ROCOR and the OCA

ROCOR and the OCA

A joint statement on mutual relations, just issued by Commissions of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), raises the theoretical possibility of local co-operation between the two. This can of course only be local, because ROCOR is the worldwide part of Russian Orthodoxy, whereas the OCA, no longer part of the Russian Orthodox Church, is confined to North America.

Co-operation is of course good. However, we know from decades of experience in ROCOR and persecution of us in France and England that it can only work in certain practical conditions. These conditions have always existed between ROCOR and the Russian Orthodox Church inside Russia (the Moscow Patriarchate), which is why co-operation between them is so simple and why we have always felt so completely at home in each other’s churches. With the OCA the situation can be different.

For example, when the Orthodox calendar is contemptuously called ‘old’ by the marginal, who stand on the fringes of the Orthodox world and have little understanding of the Orthodox Christian Tradition, there can be no co-operation. ROCOR can therefore hope for great co-operation with OCA parishes in Alaska and Canada and wherever they still keep faith with the Orthodox calendar.

A second area where co-operation is possible is wherever the traditional, and not protestantising, understanding of the Orthodox Tradition is kept. This includes the Orthodox understanding of the liturgy and the other sacraments, of the iconostasis and normal iconography, and the veneration for the canonised saints of God.

Another example of an area of co-operation is wherever the OCA practises the usual confession before communion and keeps liturgical traditions, for example in having weekly vigil services, and keeping faith with Russian Orthodox singing and the English liturgical language. The same is true wherever the OCA encourages fasting and prayer, where co-operation is possible because all feel at home. Here the heritage of the old Metropolia, maintained in many OCA parishes, will be invaluable.

In general, it has always been clear that co-operation between ROCOR (and the Russian Orthodox Church in general) and the OCA is possible, wherever both sides conserve their roots in Russian Orthodoxy, in other words, wherever both faithfully maintain the same Church culture and values. It is the Tradition of Holy Russia that has always held the Russian Orthodox Church together in the sixty-two countries where she is present all over the world. And it is this Tradition, and no others, which has enabled Her to be open to other nationalities and use other liturgical languages.

As we know from the history of ROCOR, disunity has always come about whenever elements have shown disloyalty to and moved away from these roots. These roots form Russian Orthodox spiritual and moral values (for instance, proven homosexual practices and pedophilia = instant defrocking).

For instance, in the case of ROCOR, tiny but vocal groups of anti-Russian old calendarists and their convert adepts, as well as right-wing political groups mainly led by CIA sympathisers, created disunity in 1986, 2001 and 2007. On the other hand, those in the OCA who stand at the other, equally intolerant and equally Russophobic extreme, mainly unintegrated converts of the Protestant/Lutheran/Evangelical type, will not countenance co-operation with ROCOR. Like the intolerant ringleaders of the Amphipolis delusion, they do not want unity with Holy Russia and Her Tradition. This is their loss and their way into a spiritual and moral wilderness, where some of them already are and have been for a very long time.

The surest pledge of the possibility of co-operation between ROCOR and the OCA is undoubtedly in our faithfulness to St Tikhon, once Bishop of San Francisco and later, as Patriarch, founder of ROCOR, and our faithfulness to all the saints who have shone forth in North America. It is surely in the light of their lives, decrees and hopes that we shall find solutions to mutual problems.

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