ADDRESS – APPEAL
To the Clergy and Faithful Sons and Daughters
Of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad
From the First Hierarch of the Synod of the True Orthodox Church
“And I saw a woman sitting upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy…I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus” (Rev. 17, 3-6) and “with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication,” (Rev. 17, 2).
“And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works” (Rev. 2, 21-23).
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise… but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3, 9)
“Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance…” (Matthew 3, 8-10)
Dear in Christ Jesus fathers and brethren of our beloved Sister – the Russian Church Abroad!
During these sorrowful days of Holy Week, when the entire Church of Christ and every human Christian soul co-suffers with the sufferings of our Lord, when the Church remembers the betrayal of our Lord by His disciple and the high priests, I turn to You with this epistle.
How many things have been said over the past years. Must one still speak, and through which words will my knocking at the door of your hearts get through, so that You may hear and see what trouble the Church Abroad has gotten in, and where, into what pit Her blinded leaders are leading you. That you may see and be horrified! That your hearts may tremble and grieve for the fate the Church Abroad. For She, just like Christ, has her own betrayers: just as our Lord is betrayed to the sinedrion for pitiful material gain, how Jesus is buffeted…Only the smallest bit remains – to expose Her to public Suffering – the judgement of the people, so that not personally, but through the “sobor’s” mouth, the final verdict may be delivered.
How similar it all is! It seems that even the Catacomb Church never underwent such a tribulation: it was tortured and subjected to annihilation by the godless, but never did its own hierarchs and children betray Her to the enemies.
But if the Church Abroad ceases to exist, if you do not preserve Her, then what will you say to your fathers and grandfathers, how will you look them in the eyes, how will you appear before the Judgement throne of God, and their judgement? What justification will you find before our first hierarchs Anthony, Anastasy and Philaret, the luminaries John and Averky, and hundreds and thousands of fathers, brothers and sisters of the Church Abroad, who preserved her through their self-sacrificing love during the hard years in exile, who through prayer and labour and penitential tears, confirmed Her on the difficult path of confession. You will not find a justification and you will not be justified if you do not protect and preserve your Church in this, the most difficult moment in Her history. But no, not simply history – but Her very life, for now the question stands literally as the choice between spiritual life or death.
What does unification with the Moscow Soviet Patriarchate mean for the Church Abroad and in general for the ENTIRE FULLNESS of the Russian Church? The Synod of Bishops of the Russian True-Orthodox Church has written frequently in its documents and epistles about this.
Union with the MP – not the “reunification of a separated Church” is the betrayal of Christ and His Truth. It is not only blasphemy against the memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs and all the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, but the repudiation of their labour of confession. It is not a simple betrayal of the Church Abroad, but in its spiritual essence it is the grave sin of suicide.
“ Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin: that walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharoah, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt! Therefore shall the strength of Pharoah be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion” (Isaiah 30: 1-5). It would not be an exaggeration to say that what is occurring today with ROCOR is an event of truly apocalyptic significance. This is indeed so, and nothing less, for the free and brave voice of the Church Abroad truly was the “Restrainer” which did not permit “official Orthodoxy” to completely fall away from the Truth.
But suddenly the Church Abroad is no longer, as the brave and incorruptible one; the authoritative voice respected by all the voice of the True Church has grown silent and already the Soviet Patriarch Alexei II (his KGB pseudonym “Drozdov”) is calling for an “Eighth Ecumenical Council” to be convened, which as is known from the prophesies of the Holy Fathers, will be “a gathering of the godless” and will recognize the power of the antichrist. They are in such a rush, so hurried! It is probably not by chance that the efforts of the apostatic forces are so intense in striving to completely anihilate the free voice of the Russian Church (ROCOR), precisely on the eve of preparations for this apostatic so-called “eighth sobor”.
