Resolution of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia Concerning the Election of Pimen (Isvekov) as Patriarch of Moscow

This resolution clearly defines the position of the Church Abroad towards the ecclessiastical body known as the Moscow Patriarchate. In this document, the Sobor denounces the election of Patriarch Pimen on behalf of the persecuted Russian Church, and cites canons that excommunicate both the illegally elected “patriarch” and all who commune with him.

The Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia on September 1/14) 1971 considered the gathering which, calling itself an All-Russian Church Council, met in Moscow from May 30 to June 2 of this year for the purpose of electing a Patriarch of Moscow and all Russias. This gathering declared that Metropolitan Pimen was elected to the Patriarchal Throne. After considering all aspects of this election, the Council of Bishops, representing the free part of the Russian Orthodox Church, came to the following conclusion:

I. For the election of the Primate of a Local Church it is essential that such an election take place according to the laws of the given Church and that it be free, representing a genuine expression of her voice.

2. In 1917 the All-Russian Council adopted a resolution restoring the Patriarchate in Russia, and elected to the Patriarchal See His Holiness Patriarch Tikhon. This council included all canonically consecrated bishops of the Russian Church, representatives of the monastic clergy and the Orthodox Theological Academies, invited by the Synod on the basis of the Regulation it had issued. All the representatives of the diocese were chosen freely at elections on three levels: parish elections, deanery elections and diocesan meetings. The actual election of the Patriarch took place in a fashion that guaranteed freedom in the nominating of candidates for election. The latter were established by a secret ballot, and at first a large number of candidates were named. From among them, by systematic balloting, the three who received the highest number of votes were picked, and of those one was finally elected by the drawing of lots. This system of election, guaranteeing complete freedom and confirmed by the All-Russian Church Council, was never abolished by a free council of equal authority. Therefore, and election of Patriarchs effected otherwise and not in a free manner, does not express the voice of the Russian Orthodox Church and is not lawful. Not only the election of the present Pimen, who claims to be Patriarch, but those of his two predecessors must also be regarded as unlawful. Their supporters can not defend these elections by saying that the external conditions caused by persecutions against the Faith prevented the realization of a lawful form of election, since, despite the obvious, they constantly insist on the supposed full religion’s freedom in the Soviet Union. Similar decisions were made the now elected Patriarch Pimen. At all three patriarchal elections, no one attempted or had any possibility of nominating a candidate other than the one indicated beforehand by representatives of the secular authorities.

3. The lawful succession of higher Church authority in the Russian Church has been broken since 192 7, when the Acting Locum-Tenens of the Patriarchal Throne, Metropolitan Sergius of Nizhny-Novgorod, went against the order of the Metropolitan of Krutitsa whom he was replacing and signed an agreement with the atheistic secular authorities, to which neither Metropolitan Peter nor the other elder hierarchs agreed. The Soviet government began to throw all the hierarchs who did not agree with Metropolitan Sergius in prison, thus clearing the path for him to become head
of the Russian Church.He, for his part, taking no account of the elder bishops, formed a Synod by his own personal choice and, while Metropolitan Peter of Krutitsa, to whom by position the Moscow diocese belonged, was still alive, he unlawfully gave himself the title of “His Beatitude the Metropolitan of Moscow” with the right to wear two panagias. In 1943, by order of the atheist and the malicious persecutor of the Church, Stalin, he hurriedly (in four days) pulled together, in fulfillment of the latter’s political plans, a Council consisting of bishops specially chosen and freed from prison for the purpose by Stalin, a Council which, counting Metropolitan Sergius, himself, consisted of only 19 bishops, and which elected him Patriarch. In 1945, after the death of Patriarch Sergius, Metropolitan Alexis of Leningrad gathered a Council, to which representatives of the other autocephalous Churches were also invited. This Council, besides recently consecrated bishops, consisted of representatives of the clergy and laity, picked without elections and prepared for the election of a Patriarch, and, submissively following the directions of the atheistic authorities, unanimously elected as Patriarch Metropolitan Alexis of Leningrad. After his death, in the same illegal manner the so-called All-Russian Council was convoked this year for the election as Patriarch of Metropolitan Pimen, known not so much for his devoutness or theological education, but rather for his diligence in carrying out the orders of the atheistic government, which are directed toward the destruction of the Church and toward fulfilling the political plans of the Soviet Regime.

4. All of the elections of Patriarchs in Moscow, beginning in 1943, are invalid on the basis of the 30th Canon of the Holy Apostles and the 3rd Canon of the 7th Ecumenical Council, according to which, “if any bishop, having made use of secular rulers, should receive through them Episcopal authority in the Church, let him be defrocked and excommunicated along with all those in communion with him”. The significance that the Fathers of the 7th Council gave to such an offence is obvious from the very fact of a double punishment for it, that is, not only deposition but excommunication as well, something unusual for ecclesiastical law. The famous commentator on Canon Law, Bishop Nicodemus of Dalmatia, gives the following explanation of the 30th Canon of the Holy Apostles: “If the Church condemned unlawful influence by the secular authorities in the ordination of bishops at a time when the rulers were Christians, then it follows that She should condemn such action all the more when the latter are pagans and place even heavier penalties on the guilty parties, who were not ashamed of asking for help from pagan rulers and the authorities subordinated to them, in order to gain the episcopate. This (30th) Canon has such cases in view”. If in defence of this position examples are given of the Patriarchs of Constantinople who were placed on the Throne at the caprice of the Turkish Sultans, one can reply that no anomaly can be regarded as a norm and that one breach of Canon Law cannot justify another.

Taking into consideration all the above mentioned reasons, the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, as the representative of the free part of the Russian Church, determines:The election of Pimen (Izvekov) as Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia at the gathering calling itself an All-Russian Church Council in Moscow the 2nd of June of this year, on the authority of the 3rd Canon of the 7th Ecumenical Council and other reasons set forth in this decision, is to be regarded as unlawful and void, and all of his acts and directions as having no strength

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