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"No one man, or group of men, can himself speak for the Church of Christ. It is nonetheless possible to speak from within the Church, in conformity with Orthodox tradition; and it is this that we shall attempt to do." Fr. Seraphim Rose Orthodox Word #1 Jan-Feb 1965 p. 17
ROAC Epistle February 2009
of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church
To the Pastors, Monastics, and God-loving flock of the Church of God
Fathers, Brothers and Sisters, Beloved in God!
For the last 20 years, the plight of the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church has not been an easy one. In her aspiration to “walk in the Holy Spirit,” and live by the holy Gospel of Christ, the ROAC remains a “stumbling block” on the path to globalism and modernism, that have so captivated the “powers that be,” including some of the clergy of the Moscow Patriarchate. The task of bearing witness before the Orthodox world, as a whole, to the truth about the condition of the “subjugated church” in our enslaved homeland, of countering the lies emanating from the official representatives of the Godless authorities, of calling attention to the evil perpetrated by the hierarchs of the Moscow Patriarchate, who are subservient to them, has always been, is now, and always will be among the most important obligations of the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church.
The betrayal of the Truth of Christ by the hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia in May, 2007, was the height of cynicism, akin to Satan’s quoting of Holy Scripture, when he tempted Christ in the desert. The traditions of the holy Fathers, the holy Canons of the Orthodox Church, the legacy of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, the founding Fathers of the Church Outside of Russia and of the Catacomb Church inside Russia, the resolutions of the sobors, – all of this have they distorted and trampled underfoot. The hopes and aspirations of the flock, all that had once been carefully preserved and treasured, all this has now been delivered over to the very ones from whom it had been safeguarded for over 70 years. Their new standard of success has become the acquisition of that which is perishable, and aversion for all that is imperishable, the accumulation of that which is temporary and fleeting, and the establishment of an earthy homeland in deference to the heavenly one.
One of the main things worrying the Uniates of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia was the question of retaining property rights. This is why the President of the Russian Federation - now prime minister, V. V. Putin - had announced at a meeting in Novo-Ogarevo, that neither the state, nor the Moscow Patriarchate, would lay claim to any property belonging to the ROCOR, which announcement the delegation of the Church Outside of Russia found to be quite “merciful” and satisfactory. In fact, what the ROCOR delegation actually accomplished was the complete betrayal of the witness of the New Martyrs, the stand of the Catacomb Church, and of its own position, which the ROCOR had confessed since its inception.
The Administration of the ROAC has received many “brotherly” telephone calls and exhortations from the Vladimir Diocesan Administration of the Moscow Patriarchate (MP) concerning “changing our course,” with all kinds of promises for our betrayal, but we rejected them all. Then, our comrades from the MP resorted to a tried and true method; that of confiscating our properties, just like in Jericho, Hebron, at the Oak of Mamre, and in Jerusalem.
Before, we were unlawfully deprived of our churches in Kainsk, Votkinsk, Trubchevsk, Zheleznovodsk, Sanino and Kideksha. Now, we are being denied the right to register our dioceses of Tula, Orenburg, and Otradnoye, as well as partly or entirely being hindered from registering our parish by-laws, thereby relegating these parishes to the equivalence of an “unruly crowd,” or an “unauthorized religious grouр.” There have been attempts on the life of the First-Hierarch of ROAC, Metropolitan Valentine, as well as attempts to blackmail the ROAC. There have been cases where firearms and ammunition have been planted on our property. More than once, our clergy and faithful have been subject to beatings. Some of our churches and buildings housing our elderly and handicapped monastics have been subject to arson. In the “controlled” media, facts of this kind are always concealed or distorted. There can be no other interpretation of these actions other than as an attempt to finish off the ROAC for good.
In the early 1990’s, the unlimited use of all of our churches had been legally given to us by the office of Rosimushchestvo. Binding agreements were signed. The remains of the buildings that we received, which were referred to in these agreements with labels such as “national heritage” and “national treasures,” were nothing more than their crumbling foundations, such as in Sanino, Krapivye, or other half-destroyed and desecrated churches, which no longer had any value at all.
About a year ago, the Vladimir Administration of Rosimushchectvo brought 14 suits against us in order to take all of the churches in Suzdal away from us.
The bureaucrats from Gosimushchestvo of the Russian Federation (Federal Property Agency) have now completed the “work of Cain;” they have sent those Orthodox Christians who do not wish to accept the ideologies of Ecumenism and Sergianism into exile, by transferring their churches to the Vladimir Diocesan Administration of the Moscow Patriarchate.
The government bureaucrats have set before themselves the goal of making the faithful of the ROAC outcasts in their own land, in the fairy-tale-like museum-city of Suzdal, so that later on, they can claim that the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church is operating outside of the law.