The fall of the Church Abroad has complicated the situation of the true Orthodox Christians in Russia as well as in the entire world and has made their cross heavier. Because now, the apologists of the MP openly laugh at the True Church and at the podvig of the Holy New Martyrs of Russia. “Metropolitan Sergii and our Church were on the right path all these years, and it was you who were in error. The Church Abroad even repented for its sin against the Mother Church and admitted that its path was mistaken”, they say persuasively. The Conciliatory Commission of ROCOR and the MP called the betrayal of the Church by Metropolitan Sergii “the podvig of the First Hierarch's service in the most difficult years of the Church's survival in the Soviet Union”.
Does that mean that the heroic White battle, the self sacrifice and exile of millions of Russian people, the confessional path of the Russian diaspora were all in vain? Were the sufferings and martyric deaths of Metropolitans Kyrill and Joseph, hundreds of thousands of pastors and faithful laity in the Homeland, who preserved their loyalty to Christ, who rejected sergianism and did not submit to the antichrist god-warring regime, also in vain. Does it turn out that such a sacrifice on their part was not necessary? The confessional podvig of the Catacomb Church in the Homeland and of the Church Abroad in exile were unnecessary? But what was needed was subjugation to the atheists and recognition of their joys as our own....
Can it be possible that Your conscience would come to terms with such a judgement against our common fathers? Is it possible that You, arriving at such a depth of “humility” before the hierarchical apostates from the Truth, can stand sincerely, unhypocritically before the Throne of God? If You can, then it means that the martyric deaths of not only the New Martyrs of Russia, but even Christ Himself were pointless! The Soviet hierarchs turned out to be “wiser”, if one can “attain Life eternal” by such means; it was for nothing that Christ rejected the temptation in the wilderness, accepted suffering and death on the Cross. And His glorious Resurrection was unnecessary....
Now it will be much more complicated for simple Christians within the MP to figure out where the truth is and where is falsehood, and to find their way out of “spiritual dead-ends” and into the salvific bulwark of the True Church of Christ. And with each year that they remain there, for them it will be more and more impossible. Indeed, truly the current hierarchy of ROCOR have committed the grave sin of Judas, they have betrayed all the Russian people.
The fathers of the Catacomb and Abroad Church warned us, that sergianism knows no geographic, national, nor political bounds. And such a head-long fall of ROCOR, its subjugation to the soviet Church is evidence that the significant part of the current hierarchs, clergy and flock of ROCOR have become infected by sergianism. Sergianism is the inner readiness of a Christian to compromise with evil for the sake of an external existence in a state of well-being. According to its internal spiritual essence, sergianism can be classified as a manifestation of one of the shrewd forms of ecclesiogical heresy. How heartwrenching it is, that this false teaching became the official doctrine of the MP, its very way of life. “The dogmatization of sergianism” has occurred, which cannot in any way be written off any longer as merely the “mistake” of one man – Metropolitan Sergius; This is a form of degradation, the apostasy of an entire church community, moreover it is a dogmatized and voluntary apostasy. Therefore, the realization and rejection of this apostasy cannot be combined with being within the Moscow Patriarchate.
The affliction of the church organism of the MP by apostatic processes – renovationism, ecumenism and other heresies, are merely the consequences of the apostasy which occurred in 1927. It is this apostasy which requires not justification and being forgotten, but conscious repentance and healing.
But it is not only sergianism and ecumenism, not only the multitude of violations of Church canons, not only the unprecedented (in the history of the Church) moral transgressions of the hierarchy and clergy of the MP which impede unification with them into one church. There is another important impediment which is being ignored or perhaps may not be suspected by ROCOR. This impediment is even greater than all the others put together, for it is the fruit of the 80 year apostatic life of the MP – it is their false mysticism which has afflicted the various echelons of MP clergy and laity, false spirituality. In the language of Orthodox asceticism, this is called spiritual prelest'.
You must know and remember this danger, one cannot ignore it. For this comprises the inner organic life of the MP; this constitutes their daily spiritual practice, their “ascesis”. We live in Russia and encounter it daily. In uniting with the MP, You will not be able to protect Yourself and Your flock from this false practice: ROCOR is too small to resist it. Eventually, ROCOR will simply drown in their “swamp of spiritual prelest'”.
