ERIE VICARIATE: June 15, 2007
Statement of Bishop Daniel of Erie , Vicar of the President of the Synod of Bishops for the Old Believers
Dear Fathers, Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I have always welcomed better relations between the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia and the Moscow Patriarchate, but I am not in favor of unification of our Church with the Moscow Patriarchate. We have been independent for about 80 years, and we have a new mission: to make Orthodoxy available to the people of the Diaspora, and to bring Orthodoxy to new converts. And while the Moscow Patriarchate may recognize our independence, I fear they may annihilate our independence and take us over completely.
Some who are against this unification say that the Moscow Patriarchate is without grace or Apostolic Succession, but I have never said this. However I do feel that a union with the Moscow Patriarchate is premature now. If we had to be engulfed and subjected to Moscow , I wished to have been dead before that time.
There are those who think that objection to this union means necessarily breaking Communion with Metropolitan Laurus and his Synod. And while this situation is difficult for me, I do not agree with these people. I have always maintained that I will not separate myself from the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. I do not believe Metropolitan Laurus and his bishops to be without grace or Apostolic Succession, nor to be in heresy or schism. I commune in the Church of the Nativity of Christ, Erie , Pennsylvania , where Metropolitan Laurus is being commemorated. I am not one to start a new Church authority. I am against this. I will not do any ordinations on my own unless asked to do so by Metropolitan Laurus and his Church Authority. This is my position and I ask all to respect it.
On May 9/22 of this year, I had a visit from two priests and a deacon, who wanted me to sign a paper. So they took me to a separate room, and didn't allow any of my helpers to accompany me. I did not write this document, it was simply given to me to sign. I signed it because I was asked to do so. Immediately after this I recognized that something was wrong and I should not have signed it.
You see, I am used to trusting clergy, and I did not expect to be betrayed in such a simple way. This event is the reason that I am writing all of this now. I immediately contacted Fr Pimen Simon, and asked him to do whatever could be done to straighten this out.
I have never said that I am under house arrest. This is entirely somebody else's invention. And all of the accusations about living in unhealthy conditions or being in danger from my helpers are simply false. It is pure nonsense, and does not correspond to the facts. I am well taken care of. I never dreamed that clergy could be so shameless as to say and do such things.
I do receive my mail. I also receive incoming phone calls, but I have asked Luke Gehring and my other helpers to screen calls. I would not have asked them to do this if all the call I received had been decent calls. Visitors are welcome, but I reserve the right of invitation and will not simply receive anyone.
In ministering to Old Believers, my attempts have been to bring peace, not to create new divisions and schisms.
This is my position, and I will not engage in further discussions with those who wish to form new schisms or lead me into them.
I pray for all the children of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. May God grant peace and unity to us all!