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The recent events in Moscow mark the triumph of Orthodoxy. However, we should not think that they mark the triumph of Orthodox, rather they mark the triumph of the repentance of Orthodox. For there is no triumph of Orthodoxy without the repentance of Orthodox, no victory without repentance. Only the mystery of repentance brings victory over sin.

We cannot but help remember the situation of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) and the Russian Orthodox Church inside Russia (MP), even only two or three years ago. Then, as ever, the Church Outside Russia was a persecuted and despised minority, living in poverty and isolation. Further back, when the New Martyrs and Confessors were canonized in 1981, we recall how we were vilified in the world media, whether Orthodox or secular.

All those self-created enemies of ROCOR, if not now passed on, have now repented or are repenting for their past attitudes towards us. Even those modernists who, flown in from the West, only last January were lobbying in Moscow against our common unity, are having to rethink their positions, as their houses, founded on sand, are washed away from beneath them by the floodwaters of repentance. Our ROCOR positions on dying Ecumenism, on dying Renovationism and on dead Sergianism, have now been adopted all through the Patriarchal Church and are listened to widely in other Local Churches. Only those who are prisoners of the past even think about such death-bringing matters.

Of course, this is not to say that ROCOR never made mistakes. The ROCOR faithful also suffered from political errors made by individuals who came to prominence in ROCOR, especially in the late 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s. Then, a right-wing political, sectarian, judgemental Greek Old Calendarist influence came to power in New York. As the ever-memorable Metropolitan Philaret said, their position was that of Donatism. Many others amongst us never accepted this, for example those of us under the ever-memorable Archbishop Antony of Geneva and Western Europe. Later, in the early 1990s, the uncanonical - and it was indeed uncanonical, as we all said at the time - decision to give shelter to small groups of Orthodox on Russian territory inside our Church was rejected by most ROCOR faithful and clergy. However, we obeyed our hierarchy, while disagreeing, obedience being the most important virtue.

To those few individuals who could not repent for their quasi-Protestant, sectarian attitudes, who did not want to see the unity of the Russian Church and in 2006 left the Patriarchate of Moscow for the Patriarchate of Constantinople, or in 2007 left ROCOR for some sect or other, we say, you are welcome to return. We all make mistakes. The doors are not shut to you to return. Indeed, we shall rejoice together with you, if you do so.

Once past the initial euphoria of your decision to leave, the euphoria that is always created in little groups when you break away, you may wish to return. After the self-congratulatory excitement of defensive self-justification, you will feel depressed, isolated and abandoned in your sects. This is the normal psychological process, created by the evil one, who casts us from one emotional extreme to another, from euphoria to despondency. When that time comes, remember these words, and remember that you are welcome to return. Your return is your act of repentance and, automatically, our act of mutual forgiveness for anything that was done or said in the past.

None should be surprised by the pro-Patriarchal attitudes of ROCOR. The first Metropolitan of ROCOR, Metropolitan Antony of Kiev, probably the greatest Patristic figure of the twentieth century, battled all his life for the restoration of the Patriarchate. ROCOR has never been outside a free Patriarchal Church; on the contrary, we had been waiting all these decades for the Patriarchate to become free, so that we could be with the free Patriarchate and the free Patriarchate with us.

Thus, locally, after the grim years of cult, renovationism and persecution of the Tradition, we welcome the resurrection of the Patriarchal Church in the British Isles since the appointment of Bishop Elisey of Bogorodsk here at the end of 2006. Here we wish to see the full re-establishment of the Church, as it is in Russia, as it is and always has been in ROCOR, and we fully support Bishop Elisey in his already excellent work to do exactly that. At last we are at one.

Indeed, our wider task, in our now globally reconstituted Russian Mother-Church, is to gather together all those elements that in the past left the Russian Church, in France, North America and elsewhere. Through the example of the global reunification that has already taken place, our task now is to gather together all Orthodox. The Reunion of all Orthodox, of all nationalities, is now possible, the doors are wide open.

Writing these lines, we cannot help but think of and pray for all those who did not live to see this day, the Day of the Ascension, the Day of Repentance of Orthodox, the Day of Triumph of Orthodoxy. For this is the Day that the Lord has made: Let us be glad and rejoice in It!

Fr Andrew


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