ENGLISH VERSION: Archbishop Benjamin, Senior RTOC Hierarch, Withdraws Signature
Archbishop Benjamin (Rusalenko), the senior hierarch of the Russian True Orthodox Church (RTOC, popularly known as the “Tikhonites”), has withdrawn his signature from his Church’s most recent confessional document, Portal-Credo.Ru reports.
“Due to his reluctance to participate in debates of a theological nature that could, in his opinion, cause strained relations with his flock that would be unacceptable to him, Archbishop Benjamin of the Black Sea and Kuban has resolved to withdraw his signature, proposing to prepare his resolutions to these questions, which are challenging to him, for discussion at a future Church Council.” This message appeared on March 20, 2016, on the official website of the RTOC Synod of Bishops as part of a document entitled “Response of the Synod to a range of questions raised in the appeals of the clergy of the Diocese of Omsk and Siberia and those sympathizing with them.”
The confessional document in question outlines the RTOC Synod’s position with regard to the presence of grace in the Moscow Patriarchate and other Churches of “World Orthodoxy,” to ecumenism, and to Cyprianism, offering a critical assessment of the “historical legacy of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.” Some RTOC clergy, who are guided by the “traditional position of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad,” have attributed this “harsh” confession of faith to the American Protopresbyter Victor Melehov, secretary of the Synod, who separated from the Russian Church Abroad in 1986.
Thus, only two signatures by representatives of the RTOC episcopate remain on this document, one of which is that of a vicar bishop (Bishop Savvaty of Vinnytsia) who does not have the right to be a member of the Synod.
Another RTOC hierarch, Bishop Germogen of Chernigov and Gomel, was removed from the ranks of the Synod in 2012 when it became widely known that he, while already a bishop, had baptized himself by triple immersion in order to “replenish the service of baptism.” He announced this action during the joint meeting of the Synods of the Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece (the “Chrysostomites”) and of the Russian True Orthodox Church in October 2009.
In November 2015 another RTOC ruling bishop, Bishop Stephen of Trenton and North America, assumed administrative independence. Several days ago he announced his complete break of communion with Archbishop Tikhon, the RTOC primate.