Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Pastoral Epistle

a180424-svnod2.jpg

Pastoral Epistle

of the Synod of Bishops to all the faithful children of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia

Christ is Risen!

Having gathered together on these Paschal days in the blessed city of Odessa, the Synod of Bishops congratulates its flock with the Feast of the Resurrection of Christ! May this greatest event of all times help to strengthen us on the sorrowful path of the carrying of the truth of Christ, in the midst of the numerous modern departures and apostasy!

Thanks be to God,- by God’s mercy, the true Orthodox faith is open to us, as is the Church that contains this truth. We have everything that is necessary for our salvation, and our task consists in bringing this truth into our souls and hearts before the Last Judgment of God.

Christ strengthens all of us through His mercy and grace, as do the prayers of His Most Pure Mother and the Saints. We must vigilantly and diligently pray for each other during these evil and sorrowful times. The Church of Christ is one and universal, and the genuine Church must testify before the world regarding the truth, including the reality of its unity. The fortification of its unity directly depends on each member of the Church. Therefore, we will serve Christ, strengthening the unity of the Church founded by Him, whilst praying ceaselessly for one another, and for our entire Church!

In fulfillment of this hope, we invite all of our parishes to include in the augmented litany, before the petition: “Again we pray for them that bring offerings …”, a petition for the fortification of the unity of the Church of Christ: “For the strengthening of the unity of Thy Holy Church, to destroy our pride and strengthen us in humility and love, that we may be one with Christ, as He is one with the Father and the Holy Spirit, we pray, hearken and have mercy.”

May this good deed serve to the glory of God and for the benefit of the Church.

Truly, Christ is risen!

April 12/25 2018, St. Basil the Confessor

Chairman of the Synod of Bishops

+ Metropolitan Agafangel

Members of the Synod

+ Archbishop George (Secretary of the Synod)

+ Bishop Athanasius

+ Bishop Kirill

+ Bishop Gregory

+ Bishop Nikon

+ Bishop Anfim

Appeal The Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad 2018 on the danger of self-isolation

a180424-svnod2.jpg

The Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad 2018 on the danger of self-isolation

Unfortunately, in our times of apostasy, the dangerous tendency of self-isolation of those considering themselves to be abiding in “true Orthodoxy”- has widely spread. Previously, starting with the Byzantine era, in the event of serious disagreements among Christians, the civil Orthodox authority could convoke Church Councils. Thanks to these Church Councils, at these councils - after carefully considering all the arguments and disagreements - they could come to a general concilliar decision which was mandatory for all. However, presently no such authority exists, and so it is impossible to counter the dispersion of Christians with the help of the state.

On the contrary, the God-fighting authorities undertook the the exact opposite measures - making great efforts to divide the Church, with its goal being the complete annihilation of it. It was precisely in the creation of divisions that these authorities saw one of the main ways of destroying the Church. Currently, however - these divisions often occur not with the help of any authorities, but rather unfortunately proceed from within the Church itself.

In the past, many efforts were made by the catacomb Christians to find a legitimate bishop since they were deeply Orthodox people. They understood that without a bishop there is no church. But now the world is filled with impostors, surrounded both by those who are deceived by them, and by those who became accustomed to ignorance and indifference. Depicting itself as a “little flock”, and using the following words of Christ: “I will build My Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18 KJV), and applying that exclusively to themselves and to their present state, they do not think at all about what might happen to them tomorrow.

Tragically, the way of such groups is one - first spiritual marginalization, which eventually turns them into a sect, and then the diminishing of the group, and then ultimately its extinction. Already, we can name a few almost extinct groups from among those who considered themselves to be the “continuation” of the ROCOR. A similar situation occured with the catacomb Christians. However, they were hindered by external circumstances, and so they were not guilty of that which had happened. It is impossible to justify the contemporary “zealots” who are forever orchestrating new schisms in the Church. Modern Russian “true jurisdictions,” or those who are “standing for the truth,” are in the stage of physical extinction, and most of them do not even have the chance of producing the next generation of their followers. We appeal not to those who adhere to the most extreme views, because unfortunately, it is impossible to get through to them. We appeal to those of whom the Savior spoke: “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” (Matt. 11:15). We hope that there are still many such persons among the scattered Christians around the world.

