About the One Thing Needful
16 August 2010
There appeared on the internet a reply to the Synod of Bishops’ open letter addressed to the suspended clergy of the South American Diocese of the Church Abroad (http://russianorthodoxchurch.ws/synod/2010/sadioceseletter.html). The author of this reply is the defrocked bishop Agathangel Pashkovskiy, who calls himself “metropolitan” (http://sinod.ruschurchabroad.org/100804.htm).
Neither the letter of the Synod, nor the preceding appeal to the Synod from the South American clergy were addressed to the former bishop Agathangel.
However, we decided to reply to his commentaries since our letters are addressed not only to Latin America, but are intended for all, who came to be outside of the Church’s fold.
First of all, we assure former bishop Agathangel that, despite his feelings, the letter of the Synod of Bishops, to which he responded, was not written in Russia. Its collective authors were exclusively native members of the ROCOR, who were never in another jurisdiction, not even for a day. These individuals can in no way be numbered among the “contemporary Russians” because most of them were born outside the borders of our Historic Fatherland. It also is not clear where in the letter of the Synod of Bishop did the former bishop Agathangel find the call to “return to Russian Federation”, as well as the statements “as though in Russia all is well”.
Persistent accusations in “slanting”, “falsehood” and other rest wholly on the conscience of the former bishop Agathangel. His ambition is to claim the South American diocese of the Russian Church Abroad. Yet, upon what grounds? In reality, as any interested reader may easily find out, the case is as follows: according to Part IV, paragraph 37, point “n” of the current Regulations of ROCOR, “in case of a vacant episcopal see, to take upon himself temporary control of it or to assign a bishop before the appointment of a Ruling Bishop”. That is exactly what happened after the repose of His Grace, Bishop Alexander of South America. And it was exactly the same situation that came to be after the self-initiated creation and heading of the so-called “PSEA” by the former bishop Agathangel, which meant nothing other than his refusal to obey the Synod of Bishops that issued the decree about the appointment of former bishop Agathangel to the South American cathedra. Consequently, former bishop Agathangel could then in no way claim the administration of the South American Diocese of ROCOR and that was clearly understood by the clergy of that diocese. That is the reason why some of them have petitioned Vladyka Metropolitan Laurus, as their ruling hierarch, with the request for a “canonical release”, that being the subject of discussion in their letter. We are left only to quote the words of the former bishop Agathangel, applying what he wrote to his own case: “That is known by every native member of ROCOR, the author also knows it, but he writes a lie in order to confuse the readers”.
Speaking of ecumenism, former bishop Agathangel sites history and tradition instead of the Holy Canons quite intentionally. Both (history and tradition) unlike the Holy Canons, proceed “from man and according to man” and that is why they are always confirmed by the catholic (soborny) divinely inspired mind of the Church. For example, until a particular time the Church accepted considerably more New Testament scriptures than it does now. However, can we say that our Four Gospels are the breaking of the “historic traditions”, “traditions of the elders”? The well-known statement of our Council of Bishops of the Church Abroad of the year 1983, when the teaching of ecumenism was anathematised is only the opinion, the position pronounced by the part of the Local Russian Church. By the way, that was said by the ever-memorable Metropolitan Vitaly, whose views on ecumenism are well known to all. At the same time in the Local Russian Church, both in the Fatherland and abroad, joint services together with the heterodox were never permitted and the idea of the “plurality of the truth” was never preached. The external position of the Church Abroad remains immovable: thus, in the year 2008, His Eminence, the Very Most Reverend Metropolitan Hilarion, in his presentation in Moscow, once again called upon the Russian Orthodox Church to leave the World Council of Churches. His appeal, originating within our entire Russian Church Abroad, finds ever greater numbers of supporters among the hierarchs in the homeland.
The former bishop Agathangel calls “sergianism” a sin. Yet, he forgets, that the sin, expressed in the unworthy and in the end useless attempts of the Church authorities to find a common language with the earthly powers hostile to Christianity, is not foreign to himself. When he was a hierarch, Agathangel Pashkovskiy always exhibited an excessive inclination to participate in political campaigns. During the presidential election in 2004 in the Ukraine he held very close ties with one of the candidates, in reality taking part in the so-called “orange revolution”. The name of the former bishop Agathangel is associated with one of the most criticised city mayors and that was in no way beneficial for the Church. Now, of course, he is free to do as he minds. In any case, however, the fate of the hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Fatherland, who, according to the words of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco, had to keep Orthodoxy on the surface of the Russian life by suffering on the cross, is in no way diminished to such accusations.
Speaking of the “unlawful seizure of churches in Suzdal”, the former bishop Agathangel for some reason fails to mention from whom these churches were seized. We are speaking of the self-styled schismatic group “ROAC” of the twice defrocked Valentine Rousantsev. The transfer of these Suzdal churches to the Orthodox Church is at least as lawful as the transfer of the seized Church properties in other Russian cities, where churches were made into warehouses, clubs, museums and prisons.
The given example confirms the very fact that there are no more persecutions of the Church in today’s Russia.
Carried away by political insinuations, former bishop Agathangel stubbornly refuses to talk about the main content of the letter of the Synod of Bishops: about the division of the Church.
We did not say a word about secular affairs. We only said that the clergy, who left the fold of the Church, who made up a self-styled gathering, lost the right and the ability to perform the Mysteries. Those, who dare to serve despite being suspended, in accordance with the Holy Canons, defrock themselves. It means that both they, and the ones who approach them as pastors, are deprived of the grace-filled Mysteries, which are the only way to salvation.
It is of nothing else, but only of this, the one thing needful, we whole-heartedly whish that they would think while it is not too late.
Bishop of Montreal & Canada
Permanent member of the Synod of Bishops