VI. THE FALL OF COMMUNISM?
1990 - 2000
The sons of foreigners shall build up your walls,
And their kings shall minister unto you.
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing,
But inwardly they are ravening wolves.
Liberation or Deception?
The apparent fall of communism throughout most of the Soviet bloc in
1989-91 raised hopes of a restoration of True Orthodoxy in
Nevertheless, the changes were significant enough to indicate the
beginning of a new era. If we seek for historical parallels, then perhaps the
closest is that presented by the Edict of Milan in 313, when the Emperor St.
Constantine the Great came to an agreement with the pagan emperor Licinius
whereby the persecution of the Christians in the
Russian Orthodox Christians reacted to
these changes in three different ways. The True Orthodox Christians of the
However, the first question that had to be answered by all sides was: how were the political changes to be evaluated? Was the collective Antichrist really dead? If so, then had the end times, paradoxically, come to an end? Or was this only a temporary “breathing space” in which the Antichrist was preparing a new, subtler, and more deadly onslaught?
There were certainly important benefits to
be gained from democratisation. Thus the fall of communism came not a moment
too soon for the beleaguered
On the other hand, only a minority of Russians used this freedom to seek
the truth that makes one truly, spiritually free. And so if the fall of
communism in 1989-91 was a liberation, it was a liberation strangely lacking in
joy. Orthodoxy was restored neither to the state nor to the official church,
and the masses of the people remained unconverted. Ten years later, a priest of
the Moscow Patriarchate could claim that “the regeneration of ecclesiastical
life has become a clear manifestation of the miraculous transfiguration of
As time passed, the corrupting and divisive effects of Russian “democracy” became more and more evident. Pornography and crime of all kinds increased dramatically; and in the opinion of many it was now more difficult to bring up children in true Christian piety than it had been in the Soviet period. The general level of culture also declined; and the freedom given to religion turned out to be more to the advantage of all kinds of sects and false religions than to True Orthodoxy.
Of course, “all things work together for good for those who love God” (Romans 8.28). And however dispiriting the 1990s were, they did enable important lessons to be learned for those who wanted to learn them. Among the most important of these was the realisation that “communism” and “democracy” were not simple opposites, the one evil and the other good. As long as Russians denounced communism but praised democracy, without seeing the close historical and philosophical kinship between these two western heresies, it was impossible for them to understand the real roots of the revolution and therefore return to True Orthodoxy. But already early in the 1990s Orthodox Russians were beginning to see the evil and antichristian nature, not only of the October Bolshevik, but also of the February Democratic revolution…
That the return of democracy would not bring with it a real cleansing of
political life was evident when it became clear that none of the communist
persecutors of the previous seventy years, throughout the whole vast
Meanwhile, Freemasonry, which had been banned at the Fourth Communist
“M.W. Bro. Dergachev writes: ‘Most of the Brothers have graduated from the Universities. Among them there are scientists, journalists, businessmen, bankers, officers of the Army, Navy, policemen, engineers, writers, producers and lawyers.’
“These four Regular Daughter Lodges of the Grand Lodge Nationale
Française formed the Grand Lodge of Russia on
It is known that Boris Yeltsin became a Freemason in 1992 (as announced
in Pravda), and KGB Colonel Vladimir Putin became one in
In the midst of this disorganized anarchy
filled with crime and false religion, many began to long nostalgically for the
“organized anarchy” of the Soviet period, considering that the cheapness of
Soviet sausages somehow outweighed the destruction of tens of millions of souls
through Soviet violence and atheist propaganda. Like the children of
True, they felt the need for such a
leader; and if many still longed for the return of a Stalin, there were many
who preferred the image of Tsar Nicholas II, whose ever-increasing veneration
among the people (if not among the hierarchs) was one of the most encouraging
phenomena of the 1990s. But veneration for the pre-revolutionary tsars was not
going to about the appearance of a post-revolutionary tsar unless that
veneration was combined with repentance. Few understood that the people
had to become worthy of such a tsar by a return to the
KGB Agents in Cassocks
In June, 1990, the Hierarchical Council of the MP, missing a golden historical opportunity, elected Metropolitan Alexis (Ridiger) as the new patriarch. This was the man whom the Furov report of 1970 had called the most pro-Soviet of all the bishops, a KGB agent since 1958 who had been prepared to report to the KGB even on his own patriarch! On being elected, he immediately, on July 4/17, 1990, the day of the martyrdom of Tsar Nicholas II, announced publicly that he was praying for the preservation of the communist party!
course, after that gaffe, being a clever man, “Patriarch” Alexis quickly
recovered his balance, his sense of which way the wind was blowing; and there
was no further overt support of the communists. True, he did attach his
signature, in December, 1990, to a letter by 53 well-known political, academic
and literary figures who urged Gorbachev to take urgent measures to deal with
the state of crisis in the country, speaking of “… the destructive dictatorship
of people who are shameless in their striving to take ownership of territory,
resources, the intellectual wealth and labour forces of the country whose name
is the USSR”.
But the patriarch quickly disavowed his signature; and a few weeks later, after
the deaths in
Still more striking was his apparent rejection of Sergianism. Thus in an interview granted to Izvestia on June 6 he said: “This year has freed us from the state’s supervision. Now we have the moral right to say that the Declaration of Metropolitan Sergius has disappeared into the past and no longer guides us… The metropolitan cooperated with criminal usurpers. This was his tragedy…. Today we can say that falsehood is interspersed in his Declaration, which stated as its goal ‘placing the Church in a proper relationship with the Soviet government’. But this relationship – and in the Declaration it is clearly defined as being the submission of the Church to the interests of governmental politics – is exactly that which is incorrect from the point of view of the Church… Of the people, then, to whom these compromises, silence, forced passivity or expressions of loyalty that were permitted by the Church leadership in those days, have caused pain – of these people, not only before God, but also before them, I ask forgiveness, understanding and prayers.”
And yet, in an interview given to Komsomolskaia Pravda only two months earlier, he had said: “The most important thing for the Church is to preserve itself for the people, so that they should be able to have access to the Chalice of Christ, to the Chalice of Communion… There is a rule when a Christian has to take on himself a sin in order to avoid a greater sin… There are situations in which a person, a Christian must sacrifice his personal purity, his personal perfection, so as to defend something greater… Thus in relation to Metropolitan Sergius and his successors in the leadership of the Church under Soviet power, they had to tell lies, they had to say that everything was normal with us. And yet the Church was being persecuted. Declarations of political loyalty were being made. The fullness of Christian life, charity, almsgiving, the Reigning icon of the Mother of God were also renounced. Compromises were made.”
In other words, Sergianism, though sinful, was justified. It may have “disappeared into the past”, but if similar circumstances arise again, the “sacrifice” of personal purity can and should be made again!…
The patriarch showed that the poison of Sergianism was in him still during the attempted coup of August, 1991. When the Russian vice-president, Alexander Rutskoy, approached him on the morning of the 19th, the patriarch, like several other leading political figures, pleaded “illness” and refused to see him. When he eventually did issue a declaration – on the evening of the 20th, and again in the early hours of the 21st – the impression made was, in Fr. Gleb Yakunin’s words, “rather weak”. He called on all sides to avoid bloodshed, but did not specifically condemn the plotters.
As Jane Ellis comments: “Though Patriarch Alexis II issued statements during the coup, they were bland and unspecific, and he was widely thought to have waited to see which way the wind was blowing before committing himself to issuing them. It was rather the priests in the White House – the Russian Parliament building – itself, such as the veteran campaigner for religious freedom, Fr. Gleb Yakunin, as well as the Christians among those manning the barricades outside, who helped to overthrow the Communist Party, the KGB and the Soviet system.”
It was not until Wednesday morning that the patriarch sent his representative,
Deacon Andrew Kurayev, to the Russian parliament building, by which time
several dissident priests were already established there. And it was two
priests of the Russian Church Abroad, Fr. Nicholas Artemov from
By these actions the patriarch appeared to have secured his position vis-à-vis Yeltsin’s government, and on August 27, Yeltsin attended a memorial service in the Assumption cathedral of the Kremlin, at which the patriarch hailed the failure of the coup, saying that “the wrath of God falls upon the children of disobedience”. So in the space of thirteen months, the patriarch had passed from a pro-communist, anti-democratic to an anti-communist, pro-democratic stance. This lack of principle should have surprised nobody; for the essence of sergianism, the root heresy of the Moscow Patriarchate, is adaptation to the world, and to whatever the world believes and praises.
In September, 1991, in an interview with 30 Dias, the patriarch
said: “A church that has millions of faithful cannot go into the catacombs. The
hierarchy of the church has taken the sin on their souls: the sin of silence
and of lying for the good of the people in order that they not be completely
removed from real life. In the government of the diocese and as head of the
negotiations for the patriarchate of
This is closer to self-justification than repentance (and was in any case contradicted by later statements). It is similar to the statement of Metropolitan Nicholas (Corneanu) of Banat of the Romanian Patriarchate, who confessed that he had collaborated with the Securitate, the Romanian equivalent of the KGB, and had defrocked the priest Fr. Calciu for false political reasons, but nevertheless declared that if he had not made such compromises he would have been forced to abandon his post, “which in the conditions of the time would not have been good for the Church”. In other words, as Vladimir Kozyrev writes: “It means: ‘I dishonoured the Church and my Episcopal responsibility, I betrayed those whom I had to protect, I scandalized my flock. But all this I had to do for the good of the Church!’”
In another interview in 1997 Patriarch Alexis said, referring to the
Church in the time of Patriarch Tikhon: “The Church could not, did not have the
right, to go into the catacombs. She remained together with the people and
drank to the dregs the cup of sufferings that fell to its lot.” Patriarch Alexis here forgot to mention that
Patriarch Tikhon specifically blessed Michael Zhizhilenko, the future
Hieromartyr Maximus of
After the failure of the putsch articles began to appear revealing the links of the Church hierarchy with the KGB. Rattled, the patriarch wrote to Frs. Gleb Yakunin and George Edelstein that their articles were “full of the spirit of unscrupulous blasphemy against the Church.”
One of the biggest fruits of glasnost’ – which did not, however, lead to a real ecclesiastical perestroika – was the confirmation in January, 1992, by a Commission of the Presidium of the Russian Supreme Soviet investigating the causes and circumstances of the 1991 putsch, that for several decades at least the leaders of the Moscow Patriarchate had been KGB agents. Members of the commission - L. Ponomarev, V. Polosin and Fr. Gleb Yakunin – obtained access to the records of the fourth, Church department of the KGB’s Fifth Directorate, and revealed that Metropolitans Juvenal of Krutitsa, Pitirim of Volokolamsk, Philaret of Kiev and Philaret of Minsk were all KGB agents, with the codenames “Adamant”, “Abbat”, “Antonov” and “Ostrovsky”.
This news was not, unexpected. In 1989 Kharchev, Chairman of the Council for Religious Affairs, confirmed that the Russian Orthodox Church was rigorously controlled by the Central Committee of the Communist Party, especially its Ideological Department, and by the KGB. Again, Victor Sheimov, a former KGB major with responsibilities for upgrading the KGB’s communications security system until his defection in 1980, described the Fifth Directorate as being “responsible for suppressing ideological dissent, running the Soviet Orthodox Church and laying the groundwork for the First Chief Directorate’s subversive promotion of favourable opinion about the country’s position and policy.” One of Sheimov’s jobs was to draft agents to infiltrate the “Soviet Orthodox Church”. Again, in 1992 a former KGB agent, A. Shushpanov, described his experiences working in the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department of External Ecclesiastical Relations. He said that most of the people working there were in fact KGB agents.
But it was the Commission’s report on March 6 that contained the most shocking revelations: “KGB agents, using such aliases as Sviatoslav, Adamant, Mikhailov, Nesterovich, Ognev and others, made trips abroad, organised by the Russian Orthodox Department of External Relations [which was headed by Metropolitan Cyril (Gundiaev)], performing missions assigned to them by the leadership of the KGB. The nature of their missions shows that this department was inseparably linked with the state and that it had emerged as a covert centre of KGB agents among the faithful.” “The Commission draws the attention of the Russian Orthodox Church leadership to the fact that the Central Committee of the CPSU and KGB agencies have used a number of church bodies for their purposes by recruiting and planting KGB agents. Such deep infiltration by intelligence service agents into religious associations poses a serious threat to society and the State. Agenceis that are called upon to ensure State security can thus exert uncontrolled impact on religious associations numbering millions of members, and through them on the situation at home and abroad.”
The findings of the Commision included:- (i) the words of the head of the KGB Yury Andropov to the Central Committee sometime in the 1970s: “The organs of state security keep the contacts of the Vatican with the Russian Orthodox Church under control…”; (ii) “At the 6th General Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Vancouver, the religious delegation from the USSR contained 47 (!) agents of the KGB, including religious authorities, clergy and technical personnel” (July, 1983); (iii) “The most important were the journeys of agents ‘Antonov’, ‘Ostrovsky’ and ‘Adamant’ to Italy for conversations with the Pope of Rome on the question of further relations between the Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church, and in particular regarding the problems of the uniates” (1989).
The Commission also discovered, but did not publish the fact that the patriarch himself was an agent with the codename “Drozdov”. This was not made public because, writes Fen Montaigne, “members of the parliamentary commission had told the patriarch that they would not name him as an agent if he began cleaning house in the church and acknowledging the breadth of cooperation between the church and the KGB. ‘So far, we have kept silence because we wanted to give the patriarch a chance,’ said Alexander Nezhny, a journalist who said his comparison of the archives and church bulletins convinced him that Alexis II is indeed ‘Drozdov’.”
Later investigations confirmed the fact. Thus on March 18, 1996 the
Estonian newspaper Postimees published the following KGB report from the
Estonian SSR: “Agent ‘Drozdov’, born in 1929, a priest of the Orthodox Church,
has a higher education, a degree in theology, speaks Russian and Estonian
perfectly, and some limited German. He enlisted on
Nevertheless, what had been revealed was so shocking that the parliamentary commission was closed down by Ruslan Khasbulatov, the President of the Supreme Soviet, at the insistence, according to Ponomarev, of Patriarch Alexis and the head of the KGB, E. Primakov.
One of the commission’s members, Fr. Gleb Yakunin, “was accused of
betraying state secrets to the
“’If the Church is not cleansed of the taint of the spy and informer, it
cannot be reborn. Unfortunately, only one archbishop – Archbishop Chrysostom of
“The most prominent agents of the past include DROZDOV – the only one of
the churchmen to be officially honoured with an award by the KGB of the
“The codenames I discovered in the archives of the KGB belong to the top hierarchs of the Moscow Patriarchate.”
In April, 1992, Archbishop Chrysostom of
In the same year he declared to the Council of Bishops of the MP: “In our Church there are genuine members of the KGB, who have made head-spinning careers; for example, Metropolitan Methodius of Voronezh. He is a KGB officer [code-name PAUL], an atheist, a liar, who is constantly advised by the KGB. The Synod was unanimously against such a bishop, but we had to take upon us such a sin. And then what a rise he had!”
At the same Council, a commission of eight MP bishops headed by Bishop
Writing in 1995, John Dunlop concluded that “the overwhelming majority
of the current one hundred and nineteen bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate were
ordained to the episcopacy prior to August of 1991. This suggests that each of
these bishops was carefully screened and vetted by both the ideological
apparatus of the Communist Party and by the KGB.”
The MP in the 1990s
With the KGB firmly back in the saddle in the MP, it is not surprising that the corruption continued unchecked. One anonymous member of the Moscow Patriarchate analyzed the situation as follows: “In spite of the liberation and a certain revival of Church life in recent years, her real situation has not really changed markedly for the better. What is the use of an increasing number of baptisms if out of a thousand baptized scarcely one or two can be found who want to become Christians in our sense of the word, but practically everyone considers themselves to be ‘believers’ (in whom?)? What is the use of a growing number of publications of spiritual literature when clearly anti-church and heretical literature is spread at a far faster rate? What is the use of mass weddings when the number of abortions and divorces grows much faster, not to speak of every other kind of sexual immorality? What is the use of transmitting Divine services on television when the great majority of observors of these programmes do not themselves want to pray in church, preferring to play the role of ‘fans’, while those who seriously live the life of the Church hardly watch television? What is the point of teaching the Law of God in schools when all the rest of the school programme remains atheist and a pupil of the sixth class ‘goes through’ the Bible stories in the section of the literature course entitled ‘fairytales’, and takes exams on the history of the ancient world and the sections on Christianity in accordance with exactly the same textbook as fifteen years ago? And even if there is a serious attitude towards the Law of God in the school, what is the point of it if the child’s atheist parents do not teach him Church life, confession and the sacraments, prayer and fasting? Will such learning profit him?
“We are not talking in detail here about the de facto fall of Orthodoxy in West Ukraine…, about the rapid growth and spread of Latinism, of Protestantism, of the special heresy that strives to unite Christianity with Judaism, of Krishnaism, ‘non-traditional medicine’, astrology, sorcery and the most various kinds of satanism. We are also not talking here about the open campaign of moral corruption through all the means of mass communication, which are almost exclusively in the hands of the enemies of the Church and the fatherland.
“The main thing is that our Church [the MP] has practically renounced the ideals of Holy Russia and Orthodox Statehood as moral-dogmatic standards, but has become entwined in the rabble of democratic politicians, and while breathing a sigh of nostalgia for the Bolsheviks has begun in the persons of her hierarchs to bless all the initiatives of the new power. This has led to our present position of being unable to resist this concentrated and deeply positioned attack of the enemy forces against the Church, which, moreover, has to a significant degree allowed the enemy to enter the Church and sow his tares in her midst. For example, how can we resist the widely disseminated teaching of Protopriest Alexander Men, who departed far from Orthodoxy, but which has been condemned as a heresy by nobody? Only one small, albeit very well written brochure has appeared in a very limited edition. In the conditions of democracy everyone receives blessings for everything, and in the first place those who do evil are blessed for their evil activities. And we have to look on with horror as the flock of Christ is scattered by wolves before our very eyes…”
Archpriest Lev Lebedev, a convert from the MP to ROCOR, was still more
trenchant in his criticism: “Only after… 1990, in a situation and atmosphere of
relative civil liberty, and especially after the staged supposed
‘putsch’ of the dissolution of the CPSU in 1991 and even of Soviet power in
1993 (!), did the following become completely clear. The ‘Patriarchate’
in the former Sovdepia was not at all an unfree, enslaved ‘Church of
silence’, as it was sometimes called. Its hierarchy had already for a very
long time, not at all under coercion, not under pressure, but completely
voluntarily and from the soul, been attempting to please the Soviet regime.
They were not the ‘new martyrs’ for the Church that they presented themselves
as to their flock, and which is how some observers from outside were inclined
to see them. The point is that the episcopate of the ‘patriarchate’ constructed
by Sergius had more and more with every succeeding generation (replenishment) truly
fraternised and become friendly with the partocrats, the nomenklatura
of the CPSS, to the extent that the nomenklatura degenerated morally and
ideologically! So that the bishops of the ‘patriarchate’, and especially the
highest ones, that is, those who held real power in the Church, became
one with the partocrats in spirit, in their manner of thinking, even, to
a large extent, in their language (the use of stock phrases from the newspapers
in their sermons and speeches had been noted long before). If there is anything
more despicable in the world than the Soviet ‘cultural intelligentsia’, then it
can only be the episcopate of the
“Like all smart dealers ‘of this world’, the bishops of ‘the patriarchate’ are no longer able to maintain real ecclesiastical brotherhood and friendship in their relationships with each other. Jealousy, envy, enmity, intrigues and denunciations against each other have become the norm of their mutual relations. This has been transmitted to the clergy. If there are several priests in a parish, there can never be true friendship between them; jealousy and envy have become the norm. There is no point even speaking about Christian love among the clergy.
“’The fish begins to rot from the head.’ This condition and behaviour of the hierarchy of the Moscow ‘patriarchate’ has been transferred, not without opposition, to the lower levels – through the middle clergy to the people, the flock, where it received the most powerful and long-lasting resistance. But with time even the flock ‘gave in’. In the mass of the Christians of the churches of the ‘patriarchate’, mutual love has become extremely scarce; more and more its place has been taken by jealousy, envy and the most terrible bitterness against each other (especially on the kliroses and at the money ‘desks’), a bitterness such as you will not find in secular establishments! In the last 10 years this has reached the level of pathological fear of each other in connection with suspicions of witchcraft! Many in the churches now fear to receive a prosphora or boiled wheat or a candle from each other… There where faith has withered there have grown up, like poisonous mushrooms, the most varied superstitions! And, you know, they really do practise witchcraft! And not only in the villages, but also in the cities, moreover completely educated people! They learn from each other methods of ‘black’ and ‘white’ magic, spells, ‘charms’ and ‘anti-charms’. Sorcerers send their ‘patients’ to certain priests, and these in their turn – to sorcerers. Healer-sorcerers have appeared in the midst of the clergy… They go to him in droves, not only from the diocese, but also from other regions. The profit from it is very large. Batiushka generously shares it with the bishop, and for that reason the bishop does not touch him, in spite of the outrage of his brethren and some of the believers!… Suffering from spells and the evil eye have become very widespread illnesses amongst parishioners. Medicine in such cases is useless, it cannot even establish a diagnosis. And people suffer terribly! You should see (especially in the countryside) this bewitched, hunched-up, deformed humanity! And all this is from their own people, as a result of envy and revenge….
“There where hatred has taken the place of love, you can say what you
like, only it is not the
“The quality of faith has changed to an unrecognisable extent. To
put it more bluntly, among people of that social milieu where to this day they
sincerely suppose that an abandoned church is very suitable for a lavatory,
among people of this milieu faith has long ago been turned into some
church-like paganism, where everything comes down to ‘sacrifices’ to
God, so that He may not punish them, or give them something they are asking
for. Among people of a higher cultural level, alongside this a thirst for ‘spiritual
experiences’ is also noticeable. But if there is no grace of the Holy Spirit
and the lofty feelings produced by it, then they are trying to imagine them,
that is, artificially create them. The result is ‘spiritual deception’ in the
form of various levels of exaltation, leading right to psychological and mental
illness of one or another level. So that now among believing intelligenty
the most zealous are always – without fail and necessarily – psychologically sick
people. On this soil especially luxuriant blooms that have flowered in the
‘patriarchate’ have been the manifestations of false ‘eldership’ and the
‘deification’ of young archimandrites by demonised hysterics. In contrast to
St. John of Kronstadt, the archimandrites (igumens, hieromonks and other
‘grace-filled batiushkas’) do not drive such people away from themselves, but
in every way encourage them, sometimes creating out of these female worshippers
veritable bands that morally (and sometimes even physically!) terrorize the
other believers. This terrible phenomenon already has a marked antichristian
character. One of the female worshippers of one such archimandrite very
precisely said: ‘Batiushka is our God!’ What stands behind this is the thirst
to have a ‘living god’, a man-god, whom one can make an idol of in one’s life.
The epoch of the ‘cult of personality’ did not pass in vain. How many hundred
and thousands of souls throughout
“We must note that there were and still are completely honourable people in the bosom of the ‘patriarchate’, people who have sincerely converted to God. But they were always in the minority, and now all the more so, becoming all the time fewer, and they do not have the opportunity to determine Church life. Left only with their human strength, they can do little, although they present an at times exemplary model of asceticism and self-denial.
“The phenomena of spiritual deformity, canonical transgressions and
moral sins are possible and, moreover, natural at any time of the
existence of any local Church, insofar as it is a community not of ‘the pure
and sinless’, but precisely of sinful, damaged people. The Church must
therefore be a spiritual hospital for its members, for the flock. If the
Church firmly holds to the Orthodox Faith and the holy canons ‘work’ in it in
relation both to those above, and those below, to everyone (!), then it is a
truly living organism of the Body of Christ, which is given life and raised up
to God by the Holy Spirit. Then the excesses of various apostasies, crimes and
transgressions of the canons in it are just that – excesses, instances
on the background of what is on the whole a normal and correct life.
But if the Church falls away both from the Faith and from the canonical order,
it ceases to be the Body of Christ, that is, the Church, being turned into a
community in which the virtues and correct conditions become occasional exceptions,
while the general background and ‘norm of life’ turns out to be crime,
apostasy and transgression… In such an inverted order of things the Church
situation does not help, but hinders the salvation of those who
trustingly enter it, it simply destroys them. Such, we see, is the situation in
Perhaps the aspect of patriarchal life that most clearly demonstrated its degradation was its attitude to the very heart of all church life – the sacraments. Ludmilla Perepiolkina writes:
“[Baptism] as a rule is administered through ablution or even sprinkling, although, as one knows, the threefold immersion of the baptized into the baptismal font [is the only correct form of baptism and] signifies Christ’s death and Resurrection on the third day. Therefore a negligent and needlessly hurried administration of this Mystery becomes an act of sacrilege.
“Both the baptized and their godparents are usually admitted to the Mystery without any preceding catechisation and testing of faith. As a rule, godparents remain in absolute ignorance regarding their spiritual obligations and their responsibility before God for the upbringing of their godchildren. The godparents attending mass baptisms of the Moscow Patriarchate are mostly irreligious, often non-Orthodox, or atheists in general…
“Superstitious parents sometimes baptize their children several times (‘to keep them from becoming ill…’); religious illiteracy accompanies many other superstitions as well. Lately there have been increased instances of baptizing and even giving Holy Communion (!) to the dead. These awful phenomena are caused not only by the ignorance and covetousness of clergymen, but also by the fact that among the clerics of the Moscow Patriarchate there is an increase in the number of occultists, wizards, psychics. This is because there are not only neophytes among those ordained… but also converts from Eastern cults, Yoga, paganism, occultism and other demonic delusions. Having failed to renounce their former beliefs, the latter dissolve their ‘Christianity’ in this contamination. There are ‘priests’ who practise black magic and are a true horror to their ‘spiritual children’ whom they have enslaved and reduced to becoming zombies…
“In the city churches of the Moscow Patriarchate Chrismation, which is administered immediately after Baptism, resembles a production line in a factory, rather than a Church Mystery. Since at the time of their baptism people have merely their heads sprinkled with water over the baptismal font, they have their clothes on. A priest then hastily goes round the long rank of the newly baptised who stand there in ignorance. Then, at the sacred moment of Chrismation, requiring a special reverence, when the Holy Spirit is received, there is a general hurried discarding of superfluous clothing. Not infrequently a priest may even anoint parts of the body still covered by clothing.
“The following should be noted. Not so long ago a certain degree of
confidence in the Patriarchate’s Chrism was based on the fact that every time
it was sanctified, a part of the Chrism of the previous years had to be added.
Thus, the chrism of the Soviet period must have contained a part of the Chrism
sanctified by the Holy Patriarch Tikhon. However, in the most recent years many
in the Moscow Patriarchate have been confused, and not only because the Chrism
now in use was sanctified by the apostate Patriarch Alexis II (Ridiger). From
many areas of
“The Mystery of Confession and the Mystery of Baptism elicit the most criticism. Practically everywhere the so-called ‘general confession’ is performed, which is not stipulated by the Church canons and which was not permitted even in the Moscow Patriarchate even in the first years after the Second World war, when there was an acute shortage of clergy. At the present time many young priests, accustomed to practise an insipid and formalized ‘general confession’, refuse to hear individual confession even if it is a question of only one or two people (who want to be confessed individually), not scores of them. A priest only covers the head of a penitent with his epitrachelion and recites the last short prayer of absolution, or simply makes the sign of the cross over him in silence. In 10 minutes time scores of people go through confession in this manner.
