of the Delegation of ROCOR with Students and Teachers of the Moscow
(An abridged transcript.)
Eminence Metropolitan Laurus:
Christ is Risen!
I am happy
that our Delegation visited the Lavra today. During today's service,
we prayed together with the residents and worshipers here. This
gave us a great deal of joy. I also thank Vladyka Evgenii, Rector
of the Moscow Theological Academy, for his warm greeting and for
organizing the meeting with the faculty and student body.
I thank Vladyka
Evgenii also that in his greeting he emphasized the mutual desire
of our Churches to find a path for rapprochement, so that we who
are abroad could participate in church life in Russia. In connection
with this, we met with His Holiness Patriarch Alexy and discussed
important topics regarding our relationship.
I greet all
the members of the Moscow Theological schools, wishing you success
in the study of the theological disciplines, so that you could become
worthy servants of the Church of Christ. May the Lord save you.
Today's meeting with you, I hope, will also bring benefit to our
Burega, 4th year, MTA: Vladyka, what is the current situation
of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia? How many dioceses
does it have, how many bishops and monasteries, in what countries
is it found?
Laurus: the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
today is multi-faceted, since we are scattered throughout the whole
world, in various countries. Parishes in dioceses in America or
Australia are much different from the parishes of Europe. There
are not so many of us, but the traditions of different parishes
leave a mark on all of us. We need to adapt to local legal conditions,
and some problems arise as a result, but in general we are united
in one faith. The one wellspring we all come from is the Russian
Church. As a result of individual problems faced by each parish,
we have difficulties, but, still, we are like one closely-knit family.
And of course, this makes our life different than yours. There are
monasteries that have ten monks, there are printing shops, where
we earnestly carry on our work, there are several monasteries in
the Holy Land.
Zvonarev, 4th year, Moscow Theological Seminary: The matter
of the imminent discussions: this will not be a one-day affair,
this is a process which will take some time. How does the Church
Abroad see this process? In your opinion, how much time is needed
for the resolution of this question, and what matters have already
been resolved today?
Peter Perekrestov (Cathedral of the Mother of God
"Joy of All Who Sorrow," San Francisco, where the relics
of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco are found): The Lord placed
us in such historical circumstances which have a real possibility
to heal the wound of the Russian Church, the wound of division.
Among our parishioners and clergymen there are various opinions:
some are more emotional, others even have a fanatical bent. We can
understand all of them: for 80 years there was one kind of church
life, and now, all of a sudden, it seems, it is changing, they are
afraid to betray the legacy they received, so I think that we must
take this into account, but we should not tarry. Everyone knows
that any kind of unity does not just consist of signatures and stamps
on documents, organic unity is needed. It is not quite right to
set deadlines, so as not to introduce man's wishes, man's program,
into God's plans, but it must be done with common good will and
prayer. The Lord will show us the way, and the Body of Christ will
gradually be healed. This can be done much sooner than we think,
but on the other hand, it may not be.
Vyacheslav, 3rd year, MTA: What are the actual problems
faced by the Russian Church Abroad which demand theological resolution?
Peter Perekrestov: Our part of the Russian Church
has tried to preserve all that we were given. When in the West some
fairly liberal views developed, we did not accept them, and for
this reason we do not have these particular problems. I can speak
on a problem in our city. Everyone knows that in San Francisco,
same-sex marriages are allowed. This means that our parishioners
and their children will live in a world which has as yet never existed.
In connection with this, we are convening many symposia and are
trying to address this type of matter.
Evgenii, Rector of the MTA: Is there a practice of sending
your seminary students to heterodox educational institutions for
higher theological learning?
Peter Perekrestov: As far as I know, some seminary
graduates who wish to obtain higher degrees do enroll in educational
institutions of other countries.
Mark of Berlin, Germany and Great Britain: The situation
of our pastors today is such that they need to spend more time doing
specifically pastoral work. Our parishes are different than those
of Russia. Our clergymen visit people scattered over hundreds of
kilometers; one is often shocked at the distances that must be traveled
by a priest in order to visit a sick person or someone who needs
their ministry. This leaves very little time for other activity.
Ryedkin, 3rd year, MTS: You Eminence, this question concerns
the contradictions between our Churches. At the Council of Bishops
of the Russian Orthodox Church in 2000, a series of documents were
adopted which touched upon these contradictions, and certain statements
were made concerning the matter of church-state relations and the
matter of ecumenism. How do you evaluate the degree to which these
contradictions were eliminated, and what else is not reflected in
the documents of the Russian Orthodox Church in order to remove
Mark of Berlin, Germany and Great Britain: In regard
to the relations between the state and the Church, the document
you mentioned assumes a position that is fully acceptable. The question
can only be of some details in order that such things never happen
again. In regard to ecumenism, much that is correct is put down
on paper, but, unfortunately, in practice it is a different matter:
our confession of Orthodoxy and heterodoxy is in many ways put into
question. When an Orthodox bishop blesses the people along with
a Protestant woman bishop--I feel that no one needs such theatrics,
there is no good to come of this. That is why it would be good to
make certain clarifications about how we must bear witness within
the heterodox world. For us this is a real problem, since we are
in direct contact with the heterodox world, and so for this we need
precise delineation in these matters.
Vsevolod, Librarian of the MTA: Your Eminence, in the 1950's,
Fr. Konstantin Zaitsev said that the danger will arise in the Russian
Orthodox Church Outside of Russia of dissolution of the generations
into those of different languages and different faiths. How urgent
is this problem? And a second question: what is your opinion on
the translation of divine services into the Russian language?
Alexander Lebedeff, Rector of Holy Transfiguration
Cathedral in Los Angeles: The matter of the reevaluation of the
use of Church Slavonic in divine services or the adaptation of it
into the more accessible Russian language does not stand before
us in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia at all. Our
Church, as a result of various circumstances, is very conservative,
we are against all liberal tendencies. We live in the Western world
and are perpetually surrounded not only by the heterodox, but by
representatives of the Local Orthodox Churches which have embarked
upon the path of liberalism: almost every church of theirs has pews,
some have organs, the services are translated into contemporary
everyday language, the appearance of clergymen is that of Protestant
pastors. We firmly struggle against this, we try to rear our parishioners
in the spirit of strict Orthodoxy.