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THY WILL BE DONE
The 16 points of Metropolitan Philaret
By George Nekrasov
Those who oppose the re-unification of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) and the Moscow Patriarchate often base their views on the admonitions of Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky), the Third Primate of the ROCOR. As an Archimandrite (of the Moscow Patriarchate) in Harbin, China, he had many hard and harsh experiences. During the Cultural Revolution, the Red Guards used to abuse him, spit on him in the streets, throw stones at him, and set his flat alight. He also came into contact with those Moscow hierarchs who were willing tools of the Soviet Government. When he left China, he unhesitatingly joined the ROCOR, and, much to his surprise, was soon consecrated as the Bishop of Brisbane (Australia) in May, 1963. Less than a year later, in April, 1964, to his even greater surprise, he was elected as the Primate of the ROCOR. In those days he was implacably critical of the Moscow hierarchy, so much so, that some of his detractors accused him of being “vicious.” (We shall deal with this aspect later).
In 1965 Metropolitan Philaret promulgated an Epistle in which he strongly and clearly explained the reasons for his implacability towards the Moscow Patriarchate. We should remember that before entering the Church, he had received a technical education and was a professional engineer. This inevitably left a mark on his methodology, in particular this was expressed in attention to detail and clarity of statements. For this reason his Epistle contained sixteen points which explained his implacable attitude. In those days it was impossible to argue against those points. Let us examine these sixteen points and see to what extent they apply to our time:
“...This is why, whether anyone likes it or not, The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia will continue to exist and will continue to speak up in the defence of the Faith. She will not be silenced:
1. “For as long as the Soviet power will continue to conduct a merciless persecution against the Church and its believers, as can be seen from all the Soviet media, except the Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate.”
As of 1992 the Soviet Government and the Soviet power vanished “as the smoke vanishes, as the candle wax melts before fire.” Only its shards are left behind and there is no evidence of any Government attack on the Church. The point is no longer valid.
2. “For as long as there exists a Secret Catacomb Truly-Orthodox, as is being reported by the same Soviet Media, this Church by its very existence testifies to the persecution of the Faith and a complete lack of freedom of confession.”
The Catacomb Church has come out into the open a long time ago. The point is no longer valid.
3. “For as long as the Soviet Government continues to force the hierarchs of the Moscow Patriarchate to lie, by stating that there is no persecution of the Church in the USSR, and that the Church is enjoying a full freedom in accordance to the Soviet Constitution. (Metropolitans Pimen Nikodim Ioann,... Archbishop Alexei and others.”
This shows how desperate the situation was in those years, and the struggle which the hierarchs had to wage as they attempted to save whatever could be saved. This was the so-called “Sergianism”, or a part of it. All this was condemned by the Jubilee Council of ROC-MP Bishops which was held in Moscow in 2000.
One may ask: “What about those who were involved in making those statements?” We must remember, however, the words of one of the Soviet Party leaders as he boasted that of the 30 bishops in office at that time, 10 were co-operating, 10 refused to co-operate, and a further 10 were pretending to co-operate, whilst in fact attempting to achieve something for the Church. We should remember that the principal KGB-hierarch, the former Metropolitan of Kiev Philaret (Denisenko), was not merely defrocked, but also excommunicated. Since the fall of Communism some 150 more bishops have been consecrated, none of them subject to any Soviet Government pressure. The point is no longer valid.
4. “Until the Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate, under orders from the Government mentions at least one church which was closed down or razed, whereas the Soviet media report hundreds and thousands.”
Hundreds and thousands were named - without any prompting. The point is no longer valid.
5. “For as long as the churches in the USSR will continue to be desecrated by the godless, being turned into cinemas, store-houses, museums, clubs, apartments etc, as witnessed by tourists visiting the Soviet Union.”
Following the downfall of the Soviet system all this came to an end. Today, on the contrary, visitors to Russia observe a developing Church life. The point is no longer valid.
6. “Until thousands of desecrated churches will be re-established as churches of our Lord.”
Churches are being restored, razed churches are being rebuilt, and new churches are being constructed. For example: the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, the Cathedral of the Mother of God of Kazan in Moscow, the Church on the Spilt Blood in Ekaterinburg, as well as a multitude of others. The point is no longer valid.
7. “Until such time as the representatives of the Soviet Government, wearing spiritual robes, cease to spread propaganda in favour of the godless Soviet System, thus dressing a wolf in sheep's clothing.”
The Soviet System is no more. On the contrary, today's rulers of Russia do not boast about their atheism, but make considerable efforts to appear as practising Christians; as undoubtedly, some of them are. The point is no longer valid.
8. “Until such time as the hierarchs of the Moscow Patriarchate cease to deny the horrible ruination of the Pochaev Monastery (Lavra), an almost total extermination of its monastic brothers and dreadful persecution of believers, including violent beating and murders, (Letters from the USSR).”