“The practice of such ‘remission of sins’ cannot be called anything but
criminal! After all, many people, who for 70 years lived in the militantly
atheist country where sin had become the norm, and who only recently
learned to make the sign of the cross over themselves, often have no idea what
sin is. Thus, the overwhelming majority of women who have undergone abortion do
not know that they are murderers who have committed a mortal sin. The
same happens to other people who seek healing of their soul in the Church, but
do not find it. Is this not the reason why there is such an unprecedented
number of all kinds of sects in post-Soviet
“Through the efforts of Renovationists of the Moscow Patriarchate, its theological academies and seminaries for years have been preparing a complete break between the Mysteries of Confession and Communion, and a rejection of the obligatory Confession before Communion resulting from such a break.
“The Moscow Patriarchate promotes the conviction that ‘obedience is more important than prayer and fasting’, than the Canons and Patristic teaching. This conviction has been turned into a means of the personal dependence and subjugation of church-going people to pseudo-clergy, pseudo-elders and pseudo-Patriarch…
“The most profound Mystery of the Church is that of Holy Communion… The gravest sin of the apostates is the profanation of this Mystery. They turn the Divine Liturgy, which only true believers are permitted to attend, into a show, a spectacle for the crowds of tourists and television viewers, and the Holy Gifts – Christ’s Body and Blood – are given to anybody and at random…
“Besides the corrupting influence which the distortion of the Mystery of
Confession or its rejection has upon Orthodox Christians, this innovation is
instrumental in achieving the ecumenical objective of allowing access to the
Orthodox Mystery of Holy Communion to the non-Orthodox. The resolution of the
Holy Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate concerning admission of Catholics to
Communion in Orthodox Churches in
“When celebrating the Proskomedia and reciting litanies (ektenias), the ecumenists would commemorate heretics along with the Orthodox in accordance with their sermon on ‘the church without frontiers’, and during the Great Entrance of the Divine Liturgy they would replace the words ‘and may the Lord God remember you all Orthodox Christians in His Kingdom’ by ‘and all Christians’.
“In 1994 the Bishops’ Council of the MP left practically all matters concerning communication with the non-Orthodox to the personal discretion of its bishops and clergy, merely pointing out to them the undesirability of bewildering their flock.
“The instances of Protestants partaking of Holy Communion, unprecedented,
in the MP, have now become a regular phenomenon, at least in the
As we have seen, Metropolitan Nicodemus of Leningrad was both a KGB
agent and a secret
Another of them may have been Archbishop Theodosius (Protsyuk) of Omsk, who, according to Perepiolkina, “has not only received legates from the Vatican and openly concelebrated with them, even the Divine Liturgy, but presented the well-known Verenfried with an ‘episcopal cross…, thus becoming an inseparable friend’ of the wealthy Catholic sponsor.
“The practice of offering communion to the heterodox… is reaching
epidemic proportions in the MP. This may be illustrated by the state of affairs
“The ecumenical epidemic has spread to even the remotest areas. In
accordance with the Balamand Agreement [of 1994], the same church buildings are
now being regularly used by representatives of different denominations
(particularly in the
“Ordination… It is generally known that anyone seeking after a high (or simply well-secured) position in the MP under the Communists had to win, in one way or another, the special favour of the God-defying regime.
“All this is entirely contrary to the 30th Apostolic Rule which reads: ‘If any bishop comes into possession of a church office by employing the secular rulers, let him be deposed from office, and let him be excommunicated. And all those who communicate with him too.’ (Compare Rule 3 of the 7th Ecumenical Council.) An unlawful tree cannot produce lawful fruit. Every year the ranks of the Patriarchate’s clergy have been supplemented by those ordained in violation of the Church canons: those tainted by simony, by second marriage, known homosexuals, obviously un-Orthodox and even those married to sectarians (the wife of a Moscow priest A. Borisov, one of the leaders of the late Archpriest Men’s group within the Moscow Patriarchate, is a Pentecostalist who organises her sect’s meetings in his church.)
“Simony flourishes openly in some dioceses. Thus, it is well know that
“The Sacrament of Marriage is almost always administered without any
preparation and without prior Confession of the couple to be married. The
determining factor is the payment of a certain sum of money (which in recent years
has increased to two, three and more times the average monthly wage). Contrary
to the rules, several couples are wed at the same time and often on unstated
days and during fasts. Marriages with non-Orthodox and with people of other
faiths are allowed. For instance, some of
“Church prayer is also being profaned by the Patriarchate’s clergy when they ‘sanctify’ banks, restaurants, casinos, communist banners of the Red Army and Fleet, as well as buildings used by psychics and ‘healers’. The apostate MP has entered into a special relationship with the ‘Orthodox’ magicians in white coats…
“We may also mention the widespread advertising and sale of ‘holy’ water on the planes of Aeroflot, in shops and restaurants.
“All this, together with ‘funeral services’ for atheists and non-baptised persons (which an Orthodox clergyman may bring himself to perform only as a result of losing the fear of God), and a scandalous acceptance by the hierarchy of the MP (in the person of Metropolitan Pitirim) of a ‘donation’ from the criminal sect ‘Aum Shinri Kyo’ has become the means of replenishing church funds with dirty money.
“Such actions as the luxurious church ceremonies at the funeral of journalist
List’yev, notorious for his immoral television programs (in particular those
promoting incest), the burial of one of the mafia leaders in the sacred caves
of the Pskov Monastery of the Caves, have become a rather symptomatic
phenomenon in the
“Criminal power has come to replace party power in
“During the long decades of Communist dictatorship an indulgent attitude to all ‘weaknesses’ and deviations of hierarchs and clergy had become firmly ingrained in the consciousness of the members of the MP. This justification of shortcomings was motivated by the alleged ‘captivity’ of the clergy (which from year to year was becoming increasingly voluntary). At the same time the episcopate succeeded in enhancing among the laity and clergy a peculiar kind of Papism (‘The Patriarch is responsible for everything’) and the cult of ‘blessed ignorance’ which, allegedly, makes one’s salvation easier to achieve. All these phenomena flourished and became the very essence of the Moscow Patriarchate, as the years of ‘democratic’ rule have been demonstrating, when discussions about ‘forced’ acts of apostasy… have become meaningless…”
Many Russians, while not blind to the corruption in the patriarchate, support it for the sake of the Fatherland; for Russia, they think (correctly), cannot be resurrected without a Church, and the MP is the only Church that they see (incorrectly) as being able to become the religion of the State.
However, as Protopriest Lev Lebedev
writes, “fatherland”, “Russia”, “the State” have become idols in today’s
Russia, more important that the true Faith, without which they are worthless:
“The ideological idol under the name of ‘fatherland’ (‘Russia’, ‘the state’)
has been completely preserved. We have already many times noted that these
concepts are, in essence, pagan ideological idols not because they are in
themselves bad, but because they have been torn out from the trinitarian
unity of co-subjected concepts: Faith, Tsar, Fatherland (Orthodoxy,
Autocracy, People)… Everything that one might wish to be recognized and
positive, even the regeneration of the faith, is done under the slogan of ‘the
regeneration of the Fatherland (
In September, 1990, ecumenism in the MP and World Orthodoxy in general took a major step forward at Chambésy, Switzerland, where a Declaration was agreed between a Joint Commission of Orthodox and Monophysite (called “Oriental Orthodox” in the documents), the Orthodox and Monophysites being called two “families of churches” (a phrase unknown to Orthodox ecclesiology).
Paragraph Four of the Declaration said: “The two families accept that the two natures [of Christ] with their own energies and wills are united hypostatically and naturally without confusion, without change, without division and without separation and that they are distinguished only in thought (th qewria monh).”
This was already completely unacceptable from an Orthodox point of view, and represented a heretical, Monophysite formulation. The two natures and wills of Christ are not distinguishable “only in thought”, but also in reality. Paragraph Seven also spoke of the two natures being distinguishable “only in thought”, which implied, as Ludmilla Perepiolkina points out “an absence of this distinction in reality”.
Paragraph Five stated: “The two families accept that the One Who wills and acts is always the single Hypostasis of the incarnate Logos”. However, as Perepiolkina again correctly points out, according to the teaching of St. Maximus the Confessor, “the concept of energy (activity) of nature is attributable only to nature as a whole, and not to the hypostasis. This teaching was affirmed at the Sixth Ecumenical Council. In the Chambésy Declaration, as it is evident from Paragraph Five, natural wills and energies in Jesus Christ are attributed to His Hypostasis. In other words, this Paragraph is a purely Monothelite formula”.
Paragraph Eight stated: “The two families accept the first three Ecumenical Councils which form our common heritage. With regard to the four later Councils of the Orthodox Church, the Orthodox affirm that, for them, points one through seven are also the teaching of these four later Councils, whereas the oriental Orthodox consider this affirmation of the Orthodox like their own interpretation. In this sense the oriental Orthodox respond positively to this affirmation.” An unclear statement, about which one thing, however, is clear: the Monophysites did not commit themselves to accepting the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Ecumenical Councils in the way the Orthodox did, but only “positively responded to their affirmation”, which meant nothing in dogmatic terms.
Paragraph Nine stated: “In the light of our joint declaration on Christology and the joint affirmations mentioned above, we now clearly realize and understand that our two families have always loyally guarded the same and authentic Christological Orthodox Faith, and have maintained uninterrupted the apostolic tradition although they may have used the Christological terms in a different manner. It is that common faith and that continual loyalty to the apostolic tradition which must be the basis of our unity and communion.”
This was in flat contradiction to 1500 years of Orthodox Tradition. In this period all the Holy Fathers unambiguously affirmed that the Monophysites had not “loyally guarded the same and authentic Christological Orthodox Faith”, and were in fact heretics. But the modern ecumenists claimed that all the six hundred and thirty holy Fathers of the Fourth Ecumenical Council, as well as all the Fathers of all the succeeding Council that condemned Monophysitism, were wrong, and the whole controversy was simply based on some linguistic misunderstandings!
Paragraph Ten of the Declaration stated: “The two families accept that all the anathemas and the condemnations of the past which kept us divided must be lifted by the Churches so that the last obstacle to full unity and communion of our two families can be removed by the grace and power of God. The two families accept that the lifting of the anathemas and the condemnations will be based on the fact that the Councils and the father previously anathematised or condemned were not heretics.”
So the Seven Ecumenical Councils needed to be amended, said these “theologians”, and the anathemas against all the Monophysite councils and fathers, including the notorious heresiarchs Dioscurus, Timothy and Severus, lifted! This was a clear and explicit rejection of the Faith of the Seven Ecumenical Councils!
Of course, the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches (with the exception of Jerusalem) had already implicitly rejected the Councils and the Fathers by their communion in prayer and the sacraments with all sorts of heretics, and even pagans, of which the WCC General Assembly in Canberra in 1991 was perhaps the most extreme example. Nevertheless, it was a further and important stage to say explicitly that the Ecumenical Councils were wrong, that the Monophysites should not have been condemned, that they had been Orthodox all these centuries although the Holy Fathers and all the saints of the Orthodox Church considered them to be heretics. This was not simply a failure to come up to the standards of the Ecumenical Councils: it was a renunciation of the standards themselves.
It was therefore with complete justification that the Holy Synod of the Truth Orthodox Church of Greece under Archbishop Chrysostom (Kiousis) issued the following statement in July, 1991:-
“At Chambésy the Orthodox and the Monophysites agreed that ‘now they have clearly understood that both families (i.e. the Orthodox and the Monophysites} have always loyally maintained the same authentic Orthodox Christological Faith and the unbroken continuity of the Apostolic tradition…’
“… How is it possible to accept as correct
that which has now been understood by twenty-one representatives of the
“The Orthodox and the Monophysites agree that ‘both families accept the first three Ecumenical Councils…’ [But] the Orthodox Church accepts seven Ecumenical Councils. At Chambésy, at the demand of the Monophysites, the Orthodox delegates accepted the recognition of the first three; the rest are put aside and are considered a matter only for the Chalcedonian Orthodox. For the Monophysites, who are condemned as heretics and anathematised by them, it is appropriate to oppose these four other Ecumenical Councils. But is it permissible for men, however modernist they might be, who would be called Orthodox, and who declare themselves hierarchs and theologians, to limit the Ecumenical Councils to three? How do they dare? How did they sign such a grossly treasonous agreement? At least those who signed the false union of Florence-Ferrara [with Rome], when they returned to the capital and repented, declared ‘Let our hands be cut off’ and abjured the false union…
“One can only be horrified at the betrayal of those who signed the agreement at Chambésy. Those who were deposed and anathematised as heretics by four Ecumenical Councils are now recognized as ‘saints’ and ‘Fathers’ of the innovating Church… Who are they? There is Dioscorus, whom the Fourth Ecumenical Council anathematised as being of one mind with the heretic Eutyches… and the rest against whom the Orthodox Church cries out the Anathema which is read in the hearing of all on the Sunday of Orthodoxy. Now the modernist Orthodox would honor them in their churches, make icons of them and light candles to them, asking forgiveness because our Holy Fathers unjustly condemned them as heretics…
“Let all who signed the agreement at Chambésy know that they have ceased to be Orthodox, since they are communicants of the heresy of the Monophysites.
“Those who signed the agreement at Chambésy did not sign as individuals. Chiefly, they signed as representatives of their Churches, and their Churches accepted the agreement at Chambésy…
“Therefore we denounce this new false
union which was signed at Chambésy by the representatives of the
“All who remain disinterested or silent, and ally themselves with the supporters of the agreement of Chambésy, have simply embraced Monophysitism and its wrong-thinking ‘Fathers’ Dioscorus, Severus, Timothy, and the other heretics. Such people have upon their heads the anathemas of the Ecumenical Councils. They are outside the Church, outside of salvation, and their portion is with that of all the heretics.
“We have spoken.
“Let every… Orthodox faithful person take up his responsibilities before God and man. ‘Let us stand aright; let us stand with fear.’”
In spite of this warning, the ecumenist
Orthodox set about putting the Chambésy agreement into practical effect.
Chambésy was followed by the Seventh General Assembly of the WCC
This is a profound error, which was thoroughly exposed – and
anathematized – by the holy Apostle Paul in his epistle to the Galatians. There
is a sense in which the Old Testament law and prophets were not destroyed, but
fulfilled by Christ (Matthew 5.17) – that is, in the sense that He
revealed their inner meaning. But “the law was our schoolmaster to bring us to
Christ” (Galatians 3.24), and having found Christ, we follow, not the
law of the Old Testament, but of the New
Testament. Some parts of the old law are still obligatory for Christians – the Ten
Commandments, for example. But even there adjustments need to be made: the
commandment to “keep the sabbath holy”, for example, applies now to Sundays and
Church feast days, not to Saturdays. And the commandments against murder and
adultery are now deepened to become commandments against anger and lust. As for
circumcisions and animal sacrifices and the worship in the
The patriarch continues: “Judaism and Christianity are united by a spiritual and natural affinity and positive religious interests. We are united with the Judaists without renouncing Christianity. For this is not contrary to Christianity, but in the name and for the sake of Christianity. And the Judaists are united with us also in the name and for the sake of genuine Judaism.”
Astonishing! Then why have the main persecutors of Orthodox Christianity for the last two thousand years been the Judaists? And why does the Judaists’ “holy” book, the Talmud, say such terrible things about Christ, the Mother of God and Christians in general? No: to be united with the Judaists means precisely to renounce Christianity; it is to be united with Annas and Caiaphas and Judas and to be separated from Christ and the holy Apostles, Martyrs and Fathers of the Church.
“We are separated from the Judaists because we are not wholly Christian, and the Judaists are separated from us because they are not wholly Judaic. Because full Christianity embraces Judaism and full Judaism is Christianity.”
The patriarch speaks truly about himself when he says he is “not wholly Christian”. More precisely, he is not Christian at all. For no Christian, whether “full” or not, can possible embrace Judaism, which is the antithesis of Christianity. For the Judaists reject every single article of the Nicene Creed with the possible exception of the first, about God the Father. And yet even here it cannot be said that the Judaists know God the Father. For “who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, hath not the Father” (I John 2.22-23).
“The hierarchs, clergy and theologians of our Church resolutely and openly denounce all and sundry manifestations of anti-Semitism and enmity and pogroms against the Jews.”
The Orthodox Church rejects anti-Semitism, that is, a rejection of the Jews on the grounds of their race. She also rejects pogroms because pogroms are murder. But the Church is and will never cease to be anti-Judaist, because Judaism is a lie, the worst of all lies.
“During the notorious Beilis trial,
Archpriest Alexander Glagolev, a professor at the
Much could be said about the Beilis trial, which was indeed “notorious” – mainly because of the extreme pressure brought to bear upon witnesses by the Judaists and their supporters, and the extreme inefficiency of the police work. Beilis was indeed acquitted, but the court established that the victim, Andrew Yuschinsky, had been the victim of a ritual murder. The patriarch also ignores the fact that the Orthodox Church has officially glorified at least one victim of Judaist ritual murder – the Child Martyr Gabriel, to whom Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky wrote a service.
“We should also mention that many of our theologians and outstanding religious thinker, such as Vladimir Soloviev, Nicholas Berdiaev, and Father Sergius Bulgakov, stood up for the Jews. Vladimir Soloviev regarded the defence of the Jews, from the Christian point of view, to be one of the major tasks of his life. For him the main question was not whether the Jews were good or bad, but whether we Christians were good or bad. Much had been done for establishing a Christian dialogue by our famous religious thinkers of Jewish origina, Semyon Frank and Lev Shestov.”
It is unfortunate for the patriarch’s argument that the first four thinkers he mentions here – are all notorious heretics!
“In this difficult but sacred cause for all of us we hope for understanding and help from our Jewish brothers and sisters. We shall build, by our joint efforts, a new society – one that is democratic, free, open and just. It will be a society which no one will want to leave, and in which the Jews will live confidently and calmly, in an atmosphere of friendship, creative cooperation and fraternity between the children of our common God – the Father of all, the God of your and our fathers…”
rabbis did not forget the honour paid to them by the patriarch: during the
visit of Alexis II to the
In February, 1992, the president of the Union of Orthodox Brotherhoods,
Sergius Poliakov, declared that the patriarch’s speech to the
In March, 1992, the heads of the Local Orthodox Churches met in
Here a dishonourable deal was being proposed: if you refrain from proselytising in Orthodox countries, we will not receive converts in western countries. Of course, this renunciation of proselytism among western heretics had been implicit in the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s statements since the encyclical of 1920, and in all the Orthodox leaders’ actions in ecumenical forums since the 1960s. But it still came as a shock to see the “Orthodox Church” renouncing the hope of conversion and therefore salvation for hundreds of millions of westerners. Here the ecumenical “Orthodox” renounced the first commandment of the Lord to His Church after the Resurrection: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you…” (Matthew 28.19-20).
The communiqué also made threats against “schismatic groups
competing with the canonical structure of the Orthodox Church” (point 3).
Presumably, the True Orthodox were meant. This threat was made clearer when, in
May, a delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate together with a detachment
of Athonite police expelled the Russian-American monks of the Skete of the
Prophet Elijah, who did not commemorate the patriarch, from
While these movements towards union with heretics were taking place, the
Ecumenical Patriarch was acting with great tyranny towards his fellow
patriarchs. Thus in July, 1993 a “great and super-perfect (pantelhV) Synod” was called to judge
Patriarch Diodorus and certain of his collaborators for their supposed
interference in the Australian Archdiocese of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and
certain other questions. The main problem was a very valuable property in
The Patriarch of Jerusalem did not in any way agree to the
“super-perfect” Synod’s decision, and was at first resolved to pay no attention
to it. Sadly, however, other voices prevailed, the patriarchate succumbed, the
patriarch relinquished (it is said, in return for a hefty payment) the property
and the exarchate in
In 1994 the delegates of aal the Local Churches except
Although the delegates of the Orthodox Churches signed the Agreement, it
still needed to be ratified by the Synods of each
Bartholomew confirmed his acceptance of the branch theory on
The MP, too, was able to face down its dissidents. In its council in December, 1994, the patriarchate's participation in the World Council of Churches was unequivocally endorsed as having been inspired “primarily by considerations of the good it would do for the Church”. Then a purge of the anti-ecumenist brotherhoods began, and an amazing decision was made to permit common prayers with heretics with the blessing of the local bishop!
With the death in 1995 of the only anti-ecumenist in the hierarchy,
Metropolitan John (Snychev) of
The patriarch tried to deflect this protest by complaining once more
about Catholic proselytism in
The patriarch’s right hand (his criticism of the Catholics) clearly did not know what his left hand (his reception of largesse from them) was doing…
With the coming of perestroika in
the late 1980s, the idea arose of founding an above-ground Church under the
authority of ROCOR inside
In this correspondence we already see many
of the reasons for the failure of ROCOR’s mission. First, the rejection of the
In March, 1990, ROCOR received its first parish from the MP, that of St. Constantine the Great in Suzdal under Archimandrite Valentine (Rusantsov), who had had a quarrel with his ruling bishop. Valentine was received through a simple phone call by Metropolitan Vitaly, in spite of the fact that he was an MP clergyman with a very suspicious past.
Bishop Gregory was soon looking to Valentine as a future bishop and the
main organizer of the mission in
In the same month of March, ROCOR issued the following guidelines for its Church in Russia, to be known as the “Free Russian Orthodox Church” (FROC): "I. The free Russian Orthodox parishes are neither an independent nor a new hierarchal structure; they are in eucharistic communion with and in the jurisdiction of and subject to the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, which is headed by its first hierarch, Metropolitan Vitaly, and is the preserver of unadulterated Orthodoxy and the traditions of the Russian Orthodox Church.
”II. The clergy are not to join in eucharistic communion with the Moscow Patriarchate until it renounces the declaration of Metropolitan Sergius, until it repents of the errors which followed this uncanonical declaration, and removes those ruling bishops who have compromised themselves by uncanonical and immoral acts, who have been involved in corruption and the embezzlement of church funds, who have been placed in power through the interference of the secular authorities, and who have allowed distortions in the services of the Russian Orthodox Church.
”III. The parishes may not pray for the government as long as the controlling and guiding power remains the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, which has a militantly atheistic and anti-Church program. In addition, prayer is allowed for apostates only during the prayer, ‘that Thou mightest appear to them who have fallen away,’ but not during the proskomedia.
”IV. The reasons for the establishment of free parishes: The free Russian Orthodox parishes have opened due to the absolutely paralyzed, unrepentant state of the hierarchy and clergy of the Moscow Patriarchate, who have fallen away from pure Orthodoxy through the acceptance of the declaration by Metropolitan Sergius (who usurped the power of the Church in Russia) in 1927 of loyalty to the militantly atheistic communist Soviet power.
”The main errors of the Moscow Patriarchate after the declaration of 1927 are as follows:
”1. The excommunication of those hierarchs, clergy, monastics and laymen who did not accept the declaration, which was followed by mass terror and murder of those who did not accept the atheistic government.
”2. The desecration of the memory of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors.
”3. The collaboration with the atheistic government even in the business of closing churches. Devoted service to the government and public prayer to strengthen its power, which in turn fights against faith and the Church.
”4. The distortion of the sacraments, rites, sermon, and carelessness in the spreading of the Word of God. Refusal to catechize, which has led masses of laypeople into ignorance and a superficial acceptance of Christianity.
”5. The participation and membership in the World Council of Churches and the ecumenical movement, for the creation of a worldwide "church", that would unite all heresies and religions.
”6. Submission to secular, atheistic authorities and allowing them to rule the inner life of the church even to the extent of direct control, with the ultimate goal of destroying faith.
”7. The alienation of the hierarchy and clergy from the flock, and a careless, proud relationship towards the laypeople in direct violation of the apostolic injunction to clergy to be an example and not exercise power over others.
”8. The wide-spread moral depravity and mercenariness among the uncanonical clergy.
”9. Uncanonical and capricious transferring of diocesan bishops."
This was a good manifesto. The problem
was: it was not adhered to consistently. And this failure to stick to a
consistent confession of faith in relation to the MP was, together with
personnel and administrative failures, the main reason for the collapse of
ROCOR’s mission in
These problems can be divided into three
categories: (a) ROCOR in relation to her own flock at home and abroad, (b)
ROCOR in relation to the
ROCOR in relation to herself. The problem here was easily stated: how
could the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad continue to call herself the Church Abroad
if she now had parishes inside
However, the ROCOR episcopate declined his suggestion, probably because a change in the Polozhenie that removed the spatial and temporal limitations of ROCOR’s self-definition would have had the consequence of forcing the ROCOR episcopate to: (i) remove the centre of her Church administration from America to Russia, (ii) proclaim herself (alongside any Catacomb Church groups that she might recognise) as part of the Russian Orthodox Church inside Russia and distinguished from the other parts only by its possessing dioceses and parishes abroad, and (iii) enter into a life-and-death struggle with the MP for the minds and hearts of the Russian people.
However, the ROCOR bishops (with the exception of Bishop Gregory Grabbe) were not prepared to accept these consequences. After all, they were well-established abroad, increasingly dependent economically on contributions from foreign converts to Orthodoxy, and with few exceptions were not prepared to exchange the comforts and relative security of life in the West for the uncertainty and privations of life in Russia (to this day ROCOR’s first-hierarch, Metropolitan Vitaly, has not set foot on Russian soil since the fall of communism, in spite of numerous invitations from believers). Of course, the whole raison d’être of ROCOR was to return to her homeland in Russia (she was previously called the Russian Church in Exile, and exiles by definition want to return to their homeland); and it was in anticipation of such a return that she had steadfastly refused to endanger her Russian identity by merging with other Local Orthodox Churches or by forming local jurisdictions identified with specific western countries (like the formerly Russian schism from ROCOR calling itself the Orthodox Church of America). But generations had passed since the first emigration, the descendants of that first emigration had settled in western countries, learned their languages, adopted their ways, put down roots in foreign soil. The exiles were no longer exiles from, but strangers to, their native land…
ROCOR in relation to the Catacomb Church. Since 1927, when
ROCOR had broken communion simultaneously with the
These tendencies gave rise to the perception that the leadership of True
Orthodoxy had now passed from inside
Tragically, ROCOR relied on Bishop Lazarus’s testimony as their sole
guide to the canonicity or otherwise of the Catacomb bishops in
The main accusation against these Catacomb hierarchs was their inability to prove their apostolic succession by producing ordination certificates, as required by the 33rd Apostolic Canon. This was, of course, a serious deficiency; and it was perfectly reasonable that ROCOR should first seek to check their canonical status before entering into communion with them. But in view of both groups’ favourable attitude towards ROCOR, it would seem to have been more reasonable and charitable to have talked with them directly, learned their history and their point of view on the problem, and discussed with them some way of correcting this deficiency without resorting to the punitive measures of a papal curia. And such a charitable, unifying attitude to the various Catacomb groups had been urged by Bishop Gregory (Grabbe). However, they were rejected without the slightest consultation or attempt to come to some kind of agreement; and so the possibility of correcting the canonical anomalies of these hierarchs in a peaceful manner and with their complete cooperation was lost.
The news that ROCOR had rejected them
produced catastrophic effects in the lower clergy and laity of Catacomb groups.
Thus the present writer remembers coming to a catacomb gathering in
The impression was created that ROCOR had
ROCOR later came to believe that she had made a mistake in this matter. Thus Archbishop Hilarion wrote to the present writer: “The statement which I signed as Deputy Secretary of the Synod was based entirely on the information given to us by Archbishop Lazarus. He reported to the Synod on the different groups of the Catacombs and convinced the members of the Synod (or the Council – I don’t recall offhand which) that their canonicity was questionable and in some instances – their purity of doctrine as well (e.g. imyabozhniki). The Synod members hoped (naively) that this would convince the catacomb groups to rethink their position and seek from the Russian Church Abroad correction of their orders to guarantee apostolic succession. We now see that it was a mistake to issue the statement and to have based our understanding of the catacomb situation wholly on the information provided by Vl. Lazarus. I personally regret this whole matter very much and seek to have a better understanding of and a sincere openness towards the long-suffering confessors of the Russian Catacombs.”
