Romanitas: An Unofficial Server of the Russian Orthodox Church
"Interview of Reader Vladimir Moss, the Church publicist and ecclesiastical historian, with the Orthodox almanac "Romanitas".
Russian version here
Romanitas. Vladimir, can you tell us a little about yourself?
VM. I was born in 1949 in London into the family of a British diplomat, and was educated in the British public school and university system. I have a first degree in philosophy and psychology, and a doctorate in psychology. I am married (to the grand-daughter of Arseny Abramovich Morozov) and have no children. I live in England, but own a house in Suzdal.
Romanitas. When and how did you become Orthodox?
VM. As a student in Oxford, I used to sing in an Orthodox choir, and eagerly read all the works of Dostoyevsky. So I was already in love with Russia and strongly drawn to Orthodoxy when I first visited the country in 1970. Then, in 1973, I met Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) of Sourozh, and joined the Moscow Patriarchate in 1974, becoming reader of the English Orthodox Parish of St. Michael, Guildford, in the same year. In 1975 our Parish left the Moscow Patriarchate for reasons of the faith (ecumenism and sergianism), and in 1976 I was baptised in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. Since 1998 our Parish has belonged to the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church under the omophorion of Metropolitan Valentine of Suzdal.
Romanitas. Has any particular principle governed your life as an Orthodox Christian?
VM. Apart from the commandments of Christ and the teaching of the holy apostles and fathers, the words spoken to me by Metropolitan Philaret of New York in 1977: “Vladimir, I advise you always to remain loyal to the anathema hurled against the Soviet church by the Catacomb Church.”
Romanitas. What anathema did he have in mind?
VM. He did not explain. But a few years later he wrote: “A terrible thing happened in 1927, when the leader of the church Metropolitan Sergius by his shameful apostate declaration subjected the Russian church to the Bolsheviks and declared that he was going to cooperate with them. The words of the prayer before confession: “falling under one’s own anathema!” were fulfilled in the most exact sense! For in 1918 the Church anathematised all those who cooperated with communism, and in 1927 she herself entered into the company of these co-workers and and began to praise the red God-fighting power – the red beast of which the Apocalypse speaks. But that is not all. When Metropolitan Sergius published his criminal declaration, the faithful children of the Church immediately separated from the Soviet church, and the Catacomb Church was formed. And she in her turn anathematised the official church for her betrayal of Christ.
Romanitas. I take it, therefore, that you consider the only True Church inside Russia to have been the Catacomb Church?
VM. Yes. In this I follow the teaching not only of Metropolitan Philaret (whose relics were recently found to be incorrupt, and who was canonised by our Church in May of this year), but also of the hierarch who baptised me, Archbishop Nikodem of Great Britain, and of the great majority of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia who lived after the declaration of Metropolitan Sergius.
Romanitas. When precisely do you think the Moscow Patriarchate lost grace?
VM. I cannot say precisely. But not later than 1945. After all, as our hierarchs have reminded us many times, the Moscow Patriarchate was founded by Stalin in 1943, and it is impossible to consider a “Church” founded by the greatest persecutor of Christianity in history to be a true Church. Moreover, a formal anathema against the sergianists had already been introduced into the Order for the Triumph of Orthodoxy by the Petrograd Josephites by this time.
Romanitas. Vladimir, you must be aware that many members of the True Church in Russia still regard the Moscow Patriarchate as having grace.
VM. Yes, this is a problem I have been familiar with since my very first moments in the True Church. You know, in 1976, when I was already stripped and about to enter the font, the priest who had been ordered by Vladyka to baptise me refused unless I signed a document confessing that there were true sacraments in the Moscow Patriarchate. I refused, so he refused to baptise me. Only after the intervention of the senior priest in London, Archimandrite Nicanor, who had been a witness of the martyrdom of Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev, was I baptised. Later, our Archbishop Nikodem received a letter supposedly from Metropolitan Philaret of New York questioning the lawfulness of my “rebaptism”. When Vladyka Metropolitan came to England, Vladyka Nikodem asked him about this letter. St. Philaret said that he had not written the letter, that his signature had been forged, and that he considered my baptism perfectly canonical and valid. The secretary of the Synod at that time was Bishop (now Metropolitan) Lavr…
Romanitas. Do you think there is any justification for the view that the Moscow Patriarchate had grace until very recently?
VM. None at all. If we consider that we belong to the Church of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, then we must obey the decisions of that Church. Nobody is allowed to place his personal opinion above the judgement of the Church.
