The Church of Russia versus Ecumenism.
By Protopriest Valentin Asmus
Professor of the Theological School of Moscow.
The Church of Russia was never ecumenical.
The Holy Theodosius of Kiev, one of the forefathers of Russian asceticism,
wrote in the mid 11th century "about the Christian and Latin faith"
the following: "Do not be attracted to the Latin faith, nor adopt their
traditions, avoid their pleasantries and every dogma of theirs and abominate
their habits and keep your daughters from marrying them, nor marry their women,
nor fraternize or embrace or bow to them, do not eat with them nor drink from
common implements, nor accept their food...... It is not fitting, my child, to
praise the other's faith. If somebody praises someone else's faith, he
blasphemes his own. If however he praises both, his and someone else's, he thus
becomes bi-faithful and comes close to heresy." We have here a complete
ecumenical program but in a negative light.
During the calamitous period of the Mongol rule, the Russians chose the heterodox yoke of "friendship" and "protection" of the Latin west. The Holy Grand Duke Alexander Nevski, humble vassal of the Mongols, became a famous victor over the Swedes and the Germans, who wanted to conquer Russia for the Pope.
At the Synod of Florence, the Russian delegation of the Metropolitan Isidor could not understand anything, for the Russians did not know both languages, Greek and Latin. But when the Russian delegation returned to Moscow, the Grand Duke Vasilios declared the Metropolitan Isidor heretic and imprisoned him.
In the start of the 17th century, the Poles conquered Russia and wished to subjugate her to the Pope and appointed as Patriarch a Latin sympathizer priest, Ignatius, previous Archbishop of Cyprus. However the Synod of the Russian bishops removed him and Ignatius returned to Poland.
The tragic period after the fall of Constantinople was a sad period of decline of the Orthodox civilization and correspondingly a period of increased western influence.
This influence had all encompassing intentions but with limited results. Saint Peter Mogil, Metropolitan of Kiev, wrote under relative Latin influence his "Orthodox Confession" which with the blessing of the Ecumenical Patriarchate became a symbolic book of the Orthodox Church. The same Peter blessed the issuing of the Synodic of Orthodoxy in the Slavonic Triodion. The triumphant orthodox fighter Metropolitan Peter withdrew the Russian Metropolis of Poland from the
Emperor Peter the Great, who was called western sympathizer by many, was a great defender of Orthodox Russia. He allowed mixed marriages with the Armenians, Roman-Catholics and Protestants but under the condition that all the children of mixed marriages must be Orthodox.
In the beginning of the 20th century, responding to the early ecumenical initiatives of the West, one of the Russian neo-martyr, professor Troitski, later archbishop Ilarion, wrote: "I confess one Church and the Roman Catholics for me are not a Church and therefore they are not Christians because Christianity does not exist without a Church".
"All the Christian confessions recognize the incarnation of the Son of God. But this alone cannot mix all the confessions in one Church. Even demons according to the apostle James, believe and confessed their belief just as the Apostle Peter".
The anti-christian, Masonic revolution in Russia greatly pleased the West. The English and the French did not at all wish to cede to Russia Constantinople and its straits according to their treaties with the Tsar. Before the 1st World War, the "holy" pope Pius X said: "If Russia wins so would the schism". To the Pope, Tsarist Russia was "the greatest enemy of the Church" namely of the Roman Catholics. For the Vatican, the communists were a tool of the providence of God: By eliminating the orthodox hierarchyand persecuting the faithful , the revolutionists were preparing the place for the Latinizing of the Orthodox or the sowing of the Unia. The holy neo-martyr, Metropolitan Peter, "locum tenens" of the Patriarchal Throne, wrote after the death of the holy Patriarch Tichon: "Many are the enemies of the Orthodox Church. The Roman Catholics using our liturgical order trick the faithful to the Unia." Metropolitan and later Patriarch Sergius wrote (1931): "The Eucharist is a union of the partakers with Christ and with Christ between them. If we differentiate from them in the Eucharist, one side of the two will perform the false Eucharist. It is impossible for two inter-communing Eucharist to exist, as is two Christs and two Churches.
During the Second World War the Soviet Union captured Galicia and Karpatho-Russia, which were not part of Russia before the Revolution. In those areas the Russian State was with the Unia. In 1946-1947 Unia was disallowed in those areas and millions of faithful together with their priests converted to Orthodoxy. In the post-war world, new ecumenical initiatives were made by the Protestants. At the Moscow assembly of the heads and representatives of the autocephalous Orthodox Churches (1948) voted a decision on the matter: "The ecumenical movement and the Orthodox Church": "..... the contemporary ecumenical movement does not guarantee the renewal of the Churches with means and methods according to the Grace of God. The reduction of the necessary prerequisites, to the single recognition of Jesus Christ as our Lord, reduces the Christian teaching even to its faith, which according to the Apostle it is strong even to the demons....... We declare to the World Council of Churches .... and to all the Orthodox local churches, taking part in this assembly, that we are duty bound to refuse taking part in the ecumenical movement".
