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22 января 2005 г. По мере того как контакты «священноначалия» РПЦз(Л), руководимого архиепископом Лавром (Шкурлой) -- после октября 2001 г. именующего себя «митрополитом»,-- с представителями Московского патриархата («МП») на всех уровнях учащаются, в редакцию узла «Мысли о России» («МоР») приходит всё больше и больше писем с просьбами посоветовать -- что делать. Судя по растущему количеству писем, ситуация прогрессивно ухудшается и всё больше и больше членов РПЦз(Л) начинает беспокоить перспектива захвата их приходов функционерами МП. Тут, правда, нет ничего удивительного. Буквально дня не проходит, чтобы где-нибудь не проскочило описание совместных богослужений «клира» РПЦз(Л) и МП, участия в разных мероприятиях, ёлках и пр.

Всё это, естественно, беспокоит немалое количество мирян и некоторых священнослужителей РПЦз(Л). По оценкам редакции МоР до 50% членов РПЦз(Л) относятся к «пассивной оппозиции». Т.е., пока они не выступают против открыто, но, как только объединение с МП произойдёт «официально», они откажутся следовать за своими «архиереями».

Ещё 7 июня 2004 г., в ответ на аналогичные письма, редакция МоР опубликовала краткую справку «Что делать». Для тех, кто просто хочет «проголосовать ногами» и распрощаться со своими архиереями-предателями, редакция привела 15 правило Двукратного Собора, не только одобряющее уход от впавших в ересь епископов, но даже представляющее такой уход как христианскую добродетель. Для тех же, кто не хочет оставлять крохами скопленное приходское имущество «на милость победителя» -- гебистов «патриарха Алексия II» и В. Путина,-- редакция привела ссылку на соответствующий судебный прецедент, предельно ясно указывающий, что, в случае разделения прихода, право на имущество получают те, кто остался верен правилам, принципам и традициям, которыми приход руководствовался до начала конфликта. При этом количество верных не имеет значения.

Недавно один из наших корреспондентов, использовав приведенную ссылку, получил этот прецедент из архивов суда и прислал нам, за что редакция ему весьма благодарна.

Ниже приводится текст справки от 7 июня 2004 г., а после него -- упоминаемый прецедент (на английском языке). Учитывая, что судьи и адвокаты – по крайней мере в Америке – часто не могут уяснить себе разницы между РПЦЗ(В) и РПЦз(Л), редакция приготовила краткое пояснение, которое помещено после текста прецедента (тоже по-английски).

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Что делать или «Размышления у разбитого корыта»

После «исторической» встречи вождей РПЦз(Л) и МП в середине мая 2004 г. в редакцию узла «Мысли о России» начали приходить письма от встревоженной паствы РПЦз(Л). Суть их сводится к вопросу – «Что теперь делать?»

Редакция не считает себя компетентной исчерпывающе дать ответ на такой вопрос. Наилучший ответ на него даётся в Евангелии: «Ищите же прежде Царства Божия и правды Его, и это все приложится вам», Матф. 6, 33. Однако, на основании своего опыта и наблюдений за развитием событий, произошедших после Архиерейского собора РПЦЗ в октябре 2000 г., редакция попытается поделиться своими мыслями о том, как это наставление можно применить в конкретной обстановке шкурловского раскола (так его, наверно, назовут историки РПЦЗ).

Прежде всего обрисуем ситуацию на сегодняшний день (июнь 2004 г.). Вопрос подчинения Русской Православной Церкви заграницей, с 2001 г. управляемой архиепископом Лавром (Шкурлой), «РПЦз(Л)», Московскому патриархату, «МП», не стоит в плоскости быть этому или не быть, а только лишь – когда это произойдёт. Как хором повторяли представители РПЦз(Л) и МП в течение упомянутой выше встречи, все «препятствия для воссоединения отпали»(!?). Созданным с обеих сторон комиссиям даны конкретные указания разработать план устранения препятствий на путях «воссоединения с Матерью-Церковью». Берём в кавычки ибо, по меткому выражению секретаря Архиерейского синода РПЦз(Л) еп. Гавриила, «она нам не мать, она нас не рожала» (то-то он бедный кусает себя теперь за локти – довольно трудно было сказать нечто, что настолько противоречило бы «партийной линии» шкурловацкого синода).

