A NATIVITY ADDRESS (of MOSCOW PARTIARCHATE BISHOP)

TO THE CLERGY AND LAITY OF THE AUTONOMOUS RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH

 

Chant ye unto the Lord, all the earth (irmos)

 

Dear Fathers, Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

 

Again and again I have been minded to turn to you, the former clergy and laity of our diocese, calling on you to meet with us the feast of the Nativity of Christ in the year 2000 in a new way, a Christian way, in the fullness of peace and love, as we have been taught we who tormentedly suffer because of the division and hellish schism between us, who were once united and spiritually akin in faith and the spiritual life.

 

It is difficult to be fully aware of, and be reconciled with, such a crying evil in our Christian midst as schism, which mercilessly tears the Divine robe of the Orthodox Church, and which brings only confusion into the souls of ignorant people who do not know its real causes causes which are, however, WELL KNOWN by those who made a beginning to it in this ancient city of Suzdal. It must not become eternal.

 

Cannot the new era serve as a good reason for reviewing the question of our present ecclesiastical relations? After all, there is more that unites than divides us we who are one in holy Baptism.

 

The 1989 conflict had a confused, private, non-ecclesiastical character, and, unfortunately for all of us, it has traumatised the holy unity we had as a basic dogma of the faith with each other. But it has not finally annihilated it, since it was only a human element. In essence grace cannot be erased from Orthodox people by any sin, and it always preserves the possibility of its restoration by them through repentance. In this sense our Repentance is a second Baptism. It is not sin in itself, whatever it may be, that is terrible, say the holy fathers of the Church, but lack of repentance and stubbornness in remaining in that condition. There is no other path to God than repentance before Him for leaving the enclosure of the Church and breaking with her as with the Body of Christ. There is no shame in this, as the devil insinuates, but joyful salvation, the most rational possible escape from the terrible maw of error; it is worthy of the greatest, most joyful and light-bearing crowns. After all, all the saints, as being born of earth, also passed along precisely this road of repentance, which is not demanded only of God, the only sinless One.

 

The Apostle Peters renunciation could be washed away only by the tears of repentance of this disciple of Christ, who made him His first-enthroned. In the parable of the prodigal son we are all shown the immeasurable love of the Heavenly Father and the repentance of his child as the supreme rite of their wonderful communion, as ineffable life itself, life that surpasses all other earthly concepts. And so you and we need mutual love, which quenches the enmity of schism. May it be expressed through complete forgiveness on our part and on yours.

 

Moved by the eternal law of love, let us leave beyond the threshold of the old era its evil and the enmity that served as the reason for the schism, and let us begin with peace, agreement and brotherly love, which, as it is said, covers all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (I Cor. 13.7)., which will be a vivid witness to the truth of the Nativity of Christ as the feast of peace and love.

 

Evlogy

 

Archbishop of Vladimir and Suzdal

 

The Nativity of Christ, 2000.

 

Vladimir.

 

 

 

 

REPLY of the clergy, monastics and laity of the Russian Orthodox Church to the Nativity Address of Archbishop Evlogy (Moscow Patriarchate) to the clergy and laity of the Russian [Rossijskoj] Orthodox Autonomous Church.

 

Beloved in Christ Jesus Fathers, Brothers and Sisters!

 

Unfortunately, we learned about the existence of the address of Archbishop Evlogy (MP) completely by chance on January 22, 2000, since it was entrusted to none of us, nor sent in the post. Therefore our reply will also be with a certain delay.

 

We should like to believe that love for Christ and His Church, and also the feelings elicited by the jubilee date of the year 2000 since the coming upon the earth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, have gained the upper hand, and that the hierarchs of the Moscow Patriarchate no long wish to oppress the believers of the Russian [Rossijskoj] Orthodox Church. They will cease to go to court against us and take away our churches with the aid of the powers that be and the OMON troops. We have recognised that these actions were not motivated by brotherly love when they wrote all kinds of libels against the Church Abroad, accusing her of betraying the Homeland and the Russian flock. We are ready to believe that Archbishop Evlogy of Vladimir and Suzdal of the Moscow Patriarchate sincerely desires to be together with us in the bosom of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

 

We give thanks to the Lord, Who leads all those who are astray onto the true path. How can we not desire union, when a huge mass of Russian people suffers from division and the lack of Church unity!

 

We have long ago forgiven in a Christian manner all those who have offended us. Although to forgive this does not mean to forget it.

