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Catacomb Church in Russia, and the MP


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#1 Jake A.

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Posted 28 January 2010 - 12:11 AM

Hi all, I am going on a trip to my hometown Saratov, Russia starting February 1st. (for 3 months) I would like my trip to have a spiritual significance, and one of my dear friends over the internet has told me, more than once, that the MP still persecutes the Catacomb Church in Russia, and this is because its the True Orthodox Church. I am not big on politics and divisions within the Church, and I do not have anything against the MP in particular, but I do not side with it. Can someone tell me what the situation there is now, and how "Catacomb Church" would be translated into Russian? And I have also heard that I should not make my position well known.


Thank you.

#2 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 28 January 2010 - 01:21 AM

The present Catacomb Church - Катакомбная Церковь - is a small sect which survives from the time when the Church in Russia had to deal with Sergianism, that is, the co-operation of MP with the Soviet state. A large body of the faithful, including St Afanasii (Sakharov) (+1962), refused to accept Metropolitan, later Patriarch Sergei as rightful leader of MP. The Church recovered when Patriarch Alexei I was elected. St Afanasii, who guided the faithful during those difficult times, advised that Patriarch Alexei should be accepted (unlike Patriarch Sergei). A remnant would not accept this, and they continue to this day though in small numbers. They are very strict and refuse to accept anything that they think is from AntiChrist such as bar codes. I don't know iif they are persecuted as such but they are deemed uncanonical by MP. They should not be confused with Old Believers.

#3 Father David Moser

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Posted 28 January 2010 - 06:14 AM

To add to Andreas' very good comments. There are groups who call themselves the catacomb Church in Russia who are in fact schismatics and only use the "catacomb" cloak to hide their own rebellion against the proper Church authorities (unlike those whom Andreas describes who seem to be genuinely acting from conscience). If you come into contact with any catacomb group, be very discerning as you may unwittingly be supporting those who are simply acting from self will (or worse) rather than those who are genuinely prevented by matters of conscience.

On a more general note. The MP may appear to be "persecuting" the catacomb groups simply because they are working very hard to unite all of the Orthodox Christians in Russia under the guidance of the Patriarch so that the Church speaks truly with one voice on spiritual and moral issues. Many groups (whether Orthodox or not) who are not reconciled with the Patriarch are subject to the laws of Russia which recognize specific historical Church authorities (eg. the Patriarchate, the Moslem religion, the Hindu religion, the Catholic religion) as the proper representatives of the Russian people. See the threads on the Evangelicals and Protestants in Russia for additional comments on this policy.

Fr David Moser

#4 Jake A.

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Posted 28 January 2010 - 06:25 AM

Hi, thanks for the replies.

I will be careful about the catacombs.

Fr. David, you said "proper Church authorities", could you please elaborate on who you consider those to be?

Also, what do you think about the ROAC (Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church)? Are they legit?

#5 Father David Moser

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Posted 28 January 2010 - 06:35 AM

Fr. David, you said "proper Church authorities", could you please elaborate on who you consider those to be?


The proper Orthodox Church authority in Russia is the Patriarchate of Moscow and those bishops, and clergy who are in communion with him.

Fr David Moser

#6 Owen Jones

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Posted 28 January 2010 - 02:04 PM

It sounds a bit like the Donatists, who died out in a generation or so.

#7 Cyprian (Humphrey)

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Posted 28 January 2010 - 04:25 PM

Is this the ROAC you ask about, Mr. Amra?

http://www.quotes.or...tonomous_Church

If so, it would seem to hinge on your definition of "legit". The article says "It functions independently and is not in communion with any of the recognized Orthodox Churches".

Now, before anyone gets too defensive, the same or similar criticism has been said of many of the jurisdictions represented here. In fact, IIRC someone said the only North American jurisdiction that hasn't been seriously questioned at one time or another has been the Carpatho-Rusyns!