Возвращаясь к вопросу «что делать» в преддверии своего поглощения структурами МП, самый простой, доступный каждому способ -- «проголосовать ногами» -- приходы и отдельные прихожане РПЦз(Л) могут выйти из подчинения РПЦз(Л), чтобы искать Царства Божия и правды Его. Тем более, что традиционная РПЦЗ и сегодня существует под омофором Митрополита Виталия под названием «РПЦЗ(В)». Как напоминается в послании Архиерейского Синода РПЦЗ(В) от 22 мая 2004 г., «голосование ногами» при сложившейся ситуации будет не только оправдано, но и ОДОБРЕНО канонами, см. 15 правило Двукратного Собора:

«Ибо отделяющиеся от общения с предстоятелем, ради некия ереси, осужденныя святыми соборами или отцами, когда, то есть, он проповедует ересь всенародно, и учит оной открыто в церкви, таковые аще и оградят себя от общения с глаголемым епископом, прежде соборного рассмотрения, не токмо не подлежат положенной правилами епитимии, но и достойны чести, подобающей православным. Ибо они осудили не епископов, а лжеепископов и лжеучителей, и не расколом пресекли единство Церкви, но потщились охранити Церковь от расколов и разделений».

Многие члены РПЦз(Л) могут, вполне резонно, возразить против «голосования ногами». Самое распространённое мнение в получаемых письмах – «почему МЫ должны уходить? МЫ ничего не меняли, это ИМ захотелось уйти в МП. Вот пускай и уходят, а нас оставят в покое».

Соглашаясь с нравственной логикой такого аргумента, следует помнить, что на практике главари шкурловского раскола никуда не уйдут. Это они доказали не только всем своим поведением, но и, в частности, судебными процессами против своего законного Первоиерарха Митрополита Виталия (он и сейчас преследуем ими) и Владимирско-Богородичного женского монастыря в Калифорнии (суд там был закончен «мировой», по которой шкурловский синод выцарапал-таки некоторое имущество у престарелых монахинь). Они будут правдами (а больше неправдами) цепляться за имущество – то единственное, что им дорого.

Но «голосование ногами» может и не быть простым уходом, хотя именно это, по-видимому, имеется ввиду в приведенной выше цитате из Евангелия и в 15-м правиле Двукратного Собора. В тех случаях, когда желающим уйти прихожанам уж очень не хочется оставлять приходское имущество, в созидании которого участвовали и они, на съедение тов. Дроздову и иже с ним, они совершенно законно могут «уйти» символически, т.е. попытаться взять приход в свои руки. В американской судебной практике есть прецеденты, когда прихожане, находясь в численном меньшинстве, становились хозяевами приходов. Происходило это тогда, когда священноначалие изменяло принципам церкви, в соответствии с которыми создавался приход.

Так, в решении Верховного суда штата Калифорния по делу о Преображенском храме в г. Лос-Анджелес в 1948 г., судья Joseph W. Vickers привёл, как конкретный пример, дело Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic All Saints Church vs. Kedrovsky at al., 156 Atl. 688, решённое Supreme Court of Errors of the State of Connecticut в 1931 г. В числе прочих вопросов разбирался и имущественный вопрос, о котором говорится (стр. 691):

«Обычно, где имеется раскол среди членов церковной общины, как Русская Православная Греко-Кафолическая Церковь, правило для определения, которой из сторон должно быть присуждено высшее право, формулируется так: “Право собственности на церковное имущество расколовшейся конгрегации принадлежит той части её, которая действует в соответствии с её собственными законами, а равно с церковными правилами, обычаями, традициями и принципами, которые были приняты ими до того, когда возник спор, и это является мерилом для определения вопросов о том, на чьей стороне право”.

Zolmann, American Civil Church Law (77 Columbia University Studies), 182; Smith v. Pedigo, 145, Ind., 361, 375, 33 N. E. 777, 44 N. E., 363 19 L. R. A. 433, 32, L. R. A. 838; True Reformed Church v. Iserman, 64 N. J. Law; 506, 45A. 771; Barton v. Fitzpatrick, 187 Ala, 273, 65 So. 390...».

В вышеприведенном тексте ссылки на прецеденты оставлены по-английски для удобства заинтересованных. Само собой разумеется, что лицам, собирающимся отстаивать свои права в судах, следует проконсультироваться у компетентных адвокатов. Упоминаемый же прецедент приведен ниже.

В начало

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RUSSIAN ORTHODOX GREEK CATHOLIC ALL SAINTS CHURCH
vs. JOHN S. KEDROVSKY ET AL.

