«The Demise of ROCOR, the Synod of Metropolitan Agathangel, and the Ecclesiology of the Cyprianite “Synod in Resistance” By Fr. Stephen Allen ...»
Part II : Quo Vadis, Agathangele?
When Met. Agathangel and his followers were casting about for a solution to their problem of having only one bishop, they did not immediately decide on the Synod in Resistance. A committee of Agathangelite clergy heard out a delegation from the GOCKiousis synod at a meeting in Astoria, New York, regarding the history and ideology of the Resisters. As one of the GOC delegates later informed me, however, they did not seem terribly interested, but rather spent most of the session passing a flask of spirits among themselves and making funny remarks. This is entirely in character with the “traditional mainstream of the old ROCOR,” where it was de rigeur to pooh-pooh scrupulosity over canonical and dogmatic matters as betraying an unspiritual, even Roman Catholic, mindset, and where a rather charming foolishness for Christ's sake often flowed from the vodka bottle. Hearing this story made me smile fondly, recalling happy days of yore and childlike companions I knew and loved. It also conveyed to me that, as usual, the “mainstream of ROCOR” did not know about such things and did not want to know about such things.
So, as we all know by now, the ROCOR-A ended up going to the Resisters for their episcopal consecrations. This is their third assertion and, as it were, resounding coda in the argument that they are THE continuation of ROCOR: their apostolic succession now depends completely upon the legitimacy of a synod recognized - chiefly through the good offices of our friend Archbishop Mark - as the ROCOR's sister Church in 1994.
When defending their choice of ecclesiastical allies, sometimes Agathangelites who have the sense to be a little nervous about the Cyprianite teaching pass it off as a “private opinion of Met. Cyprian which has no normative status.” This, however, is not true. The ecclesiology of the Cyprianites is not simply a private opinion of the elder Met.
Cyprian. It is a formal and oft-promulgated position of their synod, and it is their formal and only justification for being separate from the legitimate authority of the genuine Greek Church, that is, the Synod under Abp Chrysostomos. They do not deny this. The entire legitimacy of the existence of the Cyprianite group is based on this ecclesiology's being not only a permissible theologoumenon, but actually an article of faith so anciently accepted, so universally acknowledged, so clear, that it justified the elder Cyprian's refusal, on the basis of Apostolic Canon 34 and the 15th Canon of the 1st and 2nd Council, to re-unite with the other Florinite bishops in the early 1980's.
The contrary, however, is painfully obvious: The Cyprianite position - that notorious heretics are guaranteed to remain within the Church until being expelled by an ecumenical council of such a strict and peculiar construction that it is rather difficult to demonstrate that any such council has ever taken place in the history of the Church - far from being the teaching of the Church, is an idiosyncratic and tortuous, albeit clever, argument crafted after the fact in order to justify a schism. Its learned defenders assiduously employ the most erudite and courtly language, ingeniously invoke various Fathers, astound their interlocutors by flights of dialectical genius, and invariably print their opinions on very fine stationery, but the teaching itself remains – alas – untrue.
These are not matters of only secondary importance to the ROCOR-A, because the synod whose very existence is justified solely by the claim that this theory is an accepted dogma of the catholic Church, is precisely that synod which provided the canonically required co-consecrators for the ROCOR-A bishops. If the teaching of Met.
Cyprian is not really a dogma of the Church, then the Cyprianites really are schismatics, and, if so, what does that mean for the apostolic succession of the Agathangel synod?
The leaders of ROCOR-A, when they decide to become serious about the Faith instead of dreaming nostalgically about the glories of “old ROCOR,” the “White Idea,” and so forth, will need to re-examine the 1994 decision, subject it seriously to an honest critique, and go where the truth leads. Being the “genuine heir of the old ROCOR” in one's ecclesiological understanding is actually not a good thing. The indifference of the “mainstream of old ROCOR” to ecclesiology enabled the KGB to destroy them.
Priest Steven Allen Church of St. Spyridon Detroit, Michigan USA 24 June 2010 OS Nativity of the Holy Forerunner