Vladimir Moss









The sons of foreigners shall build up your walls,

And their kings shall minister unto you.

Isaiah 60.10


Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing,

But inwardly they are ravening wolves.

Matthew 6.15

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 Russia, which, if they seem naïve in retrospect, were nevertheless very real at the time. In retrospect, we can see that the changes introduced by glasnost’ and perestroika were less fundamental than at first appeared, and that the spirit and power of communism was far from dead when the red flag was pulled down from over the Kremlin on December 25, 1991. If some of the economic ideas of the revolution were discredited, its fundamental concepts – the replacement of the Church by the State, God by the people, Tradition by science, Spirit by matter – remained as firmly entrenched as ever.


     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 Roman empire was brought to an end. The problem for the Christians of the 1990s was: no Constantine was in sight, and what leadership there was squandered the opportunities presented to it.


     Russian Orthodox Christians reacted to these changes in three different ways. The True Orthodox Christians of the Catacomb Church were cautious, fearing a deception, and in general remained in the underground, not seeking to register their communities or acquire above-ground churches in which to worship. The Moscow Patriarchate (MP) – or “Soviet church”, as it was known among True Orthodox Christians - was fearful that its monopoly position in church life under the Soviets would be lost in the new democracy. Nevertheless, it took the opportunity presented by the new legislation to receive all the money budgeted for church restoration by the Russian parliament and open many churches (1830 were opened in the first nine months of 1990 alone). The third force in Russian Orthodox life, the ROCOR, which throughout the Soviet period had taken a public position against the MP and in support of the True Orthodox Church, decided to open parishes on Russian soil and thereby provide an alternative for believers who on the one hand did not want to join the MP, but on the other hand were not prepared for the rigours of catacomb life.


     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 Catacomb Church, which was scattered and divided and desperately short of bishops and priests of unquestioned Orthodoxy and apostolic succession. The fall of the iron curtain enabled the ROCOR to enter Russia and regenerate the hierarchy of the True Church. Again, the introduction of freedom of speech and the press enabled millions of Soviet citizens to learn the truth about their state and church for the first time. On the basis of this knowledge, they could now seek entrance into the True Church without the fear of being sent to prison or the camps. In the wave of disillusion with post-Soviet democracy that followed in the mid-1990s, it was pointed out – rightly – that freedom is a two-edged weapon, which can destroy as well as give life, and that “freedom” had brought Russia poverty and crime as well as interesting newspapers. However, for the soul thirsting for truth there is no more precious gift than the freedom to seek and find; and that opportunity was now, at last, presented to the masses.


     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 Russia”.[1] But behind the newly gilded cupolas reigned heresy and corruption on a frightening scale. Moreover, surveys showed that although the numbers of those confessing themselves to be Orthodox Christians had risen[2], the correctness and depth of belief of these new Christians was open to question…[3] It was as Bishop Theophan the Recluse had prophesied over a century before: “Although the Christian name will be heard everywhere, and everywhere will be visible churches and ecclesiastical ceremonies, all this will be just appearances, and within there will be true apostasy. On this soil the Antichrist will be born...”[4]


     As time has 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 territory of eastern Europe and Russia, would be brought to trial for his crimes. The consequences were all too evident. Thus one group of “repentant” communists, sensing the signs of the political times, seized power in 1991 in a “democratic” coup (see below) and immediately formed such close and dependent ties on its western allies that the formerly advanced (if inefficient) economy of Russia was transformed into a scrap-heap of obsolescent factories, on the one hand, and a source of cheap raw materials for the West, on the other.[5] Another group, playing on the sense of betrayal felt by many, formed a nationalist opposition – but an opposition characterized by hatred, envy and negativism rather than a constructive understanding of the nation’s real spiritual needs and identity. Still others, using the contacts and dollars acquired in their communist days, went into “business” – that is, a mixture of crime, extortion and the worst practices of capitalism. It is little wonder that in many churches the prayer to be delivered “from the bitter torment of atheist rule” continued to be chanted…


     Meanwhile, Freemasonry, which had been banned at the Fourth Communist International in Moscow in 1922, made a comeback 70 years later. Thus the Masonic historian Richard Rhoda writes: “This writer has been advised in a letter of April 22, 1996 of the following by George Dergachev, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Russia. On January 14, 1992, the first regular Lodge ‘Harmony’ was constituted in Moscow by the Grand Lodge Nationale Française. This lodge now has 41 members.


