I first got to know the Diocese of Germany in 1989 through Fr. Nikolai Artemov. One could see how dear Russia was to him and how closely informed he was about what was going on there. The Diocese of Germany was situated geographically closer to Russia than all other ROCOR dioceses, and this, along with the fact that Father Nikolai grew up in a family of professional NTS (National Alliance of Russian Solidarists) members, played a role in it. (My own encounter with the White community in the United States in 1990 contrasted with this.) After the ROCOR Bishop Council resolved in May 1990 to receive believers from the USSR into the ROCOR, the Diocese of Germany became actively involved in this process, among other things by running a distance seminary for parishes of the Free Russian Orthodox Church. The mass transfer of parishes to the ROCOR that I had been expecting did not occur. The ROCOR went into crisis: treating the Moscow Patriarchate as Sergianist schism did not have any bearing on reality, and so this crisis (a word that in Greek literally means “judgment”) was resolved through dialogue, which is only now described in detail. The power of dialogue thus continues to fill us with hope.
Protodeacon Andrei Psarev, March 23, 2022
The end of the XX century was turbulent for Russia and its Church. The fermentation of the 1990s, their dynamism and openness of opportunities – albeit with uncertain prospects – are already regarded with detachment today. The atmosphere which constituted the backdrop to the church dialogue in Germany from 1993-1997 has departed from our consciousness. An analysis of the rapidly changing alignments and mutual influences between Church, state, and society does not fall within the scope of this article; this multifaceted movement, full both of bright hopes and bitter disappointments, need only be noted.
After a lengthy period of stagnation in society and the Church, in June 1990 the new Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Alexei II was elected. In May 1990, the Russian Church Abroad, headed by Metropolitan Vitalii (Ustinov), through its Council of Bishops took a decision in favor of establishing an active presence in Russia. Herein lay a sort of logic of non-acceptance of the atheist Soviet regime: a free church life was unthinkable without the glorification of the Russian New Martyrs and Confessors, without a rejection of the imposed hypocrisy expressed both in “loyalty to the Soviet authorities” and in “ecumenism.” Such a rejection was still to be achieved at that time. There had always been people in Russia who thought along these lines, and when new opportunities became available, it was natural that the flow of communication increased precisely with those people who in the new situation were looking for new approaches.
Up until this point, internal church communion between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Church Abroad, although it had always taken place at the most varied levels, was extremely restricted. It was reduced to personal meetings between believers, clerics, and bishops of the two parts of the Russian Church. The limited opportunities for communication to some degree even brought us together psychologically, softening the opposition which existed over a series of fundamental issues. For this reason, private meetings in the 1970s-1980s took place, as a rule, in an atmosphere of goodwill. In the face of oppression and persecution, church unity could be felt with particular clarity; the nearness of Orthodox Russians to one another was palpable, and though there were differences in positions, they paled against this backdrop.
Over all the decades since its formation, the Russian Church Abroad had kept the wider world abreast of persecutions of the faith in the USSR. In the 1950s it began to help believers get hold of literature; in the 1960s it became involved in a connection called samizdat-tamizdat (lit. “self-published-there published”), responded to the beginnings of social movements (“The Chronicle of Current Events,” the Committee for the Protection of Believers, the Helsinki Committees, publication of the Christian “Hope” anthologies etc.). Closest to these socio-ecclesial processes were Russians living in Europe, especially in the divided Germany, and in particular the German diocese. At the end of 1989, of course, Germany reunified.
At the same time, immediately after the end of 1988, there was a flurry of grassroots activity in the Church. What was going on in the upper echelons was neither visible nor comprehensible behind a shroud of officialese. There was a sense of inhibition of progress. Shortly before the elections of the new Patriarch, the Council of Bishops of the ROCOR in Mansonville (May 3/16, 1990) passed a resolution on the reception of clerics and parishes from the Moscow Patriarchate in Russia asking to come under the omophorion of the Russian Church Abroad. This was a belated affirmation of a connection with Russia which had been growing for some time: over a dozen secret Russian priests who had found themselves without a bishop were received into communion in 1974. Following requests from Russia, a bishop – Bishop Lazar’ (Zhurbenko) – was secretly consecrated in 1982. This process will in time receive a full historical description; here only one thing should be pointed out: this activity was thought of as a continuation of assistance to believers.“The Council of Bishops (1923 – Archpriest N.A.) does on the basis of its former deliberations hereby resolve: to recognize the position that the representatives of dioceses outside the borders … Continue reading Here is not the place to consider and evaluate other interpretations; I will only express my opinion of what took place in actual fact. It was precisely through this process that the Russian Church Abroad: 1) became intimately acquainted with the real problems of Russian church life; 2) received these problems into its own organism; 3) was forced to resolve them as its own internal church problems; and 4) was dragged into what were in essence internal Russian conflicts, which she to some degree exacerbated by bringing them to light, but despite this also at times acted as a useful “lightning conductor.”
This readiness to involve itself openly and critically in Russian church life from abroad caused ill will within the Moscow Patriarchate. Everything negative which resulted from this confrontation should have been eliminated for the sake of the Church. However, also for the sake of the Church it was wrong to reject what in the light of the Church’s freedom was natural, justified, and necessary. At the risk of getting ahead of ourselves, let us remark that, thanks to the Council of Bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate in August 2000, three fundamental questions were resolved which the Synod of Bishops of the ROCOR had raised in answer to the official invitation of the Moscow Patriarchate to take part in the jubilee celebrations of 1988. According to the “Encyclical of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad to the pastors and pastorate of the Russian Orthodox Church” (1987), these questions consisted in the following: the glorification of the New Martyrs, true relations between Church and state (“Sergianism”) and to other confessions (“ecumenism”).“Encyclical of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad to the pastors and pastorate of the Russian Orthodox Church,” Tserkovnaia Zhizn,’ no. 5-6, (November 6/19, 1987): … Continue reading For more than a decade, these questions came up again and again, until finally, a counter-response of the Council of Bishops of the ROCOR in October 2000 to the decisions taken in Moscow opened the doors to a continuation, and in part to a reproduction of the path which had earlier been trod by representatives of the two dioceses – those of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Church Abroad – on the territory of the reunified Germany.
Hence it became possible, at the highest level, to address the fourth question posed in the 1987 document: on correct canonical relations with the Moscow Patriarchate. This was finally resolved by the “act of canonical communion.” Both sides rejected exclusivity, recognized each other as parts of the one Russian Orthodox Church. Engraved on panagias and crosses offered as gifts were the words: “In remembrance of the reestablishment of canonical communion within the Local Russian Orthodox Church, May 4/17, 2007, Moscow.” The word внутри “within” also expresses the essence of the talks in Germany between 1993-1997, which were seen by those who participated them as внутрицерковные “within the Church.”
The Beginnings of Dialogue (1990–1992)
The possibility and conditions of official dialogue with the Moscow Patriarchate were the subject of a resolution of the Synod of Bishops of the ROCORParagraph 5 of the Resolution states: “The ‘Proclamation’ calls us to ‘open and honest dialogue’. To this we should declare that we would consent to this if there were a … Continue reading of 30.11/13.12.1990 on “The Proclamation of the Council of Bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate” (of October 25-27, 1990). The dialogue begun in Germany in 1993 was not altogether without precedent. The first official dialogue at a clerical level had taken place much earlier. The idea originated in the “Commission on freedom of conscience” attached to Mossovet in June 1991. A meeting was held on August 16, 1991, three days before the GKChP putsch,Gosudarstvennyi komitet po chrezvychaainomu polozheniiu (State Committee on the State of Emergency) in the “White Hall” of Mossovet. About 15 clerics participated in the conference, or “round table,” on the topic of “The Declaration of Metropolitan Sergii and its implications for the Russian Church.” Three of them at least belonged to the Russian Church Abroad; one had recently transferred from the Moscow Patriarchate to the Church Abroad, and two transferred subsequently. The event was open to the public (more than 100 people attended). Television reporters were present at the opening of the conference. It was emphasized that the assembly was taking place with the blessing of Patriarch Alexei II and Metropolitan Vitalii.VGE, № 5, (1991): 12–15. Among the participants were, Ioann Ekonomtsev, Kirill Sakharov, Aleksandr Borisov, Arkadii Shatov, Artemii Vladimirov, Gleb Iakunin, Mikhail Ardov, Viktor Usachev, … Continue reading
Three days later, the participants in this “round table” from the Church Abroad unexpectedly found themselves drawn into the whirlwind of the momentous events in Russia,Stolitsa, № 3, special edition (1991). See also: VGE, № 4, (1991): 13–14. as did those who had come from the émigré community abroad to take part in this “Congress of compatriots.” Immediately after the putsch, in August 1991, Archbishop Mark (Arndt) published an encyclical entitled “Freedom is given in order to find the truth.”Published as a separate flyer in August 1991 in Munich. Published: TsZh, № 3–4, (1991): 25–28; VGE, № 5 (1991): 2–4. Among other things, in this encyclical the “i’s are dotted” where the vexed question of repentance is concerned. Rejecting one-sided assertions distorting this theme, Archbishop Mark underlined that repentance should be offered by all, and that it takes place before God and the Body of Christ: the Church. It was not hard to see that here doors were being opened for internal church dialogue in a spirit of genuine spiritual renewal and healing.
In a similar vein were words on dialogue in an encyclical of the Council of Bishops of the ROCOR from October 1991: “Frequent discussions between pious children of the Church are essential – these little ones who understand that the renaissance of faith and piety in the motherland, which is now being talked about and is desired by many, must start with our own spiritual renewal, with repentance and purification from sinful impurity and self-justification. ‘The pure in heart shall see God’: that is to say, in order to perceive God and to live in him, we must purify our thoughts, feelings, and our life itself. Through such purification, we lay the foundations of a sort of pre-conciliar mutual understanding, a clarification of mistakes and deviations from the Truth. After such preparation, an All-Russian Council, free from all ‘loyalties’ and the interference of extraneous forces and their influence, will be possible. Nonetheless, a sceptical attitude was expressed as to the possibility of conducting dialogue at an official level. The encyclical states that divisions “may be overcome through an exchange of opinions and experience, but not at round tables, or in commissions at the highest level, where each will insist on his own point of view.TsZh, № 5–6 (1991): 3–5; VGE, № 5 (1991): 2.
The Archbishop of the “Paris jurisdiction,” Georgii (Wagner), distanced himself from an idea, also conceived in the same month of June 1991, of a trilateral meeting in Western Europe between clerics of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Archdiocese of Orthodox Russian Churches in Western Europe, and the Russian Church Abroad. Archpriest F. van der Voort wrote in connection with this: “Our Bishop Georgii did not show interest or enthusiasm. He considers that this question has nothing to do with his jurisdiction.”Letter from Archpriest F. van der Voort to the priest N. Artemov of 07.09.1991. (It is interesting that the same position was taken in Paris, this time under a different bishop, with regard to the reunification of May 17, 2007). In London there was a different approach. Metropolitan Antony of Sourozh was “prepared to assist in implementing such an initiative in any way possible.” He wrote: “It would be better to organize a meeting before the middle of October – on 27.10 the Patriarch will be in London, and it will be possible to exchange thoughts with him in person.”Letter from Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) to Archpriest F. van der Voort of 12.09.1991 (in the old orthography).
Metropolitan Anthony named four people who “could make a useful contribution to talks.” This dialogue is not related to the topic in question, and many interesting aspects of it must be omitted, but it is important to note how cautiously the organizers and participants of this planned gathering between the three parallel “jurisdictions” in Western Europe approach questions even of the most “informal” meetings in their correspondence.Letter from Archpriest F. van der Voort to Archpriest Boris Bobrinskoi of 27.06.1991; letters from the priest Nikolai Artemov to Archpriest F. van der Voort of 04.08.1991 and 05.11.1991. Letter from … Continue reading Despite the blessing of the August conference in Moscow, the Synod of Bishops of the ROCOR considered it necessary to issue a clarification that nobody had the right or was entitled to enter into “negotiations” on behalf of the Russian Church Abroad.Letter from the priest N. Аrtemov оf 05.11.1991. As may be seen, the August meeting of members of the clergy in Moscow gave rise to concerns and dissatisfaction in certain circles of the ROCOR and in Russia itself.
It was not possible to organize a meeting before Patriarch Aleksei’s visit to London. A list of topics and essential historical and recent documents was compiled to be put on the agenda. The aim was to identify all the grievances which each side might have against each other. For this reason, the written correspondence spoke of the need for a mutual recognition of the validity of the priesthood of all the participants prior to the meeting. Furthermore, the full confidence of the bishops in the representatives they were sending was required, although the latter were to be present solely as private individuals, and their opinions might have differed from the views of their bishops. As one of the organizers put it, “a blessing or sufficient confidence from our bishops” for a fruitful dialogue was received.Circular letter from Archpriest F. van der Voort of 30.10.1991. Various possible places were discussed where the conference could be held: Paris, the Hague, Brussels, Germany. In the end, the meeting took place on January 23-24, 1992 in Düsseldorf (Germany) in the Orthodox centre at Werstener Feld.Characteristic of this situation was that the bishop of the Moscow Patriarchate in Düsseldorf, Bishop Longin (Talypov) knew nothing of this event and was not meant to know about it. Such was the … Continue reading
The meeting, at which eight clerics were present, may be called a success. The next meeting was planned at the Serbian Orthodox Centre in the town of Himmelstür for September 10-11, 1992. However, this meeting was postponed at the last minute. In December 1992 a discussion began on how to persuade the bishops to take part in a future meeting, or how to formulate a joint open conference on the history of the Russian Church and its contemporary situation.Circular letter from Archpriest F. van der Voort of 29.12.1992. It is not known what consequences such a trilateral meeting with the participation of three of four bishops might have had, as was intended to be the case, for “history does not have a subjunctive mood.” Nevertheless, it is appropriate here to underline the essential difference between this meeting and the subsequent discussions in Germany: the absence of bishops at the meeting in Düsseldorf, and by contrast, the active initial participation of two ruling bishops in the dialogue between 1993-1997.