Like the Synod of the Greek GOC, our Synod of Bishops constantly made and makes efforts to overcome schisms. And today we call upon all those who tread their paths on the off-roads, or else those who are barely hanging on to a broken part of - as they say- “the damaged ship (the church)”, so as to enter into negotiations, with the goal of looking into the possibility of overcoming the church division. This is the only way that will allow us to jointly strengthen our Church and thus transmit the good news of salvation to many more people. Being in spiritual union with the Greek, Romanian and Bulgarian Old Calendarist Churches, this possibility is feasible. The Church does not need us, but it is we who need to stay within the bosom of the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Nowadays, the only unifying force appears to be the fear of God, and the Christian conscience. Therefore, our Synod of Bishops once again calls upon all Orthodox Christians to unite around the true confession of the Orthodox faith, its lawfully ordained bishops, its living Orthodox tradition which the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia has kept, and the sacred sacraments they contain, the most important of which - is the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ. We call upon all to unite around Christ - the only Savior of the Universal Church.

April 12/25, 2018 St. Basil the Confessor, Bishop of Para

Chairman of the Synod of Bishops

+ Metropolitan Agafangel

Members of the Synod:

+ Archbishop George (Secretary of the Synod)

+ Bishop Athanasius

+ Bishop Kirill

+ Bishop Gregory

+ Bishop Nikon

+ Bishop Anfim

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Paschal Epistle

Let us awake in the deep dawn and instead of myrrh, offer a hymn to the Master; and we shall see Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, Who causeth life to dawn for all. (Ode 5, Irmos)

The myrrh-bearing maidens anticipated the dawn, seeking as it were day, the Sun Who was before the sun and Who had set in the tomb, and they cried out to one another: O friends come let us anoint with sweet-smelling spices the life-bringing and buried Body, even that Flesh which raiseth fallen Adam who lieth in the grave. Let us go hence, let us make haste like the Wise Men, and let us adore and offer before Him myrrh as it were a gift to Him, Who is no longer wrapped in swaddling bands, but in a winding sheet. And let us make lamentation and cry aloud in exclamation: Arise O Master, Thou who dost grant resurrection to the fallen. (Ikos)

Dear brothers and sisters,

Christ is Risen!

Our Lord Jesus Christ has opened the door to Eternal Life for us mortal men. The True Sun of Righteousness has enlightened the world with True Light, in the midst of this sinful and fallen existence. This Light is the knowledge of the True God, and the Path of Righteousness - by which we can enter the Eternal Life.

Let us, my dear friends, be vigilant! Let us set out hastily like the myrrh-bearing women, and offer myrrh to God! Let us not allow ourselves to be weak-hearted and afraid, making all sorts of excuses in avoiding Church attendance and prayer. Let us use our God-given time, freedom and energy for attaining eternal life for our eternal souls!

Let us remember the five foolish virgins who were unable to enter the Wedding Feast because they had not sufficient oil in their vessels. They were called, but they did not respond to the call, thinking their calling was sufficient for salvation. They had not used well the time allotted to them.

Do we have sufficient Grace to enter the Kingdom of Heaven and live eternally with God? Are we not excessively distracted by mundane things of this earthly existence, by which one day we are completely engrossed with, and which by the next day we have forgotten about? If we spend most of our time, thoughts and effort for physical things of this world, then we become like spiritual corpses lying in our graves! If we do not adore (pray to) God, and offer myrrh (good deeds, as defined in Gods Law; and living a church-centred life) as it were a gift to God, we will remain as fallen Adams imprisoned in our self-imposed graves. We decompose further in our sins, and become more and more unbearable by the smell of sins, both for ourselves and to all that come near us.

To rise up, pray at home and in the Church, and to do good deeds beyond what is ‘natural’ and a ‘duty’, are actions which are possible and open to us all. There is nothing great or difficult in this – but our fallen nature and the evil one make virtue appear “too hard”, grim and unbearable, so as to dissuade us from seeking God, Who is our actual source of joy, life, strength, and peace…! The earthly pleasures with which we attempt to replace His gifts leave us feeling empty, sad and exhausted.

Dear brothers and sisters, before the door is shut unexpectedly and our physical death confronts us, let us make that effort against our lazy and self-loving will to arise from our sleep of self-righteousness and inaction, and seek God! We must get out of our “comfort zone” and make an effort…. and God WILL reward.

When God sees us rising up to seek Him with effort, He will reward us with His Grace - joy, life, strength, and peace of heart.

Christ is Risen !

Bishop John of Melbourne

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Nativity Epistle of Bishop John of Melbourne


three-kings.jpg

Nativity Epistle
Bishop John of Melbourne

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

“Today the Virgin giveth birth to him Who is transcendent in essence; and the earth offereth a cave to Him Who is unapproachable. Angels with shepherds give glory; with a star, the Magi do journey; for our sakes a young Child is born, Who is pre-eternal God.” (Kontakion of the Feast of the Nativity)

They, observing the obedience of the star, understood the dignity of the King.
(St John Chrysostom, Homily 2 I:208-209).