Such repentance was admirable, but
unfortunately lacking in fruits worthy of repentance. On November 21 /
The bad reputation of Bishop Lazarus led to a schism between ROCOR and
another branch of the
ROCOR’s relationship with the passportless
revealed an important theological difference between the True Churches inside
The Church inside Russia, living under the
threat of complete annihilation, was inclined to describe her situation in
apocalyptic terms, thus: since 1917 we have entered the last period of Church
history, the period of the Apocalypse; the True Church, like the woman clothed
in the sun, has fled into the wilderness, and the earth (the catacombs) has
swallowed her up; while the false church, the Moscow Patriarchate, is the whore
sitting on the red beast (communism) (Revelation chapters 12-13 and 17).
ROCOR had used very similar language to describe the situation in her
All-Emigration Council of Belgrade in 1938; but in the post-war years, as news
This difference became a clear theological
divergence in, for example, the correspondence between Metropolitan Vitaly and
representatives of the passportless in the early 1990s. The metropolitan
The Passportless Christians were appalled
by the comparison – as if Rome, the state in which Christ Himself was born and
was registered in a census, and which later grew into the great Orthodox
Christian empires of Byzantium, the New Rome, and Russia, the Third Rome, could
be compared to the anti-state, the collective Antichrist established, not by
God, but by satan (Revelation 13.2), which had destroyed the Russian
Here we see a falling away of ROCOR from her own earlier teaching in 1933, when she had explicitly rejected the comparison between Soviet and Roman power: “In the present case no historical parallels and analogies are applicable to the Soviet regime. It would be inappropriate to compare it with the Roman authority, submission to which the Apostles Peter and Paul demanded of the Christians of their time…”
ROCOR in relation to the MP.
Closely related to this difference in attitude towards the
The roots of this double-mindedness go back to the post-war period, when
large numbers of Christians fleeing towards
Thus a certain “dilution” in the quality of those joining ROCOR in the
second emigration by comparison with the first – and the problem was to get
worse with the third and fourth emigrations of the 70s, 80s and 90s – which
began to affect the confessing stance of the Church as a whole. Even members of
the first emigration were proving susceptible to deception: over half of the
Church in America and all except one diocese in China (that of Shanghai, led by
St. John Maximovich) were lured back into the arms of the Soviet “Fatherland”
and its Soviet “Church”. Another reason for this diminution in zeal was ROCOR’s
continuing communion with the Local Orthodox Churches of “World Orthodoxy” even
after all of these (except
ambiguous relationship towards “World Orthodoxy” inevitably began to affect
ROCOR’s zeal in relation to the MP in particular. For if the MP was recognised
As ROCOR began to lose confidence in
herself and the Catacomb Church as the only bearers of true Russian
Orthodoxy, the accent began to shift towards the preservation, not of Orthodoxy
as such, but of Russianness. But for a foreign Church, however Russian
in spirit, to claim to be more Russian than the Russians inside
As a result of all this, at the very
moment that ROCOR was called by God to enter into an open war with the MP for
the souls of the Russian people on Russian soil, she found herself tactically
unprepared, hesitant, unsure of her ability to fight this great enemy, unsure
even whether this enemy was in fact an enemy and not a potential friend, sister
or even “mother”. In consequence, ROCOR found itself “moving in two
directions”, as the brother-priests Dionysius and Timothy Alferov put it. “The
first was that of establishing [ROCOR] parishes in
This doublemindedness can be seen in ROCOR Synod’s statement of May
3/16, 1990, written by Archbishop Anthony of
The idea that there can be true priests in a heretical church is
canonical nonsense (Apostolic Canon 46), and Bishop Gregory (Grabbe)
immediately obtained the removal of the offending phrase. But the damage had
been done. The statement also spoke
about creating a “parallel” structure of parishes in
But, of course, ROCOR could not coexist with the MP inside
Bishop Valentine and ROCOR
official beginning of ROCOR’s mission in
His main opponent was Archbishop Mark of
In November, 1991 Bishop Valentine was
asked about Archbishop Mark’s role. The reply was carefully weighed: “When the
On October 3/16, 1990, Bishop Gregory wrote to Bishop Barnabas seeking
his support for Valentine. He was not very learned, he said, but he was “bold”
and “right-thinking”. He also sought support for Valentine from Archbishop
The boundaries of the three bishops’ dioceses were not clearly
delineated at this stage. As Archbishop Lazarus explained: “The Hierarchical
Synod decreed equal rights for us three Russian hierarchs. If someone from the
patriarchate wants to join Vladyka Valentine – please. If he wants to join
Vladyka Benjamin or me – please. So far the division [of dioceses] is only
conditional – more exactly,
From the middle of 1991 the lack of unity
among the bishops was becoming a major problem. “Lazarus,” writes Zalewski,
“did not answer Valentine’s letters and even broke off contact with the Office
of the Metropolitan in
Still more serious was the anti-canonical
interference of foreign clergy inside
Again, at a time when the MP, with the help of the local authorities and OMON forces, was seizing back churches that had gone over to the FROC by force, Archbishop Mark was calling for official negotiations with the Moscow Patriarchate, publicly calling Lazarus and Benjamin poor administrators, and urging believers in a publicly distributed letter “to distance yourselves from Bishop Valentine of the Suzdal and Vladimir diocese of the Free Russian Orthodox Church”, whom he described as “a wolf in sheep’s clothing”. Instead, he told them to turn to Fr. Sergius Perekrestov (a priest who was later defrocked for adultery before leaving the FROC). A priest of the Moscow Patriarchate interpreted this letter to mean that ROCOR had “turned its back on the Suzdal diocese of the FROC”.
Archbishop Mark’s remarks about the
russification of Soviet man did not go down well in
“It is interesting that when their Eminences Archbishop Lazarus and
Bishop Benjamin, by virtue of the Apostolic canons and their pastoral
conscience, adopted, with me, a principled position on the question of his
Eminence Archbishop Mark’s claims to administer Russian parishes, the latter
simply dismissed the two hierarchs as being incapable of administration… Then
Archbishop Mark … chose a different tactic. He wrote a letter to
“Yesterday I was told that his Eminence Archbishop Mark sent a fax to
the Synod insistently recommending that his Eminence Barnabas not be recalled
The reference to Bishop Barnabas is explained as follows. In February,
1992 he had been sent to
As a result of this, the owner of the Mary-Martha Convent, which had been Barnabas’ headquarters, took fright and removed it from ROCOR…
On August 3, Bishop Barnabas organized “a conference of the clergy with
the aim of organizing the
October 25 /
However, in February, 1993, at a meeting of the Synod in
Bishop Gregory desperately tried to support the Russian bishops against
Barnabas, but almost the entire foreign episcopate was now working to support
Barnabas and undermine Valentine – including the metropolitan, who had changed
course yet again. Thus on
In 1993 Archimandrite Adrian and a large patriarchal parish in Noginsk numbering no less than 10,000 parishioners applied to come under the omophorion of Bishop Valentine, and was accepted by him on January 19. At the same time the MP circulated an accusation - signed by a woman but with no other indication of time, place or names of witnesses of the supposed crime - that Archimandrite Adrian had raped one altar boy and had had improper relations with another. This accusation turned out to be completely fabricated – the “raped” altar boy wrote a letter of apology to Fr. Adrian and the letter was accepted by the prosecutor in the criminal court. Both youngsters were then sued for stealing icons…
In spite of this, Bishop Barnabas convened a “Church Court of the Moscow Diocesan Administration”, and without any kind of investigation or trial, banned the archimandrite, although he belonged to a different diocese, on the grounds of immorality. (The two priests in this court, Protopriest Alexis Averianov and Archimandrite Ioasaph Shibaev had already been unlawfully received by Bishop Barnabas into his jurisdiction, although they had been banned (whether justly or not is not the question here) by Archbishop Lazarus.) Now Archimandrite Adrian, who later joined the Ukrainian church, did turn out to be a less than strictly moral priest. Nevertheless, this in no way justified Bishop Barnabas’ uncanonical actions. Moreover, as the Russian newspapers pointed out, Bishop Barnabas seemed to be partially supporting the patriarchate in the struggle for this parish – in which, as Bishop Gregory (Grabbe) pointed out, the KGB appeared also to be operating.
Incited by Barnabas, several ROCOR bishops wanted to proceed with defrocking Bishop Valentine; but the decision was made to retire him instead on grounds of his ill-health – a completely uncanonical decision since neither had Bishop Valentine petitioned for his retirement nor had the ROCOR bishops investigated his state of health. Bishop Barnabas also attacked Archbishop Lazarus as an incompetent old man, and Bishop Benjamin as a collective farm worker in bast shoes!
Worse was to come. Bishop Barnabas wrote (on official Synod notepaper)
to Metropolitan Vladimir (Romanyuk) of the uncanonical
Bishop Barnabas’ contribution was summed up as follows: “In the shortest
time [he] introduced the most complete chaos into
the life of the Free Church, which was beginning to be reborn. This
representative of the Synod began, above the heads of the Diocesan Bishops of
the Free Church in Russia, and in violation of the basic canonical rules, to
receive into his jurisdiction clerics who had been banned from serving by them,
to carry out ordinations in their dioceses without their knowledge, and finally
was not ashamed to demand, at the Council in 1993, that he should be given
rights to administer all the parishes of
the Free Church in Russia!
This request was not granted by the Council, the more so in that it learned
that ‘the empowered representative of the Synod of the Russian Church Abroad in
Moscow’, on writing-paper of the Hierarchical Synod, wrote a petition to ‘the Locum
Tenens of the Kievan Patriarchal Throne’, Metropolitan Vladimir (Romanyuk),
in which it said that ‘the treacherous Muscovite scribblers hired by the Moscow
Patriarchate are trying to trample into the mud the authority of the Russian
Church Abroad. In this connection: we beseech you, Your Eminence, through the
Kievan Patriarchate headed by you, to give our ecclesiastical activity a
juridical base and receive us into brotherly communion.’ Extraordinary as it
may seem, the Council did not consider it necessary to defrock its
representative, and it was put to him that he should set off for the Holy Land
for a mere three months without right of serving – which, however, he did not
carry out. This shameful letter was widely distributed by the Moscow
Patriarchate, while the ‘Patriarchal Locum Tenens’, delighted by this
prospect, invited the First-Hierarch of the Church Abroad to visit
The First Schism
On April 14/27, 1993 Archbishop Lazarus sent an “explanatory report” to
the Synod detailing the many serious canonical violations committed against the
Russian bishops, and in particular against himself, to which the leadership of
ROCOR had not reacted in spite of many appeals. He then declared his “temporary
administrative separation” from the Synod until the Synod restored canonical
order. But, he insisted, he was not breaking communion with ROCOR. As a result
of this, without consulting either him or his diocese, ROCOR meeting in
In May, during its Council in Lesna, the Synod effectively retired Bishop Valentine also – it goes without saying, against his will and without canonical justification. As Metropolitan Vitaly wrote to him: “The Hierarchical Council has become acquainted with your administrative successes. However, your health in such a difficult situation makes it necessary for us to retire you because of illness until your full recovery. This means that if you are physically able, you can serve, since you are in now way banned from church serving, but you are simply freed from administrative cares”.
During the Council a letter was read from a group of Catacomb Christians expressing disagreement with the actions of Archbishop Lazarus and asking that Bishop Barnabas be placed in charge of all the Russian parishes.
Bishop Barnabas also received support from a parish in
At the same time, however, Archbishop Mark told the bishops that in five
years his German diocese would no longer exist, and that more and more people
considered the confrontational approach to the MP wrong. He was opposed by
Metropolitan Vitaly, Archbishop Anthony of
In a report to the Synod dated May 16/29, after sharply criticizing the Synod’s unjust and uncanonical actions against Bishop Valentine, Bishop Gregory said: “Our responsibility before God demands from us the annulment of this conciliar resolution, and if there are accusers who have material which has not yet been shown us in documentary form, then Bishop Valentine must be returned to his see and the affair must be either cut short or again reviewed by the Council, but now in agreement with the canons that we have in the Church. For this would clearly be necessary to convene a Council, and for a start a judgement must be made about it in the Synod…
“As a consequence of this Archbishop Lazarus has already left us. And Bishop Valentine’s patience is already being tried. If he, too, will not bear the temptation, what will we be left with? Will his flock in such a situation want to leave with him? Will not it also rebel?
“For clarity’s sake I must begin with an examination of certain matters
brought up at the expanded session of the Synod which took place in
“A certain tension was noticeable there in spite of the external calmness. It turned out that behind the scenes a suspicious attitude towards Bishop Valentine had arisen. Already after the closing of the Synod I learned that several members of the Synod had been shown a document containing accusations of transgressions of the laws of morality against Bishop Valentine. The President of the Synod did not have this document during the sessions but only at the end. It was then that I, too, received a copy of the denunciation from Archbishop Mark, who was given it by Bishop Barnabas, who evidently did not know how to deal with such objects according to the Church canons. I involuntarily ascribed the unexpected appearance of such a document amidst the members of the Synod to the action of some communist secret agents and to the inexperience of Bishop Barnabas in such matters.
“The caution of the Church authorities in relation to similar accusations in the time of troubles after the persecutions was ascribed to the 74th Apostolic canon, the 2nd canon of the 1st Ecumenical Council and especially to the 6th canon of the 2nd Ecumenical Council. At that time the heretics were multiplying their intrigues against the Orthodox hierarchs. The above-mentioned canons indicate that accusations hurled by less than two or three witnesses – who were, besides, faithful children of the Church and accusers worthy of trust – were in no way to be accepted…
“Did they apply such justice and caution when they judged Bishop Valentine, and were ready without any investigation to ... defrock him for receiving Archimandrite Adrian? And were the accusations hurled at the latter really seriously examined?
“Beginning with the processing, contrary to the canons, of the accusations against Bishop Valentine on the basis of the single complaint of a person known to none of us, the Sobor was already planning to defrock him without any kind of due process, until the argument of his illness turned up. But here, too, they failed to consider that this required his own petition and a check to ascertain the seriousness of his illness. The intention was very simple: just get rid of a too active Bishop. They didn’t think of the fate of his parishes, which exist on his registration. Without him they would lose it.
“While we, in the absence of the accused and, contrary to the canons, without his knowledge, were deciding the fate of the Suzdal diocese, Vladyka Valentine received three more parishes. Now he has 63. Taking into account Archimandrite Adrian with his almost 10,000 people, we are talking about approximately twenty thousand souls.
“The question arises: in whose interests is
it to destroy what the papers there call the centre of the Church Abroad in
“The success of Bishop Valentine’s mission has brought thousands of those being saved into our Church, but now this flock is condemned to widowhood and the temptation of having no head only because he turned out not to be suitable to some of our Bishops…”
It was in this highly charged atmosphere, with their bishop forcibly and
uncanonically retired and the registration of all their parishes hanging by a
thread, that the annual diocesan conference of the Suzdal diocese took place
from June 9/22 to 11/24. It was also attended by priests representing
Archbishop Lazarus and Bishop Benjamin. Hieromonk Agathangelus read out a
letter from Archbishop Lazarus in which he declared that although he had considered
the actions of ROCOR
The Conference’s Address and Resolutions accused the ROCOR Synod of
inactivity and of not defending the parishes in
After quoting these words, Archbishop Anthony of Los Angeles wrote, in a letter to Metropolitan Vitaly: “All the documents of the congress: the Agenda, the Resolutions, the Address to the Synod and the Protocols serve as vivid accusations first of all against Bishop Valentine, but also against all the participants in the congress who signed the Address and Resolutions…
“How is one to describe this, which is only a few extracts from the whole? This is uncommon ignorance, and madness, and untruth, and rebellion, and murmuring, and open threats of a schism, and an unjust comparison of the Church Abroad with the MP, and the taking on themselves of the role of a higher arbiter over the Hierarchical Council. In the unprecedented demand that the resolutions of the Council be rescinded it is not indicated precisely which resolutions are meant.
“Moreover, the threat of separation from the Church Abroad if the unnamed demands are not met, besides the mad demand that the dioceses abroad be liquidated, constitutes a real threat…”
The tone of the conference documents was indeed strong: but it could well be argued that the very serious situation warranted it, and that hierarchs such as Archbishop Anthony, instead of complaining about “rebellion” and “a real threat”, should have acted to avert the threat by helping their brothers in the Homeland…
At the end of the conference it was decided that the Suzdal diocese
would follow Archbishop Lazarus’ example in separating administratively from
ROCOR while retaining communion in prayer with it. Bishop Valentine expressed
the hope that this would be only a temporary measure, and he called on
Metropolitan Vitaly to convene an extraordinary Council to remove the
anticanonical resolutions of the Council in Lesna and the Synod meeting in
meeting of the clergy Archbishop Lazarus’ diocese in
By the beginning of 1994 the Russian bishops had received no reaction whatsoever from the Synod to any of their letters and requests. This was probably under the influence especially of Archbishop Mark, who told the Hierarchical Council that “Valentine is a tank that will crush us under its weight.”
On March 8/21, 1994, in a conference taking place in Suzdal, Bishop Valentine said: “On June 10/23, 1993 in Suzdal there took place a diocesan congress in which resolutions were taken and an Address was sent to the Synod indicating the transgressions, by the above-mentioned Hierarchs, of the Apostolic Canons and decrees of the Fathers of the Church, of the Ecumenical and Local Councils. At the same time they asked that his Grace Bishop Barnabas be recalled, and that Archbishop Mark should ask forgiveness of the clergy and the Russian people for his humiliation of their honour and dignity. If our request were ignored, the whole weight of responsibility would lie on the transgressors of the Church canons. But so far there has been no reply.
“We sent the Resolution of the clergy, monastics and laypeople warning that if there continued to be transgressions of the Apostolic Canons and Conciliar Resolutions on the part of the Hierarchs, with the connivance of the Hierarchical Synod, the whole responsibility would lie as a heavy burden on the transgressors. The Synod did not reply.
“Together with his Eminence Archbishop Lazarus and the members of the Diocesan Councils I sent an address to the Synod in which their attention was drawn to the wily intrigues on the part of those who wished us ill, and asked that the situation be somehow corrected, placing our hopes on Christian love and unity of mind, which help to overcome human infirmities. But in the same address we laid out in very clear fashion our determination that if the Hierarchical Synod did not put an end to the deliberate transgressions, we would be forced to exist independently, in accordance with the holy Patriarch Tikhon’s ukaz ¹ 362 of November 7/20, 1920, in the interests of the purity of Orthodoxy and the salvation of our Russian flock. The reply consisted in Vladyka Metropolitan threatening a ban.
“I sent a letter to Metropolitan Vitaly in which I besought him
earnestly to confirm my status before the Ministry of Justice of the
“It is difficult for you to imagine how much labour we had to expend, how many written bureaucratic demands we had to fulfil, in order to get our Regulations re-registered. If I had not undertaken this, all the churches would automatically have been taken out of registration and then, believe me, the Moscow Patriarchate would not have let go such a ‘juicy morsel’.”
After hearing more speeches in the same vein, including one from Archbishop Lazarus, the Congress made the following decisions: 1. To form a Temporary Higher Church Administration (THCA) of the Russian Orthodox Church, which, without claiming to be the highest Church authority in Russia, would have as its final aim the convening of a Free All-Russian Local Council that would have such authority. 2. To elect and consecrate new bishops. 3. To declare their gratitude to ROCOR and Metropolitan Vitaly, whose name would continue to be commemorated in Divine services, since they wished to remain in communion of prayer with him. 4. To express the hope that the Hierarchical Synod would recognize the THCA and the consecrations performed by it.
One of the members of the Congress, Elena Fadeyevna Shipunova, the wife
of Protopriest Andrew Osetrov, declared: “It is now completely obvious that the
subjection of the Russian dioceses to the Synod Abroad contradicts the second
point of Ukaz ¹
On March 9/22 the THCA, which now contained three new bishops: Theodore of Borisovsk, Seraphim of Sukhumi and Agathangelus of Simferopol, together with many clergy, monastics and laity, informed Metropolitan Vitaly and the Synod of ROCOR of their decision.
On March 23 / April 5 the Synod of ROCOR rejected this declaration and
the new consecrations, and decided to break communion in prayer with the newly
In its May, 1993 Council in Lesna, the ROCOR hierarchs decided that the Church in Russia was now free and changed the commemoration “For the Orthodox episcopate of the persecuted Church of Russia” to “For the Orthodox episcopate of the Church of Russia”. 
Protopriest Benjamin Zhukov asked: “What
Church were they talking about? A lack of precision was revealed, and confusion
was created between ‘the persecuted
However, the FROC, with its direct and ongoing experience of persecution, retained the old formula.
During the Sobor, Bishop Barnabas
criticised all the bishops in
Then, in order to strengthen ROCOR’s hand
in the coming struggle with the FROC, Archimandrite Eutyches (Kurochkin) was
consecrated Bishop of Ishim and
Bishop Gregory, who had not been admitted to the sessions of the ROCOR
Synod, fully approved of the actions of the Russian Hierarchs in a letter to
Bishop Valentine dated March 24 / April 6. And on the same day he wrote the
following to Metropolitan Vitaly: “We have brought the goal of the possible
regeneration of the Church in
“As I warned the Synod in my last report, we have done absolutely everything possible to force the Russian bishops to separate from us administratively. They have had to proceed from Resolution ¹ 362 of Patriarch Tikhon of November 7/20, 1920 in order to avoid the final destruction of the just-begun regeneration of our Church in our Fatherland. But our Synod, having nothing before its eyes except punitive tactics, proceeds only on the basis of a normalized church life. Whereas the Patriarch’s Resolution had in mind the preservation of the Church’s structure in completely unprecedented historical and ecclesiastical circumstances.
“The ukaz was composed for various cases, including means for the re-establishment of the Church’s Administration even in conditions of its abolition (see article 9) and ‘the extreme disorganization of Church life’. This task is placed before every surviving hierarch, on condition that he is truly Orthodox.
“The Russian Hierarchs felt themselves to be in this position when, for two years running, their inquiries and requests to provide support against the oppression of the Moscow Patriarchate were met with complete silence on the part of our Synod.
“Seeing the canonical chaos produced in their dioceses by Bishop Barnabas, and the Synod’s silent collusion with him, the Russian Hierarchs came to the conclusion that there was no other way of avoiding the complete destruction of the whole enterprise but their being led by the Patriarch’s Resolution ¹ 362.
“Our Synod unlawfully retired Bishop Valentine for his reception of a huge parish in Noginsk,.. but did not react to the fact that Bishop Barnabas had in a treacherous manner disgraced the Synod, in whose name he petitioned to be received into communion with the Ukrainian self-consecrators!
“I don’t know whether the full text of Resolution ¹ 362 has been read at the Synod.
I myself formerly paid little attention to it, but now, having read it, I see that
the Russian Hierarchs have every right to cite it, and this fact will come to
the surface in the polemic that will inevitably take place now. I fear that by
its decisions the Synod has already opened the path to this undesirable
polemic, and it threatens to create a schism not only in
“There are things which it is impossible to stop, and it is also
impossible to escape the accomplished fact. If our Synod does not now correctly
evaluate the historical moment that has taken place, then its already
profoundly undermined prestige (especially in
“All the years of the existence of the Church Abroad we have enjoyed respect for nothing else than our uncompromising faithfulness to the canons. They hated us, but they did not dare not to respect us. But now we have shown the whole Orthodox world that the canons are for us an empty sound, and we have become a laughing-stock in the eyes of all those who have even the least relationship to Church affairs.
“You yourself, at the Synod in Lesna, allowed yourself to say that for us, the participants in it, it was now not the time to examine the canons, but we had to act quickly. You, who are at the helm of the ship of the Church, triumphantly, before the whole Sobor, declared to us that we should now hasten to sail without a rudder and without sails. At that time your words greatly disturbed me, but I, knowing your irritability with me for insisting on the necessity of living according to the canons, nevertheless hoped that all was not lost yet and that our Bishops would somehow shake off the whole of this nightmare of recent years.
“Think, Vladyko, of the tens of thousands of Orthodox people both abroad
Unfortunately, however, Metropolitan Vitaly was beginning to show the same kind of condescending and contemptuous attitude to the Russian flock as Archbishop Mark had been demonstrating for some time. Thus in one letter to Bishop Valentine, after rebuking him for receiving Archimandrite Adrian, he wrote: “We understand that, living in the Soviet Union for these 70 years of atheist rule, such a deep seal of Sovietism and of departure from right thinking has penetrated into the world-view of the Russian people that you, too, were involuntarily caught up by the spirit of this wave…”
Even such an attitude would have been tolerable if the metropolitan had decided to govern the Church in accordance with the holy canons. But at the Lesna Council in 1993 he had told a priest to tell Bishop Gregory not to keep referring to the canons!
Some FROC priests – notably Protopriest Lev Lebedev of Kursk – while
fully agreeing that the ROCOR bishops had committed uncanonical acts on Russian
soil, nevertheless believed that the actions of the FROC bishops had been hasty
and were justified only in the case that ROCOR had fallen away from Orthodoxy,
which, as everyone agreed, had not yet taken place. In a letter to Bishop
Bishop Gregory argued that ROCOR’s two founding documents, the ukaz
¹ 362 and the Polozhenie of ROCOR, did not allow for the Church outside
“And indeed, our parishes in
“In other words, we can say that if there is willingness on our side we now have every opportunity of setting in order the complete regeneration of the Russian Orthodox Church in our Fatherland.
“The very first paragraph of the ‘Statute on the Russian Church Abroad’ says: ’The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad is an indivisible part of the Russian Local Church TEMPORARILY self-governing on conciliar principles UNTIL THE REMOVAL OF THE ATHEIST POWER in Russia in accordance with the resolution of the holy Patriarch Tikhon, the Holy Synod and the Higher Ecclesiastical Council of the Russian Church of November 7/20, 1920 ¹ 362 (emphasis mine, B. G.).
“If we now lead the Russian Hierarch to want to break their
administrative links with the Church Abroad, then will not our flock abroad
finally ask us: what ‘Episcopate of the
“Will we not then enter upon a very dubious canonical path of autonomous
existence, but now without a Patriarchal blessing and outside the
“It is necessary for us to pay very careful attention to and get to know
the mood revealed in our clergy in the Suzdal diocese, so as on our part to
evaluate the mood in which our decisions about the Church in
“But will we not see then that it is one thing when the Church Abroad gives help to the Russian Church through the restoration in it of a canonical hierarchy, but something else entirely when we lay claims to rule the WHOLE of Russia from abroad, which was in no way envisaged by even one paragraph of the ‘Statute of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad’, nor by one of our later resolutions?”
Bishop Gregory was right: ROCOR had over-reached her (never
well-defined) canonical prerogatives. The result was the collapse of her
In July, 1994 a liturgical union took place between ROCOR, the Romanian Old Calendarists under Metropolitan Blaise, the Bulgarian Old Calendarists under Bishop Photius of Triaditsa and the Greek Old Calendarists under Metropolitan Cyprian of Orope and Fili (the “Cyprianites”).
Any reversal of the process of fragmentation among the True Orthodox Churches could only be accounted a positive sign. In this case, however, union was achieved at the price of ROCOR officially rejecting the validity of the Florinites’ defrocking of Metropolitan Cyprian in 1985 and accepting very controversial ecclesiology, which recognised that the churches of ecumenist “World Orthodoxy” still had grace, as her own.
