Monday, April 25, 2005

Resolution of Pastoral Conference of Odessa and Zaporozhia Dioceses of ROCOR (L)

On April, 19-20 of 2005 in the Odessa diocesan headquarters of St Michael, passed the preparatory prayers of communion for the clergies of the Odessa and Zaporozhia dioceses. After Liturgy of Presanctified Gifts, which was overseen by Bishop Agafangel, a diocesan conference took place in which issues of diocesan life were discussed, and a Resolution in which the conditions for mutual recognition of the Moscow Patriarchate was unanimously accepted.


As we go through the Lenten preparations for communion in the God-fearing city of Odessa, we give thanks to the Lord to be given the possibility for our confessions to be heard and to serve together the Divine Liturgy of Presanctified Gifts and partake of the communion of the Precious Body and Blood of Christ. After the completion of Divine Service, at the Dining Hall the pastoral conference took place passed at the St Michael Church, during which the issues relating to the day to day life of the diocese were discussed. Considerable attention was given to the relationship with the Russian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate (MP) and prospects negotiated now between the respective commissions for concilation. In connection with primary meaning of the root of the negotiation process for the matter of our concern, the clergy present here considered it useful to issue a reminder about the main principles, and also the positions resulting from these principles, which lie in basis of our division, and which till today are not resolved.

1. The New Martyrs and confessors of Russia, from the beginning with Metropolitans Cyril of Kazan and Joseph of Petrograd, and also subsequent Fathers of Russian Church Abroad and Catacomb Church always spoke about the need, after the persecutions of the faithful have ended, to bring to a free Sobor an appraisal of the acts of the Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky). The need of such an honest estimation of an this case for the instruction of future generations of the Russian people was stated after the Episcopal Sobor of 2001 by our then our new First-Hierarch Metropolitan Laurus. On this basis, the documents developed during negotiations by joint commissions can not be considered satisfactory, if they only express "how must it be" in terms of the relations between the Church with the state, but do not honestly express "how it was", to wit:

- the false, apostate nature of the Declaration of Metropolitan Sergius from the year 1927 and the church policy based on it (Metropolitan Anthony, ROCOR First-Hierarch of Blessed Memory, called it treachery);

- the usurpation of church power by Metropolitan Sergius through the creation of an uncanonical Synod and misappropriation to their authorities of the first bishop of country with subsequent punishments inflicted on all true Orthodox hierarchs, clergy and laymen;

-the renunciations of the New Martyrs and confessors and all those persecuted for the faith, labelling them as "political criminals" from the side of the Metropolitan Sergius and other Bishops of the MP;

-the collaboration of the Bishops of MP (including now as well) with the special organs of the rgodless authority (GPU, NKVD, KGB, FSB);

- false statements before world public about the absence of persecutions of the faith in the USSR and other false statements in order to please the godless authority.

The necessity and actuality of the foregoing is underlined by the recent fact of the appearance in edition of Sretensky monastery of book of S. Fomin "Guardianship of the house Lord", eulogizing Metropolitan Sergius with the benediction and with the preface of present head of the MP in which he actually specifies that Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky) is a saint, and also that in fact, with the blessing of the Nyzhegorodsk diocese of MP in Russia an area is already adopted and a monument being prepared in honour of "Patriarch Sergius" (in Arzamase). In ROC-MP, there must be an end to the artificially implanted honour of Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky) as a "rescuer of Church"; by contrast, it is desirable to set up a special committee on investigation of his acts (in particular, it is necessary to check up information about his letter to the NKVD in 1935 with the purpose of stopping an exit from the conclusion of the legitimate locum tenens of the Church, Metropolitan Peter of Krutitsk.)

That sergianism is not removed in MP is blatantly shown by the participation of the Patriarchate (beginning from its highest level Bishops) attested to in their electioneering in Ukraine for the side of one of candidates. By this participation-- which was in direct violation of both church and civil laws-- the MP showed its unity with a local criminal administrative resource and its complete dependence on external political forces.

2. In obedience to Holy canons, joint prayers are with forbidden with heretics, the more so with heterodox, and this is not only the case with being vested and in a public service but also in domestic terms ("even if it was in a house" - 10 Apost. canons) and other cases (for example, before a meal). The order of our actions in similar situations is foreseen by Determination of Episcopal Cathedral of ROCOR from October, 13/26, 1953. It is necessary to work for one mind the with ROC-MP in this question. "Faithful in small and great things" (Lk. 16,10). One of recent cases of joint prayer with heretics took place in September, 2004, when the First Hierarch of ROC-MP, Alexei II was present at the blessing by the Armenian Catholicos of the Monophysite hierarchy, Garegynom II, laying 16 stones of the foundation of a Monophysite temple in Moscow and even jointly with him placing a time capsule in the foundation of this structure.

