Questions and Answers
What is the reason for convening the 6th All-Diaspora Council?
To restore the canonical and conciliar order of our Church that has been violated by Metropolitan Agafangel.
What are the canonical violations made by Metropolitan Agafangel?
In accordance with the Holy Canons, the Metropolitan as a bishop is considered the first among equal bishops. He is granted full authority only within the confines of his diocese. In our case, Met. Agafangel, as a result of the fact that the majority of bishops are his loyalists, has established a personal dictatorship in the Church. For all appearances our Church has a Council and Synod of Bishops, but in reality, all issues are decided by the Metropolitan. This is an unacceptable violation of the conciliarity (sobornost) of the Church. Met. Agafangel has seized sole authority and uses this power to the detriment of the Church. Without the benefit of a trial, and often in absentia, the Metropolitan has imposed canonical sanctions on bishops, clergy and laity whom he finds objectionable. For example: in Izhevsk in 2014 all three parish priests were indefinitely banned and their substantial flock were thus left without church services. This year, at the July meeting of the Synod, Archbishops Andronik and Sofroniy, in absentia and having committed no offense, were sentenced and deprived of their bishoprics.
What is an All-Diaspora Council?
We consider it imperative to convene the All-Diaspora Council in order to evaluate the actions of Metropolitan Agafangel and his Synod, and to take steps to restore conciliarity. In accordance with the Regulations of the ROCA, "In the case of special need, the First Hierarch together with the Synod of Bishops convenes an All-Diaspora Church Council, consisting of bishops and representatives of the clergy and the laity." However, in the current situation, as the Council is being convened to put the Metropolitan and his Synod on trial, they should not participate in preparations for the All-Diaspora Council.
Can the All-Diaspora Council have judicial functions?
In accordance with the "Regulations of the ROCA," the Metropolitan is subject to trial by the Council of Bishops, chaired by the eldest hierarch. Moreover, it is required that the number of bishops accusing the Metropolitan consist of no less than 1/3 of the membership of Council of Bishops. In the case of the latter, it is unclear from where this requirement is derived. It is not based on the Holy Canons but in fact contradicts the canons. For example: “But if any Bishop or Clergyman has a dispute with the Metropolitan of the same province, let him apply either to the Exarch of the diocese or to the throne of the imperial capital Constantinople, and let it be tried before him." (4th Ecumenical Council, 9th rule). In other words, only one bishop or cleric is needed to demand the trial of a Metropolitan before a higher court. It must be said that we find ourselves in extraordinary circumstances. There are no canonical directives to guide our actions in such a situation. It is obvious that the ROCA Council of Bishops, the majority of whom are the Metropolitan’s supporters, cannot deliver an objective decision on the canonical violations of Metropolitan Agafangel. According to the Regulations on Administration of the Russian Church, "In the Russian Orthodox Church, the highest authority - legislative, administrative, judicial and executive - belongs to the All-Russia Council, which will be convened periodically at specified intervals and consist of bishops, clergy and laity...the Patriarch, together with church administrative bodies, are accountable to the All-Russia Council." The All-Russia Council, composed of bishops, clergy and laity, is equivalent in the ROCA to the All-Diaspora Council, which will also include clergy and laity. The decisions of the All-Russia Council, as well as the All-Diaspora Council, go into effect after they are confirmed by the Bishops' Conference. Taking all of the above into account, it is clear that the All-Diaspora Council has the right to judge the case of Metropolitan Agafangel, and that its verdict will then be confirmed by the Bishops' Conference, which will consist of bishops not involved in the canonical violations of the Synod. Metropolitan Agafangel was elected at an All-Diaspora Council and now an All-Diaspora Council has the right to call the Metropolitan to account for his actions.
What are the responsibilities of the Pre-Council Commission?
At a meeting of the Diocesan Council of the Diocese of Syracuse and the Canada it was decided that preparations for an All-Diaspora Council should begin and a Pre-Council Committee, to include bishops, priests and laity, was elected. The Pre-Council Committee will determine the exact date and place of the Council, and will develop an agenda that will include the following key issues:
- An assessment of the actions of Met. Agafangel and his Synod.
- An examination of the unjust punishments imposed by Met. Agafangel and his Synod against the archpastors, pastors and laypeople of our Church.
- An invitation to all parts of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad to begin a dialogue to resolve any misunderstandings and divisions, with the goal of a possible uniting in Eucharistic communion of all the faithful members of the Church.
