The Second Holy Sobor of the Russian True Orthodox Church took place from October 7/ 20th to October 17/ 30th, 2017, in the city of Azov of the Rostov region. The clergy, monastics and laity - more than 120 delegates representing parishes throughout the territory of the former Russian Empire and from abroad - gathered together at the Sobor.
Communities from Azov, Bryansk, Voronezh, Volgograd, Voskresensk, Vinnitsa, Velekiy Dalnik, Gomel, Diveevo, Dimitrov, Yekaterinburg, Ekaterinodar (Krasnodar), Zeya, Kogalym, Kursk, Crimea, Vyatka, Calmic, Krginovo, Mineralniye Vodi, Mortka, Odessa, Omsk, Slavyansk-na-Kubani, Tambov, Tskhinvali, Worcester (USA), and Athens (Greece) were represented there.
All the sessions of the Holy Sobor were held in the presence of the Protectress of the Russian True-Orthodox Church, the Iveron sweet-smelling icon of Mother of God, written by the brother-martyr Joseph Munoz.
Prior to the beginning of the Sobor, the participants prayed during the Vigil and Liturgy in the Church of the Azov Icon of the Mother of God. This church is located in the historical part of the city of Azov – near the ruins of the Azov fortress.
On the Sunday prior to the first working day of the Sobor, the True Orthodox Christians partook of the Holy Mysteries. During the Liturgy, Archimandrite Philaretos (Klimakitis), Dean of Western Europe of the RTOC, was consecrated Bishop with the title of “Pallini and Western Europe." Vladika Philaretos arrived at the Sobor accompanied by two members of his community from Greece.
Meetings of the Holy Sobor were held in the conference hall of the Priboy Hotel, located not far from the church, where Vespers and Liturgy were celebrated daily. His Eminence Tikhon, Archbishop of Omsk and Siberia, President of the RTOC Synod of Bishops, his Eminence Benjamin, Archbishop of the Black Sea and Kuban, Vice-President of the RTOC Synod of bishops, his Grace Savvaty, Bishop of Vinnitsa and Khmelnitsk, his Grace Germogen, Bishop of Gomel and Bryansk, and his Grace Philaretos, Bishop of Pallini and Western Europe, Protopresbyter Victor Melehov, Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, clergy, monks and laity of RTOC were present at the Sobor.
Despite the busy schedule of the Sobor, the majority of priests, monastics and laity prayed daily during the services in the church, participating in the early Liturgy, which began at half past six in the morning. On the first day, a special moleben was served for the beginning of the Sobor. The participants prayed to acquire the Holy Spirit and to successfully accomplish the upcoming event.
Every working day of the Holy Sobor started with the singing of the prayer "O Heavenly King" and ended with the singing of "It is truly meet".
The Sobor work consisted of hearing and discussing reports and answering important questions, which were prepared for Church-wide consideration by the delegates. A daily session lasted for 6-7 hours with a break in the middle of the day.
On Monday, Archbishop Tikhon, Archbishop of Omsk and Siberia, addressed the participants of the Holy Sobor of the RTOC with a welcoming introduction. Also read on the first day were greetings from the South American mission in honor of the Vladimir icon of the Mother of God, representing Argentina and Brazil.
Then, the participants listened to two reports of from Vladimir Moss, Reader of the parish in England (Guildford). The first report discussed the historical retrospective of the development of relations between the ROCOR and the Catacomb Church, and the second concerned the conditions of the reunification of the Russian Local Church (subject to the canonical status of the so-called "fragments" of the former ROCOR).
His grace, Bishop Germogen, submitted his detailed study of Sergianism as ecclesiological heresy. Sergianism, which is the dogmatic basis of the birth and existence of the Moscow Patriarchate, is the betrayal of Christ. Together with ecumenism, these are two ways which lead Christians to build the godless kingdom of antichrist on Earth. The Sobor resolved to put an end to all the internal Church polemics regarding any question of its relationship to the above-named heresy.
Because of the recent demands on the Synod by the group of the so-called "Omsk clergy" to recognize the possibility of salvation in religious organizations confessing the heresies of Sergianism and Cyprianism (hidden ecumenism), even to the extent of actually departing from the Synod of the RTOC, it was decided to read the Synodal resolution regarding Bishop Stefan, formerly of Trenton and North America. Bishop Stefan not only made a schism and did not obey the decision of the Synod to stay in retirement until his repentance, but he continues to serve and participates in sowing further divisions.
Deacon Peter Dziuba, in his analysis of Bishop Stephen's sermon, preached by him on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, revealed the unorthodox judgments of this Bishop, who claims that the Church "has no right to deny the presence of Grace wherever it is", including heretical communities.
Cyprianism has become a new temptation for certain members of the flock of the Orthodox Church, and the time has come for the Sobor to pronounce it as a dangerous heresy. Also, time has come during this convened Holy Sobor to make known that the self-spun philosophy (alien to the Orthodox Spirit) of Bishop Stephan and those clergy in communion with him, who tempt the flock with the heretical teachings of Met. Cyprian of Oropos, has been rejected by the Sobor as being spiritually pernicious.
Protopresbyter Victor Melehov (Worcester, USA) analyzed in detail the essence of Cyprianism, revealing before the participants of the Sobor the danger of this heretical infection, which opens wide the gates for Ecumenism.
Father Victor Melehov shared his article "Is there Grace in the Moscow Patriarchate?". Many members of this organization (MP) ask themselves this same question. However, they find themselves unwilling to give an honest answer. Instead of strictly adhering to the Canons and Rules of the Church, they base their response on their personal "feelings of Grace" (which is a sign of delusion).
