After my death our beloved Church abroad will break three ways ... first the Greeks will leave us as they were never a part of us ... then those who live for this world and its glory will go to Moscow ... what will remain will be those souls faithful to Christ and His Church. ~St. Philaret of NY


What is wrong here?

Serbian RTOC bishop petitions to have communion with the GOC

Fr. Akakije left the GOC in 2011 and joined the RTOC.  The RTOC made him a bishop.  Now, RTOC Bishop Akaije wants his part of the RTOC to go into communion with the GOC.  He sent this petition to the GOC Synod October 2015:
STOC = Serbian RTOC
Petition for the Establishment of Canonical Communion between the STOC and the Greek GOC


Petition for the Establishment of Canonical Communion

Your Beatitude, Your Eminences, and Your Graces, Hierarchs of the Holy Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece:

     Moved by the commandment of the Lord that unity and love between His disciples is one of the main confirmations of true loyalty to Him and His Divine Will, and zealous to fulfill the commandment of the unity of the Church, we humbly address You with a petition to undertake with us all that is within our power to establish canonical communion between our sister Churches to the Glory of God.

     We owe you immeasurable gratitude for the brotherly help which you have offered us from the very beginning of our holy battle for the rebirth of True Orthodoxy among the Serbian Christ-named Orthodox people by ordaining canonical, True Orthodox clergy for the needs of the Serbian Local Church, which due to the fall of the Belgrade Patriarch hierarchy into the heresy of ecumenism was left without a canonical episcopacy and clergy. 

     To the great sorrow of all of us, communion between our two Local Churches ceased owing to the arising of a misunderstanding and disagreement about our desire and urgent need for the establishment of a national (Serbian) episcopacy to shepherd the Serbian TOC. At the time these disagreements seemed unresolvable and insurmountable, which forced us to take measures which were not in accordance with your judgment and position. 

     Without your agreement we entered into communion with the Russian TOC, which, although canonical and Orthodox, is not in communion with your Church.  Also without your agreement, the Russian TOC granted us a hierarchy in the form of two bishops.  Such actions, though made with the best of intentions, with the vital interests of our Serbian Local Church in mind, were nonetheless inopportune, hurtful, and ungrateful towards you, our benefactors. 

     For this offence we humbly beg your forgiveness with the most sincere sorrow and repentance. Also with sorrow and repentance do we beg forgiveness, with a deep prostration, for all the rough and hurtful words that we have spoken or published about you.

     We hope that you will have merciful, magnanimous, brotherly understanding and condescension towards us. From our point of view, the above-mentioned actions were made purely in the interests of our Local Church, and were never consciously or with ill intention directed against you and your Church. You were and have remained our true benefactors and helpers in the great work of the rebirth of Orthodoxy within the jurisdiction of the Serbian local Church, which through the machination of tragic historical circumstances fell into a very difficult and nearly inescapable position.  It was inevitable that our Church would need the help of other Local Churches, without which even the smallest progress would have been impossible to realize. 

     We Serbian hierarchs sharply oppose every sort of fanaticism (zeal not according to knowledge), isolationism, and sectarianism, destructive and delusional phenomena which have inflicted painful, difficult-to-heal wounds in the True Orthodox world.  We admire your supremely God-pleasing work towards the establishment of unity among the True Orthodox which magnificently bore fruit with the great union made in March of 2014.  Our wish is that the Serbian TOC unite with the newly-established front of the True Orthodox Churches so that the battle against heresy and for the Truth of the patristic faith be strengthened to the joy of the faithful, the strengthening of the weak, and the shame of the ecumenists.

     In the coming year of 2016 we will celebrate the twenty-year anniversary of the beginning of the holy battle for True Orthodoxy in Serbia, and it would be a great blessing if this jubilee, so meaningful to us, would be marked by a concelebration of our hierarchs, which would be a great comfort to all of Orthodox-minded Serbia.

