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


Archimandrite Alexis answers a question for ROCOR-MP member

“I WOULD LIKE to take the opportunity to ask you a question that, quite frankly, could determine my Orthodox Christian life.  I read the article you sent me, and to be honest, I am all stirred up already with regards to ecumenism!  My parish is, as you know, that of Russian Orthodoxy  ... I was given enlightenment regards to Orthodoxy as having the full truth.  So my point being, if my parish here follows the old calendar, but is part of ecumenism, are they in your opinion ‘Heretics’?” - G.S. by email. 

I THINK that we must realize that the calendar is not the only issue which conscientious Orthodox Christians must reflect upon in our times.  (The new calendar) is a deviation from the Tradition of the Church, and, more deeply important, it was introduced to promote ecumenical relations with the heterodox denominations of the West.  So, ironically, a split was caused within the Church community to promote union with people of other faiths. 

The purpose of the new calendar supposedly was to help unify all Christians, but instead it caused schism within the Church Body.  

Your church being with the Moscow Patriarchate will be on the old calendar, I presume.  This means that in that respect it is being more faithful, and one is able to keep the annual cycle of feasts and fasts as our Fathers have in generations before us. 

However, the issue of Ecumenism remains.  The Moscow Patriarchate is an organic member of the World Council of Churches, membership of which presupposes an un-Orthodox understanding of the Church. In the first instance under the Soviets the Patriarchate was forced to participate as this gave the Soviets a voice in the West and aided their propaganda programme.  However the Soviet regime has ostensibly fallen - I say ostensibly, because it appears that the present regime is heading back in the same direction - and churchmen there claim that their church administration is free, and yet they have continued that membership of the WCC and engage in other ecumenical activities.  So now, presumably this is done not under pressure but because it reflects their confessional stance.  The Moscow Patriarchate is also in full communion with other national Churches whose commitment to Ecumenism is even more marked than their own, and when we receive the Holy Mysteries together we confess that we are of “one mind and one heart” with those we commune with.  So one must presume that, for instance, they are of “one mind and one heart” with those who commune with Monophysites. 

And with regard to Moscow there is the question of what we call Sergianism - the collaboration of the Church through most of the Soviet period with a state whose intent it was to destroy religious belief.  Such a collaboration, which involved betraying faithful Christians to the Soviet authorities and sending them to the camps and to their death, gives us reason enough to doubt that the church administration is canonical and true. 

We have reason to doubt the ROCOR-MP Church administration is canonical.

It was for these reasons that, when the majority of the hierarchy of the Russian Church Abroad opted to subject itself to the Patriarchate in 2007, we left to join the Traditionalist Orthodox in the Church of Greece. 

However, it is not for me to say, as a member of a very insignificant, small and unimportant semi-monastic community, whether or not the Patriarchate is in heresy.  The old Russian Church Abroad would only “wall herself off” from its administrations and await the decision of a free and cleansed Church of Russia after the fall of the regime.  Sadly, so far such an opportunity has not been granted us, because the present administrators of the Patriarchate are the same persons, many ex-KGB agents, who ran the Church for the Soviets. 

All I can say is that for our community there was reason enough not to place ourselves under the Patriarchate.  It remains largely faithful about the calendar, but is engaged in Ecumenism and has not been cleansed of its Sergianist past.  It is therefore involved in heresy and its canonical status is certainly questionable.  By canonical, I mean in the fundamental and true sense - following the canons.  Nowadays the term is often used (as a smokescreen) to mean official, established, accepted by all the other churches whose adherence to the canons is also worth questioning.  Whether the time has come to say outright that it is heretical, is something for which we must wait for true Orthodox hierarchs to declare.  I hope this helps you, inadequate though it is. 

article from The Shepherd Magazine January 2016


Joanna said...

"By canonical, I mean in the fundamental and true sense - following the canons. "

Let me clarify that this means following the canons all along. A up-in-arms group can not quasi-canonically separate themselves from a canonical Body by legalistic twistings; and then begin to "follow the canons" more strictly than the lax canonical Body they separated from and assume that they are canonical because they do a better job of following the canons.

To be canonical their separation has to be canonical first, then they can start applying the canons strictly if they wish. But applying canons strictly today does not make up for the questionable separation of yesterday.

This is one thing I see with the Russian fragments today. We agree with how they follow the canons today, but we disagree with the canonicity of their separation. Vladyka Agafangel has offered to correct their orders so they can continue canonically, but this offer has been repeatedly snubbed.

Joanna said...

The ROCOR-MP questioner, G.S., shows in his question a confusion I see in both the world-orthodox and the super-correct.

Heretical and uncanonical are two different things. Heretical does not necessarily go hand in hand with uncanonical.

Heresy is a false teaching – think of Arianism.

Uncanonical (in reference to a Church) is when apostolic succession is absent – either canonicity was lost or it never existed (it's imaginary).

There are different ways a Church can lose apostolic succession. Espousing heresy is only one way.

If a Church officially proclaims itself to profess a heresy, then it can be said that Church is heretical. But if not, then we, as individuals, can not declare the Church to be heretical. Only a council can do that.

The MP has not officially proclaimed itself to be ecumenist, and neither has a council declared it ecumenist. Despite MP's observable ecumenical associations and activities, we as individuals have no authority to declare MP a heretical Church. Individuals do not declare heretics – that is for the Church to do.

With the MP what we really have is an issue of canonicity. I'm not clear whether the MP lost it's canonicity or never had it in the first place. I see our ROCA as being the "pearl bearer" of the canonical ROC. But what I see does not need to be argued, because what overrides what I see is the fact that the MP is run by the KGB. Whether MP is a creation of the KGB (Stalin's Church) or whether it is the ROC infiltrated with KGB agents – either way it is owned lock, stock & barrel by the KGB.

This makes the MP's flirtations with ecumenism (new calendar is a part of ecumenism) not a symptom of apostasy, but rather it's just the MP using whatever is expedient for the Kremlin's political aims at this time.

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