The contempt of the state bureaucrats for the religious feelings of the citizens of Suzdal has gone so far as suggesting that they simply “change their leadership,” which is a way of saying to them that they should join the Moscow Patriarchate, and that by so doing, the lawsuits against them will cease, and they will be left in peace.
In the Russian Federation today, where the government has ostensibly turned in favor of the church, it has actually started returning to the Soviet methods of religious politics, with the only difference being that now, “the starring role” has gone to “the only true and correct Church – the Moscow Patriarchate.”
The Vladimir Court of Arbitration, via its ruling of February 5th, 2009, has ordered the congregations to vacate their churches.
Instead of expressing gratitude and respect to those who worked so hard to save and preserve the churches of Suzdal from complete destruction, restored them from ruins and reinitiated church services and spiritual life in the city, the bureaucrats in Vladimir have shamelessly and unflinchingly spat upon their souls, and have thrown them out into the street, deprived the local clergy of their livelihood, and have sentenced their families to starve, simply in order to please the Moscow Patriarchate, which has arrogated to itself the prerogative of a monopoly over Orthodoxy in contemporary Russia.
There are dozens of churches in the Vladimir region that are in dilapidated condition, or are close to complete destruction. However, the bureaucrats of the government, including those at Rosimushchestvo, don’t seem to be worried about the destiny of these churches, at all. Instead, all they want to do is take everything that we have worked so hard to restore and put back together piece by piece, away from the faithful, violating their rights to freedom of religion and assembly, humiliating and insulting the feelings of our flock, and stomping the ROAC into the ground via the jackboots of the Special Purpose Militia.
Earlier, we, together with other communities of faith, have repeatedly appealed to the former president and current prime minister of the Russian Federation, V. V. Putin; the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation, Y. A. Chaika; the Attorney General of the Russian Federation, V. V. Ustinov; the President’s Council for Facilitation of Development of Institutions of Civil Society and Human Rights; the Senior Deputy Prosecutor and Chairman of the Committee of Inquiry for the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation, A. I. Bastrikin; the Public Chamberlain of the Russian Federation and Chairman of the State Duma’s Committee for Matters concerning Non-profit Organizations and Religious Institutions, S. A. Ponomarev; the International Human Rights Center; the Slavic Legal Center, and other agencies. But our voice remains “the voice of one crying in the wilderness,” and we have received no reply to date.
If once we hoped for a fair decision on the part of the Guarantor of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, we have now become acutely aware that the Constitution is being trampled upon by government bureaucrats and that the outcome of legal cases is decided beforehand, for in this case, the courts are but formal executors of the will of people who want to leave us homeless and deprive our Church of the right to exist under the law.
We have no doubt that the next thing to expect will be the same as we have already seen: the bailiffs being sent in to execute the court’s rulings, and the Special Purpose Militia. We are doing everything in our power inside Russia and beyond her borders to prevent the implementation of the Vladimir regional court’s decision. But, unfortunately, with the present court system of the Russian Federation being the way it is, it is impossible to find any truth other than the one that is wanted in the Kremlin and in Chisty Pereulok – the residence of the Patriarch of Moscow.
We feel intolerable pain for the fate of our nation, where the constitutional rights of its citizens are trampled upon, where the common man cannot gain the right to live in freedom and enjoy the defense of his own government. Instead of fulfilling the requirements of the Directly Applicable Law of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, specifically article 46, which guarantees the right of due process, they comport themselves like corporate raiders, and the Machiavellian principle of “the end justifies the means” holds sway. In the face of this kind of “justice,” a man of faith is left without rights and defenseless. Blasphemers clothed as bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate and in judges’ robes commit evil unto the death of their souls, and are incapable of finding truth.
Dearly beloved children of the Church of God!
Together with the holy Psalmist, King David, with one heart and with one mouth, let us cry out to the Lord God: “O God, my praise do not pass over in silence; for the mouth of the sinner and the mouth of the deceitful man are opened against me. They have spoken against me with a deceitful tongue… Let his days be few, and his bishopric let another take. Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow… Let his creditor search out all his substance, and let strangers plunder all his labors. Let there be for him no helper, nor anyone to pity his fatherless children. Let his children be given over to utter destruction; in a single generation let his name be blotted out. Let the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the Lord, and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out. Let them be before the Lord continually, and let the memory of them perish from off the earth… Let him be clothed with cursing like a garment, and let it go in like water into his bowels, and like oil into his bones. Let it be for him like a garment wherewith he is clothed, and like a girdle wherewith continually he is girded.” (Ps. 108)
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, Who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle [you.] To Him [be] glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Pet. 5: 8-11)
President of the Synod of Bishops
Metropolitan of Suzdal and Vladimir
Members of the Synod