     “September 8, 1993 will be a memorable day in Russian Freemasonry, for three more lodges were constituted by the Grand Lodge Nationale Française: Lotus No. 2 in Moscow with 36 current members; New Astrea No. 3 in St. Petersburg with 19 current members; and Gamaioun No. 4 in Voronezh with 13 current members…


     “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 June 24, 1995. In addition to their Mother Grand Lodge, they have been recognized by the Grand Lodges of Poland, Hungary and New York. The Grand Master and Bro. Vladimir Djanguirian, his Grand Secretary, attended by invitation the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of New York this past May…”[6]


     It is known that Boris Yeltsin became a Freemason in 1992 (as announced in Pravda), and ex-KGB Colonel Vladimir Putin became one in Germany.


     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 propaganda. Like the children of Israel who became disillusioned with the rigorous freedom of the desert, they began to long once more for the fleshpots of Egypt, for the slavery which had nevertheless guaranteed them a certain standard of living and to which they had become accustomed. But unlike the Israelites, the wanderers in the desert of post-Soviet Russia had no Moses to urge them ever onwards to the Promised Land.


     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 True Church and a life based on the commandments of God. Otherwise, if they continued to worship the golden calf, the new Moses, if such a one appeared, would break the tablets of the new law before their eyes. And if they continued to follow the new Dathans and Abirams of the heretical MP, then under their feet, too, the earth would open – or they would be condemned to wander another forty years in the desert, dying before they reached the promised land of a cleansed and Holy Russia.


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, 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!


    Of 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”.[7] But the patriarch quickly disavowed his signature; and a few weeks later, after the deaths in Vilnius, he declared that the killings were “a great political mistake – in church language a sin”. Then, in May, he publicly disagreed with a prominent member of the hardline Soiuz bloc, who had said that the resources of the army and the clergy should be drawn on extensively to save the people and the homeland. In Alexis’ view, these words could be perceived as a statement of preparedness to use the Church for political purposes. The patriarch recalled his words of the previous autumn: the Church and the Faith should not be used as a truncheon.[8] By June, the patriarch had completed his remarkable transformation from dyed-in-the-wool communist to enthusiastic democrat, saying to Yeltsin: “May God help you win the election”.  


     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.”[9]


     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!…[10]


     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”.[11] 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.”[12]


     (During the 1993 attack on parliament he showed a similar indecisiveness. “He promised to excommunicate the first person to fire a shot, but when shooting… thundered around the ‘White House’, he forgot about his promise.”[13])


     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 Munich and Fr. Victor Usachev from Moscow, who celebrated the first supplicatory service to the New Martyrs of Russia on the balcony of the White House. Not to be outdone, the patriarchate immediately responded with its own prayer service, and at some time during the same day the patriarch anathematized all those who had taken part in organizing the coup.


     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”.[14] 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 Moscow, I also had to cede one point in order to defend another. I ask pardon of God, I ask pardon, understanding and prayers of all those whom I harmed through the concessions, the silence, the forced passivity or the expressions of loyalty that the hierarchy may have manifested during that period”.[15]


     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!’”[16]


     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.”[17]  Patriarch Alexis here forgot to mention that Patriarch Tikhon specifically blessed Michael Zhizhilenko, the future Hieromartyr Maximus of Serpukhov, to become a secret catacomb bishop if the pressure on the Church from the State became too great. As for his claim that the sergianists shared the cup of the people’s suffering, this must be counted as conscious hypocrisy. It is well known that the Soviet hierarchs lived a life of considerable luxury, while lifting not a finger for the Catacomb Christians and dissidents sent to torments and death in KGB prisons!


     On November 9, 2001, the patriarch threw off the mask of repentance completely, stating in defence of the declaration: “This was a clever step by which Metropolitan Sergius tried to save the church and clergy. In declaring that the members of the Church want to see themselves as part of the motherland and want to share her joys and sorrows, he tried to show to those who were persecuting the church and who were destroying it that we, the children of the church, want to be loyal citizens so that the affiliation of people with the church would not place them outside the law. So this is a far-fetched accusation…’[18]


     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 Russian parliamentary commission investigating the activities of the KGB that for several decades at least the leaders of the Moscow Patriarchate had been KGB agents. The records of the fourth, Church department of the KGB’s Fifth Directorate 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” respectively.


