Pochaev, Ukraine, December 6, 2017
The brethren of the Holy Dormition Lavra in Pochaev, Ukraine addressed a letter to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill and the hierarchs of the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church which met in Moscow from November 29 to December 2, calling for the Russian Church to withdraw from the “World Council of ‘churches’” and to cease participating in ecumenical activities in general. The brotherhood’s letter has been posted on the monastery’s website.
The full text of the brotherhood’s letter is given at the bottom of the article.
The brotherhood also appealed to the bishops to reject the documents accepted at 2016’s Council of Crete, and to reject the draft project of the Catechism of the Russian Orthodox Church in its current form. The Council resolved that Crete could not be considered pan-Orthodox and that its documents could not be accepted in their current form, and that the catechism project still needs more work, incorporating amendments suggested by hierarchs, clergy, and laity.
“The brothers of the Holy Dormition Pochaev Lavra earnestly beseech the hierarchy and Council of Bishops to satisfy the petition and repeated appeal of the faithful children of our Church concerning its withdrawal from the World Council of ‘churches,’ and on the cessation of our Church’s participation in the ecumenical movement,” the brotherhood’s letter begins, noting that to join the WCC requires accepting its charter, which stipulates that no one confession accepts the fullness of Truth, which is opposed to what Orthodox Christians confess in the Nicene Creed.
Such a concern is certainly not unique to the brothers of the Pochaev Lavra, for example, in a letter addressed to an April 2016 Moscow conference dedicated to the then-upcoming Council of Crete, Metropolitan Benjamin (Pushkar) of Vladivostok and Primorsk, “as soon as we enter into the World Council of Churches, and our Church has already entered, we become its participants and have to accept its statute which states that no one confession participating in the World Council of Churches possesses the fullness of Truth and that the fullness of Truth will come only then when every confession unites as one whole. Such is the nature of the World Council of Churches.”
The metropolitan goes on to also call for the Russian Orthodox Church to withdraw from the WCC.
“The satanic design of the creation of the World Council of ‘churches’ is to build one, false world Church in the coming kingdom of the Antichrist,” the brothers continue, “united, of course, not in the Spirit of Truth and love for God, but, conversely, in indifference to truth and the acceptance of the spirit of the father of lies with his illusory false love.”
Thus, the brothers argue, the Russian Church’s withdraw from such a group would not be a self-imposed isolation, but, rather, a true preaching of the Gospel of Christ, following the exhortations of the apostles who call on Christians to reject heretics and false teachers.
Of course, the Church should pray for the conversion of heretics, with great compassion, but its task is to convert them to the Truth, which participation in the World Council of “churches” has not done, in the brothers’ view.
“In this regard,” the monastery’s appeal concludes, “the brothers of the Holy Dormition Pochaev Lavra appeal to and urge the hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church to withdraw our Orthodox Church from the World Council of “churches” and to cease every participation in the pernicious ecumenical movement.”
The Georgian Orthodox Church withdrew from the WCC in 1997 and the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in 1998.
Commenting on the Pochaev Lavra’s address, Fr. George Maximov, a well-known Moscow missionary priest, recalls the words of a 1995 resolution of the Serbian Orthodox Church: “We know of not a single example from the Holy Fathers of the Church which could by their teachings, lives, or deeds, serve as a justification for us of our membership in the non-ecclesiastical organization of the WCC and the like.”
The issue is especially relevant today, as the Crete document “Relations of the Orthodox Church With the Rest of the Christian World” praises the Orthodox Church’s participation in the WCC, as does the draft project of the new catechism of the Russian Orthodox Church in its current form.
of Moscow and All Russia
November 15, 2017
Address of the brothers of the Holy Dormition Pochaev Lavra to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill and the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church on withdrawing from the World Council of “churches”
The brothers of the Holy Dormition Pochaev Lavra earnestly beseech the hierarchy and Council of Bishops to satisfy the petition and repeated appeal of the faithful children of our Church concerning its withdrawal from the World Council of “churches,” and on the cessation of our Church’s participation in the ecumenical movement.
All the members of the World Council of “churches,” having joined it, accept the charter of the WCC, which affirms that none of its confessions possess the fullness of Truth. The fullness of Truth will come, according to this charter of the WCC, only when all the confessions unite as one whole.
The satanic design of the creation of the World Council of “churches” is to build one, false world Church in the coming kingdom of the Antichrist, united, of course, not in the Spirit of Truth and love for God, but, conversely, in indifference to truth and the acceptance of the spirit of the father of lies with his illusory false love. The documents and video materials of the proceedings of the ecumenical meetings and prayers leave no doubt as to their anti-Christian and satanic nature, of the Orthodox Church’s deviation from the Truth, dogmas, and canons approved by the Ecumenical Councils. Participating in the World Council of “churches,” our Church agrees to these acts, that it is not the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.
Therefore, the exit of the Russian Orthodox Church from the World Council of “churches” would not be its self-imposed isolation, as some try to say, but the true preaching of the inviolate New Testament. We must not fall into prelest and imagine that we have more love than the apostles. St. John the Theologian, the apostle of love, taught not to receive into your home or even to greet those who do not bring true teachings (2 Jn. 1:10). The apostle Paul, having labored more than all in the preaching of the Gospel to the entire world, also commanded, A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject (Titus 3:10). Representatives of the Orthodox Churches have admonished, as they contend, the heretics in the World Council of “churches” not twice, but for decades. And have many converted? After all, the other participants in the WCC do not believe, in accordance with the charter of this organization, that the Orthodox Church preserve the fullness of Truth. Therefore, such “preaching” is useless. And, the most lamentable, is that it’s a great transgression before God, the temptation and falling away of faithful children from the Orthodox Church due to its involvement in such a movement.
Is there really no other way to preach the Kingdom of God come with power (Mk. 9:1), and the true Pentecost? Of course there is.
The Orthodox Church, being the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15), has for 2,000 years borne witness to all who hath ears to hear (Mt. 13:9), of the good news brought to us by Jesus Christ, and never has the Orthodox Church arranged common organizations with heretics for the preaching of the Gospel, but, conversely, it has protected the sheep of Christ from their poisonous false doctrines. Mourning and weeping the destruction of heretics with motherly love, praying for their conversion, at the same time the Church fulfills the commandment of Christ to first love God with all your heart and soul, and then your neighbor! (Mt. 10:37). Jesus Christ Himself, the embodiment of Love, testified that He brought to the Earth not peace but a sword (Mt. 10:34), separating those who love the Truth from those who accept a lie. Many of those who heard His preaching could not accommodate the teachings of the New Covenant and departed, but those called by the Heavenly Father were established in the truth (Jn. 6:66-69).
The disciple is not above his master (Mt. 10:24). He is feeble and must keep himself from being taken by the elements of this world, to not become the salt [which has] lost its savour (Mt. 5:13), and only then, according to the word of the Savior, will anyone listen to us as they listened to Him, but some will persecute us as they persecuted Him (Jn. 15:20).
In this regard, the brothers of the Holy Dormition Pochaev Lavra appeal to and urge the hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church to withdraw our Orthodox Church from the World Council of “churches” and to cease every participation in the pernicious ecumenical movement.
Vladimir, Metropolitan of Pochaev,
Vicar of the Diocese of Kiev
Deputy Abbot of the Holy Dormition Pochaev Lavra
With the brethren
Monastery letter translated by Jesse Dominick