     With deep respect and gratitude as the youngest among hierarchs in the family of the True Orthodox Churches we greet you with the brotherly liturgical kiss of peace and love:


Hieromartyr Dionysius the Areopagite  1/16 October 2015
+Bishop Akakije of Uteshiteljevo
President of the Hierarchal Council of the Serbian True Orthodox Church
Bishop Nektarije

So, what is wrong here?  A lot.  First what is wrong is the idea that RTOC is canonical.  The ROCA deems the RTOC to be a Russian schism.  RTOC needs to return to ROCA and resolve its separation from ROCA before doing anything else.   Next what is wrong is that Fr. Akakije first needs to show sincere repentance for running off and joining the RTOC in 2011.  Sincere repentance would be if he renounces his RTOC "consecration" and asks the GOC to accept him back at least as nothing more than what he was when he left.

1. Fr. Akakije left the GOC in 2011 and joined the RTOC.
2. The RTOC made him a bishop.  
3. Now, Fr-Bp. Akakije wants GOC to go into communion with his RTOC as an equal.  
Do you see something here?...
...like Jurisdictional Ecumenism, maybe?

Watch and see how our Synods handle this petition from RTOC-Bp. Akakije and if there is a response.  Laymen understand that the Orthodox Church is not a democracy.  We laymen don't vote on issues and then expect our hierarchs to act according to our wishes, like in a democracy.   It is not for us to form an opinion and then pressure our hierarchs to act according to the will of the majority of laymen.  Instead, it is our job as individuals to understand our Holy Synods.

Based on past observation of my Holy Synod, my speculation is this:
If the GOC does go into communion with the RTOC, I expect that the ROCA will condescend to allow this without it changing the status of the GOC being our Sister Church.  ROCA in the past has always given much wiggle room to Sister Churches.  We allow them to make mistakes, we allow them time to learn from their mistakes, we suffer their trespasses against us.  The GOC going into communion with RTOC I doubt would be a deal-breaker.  But, there is no way our ROCA synod would also go into communion with the RTOC just because our Sister Church did.

And what else is wrong here?
Serbian RTOC bishop sends report to the GOC

If the GOC answered Serbian-RTOC Bp. Akakije's October 2015 petition, we do not know.  A month later, November 2015, Serbian-RTOC Bp. Akakije wrote an informal report to GOC Metr. Photios, signed with his initials, and published on his blog in English three days later.

Apparently he is getting the money from somewhere to travel around Russia and Europe.  The whole letter feels so staged to me...  For whose benefit was this written and published in English on Serbian-RTOC Bp. Akakije's blog?  What is the English reader supposed to take away from this report – what presumptions, what inferences?

Read what Serbian-RTOC Bp. Akakije says about our Metr. Agafangel and our Church, read what he is trying to do to our Church.  

What has been obvious for years and typical of the jurisdictional ecumenists is that they brush aside the fact that RTOC and ROAC are not in communion with each other.  There are "no serious obstacles", and that seems to close the case.  The focus, for some odd reason, is on ROCA which has an impossible obstacle: (we assert that we are the sole valid continuation of the ROCOR).  Notice how Serbian-RTOC Bp. Akakije gives one sentence to the unity of RTOC & ROAC, but then devotes the body of his report against the ROCA first and then the Cyprianites.  Why does he bother with the ROCA when there is so little hope?  Why not focus on unifying the groups that have hope for unity, and "no serious obstacles" to unity?

This has always been the unexplainable and irrational course of priorities taken by the jurisdictional ecumenists.  But now we can see, since the SIR-GOC union, that it becomes even more necessary for the jurisdictional ecumenist agenda to put pressure on ROCA.  And "pressure" is exactly what Serbian-RTOC Bp. Akakije suggests that the GOC do to Agafangel in his report below, he writes:  "...Thus we ask you from the perspective of the GOC (not from the perspective of the Synod in Resistance) to look into the entry into communion with Met. Agathangel or at least to put pressure on him to humble himself, admit and correct his mistakes towards the other Russian Hierarchs, the first and essential one of which was the way he created his Synod, by rejecting the brotherly help offered by the Russian bishops who were then and now canonical, and seeking help from the Greek Cyprianite bishops who at the time were neither canonical nor Orthodox..."  

