Voices of Reason
Responses in Support of the
Synod of Bishops of the
Answering Those Who Have Created a Schism In the Wake of the October 2000 Sobor,
As Well as Those Who Appear to be Preparing for Yet Another Schism in Reaction to Attempts at Rapprochement with the Moscow Patriarchate
Note: In an effort to organize the material on this web page in a more user friendly fashion, some older documents and articles have been moved to this page.
The IVth All-Diaspora Sobor, and the Act of Canonical Communion
Answers to those who oppose Reconciliation with the Moscow Patriarchate
· The Heat of the Moment, and Historical Perspective, by Fr. John Whiteford
· The “Russian True Orthodox Church”, by Fr. Michael Protopopov
· St. John of Shanghai’s views of the Moscow Patriarchate, by Fr. Peter Perekrestov
· “Status Quo, ROCOR?” A Response to objections to dialogue with the Moscow Patriarchate, by Fr. John Whiteford
Dialogue with the
· Documents Developed at the Joint Sessions of the Commission of the Moscow Patriarchate on Discussions with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the Commission of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia on Discussions with the Moscow Patriarchate.
The All-Diaspora Clergy Conference,
Relevant Statements of Past ROCOR Bishops
· The Meaning of
the Russian Diaspora, by
· The History of the
Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, by
· The Response to Elder Tavrion, including the "Declaration" of the ROCA Synod reiterating their official ecclesiology in the face of extremist views. Note: This occurred during the time of Metropolitan Philaret.
· It’s Dejavu All Over Again – Fr. Spiridon Schneider condemned Met. Vitaly as a heretic, using much the same language as he is now using to condemn Met. Laurus (ostensibly in his defense of Met. Vitaly).
· 1983 Council of Bishops Resolution on Ecumenism: discusses the 1983 Anathema; include comments by Fr. Alexander Lebedeff.
· How Does the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad View the Catacomb Church and the Moscow Patriarchate?: comments by Archpriest Alexander Lebedeff
· Is the Moscow Patriarchate the "Mother Church" of the ROCOR?, by Archpriest Alexander Lebedeff. Also includes a compilation of discussions surrounding the issue of Grace in the Moscow Patriarchate.
· The Panteleimonite Schism: Articles on a very Similar Schism in the ROCOR’s Recent History
Two Relevant Documents From the August 2000 Sobor
Which states in part:
"The Church infallibly preaches the Truth of Christ and teaches moral commandments which came from God Himself. Therefore, she has no power to change anything in her teaching. Nor has she the power to fall silent and to stop preaching the truth whatever other teachings may be prescribed or propagated by state bodies. In this respect, the Church is absolutely free from the state. For the sake of the unhindered and internally free preaching of the truth, the Church suffered persecution by the enemies of Christ not once on history. But the persecuted Church is also called to endure the persecution with patience, without refusing to be loyal to the state persecuting her.
Legal sovereignty in the territory
of a state belongs to its authorities. Therefore, it is they who determine the
legal status of a
If the authority forces Orthodox believers to apostatize from Christ and His Church and to commit sinful and spiritually harmful actions, the Church should refuse to obey the state. The Christian, following the will of his conscience, can refuse to fulfill the commands of state forcing him into a grave sin. If the Church and her holy authorities find it impossible to obey state laws and orders, after a due consideration of the problem, they may take the following action: enter into direct dialogue with authority on the problem, call upon the people to use the democratic mechanisms to change the legislation or review the authority's decision, apply to international bodies and the world public opinion and appeal to her faithful for peaceful civil disobedience....
At the same time, there are areas in which the clergy and canonical church structures cannot support the state or cooperate with it. They are as follows:
a) political struggle, election agitation, campaigns in support of particular political parties and public and political leaders;
b) waging civil war or aggressive external war;
c) direct participation in intelligence and any other activity that demands secrecy by law even in making one's confession or reporting to the church authorities....
However, in the cases where the human law completely rejects the absolute divine norm, replacing it by an opposite one, it ceases to be law and becomes lawlessness, in whatever legal garments it may dress itself. For instance, the Decalogue clearly states: «Honour thy father and thy mother» (Ex. 20:12). Any secular norm that contradicts this commandment indicts not its offender but the legislator himself. In other words, the human law has never contained the divine law in its fullness, but in order to remain law it is obliged to conform to the God-established principles, rather then to erode them....
In everything that concerns the exclusively earthly order of things, the Orthodox Christian is obliged to obey the law, regardless of how far it is imperfect and unfortunate. However, when compliance with legal requirements threatens his eternal salvation and involves an apostasy or commitment of another doubtless sin before God and his neighbour, the Christian is called to perform the feat of confession for the sake of God's truth and the salvation of his soul for eternal life. He must speak out lawfully against an indisputable violation committed by society or state against the statutes and commandments of God. If this lawful action is impossible or ineffective, he must take up the position of civil disobedience (see, III. 5)."
Which states in part:
“…The so-called "branch theory", which is connected with the conception referred to above and asserts the normal and even providential nature of Christianity existing in the form of particular "branches", is also totally unacceptable. Orthodoxy cannot accept that Christian divisions are caused by the inevitable imperfections of Christian history and that they exist only on the historical surface and can be healed or overcome by compromises between denominations. The Orthodox Church cannot recognize "the equality of the denominations". Those who have fallen away from the Church cannot re-unite with her in their present state. The existing dogmatic differences should be overcome, not simply bypassed, and this means that the way to unity lies through repentance, conversion and renewal. Also unacceptable is the idea that all the divisions are essentially tragic misunderstandings, that disagreements seem irreconcilable only because of a lack of mutual love and a reluctance to realize that, in spite of all the differences and dissimilarities, there is sufficient unity and harmony in "what is most important". Our divisions cannot be reduced to human passions, to egoism, much less to cultural, social and political circumstances which are secondary from the Church's point of view. Also unacceptable is the argument that the Orthodox Church differs from other Christian communities with which she does not have communion only in secondary matters. The divisions and differences cannot all be reduced to various non-theological factors…. It is inadmissible to introduce relativism into the realm of faith, to limit unity in faith to a narrow set of necessary truths so that beyond them "freedom in what is doubtful" may be allowed.”