- The restoration of the canonical conciliar order of the Church.
- The establishment of a Church Court.
If the Metropolitan Agafangel does not preach heresy, you do not have the right to separate yourself from him.
The 14th canon of the First-Second Council of Constantinople states: "If any Bishop, on the basis of charges against his own Metropolitan, shall secede or apostatize from him before a conciliar verdict has been issued, and shall abstain from communion with him, and fail to mention his name, in accordance with established custom, in the course of the liturgical celebration of the Eucharistic mystery, the Holy Council has decreed that he shall be deposed from office..."
This rule thus prohibits bishops from ceasing to commemorate a Metropolitan accused of any sin before he is adjudged by a Council. The subsequent 15th rule, however, provides us with the single exception: "when he publicly preaches heresy." In this case, subordinate clerics are required to break communion with the heretic.
For some reason this rule is usually misinterpreted in the sense that if a bishop is not a heretic, all of his actions must be tolerated. It is as if adherence to orthodoxy provides immunity to commit all manner of lawlessness.
What is overlooked is that this rule requires that he be commemorated not indefinitely but only until a "conciliar examination", i.e. until a trial. According to church canons, the accused, irrespective of the high rank he may hold, must submit to the court. The canons also require that this court not be delayed for a lengthy period of time.
Accusations against Met. Agafangel have been made many times, but with the support of the majority of bishops, he has eluded trial. This is the reason why the All-Diaspora Council is a necessity. Until the All-Diaspora Council is convened Abp. Andronik continues to commemorate the name of the Metropolitan during the liturgy.
It should be noted that in ancient times there have been instances in which a priest broke communion with his bishop for reasons other than dogmatic heresy. For example, St. Theodore the Studite broke communion with Patriarchs Nikeforos and Tarasios not because of a dogmatic heresy, but because of the fact that they were in communion with the priest Joseph, who performed the adulterous marriage of the Emperor Constantine. Those who assert that the presence of heresy is the only reason for separating from a bishop, have apparently forgotten about phenomenon such as Sergianism. Sergianism is not a dogmatic heresy, but it is worse than any heresy because while seeming to adhere to dogmas and canons, it destroys the very essence of Christianity.
In earlier times, the devil fought the Church through dogmatic heresies. Today his tactics are different. Modern people are not interested in dogmas and thus dogmatic heresies do not attract anyone. The great temptation of our time is a False-Church that appears completely canonical and orthodox, but is in fact alien to the spirit of Christ. Where lies, hypocrisy, lack of mercy, and self-interest reign, there cannot be Christ.
No matter what your intentions may be, you are causing a schism.
A schism was perpetrated a while back, in 2014 by Met. Agafangel. Due to the unfair punishments at that time, two bishops, Dionisiy and Iriney, and several priests with their flocks stopped commemorating the Metropolitan. It must be noted that they announced that they are not splitting off from the Church, but are compelled to adopt self-administration. The same situation has now repeated itself; with B. Andronik and B. Sophroniy being punished. In this way the Metropolitan is cutting off one part of the Church after another. Why is this happening? Met. Agafangel is imposing his will on the Church, which inevitably results in the church members resisting. This resistance does not arise from some lust for power or disobedience. Piety is preserved in the Church by its members, and any attempts at violating the spiritual freedom of the Church will be rejected. This is a healthy reaction of the church body. Truly, it is incorrect to call what is happening to us a schism. Usually when a schism occurs, the church administration tries to do everything possible to stop those stepping back from leaving. With Met. Agafangel is doing just the opposite, he is pushing out the dissenters to be rid of them. To what end is Met. Agafangel meting out punishments of bishops, priests and laypeople? To cast them out of the Church. For example, when he censured all three priests in Izhevsk, what did he want, but for them to leave. The Metropolitan always follows the same, simple scenario: he levels unfair punishments on the dissenting priests, which they cannot obey (for example, how could the Izhevsk priests leave their flock without church services?). Then when the punished do not submit, he announces that they have gone into schism. What hypocrisy! Just as Met. Agafangel has made the Synod his obedient device, is exactly how he wants to co-opt the whole Church for himself; by ridding himself of those who do not obey him and promote his followers. Therefore, this is not a schism, but an endless "cleansing " of the Church from "undesirable elements" perpetrated by the Metropolitan to transform it into a subservient flock.