Of course, doublemindedness on this issue can proceed from different motives, not all equally culpable. Some believe that there is still grace in the MP out of ignorance, out of an imperfect consciousness of the nature of the Church and the depth of the sergianist betrayal. This is more easily forgiven than the attitude of others, who recognise that the Moscow Patriarchate has been in schism and heresy for generations, but affirm that it is possible to be in the MP and at the same time a Christian. How is it possible to be at the same time a Christian and in a heretical and schismatical pseudo-church?! It is a cardinal principle of Orthodox ecclesiology that heretics and schismatics are outside the Church and have no grace of sacraments. The opposite teaching – that it is possible to be a heretic or schismatic, but at the same time a member of the True Church – has recently been condemned by our Church under the label “Cyprianism”.
Romanitas. Are you saying that all those who die in the Moscow Patriarchate go to hell?
VM. I do not say that, just as I do not say that all those who die in the True Church go to Paradise. The question of membership of the True Church and the question of eternal salvation are logically distinct, though closely related. After all, Hieromartyr Cyril of Kazan said: “We cannot know whether those remaining in Sergianism will be saved, because the matter of eternal salvation is a matter of the mercy and grace of God. But for those who see and feel the unrighteousness of Sergianism it would be unforgiveable cunning to close their eyes on this unrighteounsess and seek there the satisfaction of their spiritual needs…” Nobody can – and nobody, I hope, would want to - declare that God in His mercy cannot save someone who dies outside the True Church. The point is that if God makes exceptions to the patristic rule: “There is no salvation outside the Church”, this is something known to Him alone - unless He chooses to reveal it to some by special revelation. But if we have not been counted worthy of such special revelations, we must stick to the rule given to us by the Gospel and the Holy Fathers, and not presume to know that which we cannot know. As the holy Apostle Peter asked: “If the righteous man is scarcely saved, where will the impious and sinner appear?” (I Peter 4.18).
Romanitas. Many would say that such an attitude is unmerciful.
VM. Yes, of course, all ecumenists and crypto-ecumenists claim to be more merciful than God and to know more than was revealed to the Holy Apostles and Fathers. But consider: if the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors are right, and the Moscow Patriarchate is a graceless organism, is it not terribly cruel to suggest that there might be grace there? Will not members of the MP think: if there is grace here, why should I leave and seek the True Church elsewhere? And will they not then be subject to a most terrible awakening when they die and appear naked of grace before the terrible Judgement-Seat of Christ?
This is a problem that occurs in many different forms in our ecumenist times. One of our English parishioners was once in another town on business. On Sunday he wanted to go to church and headed for an Orthodox cupola in the distance. He was met by a very pleasant Greek Orthodox priest, who asked him what nationality he was. “English”, he replied. Then the priest pointed to a Protestant church in the distance. “But I’m Orthodox!” “Yes, that’s very nice, my dear friend, but Orthodoxy is for Greeks and Russians. As an Englishman, you should go to an Anglican or Catholic church.” “But Orthodoxy is the One True Church outside which there is no salvation!” “No, my dear friend, you can equally be saved in any Christian church…” Fortunately, our parishioner was sufficiently Orthodox not to be seduced by the “merciful” admonitions of this “priest”. But how difficult it is for so many westerners seeking the truth in Holy Orthodoxy, who are turned away by “Orthodox” priests who “mercifully” tell them that they can be saved in their schisms and heresies!
Romanitas. Vladimir, the Church internet journal “Vertograd” recently issued a press-release concerning the presentation of your book, “The Orthodox Church at the Crossroads (1917-1999)”, at the Third International Book Fair in Moscow. What is your attitude to this event?
VM. Of course, it would be ungracious of me not to thank the organisers for the publicity given to my book. But on looking at the circumstances of the presentation I cannot help being suspicious of the motivation behind it. Why was I, as the author, not invited to the presentation, or at least informed of it beforehand? Perhaps the practice is different in Russia, but in the West this is unheard of. Secondly, why did the presenters say so little about the main theses of my book, but instead put forward completely contrary theses?
Romanitas. What contra-theses do you have in mind?
