A small commentary

Dear friends,

The reaction of the “Markians” (this is logically the name by which the allies of the bishops Mark, Lavr, Amvrosii and Evtikhii should be called because their ecclesiology is the one of Archbishop Mark and not the one of the ROCA) to the Epistle of Vladyka Vitalii is gradually taking the shape of a coherent disinformation campaign.  Here is a summary of their arguments:

1) Vladyka Vitalii did not have the right to address himself directly to the whole flock of our Church with an Epistle criticizing the decisions of the council of bishops of the year 2000.

2) By annulling the decisions of a council of bishops to which he is subordinated he clearly showed Papist tendencies.

3) The text that he signed was not written by him.  It even might be a forgery.

4) The Metropolitan was manipulated by “dark forces” led by bishop Varnava.

5) His Epistle is “outrageous” and should not be read in our parishes because it is the result of a conspiracy and because it would trouble the faithful.

6) This matter shall be discussed “in the most serious manner” at the next Synod.

I know that some are disturbed by these arguments and I would, therefore, like to submit a this small commentary taking these points one by one:

1) The right of the Metropolitan to address himself directly to the whole of our Church is clearly spelled out in Article III.37.3.7 of the Regulations of our Church (which can, for the time being, still be found on the official website of our Church at http://www.synod.com/documents/regulations.html).  Article III.38 of the same Regulations gives him the right to publicly protest against those decisions of the Synod which he deems “not conductive to the well-being and benefit of the Church”.  He can also call an extraordinary council of bishops.

2) In his Epistle, the Metropolitan states that he recognizes “that the Council of Bishops is the highest authority, to which I, as the First Hierarch, am also subordinated” and that he is “without the personal authority to correct what has been done”.  Hence – in his Epistle he only states his opinion (which is his right) but does in no way overstep his authority or show any Papist tendencies.

3) The Epistle was drafted by the Metropolitan.  There is a large enough group of witnesses who were present to vouch for the authenticity of this document and for the fact that the Metropolitan participated in its writing.  Besides – the Metropolitan himself confirmed this to several persons during telephone conversations.

4) There is no need to involve any “dark forces”.  It is enough the read the pre-counciliar and post-counciliar messages of the Metropolitan to ascertain that his Epistle is fully consistent with all his previous writings.  This being said – it is, however, true that this Epistle does contradict certain documents carrying his signature and it is rather amusing to now hear the “Markians” speak about possible manipulations of the Metropolitan who would be “unaware” of the meaning of the documents he signs.  If this is indeed the case, why did they never mention this during the many past months during which they chose to “hide” behind his signature on documents which clearly completely contradict all the Metropolitan’s previous writings?

5) Anyone is entitled to believe that this Epistle is “outrageous”.  However, nobody, not even a bishop, has the right to withhold this Epistle from the faithful of our Church, as such a deed would be a direct act of disobedience to the First-Hierarch and to the Regulations of our Church (these Regulations were twice approved by the council of bishops of our Church: in 1956 and 1964).  It is quite comical to now hear those who for months relentlessly repeated “obedience! obedience! odedience!” show such a total lacks of obedience themselves as soon as their plans are challenged.

6) The Metropolitan Vitalii and four other bishops of our Church (Veniamin, Varnava, Agafangel and Lazar) have all demanded an extraordinary council of bishops to address the deep causes of the crisis which our Church is now facing.  The Synod is simply not competent to address these matters.  The persistent refusal to take into account the views of 5 bishops of our Church (or to suppress them) is simply unworthy of anyone claiming to be Orthodox.

I would like to mention here that the absolute refusal to engage in dialogue (for those who read Russian, see http://perso.wanadoo.fr/stranitchka/uzory.htm), the futile attempts (in the age of the Internet) to hush up all the problems, and the refusal to inform the faithful of the fundamental issues raised by the decisions of the council of bishops of the year 2000 are disgraceful and unworthy of our Church and are yet another proof of the “spiritual Sergianism” which has infected some of our bishops.

In conclusion – I would like to share with you a text which has deeply moved me and which, I hope, shall give you courage in our times of persecution against the Church of Christ: "Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the Lord.  Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord.  And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the Lord (Jer 23:1-4).

In Christ,

Andrei Raevsky

Geneva, Switzerland

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