SAN FRANCISCO: July 3, 2007
The Synod of Bishops Sends a Letter to Bishop Photii of the Bulgarian Old Calendar Church
To His Grace Bishop Photii of Triaditza
Beloved in Christ Vladyko!
Once again we address a brotherly letter to Your Grace about the events in the life of our Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
As you know, on May 4/17 of this year, on the day of the Ascension of the Lord, the ceremonial signing of the Act of Canonical Communion between the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate took place in Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow. According to this Act, the Russian Church Abroad remains independent in "pastoral, educational, administrative, management, property, and civil matters."
We studied some of Your Grace's words on the process of the reestablishment of unity within the Russian Church. We are truly dismayed that for some unexplained reasons, you did not receive our latest letter from the Synodal Chancery, in which we expressed our lofty evaluation of Your Grace's firm standing for the preservation of the Orthodox church calendar and other ancient traditions, and expressed our intention to maintain good brotherly relations with you.
We asked Your Grace to approach the process of reconciliation with the Church in Russia with the understanding and recognition that this is an internal matter of the Russian Church. Our earnest convictions lead us to the fact that the process of the rebirth of the Church in our much-suffering Homeland after the fall of the godless regime is so firmly rooted and broad, by Divine mercy, that we cannot remain on the outside but must join with it.
We have no intention of abandoning our confession of true Orthodoxy before the world, and will continue to condemn both destructive ecumenism and modernism.
We cannot but agree with the following recently published words of Your Grace:
"We must honestly and frankly recognize that it is greatly unfortunate that, in relation to the Moscow Patriarchate, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia did not always have a theologically- and spiritually-restrained position, because all of the overly harsh criticism and qualification of the Moscow Patriarchate, such as 'graceless assembly,' 'Soviet, red church,' etc, are more public statements of extremist sentiments than genuine theological evaluations of this multi-faceted and complicated organism known as the Moscow Patriarchate."
"One cannot apply a fanatical-schematic maxim such as: if the ruling bishops are this way, then they are all this way—therefore they have no grace."
"A good number of mistakes were made in the rush to open parishes in Russia and especially the hasty and ill-conceived consecration of bishops there. These errors, unfortunately, very quickly, in a short period of time, destroyed the lofty authority of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia." (From the discussions of Bishop Photii of Triaditza with the parishioners of Plovdiv, Pazardjik and Blagojevgrad held on November 16 and 27, 2006.)
It is precisely in connection with Your Grace's words that we feel it our duty to extend a brotherly warning to you that the leaders of the "opposition" to the process of reconciliation are in fact those fanatical persons who do not accept your judicious and thoughtful position and who reject the existence of grace in the Moscow Patriarchate.
Heading this opposition is the suspended Bishop Agathangel, whose consecration was in fact one of the hastily and ill-conceived episcopal consecrations you condemn.
Another leader of this opposition is the suspended Priest Victor Dobroff, who is an extreme fanatic who denounces the Moscow Patriarchate and our Synod of Bishops, permitting himself to use such expressions about our bishops and priests which no one who considers himself an Orthodox Christian could use.
A third leader of the opposition, Professor Eugene Magerovsky, calls for establishing a new type of ecclesiastical administration according to which representatives of the clergy and laity would not only have the right to participate in the supreme ecclesiastical administration but could veto the decisions of bishops made at Councils and Synods.
We earnestly beseech You, Vladyko, not to connect yourself with such "oppositionists," who only discredit the confession of Orthodoxy and attempt to create a schismatic structure under the guise of "preserving" the true Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
We are very concerned that some of Your Old-Calendar brethren have expressed the willingness even to participate in episcopal consecrations for those in opposition, which will lead to the further fragmentation of the flock of Christ.
We hope for Divine mercy in this difficult time and ask Your Grace's holy prayers.
With fraternal love in Christ,
June 16/29, 2007
St Tychon of Amathus