Since initiating the 2004 schism, neither its perpetrator, Metropolitan Valentine, nor his closest associate bishops in Suzdal have shown any signs of repentance. On the other hand, we still cannot assume that the other members of the Synod of Bishops even know any actual details of what Metropolitan Valentine did in 2004, despite the fact - which should cry out for his conduct’s close examination - that they have long since lost practically all of their clergy in the United States who were with them at that time. We cannot assume they know what he did in any detail, because those bishops are physically isolated and deprived of any sources of information about wider Church events beyond what Suzdal decides they should be allowed to hear. Their address and telephone numbers are intentionally kept secret, so that our communication with them is impossible.
The Bishops in Suzdal, however, must be held accountable for their actions, and we call upon them to return to a decent manner of behavior by following the sacred canons.
The following points are the fundamental Orthodox principles which they must accept:
1) They must acknowledge that Metropolitan Valentine doesn’t have canonical, immediate, personal jurisdiction over all Bishops and their dioceses. This is a papal innovation, which conflicts with the Orthodox Church’s canons, the conciliarity of the Church government, and with the actual reality of the episcopacy of the other bishops, who are not his mere vicars, but his real brothers and equals in office, although not in order of seniority. The Metropolitan presides at the gathering of the Bishops’ Synod for conducting its business, but it is that Synod alone which has the authority to canonically suspend, try, and sentence a bishop canonically accused. He does not have universal, immediate, and supreme jurisdiction, as Metropolitan Valentine claims, over a ruling bishop in his diocese and even in his monastery.* According to the holy canons (8th of the 3rd Ecumenical Council, 9th of Antioch, 64th and 67th of Carthage) no bishop can encroach on the territory of another bishop or even perform any sacramental action in it without his permission. These canons were written precisely to avoid the lawless chaos which Metropolitan Valentine created abroad by his unilateral, papistical actions. A bishop is married to his diocese and that marriage cannot be violated. We, the Orthodox Church, condemned the heresy of universal, papal authority and Metropolitan Valentine is in his own particular way, espousing this heresy. The Suzdal bishops must acknowledge that their local Russian Kniga Consistorium (Book of Consistory), because it contradicts the canons of the Church, is already condemned and is uncanonical. Everything done against the Canons of the Church, according to St. Theodore the Studite, is null and void, because bishops and local synods only have authority to operate and legislate within the Holy Church’s canons’ bounds and the degree of authority allotted therein. A local Church cannot nullify a canon of the Universal Church. Even our own St. John Maximovitch and St. Philaret wrote that the Church’s universal canons, words of God in fact, cannot be nullified by later generations, or even bishops and synods.
*This is why Metropolitan Valentine made the stolen monk Andrew, who resides in New York City, bishop of Pavlovskoye, a city within the Suzdal Diocese, not ruling or having Episcopal authority in a diocese in America, but only being present overseas as Metropolitan Valentine’s powerless functionary when he needs a stand-in puppet. Metropolitan Valentine has thus arranged matters (as he did with the other, equally-dependent bishops) because Valentine wants to be in sole, unquestionable control over all. His ridiculous slanders of us aside, it is he that has really proclaimed himself to be the ruling bishop of the world, all subject to his simple fiat, with all others as his mere vicars. This ludicrous and papal-like power which Metropolitan Valentine has bestowed upon himself was not only protested by us in America, but outcries were also made in Russia and in England.
2) They must acknowledge that the mysteries performed by heretics and schismatics are null and void. They must acknowledge that they, the Russian bishops, are subject to the holy Canons and also the decrees of the Russian Church Abroad, who ordained them, namely that Roman Catholic baptism by aspersion is unacceptable in Orthodoxy, which St. Metropolitan Philaret made abundantly clear in their decree (The Ukaz of the Council of Bishops of the Russian Church Abroad of 15/28 September 1971 [“Church Life,” July-December 1971, pp. 52-54]). They must repent of the fact that Metropolitan Valentine accepted into communion Father Michael Graves, an unbaptized man, concelebrated with him and even tonsured him. They must repent of the uncanonical reception of the 180 merely poured-upon Haitians. They must acknowledge that all this was a grave sin which ultimately led to all those “converts” leaving the Church.
3) Along with repudiating Metropolitan Valentine’s acceptance of the validity of the baptism of heretics, so too they must acknowledge the erroneousness of Metropolitan Valentine’s bizarre teaching that chrismation is still effectual for salvation when heretics or schismatics chrismate their laity using chrism consecrated by the Orthodox. He gives as justification for this idea that the Moscow Patriarchate bishops mix some of old chism with their new chrism when they make chrism and so it is a grace-filled chrismation, he says! By ROAC’s acceptance of Valentine’s ideas, they fall under the 1985 Anathema against Ecumenism. This endorsement of the validity of heretical or schismatical mysteries is specifically condemned by the aforementioned Anathema, as well as the Church canons and Holy Fathers. It was for this reason (the recognition of the validity of the mysteries of the Moscow Patriarchate and other heretics) that the Bishops of the ROAC left ROCA in 1995.
4) They must condemn the dishonorable and uncanonical actions committed by their Metropolitan in the diocese of Archbishop Gregory. Specifically, they must condemn the action of their Metropolitan in entering the Monastery of Dormition Skete and threatening Father Andrew, a priestmonk under obedience to Archbishop Gregory, that if he did not leave Dormition Skete to be ordained by the Metropolitan as a bishop, he would be deposed from the priesthood. They must condemn the action of Metropolitan Valentine in entering Archbishop Gregory’s diocese and removing two of his priests and ordaining one layman to the diaconate, all without permission of the ruling hierarch. They must condemn the action of their Metropolitan in distributing ridiculous and slanderous accusations against Archbishop Gregory that the Metropolitan knew to be false, solely for the purpose of discrediting his character.
For all of the above reasons, they must acknowledge that their Metropolitan has broken the canons of the Church and is liable to the punishments proscribed by those canons. If they will not bring him to spiritual court, if they will persist in their stubbornness in imagining that Metropolitan Valentine has a pope-like, universal, immediate jurisdiction and authority, then they will have to defend their actions before the dread Judgment Seat of Christ and explain to Him why they caused a schism in His Church and hope that He will not number them with the heretics and schismatics whom they are emulating.
Written in Buena Vista on this day, July 4/17, 2008, the Royal Martyrs, Tsar Nicholas and his family.
President of the Synod of the Genuine Orthodox Church of America