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Author Topic: The Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia  (Read 9058 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: March 05, 2005, 04:10:31 PM »

Fr. Seraphim Rose was a member of the Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia. I've read that this church isn't in full communion with other Orthodox Churches and is considered schismatic. Is that true?

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« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2005, 04:46:17 PM »

Fr. Seraphim Rose was a member of the Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia. I've read that this church isn't in full communion with other Orthodox Churches and is considered schismatic. Is that true?

May peace be upon thee and with thy spirit.

It is not schismatic in the sense that it is not a condemned Church, but it is in an irregular status as regards the other Orthodox Churches, with the exception of the Serbian and Jerusalem Patriarchates, with which it has full communion.

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« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2005, 06:40:21 PM »

ROCOR and JP are not in communion according to Bishop Gabriel of Manhattan (ROCOR) and I think some other ROCOR bishops.  this has always been a gray area. Some recognize the Serbs and Jerusalem, some don't.  If you go to the Holy Land you are regarded as Orthodox. Period.
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« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2005, 06:50:47 PM »

ROCOR and JP are not in communion according to Bishop Gabriel of Manhattan (ROCOR) and I think some other ROCOR bishops. this has always been a gray area. Some recognize the Serbs and Jerusalem, some don't. If you go to the Holy Land you are regarded as Orthodox. Period.

Bp Gabriel's comments are not at all authoritative. I have researched in the ROCOR archives for my thesis and it is quite clear to me that they have always been in communion with the Serbs and JP.

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« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2005, 08:18:28 PM »

Fr. Seraphim Rose was a member of the Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia. I've read that this church isn't in full communion with other Orthodox Churches and is considered schismatic. Is that true?

Not true! Here is what may be considered a semi-official statement of the Moscow Patriarchate vis-a-vis the Russian Church Abroad. This is a recently published Catechism by Archimandrite Amvrosy Yurasov, called "Questions and Answers on Faith and Salvation" and the paragraph about the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad deserves publicity.

It calls the departure of the Russian bishops (those who eventually formed the Russian Church Abroad) into the West "providential." And it is significant that it affirms the canonicity of the Russian Church Abroad.


 Q: How should one view the Russian Church Abroad?

 A: Over 3.5 million Orthodox faithful and 34 Bishops
  left Russia after the revolution. Their departure was
  providential. They form a canonical but temporary
  church administration which has been preaching the
  holy faith in the West, and up until this day are working
  for the conversion of heterodox and unbelievers.
  The Church ought to recover its health. Everyone who
  wakes up from sin, who comes to repentance, to prayer,
  is on his way to recovery. We have to be true, living
  Christians, to bring goodness and light to the world: that's
  what is demanded from us. That is what will bring about
  reunification with the Russian Church Abroad.

          +   +   +





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« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2005, 08:25:40 PM »



Bp Gabriel's comments are not at all authoritative. I have researched in the ROCOR archives for my thesis and it is quite clear to me that they have always been in communion with the Serbs and JP.

The current website of ROCOR has a photo essay devoted to the 10th anniversary of the passing of Archbishop Paul of Australia and it features a photograph of him concelebrating with the Serbian Bishop Vasili in 1986.

http://www.russianorthodoxchurch.ws/01newstucture/pagesen/news05/arbpavel.html

N.B. This is also three years after the Russian Church Abroad, including Archbishop Paul, had issued the anathema against ecumenism. It seems clear that it did not include the Serbs.

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« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2005, 08:37:00 PM »

Just posted on the Website of the Moscow Patriarchate
http://www.mospat.ru/text/e_news/id/8743.html


Fourth Working Meeting between the Commissions of Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Church Outside of Russia - 2-4 March 2005


The Fourth Working Meeting between the Moscow Patriarchate Commission on Dialogue with the Russian Church Outside of Russia and the ROCOR Commission on Discussions with the Moscow Patriarchate took place in the environs of Paris on 2-4 March 2005. The sessions, which were accompanied by common prayers, were held in the atmosphere of brotherly love. The discussions were frank and open, and the participants were sincere in their aspiration to overcome divisions.

Taking part in the meeting on behalf of the Moscow Patriarchate were Chairman of the Commission Archbishop Innokenty of Korsun, Archbishop Yevgeny of Vereya, Archpriest Vladislav Tsypin, Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov) and secretary of the Commission Archpriest Nikolai Balashov. Taking part in the meeting on behalf of the Russian Church Outside of Russia were Chairman of the Commission Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany, Bishop Ambrose of Vevey, Archimandrite Luke (Murjanka), Archpriest Nicholas Artemov and secretary of the Commission Archpriest Alexander Lebedev.

The participants continued their work on the documents, which show common vision of the tragic destiny of the Russian Church in the 20th century, Church-State relations, canonical status of the Russian Church Outside of Russia as a self-governing part of the Local Russian Orthodox Church and canonical conditions for the restoration of full communion.
 
In the beginning of their common work the members of the Commissions decided that the documents, which they compile and which are approved by the authorities of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Church Outside of Russia would be published when the process of talks is completed. However, proceeding from pastoral expediency, it was considered useful to publish the agreed materials earlier. The members of the Commissions believe that the documents elaborated at the present session could be published after the approval by the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Church Outside of Russia. Also published could be the earlier prepared documents of the Commissions, which have already been approved by the authorities of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Church Outside of Russia.

Discussed at the meeting were also other questions of the process of the restoration of the unity.

The next meeting of the Commissions is scheduled for the summer of 2005.
 
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« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2005, 08:58:02 PM »

Oh, and here is a photo report of the Serbian Patriarch's visit to Australia in November last year when there were highly publicised concelebrations of the Serbian Patriarch with Archbishop Hilarion and his priests of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroard.

http://www.russianorthodoxchurch.ws/01newstucture/pagesen/news04/pavelausphoto.html

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« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2005, 09:15:45 PM »

Several Years ago when there was the disturbance about some monastic property between ROCOR and MP, The ROCOR  Synod actually sent a letter to the JP asking if there had been a change in their intercommunion.  The response was there was not and the ROCOR Bishops and  visiting representatives when visiting  the ROCOR propoerties made sure that they cmade  coutesy calls on the JP (There are pictures) and would praticipate in services of the patriarchate as a show that they were indeed "orthodox" and in communion.

