From the Editors of the Synodal Website, 2005
Regarding the Simultaneous Publication of the Agreed-upon Documents of the Commissions on Discussions Between the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.
Along with the simultaneous publication of the agreed-upon documents drafted by the joint Commissions of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate and approved by the hierarchies of both sides, the Editors, at the direction of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, feel it necessary to make certain clarifications with regard to these documents.
The documents presented herewith are the product of a difficult, bilateral negotiation process conducted at joint meetings of both Commissions, where each side expressed its own positions of principle and then drafted texts which were mutually acceptable.
Consequently, these joint documents do not express the viewpoint of only one side or another. Rather, they reflect the opinions of both sides. Certain formulations, if taken out of context, may trouble some who do not fully grasp the process of the discussions or their methodology.
It is worth noting in part that even before the work of the Commissions commenced, it was mutually decided at the highest level that they would not immerse themselves in historical analysis, leaving historical evaluation to historians and experts. It was also jointly decided not to speak out with condemnation against individuals, but to strive to reach an ecclesiastical understanding of certain approaches to the realities of Church life under persecution, and, in particular, to Her existence under totalitarian regimes.
With regard to the matter of the future status of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia as a self-governing part of the Local Russian Church, it is important to bear in mind that these concepts as expressed in the documents reflect canonical Church norms which distinguish between a part of a Local Church, even if self-governing, from an autocephalous Local Church per se. It is important to remember that the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia always considered itself to be only a part of the entire Local Russian Church , never declaring herself to possess the canonical rights belonging to an autocephalous Church .
It is also important to keep in mind that the work of the Commissions has not been completed, and that a series of issues remain open for consideration and resolution.
The Editors express the hope that the publication of the agreed-upon documents produced to this point will facilitate further fruitful consideration of vital questions among the pastors and laity on the path toward reconciliation between the Church in the fatherland and abroad in preparation for the scheduled Fourth All-Diaspora Council.