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A Summary-View of the Three Previous ROCA Sobors

A Report by P.N. Budzilovich,
presented at the Sobor of Bishops of the
Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCA)
20 October 2000 in the City of New York, USA

Translated by George Spruksts

[TRANSLATOR'S NOTE: Mr. Peter N. Budzilovich is a public figure of world-renown in the Russian world, whether in the Homeland or in the Diaspora. He is the author of numerous monographs and a public speaker, par-excellence. He was one of the founders of -- and, for several decades, he chaired the Board of Directors of -- The Congress of Russian-Americans. His (Russian-language) web-site can be found at: http://www.russia-talk.com/]

     In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit!

     Your Eminences, Your Graces, Venerable Fathers, Dear Ladies and Gentlemen!

     First of all I want to thank you all for the confidence you have placed in me, in entrusting me with the preparation of a report dealing with the subject of an "A Summary-view Of the 3 Previous All-Abroad Sobors" of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad ("ROCA") ["Obzor 3-kh predyduschykh vse-zarubyezhnykh Soborov"], which took place in 1921, 1938 and 1974. Taking into consideration that I had 20 minutes alloted to me for this presentation, the task before me was not an easy one -- what, in particular, should I include in my report?

     However, in studying the materials of the three previous Sobors, the subject of my report stood out like a scarlet thread: the ROCA's stand as the successor of [our] thousand-year-old Mother-Church, the Russian Orthodox Church; and, to the extent that she [ROCA] could do so, her support of her spiritual ties with -- and her provision of spiritual assistance to -- the Russian people, who found themselves enslaved to godless communism. Therefore, I will preface my report with a brief reminder of what the Russian Orthodox Church was turned into by her masters -- the communists.

     After the declaration of Metropolitan Sergii (Starogorodskii) in 1927, the Russian Orthodox Church ceased to be a "Church" -- the Body of Christ, and turned into the propaganda department of the KGB and the CC CPSU. By the Second World War the Church was all but destroyed; but, then, in September 1943 she was re-established by order of Joseph Stalin, who at that time resolutely tried to make use of Russian patriotism and Russian traditions, including those of the Church, in order to win the war.

     Upon appointing Metropolitan Sergii to the post of "Patriarch of All Rus'," Stalin made him to understand unequivocally that he would be in total submission to the soviet regime. At that same meeting where the decision was made to re-establish the Church, Stalin provided Metropolitan Sergii with a "Council Of Russian Orthodox Church Affairs" ["Sovet po delam Russkoy Pravoslavnoy Tserkvi"] to oversee him, headed by the NKVD-man Georgii Grigoryevich Karpov, the former head of the NKVD department for the destruction of Orthodoxy in the USSR. At the same time, Stalin "put at their ease" the metropolitans present, saying that Karpov was a man capable of carrying out orders. When commanded to destroy priests, he destroyed them; now, upon being ordered to protect them, he would protect them!

     Not going into details, the Russian Orthodox Church in the USSR, or, as she began to be called, the "Moscow Patriarchate," the MP, continued to exist as a propaganda unit of the KGB and the CC CPSU from 1927 to 1991, when both the KGB and the CC CPSU were shut down. From that time on, the MP began to govern itself independently, but by bishops who had been APPOINTED by KGB and CC CPSU collaborators from the times of Brezhnev-Andropov-Gorbachev! According to an on-the-mark definition which arose in Russia at that time, "the MP became the sole surviving department of the KGB."

     Having lost its master, the MP acted timidly during the first few years of the 1990s, being unsure of itself. Time, however, went on. In the Russian Federation ("RF") that was formed no one even thought of putting on trial the former members of the [communist] party, and others who had committed various crimes and who had participated in the genocide of the Russian nation. On the contrary, by 1996 the Communist Party of the RF under the leadership of Zyuganov, the former "instructor" of the CC CPSU, received nearly a third of all the votes in the general election. Other members of the soviet nomenklatura simply changed their colouration and took over the corresponding lofty posts within the leadership ranks of the "new Russia" -- the RF.