3. At the altar section of the Temple of Christ the Savior, the main temple of MP, a "khachkar" cross stone is set in memory of such joint prayer and the date of the blessing of this stone is August 8, 2000 by ROC-MP Patriarch Alexei II and also by Monophysite Catholicos Garegynon II. This stone is, according to the statement of Garegynon II, "a blessing to the Holy Russian land". The Apostolic canons forbid both joint prayers (c. 33) and adopting blessings (c. 32) from heretics. Objectively speaking, what is actually occuring, using church terminology, "desecration from the heretics" of a village cemetery of main temple of ROC-MP in the altar area. The religious, instead of social character of benediction, is confirmed by the image on the stone of a Cross in the Monophysite tradition. It would be desirable, that after the proper appraisal of the aforesaid event, a memorable sign was carried in a place more proper to him (a Park of friendship of the people, an award from the Society of Russian-Armenian friendship or something similar);

4. It is necessary to mention in conciliatory documents about the statements about the unacceptability for Orthodoxy of the dogmatic consciousness of Chambesy in 1990 (with the Monophysites) and Balamand of 1993 (with Catholics)-- documents which were before signed by representatives of the MP at the level of official delegations, caused large embarrassments to Orthodox congregations, and were left in a "suspended", i.e. not ratified, but also not denounced state.

5. We consider the new introductions of ROC-MP's new status of "associated with the WCC" to be rather dubious. If MP does not decide simply to go depart from this -"body with a false eccelesiological sense", for the MP it appears at most possible to us, after departing from dialogue with the WCC, to have observers present there (as our Church had, for example, on the Vatican catholic cathedral of 1962), but no more.
We consider insufficient to explore only a question about participating of ROC-MP dialogue with the WCC. It is necessary to write in detail questions about the participation of the ROC-MP in Conference of European Churches and other Ecumenical organizations (for example, the Ecumenical organization of the Baltic countries, etc.), to explore their statutes, regulations, positions, status in them vis-a-vis MP for the purpose of verifying whether there is contradiction to the Orthodox teaching about the Church.

Also we consider it mistaken, presently, to take real steps on rapprochement with MP "on their word" until witnessing an exit from the WCC by its next assembly in 2006. It is necessary at first to wait till this occurs in the aforesaid year, and then it will be possible to continue negotiations.

6. In conciliatory documents it is necessary to specify the impermissibility in the future of utterances of Orthodox hierarchs of the MP (such, for example, as the well known appearance of Patriarch Alexei II before the rabbis in New York), including use of terms and concepts, conflicting with the Holy Orthodox tradition, such as "sister-Church" in regard to Catholics, "Oriental Orthodox" in regard to monophysites, "great religion of Divine Revelation" in regard to Islam, etc. Every such utterance not must be, in the future, respected as the "private opinion" of one or another hierarch, but must be accompanied by brotherly exhortation from the side of First Hierarch of the Church or the Sobor of bishops (when the question is about the First Hierarch) until correction. If not, all of it can be fully appraised as the open teaching of heresy and falls under Canon 15 of the 2nd Council of Constantinople.

7. ROC-MP must halt the eucharistic communion with Local Orthodox Churches which continue membership in the WCC and CEC or officially recognize them. Also ROC-MP must cease communion with all official Local Churches in accordance with Canon 1 of Antioch (by reason of introduction of the western Latin paschalion by Finnish Orthodox Church and the common eucharistic communion with her on the part of the others).

8. For the above reasons, our Russian Orthodox Church Abroad can at the moment have no eucharistic communion with the official Local Orthodox Churches. Practice of the occasional celebration with clergy of the Serbian or Jerusalem Patriarchates must remain the private affair of those representatives of our clergy, which is assumed, but not must be proclaimed as the official position of all our Church.

9. It is necessary in every way to assert the eucharistic communion and spiritual connections with our brothers to us in Christ, the hierarchies of the Old Calendar Synod-in-Resistance in Greece and True Orthodox Churches of Bulgaria and Romania. The decision about the renewal of eucharistic communion with the ROC-MP must be concerted with these Churches.

In conclusion we call God's benediction on our dear congregation and prayer is desired to all our parishioners best wishes during Passion Week and spiritually gladly and saving to meet the Light of Christ this Pascha. "To her, Elect Lady, My God Jesus! Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you. Amen."

Odessa, 07/20.04.05, Svt. George, Bishop of Mytylensk.

+ Agafangel, Bishop Tavrya and Odessa
Archimandrite John (Zynov'ev)
Prot. Valery Alekseev
Prot. Vladimir Fastovych
Ig. George (Kravchenko)
Ig. Parfeny (Grynyuk)
Hieromonk Arseny (Man'ko)
Hieromonk Andrian (Zamlynskyy)
Hieromonk Ilaryon (Dmytryev)
Hieromonk Nicholas (Zav'yalov)
P. Igor Yavorsky
P. Vasiliy Demchenko
P. Leonid Plyats
P. Dmitri Zynoviev
P. Maxim Vologdin
P. Alexander Martynenko
P. Alexander Petrenko
P. Sergy Kaloev
P. Valentine Bondar
P. Andrei Trachuk
P. Anatoly Koren'kov
Hierodeacon Philaret (Zakotey)
Deacon Vitaly Morozov
Deacon Vitaly Taranenko

(Translated by Vertograd)