Posted 13 February 2006 - 06:45 PM
Posted 13 February 2006 - 10:03 PM
Posted 14 February 2006 - 02:42 PM
Following the Russian Revolution, the Bolshevik Government declared itself hostile to the Church so to preserve the Church in the diaspora some of the Bishops outside of Russia split away from the Patriarchate and formed a new Synod of Bishops. This is what today we call the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR). Because the Church was formed by a declaration of independence there remains no formal communion between ROCOR and most of the other Orthodox Churches.
This situation has been preserved up until this day despite the fall of the Soviet Union. There has in recent years been dialogue between the Russian Patriarchate and ROCOR about a formal reunion – various models of reunification have been discussed including a complete reorganisation of the Church where there is one Russian diocese for a given area to ROCOR being made into a Metropolia of the Russian Patriarchate.
With love in Christ
Posted 14 February 2006 - 08:57 PM
The above canonical direction was indeed put into affect by those bishops and faithful who found themselves in areas within Russia outside of Bolshevik control during the Civil War. As the Bolsheviks gradually triumphed through the whole of Russia these Orthodox fled accompanied by their bishops first to Constaninople then to Yugoslavia. It was in the latter location where the Church Abroad was transformed from an informal group of bishops and faithful fleeing for their lives and trying to maintain their faith into an actual distinct body or group referred to officially as the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad or Church in Exile (some also say. 'the synod' to refer to the group of bishops who led this church). At various periods in her history Rocor has included in unity with her, other Russian Orthodox churches outside of Russia (these daughter churches of the Church in Russia include the Metropolia- OCA, and Paris jurisdiction of Russians with the Ecumneical Patriarchate) while at other times not.
A second major event which profoundly affected Rocor was the official statement of Metropolitan Sergios that the church within Russia accepted the Bolshevik government as the legitimate governing authority. The immediate affect of this was the issuing of a document which all church authorities even outside of Russia were to sign containing a pledge of loyalty to the Bolshevik authority with the further oath that all criticism of the regime would cease. Not surprisingly almost no-one outside of Russia would sign such a document whereupon a canonical separation from the Church within Russia followed. It should be noted however that written into the statutes of rocor itself is the understanding that the Church Abroad is not an autocephalous church (i.e independent). Rather its self-governing status is contingent on the Church in Russia not having her freedom. If the situation is to arise where freedom is to return to the Russian Church then rocor is obliged by her same founding documents to pursue reconciliation with the Church in Russia.
The character of rocor has been defined by the above experience to the extent that during the communist times she saw it as one of her chief responsibilities to witness how the Church within Russia was not free. This witness about the suffering Church of Russia also led rocor to openly proclaim and give testimony to the many new martyrs & confessors within Russia whose numbers even exceeded those of the ancient Roman times.
A second defining part of rocor's character comes from the hierarchs, priests and laity who founded her who had been profoundly affected by the spiritual/monastic/Patristic revival within the 19th century Russian Church. Thus rocor is often referred to as 'traditional'. In a way rocor's unique character comes from the way in which it has focussed its sense of traditional faithfulness through the prism of the turmoil of the 20th century.
The adherence to tradition however has always been the double-edged sword for rocor. On the one hand this can be part of a larger sense of witness to be not of this world while being in the world but on the other this can also be an opportunity for extremism. Indeed rocor has seen its fair share of both in the 70 or so years of its existence.
Now the Church Abroad stands at the threshold of the IV All-Diaspora Council (to be held in San Francisco, May 6-14, 2006) in which the major topic of reconciliation with the Church in Russia (the Moscow Patriarchate) will be taken up as well as her future direction. As many also outside of rocor have noted the resolutions taken at this Council and blessed by the synod of bishops immediately afterwards will likely have an effect far beyond that of rocor or the MP. Indeed it is possible that this may represent a healing within Orthodoxy at large after the incredible turmoil which the Church at large also suffered through in the 20th century. From this perspective then the recent events within rocor and the MP represent an opportunity for all of Orthodoxy if this is what God wills & blesses and we are faithful to.
