NEW YORK: June 12, 2015
Clarification from the Chancery of the President of the Synod of Bishop on the return to the bosom of the Russian Church Abroad of Holy Trinity Parish in Santiago, Chile
From the Chancery of the President of the Synod of Bishops
of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord, Parishioners
and Worshipers of Holy Trinity Church in Santiago:
I send my heartfelt greetings on the recent feast day of Holy Trinity Church in Santiago, and on the commencing fast of SS Peter and Paul, which reminds us of the works of the Chief Apostles and the Early Church, which spreads the Faith in Christ throughout the world.
I also congratulate you with the return of Holy Trinity Church to the bosom of the Russian Church Abroad! I deem this event as the reestablishment of historic justice. The fact is that the regulations of the Cemetery Society adopted in 1956 states that members of the society can only be Orthodox Christians and representatives of other Russian confessions who wish to be buried in accordance with Church rules. Also, paragraph 11 of the regulations clearly define the relationship of the Cemetery Society with the Orthodox Church. This paragraph refers to the ruling bishop subject to the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia or his representative in Chile as the honorary president of the Cemetery Society.
That is why those who criticize the members of the Cemetery Society commit a sin against the truth: the Cemetery Society is an organization of Orthodox laity, and in this way distinguishes itself from usual lay social societies, that is, it has a connection with the Russian Orthodox Church. Historically, the Parish of Holy Trinity Church in Santiago was connected to the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia in New York. For this reason, nothing changes with regard to the relationship with the Church with the amended regulations, in fact, the opposite: the aim of the members of the Cemetery Society is to stress the historic succession of the organization in every way.
For this reason, the attacks by critics of the administration of the Cemetery Society are puzzling. Since 2009, Bishop John of Caracas and South America has been the Ruling Bishop of our diocese in South America, therefore, the honorary president of the Cemetery Society in accordance with paragraph 11 of its regulations, since by ukase of the Synod of Bishops, he was appointed ruling bishop of all parishes in South America, including Holy Trinity Parish in Santiago. Archimandrite Veniamin (Wozniuk) was suspended from clerical service for his unilateral departure from his lawful Hierarchy and for causing schism, in accordance with the following Church canons: Apostolic 31 and 39; Carthage 10 and 11; Double Council 13 and 14; Laodicea 57.
At the present time, His Grace Bishop John is in Chile. His Grace arrived with the aim of finding a way to correct Church life at Holy Trinity Parish. The administration and majority of the members of the Cemetery Society have no doubt that he is their lawful bishop. For this reason, I hasten to wish both the parishioners and worshipers, and His Grace Bishop John himself, good health, boldness of spirit and the all-powerful help of God in settling and strengthening parish life, so that Holy Trinity Parish would always shine and successfully bear the lantern of its spiritual illumination for those seeking it, drawing them closer to the Church and bringing them into Her bosom!
With love in the Lord,
Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York,
First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
June 8, 2015