Unofficial Dialogue (1993)
Unfortunately, progress subsequently slowed. In January 1993, for example, Archpriest Fёdor van der Voort expressed doubt about the possibility of holding a meeting in the near future. “I have still not received any reply from England,” he wrote.Letter from Archpriest F. van der Voort to the priest N. Artemov of 27.01.1993
An obstacle to dialogue had arisen in the form of a new decision of the Patriarchate of Moscow to consecrate a second bishop of “Berlin and Germany.” A new strategic factor had clearly intruded into the question of meetings and dialogue, presumably stemming from relations between the Church and the state in Russia. This event caused controversy in church circles. As emerged later on, it was not approved by the local Moscow Patriarchate clergy, but they were not listened to. In answer to this step, an encyclical to the faithful of the already incumbent Archbishop of Berlin and Germany Mark was published in the Vestnik Germanskoi Eparkhii (“German Diocesan Gazette”).“Bogoliubivoi pastve Germanskoi Eparkhii” (To the godfearing German pastorarate), VGE, № 1 (1993): 8–9. His Russian Orthodox Diocese (Russische Orthodoxe Diozese des orthodoxen Bischofs von Berlin und Deutschland) had been transformed from a vicariate into an autonomous diocese in 1926 and was recognized by the state as a public corporation in 1936. This status was confirmed regionally in post-war Germany. These rights were contested by the Soviet regime, along with claims to church property.
Archbishop Mark’s encyclical concluded with the following words: “We hope soon to see the liberation of the Russian Church from the shackles imposed on her by the atheist authorities. We know that in Russia, among the believing flock and their honest pastors, there are many many people of good sense who are genuinely devoted to the Church, and who are not in agreement with courses of action which continue to follow paths of wickedness. We hope that the faithfulness to God of these Orthodox people will in the further process of the liberation of the Russian Church open the way for a true All-Russian Council, at which it will be possible to draw a line under the past and lay a pure foundation for the renewal of the life of our united, long-suffering Church.”
The sharpness of this rebuke may be explained by the fact that, as stated in the appendix to the text of the encyclical, two attempts had previously been made to transcribe church property to the name of the Moscow Patriarchate based on dubious jurisdictional designations. These attempts had not met with success, but such a proximity in the naming of the head of a diocese had never taken place before, and this gave rise to fears. The Soviet party (Torgpredstvo “Trade Office”) did indeed soon attempt to carry out research into cadastral registrations without the knowledge or wish of their owners, which is illegal. Yeltsin’s directive at the time was to reappropriate all former Russian property, wherever this was at all possible. With regard to the German diocese of the ROCOR this concerned six (including Copenhagen seven, and with the churches of the “Brotherhood of Saint Vladimir – nine) churches from the imperial period, which the Soviet government had renounced any claim to in the 1930s. Not for the first time, conflict ignited around these churches.
Nonetheless, Archbishop Mark’s sharp reaction in the Vestnik was softened by the publication from Sovetskaya Rossiya (“Soviet Russia”) (31.12.1992) of some thoughts of the Metropolitan of Saint Petersburg and Ladoga Ioann (Snychev) on a supposed “schism.” Concurring with the positions of the Russian Church Abroad, Metropolitan Ioann wrote: “Though administratively divided, the Russian Church has not lost its spiritual unity.”“Bogoliubivoi pastve Germanskoi Eparkhii” (To the godfearing German pastorarate), VGE, № 1 (1993): 8–9.
In the spring of 1993, a “Symposium of Orthodox and Eastern Churches in Germany” was convened. It took place in the “Evangelische Akademie” in the town of Tutzing near Munich. As the organizers later admitted, they did not think it possible that representatives of the Russian Church Abroad would permit themselves to take part in their event under the circumstances, but the German diocese was nonetheless invited. For its part, the German diocese decided to take the route of declaring its positions, avoiding self-isolation.
After a plenary session in which both representatives of the Protestant Church and of state institutions took part, in the evening and in a remote corner secure from casual listeners, high up – right under the roof – almost all of the Russian participants gathered together. Each of them had already met in the preceding years with at least several of the others. In particular, the paths of the two bishops who now bore the title of “Berlin and Germany” had crossed around 16 years before, namely in the library of the Theological Institute at Erlangen University, where Bishop Mark had taught before being tonsured as a monk. In 1976, when Father Mark was elevated to the rank of Archimandrite, the Russian hieromonk and doctoral student Feofan (Galinskii) became his conversation partner. The other participants in the assembly also knew one another, whether directly or indirectly. As a result, the conversation was frank and open. It was generally agreed that further meetings must be arranged to discuss the current situation and achieve better mutual understanding.
Such a striving for dialogue corresponded to thoughts expressed only a week earlier in a 1993 Encyclical of the Council of Bishops of the ROCOR: “We see in our day to what degree political passions are capable of dividing the Russian people. The émigré community experienced this in the first decades of its existence outside the borders of the motherland. […] We recognize that a new beginning must be made and that new paths must be sought with this aim. At the same time, none of us should dare to pose as judges. We should familiarize ourselves with the tortuous paths of church life in the unprecedented circumstances of the XX century, learn from mistakes and failures, both those of individuals and whole groups. […] In our time, when all sorts of negative phenomena have flooded into Russia from the West – from moral depravity to false spiritual doctrines in the form of religious sects – it is essential to combine the different experience of all the parts of the Russian Orthodox Church. In open discussion we must prepare the ground for a free, genuine, and fruitful All-Russian Council. Our task cannot consist in condemnation of our neighbour, but in a search for paths of renewal of the One visible Russian Orthodox Church.”VGE, № 3 (1993): 2. The Council met in the Lesna Monastery near Paris from May 4–17, 1993.
There are a large number of different foundations for holding seminars and group meetings in Germany. Among them are the activity centers of the Catholic and Protestant Churches. In one of these, namely the “Zinzendorfhaus” in the town of Neudietendorf, which today has the status of a “Protestant Academy,” a first meeting of representatives of the two dioceses took place from 20-22.12.1993, presided over by their bishops. The location was chosen between Berlin and Munich on the territory of East Germany: thankfully, the Iron Curtain had fallen, which was also a cause for rejoicing and appeared symbolic. The East German setting was modest, and this created a cosy atmosphere. The meeting lasted, like all the others, for two whole days, with shared evenings and private discussions past midnight being of no less importance than the working days.
The extent to which this first event of its type was of an informal nature may be judged by the fact that no minutes were taken, and no list of participants has been preserved.On the basis of research, it has been possible to establish that the participants in the meeting were: from the ROCOR – Archbishop Mark, Archpriest Dimitri Ignatiev, Father Nikolai Artemov, … Continue reading Those participants whom we asked are now unable to reconstruct an exact summary of the topics discussed. Most important was obviously getting to know each other and discussing relevant issues. In general, as far as anyone can remember, what was discussed were practical church matters, in particular the performance of the sacraments. This it was which became the subject of the second gathering. The documents which we have managed to get our hands on state only that the expenses were shared between both dioceses.Fax from Archbishop Mark to the Ziezendorfhaus of 23.12.1993. All the documents quoted hereinafter are from the Arkhiv Germanskoi Eparkhii “Archives of the German Diocese” (=AGE), sorted by date. … Continue reading At the conclusion of this meeting and of the year 1993, one thing was clear: the discussions had to continue.
The difficulties with the dialogue may be summarized in two ways: the question of the church in Dresden was the subject of litigation throughout these years. At the end of the hearings, an “expert opinion” was even given in which the Russian Church Abroad was held as belonging to a category of “not having the right to call itself Orthodox and consider itself a Church.”Telefax to the Dresden Regional Court (27.01.1999) p. 19, Dresden 2, 12.1999–12.2001, AGD, D A participant from the Moscow Patriarchate in the first meeting, Archpriest Feodor Povnyi, rector of the memorial church in Leipzig, was not invited to the next round of discussions. He had been summoned to the Patriarchate regarding allegations of conducting negotiations to hand East German churches over to the Church Abroad. A similarly harsh approach existed within the milieu of the Russian Church Abroad. Nonetheless, a desire for dialogue continuously persisted on both sides.
The Transition from Unofficial to Official Dialogue (1994–1995)
For their first discussions held with the clergy, the bishops of both parts of the Russian Church in Germany did not initially ask for a blessing from higher instances. Reminiscing on those times in 2007, Archbishop Feofan (Galinskii) remarked on this with reference to the first round of talks. The Church Abroad party, as will be shown below, armed itself with the support of the Council of Bishops for the first time in preparation for the fourth gathering. In light of what has been said above, this should not come as a complete surprise. It was unclear whether the talks could develop and what they would lead to. Moreover, it was easy to imagine what difficulties might arise if the talks became public knowledge prematurely. Notwithstanding, this disregard for formalities owing to the circumstances should not cause doubts as to the legitimacy of the events themselves. According to canon law, a ruling bishop is fully independent in relation to his actions on the territory of his own diocese. What is more, as was pointed out from the outset, this was not a question of negotiations, but merely of discussions.
The essence of the meetings from 1993–1997 boiled down to feeling the way to a “common platform of ecclesiastical thinking.”See above the response of the ROCOR Synod to the 1990 “Proclamation” of the MP Council of Bishops. The title given to the minutes already reflected a certain jointly held church position: after they had been accepted, the “Draft minutes of the second round of talks between representatives of the German diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and the German diocese of the Moscow Patriarchate” were renamed “Minutes of the second round of talks between members of the clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate and Church Abroad) on the territory of the German diocese.” In other words, the Russian Church is here considered as one, and the territory of the German diocese also as a single entity. To start with there were a multitude of ambiguities, misapprehensions, misunderstandings, inaccurate interpretations, and last but not least prejudices. As a result of life situations, even with the sincerest interest and maximum amount of information available, there were (and remain to this day) profoundly anchored differences defining the way many issues were perceived. One had to learn to understand all this, and to this end to examine and appreciate these numerous distinctions, and to find one’s way in the new dimensions which they revealed. The hope was that in the course of events the “Augean stables” of the Soviet period of fragmentation would be cleaned and, together with this, new attacks of the same malevolent spirit averted; that a basis would be found to root out non-ecclesial elements in mutual relations, and that as things unfolded, an end would be put first of all to vitriolic polemic, and then to division itself.
Part of the historical background was that in 1992-1993, the church position of the ROCOR was intentionally and even provocatively confused with various political movements both of national-patriotic (Память “Memory”) and monarchist, and even – directed at resistance to the Moscow Patriarchate – liberal-democratic leanings. This was a peculiar phenomenon, and indeed even to this day remains in some form a painful internal problem for the Russian Church. Special declarations had to be made on the topic of patriotism and politics.“Ob Otechestve i o Tserkvi” (On the Fatherland and on the Church), VGE, № 5 (1992): 8-12; Statement by Metropolitan Vitalii, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, VGE, № 6 … Continue reading In particular, the Council of Bishops of the ROCOR (May 4-17, 1993) saw the need for “a clear dissociation from any attempt to connect the Church with any political or social organization whatsoever, underlining that the Church should stand above all human passions.”VGE, № 3 (1993): 19. By this time, conflicts had come to a head within the Russian Church Abroad which meant a bitter struggle with several persons who had joined the ROCOR in Russia. The attitudes and behavior of a series of personalities and groups in Russia made themselves felt. In their attempts to influence the ROCOR or even to use it for their own ends, profound differences were manifested in views on church and public life as such, and only in part on the Moscow Patriarchate. A stratification of positions and influences within the Russian Church Abroad itself ensued, including in its structures in Russia.
Gradually, both in relation to the Moscow Patriarchate and in the opposite direction, militant slogans such as “schism” and безблагодатность “grace-destitution” etc. began to be used more and more viciously in this milieu. The intensity of the confrontation was growing not only in Russia, but also abroad, where the presence of the Moscow Patriarchate was gradually expanding.
In spite of its undisguisedly critical attitude to the administrative structures of the Moscow Patriarchate, the German diocese of the ROCOR stuck firmly to the ecclesiology of the New Hieromartyr Metropolitan Kirill (Smirnov). As a result, this development was entirely unacceptable to her. For her, the Church remained one. Sharply rejecting the manifestation of any claims to a monopoly on whichever side, the legitimacy of the path of the Russian Church Abroad was affirmed in the German diocese, but from this was deduced the necessity for a rapprochement of all church currents. To this end it was essential to cultivate the ecclesial principle, and consequently to exclude everything imposed on the Church from outside.
In order to achieve a common ecclesiastical basis, the participants in the talks decided from the outset to focus on the Church’s sacraments and services, and not on controversial church-historical or related church-political topics (“Sergianism,” “ecumenism”). The latter were only touched on in private conversations, which was also useful.
The second meeting took place from 28.02–02.03. 1994 in the town of Selbitz (once again between Munich and Berlin, not far from the former internal border of the divided Germany, but on the Western side).Participants – from the ROCOR: Mark, Archbishop of Berlin and Germany; Archpriest Dmitry Ignatiev (Frankfurt), Father Nikolay Artemov (Munich), Father Ilia Limberger (Stuttgart); from the … Continue reading The minutes testify that not only was it possible to go into respective practices for performing the sacraments and services in detail, but also to find common ground, even to reach practical conclusions. Reflected in the minutes are a discussion on baptism and corresponding catechesis, chrismation and reception into Orthodoxy, confession, extreme unction, marriage, burial. Finally, the situation of Russian Orthodoxy in Germany was discussed together with pastoral aims – the role of the German language in divine services. It is clear that at that point the German factor was much stronger than it is today. Although the participants exclude short-term prospects for the creation of a “German Orthodox Church,” they nonetheless remark: “For a good half of parishioners, the language of communication is German. The necessity for more widespread use of German in divine services, homilies, and spiritual guidance is self-evident” (Minutes 2, p.5).
Consensus was also visible in perceptions of pastoral work. For example: “In Germany, both branches of Russian Orthodoxy should establish a unified practice of preparing for and administering the sacrament of Baptism, so that people do not run from one jurisdiction to another in search of an easier path […], as this weakens church discipline […]” (Draft minutes 2, p.2). A return to a practice of full immersion in baptism is greatly to be desired” (Minutes 2, p.2). The use of epitimia “penances” was discussed. “Common confession” was rejected. A difference in practices was noted: the ROCOR rejects cremation; the MP permits a panikhida to be served in front of an urn. “Cremation is becoming ever more widespread in Germany. The authorities should be approached with an explanation of the Orthodox view of cremation as a practice not in accordance with the Orthodox funeral rite” (Draft minutes: pp. 4-5). Added to the words in the minutes on the desirability of a common statement on the Orthodox attitude to cremation is the following: “The fact that a different practice has been enforced in Russia is not an argument against this statement, which contains the genuine Orthodox point of view (that could inversely also influence the Russian viewpoint)” (Minutes 2: p. 5). The question of “mixed marriages” is held to be within the competency of a bishop, who conducts a preliminary discussion (Minutes 2, p.3).
