Orthodox Russians Must Repent for Abandoning the Laws and
Rules of Piety."
How do you evaluate the first visit of a delegation to
Russia of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia since
the 80-year schism? What model of possible reunification of
the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the Russian
Orthodox Church/Moscow Patriarchate do you envision?
Our delegation will report on its visit to Russia at the forthcoming
All-Diaspora Pastoral Conference and then the Council of Bishops
of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. All possible
variations of the relationship of the Russian Orthodox Church
Outside of Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church/Moscow Patriarchate
will also be discussed at the Conference and the Council.
These are questions which are subject to examination and then
subsequent decision by the Council of Bishops.
During the Soviet era, the relationship between the Russian
Church Abroad and the leadership of the Moscow Patriarchate
were hostile. The Soviet regime no longer exists in Russia.
In regard to this, has the attitude of the Russian Church
Abroad towards Russia changed?
The Russian people in exile never tore their bonds with Russia,
never forgot about her, even though they could not travel
to Russia. The country was generally closed to Russians living
abroad for political reasons. It was as though to be Russian
and Orthodox was a matter of politics...Here we prayed for
Russia constantly, and tried to the best of our abilities
to bring benefit to Russia and do as much as we could for
her. For 80 years, believing Russians prayed to the Lord to
free Russia from the yoke of the godless state. And the Lord
heard our prayerscommunism collapsed without bloodshed.
For many Russians who were born in exileRussians by
faith and by bloodthey met for the first time their
homeland. But besides spiritual joy, this meeting also brings
some disappointment. Russian societal consciousness today
does not represent pre-revolutionary Russia. In my opinion,
the mission of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
at the present time is to return to Russia her spiritual legacy
of Orthodox Rus, as we preserved it. This will be our
contribution into the spiritual recuperation of society.
The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia was established
in the 1920's as a temporary structure, the end goal of which
was the reunification with the Russian Orthodox Church. What,
in your view, are the prospects of rapprochement of the Russian
Orthodox Church Outside of Russia with the Russian Orthodox
Church/Moscow Patriarchate? What hinders the mutual understanding
between the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and
the Moscow Patriarchate? Who and what can eliminate these
The leadership of the Moscow Patriarchate once found itself
under full control of the godless state. Had we entered into
ecclesiastical communion with the Russian Orthodox Church,
we would have become responsible for everything that was happening
in Russia. Now the government in Russia does not speak out
against religion, there are people of faith and integrity
at the head of government, and, it would seem, there are no
obstacles for unification. In essence, the Russian Church
is one, and a more complete expression of this unity is church
consciousness. The existing division is an abnormality which
should be overcome. At the same time, I could never assume
such a responsibility myself. Such a decision can only be
made through the conciliar wisdom of the Church, that is,
of the Council of Bishops.
If one speaks of the unification of the Russian Orthodox
Church Outside of Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church/MP,
then what would the prerequisites be?
One cannot speak of administrative unity at all. This is absolutely
impossible, even on a practical level. The most we could talk
about is communion and concelebration. On my part, I would
be happy and grateful to God for Him to allow me to live to
see the day and participate in such momentous daysthe
return of the Rus abroad to the homeland, the unification
of Russian people around Orthodoxy.
In prior years, it was said that the Russian Orthodox
Church Outside of Russia would unite with the Church in Russia
when national repentance in Russia would occur. How do you
I heard the opinion that Patriarch Alexy II and those clergymen
who were forced to cooperate with the organs of the KGB must
repent before the whole people. Another opinion is that all
the people in Russia must bring repentance for their participation
in the godless state, that everyone is indirectly guilty of
the sin of regicide, that the blood of the Tsar-Martyr and
the Royal family is upon the whole nation. On the other hand,
people in Russia often say: We suffered here in poverty,
and you lived well abroad. And now we must repent!?
Well, many still do not understand how and what to bring repentance
for. I feel that the entire Russian people, all Russian Orthodox
people both in the fatherland and abroad must bring repentance
for our departure from the laws and rules of piety. But how
and to what degree we violated these laws and ruleseach
person knows himself. Let us bring repentance to Christ Himself,
each for himself and for everyone.
What are your impressions of the meeting with Russian
President Vladimir Putin?
We, the archpastors of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside
of Russia, were completely satisfied with our meeting and
conversation with President Putin. He understands all the
difficulties which exist between the Russian Orthodox Church
Outside of Russia and the Moscow Patriarchate. Still, Mr.
President feels that the time has come to take steps to reach
an agreement on overcoming those difficulties which lie in
the path of the normalization of relations between the two
parts of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Interview given to Correspondent Pavel Korobov of Kommersant.