Moscow, January 31, 2000.
Orthodoxy in Russia today is in a state of deepening spiritual crisis, whose roots go backto our centuries-old history.The poor spiritual state of the Church was perhaps the first to be noted by remarkableRussian writers. Let us recall at least the words of F.M. Dostoevsky: "The RussianChurch in Paralysis with Peter the Great.
The poor spiritual state of the Church was perhaps the first to be noted by remarkableRussian writers. Let us recall at least the words of F.M. Dostoevsky: "The RussianChurch in Paralysis with Peter the Great." Let us recall I.S. Aksakova: "Neither theRussian nor the Slavic world will rise, nor will it gain integrity and freedom, as long asthe Church remains in such a deadly state." Let us recall the bitter conclusion to whichcame the most attentive and conscientious researcher of the Russian church lifeN.S. Leskov: "Russia is baptized, but not enlightened."
Ways out of this crisis and the possibility of renewal of the Church were the subject ofintense reflections of outstanding Russian thinkers: V.S. Solovyov, proto-revolution of S.Bulgakov, S.L. Frank, G.P. Fedotov. Unfortunately, all this rich heritage of Christianthought, which could form the basis of the true revival of Orthodoxy in Russia, lies, infact, in vain. The current leadership of the Moscow Patriarchate has either coldindifference or unconcealed hostility towards it - it comes to public auto-da-fe, in the fireof which the books of the world-recognized Russian Orthodox theologians andphilosophers perish.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, the problems of the revival of the Churchbegan to be actively discussed by the Orthodox clergy. With the demand for an earlyconvocation of the Local Council, which was to begin the long-awaited church reforms,the highest hierarchs of the Church appeared.
In 1905, the "Union for Church Renewal" was formed in St. Petersburg, uniting priestsand laymen who were genuinely concerned with the fate of Orthodoxy in Russia.It is time to finally tell the truth about those who for many decades have been called"Renovationists," giving a pejorative meaning to the New Testament concept of"renewal."
It is time to recognize that many of their ideas were theologically justified and urgentlyneeded.
At the heart of this spiritual movement was the belief in the need for a genuine separationof the Church from the State, its release from state care, the decentralization of churchadministration, the introduction of the Cathedral administration through democraticallyelected Church Councils, the Diocesan Congresses and Parish Councils of the clergy andlaity, the mandatory election of bishops and priests, The openness of Churchorganizations of all levels, as well as the active participation of the Church in the life ofsociety, social service, education and the moral education of the people.
In the field of Liturgical Reform, it was proposed to introduce a living Russian languageinstead of the obscure Slavic, serving with the open Royal Doors and reading aloud the"secret" prayers.
In accordance with the fourth rule of the Fourth Ecumenical Council, which reads: "Themonks do not interfere in church or everyday affairs, and do not accept participation inthem, leaving their monasteries," the revival movement of the first generation suggestedabandoning the monastic Monopoly on power in the Church.
"The monasticism of the bishops," wrote A.D. Aksakov, - represents in the Church aphenomenon ... anti-canonical. "Monastic ministry requires silence, contemplation anddistance from the bustle of the world. The early Church put a monastic feat above thepriestly and hierarchical, and therefore did not allow the violation of monastic vows inthe name of hierarchy.
After the February Revolution of 1917 the Local Council of the All-Russian OrthodoxChurch was finally convened and started its work. But during the three sessions itmanaged to carry out only a part of the urgent reforms. In September 1918, under thepressure of the Bolsheviks, the Council ceased its activities.
Nevertheless, the Council managed to make several important decisions implementingthe program of church reforms, and in particular:
New statutes, new cathedral structures of the entire Church from the Patriarch (who wasrecognized only as the first among equal of the bishops) to self-governing parishes withprovisions at all church levels of a broad initiative of ordinary clergy and laity and theelective beginning of the episcopate and the clergy.
It has been established that the Local Councils are regularly held at least every threeyears, and that diocesan and parish meetings are even more frequent, the sovereignownership of all movable and immovable property for the parishes (temple building andall church property) is fixed.
