Is Bishop Hilarion's candidacy really a break from the past?
by Gleb Razumovsky, NY
Following up Rebecca Matovic's point about Bishop Hilarion (Alfeyev): “by virtue his position and history, represents a refutation of autocephaly and the founding vision of the OCA. There is simply no other way to interpret the election of an ROC bishop as Metropolitan than as a move toward being re-united with Moscow" and the one made by Fr. John Scollard“that Bishop Hilarion divided the diocese [of Sourozh]; exploiting existing tensions“, I would like to elaborate on Bishop Hilarion’s role during the controversy in the diocese of Sourozh, England.
He was supposed to come just as parish member and a lecturer in Cambridge, but his patrons in the Moscow Patriarchate ordained him a bishop and appointed him as a successor of Metropolitan of Suorozh, a role +Hilarion accepted against the will of Metropolitan Antony. Even though Sourozh was historically a part of Moscow Patriarchate, +Antony was able to create a unique diocese and culture, valued not only by its members but far outside of England. Ironically, it were the years of iron curtain that protected this oasis from Moscow Patriarchate interventions, but all this came to an end with “help” from +Hillarion.
As late Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh wrote about +Hillarion in his Announcement at the London Parish AGM, on May 19, 2002: “He has been using always the word 'rule' and not 'serve' in his presentations.” (here)
+Hillarion was eventually transferred away from England in response to numerous complains, but the deed was done: as the result of the conflicts he ignited, Sourozh lost first its unity and then independence.
The largest part of the diocese has become a regular part of the Moscow Patriarchate with its authoritarian culture and a part broke away and joined Ecumenical Patriarchate. The Diocese of Sourozh, as it was created by lifelong efforts of Metropolitan Anthony, now exists only in our memories.
I don’t think the question, whether he is the right man, is even relevant here. As educated and as polished as he is, he is just an instrument and by accepting his candidacy we accepting becoming a part of Moscow Patriarchate, which in its turn is an instrument of Russian political power.
Knowing Russian history, one cannot ignore that Russian Church was always viewed and actually used as a political instrument, that church policies were resembling the state ones in attempts to suppress any sign of independence.
Do we want OCA to become an instrument of Russian politics and suffer from its methods, which will not tolerate any spirit of independence?
Are we really looking for a hierarchy that will 'rule' and not 'serve'?
Do we want priests to be appointed to our parishes, ignoring our wishes?
Do we want the brightest and most independent of them to be suspended?
Do we want our voices to be manipulated during elections?
...because all of these are practices of Moscow Patriarchate in this day and age.
Having said all that, it’s hard not to think that Orwellian idea to “release” +Hilarion comes from the Moscow Patriarchate itself, always looking to acquire new territories. One might only wonder how people, whom we’ve known and respected for years, endorsing now the end of OCA as independent church, but there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested.
We, as a church, just came out of the scandal that revealed corruption of our hierarchy, which we faithfully followed for many years. Let us not get into another one, where we would follow our moral authority, our preachers and teachers, blindfolded by our love and respect for them and ignoring signs of their error of judgment, if not something worse.
This time consequences will be irreparable.