Voices from Russia

Saturday, 14 September 2013

14 September 2013. A Reply from the Cabinet on the Old Rite and the Church

00 Ivan Kulikov. An Old Ritualist Elder at Study. 1911

An Old Ritualist Elder at Study

Ivan Kulikov



One of the Cabinet sent this on:

Actually, theologically, our Church puts Uniates and Old Rite Schismatics virtually on the same level. Notice how the Church receives repentant Old Ritualists… the same way it receives Uniates! We see Uniates as “captured” Orthodox. So Latins… seen as heretics… are often baptised into the Church. Metropolitan Ioann Snychyov of Leningrad (later Petersburg) did this. The Greeks in Greece INSIST on it. Those teetering towards Rome in Istanbul run from this fact! However, Copts, Armenians, Syriacs, Ethiopians, Eritreans, and often, many Old Catholics, are NEVER baptised, but the Church receives them via simple chrismation.

Read n’ heed, I’d say…




Is it “Mission Impossible?” Church Seeks to Heal Centuries-Old Schism

00 RIA-Novosti Infographics. The 17th Century Church Schism. How Did It Divide Believers. 2013


On Friday, the MP said that it’d discuss a draft document that it hopes would “heal” a schism with the groups known collectively as Old Ritualists. A religious expert hailed the document as a “timely” effort by the increasingly-powerful Church, but some Old Ritualists rejected the initiative, claiming it wouldn’t redeem centuries of persecution. The Old Ritualists split from the mainstream Church after Patriarch Nikon Minin initiated reforms in the 1650s. The reforms sought to rectify the service books and the spelling of Jesus’ name in Cyrillic, and adjusted other matters such as the number of fingers believers used when crossing themselves. The mainstream Church chose three fingers, but the Old Ritualists stuck to two… and fled purges and mass executions in central Russia by settling in the Urals and Siberia, splitting into ever-more groups over doctrinal disagreements. Some of these groups managed to retain their distinct rituals and lifestyle under in the officially-atheist USSR, enjoying a revival after the 1991 Soviet collapse.

Archimandrite Savva Tutunov told RIA-Novosti, “Some members of the [mainstream Church] retain and observe the Old Ritual. There are some Old Ritualists who, being separated from the Church, strive to reunite with it”. He added that the draft document aimed to restore uniformity in practise [amongst Old Ritualists] to facilitate reunification, saying, “Unfortunately, to this day, [Old Believers seeking reunification] differ significantly in their church and legal practises. We needed to introduce a canonical uniformity”. The draft document published on the MP official website Wednesday stipulated that any Christian baptised in the Old Ritual could “reunite” with the mainstream Church with chrismation only. It also stated that couples married under the Old Ritual “don’t necessarily” need to have a new ceremony in accordance with the mainstream canons, and that Old Ritualist monks wouldn’t have to retake their vows if they reunited with the Church.

Boris Falikov, of the Russian State University for the Humanities (RGGU), told RIA-Novosti that the draft document might help “solve” problems between the Church and Old Ritualist groups, noting, “The document’s emergence is timely, the problem had to be solved, but it’ll hardly satisfy Old Ritualists; they demand more radical steps”. A clergyman of the Russian Orthodox Old-Rite Church, which claims to have parishes in 14 of Russia’s 83 federal subjects, told RIA-Novosti that he hadn’t heard of the draft document and that he rejected the initiative, saying, “Nobody wants to reunite. We remember all the horror, how they exterminated millions of Old Ritualists”. Some comments on an Old Ritualist website that published the MP draft document also expressed negative opinions about the initiative. On Thursday, someone with the username “Glrem” said in a comment posted on the samstar.ucoz.ru Old Ritualist forum in the Volga region city of Samara, “One can only heal a healthy organism; to attach ashes to a living body is to create death. A devilish business!”

13 September 2013



Editor’s Note:

I fear that there’s no grassroots support for reconciliation. Unlike the position with the ROCOR, most Old Ritualists feel no lack in their present church arrangements. Indeed, often, they feel “superior” to us. There won’t be unity until there’s desire for it. It’s NOT a situation like that in the American diaspora where many in the OCA, MP/USA, and ROCOR feel a strong need for Russian Orthodox unity. There won’t be unity until the people say so… and that’s not in the cards, sad to say. Nevertheless, never forget that they’re our separated family… they’re not Uniates, after all.


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