Even if it’s true that you are not leaving of your own free will, but the Metropolitan is ridding himself of you, you will still end up outside of the Church.
Our bishops will most probably be censured at the Council of Bishops in October, 2016, in Odessa. Therefore, they and the priests that commemorate them will no longer have the ability to serve with the clergy remaining in the jurisdiction of Metropolitan Agafangel. This will be very painful for us, though such an administrative division cannot be called dividing the Church or separating from the Church.
We believe that the Church is one. Serving the liturgy together is but one of the visible manifestations of the unity of the Church, but it is not that unity in of itself. In some cases, this outward display may be lost, but the oneness of the Church is not damaged by this. Archpriest Mikhail Pomazansky in his book, “Orthodox Dogmatic Theology,” explains it thusly: "The unity of the Church is not violated because of temporary divisions of a non-dogmatic nature. Differences between Churches arise frequently out of insufficient or incorrect information. Also, sometimes a temporary breaking of communion is caused by the personal errors of individual hierarchs who stand at the head of one or another local Church; or it is caused by their violation of the canons of the Church, or by the violation of the submission of one territorial ecclesiastical group to another in accordance with anciently established tradition. Moreover, life shows us the possibility of disturbances within a local Church which hinder the normal communion of other Churches with the given local Church until the outward manifestation and triumph of the defenders of authentic Orthodox truth. Finally, the bond between Churches can sometimes be violated for a long time by political conditions, as has often happened in history. In such cases, the division touches only outward relations, but does not touch or violate inward spiritual unity.”
Why does Metropolitan Agafangel then call you schismatics?
In his articles on Internet-Sobor, Metropolitan Agafangel often calls us schismatics and provides quotes from the Holy Fathers that condemn schism. This is nothing more than an attempt at propaganda, aimed at the uninformed reader. The Metropolitan knows perfectly well that the division occurring among us is not a schism.
Schism is the breakdown of unity with the Church for reasons not associated with the dogmas of religion. Schism differs from heresy in that when a schism occurs, those who sever relations with the Church still hold to Orthodox dogma. Nevertheless, separation from the Church in a schism is just as profound. Let us take as an example the schism in the Russian Church in the 17th century, when Old Believers did not consider the “Nikonites” (that is, us) to be Orthodox Christians. According to their beliefs, they constituted the Orthodox Church. To receive communion in a “Nikonite” church was a profanation for the Old Believers.
Now let us consider our situation. We hold that Metropolitan Agafangel is a violator of the canons, but we do not say that he and the clergy subordinate to him are not within the Church or that their mysteries are without Grace. Though we cannot in good conscience comply with the directives of Metropolitan Agafangel, we believe we are in one Church with him. How is this a schism?
When you will be censured, your mysteries will not be valid.
Those who think that way apparently believe that Metropolitan Agafangel and his Synod are somehow capable of distributing spiritual grace and may withhold it from whomever they choose.
If censure is imposed for some transgression on the basis of the canons, then it is accordant with the will of God and has spiritual power, but if censure is levied on the innocent at the whim and bad intent of the one censuring, then it is invalid. Such unlawful censures only serve to condemn the one who issued them, since he has dared to take advantage of the religious authority given to him for the betterment of the Church, and instead brings ruin to it. “They will curse and Thou will bless,” in the words of the psalmist (Psalm 108:28).
Let us remember that saints such as John Chrysostom, Metropolitan Phillip of Moscow, Patriarch Nikon and Metropolitan Arseny Matseevich were all tried and defrocked by councils of Orthodox bishops. Metropolitan Arseny , who denounced Catherine the Great, was defrocked and lost his tonsure. He was renamed Andrew Vral (the Russian word for “liar”) and sentenced for life to a fortress. When he was dying in the casemates, a priest sent to give him communion had a vision; instead of a prisoner before him, he saw a metropolitan in full vestments.
Spiritual gifts differ from materialistic gifts in that no one can take them away from us. You can take away our property, you can even take our life, but no one can take away the spiritual from us. Only we ourselves are capable of being denied spiritual grace, if we fall into sin of one sort or another.
Are you saying a metropolitan does not have the right to censure a priest?
A metropolitan has the right to censure a priest in his diocese, but a priest has the right to an independent and unbiased spiritual court. He has the right to reject a juror. If he believes one of the jurors may be antagonistic to him, he can request that the juror be replaced by someone else. If he is not satisfied with the court’s verdict, he has the right to an appeal. Moreover, a metropolitan cannot take part in any of the judicial process.
