Abp. Kyrill (ROCOR)'s Open Letter to the Honourable Gavin Newsom, Governor of California


Open Letter to The Honourable Gavin Newsom, Governor of California

from His Eminence Kyrill Archbishop of San Francisco and Western America

in light of the decree issued by the Governor of California that forbids choral singing in churches.

Your Excellency,

I hereby express my protest against the recent prohibition of liturgical singing in houses of worship, which is an infringement of the rights and religious freedoms of the clergy and faithful of the Western American Diocese of the Russian Diaspora, the other Local Orthodox Churches, performing their ministry in this state, as well as other religious bodies.

During the years of Soviet rule, when the Russian Orthodox Church was subjected to persecution, Russian émigrés and their descendants comprising the Russia Church Abroad, came to the United States of America and other countries overseas, in order to freely confess their Orthodox Faith, to freely perform Divine Services, to observe the feast days, fasts and all the customs established by the Orthodox Church. In this manner, they followed the example of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America, who sought the possibility of freely confessing their faith.

From the very beginning of the current global outbreak of the coronavirus the clergy and faithful of our Diocese, desiring to preserve the health of the population and stop the spread of the coronavirus, and respecting those in power, rigorously strove to adhere to all the standard norms and restrictions introduced by local health authorities. Even though they were deprived of the reverent Divine Services of Great Lent and the joyous celebration of the Triumph of the Holy Resurrection, our parishioners were sympathetic to our directives, attending our churches “virtually.” However, we now observe a contradiction in that mass protests take place everywhere, at which absolutely all precautions are violated with impunity. Yet, liturgical singing performed during the Divine Services and while observing all of the rules, is forbidden. This is open discrimination, hypocrisy and the infringement of our religious rights, prompting us to recall the era of godless persecutions in the USSR.

Nonetheless, we will continue to pray with gratitude “for this land, its authorities and armed forces,” and “for this city, every city and country and all who in faith dwell therein.” Yet, at the same time, we will defend the rights of our clergy and our parishioners who possess full citizenship in the United States of America.

Archbishop of San Francisco and Western America
Secretary of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Church Abroad

July 2020

Jonathan7/31/2020 3:54 am
An Orthodox Archbishop pointing the finger in order to persuade. Multitudes of Orthodox piping up with the heat of self justification. If no one else can witness the meltdown of Christian ethics happening worldwide, God have mercy on us all.
MaryAnn Ramos7/16/2020 7:32 pm
God bless you????????????????????????????????
Matthew7/16/2020 3:00 am
Anna Kavalec7/16/2020 12:07 am
God bless you. It is the time to stand for truth, for Jesus Christ. No more submission. The early Christian's met in the catacombs. We can do the same.
George7/15/2020 5:35 am
Thank you +KYRILL for standing up against this!
Hal7/13/2020 1:00 am
I downloaded the actual California Health Department document that the media sources reference, and the document actually puts the discussion in sections called "Purpose" and “Considerations”. It suggests that churches “consider” not singing because singing can increase flu transmission. The document does not actually ban singing as a law or regulation, apparently. This is an important issue because in the case of Toronto, the issue of how to interpret the guidance announcement was key. Initially, officials in Toronto told the church staff that they were not going to actually enforce a strict ban on communion sharing. This initial communication from the Toronto officials match the status of the Toronto announcement as guidance not an actual order. For instance the section Banning sharing communion was titled guidance. Also the statement said to discontinue sharing communion as advised by the health department official. A key term there was advised. Then the Greek Community organization construed the Toronto announcement as being an actual order to stop sharing communion and the organization wrote to the Toronto government claiming that there was a conflict between the City announcement and the City's staff interpretation. The Greek organization demanded that the Toronto authorities reconcile the alleged discrepancy. And in effect what happened, perhaps as the organization desired? Was that the city officials put pressure on the church to stop sharing communion. But to get back to the California announcement, the Pacific Justice Institute has a good close analysis from a legal standpoint of the California announcement showing that in fact this was a guidance or advice letter, not a order. It gave the kind of reasons that I mentioned earlier, as well as there being no penalty mentioned in the announcement for non-compliance. It also noted that the letter came from the agency For Occupational Safety in that the agencies purview covers employees like Pastors in order to guarantee their safety, but not volunteers or a regular parishioner attending church services. It is important to understand this issue in order to have the right perspective legal age in order to void a kind of repeat with the Toronto situation. I highly recommend seeing the letter below. LETTER TO CALIFORNIA CLERGY July 3, 2020 OSHA Prohibition On Singing & Chanting (or “the day the music died”) Added by Debra Tash on July 8, 2020. (https://www.citizensjournal.us/letter-to-california-clergy-july-3-2020-osha-prohibition-on-singing-chanting-or-the-day-the-music-died/)
Anne7/12/2020 11:31 pm
Well done Archbishop Kyrill. It’s about time someone in high office has spoken out! There needs to be some pushback, and we Orthodox Christians must not cower in our rooms, giving into the online ghost - get back to the REAL Liturgies people! The internet is peopled by demons; the Church buildings are peopled by Angels. We need the REAL, not the virtual. SACRAMENTS, not fantasies. Fear is the result of an absence of faith and reason. Don’t let fear rule! God bless you and may He help you to fight for your real life in the Church BUILDING with Real People, not people on screens. The devil wants this. Don’t help him win.
Joseph7/12/2020 8:38 pm
Thank God that Archbishop Kyrill has the courage to write this letter to a very liberal mayor, in a very liberal city. The San Francisco Bay Area is the headquarters of the “godless” groups in the USA and the archbishop is daring to take them on in their own territory. May God give him strength and may others follow his example. We will be praying for Vladika.
Nathan Land7/12/2020 3:39 pm
Will there be courage enough to move from protest to civil disobedience?
Wilfred7/11/2020 11:29 pm
Too many of our politicians seem to be of an Anarcho-Fascist mentality. The Anarchy part: when the mob comes to pull down a statue or burn businesses, they do nothing, or even encourage it. The Fascist part: if law-abiding citizens are doing something perfectly legal like singing in a church, the authorities will come down like a ton of bricks upon their heads.
Bette Maria7/11/2020 11:01 pm
East and West Nihilism - as expressed very well here: https://www.oodegr.com/english/filosofia/nihilism_root_modern_age.htm + http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles/SolzhenitsynHarvard.php#.V8nc24-w-Yk.tumblr by Fr. Seraphim Rose and Alexander Solzhenitsy. We live in thes times now.
Here you can leave your comment on the present article, not exceeding 4000 characters. All comments will be read by the editors of OrthoChristian.Com.
Enter through FaceBook
Your name:
Your e-mail:
Enter the digits, seen on picture:

Characters remaining: 4000

to our mailing list

* indicates required