Wednesday, February 1, 2017
In connection with the recent illegal meeting in New York state in January 2017, the following decrees banning clergy associated with Australia (Archbishop Andronik and Hegumen Andrei) have been issued.
These decrees emphasise the extreme seriousness of the situation, and the dire consequences of disobedience, both for the clergy themselves, and for those lay people who attend the services of the banned clergy.
Unity in the Orthodox Church is based on our practice of love, which we show through obedience. This duty is given to all Church members, from the first to the last.
The surest and safest path for parishioners in this confusing matter is to show obedience to the Sobor of Bishops, and concentrate maximally on prayer and good works, for their own salvation, and for the salvation of us all.
In our modern time, with its modern, distorted understanding of ‘love’ it may be difficult for some to understand traditional Church practice. However, our Orthodox Church practice is not something that can ‘change with the times’. Neither is the Church truly a ‘democratic organisation’ in the modern understanding of that term.
The government of the Church is entrusted to the Bishops.
The Sobor of Bishops, consisting of 12 hierarchs, has discussed the matters troubling our ROCA presently, and has arrived at the decision to ban certain clergy, out of love for these persons, and the hope for their repentance, as well as for the love and safeguarding of all the people.
The surest and safest path for parishioners in this confusing matter is to show obedience to the Sobor of Bishops, and concentrate maximally on prayer and good works for their own salvation, and for the salvation of us all.
It is necessary for Orthodox Christians to exercise great patience and faith in our evil days. Do not allow the evil one to lead you astray, away from the Church of Christ, which He founded and governed through the Holy Apostles, leading Her to this day through their successors, the Bishops of the Church
With love in Christ,
(Bishop of Melbourne)
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Editorial from the “Brotherly Listok”
Communion between the Far East Diocese and the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad was restored on the day of the Feast of the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the past year (2016). This brought us not only the joy of reunion with many of the same faith on the territory of historical Russia and abroad, but also inevitable anxieties.
Already then, the rift between the Synod headed by Metropolitan Agafangel and a group of clerics and laymen was perceptibly unfolding. The group were accusing the Primate of usurping power and non-canonical actions, while demanding the convention of an extraordinary All-Diaspora Council. On August 27, 2016 Bishops Sophrony and Andronik, along with part of their flocks, announced their non-submission to the ROCA Synod and Metropolitan Agafangel. In his response, the First Hierarch addressed the initiators of the convention of this “All-Diaspora Council”, for the first time using the term “parasynagogue”.
(* Parasynagogue (Greek παρασυναγωγή -. arbitrary gathering) - a form of departure from Orthodoxy, other than division based on a heresy in that it does not apply to dogmatic questions and is the result of a violation of church hierarchal discipline – disobedience to the hierarchy established by God. “The ancients … named such meetings as are drawn up by unruly presbyters or bishops and unwise people - arbitrary gatherings. For example, if someone, being rebuked for sin, is removed from the priesthood, thereafter does not submit to the rules, and himself retains the authority and standing of the priesthood, and if certain others separate with him”. (Saint Basil’s the Great: First Canonical Epistle to Amphilochius of Iconium).)
It should be noted that neither the First Hierarch nor the Synod members had any objection in principle to the convening of an All-Diaspora Council. However, they simply and legitimately insisted that the council be held in compliance with the rules of the Church, in accordance with procedure prescribed in the “Regulations on the ROCA”. However, even then it was visible that the goal of the initiators of strife was not a constructive dialogue in the spirit of Christ’s love with a view to resolving the existing problems, but rather – an escalation of the conflict.
In early September 2016, the “Pre-Council Commission” appeared, which even before any investigation or trial announced that “Metropolitan Agafangel and his Synod, by their erroneous decisions and abuse of power have lost credibility and trust.” In October 2016, the members of this self-appointed Commission sent Vladika Agafangel another appeal, which, in particular, offered the First Hierarch “to resign as Chairman of the Council of Bishops and Synod, keeping the rank of Metropolitan and management of the Odessa diocese” and to “decentralize the Church administration”, creating three autonomous church districts - Ukrainian-Moldovan, Russian, and Abroad, - each controlled by its own Synod. It was not clear what was behind this idea - thoughtlessness or a clear desire to weaken the church structure of the remnant of the former ROCOR.