At the same time, the renewal movement began to gain momentum. However, its furtherfate was tragic. On the one hand, it began to implement the necessary church reforms, ofwhich Alexander Vvedensky, one of the leaders of revivalism, said: "It is necessary forliturgical creativity, the approach to the life of the liturgical language, the emancipationof man in communion with the Divine ... sweeping the alluvial and formal, deepeninginternal understanding of religion. It is necessary for the priesthood to leave thearchaeological museum on the path of free and religious life and understand the trueessence of religion. The salvation of the Church is by its “living” in the world, and notstanding still in a religious dream. A “Living Church” will make you believe it! ".
Sadly, the leadership of the Renovationists could not escape extreme servility and wasskillfully used by the Communist Party and the GPU to undermine the Church fromwithin, split and fight against the patriarchal Church and personally against PatriarchTikhon. As a result, the revival movement was discredited in the eyes of believers, andchurch reforms were doomed to failure.
Along with profound and zealous supporters of reforms, such as Bishop Antonin(Granovsky) and priest Alexander Boyarsky, were direct members of the GPU, like thepriest Vladimir Krasnitsky, who participated in the Movement. Vicious attacks weremade against Patriarch Tikhon. The Metropolitan of St. Petersburg, Veniamin, and hisassociates, were tried and executed in cases regarding the seizure of church values, andcooperation with the God-struggling power of personalities, like Krasnitsky, were ruinedby any desire for renewal and spiritual revival of Orthodoxy in Russia.
After the defeat of Tikhonov's patriarchal church in the 1930s, the Bolsheviks took uptheir former wards, the Renovationists. Their fate was finally resolved after 1946, whenabout 500 remaining renewal parishes were removed from registration by state bodiesand forcibly transferred to the Moscow Patriarchate.
An attempt at Orthodox renewal and the revival of the early twentieth century efforts wasfoiled by the Bolsheviks, who made a temporary bid to support the revival movement inthe struggle against the Tikhonov Church. They managed to achieve a threefold effect: 1)to split the Church, 2) to weaken its spiritual and political influence on the people and 3)to discredit in the eyes of the believing people everything connected with the problems ofthe renewal of the Church.
Sharply changing the policy towards religion in 1943, Stalin relied on the most archaic,congested (corresponding to his political line) pro-Kremlin synodal model of theChurch. Its leader soon became the opponent of the church reform, Alexis I (Simansky).The archives, in particular the correspondences of the first chairman of the Council of theRussian Orthodox Church, General of the KGB, G. Karpov and Patriarch Alexy I, give aclear idea of how the foundations of the martyrs and confessors were destroyed anddevastated by the persecutors of the Church, thus, Stalin, Beria and Karpov in 1943 builta religious organization of a completely new type - the Moscow Patriarchate, being fullycontrolled by the State punitive organs.
For all of its existence, the Moscow Patriarchate has unconditionally supported theforeign and domestic policies of the CPSU and the Soviet state. There was not a singleinstance that the Church raised its voice against the atrocities of Soviet totalitarianism orthe defense of persecuted believers.
Moreover, it has always acted with official support for regime crimes, such as militaryexpansion in Hungary, in Czechoslovakia, Afghanistan and other shameful acts. Thestigma of the "red church" remained on the body of the Moscow Patriarchate.
All this could have been explained and forgiven if the Moscow Patriarchate was sincerein its readiness to reconsider and rethink its past in times of unexpectedly openedfreedom that came with the collapse of the communist regime in 1991. But, she did noteven try to begin her revival with repentance, which would be natural from a Christianpoint of view. After the State refused the anti-religious policy, over the years the MoscowPatriarchate has not found the strength to condemn the shameful collaborationism withthe God-seeking regime and the betrayal of its Believers.
Even more importantly, even in conditions of relative freedom, the Russian OrthodoxChurch, Moscow Patriarchate, turned out to be incapable of serving the spiritualenlightenment of the Russian people by falling into pagan ritual - "shamanism," turningthe Church into a ritual-welfare service and the clergy into a priestly caste.