In Christ- Fr Raphael
PS: I will try after this to post some of the relevant statutes of rocor referred to above.
Posted 15 February 2006 - 01:50 AM
Resolution of His Holiness the Patriarch [ie Tikhon], of the Holy Synod & Supreme Ecclesiastical Council of the Russian Orthodox Church 20/7 November 1920. Ukase No. 362
2)In the event a diocese, in consequence of the movement of the war front, [ie of the civil war that followed upon the 1917 revolution], changes of state borders, etc., finds itself completely out of contact with the Supreme Church Administration, or if the Supreme Church Administration itself, headed by His Holiness the Patriarch, for any reason whatsoever ceases its activity, the diocesan bishop immediately enters into relations with the bishops of neighbouring dioceses for the purpose of organizing a higher instance of ecclesiastical authority for several dioceses in similar conditions (in the form either of a temporary Supreme Church government or a Metropolitan district, or anything else).
3) Care for the organization of a Supreme Church Authority as the objective of an entire group of dioceses which find themselves in the position indicated in paragraph 2, is the mandatory obligation of the senior bishop of such a group.
4) In the case of the impossibility of establishing relations with bishops of neighbouring dioceses, and until the organization of a higher instance of ecclesiastical authority, the diocesan bishop takes upon himself all the fullness of authority granted him by the canons of the Church, taking all measures for the ordering of Church life and, if it appears necessary, for the organization of the diocesan administration, in conformity with the conditions which have arisen, deciding all cases granted by the canons to episcopal authority, with the cooperation of existing organs of diocesan administration (the diocesan assembly, the diocesan council, et al, or those that are newly organized); in case of the impossibility of constituting the above indicated institutions, he is under his own recognizance.
Regulations of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
1956 & 1964
1) The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad is an indissoluble part of the Russian Orthodox Church, and for the time until the extermination in Russia of the atheist government, is self-governing on conciliar principles in accordance with the resolution of the Patriarch, the Most Holy Synod, and the Highest Church Council of the Russian Church dated 7/20 November, 1920, No. 362
2) The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad is comprised of those who are outside the borders of Russia and are guided by the lawful hierarchy of a diocese with their parishes, church communities, spiritual missions and monasteries.
3)The basic task of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad is the preservation abroad of complete independence of the Russian Orthodox Church from atheistic and anti-Christian forces and the overall spiritual nourishment of the Orthodox Russian flock in the diaspora, independent of nationality; and in particular, the preservation and strengthening in the souls of the faithful flock the purity and wholeness of the holy Orthodox faith; and the encouragement of devotion in the flock, dispersed throughout the world, to the suffering Mother Church.
4)In her internal life and administration, the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad is guided by Holy Scripture and Tradition, by the Holy Canons and Church laws, the regulations and pious customs of the Church of Russia and, in particular, by the resolution of His Holiness the Patriarch [referred to above]...
I hope this sheds some light on the matter.
In Christ- Fr Raphael
Posted 15 February 2006 - 12:54 AM
Alec Lowly, sinner
Guest_Sandra June Hofstead
Posted 15 February 2006 - 06:05 PM
Posted 15 February 2006 - 11:04 PM
Do the members of Russian Chrurch Abroad or Outside Russia consider themselves still Russian refugees? Do they hope to return to their mother country so are avoiding inculturation for that reason?
The first thing to understand about the Church Abroad is that it has a very mixed membership; the original members who had left Russia during the revolution and civil war are long gone to receive their reward. Many of the next generation from the post-War (WWII) period were refugees from the Soviet Union or countries occupied by the Soviets, but many also were from communist China and yet others were from war ravaged western Europe. Also there were always among us the very same people as attended metropolia- ie future OCA- churches. Add to this that we are a church spread throughout the world with increasing numbers of converts who use the language of their own country and you can then see what a really diverse group we are. At our clergy conferences for example it is quite normal to have the older DP generation along with new Russians and also local converts- plus throw in the odd priest from Indonesia or Korea or Haiti...well you get the picture.
