Officialdom

I was interested in the letter which you wrote to Bishop Basil..., printed in the latest Orthodox Tradition. I also wrote to him complaining of his treatment of ROCA [a statement in Sourozh that this Church is recognized by no Orthodox Church], and he replied saying that...contacts [between the Russian Church Abroad and]...the Serbs  and Jerusalem are not "official." (Fr. I.P., Scotland)

The Orthodox Church has always defended her very raison d’ être on the grounds that she has preserved the spiritual integrity of the Christian Church. As Father Florovsky has noted, even Apostolic Succession, as a mere historical phenomenon, is meaningless unless it also conveys the spiritual content of what has been handed down to us by Christ through the Apostles. The use of words like "official," words borrowed from the lexica of Latin legalism and ecumenical hypocrisy, hardly commends the response that you were given. Are we, in view of what you were told, to assume that the "unofficial" relations between the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and these other Churches (including, at least in the past, liturgical concelebration) are illicit, non-operative, and of no consequence? If so, then these "official" Churches have either engaged in activities hardly becoming their official status or liturgical and spiritual unity is no longer of interest to "official" Orthodoxy.

In truth, our conscious commitment to the traditions of the Church, whether we be Greek or Romanian Old Calendarists or members of the Russian Church Abroad (Ed. Note: Even the AMERICAN ORTHODOX CHURCH ), constitutes our spiritual primacy. For that reason, some "official" Churches have preserved enough respect for spiritual integrity that they acknowledge our sacrifice for, and steadfastness in, the Faith, wherein lies the true criterion of ecclesiastical unity. Those who cannot make such an acknowledgement compromise their own Orthodoxy and shed ample light on the real spirit of ecumenism. Sanctity and salvation, the true signs of Orthodoxy, are, we suspect, not the products of membership in the World Council of Churches, ecumenical officialdom, neo-Papal Patriarchalism, or the hypocrisy of those who are so quick to exclude Orthodox traditionalists from the "universal" church, yet so anxious to include therein the heterodox, non-Christians, snake-charmers, shamans, and religious relativists of every kind. True Orthodoxy rises above those who can only babble about officialdom, legality, canonicity and the like—and this in a conceptual framework borrowed from the Latins and foreign to Orthodoxy. True Orthodoxy touches on what is authentic in the eyes of God and imperfectly expressed in human notions of authenticity.

From the "Question and Answer" section of Orthodox Tradition, Vol. X, No. 4, pp. 26-27.

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