There is yet another danger for You. Never before in the history of mankind has the conqueror respected or pitied the conquered, and ROCOR will be no exception. No “autonomy” will protect You from debasing reprisal, for the MP is not simply the “prodigal church”. Long ago it was transformed into the “church of the cunning”; through its bureaucratic apparatus it has fused firmly with the godless state organism like siamese twins. Two or three years will pass and they will send professional intelligence agents from the RF to replace You, and there will be no mercy shown by the FSB and MP toward those who worked for the unification. They will confiscate churches and property, they will “retire” those who disagree, and not a trace will remain of the autonomy bought at the price of betrayal and capitulation. You will be treated as “enemies of the people”, just as the deceived repatriates after WWII, who believed the tender words and “brotherly” embraces of the hierarchs of the Soviet Church. Remember where and how the ROCOR hierarchs and clergy of China who “reunited” with the MP ended their lives.
Many of You, conscientious, honest laborers, who have submitted to what appears to be inevitable, intend to go into retirement. But think: to whom are You leaving Your flock? Can You so easily hand over Your flock to be ripped apart by the wolves in sheep's clothing? Can this be done by the pastors of the Church of Abba Anthony (Khrapovitsky) – the great pastor, whose compassionate heart brought and continues to bring thousands of human souls to salvation? Did not Christ the Savior command us, the pastors, “to lay down our souls for our sheep”?
A kind father cannot abandon his children in a time of trials and go into retirement. And, in general, can a Christian “retire”? Can one escape making the choice between good and evil by retiring? Afterall, what is this retirement (rest – transl) if not spiritual death for the eternal soul?
The other extreme is also not a solution: to reject one's Orthodox russianness, the endurance of this podvig, to renounce the Pomestny (local – transl) Russian Church and to join the Greek synods. For “russianness”, the “podvig of russianness”, as Archimandrite Konstantine (Zaitsev) explained – is not so much a national trait as a spiritual quality, born of and implanted by our Mother the Russian Church.
No, this must not happen to You, this would be a betrayal of the Russian Church, for the thousand year old Russian Church has not perished – She is alive, though She is a small remnant. And You and we, Her feeble offspring, must preserve Her and loyalty to Her, and not be scattered among homes of foreign nations.
I call on you, my beloved fathers and brethren, to be brave in the face of the imminent trials. I know that not all of Your brethren priests will support You; from among the hierarchs only Vladika Daniel of Erie found the inner strength to raise his voice against the unia, and there is virtually no hope for the other ROCOR hierarchs. All of the decisions of the Sobor have been determined in advance. The delegates have been selected in such a way as to ensure that the decisive majority will be supporters of unia; the appearance of “democracy” and “sobornost” will be created; the minority opposition will be permitted to express itself in order to “let off steam” and calm down, and in the end the overwhelming majority of votes will ratify the decision which was already prepared in Moscow. Don't be fooled by this “performance”; don't allow Your Christian conscience to be lulled by assurances of “autonomy”, and other promises. For this is not at all about the autonomy, or administrative and property independence of ROCOR, as the uniates are attempting to reduce it to.
The main thing is that ROCOR and MP have difference world views. We confess the true, unadulterated, patristic Orthodoxy, while the MP confesses sergianism and ecumenism, compromise with godlessness, adaptability and many other deviations and apostasies from Truth. In this situation, there cannot be any simple, formal unification: either the MP is in a state of schism and confesses heresy in which case it must repent and be joined to the Russian Church, or ROCOR is in a state of schism and must repent before the “mother church”. There exists no other ecclesiastical canonical determination.
But You and we see that the MP has no intention of repenting, and as before, it decisively defends the trueness of sergianism, considering ROCOR to be in schism. The MP did not make concessions to the Church Abroad, but ROCOR recognized the “course of Metropolitan Sergii” as worthy and correct, and Metropolitan Laurus and Archbishop Mark repented before the MP on ROCOR's behalf for the “sin of schism”. Don't believe the stories that the MP has changed for the better; changes in the MP occurred only on paper - in the “Social Concept” and in the documents of the union commissions, but inside, everything remains the same. Now the sergianism world view has become even stronger and more entrenched than in the days of Met. Sergii, and has afflicted the entire MP church organism from the episcopacy and clergy to the ordinary faithful.