[NO NUMBER IN ORIGINAL]

SUPREME COURT OF ERRORS OF CONNECTICUT, FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT,
HARTFORD, MAY TERM, 1931

113 Conn. 696; 156 A. 688; 1931 Conn. LEXIS 152


May 7, 1931, Argued
October 23, 1931, Decided

PRIOR HISTORY: [***1] ACTION to quiet and settle the title to real estate, brought to the City Court of Hartford and tried to the court, Ross, J.; judgment against the defendant Kedrovsky, and in favor of the defendant The First Russian Greek Catholic All Saints Church, Inc., from which the plaintiff appealed.

DISPOSITION: No error.

CASE SUMMARY

PROCEDURAL POSTURE: Plaintiff association appealed from a judgment of the City Court of Hartford (Connecticut) against defendant alleged archbishop and in favor of defendant church in the association's action to quiet and settle title to real estate and the church building thereon.

OVERVIEW: The association claimed that title to the property was in it and its officers subject only to the trust that it be used for services of the church conducted by it as a parish under the ruling archbishop of the diocese. The association and the church disagreed over who was the actual archbishop. The trial court found that the association, as a voluntary association, was without capacity to hold the legal title of the premises. Finding no error, the court held that the title to the church property of the divided congregation was in the part of it that was acting in harmony with its own law, and the ecclesiastical laws, usages, customs, and principles that were accepted among them before the dispute began. The court found that the association failed to show any higher right to represent the parish in the management and control of the church property than the church did.

OUTCOME: The court found no error in the trial court's judgment.

CORE TERMS: church, archbishop, bishop, diocese, appointment, legal title, deed, synod, canonical, appointed, priest, religious, confirmed, permanent, diocesan, sobor, real estate, church property, succession, allegiance, polity, by-laws, canons, equitable interest, ineffective, charitable, conveyed, execute, mission, decree

LexisNexis(R) Headnotes * Hide Headnotes

Civil Procedure > Justiciability > Standing

HN1
In equity, a charitable devise to an unincorporated association may be protected and given effect. But it is Connecticut law that a voluntary association, even when organized for religious purposes, has not the capacity to hold the legal title to real estate. The allegation of title is essential to the cause of action. If the petitioners have no title they have no standing in court. More Like This Headnote

*Show Headnotes / Syllabus

COUNSEL: George E. Beers, with whom was Roger Wolcott Davis, for the appellant (plaintiff).

Frederic J. Corbett, for the appellee (defendant The First Russian Greek Catholic All Saints Church, Inc.).

JUDGES: MALTBIE, C. J., HAINES, HINMAN, BANKS and AVERY, JS.

OPINION BY: MALTBIE

OPINION: [**688] [*697] MALTBIE, C. J. The plaintiff brought this action to settle the title to certain premises with a church building thereon in the city of Hartford. The complaint substantially follows the form ordinarily used in actions of this nature and alleges that the plaintiff, a voluntary association, is the rightful owner of the premises. At the trial its claim was that the title to the property is in it and its officers, subject only to the trust that it be used for services of the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church conducted by it as a parish under Platon Rojdesvensky, the ruling archbishop [***3] of the diocese. The plaintiff therefore claims the legal title to the property. But the facts stated in the finding fail, as the trial court concluded, to show that it has such title. It is found that in 1914 a parish of the church, organized as a voluntary association, acquired the property in question, the title being conveyed to Alexander Nemelovsky, his successors and assigns, he being at that time the undisputed archbishop of the diocese or mission of the Aleutian Islands and North America. Subsequently Archbishop Nemelovsky conveyed to trustees all the real estate of the church in the diocese, including the premises in question. This deed defined at considerable length the terms of the trust upon which the property was to be held. Subsequently the plaintiff brought an action in the City Court of the city of Hartford against the [*698] trustees to compel them to execute and deliver to its trustees a deed of the property and for other equitable relief. The defendant corporation was not a party to this action and had no notice of it. Judgment was entered for the plaintiff, in effect pro confesso, that the defendants in the suit execute a deed of the property substantially [***4] as prayed in the complaint and that if they failed to do so, they should be forever barred of all equity in the premises and title to them should [**689] vest in the plaintiff free of all claims on their part. No such deed was executed and the decree was recorded in the land records of the town. We have recognized in this State that, HN1 in equity, a charitable devise to an unincorporated association may be protected and given effect. Brinsmade v. Beach, 98 Conn. 322, 332, 119 A. 233. But it is our law that a voluntary association, even when organized for religious purposes, has not the capacity to hold the legal title to real estate. Greene v. Dennis, 6 Conn. 293; East Haddam Baptist Church v. East Haddam Baptist Society, 44 Conn. 259. In the last case we said (p. 260): "It is obvious from this statement of the case that the allegation of title is essential to the cause of action. If the petitioners have no title they have no standing in court. It will be observed that they do not come into court as individuals having an equitable interest in the property, seeking the aid of a court of chancery to enforce a trust and carry [***5] out the intention of the donors, but they come claiming to be the absolute owners, not only of an equitable interest, but of the legal title. The report of the committee shows that the petitioners are not a corporation but a voluntary association. As such they are not the legal owners of the property in question, and by the laws of this State cannot own real estate." As the plaintiff was without capacity to hold the legal title of the [*699] premises, the decree of the City Court was ineffective to vest such a title in it. The only other claim of title which the plaintiff advances is that it is a continuation of the original voluntary association which purchased the property. But as this association never had legal title to the property, this claim cannot of course prevail.