 

But that which is required from the Church of Christ and Her members, and that by which Her unity is defined can be changed neither by us nor by you, for it is written:

 

If even an Angel from heaven were to preach to you something which we have not preached to you, let him be anathema (Gal. 1.8). The holy fathers have taught that the main work of Christians is to preserve the Orthodox faith.

 

We are divided from you by the very understanding of what the Church is. The leadership of the Moscow Patriarchate has distorted the face of the Church not only canonically, but also dogmatically.

 

The duty of the Orthodox Christian who keeps the holy dogmas and canons is to depart from the hierarchy that has betrayed the Orthodox faith, in accordance with the 15th canon of the First-and-Second Council of Constantinople:

 

For those who separate from communion with their president for the sake of some heresy condemned by the holy Councils or fathers, when, that is, he preaches heresy publicly, and teaches it openly in the Church: such people, if they guard themselves from communion with the said Bishop before a Council has reviewed the matter are not only not subject to the epitimia enjoined by the canons, but are worthy of the honour that befits the Orthodox. For they have not condemned Bishops, but peudo-bishops and pseudo-teachers, and they have not sundered the unity of the Church with schism, but have preserved the Church from schisms and divisions.

 

However, nobody is hindering the acquisition of joyful salvation, the most rational possible escape from the terrible maw of error; worthy of the greatest, most joyful and light-bearing crowns, as you remarked in your Nativity Address. For this not much is required:

 

1.      Rejection of the politics which the Moscow Patriarchate has made almost the main constituent part of the whole of its activity. The habit of pleasing the authorities that has become ingrained during the last several decades has led to a loss of independence and authority in the eyes of the believing people, and is indissolubly bound up with other sins.

 

2.      Return to the path of the Orthodox teaching on the Church and of the holy Canons.

 

3.      Condemnation of the sin of sergianism and renunciation of it forever, as being a terribly leprosy which brings with it nothing except anguish of heart and spiritual death.

 

Canonically speaking, sergianism is a transgression of the 30th Apostolic canon, which proclaims:

 

If any bishop, using secular authorities, receives through them episcopal power in the Church: let him be deposed and excommunicated, together with all those in communion with him.

 

4.      Cleansing of the Church of Christ from those who have become a shame for the Orthodox and a laughing-stock even for the unbelievers those who earn unrighteous riches not only from tobacco and vodka, but also from the sufferings of their unfortunate and hapless fellow countrymen.

 

The 17th canon of the First Ecumenical Council proclaims:

 

Forasmuch as many enrolled among the Clergy, following covetousness and lust of gain, have forgotten the Divine Scripture, which says: He hath not given his money upon usury, and in lending money ask the hundredth of the sum [as monthly interest], the holy and great Synod thinks it just that if after this decree any one be found to receive usury, whether he accomplish it by secret transaction or otherwise, as by demanding the whole and one half, or by using any other contrivance whatever for filthy lucres sake, he shall be deposed from the clergy and his name stricken from the list.

 

The 44th Apostolic canon, the 10th canon of the 6th Ecumenical Council, the fourth canon of the Council of Laodicea and the 21st canon of the Council of Carthage say the same.

 

5.      Recognition of the holiness of the Royal Family and all the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, who gave their lives for God, the Tsar and Fatherland.

 

The 20th canon of the Local Council of Gangra declares:

 

If anyone shall, from a presumptuous disposition, condemn and abhor the assembly [in honour of] the martyrs, or the services performed there, and the commemoration of them, let them be anathema.

 

6. Rejection of all relations with the iniquitous World Council of Churches, other similar organisations and the terrible heresy of ecumenism, into which you have dragged a huge part of your flock which is not well versed in ecclesiastical questions.

 

The ecumenist heresy, which is incompatible with Orthodoxy, is the official confession of faith of the Moscow Patriarchate.

 

The 45th Apostolic canon proclaims:

 

Let a bishop, presbyter or deacon who has only prayed with heretics be excommunicated: but if he has permitted them to perform any clerical office, let him be deposed.

 

When the above-mentioned vices of the Moscow Patriarchate have been overcome, when the hierarchs bring forth repentance before God and the Orthodox people, when their repentance brings forth worthy fruits, then you and we will joyfully embrace one another, and the existence of the Russian [Rossijskoj] Orthodox Church will truly become a vivid witness to the truth of the Nativity of Christ as the feast of peace and love.

 

Fervently desiring your salvation, with much love in Christ Jesus,

 

Valentine

 

Archbishop of Suzdal and Vladimir. Suzdal. January 17/30, 2000.

 

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