In our Church, we do not even have a chance at such canonical order. Metropolitan Agafangel simply censures whom he pleases and that is that. Apparently, the Metropolitan believes that his verdict is final and immutable, like the last word of God on the day of the Last Judgment. It is especially outrageous that the Metropolitan usually tries those who are demanding a trial of him. How can the accused suddenly become the judge of those who are accusing him? This sends a clear message; anyone who dares to complain will be dealt with. Simply put, lawlessness and coercion have become the norm and the law for us.
Should a censured priest obey the censure and not serve? He should not serve until the trial, which according to the canons should be set at the earliest time possible. But for us, there is no talk of a trial. The censure issued by the Metropolitan is open-ended and there is no possibility to free oneself of the censure, unless you get on your knees before the Metropolitan. Therefore the censured priest acts lawfully, when he ignores such a censure, levied in opposition of the canons. To submit to the censure would mean to countenance unlawfulness and permits the strengthening of the established dictatorship.
Let us not forget that by censuring priests, Metropolitan Agafangel denies the parishioners any services. How could, for example, all three priests in Izhevsk who were censured by the Metropolitan obey the censure? Who would take their place in their parishes? The All-Diaspora Council is being convened just for that purpose, to restore canonical order in the Church, to summon a Ecclesiastical Court and provide an opportunity to all those previously accused a chance for an acquittal from the Council.
Councils of bishops make known to us the will of God, we must obey their decisions.
The bishops possess authority in the Church to teach and to lead, but when a bishop teaches, he does not profess his teachings, but the teachings of Christ. If he begins to profess that which is not in accordance with the teachings of the Church, the faithful will expose him as a heretic. Similarly, when a bishop exercises his rule, he does not impose his will on the Church. The Church is ruled by the Holy Spirit, and not by the will of man. The apostles, when issuing their decrees, started by saying, “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us… .” It is sacrilege to think that the Church is ruled by people, by the will of man, like any other worldly organization. A comment by Met. Antony of blessed memory comes to mind, “The Church is ruled by the Holy Spirit, while the bishops get in His way.”
How can bishops, who are ordinary people, know what pleases the Holy Spirit? It is not possible for them to know, which is why they must act with the fear of God, and always bear in mind that their decrees may not agree with the will of God. They must be prepared to reject their own decisions, if they see that the faithful do not accept them. “The guardian of piety in the Church is the body of the Church itself, that is, the faithful themselves,” as is written in the encyclical of the Eastern patriarchs.
“A bishop does not rule over people of God in his own name…but on behalf of God, Who ordained him ‘in Christ’ for the ministry of leadership. Possessing the gift to discern and examine, the people affirm that all that is committed by the pastors leading the Church is done in accordance with the will of God as revealed by the Holy Spirit…In the ancient church, people’s ministry of witness was exercised through consent to that which must be done in the Church, and through acceptance of that which has been already done, as being in accordance with God’s will…The Church lives and acts not by the will of man, but by the will of God. People’s consent and acceptance conveyed the witness of the Church, that its primates act and rule in accordance with the will of God.” (Archpriest Nikolay Afanasiev)
In this way, the ministry of leadership lies with the bishops, while the ministry of acceptance lies with the people of the church. In contrast, we have a metropolitan who when he experiences resistance to his decisions from the people, explains it as machinations of his enemies. As a result, his actions can be described as being unceasingly at war with the members of the church.
How can one break with the canonical church authority!
The canons were established for the edification of the Church, so that relations between the members of the Church were built upon the Gospel. The book of the canons is an extension of the Gospel and the writings of the Apostles and is imbued with the same spirit. The canons of the Church cannot be viewed as a collection of formal rules. The letter of the canons has no meaning, if there is no one living by the commandments of the Gospel. Renunciation of the commandments of the Gospel is equal in degree to the renunciation of Christ, because Christ mystically reveals Himself in His commandments.
Christ is Truth and Love; what can be said then of a church administration for whom falsehood and brute force is commonplace? What good is a formal canonicity, when a parody of the Church is being created; a church without Christ? The actions of the Odessa synod contradict the spirit of the Gospel, and moreover, we are asked to consider this situation to be normal and agree to it. We are compelled to accept falsehood as truth, brute force as fairness. The Church of Met. Agafangel is becoming a small, aggressive copy of the Moscow Patriarchate.