This conclusion is sufficient to sustain the trial court in its decision and we might with propriety go no further. But the case has been long pending in the courts, has been fully tried, and the trial court has reviewed the facts with care and assiduity, tracing the history not only of the plaintiff and defendant organizations, but also of the Russian Greek Orthodox Catholic Church in general since its disruption [***6] as a result of the Russian Revolution. The real issue is not so much that of legal title to the premises in question as it is that of the right of the plaintiff to control them and their use. Under the laws of the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church a parish is stated to be "an association of Orthodox Christians composed of the clergy and laity living in a definite locality and united around a temple, forming part of a diocese, under the canonical administration of the diocesan Bishop and under the guidance of a Rector appointed by the latter." Directions are given in those laws for the organization of the parish by the choice of certain officers and a parish council and by provisions for parish meetings. All church property is divided into two classes: that of the church includes the church building and its appurtenances, while property devoted to the religio-educational and charitable needs of the parish is designated as parochial property. The control and management of the church building is vested in the parish meeting and the parish council. The real question comes then to this, Has the plaintiff [*700] association and its officers the right to represent the parish in [***7] the control and management of the building in question?

The Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church, according to the Eastern Confession, is one of the seven patriarchates of the Eastern Orthodox Church. It is normally governed by a Patriarch, Sacred Synod and a Supreme Church Council, subject to the supreme authority of the sobor or general convocation, which is composed of bishops, clergymen and laymen. It is one of the great churches professing to believe in the apostolic succession through a separate order of the ministry, which succession is regarded as a fundamental and absolutely indispensable feature of the church doctrine. It has been conservative to the highest degree and extremely tenacious of all matters of ancient doctrine and discipline. It holds that the true faith is the one "once and for all delivered unto the saints" and this faith and the church authority are passed down through the line of bishops, in whom reside all truth and sacerdotal authority. They alone have power to perpetuate the ministry in its various forms and allegiance to the bishops is of the very essence of the existence of a parish.

As a result of the Russian Revolution it became impossible to continue [***8] the Church government in accordance with its established canons and a resolution was adopted by the Church authorities making provision for carrying on the Church. This contained among other provisions a direction to the diocesan bishops, in the event that the Sacred Synod and Supreme Church Council should stop their activities, to apply directly to the Patriarch or to such persons or institutions as he should direct, for guidance in the determination of such matters as would ordinarily come up before those bodies; and if both the supreme [*701] church administration and the Patriarch should cease their activities, then the diocesan bishops were to get in touch with the bishops of the neighboring dioceses for the establishment of a supreme church power for the several dioceses under similar conditions. A number of bishops of Russian dioceses organized a council of bishops and a supreme church administration located first in southern Russia and later at Karlovtzi, Serbia; [**690] and while at one time this organization was adjudged by the Patriarch to have no canonical standing and its dissolution was decreed, it was reorganized and has since continued its activities. There [***9] are now in this country three high church dignitaries who claim the right to supreme authority in the diocese. One is John S. Kedrovsky, who claims to be Archbishop and Metropolitan by virtue of a consecration and appointment by the "Living Church," established by a sobor of the Church held in 1923, which is universally understood to be under Bolshevik tutelage and control. Another is Platon Rojdesvensky, who was first named informally by the Patriarch and then confirmed by the Karlovtzi synod and council as ruling the diocese under a temporary appointment, and who was also designated as a permanent appointee in a letter from the Patriarch; but who was removed from office by the Karlovtzi synod in 1927. He was also recognized and confirmed as archbishop at a sobor of the North American diocese held at Detroit in 1924, in which the Russian Orthodox diocese in America was declared to be a self-ruling church, to be ruled by elected archbishops, although still recognizing the spiritual ties with the Russian Church and acknowledging the Patriarch as head of the mother church. Finally there is Archbishop Appolinary, who had been vicar bishop of San Francisco and was appointed archbishop [***10] and placed in charge of the diocese by the [*702] Karlovtzi synod after the removal from office of Archbishop Rojdesvensky. Both the plaintiff and the defendant corporation now repudiate Kedrovsky's pretensions; the plaintiff recognizes the right and authority of Archbishop Rojdesvensky, its priest having been appointed and its church committee confirmed by him, but the defendant church refuses to recognize him, holding that his permanent appointment by the Patriarch was beyond his authority. The defendant church does recognize the authority of Archbishop Appolinary.