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« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2005, 09:49:04 PM »

If the OCA and the ROCOR are both Russian Orthodox churches, then why don't they form one church in the U.S.?
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« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2005, 10:06:49 PM »

If the OCA and the ROCOR are both Russian Orthodox churches, then why don't they form one church in the U.S.?

They did, sort of, for a while.
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« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2005, 10:16:12 PM »

I've read that this church isn't in full communion with other Orthodox Churches (...) Is that true?

Just adding to the comments already done: when Metropolitan Laurus (the First Hierarch of ROCOR) visited my parish a few months ago, I asked him if ROCOR is in communion with Jerusalem and Serbia. He answered me with a clear and plain "Yes".


I've read that this church (...) is considered schismatic. Is that true?

No. ROCOR canonical basis is firm. In 1920 the Patriarch of Moscow, St. Tikhon, issued a decree authorizing the Russian bishops abroad to organize of their own temporarily, as long as regular relations with the Patriarchate were impossible. The Russian bishops abroad simply enforced this decree.

Also, one should note that a schismatic church would not produce obvious beacons of sanctity such as St. John of San Francisco, for example.
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« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2005, 10:21:47 PM »

No. ROCOR canonical basis is firm. In 1920 the Patriarch of Moscow, St. Tikhon, issued a decree authorizing the Russian bishops abroad to organize of their own temporarily, as long as regular relations with the Patriarchate were impossible. The Russian bishops abroad simply enforced this decree.

While this is true, the questions remain, what constitutes "temporarily" and why aren't/weren't "regular relations with the Patriarchate" possible sooner? 
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« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2005, 10:56:42 PM »



They did, sort of, for a while.

From the OCA:
[/b]

Synopsis of the 6th All-American Sobor
http://www.oca.org/doc-aas-06-synopsis.asp?SID=8


The main task of the Sixth Sobor, held in New York on October 5-8, 1937, was to assess the initiatives undertaken by Metropolitan THEOPHILUS since the last council. In an effort toward jurisdictional unity, Bishop ADAM (Philipovsky) and his Carpatho-Russian Diocese had been accepted into the Metropolia. Moreover, Metropolitan THEOPHILUS had traveled to Serbia where, under the leadership of the Serbian Patriarch, an agreement was signed by the leading hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) along with other exiled Russian hierarchs throughout the world forging a peaceful coexistence. Under this agreement, the American Church was to retain her administrative autonomy while maintaining close relations with the ROCOR Synod and being accountable to it only in matters of faith. The parallel jurisdictions of the Metropolia and ROCOR were thus eliminated and the four ROCOR hierarchs in North America along with their clergy and parishes were integrated into the Metropolia.

Synopsis of the 7th All-American Sobor

http://www.oca.org/DOC-AAS-07-synopsis.asp?SID=12

World War II prevented convocation of the Seventh Sobor until 1946. Various circumstances brought on by the war had greatly changed the Orthodox situation throughout the world. Therefore the Seventh Sobor, convened in Cleveland on November 26-29, 1946, determined that the "temporary arrangement" with the ROCOR agreed to in 1935 was no longer in effect. In 1943 and 1945, Patriarchs SERGIUS (Stragorodsky) and ALEKSY I (Simansky) had successively been elected in Moscow. The North American Metropolia had been invited to send a delegation to the Moscow Council of 1945. This was perceived as a sign that the hopes of the Detroit Council of 1924 could be fulfilled and full relations could be resumed with the Moscow Patriarchate. The Seventh Sobor therefore resolved to petition Patriarch ALEKSY I of Moscow to accept the North American Metropolia under his spiritual leadership while maintaining her full autonomous status. Subsequent negotiations between the Metropolia and the Patriarchate brought no consensus and the Metropolia continued her life as defined by the Fourth Sobor, estranged from the Church of Russia for another quarter of a century.

A different take:

Orthodox Jurisdictions in America

http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/general/amer_jur.aspx

A history lesson: Once upon a time there were no jurisdictions in the US. The Russian Orthodox Church was the first to send missionaries to what is now the territory of the US (namely Alaska, and soon after the entire Western coast—now the states of Washington, Oregon and California. The Russian Church sent priests, and later established the first Orthodox bishopric in the Western hemisphere (in Alaska). Later, Episcopal sees were established by the ROC in San Francisco and New York.

No one in the Orthodox world disputed the rights of the Russian Orthodox Church to be the Mother Church of America, although there were many Orthodox immigrants from other nationalities in the US as well. So the Russian Orthodox Church established Greek and Arab missions under its direction, eventually appointing bishops to head these. Many thousands of former Uniates were also accepted into Orthodoxy in this country by the Russian Orthodox Church, as well

The problems arose with the fall of Imperial Russia. No longer could the Russian Orthodox Church (which was under severe persecution by the communists) adequately take care of the American Missions.

The Russian Orthodox Bishops who happened to be outside the territory of Russia at the end of the Russian Civil War as well as those who emigrated with the remnants of the White Army met together to form the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, under the protection of the Patriarch of Serbia. This was done in keeping with an Ukase by Patriarch Tikhon in 1920, who decreed that if communication with the Central Church Authority will become impossible due to political or other reasons, the bishops should gather together and form a temporary Higher Church Authority until such time as normal order is restored.

The Arab and Greek missions in the US (who had previously been under the control of the Russian Orthodox Church) sought and received support from their own "home Churches" and established independent jurisdictions—now the Antiochian Orthodox Church under the Patriarch of Antioch and the Greek Orthodox Church of North and South America under the Patriarch of Constantinople (who expressed that he had ecclesiastical authority over all churches in the "diaspora," a position not accepted by the ROCOR, which sees itself as the rightful successor to the authority of the Russian Orthodox Church, as the only free part of it outside of Russia.