The current Charter on the administration of the ROC, its Civil Charter, the standardstatutes of the parishes of the ROC strictly regulate the hierarchical dictatorship, establishthe absolute power of the Synod over the episcopate, and the ruling episcopate over thepowerless clergy and church activists. The methods of leadership of the Church adoptedby the Moscow Patriarchate are fundamentally contrary to the principles of Canon Law,and, in particular, to the decisions of the Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Churchof 1917-18. It established a structure that corresponds not to the "Holy, Catholic,Apostolic Church" but, in essence, an organization built on the basis of unconditionalsubordination of the younger to the older, a barracks structure.
The first paragraph of the standard Charter for parishes of the ROC declares: "The parishis a religious association, which is the primary structural unit of the Russian OrthodoxChurch." Is it not from the Charter of the State’s Internal Security Service that theseprinciples of paramilitary apparatus - penetrated with iron discipline - were taken?Even a parish meeting can not be convened, in accordance with this charter, without thepermission of the ruling bishop.
Strengthening the totalitarian nature of the Moscow Patriarchate is facilitated by thetransfer to the centralized ownership of the highest leadership of the Church of allmovable and immovable church property (buildings, sacred objects, land), which led tothe concentration of property and power in the hands of the Patriarch and the Synod. It isthis anti-canonical church nomenclature, "privatization," the removal of ownership fromtheir communities, which created the materialistic foundation for the all-powerful controlof the Patriarchate leadership…and, sadly, over all aspects of Church life.
Inside the Moscow Patriarchate, no dialogue is possible on the urgent church and socialproblems. Rightfully thinking people, who express a point of view that does not coincidewith the "general line" of the Synod, are immediately expelled from the Church. Themodern Moscow Patriarchate doesn’t even have a hint of a Social Doctrine, thedevelopment of which they themselves proclaimed several years ago. But having andimplementing a proper Social Doctrine is one of the defining directions of true service ofthe Church to the people!
The prophetic ministry of Christ was also not perceived by the Church. The image ofprophetic ministry includes not so much the gift of foresight, but, first of all, the couragein exposing lies, in the struggle for truth. It was for this that Christ was crucified.The Moscow Patriarchate lives outside the basic problems of the Church itself, and of thecountry and society. There are no economic or social problems; there are no problems ofalcoholism, drug addiction, abortion, national problems, environmental problems andmany others. There are no economic problems with the people. What common interestscan the Synodal oligarchs have with elderly pensioners whose pensions are below thestandard of living? Where else in the world can you find a religious body that sodisparagingly treats its followers?
Church leadership has not served the simple Orthodox people for a long time. It isseparated from it by an insurmountable wall of protection and high stone fences. We hearfrom the pulpits cold words about mercy and compassion, because in the reality of life wesee the tables of hierarchs overflowing with delicacies, lavish residences, private planesand the regularly replenishing fleet of super-expensive cars. And all this - against thebackdrop of the extreme poverty of ordinary people, who, depriving themselves of anessential piece of bread, carry the last "drachma" to the temples so that the "princes of theChurch" can be buried in luxury!
The pagan cult of the personality of Patriarch Alexy II has long been reborn as a gravesin of idolatry (by the zealously inflated media). All this, contrary to the decision of theCouncil of 1917-1918, who recognized the Patriarch as only the first among equals…thefirst among his equal bishops.
Can you imagine a Christ who would close the doors of the Temple for simple followers?Can you imagine the apostle Peter, guarded by muscular body guards from the StateSpecial Protection - God forbid! – not allowing a prostitute or sinner with a heartfeltrequest for a piece of bread?
And, we’re not even talking about the flagrant crimes committed by the MoscowPatriarchate before God and people associated with the moral corruption of its hierarchs,which everyone who reads newspapers already knows! About stealing Humanitarian Aidworth over $ 2 billion, about tobacco and vodka that corrupt our citizens, the faithful andthe hierarchs of the Moscow Patriarchate! Nor, about oil production, which givesfabulous incomes to the Metropolitan monks who allegedly renounced the world andeverything in the world!
Alienation from the people by the Patriarchate, the reluctance to speak openly with theBelievers and fear of change are forcing the ROC leadership to take a direct violation ofthe requirements of the Constitution, providing for the Local Council every five years. It'sbeen not five, but ten (now eighteen) years since the last Council in 1990, which waschosen by the present Patriarch Alexy II.