Previous to 1921 the original voluntary association had occupied the premises and conducted services there. In that year, under the influence and leadership of its then priest Kozuboff, a special meeting of the parish was held and it was unanimously voted to incorporate the church under the laws of this State. Accordingly the defendant corporation was formed, not under any law concerning ecclesiastical corporations, but under the law governing corporations without capital stock in general. It thereafter adopted by-laws which provided as the necessary qualification for membership a belief in the doctrines of the "Greek [***11] Catholic Orthodox Church" and also that the corporation and the church should have full contact with the "Russian Orthodox Holy Synod"; but that the church should be a distinct entity not under the control of any other church or mission "and especially that of the Russian Mission of America, or of the Christian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church, or Archbishop Alexander [Nemelovsky], or Metropolitan or Eczarch Platon"; and the form of organization established by these by-laws did not in certain respects accord with the polity of the Church general. Kedrovsky succeeded Kozuboff as priest and conducted the services in an unseemly manner and appointed unfit persons [*703] to office. After he received his appointment as archbishop he made a deed of the premises to the church in that capacity and this deed was stated to be upon the express condition that the defendant corporation should recognize his religious and spiritual authority. The defendant did recognize that authority in a general way, although from time to time repudiating it, and recognized no other archbishop until 1930. On March 9th, 1930, a special meeting of the defendant corporation was held and it was voted to "take [***12] another Bishop" in place of Kedrovsky and "they all agreed to go under the jurisdiction of the lawful ruling Orthodox Bishop Appolinary, who represents the Holy Russian Sinod over broad." New by-laws were then adopted. One of these provides as follows: "This Corporation and Congregation shall unchangeably recognize all the dogmas of the Holy Orthodox Eastern Church, canons and precepts of the Holy Apostles, of the seven OEcumenical Councils, . . . being in full canonical communion with the Russian Orthodox Patriarch, his Synod and Supreme Ecclesiastical Council; and temporarily, pending the restoration of normal conditions of Church life in Russia, it shall be under the jurisdiction and subjection to the Holy Russian Orthodox Synod of Bishops Abroad, in the person of their lawful representative in America, the Archbishop of North America and Canada." The church now has a priest appointed by Archbishop Appolinary. It has from its organization continued to occupy the premises, has from time to time elected parish officers in accordance with the canons of the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church and has at all times conducted its services and followed a ritual in accordance with the [***13] faith of that Church. It has one hundred and ninety-three members, who, with their families, attend its services, some of whom were [*704] among those who originally organized the church and others of whom have since joined.

The plaintiff association had its origin in 1923 or 1924 when a few persons, dissatisfied with the conduct and standing of the church of the original association, began to meet elsewhere. It has apparently possessed a separate organization at all times since. It now has thirty-eight members, who, with their [**691] families, attend its services. Of these only six were members of the original association. It is in charge of a priest expressly recognized by Archbishop Rojdesvensky and of officers confirmed by him.