That is why it is very important to accept clergy from "World Orthodoxy" with great care. Hieromonk Tikhon (Smyslin) highlighted this problem. Providing some tragic examples, he stressed the disastrous mistakes that could possibly be made through haste in this matter.
Other reports presented at the Sobor were: The Danger of Polemics in Social Networks; The Digital Economy, which increasingly displaces living society; Difficulties of Raising Children in Orthodox Families in Modern Times. An appeal to young people who live in these times of prevailing apostasy was also read.
During the discussion, the participants of the Sobor agreed that Church polemics in social networks is harmful for souls. Whatever good purpose they may have, ultimately they will result in a frustrated state of mind, confusion and temptation. That’s why the Sobor called on children of the Russian True Orthodox Church to refrain not only from participation, but also from attention to this kind of "communication" in social networks.
The Faithful in the communities waited for the Sobor to provide its answer to the rapidly developing process of globalization – the building the New World Order. What position should an Orthodox Christian take towards the aspects of this process, in particular, to documents with electronic chips, biometric data, etc.?
During the debate many clergy, monastics and laity explained their opinion on this issue. The Sobor participants were unanimous in saying that globalization – as economic, political, and religious unification of mankind – has as its ultimate goal the enslavement of God-given human freedom through the acceptance of the Antichrist's mark and worshiping him. In part, this is being accomplished through the collection of complete files on each person, including biometric (unique, God-given) features; the storage of this information in a common virtual database; the creation of electronic devices for documents – all this is not yet the Antichrist's mark, but undoubtedly are steps towards it. The mark will be placed on the human body. The process of training both systems and humans for its adoption is progressing. To refuse the mark at the last stage of this process is a matter of life and death. Not to engage in this process, or to descend from it at its intermediate stages – is a personal feat. It is necessary to remember to contemplate pious activity: repentance, inner sobriety, prayer, reading the Gospel, and serving God and people. Only by these spiritual activities, the Sobor pointed out, will the Lord not forsake His elect. The Sobor calls upon the faithful of the Church of Christ to come to such concrete decisions soberly and with prudence.
It is dangerous to reduce the question of salvation only to the rejection of the economical or political components of the process. We should remember that all the Holy Fathers consider the lack of a spiritual mind in people during the last times, along with their full immersion into the carnal state, to be the main reason for the rapid and reckless submission of the mankind to the antichrist, who will seize world dominion, prepared by the builders of the New World Order.
The spiritual mind may be gained and developed only through proper spiritual life taught in the True Orthodox Church. Attaining that, only Orthodox Christians will have full spiritual armor to recognize all the wiles and deceit of the antichrist. These will be that small remnant, who will live according to the Church. Heretics, schismatics and false-believers who have no spiritual life, or live in wrong, perverted ways, will inevitably become victims of the temptations of the antichrist.
This is why the Hierarchs and clergy of the True Church of Christ must respond to the challenges posed by the apostate World Orthodoxy, including the MP, to protect their flock from the corrupting spirit of the universal apostasy.
Through his analysis of the so-called "pan-Orthodox Council," which took place in 2016 on the island of Crete, His Grace Bishop Philaretos (Greece) reported on what is happening in World Orthodoxy.
Deacon Alexei Eremeev (Gomel) briefed the participants of the Holy Sobor regarding the spiritual essence of modern Catholicism. Both the Cretan Council and the papal throne pursue the same common goal - the approaching Antichrist. Roman Catholics, in their search for peace with the whole world, have drifted away from their predecessors of the 11th century. Today's Catholicism resembles little of its former self and serves only one purpose - to unite all religions into one, which is accomplished through Ecumenism, with its more subtle Cyprianism, and Sergianism, justifying any authority as God-given.
What, then, is the path to salvation in the modern world, showing all the signs of the last times, when the enemy of human salvation rises up against man like never before, when the Church of Christ shrinks and shrinks? Our guiding lights were and still are God's saints, among whom a special place is occupied by the New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Church. About their feat the writer Lydia Sikorskaya spoke to the participants of the Sobor. She presented some new publications, as well as the film by Elena Semenova "We will not submit the Church to the traitors. Metropolitan Joseph Of Petrograd".
The report of Hieromonk Alexei (Starikov) from Kursk on the state of contemporary monasticism compared past times with the present day, when like in the days of rebellion the Church needs fervent intercessors. A parishioner from Diveevo, Dmitri Karpitsky, told how laity can participate in missionary service.
On the whole, the Holy Sobor established major points through discussions of the most pressing issues, which have concerned the Church. The Sobor provided responses to many challenges of today. It was a timely and necessary event, combining the spiritual powers of the Church for future struggle against the temptations and seductions.
At the end of the Sobor sessions, a thanksgiving service was held. During the Vigil, the Holy Sobor of the RTOC glorified Bishops Ignatius of the Caucasus (Brianchaninov), Theophan (Govorov) the Recluse and Innocent (Borisov) of Kherson.
On Monday, participants of the Sobor made a pilgrimage to the place of burial of the Catacomb Elder, Schemamonk Theodosius of the Caucasus in Mineralnye Vody. An Akathist to the Holy Confessor of the Catacomb Church was served in that chapel. On the occasion of the anniversary of the murder of the brother-martyr Joseph Munoz, who had written the image of the Iveron sweet-smelling icon of the Mother of God and had passed it to the first First-Hierarch of the RTOC, Archbishop Lazarus (Zhurbenko), the pilgrims held a panihida at the grave of the Confessor Theodosius. The icon, famous for its many miracles, was at the head of the grave of the Holy Elder.
At the end of the pilgrimage the participants of the Sobor left for their parishes, taking with them not only the results of a ten-day effort, but also a strong feeling that the Church of Christ is alive, and in spite of the small number of righteous, the gates of hades have not the strength to prevail.