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Dedicated to the Ever-memorable Archbishop Seraphim: Eternal Memory!

'Beloved Land, soon to be made fragrant and all-holy, shone through and warmed by the love of so many martyrs' blood, there is an unknown redolence and effulgent light in thy still-brightening churches; we neither ask why nor question how: but we humbly kneel and feel and have Faith'.

Premonition, April 1974 (P.13 of Orthodox Christianity and the English Tradition).

Is it possible that we are seeing in our own lifetimes the coming together of the two parts of the Russian Church? Less than twenty years ago we can recall KGB men in Paris pursuing parishioners from a ROCOR parish and then writing a report about them in the Soviet Press, labelling them laughably as 'dangerous counter-revolutionary operatives'. Today, however, repentant former KGB agents make humble confession before ROCOR priests. Concelebration between the two parts of the Russian Church is discussed as a possibility, however long the Conciliar process may actually be.

The repentance of all, as we prayed for and wrote of in several articles over the last ten years is taking place. (1) Each is shedding the deadweight of ideology and secular politics. 'The Church is not a political party', as Archbishop Mark has recently reminded those who may have forgotten this. All who have lost or never known the Russian Tradition have to return in repentance to faithfulness to it.

Of course much remains to be done before concelebration can actually take place. Will there be repentance for the errors of Sergianism and the excesses of ecumenism? Will all churches of the Moscow Patriarchate outside Russia return to the canonical and liturgical norms of the parishes inside Russia? Will they abandon cremation, accept the return to the Orthodox calendar and Paschalia, drop the ordinations of divorced men to the priesthood, stop the ordination of men whose wives are not Orthodox? Will the persecution of those faithful to the Tradition cease?

We rejoice that the Patriarchal Church is coming together with the Church Outside Russia and we rejoice that those who put secular concerns above the Church are realising their errors. But probably complete unity within the Russian Church can only come with an All-Russian Council, drawing together all the breadth of the Church, as it was before the Revolution.

Only a few years ago such a Council seemed like a dream which only our children might yet live to see. However, we must also realise that the scope of such a Council should not be merely national. Yes, repentance must come from all. Yes, Russian Church unity must be restored when all believe that freedom has been restored. But more than this, whether she is ready to admit it or not, the Russian Church has historic responsibilities beyond herself to the rest of the multinational Orthodox world. However tempting it may be for Russia to become self-absorbed and isolate herself, falling into dangerous nationalist concerns, the remit of the Russian Church is international.

Firstly, she has to work to restore something of the Pan-Orthodox unity from before the Revolution. She has to work for the restoration of Orthodoxy beyond her borders. She has to help the local Orthodox Churches in the Balkans and Georgia, and the ancient Eastern Patriarchates, Arabs and Africans alike. Russia before the Revolution knew this and helped, in Bulgaria and Serbia, in Romania and Greece, in Syria and Palestine, on Mt Athos and in Constantinople.

But secondly, she has also a historic mission as the Third Rome to reach out beyond her far-flung borders and to preach Orthodoxy to all the ends of the earth. She has a Messianic destiny, task and duty not to ignore Non-Russians who have struggled in poverty and contempt, but to help them. All Russia's greatest figures, from Dostoyevsky in his Pushkin Speech to St John of Kronstadt in his diaries, knew this. Russia before the Revolution knew this and helped, in China and Korea, in Tokyo and Aleutia, in Alaska and San Francisco, in Germany and France.

We have been waiting for this help for thirty years amid daily crucifixion. Today the eyes not only of Russians, but also of many Non-Russians are looking to the Russian Church. Hear us now; do not forget us. We have shed enough tears beside the rivers of Babylon. We await the time of the fulfillment of the prophecies of the restoration before the end and the preaching of the Orthodox Gospel to all the ends of the earth:

'The wonderful light of Christ will shine forth from Russia and enlighten all the peoples of the earth. This will be helped by that part of the people providentially sent ahead into the diaspora, who will create centres of Orthodoxy - churches of God all over the world'.

Orthodoxy and the Destiny of Russia (P.301 of Orthodox Christianity and the English Tradition).

1. For example, from 'Orthodox Christianity and the English Tradition', Chapters 1, 17, 52, 61. From 'The Lighted Way', see 'The Russian Church and its Divisions'. Several of these articles are reproduced on this website. See also our sections on the Russian Church under 'Events 2002' and the Interview with Pravda in 2002 and published in Russian in January 2003, also on this website. See also 'A Vision for the Orthodox Churches of Western Europe' in the 'Orthodox Europe' section on this website. This was originally written in 1988 as a consultative paper for the consideration of the late Archbishop George (Wagner) of the Paris Russian jurisdiction, who tore it up out of hand.

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