     Seeing that no retribution for their anti-national activity awaited them, the leadership of the MP became emboldened and likewise decided to act "in Zyuganov-like fashion." It was, in part, precisely at this time that violent and "juridical" attempts to seize ROCA property throughout the entire world broke out. ("At home," in the RF, attacks against ROCA took place all the time.) Here were Hebron and Jericho in the Holy Land; here, also, was Bari in Italy; here, too, Ottowa in Canada; here, Copenhagen in Denmark, as well. [And now, Geneva -- Trans.] At the given moment, through the RF MFA, it [the MP] is attempting to submit to review the German Law of 1938 Concerning the Transfer Of Russian Churches In Germany Into ROCA's Possession.

     The aforementioned will explain the reason for the firm position taken by the Sobors of ROCA, vis--vis the MP.

THE FIRST ALL-ABROAD ROCA SOBOR IN 1921

     The First All-Abroad ROCA Sobor -- or, as it was then called, the "Assembly Abroad of Russian Churches" ["Zagranichnoye Sobraniye Russkikh Tserkvey"] -- took place in Sremski Karlovtsy, Yugoslavia, from 8 / 21 November through 20 November / 3 December, with clergy and laity taking part. There were 155 delegates elected to attend it, all of whom, with few exceptions, were able to come to the Sobor. These elections took place in 15 counties [okrugi] and 16 districts [rayony]; thus, the entire Orthodox Abroad participated in that Sobor. Elected to be the honorary President of the Sobor was Patriarch Dimitrii of Serbia, while the Chairman was Metropolitan Antonii (Khrapovitskii).

     In view of the fact that many members of the Sobor had but only recently found themselves abroad, their hearts and gazes were fixed firmly upon their Native Land. All of them experienced bitter suffering at the bestial persecution of the Church in their Native Land, and at the murders and mockery of the clergy, many of whom those present had known personally. This, in great measure, defined the spirit and direction of the Sobor, which achieved definite results in three principal areas:

     1. ROCA was set upon a unfailing path, upon firm canonical rails, which ensured its canonically-sound road through life in the capacity of being the continuation of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Russian Orthodox Church, with her thousand-year-long tradition.

     2. The Sobor underscored is unity with Orthodox Rus', appealing to the World Conference (in Genoa) to aid the Russian people in their battle against their enslavers.

     3. With the goal of uniting nearly two million Orthodox Russians who had found themselves abroad, and also to underscore the fact that the mission of ROCA is the preservation of her continuation of historic Russia, the Sobor issued a special encyclical "To the Sons And Daughters Of the Russian Orthodox Church Dwelling In the Diaspora And In Exile" ["chadam Russkoy Pravoslavnoy Tserkvi v rasseyanii I izgnanii suschim"].

     As concerns the first point, the Sobor resolved all the questions bearing upon the arrangement of ecclesiastical, organisational and administrative-economic issues. It underscored the fact that the spiritual renascence of Russia "can take place only under the grace-endowing action of the Church," and pointed out the paths leading to this rebirth in personal, family, ecclesiastical, state and social spheres of life. It resolved to assist those who were starving in Russia. It marked out the paths of the missionary activity of the Church abroad.

     As concerns the second point, having indicated that the mouths of the Russian people are tightly pressed shut by their enslavers, the Sobor, in its epistle to the World Conference, declared: "Nations of Europe! Nations of the world! Take pity upon our good, open, grateful-hearted Russian nation, which has fallen into the hands of the world's evil-doers! Do not support them [the latter]; do not strengthen them against your own children and grandchildren! Rather, and far-better so, help honest and decent Russian citizens. Provide them with arms; provide them with your own volunteers, and help [them] to chase the bol'sheviks -- that cult of murder, robbery and blasphemy -- from out of Russia and the entire world."