The Magi did not see before them either sceptre or throne, only utter poverty. What was it then that moved them to undertake the toil of a journey without reward? ….it was the star and the light that God had placed in their hearts that led them step by step to more perfect knowledge.
(St John Chrysostom, Sermon, The Epiphany and the Flight into Egypt, P.G.57:81)

The star mysteriously calls the Magi from afar. This is an image of our conscience, which mystically calls us to the true Church, where we will find Christ, the Truth, the Saviour of mankind. The Kings followed the star faithfully for more than two years. Leaving their palaces behind, they dedicated themselves to this mysterious call. They took with them the best of their riches as gifts for the newborn King. This is equivalent to us leaving our homes, our jobs and families, sacrificing time and exertion, visiting holy places and monasteries, making donations, and dedicating our life to prayer and the Church. Each one of us has been called by that mysterious light of faith, which at some point in our life has begun to shine in our soul. The kings are an image of us Gentiles, the Church of the nations, the New Testament Church.

Now we must respond, and if not leave our homes, at least offer our gifts – faith, love and good works. “Faith instead of gold, love instead of myrrh, and good works instead of frankincense let us bring to the Creator Who cometh unto His own”. (Aposticha stihera, Matins, 23 December, Forefeast of the Nativity). We offer our faith in abiding by Orthodox doctrine, practicing the commandments, and keeping the Canons of the Church. We offer our love by prayer and diligent attendance at the Church services every Sunday and feast day, participating in the Mysteries. We offer good works when beautifying the temples of God and the services, by our hands, by our voices, and also by our monetary donations. According to the Holy Fathers, alms-giving is the most powerful means for receiving mercy from God and a direct path to God. This is especially true for us people in the West, who live in a material abundance unheard of even by the three ancient Kings. We are called to glorify Him, in obedience, prayer and works of mercy.

Exhausted by years of wandering, the three Kings finally arrived at Jerusalem, guided by the mysterious call. Then the unthinkable happened. For a moment they lost the star - the light of clear faith. This may happen to us also. But let us not be disheartened! At that point, even without seeing the star, the Magi headed towards Bethlehem, now guided by Scripture, the Old Testament prophesies. In the same way, in moments of hesitation, we must refer to Scripture, especially the Revelation of St John concerning the last days of the world. None of the confusion of present modern life should be a surprise to us. Let us hold fast to the teachings of Holy Scripture and the Holy Fathers of the Church! The Church always taught that in the end times these two stars would be our only true spiritual guides.

The Church teaches us not to be guided by emotions, feelings and earthly thoughts, which so easily express disillusionment, distortions, and untruth. A gross mistake is to accept these as the voice of our conscience. Our conscience is the voice of God in our heart, and calling human feelings the conscience is in essence a blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Our feelings easily deceive us, make us susceptible to the power of evil, and gullible followers of false teachers, based on irrational, emotional trust. We should never forget that the spiritual deception of our modern apocalyptic world is the work of false churches and false pastors, wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Having put their trust in Scripture itself, rather than in the authority of the Jewish priests and scribes who told them what the prophets said, the three Kings made their way to Bethlehem. They never returned to the false teachers. On the way, the star re-appeared, and their faith was re-ignited. They reached their goal of seeing God by trusting the Scriptures and Old Testament prophets. The Lord Himself says: “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: (…) And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself”. (Lk 24:25, 27).

We could reasonably expect the rich Kings to be dismayed when they reached their destination – a poor and dirty cave, full of animals, hay, manure, stench, and a few poor shepherds attending to some homeless people. But they were not disheartened! Similarly, let us also not be discouraged by the poverty of Church life in our last times. Indeed, it is difficult, because our feelings cry out for more familiar, physical comforts - rather than the elevated, spiritual gifts of God. Brothers and sisters, let us resist our this-worldly emotional thirst for luxury, comfort, ease, grandiose churches, radiant vestments and magnificent choirs in large cathedrals. Even more important for many are the sumptuous banquets, gorgeous clothes, beautiful houses, and gifts to be given to us rather than from us - all accompanied by fuzzy feelings of ‘love’, directed toward ourselves rather than toward God and our neighbour. Many, even among those who call themselves Orthodox, and especially in the West, have decided that food, gifts, family and fuzzy feelings constitute the very meaning of the feast. Such people have lost the true understanding and significance of Church feasts and church life. In the correct context and proportion, these comforts are not evil in themselves. Nevertheless, as Orthodox Christians, we must know all this is of the fallen world. If we become excessively attached to the world, we will not reach our destination of spiritual salvation.

