Dear Brothers and Sisters:

In recent days, time and again, the question arises of the unification of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. Unfortunately, since this question is most loudly debated in non-clerical circles, or among those in groups surrounding the Church, conflicting rumors are circulating among the faithful. In order to avert mistaken opinions, I ask that the following be kept in mind:

1) The division in the Russian Orthodox Church stemmed from the declaration of loyalty to the Soviet State in 1927 signed by Metropolitan Sergius (Starogorodsky), and not through any fault of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. Consequently, the blame should be laid on this act of Metropolitan Sergius, as well as on those conditions which made the signing of this declaration possible.

2) The next step in the separation of the MP and ROCOR was the former's non-recognition of the Holy New Martyrs of Russia, in defiance of the decision on this matter by the All-Russian Church Council of 1917-1918. The eventual execution of this decision, as the leaders of the MP openly declare, relied more on public opinion and on political mood and not on the Church's awareness of the holiness of the New Martyrs, and, first of all, of the Tsar-Martyrs.

3) The overwhelming number of present hierarchs of the MP were ordained to the rank of bishop only with the permission, and often upon the direct order of the KGB and the Ministry of Religious and Atheist Affairs under the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, that is, at the discretion of profoundly civilian and godless powers, which places such bishops outside of the Church, and the Moscow Patriarchate itself in a very questionable canonical position. Great effort is required to find even some foundation upon which to consider the MP even nominally possessing Grace, even if only for the sake of the many lay church people ignorant of the fact that the bishops lead them away from the Grace of God. Here is canon 30 of the Holy Apostles: "If any bishop, making use of the secular powers, shall by their means obtain jurisdiction over any church, he shall be deposed, and also excommunicated, together with all those who remain in communion with him."

4) Yet more canonical rules are being violated by the MP as a result of their participation in the ecumenical movement and by their membership in the World Council of Churches (an openly heretical organization): the canons of the Holy Apostles 45, 46, 65, Laodicean Council 32,33,37, and canon 9 of Timothy, Bishop of Alexandria. And although those asking about such an open departure from canon are given evasive promises, at the same time the ecumenists are defended at the highest level, which the last Bishops' Council of 1997 confirmed (see the report of Metropolitan Philaret of Minsk to the Council).

5) In recent times, the violation of canons is not abating but in fact increasing in number, and not only on a personal level, but churchwide, throughout the Moscow Patriarchate, with regard to the relationship to wealth and commerce. These canons are: the 44th canon of the Apostles; the Ecumenical Councils: First Council, 17th canon; Sixth Council, 10th canon; Seventh Council, 16th canon; Carthaginian Council, 5th canon; Gregory Neocaesarian, 3rd canon.

What are we to do, those who came under the omophorus of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia under the 15th canon of the Twofold Ecumenical Council? Strive to unification, "without preconditions" as the MP demands? This means to unconditionally agree with everything: with the legality of the schism of 1927, with permitted deviation from canon, with the resulting departure from true Orthodoxy. Would this be an expression of love? No. This would be acceptance not only of the downfall of the hierarchs, but of the entire flock of the Moscow Patriarchate.

Love requires us to stand in truth and keep our neighbor from downfall. The path to unity lies only through the return to church canon, to genuine Russian Orthodoxy, through the defeat of the heresies listed above.

And so watch, beloved ones, to see if the strides towards unification of the Church is truly happening.

Bishop Evtikhii.

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