SAN FRANCISCO: May 12, 2006
Day 5 of the IV All-Diaspora Council
Eleven ROCOR bishops headed by His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus were present, along with 122 delegates.
The minutes of the previous day were read in the morning sessions, after which Bernard Le Caro (Switzerland) gave the seventh lecture, entitled "Orthodox Witness in the West."
The speaker recalled the words of a convert to Orthodoxy, an Athonite monk: "To be Orthodox in the West today means more than at any other time for the believer—not only for the converted—clergyman, monk, layperson, to be a confessor of the faith, in ones life and ones personal immersion in the mystery of Christ."
De Caro is convinced that "Only through positive witness and only with Orthodoxy can we help the world around us, which is unwittingly being crucified by the enemy of mankind. Our duty is to act responsibly within the Church, remembering the French saying often used by Metropolitan Philaret: ' Noblesse oblige ,' 'high position obliges!' Only this will bring to action the words of wisdom of one Russian priest in France: 'The Orthodox Church does not tell people 'convert,' but 'come and see!'"
The first lecture of the afternoon session, "Challenges Facing Our Church in the XXI Century," was read by Priest Andrew Phillips (Great Britain).
The speaker said that throughout ROCOR's history, her theologians and thinkers tirelessly stressed that the foundation of the Church Abroad is the spirit of Holy Russia. Despite all the wonderful efforts of Russian schools, the third, fourth and fifth generations of Russians in the diaspora are gradually losing the Russian tongue. "Still, Holy Russia can always exist, it is not a phenomenon of language, but of the spirit, and so it lives because we preserved our essence, our Church. We live this way thanks to our loyalty to the spirit of Saints Stefan of Perm, Herman and Innocent of Alaska, St Nicholas of Japan, Martyr Peter the Aleut, killed in San Francisco and two archpastors of this Western American Diocese—St Tikhon and St John. We carefully protect our devotion to Holy Russia, to Orthodoxy, to tradition and to independence."
In the speaker's opinion, a unique challenge faces ROCOR: "to gather and nourish the diaspora throughout the face of the earth upon an island of Holy Russia, where they speak in different tongues, but who remain faithful to the Orthodox tradition, to the spirit of Christ… The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia is free of any political system in Russia because the ROCOR is not the Church of the Russian state in any form, but, by Divine Providence, the Church of Holy Russia."
In conclusion, Fr Andrew said that the pastors of ROCOR are duty bound to preach "heartfelt Orthodoxy, humble tradition" and to preserve "compassionate independence."
The last lecture of the day was read by Archimandrite Luke (USA), "The Mission of the Russian Church Abroad."
Fr Luke spoke on the mission of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia as seen by her founding fathers—Blessed Metropolitans Anthony (Khrapovitsky) and Anastassy (Gribanovsky), Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky) of blessed memory, and her theologians and thinkers. Thinking of the realities of the life today of ROCOR, Fr Luke said "For many years, time and energy were spent on the question of the Russian Orthodox Church's attitude towards the Moscow Patriarchate, and with God's help we are approaching the successful resolution of this problem. Let us decisively and wholly concentrate our attention on the spiritual Divine nourishment of the flock given to us."