Voices from Russia

Monday, 21 April 2008

A Joint Service by Clerics of the Russian Church Outside of Russia and the Patriarchal Parishes of the MP in the USA Will Be Held on Bright Saturday at St Nicholas Cathedral

On Bright Saturday, 3 May 2008, a ceremonial Divine Liturgy will be celebrated jointly by clergymen of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA at St Nicholas Patriarchal Cathedral at 15 East 97th Street, New York NY. His Grace Bishop Gabriel Chemodakov of Manhattan, Secretary of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, and His Grace Bishop Merkury Ivanov, Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, will officiate at the service, which will also include the participation of a host of clergymen of the Russian Church Outside of Russia and of the Patriarchal Parishes in the United States. Before the service, the Miracle-working Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God will be ceremoniously brought to the Cathedral. After the Liturgy, a joint procession of the cross will be held with archpastors, clergymen, and laity. A greeting from the Russian Ambassador to the United States will be read by S V Garmonin, Consul General of the Russian Federation in New York. Representatives of the City of Moscow and officials from the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations will pray at the services. This service will be the first of its kind following the signing of the Act of Canonical Communion between the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate in May 2007. Never before has St Nicholas Cathedral, the main church of the Moscow Patriarchate in the US, been the site of a joint Paschal service, and organisers expect that over 60 clergymen and hundreds of laity will participate. This service is scheduled to begin at 10.00 EDT (18.00 MSK 15.00 UTC 07.00 PDT).

17 April 2008

Official Website of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia


St Nicholas Cathedral of New York website


Editor’s Note:

This unity service does NOT include any official representation or participation of the so-called OCA. This is prima facie evidence that the MP does not consider it the canonical territorial church in the Americas. As all are well aware, the OCA has been reeling from a self-inflicted crisis since October 2005. This may be a sign that Moscow is finally preparing to issue the coup de grace to this moribund organisation. If Moscow lifts the Tomos issued in 1970, the OCA automatically becomes an uncanonical and schismatical body. There’s canonical precedence for such a move, and if such were done, it would be the “last straw” for the ailing central administration in Syosset.

This isn’t an isolated action on the part of the MP. The OCA was kept out of the negotiations between the MP and the ROCOR that led to the historic reconciliation between them in May 2007, and no OCA cleric was allowed to participate in the ceremony in Moscow at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. The lack of OCA participation in these events was not for lack of trying to intervene in the situation. Although it has never been officially confirmed, it is common knowledge that Fr Leonid Kishkovsky, one of the most vocal Renovationists in the OCA, attempted to interfere in the negotiations between the MP and the ROCOR in January 2007. They aren’t fools in Moscow or Jordanville. He was told that if he wished to participate in the talks, his group would have to give up its “autocephaly” and submit itself to the MP. This, Syosset refused to do, so, Kishkovsky left Moscow empty-handed.

None of the above is unimportant or peripheral. If the OCA is the canonical territorial church in the Americas, Herman Swaiko MUST be invited, for he’d be the jurisdictional bishop of the venue of the service. Since this hasn’t happened, it’s clear that Moscow no longer considers him the canonical archpastor of New York, if it ever considered him such in the first place. This event to happen on Bright Saturday highlights the fact that Moscow never considered the OCA anything other than a Cold War expedient, a convenient tool for temporary use. The integration of the ROCOR and the MP has been surprisingly smooth and relatively without incident. There’s been no major schism. This says to me that the rhetoric of the Soviet era was never heartfelt on the part of the MP, and that it always wanted reunion with its separated brethren abroad. We have two towering figures to thank for this miracle. There’ll be a secure place in church history for both Aleksei Mikhailovich Rediger and Lavr Mikhailovich Škurla. I can hear the voices from Syosset and Crestwood now. “What about us?” Unfortunately, the place in church history taken by Aleksandr Schmemann, the troubled mentor of the OCA, shall be alongside Arius, the archpriest Avvakum Petrov, and Kirill Terlecky.

A friend sent me a video of his parents’ 50th anniversary. As I was looking at the images from 50 years ago, I realise what we must do. We’ve taken a wrong road, we must retrace our steps, and we must rejoin the main road yet again. Our parents were on the right road, so, we can, in all humility, do likewise. I believe that there’ll be great rejoicing in Russia and America when we do so.



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