Having been a member of a parish of the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church during the Soviet period (1970’s and early 1980’s), I became more and more aware of the KGB’s total control of the jurisdiction. It was during my college years that I discovered the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) and began to better understand and share this emigre jurisdiction’s attempt to preserve the Faith outside of the Bolshevik’s political machinations.
ROCOR was founded in 1920 by the holy Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow, who reposed in 1925 inside Russia, tormented and probably martyred. ROCOR was founded precisely because St Tikhon foresaw the imminent impossibility of free communication between the persecuted Centre of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow and the million and more Orthodox refugees and immigrants and their thirty-four bishops, who were outside Russia. Indeed, as hundreds of bishops, tens of thousands of clergy and monastics and millions of laypeople were massacred inside the atheist Soviet Union, from 1927 to 2007 ROCOR stood alone, for most of that time the voice crying in the wilderness.
After completion of my undergraduate studies, I enrolled in Holy Trinity Seminary, ROCOR’s monastery and theological school located in Jordanville, New York. I was ordained a priest in the ROCOR Cathedral in New York City in 1984 and served as a priest in the jurisdiction for twelve years. At every service prayers were offered for deliverance of the suffering Russian land and it’s faithful believers from the atheistic communist regime.
ROCOR Herself came to be indirectly persecuted by the atheist authorities of the Soviet Union, which attempted, sometimes successfully, to use their political influence abroad to divide or isolate Her. This eighty-year period ended in 2007, at which time the Moscow Patriarchate convinced the majority of ROCOR’s hierarchy that the Russian Church was free of political control, and so a majority of ROCOR reconciled with the Church inside Russia. What is the reality? The great journalist Anna Politkovskaya (1958-2006), the bravest of all the many Putin-critics to be systematically assassinated, recounts the situation in her book Putin’s Russia: KGB History of Manipulating the Orthodox Church