Therefore, be wise. Remember, that You are dealing with professional CHEKA agents, experienced psychologists and directors. At the Sobor, an attempt will be made to lead You into delusion, to lull Your vigilance, to distract You from the primary issues and focus on secondary ones. Remember this and do not permit Yourself to be deceived.
But as soon as it becomes ultimately clear, that it is impossible to break, deceive or neutralize You, then You will encounter slander and hatred. You will be banned, covered with filth and they will attempt to deprive You of Your churches. Deprivations await many of You...but I beg You: fear not human abuses and offences; do not fear falling into this God blessed poverty for the sake of His Truth and heavenly blessings; do not fear being left alone in the Podvig of Confession, for You ARE NOT ALONE!
Currently, in the Abroad, the same situation has developed as 400 years ago in Rus Minor, after the hierarchy of the Kievan-Russian Church accepted the Brest union with Rome in 1596. At that time many clergy and laity, who were left without Orthodox bishops, organized brotherhoods and preserved the True Orthodox Church. When worthy candidates had been prepared, almost 20 years later new bishops were consecrated and a full-fledged church life was reborn.
And in our Catacomb Church of the 1960's and 70's we had the same situation. More than 30 years ago the Catacomb Church in Russia was left without canonical hierarchs and turned to Her Sister, the Russian Church Abroad for help and received it. Then, by the decision of the ROCOR Synod of Bishops in 1982, the first bishop for Russia was secretly consecrated (he was the Vladika Schema-Archbishop Lazar, of blessed repose in 2005), and the canonical episcopacy in the Catacomb Church was restored. The consecration was done in secret, since in the USSR the True Orthodox Church was intensely persecuted, and if the KGB had learned of the consecration, Vladika Lazar would have been immediately arrested and the remains of the true Russian Church in the Homeland would have been obliterated. By the mercy of God, our Sister in exile, the Russian Church Abroad came to the aid of our Church. New priests were ordained and church life in the Russian catacombs was revived. Our ever-memorable Vladika Lazar nurtured a feeling of gratitude toward the Church Abroad.
When in the last years in ROCOR a change in direction occurred in favor of “democratic” Moscow, and the Russian hierarchs were forced to cease interaction with the Synod Abroad to shield their flock from temptation, Vladika Lazar was deeply disturbed by such a criminal betrayal by the ROCOR hierarchs of not just their own Church Abroad, but of the Catacomb Church in the Homeland, all Orthodox Russian people and Orthodox Russia. Vladika Lazar used to say that if within the Church Abroad, healthy church forces would emerge, people, priests and laity who would not accept union with the Soviet Church, and would be able to organize themselves in order to preserve at least a remnant of ROCOR, we will come to their aid without fail. We will help them without fail, just as at one time the Church Abroad came to the aid of her suffering Catacomb Sister in a trying time. This is our gratitude, and at the same time the duty of our Christian love toward our suffering brethren.
Therefore, I am asking You to know, that we will not abandon You in trouble. You are not alone, because through the help and efforts of the Church Abroad, in Russia the True Church has been preserved, whose hierarchs received apostolic succession from ROCOR and now you can turn to us. Through joint efforts, by the mercy of God, we will preserve the Russian Church Abroad in Her true remnant.
But the most responsible and complicated task is to organize for the preservation of the true ROCOR – You can and must do this on Your own. Without Your inner will and labour it may be impossible to preserve ROCOR. It is essential that the entire flock of ROCOR realize each one's personal responsibility for the fate of the Church Abroad.
