The Reply of the Council
of Bishops to the Brotherly Epistle of the Bishops of the
Reverend archpastors and members of the Holy Synod of the
We thank you for your friendly letter to our Council with
a call to overcome our division
and rely on the sincerity of the desires you expressed.
On our part, we testify that the unity of the Russian Orthodox
Church has been desired by the hierarchy of the Rocor since
its very foundation. This desire did not simply accompany
the life of the Church Abroad but it pervaded the prayer life
of the Russian diaspora.
In response to your call to unity, we propose beginning an
exploration of acceptable principles for achieving this goal.
We want you to understand the essence of our approach to the
problem of church division. In this matter we feel that there
should be no place for compromises since the issue is the
eternal salvation or eternal perdition of all members of the
The division between you and us is dismissed as political
by many. However, in the revolutionary events in Russia that
are to blame for the beginning of our division, we see nothing
political in the proper sense of the word. The motivating
factors of those bloody events were lies, deception, apostasy
and theomachism. You must agree that this gives us the right
to evaluate the sovietization of Russia as a moral
and profoundly religious catastrophe. Metropolitan Sergius
declaration of 1927 expanded this catastrophe to the internal
life of the Church, laying the foundation for the phenomenon
we call sergianism. This sergianism
was manifested especially in the cooperation of church hierarchs
with the KGB. Maintaining the principle of condemnation of
the sin and not the sinner, we understand that we do not have
the right to judge those hierarchs, especially since we were
not forced to live in the grip of that horrible totalitarian
regime in which they found themselves. We only pray that God
will grant to those hierarchs the courage to reveal and condemn
the sin of such cooperation, or else it will be very difficult
to speak about our mutual understanding.
The lack of freedom of the Russian Church led to its joining
the World Council of Churches and its active participation
in ecumenism. That ecumenism is alien to the ecclesiastical
consciousness of Russian believers is clearly shown by the
assessment give to it in 1948 at the Moscow Council that was
adopted on the basis of the memorable report by Archbishop
Serafim (Sobolev). Life has shown that the majority of Russian
church people and others do not accept ecumenism.
Recently we saw your archpastoral response to the desire of
the majority of your Russian flock in the glorification of
the Holy New Martyrs of Russia and especially of the Royal
Family. Relying on your archpastoral wisdom, we hope for the
possibility of also overcoming other obstacles that continue
to exist between usthe attitude toward ecumenism and
Holding firmly to the consistent course of the Church Abroad,
which it would be fatal for all of Russian Orthodoxy to abandon,
we do not doubt that even we have sometimes made mistakes
and that there may be sins within our church life. We will
be grateful if you will frankly point these shortcomings out
to us for correction.
Never ceasing to rely on Gods grace that ever
heals our infirmities and fills up what is lacking,
we consider it useful to conduct constructive meetings between
our representatives, which would help show the essence of
our division and determine mutually-recognized hindrances
that separate us, and ways for their subsequent overcoming.
In so doing we see no use in unprincipled compromising fraternizing.
We link the movement to our unification inseparably with the
movement towards the triumph of truth. In the text you appropriately
quoted from the high priestly prayer of the Lord Jesus Christ,
the prayer to God the Father: Sanctify them by Your
for them I have sanctified Myself, so that they
may be sanctified by the truth (Jn. 17, 17:19). May
our unification also be sanctified by truth and may we then
be united and may our flock recognize in us witnesses to the
truth and love of God.
May all in unison and in pure love glorify Your holy
and majestic, longsuffering and merciful Lord, forever and
ever, Amen (from the prayer for the salvation of Russia).
Members of the Bishops Council of the Rocor
17/30 October 2001