There are several aspects involved. First of all, all denials have ceased a long time ago, secondly, monastic life is currently undergoing a revival in all of Russia, and also in Ukraine and Belarus. Thirdly, the Pochaev Lavra is currently subject to a struggle between the Russian Orthodox Church, the “Denisenko” schismatics, and the Uniates. Fourthly, the persecution and even murder of the pilgrims, still occurs at times, but this is no longer due to any Government policy, but rather of the criminal remnants of the Soviet system. A struggle against them continues, and nobody denies it. The point is no longer valid.
9. “Until such time as the priests who are being indicted by the Soviet Courts are allowed to mount their defence through the Soviet media.”
This is now permitted. The point is no longer valid.
10. “Until such time as the torrent of falsehood, ridicule and mockery of the Faith, the Church, the clergy, the monastics and the believers generally, ease in the Soviet Press.”
Indeed this has not yet fully ceased, however, once again it is the work of the remnants of the Soviet power, but also of the `liberal” pro-Western Media. This has to be dealt with and in this struggle the participation of the Church Outside of Russia can be of considerable value. The point is no longer valid.
11. “Until such time as every believer in the USSR is given the right openly to defend and confess his Faith.”
This right now exists, and the confession of Faith is not a mere formality. We must remember the very ordinary conscript soldier, Private Evgeny Rodionov, who, when captured by the Chechens, refused to remove his baptismal Cross and was clutching it against his chest, even whilst being decapitated! The point is no longer valid.
12. “Until such time as the children and the young people are allowed to learn about the basics of their Faith, attend and participate in church services and receive the Holy Communion.”
This is now permitted. Once again there are forces which do their best to sabotage this freedom. A struggle against them is being waged. There are Orthodox High Schools, Cadet Corps schools where religion is being taught. The traditional Russian Orthodox Scout Movement has been revived and is growing. The Russian Diaspora was instrumental in all the above developments, and is capable of doing (and should be doing!) more. The point is no longer valid.
13. “Until such time as the parents who are believers are allowed to baptise their children, without any adverse effect on their career prospects, or personal wellbeing.”
This is now permitted. One can see many children attending church services. The point is no longer valid.
14. “Until such time as the parents who provide religious upbringing to their children are freed from prosecution for “mutilation” of their children, consequently being deprived of their freedom, with both the parents and the children being committed either to psychiatric institutions or prisons.”
This fight was lost by the godless power. The point is no longer valid.
15. “Until the freedom of though, freedom of activity and freedom of choice is granted, not merely to believers, but to all citizens of the Soviet Union, and principally to the authors and others involved in creative thinking, who are now subjected to particularly severe oppression by extreme methods.”
The “godless power” lost this fight and disappeared into history. The point is no longer valid.
16. “Until the Church and any religious communities in general in the USSR are granted even the most primitive rights... In other words, until the legal position of all the religious communities ceases to be equally deprived of any rights.”
These rights are now held by all kind of communities, ranging from the Old Believers to Hare Krishna. The point is no longer valid.
Thus, if we remember that the late Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky), originally received an engineering and technical education, we can conclude that the above 16 points were, in essence, specifications for reunion. As one can see from the above, the very course of events caused ALL these points to be satisfied.
Nowadays a multitude of tourists and pilgrims in Russia can see miracle performing icons, the relics of the saints and new martyrs, they can see a blossoming monastic life, they can see an unbelievable scope of church restoration and building. It is significant that today there are more functioning monasteries in Russia, than there are parishes in the entire Russian Diaspora. This indicates God's blessing. We should also remember that shortly before his death in 1983, Metropolitan Philaret, whose incorrupt body rests at Jordanville, bequeathed his personal vestments to the Patriarch of Moscow. They were recently delivered accordingly and were received with due honour and veneration. (So much for Metropolitan Philaret's “vicious attitude” towards Moscow!).
During the 1960s and 1970s the Church Abroad marked each anniversary of the martyrdom of Tsar Nicholas and his family by a special prayer of repentance. The central words of this prayer were: “Deliver us through Thy miracles and grant glory to Thy name, O Lord...” When, in August 1991, the godless Communist regime shattered without any shedding of blood, it was indeed a miracle, and today the name of our Lord is glorified across all the vast expanses of Russia. In short, the prayer was answered.
We should also remember that during the entire first nine centuries of the history of the Russian Church, only two hierarchs lived to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their consecration. Then, in the 1950s, this was celebrated first by Metropolitan Anastassy, the primate of the Church Outside of Russia, then by Metropolitan Vladimir, the Paris Exarch of the Patriarch of Constantinople, and finally by Patriarch Alexei I of Moscow. This must mean something, for God’s work is no coincidence or accident!
(Source: “The Voice”, vol. 6, no. 8, April 2007)