Anything to which we attach more importance than Christ – be it even our family, children, or career – becomes an idol. In our times, especially among us in the West, families are seldom united in Christ. The Lord sternly warns us: “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Mt. 10:37). Today, some find it necessary to take their children to heretical and schismatic churches to celebrate the birth of Christ, ostensibly for the sake of their children’s happiness. They do not see that it is not the children who have led the parents out of the True Church, but rather, it is the parents who have led the children astray. But Christ says: “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” (Mk. 10:14). We hear continually in the Divine Services: “let us commit ourselves, one another and all our life unto Christ our God.” If we heed this call, “all these things shall be added” to us (small litany; Mt 6:33)!

Everything depends on our discernment – a choice between the physical and the spiritual; between the earthly and the Heavenly. Our reward is not limited to the next life only – for when we set God first in our lives, we receive peace of heart even here and now, during our short sojourn on earth. He will give us true life and happiness, which will most certainly last forever. Let us love Him, our God, rather than ourselves and our fallen world! We are all invited to receive this joy and peace of the true God in His true Church! We will not find this joy and peace anywhere else.

Brothers and sisters, do not hesitate! The doors are open to us all – now, come, and join the spiritual feast!
Christ is born! Glorify Him!

+ Bishop John

Nativity of Christ, 2017/18

Thursday, May 11, 2017

ROCA: Pastoral Epistle of the Council of Bishops 2017

170502-sinod.jpg

See then, that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil (Eph. 5:15-16)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ!

Christ is Risen!

Currently, the times are such, that when in both civil and ecclesiastical society, authority is crumbling, numerous false teachings are invented, and many groups refer to themselves as if Christ is among them. How can a person keep one’s balance in this chaos, where the media easily convinces a host of people that black is white and vice versa? It is not within a person’s strength nor within his ability to be able to understand such a variety of lies- it is possible only if God Himself opens the veil of Mysteries before him.

We believe that we have been vouchsafed God’s mercy, and that His mercy has been manifested to us by pointing towards the direction of the historical Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, as the only true stewardship of the earthly flock of Christ of the Russian Church, through which the earthly Church is ruled by our Divine Savior.

“I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth like a branch, and is withered” (John 15:5 -6).

We believe that our Russian Church Abroad is the vine of Christ- the vine on which a multitude of genuine spiritual fruits have blossomed- including the parishes of the Catacomb Church, which were deprived of their centralized administration, and therefore have attached themselves to this vine. This vine is the source that gives us eternal life and salvation. If we lose that, we will lose God’s saving grace. That is why Holy Tradition, which is passed down from generation to generation by our spiritual Fathers, is what we must hold on to, in spite of all the trials and temptations. Whoever dares to revise this living Tradition and distorts and rejects it, will deprive himself not only of a spiritual foundation, but will deprive himself of a connection with Christ- a connection that is passed on like a continuous thread from the time of the apostles down to our days.

Sacred Tradition is the only solid ground on which one can protect the Church from schisms. Whichever winds of modernism are raging about, if you stand on the firm rock of Tradition - they are powerless. However, if one gives in just a little to the “spirit of the times” and allows oneself to think for but a moment that tradition is outdated and does not correspond to modern challenges – then one can easily slip from a solid foundation and thus be carried along the waves to eternal perdition.

“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell: and great was the fall of it.” (Mt. 7.24-27).

So will it be with those who reject the rock of living Holy Tradition, the canons and rules which the Fathers established, declaring them obsolete and not binding, and who justify their unlawful actions for lack of any arguments at all, with some imaginary “spiritual approach” and with the “demands of the times.” This baseless justification for lawlessness can be compared to how the supporters of the traitor of the Church Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky), justified and justify his betrayal owing to his “special wisdom” corresponding to that time, but not within the boundaries of patristic Orthodoxy. Similarly, the enemies of Christ, the Masons, even blasphemously distort the meaning of the betrayal of Judas, which, supposedly, only those of their initiated can truly understand.

Of course, there are things within in the Church that change with time, subordinating itself to the current period. But this applies only to the external attributes, the forms of the exposition (presentations) of its invisible sacred content. One and the same truth can be conveyed, for instance, in different languages. In this case, the language can change, but the truth does not. The mistake that many make, is that they do not distinguish well enough the difference between where the truth is, and where the form of its presentation is. Having the desire to make the truth more understandable, often and without knowing it - they distort it and smother it.

Nowadays, ecumenism is a particular, subtle evil - a heresy that often enters into the Church and into the soul of a person like some diabolical flattery, gradually and imperceptibly. Thus, unexpected for many, not only were the representatives of the well familiar-to-us official Orthodoxy susceptible to this heresy, but so were some separate old-calendar groups as well, professing that one could be saved in isolation from other Christians, that the Church has ceased to be the One, Holy and Universal, but rather has divided itself into a multitude of supposedly self-sufficient “Church-Synods”. It is precisely this thought, through which the heretical, false doctrine hides behind. Insofar as the Church of Christ has always been singular, so will it remain as such - being the only One (Church), according to the Savior’s word, until the end of time.