In 1956 the leaders of the USSR approved a secret decision according to which the Orthodox Russian Church had to take part in the ecumenical movement as a secret tool of the soviet policy. But the communist enslaved Church did not want it. She resisted the demands of the governors for five years. In 1961 Metropolitan Nicholas Krutitsi, president of the Department of Foreign Affairs, was terminated from all his positions and immediately died at the hospital of unknown reasons. Metropolitan Nicodemus replaced Nicholas, a new hierarch who had a bright career.
Nicodemus believed that in the circumstances of the persecutions by Khrushchev (1956-1964) who wished to make religion disappear , the Church could use the ecumenical relationships in the struggle for her survival. The Church guaranteed the USSR government the fulfillment of its political goals. In 1961 the Russian Church became member of the World Council of Churches. As "independent" representative of the soviet policy she became a significant political factor in the government. Obtaining acquaintances and friends in the West the "Ecumenical" hierarchs hoped to gain supporters of the Russian Church during persecution. However the Russian hierarchs did not have sincere ecumenical enthusiasm. Nicodemus declared that the World Council of Churches should be an "association of representatives of the Churches but not a community of the Churches". Which means the WCC should not have ecclesiastic significance. There was a chill in the relations of the Russian Church with the Vatican. Patriarch Alexei I sent a telegraph to Patriarch Athenagoras on the lifting of the anathemas of 1054: "......your decision is an act of your estimable Church...... However, it does not have a theological significance for the faithful of the Holy Orthodox Church". And on the same occasion to Chrysostom of Athens "....The division of the Churches of the Roman Catholics and Orthodox is extremely deep and today there are no corresponding bases for its overcoming".
The ecumenical negotiations involved very few officials of the Patriarchate and were almost totally unknown by the faithful. The number of copies of ecclesiastic journals was very small and they were reserved only for the clergy, with no ecclesiastic libraries for the people.
But for the clergy and monastics, Ecumenism was a great scandal. And during the years of Perestroika (Reform) and Glasnost (Transparency), the voice of the faithful was heard which was against Ecumenism and modernism, against the western civilization and in general against any type of western influence. And for the Hierarchy the period of "friendship" between Russia and the West caused a great disappointment. Rome renewed the Unia in Western Ukraine. Many hundreds of parish churches were taken over by Uniates. The Pope sent to all the areas of Russia not only many priests but also some bishops. Our Patriarch Alexei II notes that the present flock of the Latin Church does not need that many clerics. The goal of the Vatican is the proselytization of the Russian Orthodox. The Pope wishes to visit Russia. The Russian government which seeks the recognition by the west of its "freedom loving" wishes the same. But the Patriarch Alexei II steadfastly rejected such proposals.
The protestant people obviously are for a total and complete internal liquidation. The legitimizing of homosexuality, female priesthood etc, are signs of satanic perversion of the early Christians. The Russian Christians understand: "....... For what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Beliar? Or what part has the faithful with the unbeliever?." /3/ There are some protestant confessions which do not want or rather cannot proselytize in Russia (Lutherans, Anglicans). But most of their offshoots try to take over Russia by the their "evangelical", "living" faith. Against the religious insidiousness of the protestant heresies our Patriarchate holds a steady negative position.
Monophysitism also disturbs our Church. Now over two centuries at the large Russian cities there are many Armenians. After their "independence" in 1991 half the population of Armenia moved over to Russia. The pre-existing "Unia" with the Monophysites would have been a good solution for us from the point of national politics. However the faithful, the clergy and our hierarchs did not want the Unia. The two Hierarchal Synods of our Church (1994 and 1997) officially declared that "the second Declaration of the Mixed Congress of the theological dialogue "between the Orthodox Church and the Anti-Chalcedonians, which the followers of the Unia declared successful rejection of dogmatic dialogue, "it should not be considered as a final document, providing for the restoration of full communion because the Declaration contains unclear expressions as to the "Christology". In simple words the Church said "No" to the union with the monophysites.
Our Church reviews her relations with the WCC. It is possible the Russian Church may leave the WCC as was done by the Churches of Georgia and Bulgaria. Our Church does not encourage the clerics and her laity to take part in ecumenical services, common prayers etc.
During previous years, when Metropolitan Nicodemus (+1978) developed his double ecumenical policy, the people were far from the hierarchy. Today not only do "the sheep listen to the voice of the shepherds but the shepherds also pay attention to the voice of the sheep: laity simple clerics, monastics. Metropolitan Kyrill, President of the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Church, notes that those that complain about Ecumenism are not extremists, schismatics and fundamentalists but regular members of the Church and their complaints have good reason.
Few are the followers of Ecumenism in the Russian Church, in the hierarchy, the clergy, and the "intellectuals". To the monastics and the "simple" people there are no ecumenists. In the Orthodox Country at large Ecumenism has not future.
1. James 2:19
2. Matt 16: 16, Mark 1:24, Luke 8:28
3. 2 Cor 6:14-15