Ordinarily where there is a schism in a member of an associated church body such as the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church, the rule to determine which division will be accorded the higher right is thus stated: " The title to the church property of a divided congregation is in that part of it which is acting in harmony with its own law, and the ecclesiastical laws, usages, customs, and principles which were accepted among them before the [***14] dispute began, are the standard for determining which party is right.' " Zollmann, American Civil Church Law (77 Columbia University Studies) 182; Smith v. Pedigo, 145 Ind. 361, 375, 33 N.E. 777, 44 N. E. 363; True Reformed Dutch Church v. Iserman, 64 N.J.L. 506, 45 A. 771; Barton v. Fitzpatrick, 187 Ala. 273, 65 So. 390. Had the church body represented by the defendant corporation persisted in its attempt to establish a distinct church and its repudiation of the higher authorities of the Church general there can be little question that it would have forfeited its right to be regarded as a member of that Church. The members of that body were, however, ignorant and uneducated laymen, not versed in canonical law and were led astray by Kozuboff and Kedrovsky. It has now reasserted its [*705] allegiance to the Church general and recognized the authority of one who claims to be its representative in the rule of the diocese. The present relationship of its adherents to the Church general is not to be questioned "by digging up their personal faults in the past or spreading upon the record their inconsistencies in church relationship. [***15] " Mason v. Hickman, 4 Ky. L. Rep. 313, 317.

Looking at the two parties before us it is evident that now there is no great distinction to be drawn between them upon the score of religious faith. Both profess to accept the religious tenets and follow the ritual of the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church in general. Both hold true to the doctrine of apostolic succession, one recognizing the authority of Archbishop Rojdesvensky, the other that of Archbishop Appolinary, both of whom hold the position of Bishop in unquestionable right, the former by reason of his original appointment as archbishop before the Russian Revolution and the other, because he held rightfully at least the position of vicar bishop, which gave him complete canonical standing as a bishop, though without power to rule over a diocese. The vital difference between the two consists of little more than this: One recognizes the right of Archbishop Rojdesvensky to rule the diocese and the other, that of Archbishop Appolinary. As far as the former is concerned, his appointment by the Karlovtzi synod having become ineffective by his removal from office by that body, he can only claim under his permanent [***16] appointment by the Patriarch. By the laws of the church the Patriarch is given charge of "filling in due time the vacant chairs of diocesan bishops," but the full provisions elsewhere made in these laws for the choice of bishops by election by other bishops, the Sacred Synod or the Supreme Church Authority, indicate clearly [*706] that the Patriarch has no power by himself to make a permanent appointment of an archbishop to have charge of a diocese. Moreover, the connection of Archbishop Rojdesvensky with the Detroit sobor, which was attempting a virtual separation of the American branch of the church implicates him in a movement hostile to the continuance of the established organization of the Church general. On the other hand, the Karlovtzi synod is attempting to carry out as best it may in view of the disruption of the Church a central organization representing the traditional polity of the Church, and it is the only body which apparently is attempting to do this. Allegiance to that body by any branch of the Church goes as far toward preservation of the unity of the Church general as it is now possible to go. One can only hope and expect that the present situation of the Church [***17] marks a transitional period, out of which will ultimately emerge a settled form of organization in accordance with its traditional polity. In the meantime the plaintiff association has failed to show any higher right to represent the parish in the management and control of the church property than the defendant corporation has.

In the view we take of the case the ruling upon evidence of which complaint is made is not of consequence.

There is no error.

In this opinion the other judges concurred.

В начало

THE EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

On The Irreconcilable Differences between the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia under the omophorium (authority) of Metropolitan Vitaly (Oustinov), or "ROCOR(V)" and
The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia under the omophorium (authority) of Metropolitan Laurus (Shkurla), or "ROCOR(L),"

ROCOR(V) and ROCOR(L) have common roots. However, only ROCOR(V) has been faithful to the founding principles of The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

1. The ROCOR historical perspective

In 1917 Czarist Russia was engulfed in revolution which ultimately resulted in a communist takeover, and formation of the Soviet Union. With revolution, and the communist mindset, (“Religion is the opium of the masses” Karl Marx), came the systematic and violent destruction of the Russian Orthodox Church. The Church’s freedom to make decisions based upon religious conscience and tradition was overtly attacked and suppressed by the Bolshivik and later Communist authority.

As the terror against the Russian Orthodox Church grew in intensity, a group of Bishops left the country to seek religious freedom, and preserve the integrity of the decisions made in the name of the Church. In Russia, the presiding Patriarch Tikhon blessed the leaving Bishops and instructed them to preserve the Church abroad. As early as Jan. 19, 1918, Patriarch Tikhon anathematized the revolutionary rulers. This anathema is in force to this day.

