Address of the
Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside
of Russia to Its Flock--October,
We, the bishops of the Russian
Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, assembled at an extraordinary
session of the Council of Bishops in nearly full complement,
with the exception of those who are ill, to resolve a very
important question: the election of the successor to our elderly
Metropolitan Vitaly. Because of his advanced age (he is ninety-one)
and the poor state of his health, His Eminence the Metropolitan
himself saw that it is difficult for him to carry out his
duties, and at the July session of the Synod announced his
retirement. The Metropolitan's announcement was taken into
consideration and a time was appointed (October 23rd-31st
ns) for the election of his successor.
At the designated time, October 23rd, 2001, the Council of
Bishops, after the Liturgy and a special service of supplication,
set about its task. On October 24th, again after the Liturgy,
a memorial service for the deceased First Hierarchs and a
service of supplication, they proceeded to the voting: the
envelopes, in which each of the hierarchs had early placed
his vote for the candidate of his choice, were opened. On
the first ballot, Archbishop Laurus received an absolute majority
of 2/3 of the votes, and thus was proclaimed Metropolitan
and next First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside
of Russia. The rite of enthronement was performed at the all-night
vigil and the Liturgy on the following Saturday and Sunday,
the 26th and 27th of October.
On the shoulders of our new First Hierarch lie many years
of life as a monk and a bishop. While yet a boy, living near
the Monastery of St. Job of Pochaev in Carpatho-Russia, he
divided his life between his home and the monastery, an unofficial
novice, as it were. When the monastery's brotherhood emigrated
farther away, through Germany and Switzerland to the United
States, Vladyka Laurus (his name was then Basil) forsook his
homeland forever and departed with the brethren.
Over the many years of his monastic life, His Eminence passed
through all forms of monastic obedience: he worked in the
cow-barn, set type in the print-shop, labored in the office,
etc. Having received his theology degree in the Seminary's
seventh graduating class, in 1954, he taught many subjects,
and ultimately became rector of Holy Trinity Seminary.
Consecrated a bishop in 1967, he has been Secretary of the
Synod throughout almost all of his episcopacy, first under
Metropolitan Philaret, and later under Metropolitan Vitaly.
Possessed of great experience in the work of the Secretary,
His Eminence is the natural successor to the work of his eminent
The lot of the new First Hierarch is a difficult burden. The
cultural powers of our diaspora have weakened, since many
have departed to a better world. The younger generations which
have grown up in our parishes are called to the service of
our Church, but representatives of the third emigration have
yet to become sufficiently churchly to effectively participate
in the life of the Church.
To this other problems have
In the Letter of our Council of 2000, reactions of approval
to several decisions and resolutions of the Moscow Council
of 2000 were expressed. As a result of this, certain of those
who are overly zealous have protested and disseminated intentionally
false rumors that the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
had altered its previous course and is moving toward unification
with the Moscow Patriarchate, and that it was even inclining
Thus, with regret our whole Church has had to endure powerful
disturbances hitherto unseen. As if from deep within the bosom
of the body of the Church cracks began to appear, though they
have not yet developed into deep fissures. We look on with
fear as in places they are trying to transform these chinks
into rifts which split apart not only the flock, but even
What is the reason for these activities? How are we to understand
that over the course of nearly a year several clergymen have
stirred up the flock, convinced that the Council of Bishops
has altered the course of the life of our Russian Orthodox
Church Outside of Russia?
But the question of unification was not raised, nor is it
intended to raise it at the present time. As concerns the
Moscow Patriarchate, apart from our relationship with it,
whether we wish such a thing or not, its clergy nurture a
significant part of the Russian Orthodox people; and if changes
are taking place there for the better, we cannot but welcome
this. Yet at the same time there is still much that separates
When the question of ecumenism was raised at the Moscow Council
of 2000, it showed that this problem has not been resolved,
since almost all of the episcopate voted for its continued
participation in ecumenism, despite the fact that the people
and the clergy are opposed to this. Yet within the churches
of the Moscow Patriarchate literature and video films are
being disseminated which denounce ecumenism.
Although the atheistic Soviet regime of the past no longer
exists, and one might assume that Sergianism has likewise
passed away together with its founders, in actual fact this
is far from the case. One can often hear voices within the
Moscow Patriarchate defending the Declaration of Metropolitan
Sergius (Stragorodsky), calling it a wise decision, while
it was instead a capitulation to the atheistic regime. It
is essential to condemn the Declaration, so that a precedent
will not be set; lest if (God forbid!) persecutions again
arise, it could not be cited as a decision wise in any degree.
And there are other reasons which hinder a rapprochement,
but we will not enumerate them here.
We, however, are confronted with the difficult task of guiding
our flock primarily under the conditions of the heterodox
world. This is complicated even more by modern trends such
as a New World Order, or globalism. Although it is political
or economic in character, yet its objective is to control
political and economic life, not only in one country, but
throughout the entire world. These trends also have an influence
on men's moral life. In them everything is permissible where
profit is concerned; and for this they employ not only the
profanation of Christian holidays, but also all manner of
diabolical things: and the boundary between good and evil
is being erased. As concerns television: most films are replete
with scenes of horror, violence, depravity and inhuman superbeings.
This exercises a particular influence upon the children, who
pay close attention to such things. Our goal in these times
is to support in every way, and perhaps to restore, the call
to the formation and preservation of the family structure
for our children's sake. Governments are concerning themselves
with this less and less.
Explanations have been given concerning these anxieties in
every way in various venues: from the ambo, at gatherings,
by letter and announcements. Each session of the Synod has
produced needful elucidations, providing the assurance that
our Church not only continues to stand in the Truth, but that
it is calling upon its whole flock to be faithful, as before,
to Christ and His Church. No deviations or betrayals are conceivable.
We have replied continually over the course of an entire year
to all supposed anxieties.
With what can we comfort those of you who are troubled and
disquieted, if you are in actual fact seeking the truth?
Everything has already been said: we are not going off in
any other direction. One can wage the struggle of standing
in the Truth only by preserving the basic Christian virtues.
To be faithful to Christ and His Church is the aim of our
life, and it is attainable if one has faith and lives in the
fear of God, maintaining moral purity, resisting all temptations,
and obtaining the gift of sober-mindedness in obedience.
We notice how proclamations of loyalty are accompanied by
calls to depart from the existing Church order. This is obviously
incompatible. Forgive us for our personal sins. Do not harbor
in your hearts malice toward and condemnation of your archpastors,
who share your life with you, and in any case will answer
for their dioceses before God and the Council of Bishops for
The Church is the mystical Body of Christ, and not an organization.
Obedience is first and foremost a struggle voluntarily undertaken,
and not mere submission. We live in the Church not only in
oneness of mind and righteousness, but most of all in oneness
The events of recent days show how far our earthly life has
changed, even in outwardly prosperous America, on a single
day nearly six thousand people perished almost instantaneously.
The Holy Church reminds us of this and calls upon us to take
care not only for what we need in our daily lives, but also
for the salvation of our soul, so that no misfortune may catch
us unawares. He who is with God fears nothing.
We call upon you all to rally around our First Hierarch, His
Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, and to lead a life closely bound
up with the life of the Church. This is difficult, living,
as you do, scattered throughout the heterodox world; but with
God everything is possible.
[Signatures:] Metropolitan Laurus