The reason why I began my answer to your question in the above way is to explain how we are not a church of refugees. Even most of the real refugees who arrived after WWII rapidly gave up any idea of returning & happily became citizens of their new countries. We are part of the Church of Russia but our character has been formed by how we found ourselves outside of Russia. Specifically this means that what ties such a diverse variety of people together is our common respect for both Russian spirituality & a sense of how this has been lived out here in the west.
To give a real example- in Tennessee there is a priest & faithful who operate primarily in English, run an English bookservice of Orthodox books and also are the mainstays for our vibrant mission in Haiti. Now scarcely a word of Slavonic or of Russian can be found there but yet without 'playing Russian' there is a real love for the Russian saints & spirituality- as well of course as Byzantine saints. And even though the name of their bookservice is that of St John of Kronstadt- a Russian saint- we also highly venerate St John Maximovitch- who reposed on these shores and Fr Seraphim Rose who was American.
Inculturation is indeed a delicate question for all of us who are Orthodox regardless of where we come from. We have in the Faith a priceless treasure which sets us apart from the standards of this world. Even while living amidst this world we are called to be not of this world. Yet we are not a cult but rather are to be a light unto the world. This calls then for a balance between our lives in the world and a vision of the Kingdom constantly before us. But the balance must definitely be tilted towards that of the Kingdom enlightening and inspiring our life in the world otherwise we are no longer living a life within the Church of Christ but merely a 'religious' life.
Orthodox Christians in recent times have come to a new appreciation of how there is something extremely valuable in the religious culture of their Mother Churches which helps one find the above balance. In a way this is coming full circle on ourselves but going a bit deeper. In the past many of our parishes were places of ethnic refuge with little sense of outreach or mission. But I think some of our assessments of this period were too harsh as if almost nothing of real faith existed in these parishes- after all these people also needed faith to survive the ordeal of emigration. And indeed many found Orthodoxy through this experience. So this first generation already must have been dealing with the question of how to lead an Orthodox life in a new land. Perhaps then what was needed was enough time for the whole Church to learn how to hand on this treasure of the Faith & how to receive it.
This treasure of faith is not primarily ethnic as if our calling is to 'become Russian' or 'become Greek'. On the other hand though we also can miss the mark if we pit faith so totally against the Russian or Greek part of what is Orthodoxy as if Russian Orthodoxy is just anBut on the But there is something of great worth within Russian or Greek Orthodoxy which helps anyone whether they be convert or homegrown Russian to anchor themselves in a lived faith. I would say that this recent realisation is to be found in all jurisdictions here in the west including the OCA.
In any case I believe that all of us as Orthodox Christians share these questions regardless of jurisdiction. And many of the answers we have worked out are closer than it may seem.
In Christ- Fr Raphael
Posted 16 February 2006 - 01:53 AM
"Perhaps I am missing the point altogether so I am asking. Do the members of Russian Chrurch Abroad or Outside Russia consider themselves still Russian refugees? Do they hope to return to their mother country so are avoiding inculturation for that reason?"
Great question, Sandra. Anybody care to weigh in?
Alec Lowly, sinner
Posted 16 February 2006 - 01:52 PM
Posted 16 February 2006 - 04:08 PM
Some ROCOR churches are NOT "avoiding inculturation" since they serve almost exclusively in English and some OCA churches still serve either only Slavonic or have separate Slavonic and English services (including the national OCA Cathedral in Washington DC, St. Nicholas).
To show just how complex the scene really is on the ground- here in Winnipeg at the local OCA church the parish is very Russian & the Russian priest is trying to learn English. Meanwhile at the 'Russian' rocor parish the priest speaks mainly English. We often kid each other about this reversal of roles.
Seriously though the point is that the complexity of Orthodoxy on the ground- eg there really are quite a few Russian parishes in the OCA and rocor has a large English/convert presence now- needs to be taken into account when discussing unity. In a way when you step back and look at the current scene in Orthodoxy this complexity can help us achieve unity; ie no jurisdiction is completely one-culture anymore.
Guest_Sandra June Hofstead
Posted 16 February 2006 - 04:27 PM
Posted 16 February 2006 - 04:49 PM
So, though it will never happen here that there only be one National church, I didn't know if, as I asked earlier, I would find a Russian church in Antioch or Syria, etc.