Unfortunately, not all the 37 bishops that made up the ROCOR in 1920 remained loyal to its authority. Metropolitan Platon, who had been put in charge of the Russian Orthodox Churches in the US declared "independence" from the ROCOR in 1924 and his followers became self-governing from that time. This was the origin of what is now known as the OCA. Other parishes remained loyal to the ROCOR. In 1934, the Patriarch of Serbia called Metropolitan Theophilus (who had succeeded Metropolitan Platon) to a conference in Belgrade, and unity was restored with the ROCOR, with the American Orthodox parishes operating under a significant degree of autonomy as the American Metropolia.

The end of WWII brought more upheaval. Many in the US thought that Stalin was a "good guy"—an ally, "Uncle Joe," if you will. There was a lot of propaganda that the persecution of the Church in Stalin's Russia had ceased. At an All-American Council of the Metropolia in Cleveland in 1946, the majority of the delegates voted to recognize the Moscow Patriarch as their spiritual head and break with the ROCOR. The bishops loyal to the ROCOR walked out and a split again ensued. The Moscow Patriarchate wanted much more control of the American Church than the Church was willing to give, and so the American Metropolia went its own way, neither under Moscow, nor the ROCOR until 1970, when it negotiated and received "autocephaly" (official recognition of self-rule) from the Moscow Patriarchate.

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« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2005, 11:08:24 PM »

While this is true, the questions remain, what constitutes "temporarily" and why aren't/weren't "regular relations with the Patriarchate" possible sooner?

1) The answer to these questions is up to the ROCOR Synod of Bishops.

2) It seems clear that even St. Tikhon did not know for sure how much time would this "temporary" situation take.

3) One can hardly say that the ROCOR Synod of Bishops is not striving to restore normal relations with the MP presently.
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« Reply #15 on: March 06, 2005, 06:16:56 PM »

Archimandrite Amvrosy Yurasov, called "Questions and Answers on Faith and Salvation" and the paragraph about the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad deserves publicity.

-  This is good, since formley in his books he calls ROCOR a schismatic group that fled the Motherland to escapte from persecution.  The gray area relating to Serbs and JP is, as I thought, purely personal on the part of some clergy.   I'm glad to hear the official position is being stated again.
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« Reply #16 on: March 06, 2005, 06:32:10 PM »

Archimandrite Amvrosy Yurasov, called "Questions and Answers on Faith and Salvation" and the paragraph about the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad deserves publicity.

- This is good, since formley in his books he calls ROCOR a schismatic group that fled the Motherland to escapte from persecution.

I would be interested to see these earlier words of his if you can locate them.
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« Reply #17 on: March 06, 2005, 07:44:59 PM »

Also, one should note that a schismatic church would not produce obvious beacons of sanctity such as St. John of San Francisco, for example.

My Church has produced obvious beacons of sanctity and yet is considered "schismatic".  Wink
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« Reply #18 on: March 07, 2005, 04:50:44 PM »

 An interview with Metropolitan Kirill (tipped to be in the running for next Patriarch) about Russian Church unity.  He talks about the Russian Church Abroad and about the situation in Europe (which will interest the Europeans on the Forum.)


Sorry it is a bit lengthy.  I am not able to provide a website for reading.


Sourozh, No. 99, February 2005, pp. 12-23
 
Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad

IT IS OUR URGENT DUTY TO RESTORE CHURCH UNITY


The following interview, with its introduction, is taken from the Parisian Russian-language weekly, Russkaia Mysl', No. 40 (4-10 November 2004). It will be clear from the introduction and the interview itself that there very strongly held and opposing opinions held within the Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox Parishes in Western Europe (Ecumenical Patriarchate).


Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, chairman of the Department of External Church Relations, was in France at the end of October on the occasion of the opening of a new parish of the Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) in Bordeaux.

The French journalist Victor Loupan, well known for his many reports about Russia in Le Figaro Magazine, met him in Paris on 24 October. Victor Loupan is a member of the 'Movement for Local Orthodoxy of the Russian Tradition in Western Europe' (OLTR), which was established in France in 2003 soon after the well known epistle of Alexis II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia (Russkaia Mysl' No. 4451). This epistle was addressed to the diocesan bishops of the West European dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC)) and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), to the Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox Parishes in Western Europe (under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarch) and to all parishes of the Russian tradition in Western Europe. In it the head of the Russian Church proposed the unification of all these dioceses into one single metropolitan constituency, which would have wide powers of autonomy, but would canonically be part of the Moscow Patriarchate.

The epistle of Alexis II was received in Paris after the death of Archbishop Sergii and a month before the election of a new ruling bishop for the Archdiocese, Archbishop Gabriel, who then took on canonical oversight over the parishes under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarch. The epistle was received with misgivings (Russkaia Mysl', Nos. 4452 and 4453).

On the one hand, a group of lay Orthodox, which was to come together as the Movement for Local Orthodoxy of the Russian Tradition in Western Europe (OLTR), warmly supported the suggestion by Patriarch Alexis II and asked for widespread discussions concerning it within the Archdiocese. This was the intention of the two discussion forums that took place on 1 February and 25 April 2004 (Russkaia Mysl', No. 4502). Members of the movement insisted that now, when 'the Mother-Church has become free, we must return to it to be faithful to our inheritance and to preserve the canonical structure of Orthodox Churches in the diaspora' (Seraphim Rehbinder, Chairman of the Movement).

On the other hand, many lay Orthodox and clergy of the Archdiocese are convinced that, following the emigration of the twentieth century, the Orthodox are no longer purely 'Eastern', and that a local Orthodox Church is emerging in Western Europe, for all members, not depending on their national origins and the language of services. They regard the path forward towards a canonical structure for the Orthodox Church in Western Europe to lie in support of the work of the Assembly of the Orthodox bishops of France, and they consider that for the establishment of a local Orthodox Church in Western Europe there is no need for the union of Russian parishes in a metropolitan region within the Moscow Patriarchate (cf. Russkaya Mysl', No. 4513 and the reply to it by OLTR in No. 4518).