The conclusion in the Minutes: “Present aims in Germany: 1) to impart to the nascent German Orthodoxy vitality and a rootedness in genuine Orthodox tradition, otherwise inorganic paths for the creation of a German Orthodoxy will lead to undesirable results (personal and group exoticism); 2) consensus in our pastoral practice with the aim of arriving at a homogeneity of our mission in Germany. In particular the question of the organization of joint Orthodox work in Germany was posed. The future activity of an “Orthodox Commission” (Minutes 2: p.5) was discussed.
Corrections made to the draft and additions finally transformed the minutes adopted after discussion at the next round of talks into an official record with targeted recommendations. Handwritten notes show that, for the sake of brevity, a large number of the questions discussed were not mentioned in the minutes. The main benefit of the gathering consisted in a detailed going through of all the points of practice and bases for this practice: unity was found in pastoral aspirations.
The success of the first two rounds of talks enabled not only Archbishop Mark’s presentation on “Canonical law. General principles of the application of canons and practical conclusions therefrom”, but also the following topic to be envisaged: “Ecclesiology. The boundaries of the Church, an approach to ecumenism.”
At the next third meeting from 22–24.06.1994 in the small town of Neudietendorf,Deacon Andrei Sikoev took the place of Archpriest D. Ignatiev; Archpriest V. Bashkirov was replaced by the Priest Anatolii Rodionov. Archbishop Mark spoke of the canons as “an instrument for introducing the Truth of the Church into life.” Theoretical and practical sides of the question were analyzed comprehensively. During the discussion, the subject of the divisions within the Russian Church in the XX century was broached and the possibility of compiling a list of obstacles to unification. But against this backdrop it was determined that “in a historical and political church perspective, canonical, ecclesiological, dogmatic, and pastoral aspects are interwoven,” such that “on examination it may turn out to be the case that, strictly speaking, there are no canonical variances” (Minutes 3, p.4).
Transfers of members of the clergy were discussed, the problem of ecclesiastical discipline, reception from heresy and schism. Twice the question of “canonical correctness” arose, for example in the case of the transfer of clergymen and other problems: “14. Consultation on canonical issues. A resolution was taken on the necessity of consultation on canonical issues and the provision of mutual assistance in solving complex questions” (Minutes 3, p.12). This has indeed become a consistent practice.
The phenomenon of modernism in Local Orthodox Churches was also discussed, as well as the “old style,” and in this connection also the problem of “Renovationism.” The Russian Church Abroad was in canonical communion with the old-style Romanians, Bulgarians, and Greeks (of the Cyprianite Synod) in this period, which presented an opportunity for an intensive exchange of information and elucidation of the term “schism” on a broader basis. Clarifications followed concerning temporary decisions in critical periods of church life (retreat from active church life, cessation of commemoration, refusal of eucharistic communion pending a Council). It was determined that the terms каноничность “canonicity” and благодатность “grace-filledness” are not identical. Plans for a Council and a Pre-Conciliar Assembly were discussed, as well as the conditions under which they could be achieved. During the course of the meeting, an extensive exchange of information on the contemporary state of the Church took place: in Russia, the émigré community, and internationally.
In connection with “the anomalies generated by the Soviet period” (Minutes 3: p.10), the 30th Apostolic Canon and relations between Church and state in general were the subject of discussion. Naturally enough, the perceptions of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Church Abroad on this issue differed. As a result, the modus operandi and structure of the “Council for Religious Affairs” were discussed at length. At the beginning of 1992, publications had appeared in Russia, based on archive material, on the collaboration of church figures with the state security organs. The Moscow Patriarchate set up a Commission concerning this. The general parameters of such work were thus examined at the talks, and recent German experience was presented which clearly demonstrated the degree of caution necessary in this matter. This section of the discussion in the minutes concludes with the following words: “Understanding the past is key to healthy development in the future, and the past should be considered from precisely this perspective. The Council of 787 may serve as an example of a conciliatory approach combined with a clear designation of error. The ascertainment of ecclesiastical truth is guided by the benefit of all, including those who participated in its violation. The participants (in the talks – Archpriest N.A.) were in agreement that the topic in question would continue to be present in church life until its final resolution at a future Council, since complete ecclesiastical communion could not come to pass without a resolution of these fundamental questions. Those standing at the altar before the face of God must know that they do so with a peaceful conscience. It was noted that frank discussion would assist with work on this topic in the future” (Minutes 3: p.11).
All were agreed that the subject of “ecumenism” required detailed research. Only a few basic positions were expressed and a set aim specified along with a confirmation of the topic of the next meeting: “Ecclesiology and ecumenism (relations to other Churches and Christian societies” (Minutes 3: p.12).
For the first time, the question of publicizing the talks in the future was raised, and a series of points formulated to be stated in such a document. One of them reads: “The talks have been dictated by pastoral necessity and a commitment to strengthen Orthodoxy. We are guided by a care for people who do not understand the juridical aspect of our separation. We recall that their aim is the reestablishment of the unity of the Russian Orthodox Church (Minutes 3: p.12).
The next, fourth meeting, was planned for the 21-23.09.1994 in the small town of Selbitz, but was postponed until 20-22.12.1994,ROCOR: 22–30.11.1994. MP: 29.11.–04.12.1994 obviously in view of the Bishops’ Councils taking place in November and December on both sides.Apart from the bishops, the participants were: from the ROCOR, Archpriest D. Ignatiev, Archpriest Božidar Patrnogić, the priest N. Artemov,; from the MP, Archpriest M. Divakov, Archpriest G. … Continue reading
After editing and adopting the minutes of the previous round of talks, each of the bishops made a report on the Council that they had attended. This facilitated a better comprehension of the internal workings of the matter. Although the participants from the Russian Church Abroad were somewhat disappointed by the stalling with regard to the glorification of the host of the New Martyrs of Russia and the issue of “ecumenism” (exit from the WCC), some satisfactory explanations for this state of affairs were given. Also discussed was the question of the “rehabilitation” of the New Martyrs and the matter of the “reburial of the remains of the Imperial Family.” Generally speaking, during the talks opinions and information on the New Martyrs were exchanged constantly.
With regard to the 1994 Council of Bishops of the ROCOR, Archbishop Mark spoke laconically of an ambition to “set things in order in Russia,” and of a “gradual clarification of the complexity of the situation” (Minutes 4: p.2). From the outset, Archbishop Mark took an extremely critical stance towards the leader of the Suzdal’ group Valentin (Rusantsov). To start with, his attitude was softened by loyalty to senior bishops and concern for the integrity of the ROCOR. However, the same concern for the integrity of the Russian Church Abroad and the conservation of its authentic traditions dictated his further course.
For the second time, the Council of Bishops of the ROCOR met in the Monastery of Lesna. It was an important, though not the final, milestone in a prolonged battle against one of the attempts to use the Russian Church Abroad (1990-1995). In this struggle, for example, during one of the extended assemblies of the Synod in Munich in 1992, Archbishop Mark as the local hierarch managed to prevent Valentin (Rusantsov), who at the time counted officially not only as Bishop of Suzdal’ but even as a member of the Synod (from 24.10.1991), from concelebrating, or indeed serving in Munich.The extended Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church held a meeting in the Monastery of St Job of Pochaev (Munich) 24-27.06.1992 (VGE, № 4 (1992)). This battle led to the separation of the Suzdal’ group from the ROCOR. Archbishop Lazar’ (Zhurbenko) also left. Nonetheless, with his help illicit episcopal consecrations were performed in Suzdal’. Subsequently, it is true, one of the bishops he ordained – Agafangel (Pashkovskii) – was received through repentance in the rank of Archbishop. The break with the Suzdal’ group was final.
On November 4/17, 1994, the diocesan assembly of the German diocese addressed an official request for a blessing for talks to this Council of Bishops, but did so cautiously. “Members of the clergy and laity of our parishes,” read the official request, “who gathered at the Diocesan Assembly constantly and for many years already have had direct contact with people from Russia on a daily basis, and go there themselves.
We see the problems and pain of exhausted Russia. We must respond to them, resolve these problems or at least discuss them with those we come into contact with. Among them have long been clergyman of that part of the Russian Church which is under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate. For this reason, we request the Council of Bishops for a blessing for ourselves and our bishop – Archbishop Mark of Germany and Great Britain – to react to these questions in the spirit expressed in the Encyclicals of the Bishops’ Councils of 1992 and 1993. We believe that our experience of discussions corresponds to the immediate need of Russian believers, and request Your conciliar blessing to develop them, systematize their results and present these to the Synod and Council of Bishops of the Russian Church Abroad for further conclusions. The first aim of these meetings must be the preaching and defense of the tradition of our Fathers and the exploits of the New Martyrs and Confessors. This spiritual task includes the clarification of canonical and dogmatic problems and appears to us as the responsibility of our Church Abroad to the Russian Church as an integrated whole.”
Depending on the circumstances, Archbishop Mark was to explain this request to the Council in person. At the fourth round of talks he reported that the blessing had been received, and that this was mentioned in the Council Encyclical.
The Encyclical of the Council in the Lesna Monastery is indeed entirely devoted to the progress which had been made, and relations with the Moscow Patriarchate occupy a central place in them. Messages to the Council from the most varied parties are mentioned in the Encyclical. According to the Vestnik Germanskoi Eparkhii (“German Diocesan Gazette”), “diverging, and frequently completely opposite opinions are expressed in them – moreover, the different parties were roughly equal in number.”VGE, 1994, № 6, p. 3. On the one hand, there were those demanding immediate unification with the “Mother-Church” (equating this term to the administration of the Moscow Patriarchate was unacceptable to the Russian Church Abroad), and on the other those who radically rejected the possibility of rapprochement and dialogue.The schismatic bishops Lazar’ and Valentin were naturally not admitted to the Council, but had a conversation with the deputy secretary of the Synod of Bishops, Bishop Ilarion (Kapral) of … Continue reading
There were not a few anxious, critical moments on the path of the Russian Church Abroad in this period, and the result of the talks remained uncertain until the last minute. At that moment it was also not known how the Lesna Council would view the talks. It was important that, in the final analysis, the 1993 Encyclical and the stance on which the talks in the German diocese were based were affirmed in the Encyclical of the Lesna Council: The Russian Church Abroad, while preserving its fundamental positions, should be open to all parts of the Russian Church.
“We hold,” reads the Encyclical, “that the time has come to seek live communion with all the parts of the One Russian Orthodox Church, fragmented owing to historical circumstances. At the same time, there can be no talk of our unification with or subordination to the Moscow Patriarchate, but for the time being only of an improvement of relations. In honest discussions, undertaken without prejudices and mutual recriminations, we should strive to understand and fulfil the tradition of our Fathers and the achievements of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia. We are ready to clarify all the canonical and doctrinal questions which have created the division between the different parts of the Russian Church as a unified whole with all those to whom the Orthodox treasury we have inherited is dear. The aim of such discussions cannot be a compromise between truth and lies […]; all of us bear responsibility for the khiton “robe” of the One Russian Church, unsewn by human hands, and only from this source can we draw the strength to bear our Christian burden in the modern world.” Further on, false notions of the relations between Church and state are denounced, together with ecumenical activity (as “dishonest communion with other confessions”). Finally the Encyclical states: “But simultaneously we rejoice that in the self-same Patriarchate healthy forces are manifest. […] Not with loud declarations, but through painstaking and patient, and perhaps long-drawn-out work we should prepare the way for an All-Russian Council, in which only healthy forces may participate – those in possession of the ability to distinguish the truth from lies. Only then, with God’s help, can it serve as the basis for the revival of true Orthodoxy in Russia, confessed by all with one mouth and one heart.”VGE, № 6 (1994): 3.
Hence, the talks were given a conciliar basis by both sides. At the Council in Moscow, Archbishop Feofan had already been asked in private conversation how the dialogue was developing.
The central theme of the fourth round of talks was the question of the boundaries of the Church. Archpriest Vladimir Ivanov (MP) spoke on the history of Russian views of this issue. Archpriest Dimitri Ignatiev (ROCOR) dealt with “ecumenism,” describing different Orthodox positions. As Archpriest Vladimir had personally been at the Canberra Assembly of the WCC, he was able to share his experience and told how the Moscow Patriarchate had protested against some of the unacceptable manifestations of “ecumenism.”
For his part, Archbishop Mark had to explain an expression used in the Encyclical of the 1994 Council of Bishops: “… a departure from Orthodoxy in the form of an excessive obsession with ecumenism” (the minutes talk of an “unreasonable obsession with ecumenism”). Mutual dissatisfaction with the different formulations in common use at that time led to some rather sharp statements and claims. “Branch Theory,” which The Russian Church Abroad had anathematized in 1983, found no adherents, however. The German diocese of the ROCOR had always had a sober and practical approach to other confessions. This was reflected in a discussion which, more as a result of individual temperaments than anything else, from time to time took on a brusque tone. Archpriest D. Ignatiev emphasized: “If I thought that the Moscow Patriarch had inclined into heresy, then I would not desire unification. But I do desire this, and for this reason I am upset by certain statements, unfortunate assertions…” In essence what was at issue was the limits of practices of communication with members of other confessions and of the dangerous ambiguity of ecumenical terminology. The “phenomenon of doublethink in ecumenical documents” was recognized. Notwithstanding, the participants agreed in the end that they had “only begun to touch on this topic”: “While encountering a great variety of different views and appraisals, they nevertheless did not find it possible to reach a definitive conclusion that the conflicting positions were irreconcilable” (Minutes 4: p.6). It is clear from today’s perspective that the necessity of that specific approach which developed as the years went on, and eventually prevailed, was identified at the talks. This healthy approach was expressed in a document on relations to other confessions at the Council of Bishops in 2000, and then in a document of the negotiating Commissions preparing the “Act of Canonical Communion.”
