“My Soul Has Long Been Crying Out!”

15 December 2018
Feedback on the interview with Fr Georgy Kochetkov on the current crisis in the Orthodox world

We have recently translated the interview with Fr Georgy Kochetkov on the current crisis in the Orthodox world. With the English text we have received the following email.

Good evening, dear friends!

The interview is simply marvelous. And it hints at an obvious next step, in my opinion.

The Transfiguration Brotherhood or SFI (but better, the Brotherhood), needs to immediately organize a conference, to which priests from the Greek Church in America and Europe will be invited. Among the various places I have studied is Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Seminary, in Boston. In my personal, close acquaintance, there are at least three priests (probably more) and two professors from the Greek Seminary in Boston, who feel so strongly about the current crisis that they would probably risk their position to get the chance to speak to Russian Orthodox priests and laypeople here, who feel as strongly as they do. These are clever and educated people, who have a knowledge of Church History, Canon Law, and even more… they are students of what “hierarchy” means at the deepest level… what it has to do with the cross-shaped action of the Logos, and the extent to which our current understandings of hierarchy are truly in line with its mystical reality. After all, our Orthodox clergy in the west, even the Greek ones, grew up on Schmemann and Berdyaev – there, the various orthodox traditions are already completely mixed. But where is the dialog? My soul has long been crying out! I don’t see these Greek priests on the lists of participants in the conferences, the content of which I am constantly translating for your Brotherhood. They simply aren’t there! But their voices are all the more significant and weighty, especially in light of the current crisis.

I don’t know the degree to which you understand the seriousness of the current crisis for the typical parishioner in Europe or America. It is an unthinkable tragedy (although many people don’t understand this). Everywhere there are people who are, in fact, excommunicated from their spiritual families and from the other people in their own parishes. Half of my God children and God parents are from the Greek church, although I myself – a Russian-speaking American, who lives between France and Russia… who am I in terms of the current crisis? A Russian, I suppose? To whom do I belong? When I am in France, I attend church at the closest monastery to where I live. A Romanian monastery (although most of the monks there are French, and formerly lived in Palestine). But half, or probably more, of the people who attend services at this monastery are Russian. Where do we go now? An hour and a half to Toulouse every other Sunday (the liturgy is only served there every other week). This is the picture of our current church life. And everyone has a story like this. And so, naturally, Europeans ignore the current conflict to a large extent, and live as if it were not happening. But Fr. Georgy is right; it is as if the current conflict forces us to choose. But at the same time, we are used to “knowing” that one of the greatest strengths of our European, Orthodox mix, is that it bears an everyday witness to the fact that Orthodoxy is, in fact, One – and isn’t subject to national particularity, it its essence.

Do not wait. Organize a conference between those who care about this deeply as soon as you can! I will help you find excellent people, not the usual crowd – to come and discuss and pray over this crisis. I have already sent the text of Fr. Georgy’s interview and Dmitry Gasak’s recent paper to two of these people. Does anyone else really have the spiritual bravery to organize such a conference if you don’t? I don’t see them. And discussions between people from the two sides who are always located in America or Europe isn’t quite what’s needed here. There – if you can put it this way – there is too much freedom. The majority of people are used to simply following the quiet promptings of their own consciences without consulting anyone else. The question of hierarchy and structure won’t be discussed by them, alone, at a sufficiently deep level.

With deep respect, and a low bow to Fr. Georgy for all that he currently does, and for how he lives,

Georgia

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