VM. I mean particularly the idea of “alternative Orthodoxies”. Of course, this is not the first time that “Vertograd” has put forward this idea. In September it gave wide publicity to the statement by Hieromonk Gregory (Lurye), who by coincidence happened to be the main presenter of my book at the International Fair, that the True Church in Russia is an “alternative” to the Moscow Patriarchate and the Old Believers, as if these were the “three branches” of Orthodoxy in Russia. The concept of “alternative Orthodoxy” is unsustainable and contradicts the main thesis of my book, which is that True Orthodoxy is not one out of several variants of Orthodoxy, but the only Orthodoxy, to which there can be no alternative: for, as the apostle says, čáî, “there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Ĺph. 4.4). After all, the main heresy of our days, ecumenism, wishes to convince us that choosing a faith is like choosing a new suit in a shop or meal in a restaurant, everything depends on the personal taste and character of the believer. But the True Orthodox believe that in the True Church of Christ there is not, for example, one Testament for the married and another for the unmarried, or one Orthodoxy for the uneducated masses and another for the educated elite. Our Church is not an “alternative” to the Moscow Patriarchate in the sense that a man who wishes to be saved is allowed to go to church here and there, depending on tastes, education or intellectual capacities. And one must not say, in the words of the well-known protopriest, that the Old Believers are “a very healthy part of the believing people, very healthy” (“Vertograd”, November 23). After all, even the Cyprianites consider that heretics and schismatics are not a “very healthy”, but rather a sick part of the believing people. And in actual fact heretics and schismatics are worse than sick: they are spiritually dead.
Romanitas. From what you say, I presume that you would not approve of the term “specialists in alternative Orthodoxy”?
VM. It goes without saying! When I heard that my book on True Orthodoxy was being presented by “specialists in alternative Orthodoxy”, I was horrified! As if our Orthodoxy, the One True Faith, were some kind of academic pursuit or “spiritual hobby”, to use the phrase of the editor of “Vertograd”, Alexander Soldatov! True, there recently appeared among us certain “experts on the Holy Fathers”, so-called “patrologists”. But the majority of the world’s patrologists are western heretics, and it seems that our patrologists, too, are in the process of creating a truly heretical alternative to Orthodoxy – the heresy of name-worshipping. God defend us from such specialists!
Romanitas. You mention name-worshipping. Was this heresy not condemned by Patriarch Tikhon and the Most Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church in 1918?
VM. Yes, but recently a group of Church intellectuals led by Fr. Gregory Lurye joined our Church from the Moscow Patriarchate via the ROCOR, bringing with them this heresy (among others) and declaring that those hierarchs who condemned this heresy (including Patriarch Tikhon and several New Hieromartyrs of the Russian Church) were “fighters against the name”.
Romanitas. But how could any contemporary member of the Russian Church call Patriarch Tikhon “fighters against the name”?!
VM. They try and get round this by asserting that Patriarch Tikhon and the Most Holy Synod only provisionally condemned name-worshipping. But this is not true. In 1918 the Synod confirmed its decision of 1913 to consider name-worshipping to be a heresy, and confirmed the bans on the leading name-worshippers, including Anthony Bulatovich (whom Fr. Gregory Lurye considers to be a saint!).
In any case, it should be pointed out that this group has a low opinion of the Holy New Martyrs of Russia. Thus one of them, Tatiana Senina, declared on the internet: “You for some reason consider that they [the new martyrs] had the same canonical consciousness as the ancient fighters for Orthodoxy. This by no means follows. For me the new martyrs are by mentalitó closer to the Amorrean martyrs, who were high-ranking officials at the court of the iconoclast Theophilus (and officials under the emperors had to take part in Church ceremonies – that is, in the heresy under the iconoclasts). But when they were captured by the Muslims, and the latter began to force them to renounce Christ, they refused and accepted martyrdom.…” “It was approximately like this: for the new martyrs to become new martyrs, they (the Bolsheviks) had to say that there was no God, and he (Sergius) that the Church had to be given into captivity to the atheists. Then they became alarmed. If a subtle heresy (like monothelitism or something of that sort) had been introduced into the Church at that time, I fear that none of them would have noticed anything.”. And again: “I am sure that if there had been no revolution, many of the new martyrs, with a peaceful development of events, would have been condemned with the heretics like Metaxakis and Athenagoras, for the dogmatic consciousness of the majority of them was almost nil”.
Romanitas. Is name-worshipping precisely a heresy, and not, for example, an attempt to return to the patristic teaching on the Name of God, to Palamism, to the teaching of Dionysius the Areopagite, to the practice of the mental prayer of Jesus, to Orthodox hesychasm?
