An interview with Metropolitan Hilarion (Kapral) of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, was published on the ROCOR Web site. The metropolitan was interviewed by Alexander Bondarev, editor of the magazine Tribuna russkoj mysli [Tribune of Russian Thought], and by Anataly Stepanov, editor of the information agency Russkaja linija [Russian Line]. (HT: Byzantine, Texas). Metropolitan Hilarion discusses relations with the OCA and preparations for an “8th ecumenical council.” Full text available here.
Editors: Vladyka, we know that there are conversations with the Orthodox Church in America now. What is the direction they will be taking? What decisions might we expect with regard to the relationship between ROCOR and the OCA?
Metropolitan Hilarion: Upon reconciliation between the Russian Church Abroad and the Russian Orthodox Church in the Fatherland, the question arose about our relationship with the Orthodox Church in America, which had received autocephaly from the Moscow Patriarchate. At one time we were together, but divisions occurred twice. In 1924, Metropolitan Platon separated from the Russian bishops who were abroad, but in 1935, Metropolitan Theophilus, with the intercession of Patriarch Varnava of Serbia, made peace with ROCOR, and there was again one Russian Church in America. This continued until 1946, when there was not only a break with the Church Abroad, but with the Moscow Patriarchate. The Orthodox Metropoliate of America became, de facto, independent.
We would like to improve relations with the Orthodox Church in America, so our Synod of Bishops appointed a commission comprised of several clergymen who, we hope, will meet with a similar commission representing the OCA in order to study our common history. We must determine why divisions occurred, how we can restore Eucharistic communion. Nonetheless, we do not intend on merging with the Orthodox Church in America, only establish brotherly, prayerful relations. For many in our Church Abroad, the new calendar, which the OCA adopted, is unacceptable. This is a painful question, because many of our clergymen and laypersons would not wish to participate in a service where ecclesio-liturgical order is violated. So there are things that need to be discussed.
We welcome the election of the new head of the OCA, Metropolitan Jonah, who is known for his piety, he loves the old calendar, he loves order in the Church. So we hope that good relations with the Orthodox Church in America can be established.
Editors: Vladyka, many are now discussing the need for convening a Pan-Orthodox conference. For a great many unresolved problems have developed between the Orthodox Churches, which should be discussed together. At the same time, there are rumors among the people of the Church that this must be something like an 8th Ecumenical Council, that such an assembly would make decisions of a renovationist character: moving to the new calendar, etc. What is your view on the idea of convening a Pan-Orthodox conference, and the fears surrounding it?
Met. Hilarion: There are many questions of a general nature in the life of the Local Orthodox Churches which need mutual resolutions, and the Churches must have such means of communication. We sometimes have controversies with the Constantinople Patriarchate, which views the diaspora differently than the Russian Orthodox Church does. The Ecumenical Patriarch, of course, must be honored for his historical place in the hierarchy of the Local Churches as first among equals, but there cannot be universal authority with only one bishop in the Orthodox Church.
The universal character of the council is determined by the fullness of the Church only afterwards. As far as an 8th Ecumenical Council is concerned, I feel that one is necessary. Ecumenical Councils were always convened to defend the Church against all sorts of heresies which arose at one time or another. We must have a great deal of spiritual strength to preserve the pureness of the faith. In this regard, there can be no political reasons to gather such a council.