Soon enough however the issue became clear. At the same time a picture was revealed before us, in which the deepening the split transformed into something more dangerous. On October 12, 2016 representatives of the new schismatic group published a statement on their website to the effect that “in our time … we believe that the universal Church has the form of splintered “fragments”, which have no communion with each other.” Metropolitan Agafangel immediately objected to this, saying that this statement directly falls under the anathema, proclaimed by ROCOR against the ecumenists (1983) “To those who attack the Church of Christ by teaching that the Lord’s Church is divided into so-called “branches” which differ in doctrine and way of life, or that the Church does not exist visibly, but will be formed in the future when all “branches” of sects or denomination, and even religions, will be united into one body, …: Anathema.”
At the Council of Bishops, held in Odessa from 25 to 27 October 2016, this theme was developed further. Members of the Council heard a memorandum by Metropolitan Agafangel “On the Heresy of Schism-ecumenism” and concluded that the Bishops’ Council cannot accept this teaching as Orthodox, which claims that the Local Russian Orthodox Church is split into equally-salvific and grace-filled fragments that do not have communion with one another, neither in prayer or administratively, nor communion in the sacraments, and that these fragments together constitute the Local Russian Orthodox Church. This doctrine was considered a particular form of the heresy of Ecumenism.
Meanwhile, the decision of the Bishops’ Council in relation to the formal leaders of this new division, at the time officially retired archbishops Andronik and Sophrony, were most correct, careful and patient. While warning about the inadmissibility of non-canonical meetings and calling for the dissolution the so-called “Pre-Council Commission”, they also invited their Eminences [Andronik and Sophrony], together with the faithful of their group, to participate “in the preparation of a canonical All-Diaspora Council of our whole Church, in accordance with the Regulations of the ROCOR.” To our deep regret this proposal remained unanswered.
In a special “Appeal” the Council of Bishops once again warned the initiators of this unauthorized meeting that, in the event of it convening, “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.
However, no Appeal, neither any open letter could stop the engine of division, which at full steam rushed to its goal. The arbitrary unlawful meeting, composed of people united by non-Orthodox sophistry, disproportionate ambition and pronounced personal dislike of the First Hierarch, was opened on January 11, 2017 in the state of New York. The final warning of the Council of Bishops of ROCA came into force, and another schism was added to the dramatic history of the Church Abroad.
Metropolitan Agafangel in his comments to the sad events noted “there was on obvious pre-programmed path towards a schism right from the beginning. It is a fact that not a single constructive suggestion for preserving unity was brought forward by the parasynagogue. Our suggestions at the joint meeting with the Greeks were rejected. In other words it is obvious that this group did not need anything else, except a split. In this connection I wish to remind you that it is a documented confirmed fact that all divisions in the Russian Church were provoked by the NKVD-KGB-FSB (the schism of 2007 is as yet not confirmed by documents - the names and titles of the real “heroes” are not yet proclaimed). I do not suspect – by virtue of my position and status in the Church, no, I feel and see the action of external forces in our midst, which are interested in our destruction. To break up something, it is necessary to make an effort - this is an axiom. We now have the visible result of this effort.”
Of course, in these words of the First Hierarch has his own reason [свой резон]. Nevertheless, regardless of the nature of these hostile external forces, it is painful to see with our own eyes how yesterday’s fathers and brothers, have been unable to withstand this temptation, and now they undergo malignant spiritually-harmful mutations and leave for “a country far away”, tearing off chunks of flesh from the Mystical Body of Christ. Yet, however deep the bitterness and pain of the current loss, the more clear are the words of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ: “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world”.
The editors of the “Brotherly Listok” (Vladivostok).