All of the meetings, from the first to the last day, were called “talks,” and not “negotiations.” It was clear to all the participants that the talks were taking place on a diocesan level. There was no mandate from higher instances, and the dialogue did not become official. To a significant extent, it even remained unnoticed. If in the Moscow Patriarchate it was probably being observed with a certain amount of interest, in the Church Abroad there were bishops who, in spite of the conciliar Encyclical, obviously did not ascribe any particular importance to this question. There was no reason to bother them, never mind the wider public. What is more, what was soon to become a subject of conversation was too sensitive a topic.
“Ecumenism” and “Sergianism” (1995–1997)
The fifth meeting took place in Selbitz from 19-21.06.1995.Other than the bishops, the participants were: from the ROCOR — Archpriest D. Ignatiev, the priest N. Artemov, Hierodeacon Evfimii (Logvinov) from the Monastery of St Job in Munich; from the MP — … Continue reading After the edition and adoption of the minutes, the theme of “ecumenism” was continued. A variety of approaches to it were discussed in the theory and practice of both parts of the Russian Church. As a result, at the suggestion of Bishop Feofan, an inquiry was composed addressed to the Moscow party regarding the controversial aspects of the ecumenical activity of representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate, especially in the West. An answer was presented at the next, sixth round of talks.
Archpriest V. Ivanov read a presentation on the Russian theological heritage, “The evolution of theological thought at the end of the XIX and beginning of the XX centuries.” The topic of “Sophiology” was discussed. The exchange of opinions was limited to agreement on the identification of a series of historical facts relating to the topic of the presentation, without any kind of conflict, and it was merely noted that the question of the works of such authors as N. Berdiaev, the priest P. Florenskii, Archpriest S. Bulgakov, among others, “leads to the inflammation of passions between ‘liberals’ and ‘traditionalists’” (Minutes 5: p.4).
The transition to the new historical subject matter was based on an article by the priest Vladislav Tsypin, “On the question of the boundaries of the Church”;Theological Works, Anniversary Anthology: 300 years of the MDA (Мoscow, 1986), 193-225, esp. 215-222. also discussed was an article by Metropolitan Sergii (Starogorodskii), “The relations of the Church of Christ to societies which have separated themselves from her.”ZhMP, № 1– 3 (1931). The hypothesis of a “single, monolithic Eucharist,” as developed by Metropolitan Sergii, was unacceptable to all the participants in the talks. Next, historical perspectives of the Russian Church in the XX century were the subject of discussion, together with the methodology and topics of future meetings. A collection of issues was decided on: the time and activity of Patriarch Tikhon, the path to the 1927 “Declaration of Loyalty,” the structure of the Church in connection with Ukaz (“Decree”) No. 362 of November 7/20, 1920, relations with the church diaspora, the destinies of Metropolitan Petr (Polianskii) and Sergii (Starogorodskii), the question of the authority of those in Locum Tenens. Behind these stood the shared, vexed question “of the monopolistic attitude to the Russian Church” present in both its parts in different variants. Where the question of the relationship of the Church towards civil authorities was concerned, it was proposed that references from Holy Scripture be examined in detail, as well as the thoughts of apologists and the Holy Fathers of the Church. The participants were in agreement that they should “strive for a maximum level of professionalism and open a path to extending the group of participants by inviting experts” (Minutes 5: pp. 5-6). Furthermore, Bishop Feofan drew general attention “to the necessity of reflecting on possible forms of unification of the different parts of the Russian Church” (Minutes 5: p. 3). Among the participants from the Church Abroad, the question arose when and how it would be possible to transfer these talks to Russia and to a more official level.
At the sixth meeting from 20-22.12.1995 in the small town of Naila,Other than the bishops, the participants were: from the ROCOR – the priest N. Artemov, the priest I. Limberger, Deacon A. Sikoev; from the MP – Archpriest V. Tsypin, Archpriest G. Antoniuk, … Continue reading not far from the former East German border, a “Memorandum on questions related to our participation in ecumenical activity” together with four appendices which had been received from Moscow was read out. The representatives of the Church Abroad were disappointed by the evasiveness of this document on a series of issues. One of the answers, nonetheless, was judged so positively that it was proposed that it be published. The answer spoke clearly of the inadmissibility of some cases of interaction with members of other confessions in a liberal-ecumenical spirit. Another answer concerning the recognition of Catholic sacraments evoked criticism, as did a defence of the expression “sister church.” It was remarked on that, on the whole, the Moscow Patriarchate was building its relations with members of other confessions on the basis of a position corresponding to the XIX century. After a detailed and fruitful discussion, the following was noted: “We have reached agreement that the heritage of the Russian Church needs correction to bring it up to date […]; a future norm should be developed from experience in the direction of a stricter approach, but without excessive extremes. Joint prayer actions should be avoided. A proposal was made to create a normative document defining boundaries, that is what should be avoided” (Minutes 6: p.3). As has already been noted above, in 2000 the Council of Bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate determined a norm which proved acceptable to the ROCOR.
If, in the discussion, the parties once again had recourse to the use of the word “schism,” then now it was in connection with parallel parishes in Russia under the omophorion of the Church Abroad. At the same time, the topic of “foreign missionaries” and prospects of combating them was developed against the background of existing ecumenical practices, the question of Uniatism, and the politics of the Catholic Church and the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
After this, the parties turned their attention to the history of the Russian Church and Church-State relations. Together with the question of the glorification of the New Martyrs, this issue occupied the most important place in the reflections from this time forward, in a search for shared ecclesiastical approaches. First of all, differences were identified, nevertheless. Archpriest Vladislav Tsypin, who had come from Moscow, read a presentation on “The Holy Patriarch Tikhon and his successors.” The priest Nikolai Artemov made an answering comment on the topic of the watershed in the activity of His Holiness Patriarch Tikhon. The resulting discussion takes up a whole five pages in the minutes, before it moves on to an examination of the letters of the Locum Tenens, Metropolitan Petr (Polianskii), and then the reactions of the Church to the “Declaration of Loyalty,” including the “Local Encyclical of the Council of Bishops of the ROCOR from 1927.” Differences in the perception of the “Declaration” in the two parts of the Russian Church constituted another part of the discussion, which concluded with an analysis of émigré destinies with a special accent on the Second World War and its consequences, and the complex subject of “Soviet patriotism,” already contained in the “Declaration.” The extensive discussion concluded that “there is currently no need further to justify measures imposed from outside as the only path for saving the Church. The lack of clarity of what the Declaration signifies in the Russian Church today is a cause for concern […] the exact nature of Soviet power as a spiritual phenomenon should be elucidated in greater depth. […] the Declaration and so on should not be regarded as a guide for action. The key to our history is the resolution of a fundamental issue: what constitutes a patristic attitude to secular power” (Minutes 6: p.18).
The priest Nicolai Artemov read a presentation on the theme of “the Church and secular power” at the seventh meeting, which took place from 15-17.05.1996 in Naila with an almost identical group of participants.Archpriest D. Ignatiev replaced the priest I. Limberger. Apart from this, a pamphlet by Archimandrite Iustin (Popovich) on “The Church and power” was handed out to the participants, as well as articles published at different times in the Vestnik Germanskoi Eparkhii on the attitudes of martyrs, apologists, and the Holy Fathers to secular authority.Among them: “On the Church and power – according to St. John Chrysostom,” VGE, № 1 (1993): 12-14. For his part, Archpriest Vladislav Tsypin read a paper on “The Church and power – paths of compromise.” The participants attempted to form a holistic picture for themselves from both these lectures.
The seventh meeting was for the most part a continuation and deepening of the previous one. Archpriest Dimitrii Ignatiev made a presentation “On ecumenism.” In the course of the discussion, it became clear that the situation had begun to change. “Archbishop Feofan suggested to Vladyka Mark that he come to a Council in Russia and raise his concerns before everyone.” He further said: “If the Theological Commission gives us their documents, then it will become clear that we are of one mind on the question of ecumenism. It is they who have proposed that we leave the WCC” (Minutes 7: p.8). The proposition in question turned out subsequently to have been softened, but the information on it visibly demonstrated that, by merely looking from outside, each party was in danger of misinterpreting what was happening inside the other part of the Russian Church. This clarification served as an important lesson. Another such lesson, this time from the other party, was the sharp reaction of representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate towards a publication in the Vestnik Germanskoi Eparkhii (No. 2 (1996)). Reference was made to a “round table” at which relations between the Russian Church Abroad and the Moscow Patriarchate had been openly discussed, and the meetings in Germany had been mentioned. This “round table” had taken place in the context of the “Orthodox Congress” in Munich at the end of December 1995. In it had participated Bishop Danilo (Krstic) of Budim (Serbian Orthodox Church). The aim of this conference was to draw broader attention to and ingrain in the consciousness of the flock of the Russian Church Abroad the fact of the meetings, and also (within the ROCOR itself) to nurture an awareness of their necessity, as well as to show the fundamental positions of the ROCOR representatives. The reason for the sensitive reaction of the other party in the dialogue consisted in the fact that several statements aimed at listeners from one milieu provoked a completely different reaction and comprehension in the other group. Similar situations arose during the talks again and again, which without doubt constituted a positive experience. In all of the questions, on the one hand, the meaning and contexts of the statements were successfully clarified, and on the other, the spectrum of opinions inherent in any great Church could be discerned.
A deep impression was produced by Patriarch Alexei II’s words of penitence to the Germans that – as a result of the arrival of the Soviet authorities – one totalitarianism had been replaced by another in their country. The reaction to this unexpected statement from both the official instances and the media on the Russian side gave pause for thought. Even taking into the account the negative external reaction, the words of His Holiness were a manifestation of a certain Church independence which, from the point of view of the Russian Church Abroad, was often found wanting. It was at this round of talks that the problematic relationship of the ROCOR to the patriarchal elections in Soviet Russia was touched on, and in general the legitimacy of the higher church authority. The question was of course not resolved, but the outlines of a positive resolution were sketched (Minutes 7: p.5).
The history and contemporary situation of the “catacomb Church” were discussed, and its historical link with the ROCOR. Nonetheless, a decision was taken to leave the topic of the catacombs and parallel parishes for another time. In order to continue the historical theme, the correspondence between Metropolitan Sergii (Starogorodskii) and Metropolitan Kirill (Smirnov) was chosen and the relations of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Church Abroad from 1920-1934.
It should be noted that it was at the seventh round of talks that it was decided to compose a joint document in order to better understand the essence of the respective positions and the work on them. This document, produced “not for publication,” takes up less than two pages and is dedicated to attitudes to the persecutions, the New Martyrs and the “Declaration,” to the words of Holy Scripture (Rom. 13: 1-5): “for there is no authority except from God” etc. A distinction was established between authority which is “blessed” and one which is “permitted” as a result of sins. A hopeful commonality of positions shines through in the document: “We venture to assert that there is a foundation for further creation of the church Body together. The external forms of such a structure should be determined in a conciliar manner, all the more so as the apostolic succession of ordinations and validity of sacraments is not in question. At the current time, no insurmountable barriers to the restoral of full canonical and eucharistic communion can be seen. This step, nevertheless, should be canonically legitimate and worthy in a moral sense. Nobody is called on to assume the position of judge. We should not talk of the “repentance of the Church,” but of our repentance before the Church of Christ. And repentance is not simply a feeling, but contains a fresh beginning: the rejection of falsehood and the acceptance of God’s gift of Truth.”“On the meetings of the two parts of the Russian Orthodox Church (the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Church Abroad) on the Territory of the German Diocese.” 17.05.1996
The following statement was made in the document: “The contentious declarations which are the subject of our discussion have receded into the past; they do not bind us today or in the future. The assessment of these documents, as for the assessment of the activity of the hierarchs of the XX century is a matter for Church historians (p.1). Notwithstanding, at the eighth round of talks, the work on historical documents was continued. The same approach was adopted later, this time on a professional level, by two conferences on the history of the Russian Church which took place in Szentendre (Hungary) and Moscow in 2001 and 2002 in conformity with the resolution of the Council of Bishops of the ROCOR of October 2000 – that is to say when the “ice began to break.” These conferences to a significant extent grew out of the spirit of the talks in Germany and the real work carried out there.
The eighth meeting took place in Berlin from 15-16.10.1996, first of all in the flat in the house-church of the ROCOR in the Kulmbacherstr. 6 (Berlin-Wilmersdorf), and the next day in the church house of the Moscow Patriarchate in Karlshorst in East Berlin.The group was again the same, but in the ROCOR party Deacon A. Sikoev was replaced by the priest I. Limberger, while the MP party consisted of five people: Archpriest Alexander Kozha also took part.
It is impossible to communicate the breadth and depth of the discussion that arose in connection with the correspondence between two charismatic figures from Russian church history: Metropolitans Kirill and Sergii. At the first stage of discussions, the following summation could be made: “It was agreed that further clarification is required on how two levels of conciliarity interact with one another – the administrative and the spiritual.”
It was indicated that the aim of the talks was to shed light on the paths which had led us to the current state, and how we should or could now respond.
“In the opinion of Archbishop Feofan, it had been sufficiently explained why believers in the West could not accept these paths, and in Russia they were and had always remained unacceptable for many. But the question remains, wherein the distortion actually consists, what exactly is this notorious ‘falsehood’ in the Church. Archbishop Mark replied that it was impossible to teach at Sunday school nowadays, but that it was essential to collaborate with the atheist authorities. And even if the Church had taken varied paths in her history, then it was still inadmissible to make a moral imperative out of this historical imperative (as, in his opinion, apologists for Metr(opolitan) Sergii are doing in today’s ZhMP)” (Minutes 8: p.3).
In the second part of the talks, papers were read by Archpriest V. Tsypin and the priest I. Limberger. The difference between the approaches of Metropolitan Sergii (Starogorodskii) and his critics was examined – in the first instance Metropolitan Kirill (Smirnov), but also the Solovki bishops. “Archbishop Feofan confirmed that we are dealing with two completely different ways of thinking: ‘Metropolitan Kirill thinks openly” (Minutes 8: p.8).