#8 Kosta

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Posted 29 January 2010 - 08:50 AM

Father Alexander Menn was born jewish , his mother converted and as a baby took him to the catacomb church where both were baptized. Fr Alexander became one of the most remarkeable priests of the MP. The supposed catacomb churches of today are vagante groups taking their orders from American groups which have splintered from ROCOR over the decades.

#9 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 29 January 2010 - 10:29 AM

Fr Alexander was indeed a remarkable priest, an inspiring preacher and loving pastor. The two churches he and others ran were famous for their welcoming love and concern for the people. These churches were immensely popular, especially with intellectuals. My wife used to go to one of these churches. Fr Alexander and his team were persecuted by MP, the churches closed, and later re-staffed with 'safe hands'. Fr Alexander was murdered.

#10 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 02:47 PM

There is a very informative book by Michael Bourdeaux called Opium of the People (The Christian Religion in the USSR). It was published in 1965 and contains quite a bit of information on the catacomb groups.

What becomes obvious from reading this book is that the Catacomb church was not a specific group. Rather they were 'resisters' of the main line MP in various ways. Some had episcopacy & clergy to follow. But often this amounted to following an individual bishop or priest in their spiritual advice rather than being part of any organized group. This spiritual connection could range from outright separation from the MP to a kind of semi-independent existence while attending MP churches.

Also it needs to be kept in mind that in terms of theology and piety some catacomb groups were apocalyptic and similar to extreme old ritualists in their mentality. M Bourdeaux's book goes into this aspect of catacomb spirituality quite a bit.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#11 Jeremy Troy

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Posted 26 July 2010 - 10:03 PM

Whenever I read too much about schismatic groups that claim to be the "true Orthodox Church in ________", I get very confused and end up suffering from it spiritually. Does anyone else experience this? Best just to pray, I think, rather than to read about schismatic groups.

Jeremy

#12 Benjamin Amis

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Posted 27 July 2010 - 12:14 AM

Reading about schismatic sects dealing directly with Orthodoxy is quite different from reading about Protestant schisms and breaks, for a number of reasons. I say this from experience, as a former Protestant who wanted to know "where the church came from" and spent several years reading on church history. I suppose this is so because Protestant groups usually have no problem declaring themselves to be "new" or "different" taking on different names, polity and theology than their predecessors. Reading on non-Protestant schismatic groups, especially when one first begins researching them, is very different because they seek to claim that they still hold to the Orthodox faith, and are the True Church, while the others have faltered. Protestants have no concept of a literal "One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church" and so innovation is not nearly so frowned upon...and is sometimes welcomed among both mainline and evangelical circles.

Having been a student of church history, first western and now also eastern, I do find that one must be particularly discerning when attempting to understand more about schismatic groups. Actively try to keep your eye on the True Church in one way or another: consulting a more knowledgeable historian, speaking with clergy (primarily one's own spiritual father or mother), etc. I say this because the history does often get confusing, and political battles are often at the heart of schisms instead of theological ones. These entanglements can confuse quite easily, as they are often borne out of some form of anxiety (in this case, the Soviet Revolution) and what happened precisely may never be fully known.

#13 Ms. Berins

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 08:07 PM

MP has been anathemized by Patriarch Tikhon, the last lawful Patriarch of Russian Orthodox Church. Anathema has not been lifted, Mitropolit Sergius Stargorodsky was NOT a direct successor of Patriarch. Soviet government promoted him unlawfully to Patriarch for signing a binding document with Soviet regime.
MP can not call any valid church , such as Katakombnaya Tserkov , which takes direct succession from Russian Orthodox Church before 1917, schismatic, being itself in schism and under anathema...

Calling other names when can't win argument is a form of defense, or is it...?

#14 Jean-Serge

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 11:19 PM

What do you think about the persecution of ROAC in Russia? Last years, in the region of Suzdal, the Russian state deprived them from all their churches that they had repaired after the Stated granted them the usage of them. Now these people are to pray in private homes. And now the Russian state wants to seize their relics? Is it fair? Is the Moscow Patriarcate directly or indirectly involved in such persecutions?




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