VM. “Name-worshipping” is precisely a heresy. It was judged as such by four Orthodox patriarchs (two of Constantinople, one of Antioch and one of Russia). It was judged as such by the Orthodox people. For, as St. Barsanuphius of Optina said at the very height of the heresy: “Remember that the power is not in the word, not in the name, but in Christ Himself, Who is named”. The heretic-name-worshippers love to dress up in the clothes of Palamism, hesychasm, etc. But this is a diversion, and these are not their clothes. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing.
As regards Fr. Gregory (Lurye) and his support group, it seems to me that the question of name-worshipping is simply an excuse, one of the means of attacking pre-revolutionary Synodal Orthodoxy as a whole.
Romanitas. Yes, it seems, alas, that this group also has a dismissive and extremely arrogant opinion of the whole of pre-revolutionary Synodal Orthodoxy.
VM. Yes, they take their cue from certain well-known anomalies in the relationship between Church and State before the revolution in order to launch a general attack on pre-revolutionary Synodal Orthodoxy. And this extends into the immediate post-revolutionary period. Thus Fr. Gregory Lurye has said of the Local Council of the Russian Church in 1917-18: “Personally I consider this council to have been a long-drawn-out (thank you, Soviet power – not infinitely long-drawn-out) tragicomical story, which influenced later Church life in a way that did more harm than good… Our Church has no officially expressed position in relation to this council”. This last statement, of course, is a lie. Our Church considers herself to be the lawful successor of the Church of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, and as such cannot but accept the decisions of that Church as binding upon herself, whether these relate to the patriarchate, the nature of Soviet power, name-worshipping or whatever it may be.
Romanitas. Do you see any general pattern or motivation in the activity of this group?
VM. I can only speculate on their possible motivation. But here are my thoughts for what they are worth. It seems to me that this group can be characterised as “renovationists from the right”, whose aim, like that of the “renovationists from the left” of the early part of the 20th century, is to overthrow the existing Church hierarchy by an appeal to a supposedly purer, more canonical practice in ancient times – usually, the practice of the Byzantine Church and Empire. For example, one of their persistent themes is the idea that the Russian Church was in an anti-canonical dependence on the State not only from the time of Peter the Great but even from the time of Metropolitan Daniel in the early 16th century, and that this was the result of a falling away from the Byzantine “symphonic” ideal of Church-State relations. Thus Fr. Gregory recently wrote: “The transfer of the centre of the Christian Empire to Russia, which was accomplished in the 16th century, was immediately marked by the violation of that “dynamic balance” which had been established in Byzantium” (“In search of lost Byzantium”).
Romanitas. Is there any truth in their assertion, in your opinion?
VM. It is never difficult to find falling away from the Christian ideal in Christian history. The difficult thing is to keep a sense of historical perspective about it. Moreover, one must be very careful about the conclusions one draws from such criticisms.
Thus I cannot accept that Church-State relations in the Russian Empire, even if often falling short of the ideal, were always worse than Church-State relations in the Byzantine Empire. Consider the case of the Byzantine Emperor Isaac Angelus, who declared: “On earth there is no difference in power between God and the Emperor. The Emperors are allowed to do anything and can use the things of God on a par with their own, since they received the royal dignity itself from God,, and there is no distance between themselves and God”. And, several decades later, Niketas Choniates wrote: “Most of the Roman Emperors could absolutely not bear only giving commands, walking in gold, making use of the public purse as their own, distributing it however and to whomever it please them, and treating free men as they would slaves. They considered it an extreme insult for themselves if they were not recognised as wise men, like the gods in appearance, heroes in strength, God-enlightened like Solomon, God-inspired leaders, the most faithful rule of rules, in one word – infallible judges of Divine and human things”. I do not believe that any of the Russian tsars, not even Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great, ever said such things. As for the last of them, Tsar-Martyr Nicholas, there is simply no comparison…
It seems to me that the Russian Church in the Synodal period can be compared to an injured man who is forced to walk with a crutch, which makes his steps slower and feebler than if he were in perfect health. The renovationists said: “The Church should not be using the crutch of State power. It is against the canons!” Yes indeed! But what was the solution? Kick away the crutch? Or wait for the injury to be healed, and only then remove it – gently? God’s Providence preferred the latter approach; the renovationists – the former. And so they actually contributed to the catastrophe of the Russian revolution, when they helped by their revolutionary propaganda to kick away the crutch, and then used it to beat the prostrate Church. And then, paradoxically, they did exactly what they had so bitterly accused the pre-revolutionary Church of doing: they entered into a union with the State. And what a State! A State far worse than any in history! A State which the “tragicomic” Council of 1917-18 quite rightly condemned as the collective Antichrist!
