GOD BE MERCIFUL TO ME, A SINNER!
It was announced in New York yesterday that the bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) have decided to enter into eucharistic communion with the Russian Orthodox Patriarchal Church next May. Thus, ninety years after the Bolsheviks seized power and eighty years since concelebration between the two parts of the Russian Church ceased, a historic tragedy will be overcome. The overcoming of yesterday's problems will enable both parts of the Russian Church to move on to work together, in order to fight the far more important pastoral problems of today's real world, caused by Western secularism.
It is true that there are still a few in the Russian emigration who resist the tide of history. There may be some isolated and elderly right-wingers on the fringes of the Church, whose perspective is frequently in the politics of the past. There may be some sectarian dreamers, who refuse to live in the real world and the real ROCOR, either of today or of the real historical past, and wish to 'restore' their imaginary ideal. Or, more likely, there are those who are simply confused. In any case, we recommend the article below. Written by a Russian Archpriest, it addresses itself to the concerns of those who have not yet understood the nature of the unity which is being spoken of. We believe that in its twenty-five answers it thoroughly deals with those concerns, leaving no further doubt as to the way ahead.
Let us be clear.
The New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia were glorified by the Moscow Council of 2000. Thousands of their icons are revered in Patriarchal churches and new churches in Russia are dedicated to them, especially to the Royal Martyrs, every month.
Sergianism is dead and condemned by the Moscow Council of 2000. Co-operation with an atheist regime is not even on the agenda in today's Russia, because there is no atheist regime to co-operate with. As for the long-gone Patriarch Sergius, who died sixty years ago, and his political compromises (no, not heresies), we leave him and those who compromised with the State long before him, for example under Peter I and Catherine I, as we leave ourselves, to the judgement of God.
is dead and condemned by the Moscow Council of 2000. The branch theory,
prayer with heretics, all this has been firmly rejected. The ecumenism
that remains is that which ROCOR has itself always conducted, surrounded
as we are by a sea of heterodoxy. If we refuse to have dealings with heterodox
as human-beings, when we go to work, when our children go to school, when
we go shopping, we shall die and our churches will be closed down, because
we are a tiny minority in their midst and we are dependent on heterodox
for food, housing, schools, healthcare and jobs. We do not live in an
isolated and self-supporting ghetto. Worse than this, if we refuse to
speak to heterodox about our Orthodox Faith, we shall die spiritually,
because then we fail to tell them of the Church of Christ, which, through
no fault of their own, but that of figures in the distant past, they have
never heard. For if you call talking to other human-beings about your
Faith ecumenism, then ROCOR has always been ecumenist.
In a Russia, where three new churches are opened every day and several monasteries every month, let us stop comparing today with yesterday. Let us stop comparing ROCOR with the Patriarchal Church. The latter is big; the former is tiny. The latter is the Church that survived the greatest persecution in world history; ROCOR did not, because it was not persecuted by the Soviet atheist government. The latter is the Church to which the New Martyrs and Confessors belonged; the latter has no New Martyrs and Confessors, because it was not persecuted by the Soviet atheist government. How did ROCOR avoid 'Sergianist' compromises? Simply by not being inside the Soviet Union, but in the so-called 'Free World', with its then total indifference ( = freedom) to any spiritual undertaking. And once in freedom also, the Patriarchal Church took on board all of ROCOR's demands.
Let us recall that it was members of ROCOR who committed many grave errors in its history. It was members of ROCOR who put St John of Shanghai on trial in San Francisco, against the outraged wishes of many pious bishops, priests and people. It was members of ROCOR who uncanonically consecrated a Greek Old Calendarist bishop, without even consulting the Synod of Bishops, let alone its clergy and people. It was members of ROCOR who, against the wishes of so many clergy and faithful, took into its bosom a Greek Old Calendarist Monastery, which, with its sectarian fanaticism and homosexual misdemeanours, compromised our Church for some twenty years. It was members of ROCOR who, to the shock of many of its clergy and people, uncanonically accepted parishes in Russia into its jurisdiction. It was members of ROCOR who turned away so many of its parishes, clergy and people from its jurisdiction, because they were of the 'wrong nationality'. We will not speak here of the scandals of the past, in Jerusalem, Vienna, Lyons, Rome, London, New York, Vancouver, Los Angeles and elsewhere in the world, which led to defrockings. Wherever there are human-beings, there will be errors. Yes, terrible sins were committed in Russia during the whole Soviet period. But terrible sins were also committed outside Russia during the whole Soviet period.
It is time to move on and stop dwelling in the bitterness of the past. Let us rather rejoice at the triumph of repentance and start dwelling in the potential to do good in the present and do this together. In that way, we shall at least give something to our children in the future.
Let us stop recalling the sins of others. Let us rather recall the Prayer of the Publican:
God, be merciful to me, a sinner!