Our circumstance can be compared with the one in which the New Martyrs found themselves in relation to Met. Sergey (Stragorodskiy). By the letter of the canons, he represented the legal authority, yet the New Martyrs broke relations with him. Mikhail Novoselov, who was secretly ordained bishop and later became a New Martyr, said the following regarding those who did not have the strength to break relations with Met. Sergey: “These people…tied themselves up in the canons, which for them are not the defenses of truth in the Church, but rather the shackles of the latter. (They say,) ‘Met. Sergey is tightening a noose on the Russian Church, but we are powerless to resist, since he is canonical.’ Horrifying words.”
Turning to our situation, something similar can be said, that our metropolitan has locked up our Church, in a canonical trap, in a dark circle of synods and councils of bishops, which gather so as to pass judgment on the innocent. If you follow the letter of the canons, it is not possible to escape this trap.
It is remarkable that those who follow the letter of the canons are unable to provide any way out of the current crisis in the Church. You can divide them into two groups. Some insist, despite reality, that everything is fine with us, it is as it should be. This means we are asked to close our eyes, stick our head in the sand and believe that the ship is not sinking, but is sailing along peacefully. Others agree that the situation in the Church is dire, but say that we must endure it; the Church survived the Mongols and the Turks, surely it can endure the heavy yoke of the Odessa synod. This opinion is more reasonable that the first, but is just as unacceptable. One can answer such people that the Church endured difficult times not by agreeing to falsehood, but thanks to the courageous and uncompromising martyrs and confessors. It would be absurd to resign oneself to the fact that the Church is being destroyed, for the good of a formalistic obedience of the canons.
There are many citations on the website Internet-Sobor from the Holy Fathers in judgment of your schism.
Division of any kind in the Church, regardless on what level it occurs, is a tragedy, though not all such divisions can be considered schisms as understood by the canons and the Holy Fathers.
Those who speak of the current divisions in the church and label it a schism are consciously or subconsciously subverting the concept. Schism is when unity with the universal Church is violated. Those who call us schismatic show that they believe that the Odessa synod is the Russian local Church, but such a belief is absurd. From its very founding, the ROCA considered itself only a part of the Russian Church. When the ROCA joined with the Moscow Patriarchia in 2007, those who did not agree with the decision, found themselves divided into many administrative church bodies, commonly called “fragments.” So, the Odessa synod is not the entirety of the Russian Church, but only a “fragment” of its part.
The danger of schism is that it is a separation from the universal Church. If separation from the synod in Odessa is a separation from the universal Church, then it follows that all who are not in communion with the synod in Odessa find themselves outside the Church. Yet, the Metropolitan Agafangel himself never held such beliefs. On the contrary, in his writings and actions he recognized the relative canonicity of the other “fragments.” (The canonicity of all the present “fragments,” including the Odessa synod, can be questioned to some degree.) For example, Metropolitan Agafangel accepted Bishops Dionisiy, Iriney and Anastasiy, who were consecrated by other “fragments,” in their existing office without cheirothesia.
In this way, separation from the synod of Metropolitan Agafangel is not a departure from the Church, i.e. schism, and applying “fearful” citations from the Holy Fathers to our circumstances is an intentional or unintentional deception.
How should one call such divisions within the “fragments”?
An answer grounded in the canons cannot be given to such a question, simply because these very “fragments,” i.e. microscopic church jurisdictions existing autonomously, are not provided for in the canons. This should not be forgotten by those who enjoy discoursing loudly about the canons and applying them to our circumstances. The canons present a universal Church made up of united local Churches, along with various divided groups of schismatics, who are outcasts from the Church. In our day, just the opposite is true. What we consider the universal Church is made up of divided “fragments,” which do not associate with each other. Further divisions within the “fragments” can be called “divisions of the church administration.”
If we break with the Odessa synod, we will lose contact with the family of antiecumenical Churches?
These are very unfortunate circumstances, though it does not follow at all that we will fall away from the Church because of this division. To confirm that, let us consider, for example, the synod of Archbishop Tikhon (Pasechnik), who is not in communion with the Kallinikos synod. Let us ask ourselves, why? Is the synod of Archbishop Tikhon less Orthodox than the Odessa synod? Certainly, not. It can be explained by developments in the relations between the bishops of both synods, a topic best avoided at this time. For the fact that the Odessa synod, out of all the other “fragments,” is in communion with the Kallinikos synod is no more than a historical coincidence, and conclusions of a canonical nature cannot be derived from this circumstance. One must remember that the Greek True Orthodox Churches are in a similar “fragmented” condition. For example, the bishops of the Synod in Resistance would most probably not agree with the contention that before they joined with the Kallinikos synod, they were outside of the Church and their mysteries were invalid.