Romanitas. But are not the modern “renovationists from the right” very different from their predecessors from the left in the 1920s?
VM. In some ways, yes. For example, the renovationists from the left tried to reform the marriage law of the Church in a liberal direction, allowing married bishops, the second marriage of clergy, etc. Our modern renovationists, however, go in the opposite direction: Fr. Gregory Lurye has so distorted the Orthodox understanding of marriage and monasticism in his book, “The Calling of Abraham”, that he considers only unmarried or monastic Christians to be living in the grace of the New Testament. For him physical intimacy in marriage is viewed as a “lawful” (in an Old Testament sense), but sinful (in a New Testament sense) action, “fornication under a crown”, in spite of the clear teaching of the apostle that “marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled” (Heb. 13.4).
Romanitas. And in politics?
VM. In politics, it seems to me, the modern renovationists from the right are following in exactly the same path as their predecessors. I am not only thinking of Fr. Gregory’s heartfelt expressions of thanks to Soviet power. I am thinking of the concerted and very public campaign they have been conducting recently to put our Church forward as an alternative ecclesiastical partner to Putin’s government instead of the Moscow Patriarchate, their articles in favour of “new models of Church-State relations”, their eager acceptance of the “protection” of the Kremlin polittechnologist, Gleb Pavlovsky, etc.
Romanitas. But would it not be good if we were to replace the Moscow Patriarchate in the government’s favour?
VM. First, that will never happen. The MP is a vast and very powerful organisation with multiple close links to the government, whose thoroughly secular ideology it completely shares. Only the most naďve could think that our small Church, which thinks and lives in a completely different way, could ever replace it – unless the Russian people as a whole repented deeply of its sins. Secondly, and more importantly: the present Russian government sees itself as the natural successor of the Soviet regime, and is gradually restoring its symbolism and mentality. If we were to enter into union with such a government, we would fall under the anathemas of the “tragicomic” Council of 1917-18 against cooperation with Soviet power – and that would be a tragedy of the greatest proportions without the slightest hint of comedy!
Romanitas. One of those who presented your book at the International Book Fair was Egor Kholmogorov, political editor of “Spetznaz Rossii”. Do you not welcome his support?
VM. I do not. Kholmogorov rejects one of the basic theses of my book, that Soviet power was the collective Antichrist, and in his article, “Two Victories” (“Spetznaz Rossii”, May 2000), he actually bows down before the Soviet Antichrist in the most shameless way. Moreover, his extreme neo-sergianism-renovationism manifests itself in relation to the present government also. Thus in “Kremlevskij Mechtatel’” (“Spetnaz Rossii”, 2000/2) he writes: “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 politics”. And recently he wrote: “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 Eastern Europe" Now I am not a political person, and am not particularly interested in, or informed about, politics as such. But such worship of the post-communist, but still deeply authorities seems to me to be quite unacceptable, and quite contrary to the belief of our Church, which sees only the God-crowned Tsar as being “appointed by a ‘heavenly mandate’ (in the Orthodox sense, of course)” and “above politics”, although there is not, in any of these cases, anything higher than the conscience of a God-loving and God-fearing Christian. But the essence of this is not simply sergianism, but super-sergianism, which you will not meet in such improbable forms even in the MP. But the last remark of Kholmogorov about “repentance with the fist” is simply blasphemous even for people without faith or for the millions of non-Orthodox believers who laid their lives down beneath these very “tanks on the streets of Eastern Europe” belonging to the unbridled antichristian power - by which tanks, moreover, they enslaved in the place of Hitler not only the acceptable and more-or-less humane world of Eastern Europe, but also three Orthodox monarchies and all the remaining non-Greek Local Orthodox Churches.
Romanitas. How do you comment on Kholmogorov’s words about you in “Vertograd”: “In order to help in the reconciliation of the quarrels surrounding name-worshipping, I suggested for the attention of the Hierarchy and the quarrelling sides a document expressing a joint confession of the most important dogmatic truths, with the acceptance of which the quarrel itself would pass to the historical plane without touching the bases of the faith any longer. The text was approved by Hieromonk Gregory (Lurye) and Fr. Theophan (Areskin) and Vladimir Moss (who was quarrelling with the first two people). However, at the last moment Vladimir Moss, in spite fo the fact that he had no objections, refused to sign the conciliatory document, hardly hiding the fact that his main reason was that it would deprive him of the opportunity of speaking any longer against Fr. Gregory (of course he now calls him only “V.M. Lurye)”?