The theme of the perception of language and the role of words began to take shape more and more clearly. The ambiguity which had earlier been discussed in relation to “ecumenism” and the “confusion” and “temptations” generated by this practice was now examined with regard to totalitarian systems: the Church and power, the violation of human interaction in totalitarian systems.
A deep and very frank discussion showed how far assessments of expressions, style, and in general words themselves can diverge. It became clear to what degree officialese and other expressions, words, and matters related to this can be perceived differently at different levels or in different situations even within the same society. While some might consider particular parts of texts or aspects of actions rather empty, insignificant, “chaff,” “dross” and so on, others see in them a harmful subtext, and still others might take them seriously (out of naivety?). To appraise the true results of such a varied composite (even in one and the same person) is not simple. Even if during the discussion each party, based on their own life and ecclesial experience, manifested common positions, then it was now especially interesting that within each of the parties themselves different points of view now began to emerge. This was not in the last place a result of the fact that Archbishop Mark (who at one point had noticed a monopolization of activity in the conversation) urged “that the other representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate should also state their opinions” (Minutes 8: p.5). In this way, fresh creative angles began to be revealed in the discussion.
Nevertheless, in connection with the subject of “different assessments of words” the presence of “self-censorship” should also be mentioned. One of the Russian participants in 2008 shared how, despite the freedom of the discussions and his feelings of goodwill towards his interlocutors, he harbored a deep sense of unease over every word due to his “Soviet past” (‘how not to cause any harm’). Behind the openness of the communication, as it turned out, both parties were to some degree still hemmed in by the unremoved barriers of the past and the necessity of bearing in mind contemporary realia.
Above all, the meetings opened new paths for envisaging the whole Russian Church; a certain common point of view emerged – a church-wide view. “Differences in perception in different dioceses both of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Church Abroad were discussed” (Minutes 8: p.12). It was noted that each party was far from attributing particular expressions and thoughts to the entire other part of the Russian Church. In the process of absorbing the multitude of opinions and appraisals on both sides, the parties came significantly closer to one another: here the unity of the Russian Church became a palpable reality. It was as clear as day that mutual recognition was natural, and exclusivity (for example, expulsion “outside the fence of the Mother-Church” for not submitting to a central administration) was forced on the Church by circumstances alien to her and should be discarded just in the same manner as radical “either…or” argumentation.
Archbishop Feofan was able to say: “Arguments centering on the “Declaration” on a historical level have been exhausted; an understanding has been reached […]. A list of inadmissible points should be compiled, and then it will be possible to take the next qualitative step.” (Minutes 8: p.6). Later on, he advised that it be taken into account that the interest of the ROCOR in the “Declaration,” though very much comprehensible and conditioned by its historical path, could be misunderstood in contemporary Russian reality by the episcopacy of the Moscow Patriarchate (Minutes 8: p.11).
A decision was taken to compile two documents: 1) On the correspondence between Metropolitan Kirill (Smirnov) and Metropolitan Sergii (Starogorodskii); 2) On the “Declaration of Loyalty.” They were subsequently published in the Berlin diocese (MP) German-language journal Stimme der Orthodoxie (“The Voice of Orthodoxy”).Stimme der Orthodoxie, № 4 (1996): 19–20. It was not clear from the publication that they were two coordinated texts; quotation marks were omitted, and so on. This may be explained by the fact that the first document (On the correspondence…) was missing a title. There was an attempt at coordinating with the aim of publishing the documents in the Vestnik Germanskoi Eparkhii (a fax on the subject exists, but it is not known what the answer was). As a result, these texts were never published in Russian.
The explanation for this reticence on the part of the ROCOR, independent of external circumstances, may have been purely psychological: in contrast to the document quoted above “not for publication” from the seventh round of talks (Naila 16-17.05.1996), some of the representatives of the ROCOR in this case were left with an acute sense of dissatisfaction. In the course of the work on them, the two new texts were emasculated. Owing to the omissions, not only did they not present any particular interest from the point of view of the ROCOR, but they could even have been dangerous in this form, and could have caused outcry in its own midst. So although there were no formal objections to the publication of the documents, there was also no demand for it due to their unfinishedness. Standing right at the origins of a sort of a new dynamic, “going public” turned out not to be as straightforward as it had seemed to begin with.
One more detail should be noted which emerged at the very end of the meeting: in connection with further topics, Archbishop Feofan raised the question of the “prophetic voice of the Church” in the social sphere. An echo may be posited here of the work which was being conducted at the time on the “Social Conception.” In this document, a solution to the problem of “Sergianism” was achieved, and this strongly influenced the shift in the relations between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Church Abroad which took place in 2000. Possibly the discussions at the talks in Germany, and perhaps also the texts prepared there had an influence on the thinking in Moscow. Though if this was not the case, then it is even easier to perceive a common ecclesial development of both sides towards one other. From such a positive perspective, nonetheless, one other question arises: why was joint work not possible at this time? It could have led to unification and a combined celebration of the glorification of the holy New Martyrs much earlier! Here the answer must be: the time was not yet ripe – not for either side.
The Crisis of 1997 and Determining a Path
“Storm clouds” had already begun to gather above the whole initiative. It is true that for the first time a “ray of light” also broke through them: in January 1997 at a meeting in Dresden, both archbishops signed an “Agreement” on the issue of the ownership and use of the church in Dresden, which had been at the center of a legal dispute. In the “Agreement,” rights of ownership are retained by the ROCOR and rights of use by the parish of the Moscow Patriarchate. The intention was to put an end to all lawsuits (there is hope that they might end in 2008!).
Let us note: on February 12, 1995, on the occasion of the 700th anniversary of the acquisition of the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God, Vladyka Mark served a moleben before the wonderworking icon in the Berlin Moscow Patriarchate cathedral. Vladyka Feofan was not present; the full Berlin Moscow Patriarchate clergy were present, but did not concelebrate in the moleben. According to the “Agreement,” the German ROCOR archbishop could serve in the Dresden church after giving due advance notice and by arrangement. This happened twice in 1997. But owing to the situation at the time, the “Agreement” only worked “creakingly” for around a year before it had to be dissolved. The explanation why the “Agreement” no longer functioned is to be found, strange as it may seem, in precisely the same issue of the Vestnik Germanskoi Eparkhii (“German Diocesan Gazette”) where the joint “Declaration” from the ninth meeting was published, which took place in Naila from 14-16.12.1997,Aside from the bishops, the participants were: from the ROCOR – Archpriest D. Ignatiev, the priest N. Artemov, the priest I. Limberger; from the MP – Archpriest M. Divakov, Archpriest V. … Continue reading in which profound concurrence on the main points of the church dialogue was expressed. With the “Declaration,” the four-year dialogue had also to be broken off. The “Declaration” elicited the most varied reactions, and in some places a storm of indignation.
On the pre-history: on July 5, 1997 the only Christian monastery in the town of Hebron (in the Holy Land) was seized by armed forces of the Palestine autonomous region by order of Yasser Arafat, confiscated from the Russian Church Abroad and given as a gift to the Moscow Patriarchate. This act of violence, at which representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate were present, stunned the Russian Orthodox diaspora, who were intimately connected with decades of pilgrimages to the Holy Land and its holy sites. It should not be forgotten that once before, 50 years earlier (in 1948), church property had been taken from the ROCOR in Israel by the same method of expelling the monks.
Naturally, these actions were heralded triumphally in Russia as a return of property into Russian hands (at which in the Russian Church Abroad people shrugged their shoulders: “And who are we?”). The tale of the events leading up to and after this still awaits its historian.On the occasion of the visit of Patriarch Alexei II to the Holy Land, the ROCOR Synod responded positively to a request to visit the Gethsemane and Mount of Olives monasteries. The Mother Superior of … Continue reading One thing is clear: the Russian state brought influence to bear on the church situation, and not in the most positive direction, entirely in accordance with its aforementioned directives on the “return of property.” It is hard to see it as a coincidence that, long before the arrival of Patriarch Alexei, the Hebronite “six monks had already been subjected to terror by Palestinian army groups, who time and again conducted their training on the monastery grounds and demanded that the monks leave the monastery.”VGE, № 4 (1997): 5. Ibid. A Detailed description of these and subsequent events (pp. 4-10)
Still earlier, even before the expropriation of the Hebron Monastery, propagandistic and unjust accusations against the ROCOR of collaboration with the Nazis had once again been published under lurid headlines.Stimme der Orthodoxie, Nr. 2 (1997): 23-25: “Die lange Hand des Führers. Fragwürdige Regelung russischen orthodoxen Kirchenbesitzes in Deutschland“ (The Führer’s long hand. The dubious … Continue reading Although rulings had already been pronounced by the highest authorities in Germany on this issue, the political determination to misappropriate church property could not but concern the German diocese.Who needs a “new Hebron” in Germany? VGE, no. 2 (1998): 14-15. The primitive nature of these attacks was vividly exposed in an independent paper by the historian A. K. Nikitin (Moscow) on the basis of extensive archival work that he finished in 1998.Nikitin A, “The Nazi regime and the Russian Orthodox community in Germany (1933-1945).” (Мoscow, 1998). See also: VGE, no. 2 (1998): 14. Notwithstanding, the West-European Archdiocese in Paris was also soon forced to defend itself from similar onslaughts. Due to the Soviet style, all of this was perceived as an assault on the church life of the diaspora itself.
In April 1997, from the Department for External Church Relations (while giving a positive assessment of the talks in Germany, calling them “negotiations”) came the familiar words: “The Mother-Church and a breakaway church grouping.” Hence, what was being talked about was “individuals who for more than 70 years had been in schism with the Church,” and that “the only way out of this impasse for her (for the ROCOR – Archpriest N.A.) was a return to the bosom of the Mother Russian Orthodox Church.”See: Deputy Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, Archpriest Viktor Petliuchenko (Radonezh Newspaper, № 6 (April 1997): 50). As a result of their one-sidedness, such calls for “official dialogue” were perceived as an ideological justification for past and future attacks. Least of all did they correspond to a spirit of discussions. At the ninth round of talks, Archbishop Feofan called the view that “the ROCOR had broken off from the true Church – the Moscow Patriarchate” a “schoolboy attitude.” A correct interpretation, in the opinion of Archbishop Feofan, was the following: “different circumstances of church life; incorrect understandings and an insufficiency of information about one another; sins and mistakes” (Notes to minutes 9: p. 5).
Where the leadership of the ROCOR was concerned, the beginning of 1997 saw the sparking of a confrontation between Metropolitan Vitalii (Ustinov) and Archbishop Mark (Arndt). Bishop Mark, who long before he became a monk had written his doctoral thesis on the Tver’ principality, was invited through his slavist ties to the 725th anniversary of the Faithful Prince Mikhail of Tver’, for which he went to Tver’.VGE, № 6 (1996): 12. He used this occasion to make a visit to Patriarch Alexei II in Moscow. His first short meeting with the Patriarch had been on November 20, 1995 in Munich. Archbishop Mark reported back to the president of the Synod of Bishops shortly after each of these meetings with the Patriarch. His letter concerning his trip to Tver’ was distributed and even published in the press along with a sharp response from Vladyka Vitalii.Letter from Archbishop Mark, 03.12.1996, AGE-NA-6 V. Ibid: Response from Metropolitan Vitaly of 12.12.1996 (see: Russkaia Mysl’ “Russian Thought” (Paris), 27.02.1997); see: Radonezh, No. 1 … Continue reading Archbishop Mark’s reply to Metropolitan Vitalii and his “explanatory note” to the Synod of January 26, 1997 were not published anywhere, but bear witness to his clear and far from one-sided view of the ecclesial problems in Russia and the Church AbroadAGE-NA-6 V, 14.12.1996.; the whole path he had taken proceeded from this. In particular, the “explanatory note” highlights that “a long tradition of such meetings already existed in Germany. Both Archbishop Filofei and Archbishop (then Bishop) Pavel met with bishops of the MP here,” and according to the minutes of the Council of Bishops in 1996, our bishops were given the right to meet with bishops of the MP.” Those who did not see anything negative in Archbishop Mark’s meeting with Patriarch Alexei included, at very least, Bishop Mitrofan (Znosko-Borovskii) of Boston and Bishop Daniil of Erie (their letters to Metropolitan Vitalii are preserved in an archive); Archbishop Mark always received the spoken support of Archbishop Antonii (Medvedev) of San Fransisco and Western America. Undoubtedly, at some point research will be published on how this question was closed through an epistolary reconciliation. The blow had been struck, nonetheless, and a fissure which many had guessed at had been strikingly revealed. Metropolitan Vitalii’s age did not permit him the mobility necessary in those years, and of course there were people who managed to take advantage of this. However, the issue was not only Metropolitan Vitalii, but those forces, both in Russia and the Church Abroad, who were actively resisting dialogue. Hardly had this internal discussion died down, than the events in Hebron mentioned above crashed down on the Church Abroad from outside.
Archbishop Mark’s authority in the Russian Church Abroad could have been undermined. However, immediately after the seizure of the monastery in Hebron, the Synod of Bishops sent Vladyka Mark on a diplomatic mission to the Holy Land (9-28.07.1997), and then on 30.07 appointed him as supervisor of the Spiritual Mission and monasteries in the Holy Land (in which capacity he regularly visits the Holy Land to this day). This was, of course, not an easy mission, but the Synod thus expressed its full confidence in the German archbishop, who summed up the situation as far as the internal prospects for the Russian Church were concerned in his article, “The power of the Church is in the unity of faith and love.” In his introduction, Archbishop Mark writes: “The Moscow Patriarchate has once again shown its Soviet origins, its imperialistic spirit, the fact that its power structures are prepared to trample on the dignity of the Church and man, to resort to deceit and violence, – and it would seem natural now simply to close the question of our mutual relations with the Moscow Patriarchate. I have refrained from such a simple decision, although I am expecting once again to be the object of slander. As before, I consider that we are accountable for our path in the Church before the whole Russian Orthodox people, and not only – or even least of all – before institutions which have stultified in their power-hungry habits, and which unfortunately hide under the name of the Russian Church. For this reason, I am publishing my reflections on this subject in the form in which they were set out before the events in the Holy Land, which alas have brought disgrace on the whole Russian Church.”VGE, № 4 (1997): 25.
