THEOLOGICAL CLARIFICATIONS OF LAY STATUS IN THE RUSSIAN CHURCH PERTAINING TO THE MOSCOW REFORM COUNCIL OF 1917-1918

JOSEPH ANDREW LOYA, Fordham University

Abstract

In the first years of the 20th century an embattled Orthodox Church of Russia struggled to fulfill its mission in and for the society it was called to serve. Consensus confirmed the conviction that only a true church council could legislate a return to strength and canonicity. Who would be allowed to attend the council, and in what capacity? The document A Separate Opinion of the Minority Group squarely confronted the inherent complexities of such questions. The purpose of this dissertation is to retrieve, represent, and support this, the minority group's central thesis--"Resolved: That Members of the Laity have the Right to Active Voice in the Deliberations of a Church Council."^ The body of the dissertation is constructed as a commentary on the historical, canonical, theological, philosophical, and moral arguments introduced by the Separate Opinion. Each argument is examined according to the degree it reflects the Church's fullness and catholic integrity.^ It was concluded that the minority members established the following: that the possibility of a layperson assuming a role in the Church's decision-making process equal to that of the clergy is not proscribed by the ancient canons; that such a role is validated by historical testimony; that their proposal is in accordance with the scriptural image of the Church as Body of Christ; and that not to allow a decisive presence to the laity would be a moral wound to this Body.^ In addition to the text of the Separate Opinion, two sources were of capital importance for this study. The first is the 1906 compilation of the responses given by the bishops of the Orthodox Church of Russia. These responses revealed the mind of the highest order of ecclesiastical authority when queried about the proposed reform. The second source of great importance is the book of minutes of the Pre-Sobor (Council) Committee meetings. It was within these meetings of 1906 that the opinions of the minority group encountered their sternest opposition and final judgment.^ The nature of the dissertation's subject penetrates to the profound and sometimes difficult relationships between freedom and authority, unity and catholicity, pronouncement and reception, Baptism and Orders--subjects for concern in every church in every age and place. For this reason a final, ecumenical evaluation of the thesis is presented. The minority group's arguments are evaluated as to how they contest or reflect the theology of the laity as revealed in the Western Church's documents of the Second Vatican Council. ^

Subject Area

Theology

Recommended Citation

LOYA, JOSEPH ANDREW, "THEOLOGICAL CLARIFICATIONS OF LAY STATUS IN THE RUSSIAN CHURCH PERTAINING TO THE MOSCOW REFORM COUNCIL OF 1917-1918" (1986). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8615711.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8615711

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