The First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia Metropolitan Vitaly, had said that he believes that those whom the Lord has prepared for salvation, He Himself leads, simply guiding them along His pathways, and eventually leading them to our Russian Church Abroad, and, accordingly, cutting off those who are headed towards perdition. Therefore, we must love and appreciate our Church and remember that it is singular, and that a schism in the Church means perdition, and that the (heretical) confession that all the various Churches in which one supposedly can also be saved, of which there are many – amounts to an ecumenical heresy, and to even greater perdition.

The Synod of Bishops warns all of its faithful children of the Church of Christ of the harmful nature of such a false confession of faith that contradicts the words of Christ Himself: “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Mt.16:18), and likewise the ninth article of the Creed: “I believe … in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.” The Lord created one Church. Therefore, the Head cannot have many Bodies. Thus did the Lord create it, so the apostles taught, so believed the holy Fathers of the Orthodox Church. So do we also believe. “This is the apostolic faith, this the faith of the fathers, this is the Orthodox Faith, this faith confirmeth the universe!” (From the Service of the Triumph of Orthodoxy).

During these festive days of Pascha, The Synod of Bishops addresses our entire flock with a call especially relevant in our times of apostasy: “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” (Rev. 3:11).

Truly, Christ is risen!

Chairman of the Synod of Bishops

+ Metropolitan Agafangel

Right Reverend Bishops:

+ Archbishop George (Secretary of the Synod)

+ Bishop Athanasius

+ Bishop Kirill

+ Bishop Anfim

For Bishop Gregory and Bishop Nikon + Archbishop George (Secretary of the Synod)

April 20 / May 3, 2017, St. Theodore Trichinas.

Source

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Appeal from the Council of Bishops

161025-sobor.jpg

This appeal is made after discussion about the situation in our dioceses in America, Canada and the Russian Federation, having taken into account that retired Archbishops Andronik (formerly of Syracuse and St. Nicholas Monastery), and Sofrony (formerly of St. Petersburg and Northern Russian) have not recognized the Resolutions of the Ecclesiastical Court concerning them, and contrary to these Resolutions are continuing to conduct affairs as ruling Bishops . Archbishop Andronik, in his lawless ministry, together with Archbishop Sofrony, by false teaching and administrative actions continue to confuse the flock, which according to the canons, deserves the punishment of deprivation of the priesthood. We consider that they cunningly call for peace, yet are unwilling to negotiate with the hierarchy of ROCOR and refused to attend the Bishops Council. They are doing all they can to prevent reconciliation taking place in the bosom of the Holy Church, aiming to inflict division, based on their especially invented false heretical teaching.

Having exhausted all possibilities for peace and reconciliation, the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad has decided to leave them to the will of God, so that they themselves may decide their own fate.

The Council of Bishops calls upon all people supporting archbishops Andronik and Sofrony to abandon their intention to organize an arbitrary gathering, calling it the “All-Diaspora Council”, and to dissolve the so-called “Pre-Council Committee”. Such a gathering convened without the blessing of the Synod of Bishops, in the case of it occurring, would be an act of schism and visible evidence of falling away from the Church. If this gathering is convened, all who wish to be present, testify that being warned, they have knowingly and willingly separated from the Church; which will be confirmed by the Council of Bishops by a decree prohibiting archbishops Andronik and Sofrony from serving, the prohibition from serving by their respective ruling bishop of all priests who take part in the unlawful gathering, and for all laity who participate - excommunication from Holy Communion; for which a special Conciliar Decree has been issued.

The Council of Bishops calls archbishops Andronik and Sofrony, and all their supporting clergy and laity, to renounce the heretical false doctrine that the One Church of Christ presently does not visibly exist, but rather exists in the form of separated fragments, which have no communion between each other, to abandon this rebellion against lawful Church authority, and to rather begin preparations for a genuine and lawful all-Diaspora Council, consisting of all the Bishops, diocesan representatives, clergy, monastics and laity, through which only, according to Church faith, the will of God can be realized.

14/27 October 2016

Council Chairman: Metropolitan Agafangel

Council members: Archbishop George (Secretary), Bishop Gregory (Vice Chairman), Athanasy, Nikon, Nicholas, Anastasy, Roman and Anfim; Archbishop John and Bishop Cyril (participated in the work of the Council via Skype)

Source

Friday, October 28, 2016

Statement from the Council of Bishops

161025-sobor.jpg

The group of supporters of Archbishops Andronik and Sophrony (which calls itself “the Pre-Council Committee”) has placed the following assertion on the internet:

“In our day….what we consider the universal Church is made up of divided “fragments,” which do not associate with each other”,

meaning that the Catholic Church, allegedly, does not exist in visible form, and that She is divided into fragments.