While the religious freedom was stripped from the Orthodox clergy and lay people in Russia, and religious persecution by the new regime increased, Bishops that fled Russia established the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia ("ROCOR"). In the early 1920’s. Patriarch Tikhon recognized the ROCOR as a rightful heir to the 1000-year-old Russian Orthodox Church. (Edict No. 362, Nov. 20, 1920). This provided the patriarchal directive and canonical basis for the founding of ROCOR.

The persecution against clergy and believers in the Soviet Union continued to increase, until Patriarch Tikhon was himself imprisoned and later died under suspicious circumstances in 1925.

On Jul. 29, 1927, Metropolitan Sergi, the second-in-command in Russian Orthodox Church in Russia, succumb to pressure from the Soviet government, and issued a Declaration vowing the unconditional loyalty of the Russian Orthodox Church to the Soviet government. He made the false statements to the press, claiming that there was no persecution of believers in the Soviet Union. He attempted to justify new found cooperation with the openly anti-Church authority as an action that would "save the Church” (from persecution). It was this two fold declaration of Metropolitan Sergi, which laid the foundation for the now irreconcilable rift between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. The rift consists of two parts; one is that Orthodox Christians believe that God is the head of the Church, not any man or temporal authority. The Sergi declaration of loyalty to a temporal authority violated the Orthodox Christian belief that loyalty to God cannot be contingent upon loyalty to any earthly authority. Second, the Sergi declaration that this compromise was due to his attempt to “save the Church”, contradicts the belief that God saves man, and man does not save God; in essence the declaration was one of faithlessness, and abandonment of Church tradition. Metropolitan Sergi declaration caused the church Bishops faithful to the tradition of the Church, specifically that God is the head of the Church, and not any temporal authority, to “go underground” and form what became known as the “catacomb church”. The catacomb church still exists today in Russia, as a living opposition to the authority of the Moscow Patriarchy within Russia.

The hopes of Metropolitan Sergi to “save the Church” did not materialize and arrests, imprisonment and mass murders of clergy and rank-and-file believers continued to rise.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the archives of the KGB have been opened. Many treatises have been written concerning the Moscow Patriarchate, as simply a branch of and fully controlled by the KGB. The KGB Ministry of Religious Affairs, which was entirely atheist by design , was the branch of the government which directed which persons were to be Bishops in the Moscow Patriarchate. The religious integrity of the Russian Patriarchate was destroyed, as no Bishop was free to voice his opinion if it contradicted that of the atheist government.

All MP Bishops have been appointed with the approval of the KGB. All priest appointments also had to be approved by the KGB. Needless to say, this capitulation of the church to the Soviet state grossly violates Orthodox cannons and, therefore, ROCOR continued their non-recognition of the MP as a lawful church. Indeed, the present Patriarch of the Russian Church in Russia was a KGB agent.

Consequently, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, with Patriarch Tikhon's blessings, has always believed itself to be the rightful heir of the pre-Revolutionary Russian Orthodox Church. Since the 1920s - and particularly after Metropolitan Sergi caved in to Communist demands in 1927 -- ROCOR severed all connections with the MP that was made into an obedient tool of the Soviet government. The present day Moscow Patriarchate is no longer a legitimate organization, as it has lost its apostolic secession. Apostolic secession is the continual and physical laying on of hands of a legitimate Bishop onto a newly ordained Bishop, which has occurred from the time of Jesus Christ’s Apostles, until the present day. The candidate for a Bishopric must be FREELY chosen, and cannot be appointed by a government.

The MP remains under the leadership of the same KGB-appointed bishops, who were ruling the MP during the Soviet regime. In fact, in the mid-1990’s documents were uncovered that proven that the present MP “patriarch” Aleksi 2nd served as a KGB secret agent since 1959 under the code name “Drozdov.” The Moscow Patriarchate today, despite the “winds” of freedom in Russia, continues its obedience to the government. For instance, recently the MP concluded an “agreement for cooperation” with the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD in Russian) of the Russian Federation. The agreement was publicly signed on Nov. 17, 2004 by Patriarch Aleksi 2nd and the head of the MVD, Nurgaliev, a career KGB operative since 1981.

2. Causes of rift between ROCOR(L) and ROCOR(V)

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1990, Russian immigrants all over the world hoped that the revival of historic Russia would begin in earnest. Encouraged by this hope, ROCOR bishops were quick to seize the opportunity to open ROCOR parishes within several republics of the former Soviet Union, particularly in the Russian Federation. They were soon bitterly disappointed.

