Thursday, October 09, 2008

On the Lesser Sobors

The current situation within the True Russian Orthodox Churches [separate fragments of ROCOR, each with its Lesser Sobor of bishops] can exist in the Church only temporarily, for as long as the historical circumstances which caused it continue. In our times such circumstances were the unprecedented persecution of the Church, the liquidation of her lawful leadership, the departure into the catacombs and abroad, the autonomization of the dioceses and parishes, the rise of a seductive surrogate for the Church in the form of the Moscow Patriarchate, and the global triumph of the heresy of ecumenism. At the present time those historical circumstances which made impossible the restoration of the structure of our Local Church have disappeared or grown weak, thus the former "atomized" state can no longer be tolerated or justified. The basis for a dialogue of the Lesser Sobors is a common canonical evaluation of the ecclesias­tical situation which has arisen since the collapse of the ROCOR.

This organ, the Lesser Sobor, in the language of canon law, may be called a temporary assembly of bishops (ayroisma — according to the eighty-seventh canon of the Council of Carthage [That is, No. 87 in the Slavonic/Russian editions of the Rudder, which corresponds to No. 79 in the Greek enumera­tion, and to No.76 in the Latin and English]). Similar examples are also known in the earlier history of the Church, such as the epoch of the temporary disintegration of the Byzantine Empire after the capture of Constantinople by the Cru­saders in the thirteenth century. In the various self-governing parts of the empire several Lesser Sobors of bishops were formed, which became the temporary Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority for each of those parts of the empire.