From the start, there were many critics of the union among conservative
members of ROCOR in
At first, however, this True Orthodox union, like the earlier, more
solidly based one of 1971, appeared to elicit an encouraging response from the
heretics. For from the middle of the 1990s, some signs of a genuinely spiritual
revival in World Orthodoxy were discerned in the emergence of anti-ecumenist
Those were honest and true words. But they were not followed up by
appropriate action. Thus when 340 priests, monks and nuns of the
“Unfortunately,” writes Bishop Artemius, “it soon became apparent that the concluding points of this decision of the Serbian Orthodox Church Assembly annulled all the aforementioned compelling reasons for a final and permanent withdrawal from membership and partnership with the WCC. The Thessalonica Summit of the representatives of all of the Orthodox Churches was soon held and its ‘conclusions’ prevented the Serbian Orthodox Church from carrying out its 1997 decision to withdraw from the WCC… The essence of the conclusions of the Thessalonica gathering was to seek a radical reorganisation of the Council, which did not occur in the next seven years to the present day [September, 2004]. These ‘conclusions’, therefore, remained ‘a dead letter’. The WCC did not reorganise itself in any respect and become closer to the Orthodox Church of Christ, nor did any local Orthodox Church (including the Serbian Church) withdraw from membership in the WCC as a result of this. The reasons and justifications for withdrawing from membership from the WCC (as presented in the decision of the S.O.C, Assembly) are also still valid, as are, unfortunately, the harmful ecclesiological consequences that follow from that membership. Thus by its second response this Assembly of the Serbian Orthodox Church, abandoning its earlier decision (from 1997) and its justification, continued and extended its organic participation as an equal member of the WCC, guiding itself and its flock down the path of ruin…”
During the late 1990s, the Bulgarian and
The Georgian decision was elicited by the separation of two groups from
Fr. Basil (now Igumen Gregory) Lourié continues the story: “Having
withdrawn, in 1997, from international ecumenical organizations, the official
Georgian Patriarchate has recently made its next step away from ecumenical
jurisdictions. Upon recommendation of the Georgian Patriarchate’s Divinity
Commission, in its Synodal meeting of October 8, the
“It is quite obvious that this step back
from ecumenism…has been driven by Orthodox zealots who have, over the past two
years, been particularly vocal in
“Even if we ignore the fact that the Patriarchate would never have initiated the persecution of Georgian Orthodox zealots, who have recently established the True Orthodox Church of Georgia, if its goals had not been completely at variance with those of True Orthodox Christians; even if we decline to discuss the identity of Patriarch Elias, a veteran ecumenist and follower of Nicodemus [of Leningrad], and a KGB agent code-named Iverieli since 1962, for whom the beginning of repentance would mean the end of his term in office; and even if we are completely unaware of what is really going on in Georgia’s ecclesiastical life, we can still discern one very essential inconsistency in the above-mentioned Georgian Synodal document which brings to naught all its purported ‘Orthodox’ merits, thus effectively downgrading the document to the level of a mere tactical loophole. Although the Synod does raise its voice against some random particulars of the ecumenical movement, reasonably citing their non-orthodox, i.e. heretical, nature, it proceeds to conclusions which no genuine Orthodox believer facing a heresy would ever make.
“Denunciation of any ecumenical
developments as erroneous is no proof of the denouncer’s own adherence to the
Orthodox faith. Denouncement of a heresy from a truly Orthodox standpoint
would, first and foremost, involve a severance of ecclesiastical communion with
the parties guilty of the heresy. In other words, as Georgian Orthodox zealots
reasonably reminded the Georgian Patriarchate back in 1997, it is not enough to
withdraw from all manner of ecumenical activities; it is necessary to break
communion with all ecumenical jurisdictions, especially with
“For true Orthodox Christians, the issues of ‘intercommunion,’ ‘common prayers,’ or ‘ecclesiastical commission’ acquire relevance only in relation to pseudo-Orthodox ecumenical jurisdictions: for example, he who administers a common service with the New Calendarists is an ecumenist. Although the Georgian Patriarchate no longer hails the Roman Catholic Church as its ‘sister church’, it still maintains a ‘sisterly’ relationship with the Constantinople Patriarchate and, therefore, the Georgian Patriarchate cannot be recognized as Orthodox, and the causes of Georgia’s ecclesiastical schism still persist in their undiminished entirety.
“Meanwhile, the above considerations do not cover the most outstanding singularity of the Georgian Synod’s decision. If this decision was, indeed, a tactical move, the question is: what sort of object could such a tactic possibly further? I daresay, I do have an answer, and it is based on an analysis of all the reshuffles that have occurred in the Orthodox world over the last 15 years.
“The acceleration of the ‘ecumenical
build-up’ in a bid to attain ‘Pan-Christian unity’ in most of the world by the
year 2000 has made it absolutely imperative to create some kind of ‘collector’
for ‘the conservatives’ since it will obviously take at least one or two
generations before ‘the conservatives’ become completely extinct. It was,
therefore, necessary to give them a provisional modus vivendi enabling
them to avoid the psychological discomfort of being involved in ecumenical
activities ‘too directly’ while at the same time preserving them as part of the
‘great and boundless’ ecumenical
“Starting in the mid-1980s, certain postulates of mid-20th century Saints dating back to the time when hope was still alive that the New Calendarist Greek Church and the Moscow Patriarchate would mend their ways… created the foundation for a semblance of ‘special divinity’ formulated as follows: we are divorcing ourselves from the ‘official’ jurisdictions on account of their heresies, yet we will continue to regard them as members of the Orthodox Church, albeit ailing members. In other words, according to this ecclesiology, the sojourn of such ‘ailing’ members within the Church may be (spiritually) harmful, but at least there is no threat of their full defection from the bosom of the Church, since the full defection of ecumenical jurisdictions from the Church may not be effected outside some extraordinary Council involving the participation of the jurisdictions concerned.
“’The Third Way’ between Orthodoxy and
ecumenism may yet prove suitable for a small official ‘local churches’ with
pronounced traditionalist sentiment among their laity and lower clergy
(Georgia, for instance), not just for conservative factions within Old-Calendar
Greek or Russian communities. The ecumenical ‘ocean’ will not become any
shallower without such a small country as
The hollowness of the “Third Way” was demonstrated at the Eighth General Assembly of the WCC in Harare in December, 1998, when “the two Patriarchates of Georgia and Bulgaria were exposed, since, although they had withdrawn from the WCC for supposedly serious reasons, now – through their observers at Harare – they declared their loyalty, on the one hand, to the ecumenical ideal and, on the other hand, justified themselves on the grounds that their decisions to withdraw from the WCC were prompted by pressure from ‘conservative elements’!
“A Georgian clergyman, Father Vasili Kobakhidze, revealingly stated that ‘… the Georgian Orthodox were, are, and always will be your brothers and sisters in the Lord. Patriarch Ilia and the Orthodox Church of Georgia were forced to leave the ecumenical movement on account of fanatics and fundamentalists and in order to avoid an internal schism, but they always pray for Christian unity.’
“In one of his delegation’s documents, the Bulgarian theologian Ivan Dimitrov (one of seven Bulgarian observers), expressed ‘sorrow for their Church’s withdrawal from the WCC,’ saying that ‘the Bulgarian church’s decision to withdraw from the WCC had been taken, “not out of anti-ecumenical convictions, but under pressure from the Old Calendarist church.”’
This was an interesting and important
admission, which is obliquely confirmed by the text of the
The Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church
The FROC still sought reconciliation with ROCOR, and so the two senior bishops, Archbishop Lazarus and Bishop Valentine, went to the Lesna Sobor of ROCOR in November, 1994, and after asking forgiveness, were again received into communion. According to Bishop Valentine, “there took place mutual repentance and forgiveness between ROCOR and FROC”. He may have been referring here to the first and second points of the "Act" that was presented to the two Russian bishops for their signatures, which certainly implied that blame was not to be attached to one side exclusively.
The "Act" greatly troubled the two bishops, because they saw
that it involved changes that were very detrimental for the life of the FROC.
However, Archbishop Lazarus wanted to sign nevertheless, and Bishop Valentine,
though unwilling to sign, did not want to create a schism among the Russian
bishops by not following the lead of his senior, Archbishop Lazarus. But he did
obtain an assurance that if he wanted to amend any points in the Act, he could
do so and his amendments would be included in the final published document.
However, he was urged to sign now "in the name of brotherly love". So
he signed, after which he promptly had a heart attack, and was whisked away to
a hospital in
In January, 1995 there took place the fifth congress of the bishops,
monastics and laity of the Suzdal Diocese to discuss the results of the Lesna
Sobor. Opening the congress, Bishop Valentine said: “On returning home to the
diocese, I have not begun to hide anything or to lay it on thick. Equally, I
have not begun to soften those circumstances in which we found ourselves at the
Hierarchical Council. I have expounded everything as in confession and and
offered everyone to make their judgement on the given question. My brothers and
co-bishops, and also the members of the Diocesan council, on getting to know
the state of affairs and having carefully read the Act, have unambiguously and
categorically rejected it, which has served as the reason for convening the
Congress of clergy, monastics and laity of the Suzdal Diocese and for reaching
a decision on the future functioning of the THCA and of our Orthodox existence
as a whole. The Church Administrative district (THCA) that has been created
cannot pass under the jurisdiction of the Synod Abroad and cannot be dissolved
by it. We are more than convinced that we no longer have to wait long for the
time when the two parts, ROCOR and the FROC, will unite into one and will work
together to prepare the All-Russian Council to re-establish the unity that has
been lost and a worthy leadership of the
This message sent out mixed signals: on the one hand, that the Act in its existing form was unacceptable and that the Church inside Russia was no longer prepared to be administered from outside Russia, and on the other hand that the Church inside Russia did not want to break eucharistic communion with the Church outside Russia. When the discussion was passed to the hall, the Act was widely and strongly criticized by the parish clergy, as was the ROCOR Synod’s proposed redefining of diocesan boundaries. The latter was of particular concern to them because it would necessitate the re-registration of very many parishes. Since they had achieved registration only with the greatest difficulty in the first place, they did not of course welcome this prospect. But more importantly, it would very probably mean that they would be refused any registration, since the Moscow Patriarchate representatives in the ministry of Justice would insist that changing names and diocesan boundaries was unacceptable. This in turn would very likely mean that their churches would be handed over to the Moscow Patriarchate.
It was therefore proposed that ROCOR be respectfully asked to amend the Act in a number of points, and a corresponding epistle to the Hierarchical Synod of ROCOR was drawn up.
However, two hierarchs present at this meeting – Bishop Eutyches and Bishop Benjamin - interpreted this proposal as a rebellion against the authority of ROCOR which the senior bishops Lazarus and Valentine had only recently reaffirmed. As Eutyches put it several years later: “The unfortunate monk Valentine Rusantsov, in signing the Act of reconciliation with the Council of ROCOR, had, as time showed, something quite different in his thought and intentions: to hide this Act from his flock, never to carry it out, and then to overthrow it”.
However, (i) Valentine did not hide the Act from his flock, but discussed it with them openly and extensively, (ii) if he and his fellow-bishops hd seemed to reject it before the beginning of the Congress, this was, nevertheless, not their final decision, which was not to reject it outright but to seek amendments. This was only reasonable considering that it was precisely the Russian flock that would suffer all the evil consequences of the Act’s ill-thought-out propositions.
Then a priest asked Bishop Eutyches which had a higher authority for him: the Apostolic Canons and the decisions of the Russian Council of 1917-18 and of his Holiness Patriarch Tikhon - or those of the ROCOR Synod? Bishop Eutyches replied: “The resolutions of living hierarchs are preferable to those of dead ones. Even if the resolutions of the ROCOR Synod were uncanonical, for me this would have no significance, I would be bound to carry them out”. This reply elicited uproar in the hall, and Bishop Eutyches left (taking with him a recording of the proceedings).
Shortly before this Congress, the ROCOR
Synod had sent a respectfully worded invitation to Bishops Theodore,
Agathangelus and Seraphim to come to
On the next day after the arrival of Bishops Theodore and Agathangelus in New York, in Bishop Agathangelus’ words, “we were handed a ‘Decree of the Hierarchical Synod of the Synod of ROCOR’, in which their Graces Lazarus and Valentine, and also Bishops Theodore, Seraphim and I, were declared to be banned from serving. For Vladyka Theodore and me this was like a bolt from the blue… We were told that the reason for this decision was our supposed non-fulfilment of the conciliar Act, which had been signed by, among the other Hierarchs, their Graces Lazarus and Valentine. The point was that the conference of Russian Bishops which had been formed in agreement with this same Act had asked for several formulations in the Act to be changed, so as not to introduce disturbance into the ranks of the believers by the categorical nature of certain points. This was a request, not a demand. But, however hard we tried, we could not convince the Synod that none of the Russian Bishops was insisting and that we were all ready to accept the Act in the form in which it had been composed. We met with no understanding on the part of the members of the Synod. Vladyka Theodore and I affirmed in writing that we accepted the text of the Act in the form in which it had been composed and asked for a postponement in the carrying out of the ‘Decree’ until the position of all the absent Russian Bishops on this question could be clarified. In general we agreed to make any compromises if only the ‘Decree’ were not put into effect, because in essence it meant only one thing – the final break between the Russian parishes and ROCOR.
“We gradually came to understand that it
was not any canonical transgression of the Russian Bishops (there was none),
nor any disagreement with the text of the conciliar Act, nor, still less, any
mythical ‘avaricious aims’ that was the reason for the composition of this
document, which, without any trial or investigation, banned the five Hierarchs
from serving. It was the Hierarchical Conference of the Russian Bishops, which
had been established by the Council that took place in Lesna monastery, that
was the real reason giving birth to the ‘Decree’. The Sobor of Hierarchs, moved
in those days by ‘Paschal joy’ (as Metropolitan Vitaly repeated several times),
finally came to create an organ of administration in
“The members of the Synod, exceeding their
authority, since such decisions are in the competence of the Sobor, decided, by
means of canonical bans, to confirm their sole authority over the whole of
Russia – both historical Russia and Russia abroad. The very foundations of the
Church Abroad as a part of the
“It did not even ponder the fact that, in banning at one time five Hierarchs, it was depriving more than 150 parishes – that is many thousands of Orthodox people – of archpastoral care. Cancelling the labour of many years of Hierarchs, priests and conscious, pious laymen in our Fatherland.
“Vladyka Theodore and I were promised
that, in exchange for our treachery, we would be confirmed in our hierarchical
rank. And it was even proclaimed that we would be appointed to foreign sees.
For us personally, who were born and brought up in
This act of blackmail – we recognize you
if you accept a foreign see, but do not recognize you if you stay in
On February 24 the ROCOR Synod issued an epistle which for the first time contained a semblance of canonical justification in the form of a list of canons supposedly transgressed by the five Russian bishops. Unfortunately, they clearly had no relevance to the matter in hand. Thus what relevance could the 57th Canon of the Council of Carthage – “On the Donatists and the children baptized by the Donatists” – have to the bishops of the Free Russian Orthodox Church?!
The Synodal Epistle said that “on
This was a lie, and on February 28, Bishop
Gregory (Grabbe) wrote to Bishop Valentine: “I cannot fail to express my great
sorrow with regard to the recent Church events. Moreover, I wish to say to you
that I was glad to get to know Vladykas Theodore and Agathangelus better. They
think well and in an Orthodox manner. It is amazing that our foreign Bishops
should not have valued them and should have treated them so crudely in spite of
all the acts and the whole unifying tendency which was just expressed by
Metropolitan Vitaly at the last Sobor. The whole tragedy lies in the fact that
even the latter wanted to construct everything solely on foreign forces that do
not have the information necessary to decide problems which are strange and
unfamiliar to them. Therefore they do not want to offer this [task] to the new
forces that have arisen in
“As a result, we are presented with the complete liquidation of these healthy forces. This is a great victory of the dark forces of our Soviet enemies of Orthodoxy in the persons of the Moscow Patriarchate.
“I am glad that you will not give in to them, and I pray God that He help you to carry on the Orthodox cause, apparently without the apostate forces of Orthodox Abroad…”
This action, which transgressed Canons 27, 28 and 96 of the Council of Carthage on the trial of bishops, was the last straw for the much-suffering FROC bishops. In March, 1995 the THCA was rehabilitated under the leadership of Archbishop Valentine, and on March 14 the THCA resolved to denounce the Act signed by the Russian Bishops at the Hierarchical Council in France in November, 1994; to declare the bans on the Russian bishops as contrary to the holy canons and therefore not to be obeyed; to consider the actions of Bishop Eutyches and his report to the Synod of ROCOR of January 30 to be an intentional and slanderous provocation; to consider the ROCOR Synod’s attempt to declare the dioceses of the Russian bishops “widowed” as absurd, and their attempt to fill these sees while their bishops are still alive as a transgression of 16th Canon of the First-and-Second Council of Constantinople.
of ROCOR to
As if to
accentuate the failure of ROCOR, fires destroyed the cathedrals of Metropolitan
Vitaly and Archbishop Anthony of
1995, summoning his last strength, Bishop Gregory went to Suzdal, received
communion from Bishop Valentine and publicly for the last time expressed his
support for the FROC (now called the
At about the same
time, frightened by the threat of defrocking by the ROCOR Synod, Archbishop
Lazarus and his vicar, Bishop Agathangelus, left the FROC and returned,
“repenting”, to ROCOR,
which restored Lazarus to the status of a ruling bishop in October, 1996.
However, in accordance with a resolution of the Hierarchical Synod of ROCOR in
1996, the Hierarchical Conference of the Russian Bishops inside
The reason for Lazarus’ “repentance” is not far to find. As we have
seen, he was the first instrument - and the first beneficiary - of ROCOR’s
policy of “divide and rule” towards the
But his return to ROCOR did not mean better times for his flock in the
In 1999, the Synod of the FROC (now officially called the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church (ROAC)) clarified its position on the MP, declaring: “A resolution was passed concerning the hierarchs and representatives of the clergy of the Moscow Patriarchate who received their rank through the mediation of the authorities and organs of State Security. In relation to such it was decided that every year on the Sunday of Orthodoxy ANATHEMA should be proclaimed, using the following text: ‘If any bishops, making use of secular bosses, have seized power in the Church of God and enslaved Her, let those and those who aid them and those who communicate with them without paying heed to the reproaches of the Law of God, be ANATHEMA.”
At this point ROAC was probably the most canonical Church structure in
The Florinites Divide Again
The year 1995 was truly an annus
horribilis for the
In 1995 five Matthewite bishops in
In May, 1996, Maximus, without the
knowledge of the other bishops, but with the collaboration of Demetrius Biffe,
a clergyman of the new calendarists, who made his appearance as Bishop of
Kandano, consecrated the following new hierarchs: 1) Auxentius Marines of
Aegina, 2) Pancratius Xouloges of Nemea) and 3) Ephraim Papadopoulos of Serres.
Also, Demetrius Biffe was named Archbishop of Crete, and altogether they formed
a new Synod. Meanwhile, the former colleagues of Maximus - Ephraim of Boston,
Macarius of Toronto and Photius of France, together with Athanasius of Larissa,
formed a separate Synod under the name of “The Holy Orthodox Church in
A third schism – this time among the Florinites - was prepared by a series of events. First, in 1993 the two American Bishops Paisius and Vincent, having made an unsuccessful attempt to join the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, turned back to the Florinite Synod – but not “through the front door”, that is, the Archbishop, but “through the back door, the “Gerontian” fraction within the Synod.
Secondly, as a result of the confusion
created by Paisius and Vincent, their fellow-hierarch in
The Gerontian fraction was further
strengthened at about this time by the support of Metropolitan Anthony of
Megara, who had been given assistance when in
At this point, however, the Gerontians suffered a major blow: their leader, Metropolitan Gerontius, died in November, 1994. Euthymius now lost his major supporter in the Synod. But in partial compensation, control of the powerful corporation ‘The General Fund of the Church of the True Orthodox Christians of Greece’ passed to Metropolitan Callinicus (Khaniotes) of Thaumakou, who was a supporter of Euthymius.
With the death of Gerontius, the election
of a new bishop for his see of the
We come now to the last meeting of the
Synod before the schism. Since the Gerontian faction had repeatedly prevented
the working of the
Having control of the General Fund, to which the offices of the Synod in Canningos 32 belonged, Euthymius and Paisius now led the Gerontian faction to “continue the cut-off session of the Holy Synod” under the presidency of Metropolitan Callinicus of Thaumakou and Phthiotis. To this end they – that is, the six bishops: Callinicus of Phthiotis, Euthymius of Thessalonica, Stephen of Chios, Justin of Euripus, Paisius of America and Vincent of Aulon - sent a telegram to Archbishop Chrysostom, calling him the leader of “Calliopian faction” and telling him that they were removing him from the presidency of the Holy Synod! The telegram, consisting of one enormous sentence, read as follows: “After your repeated anti-synodical actions, and your refusal to allow an expert canonist and professor of inter-Orthodox renown to take part in the hearing of the affair of Metropolitan Euthymius of Thessalonica in order to avoid excesses in attempts to slander honourable hierarchs and the promotion of the tactic of expelling hierarchs who are fighters [for the faith], like the blessed Bishop Callistus, and the seizure of the whole ecclesiastical administration by the three coup d’état hierarchs who are your closest collaborators and advisers [Calliopius of Pentapolis, Callinicus of Achaia and Matthew of Oinoe are meant], and to avoid the deliberate reintroduction of the matter of [Paisius’ and Vincent’s joining] Jerusalem, which has already been reviewed by the Synod, as well as the rehabilitation of the Bishop of Astoria, who has abandoned the confession of the synodical hierarchs, we have decided, in accordance with the divine and sacred canons (those that have been so badly violated by you and your evilly-motivated collaborators), to break off communion with you and with them, not recognizing your right to preside over the remainder of your [sic] Holy Synod which sits at Canningos 32.”
It goes without saying that this telegram, as the “Callinicites” themselves later recognized, did not begin to be a canonical deposition of Archbishop Chrysostom. And it is clear, both from the text of the telegram and its timing, that its real motivation (their supposed motivation was the allegedly dictatorial behaviour of the archbishop, his convening synodal sessions and cancelling them at will, and not carrying out resolutions passed by the Synod as a whole but displeasing to the “Callistite” minority (i.e. Calliopius of Pentapolis, Callinicus of Achaia and Matthew of Oinoe)) – was the desire to protect Euthymius from a canonical trial. This action was very reminiscent of that of the leaders of HOCNA in 1986, when they left ROCOR just before the trial of Archimandrite Panteleimon.
(This similarity between the Callinicites and HOCNA is not coincidental. In 1999 the two Synods tried to unite. Naturally, the Callinicites overlooked the moral charges against HOCNA, while HOCNA agreed that Auxentius’ depositions of Callinicus and Euthymius were “an internal matter that should be dealt with by our Sacred Synod [which?] and need not appear on the common statement.” However, the proposed union broke down over the Callinicites’ insistence that they should have the right to examine the consecrations performed by Auxentius since 1985 “upon the petition of the ordinands”. HOCNA, believing itself to be the lawful successor of Auxentius’ Synod, could not accept to place themselves in the position of petitioners…)
The Callinicites’ claim that Euthymius had been subjected to an unjust witch-hunt was not at all convincing. The present writer has seen a book composed of seventy-five signed testimonies against Euthmyius. Even if many or even most of these testimonies were forged or “bought”, as the Callinicites claimed, the very large number of testimonies surely constituted a powerful prima facie reason for convening a trial in which their validity or otherwise could be determined, and the question of Euthymius’s guilt or innocence could be finally resolved. Besides, a Synodical trial was the only way to resolve what had become a nation-wide scandal that was harming the Church terribly.
On July 18 the Holy Synod,
meeting in the
On the next day, the Chrysostomite Synod met again to pass judgement on the former Metropolitan Euthymius, excommunicating him for his moral transgressions.
”Rescind all resolutions on both sides that took place after the division,… in particular on the one side the resolution to remove the archiepiscopate of the Archbishop,… and on the other the clearly uncanonical defrockings and bans.
“After the rescinding of the above resolutions… have a general session of all the Synodal Bishops at which, after mutual repentance and forgiveness, they set about resolving the unresolved questions…
“In conclusion we should like to note that now whatever group does not offer a willing hand of unity to the other will in the final analysis bear responsibility for the strengthening of the division before God and history.”
This was a very promising start… However, immediately after this confession of guilt, he began to accuse the Chrysostomites of not extending a helping hand to them, and said that if “we are to blame for the creation of the separation, the continuation of the break-up makes you infinitely more to blame, especially after our sincere public declaration of our feelings for conciliation and union.” Then he appeared to retract his confession of guilt, claiming that they, the Callinicites, were only “said” to be the cause of the problem: “Christ and His Church – clergy and laity – ask for justice, not only for us, who are said to be the ‘creators’ of the crisis, but more so for you, who formed the basic presuppositions of the separation and completely reject your brothers’ offering to cure this evil.” Then, having previously asserted that he and his fellows were “completely” responsible for the schism, Callinicus went on to claim that it was not only they, but also the Chrysostomites, who conspired: “Your Beatitude, let’s not deceive ourselves: you conspired, and we conspired, not yesterday or the day before, but for a long time.” Finally, he ended with the threat that if Archbishop Chrysostom rejected this offer of reconciliation, the responsibility for the schism would be on his Synod.
Metropolitan Callinicus here wrote as if the schism were merely a personal quarrel that had not resulted in an ecclesiastical schism and formal defrockings, but could be resolved by a mutual agreement to overlook everything that had happened! But the Chrysostomite Synod was by no means obliged to restore the defrocked bishops. Having confessed that they were guilty of schism, it was hardly fitting for the Callinicites to accuse the Chrysostomites of something even worse if they did not simply ignore it!
The Callinicite Archimandrite Nectarius
(Yashunsky) expressed moral outrage at the fact that the Chrysostomites
expressed joy at the Church being cleansed of “unworthy brethren”, which
allowed them “to open a new page” in the life of the Church. But the
Chrysostomite Synod – and all True Orthodox Christians everywhere - had good
reason to rejoice that the Church had been cleansed of a most serious moral
offender, Euthymius, the cause of a major schism in the
The Chrysostomite bishops could also
rejoice at the departure of Paisius and Vincent, whose ecumenist sympathies had
been obvious for some time, and whose relations with their fellow-bishop in
A general reunion of “Chrysostomites” and “Callinicites” without preconditions or the attaching of any blame to anyone would have been as short-lived and hypocritical as the “Auxentiite-Gerontian-Callistite” union of 1985. One further misdemeanour of Euthymius would have destroyed it just as surely as one further misdemeanour of Auxentius (in relation to Tsakos) destroyed the union of 1995. Better a division, regrettable as it may be, than an attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable.
This was essentially the reason why Acacius and Gabriel did not follow Chrysostom into the new Synod he led from 1986. They saw that the conditions for genuine synodal government of the Church simply did not exist while certain powerful but evil bishops remained within it. Gabriel died in isolation, but Acacius joined the Chrysostomites in 2003…
In May, 2003 almost the whole episcopate and clergy of the Callinicites officially withdrew their repentance for the creation of the schism of 1995, even declaring: “We are grateful [!!!] to those daring bishops who declared the ‘Archbishop’ and the unrepentant triad excommunicated, saving the Church from more adventures and humiliation.”
This statement actually confirmed the wisdom of the Chrysostomites in not immediately giving in to the Callinicite offer of reconciliation in 1995. Clearly the Callinicites’ stated acceptance of “complete responsibility” for the schism had been insincere and a ploy, a means of extracting concessions which they could not obtain in any other way….