In his interview for Russkaya Mysl' His Grace Metropolitan Kirill, a permanent member of the Holy Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate, recalls that the appeal of Patriarch Alexis of 1 April 2003 is still in force. He speaks of his work with His Grace Archbishop Sergii of blessed memory on the possibility of organising the structure of Orthodoxy of the Russian tradition in Western Europe, and of the present relationship between the ROC and the new head of the Archdiocese, Archbishop Gabriel.

In our opinion, this exclusive interview with Metropolitan Kirill casts light on many questions that have arisen in the polemic taking place within our Archdiocese, and is especially important in that it reflects the official position of the Moscow Patriarchate.
Irina Krivova


*       *       *


Q: Your Grace, a Bishops' Council of the Russian Orthodox Church was recently held in Moscow, and its proceedings were carefully followed overseas. Of course a very important topic was the discussion on the rapprochement with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR). But we noted as well that the Council also expressed its concern 'regarding the canonical divisions of those Orthodox believers in the diaspora, who identify their Church life with the spiritual traditions of Russian Orthodoxy, and who are not involved in the process of reconciliation between the Moscow Patriarchate and ROCOR'.

A: Discussion of this theme at the Council was at the initiative of His Holiness. His Holiness the Patriarch said that the divisions between the Church at home and the Russian diaspora were a tragic consequence of the revolution and civil war in Russia. This applies both to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia and to that part of the Russian diaspora which is now part of the Paris Exarchate. But surely now all those political reasons for division have been consigned to history. This is why His Holiness Patriarch Alexis pointed out that the reunification of the Church was an urgent duty. One should also realise that this question is bound up with another subject of great importance, that of the spiritual unity of the Russian people. We must overcome the effects of the civil war! It was in this context that His Holiness recalled his epistle of 1 April 2003 to the Orthodox of the Russian tradition in Western Europe.

Q: Does this mean that the epistle of] April 2003 is still in force? There are some here who say that with the death of Metropolitan Anthony, to whom the Patriarch wished to entrust the work of unification, and since negotiations with ROCOR have taken their own path, the proposals of the Patriarch are no longer relevant. How do they fit with the negotiations with ROCOR?

A: The Patriarch's epistle reflects our fundamental vision for the future of the Russian diaspora throughout the world and in particular in Western Europe. In that sense the document is of permanent significance. We shall not renounce -- and have no intention of renouncing -- the fundamental principles expressed in the epistle. Its general outlook is shared by our brothers in the Russian Church Outside Russia. However, they consider that at present their West European flock would prefer to re-establish eucharistic unity with the Church in Russia, whilst remaining within the organisational framework of ROCOR, as it has developed thus far.

Q: When, in your opinion, can we hope that eucharistic unity will take place between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Church Outside Russia? And will this mean the restoration of jurisdictional unity?

A: The recent Bishops' Council approved the work that has been achieved so far by the commissions of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Church Outside Russia. Thus far the task has not been completed. It assumes further clarification of the conditions for eucharistic and canonical unity. We anticipate that ROCOR, structured as it is now, will become a self-governing part of a single Russian Orthodox Church. How at a later stage the relationship of the existing parallel organisational structures in Western Europe, in America and in other parts of the world will develop, only time will show. It is not worthwhile trying to determine everything in advance.

As to the time scale for establishment of eucharistic unity one can say the following: if members of the Bishops' Council had not felt optimistic on this score, they would not have given the Holy Synod the powers to deal with this canonical question, and would have suggested that we return to this issue in four years time, when, according to our Statutes, there is to be another Council.

Q: In your opinion, what does this mean for the West European Exarchate as the other branch of the Russian ecclesial presence in the West?

A: I think that success in rapprochement between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Church Outside Russia will be source of inspiration for those forces in the Exarchate that seek to overcome the divisions between the separated parts of the Russian Church. Of course we are speaking firstly of those who consider themselves to be the heirs of the traditions of the united Russian Church of the pre-Revolutionary period and are conscious of the abnormality of the persistence of such divisions at the present time, when the causes for it are in the past. These people will naturally be lobbying for the involvement of the Exarchate in the process of unification.

Q: However, in your own presentation at the Council there were some remarks about the lack of understanding with which the epistle of His Holiness Alexis was greeted by the leadership of the Archdiocese. We would like to take advantage of your presence here in Paris to clarify some details.

A: I find it inevitable that those seeking unity should encounter some lack of understanding on the part of those for whom links with the spiritual tradition of Russia are not seen as something important or necessary. But if we look at the epistle of His Holiness the Patriarch, we see in it that the suggested model for a Metropolia meets in the best possible way the aspirations of those seeking reunification as well as the desire of many who wish to retain the specific characteristics of Church life that have developed during the more than seventy year existence of the Exarchate. It is a shame that there is a noticeable bias against those who do not always share the views of the leadership of the Exarchate regarding the future of the Church structures and are in sympathy with closer ties with the Russian Church.

Q: His eminence Archbishop Gabriel, when he was locum tenens, publicly promised to invite widespread discussion of the proposals of His Holiness. However, after his election he did not allow this to happen, and it would appear; has no intention of doing so, despite repeated requests from many members of the Archdiocese. As a result there has been no official response to the Patriarch letter. However; in an interview published in Russkaya mysl', Archbishop Gabriel did say that he had sent a personal letter to His Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow and of all Russia, though without making public its contents. At the same time, however, Archbishop Gabriel has sharply criticised the Patriarch for not replying to his letter

A: Such a letter was indeed received. Unfortunately, however, its contents were not a reply to the Patriarch's appeal of 1 April 2003. Instead, Archbishop Gabriel sought to see in it some sort of plot aimed against the Exarchate. On the basis of these suspicions he constructs totally baseless accusations against the Russian Orthodox Church. The tone of the letter by the head of the Exarchate was so blunt, that a written reply from His Holiness the Patriarch was not possible. The letter which was received in Moscow in no way conforms to the accepted style and manner of an official exchange with the head of the Russian Church. To respond in a similar tone would have been unworthy of the Patriarch. With the blessing of His Holiness, I gave an oral reply to Archbishop Gabriel when we met in Zurich in February of this year.