It's possible that one may have to make sacrifices in one's own life, to give up certain conveniences and comforts and lead a more active church life. It is very important to understand that already now, prior to the All-Diaspora Sobor, the formation of groups consisting of clergy and laity must begin, who have realized the need to cease prayerful-canonical relations with the uniate New York synod and to reunite with true Orthodox Russian hierarchs. There already are such people of heightened spiritual sensitivity, and then after the “sobor”, the more “cautious” and those who are less active in the church will gather around them. For it is now already obvious, that just as the Brest Sobor of 1596, the forthcoming “4th All-Diaspora Sobor” is convening for only one purpose – to “legalize”the secretly concluded, unlawful and unorthodox union. You see for Yourselves, how the selection of delegates is being carried out, so that the sobor would be carried out “as is should be”. It is clear, that for these people, who never experienced the tragedy of the Russian Church Abroad, who never suffered for Her, who never made many personal sacrifices for Her sake, her fate is misunderstood and they are indifferent toward it.
We must heed the historical experience of the Russian Church, and just as 400 years ago in Brest, we must hold our own real Orthodox Sobor, with Orthodox hierarchs, clergy and flock, who have remained loyal to Christ and the traditional confessional course of the Catacomb and Abroad Churches. We should not be troubled that such a Sobor may have fewer numbers than the official one, for “God is not in strength, but in truth”. After all, is Truth measured in numbers? At the Orthodox Sobor in Brest, the alternative to the uniate sobor, there was a minority, but historic and canonical truth rested not with the uniates, but with the Orthodox. So it will be this time.
But without Your decisive will, ROCOR cannot be preserved or reborn. We profess unity with the clergy and flock of ROCOR who remain faithful to its previous confessional course, and consider it our duty to provide You with the necessary spiritual and ecclesiastical-canonical support from the Sister-Church in the Homeland. But we do not wish to force our will on You, we do not want to subjugate the parishes abroad to the Church in Russia: we are not striving for power, but to loyalty to Christ and His Church. You can count on our participation in restoring the True Church Abroad with which the RTOC would be in brotherly communion as with a Sister-Church. We call on the flock in Russia and Abroad to this end.
And of course, be ready to resist the powerful torrent of slander and abuse from forces hostile to the Church, from extremist groups not just from the “left” but from the “right”, which has already partially begun, but in the future will be even greater. This should not be troubling nor should it be feared. The True Church in the contemporary apostatic world, whose characteristic traits are lack of principle, betrayal, egotism, will always be persecuted and abused. Be prepared for this and do not forget that powerful forces of special organizations have been deployed to discredit and destroy the True Russian Church. For we are speaking of none other than the world's preparation for the antichrist. If this is understood and remembered, then much of what is happening in ROCOR today becomes explainable.
Our Russian True-Orthodox Church grieves over the betrayal of ROCOR by its hierarchs, just as the Savior Himself grieved over the death of His disciple-betrayer, especially for the thousands of “small ones”, whom the conscious apostates are leading into perdition. Is it possible for them to return to the path of Truth, only God knows. From patristic asceticism we know that without repentence for sin and the podvig of confession, as a fruit of repentence the restoration of those fallen into the sin of apostasy from Truth is impossible. We do not abandon hope that even Metropolitan Laurus and perhaps other hierarchs of ROCOR, who have followed the example of the previous instigators of the Brest unia in 1596; bishop Gidion (Boloban) of Lvov and bishop Mikhail (Kopistensky) of Peremishlsk, will likewise repent and openly renounce the traitorous unia at the Sobor and return to the confessional course of the fathers of the Church Abroad. As Christians, we must not abandon this hope in praying for our fallen brethren.
But even if this does not happen, this cannot change the course which was followed in the 20th century by the True Russian church – the Tikhonite Church of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, the Catacomb and Abroad Church. We know the promise of Our Lord Jesus Christ that the gates of hell will not prevail over this True Church. We wish to remain in this Church to the end, hoping in the mercy and help of God.
We call on all those who wish to be faithful to Christ to stand firmly in Truth and defend the Church of Christ through Your words, deeds, prayers and with Your very life. Amen.
+ Humble Tikhon,
By the mercy of God, Archbisop of Omsk and Siberia
Chairman of the Synod of Bishops
Russian True-Orthodox Church