The Schism Develops
In any case, the “Callinicites” began to
divide almost immediately. In the Piraeus Stephen, Paisius and Vincent formed
one group, and in Thessalonica Callinicus, Euthymius, Athanasius and Justin
formed another. On
In April, 1996 Callinicus and Euthymius
bought the fourth floor of Canningos 32, and consecrated new bishops: Macarius
(Kavvakides), who was later elected archbishop of their new synod, Anthimus
(Karamitros) and Christopher (Angelopoulos), who had been defrocked for
immorality by the Patriarch of Jerusalem before being received into the Church
by Auxentius. Meanwhile, the other bishops under the presidency of Athanasius
occupied the third floor of the same building and in October consecrated two
new bishops for
In January, 1997 Metropolitan Peter of
In the same month, Archimandrite Niphon, who was the spiritual father of some people in the Chrysostomite parishes in the Lamia region and appeared to be a fervent supporter of Archbishop Chrysostom, approached Metropolitan Callinicus of the Twelve Islands in Athens and asked him to join with Athanasius of Acharnae (who was not then a member of the Synod) to consecrate him to the episcopate. Callinicus refused. But Niphon would obtain his ambition later…
In May, Vincent, “weeping and groaning”,
handed over the seal of the Metropolia of Piraeus and
In January, 1998 Athanasios of Acharnae returned to the Chrysostomite Synod. In the same month Calliopius of Pentapolis died. In this period many priests were returning to the Chrysostomite Synod.
In February, 1998 Archimandrite Paul
(Stratigeas), former Chancellor of the
In June, 1998 the “General Fund” returned
into the hands of the Chrysostomite Synod, together with the offices of the
Synod on the third floor of Canningos 32. Confusion was now created by the fact
that the two rivals Synods calling themselves “The Church of the True Orthodox
Christians of Greece” occupied two floors of the same building. In the summer
of 1996, the Chrysostomite Synod had obtained a decision in the
However, the Callinicites saw a much more sinister motive in the Chrysostomite action. Thus Archimandrite Nectarius quoted the words of the Chrysostomite Synod in 1996 that “from now on nobody else has the right to use this name. Otherwise our Church will be forced to seek to defend itself in the courts”, and chose to see hidden in the last words, “seek to defend itself in the courts” “a greater meaning than may appear at first sight, for the Chrysostomites were thinking of no more and no less than entering the Greek state on equal terms with the new calendarists and becoming, so to speak, ‘a second state church’. With this end, [writes Bishop Macarius of Petra,] ‘on June 4, 1998 a delegation of the above-mentioned Synod [consisting of Archbishop Chrysostom, Metropolitan Callinicus of Achaia and two archimandrites], inspired by a false Protestant theory of group freedom of conscience, according to which those having the same faith have the right, on uniting with each other, to express it in common services, employing the protection of the government, renounced the Orthodox world-view that the Church of the True Orthodox Christians of Greece is a Local One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ, and proclaimed that the Church of the Old Calendarists is a religious community! And they asked for the State’s ‘lawful protection’ in liquidating all the True Orthodox Christians who do not belong to them!! (op. cit., p. 8). One involuntarily thinks of Sergius Stragorodsky and his legalization of his Synod with the consequent liquidation of those not belonging to him (however, one must give the Greeks their due – here they were not talking about physical ‘liquidation’).”
Both Bishop Macarius’ incoherent and
incomprehensible reference to a “Protestant theory of group freedom” (what
theory?!) and Fr. Nectarius’ reference to Sergius Stragorodsky are quite out of
place here. The registration of a legal name with the authorities was not
sinful in itself. The
Archimandrite Niphon declared that “the
making of the True Orthodox Church of Greece into a corporation [sic!]
generally overthrows the basic dogmas, abolishes the canons, violates Holy
Tradition and, in a word, turns everything upside down for the sake of
receiving [the status of] a juridical person”?
But this was surely a wild exaggeration and distortion. Moreover, to call it a
“Protestant heresy” was unjust even to the Protestants since, as far as the
present writer knows, the Protestant doctrine of “the invisible Church of all
believers” does not assert the identity of the Church with any visible
organization or legal corporation! The very fact that the constitution of the
corporation said that the Church of Christ was founded on the Day of Pentecost
by the Lord Jesus Christ, whereas the corporation itself was founded on
such-and-such a day and month and year by 20 people, and could be “liquidated”
by a quorum of members, shows that no identification of the Church with the
legal corporation was intended. Besides, in every jurisdiction of the True
Orthodox Christians almost every church and monastery has some kind of legal
corporation. Why should these be “lawful, canonical and allowed by the Church”,
in Bishop Macarius’ words, while the Chrysostomite legal corporation
constitutes “a Protestant ecclesiological heresy that appeared after the
proclamation of liberty of conscience by the
The Callinicites also saw a sinister Protestant heresy in the “Constitutional Charter” which the Chrysostomites, after prolonged consultation that produced few objections, established in September, 1998. The most important points in the Charter, a legal document registered with the civil authorities of Greece, were: (a) all property, monastic or parish, was concentrated in the hands of the Synod; (b) monasteries were denied the right to own property; (c) hieromonks were prohibited from serving in parishes without special permission from their ruling hierarchs, even when the parish was opened by the monastery; and (d) between Synodal sessions the Archbishop was given the right to make decisions on his own, although the Synod had the right to agree or disagree with his decisions at the next meeting; (a) went against the prevailing tradition in Greece, where parishes and monasteries are allowed to own their property independent of their bishop. However, it is not contrary to the holy canons, which decree that “the Bishop have authority over the property of the Church” (Apostolic Canon 41).
The leader in the attack on the Charter was Archimandrite Niphon, who, as we have seen, was seeking a way to join the Callinicites and receive consecration there. He was supported in the background by the Callinicite Bishop Macarius and the Athonite Elder Augustine, a former lawyer.
Niphon had another motive: the Synod had
refused him permission to found a metochion under his sole control in
He was; and in November, 1998 Niphon left
the Synod with Metropolitans Athanasius of Acharnae and Callinicus of the
At the present time the Callinicites (now
renamed “Macariites” because of their new archbishop, Macarius) have about
sixteen priests in
In July, 1999 Metropolitan Matthew of
Oinoe died suddenly, This persuaded Archbishop Chrysostom to proceed to the
consecration of new bishops in August: Gerontius of Piraeus and
Archimandrite Nectarius was on firmer ground when he criticised the Chrysostomite Synod for seeking reconciliation with ROCOR during the late 1990s in spite of ROCOR’s continued communion with Cyprian of Fili, whom the Chrysostomites had defrocked. This was pushed especially by Metropolitan Paul of Astoria, who in 1999 criticised Fr. Nectarius, then a Chrysostomite cleric, for receiving someone from ROCOR, although he had not even been chrismated. Moreover, in 1998 there was an agreement between the two Synods not to receive clergy from each other’s jurisdiction without certificates of release. In earlier years, Metropolitan Peter had justified his occasional communion with the Russians on the grounds that he had been consecrated by them, so could not refuse. Clearly, a certain degree of inter-communion was taking place. However, in 2001, an unofficial Chrysostomite delegation visited Jordanville and raised the issue of Cyprian and Cyprianism. Archbishop Laurus promised that the matter would be discussed at the next ROCOR Council after the election of a new metropolitan. 
Other True Orthodox Churches
from ROCOR and ROAC, there were at least several other
In the later 1990s this Church had seven bishops: Schema-Metropolitan Theodosius (Gummenikov) in the North Caucasus region, Archbishop Basil (Bilyak) in Transcarpathia, Archbishop Adrian in the Ukraine, Archbishop John in the Central Volga region, and Bishops Vladimir, Lev and Nikita. Most recently, in 2004-2005, a schism developed over the question of I.N.N. tax forms and their possible defilement by the mark of the Antichrist – a question that troubles many other Orthodox Christians in many countries…
The most controversial of them was the “Andrewites”. A large question mark hangs over not only the canonicity, but even of the very existence of this branch, so the following data, derived from only one source, must be considered extremely provisional and quite possibly incorrect. So called from their founding father, Archbishop Andrew of Ufa (+1937), the canonicity of the Andrewites hierarchy depends in part on the canonicity of Archbishop Andrew, considered by some to be one of the great martyrs of the Catacomb Church and by others – a schismatic who died under ban and formally an Old Ritualist.
After their last bishops died in the early 1980s, the Andrewites found a
96-year-old Bishop Amphilochius (Shibanov, consecrated in 1928) living in
secret in the Trans-Baikal region, and in June, 1994 brought him to
The two main branches of the Greek Old
Calendarist Churches – the Matthewites and the Florinites – both had
The Russian Matthewites were based mainly
They now have five priests and two deacons
and are served mainly by the Matthewite exarch in
“In 1993,” writes Anton Ter-Grigorian,
“Chernov, undoubtedly a vivid and talented Church organizer, cut off all
ecclesiastical relations with the Greek Matthewites.” It appears that this was
because of the inactivity of the Matthewite exarch in
“In Chernov’s former (Matthewite)
communities chaos broke out. Some were already commemorating Archbishop
Ambrose, others commemorated the Greek Vladyka. However, communality of tradition
(Chernov) was preserved in both parts of the ‘
In 1996 the leaders of the two
communities, Archbishop Ambrose and Metropolitan Cyricus, met in a flat in
However, Fr. Andrew Sidniev did not like the strictly anti-sergianist stance of Archbishop Ambrose, and succeeded in getting an encyclical published in which Metropolitan Cyricus advised his spiritual children not to trust Archbishop Ambrose. Although the metropolitan denied that it was his encyclical, but ascribed it to Sidniev, he did not reject it openly either. As a result Archbishop Ambrose was forced in his own encyclical to forbid his spiritual children to have communion with the Matthewites.
The second, under Bishops Gherontie and Cassian has between 8000 and 12000 believers, according to one account, about 4000 according to another. It has ten priests, three deacons and three monasteries. It is the strictest hierarchy, insisting on the rebaptism and remarriage of new calendarists.
The third is very small: two priests and one monastery under the Macariite Metropolitan Christopher. It was formed when Bishop Cosmas, formerly of the first hierarchy, approached the Greek Synod, then under Metropolitan Callinicus.
Dejan Djokic writes: “As
“The most controversial and most debated issue was that of Croatian
genocide against Serbs during the Second World War. Both the
Ustaša-directed project to rid the
“The nationalist discourse in
The reconciliation between Partisans and Cetniks in
Reconciliation between communists and anti-communists also took place in the ecclesiastical sphere. In 1991, communion was restored between the Serbian Patriarchate and the Free Serbs.
The Serbian wars began in the spring of 1991. The general feeling then
among Serbs was that a repeat not only of 1389, but also of 1941 was taking
place, when hundreds of thousands of Orthodox Serbs suffered martyrdom at the
hands of Roman Catholic Croats for refusing to renounce Orthodoxy. That
similarities exist between the present and the past cannot be denied. Thus in 1991,
as in 1941, the Pope was using the war to further his geopolitical ambitions at
the expense of the Orthodox. The
But did the evil of their enemies make the Serbs innocent victims or
“martyrs” for Christ, as even some Greek Old Calendarist publications
incautiously declared? Let us consider some facts. First, as the Orthodox
Whereas in 1931 barely 0.1% of the population of
These figures cast doubt on the claim that the Serbian wars are
religious in essence. Rather, according to Srdan Vrcan, it is a political
conflict that has been given a religious colouring by the warring leaders in
order to gain the support of their peoples. Thus,
according to the dean of the Serbian Orthodox Theological Faculty in
Secondly, the attitude of the Serbian
Church in this conflict has been highly ambivalent, sometimes criticising the
Serbian communist government for having brought so much suffering upon the
Serbian people, at others criticising it for not fighting hard enough, and even
blessing the activities of some of the most criminal elements in the Serbian
forces. Thus the Swiss Orthodox analyst Jean-François Meyer writes:
"The Church has assumed a vocation of guarding 'Serbness' and preserves a
lively consciousness of this mission. Thus she has always adopted
uncompromising positions with regard to the Kosovo question and energetically
defends [Kosovo's] remaining a part of
On the other hand, as Cigar wrote:
"Notwithstanding general condemnations of violence by Patriarch Paul, the
Serbian Orthodox Church continued to lend its mantle of respectability to even
the most extreme nationalist elements. Arkan provided bodyguards for the Serbian
Orthodox metropolitan Amphilochius of Montenegro, who has reportedly used them
to intimidate dissidents. In July, 1993, on the occasion of the city of
Who committed the worst atrocities in the Bosnian wars is an historical question that cannot be settled here. For every claim of atrocities by one side there have been counter-claims of atrocities on the other. One thing is certain: there was great hatred and evil on all sides, and no side emerged in a good light from a Christian point of view.
In March, 1999, NATO warplanes bombed
This statement must be commended at least for calling the actions of the Serbs in Kosovo “evil”. But in its main import it was both factually and morally wrong. After all, is the uprooting of a whole people, accompanied by the cruellest of tortures and rapes, a “lesser evil” than a war undertaken to defend the victims and restrain the aggressors? NATO’s actions may be considered ill-judged from a political point of view. However, from a moral point of view, its aims were surely better than those of the Serbs in Kosovo.
Serbs also talk about the sacredness of Kosovo Polje and the terrible
injustices they have suffered over the centuries. Terrible suffering there has
undoubtedly been; but true martyrs for Christ do not complain about their
sufferings but rather glory in them. And it goes without saying that they never
indulge in revenge killings and rapes. In any case, how is the sacredness of
Kosovo Polye, sanctified by the blood of St. Lazarus, who chose a
As the Milosevic regime began to fall in the year 2000, the patriarch
again returned to an anti-communist position. But by this time it was clear
that he was no different from his ally, the
Thus in a letter to the Pope dated
As we have seen, there was a reaction against ecumenism in
“Do we, Orthodox monks, not have the right to ask a question and require an explanation, which is the last degree of tolerance for our eternal salvation because we do not want to lose our soul by being led by such bishops?
“That is why we require an official explanation about the validity of attitudes which we have hitherto expressed.
“Another question is: Was it necessary to receive the money from the WCC
for the new
However, Patriarch Paul remained unmoved, the movement produced no concrete results, and Serbian hierarchs have continued to the present day to pray with heretics, especially Catholics. Thus in 2000 the Catholic Archbishop of Zagreb, Joseph Bozanic, celebrated a mass in a suburb of Novi Sad in northern Serbia which was attended by the local Orthodox bishop, and joint prayer services took place in Belgrade during a Catholic-Orthodox conference of bishops that took place in Belgrade at the invitation of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Claims to be suffering martyrdom for the Orthodox faith at the hands of wicked Catholics and Muslims are hardly consistent with ecumenist betrayal of that same faith with those same enemies!
Supporters of the Serbs often point to such men as Archimandrite Justin
Popovich, as if such True Orthodox confessors justified the present state of
The true followers of Fr. Justin have broken communion again. Thus in
1995, after the visit of the Ecumenical Patriarch to the Pope of Rome, three
Serbian monks of the
It is significant that the Serbian wars broke out in 1991, when the last
significant anti-ecumenist forces in the
Now, we must hope, the Serbs - and not only the Serbs, but all the
traditionally Orthodox nations still enslaved to apostate hierarchies and
totalitarian governments - will see their error, and begin to fight the
heretical West and Islam, not physically but spiritually, not by returning evil
for evil, but by confessing both the truth and the love of Orthodox
Christianity in word and deed. For, as Tim Judah writes, “Milošević
had spun the Serbs dreams of the Empire of Heaven and clothed himself in the
glory of the Kosovo myth. Unlike Lazarus, however, he chose a kingdom on earth,
which is not the
Sergianist Conquest of
Having effectively rejected most of the
In 1997 the MP took de facto
control of ROCOR’s monasteries and properties in the
Later it turned out, as the
The critics of Abbess Juliana pointed to the fact that access to the
Holy Places was guaranteed by law for all pilgrims. Actually, while the Oak of
Abraham, situated on the grounds of the
Protopriest Benjamin Zhukov wrote: “Such a law exists in
“If such a law exists in the Palestinian Autonomy, then in
“As regards the attitude of the Jews to this law in the given case, it
is known that, not long before the projected visit to the Holy Land of Alexis II,
one of the important officials of the Israeli Ministry of Religious Affairs,
Uri Mor, visited our monastery on Eleon with the aim of finding out what the
attitude to the visit of the Moscow Patriarch was there. Our nuns replied that
the arrival of the Patriarch, supposedly for the 150th anniversary of the
Mission, was nothing other than a Soviet show; the 150th anniversary was an
excuse, since the 100th anniversary of the Mission was celebrated triumphantly
in Jerusalem in 1958 under the leadership of Archbishop Alexander of Berlin, in
the presence of officials of the Jordanian state and, of course, of
representatives of the Greek Patriarchate (officially the Mission goes back to
its establishment by the Turkish government in 1858). To this Uri Mor replied:
‘You can protest as you like.’ And then he said: ‘I see that your approach is
different from that in
“Patriarch Diodorus’ attitude to this
question is also characteristic. When his emissary accompanying Alexis II was
rejected, Patriarch Diodorus received the nuns of the Eleon monastery and
expressed to them his principled censure. And, demonstrating his power, he said
that he could enter Eleon, if he wanted, with the help of the Jewish police,
but he would not do this. And he dismissed them in peace, after asking: ‘Whose
“Let us add that the Catholic monastery of the Carmelites admits nobody,
and nobody has laid claims against it. As
Even if the law concerning the free access of pilgrims to the holy
places were clearer and more strictly applied, it could still not have applied
to Patriarch Alexis for the simple reason that he was not a pilgrim.
Having announced publicly before his visit that he was going to the
But even if such an impious law existed, it would be necessary to ignore it for the sake of piety, of the Law of God. Would the great confessors of the faith in the Holy Land - Saints Theodosius the Great, Euthymius the Great and Sabbas the Sanctified - have allowed the heresiarchs of their time to carry out services in their monasteries? It is inconceivable.
What at first sight appeared to be the strongest argument advanced by
the critics of Abbess Juliana was the fact that ROCOR in the
At the same time Fr. George admited that Patriarch Diodorus “concelebrates with the Patriarch of Moscow and does not wish to concelebrate with our hierarchs”. A strange and clearly uncanonical situation, in which the ROCOR monastics in the Holy Land already had their own first-hierarch, but were forced to have another one - who served with their chief enemy but not with them! Who was it Who said that one cannot serve two masters?...
Now Patriarch Diodorus of Jerusalem was not a heretic in the way Alexis of Moscow was. He criticized the ecumenical movement, and in 1989, as we have seen, left the World Council of Churches, although it appears that he did not break off all contact with the ecumenical organizations. But his opposition to ecumenism lacked the principled character of ROCOR’s; for he remained in full communion with all the ecumenist Orthodox. In so doing he placed himself in an uncanonical situation and compelled all true zealots of Orthodoxy to break communion with him. For, as St. John Chrysostom says, “he who communicates with an excommunicate is himself excommunicated”.
Moreover, other hierarchs of the Jerusalem Patriarchate were unashamedly
on the side of the MP. Thus Metropolitan Timothy of Lydda declared: “The
Russian monastery of
The question was: what was the purpose of ROCOR’s presence in
One bishop critical of Abbess Juliana wrote: “Obviously, it was a question of drawing a line at some point: Alexey evidently could not be received as though he were a patriarch, but the other extreme, closing the gates in the face of the delegation is another extreme, which, elsewhere might indeed be appropriate, but in the context was provocative to the local authorities, both civil and ecclesiastical. Diplomacy has little place in matters of principle, but neither, I feel, does provocation...”
These comments betray a lack of understanding of the situation in which Abbess Juliana and her fellow zealots were placed.
First, she had been ordered to receive him “with honour and
respect”, which precluded treating him as though he were not a patriarch. True,
the Synod had given her a speech to the patriarch in which it was written: “We
welcome you not as the Patriarch of all
Again, a highly respected protopriest from Russia, while criticizing the
Synod for going too far in one direction, criticized Abbess Juliana for going
too far in the other, saying that she should have let Alexis in, but “drily,
officially”. However, even if she had received him “drily” and “officially”,
could she, a frail woman who did not have the support even of all her nuns,
have prevented him from serving at the tomb of Archimandrite Antonin once he
and his vast entourage had crossed the threshold of the convent? If she had
tried to do so, the scandal may have been even greater, and she might well have
been simply pushed aside, just as she was pushed aside at
In any case, if the KGB Agent “Patriarch” had been allowed into the
citadel of ROCOR in
The most shocking aspect of thes whole affair was the letter of apology
to the Muslims. Protopriest Benjamin made some illuminating comments on the
diplomatic significance of the metropolitan’s letter to Arafat: “In the
letter to Arafat there is not a word about the unlawful seizure of property,
about the inhumane beating of the monastics, about the crying
violation of international law, as was expressed by Archbishop Laurus in
his protest. Nothing of the kind! In this address, eight days after the lawless
actions of the Moscow Patriarchate with the help of the Palestinian OMON, under
the guise of a ‘diplomatic note’ with the aim of receiving Hebron back again, there
took place a complete ‘whitewash’ and ‘justification’ of all the criminals in
the affair of the seizure of Hebron. Perhaps, in fact, in such
There can be no doubt that Metropolitan Vitaly was forced to make this apology by Archbishop Mark, who was not sent to the Holy Land in July at the bidding of the Synod, but came of his own will, having supposedly heard about the events “from the newspapers”. Many suspect - and there is certainly much evidence pointing in that direction - that the events in Hebron and Jerusalem were actually planned by the Moscow Patriarch with Archbishop Mark at their secret meeting in December, 1996.
Archbishop Mark’s position in relation to Moscow was set out in an article in which he began by affirming that the events in the Holy Land should not stop attempts to overcome the schism with the Moscow Patriarchate - which, however, was a “division”, not a “schism”. Then he reviewed the main obstacles to union in a perfunctory and misleading way. Finally, he called for an All-Emigration Council to review relations with the patriarchate and to consider the question: “Is eucharistic communion possible with complete autonomy?” This showed where his thought is moving - towards making ROCOR a “completely autonomous” Church in communion with the patriarchate, like the Orthodox Church of America!
It also became clear that Archbishop Mark was planning to hand over the remaining ROCOR properties to the MP. For his close assistant in this affair, Protopriest Victor Potapov, said in an interview: “We declare outright that we consider the Church Abroad to be an inalienable part of Russian Orthodoxy and that we would like to give over to Russia everything that we have available, and in particular also here in the Holy Land.”
In 2000, Patriarch Alexis, during a pilgrimage to the
The ROCOR Traditionalists
In March, 1998 three monks of the Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville - Hieromonk Paisius, Hierodeacon Ambrose, Rassophor Monk Oleg - left because of the clearly ecumenist ecclesiology taught and practised in the monastery. On March 5/18 they sent the following letter to Metropolitan Vitaly and the Hierarchical Synod of ROCOR about this: “… We humbly address you with an explanation of the reasons of our departure from the Holy Trinity monastery in Jordanville.
“The first reason. Archimandrite Peter (Lukyanov) continues to defend the non-Orthodox “catechesis” which has been condemned by the Synod and the Spiritual council of the monastery… Archbishop Lavr said that Archimandrite Peter is not a heretic, and there is nothing non-Orthodox in the “catechesis”, referring on this question to the opinions of Archbishop Mark and Protopriest Stefan Pavlenko…
“The second reason: the joint prayer in the church at an akathist to St. Nicholas the Wonderworker of Archbishop Lavr and an abbot from the Serbian Church, which is in the World Council of Churches – that fortress of the ecumenist heresy… When we declared that we would not concelebrate and pray together with the ecumenist Serbs, Archbishop Lavr replied: “But we will!” And he took as examples Archbishops Anthony, Mark, Alipy and Hilarion, who concelebrate with the Serbs…
“The third reason: the meeting of the
Serbian Bishop Artemy in the monastery with the ringing of bells and hassocks…
Bishop Gabriel of
“The fourth reason. In our above-mentioned behaviour we based ourselves on the decision of the Council of ROCOR in 1983 in Mansonville, which delivers the heresy of ecumenism, the ecumenists and all those in communion with them, even for the sake of a certain love or help, to anathema. But Archbishop Lavr considers this Council to be a “robber” council, since, in his words, it was arranged by Grabbe. We cannot agree with this name, because this Council was accepted by the conciliar opinion of the Church, and it is referred to throughout the world, and only another Council cannot annul it. And so it turns out that “they fall under their own anathema”.
“The fifth reason: the joint prayers (at which we were not present) in church and at trapeza with Bishop Basil (Rodzyanko) of the American Metropolia, who was present at them wearing a panagia and with his staff…
“The sixth reason: new calendarists and those belonging to the MP are admitted to communion in the monastery church.
“The seventh reason: Archbishop Lavr considers that the MP is the Mother-Church and applies every effort to attain union with it. For example, in the seminary he taught Canon Law according to the patriarchal heretical textbook of V. Tsypin… Metropolitan Anastasy willed that we should have no communion with the MP ’…no canonical, prayerful or even everyday communion.’ Metropolitan Philaret taught that there can be no dialogue with heretics, only monologue. He said this about the MP, which, as everybody knows, is deeply immired in the heresies of sergianism and ecumenism. By recognising the MP to be a Church, the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, who considered the MP to be graceless, are blasphemed… Also the Catacomb Christians who have always been faithful to ROCOR, are called by Archbishop Lavr ‘self-consecrators’…
“The eighth reason. Archbishop Lavr considers that ‘the dogmas of the Church are theory, it is quite a different matter in practice’…
“The ninth reason. In the unia of the Antiochian Patriarchate (and of the MP which has dealings with it) with the Monophysites Archbishop Lavr sees no falling away from Orthodoxy, but only an attempt to ‘swallow up’ the latter.
“The tenth reason: Hieromonk John (Berzinysh)’s commemoration at the proskomedia of the Constantinopolitan Patriarch Bartholomew, who falls under three anathemas: as a new calendarist, as a mason… and as an ecumenist.
“… After two admonitions, which had no
effect, we declared to Hieromonk John that we could not be in eucharistic and
prayerful communion with him, for according to the canons of the
“Hieromonk John asked us in an insulting way: ‘How are you now going to trapeza, which has been prepared by a heretic, and eat things sacrificed to idols?’ So we had to stop going to the church and trapeza, since nobody stopped him… We told Archbishop Lavr that already for two weeks because of the unlawful actions of Hieromonk John we were not going to the church or trapeza, but he did not react in any way to this… We suggested that Hieromonk John (Berzinysh) repent from the ambon, for the whole brotherhood was greatly upset and tempted, but Archbishop Lavr replied that he ‘was not intending to create a show with Hieromonk John’s repentance’.
“… In his last conversation with us…
Archbishop Lavr declared that we were banned, we did not receive a reply to our
question for how long, which we consider uncanonical. Archbishop Lavr gave as
his reason for the ban our not going to church for a month. But there is
cunning in this: after all, two weeks earlier we had told him that we were
forced not to visit the church… We again explained to Archbishop Lavr the
reason for our actions, to which he replied, subjecting us to severe perplexity
and great temptation: ‘Show me the book in which it is written that it is
wrong to commemorate (at the proskomedia) the Patriarch of
“Because of all the above-mentioned reasons we left the Holy Trinity monastery, since we consider Archbishop Lavr to be ‘not rightly dividing the word of truth’.”
In June, 1998, under pressure from believers inside
One of those who supported the metropolitan here was Archpriest Lev
Lebedev of Kursk: “How right was Archbishop Seraphim of
While considering that the MP was graceless, Fr. Lev was not in favour of the metropolitan’s making a public declaration to that effect, nor was he in favour of breaking relations with the Cyprianites, with whom, as we have seen, he retained friendly relations.
In 1998 Fr. Lev was due to address the Hierarchical
Council of ROCOR in
The Witness of St. Philaret
That Archbishop – the future Metropolitan – Lavr was a leader in the movement of ROCOR away from True Orthodoxy and towards “World Orthodoxy” was revealed in the disrespectful way he treated the incorrupt relics of his predecessor, Metropolitan Philaret.