Q: Can we return to those disagreements with the Exarchate already mentioned? The catastrophe of 1917 thrust out millions of Russians on to the highways and byways of the world. Amongst them there were not a few hierarchs and many priests of the Russian Orthodox Church. They were destined never to see their homeland again, but they did establish hundreds of parishes all over the world, which are functioning to this day. How do you regard the Russian Orthodoxy that has taken root in the West? Is it, in your opinion, still Russian, or is it rather a 'Western' Orthodoxy that only has Russian roots?

A: The prayers of the Orthodox Russians living outside of Russia and their love for their suffering homeland helped the Russian Church survive during the period of persecution. The Church at home endured a most vicious persecution. In seventy years the atheist regime produced more martyrs than any other period in the history of the Church. During this time Russian refugees living in the countries of Western Europe exercised a special ministry. We should remember that at the beginning of the last century there were very few Orthodox Churches in Europe, and most of them were located either in Russian diplomatic missions or at holiday resorts. One could not speak of real Orthodox communities or of the participation in them of local inhabitants. After the 1917 revolution, for the first time in centuries, a real encounter of the West with Orthodoxy took place.

I will not dwell on the significance of this encounter for Western Christians. One could say a great deal about that. But for the Orthodox there were also significant gains. It gave birth, amongst other things, to the well known school of 'Paris theology'. Those of us living in the Soviet Union, and who were familiar with the writings of its representatives, always accepted it as a part of the heritage of the Russian Church. The emigration in those days was filling a void in Church life of the Church that could not be filled at that time in Russia. And then the atheistic colossus collapsed. The martyr Church could develop its life fully. The 'Parisian heritage' began to return to Russia, and also became part of our rebirth. We always believed that not only would there be a home coming for academic ideas, and for books, but that there would be a restoration of the organic unity between the branches of Russian Orthodoxy in the West with the Mother Church that had been interrupted temporarily by political circumstances.

At the same time we understand very well that one of the results of the witness of our fellow countrymen in the West is the fact that, today, Orthodox believers who are not of Russian descent make up a definite part of the parish communities originally established by the first Russian emigres. Even the descendants of the first Russia emigres do not think of themselves as newcomers in foreign surroundings, but as full citizens of the countries where they were born and are culturally rooted. But like the descendants of emigres from other Orthodox lands, they remain attached to the spiritual tradition of the country from which they came. Apart from that, in recent years many new Orthodox have settled in Western Europe, whether permanently or on a temporary basis. The 'Iron Curtain' no longer exists. The whole world is caught up in a process of globalisation. In these circumstances people especially desire to preserve a spiritual link with their roots, with their national religious traditions.

Thus we see that the contemporary situation of Russian Orthodoxy in Western Europe is a complex phenomenon, in a new stage of development. In principle, the future will see the emergence of a local Orthodoxy, united not by nationality, but territorially, and bringing together many languages and cultures, without negating or being ruled by any one of them. They will carefully preserve their inherited traditions and give them a new, creative form. But such a development must in no way be rushed. We cannot impose upon God a timetable that may seem correct to us. Movement in the right direction will be assisted, I believe, by those steps that will lead to a coming together of the various national diasporas. We are convinced that it is necessary to grant to Church structures in the diaspora an ever-increasing measure of independence in proportion to their 'maturity'.

Q: Vladyko, what you have said will come as a surprise to many. Here, in Western Europe, the Russian Church is often accused of defending a distorted ecclesiology that is both nationalistic and 'autocephalist'. That is to say, according to this ecclesiology, all Russians or descendants of Russians anywhere in the world -- or those who have been converted to Orthodoxy as a result of the mission of the Russian Church -- must always remain within the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate.

A: Only those who are not at all familiar with history and the current practice of the Russian Church could say this. We have consistently applied the position that I have just laid out, starting in the 1960s. And this is attested to by numerous documents of the pan-Orthodox pre-Conciliar meetings of the time, starting with Rhodes and continuing at Chambesy. The representatives of the Russian Church always expressed the following idea at these meetings: Christianity is spread by the mission of the Church, and when this bears fruit it becomes the source of new Church communities. And then these communities, when on territories that are not part of the territory of a given local Church, gradually move towards autonomy or autocephaly. These principles have been handed down to us by the Early Church. The Apostles of Christ worked on this principle. The great Russian missionaries have also sought this. A true missionary ministry must above all be sacrificial, without selfishness, free of any egotism or ambition. Otherwise it will have nothing in common with the spirit of apostleship.

Besides, the Russian Church has more than once demonstrated its adherence to this principle in practice. Remember the bestowing of the status of autocephaly on the Orthodox Church in America, or of autonomy on the Japanese Orthodox Church. Very recently a very high level of independence has been granted to the self-governing Churches within the territory of the Moscow Patriarchate, in Ukraine, Moldova, Estonia, Latvia. No one can accuse the Russian Church of attempting to concentrate ecclesiastical power in its hands.

Q: But surely this process of decentralisation, or of passing on ecclesiastical authority, met with some opposition?

A: One has to admit that these decisions were arrived at with some difficulty. Firstly there was the opposition to this by those Churches that were not prepared to deal with their own diaspora in a similar way, by granting them greater autonomy. They feared that the actions of the Moscow Patriarchate might serve as a catalyst for similar processes within those parts of the diaspora under other Patriarchates. This was particularly sharply felt when we granted autocephaly to the American Church. Within the Russian Church there were many discussions on this subject, as the Orthodox Church in America is flesh of our Church flesh, and Orthodoxy was spread there over many years by the work of Russian missionaries. Until 1922 there was only the jurisdiction of the Russian Church, although there were multilingual parishes and clergy. It was only after the Russian revolution that an abnormal jurisdictional pattern emerged.