The leadership of the Moscow Patriarchate committed a grave sin against the "Holy ofHolies" of Orthodoxy - its Reunion, canceling plans for the anniversary year of theMillennium of Christianity by the Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church,replacing it held on January 11 at the State Kremlin Palace with live entertainment,performing many grave impressions…such profanity for the greatest anniversary.
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In the current critical situation, which puts us on the verge of spiritual ruin for a wholeLocal Church, we consider it our duty to testify before God and to all the believingpeople:
- The Moscow Patriarchate is rapidly losing its spiritual authority. In order to survive, it1. The Moscow Patriarchate is rapidly losing its spiritual authority. In order to survive, itneeds the support of the State. In an honest spiritual struggle, it can not stand competitioneven with the so-called "religious sects." However, society needs a real spiritualrebirth. The root of the crisis that struck our country is not only in political or economicinstability, but in the state of our society, which is largely determined by the MoscowPatriarchate, with the help of civil authorities, seizing the "canonical spiritual space" ofRussia.
- The Orthodox Church should depart from the model of totalitarian dictatorship andThe Orthodox Church should depart from the model of totalitarian dictatorship andresort to what has been established by Canon Law. The highest hierarchical power in theChurch is the bishop, head of the diocese, as it was in the Apostolic period. Bishops,heads of dioceses, are entitled to unite in a single church structure, but only withconsultative and coordination rights. Such a structure should not have administrativefunctions and the right to appoint or dismiss bishops. This right should be enjoyed onlyby diocesan assemblies (in the presence of elaborated corresponding procedures).
- Bishops and priests should be elected (and retired to rest) only by the peopleBishops and priests should be elected (and retired to rest) only by the peoplethemselves - diocesan (parish) meetings on the proposal of the diocesan council.
- It is necessary to allow ordination to the bishop of a celibate or married priest withoutIt is necessary to allow ordination to the bishop of a celibate or married priest withoutthe necessary adoption of monasticism.
- The church should have three branches of power: legislative, executive and judicial.
- By now, most Orthodox churches have already moved to a new Gregorian style (theBy now, most Orthodox churches have already moved to a new Gregorian style (theexception is only the most conservative churches: Russian, Serbian and Jerusalem). Oneof the directions of the necessary reform is the transition of the Orthodox Church inRussia to a new style. Such a transition should not be forced: those parishes that do notwant to support the calendar reform should have the right to use the Julian calendar.
- The brutal discipline of the heavy posts that exist in Orthodoxy today must beThe brutal discipline of the heavy posts that exist in Orthodoxy today must bereviewed within reasonable limits.
- It should be with the consent of Believers to simplify and reduce Orthodox worship,It should be with the consent of Believers to simplify and reduce Orthodox worship,freeing it from excessive Byzantine splendor.
- It is necessary to abolish the complex multi-stage system of church awards andIt is necessary to abolish the complex multi-stage system of church awards andpompous titles, which generates vanity, careerism and corruption.
- The services must be performed in any language at the will of the Believers, and firstThe services must be performed in any language at the will of the Believers, and firstof all in Russian.
- Each worship service should be rigorously accompanied by a sermon.
- It is necessary to exclude from the practice of church life any fees for services andIt is necessary to exclude from the practice of church life any fees for services andservices.
- It is necessary to open an altar for greater participation of Believers in worship, and,It is necessary to open an altar for greater participation of Believers in worship, and,at the request of Believers, to re-establish the throne in the middle of the temple.
- It is necessary to revive the publicity of financial reports of church organizations ofIt is necessary to revive the publicity of financial reports of church organizations ofall levels.
- It is necessary to restore the regular convocation of diocesan and local councils.
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We hope for the revival of the Church, despite its current plight.
We hope for the revival of the Church, despite its current plight.We believe that the time is not far from when, from the bureaucratic department, it willturn into a truly free Christ Church, dedicated to God and serving the people.
But such a revival can not happen without the active participation of the episcopate, theclergy and the whole believing people.We appeal to all Orthodox Christians to take part in the movement for the revival ofOrthodoxy.
If the church reforms today do not take place, tomorrow Orthodoxy is finally doomed toself-isolation, is doomed to be a relic in the religious zone.