Metropolitan Philaret reposed on the feast of the Archangel Michael,
1985. Nearly thirteen years passed, and it was arranged that his remains should
be transferred from the burial-vault under the altar of the cemetery Dormition
church of the Holy Trinity monastery in Jordanville into a new burial-vault
behind the monastery’s main church. In connection with this, it was decided, in
preparation for the transfer, to carry out an opening of the tomb. On
However, the reaction of Archbishop Lavr to this manifest miracle was unexpected: he ordered that the coffin with the relics be again closed…
On the eve of the reburial of the relics, November 20, at the beginning
of the fourth hour of the day, the coffin of the holy hierarch was taken from
the Dormition church to the monastery church of the Holy Trinity in a car. The
serving of the pannikhida was led by Archbishop Lavr, with whom there
concelebrated 20 clergy. None of the other hierarchs of ROCOR came to the
translation of the relics of the holy hierarch Philaret (only Bishop Gabriel of
There have been other witnesses to the holiness of Metropolitan
Philaret. The following took place on the feast of St. Stephen,
Nun Ipomoni (which means “patience” in Greek) suffers from very severe asthma attacks. On this day, she had the most severe attack yet and suffocated. For 20 minutes she did not breathe and her body was without any sign of life. Now it should be noted that a few days before this, the 10 nuns in this monastery led by Schema-Abbess Euphrosyne had earnestly prayed to the Lord to give them the fear of God.
During the 20 minutes that she was
clinically dead Nun Ipomoni met several demons in a dark tunnel; they got hold
of her and were trying to drag her to hell. It was a most terrifying
experience. After 20 minutes, Matushka Euphrosyne anointed her dead body with
oil from the lampada in front of the icon of St. Philaret of
In 1999, the ROCOR Synod issued the following appeal: “The present
condition of our Sister Church of Serbia and the much suffering Serbian people
is becoming ever more difficult. Employing the evil of slander and violence,
NATO is attempting to excise Kosovo, the very heart of
What was striking about this appeal was the fullness of the recognition
of “our Sister Church of Serbia” – at a time when the
And yet all these Churches had been anathematised by ROCOR in 1983 for their participation in the pan-heresy of ecumenism – which anathema had been reaffirmed as recently as May, 1998.
What did this mean? That the ROCOR Synod was simply stupid in not realising the incompatibility of its “Appeal” with its own recent condemnation of ecumenism? Or that it was deliberately deceiving the faithful by pretending to condemn and separate itself from heresy, while actually entering secretly – or now, perhaps, not so secretly - into communion with it?
Secondly, ROCOR was accusing NATO of “slander and violence”. What slander? Surely ROCOR did not believe the communist propaganda machine? Surely it did not deny the ever-mounting evidence of atrocities and “ethnic cleansing” on the part of the Serbs?!
As for violence, the violence of NATO was,
of course, regrettable, but much less than the violence of the Serbs against their
own citizens. Why did ROCOR – unlike Patriarch Paul – not say a word about that
evil? Why was ROCOR reversing the political as well as the ecclesiastical
position it had maintained for most of this century – that is, of support for
NATO against the communist regimes of
Another reason was indicated in ROCOR’s
epistle to its flock on July 13, 2001: “Concerning our relationship to the
Serbian Orthodox Church, we declare that the relationship of our Church with
her is special, being conditioned by our historical closeness to the Serbian Church,
which accepted the Russian Church Abroad and a multitude of Russian refugees
under her loving roof and cared for us as our own Mother. Now the
And yet, in 2000, the Serbian Patriarch broke all links with ROCOR. As a MP publication reported: “By a decision of the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church of December 28, 1998, a Podvorye of the Moscow Patriarchate was formed in the city of Bari, Italy, for the spiritual nourishment of the local Russian-speaking community and the numerous pilgrims who visit this city to venerate the honourable relics of the holy hierarch and wonderworker Nicholas, as well as for the support of working contacts with religious, state and social circles in Italy. The co-worker of the Department of external ecclesiastical relations, the priest Vladimir Kuchumov, was appointed as superior.
“From the beginning of the activity of the Podvorye, it became known that in the lower church of the former Russian home for receiving pilgrims, which is partly used, in accordance with an agreement, by the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCOR), there was serving a clergyman of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
“His Holiness Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow and All Russia wrote to His Holiness Patriarch Paul of Serbia, asking him to clarify the situation that had been created, which violated the canonical structure of the Orthodox Church, insofar as the pastoral service of a clergyman of the Serbian Patriarchate was taking place in a schismatic ecclesiastical structure having no communion with any Local Orthodox Church.
“His Holiness Patriarch Pavle of Serbia
sent a return letter to His Holiness Patriarch Alexis II of
“’… The Sacred Hierarchical Synod of our
“’We are sorry that such a thing could have taken place, and we hope that this incident will in no way spoil the age-old good brotherly relations that have existed throughout the course of our united history.
“’In this hope, we beseech Your Holiness and the Most Holy Russian Orthodox Church, which is so dear to us, [to forgive] our oversight, which took place in the city of Bari, and not to consider it to be a sin. We assure you that such an unpleasant incident will not be repeated.
“’Your Holiness knows the brotherly and Christian relations that the
Serbian Orthodox Church and people had towards Metropolitan Anthony
(Khrapovitsky) of Kiev and the bishops, monks and Russian people who came to us
in flight from the violence of the communists in 1918. This brotherly
relationship continued only until, after the fall of the communists, the
representatives of the Russian Church Abroad started to spread their priesthood
The communion of certain ROCOR hierarchs with the Serbs had always been presented by them as proof that they were still in communion with World Orthodoxy as a whole. Now, however, a choice had to be made: either full integration into World Orthodoxy through submission to the MP, or a complete breaking of all ties with World Orthodoxy and a return to the confessing stance of Metropolitan Philaret. Within a few months the ROCOR Synod made its choice for submission to the MP, and the rest of the Church had to choose whether to follow their hierarchs or not…
On the Eve of the Millenium
In 1999, ten years since perestroika began to expose the secret corruption of the MP, the situation was back to “normal” – that is, homosexuality among the leading metropolitans, combined with tight cooperation with the leading elites in government and the mafia.
Things were back to normal because the KGB (FSB) was back in charge. For, as Preobrazhensky writes, “the FSB is a restored KGB of the Soviet epoch. After the democratic reforms of the 1990s the KGB officers managed to get everything back. All the Directorates of the Soviet KGB are reunited now in today’s FSB, except two of them: the First, which managed intelligence, and the Ninth, which guarded the highest Communist bureaucrats. Both are formally independent, but keep close connections with the FSB… The former First Chief Directorate of the KGB is now called the Foreign Intelligence Service. It is successfully managing the operation ’ROCOR’” – that is, the absorption of ROCOR into the MP.
Homosexuality, “the sin of Metropolitan Nicodemus”, as it is known in the MP, is very useful to the KGB. Constantine Preobrazhensky writes that for the last 70 years the KGB has been actively promoting homosexuals to the episcopate. “Even Patriarch Sergius is said to have been one of them. The homosexual bishops were in constant fear of being unmasked, and it made them easily managed by the KGB.”
In 1999, after persistent complaints by his clergy, the homosexual Bishop
Nicon of Ekaterinburg was forced to retire to the
In 1998 the MP blessed a book compiled by Metropolitan Juvenal of Krutitsa and Kolomna, entitled A Man of the Church, consisting of fulsome tributes to the notorious Metropolitan Nicodemus of Leningrad by several of his fellow-hierarchs. The Archbishop of Tver even wrote: “At present many are capable of accusing the former [clergy] of supposed collaboration with the KGB, including Vladyka Nicodemus. But there was no other way out: the Church had to live somehow. Therefore there came into being a special mode of acting in order not to permit a total destruction of the Church…”
In view of this failure to repent, it is not surprising that the MP’s
position in the
The grossest ecumenism also continued – almost certainly because the FSB
(KGB) still needs MP clergy to penetrate foreign confessions for espionage
As we have seen, the anti-ecumenical protests of the early and mid-1990s were
suppressed, the challenge of ROCOR was rebuffed, and the “
were impressed by the apparent hostility of the MP to the Roman Catholics’
As the liberal era of the 1990s came to an end, the resurrection of the
spirit of Soviet patriotism became more and more evident. This spirit, which
seeks to justify the Soviet past and rejects repentance for its sins, was
illustrated most vividly in an article entitled “The Religion of Victory” in
which a new Russian religio-political bloc, “For Victory!” presented its
programme. The victory in question was the victory of the Soviet forces over
The political and economic aspects of the bloc’s programme were communistic; but its nationalist and religious aspects were still more alarming. Yeltsin and his colleagues were accused of having betrayed ’45 and the “truly genius-quality” achievements of post-war Sovietism. “However”, wrote Valentine Chikin, “the enemy [which is clearly the West] has not succeeded in destroying our Victory. Victory is that spiritual force which will help us to be regenerated. From Victory, as from a fruitful tree, will arise new technologies, will grow new schools, defence will be strengthened, a world-view will be worked out. A new communality embracing the whole nation will confirm the Victory of ’45 in the 21st century, too.
“Let us not forget: in the 40s a wonderful fusing together of Russian epochs took place. Of the pagan, with Prince Sviatoslav [‘the accursed’, as the Orthodox Church calls him], who defeated the Khazars. Of the Orthodox, in which the great Russian commanders and saints Alexander Nevsky and Dimitri Donskoj acted. Of the monarchist, with Peter, Suvorov and Kutuzov. In the smoke of the battles of the Fatherland war they combined with the brilliant ‘reds’ Zhukov, Vasilevsky and Rokossovsky, which Joseph Stalin so clearly and loudly proclaimed from the Mausoleum…
“Only the bloc ‘For Victory’ has the right to claim the breadth of the whole nation. The ideology of the bloc ‘For Victory!’ is the long awaited national idea… Victory is also that sacred word which overflows the Russian heart with pride and freedom.”
Alexander Prokhanov continued the theme: “Victory is not simply the national idea. Victory is a faith, the particular religious cast of mind of the Russians. Under the cupola of Victory both the Orthodox and the Muslim and the atheist and the passionately believing person will find himself a place. Of course, in order to reveal this faith, it needs its evangelists, such as John the Theologian. It needs its builders and organizers. In the consciousness of this religious philosophy there is a place for artists and sculptors, sociologists and political scientists, historians and politicians.
“We still have to finish building this great Russian faith – Victory! In
it the miracle expected for centuries, which was handed down from the sorcerers
from mouth to mouth, from Kievan Rus’ to the
This Soviet patriotism was supported by, among others, the former idol of ROCOR’s liberals, Fr. Demetrius Dudko. “Now the time has come,” he wrote, “to rehabilitate Stalin. And yet not him himself, but the concept of statehood. Today we can see for ourselves what a crime non-statehood is and what a blessing statehood is! No matter how many cry that in Soviet times many perished in the camps – how many are perishing now, without trials or investigations… If Stalin were here, there would be no such collapse…. Stalin, an atheist from the external point of view, was actually a believer, and this could be proved by facts if it were not for the spatial limitations of this article. It is not without reason that in the Russian Orthodox Church, when he died, ‘eternal memory’ was sung to him… The main thing is that Stalin looked after people in a fatherly manner. Stalin legitimately stands next to Suvorov!”
The Soviet Empire Strikes Back
His personal religiosity, however, as we would expect from his past, was of a very dubious kind. Thus while claiming to be a member of the MP, as George Spukts writes,
“1) he lights menorahs when he worships at his local synagogue;
“2) he has worshipped the mortal remains of Kin Il Sung in
“3) he has worshipped the mortal remains of Mahatma Gandhi;
“4) he ‘believes not in God, but in Man’ (as he himself has stated);
“5) he was initiated into an especially occult form of ‘knighthood’
(read: freemasonry) in
“6) he has restored the communist anthem;
“7) he has restored the bloody red rag as the RF’s military banner;
“8) he has not removed the satanic pentagram from public buildings (including cathedrals);
“9) he has plans of restoring the monument to ‘Butcher’ Dzerzhinsky [now fulfilled];
“10) he has not removed the satanic mausoleum in
Under Putin, writes Professor Eugene L. Magerovsky, “not only do the
Soviet symbols remain, but so do its laws as well. For example, all churches
built before 197 are ‘state historical objects’ which belong to the state… The
‘privatization’ of churches, i.e. their transfer into the hands of their
original owners, was halted in
“Another matter is no less disturbing. The deliberate and increasingly
profound return of everything Soviet, from the higher state apparatus to even
the ordinary ‘militia’, which is what in
propagandist Egor Kholmogorov wrote: “Putin’s power was, from the very
beginning, non-electoral in origin, it was not a matter of being ‘appointed by
Yeltsin’, but of what the Chinese call ‘the mandate of heaven’, an unquestioned
right to power... As a politician, Putin has already for a long time been above
More recently Kholmogorov has written: “We as a people must be ashamed only
about one thing, for our poor fulfilment of the task placed on us by God, of ‘ruling
the peoples autocratically’. And any ‘national repentance’ which people like to
talk endlessly about must begin with our tanks on the streets of
“For those who claim,” writes Professor Olga Ackerly, “that the ‘CIS is
different from the
Since then Putin has moved to muzzle press and TV freedom, to restore
the red flag and hammer and sickle to the armed services and the melody of the
Soviet national anthem. Organized crime has flourished under his patronage
(this already started when he was vice-mayor of
The MP has shown complete loyalty to this regime, and has not criticised it at all, supporting it both in its neo-Sovietism and in its criminal economy, in which it has itself taken an enthusiastic part (cf. the activities of “the tobacco metropolitan”, Cyril Gundiaev, who imports tobacco and alcohol duty-free).
“It seems,” continues Ackerly, “that in the CIS, whatever the state cannot accomplish, the church will, and although church and state have been known to work together before in history, in this case we are not speaking about any religious, canonical or national deeds, but about maintaining a grip to reassemble the Soviet Union, or the pursuit of internationalism rather than what is good for one particular nation…. Important to note is that the Eurasian movement, with ties to occultism, ecumenism, etc. was recently revived by Putin, and a Congress entitled ‘The All-Russian Political Social Movement’, held in Moscow in April of 2001, was ‘created on the basis of the Eurasist ideology and inter-confessional [sic!] harmony in support of the reforms of President Vladimir Putin.’ The movement is led by Alexander Dugin, a sexual mystic, National Bolshevik Party members, son of a Cheka cadre, personally familiar with the so-called ‘Black International’, advisor to the State Duma, and participant in Putin’s ‘Unity’ movement.”
This is a heady cocktail, and shows that while the Putin-Drozdov
“symphony of powers” is aiming for the resurrection of the
The MP’s “Jubilee” Council
In August, 2000 the MP held a “Jubilee” Hierarchical Council which seemed at least partly aimed at removing some of the last obstacles towards ROCOR’s unification with it. These obstacles, as formulated by ROCOR during the past ten years, were: 1. Ecumenism, 2. Sergianism, and 3. The Glorification of the New Martyrs, especially the Royal New Martyrs.
Ecumenism. In the document on relations with the heterodox, which was
composed by a small group of bishops and presented to the Council for approval
on the first day, few concessions were made to the opponents of ecumenism,
apart from the ritual declarations that “the Orthodox Church is the true Church
of Christ, created by our Lord and Saviour Himself; it is the Church
established by, and filled with, the Holy Spirit…” “The
But, wrote Protopriest Michael Ardov (ROAC, Moscow), “the ‘patriarchal liberals’ will also not be upset, insofar as the heretics in the cited document are called ‘heterodox’, while the Monophysite communities are called the ‘Eastern Orthodox Churches’. And the ‘dialogues with the heterodox’ will be continued, and it is suggested that the World Council of Churches be not abandoned, but reformed…”
Although there has been much talk about anti-ecumenism in the MP, as in the Serbian Church, it is significant that only one bishop, Barsanuphius of Vladivostok, voted against the document on relations with the heterodox (six Ukrainian bishops abstained).
The MP’s Fr. (now Bishop) Hilarion (Alfeyev) explained the origins of the document on ecumenism: “The subject of inter-Christian relations has been used by various groups (within the Church) as a bogey in partisan wars. In particular, it has been used to criticise Church leaders who, as is well known, have taken part in ecumenical activities over many years.” In Alfeyev’s opinion, “ecumenism has also been used by breakaway groups, such as the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and the Old Calendarists, to undermine people’s trust in the Church.” Therefore there was a need “for a clear document outlining the theological basis of the Russian Orthodox Church’s attitude towards heterodoxy, i.e. the question of why we need and whether we need dialogue with the non-Orthodox confessions, and if so which form this dialogue should take.” Alfeyev refused to answer the question whether the Council would discuss the matter of the participation of the MP in the WCC, but said that the patriarchate felt obliged to continue negotiations with Protestant and Catholic representatives in the WCC and to be a part of the ecumenical committee.
After the Council, there was no let-up in
the MP’s ecumenical activities. Thus on August 18, “Patriarch” Alexis prayed
together with the Armenian “Patriarch”. And on
Deacon Nicholas Savchenko summed the MP’s degree of immersion in ecumenism as follows: “In an inter-confessional undertaking there are two degrees of participation. One case is participation with the authority of a simple observer, that is, of one who does not enter into the composition, but is only an observer from the side. It is another case when we are talking about fully-entitled membership in an ecumenical organization.
“Unfortunately, at the present time the ROC MP takes part in the activity of the WCC precisely as a fully-entitled member of the Council. It is precisely on this problem that I consider it important to concentrate attention. After all, it is the membership of the ROC MP in the WCC which most of all, willingly or unwillingly, encroaches upon the teaching of the faith itself and therefore continues to remain an obstacle to our [ROCOR’s] communion [with the MP]. It is possible to list a series of reasons why membership in the WCC is becoming such an obstacle.
“1. The first important reason consists in the fact that the ROC MP today remains in the composition of the highest leadership of the WCC and takes part in the leadership, planning and financing of the whole of the work of the WCC.
“Official representatives of the ROC MP
enter into the Central Committee of the WCC. The Central Committee is the organ
of the Council’s administration. It defines the politics of the WCC, make
official declarations relating to the teaching of the faith and gives moral
evaluations of various phenomena of contemporary life within those limites
given to it by the church-members. The composition of the last CC of the WCC
was elected at the WCC assembly in
“Besides participating in the CC, the representatives of the MP go into the make-up of the Executive Committee of the WCC, one of whose tasks is the direct leadership of the whole apparatus of the Council and the organization of all its undertakings. There are 24 people in the official list of the members of the Executive Committee of the WCC, including the MP’s representative Bishop Hilarion (Alfeev). Besides him, there are representatives of the Constantinopolitan Patriarchate, the Romanian Patriarchate and the American Autocephaly in the Executive Committee of the WCC. The last session of the Executive Committee with the participation of representatives of the MP took place at the end of August, 2003. At this last session a new ‘Committee for Prayer’ was formed. It was to occupy itself with the preparation of the text and rite of ecumenical prayers. There are 10 people in all in this committee, including a representative of the MP, Fr. Andrew Eliseev. Besides, the deputy president of the ‘Committee for Prayer’ is a Protestant woman priest. Because of this participation the ROC MP is inevitably responsible for all the decisions of the WCC that contradict the dogmatic and moral teaching of the Orthodox Church.
“2. The second reason for the
incompatibility of membership of the WCC with the canons of the Church consists
in the fact that the regulations of the Council presuppose the membership in it
not of individual person-representatives, but precisely of the whole
correspondence with the Basis of the WCC, it is a ‘
“Such an understanding of membership in the WCC as the membership of the whole Orthodox Church is contained in the documents on the part of the Local Churches. For example, we can cite the following quotation from the document ‘The Orthodox Church and the World Council of Churches’. This document was accepted at the session of the inter-Orthodoxy Consultation in 1991 in Chambésy. It says in point 4: ‘The Orthodox Churches participate in the life and activity of the WCC only on condition that the WCC is understood as a ‘Council of Churches’, and not as a council of separate people, groups, movements or religious organizations drawn into the aims and tasks of the WCC…’ (Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate, 1992, ¹ 1, p. 62).
“Such an understanding of the membership of
the whole of the Orthodox Church in the WCC was earlier officially confirmed by
the Pan-Orthodox Conferences. Thus the Pan-Orthodox Conference of 1968
formulated its relationship with the WCC in the following words: ‘To express
the common consciousness of the Orthodox Church that it is an organic member of
the WCC and her firm decision to bring her contribution to the progress of the
whole work of the WCC through all the means at her disposal, theological and other.’
(Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate, 1968, ¹ 7, p. 51). The following,
Third Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference confirmed this formulation in the
same sense in the Russian translation. ‘The Orthodox Church is a complete and
fully-entitled member of the WCC and by all the means at her disposal will aid
the development and success of the whole work of the WCC’ (Journal of the
Moscow Patriarchate, 1987, ¹ 7, p. 53). Although these formulations
elicited disturbances at the time, nevertheless they have not been changed to
the present day, insofar as only the
“From what has been said it turns out that membership in the WCC is not simply observation of the activity of the Council. Membership is precisely becoming a part of the ecumenical commonwealth. The ROC MP must not be a member of the WCC since this signifies becoming a member of the ecumenical movement.
“3. The third reason why membership in the WCC contradicts Orthodoxy is that membership inevitably signifies agreement with the constitutional principles of the WCC and its rules. For example, it says in the Constitution of the WCC (chapter 3) that the Council is created by the church-members to serve the ecumenical movement. Does this mean that the church-members must, or obliged in their fullness, to serve the ecumenical movement? It appears so. Further the Constitution of the WCC (chapter 3) describes the obligations of those entering the Council of churches in the following words: ‘In the search for communion in faith and life, preaching and service, the churches through the Council will… facilitate common service in every place and everywhere and… cultivate ecumenical consciousness’. From these words it follows directly that common preaching with the Protestants is becoming a constitutional obligation of the Orthodox Church. Obligations still more foreign to Orthodoxy are contained in the Rules of the WCC – a separate document that directly regulates the obligations of those entering into the Council of churches. Chapter 2 of the Rules of the WCC is called ‘Responsibilities of membership’. The following lines are found in it. ‘Membership in the WCC means… devotion to the ecumenical movement as a constitutive element of the mission of the Church. It is presupposed that the church-members of the WCC… encourage ecumenical links and actions at all levels of their ecclesiastical life’. Thse words of the Rules of the WCC oblige the Orthodox Church to perceive the contemporary ecumenical movement with all its gross heresies and moral vices as a part of the life of the Orthodox Church.
important constitutional document is the declaration ‘Towards a common
understanding and vision of the WCC’. This document was accepted by the Central
Committee of the WCC in 1997 with the participation of representatives of the
Local Churches. It also contains views which are incompatible with the Orthodox
teaching on the Church. In the first place this concerns how we are to
understanding the term that is the cornerstone of the Basis of the WCC, that
the Council is a ‘
important document of the WCC having a constitutional significance continues to
“From what has been said we can draw the conclusion that membership in the WCC presupposes agreement with its constitutional principles, which contradict Orthodoxy. The ROC MP should not be a member of an organization whose constitutional principles contradict Orthodoxy… “
Sergianism. The MP approved a “social document” which, among
other things, recognised that “the Church must refuse to obey the State” “if
the authorities force the Orthodox believers to renounce Christ and His
Church”. As we shall see, enormous significance was attached to this phrase by
ROCOR. However, on the very same page we find: “But even the persecuted Church
is called to bear the persecutions patiently, not refusing loyalty to the State
that persecutes it”. We may
infer from this that the MP still considers that its loyalty to the
In this connection Frs. Vladimir Savitsky, Valentine (Salomakh) and Nicholas Savchenko write: “The politics of ‘populism’ which the MP is conducting today is a new distortion of true Christianity. Today this politics (and the ideology standing behind it) is a continuation and development of ‘sergianism’, a metamorphosis of the very same disease. Today it seems to us that we have to speak about this at the top of our voices. Other problems, such as the heresy of ecumenism and ‘sergianism’ in the strict sense, while undoubtedly important, are of secondary importance by comparison with the main aim of the MP, which is to be an ‘all-people’ Church, In fact, in the ‘people’ (understood in a broad sense, including unbelievers and ‘eclectics’) there always have been those who are for ecumenism and those who are against. Therefore we see that the MP is ready at the same time to participate in the disgusting sin of ecumenism and to renounce it and even condemn it. It is exactly the same with ‘sergianism’ (understood as the dependence of the Church on the secular authorities). The MP will at the same time in words affirm its independence (insofar as there are those who are for this independence) and listen to every word of the authorities and go behind them (not only because that is convenient, but also because it thus accepted in the ‘people’, and the authorities are ‘elected by the people’). In a word, it is necessary to condemn the very practice and ideology of the transformation of the MP into a Church ‘of all the people’.”
This analysis has been confirmed by events since the former KGB Colonel Putin came to power in January, 2000. The MP has appeared to be reverting to its submissive role in relation to an ever more Soviet-looking government, not protesting against the restoration of the red flag to the armed forces and approving the retention of the music of the Soviet national anthem.
There followed an official justification of Sergianism. Thus on
However, Soviet power was very different from the Tatars or Ottomans, and “bilateral relations” with it, unlike with those powers, involved the betrayal of the Orthodox Faith and falling under the anathema of the Church. Moreover, if the Church at first refused to recognise Soviet power, but then (in 1927) began to recognise it, the question arises: which position was the correct one? There can be no question but that the position endorsed by the Russian Council of 1917-18 was the correct one, and that the sergianist Moscow Patriarchate, by renouncing that position, betrayed the truth – and continues to betray it to the present day through its symbiotic relationship with a government that openly declares itself to be the heir of the Soviet State.
As late as January 24, 2005 Metropolitan Cyril (Gundiaev) of
The New Martyrs. The major problems here from the patriarchate's
point of view were the questions of the Royal Martyrs, on the one hand, and of
the martyrs of the
After nearly a decade of temporising, the MP finally, under pressure from its flock, glorified the Royal New Martyrs and many other martyrs of the Soviet yoke. The glorification of the Royal New Martyrs was a compromise decision, reflecting the very different attitudes towards them in the patriarchate. The Royal Martyrs were called “passion-bearers” rather than “martyrs”, and it was made clear that they were being glorified, not for the way in which they lived their lives, but for the meekness with which they faced their deaths. This allowed the anti-monarchists to feel that Nicholas was still the “bloody Nicholas” of Soviet mythology, and that it was “Citizen Romanov” rather than “Tsar Nicholas” who had been glorified - the man rather than the monarchical principle for which he stood.
As regards the other martyrs, Sergius Kanaev writes: “In the report of the President of the Synodal Commission for the canonisation of the saints, Metropolitan Juvenal (Poiarkov), the criterion of holiness adopted… for Orthodox Christians who had suffered during the savage persecutions was clearly and unambiguously declared to be submission ‘to the lawful leadership of the Church’, which was Metropolitan Sergius and his hierarchy. With such an approach, the holiness of the ‘sergianist martyrs’ was incontestable. The others were glorified or not glorified depending on the degree to which they ‘were in separation from the lawful leadership of the Church’. Concerning those who were not in agreement with the politics of Metropolitan Sergius, the following was said in the report: ‘In the actions of the “right” oppositionists, who are often called the “non-commemorators”, one cannot find evil-intentioned, exclusively personal motives. Their actions were conditioned by their understanding of what was for the good of the Church’. In my view, this is nothing other than blasphemy against the New Martyrs and a straight apology for sergianism. With such an approach the consciously sergianist Metropolitan Seraphim (Chichagov), for example, becomes a ‘saint’, while his ideological opponent Metropolitan Joseph of Petrograd, who was canonized by our Church, is not glorified. For us another fact is also important, that Metropolitan Seraphim was appointed by Sergius (Stragorodsky) in the place of Metropolitan Joseph, who had been ‘banned’ by him.”