     As concerns the third point, in the encyclical "To the Sons And Daughters Of the Russian Orthodox Church Dwelling In the Diaspora And In Exile," the Sobor included also the words: "Our duty in foreign lands -- we having saved our life in the diaspora, and knowing not that grief and woe which are annihilating our own land and her people -- is to be one in the Christian spirit, gathered beneath the banner of the Lord's Cross, in the tabernacle of the Orthodox Faith, under the statutes of the Russian Church." And also: "And now let our prayer flare up indefatigably -- that the Lord might show to us the way of salvation and the development of our own land; that He might provide a defence of the faith and the Church, and of the entire Russian land; and that He might overshadow the heart of the nation and return to the All-Russian Throne the Anointed One -- strong in his love for the people -- a lawful Orthodox Tsar' from the House of the Romanovs." (At that moment the participants of the Sobor did not yet know that there was not a single lawful heir to the Throne remaining amongst the members of the House of the Romanovs.)

THE SECOND ALL-ABROAD ROCA SOBOR IN 1938

     The Second All-Abroad ROCA Sobor took place in Sremski Karlovtsy, from 1/14 to 11/24 August 1938, with clergy and laity participating. Besides its President, Metropolitan Anastasii, 12 archbishops and bishops, 26 pastors and 58 delegates also participated in the Sobor. By that time, the Church in [our] Native Land had been completely enslaved by the communist authorities, as a result of the capitulation of Metropolitan Sergii (Starogorodskii) in 1927. Having received, in his Declaration, a de-facto blessing from Metropolitan Sergii and from his synod for any actions whatsoever that would be undertaken against the Church, the ChK-GPU-NKVD physically destroyed the greater part of clergy and temples, alike. It was at this time that the next five-year-plan was adopted, by the end of which, in the realm of [communism's] war against Orthodoxy, it was planned fully to destroy the Church (i.e., by 1943).

     Great changes took place in ROCA, as well. Among them was the breaking-away of several of its constituent-parts. Thus, Metropolitan Yevlogii, having submitted initially to the MP, joined the Patriarch of Constantinople. The American eparchies also removed themselves from their submission to the Synod of Bishops. The Russian people, especially in those places where there were no Russian communities, would be subjected to all sorts of influences, including even satanism.

     Therefore the Second All-Abroad ROCA Sobor turned all its attention to two central issues:

     1. to the life of the Church and the Russian people in their Native Land; and

     2. to the problems of Russians abroad.

     Regarding the first point, it should be noted that the Second Sobor, as distinct from the First, in the words of Metropolitan Filaret at the opening session of the Third All-Abroad Sobor in 1974 "was conducted with the expectation of that which all hoped for: that order would be restored in our greatly-suffering Native Land. And then the Abroad arranged all sorts of opportunities for spiritual work in the Russian Land upon returning thither."

     This was reflected in one of the principal concluding documents of the Sobor, "An Epistle to the Russian People suffering in the Fatherland" ["Poslaniye k Russkomu narodu v Otechestve strazhduschemu"], which began with these words: "It pleased Divine Providence to lay a heavy cross upon the frame of the Russian nation and none of us is delivered from temptations. If it has been allotted to you to suffer in the land of our fathers, then we have been destined to eat the bread of affliction in foreign lands, along the paths of our exile. The far-distant expanses which separate us from our Native Land, have not estranged our hearts from it. Constrained by the bonds of unbreakable brotherly love, as well as by the mutual griefs and ills that have befallen us, together with all of you, we always bear within our heart our crucified Mother Russia."

     And further: "Why did such an onerous heavenly chastisement befall our land? 'By reason of [our] lack of knowledge,' the Old Testament prophet (Hos. 4, 6) answers us. By reason of the fact that we frivolously sowed the wind, forgetting that a whirlwind would be born of it; because we ourselves shook the chamber in which we had dwelt for an entire millennium, not thinking that it could bury us beneath its ruins; because 'we had fallen profoundly and become depraved' (Hos. 9, 9). For this reason did the Lord send us 'an inducement to error, that we might believe the lie,' and the Russian nation actually did come to believe it, being seduced by deceptive reveries of an earthly paradise promised to it by the communists." Further there were listed the manifold tribulations of the Russian people, with an indication that the promised "paradise" turned out to be a hell, built "upon the bones of 30 million of Russia's best people, who comprised the flower of our nation."