Posted 16 February 2006 - 06:33 PM
I am still curious if I were to go to Russia would I find a Serbian or Greek church, or are they all Russian?
There is nothing incorrect or against Orthodox practice in having within the borders of an autocephalous church parishes of other cultures. So within the Church of Russia there would be nothing wrong in having parishes of other cultures who live within Russia; in Georgia one could have churches which Russians attend and which use Slavonic, and within the Patriarchate of Alexandria (which is Greek)one could find parishes further south into Africa which use English, French or one assumes other local languages. So basically Orthodox practice is to allow the use of the language of the people in the particular parish.
This is one reason why the question of one independent Orthodox church in N America is so complex- while the surrounding culture may be 'North American' the culture of the parishioners may be quite different. And in Orthodox practice both of these realities need to be taken into account.
This question of culture however also involves the deeper question of values. The Mother Church has a heritage of a culture & values formed from the experience of -let's say the Greeks- almost 2000 years of Orthodoxy. Arriving here the Orthodox are surrounded by a western culture that can be very secular and even anti-Orthodox. So on the one hand there is properly a certain amount of adaptation to the surrounding culture. On the other hand there are aspects of the Orthodox culture of the Mother Church which help anchor the faithful in an Orthodox mind-set. For example someone may convert within a Serbian parish and never go beyond learning the most basic Serbian or Slavonic. They might however adopt the practice of having a family 'slava' or of going on pilgrimage to visit the holy places of Serbia. This is sort of thing, of 'connecting' to the reality of the church in a more Orthodox setting, is now very common among the Orthodox in the west.
So the question of an Orthodox church in N America is very complex with no easy answers. Certainly we know by now that there are two extremes that end up with something that mangles Orthodoxy out of shape- parishes which are mainly ethnic enclaves with little outreach, or parishes that have become too assimilated to western values. Interestingly in reality the two often go together- the more ethnic, the more worldly- and the more worldly the more ethnic (a parish can be very 'ethnic' even if its language and culture are local- just ask someone who visits from another place). Sometimes indeed ethnic is just a mask for a deeper kind of assimilation while assimilation becomes a mask for worldliness.
About ethnic parishes shutting the doors or not opening them. I think the reality is that each parish is different. There are some very sad stories out there but also many accounts of ethnic parishes that were open to others. On the one hand this can be much more challenging than a one-culture church but it can also be incredibly enriching in deepening one's Orthodox faith.
In Christ- Fr Raphael
Posted 16 February 2006 - 06:03 PM
In fact this entire Greek, Russian, Syrian etc., distinction, is not approved by monastics, we are Orthodox Christians, plain and simple. (It is, according to them, a Roman Catholic plot, to narrow our Blessed Church, to nationality, or ethnic groups - one must say they have been successful!)
Posted 16 February 2006 - 10:31 PM
Posted 17 February 2006 - 02:56 AM
The following is an actual post which has appeared on one of our rocor church lists. (as it was a public appeal to a public list I hope I am not breaking any rules by posting it here). I am posting it here only to illustrate how we face a common enemy - I mean 'the' enemy- who especially nowadays tries to keep people away from the Church by playing so skillfully on our weaknesses & divisions. This is why I feel it is so important to seize the opportunity of unity that we have been so wonderfully offered in recent times.
Anyway--here is the post...reading it deeply affected me.
Hi, my name is abc. I'm half Egyptian and half Russian. I was raised in the Coptic Orthodox Church and I'm trying to discover my Russian roots. So far, I've come to understand the differences between Chalcedonians and Non-Chalcedonians. What I am interested in is now going to a Russian Orthodox Church. Some people have suggested the OCA, others ROCOR, still others the ROCiE in Canada. It all seems perplexing. One of the things brought up is that ROCOR and the OCA are
very liberal and no longer interested in Orthodox spirituality. Some tell me these groups have no grace and under canonical condemnation. I am perplexed: what do they mean? What do they mean when they say people are corrupt and stealing money and paying for their "friends"? I am tempted to go to the ROCiE, but my Russian is poor. Can someone
explain things to me?
