NEW YORK: May 12, 2008
Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York Answers Questions For Kommersant
1. Your Eminence, you have been called a protege of Metropolitan Laurus, that is, that Vladyka saw you specifically as the one to occupy the post of leading the Church Abroad. Is this the case? And will you continue the course taken by Metropolitan Laurus in creating closer ties with the Moscow Patriarchate?
I piously and lovingly prostrate myself before the blessed memory of my predecessor, whose great task I intend to continue, with God's help, relying on the support of my brother archpastors, clergy and flock.
I was always inspired by the monastic podvig of His Eminence Vladyka Laurus, which was expressed in his prayer, his faith, patience and meekness. Vladyka was a great man of prayer, he attended all the monastery's services, he read the monastic prayer rules. In general, he remained forever a monk first and foremost. Vladyka not only profoundly believed in God, but wholeheartedly trusted Him and His guidance. He humbled himself, meekly accepting God's will, that is, he gave himself to it fully and joyfully. That is why he always emanated peace and calm.
I pray to God, Who has placed my unworthy soul into this new service through the election of my brothers in service, that He enables me to fulfill at least some small part of what Vladyka Laurus had achieved in his service and in his spiritual life. He was a spiritual giant of the Russian emigration.
2. A year has passed since the signing of the Act of Canonical Communion. Have all the questions relating to the reunification of ROCOR and the ROC been resolved since then, or do problems remain, and if so, what are they?
Of course, there are purely psychological questions and barriers. Unfortunately, a portion of the clergymen and flock still have no faith in the hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church. But this attitude, as we see, is gradually being overcome through brotherly meetings, joint divine services and cooperative efforts, which must continue. For instance, Metropolitan Yuvenaly of Krutitsa and Kolomensk, who headed the funeral and burial of His Eminence Vladyka Laurus, made a very great impression on the clergy and flock of our Church through his prayerfulness, his pious manner of serving and his honoring of the memory of our unforgettable Vladyka Laurus. Vladyka Onoufry, who accompanied the Reigning Icon of the Mother of God, visited almost all the dioceses of the Russian Church Abroad, sowing the seeds of love, patience and humility. His words and his example inspired the trust of many people who previously harbored doubts about our unity, and made quite an impression.
There are secondary matters which never hindered our full mutual communion, and which will, with God's help, as they are sorted out, will strengthen our unity.
3. Have you already been congratulated on your election by Patriarch Alexy II or someone else from the Moscow Patriarchate, and if so, has the leadership of the ROC given its consent to your confirmation as the head of the Church Abroad?
The Counting Committee wrote up an Act on my election. Today this document will be sent by me along with a letter addressed to His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia, who in the near future will chair a meeting of the Holy Synod. In accordance with the Act of Canonical Communion signed last year, the election of the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad is subject to the confirmation of His Holiness the Patriarch and his Synod. I presume this will happen in the nearest future.
4. Do you plan on making personnel reforms in the leadership of ROCOR after your election?
If God grants, tomorrow we begin to discuss matters pertaining to the various dioceses and general church life. I hope that the Lord grants us strength and courage to fulfill His will in these matters, and, overall, in our lives and in the salvific service to God and the people of our Church, and in the pious and attentive administration of our duties.
5. It is known that after the signing of the Act of reunification, a group of clergymen of ROCOR who did not agree to unite with the ROC, left the Church Abroad. Will you take steps to return the “dissenters” to the fold of ROCOR?
Following the testament of Christ on preserving unity, we await with open arms those brothers and sisters of ours who left the Church. The main thing in the life of our Church is to make an example of love, unity, patience and humility, for the Lord said: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” If we actively strive towards God and commit good works to the best of our abilities, manifesting the laws of the Gospel and the Holy Fathers, then our Church will blossom. And the aroma of this blossoming will show the spiritual benefit and saving grace of the great task of reestablishing the fullness of brotherly communion of the Local Russian Orthodox Church achieved by His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II and His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus. I believe that those who left us with time will see the rich fruits of church unity, of joint witness of the Truth of Christ and the preaching of our ideals of Holy Russia. But for this to happen, both parts of the Russian Orthodox Church must speak their great word, “Hearken,” they must speak their Holy Russian word to the world, not so much vocally as through our lives and service, by being an example of the love of Christ.