Priest Yaroslav Belikow
The Church in Russia Today
(Round Table Address)
I am personally bothered by our isolationist position within the Orthodox world. Having had the opportunity to study the Russian Old Rite through research and personal contacts, I see many parallels between the ROCOR and the schismatics, as His Grace Bishop Daniel once noted.
We constantly tell our children that our teachings are one and the same with the other Local Churches, yet we live in utter isolation from them.
The [Old Believer] schism, soon after its emergence, began to splinter (there are no parallels here, for they had no canonical foundation for their existence). Still, we also have the tendency to splinter apart: the Paris Exarchate, the OCA, Suzdal, Mansonville…
With the end of persecution of the Church in Russia, ROCOR is beginning to lose its canonical basis. If we continue our isolation from the Orthodox world, we may embark upon the path of Puritan fanaticism, and finally, like the schismatics, we will begin to invent new dogmas for ourselves.
When Peter I opened Russia's window to Europe, he forgot to install a screen. The fresh Western European air blew in all sorts of spiritual diseases. Now, when the iron curtain has been destroyed, predators have rushed in, bearing not only spiritual but physical disease as well. Everyone present can provide many examples of this. Those of us who were raised amidst this epidemic have a wealth of experience in this area. Each of us knows that many of our Orthodox people have fallen, but we know how to work with people in such situations, what efforts and sacrifices are needed. Our experience shows that the Orthodox person can live in the spiritual world without leaving this temporal one (I Cor. 5:10). We must share our knowledge with our brethren in Russia. For this we must renew our contact with the ROC/MP, removing any canonical and everyday differences without compromise.