Moscow, December 1, Interfax - Leonid Sevastyanov, executive director of the Grigory Bogoslov Foundation and permanent member of the commission of Old Believer parishes in the Moscow Patriarchate, has called on members of the Bishops Council to ordain a separate bishop for Old Believers.
"I call on the Bishops' Council of the Russian Orthodox Church to make a decision as soon as possible and ordain a one-faith bishop. Moreover, I support the idea of developing a Provision on the Old Rites in the Russian Orthodox Church, by which any community where a majority of members want to serve according to the old rites can do that. I am calling for the community to be brought back to the center of church life, resume elections of bishops and priests. Because a clergyman should serve the community, but the community does not have to serve the priest," Sevastyanov told Interfax-Religion.
By doing so, the Bishops' Council would implement the decision made at the 1917 Council, which the council was called to celebrate, he said.
Sevastyanov said he often hears complaints about unofficial internal persecution when he talks to Old Believers.
"The public life of Old Believers is now under a lot of pressure. Initiative is being suppressed. The old rites are not encouraged, and some priests who wish to serve according to the old rites are even subjected to disciplinary punishment," Sevastyanov said.
He also said he believes it is reasonable to give the Old Believer commission of the Russian Orthodox Church supervisory functions so it can defend the rights of Old Believers and all Orthodox people who want to pray and serve according to the old rites.