In response to this claim, the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad hereby announces that the Council of Bishops does not believe that in our days the Local Russian Church does not exist visibly, and is made up of fragments that do not have Eucharistic communion with each other. On the contrary, such a statement is condemned as heretical by us and by the entire Orthodox Church in the anathema to ecumenism:

“To those who attack the Church of Christ by teaching that Christ’s Church is divided into so-called “branches” (…), or that the Church does not exist visibly, but will be formed in the future when all “branches” (…) will be united into one body; (…) Anathema!”

We believe that our Council of Bishops, chaired by Metropolitan Agafangel, as well as the dioceses, missions, monasteries and parishes subordinate to them, constitute a visible and “an inseparable part of the Local Russian Orthodox Church, temporarily self-governing on conciliar principles”.

We conclude that to date there exist no objective physical obstacles to the canonical life of the unified Russian Church (the presence of a front line, closed state borders, open persecution of Orthodox Christians, etc.) and it is not “impossible to establish relations with the bishops of neighboring dioceses” (Decree №362, p.4).

We also note that in our days, despite repeated appeals, the bishops and priests who were formerly in the ROCA, but now calling themselves “fragments”, deliberately do not fulfill paragraph 2 of Decree №362:

“the diocesan bishop immediately enters into relations with the bishops neighbouring dioceses for the organization of higher instance of ecclesiastical authority for several dioceses in similar conditions”.

The current situation is provided by paragraph 9 of Decree №362:

“In the case of extreme disorganization of ecclesiastical life, when certain persons and parishes cease to recognize the authority of the diocesan bishop, the latter being in the position shown in Paragraph no.2 and no.6, do not resign from their hierarchical authority, but organizing of persons remaining faithful to him, congregations and parishes of - deanery and diocese, providing where necessary to conduct services even in private homes and other premises made suitable for this, and breaking communion with the disobedient.”

Since “ecclesiastical communion with the disobedient” (i.e, the “fragments”), is absent, we are with regret forced to state that the situation between us and the currently existing “fragments” is a state of schism. We, like the rest of the Church believe that the schismatics do not remain in the Church, but rather are parts now fallen away part of Her.

At the same time, our Council of Bishops has always called, and continues to call everyone who previously was in the ROCA to lay aside attempts to justify divisions, which as we see, extend even to destructive and heretical false teachings. Rather, trusting in God, we call to restoration of our common unity.

Let us arise in unity to do Thy work, O Lord, and faithfully serve Thee! May it be so!

Chairman of the Council: Metropolitan Agafangel
Council members: Archbishop George (Secretary), Bishops Gregory (Vice President), Athanassy, Nikon, Nicholas, Anastassy, Roman and Anthim. Archbishop John and Bishop Kyrill (participated in the work of the Council over Skype)
Members of the Temporary Higher Church Authority: Abbott John (Smelic) and Archpriest Leonid Plyats

Source

Friday, September 2, 2016

AN APPEAL TO THOSE WHO ARE DEPARTING

o_agafangel-4.jpg

A new wave of disorders has befallen our Church. Two of the Bishops have declared that they are departing from obedience to the First Hierarch, the Synod of Bishops and the Council of Bishops - that is, from the conciliar life of our Church.

They declare that they are speaking out for conciliarity (sobornost), and allege that there is no conciliarity (sobornost) in our Church. Meanwhile, they do not cite even one actual fact of violation or distortion of the conciliar order of our Church, inasmuch as the very existence of the God-established ecclesiastical order, the very fact that the Hierarchal Synods and Councils issue decrees and enactments, in their understanding constitutes a violation of conciliarity.

Thus, they themselves strive for an imaginary “conciliarity” by unconciliar methods: by ignoring the opinion of other hierarchs and the opinion of their own flock, by pushing aside those who displease them and by uncanonically convening diocesan meetings (without elections of representatives from parishes at parish meetings), at which declarations are adopted ostensibly in the name of the whole diocese. Along with all this they organise a boycot of the plea of the First Hierarch and the Secretary of the Synod to meet and discuss the prevailing situation.