VM. Lies from beginning to end. First, since his ordination I have never called Fr. Gregory “Â.Ě. Ëóđüĺ”, although I make no secret of the fact that I consider him to be a heretic, and even an arch-heretic. Secondly, why does Kholmogorov hide from his readers the fact that Fr. Theophan, at the demand of Metropolitan Valentine, has now renounced name-worshipping in writing (whether sincerely or not is another matter)? Thirdly, concerning Kholmogorov’s deeply unwelcome interference into my dialogue with Fr. Gregory. After careful consideration of the “conciliatory document” that Kholmogorov produced for my signature, I rejected two of its paragraphs as expressing the heresy of name-worshipping in a subtle, but definite form. This had nothing whatsoever to do with any desire to prove that Fr. Gregory was a heretic at any cost. It was dictated exclusively by theological considerations. Moreover, I did not accept then, and do not accept now, that the theology of name-worshipping can be neatly separated from its “historical plane”. Even if Fr. Gregory and I had been able to agree on a “conciliatory document”, such a document could have served only to conceal underlying theological differences as long as I, following the Russian Holy Synod, considered Bulatovich to be a heretic, while he considered Bulatovich to be a saint and the Holy Synod to be “fighters against the name”. Finally, I was not aware that I had refused to sign “at the last moment”. So Kholmogorov was placing a time-limit on my signature?! And yet the metropolitan did exactly the opposite: he explicitly said that I should not hurry or feel under any pressure. And when I returned the document signed, but with the two points with which I disagreed removed, he showed not the slightest displeasure.
Romanitas. And yet two months later, Vladimir, the metropolitan did show displeasure when you refused to accept the post of president of the theological commission.
VM. Yes, and I regret that. But he has now relieved me from the post, for which I am grateful.
Đîěŕíčňŕń. And yet, Vladimir, two months later the metropolitan still expressed his disapproval when you refused to accept the post of President of the theological commission.
ÂĚ Yes, and I am sorry about that. But he has now freed me from this post, for which I am grateful.
Romanitas. Why did you resign?
VM. For several minor reasons which were important for me personally. And for one major reason which was important for the Church in general. The minor reasons included the fact that I am not a theologian, that my theological dialogue with Fr. Gregory was not completed, that I am not Russian and speak poor Russian, that I do not even live in Russia…
The major reason related to the composition of the commission, the majority of whose members consisted either of open name-worshippers (Fr. Gregory Lurye), or of more discreet friends and supporters of the name-worshippers (Egor Kholmogorov, Alexander Soldatov, Alexei Muraviev). Besides myself, only two members of the commission were, in my opinion, definitely Orthodox: Fr. Arkady Makovetsky and Fr. Michael Makeev. And Fr. Michael Makeev also resigned.
Romanitas. Why did Fr. Michael Makeev resign?
VM. You must ask him that question. However, I think it is no secret that Fr. Michael Makeev is a strong defender of Orthodoxy against the false teachings of Fr. Gregory Lurye, and the main pillar of our Church in Moscow. Even without his resignation, however, the heretics and their supporters were in a majority on the commission; so one did not have to be a prophet to see that the result of the commission’s work could only have been either the outright victory of heresy or some compromise which was equally damaging. For, as St. Mark of Ephesus said: “There can be no middle way between truth and falsehood”. In effect, the commission was composed in such a way as to allow the main heretics and troublemakers in our Church to be the judges in their own cause. I considered this to be extremely harmful for Orthodoxy, so I resigned. Of course, I was sad to have to refuse Vladyka, who had shown such confidence in me. But in my view his recent decision is the correct one.
Romanitas. You mean his decision to appoint Archbishop Theodore as president in your place, with instructions to reconstitute its membership?
VM. Yes. I have the greatest respect for Archbishop Theodore, and I know that he is Orthodox. So if he now appoints exclusively Orthodox people as members of his commission, I have every confidence that an Orthodox result will be obtained.
Romanitas. As far as we know, the Hierarchical Synod has expressed its displeasure with various “open letters” which have come on the Internet in connection with the polemics surrounding various questions, as a means of their resolution.