     As concerns the second point, much attention was given, in the Epistle of the Second All-Abroad Sobor "To the Russian Flock Abiding In Diaspora" ["Russkoy pastve v rasseyanii suschey"] to those influences to which the Russian people had begun to be subjected in having been rent-away from pure Russian Orthodox society. Some such influences were singled-out by name -- Sophianism, Theosophy, Kabbalistic lore, Spiritualism; necromancy, or the evocation of the dead; and metempsychosis, or the transmigration of souls.

     The perniciousness of freemasonry for the Orthodox individual was given especial attention. Its particular peril was pointed out in that it frequently makes use of some Chirstian principles in order to entice careless members of the Church into its snares. Concerning freemasonry it is stated forthrightly that "it is Christianity's worst enemy, directing all its powers to its [i.e., Christianity's] destruction."

     Much is likewise said concerning the peril of [Roman] Catholicism, which wages war against Orthodoxy -- especially with the help of the so-called "Eastern Rite" [a/k/a "Uniatism" - Trans.], which, as we know, has retained many external, ritual points of Orthodoxy, but has diluted the spiritual essence thereof.

     And, once again, ROCA's mission is pointed out: "A standing in the Orthodox faith must consist not only of an exact confession of the teaching of the Orthodox Church, but also in a life that corresponds to that Faith. Therefore do we lament our sins and transgressions, wherewith we have defiled ourselves, bringing down upon ourselves the wrath of God; let us repent of them with all our heart." And further: "The duty of the Russian Abroad is to preserve the spiritual values of Holy Rus' and to pass them on to future generations, in order to prepare them for service to their reborn Great Native Land."

THE THIRD ALL-ABROAD ROCA SOBOR IN 1974

     The Third All-Abroad ROCA Sobor took place a mere 26 years ago, from 26 August / 8 September to 9 / 22 September 1974, at Holy Trinity Monastery, in the town of Jordanville, New York, with 15 hierarchs and 70 delegates from both clergy and laity participating.

     Many outstanding reports were heard at this Sobor, and corresponding resolutions and encylicals were issued. Among the encyclicals we should note "The Appeal Of the Third All-Abroad Sobor Of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad To the American Metropolia" ["Obrascheniye Tret'yago Vsezarubezhnago Sobora Russkoy Pravoslavnoy Tserkvi Zagranitsey k Amerikanskoy Mitropolii"], which was evoked by the fact that the American Orthodox Church had become an autocephalous church of the MP. A. I. Solzhenitsyn, then-arrived in the West, thus characterized this act: "How can this be? Out of compassion for those in bondage, instead of knocking the chains off of them, to put them also upon oneself? Out of compassion for slaves, to bend one's own neck in submission beneath the yoke?" These words were quoted in the Appeal of the All-Abroad Sobor, the primary aim of which found expression in the words: "We extend to you a brotherly hand, in order to begin seeking ways for changing this sinful ecclesiastical division. In whatsoever way we might succeed at this, whether it be in cooperation, whether it be in mutually working together to help the enslaved Russian Church, or whether it be in full union, -- anything would be better than that condition in which we now exist."

     Amongst the resolutions, ROCA's spirit manifested itself with especial vividness in the resolution concerning Archbishop Nikon's report "Concerning the Spiritual Essence Of the Moscow Patriarchate At the Present Time" ["O dukhovnoy suschnosti Moskovsky Patriarkhii v nastoyascheye vremya"]. In view of the topicality of this resolution for our time, as well, let us quote it in its entirety:

     "The Third All-Abroad Church Sobor, having heard, on 27 August / 9 September of this year of 1974, the report [of Archbishop Nikon, P.B] "Concerning the Spiritual Essence Of the Moscow Patriarchate At the Present Time," bows down before the greatness of the spirit of the Russian nation which, within the depths of its heart, preserves invincible the Orthodox Faith of Christ. Despite all the schemes and devices of the godless communist regime, the Russian nation, enslaved by it, confesses the Faith of Christ in a significant part of itself, by all the means available to it; it diligently attends the few churches that are open in the Soviet Union and prays in them; it puts forth valiant confessors; it lifts up prayers to God in places that are secreted-away from the godless regime; despite cruel persecution, it does not submit to the propaganda of atheism, which is supported by the communist regime on a state-wide scale; and it manifests its faith and piety among [members of] the young, growing generation. In this the All-Abroad Church Sobor sees a hope for the coming downfall of communism and wholeheartedly prays to God for a hastened liberation of the Russian nation from its chains and shackles.