By his declaration of non-subordination to the Hierarchal Council and the Synod, contrary to the agreement reached in the presence of representatives of the TOC [True Orthodox Church] of Greece, and likewise by his announcement concerning the convening of an unauthorized assembly (under the name of an “All-Diaspora Council”), Archbishop Andronik, together with those not desiring to be subordinate to the ecclesiastical canons and the traditions of the Russian Church Abroad, has in fact, according to the definition of st. Basil the Great, announced the creation of a parasynagogue under his leadership.* According to the instructions of the Holy Fathers, an unauthorized assembly, standing a step away from schism, is just the same as a schism, a falling away from the Church and her saving grace.

Moreover, a parasynagogue cannot convene an All-Diaspora Council since, in accordance with Paragraph 12 of the Regulations of the ROCA, “In case of special need, the First Hierarch, together with the Hierarchal Synod, may convene an All-Diaspora Church Council, consisting of bishops and representatives of the clergy and laity. The enactments of such All-Diaspora Councils take legal effect and are carried out only upon their ratification by the Council of Bishops under the presidency of the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, which takes place at the same time or immediately after the conclusion of the All-Diaspora Church Council.” By no other way may an All-Diaspora Council be convened and its decisions take effect.

The question remains open as to what exactly is guiding the new schismatics: the realization of their lust for power by any means, or only the coercion of other hierarchs with the aim of obtaining their agreement for the formation of a new “schism” under their leadership? Most likely both – whichever succeeds.

There is no doubt that the work of destroying the Russian Church Abroad continues without interruption for even a minute. This work began at the moment of Her foundation in 1920, the main stages of which were the Platonite (1926), Eulogian (1927) and Sergian (2007) schisms, as well as a multitude of petty – if one may speak thus – individual schisms. That which is occurring today before our eyes is, without a doubt, the ongoing warfare of the devil with the Church of Christ.

Therefore, I would like for the clergy and parishioners whom they are now attempting by falsehood to lead into schism, to hear me.

Stop! Do not participate in a schism of the Russian Church! Our confession and the faithfulness of each one of us to Christ now consists exactly in this. If you do not see heresy – then do not follow the schismatics who are drawing your souls away into perdition!

My duty, as First Hierarch, is to warn the flock of danger. “Who hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 13:43).

First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad

+ Metropolitan Agafangel

17/30 August 2016, Martyr Myron the Presbyter

____________
* A parasynagogue (Greek, παρασυναγωγή – an unauthorized assembly) is a form of deviation from Orthodoxy, differing from schism and heresy in that it does not touch on matters of doctrine, but is the result of a violation of ecclesiastical and hierarchal discipline – disobedience to the God-established hierarchy. “The ancients…called unauthorized assemblies those meetings consisting of insubordinate presbyters or bishops and uneducated laity. For example, someone who, having been accused of a sin and having been removed from the sacred ministry, did not submit to the canons, but himself held on to his position and the sacred ministry, and certain others who deviated with him” (First Canonical Epistle of St. Basil the Great to Amphilochius of Iconium).

Source

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Metropolitan Agafangel: Paschal Epistle

paschal-card-vl-agafangel-2016-160501-pp1.jpg

Paschal epistle
His Eminence Metropolitan Agafangel
First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad

We celebrate the death of death, the destruction of hades, the beginning of another life eternal
(from the Paschal canon)

The entire universe, from the beginning of its creation until its end on the Day of Judgement, is encompassed in Our Lord Jesus Christ. In His Incarnation and Resurrection, the world which had been polluted by the fall of angels and humans was transformed. A new stage of history commenced, in which the principles of life and death were changed.

Ever since the fall, life and death have been inseparable, so that one could not exist without the other. Death, the consequence of sin, is the absence of life. The Lord said of Himself: “I am (…) life(John 14:6). Now death was swallowed up by life and abolished in Christ. The Resurrection of Christ trampled upon the very nature of death, canceled it and transformed into eternal life. That is a true miracle! The main mystery of death is now that there is no death. The transformation of death is the Pascha of Christ, eternal life.

For (…) this mortal must put on immortality…then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
(1 Corinthians 15:53-54).

Each of us is called to follow Christ, going through our own death into eternal life. This is the only miracle that is important for us in eternity. Christ performed this miracle, and we are able to repeat it by following Him.

Christ overcame death, destroying it, He rose from the dead, trampling down the personal death of each one of us, bringing people the gift of eternal life!

Truly Christ is risen!

+ Metropolitan Agafangel
Odessa, Pascha 2016

Source

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Epistle from the Synod of Bishops

synod15.jpg

Epistle
of The Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad
to the faithful children in the homeland and in the diaspora

Reverend hierarchs and pastors, monastics and lay people!