Saturday, October 29, 2016
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)
Friday, October 28, 2016
ROCA will not divide into two or more pieces. ROCA will remain ROCA; and a Parasinagogue will remain a Parasinagogue
A Letter to Victoria Sherba , parish choir director and lawyer in combination, from Sergei Savchenko parish warden and a lawyer , on her letter “Some thoughts of a parish choir director and a lawyer “, distributed on the internet.
“This know also, that perilous times shall come in the last days. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, reckless, conceited, more lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying its power. From such turn away ” (2 Timothy 3:1-5)
“Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it…from that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with him” John 6:60 -66
ROCA will not divide into two or more parts. ROCA is one, and will remain one. From Her may leave 2 bishops, 10 priests, and 200 lay people; but ROCA will remain one.
Whilst the departed leaders of this schism will answer before Christ: what weighty blessed reasons they had for this step. Similarly those involved in their sin will answer before God for their immortal soul.
Now let us consider the “severity of punishment.” (I am going on the content of your letter).
Obviously the condemned bishops expressed unchristian non-humility, from the loss of 4 dioceses (by one three at once, by the other only one). Even so no one banned bishops Andronik and Sofrony from serving, nor expel led them from their rank, and so on. They were left with the right to serve only in their own parish and monastery respectively. Neither of them came to the Synod nor to the ecclesiastical court, which is in itself a call to ones’ brother colleagues.
Furthermore, the opinion of Metropolitan Agafangel in this situation: punishment of leaving them in their ministry. The opinion of the members of the Synod is stricter: to ban, to expel.
Mercy was victorious, it triumphs over judgment, and the Synod decided to leave them in their ministry, with a view to allow the peaceful resolution of further misunderstandings. However it seems the leaders of the schism specifically exacerbate the conflict.
I shall explain to you why I and many others in ROCA, since the mid 90’s, supported, support, and will support Metropolitan Agafangel, the Synod, and the Bishop’s Council. The34rd apostolic canon defines:
“For bishops of every nation it is befitting to know the senior among them, and recognize him as the head, and do nothing exceeding their authority without his consideration: for each to do just what concerns his own diocese and to places belonging to it. However let the senior bishop not do anything without the consideration of all the bishops. In this way there will be unity of thought, and God will be glorified in the Lord in the Holy Spirit, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. “
In this case, Metropolitan Agafangel is accused of intervening in “another’s” diocese of Archbishops Andronik and Sofrony. What about the insolentintervention of archbishops Andronik and Sofrony in the Diocese of New York and the East-America? Has Archbishop Andronik so little to do in the dioceses of Syracuse and St. Nicholas, Ottawa and North America, Australia and New Zealand? Or bishop Sofrony, being in the USA, having flown across the ocean, is deciding questions of the St. Petersburg and North-Russian diocese?
Archbishops Sofrony and Andronik sin against the 34th apostolic canon, because they do not recognize the authority of the senior bishop, who they themselves have elected.
Will the apostles really show favoritism at the Last Judgment, and approve the actions of the leaders of the schism Andronik and Sofrony, contrary to their rules, those established by the Holy Spirit? Then the holy apostles lied to the entire Orthodox Church for two thousand years, if their rules mean nothing for everlasting life. I think that the conscious violators of the holy God-inspired Canons, hope in vain for this.
If the church rejects the apostolic canons, it is then not the Church of the Apostles.
Victoria, if you sing the symbol of faith at each liturgy, then you know, that by their actions, archbishops Andronik and Sofrony reject the church dogma: “I believe … in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.” Pay attention to the doctrine of the unity of the Church. With whom are Christ and the apostles? With those who deliberately, persistently, cynically violate the canons; or with those who observe the canons, meekly bear their obedience, suffer slander, contempt, ridicule? I think neither you, nor I, have in the past year undergone so much blasphemy as our Metropolitan.
Victoria, you write that at least two of our bishops may have possibly not been properly ordained and do not have apostolic succession. But did you know that since 2008 the apostolic succession of bishops Athanasius and John is from bishops Andronik and Sofrony, who read all the required prayers at the consecration of bishops at the cheirothesia of these individuals? Or do you question the sacraments performed by bishops Andronik and Sofrony in 2008!