Finally, in 1970, it was the position taken by Metropolitan Nikodim of Leningrad and Novgorod -- to grant independence -- that gained the upper hand. The thinking behind the decision was motivated neither by gain nor political thinking. It was founded on apostolic tradition, as I have already said. This decision also conforms to the vision of St Tikhon, the future Patriarch, for the future of Orthodoxy on the American continent, when he was Archbishop of the Aleutian Islands and North America at the beginning of the 20th century. Time has shown that the decision taken in 1970 was the correct one. The Orthodox Church in America is developing in a stable way, it has proved its vitality, and in many ways is an example for Orthodox Christians of other jurisdictions in North America.

Q: But why, in that case, does the Russian Church, having granted autocephaly to its American Metropolia, still retain its parishes in America?

A: One must not forget that by far not all the parishes of the Metropolia supported the idea of independence for the American Church or wish to be associated with its future development. We could not ignore the mood of the people. From a pastoral standpoint it would have been wrong to leave these parishes to the mercy of fate, as this might have led to some form of schism. I would draw your attention to the fact that the list of those parishes which remained under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate were specifically mentioned in the Tomos granting autocephaly. Since then we have not opened a single parish beyond this list, even though there is a real need to improve spiritual care for the very large number of Orthodox from Russia and the CIS who have recently arrived in America, and cannot imagine themselves in any Church other than the Russian Church. We are trying to solve this problem together with the Orthodox Church in America, and are engaged in discussions with representatives of this Church, on how best to care for these people.

Q: But even so, why do the Patriarchal parishes in the USA and Canada not join the Orthodox Church in America?

A: This is a complex matter, mostly due to human psychology. I think that it is very important for any multi-national Church to check the balance carefully, and to see that no one ethnic, cultural or linguistic group feels itself in any way put upon.

Q: As far as we know, during the final decade of the last century all the Orthodox Churches have been trying to resolve the problem of the diaspora. To what do you attribute the low success rate of their efforts?

A: To my mind, the essential error in this process was the fact that the representatives of the local Churches, at meetings called by the Patriarch of Constantinople and chaired by his representatives, attempted to resolve the question of the diaspora without actively involving representatives of the diaspora itself. The Russian Orthodox Church indicated from the very start that this was wrong. I remember how during the last meeting of the Inter-Orthodox Preparatory Commission at Chamb-Psy in November 1993, I once again raised this question. Regrettably our concerns expressed at the time did not meet with any support.

Q: And what about the episcopal conferences? Surely the setting up of these was decided during the pre-Conciliar process. How do you regard this step?

A:This was a good decision. The idea was that these regional conferences would become a core around which synods of local Churches could gradually be formed. But there was another interpretation: these conferences were to be a transitional phase for the establishment of full Church authority of a single Patriarchate in each country of the diaspora. This was reflected in the arguments over the chairmanship of these conferences. We thought that the bishops themselves should elect the chair, and we also suggested the idea of a rotating chairman. Constantinople, on the other hand, insisted that only their representatives could fulfil this role. As a result, in many parts of the world the planned episcopal conferences never took place.

Q: However, in France there is an Assembly of Orthodox bishops. Some people have expressed the thought that the proposals of the Patriarch of Moscow seem to ignore its existence.

A: That I cannot understand. You know that our Church actively participates in the Assembly, and that Archbishop Innokentii of Korsun is a member. The Assembly is a very useful undertaking, which facilitates better mutual cooperation between the Orthodox.

Q: How would you characterise the present state of relationship between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Exarchate of Russian Orthodox Parishes in Western Europe? What has changed over the recent years and what sort of contact has there been?

A: Invariably we take as a starting point the fact that we all belong to one Body of Christ, in which we are united by love and the fullness of grace that is of the essence of the Church. This applies to our relationships with all local Orthodox Churches and their dioceses. But our ties with the Exarchate are special, as it was once a part of the Russian Church, and only by force of political circumstances moved under the jurisdiction of the Church of Constantinople. This is why we are concerned about the signs of alienation from the Russian Church which have been seen recently within the Exarchate and which take different forms.

Q: Is it true that during the rule of the late Archbishop Sergii there were discussions about reunification? How far did these discussions go? It is said that the epistle of the Patriarch was a development of the contacts that took place between the Russian Church and Vladyka Sergii of blessed memory...

A: It is to the great credit of Vladyka Sergii of blessed memory that eucharistic communion was re-established between the Exarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church. He also understood the reasons that led to the separation of the Exarchate from the Russian Orthodox Church. That is why, when the reasons, which were -- I repeat -- of a political nature, disappeared with the collapse of the so-called 'Iron Curtain', he began a process of surmounting the consequences of these political divisions in Church life. He realised that the present situation of the Exarchate, whose original 'temporary' character was being forgotten, did not correspond with the newly changed circumstances and with the special mission of the Exarchate in Western Europe. With this particular goal in mind, Vladyka Sergii created a special commission called 'The Future of the Archdiocese'. It was during the work of this commission that the idea was put forward of establishing in Western Europe a self-governing Metropolia, which would bring together the dioceses and parishes of the Russian tradition. This idea was welcomed in Moscow. There followed a period of working out the statutes for the creation of such a Metropolia. Unfortunately, Vladyka Sergii of blessed memory was not able to see his project for the future of Russian Orthodoxy in Western Europe realised before his death.

Q: You mention a project for the statutes of a Metropolia. Can you say in more detail what this document is?

A: As a basis we used the extant statutes of the Archdiocese, and the statutes of the self-governing parts of the Moscow Patriarchate. We also looked at the decisions of the Local Council (Sobor) of 1917 to the extent that they apply to the current situation. We were able to create a well thought through, if not finalised, document, which satisfied both sides. The statutes regulate the canonical position of the Metropolia, the rights and duties of the ruling bishop and of diocesan bishops, the powers of governing bodies: the General Assembly, Bishops' Council, the Synod, the ecclesiastical courts. The programme and timetable are clearly set out. A distinctive feature I see is the fact that it provides for a high level of involvement on the part of clergy and laity in the administrative bodies of the Metropolia.

Q: Would it be possible to see the text of these statutes, or are they to be buried in the archives?