Serbian-RTOC Bp. Akakije offers two solutions for the GOC: 
1.  "...look into the entry into communion with Met. Agathangel..."
2.  "...put pressure on him to humble himself..."

#2 destroys the ROCA via jurisdictional ecumenism.  #1 at least causes serious injury to the Sisterhood.   Honestly, can we really believe that Metr. Photios would take the suggestions of Serbian-RTOC Bp. Akakije on any matter, let alone this one?  The issue of the ROCA was painstakingly examined prior to the GOC-SIR union.  How is Serbian-RTOC Bp. Akakije – an unrepentant renegade priest from the GOC – going to have any influence on Metr. Photios and the GOC synod?  He's not.  This is what makes me think that this report actually has a different target.  It is addressed to Metr. Photios, but it is written for the English-speaking RTOC flock to read.  I suspect the same is true for the petition, too.

Report from the trip to Russia of Bishop Akakije to Metropolitan Photios Secretary of the GOC Synod

To the Secretary of the Holy Synod His Eminence Metropolitan Photios of Dimitriados

Your Eminence, Bless!

I am writing You from the road, on a trip to France and Spain, and I am writing on my telephone so I ask forgiveness if there is anything confusing.

My trip to Russia, that is my visit with the Hierarchs of the RTOC and ROAC was more of an informative character, and as such I can say that it was successful. For me the first question in our discussions was their stance towards union between the Russian jurisdictions.

Unity between the RTOC and the ROAC is not impossible – that is, for its establishment there are no serious obstacles – but as far as I can see there is no decisive initiative for this to happen from either side.  The more serious problem is with Agathangel’s synod, with whom the other two jurisdictions have nothing to talk about.  Their reasons are not small ones.  In the first place is the way in which the Agathangel synod was created with the help of the Greek (Cyprianite) bishops, avoiding the already-existing Russian bishops.  They consider that Agathangel in this fashion fell away from the inheritance of the Russian Church. More importantly, they consider that the main reason for his independence was Cyprianism, because he claimed that the other Russian hierarchs had an “extreme” confession of faith, while he with the help of the Cyprianite bishops created a Synod with the “correct,” “traditional” ie Cyprianite confession of faith.  Secondly, from the people that he collected around himself and made into bishops, he made his own personal Synod which quickly voted for him as Metropolitan (white klobuk), which for the Russians means the first hierarch, over everyone, as were Philaret and Vitaly.  Third, the whole time Met. Agathangel has been treating the other Russian hierarchs very arrogantly and insultingly, declaring all of them schismatics, and until only recently, extremists.  The irony is that with the union of March 2014, Agathangel was forced to accept what he had until only recently called an “extreme” confession of faith and thus invalidated his main accusation against the other Russian hierarchs of “extremism.”  The RTOC and ROAC do not have a good opinion of Agathangel and think that it was a serious mistake that you (the GOC) accepted him into communion and thus gave him an appearance of canonicity and legitimacy.  This even further confirmed him in his self-deception that he is some bishop in authority over others who during the period of the collapse of the Russian Church Abroad behaved the most canonically and correctly in comparison to the other Russian bishops who opposed the union with the Moscow Patriarchate.  With this idea he gives himself the right to consider the other Russian hierarchs schismatics and uncanonical bishops because they ceased communion with the Russian Church Abroad “before they should have” while it was under “Metropolitan” Laurus, which is entirely unreasonable, as he (Agathangel) in following Laurus “to the end” participated in the complete betrayal of the principles of True Orthodoxy, culminating in the official concelebration with Metropolitan Amphilochius of the Serbian Patriarchate. 

