“Establish our life in Thy Holy and Sacred Commandments” (the 1st kneeling prayer at vespers on the Holy Feast of Pentecost)
The laws of the Church (Canon laws) are sacred! They were written and approved by the Holy Fathers of the Church through the Will of the Holy Spirit in order to govern the Church till the end of time. Not one canon law has “lost its essence” which is contrary to what one bishop stated in his strive for the unification with the Moscow Patriarchate: “canon law has become antiquated”.
No individual born on this earth, including a hierarch, has the right to select which Canon laws suit him and which ones may be ignored or partly altered for future use by reason of economia.
Each faithful individual is obligated to understand who it is that he has chosen to follow. We are not speaking of the private sins of the clergyman (donatism¹), but of the matter of whether he is leading his flock according to the unaltered true teachings of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church - or is he blending truth with falsehood, compromising with schismatics and heretics, introducing innovations to the Church laws in order to be “in step with the times”, all about which Archbishop Averky (Taushev) of eternal memory had previously warned us.
Everything stated above has been violated by the Synod Abroad in New York! Letters, articles, appeals have been sent from all corners of the globe, exposing the cunning ways of the Moscow Patriarchate – communists having transformed themselves into “bright angels” albeit without success. The Synod Abroad has stubbornly continued to follow the path of unification with those who ventured to eradicate prayers for the Annointed Monarchs from service books and in exchange are fostering a New World citizenry, an order fashioned in the image of the antichrist.
This and other escapades of the false-church have been mentioned many times before. I would like to bring your attention to only one phrase, however a very significant one, that has brought about delusion. The Synod of Bishops Abroad (L) in its appeal to the faithful flock, mentions in paragraph 9 the following: “In all of the rulings of the Hierarchal Councils we… never repudiated the presence of Divine grace in neither the Moscow Patriarchate or any other Regional Churches”.
Besides the Hierarchal Councils of the Church Abroad, the Holy Fathers of the Church altogether spoke very cautiously about the “absence of Grace”. This is the realm of our Lord - “The wind bloweth where it listeth” (John 3:8). We are given the authority to “bind and loose the sins of man”. But, we who are created do not have the authority to bind the Creator! However, this does not mean that those subject to anathema for violating Canon law and who continue to serve and ordain, still have “Grace” and therefore continue to be the bearers of Apostolic succession. Logic itself dictates that such a judgment makes excommunication invalid and lends acquiescence to anarchy.
On the contrary, the Church does not make any distinction between such schismatics still serving (Orthodox) and heretics (Catholics for example). We hear this in Christ’s own words: “… if he neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican” (Mathew 18:17), in other words he is no different from an atheist! The Church ultimately anathematizes such people and strictly forbids praying with them. Furthermore, the Church does not rationalize the possibility of Grace concerning these or other individuals. It is also not for us to judge for instance, whether or not a person of the Catholic persuasion will be saved or not. All of this is subject to our Lord’s judgment! ROCOR always adhered to this dogma. It maintains its disassociation with the MP, and beyond that fosters no opinion concerning salvation of those in Russia or in various jurisdictions outside Russia.²
For us, the faithful children of the One Apostolic Church, the lawfulness of the hierarchy is of a primary importance. Here we must turn our painstaking attention to the 30th Canon of the Apostles and the Third Canon of the VIIth Ecumenical Council: “If a bishop secures his status and his authority in the Church by using secular leaders (or government), then he must be expelled and excommunicated, as well as those who associate with him.”
Metropolitan Sergius Stragorodsky had Apostolic succession, but he seceded from it. He remained silent when the New Martyrs pleaded for him to renounce his declaration. Being unrepentant and under the same anathema declared to the communist regime by the Holy Patriarch Tikhon, he aggravated his sin even more by laying the foundation for his false-church. Metropolitan Sergius began ordaining individuals who not only “used secular leaders”, but who consciously acquiesced to worldly, even atheistic leaders in using the Church for its own destruction while subserviently ordaining agents. Through these actions, this unfortunate person and his successors became the instrument of the devil! 3
The ordinations made by him and all else that followed cannot be considered valid. Economia is not applicable here since the Apostolic succession was severed. The New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, subjected to all manners of torture, did not in any way consider the Moscow Patriarchate as having lawful Grace. It was not recognized by the Church abroad nor by our Sister-Church in the catacombs.
But what does the appeal sent by the ROCOR(L) Synod wish to say to us? Since Metropolitan Sergius has already placed his hands over the head of the ordained individual, then let him be a bishop. The 30th canon of the Apostles does not state that such a person is subject to “suspension” or that he is “defrocked”. He is instead subject to EXCOMMUNICATION! Is this not because he didn’t ever receive the rank of bishop!?
A Sacrament is the action of the Holy Spirit. It is said in the sacrament concerning marriage: “that which God has joined, let no man put asunder”. The Lord joined two beings into one flesh. Would a newly–ordained bishop, having violated no other Canon, be expelled if this was a function during which the Holy Spirit ordained him to the office of bishop?
No less significant is the last part of the Apostolic Canon: “…those who associate with them are expelled and excommunicated as well.” In this way, having accepted “in the spirit of unity” the Memorandum for Union with the Moscow Patriarchate, the ROCOR(L) has violated the 30th, 45th, and 65th Canons of the Holy Apostles as well as other Canons which forbid prayer communion with those who concelebrate with heretics and therefore is now subject to excommunication. Having come to a compromise with the excommunicated and unrepentant persecutors of the Russian Church, by depreciating the extent of involvement of the MP in the Ecumenical heresy, by accepting the hierarchal authority of those whose ordinations are null and void, and remaining silent concerning the secret actions of “KGB members”, the ROCOR(L) in this way has accentuated its own collapse. Through the oppression of the Holy Canons and having betrayed the chastity of the Church, the Synod has deprived itself of the Graceful gift of administering the Church Abroad.
I, together with my faithful spiritual children, do endorse the appeal sent forth by the right-worthy clergy in Australia: the Very Reverend Archpriests John Stukach, Michael Konstantinov and the Reverend Priest Vladimir Tsukanov. We hereby remain dedicated to our cherished Church Abroad. We address our Synod of the ROCOR(L) stating once more: “Cease and repent in your actions. We will pray to the Lord that He will make you to understand… but we will not follow you.”
If the blood of the Holy Royal Martyrs and the assembly of our Devout monarchs, the memory of whom the Moscow Patriarchate is attempting to erase from consciousness of the Russian people, as well as that of the Holy New Martyrs does not cry out to you and you finalize your betrayal by your signature, then may our Lord be Merciful towards you. However, our name will not be among those in the list of churches, monasteries, communities and parishioners which you will “lay at the feet” of your so called “Holy Patriarch”.
Archpriest Stefan Sabelnik, rector.
Church of the Holy Dormition
Trenton, New Jersey USA March 2007
789 Shady Ln
Trenton, NJ 08619
Tel.: (609) 586-54-55