Other Catacomb martyrs were “glorified” by the MP because their holiness
was impossible to hide. Thus the relics of Archbishop Victor of
Some, seeing the glorification of the Catacomb martyrs by their
opponents, remembered the Lord’s words: “Ye build the tombs of the prophets and
adorn the sepulchres of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had been in the days of
our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the
prophets’. Therefore ye bear witness against yourselves that ye are sons of
those who murdered the prophets. Fill up the measure of your fathers!” (Matthew
23.29-32). This blasphemous canonisation of both the true and the
false martyrs, thereby downgrading the exploit of the true martyrs, had been
predicted by the ROCOR priest Fr. Oleg Oreshkin: "I think that some of
those glorified will be from the sergianists so as to deceive the believers.
'Look,' they will say, 'he is a saint, a martyr, in the
The main thing from the MP’s point of view was that their founder,
Metropolitan Sergius, should be given equal status with the catacomb martyrs
whom he persecuted. Thus in 1993 the patriarch said: “Through the host of
The patriarch's lack of ecclesiastical principle and ecclesiological
consistency in this question was pointed out by Fr. Peter Perekrestov: "In
the introduction to one article ("In the Catacombs", Sovershenno Sekretno,
¹ 7, 1991)
Patriarch Alexis wrote the following: 'I believe that our martyrs and righteous
ones, regardless of whether they followed Metropolitan Sergius or did not agree
with his position, pray together for us.' At the same time, in the weekly, Nedelya,
¹ 2, 1/92,
the same Patriarch Alexis states that the Russian Church Abroad is a schismatic
church, and adds: 'Equally uncanonical is the so-called "Catacomb"
Church.' In other words, he recognizes the martyrs of the
For in the last resort, as Fr. Peter pointed out, for the MP this whole matter was not one of truth or falsehood, but of power: "It is not important to them whether a priest is involved in shady business dealings or purely church activities; whether he is a democrat or a monarchist; whether an ecumenist or a zealot; whether he wants to serve Vigil for six hours or one; whether the priest serves a panikhida for the victims who defended the White House or a moleben for those who sided with Yeltsin; whether the priest wants to baptize by immersion or by sprinkling; whether he serves in the catacombs or openly; whether he venerates the Royal Martyrs or not; whether he serves according to the New or Orthodox Calendar - it really doesn't matter. The main thing is to commemorate Patriarch Alexis. Let the Church Abroad have its autonomy, let it even speak out, express itself as in the past, but only under one condition: commemorate Patriarch Alexis. This is a form of Papism - let the priests be married, let them serve according to the Eastern rite - it makes no difference, what is important is that they commemorate the Pope of Rome."
The MP council’s documents were well characterised by the ROCOR clergy of Kursk as follows: “Everywhere there is the same well-known style: pleasing the ‘right’ and the ‘left’, the Orthodox and the ecumenists, ‘yours’ and ‘ours’, without the slightest attempt at definiteness, but with, on the other hand, a careful preservation of the whole weight of the sins of the past and present”.
The “Jubilee Sobor” was final proof, if proof were needed, that the MP had not repented and could not repent unless its higher echelons were removed and the whole church apparatus was thoroughly purged.
“The Second October Revolution”
In October, 2000, the Hierarchical Council
of ROCOR took place in
The first of these epistles, dated October 26, declared that ROCOR and the Serbs were “brothers by blood and by faith” and that “we have always valued the eucharistic communion between our sister-Churches and the desire to preserve the consolation of this communion to the end of time”. And towards the end of the Epistle we read: “We beseech your Holiness not to estrange us from liturgical communion with you”.
It should be remembered that this was written only two years after ROCOR had officially reissued its anathema on ecumenism, and only a few months after the Serbian Patriarch himself had said that there was no communion between his Church and ROCOR, calling ROCOR a “church” only in inverted commas! Moreover, as recently as September, 2000, the official publication of the Serbian Church, Pravoslav’e, had reported that, at the invitation of the patriarchate there had arrived in Belgrade a Catholic delegation, which had made a joint declaration witnessing to the fact that Serbian hierarchs had been praying together with the Catholics for the last three weeks! So, having justly anathematised the Serbs as heretics, and having witnessed the continuation of their heretical activity, ROCOR was now begging to be brought back into communion with the heretics!
Why? The reason became clear later in the Epistle: “A miracle has taken
place, the prayers of the host of Russian New Martyrs have been heard: the
atheist power that threatened the whole world has unexpectedly, before our
eyes, fallen! Now we observe with joy and hope how the process of spiritual
regeneration foretold by our saints has begun, and in parallel with it the
gradual return to health of the Church administration in
“There still remain other serious wounds in the leadership of the
So the ROCOR bishops – this letter was signed by all of them without
exception - were asking a heretic anathematised for ecumenist to help them to
enter into communion with other anathematised ecumenists – their old enemies in
The second of the epistles, dated October 27, made several very
surprising statements. First, it again spoke of “the beginning of a real
spiritual awakening” in
However, as Demetrius Kapustin pointed out, the supposed signs of this
awakening – the greater reading of spiritual books, the greater discussion of
canonical and historical questions in the MP – are not good indicators of real
spiritual progress: “It is evident that the reading of Church books can bring a
person great benefit. However, a necessary condition for this is love for the
truth. The Jews also saw Christ, and spoke with Him, but they did not want
humbly to receive the true teaching, and not only were they not saved, but also
took part in the persecutions and destroyed their own souls. It is the same
with many parishioners of the MP. On reading books on the contemporary Church
situation, many of them come to the conclusion that sergianism and ecumenism
are soul-destroying. However, these doubts of theirs are often drowned out by
the affirmations of their false teachers, who dare to place themselves above
the patristic tradition. Satisfying themselves with a false understanding of
love (substituting adultery with heretics and law-breakers for love for God,
which requires chastity and keeping the truth) and obedience (substituting
following the teaching of false elders for obedience to God and the humble
acceptance of the patristic teaching, and not recognizing their personal
responsibility for their own Church state), they often take part in the persecutions
and slander against the True Orthodox. In a word, even such good works as the
veneration of the Royal Martyrs are often expressed in a distorted form (by,
for example, mixing it with Stalinism, as with the ‘fighter from within’
Dushenov)”. Kapustin then makes the important point that “an enormous number of
people… have not come to Orthodoxy precisely because they have not seen true
Christianity in the MP (alas, in the consciousness of many people in
Secondly, ROCOR’s epistle welcomed the MP’s glorification of the New Martyrs, since “the turning of the whole Russian people in prayer to all the holy New Martyrs of Russia and especially the Royal new martyrs… had become possible now thanks to the recognition of their holiness by the Hierarchical Council of the Moscow Patriarchate”. As if the Russian people had not already been praying to the Holy New Martyrs in front of icons made in ROCOR for the past twenty years!
Moreover, as Protopriests Constantine Fyodorov and Benjamin Zhukov wrote,
“the possibility of turning in prayer to the Russian New Martyrs was opened to
the people not by the
Thirdly: “We are encouraged by the acceptance of the new social conception by this council, which in essence blots out the ‘Declaration’ of Metropolitan Sergius in 1927”. And yet the declaration was not even mentioned, let alone repented of. In any case, how could one vague phrase about the necessity of the Church disobeying the State in certain exceptional cases (which was contradicted on the same page, as we have seen) blot out a Declaration that caused the greatest schism in Orthodox Church history since 1054 and incalculable sufferings and death! Two years later, as we have seen, in July, 2002, the Synod of the MP, far from “blotting out” the declaration, said that Sergius’ relationship to the Soviet authorities was “not blameworthy”, so not only has the MP not repented for sergianism, but it has continued to justify it, contradicting the position of the Catacomb new martyrs whom it has just glorified and who gave their lives because of their opposition to sergianism.
The epistle, which was signed by all the bishops except Barnabas, obliquely recognised this fact when it later declared: “We have not seen a just evaluation by the Moscow Patriarchate of the anti-ecclesiastical actions of Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky) and his Synod and their successors”. If so, then how can we talk about Sergius’ Declaration being blotted out?!
The third epistle, addressed to the Old Ritualists without distinguishing between the Popovtsi and Bespopovtsi, was similarly ecumenist in tone, beginning with the words: “To the Believing children of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Homeland and in the diaspora, who hold to the old rite, the Council of bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad sends greetings! Beloved brothers and sisters in our holy Orthodox faith: may the grace and peace of the Man-loving Saviour be with you to the ages!”
It was one thing to remove the bans on the old rites, as the ROCOR had done in its Council in 1974: it was quite another to recognise the schismatics as Orthodox. And in such terms! For later in the epistle the ROCOR compares the persecutions of the Old Ritualists to the persecutions of St. John Chrysostom, and begs forgiveness of the Old Ritualists as the Emperor Theodosius the Younger had begged it of the holy hierarch! But, as Bishop Gregory Grabbe pointed out after the 1974 Council, the sins of the Russian State in persecuting the Old Ritualists in the 17th century should not all be laid on the Church of the time, which primarily condemned the Old Ritualists not for their adherence to the old rites (which even Patriarch Nicon recognised to be salvific), but for their disobedience to the Church. To lay all the blame for the schism, not on the Old Ritualists but on the Orthodox, even after the Old Ritualists had proudly refused to take advantage of the many major concessions made by the Orthodox (for example, the edinoverie) while stubbornly continuing to call the Orthodox themselves schismatics, was to invert the truth and logically led to the conclusion that the Orthodox Church was not the True Church!
As clergy of the
The feelings of the protestors was summed up by Fr. Stefan Krasovitsky and Roman Vershillo, who said that a “revolution” had taken place, and that “if we are to express the meaning of the coup shortly, then there took place, first, a moral disarmament, and secondly, the self-abolition of ROCOR as a separate part of the Russian Local Church… Alas, [it] is composed in such a way that it is not actually clear who has really fallen into schism from the Church: we or our errant Old Ritualist brothers!”
For ROCOR the writing was now on the wall. The October, 2000 Council constituted a clear break with the traditional attitude towards the MP and World Orthodoxy adopted by Metropolitans Anthony, Anastasy and Philaret, as well as Vitaly in earlier years. Only a clear renunciation of that clear break could keep the children of ROCOR within the Church and Faith of their fathers…
 Fr. Andrej Rumyantsev, “Kesariu
– Kesarevo” (To Caesar what is Caesar’s), Vecherniaia Moskva (Evening
 However, according to Vladimir
 See Kimmo Kaariainen, Religion in Russia after the Collapse of Communism, Lewiston-Queenston-Lampeter: Edwin Mellen Press, 1998; Tatiana Senina, “Ty nosish’ imia, budto zhiv, no ty mertv” (You have the name of being alive, but you are dead), Vertograd-Inform, September-October, 2000, pp. 46-72 ®.
 Bishop Theophan, Tolkovanie na Vtoroe Poslanie sv. Apostola Pavla k Soluniam (Interpretation of the Second Epistle of the Holy Apostle Paul to the Thessalonians), 2.3-5 ®.
 See Mikhail Nazarov, Tajna
Rossii (The Mystery of
 Rhoda, “Russian Freemasonry: A New
Dawn”, paper read at Orient Lodge ¹ 15 on
 Keston News Service, ¹ 369,
 Letter in Literaturnaia
 “Patriarch Alexis II: I take on
myself responsibility for all that happened”, Izvestia, ¹ 137,
 Grabbe, "Dogmatizatsia Sergianstva", op. cit., p. 5.
 Hieromonk Tikhon (Kozushin),
personal communication; Natalia Babisyan, "Sviashchenniki na
barrikadakh" (Priests on the Barricades), Khristianskie Novosti
(Christian News), ¹
 Ellis, "The Russian Church:
hopes and fears", Church Times,
 He said that the Church had not supported the coup (although there is clear evidence that Metropolitans Philaret of Kiev and Pitirim of Volokolamsk supported it), but had "taken the side of law and liberty" (Report on the USSR, vol. 3, ¹ 36, September 6, 1991, p. 82).
 30 Dias (Thirty Days), Rome/Sao Paolo, August-September, 1991, p. 23.
 Quoted by Anatoly Krasikov,
"'Tretij Rim' i bolsheviki (bez grifa 'sovershenno sekretno')" (The
Third Rome and the Bolsheviks), in Filatov, S.B. (ed.), Religia i prava
cheloveka (Religion and Human Rights),
 Zhurnal Moskovskoj
Patriarkhii (Journal of the
 Kharchev, Argumenty i Fakty (Arguments and Facts), 1992, ¹ 8, p. 5 ®.
 Shushpanov, Moskovskie
 Fr. George Edelshtein, “Double
Agents in the Church”,
For more details of the parliamentary commission's revelations, see Praymoj
Put' (The Straight Path), ¹¹
1-2, January, 1992, p. 1; ¹
3, February, 1992, p. 1; February, 1992; Alexander Nezhny, "Tret’e
Imia" (The Third Name), Ogonek (Little Fire), ¹ 4 (3366), January 25 -
February 1, 1992; Iain Walker and Chester Stern, "Holy Agents of the
KGB", The Mail on Sunday, March 29, 1992; John Dunlop, "KGB
Subversion of Russian Orthodox Church", RFE/RL Research Report,
vol. 1, ¹
12, March 20, 1992, pp. 51-53; “Three Leading Moscow Hierarchs Unveiled as KGB
Operatives”, Orthodox Life, vol. 42, ¹ 3, May-June, 1992, pp. 25-29; Protodeacon
Herman Ivanov-Trinadtsaty, "A ne nachalo li eto kontsa?" (Is this not
the Beginning of the End?), Pravoslavnaia Rus' (Orthodox
 The Philadelphia Inquirer
 Estonian State Archive, record
group 131, file 393, pp. 125-126; James Meek, “File links church leader to
KGB”, The Sydney Morning Herald, February 13, 1999; Seamus Martin,
“Russian Patriarch was (is?) a KGB agent, files say Patriarch Alexeij II
received KGB ‘Certificate of Honour’”, Irish Times,
 Andrew and Mitrokhin, op. cit., p. 661.
 Rossijskaia Gazeta, 1992, ¹ 52, p. 7 ®.
 According to ex-KGB agent Konstantin Preobrazhensky, Methodius is in fact not only a KGB agent, but “a regular officer of the GRU, the Chief Intelligence Directorate of the Defence Ministry”. In the KGB they call such people ‘officers of deep cover’. There are quite a few of them in today’s Moscow Patriarchate” (“Ecumenism and Intelligence”).
 M. Pozdniaev and Archbishop Chrysostom, "Ia sotrudnichal s KGB... no ne byl stukachem" (I worked with the KGB… but I was not a stool-pigeon), Russkaia Mysl' (Russian Thought), ¹ 3926, 24 April, 1992, translated in Religion, State & Society, vol. 21, ¹¹ 3 and 4, 1993, pp. 345-350; “Letter of Priest George Edelstein to President Putin, in Church News, June, 2003, vol. 14, ¹ 65 (#119), p. 2.
 Dunlop, “The
 Felix Corbey, “The Patriarch and
the KGB”, Keston News Service,
 Anonymous, “O Pravoslavnom Tsarstve i Poslednem Vremeni” (On the Orthodox Kingdom and the Last Times), no date or place of publication ®.
 According to Igumen Gregory
Lourié, the role of the MP elders, and especially Archimandrite Ioann
(Krestiankin) of the
 Lebedev, Velikorossia (Great
 In an article published in Pravoslavnoe Slovo (The Orthodox Word), ¹ 12 (49), 1995, priest Timothy Selsky writes that in the MP cathedral of a small town he noticed… a price-list displayed at the candle counter. “The column reading ‘Prayer after Abortion – 8000 Roubles’ caught my eye. What sort of a new rite was this? As I learned later, a woman who would pay the required sum at the candle counter would have a certain prayer read over her, a prayer which allegedly should be read after having killed one’s own child in the womb. Whence all this? What is the mystery of such an easy remission of a mortal sin unknown to any of the Holy Church Fathers? Have we lived to see the day when the forgiveness of the sin of infanticide is bought just like that for a mere 8000 roubles and without any confession at all?”
 Perepiolkina, Ecumenism – A Path to Perdition, St. Petersburg, 1999, pp. 116-117, 118-120, 121, 122. An earlier, Russian-language edition of this important book is entitled Ekumenizm - put' vedushchej k pogibeli (Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, 1992).
 Perepiolkina, op. cit., p. 204.
 Perepiolkina, op. cit., pp. 213-214.
 Perepiolkina, op. cit., pp. 125, 127, 129, 130.
 Lebedev, op. cit., p. 655.
 Perepiolkina, op. cit., p. 251.
 Perepiolkina, op. cit., p. 252.
 From the translation in Living Orthodoxy, vol. XIII, ¹ 1, January-February, 1991, pp. 29-30. See also Metropolitan Calliopius of Pentapolis, Prodosia tis Orthodoxias (A Betrayal of Orthodoxy), Piraeus, 1991 (G); O Pharos tis Orthodoxias (The Lighthouse of Orthodoxy), October, 1991, ¹ 66, p. 120 (G); Monk Isaac, "Commentary on the latest recommendations of the Joint Commission for theological dialogue between the Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches", Orthodox Life, vol. 42, ¹ 3, May-June, 1991; "Dossier sur les Accords de Chambésy entre Monophysites et Orthodoxes" (Dossier on the Chambésy Agreements between the Monophysites and the Orthodox), La Lumière du Thabor (The Light of Tabor), ¹ 31, 1991 (F).
 The Word, April, 1992.
 Christian News, April 1 and 8, 1991; reprinted in "Ecumenism down under", Orthodox Christian Witness, vol. XXIV, ¹ 45 (1149), August 5/18, 1991, p. 3; Keston News Service, ¹ 370, March 7, 1991, p. 2.
 Rech’ Patriarkha Alekseya II
k rabbinam g. Nyu Yorka (S.Sh.A.) i Eres’ Zhidovstvuyushchikh, (The Speech of
Patriarch Alexis II to the Rabbis of
 Priamoj Put' (The Straight
Path), February, 1992, p. 5;
 Russkii Pastyr’, ¹ 30, I-1998, p. 86. Cf. Fr. Timothy Alferov, "Nekotorie uroki dvizhenia 'nepominaiushchikh' (Some Lessons of the Movement of the Non-Commemorators), Russkii Pastyr' (Russian Pastor), ¹ 19, II-1994, pp. 102-104 ®.
 Damian Thompson, “Holy Sanctuary
in turmoil over monks’ eviction”, The Daily Telegraph,
 Thus in November, 1991, as Roman Catholic bishoprics in the former Soviet Union multiplied, the patriarch said in London that the Vatican had broken certain non-proselytism agreements, and that a flock of no more than 300 Catholics in Novosibirsk did not justify the creation of a bishopric there (Oxana Antic, "New Structures for the Catholic Church in the USSR", Report on the USSR, vol. 3, ¹ 21, May 24, 1991).
 Bishop Ambrose of Methone,
 Ekklesiastiki Aletheia
 Patriarch Bartholomew, Address
 See A. Soldatov,
"Obnovlenie ili obnovlenchestvo?" (Renovation or Renovationism?), Pravoslavnaia
 Perepiolkina, op. cit., p. 205; from the Documents and Reports of the Council published by the MP in 1995, p. 191.
 Perepiolkina, op. cit., pp. 215-216.
 Service Orthodoxe de Presse (Orthodox Press Service), ¹ 204, January, 1996, p. 13 (F).
 "Wages for Popes", 30 Days, ¹ 6á, 1994; reprinted in "Vatican Diary", Orthodox Christian Witness, January 2/15, 1995, pp. 7-8.
 Perepiolkina, op. cit., pp. 205, 217-219.
 Zalewski, “Vozvraschenie Russkoj Zarubezhnoi Tserkvi na Rodinu. Vzgliad Episkopa Grigoria (Grabbe). Iurii Pavlovich Grabbe’s (Bishop Grigorii) Vision of the Return of the Orthodox Church to the Homeland in the Post-Soviet Era” (MS, in English mainly).
As Fr. Valentine told the story: “In the
“And so at first they removed me from working with the guests, and then deprived me of the post of secretary, and then excluded me from the diocesan council. Once after my return from a trip abroad, the local hierarch Valentine (Mishchuk) summoned me and said: ‘Sit down and write a report for the whole year about what foreigners were with you, what you talked about with them, what questions they asked you and what answers you gave them.’ ‘Why is this necessary?’ ‘It’s just necessary,’ replied the bishop. ‘I don’t understand where I am, Vladyko – in the study of a hierarch or in the study of a KGB operative? No, I’ve never done this and never will do it. And remember that I am a priest and not a “stooge”.’ ‘Well if you’re not going to do it, I will transfer you to another parish.’
“And so the next day came the ukaz concerning my transfer to the out-of-the-way place Pokrov. I was upset, but after all I had to obey, it was a hierarch’s ukaz. But suddenly something unexpected happened – my parishioners rebelled against this decision, people began to send letters to the representatives of the authorities expressing their dissatisfaction with my transfer: our parishioners even hired buses to go to the capital and protest.
“The patriarchate began to admonish them,
suggested ‘a good batyushka’, Demetrius Nyetsvetayev, who was constantly on
trips abroad, in exchange. ‘We don’t need your batyushka,’ said the
parishioners, ‘we know this kind, today he’ll spy on foreigners, tomorrow on
the unbelievers of Suzdal, and then he’ll begin to reveal the secret of
parishioners’ confessions.’ In general, our parishioners just didn’t accept
Nyetsvetayev. They didn’t even let him into the church. The whole town was
aroused, and the parishioners came to me: ‘Fr. Valentine, what shall we do?’ At
that point I told them that I had passed my childhood among the ‘Tikhonites’
[Catacomb Christians], and that there is a ‘
 According to several people in
Is there any proof that Valentine is a KGB agent? In 1998 the present writer asked Valentine in writing whether he was or had been an agent. Valentine declined to reply on the grounds that a monk does not seek to justify himself… However, it is said that there exists Valentine’s written confession that he was a KGB agent in the archives of ROCOR. This was obtained from him on his knees in St. Constantine church in Suzdal in June, 1990, when Archbishop Lazarus and Mark concelebrated with him for the first time.
However, as we shall see, both Lazarus and Mark have themselves been accused of working with the KGB…
 Thus on September 17/30 he wrote
to the Synod that Suzdal was “a base sent from God”. And he continued: “S.K.
[probably Stefan Krasovitsky] writes to me on the question of the development
of our mission in Russia: ‘A very great brake is the fact that Vladyka Lazarus
has not thevright, as he claims, to receive clergy from all round the country
into our Church, but only in Tambov province. It would be necessary for him to
have such a right. It is also necessary that Archimandrite Valentine should
have such a right, and I hope he will return to us in the rank of a bishop. The
point is that at present many priests are going both to Vladyka Lazarus and to
Fr. Valentine. All the papers, as Vl. Lazarus says, he sends to
“Fr. Germanus Ivanov-Trinadtsaty, after staying in Russia and getting to
know the situation on the spot, writes that keeping Fr. Valentine in the rank
of archimandrite without consecrating him while there were three of our bishops
in Russia has elicited perplexity: ‘I see,’ he writes, ‘all the “faults” (in
inverted commas) of Fr. Valentine, everything that makes him not the typical
abroad cleric, but I can WITNESS that he himself sees this and is trying to
change. He is precisely that person who has fallen on our heads from the sky,
who can get things moving. He is capable of changing the situation in
“I personally have talked for quite a long time with Fr. Valentine and did not notice in him any of those faults about which Vl. Mark writes. Evidently, life and work in our Church in the course of the past months has not passed in vain for him.
“Fr. Germanus also talked with great veneration about Vladyka Lazarus…
but thinks that he is not capable of being a leader. He does not have that firm
juridical position which, but a miracle of God, Fr. Valentine has and which we
could use. If we want to carry out missionary work in
October 13/26, 1990, he wrote to Archbishop Anthony of
 “Chernigovskomu prikhodu RIPTs-RPTsZ – 15 let” (15 Years of the Chernigov Parish of RTOC-ROCOR), http://karlovtchanin.com/inex.php?module=pages&act=print_page&pid=109&SSID ®.
 ”The Position of ROCOR on the Free Russian Orthodox Church”, adopted by the Council of Bishops of the Russian Church Abroad, 2/15 March 1990.
 On Bishops Seraphim and Gennadius, see http://gnisios.narod.ru/gennadiussekach.html; Andreyev, Russia’s Catacomb Saints, Platina: St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1982, chapter 40; Hierodeacon Jonah (Yashunsky), “Nashi Katakomby” (Our Catacombs), Vestnik RKhD (Herald of the Russian Christian Movement), 1992, ¹ 166 ®; Bishop John and Igumen Elijah, Tainij Skhimitropolit (A Secret Schema-Metropolitan), Moscow: "Bogorodichnij Tsentr", 1991 ®; Kto est’ kto v rossijskikh katakombakh (Who’s Who in the Russian Catacombs), St. Petersburg, 1999, pp. 53-60 ® (a very hostile account); V. Moss, "The True Orthodox Church of Russia", Religion in Communist Lands, Winter, 1991.
 On Archbishop Anthony, see a manuscript life in the writer's possession and “I Vrata Adovy ne Odoleiut Ea’ (materialy k istorii Rossijskoj Istinno-Pravoslavnoj Tserkvi)” (And the Gates of Hell shall not Prevail against Her) (Materials towards the History of the True Orthodox Church), Suzdal’skie Eparkhial’nie Vedomosti Suzdal Diocesan News, ¹ 7, March-May, 1999, pp. 35-40 ®; Kto est’ kto v rossijskikh katakombakh (Who’s Who in the Russian Catacombs), op. cit.
 “Spravka iz Kantseliarii Arkhierejskago Sinoda” (Document from the Chancellery of the Hierarchical Synod), ¹ 4/77/133, 2/15 August, 1990 ®. See also Priest Oleg, "O mir vsego mira, blagosostoianii svyatykh Bozhiikh tserkvej i soedinenii vsekh, Gospodu pomolimsa" (For the peace of the whole world and the good estate of the holy Churches of God and the union of all, let us pray to the Lord), Pravoslavnaia Rus' (Orthodox Russia), ¹ 24 (1453), December 15/28, 1991, pp. 11-12 ®.
“Zaiavlenie Arkhierejskago Sinoda Russkoj Pravoslavnoj Tserkvi Zagranitsej”
(Declaration of the Hierarchical Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad), Pravoslavnaia
 Private e-mail communication,
 See V. Moss, “Pechat’ Antikhrista v Sovietskoj i Post-Sovietskoj Rossii” (The Seal of the Antichrist in Soviet and Post-Soviet Russia), Suzdal’skie Eparkhial’nie Vedomosti (Suzdal Diocesan News), ¹ 10, April-November, 2000, pp. 22-30 ®; translated into English with revisions and additions in V. Moss, The True Church in the Last Times, Cafepress, 2004, pp. 299-329.
 See "A Biography of Archimandrite Gury", The True Vine, vol. 3, ¹ 3 (1992); Vozdvizhenie (Exaltation), ¹ 2 (15), February, 1996 ®; Kto est’ kto v rossijskikh katakombakh (Who’s Who in the Russian Catacombs), op. cit., pp. 44-46.
 Metropolitan Vitaly, “Otvet bespasportnomu” (Reply to a Passportless), Pravoslavnij Vestnik (Orthodox Herald), February-March, 1990 ®; Petrova, op. cit.
 Petrova, op. cit.
 Encyclical Letter of the Council of Russian Bishops Abroad to the Russian Orthodox Flock, 23 March, 1933; translated in Living Orthodoxy, #131, vol. XXII, ¹ 5, September-October, 2001, p. 13.