A: I do not think there are any reasons why not. We are prepared to obtain a copy of the last redaction of the text.

Q: What is your attitude to the activity of the recently created 'Movement for Local Orthodoxy of the Russian Tradition in Western Europe' (OLTR)?

A: We are following the work of this movement with interest and we agree with a number of the statements of its members. It is important that a serious, thoughtful discussion is now taking place. I see here the particular significance of the Patriarchal letter of 1 April 2003. It has stimulated a spiritual analysis of the history of Russia and the contemporary role of the Russian emigration. Of course, there are various views on this subject. It is still too early to draw any conclusions, but it is already clear that the question of the unity of the Russian diaspora is one that demands some kind of solution. It must be examined in the general context of the establishment of a proper, canonical situation in Western Europe that on the one hand is organically tied to the Mother Churches, and on the other will lean towards the formation of a local Church.

Q: Many Orthodox in Western Europe place their hopes in the resolving their problems in the proposed Pan-Orthodox Council. What prospects are there for such a Council?

A: The Russian Orthodox Church is constantly coming out in favour of the need to call such a Council. It is ready to take part in its preparation. It is a shame that the preparatory process has been slowed down. You know what has caused this: above all the events in Estonia, which, moreover, have been an indicator of contradictions that have been growing for some time. Nonetheless, we cannot just sit by with folded arms. We must act now, and try and resolve together those problems that world Orthodoxy is now facing.

Sourozh, No. 99, February 2005, pp. 12-23

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« Reply #19 on: March 09, 2005, 04:47:20 PM »

Faith and Salvation by Archimandrite Amvrosij - 1998 - states that those who leave the MP to join ROCOR are schismatics.  They think they await heaven but what they will receive will be Hades. I think his criticism is against those clergy in ROAC.  He does say that the 3.5 million faithful and 34 bishops that left in 1918, preached Orthodoxy in the West and converted many.  He says this was  providential. Again his harsh criticism is against the ROAC group and ROCOR in Russia.
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« Reply #20 on: March 10, 2005, 06:24:17 PM »

Here is an extraordinary decision between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Church Abroad to build a joint monastery. It shows how well the discussions on unity are progressing.
 
 http://www.interfax-religion.ru/?act=news&div=1812
(in Russian)
 
 
The Moscow Patriarchate and Russian Church Abroad to build a monastery in Beslan

Moscow. March, 9th. INTERFAKS - The Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Church Abroad plan to jointly help the inhabitants of Beslan to overcome the consequences of the tragedy which occured in September.
 
This Thursday in the patriarchal residence on Chisty Pereulok a co-operation agreement will be signed between the Stavropol and Vladikavkaz Dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Berlin and German Diocese of the Church Abroad to together construct the Theophany women's monastery in Beslan.
 
A therapy and trauma centre is planned for the monastery according to the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate.
 
Bishop Feofan of Stavropol and Vladikavkaz and Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany (Russian Church Abroad) will sign the agreement in he presence of Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia.
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« Reply #21 on: April 02, 2005, 11:45:03 PM »

I can hardly wait until I join a Russian Orthodox monastery. http://vashonmonks.com

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« Reply #22 on: April 03, 2005, 04:47:19 PM »


Also, one should note that a schismatic church would not produce obvious beacons of sanctity such as St. John of San Francisco, for example.
Felipe I know where you are coming from but in the past schisms have occurred and been reconciled and there were usually Saints on both sides of the issue. The one example I remember almost one hundred percent of the time is the Synod of Whitby. Sts.Colman and Cuthbert on the side of the Celtic customs and Sts.Wilfrid and Oswy on the side of the Roman usage.
Such might be the case with St.John of San Francisco. Also I think this may apply to current day Romania. St.Glicherie of the Romanian Old Calendarists and Elder, hopefully soon-to-be-Glorified, Cleopa of the New Calendarists on the other side. As I always try to tell people within Orthodoxy things are not so cut and dry.

Also no one here seems to be considering that ROCOR is in communion with the Greek Synod in Resistance and True Orthodox Churches of Romania and Bulgaria, all three of them being considered schismatic. I wonder how this will affect future relations for ROCOR. Bishop Artemije of the Serbian Patriarchate was only rumoured to have met with Metropolitan Cyprian of the G.S.R. and is now barred from entering Constantinople on the orders of Patriarch Bartholomew II.

My Church has produced obvious beacons of sanctity and yet is considered "schismatic". Wink

I think you mean heretical since all Orthodox jurisdictions still view Chalcedon as Ecumenical. That is not to say I think that the Oriental churches will never return to Orthodoxy but for now they are still considered heretical. Pope John Paul II was a beacon of sanctity to some people but I do not think he was an Orthodox Saint.
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« Reply #23 on: April 03, 2005, 06:11:00 PM »

The Antiochian Church is in full communion with the Oriental Orthodox Churches and considers us neither schismatic nor heretical.

Either way, I'd perhaps prefer to be Russian Orthodox, given that it seems to be the most traditional of the Orthodox Churches.

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« Reply #24 on: April 03, 2005, 07:02:20 PM »

Quote
The Antiochian Church is in full communion with the Oriental Orthodox Churches

Cite?

Quote
Either way, I'd perhaps prefer to be Russian Orthodox, given that it seems to be the most traditional of the Orthodox Churches.

Then you're going to have to give up your view of the non-Chalcedonians as Orthodox, as the Russians certainly don't see them as such.
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« Reply #25 on: April 03, 2005, 08:21:41 PM »

In the past schisms have occurred and been reconciled and there were usually Saints on both sides of the issue. The one example I remember almost one hundred percent of the time is the Synod of Whitby. Sts.Colman and Cuthbert on the side of the Celtic customs and Sts.Wilfrid and Oswy on the side of the Roman usage.
Such might be the case with St.John of San Francisco. Also I think this may apply to current day Romania. St.Glicherie of the Romanian Old Calendarists and Elder, hopefully soon-to-be-Glorified, Cleopa of the New Calendarists on the other side. As I always try to tell people within Orthodoxy things are not so cut and dry.