Victoria, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven Andronik and Sofrony. Do not participate in their sin.
It may seem strange to you, but I am one of the few, who believe that there is grace in the Moscow Patriarchate as well! Since August 1995 however, I have never taken communion in the patriarchate, though I live in Ukraine next to their churches, I was forced to independently purchase premises, and arrange regular services. Happily the Lord has granted our true pastors to serve 58 Divine Liturgies, in the 16 years of existence of our house church.
Why did I come from the MP to the ROCA? Due to violations by Metropolitan Sergius Stragorodsky, and automatically without exception by all his successors, of the 30th apostolic canon (If any bishop, or secular head, having used and through them, will receive episcopal authority in the Church, let him be deposed and excommunicated, and all those in communication with him, including lay people). This prohibition applies to all members of the Moscow Patriarchate, from the Patriarch to the layman. That is what is said there: “all communicating”. All these people are under judgment. All of them will be judged by Christ and the apostles: why did they not follow the new martyrs to the catacomb churches and to the cross, that which they took at the beginning of their ministry as Christians, clergy and arch pastors.
At present, they are in canonical sin, and subject to judgment. Judgment is inevitable. Their judgment will occur after their death, or if it be pleasing to God - at the upcoming Council of the Russian Church, at which Sergianism must be condemned as a pre-antichristian phenomenon of apostasy, which is detestable to God. The grace of the Holy Spirit will be to their condemnation. As the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth.
So by your logic, your future schism is a direct road to the Moscow Patriarchate, where most likely they are already awaiting you.
The postulate of grace is in solidarity with the postulate of truth.
Victoria, consider the words of Christ, said by Him to the Samaritan woman:
“You do not know what we worship and we know what we worship, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is a Spirit and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. ” (John 4:22-24)
When you will worship God in the churches of the schismatics Andronik and Sofrony, will it truly be in Truth, or only in Spirit?
Or are there two Truths in Christ? Perhaps nevertheless someone is wrong?
Do not be fooled. You know that Metropolitan Agafangel and the ROCOR Synod is in the right. I think the next Council of Bishops will confirm this as well: whilst a bunch of detached people from the Church, who have organized a parasinagogue, are in the wrong. You write that not one of them preaches heresy or non-traditional teaching. Is not sin against the dogma of the unity of the Church not heresy for you? Or is violation of Apostolic Canons a tradition that was established in the church immediately after the Apostolic Council in the year of 51?
By definition, this group will not be canonical.
Is this ministry according to God’s will, being contrary to the canons of the apostles?
Victoria, tell me the rules of canon law, which allows a few dioceses of the Church to dissociate themselves from Church fellowship with the other dioceses of the Church.
Victoria, tell me the norm of canon law, according to which the role of the first bishop is reduced to the role of chairman at the councils?
I think that it will be better for Catholics and Sergianists at the Day of Judgment, than for these people, who do not accept, rather banish their archbishop, do not listen to his words, but listen to false voices of wolves in sheep’s clothing.
The ROCA is higher than the parasinagogue of bishops Andronik and Sofrony, like heaven is above hell.
In a spiritual sense, the bishops, clergy and laity of the Moscow Patriarchate will be higher than all of you who will follow the leaders Andronik and Sofrony into schism. Because the blind patriarchal sergianists follow their leaders, who have not yet been condemned by the future Council of the Russian Church (the probability of which was believed by the pillars of ROCOR); whilst you are following those who have been condemned already! The Moscow Patriarchate leaders are under judgment by the Canons and dogma of the Church; but this judgment is not presently expressed individually to each sergianist, as almost none of them were judged as bishops Andronik and Sofrony. Your sin is even greater, by the fact that you have freedom of choice.
