Synod in Russia independent from the Russina Orthodox Church in Exile which led both Lazar' and Veniamin to cease commemoration of Metropolitan Vitaly as their Chief Hierarch.  A month later, in a private letter to Archbishop Lazar' [apparently unsuccessfully trying to avoid a schism within his own schism], Metropolitan Vitaly wrote that the last thing he could offer would be to allow them to create a Russian Synod of their church under control of Vitaly's Synod, thereby reserving the final decision to the Sobor [Council] of the Russian Orthodox Church in Exile.  However, not waiting for the Sobor of ROCiE and being in schism from them for a month already by not commemorating Metropolitan Vitaly, both Lazar' and Veniamin illegally consecrated several bishops, including one named Tikhon, and formed their own "Synod" and new church -- the "Russian True Orthodox Church" or RTOC.     

Metropolitan Vitaly immediately reacted to this by declaring that their formation of the synod was uncanonical, that Lazar' and Veniamin have put themselves outside the Church, that their consecration of additional bishops is not valid and absolutely not canonical since these actions were not considered nor approved by the sobor of ROCiE.  The measures undertaken by Metropolitan Vitaly were not successful and there appeared still another schismatic body in addition to ROCiE namely RTOC, whose "Synod" nor "episcopacy" is in any way canonical.

"Archbishop" Tikhon very loudly and rightly criticizes the Moscow Patriarchate for its ecumenism, sergianism, schimatic condition, and various other shortcomings, and his schismatic church sounds very believable and attractive to others, but his own "jurisdiction" itself does not possess neither a duly constituted Synod, nor a canonical and proper episcopacy.

It should be noted that while positioning itself as a successor to the Catacomb Church they apparently willfully deceive others, as they have no relationship whatsoever to the catacomb movement in Russia.  "Archbishop" Tikhon has come from the Moscow Patriarchate and the chief organizer or RTOC, the late Archbishop Lazar' has even received his priestly ordination there.

Entry of your Synod into eucharistic communion with such a non-canonical structure as RTOC can have disastrous effects on your Synod's canonical status.

More information on this matter may be obtained from Bishop Agafangel of 0dessa and Taurus at agafangel@paco.net the ruling Bishop of the PSCA or ROCOR to whom Tikhon has also previously applied without success.

Asking for your blessing and prayers, I am
Sincerely yours,

[Dr.] Eugene L. Magerovsky

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