For our STOC Metropolitan Agathangel is a serious and nearly insurmountable problem.  An eventual entry into communion with the GOC would mean entry into communion with Met. Agathangel, which would mean recognizing him as a canonical part of the Russian Church, which he certainly is not, and entry with him into communion would be an openly unfriendly act towards the other parts of the Russian Church, which we wish to avoid if this is at all possible.  Thus we ask you from the perspective of the GOC (not from the perspective of the Synod in Resistance) to look into the entry into communion with Met. Agathangel or at least to put pressure on him to humble himself, admit and correct his mistakes towards the other Russian Hierarchs, the first and essential one of which was the way he created his Synod, by rejecting the brotherly help offered by the Russian bishops who were then and now canonical, and seeking help from the Greek Cyprianite bishops who at the time were neither canonical nor Orthodox.

Another important matter is the opinion of the RTOC under Archbishop Tikhon about the union of the GOC and the SiR:  they believe that an overly-large compromise was made which is unacceptable when the confession of faith is in question.  They especially point out the recent letter of Bishop Auxentius of Etna as a confirmation that Cyprianism continues freely to act, and that a public denunciation of the Cyprianite teaching by the former member bishops of the Cyprianite synod is urgently necessary in order to defeat this false teaching and end any confusion about the question.  In my opinion, the Russian Hierarchs’ desire is not ill-intentioned and judgmental towards the GOC – on the contrary, I think it is honest and well-intentioned.

I think that you should speak with them and explain the stances of the GOC about these matters, and not let the RTOC form its stance according to the writings of Vladimir Moss and the stances which Fr. Victor Melehov is pushing.  You must keep in mind they consider your (the GOC)’s acceptance of Met. Agathangel into communion uncanonical, incorrect and unfriendly, and thus any initiative from their side for a conversation is nearly impossible. 

I made protest before the RTOC hierarchs because of their acceptance of the defrocked Greek clergymen into the RTOC jurisdiction, and they said that they would re-examine that case.  They responded in the negative to my question about the rumor that the RTOC is planning to establish bishops for the Greek Church, and said that this rumor is slander.  On the contrary, they say that they never planned on establishing bishops for the Greek Church.

That is basically my short report on my trip to Russia and visit to the hierarchs of the RTOC and ROAC, to which I have also added some of my personal opinions. 

I also wanted to let you know that in Serbia we already are having some problems because of our initiative to be closer with the GOC.  Ten people are already very close to ceasing communion with us.  They think that our coming closer to the GOC is a betrayal of the faith because of the Cyprianite bishops who have not repented of that false teaching and are now in the GOC Synod.

I wish You every good thing from the Lord, and please convey to His Beatitude my greetings.

23 November 2015

Here is what Metr. Photios said about Serbian-RTOC Bp. Akakije as recently as October 2013:
- How do you see the future of the group of Bishop Akakios in Serbia 
- We shall see what will happen. For us his situation is uncanonical from its foundation from the Tikhonites. And, as it is written, “Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.” (Matth. XIV 13).

1 comment:

Joanna said...

About the RTOC.

My understanding of our ROCA version of the history of the RTOC is that first there was the FROC which was part of the ROCOR, but went into schism from ROCOR in the 1990s using (abusing) the Ukaz 362. ROCOR suspended all the bishops, among them Abp. Lazar.

(In 1995, three of the suspended bishops returned to ROCOR and did penance. Agafangel was one of them.)

Then when the ROCiE schism started in 2001, the FROC joined the ROCiE. Soon after, though, Bp. Lazar left the ROCiE and started his own jurisdiction in Russia. Back to being FROC-ROAC. They "ordained" Tikhon Pasechnik who later left the ROAC and formed his RTOC.

None of the acts of any of these schisms are recognized, including their glorifications. Some of the bishops, though, who were originally ordained in ROCOR, if they were to return to ROCOR, would not need re-ordination.

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