Friday, July 28, 2006

Fr. Alexander Lebedeff on the MP, the ROCOR and Ecumenism

Posted on the Orthodox Jurisdictions forum.

In discussions regarding the MP and Ecumenism, many seem to be under the impression that the MP was **always** involved in ecumenism, and that the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia was **always** staunchly against ecumenism and participation in the WCC.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, when the World Council of Churches was officially founded in 1948, the Moscow Patriarchate convened a Pan-Orthodox Council that categorically rejected ecumenism and stated that participation in the WCC was incompatible with Orthodox ecclesiology.

At that time, the ROCOR was actively involved with ecumenism, as it had been since the 1920s, and during the entire time of the tenure of Metropolitans Anthony and Anastassy.

The ROCOR was a Charter Member of the original founding organization--the precursor of the WCC and to this day one of its key elements: The Committee on Faith and Order.

The ROCOR Sobors of Bishops blessed participation by bishops and clergy representatives at all of the meetings of the Faith and Order Commssion.

Even as late as 1951, the ROCOR sponsored a European sub-Assembly of the WCC, held in Baden-Baden. You can see pictures of this assembly, with ROCOR Archbishop Benedict and Bishop Alexander surrounded by the usual WCC melange of Copts, Armenians, Anglicans, Methodists, Lutherans, etc. in the official history of the ROCOR, published during the time of Metropolitan Philaret in 1968 (the two-volume Sollogub opus).

There you can also see pictures of Ecumenical meetings with Metropolitan Anthony participating in Serbia--especially meetings with Anglicans. One can see the bishops of the ROCOR in ecumenical dialogue with the Archbishop of Canterbury and other Anglican bishops.

Recently, someone claimed that there was an Ukaz of the ROCOR in 1953 banning all contact with the World Council of Churches.

Why then do I have before me the Report to the Council of Bishops by Protopriest George Grabbe, describing in detail his participation in the General Assembly of the World Council of Churches at Evanston in 1954? He was officially an observer, but was certainly officially representing the Church Abroad.

And why is no one talking about the official delegation of the ROCOR to the Second Vatican Council in Rome, at the invitation of Pope John XXIII?

This was an official delegation, headed by Archbishop Anthony of Geneva, Archimandrite Ambrose (Pogodin), Protopriests Igor Troyanoff and Alexander Troubnikoff-- with official Observer status.

They participated in all of the major "official" events, such as the opening ceremonies in St. Peter's Cathedral, where they processed as part of the Orthodox church representatives, and the official receptions given to the "Orthodox sister churches" by the Pope.

(This was actually quite interesting, because the Moscow Patriarchate had also been invited, and sent a delegation headed by Metropolitan Nikodim (Rotov). This was the first occasion where both a ROCOR and an MP delegation participated side by side, representing the Russian Church--which caused quite some interesting issues of protocol--order in the procession, seating at the sessions, receptions and banquets, etc.)

And all of this with the full blessing of the Council of Bishops of the Church Abroad under Metropolitans Anastassy and Philaret.

Another rarely-mentioned fact in the collaboration of the ROCOR with the World Council of Churches and allied ecumenical organizations is that all of the bishops and clergy of the ROCOR in Germany and Austria received their salaries from the local Church World Service of the WCC--throughout all of the time that Metropolitan Philaret was First Hierarch. This continued virtually to the end of the 1990's. Our parishes in Germany and Austria were able to exist only because of the very significant subsidies received from the ecumenists-- for decades.

One should also mention that the majority of members of the ROCOR who emigrated to the United States, Canada, Australia, and other countries from "Displaced Persons" camps in Germany and Austria had their travel expenses paid by the ecumenical Church World Service--so most of our older generation of parishioners (and clergy) -- are here only because of ecumenical organizations outreach programs.

Cooperation by the ROCOR continues with ecumenical organizations to this day. The Russian Home for the Aged near the Strathfield Cathedral in Sydney, Australia, is operated by the National Council of Churches of Australia in close cooperation with our Diocese of the Church Abroad. If there were no cooperation between the NCCA and the ROCOR, thirty-five elderly ROCOR parishioners would have no home to live in.

So, it is completely false to depict the ROCOR as being historically anti-ecumenical, while condemning the Moscow Patriarchate for participating in the WCC.

It was the Moscow Patriarchate which first condemned, on strict Orthodox ecclesiological grounds, Orthodox participation in ecumenical organizations and specifically, the WCC.

The Moscow Patriarchate joined the WCC only in 1961--when the ROCOR had been involved in it and its precursor throughout all of the previous decades since the 1920's -- and this cooperation continued, especially in the area of having clergy salaries paid in Europe by the WCC until just a few years ago.

Condemning an organization while taking money from it would really be the height of hypocrisy, wouldn't it?

With love in Christ,

Prot. Alexander Lebedeff


M Woerl said...

[Originally posted 2006-8-10 @ 10:08:08 pm]

Most of the ROCOR involvement with the WCC, its precursors, and Rome, was as you said, "Observer" type status, and receiving benefits from WCC charities. On the other hand, the MP went where "none should go" in the WCC-partaking in syncretistic religious ceremonies, etc.
Also, the MP, of course, was ordered by the Soviet government NOT to join the WCC in 1948, and TO join the WCC in 1961, no matter WHAT the supposed reasosns given for those "decisions."
Also, one COULD question the honor and morality of ROCOR receiving WCC charity monies-while at the same time denouncing ecumenism and the WCC loudly.
This is a side of these "historical facts" that supporters of the union with the MP seem to forget! While the ROCOR Bishops Sobor issued an epistle that stated the election of Pat. Pimen was invalid, and that all MP hierarchy was invalid, Fr John Shaw insisted this meant absolutely nothing, as it was written by Bishop Gregory (Grabbe), and all the OCOR Bishops then active who signed the epistle didnt really believe it.
Which leaves us with a question: WHY should anybody want ot have anything to do with a Church that issued "Epsitles" that meant absolutely NOTHING? WHY should anybody honor BIshops who signed an "Epsitle" that they did not believe in? Fr Lebedef and Fr Shaw bring out the supposedly REAL history-the history which causes us to ask-why have anything to do with any of it?

EHB replies:
Perhaps you raise some salient points. And if you don't like ROCOR, you can always join the Greeks.

Hendrikov said...

[Originally posted 2006-9-6 @ 6:09:33 am]

Is Father Lebedeff accusing Metropolitan Philaret , may his memory be eternal, of hypocrisy? Is this what it has come to? Disgraceful. Literally, i.e., lacking in graciousness.

EHB replies:
I didn't write the piece - I just posted it. Draw whatever conclusion the evidence leads you to. Or ask Fr. Lebedeff.