The absence of an analysis and evaluation of the intertwining of matters of Church and state here is comprehensible: it would have been too much to ask. What was required was to articulate positions, and in his programmatic article, signed on June 11, 1997, the German archbishop outlined all the points on which controversy continued for almost a whole decade. “The separation of the Russian Church, which in my view should not be called a ‘schism,’ cannot be considered as normal” (Minutes 8: p.26), but the administrative organs of the Moscow Patriarchate do not have the right to lay claim to the appellation ‘Mother-Church’ either”: “Simplifications are convenient for worldly politics, which aims to invade church life in a harmful way, but they are inappropriate in questions relating to the Church of Christ, in particular the long-suffering Russian Church. When speaking of “unification with the Mother-Church,” it would be better not presumptuously to arrogate such an exalted title to oneself, but with filial love to appeal to that same Russian Church from which all of us, who have lived for more than seven decades and live today in the most varied circumstances, derive our origin in one way or another. […] In today’s situation of relative freedom in Russia, we bishops must pose the question of the possibility and even the timeframe for the convocation of a Council; its aims and ways in which it could be carried out should be taken into consideration” (Minutes 8: p.26).
Here is not the place to examine the issues of “ecumenism” and “Sergianism,” which have already received sufficient attention above. Instead let us take a look at what Archbishop Mark wrote on the New Martyrs: “The procrastination in glorifying the Holy New Martyrs, and in particular the Faithful Passion Bearers – the Imperial Family – is a source of frustration. Debates on this subject follow convoluted paths which appear strange to us. […] God gave us the opportunity to glorify the host of the Russian New Martyrs, and we did so in 1981. This glorification is already indubitably and in a totally natural way spreading to the whole Russian Church; not as a unilateral political dictate, but as active love. In what ways and what tempi the other dioceses of the Russian Church unite themselves with this act of ecclesial love depends entirely on them” (Minutes 8: p.28).
Where the glorification of the New Martyrs was concerned, a large role in the rapprochement was played by a ruling of the Moscow “Commission for the Canonization of Saints,” following the glorification of the Locum Tenens Hieromartyr Petr (Polianskii), to recognize as New Martyrs those who had remained faithful to the Locum Tenens, even if they were in opposition to Metropolitan Sergii (Starogorodskii). On the one hand, this removed the sharpness of the delimitations inherited from previous decades, and on the other such a widening of the field to the recognition of these saints concurred with the right and even the duty of the Church, as affirmed in the “Social Conception,” to resist secular authorities in certain circumstances. Hence, the ominous message of the “Declaration of Loyalty” on unconditional obedience to the state was gradually removed, which did not correspond to the teaching of the Church and for this reason was denounced by the Russian Church Abroad.In an appeal “To the Russian People” by the ROCOR Synod of Bishops (February 2000), an apology for such “loyalty,” in view of the inconsistency of its references to Holy Scripture … Continue reading
From his church experience, encompassing many local Churches, Vladyka Mark emphasized the necessity for breadth of vision: “The Church insists on the purity of the sacraments and doctrine, but the Church is not an ideology, not a political party, but life, and consequently there has always been present and permitted within her a latitude in relation to different approaches and views – up until the point where they are offered up with the humility of man before the greatness of God. In the Russian Church before 1917, there was a great variety of forms of church life, even of liturgical practice. Such is the case today in the other local Churches. […] Notwithstanding, this approach does not mean a refusal to call sin ‘sin,’ or falsehood ‘falsehood.’”
In the same article, Vladyka Mark called for a General Council of the Church Abroad with the task of identifying “forms of unification” and the connection “between eucharistic communion and administrative unity.”This question had previously been raised by Bishop Mark at a pastoral conference in Germany. Meanwhile, as an example of a trustworthy approach he pointed to the “impeccable ecclesiology” and “thought of such a venerable hierarch as Hieromartyr Kirill of Kazan.” The bishop-confessors of Solovki were also mentioned. Behind this stood the firm conviction that in relation to the Church, “above all love for her, unity of faith, and the freedom of Christ are needed – then the external forms of reunification will be found, will be granted to us” (Minutes 8: p.29).
These were the lines along which all the talks in Germany were conducted, and which found clear expression in the “Declaration” at the last of the meetings.
The “Declaration” of December 3/16, 1997 signified the end of a stretch of road which had undoubtedly been creative. From the perspective of the integrity of the Russian Church, this was only a temporary halt. All the parameters for the “restoration of canonical communion within the Local Russian Church” had already been laid out here. Be that as it may, this became clear only much later on, when the end had been reached. This journey proved to be difficult. Not a few barriers remained to be broken down, and at that point a favorable outcome could still not have been predicted.
The Ninth and Final Meeting
The notes of the minutes of the ninth meeting exist only in handwritten form. Discussions of the minutes had already taken place. It seemed pointless even to take minutes at all. No further meetings were planned. In brief, the provocation in Hebron turned out to be a successful move, all the more so as everything was arranged around the visit of the Patriarch, who in actual fact had nothing to do with it whatsoever.
The dialogue took place from 14-16.12.1997 in Naila.Aside from the two bishops, the participants were: from the ROCOR — Abbot Agapit (Gorachek), Archpriest D. Ignatiev, Archpriest N. Artemov, the priest I. Limberger; from the MP — Archpriest V. … Continue reading “To start with the fact was discussed that an abyss lay between the last and the present meeting” (Noted minutes 9: p.1). Archbishop Feofan remarked how abruptly the general atmosphere had changed, how a dialogue which before had been greeted with lively, benevolent interest was now a cause for blame, almost raising suspicions of self-serving motives. The upper church hierarchy took a less negative attitude, but scepticism still prevailed.
Previously during the talks, whenever discussions had reached an impasse, or questions were raised on an overly high level, exceeding the competency of the participants, the archbishops had returned the conversation to a diocesan context. This had been the case on a number of occasions. At the last round of talks, it was impossible not to speak of a full laying out of the cards. This had been on the agenda in the past too. If, in the milieu of the ROCOR representatives, conversations had already been held after the fifth meeting on how the dialogue could be transferred to Russia and its scope extended, raised to a new level, then here Vladyka Feofan confirmed the fact that the discussions had now grown beyond an inter-diocesan to an inter-ecclesial level. However, instead of a positive extension, negativity was rampant: various pronouncements by individual figures, including Metropolitan Vitalii, publications in the press, and an ensuing vitriolic polemic on both sides increasingly inflamed the atmosphere.
The participants wondered where this “new line” was coming from and whether it was possible to take a different approach to it all? The question of “who was to blame” had to remain open. State organs played their part, of course, but both church parties were also guilty in their own way, even if only through their reactions to various harsh or ill-considered utterances, manifesting stereotypes which were beyond any doubt outdated. A resolution of the Council of Bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate of 18-23.02.1997 was read: “The continuing tension in relations with the so-called Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia is noted, caused above all by its anticanonical decisions to found a parallel jurisdiction within the Russian Church. Readiness for dialogue with the Russian Church Abroad at any level and without preconditions is affirmed.” The words “so-called” and the parenthesizing of the appellation did not appear hopeful. Once again, a conversation ensued on the possibility and necessity of doing away with the term “schism” once and for all, which only seemed achievable in the context of a dialogue at a synodal level: did the Moscow Synod regard the historical division as a sort of tragic separation or as a “schism?” As it transpired in the course of discussions, even after the events in Hebron there was talk in the Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate of some sort of arrangement allowing for concelebration in individual cases. Nevertheless, this was a single statement by one member of the Synod. There were also enough sharply negative judgements in the Moscow Synod. The situation appeared thus: Patriarch Alexei was seeking for unification; he was being attacked for this; and for his part, Metropolitan Vitalii’s statements differed starkly from Archbishop Mark’s position, and the Patriarch was extremely disappointed. There was no clear position at that point in the Russian Church Abroad, either in word or deed.
It was only in the clarity of the position taken by the state that there was no need for any doubt: the secular authorities of the RF tried all possible means to gain property rights over foreign churches for themselves (not for the Moscow Patriarchate), and to this end claimed to be the legal heir of tsarist Russia. Naturally, the state found support for its aims within the Moscow Patriarchate. The small and far-off ROCOR, hitherto not known for its friendliness, had no chance of competing with the ever so familiar and tangible state – this much was clear. Nonetheless, the question grew somewhat more complex: the participants from the Church Abroad assumed that behind all this lay the hand of the Department for External Church Relations, and above all its director, while Archbishop Feofan affirmed a positive attitude on the part of Metropolitan Kirill (Gundiaev). Despite this, the interaction of Church and state was not denied, and no exit in the direction of purely ecclesial solutions, which the Church Abroad party insisted on, was in view. The discussion went round in circles, becoming alternately more heated and then calming down again.
This atmosphere of acute confrontation had bitter consequences on a parish level in Germany, and indeed in the whole Church Abroad: wherever parallel Moscow Patriarchate parishes appeared, do-gooders began spreading crude propaganda about the ROCOR as “schismatics.” The harsh statements of the First Hierarch of the ROCOR against the Moscow Patriarchate only added fuel to this fire. The question arose whether a joint dispensation could be given to take communion in parishes of the other jurisdiction? The response only went as far as saying that, however good this might be, it should be decided, as Archbishop Feofan put it, “on an individual basis; in today’s situation I would not (give such a blessing – Archpriest N.A.) from the ambon.” For his part, Archbishop Mark added his confirmation: “Such a declaration would do more harm than good at the moment” (Archbishop Mark, Notes 9: p.14). It was clear to everyone that hitherto silent detractors were stirring up a polemic in the new situation, and the talks in fact did not open any new vistas, as they were situated beyond the border of political reality; hence, overall, a step was taken back into the past. Nevertheless, the question remained: would these forces manage to completely break up the rapprochement which had already taken place? From today’s perspective it may be said that such a close contact of two parts of the Church, with the active participation of their ruling bishops, bore spiritual fruit. At the time this could not be seen so clearly.
Although it was considered whether, against the backdrop of the common endeavor to remove the confrontation and obtain some sort of positive declarations from both Synods as to how the said division was to be regarded, or even more than this, whether it would be possible to “raise the question of a communion of Synods” (Archbishop Mark, Notes 9: p.8), soon in the discussion it became clear that such an attempt might very well lead to a totally undesirable, opposite result.
Nonetheless, within Germany it would have been possible to think about a joint pastoral congress, and everyone saw the need for a joint “Declaration.” This declaration was composed and published in three languages: Russian, German, and English. It voiced the positions outlined here a number of times. “This terrible division,” the “Declaration” stated, “was born from the destruction of Russian statehood, the destruction of the integrity of the living building of the Church and of cultural traditions. While the division persists, occasions for it to deepen will also appear, as the potential for new conflicts is inherent in any state of division. Forces exist with a vested interest in deepening the confrontation. Even people who are zealous for the good of the Church may unwittingly deepen it. Often the points which divide us are based on ignorance and misunderstandings; in serious dialogue this becomes obvious, but it is blurred at the level of tabloid polemic, imprecise or harsh formulations in statements, or due to different comprehensions of terminology. Such points of contention should be removed wherever possible.”Declaration of the participants in the ninth meeting of clergymen of the Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate and Church Abroad) in Germany, VGE, № 1 (1998): 33-34.
In the “Declaration,” the topics of the talks were transcribed, differences in the historical paths of the different parts of the Russian Church were noted. Further on the text stated: “Talk of the different ‘parts of the Russian Church’ does not mean the tearing of the Body of Christ into several parts, but on the contrary, affirms a positive understanding of its deep wholeness, on the basis of which it is possible and necessary to overcome the bitterness of confrontation. In this sense, all of us perceive ourselves as children of the spiritual traditions of the Russian Church. She is the Mother-Church for all of us, and in her church life she is manifested both in Russia and abroad, uniting us by the same token.”
Concerning the absence of eucharistic communion, it was clarified (in spite of those people who were inflaming passions) that this did not imply some sort of безблагодатность “grace destitution,” but on the contrary that the grace of the sacraments and the ecclesial life of both parties should not be called into question, just as каноничность “canonicity” should not be turned into a weapon of self-assertion. On the possibility of eucharistic communion, the text stated: “Today historical factors linked to hierarchical discipline are still active. We have reached the conclusion that those problems which still stand between us and require resolution do not constitute an absolute barrier to eucharistic communion.”
The destiny and spiritual exploits of Metropolitan Kirill (of Kazan) were especially highlighted as an example of a responsible approach to the spiritual essence of church life. The “Declaration” concluded with the words: “We are not prepared to gloss over problems and are aware of the tragedy of the current situation, even of a certain hopelessness. Be that as it may, having established our common desire for unity, we see prospects for unity only by taking the path of recognition of the essential fullness of the ecclesial life of each party. Without this we are not even capable of speaking openly of real problems which arise, let alone solving them. Herein lies our responsibility before God and the people of the Church.
The force of the “Declaration” consisted in the fact that these words were spoken jointly. Furthermore, in contrast to the meetings between priests, as has already been emphasized, these talks took place under the supervision of ruling bishops. With regard to their dioceses, Archbishop Mark and Archbishop Feofan together with the representatives of their clergy acted entirely legitimately: an archbishop is the absolute master of his diocese and may meet and talk with whom he sees fit. The “Declaration” was written exclusively in the name of the participants of the meeting in question, and not in the name of the Moscow Patriarchate or the entire Russian Church Abroad, as some asserted. This inaccurate perception represents a source of interest in itself, nonetheless. It points to a failure to solve the problem of the “boundaries (within) the Church”: was there an absence of clarity regarding boundaries and interactions in church life? At the time, many people would not have been able to say with certainty whether they would deny either the Moscow Patriarchate or the Russian Church Abroad (depending on their own affiliation) the right to consider themselves the fullness of the Church – and if not this fullness, then what exactly? What is the “Moscow Patriarchy” in its most narrow sense as an administrative body, and what is the “Moscow Patriarchate” as a territorial local Church, and what is the link between them? How do these two entities bear relation to the single whole Russian Church? Solidarity with the paths of the secret, catacomb Church in Russia as the bearer of its own ecclesial succession did not simplify the problem. Attitudes to the sacraments also presented a problem.
