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SAN FRANCISCO: May 10, 2006

Day 3 of the IV All-Diaspora Council

The third plenary session of the IV All-Diaspora Council of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) was held at 10:35 am on Wednesday, May 10, 2006, at the Cathedral of the Mother of God "Joy of All Who Sorrow" in San Francisco, in the presence of the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God.

Eleven bishops of the ROCOR, headed by His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, along with 123 delegates, were in attendance.

Before the morning session, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus announced that after the scheduled speech, the members of the Council would hear the draft "Act on Canonical Communion" prepared by the Commissions of the ROCOR and the Moscow Patriarchate (MP).

The session opened with the speech of Reader Andrei Psarev, "Development of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia's Perspectives Towards Other Local Orthodox Churches and Non-Orthodox Christians." The speaker noted that the world-view of ROCOR with regard to the Local Churches and non-Orthodox Christians can be characterized by two directions: missionary and preservationist. The period of the first direction coincided with the years when ROCOR was headed by Blessed Metropolitans Anthony (Khrapovitsky) and Anastassy (Gribanovsky), that is, from 1920 to 1964. The second trend began under Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky) of blessed memory and continues to this day, with the exception that after the election of His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus in 2001, the attitude towards the Local Churches began to return to the moderate norms of the first period.

ROCOR's foundation, continued the lecturer, rested not upon the letter of the canons, but intuitively moved in their spirit, as expressed by Apostle Paul: "I am made all things to all men , that I might by all means save some." (I Corinthians 9:22). Surviving with an uncertain status, ROCOR in its early stages did not break relations with the other Local Churches, yet sensed the need to grieve over what it could not do in good conscience.

The second period was marked by the receipt without decrees of canonical release on the basis that they condemned "not bishops, but false bishops and false teachers have they condemned, and they have not fragmented the Church's unity with schism, but from schisms and divisions have they earnestly sought to deliver the Church." A result of this course was the anathematization of the so-called ecumenical heresy, though without the naming of "false bishops and false teachers."

Acute national self-consciousness, the support of the Russian anti-communist movement and the Cold War were not the least of influences in the areas examined by Psarev. The speaker asked of the delegates to determine in what ways ROCOR was in agreement with the Tradition of the Universal Church, and what was influenced by external and internal circumstances, and called for dialog on the past and present of ROCOR.

After discussion on the lecture, the Minutes of Day 2 of the Council were read.

In the afternoon session of the Council, His Grace Bishop Evtikhii of Ishim spoke. He said that as a bishop of ROCOR in Russia, he was in a special situation. Bishop Evtikhii stressed he assumed the episcopacy with the aim of helping normalize the situation of the parishes of ROCOR on the territory of Russia. This was a complicated and not always successful endeavor. Vladyka said that the unification of the Russian Church was necessary, but that the utmost attention must paid to this process. Bishop Evtikhii ended his speech by calling upon everyone not to allow schism within the Russian Church Abroad.

After His Grace's address, the members of the Commission of the ROCOR on discussions with the MP once again took the stage. The Secretary of the Commission, Mitred Protopriest Alexander Lebedeff then read the draft "Act on Canonical Communion" and explained the possible consequences of this document for the future life and canonical order of ROCOR. A lively debate over the Act (over 40 persons spoke) was held in the spirit of conciliarity and brotherly love.

Day 3 of the IV All-Diaspora Council of ROCOR ended at 8:45 pm with a small compline at the Cathedral.