Victoria, who is ridiculing who? On yourself and your brothers and sisters - can you wear all the mud and humiliation, which is spewed out of your group of activists? Who is ridiculing who? The victim here is the Church! She is being mocked by bishops Andronik, Sofrony and associates. Do you know that it all started by Metropolitan Agafangel interceding for the widow Dutikova, to whom was pointed the door? I personally corresponded on this subject with V.Yarmolinets. He acknowledged that the Astoria church council decided that 1 year after the death of Archpriest Vsevolod, Dutikova his widow, was to vacate the apartment (which will subsequently be rented out) and go to live with her children. They do not see any other way to improve the financial problems of the parish. It seems they have decided to sell the apartment. Since they do not hide on’ facebook ‘ that the profitability of this action would be counted in the hundreds of thousands of dollars ( pieces of silver). The spiritual atmosphere that has arisen in the church parish in Astoria, after the death of Father Vsevolod, can be clearly illustrated to you by the facebook page of the church council member Vadim Yarmolynts. I will tell you the basic principle of this page – not a word about God (except perhaps in swearing). Therefore I consider his ecclesiastical prohibition a logical consequence of his lack of proper spiritual Christian life.
Is not the development of the image of the enemy (Satan) and the accompanying hate - a method of the Soviets ? Have you not read in the Gospel, that in the days of Christ many people left Him? Perhaps Christ should have adjusted His doctrine, so that no one would leave Him?
Victoria, with whom are you?
At the beginning of creation, God separated light from darkness (Gen. 1.4). In Hebrew it sounds literally as follows: “And God divided the sons of light and sons of darkness”. God acted like a tyrant? That there are children of darkness - who is guilty in your opinion? Perhaps it is not God, but rather the free will of those who choose against Him?
“But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with Him. Then Jesus said unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? “. John 6.64-66.
“So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, send us into the herd of swine. And he said unto them, Go. And they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters. And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told everything, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils. And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts”. Matthew 8. 31-34
Also the rich young man who loved Christ, parted from Christ, etc. etc.
There are numerous examples of disciples departing from the apostles.
How can Christ and the apostles be blamed?
However you dare to blame the Metropolitan - that he acted strictly, in relation to other members of the Church.
Do all those who have departed from the Church to their own place, have the gift of the Holy Spirit in the fear of God?
Victoria, for the sake of the salvation of your own soul, do not participate in the sin of destruction of the Russian Orthodox Church.
You write that you have tried all options in avoiding a schism.
It is surprising - do you yourself believe in what you write? From the side it looks quite the opposite.
It is not BA/BS, as you call them, that travel to the Metropolitan for a resolution of the conflict, but on the contrary, the Metropolitan travels to the USA, personally recalls all his signatures from the prohibitions of Archbishop Andronik, but that one…changes his mind! Bishop Sofrony says to the Metropolitan that he needs to consult with someone to remain in the One Church. Consult with whom? We can only guess who those advisers (from the word soviet) are, and what cash money and certificates are in their pockets. Money, in denominations enough for the Archbishop of Northern Russia to leave the diocese in the Russian Federation, and live for months in the Americas. In addition, Archbishop Sofrony denounces himself, in confessing that he does not have his own opinion, and is subject to the opinions of other unknown persons. So this is your candidate for the future false-metropolitan!
BA/BS preach heresy, because they teach that the Church can divide. This is a heresy – one type of ecumenism. It is simple. Will the church services of those who have been banned and stripped of their rank retain the sacrament of grace of the Holy Spirit? The answer is obvious - no, of course.
The Lord said, “Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Mt.18: 18).You have equated the services of the catacomb new-martyrs with the services of justly punished proud people. It is a comical situation, when residing in the USA amid western standard of living, you equate yourself with people of the catacomb Church, who
“suffered mocking and scourging, and even chains and imprisonment: They were stoned, asunder, were tempted, died by the sword: they wandered about in the mantle and goat skins , destitute, afflicted, tormented; those whom the world was not worthy, wandering in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth “(Hebrews 11. 36 -38).
This is obviously similar to the spiritual state of delusion. The state of delusion, first of all, gives its victim insolence. And from insolence comes blasphemy and slander.
Examine the book of St. Ignatius Brianchaninov “Ascetic experiences” in two volumes and “Otechnik”. They disclosed the spiritual state of BA / BS and those with them.
Peace to you.
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
Friday, September 2, 2016
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).