These questions were not abstract. It appears that the “Declaration” gave expression to some sort of real shift of the “boundaries of the Church,” in the sense that a broader conception of the Local Russian Orthodox Church, a part of which both of the parties involved in the meetings really considered themselves to be, was juxtaposed to a narrower understanding of church affiliation. Instead of the usual vision of the Russian Church in a rather abstract, not to say mythical form, behind these words stood the reality of two church units (dioceses), each hierarchically connected with units at a higher level. Such a presentation of the question caused a sort of detonation inside the Russian Church Abroad. This was an astonishing fact. Why did it happen?
One might ask oneself how the real interrelationship between the Russian Church and the Church of Christ, “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic,” is perceived within the milieu of the clergy and faithful, or what the layout of alignments (loyalties) towards different levels of church life within the Moscow Patriarchate looks like for clerical ministers and lay people. But this is a different topic. Let us turn to the Russian Church Abroad. Here, a sort of “double loyalty” had always existed. The first alignment (to one’s own part of the Russian Church and specifically to a diocese, a parish) did not cancel out a second alignment, but always coexisted together with solidarity with Russia and the Russian Church as a whole. However, the latter (Russia and the Russian Church) were viewed and felt differently by different people and groups, and the application of solidarity acquired qualitatively different objects. To this double alignment, feeding an inner conciliarity and felt acutely as responsibility, another third, historical component should be added. It is for this reason that the Local Council of 1917-1918 was mentioned so often. Although the statutes of the ROCOR (the “Position”), like its parish statutes, are rooted in this Council, this historical aspect was nevertheless also connected with different attitudes and interpretations and was experienced in very different ways. There is also a fourth factor: ecclesial prospects for the future, or to put it another way, responsibility for future development. This in its turn is manifested in the not infrequent references to an upcoming All-Russian Council. In all these four dimensions of alignment with an entity called the “Russian Church,” the variety of perception was always relatively large. However, nowhere was this stated or illustrated. As a rule, just such unanalyzable, unstated basic notions are laden with the strongest emotional charge.
It was impossible that in the rapidly changing situation, all this internal topography should remain unchanged. With 1990 arrived a time of rearrangement of borders and alignments, of reordering. This process was continuously evolving, and different groups and currents in the Russian Church Abroad were activated on different “fronts.” In the German diocese, the levels of conciliar involvement of the Russian Church Abroad were thought of as follows: 1) the diocese – an inalienable unit of the Russian Church Abroad as a single entity; 2) the Russian Church Abroad as an inalienable part of the one Russian Church; 3) the Russian Church, or the Moscow Patriarchate, as the Local Church from the perspective of the Local Council of 1917-1918, but without myths, that is in the light of strictly factual-historical analysis; 4) the future of the church without illusions, that is taking into account the situation of the contemporary Russian Church as a whole. It was in these categories that the talks were held.
The contact/meeting of the two dioceses in Germany – each with its connections to other ecclesial levels – was legitimate, but signified a tectonic shift in the general topography. What followed was an earthquake. This may be expressed in another way as an incursion into the status quo of conceptions of life that had long since acquired a certain shape and which coexisted relatively peacefully alongside others in a single organism (The Russian Church Abroad). Those who were the most shaken by the “Declaration” were those whose solidarities (loyalties) had taken another shape. It is therefore not surprising that exceptionally emotional reactions were the result. It seemed to those for whom the “boundaries of the Church” looked different, and who had different appraisals of the situation in Russia, that the approach which had been taken had already decided everything in advance. They saw in this active approach a “violation of conciliarity.” However, conciliarity had not been compromised, but on the contrary, obstacles had been removed which were slowing down the conciliar process both within the Russian Church Abroad and the Russian Church as a whole.
The Crisis in 1998
If the “Declaration” caused joy for some, in others it provoked bitterness. What was most astonishing in the negative responses which came from the milieu of the Russian Church Abroad was the miscomprehension not only of the essence of the matter, but also their wording. The talk was not even of negotiations (which, of course, were impermissible and had not been permitted), but of some sort of “agreement”; what is more, one allegedly composed in an entirely “ecumenical spirit,” of “union.” Here is not the place to analyze this criticism.
The negative voices required an answer, and two publications followed in the Vestnik Germanskoi Eparkhii (“German Diocesan Gazette”), aiming to calm the atmosphere.N. A. “Puti Rossiiskoi Tserkvi, vchera — segodnia — zavtra. V svete ekkleziologii sviashchennomuchenika Kirilla Kazanskogo” (Paths of the Russian Church, yesterday – today – tomorrow. In … Continue reading The most extensive of the two responded to the criticism, but was otherwise dedicated to a historical interpretation of the destiny of Hieromartyr Kirill of Kazan; the second article directly elucidated the premises in the “Declaration” with reference to the criticism. It described the pastoral situation in Germany, with the huge influx of people from the former USSR, and argued that it was essential reflect on mutual church relations and arrive at mutual recognition (especially of the validity of the sacraments) for the sake of avoiding the growth of ecclesiastical falsehood. To the great detriment of the faithful, things had reached the level of absurdity: owing to ignorance of history and the actual situation, priests of the Moscow Patriarchate sometimes forbad parishioners who had moved to Germany to attend ROCOR churches. This article finished with the prospect of the convocation of a General Council of the Church Abroad.
It was a critical time: there was a repetition of the conflict with Metropolitan Vitalii, or rather his entourage, with a new twist. On the personal decision of Metropolitan Vitalii, Archbishop Mark’s membership of the Synod was revoked: “From this day forth,” wrote the President of the Synod to Vladyka Mark on February 6/24, 1998, “you are no longer a member of the Synod. Your case will be discussed in the Synod, and you have the right to be present only at the meeting concerning your personal affair.”AGE-NA-6 G, 24.02.1998. Other members of the Synod did not permit this turn of events, rightly reasoning that Archbishop Mark had been elected to the Synod by the Council of Bishops, and that he could only be ejected from the Synod by a combined synodal decision that then had to be approved by a Council.
It is essential to mention the “Appraisal of the activity of Archbishop Mark in dialogues with the Moscow Patriarchate” submitted to the Council of Bishops in 1998 and signed by five bishops active on Russian territory (the “Episcopal Assembly of Russian Primates”). In this assessment, Archbishop Mark had “intentionally violated conciliarity,” “exceeded his purview and conducted dialogue as if on behalf of the whole Church Abroad.” The signatory bishops saw in this a “heavy blow to our Russian dioceses, and above all to catacomb parishes,” and interpreted what had happened as the readiness of the “Church Abroad for a full and voluntary acceptance of Sergianism,” leading to a “disappearance of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad not only juridically, but destroying its spiritual value.” They not only supported the expulsion of Vladyka Mark from the Synod, but expressed the opinion that “his actions, containing particular danger for the Church, deserve even more severe punishment.”AGE-NA 6 G – Undated (for the Council of 1998). Signatures: Archbishop Lazar’, Bishop Ven’iamin, Bishop Evtikhii, Bishop Agafangel, Bishop Mikhail. Born in the emigration, Bishop Mikhail … Continue reading
Bishop Kirill of Seattle (the future Archbishop of San Fransico), who in February had published a “reflection”AGE-NA 6 G – fax dated 23.02.1998. in which he categorically rejected the “Delcaration,” subsequently did not just change his point of view. Rethinking the situation and the aspirations of his brother hierarch Archbishop Mark, he asked his forgiveness for the misunderstanding and became a staunch advocate of the path of dialogue.
A group of laypeople sent out to the whole Church Abroad a letterAGE-NA 6 G – 12.04.1998. collecting signatures by April 30, 1998 in support of Metropolitan Vitalii and the encyclical “The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (its contemporary significance),”AGE-NA 6 V, Undated (March 1998) in which positions of exclusivity were proclaimed. Another group of lay people (from Florida) addressed the episcopal body of the ROCOR regarding the “dangerous situation in the leadership”: “We humbly request that Metropolitan Vitalii recall the example of the last days of our venerable and beloved Metropolitan Anastasii, […] and seek retirement.”AGE-NA 6 G – 26.03.1998. Here also a desire was expressed that the Council of Bishops of May 1998 fix a General Council of the Church Abroad in the near future.
If, in the letter signed by the First Hierarch of the ROCOR, the talk was of a “colossal temptation among our whole clergy, both German and European,”AGE-NA 6 G – 24.02.1998. then this was undoubtably an exaggeration. A full (with the exception of one priest) pastoral assembly and meeting of the parish elders of the German diocese on May 1, 1998 in Frankfurt signed a letter addressed to the bishops and the whole Russian Church Abroad.AGE-NA 6 V – 01.05.1998. The basis for this action consisted in an acknowledgement of errors: although the talks had been public knowledge in the German diocese, beyond its borders there was not enough information. It was recognized that insufficient care had been taken to communicate with others on related topics, and that the short “Declaration” had not managed to express the scope and essence of the work carried out sufficiently concisely. However, the aim of the “Declaration” had been to “point out” that it was important to continue to study these questions that were vital for the Church, not even just for the Russian Church, and also gradually to broaden the circle of participants. This was asserted in spite of the efforts of the anti-ecclesial forces that by their actions were deepening the division (Hebron, the claims on the imperial churches in Germany, and so on),” and was set out in an open letter. The participants of the assembly in Frankfurt appealed for trust in the position of their bishop, which they reinforced with a reference to the Vestnik Germanskoi Eparkhii (1997, No. 4, see above) and the Encyclical of the Council of Bishops of 1994. Appended to the letter were several pages of a possible programme for a General Council of the Church Abroad, which those present at the assembly also requested. The German diocese had decided to correct its mistake, and the said information was distributed to several hundred e-mail addresses and fax numbers. Such a response was made necessary due to the fact that open letters and petitions were already circulating in the ROCOR.
The 1998 Council of Bishops, comprising 17 bishops, including four from Russia, explained in its Encyclical that no “negotiations” were under way, and that concerns regarding the “self-abolition” of the Russian Church Abroad were unfounded,Literal wording: “Our Church has never conducted discussions on unification with the Moscow Patriarchate, i.e. on the self-abolition of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, and does not … Continue reading but the parties had taken the decision to summon a General Council of the Church Abroad in 2000. The waves temporarily subsided.
As is well known, the General Council of the Church Abroad in 2000 did not happen. However, a Council of Bishops did take place in Moscow which revealed new paths in three key questions for the Russian Church Abroad: the glorification of the host of the New Martyrs of Russia, the relationship of the Church to the state, and relations to other confessions. The ROCOR Council of Bishops in New York in October of the same year responded positively to the rulings of the Council of Bishops in Moscow.VGE, № 5-6 (2000): 3-4; Resolutions of October 4/17 and 8/21, 2000, VGE, № 5-6 (2000): 5-6. This occurred despite a renewed heavy blow identical to the one in Hebron: the seizure of another monastery in the Holy Land in Jericho in January 2000. The decisions taken in Moscow corresponded so closely to the fundamental aspirations of the Russian Church Abroad, nevertheless, that the bishops considered the doors to be slightly ajar. The waves did rise once again in 2001, following the retirement of Metropolitan Vitalii, before (after another two years of work) further shifts occurred in 2003 which – supported by the extended Pastoral Assembly in Nyack (USA) in December – led to a large delegation headed by Metropolitan Lavr, the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, travelling to Russia in May 2004.
Of the ten members of the Commission who drafted the preparatory documents and the “Act of Canonical Communion” (signed on May 17, 2007), three had already sat together for days during the talks in Germany, and another two had worked together at the historical conferences (2001 and 2002). This was for Germany 30%, and in total even half of the participants in the dialogue who constituted the Commission which compiled the “Act.” Both the “Act” and its related documents, and still more so the approach to the issue of division itself during the whole process of negotiation, starting from November 3, were entirely consistent with the positions evident during the German talks.
The initiative in Germany, which appeared to have ended on such a sad note, nonetheless appears to have borne fruit; and not only in the Commissions. The same was true of the activity of the group of clergymen from Germany at the Nyack pastoral assembly, and in turn at the General Council of the Church Abroad: all the members of the Council of episcopal (2) and priestly (4) rank representing the German diocese had earlier been participants in the talks, that is they had at one time passed through the “school” of the meetings between 1993–1997.
