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Academic Periodical

The Quarterly Journal of St. Philaret’s Institute

The attitude of the Russian Church Abroad to non-Orthodox Christianity under Metropolitan Filaret (Voznesensky)

Andrey Kostryukov, Doctor of History, Ph.D. in Theology Leading Staff Scientist, Department of the Russian Orthodox Church’s Modern History; Associate Professor, Department of General and Russian Church History and Canon Law, Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox University (Moscow)
pp. 248–269
DOI: 10.25803/SFI.2020.35.3.012
The article is devoted to the attitude of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCOR) to the Ecumenical movement and non-Orthodox Christianity. Although the ROCOR is often referred to as a structure that did not welcome contacts with non-Orthodox people, this is not really true. Social contacts and theological dialogue took place under metropolitans Anthony (Khrapovitsky) and Anastasy (Gribanovsky). The situation began to change under the third first Hierarch of the ROCOR, Metropolitan Filaret (Voznesensky), when the “zealots” party began to influence the leadership. At the same time, there was also an attitude to ecumenism formed in the ROCOR. According to the official definitions of the ROCOR, ecumenism is a doctrine that denies the existence of the Church and seeks to create it in the future on the basis of existing Christian movements. The tightening of the ROCOR’s position with regard to non-Orthodox Christianity was expressed in the decree of the Bishops’ Council of 1971 on the acceptance of non-Orthodox Christians by the first rank, that is, through baptism. However, this decision met with objections and was often not implemented at local level. Meanwhile, the ROCOR was preparing to anathematize ecumenism. The Bishops’ Council of 1983 decided to condemn ecumenism, and in 1984, ROCOR published the text of the anathema. It implied that the adherents of the “theory” were condemned, as well as those who denied the apparent existence of the Church. The blurred text of the anathema, as well as the dominance of the “zealots”, subsequently gave the ROCOR leadership a reason to criticize the humanitarian ties and theological dialogue acceptable to the Church. All this led to further radicalization of the Russian Church Abroad. However, such ill-considered decisions were very difficult to make. Already under Metropolitan Filaret, a party of hierarchs and clerics was formed, inclined to reconciliation with the local churches and not welcoming the “zealot” policy. 
Keywords: Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, The World Council of Churches, Ecumenical movement, theological dialogue, Roman Catholic Church, Protestantism, Metropolitan Filaret (Voznesensky), Archimandrite Panteleimon (Metropoulos), hieromonk Seraphim (Rose).

Last IssueIssue 44 (autumn 2022)

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