On what grounds can a council convened by two dioceses of the ROCA be called an All-Diaspora Council?
To begin with, this title is a tribute to tradition. Councils in the Church Abroad included clergy and laypeople from all over the diaspora and thus were called All-Diaspora. They were convened for a specific purpose and at special times in history. In all of the history of the ROCA, there were only four such councils before 2007.
The 5th All-Diaspora Council already did not include all those who opposed the decision of Met. Laurus’ synod to join with the Moscow Patriarchate. Met. Agafangel was chosen as the primate by this Council. Since our Council is being convened with the aim partly to evaluate the actions of Met. Agafangel, then it is only fitting to name it the 6th All-Diaspora Council.
The Pre-Council Committee recognizes that the name of this Council does not accurately describe its standing, but the name does adequately describe the intent of its organizers. We consider the task of restoring the entirety of the Church to be the duty of all the fragments. They are all invited to the Council.
The topics which will be included in the Council’s agenda affect all the parts of the Church Abroad. We understand fully that our plan evokes mixed feelings among many of the fragments. There is doubt and distrust and stereotypes formed over the decades, and even a desire not to ruin the established balance. That is why the forthcoming Council is for us but a first step on the way to a common resolution of administrative and theological questions.
The interest that representatives of other jurisdictions are expressing in our Council shows that they acknowledge our genuine desire for the union of all the parts of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad scattered throughout the world.
Why we did not agree to Met. Agafangel’s proposal to hold the All-Diaspora Council in Odessa
The charge has often been heard that we (the Pre-Conciliar Committee) convened the All-Diaspora Council in defiance of the canons, and after refusing Met. Agafangel’s proposal to hold the All-Diaspora Council under his chairmanship.
In answering this charge it must be noted that the unrest caused in the Church by the canonical violations of Met. Agafangel himself are the primary reasons the All-Diaspora Council was convened. In such circumstances, how could Met. Agafangel chair a Council that was called to review his very own violations? Not only does this not make sense in respect to the canons, but to logic itself! Holding the All-Diaspora Council in Odessa would have become yet another costly spectacle paid for by church funds.
The Status of the ROCA stipulates that a metropolitan is judged by the Council of Bishops. However, as stated in the Resolution of the VI All-Diaspora Council, “The current membership of the Council of Bishops has shown itself incapable of resisting the dictatorship of Met. Agafangel and restoring sobornost (conciliarity) in the Church. The members of the Council of Bishops were willing or passive accomplices in the Metropolitan’s canonical violations and share in the responsibility for them.”
The latest shameful action by the Council of Bishops was that they unanimously signed a resolution that accused Abp. Andronik and Abp. Sophroniy and their clergy of engaging in the heresy of “schismoecumenism.” Accusations of heresy are very serious, as heretics alienate themselves from God and the Church. By accusing their brothers in Christ of heresy without anyreason, only to curry favor with the Metropolitan, the Council of Bishops in Odessa, in our opinion, finally lost all spiritual authority.
It is quite cynical to accuse us of heresy, when Met. Agafangel himself has consistently expressed the same views for which he now calls us heretics for espousing. It is interesting that he himself has been accused of heresy for such views. This was said of him in 2011 in the Newsletter of the Southern Russian Diocese of ROCA(V) (http://soborrussia.ucoz.ru/news/o_polozhenii_rpc_segodnja/2011-03-22-17):
“I feel truly sorry for those who trust him (Met. Agafangel). I also feel truly sorry for those who believe his heretical idea that all the parts of the ROCA that fell away from it are still parts of it, which he is trying to unite under one group. Is this not the ecumenical “branch theory,” simply in another form? Therefore to avoid being tempted by the heretical ideas of Vl. Agafangel, it is necessary again and again to remind those who still have not recognizedhim, beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing.” (A speech by Fr. V. Rozhnov.)
Perhaps this is where charging us of “schismoecumenism” arises from?
Thank God all of this is behind us! The All-Diaspora Council has cleared the road for a conciliar, canonical life in the church, free from falsehoods, intrigues and hypocrisy.