VM. Quite right. I completely agree with polemics in the Church remaining in the Church herself, although, alas, rumours about our problems have for a long time been persistently spreading beyond the bounds of our Church, and that precisely as a result of the very wide propaganda of heresies and political speculations waged on the part of this group both on the Russian language internet, and in English. The circle of readers of my “Address to the Synod” was very narrow. The first addressee was our deeply respected chief-hierarch himself, who did not forbid me to inform other members of the Church about it and expressed his support for witnessing to the truth. Also, as far as I know, the majority of critical materials of your publication criticised the situation as a whole in its various aspects without naming names and in a generalised way, and did not wash dirty linen in public. However, the “dirty linen” had already been displayed, and first of all through the various actions of this group, and not at all through our criticism of them. It is they who practise the spreading of heresies and political speculations, it is they who in reply to the narrowly church-centred criticism, spread various “open letters” to the whole world, some of which are based on unreliable information, and others containing straight personal slander. Their slander against the server “Romanitas”, and their general persecution, has been unprecedented. Their lack of desire to preserve the common decencies and obligations speaks for itself. Besides this slander, there still remains on the internet, as before, the heretical book of Fr. Gregory (Lurye), “The Calling of Abraham”, there still remain, as before, all the rock-Orthodox articles of Fr. Gregory (Lurye), there is still in operation, as before, the name-worshipping server created by the member of the editorial board of “Vertograd”, Tatiana Senina (with the direct blessing of her spiritual father, Hieromonk Gregory (Lurye), there still remain, as before, all the terrible political articles of the “honoured author of the journal Vertograd” Kholmogorov with their apology for the communists and Putin, there still remains, as before, my private dialogue on name-worshipping with Fr. Gregory (Lurye), which the Synod has directly ordered should be removed. And there is absolutely no sign of repentance. On the contrary: judging from all appearances, everything is just increasing in scale.
And we must forget that when it is a matter of heresy, according to St. Theodore the Studite, every conscious Christian not only is permitted, but is obliged to speak out in defence of the trampled-on truth, without thinking of his own unworthiness, but only of the good and honour of his beloved mother, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I am not a priest, nor a theologian, and I am neither a “patrologist” nor a “specialist in the holy fathers”. But I am a conscious Orthodox Christian. And I will speak out in defence of the truth to my last breath.
Romanitas. The Hierarchical Synod has received a report from Fr. Gregory (Lurye) concerning name-worshipping. This report, in accordance with the command of the Synod, is due to be published in the next issue of the “Suzdal’skie Eparkhial’nie Vedomosti”. Could a new exposition of Fr. Gregory’s views on name-worshipping change your views on his activity?
VM. I have not read the report in question. But it would be a sin not admit such a possibility. Of course it could. On condition, however, that he recognises, together with the Church of God, that Bulatovich is a heretic. However, the problem of Fr. Gregory’s teachings is not limited to name-worshipping. He must reject his heretical views on marriage and the relationship between the Old and New Testaments, from his general, unprecedentedly pejorative criticism of the Synodal Church, from his flirting with the authorities and with dubious structures that discredit our Church.
Romanitas. Vladimir, let me ask you in conclusion: what is your vision of the future for Russia and the Russian Church?
VM. I firmly believe that the blood of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors cries out to God, and will bring about both the overthrow of the present dominion of evil in Russia, and the enthronment of a truly Orthodox Russian Tsar. Of course, in order for that to happen, at least a part of the people must repent. But, following the prophecies of the holy elders, I believe that this will happen – although it will certainly not happen without great upheavals.
Until that time, I believe that the Russian Church must keep faithfully to the path of the Catacomb Church, of which she is the heir, and to the confession of faith of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors. She must reject all siren calls for union with that undoubtedly graceless and hopelessly corrupt organism, the Moscow Patriarchate, and reject all additional “legitimisation” that is beyond what is necessary from the present state establishment (in exchange for what?). In relation to other True Orthodox Churches and groupings in Russia, I believe that she must be gentle and conciliatory, as far as that is possible without concessions in the faith, waiting for the future All-Russian Council to regulate relations with them and in the Russian Church as a whole in a conclusive manner. Above all we must remain faithful to our Catacomb roots and to our Catacomb people; for they are the salt of the earth, without whose prayers and witness to Christ the Russian land would long ago have been rejected by God…
6/19 December, 2001.