NEW YORK: August 12, 2008†
STATEMENT from the Chancery of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Church Abroad On the Events in South Ossetia

In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit!

It is with great concern that I follow the developments in South Ossetia, and hasten, on behalf of the First Hierarch and Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, to call upon all of our God-loving flock to fervent prayer.†

We know how it has come to pass that there has been artillery shelling, the destruction of residential blocks, hospitals, nearby towns, how the wounded and the refugees were forced to evacuate under sniper fire, almost exclusively women and children. We do not know, moreover, the future consequences of the bloodshed we are witnessing now. All we can do is sympathize with the victims both here and there. Sorrow and pain rends our hearts, too, because facing each other in conflict are brotherly peoplesóbrothers through their historical roots, and in their Orthodox faith.†

We are no strangers to Ossetia and know of these events from firsthand accounts. Even before the signing of the Act of Canonical Communion between both parts of the Russian Orthodox Church, the German Diocese of the Russian Church Abroad supported the construction of a monastery and trauma center after the Beslan tragedy. Our Australian and New Zealand parishes also provided significant aid. We intend to continue to support the nuns of this holy monastery, which was consecrated with the participation of representatives of the Russian Church Abroad. Now this convent is overfilled with refugees from Tskhinvali traumatized by the assault. The Abbess of the Convent, Mother Nonna, is already in Tskhinvali herself, caring for the wounded. †

I express my own profound empathy and the prayerful support of our First Hierarch, who is now in Australia on First-hierarchal visit, and of the fullness of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia to His Holiness Patriarch Alexy, to His Holiness Patriarch-Katolikos Ilia II of All Georgia, to Archbishop Feofan of Stavropol and Vladikavkaz, and to their clergy and flocks. †

In these days preceding the lenten period of the Dormition of the Most-Holy Mother of God and before the Transfiguration of the Lord, the thoughts and prayers of the entire Russian Church Abroad are with the victims, their relatives and the God-preserved peoples of Russia, Georgia and Ossetia. Prayer is the ultimate appeal to the Almighty God, Who is Love, and of course, our hearts can never be directed against anyone but the enemy of mankind, the slanderer and "murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own." We pray for the repose of the souls of those who perished in the military actions, which spared not peaceful citizens. May the Lord "grant His people strength," as the Prophet and Psalmist David wrote, to overcome these sorrows and its consequences through peaceful dialog. And then, and only then, "the Lord will bless his people with peace." Blessed peace will help us Orthodox Christians serve as an example of good life to all of mankind, and will bring many "alien to the Divine life" into the wondrous Light of Orthodoxy.†

With love in the Lord, and a request for your prayers,†

Archbishop of San Francisco and Western America
Secretary of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia

August 11, 2008