Dear in the Lord Fathers, Brothers and Sisters:
I greet you all, my dear friends, with love and with prayers for God’s undiminishing aid in this difficult time for Elevation of the Holy Cross Cathedral in Geneva, which was once blessed by the ascetic labors of St John of Shanghai and San Francisco the Miracle-Worker, and the great Bartoshevich brothers, devoted disciples of Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky): Archbishop Anthony and Bishop Leonty.
My brother archpastor members of the Synod of Bishops and I treasure the memory of these eminent hierarchs, who cannot be indifferent to the fate of our cathedral. We fervently pray to St John and for the repose of the other archpastors, that the Lord bless you all with His heavenly peace.
Having recently heard a report by His Eminence Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany, who visited with you not long ago, the Synod of Bishops at its last conference decided unanimously to instruct His Eminence to assemble a special committee he will head to introduce necessary amendments in the regulations of Elevation of the Holy Cross Cathedral. We were gladdened to hear from Archbishop Mark that representatives of the Societe de l’eglise russe (SER) in Geneva expressed their willingness to bring key points of their regulations, adopted many years ago, in line with Church canons. May God grant that we can work together on this matter to finally resolve the situation in Geneva.
The matter of Archbishop Michael and the accusations against him on the part of clergy and laity of the parishioners of the Western European Diocese is an entirely different matter which the Synod of Bishops will address during its forthcoming meeting. Our episcopacy comprises a kind of family which decides all ecclesiastical matters in a brotherly and loving manner. We plan to meet with Archbishop Michael in this same spirit, in order to deliberate on this complicated situation and take proper measures for the common good.
For this reason, I appeal to all of you with the request to adhere to our recent call for peace, obedience and ecclesiastical constructiveness. For only this approach will bear witness to profound faith and Church collegiality. Disobedience betrays the opposite. Disobedience is a slippery slope which leads nowhere and results in serious consequences. One cannot but remember the example of Holy Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow and All Russia the Confessor, who ascended not only the patriarchal throne with a sense of humility and obedience, but ascended his personal Golgotha in the same way. This meek ascetic demonstrated the words of guidance of the Prophet-King David, the author of most of the Psalms and of Holy Scripture, who declared: “be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord” (Psalms 27:14). Patriarch Tikhon, as did many other New Martyrs, suffered during the years of godless persecution of 100 years ago, all with the same attitude towards sorrows, sufferings and tribulations. They understood that this was all happening because it was permitted by God. The Patriarch’s service shows us that the most important and most difficult thing in life is to stand firmly, trust in God and pray, “enduring” the Lord and His Providence which leads us to our joy. In our approach to serving God and the people and the Church, when we pray, we try with fraternal love to find a path to unity and the resolution of our problems, to be obedient to our Hierarchy, all of which bears witness that we are truly the people of God. We not only trust in Him, but we trust Him and His blessed guidance. Only this path shall reveal to us God’s will. Any other path, chosen by some and which I warn you against, will absolutely fail to resolve the difficulties in Church life.
I congratulate you all on the Sunday holiday, this “small Pascha of Christ,” and prayerfully wish abundant mercies and blessings of God upon one of the jewels of our Russian Church Abroad, the parish of Elevation of the Holy Cross Cathedral in Geneva.
With love in Christ, and beseeching your holy prayers,
Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York,