Having gathered in these days in the God-preserved city of Odessa, the members of the Synod of Bishops note that in most of our parishes, scattered around the world, spiritual life proceeds steadily and successfully. However, at the same time, in some areas of the territory of the Russian Federation, and partly in other places, a time of particular trial has arrived for our Church. In these few parishes, unfortunately, disturbance and mutual accusations have nearly become norm. “And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it” (1 Cor 12:26) - the Apostle writes. Therefore, pain in one area of our Church is passed on to Her entire body.

We all know that the unity of the Church is based on unity of faith and love between Her faithful children. At present we have a unity of faith, as witnessed by the signing of a Statement of Confession together with our sister Churches – the Greek, Bulgarian and Romanian. This is a confirmation of the right path along which our Church is proceeding, together with the representatives of other confessing Orthodox Churches for more than twenty years. This unity is a great value of which we must cherish. We must make every effort so as not to disturb it.

Today it is possible to confidently assert that the unity of confession of the Orthodox Faith unites us. There is no reason to reproach our Bishops of confessing some kind of heresy. Therefore we must speak about the fact that we are faced with a serious test of the strength of our brotherly love. Of course, it must be taken into account that the fratricidal war in the Ukraine largely furthers this. In a few cases it has changed brotherly love into hatred. Among our faithful children there also those who stand on opposite sides of this conflict. Sometimes this conflict sometimes is even directly transferred into the bosom of the Church. Lamentably, this becomes a cause of unjust and uncanonical division. But, “Is Christ divided?” (1 Cor 1:13). Is it possible that there exist values on earth that are worth more than unity in Christ? Physical war should not go transform into “spiritual battle” between Christians the same faith. Some of our brothers unfortunately forget this, being overly enthusiastic about political slogans.

Additionally, we constantly hear reproaches originating from the hurt pride of some of our former brothers. Likewise from those of our children who, while not fully comprehending the essence of the issues, attempt to defend those on whom the hierarchy has imposed fair interdicts. Those who have been rebuked, rather than changing their behaviour, have become hardened. Not only do they not make any effort or attempt to regularise their situation – instead they continue insulting and blaming the Bishops and brethren. In the words of the Apostle: “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” (Eph 4:29). For this reason, the Synod of Bishops urges them to lay aside all their offensive statements with regards to the hierarchs, and to ask for their forgiveness. Otherwise, these statements will remain between us forever, like an insurmountable wall.

Not wanting to expose internal disputes to general spectacle, we have given the ruling Bishops the task to meet with the clergy for more detailed explanations where necessary. The clergy in turn will relate the opinion of the Synod to those parishioners who are interested.

Today we appeal to all the faithful children of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad: Our Lord Jesus Christ constantly repeated: “Peace be with you.” These words are addressed also to all of us. Against the background of a general hostility and apostasy, which now has spread all over the earth, we must witness that we deserve to be called Christians – the disciples of the Divine Teacher. We must remember that we are the children of peace, not war. Remembering this, let us make every effort to maintain our unity.

Chairman of the Synod:
+ Metropolitan Agafangel

The members of the Synod:
+ Archbishop Andronik
+ Archbishop George
+ Bishop Athanasius
+ Bishop Gregory
+ Bishop Kyril
+ Bishop Nikon

Menu

bishop-agafangel1.jpg
Metropolitan Agafangel
First Hierarch of the Russian
Orthodox Church Abroad

161030-10-2.jpg
Bishop John of Melbourne
Vicar bishop of Australia

Church calendar for today

Divine Services - Archangel Michael Sobor in Odessa

Divine services channel is updated every Church feast day

mqdefault.jpg

Parishes

Melbourne, VIC
Contact: Bishop John
Telephone: 0422556968

Sydney, NSW
Parish of St John of Kronstadt.

sydney-church.jpg

sydney-st-john-of-kronstaedta.jpg

  • Serving priest: Father Nebojsa Mirkovic
  • Address:
  • Service times:
    Sundays and feast days: Matins 730 am
    Divine Liturgy: 9 am.
    Please contact us to confirm what time Liturgy is served.
  • Saturdays and eves of feasts: Vespers 530 pm
    or All-night Vigil 6 pm

Dandenong, VIC
Community of the Tabinsk Mother of God Icon

tabinsk-icon-mg.jpg
  • Services once a month
  • Visits by Bishop John

Western Victoria
Annunciation of the Mother of God Women’s Monastic Community

monastery-church.jpg
  • Spiritual Father: Bishop John.
  • Address: 266 Nowhere Creek Rd, Nowhere Creek, 3469
  • Service times:
  • Sundays and feast days: Divine Liturgy: 9 am
  • All-night Vigils (including Divine Liturgy) on select occasions.
    Please contact us to confirm what time Liturgy is served.

[b]Brisbane, QLD

Canberra, ACT

Admin area