More on the Milan Synod history and accountability

From a forum post.

Dear _____:

I was quite intent on not getting involved in this, but historical honesty is important to me. I’ll be putting this up on my blog, because you’ve covered two topics important to me personally– the Kyiv period and transparency.

You wrote: The Milan Synod was in communion with the sergianist Kiev Patriarchate for almost 20 years.

This is a completely false statement. In the first place the Kiev Patriarchate was not Sergianist at its highest levels until the rise of Filaret Denisenko in late 1995. The Milan Synod waited a year to see how Filaret would behave and whether he was honest. He was not. Communion was broken in early 1997, having been in communion with both Greece and Kyiv in 1993, and solely with Kyiv in 1994 with the repose of Abp Auxentios.

At most, you are talking about one year of tenuous communion with someone who publicly actually *did* repent of Sergianism.

You are likely basing your argument on Vladimir Moss’ polemic for the GOC-Chrysostomos at the time, which implies Milan joined Kyiv under Filaret in 1993 and that’s the end of the story. By contrast, I have looked at all the relevant documents of the period and interviewed Bishops of the Synod on the matter for my book. My Metropolitan joined Milan in 1997. He’ll be the first to tell you Filaret Denisenko was never commemorated in our Church in America. The first translation into English ever done of the Ukrainian Tomos was in my book. I sent Moss a polite letter pointing out his factual errors concerning the Milan Synod (he actually says we went “under ‘Patriarch’ Filaret” in 1993, when Filaret wasn’t even elected to the leadership of the KP till ’95). He hasn’t responded to this day although I noted the errors repeatedly, though he responded to me in other correspondence.

You later wrote: Another thing I’ve learned is that not everything gets into the historical record; knowing people personally counts for a lot.

No, no. Tsk. That’s when the devil pops in, see. The Church’s actions are not done in secret quarters with rumors and talk behind the backs of others. That is exactly how the Synod of the Oak was run. It is exactly how the 1985 deposition was run. One of the policies our Metropolia made clear since the Tomos was an absolute need for transparency. Milan was no stranger to pulling secret meetings and playing games. It is precisely this “it’s who you know” attitude that creates an environment lacking accountability on the part of the leadership to the flock.

But putting aside the moral aspect of such a view is that the historical record is precisely what we use for making determinations. We do not base our separation from “official Orthodoxy” on our feelings but on the concrete actions which have severed communion between us. This is why our meetings have minutes. This is why meetings, trials, require a scribe or a secretary. Can we even envision a Church of the Councils– with none of the councils having documentation?

I understood fully that my blog post would make people uncomfortable. Yet this is exactly the attitude I carry in my own Synod and with my own leadership, including the Metropolitan. We have traditions, we have policies, canons, procedures. They are, for most people, incredibly boring. But to people who are sticklers for doing it right– they are our assurance that we have retained the actions going back to the time of the Apostles. The answer to the finding of wrongdoing in the Church is not to hide it, but to fix it. I’ve had arguments with my Bishops when I’ve thought they were wrong. In an environment based on accountability, even the most heated of disagreement will produce a positive result. So no. Nobody is perfect. But we are called to be perfect, not to cover up our own imperfections and certainly, having so covered them, to give the pretense of absolute correctness.

In this, many Matthewites are far more humble than the Florinites on the issue of deviation from good canonical order.

Again, I am sorry if I offended, and I hope for this to be my last post on the matter.

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