     "At the same time the All-Abroad Church Sobor expresses its profound grief that the Moscow Patriarchate, called by its essence to be the voice of Christ's truth, rather established and continues its cooperation with the godless communist regime, since the time of Metropolitan Sergii's hapless declaration in 1927, and that it thereby strengthens its [i.e., the communist regime's] power over the Russian people, and assists it in spreading godless communism throughout the free world. The All-Abroad Sobor knows that not all hierarchs and rank-and-file clergy in the Soviet Union have acquired and assimilated the communist world-view; that they are oppressed by their captivity to the godless regime; and that they hope that there will come forth from among the Russian people confessors of the faith of Christ, who will call to repentance not merely the entire Russian nation, but also the godless communists, so that they [too] might come to their senses, concerning which the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad prays with all its heart and soul.

     "The Russian Orthodox Church cherishes with profound veneration the sacred memory of the Martyrs and Confessors who suffered for Christ's Faith at the hands of the godless regime in the Soviet Union -- and we can have nothing to do with the Moscow Patriarchate, as it is cooperating with, and enslaved by, the Soviet regime. The All-Abroad Sobor thanks the First-Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, Metropolitan Filaret, for his fitting response to the call by Moscow Patriarch Pimen to the Russian Church Abroad about entering into canonical communion with -- and, hence, subjection to -- the Moscow Patriarchate, and through it to the godless authorities; and for his [i.e., Met. Filaret's] rejection of the possibility of any sort of communion, whatsoever, with it [i.e., the MP], as well -- even were it to mean that the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad would thus be forced to remain in complete isolation in the world today. The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad will not turn off the path of confessing Christ's Truth; she will continue to pray to God for the liberation of the Russian nation from the communist yoke, and for Russia's return to the path of her thousand-year-long Christian and historical existence."

     And today, seeing the troubles of the 1990s within the RF; seeing the results of the "Jubilee Sobor Of Bishops Of the Russian Orthodox Church" ["Yubileynyi Arkhiyereyskii Sobor Russkoy Pravoslavnoy Tserkvi"], which took place in Moscow from 13 to 16 August 2000, and which confirmed the MP's stand in remaining faithful to sergianism and ecumenism; seeing the MP's commerce in cigarettes, alcohol, oil and diamonds; seeing its attempts to seize ROCA temples throughout the entire world by violent means, as well as in the RF; seeing the arrival, at the end of August 2000, of MP representatives (Vladimir, Metropolitan of Kishinev and all Moldavia; Pitirim, Metropolitan of Volokolamsk; Makarii, Archbishop of Vinnitsa; Pavel, Bishop of Zaraisk; and Protopriest Vsevolod Chaplin, the head of the public-relations department of the ECAD MP) to New York for the "Millennium Summit" at the UNO (a gathering of some 1000 representatives of "religions of the world," ranging from [Roman Catholic] cardinals to Australian aborigine witch-doctors); and seeing their [i.e., the MP's representatives'] participation in the opening ceremonies of the "summit" to the beat of drums -- the meditation of the Japanese Shinto cult -- extremely overwhelming is the desire to conclude the foregoing resolution with the words: Truly so!

     Asking your holy prayers,

     Peter Nikolayevich Budzilovich
     New York, USA, 20 October 2000


Translated into English by G. Spruksts, from the Russian text found at:

http://www.russia-talk.com/speech.htm

English-language translation copyright (c) 2000 by The St. Stefan Of Perm' Guild, The Russian Cultural Heritage Society, and the Translator. All rights reserved. Presented here by permission of the translator.


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