 Ñf. Fr. Timothy Alferov, “Î polozhenii rossijskikh prikhodov RPTsZ v svete itogov patriarkhijnogo sobora” (On the Position of the Russian Parishes of the ROCOR in the Light of the Results of the Patriarchal Council), Uspenskij Listok (Dormition Leaflet), ¹ 34, 2000 ®.
 See, for example, his article
“Sila Tserkvi v edinenii very i liubvi” (The Strength of the Church is in Unity
of Faith and Love), Vestnik Germanskoj Eparkhii Russkoj Tserkvi za Granitsej
(Herald of the German Diocese of the
 Alferov, op. cit.
 See table 10.7 in Kaariainen, op. cit., p. 153.
 Senina, “The Angel of the
 Fr. Stefan Krasovitsky,
“Torzhestva v Suzdale” (Triumphs in Suzdal), Pravoslavnaia Rus’ (Orthodox
 In an interview that the present writer had with Bishop Lazarus in Moscow as early as June 22 / July 5, Lazarus threatened that if Mark continued to interfere with his work inside Russia, he form an autonomous church organization on the basis of Patriarch Tikhon’s ukaz ¹ 362 – a threat he carried out three years later.
 “Vladyka Valentin vernulsa iz
Ameriki” (Vladyka Valentine has returned from
 Zalewski, op. cit., p. 4.
 V. Moss, "The Free Russian Orthodox Church", Report on the USSR, ¹ 44, November 1, 1991; L. Byzov, S. Filatov, “Religia i politika v obshchestvennom soznanii sovetskogo naroda” (Religion and Politics in the Social Consciousness of the Soviet People), in Bessmertnij, A.R. & Filatov, S.B., Religia i Demokratia (Religion and Democracy), Moscow: Progress, 1993, p. 41, note 5 ®.
 “Vladyka Lazar otvechaiet na
voprosy redaktsii” (Vladyka Lazarus replies to the questions of the editors), Pravoslavnaia
 Zalewski, op. cit., p. 5.
 Priamoj Put’ (The Straight Path), January, 1992, p. 5; Nezavisimaia gazeta (The Independent Newspaper0, January 18, 1992 ®.
 Priamoj Put’ (The Straight Path), January, 1992, pp. 3-4; Priamoj Put’ (The Straight Path), March, 1992, pp. 3-4 ®.
 Quoted in Suzdal’skij Palomnik (Suzdal Pilgrim), ¹¹ 18-20, pp. 108, 109 ®.
 Suzdal’skij Palomnik (Suzdal Pilgrim), ¹¹ 18-20, pp. 63-64 ®.
 According to Mrs. Anastasia Shatilova, it was Barnabas himself who asked for this jurisdiction (Church News, July, 2003, vol. 14, ¹ 66 (#120), p. 4).
 Priamoj Put’ (The Straight Path), May, 1992 ®.
 Pravoslavnaia Rus’ (Orthodox
 Pravoslavnaia Rus’ (Orthodox
 Sergius Bychkov, “Voskresenie
mifa” (The Resurrection of a Myth), Moskovskie Novosti (
 Zalewski, op. cit., p. 5.
 Emergency report to the ROCOR
Synod, May 16/29, 1993, Suzdal’skij Palomnik (Suzdal Pilgrim), 18-20,
1994, p. 92 ®. In a later report to the Synod (June 9/22, 1993, Suzdal’skij
Palomnik (Suzdal Pilgrim), ¹¹
18-10, 1994, pp. 94-95), Bishop Gregory, after enumerating Bishop Barnabas’
transgressions, appealed that he be brought to trial. He wrote that according
to Protocol ¹ 5 of the Sobor, “’Bishop Barnabas spoke about
disturbances in his relationships with Archbishop Lazarus and [Bishop]
Benjamin’… He complained to the Sobor about a priest of Archbishop Lazarus
because he did not allow him to serve in his church without the permission of
the Archbishop. The President of ROCOR then explained to Bishop Barnabas that
insofar as the given parish was in the jurisdiction of Archbishop Lazarus, the
priest had been completely right. I personally possess an inquiry from the
priest of Archbishop Lazarus which confirms his reply to Bishop Barnabas. On
meeting the priest in the Mary-Martha convent, Bishop Barnabas ‘demanded that I
go under his omophorion. I refrained from going over, at which Bishop Barnabas
said: ‘You are a rebellious batiushka’. Having spoken about ‘disturbances in
his relationships with Archbishop Lazarus and Bishop Benjamin’, Bishop Barnabas
goes on to criticize Archbishop Lazarus. He recognized that he has ‘too
hastily’ banned Archimandrite Adrian, the unlawfulness of which the President
had immediately pointed out. To the question of Archbishop Mark concerning the
reception by Bishop Barnabas of the priest Peter Astakhov, who had been banned
by Bishop Valentine for living with a woman, Bishop Barnabas, as is recorded in
the protocol, replied that he ‘had to receive Fr. Peter, since the authorities
wanted to seize his church’. Then Bishop Barnabas proclaimed a list of parishes
of Archbishop Lazarus which, as he said, wanted to go over to him. The unlawful
actions of Bishop Barnabas in relation to other dioceses are listed further on
in the same protocol. There it says: “Another written report of Bishop
Valentine was read, which expressed a complaint against Bishop Barnabas for his
links with Pamyat’ and for his receiving clergy without release
documents. The actions of Bishop Barnabas introduce disturbance into the
parishes of the
 According to the Ukrainian
publication Ohliadach (Observer), even after Bishop Barnabas was banned from
 Bishop Valentine’s phrase was: “such disturbance and division of the flock as the atheists and the MP could only dream about” (Suzdal’skij Palomnik (Suzdal Pilgrim), ¹¹ 18-20, 1994, p. 5).
 Protocol no. 8, April 30
 Istoki Rossijskoj Pravoslavnoj Svobodnoj Tserkvi (The Sources of the Free Russian Orthodox Church), Suzdal, 1997, pp. 19-20 ®.
 Bishop Valentine’s accuser turned out to be Alexander R. Shtilmark, an assistant of the Pamyat’ leader, Demetrius Vasiliev. His motivation was clear. Later, several of Shtilmark’s relatives witnessed to his mental unbalance. And his sister, Maria Stilmark has recently asserted (personal communication, March, 2006) that her brother denies ever having sent a complaint to the Synod! In spite of this, and Bishop Valentine’s repeated protestations of his innocence (which appear not to have reached Metropolitan Vitaly) ROCOR, in the persons of Archbishop Mark and Bishop Hilarion continued to drag this matter out for another two years (Reports of Bishop Gregory (Grabbe), Suzdal’skij Palomnik (Suzdal Pilgrim), ¹¹ 18-20, 1994, pp. 123, 126 ®). (V.M.)
 Suzdal’skij Palomnik (Suzdal Pilgrim), ¹¹ 18-20, 1994, pp. 89-90 ®.
 There were objective grounds for such a suspicion. Thus the protocols of this Council for June 9/22 record: “Hieromonk Vladimir, superior of the Borisovsk church, says that three months before the Session of the Hierarchical Council, his relative said that he should abandon the Suzdal Diocese since they were going to retire Bishop Valentine at the Session of the Sobor in France. She knew this from a party worker linked with the KGB. And three years later he learned that this question had indeed been discussed. He is interested to know how it happened that the KGB realized its intention in real life?” (Suzdal’skij Palomnik (Suzdal Pilgrim), ¹ 23, 1995, p. 54; letter to the author by Hieromonk Vladimir (Ovchinnikov), June 23 / July 6, 1993 ®).
 Letter of Archbishop Anthony of
 Suzdal’skij Palomnik, ¹¹ 18-20, 1994, p. 121; letter to the author by Hieromonk Vladimir, op. cit.
 (Tserkovnaia Zhizn’ (Church Life), ¹¹ 3-4, May-August, 1994, p. 5 ®).
 Tserkovnaia Zhizn’ (Church Life), ¹ 5-6, September-December, 1993, pp. 7, 9 ®.
 Church News, vol. 12, ¹ 1 (83), January-February, 2000, p. 5.
 Suzdal’skij Palomnik (Suzdal Pilgrim), ¹¹ 18-20, 1994, pp. 159-160 ®
 Suzdal’skij Palomnik (Suzdal Pilgrim), ¹¹ 18-20, pp. 168-169 ®.
 Tserkovnaia Zhizn’ (Church Life), ¹¹ 1-2, January-April, 1994, pp. 14-16; Suzdal’skij Palomnik (Suzdal Pilgrim), ¹¹ 18-20, 1994, pp. 196-198 ®.
 Suzdal’skij Palomnik (Suzdal Pilgrim), ¹¹ 18-20, 1994, pp. 198, 200-201 ®.
“Poslanie nastoiatelia khrama RPZTs v Parizhe” (Epistle of the Rector of the
 Protocol 5; Tserkovnie Novosti (Church News), ¹ 4 (105), May, 2002, p. 4 ®.
 Tserkovnaia Zhizn’, ¹¹ 3-4, May-August, 1994, pp. 60-65. Bishop Eutyches had left the MP in the early 1990s for four reasons: (i) the sexual demands made by the MP’s Metropolitan Theodosius of Omsk to the wives of clergy and parishioners, (ii) his refusal to demand the return of church buildings from the authorities, (iii) his refusal to give catechism lessons before baptism, and (iv) his ban on baptising by full immersion (Roman Lunkin, “Rossijskie zarubezhniki mezhdu dvukh otnej” (The Russians of the Church Abroad between two fires), http://www.starlightsite.co.uk/keston/russia/articles/nov2005/01Kurochkin.html (R).
 Bishop Gregory, Pis’ma
 Suzdal’skij Palomnik (Suzdal Pilgrim), ¹¹ 18-20, 1994, p. 149 ®.
 Grabbe, Doklady (Reports),
 Zalewski, op. cit., p. 7.
 Suzdal’skij Palomnik (Suzdal Pilgrim), ¹¹ 18-20, 1994, pp. 128-129, 130 ®.
 “In fact,” writes Bishop Ambrose of Methone, “two bishops present at the Episcopal Sobor in San Francisco did not sign the act of union, Bishop Ambrose of Vevey (continuing the policy of Archbishop Anthony of Geneva) and Bishop Benjamin – in his case I have no idea why” (personal communication, November 17, 2005).
 Pravoslavnij Vestnik (Orthodox Herald), January-February, 1996 ®.
 Letter to Archbishop Mark of
 Tserkovnie Novosti (Church News), June, 1997, ¹ 6 (62), p. 4 ®.
 Bishop Artemius, Statement to the Thessalonica Theological Conference, September, 2004; in The Shepherd, June, 2005, pp. 15-16.
 Church News, October-November, 1998, vol. 10, ¹ 8 (75), p. 8.
 Orthodox Tradition, vol. XV, ¹ 1, p. 34.
 Nun E., a close disciple of Metropolitan Gennadius, personal communication, September, 1990.
 Vertograd-Inform, ¹ 2, December, 1998, p. 25; Church News, September, 1997, vol. 9, ¹ 9 (65), pp. 8-10.
 These zealots joined HOCNA. However, other Georgian anti-ecumenists joined other Greek Old Calendarist jurisdictions: the Cyprianites and the Chrysostomites. (V.M.)
 In fairness to the Cyprianites,
it has to be said that they were much more consistent in their resistance to
ecumenism than the Patriarchates of Georgia or
 Lourié, “The Synodal
Decision of the
 “Looking Back on
 Patriarch Maximus wrote to the General Secretary of the WCC on November 27, 1998 as follows: “The Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church at their session on the 9th of April 1998, Protocol No. 9, having taken into consideration that the hopes from its membership in the World Council of Churches have not been fully justified, as well as from the confusion of the Orthodox Christians in this country with that membership (of our Church in the WCC), with a view to safeguard the fullness of our Holy Church, have decided to discontinue its membership in it” (http://www.wcc-coe.org/wcc/assembly/pre-47.html). (My italics (V.M)).
 Valentine, Nativity Epistle, 1994/1995 ®.
 Here is the original Act of November 29, 1994, together with the changes proposed by the FROC’s letter of January 27, 1995 (in italics) (see Suzdal’skij Palomnik (Suzdal Pilgrim), ¹ 22, 1995, pp. 26-27): “We, the Hierarchical Synod of ROCOR, under the presidency of the First-Hierarch, His Eminence Metropolitan Vitaly of Eastern America and New York, and the Most Reverend Hierarchs: Archbishop Lazarus of Odessa and Tambov and Bishop Valentine of Suzdal and Vladimir, taking upon ourselves full responsibility before God and the All-Russian flock, and following the commandments of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, in the name of peace and love, for the sake of the salvation of our souls and the souls of our flock, declare the following:
“1. We recognize our mutual responsibility
for the disturbances that have arisen in the Russian [Rossijskoj]
Church, but we consider that certain hasty actions of the Hierarchical Synod cannot
serve as justification for a schism in the
“2. We ask each other’s forgiveness, so that from now on we should not reproach anybody for the actions which lead to the division and the founding of the THCA.” Comment of the FROC bishops: It is not a matter of reproaches but of the essence of the actions of both sides, which have led to administrative division and the founding of the THCA. By examining each concrete action, we would be able mutually to understand the depth of the causes, and proceeding from that, calmly and without detriment, remove their consequences in the present.
“3. We consider the organization of the THCA to be an unlawful act and abolish it.” Comment of the FROC bishops: The very formulation of this point seems to us to be faulty in view of the final aim of our joint efforts.
“4. We consider the consecration of the three hierarchs: Theodore, Seraphim and Agathangelus, which was carried out by their Graces Lazarus and Valentine, to be unlawful. Their candidacies should be presented in the order that is obligatory for all candidates for hierarchical rank accepted in ROCOR, and, if they turn out to be worthy, then, after their confession of faith and acceptance of the hierarchical oath, they will be confirmed in the hierarchical rank.” Comment of the FROC bishops: We do not agree at all that the episcopal consecrations performed by us were not lawful. The obligatory order for all candidates for hierarchical rank accepted in ROCOR could not be a guide for us in our actions since at that time we were administratively independent of ROCOR. If we approach this demand from a strictly formal point of view, then the Hierarchical Synod should have asked us concerning our agreement or disagreement with the new consecrations, especially the consecration of his Grace Bishop Eutyches – which was not done. In spite of your limitation of our rights, we have recognized these consecrations and are far from the thought of demanding a confession of faith and acceptance of the hierarchical oath a second time, specially for us.
“5. In the same way, all the other actions carried out by Archbishop Lazarus and Bishop Valentine and the THCA organized by them which exceeded the authority of the diocesan bishops, but belonged only to the province of the Hierarchical Sobor and Hierarchical Synod of ROCOR, are to be considered to be invalid.”Comment of the FROC bishops: Until the moment that we ceased to be members of ROCOR, and the THCA was formed, all our actions and suggestions were presented for discussion and confirmation by these higher church instances. Having conditionally separated from ROCOR in administrative matters, we were entitled to carry out these actions.
“6. Archbishop Lazarus is reinstated in
the rights of a ruling hierarch with the title “Archbishop of Odessa and
“7. Bishop Valentine will
be restored to his rights as the ruling hierarch of Suzdal and Vladimir after
the removal of the accusations against him on the basis of an investigation by
“8. To bring order into ecclesiastical matters on the territory of Russia a Hierarchical Conference of the Russian Hierarchs is to be organized which does not encroach on the fullness of ecclesiastical power, but which is in unquestioning submission to the Hierarchical Sobor and the Hierarchical Synod of ROCOR. One of the members of the Hierarchical Conference will be a member of the Synod, in accordance with the decision of the Hierarchical Sobor.” Comment of the FROC bishops: It is suggested that this formulation be changed, and consequently also the meaning of the eighth point: ‘The THCA does not encroach on the fullness of ecclesiastical power. In certain exceptional situations it recognizes its spiritual and administrative submission to the Hierarchical Sobor of the ROCOR. One of the members of the Hierarchical Conference will be a temporary, regular member of the Synod, in accordance with the decision of the Hierarchical Sobor of ROCOR and the Hierarchical Conference of the Russian Bishops.
“9. After the signing of the Act it will be published in all the organs of the church press, and in particular in those publications in which their Graces Lazarus and Valentine published material against the Hierarchical Sobor and Hierarchical Synod of the ROCOR.” Comment of the FROC bishops: The formulation should be changed as follows: After the signing of the Act it will be published in all the organs of the church press, and in particular in those publications in which their Graces Lazarus and Valentine published material explaining certain hasty actions of the Hierarchical Synod and Sobor of ROCOR.”
 “Obraschenie Episkopa Evtikhia
Ishimskogo i Sibirskogo” (Address of Bishop Eutyches of
 Suzdal’skij Palomnik (Suzdal Pilgrim), 23, 1995, pp. 32-33 ®.
 This Decree, dated February 22, also stated that the Odessa-Tambov and Suzdal-Vladimir dioceses were declared “widowed” (a term used only if the ruling bishop has died) and were to be submitted temporarily to Metropolitan Vitaly. See Suzdal’skij Palomnik (Suzdal Pilgrim), ¹ 23, 1995, p. 31; Tserkovnie Novosti (Church News), ¹ 1A (43), February, 1995, p. 3 ®. (V.M).
 “Witness” of
 Tserkovnie Novosti (Church News), ¹ 1A (43), February, 1995, p. 5 ®.
 Suzdal’skij Palomnik (Suzdal Pilgrim), ¹ 23, 1995, p. 34 ®.
 Tserkovnie Novosti (Church News), ¹ 3 (45), May-June, 1995, p. 3 ®.
 V. Moss, "The Free Russian Orthodox Church", Report on the USSR, ¹ 44, November 1, 1991; L. Byzov, S. Philatov, op. cit., p. 41, note 5 ®.
 Bishop Amrose of Methone reports
that a few days before his death Jose told him that he had left the icon in
 Tserkovnaia Zhizn' (Church News), ¹¹ 3-4, May-August, 1995, pp. 3-4 ®.
 Suzdal’skij Blagovest’ (Suzdal Bell-Ringing), ¹ 3, January-February, 1997, p. 3 ®.
 Orthodox Life, vol. 47, ¹ 3, May-June, 1997, pp. 42-43; Suzdal’skij Blagovest’ (Suzdal Bell-Ringing), ¹ 3, January-February, 1997, p. 3 ®.
 Suzdal’skie Eparkhial’nie Vedomosti (Suzdal Diocesan News), ¹ 7, March-May, 1999, p. 7 ®. Cf. “Rossijskaia Pravoslavnaia Tserkov’, 1990-2000” (The Russian Orthodox Church, 1990-2000), Vertograd-Inform, ¹¹ 7-8 (64-65), July-August, 2000, pp. 22-39 ®.
 The major sources used in this
account of the schism are all unpublished: Bishop Photius of
 Mr. Christakis, Professor of
Canon Law at the
 No decision had yet been made
about Peter of Astoria. He had been invited to the last session of the Synod,
but did not come. The Synod then decided to send two bishops to visit him and
ask him why he had not come to the last session (Bishop Photius of
 Letter of Metropolitan Ephraim of Boston, Metropolitan Macarius of Toronto and Bishop Moses of Roslindale to the Callinicites, December 1/14, 1999, protocol number 1704.
 The sixth canon of the Second Ecumenical Council declares: “But if any brings against a bishop his own, that is, a private complaint, whether in a claim on some property or in some injustice that he has suffered from him; in such accusations neither the person of the accuser, not his faith, should be taken into account. It is fitting that the conscience of a bishop be free in every way, and that he who has declared himself offended [by the bishop] should receive justice, of whatever faith he might be.”
 Phoni ex Agiou Orous (Voice
 In 1995, in his monastery in Anthousa, Petros turned to Euthymius and said about Paisius and Vincent: “I know so many things about them! You, Euthymius, are a saint by comparison with them!” Euthymius, trying to hide his embarrassment with a joke, said: “Then you will have to make an icon of me.” It goes without saying that Peter was in no way praising Euthymius, but only saying that Paisius and Vincent were even worse that he (Bishop Photius, Chronicle).
 Point 9, “Decree of the
Panhellenic Clergy Meeting of the GOC of
 In the Lamia region he used to preach faithfulness to the Chrysostomite Synod because “the sin of Callinicus Khaniotes and Euthymius Orphanos cannot be washed out even by the blood of martyrdom”, and “if his Beatitude [Archbishop Chrysostom] were to receive Euthymius and Callinicus back, I would cease to commemorate the Archbishop and would commemorate every Orthodox episcopate” (Bishop Photius, Chronicle).
 Bishop Photius, private
 Ekklesia G.O.X. Ellados
(Church of the True Orthodox Christians of
 Bishop Macarius, To Katantima, op. cit., pp. 30-31.
 Bishop Macarius, To Katantima, op. cit., p. 9.
 Basil Lourie, “The
 Katastatikon “Ekklesias
Gnision Orthodoxon Khristianon Ellados” (Constitution of the “Church of the
True Orthodox Christians of
 Encyclical of Archbishop
 Callinicus had been propounding
heretical Apollinarian views on the Incarnation. When caught out by one of his
own priests, and beginning to realise his mistake, he then said that he would
repent of his error if the other bishops repented of certain supposedly
heretical things that they had said. But the Synod refused to accept this
“deal” (Bishop Photius of
 But then the schism between
Laurus and Vitaly took place, and the Chrysostomite dialogue with Laurus ended…
(Bishop Photius, private communication,
 Bishop Ambrose (von Sievers),
"Ispytatel'nie Voprosy zadannie smnievaiushchim Preosviashchennomu
Amvrosiu Episkopu Gotfskomu" (Testing questions given to Bishop Ambrose of
the Goths) (MS, 7/20 June, 1994), personal communication, and “Episkopat
Istinno-Pravoslavnoj Katakombnoj Tserkvi” (The Episcopate of the
 For more on Bishop Ambrose, see his autobiographical article, “Endurance: Reminiscences of the True Orthodox Church”, Religion, State and Society, vol. 25, ¹ 3, 1997, pp. 220-234; “’Arkhiepiskop Amvrosij (‘Sivers’)” (Archbishop Ambrose (Sivers), Vertograd-Inform, ¹ 2 (59), 2000, pp. 46-49 ®. See also Kto yest’ kto v Rossijskikh Katakombakh (Who’s Who in the Russian Catacombs), op. cit., pp. 10-24.
 Bishop Ambrose (von Sievers), “’Klimentovskaia’ Ierarkhia I.P.Ts.” (The Clementine Hierarchy of the True Orthodox Church), Russkoe Pravoslavie (Russian Orthodoxy), ¹ 5 (9), 1997, pp. 1-11 ®. See also Kto est’ kto v Rossijskikh Katakombakh (Who’s Who in the Russian Catacombs), op. cit., pp. 24-27. This latter publication also has information on several other small Catacomb groups.
 Fr. Epiphanius is called a "schema-metropolitan" in some Russian publications (e.g. Fomin, op. cit.). However, the present writer, who knew him well, has failed to find any evidence that he was more than a simple monk. And in the eulogy to him published by the Matthewites after his death (Kirix Gnision Orthodoxon (Herald of the True Orthodox), November, 1995 (G)), there is no mention of his supposed episcopate.
“Mitr. Kirik Mesogejskij i Arkhiepiskop Amvrosij Gotfskij – vstrecha na
Elbe « (Metropolitan Cyricus of Mesogaia and Archbishop Ambrose of
the Goths – a meeting on the Elbe), www.romanitas.ru,
September, 2004 ®. The Kyrikite priest Fr. Andrew Sidniev has disputed many
points in Ter-Grigorian’s account. See http://www.livejournal.com/users/iasidnev/30314.html
 Fr. Anthimus Bichir, Cristian Belciu, private communications, August, 2004.
 Djokic, “Coming to Terms with
the Past: Former
 Pravoslavije, June 1, 1991 (S); Keston News Service, ¹ 379, 11 July, 1991, p. 4; Anglican and Eastern Churches Association, December, 1991, pp. 29-31.
 Thus in May, 1992, the Holy
Synod of the
“Tens of thousands dead, many more wounded, more than a million evicted
and refugees, destroyed churches, houses, devastated villages and desolate
homes. With deep sorrow we must state that once again concentration camps are
being opened for Serbs in
 Antonios Markou, "On the Serbian Question", Orthodox Tradition, vol. XI, ¹ 4, 1994, p. 16.
 "'World Orthodoxy's'
 Church News (the English translation of Tserkovnie Novosti), vol. 9, ¹ 8 (64), August, 1997, p. 7.
 Sergej Flere,
"Denominational Affiliation in
 This figure cited in Norman
 Vrcan, "The War in Former
 Cited in Norman Cigar, Genocide
 Jean-François Meyer, Religions et Sécurité Internationale (Religions and International Security), Berne, Switzerland: Office Central de la Defense, 1995, pp. 24-25.
 “Comparing the position of the Orthodox Church under the power of communism in Russia and in Yugoslavia, one can say that in the first years of the establishment of the godless power in Russia Patriarch Tikhon anathematized the godless and all their co-workers, and as soon as the betrayal of church liberty by Metropolitan Sergius was comprehended, almost immediately an elemental movement against was formed, under the leadership of the greater and best part of the Episcopate of the Russian Orthodox Church, which later received the name of the Catacomb or Tikhonite Church. Unfortunately, nothing similar took place in the composition of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
 Cigar, op. cit., pp. 67-68.
 See, for example, an attempt to justify the massacre of Muslims in Srebrenica as revenge for the massacre of Serbs in the same region by Carl Savich, “Srebrenica: The Untold Story”, http://www.pogledi.co.yu/english/srebrenica1.php.
 Translated in The Shepherd, vol. XIX, ¹ 8, April, 1999, pp. 18-19.
 Pro-Serbian commentators argue
that the West is the victim of anti-Serb propaganda. The present writer watched
many programmes on the Serbian wars on British television in the course of the
war. No anti-Serb bias was evident in them. Detailed and generally accurate
documentaries were shown on the sufferings of the Serbs at the hands of the
Croats in 1941 and on the significance of Kosovo for the Serbs. Serb
representatives were invited to express their point of view in all debates on the Serbian wars. On the
 “Episkop ofitsial’noj serbskoj tserkvi oblichaet svoego patriarkha” (Bishop of the Official Serbian Church Reproaches His Patriarch), Vertograd-Inform, ¹ 1 (58), January, 2000, p. 13 ®.
 Russkaia Mysl’ (Russian Thought), January 22, 1993 ®.
 John Chaplain, “Re: [paradosis]
Alternative Orthodoxy is loosing its illusory legitimacy…”,
 “Serbskaia Patriarkhia i Katolicheskaia Tserkov’: ‘V Sovmestnoj Molitve… My Stali Yeshcho Blizhe’” (The Serbian Patriarchate and the Catholic Church: ‘In Joint Prayer… We Became Still Closer), Vertograd-Inform, ¹¹ 7-8 (64-65), July-August, 2000, pp. 18-19 ®; Church News, vol. 23, ¹ 7 (89), October, 2000, pp. 5-6.
 “The True Orthodox Church of Serbia”, Vertograd (English edition), ¹ 9, July, 1999, p. 3.
 Hieroschemamonk Akakie, personal communication, November, 2004.
 See materials in Russkoe Pravoslavie (Russian Orthodoxy), ¹ 3 (7), 1997 ®.
 Pravoslavnaia Rus’, ¹ 16 (1589), August 15/28, 1997 ®.
 Zhukov, Letter
 Larin, Letter of August 18/31, 1997 to Fr. Stefan Krasovitsky.
 Service Orthodoxe de Presse, 221, September-October, 1997, p. 16 (F). Patriarch Diodorus was reported to have distanced himself from that remark.
 Vestnik Germanskoj Eparkhii, ¹ 4, 1997 ®.