Tragic Results of the ROCOR-MP Union
Editorial Group - www.rocana.org January 3, 2016
The Tragic Results of the Church Union
In arguing for the union of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCA) and the Moscow Patriarchia (MP), the ROCA First Hierarch and bishops assured the flock with great confidence that they could “work from within” to influence the MP and most notably, its ecumenist and sergianist policies. As is clear for all to see, these assurances were at best optimistic and at worst outright falsehoods. The MP’s ecumenism and sergianism remains completely unchanged since the union and may possibly be even more aggressive. The reality is that since the union in 2007 the episcopate and clergy of what is now the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia-MP (ROCOR-MP) has been completely absorbed and drawn in by the MP and does everything possible to imitate the ranks of MP clergy. Unlike the example of Met. Philaret and the bishops of the past, the ROCOR-MP clergy and bishops of today demonstrate the same sense of privilege as their Moscow counterparts, to include an indulgence in expensive automobiles, fine vestments, gourmet meals and many other luxuries incompatible with the life of a monastic or clergyman. They have absorbed the mindset, manners and approaches to the flock of the Moscow Patriarchia. The ROCOR-MP clergy dutifully and publicly express their support for the nationalist and revanchist policies of the Russian state and remain silent on issues that would have been condemned in the past by the ROCA.
In another shameful example of the compliant imitation of their Moscow rulers, the ROCOR-MP has time and again demonstrated the avarice and lust for property that so sadly distinguishes the MP. All the churches of ROCA clergy who agreed to the union are kept under tight control, while the few churches of those who did not agree are under direct attack and feel the constant threat of legal action. The size of the individual church, its condition, or how large or small the parish, are of no consequence. The ROCOR-MP insists that every attempt be made to deprive faithful church members, who decided against going down the path of union and its attendant spiritual ruin, of a place to worship. To add insult to injury, every manner of deceit and guile is used to tear the church away from its rightful owners.
Examples of this lust for property are many. The Holy Trinity parish in Oxnard, California, spent thousands of dollars to resist relentless legal attacks. The Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos parish in Buena, New Jersey, spent years in the courts. The Holy Trinity parish in Santiago, Chile, at which Archimandrite Benjamin has been faithfully ministering in that part of the world for decades, has also come under attack. Recently ROCOR-MP Bishop John of Caracas and South America managed to obtain the keys to the church and had the locks replaced. In the presence of indifferent local police, he invaded the church and took possession of it, barring the 89-year old archimandrite from the church he lovingly tended to for over 35 years. One cannot help but think back on the MP seizure of ROCOR property in the Holy Land and how at the time Archbishop Mark (then a bishop in the ROCOR) howled in protest at those unlawful and despicable actions of the MP. Now it is apparently a new day, for Archbishop Mark and his fellow bishops readily and eagerly engage in the same contemptible behavior.
The latest target of ROCOR-MP is the Dormition parish in the Richmond Hill section of New York City. The church is a storefront in woeful condition, and the parish is small and faces many financial difficulties. Yet, even such an unassuming place of worship must be torn away from its parishioners and ROCOR-MP has served them with legal papers demanding they relinquish their home. The parish is led by Fr. Sergey Klestov and belongs to the Russian True Orthodox Church jurisdiction of Abp. Tikhon (Pasechnik). Our hearts and prayers go out to them in their hour of need. These parishes are just but some examples. There have been others and there will surely be more to follow.
Little account is made by the ROCOR-MP episcopate of how they spend the thousands of dollars raised from their church members, who presumably donate in the hope that the monies will be devoted to doing good and not to fund attacks on helpless parishioners. And where is the outrage among the senior clergy of the ROCOR-MP? These are their brothers in Christ under attack. They have known many of these rectors for most of their lives, studied together at the Holy Trinity seminary in the Jordanville, sharing the same school bench. How can they in good conscience turn their backs on them? Why do they not speak out against these injustices? Is this the age-old human failing of thinking you can save yourself by sacrificing others? Do they not understand that they can find themselves in the same position very easily, if they do not continue to obey their new rulers in a church that shows a false piety to the world, while preying on the weak and helpless? Such are the bitter fruits of surrendering and abandoning your principles. Who knows what parish will be the next target of this avarice? It is said that the fire of the Russian Revolution eventually consumed everyone including those who sparked it. That ravenous beast lives on today and will in time devour ROCOR-MP and those who succumbed to the union, until its noble history becomes a mere footnote in history. God help us all.