ROCOR bishops, since the earliest days of the church, insisted that if and when the “Soviet church” (the MP) regains freedom, it will be recognized by ROCOR as a true Orthodox Church only if it:

1. Rejects Metropolitan Sergi’s 1927 Declaration and its consequences, the so-called “sergianism,” as well as repents before God for their sins during the Soviet era.
2. Stops its participation in the world ecumenical movement anathematized by ROCOR in 1983.
3. Glorifies those who opposed Metropolitan Sergi and the Soviet authorities as martyrs.

None of these conditions have been met. In fact, during the 1990’s, MP leaders and rank-and-file clergy would not only NOT repent, but, quite the opposite, gradually began a campaign aimed at the justification of their subservience to the Soviet state. By 1999, some would openly suggest that Metropolitan Sergi should be made a saint for his efforts to “save the Church”. ROCOR followers in the Russian Federation were persecuted, some were even murdered.

During the last 25 years, some ROCOR Bishops and members softened to the MP. Rather than simply leave ROCOR and join the MP, they tried to lead ROCOR to abandon its guiding principals.

During the ROCOR Council of Bishops in October of 2000, a pro-MP group attempted to bring about a union between the two Churches.

Shortly after the October 2000 Council of Bishops, Metropolitan Vitaly issued a statement condemning such actions and the pro-MP stand. He also called for a new Council of Bishops that would correct errors of the October 2000 Council. Instead, in July of 2001, the rebellious bishops staged a coup d’etat and appointed Archbishop Laurus (their current “Metropolitan”) as his Deputy with extensive powers.

By the Fall of 2001, ROCOR divided into two groups. The first group, under Metropolitan Vitaly followed the traditional course of ROCOR, which opposed the Church being guided by secular authorities; the second overlooked the MP transgressions and is actively working to unite with the Moscow Patriarchate despite departure from the founding principals of ROCOR, and the canonical infractions of the MP.

In 2001 ROCOR officially divided into two parts. On Oct. 25, 2001 Metropolitan Vitaly left U.S. and returned to his place of citizenship, Canada, to his permanent residence in Mansonville, Quebec. Shortly thereafter, he issued an epistle to the faithful ROCOR members, calling them to resist the ROCOR’s “new course” aimed at the unification with the false-church MP and remain with him.

Late in 2001, the part that remained true to the 80-year-old ROCOR traditions with Metropolitan Vitaly became known as “ROCOR(V),” while the part under the archbishop Laurus was named “ROCOR(L).”

Today there are ROCOR(V) parishes in Canada, the U.S., France, the Russian Federation, and other countries. There are also a number of individual members scattered throughout the world.

ROCOR(L), on the other hand, is well on its way to uniting with the MP. Since the Fall of 2003, ROCOR(L) bishops (including Metropolitan Laurus), met and attended church services with the MP clerics. Throughout the entire ROCOR history such contacts were forbidden and violators were subject to disciplinary action. ROCOR(L) also met with the RF president, Vladimir Putin, who vigorously supports the unification of ROCOR(L) and the MP.

During 2004, a special “unification commission” consisting of ROCOR(L) and MP clerics, held three meetings aimed at the “removal of obstacles to the unification.” While their minutes have been kept secret (in fear of protests from numerous ROCOR(L) members opposing the unification), some public comments by ROCOR(L) and the MP leaders indicate that the unification process is well within reach.

3. Conclusions

As is demonstrated below, ROCOR(L) is effectively abandoning 80-year-old ROCOR rules, mores, and principles and, consequently, is losing all rights to ROCOR heritage.

ROCOR(V) is the rightful heir to the ROCOR since it remains faithful to the 1000-year-old Russian Orthodox Church and to its successor, the ROCOR. When it comes to property ownership, such faithfulness is the sole criterion in determining the owner. For instance, in the decision of the California Supreme Court concerning the matter of the Transfiguration Church in Los Angeles in 1948, Justice Joseph W. Vickers cited as a precedent the case of Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic All Saints Church vs. Kedrovsky at al., 156 Atl. 688, that was decided by the Supreme Court of Errors of the State of Connecticut in 1931. On page 691 it states: “Ordinarily where there is a schism in a member of an associated church body such as the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church, the rule to determine which division will be accorded the higher right is thus stated: ‘The title to the church property of a divided congregation is in that part of it which is acting in harmony with its own law, and the ecclesiastical laws, usages, customs, and principles which were accepted among them before the dispute began, are the standard for determining which party is right.'"

В начало

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