Thank you (Spasi Vas!)
Posted 18 February 2006 - 02:16 AM
Though it was not posted at Monachos, I do believe Fr. Raphael has done us all a great service in bringing this very real situation to our attention.
In North America this is truly a bleeding wound. Twenty or more years ago, who would ever have imagined ROCOR and the O.C.A., grouped together, and 'without grace.' Truly astounding.
Once Bishop Seraphim (Storheim) our ruling Hierarch of the O.C.A. in Canada gave me the numerical account of Canonical (in Communion with the Ecumenical Patriarch, and by consequence all other Patriarchal Churches) as opposed to the number of non-canonical Bishops in North America. It was truly an astounding contrast. Canonical Bishops were vastly outnumbered.
It needs to be said that these so-called Bishops are often extremely gifted intellectually, and provide quotations from Scripture, the Fathers, Tradition, the Calendar issue, Ecumenism etc, which would make the head of even a Jehovah Witness' whirl.
Having encountered these 'Bishops' and their off-spring I have this to say. In the vast majority of cases they started out as Canonical Orthodox Christians, the Bishops were defroked by very conservative Canonical Bishops. They then formed their own Churches, most of whom are not in communion even with each other. The Etna Monastery went with a certain Bishop Cyprianos, who himself had been defroked by a very conservative Hierarch in the Greek Orthodox Church. He then joined one of the many 'Old Calendar' groups in Greece. In time he was defroked by them. What did he do? He formed his own 'Church.' Now he is well-known, has a very large Convent outside Athens and a somewhat smaller (number-wise) Monastery. From this battleship, twice defroked, he is now, by his own decree the 'Head Hierarch' representing the 'theology of resistance'.
A sad story, which continues to this very day. They are active in Romania, and are really a sight to behold. They build Monasteries very close to Canonical Monasteries and begin their mission work.
The monastics from this group I have met in Romania, are majority-speaking, suffering from some form of mental challenge.
They have few Bishops 'on the ground' in Romania (the last count was four.)
One has to weep, lament and pray for these poor souls. Yet despite prayers offered to our Lord for them, they continue to disillusion the common folk of Romania.
In Greece they are much more organized, and more numerous, and not in Communion with the Canonical Greek Orthodox Church, nor with each other. Truly, the work of the Devil.
The Devil loves division.
The Monastery of St. Gregory Palamas in California, (Etna) is a perfect example. Their American Hierarchs were originally with the Canonial Greek Archdiocese, and published remarkable, scholarly papers, in the Revues issued by Holy Cross Seminary, Boston, St. Vladimir's Seminary in New York amongst other scholarly works. Over time they found fault especially with ecumenism which they termed the 'heresy of all heresies'.
We are in the presence of these 'Bishops', intellectually they are formidable. Spriritually they are deluded to the extreme, prelest par excellence.
This is our spiritual podvig ecclesiastically. They divide and multiple more than the Protestants. A remarkable occurence, which sadly deceives many people.
I, personally, have a good friend whom I have known since 1975. He wandered from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Now he is a Bishop of HOCNA (The Holy Orthodox Church of North America.)
It is lamentable, tragic, yet nevertheless they are the Osmana bin Laden's (spiritually speaking) amongst us. Without apparent shame they present a version of Orthodoxy which is a perversion. The result is that many are deluded.
Let us pray for them - what else can you do?
Posted 18 February 2006 - 03:30 PM
Now the Church Abroad stands at the threshold of the IV All-Diaspora Council (to be held in San Francisco, May 6-14, 2006) in which the major topic of reconciliation with the Church in Russia (the Moscow Patriarchate) will be taken up as well as her future direction.
It is wonderful to hear this. We wait in hope.
Posted 14 March 2006 - 02:31 AM
The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad website
has been completely redesigned in both English & Russian. There are a number of important articles already posted about the ongoing process of reconciliation which is leading up to the All-diaspora Assembly in San Francisco May 6-14.
In Christ- Fr Raphael
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