P.S. In December 2007, that congress of the two dioceses in Germany took place that had been spoken of in December 1997. It was headed by two Russian Orthodox archbishops. Both of them were “of Berlin and Germany.” During the joint services, this provoked both comprehending smiles and a certain amount of bafflement. What is one to say? A temporary situation…
|↵1||“The Council of Bishops (1923 – Archpriest N.A.) does on the basis of its former deliberations hereby resolve: to recognize the position that the representatives of dioceses outside the borders of Russia collectively express the voice of the free Russian Church Abroad, but that neither any one individual figure, nor a Council of hierarchs of these dioceses represent an authority to which might pertain the rights pertaining to the All-Russian Church in the form of its lawful hierarchy.” The term “the All-Russian Church” with its “lawful hierarchy” does not exclude the Church Abroad, but naturally encompasses the entire Russian Church in the light of the All-Russian Council of 1917-1918. The mission of the ROCOR included assistance to believers in Russia to a maximum possible extent: “Having as its immediate responsibility the spiritual nourishment of the Russian Orthodox pastorate abroad, the Council of Bishops, the Synod, and hierarchs and priests, within the confines of their mandates, shall exercise all types of cooperation in the satisfaction of various spiritual requirements whenever they shall receive such requests from church institutions in Russia or individual Christians”; Nikon (Rklitskii), archbishop, The Life of the Blessed Anthony, Metropolitan of Kiev and Galicia (New York, 1961) vol. 7, 35.|
|↵2||“Encyclical of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad to the pastors and pastorate of the Russian Orthodox Church,” Tserkovnaia Zhizn,’ no. 5-6, (November 6/19, 1987): 129-133.|
|↵3||Paragraph 5 of the Resolution states: “The ‘Proclamation’ calls us to ‘open and honest dialogue’. To this we should declare that we would consent to this if there were a common platform of ecclesiastical thinking for such a dialogue, and if it involved persons who were not tainted by collaboration with the atheist authorities and were not subject to ecclesiastical court” (see: TsZh, № 5-6 (1990): 139-140; Vestnik Germanskoi Eparkhii “German Diocesan Gazette” (hereafter VGE), № 1 (1991): 6.|
|↵4||Gosudarstvennyi komitet po chrezvychaainomu polozheniiu (State Committee on the State of Emergency)|
|↵5||VGE, № 5, (1991): 12–15. Among the participants were, Ioann Ekonomtsev, Kirill Sakharov, Aleksandr Borisov, Arkadii Shatov, Artemii Vladimirov, Gleb Iakunin, Mikhail Ardov, Viktor Usachev, Vasilii Fonchenkov, Viktor Potapov, Nikolai Artemov, German Ivanov-Trinadtsatyi.|
|↵6||Stolitsa, № 3, special edition (1991). See also: VGE, № 4, (1991): 13–14.|
|↵7||Published as a separate flyer in August 1991 in Munich. Published: TsZh, № 3–4, (1991): 25–28; VGE, № 5 (1991): 2–4.|
|↵8||TsZh, № 5–6 (1991): 3–5; VGE, № 5 (1991): 2.|
|↵9||Letter from Archpriest F. van der Voort to the priest N. Artemov of 07.09.1991.|
|↵10||Letter from Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) to Archpriest F. van der Voort of 12.09.1991 (in the old orthography).|
|↵11||Letter from Archpriest F. van der Voort to Archpriest Boris Bobrinskoi of 27.06.1991; letters from the priest Nikolai Artemov to Archpriest F. van der Voort of 04.08.1991 and 05.11.1991. Letter from Deacon Peter Scorer to Archpriest F. van der Voort of 14.11.1991.|
|↵12||Letter from the priest N. Аrtemov оf 05.11.1991.|
|↵13||Circular letter from Archpriest F. van der Voort of 30.10.1991.|
|↵14||Characteristic of this situation was that the bishop of the Moscow Patriarchate in Düsseldorf, Bishop Longin (Talypov) knew nothing of this event and was not meant to know about it. Such was the reality of those years owing to the preceding era. But here, as in the case of the “Paris Jurisdiction” described above, one may observe a certain consistency. Shortly before the 2007 reunification, Archbishop Longin’s actions in the ecumenical field had created an explosive situation which had to be defused by statements from the Moscow Patriarchate and the German diocese.|
|↵15||Circular letter from Archpriest F. van der Voort of 29.12.1992.|
|↵16||Letter from Archpriest F. van der Voort to the priest N. Artemov of 27.01.1993|
|↵17||“Bogoliubivoi pastve Germanskoi Eparkhii” (To the godfearing German pastorarate), VGE, № 1 (1993): 8–9.|
|↵18||“Bogoliubivoi pastve Germanskoi Eparkhii” (To the godfearing German pastorarate), VGE, № 1 (1993): 8–9.|
|↵19||VGE, № 3 (1993): 2. The Council met in the Lesna Monastery near Paris from May 4–17, 1993.|
|↵20||On the basis of research, it has been possible to establish that the participants in the meeting were: from the ROCOR – Archbishop Mark, Archpriest Dimitri Ignatiev, Father Nikolai Artemov, Father Ilia Limberger; from the MP – Bishop Feofan, Archpriest Mikhail Divakov, Archpriest Feodor Povnyi, Archpriest Vladimir Bashkirov.|
|↵21||Fax from Archbishop Mark to the Ziezendorfhaus of 23.12.1993. All the documents quoted hereinafter are from the Arkhiv Germanskoi Eparkhii “Archives of the German Diocese” (=AGE), sorted by date. F, NA, D, 6 B, 1991-2000: talks in Germany.|
|↵22||Telefax to the Dresden Regional Court (27.01.1999) p. 19, Dresden 2, 12.1999–12.2001, AGD, D|
|↵23||See above the response of the ROCOR Synod to the 1990 “Proclamation” of the MP Council of Bishops.|
|↵24||“Ob Otechestve i o Tserkvi” (On the Fatherland and on the Church), VGE, № 5 (1992): 8-12; Statement by Metropolitan Vitalii, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, VGE, № 6 (1992): 12.|
|↵25||VGE, № 3 (1993): 19.|
|↵26||Participants – from the ROCOR: Mark, Archbishop of Berlin and Germany; Archpriest Dmitry Ignatiev (Frankfurt), Father Nikolay Artemov (Munich), Father Ilia Limberger (Stuttgart); from the Moscow Patriarchate: Feofan, Bishop of Berlin and Germany, Archpriest Mikhail Divakov (Berlin), Archpriest Georgii Antoniuk (Berlin), Archpriest Vladimir Bashkirov (Berlin Tegel). The latter drafted the minutes (old orthography).|
|↵27||Deacon Andrei Sikoev took the place of Archpriest D. Ignatiev; Archpriest V. Bashkirov was replaced by the Priest Anatolii Rodionov.|
|↵28||ROCOR: 22–30.11.1994. MP: 29.11.–04.12.1994|
|↵29||Apart from the bishops, the participants were: from the ROCOR, Archpriest D. Ignatiev, Archpriest Božidar Patrnogić, the priest N. Artemov,; from the MP, Archpriest M. Divakov, Archpriest G. Antoniuk, Archpriest Vladimir Ivanov.|
|↵30||The extended Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church held a meeting in the Monastery of St Job of Pochaev (Munich) 24-27.06.1992 (VGE, № 4 (1992)).|
|↵31||VGE, 1994, № 6, p. 3.|
|↵32||The schismatic bishops Lazar’ and Valentin were naturally not admitted to the Council, but had a conversation with the deputy secretary of the Synod of Bishops, Bishop Ilarion (Kapral) of Manhattan, during which, among other things, they “expressed concern about the allegedly impending talks between the ROCOR and figures from the Moscow Patriarchate” (Suzdal’ Pilgrim, 1995, no. 22, p. 9).|
|↵33||VGE, № 6 (1994): 3.|
|↵34||Other than the bishops, the participants were: from the ROCOR — Archpriest D. Ignatiev, the priest N. Artemov, Hierodeacon Evfimii (Logvinov) from the Monastery of St Job in Munich; from the MP — Archpriest M. Divakov, Archpriest V. Ivanov, the priest Alexei Tomiuk (Leipzig).|
|↵35||Theological Works, Anniversary Anthology: 300 years of the MDA (Мoscow, 1986), 193-225, esp. 215-222.|
|↵36||ZhMP, № 1– 3 (1931).|
|↵37||Other than the bishops, the participants were: from the ROCOR – the priest N. Artemov, the priest I. Limberger, Deacon A. Sikoev; from the MP – Archpriest V. Tsypin, Archpriest G. Antoniuk, Priest A. Tomiuk.|
|↵38||Archpriest D. Ignatiev replaced the priest I. Limberger.|
|↵39||Among them: “On the Church and power – according to St. John Chrysostom,” VGE, № 1 (1993): 12-14.|
|↵40||“On the meetings of the two parts of the Russian Orthodox Church (the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Church Abroad) on the Territory of the German Diocese.” 17.05.1996|
|↵41||The group was again the same, but in the ROCOR party Deacon A. Sikoev was replaced by the priest I. Limberger, while the MP party consisted of five people: Archpriest Alexander Kozha also took part.|
|↵42||Stimme der Orthodoxie, № 4 (1996): 19–20.|
|↵43||Aside from the bishops, the participants were: from the ROCOR – Archpriest D. Ignatiev, the priest N. Artemov, the priest I. Limberger; from the MP – Archpriest M. Divakov, Archpriest V. Tsypin, Archpriest G. Antoniuk, Archpriest Alexander Kozha.|
|↵44||On the occasion of the visit of Patriarch Alexei II to the Holy Land, the ROCOR Synod responded positively to a request to visit the Gethsemane and Mount of Olives monasteries. The Mother Superior of the Mount of Olives Monastery, however, Mother Iuliana (who as a young woman had experienced the expulsion from the Gornenskii Monastery in 1948), did not want to submit to this and at the last moment obtained approval for her position from Metropolitan Vitalii (Ustinov), and was also supported by Bishop Varnava (Prokof’ev). Received with honor in Gethsemane, Patriarch Alexei was not admitted to the Mount of Olives, contrary to what had been agreed. At the Oak of Mamre in Hebron, he also found himself facing a locked gate. His Holiness had to endure a scandalous situation before the gate was unlocked. The blame for the offence caused lay with certain individuals who were later reprimanded by the Synod of the ROCOR. It should be noted that no request was made for a visit to the Hebron monastery. All things taken into consideration, it is difficult to perceive this as an accident. It is possible that the seizure of Hebron would have taken place on the initiative of Y. Arafat regardless of any provocation. His actions in seizing the ROCOR monastery in Jericho in 2000 were similar. As for the local representatives of the ROCOR, their actions were unacceptable and did not conform to the rules for the treatment of pilgrims in the Holy Land. The failure of the ROCOR Synod to consistently enforce agreements could not but discredit it as a reliable dialogue partner. These events greatly strained relations between the Russian Church Abroad and the Moscow Patriarchate.|
|↵45||VGE, № 4 (1997): 5. Ibid. A Detailed description of these and subsequent events (pp. 4-10)|
|↵46||Stimme der Orthodoxie, Nr. 2 (1997): 23-25: “Die lange Hand des Führers. Fragwürdige Regelung russischen orthodoxen Kirchenbesitzes in Deutschland“ (The Führer’s long hand. The dubious regulation of Russian Orthodox church property in Germany – with reference to the newspaper Trud), or in NG-Religion, 26.06.1997: “Russian Churches in Germany. The authorities have still not repealed Hitler’s laws” (for a response, see: NG-Religion, 25.09.1997). For a response to an article in the Frankfurter Rundschau “Russia demands the return of Orthodox property confiscated by the National Socialists” (see: VGE, no. 2 (1998): 14-15).|
|↵47||Who needs a “new Hebron” in Germany? VGE, no. 2 (1998): 14-15.|
|↵48||Nikitin A, “The Nazi regime and the Russian Orthodox community in Germany (1933-1945).” (Мoscow, 1998). See also: VGE, no. 2 (1998): 14.|
|↵49||See: Deputy Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, Archpriest Viktor Petliuchenko (Radonezh Newspaper, № 6 (April 1997): 50).|
|↵50||VGE, № 6 (1996): 12.|
|↵51||Letter from Archbishop Mark, 03.12.1996, AGE-NA-6 V. Ibid: Response from Metropolitan Vitaly of 12.12.1996 (see: Russkaia Mysl’ “Russian Thought” (Paris), 27.02.1997); see: Radonezh, No. 1 (1997): 45, where interviews with Archbishops Mark and Feofan were published.|
|↵52||AGE-NA-6 V, 14.12.1996.|
|↵53||VGE, № 4 (1997): 25.|
|↵54||In an appeal “To the Russian People” by the ROCOR Synod of Bishops (February 2000), an apology for such “loyalty,” in view of the inconsistency of its references to Holy Scripture with patristic teaching, was called a “false doctrine” worthy of condemnation (ibid. No. 1-2: 12-21). (TsZh. No. 1-2: 12-21).|
|↵55||This question had previously been raised by Bishop Mark at a pastoral conference in Germany.|
|↵56||Aside from the two bishops, the participants were: from the ROCOR — Abbot Agapit (Gorachek), Archpriest D. Ignatiev, Archpriest N. Artemov, the priest I. Limberger; from the MP — Archpriest V. Ivanov, Archpriest Georgii Davidov (Dresden), Archpriest G. Antoniuk.|
|↵57||Declaration of the participants in the ninth meeting of clergymen of the Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate and Church Abroad) in Germany, VGE, № 1 (1998): 33-34.|
|↵58||N. A. “Puti Rossiiskoi Tserkvi, vchera — segodnia — zavtra. V svete ekkleziologii sviashchennomuchenika Kirilla Kazanskogo” (Paths of the Russian Church, yesterday – today – tomorrow. In the light of the ecclesiology of Hieromartyr Kirill of Kazan), VGE, № 2 (1998): 16–26; Artemov N., archpriest, “RPTsZ i MP: O chem zhe, sobstvenno govoria, rech’? Popytka utochnit’…” (The ROCOR and the MP: what is in fact being discussed?), VGE, № 3 (1998): 19–24|
|↵59||AGE-NA-6 G, 24.02.1998.|
|↵60||AGE-NA 6 G – Undated (for the Council of 1998). Signatures: Archbishop Lazar’, Bishop Ven’iamin, Bishop Evtikhii, Bishop Agafangel, Bishop Mikhail. Born in the emigration, Bishop Mikhail (Donskov) later changed his approach on the basis of his own experiences in Russia, especially journeys with the relics of the nun-martyrs Elisaveta and Varvara in 2005-2006. Bishop Evtikhii (Kurochkin) initially responded positively to the decisions of the Council of Bishops in Moscow in 2000 and, together with Archbishop Mark, in this sense influenced the response of the ROCOR Council of Bishops in October 2000 (the drafting of the Encyclical, the proposal to set up a “Commission on the Unity of the Russian Church”; for a resolution on his report, see: “Resolution of 4/17.10.2000,” VGE, № 5-6 (1998): 3-7). Then he hesitated for a long time. In May 2006, he finally formulated his point of view (see: Evtikhii, Bishop, “Moi perezhivaniia na IV Vsezarubezhnom Sobore, privedshie menia k pokornosti vole Bozhiei” (My Experiences at the Fourth General Council of the Church Abroad, which led me to obedience to the will of God, VGE, № 3 (2006): 17-20).|
|↵61||AGE-NA 6 G – fax dated 23.02.1998.|
|↵62||AGE-NA 6 G – 12.04.1998.|
|↵63||AGE-NA 6 V, Undated (March 1998)|
|↵64||AGE-NA 6 G – 26.03.1998.|
|↵65||AGE-NA 6 G – 24.02.1998.|
|↵66||AGE-NA 6 V – 01.05.1998.|
|↵67||Literal wording: “Our Church has never conducted discussions on unification with the Moscow Patriarchate, i.e. on the self-abolition of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, and does not intend to have any negotiations about them now” (VGE, № 3 (1998): 1).|
|↵68||VGE, № 5-6 (2000): 3-4; Resolutions of October 4/17 and 8/21, 2000, VGE, № 5-6 (2000): 5-6.|