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