I agree with you. Many other examples could be recalled. We could even think in ROCOR and the post-1927 MP. Today (March 21, to those ones who follow the Old Calendar) is the day of St. Seraphim of Vyritsa, an MP monk who died in 1949: http://www.fatheralexander.org/booklets/english/seraphim_vyritzkij_e.htm.

Also no one here seems to be considering that ROCOR is in communion with the Greek Synod in Resistance and True Orthodox Churches of Romania and Bulgaria, all three of them being considered schismatic. I wonder how this will affect future relations for ROCOR.

It also worries me. I sincerely hope that ROCOR keeps full communion/concelebration with all these three Old Calendar Churches.
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« Reply #26 on: April 03, 2005, 08:26:22 PM »

The Antiochian Church is in full communion with the Oriental Orthodox Churches and considers us neither schismatic nor heretical.

No they're not.  Even though they may intercommunion in the mid-east (erroneously), does not make it so. 
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« Reply #27 on: April 03, 2005, 11:48:56 PM »

The Antiochian patriarch made an agreement of intercommunion with the Oriental Orthodox Churches.
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« Reply #28 on: April 03, 2005, 11:50:05 PM »

I do not mind accepting Chalcedon but I definitely would not allow myself to be "re-baptized".
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« Reply #29 on: April 04, 2005, 12:22:21 AM »

Quote
The Antiochian patriarch made an agreement of intercommunion with the Oriental Orthodox Churches.

Please provide verifiable, official, current cites that the Antiochian Orthodox Church and the various non-Chalcedonian churches are in any official communion, let alone full communion.
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« Reply #30 on: April 04, 2005, 01:25:24 AM »

The Antiochian patriarch made an agreement of intercommunion with the Oriental Orthodox Churches.

So the non-chalcedonian patriarchates are comemorated in the dyptics of the Church of Antioch? I'm sure I would have heard of something as profound as that, please give evidence for this radical change.
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« Reply #31 on: April 04, 2005, 01:41:13 AM »



So the non-chalcedonian patriarchates are comemorated in the dyptics of the Church of Antioch? I'm sure I would have heard of something as profound as that, please give evidence for this radical change.

Hint:  I think you're talking over his head.   A little background (e.g. a couple sentence explanation) would help first.
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« Reply #32 on: April 04, 2005, 02:04:04 AM »

The Antiochian patriarch made an agreement of intercommunion with the Oriental Orthodox Churches.

You're right, they did, but it can in no way be called "full communion" as you styled it earlier in this thread. Bishops do not concelebrate. Part of  what is agreed to is that at any given time in a specific locale, the faithful from the Church that have the most members present are the ones who have the liturgy celebrated according to their particular usage by their priest. I believe the other priest concelebrates but doesn't do much, if anything. The members of the minority community are welcome to receive communion from the majority community's priest. Under the terms of the agreement, the community which celebrates the liturgy could theoretically change from day to day, since this is determined at every liturgical service by the number of people present from each community.
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« Reply #33 on: April 04, 2005, 02:11:19 AM »

I do not mind accepting Chalcedon but I definitely would not allow myself to be "re-baptized".

If you were baptized Non-Chalcedonian, you could be received into ROCOR by confession or at most chrismation. Since you were baptized Greek Orthodox though, you can be received by confession as well. If you were baptized Catholic, though, ROCOR would baptize you in the Orthodox manner.


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« Reply #34 on: April 04, 2005, 03:00:04 AM »

Beayf:

Here's the thread where there was a discussion on the Antiochian/Syrian intercommunion  issue a couple of years back. I don't think the link that Anastasios provided is good anymore. I don't know where to find documentation about this agreement on line, official or otherwise. Maybe Anastasios or someone else can help.

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/newboard/index.php/topic,1159.msg10922.html#msg10922
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« Reply #35 on: April 04, 2005, 03:10:48 AM »

Strike that!....sort of.  It's not "official", I don't think, but I believe it is accurate. I found it on the same thread.


http://sor.cua.edu/Ecumenism/19911112SOCRumOrthStmt.html
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« Reply #36 on: April 04, 2005, 09:16:12 AM »

It's also from 1991. From what I've heard, the Antiochian church has backed off on a lot of those provisions after it became clear that they would be censured for it by their true sister churches, i.e. the other Orthodox churches.
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« Reply #37 on: April 04, 2005, 02:26:32 PM »

The Greek Orthodox and Antiochian churches in my town have intercommunion with my church.
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« Reply #38 on: April 04, 2005, 04:34:40 PM »

Quote
The Greek Orthodox and Antiochian churches in my town have intercommunion with my church.

Once again, cite? Please provide current evidence that concelebration is occurring, and that this is approved by the bishops. Hint: the fact that individual laymen may commune at each others' churches, even with the tacit approval of the priest, does *not* mean that the two churches are in communion.
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« Reply #39 on: April 05, 2005, 04:13:53 PM »

Only hardlining anti-OE congregations find our Church to be heretical.
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« Reply #40 on: April 05, 2005, 05:01:29 PM »

You know full well that people on this forum do not agree on this issue.
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« Reply #41 on: April 05, 2005, 05:26:16 PM »

You know full well that people on this forum do not agree on this issue.

Does he?  I'm not so sure.  Why don't you spell out for him what intercommunion means, why and what is taking place.  Are you implying that he is being deliberately deceitful?
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« Reply #42 on: April 05, 2005, 05:59:54 PM »

Elisha,

Matthew has been around long enough to know that Chalcedon is a sensitive topic around here.

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/newboard/index.php/topic,5191.msg66326.html#msg66326

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/newboard/index.php/topic,5156.msg65779.html#msg65779


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« Reply #43 on: April 05, 2005, 06:44:14 PM »

Only hardlining anti-OE congregations find our Church to be heretical.

That is ridiculous and a lie. You should know better.
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« Reply #44 on: April 05, 2005, 06:44:49 PM »


Of course he knows it is a sensitve issue. But that doesn't mean he knows what intercommunion or being in communion means - in an ecclesiastical sense.
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