Archbishop Mark of Berlin is re-exposed to the "true essence" of the Moscow Patriarchate. By Alexander Soldatov
That circumstances would hinder the process of "reunification" between the ROCOR (L) and the Moscow Patriarchate has already been noted long ago-- it was clear even in the days of the "historic visit" to Russia of the official "Diaspora" delegation headed by Metropolitan Lavr during May of last year. Usually this was explained by the insurmountability of a number of ecclesiastical-historical and canonical problems, discussed at the joint sessions of the commissions of the two churches for "reunification". The first problem is that of ecumenism - in fact, formal relations between the ROC-MP did not change, and the Moscow Patriarch remains an important member of the World Council of Churches and participates in the prayers with the heterodox. But the ROCOR anathematized ecumenism in 1983. Second would be "Sergianism": now, in the era of Putin's patriotic renaissance, the ROC-MP is completely disinclined to reject the church policy of the "Stalinist" Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky), from which it had already outright refused in the beginning of the 1990's. Finally, there is the problem of church property abroad, which both sides actively refused to address, asserting that there was almost no problem. And here, as a result, it proves to be the main stumbling-block.
After 2001, when the First-Hierarch of the ROCOR and the conservative clergy departed from it, the enthusiastic moods in the church, which was now the ROCOR (L), only increased-- the recent and formerly accursed MP was shown to be the "Mother Church", the "sole church of the Russian people", and the "church of the new-martyrs", and Patriarch Alexei II, still referred to in the foreign press by such names as "Agent Drozdov" and "heretic" suddenly became "His Holiness".
Like the series of blanket condemnations, this new enthusiasm was scattered suddenly and for trifling reasons. Even some fifty-six days ago at the Hierarchical Synod meeting in New York, during which the permission of His Holiness was sought to publish separate, but already long ago matched and combed, documents which were accepted by the commisions for "reunification", the echoes of new prophecies were sounded in the halls of the synodal house about union occurring at the beginning of 2006. And here suddenly on January 31, we find a response to the "protocol" issued by Patriarch Alexei II during his meeting with new Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas from no less than the main ideologist of "reunification" on the side of ROCOR (L)-- Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany.
The ecclesio-politcal course of this individual changed radically several times - and the hostage of these fluctuations was the entire Church Abroad, suffering from a sharp scarcity of intellectuals in the episcopal dignity. With the Archbishop's seal of approval they are characteristically, categorically confident in the rightness of their course, demonstrating perfect unwillingness to listen to their opponents and enter into any dialogue with them. The Archbishop announces his study ex cathedra as the established position, not as some pitiful fundamentalist, especially not from unwashed Russia. The Archbishop's seal was originally stamped on the "Russian project", and spoke in favor of maximum development of "parallel" structures in Russia. Then, faulting the fastidiousness of the homo sovieticus, the inaccuracy of this course was proclaimed, since contemporary Russian people were not ready for civilized church life. Finally, at the end of the 90's, a course was undertaken to unite with the MP, the diocese of which in Germany began to pass to the ROCOR. Changes in course were never stamped with an Archbishop's seal of repentance -- only changes in "historical circumstances" were noted. Only during November of 2003 did the Archbishop privately obtain forgiveness from Patriarch Alexei II, and not for himself, but for all the "insulting statements" made by representatives of ROCOR towards the MP.
Most likely, this change of course in this sequence, which had the Archbishop's seal of approval on the 31st of January, will also be attributed to a change in the circumstances. Indeed, "system errors", which translate to the German hierarch into numerous opponents from both within and without the ROCOR (L), could not be allowed. Thus, the MP goes from being "Sergianist" to the "Mother Church" and now back to "persecutor and tormentor", and Archbishop Mark remains solid as a rock.
Thus, on January 31, 2005, in the presence of Mahmoud Abbas, the ROC-MP is again buried in "Sergianism". It asked the Palestinian leader to legally secure the monasteries in the Holy Land as Patriarchal property, which was recently taken away from ROCOR scandalously and violently. Technically, the ROC-MP always considered this property as its own, which is why we refer to the statement of the Patriarch as a "protocol". But indeed, Archbishop Mark did not know, or he forgot, or he forced himself to forget the "true essence" of the Moscow Patriarchate. The luster of the cupolas, the countless assemblies of clergy and the crowds of laity, the sweet sounds of the singing of church choirs and the personal charm of His Holiness distracted his attention from the tears of the Sisters in Jericho. But Vladika was warned - all the splendor of the "spiritually revived" Russia will fall to another's feet.
Attempting to save face, Archbishop Mark explains that while the Church Abroad is ready to swallow the forced removal of its property here in the Holy Land, that allegedly the flock will not understand. The Masonic theories of the "rights of man" eclipsed the reason even of those in the West, who sincerely believed that the luster of cupolas guaranteed the truth of the ROC-MP. But the ROC-MP explains that on its side, there is no meaning to these Masonic theories - if the church is one, then the owner of property is one. A property question here has become, which once had archbishop's stamp as no hindrance to union (indeed it it actually threatened the loss of last arrivals in Germany), the stumbling block in this "historical process".
Our portal forecast-- a year ago-- such a dispute and even a fiasco surrounding such a solemn "process of unification". This forecast was not based, however, on the ill wishes and obvious interception of the initiative by metropolitan Kyrill (Gundyaev). Indeed, when Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov) ventured into the process - the conservative antipode of the MP's Committee on External Relations - President Putin was inclined to lend his hand to the union. Undermining the process of union, Metropolitan Kyrill sharply weakens the position of Fr. Tikhon and deprives him of the President's confidence, since the latter- who acted on the initiative of Fr. Tikhon- now finds himself in a stupid position. At the same time, he robs of the foreign hierarches of the authority which they held in conservative church circles. As for the property, it will nevertheless gradually pass into the hands of the ROC-MP, regardless of the twists and turns taken by the "wise course" of the Archbishop's seal of approval.