     This news was not, of course, unexpected. Konstantin Kharchev, Chairman of the Council for Religious Affairs from 1984 to 1989, confirmed in 1989 that the Russian Orthodox Church was rigorously controlled by the Central Committee of the Communist Party, especially its Ideological Department, and by the KGB.[19] 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.”[20] 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.[21]


     But it was the revelations unearthed by the parliamentary commission that were the most shocking. They 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).[22]


     The parliamentary commission also discovered that Patriarch Alexis himself was an agent with the codename “Drozdov”. It is now known that Alexis was recruited by the Estonian KGB on February 28, 1958[23]; and in the 1974 Furov report to the Central Committee of the USSR he (together with his predecessor Patriarch Pimen) was placed in the category of those bishops who “affirm both in words and deeds not only loyalty but also patriotism towards the socialist society; strictly observe the laws on cults, and educate the parish clergy and believers in the same spirit; realistically understand that our state is not interested in proclaiming the role of religion and the church in society; and, realizing this, do not display any particular activeness in extending the influence of Orthodoxy among the population.”[24]


     Moreover, according to a KGB document of 1988, ‘An order was drafted by the USSR KGB chairman to award an honorary citation to agent DROZDOV’ for unspecified services to state security.[25] But these facts were not made public because, according to 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 the 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’…”[26]


     The parliamentary commission was almost immediately closed down by the President of the Supreme Soviet, Ruslan Khasbalutov, at the insistence, according to Ponomarev, of Patriarch Alexis himself 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 United States and threatened with a private persecution. Father Gleb remained defiant. He wrote to the Patriarch in 1994:


     “’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 Lithuania – has had the courage publicly to acknowledge that in the past he worked as an agent, and has revealed his codename: RESTAVRATOR. No other Church hierarch has followed his example, however.


     “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 USSR, in 1988, for outstanding intelligence services – ADAMANT, OSTROVSKY, MIKHAILOV, TOPAZ AND ABBAT. It is obvious that none of these or the less exalted agents is preparing to repent. On the contrary, they deliver themselves of pastoral maxims on the allegedly neutral character of informing on the Church, and articles have appeared in the Church press justifying the role of the informer as essential for the survival of the Church in an anti-religious state.


     “The codenames I discovered in the archives of the KGB belong to the top hierarchs of the Moscow Patriarchate.”[27]


     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.”[28] And in the year 2000 Keston News Service reviewed all the available documentary evidence from the various activities of the KGB and concluded that long-standing allegations that the Patriarch and other senior bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church collaborated with the KGB were based on fact.[29]


     In 1992, Archbishop Chrysostom of Vilnius 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, 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 Alexander of Kostroma was formed to investigate the charges of collaboration with the KGB. This commission has so far (12 years later) produced absolutely nothing![30] In view of the lack of a clear-out of KGB hierarchs, it remains true that, as the saying went, “the MP is the last surviving department of the KGB” or “the second administration of the Soviet state”.


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…”[31]


     Archpriest Lev Lebedev, a convert from the MP to the 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 Moscow ‘patriarchate’! The princes (and ‘princelets’) of the church, exactly like the party boyars, began to be distinguished by an unbelievable haughtiness and arrogance towards those subject to them, and by the basest servility towards those above them, surrounding themselves with houses, dacha-palaces, crowds of toady-lackeys and every kind of luxury. Just like the partocrats, the bloated bishops of the ‘patriarchate’ became thieves from the public purse and swindlers, and acquired an amazing capacity to look with honest, clear eyes on an interlocutor or at their flock and deliberately deceive them in the most convincing manner. Their mendacity, their infinite mendacity almost in everything became a real second nature of the ‘patriarchal’ hierarchy. ‘Evil communications…’ If ecumenism made the Moscow ‘patriarchate’ one in spirit with all the heretics, and even with the non-Christians, with whom it entered into spiritual communion through joint prayers, then sergianism made it one in spirit with the partocracy. Now, when the very partocracy has abandoned even the communist ideology that held it together, and even its own party, so as to become openly private owners of the huge resources stolen from the country and the people, and for that reason has ‘rebranded’ itself as democracy, while holding power in Russia as before, the ‘patriarchate’, being as before one with it, serves it on mutually beneficial terms. However, as we have seen, from now on the ‘patriarchate’ has started more and more openly to orient itself on the real masters of the situation – the Jews.


     “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 Church of Christ, and especially not the Russian Orthodox Church.


     “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 Russia have been hopelessly spoiled by this newly appeared ‘elders’, ‘grace-filled’ instructors and ‘wonder-workers’! True eldership ceased long ago. Some widely venerated monastics from the Trinity – St. Sergius Lavra, the Pskov Caves monastery, the Riga desert and other places, however one many respect them, cannot be called elders. If only because they were silent through all the years of Khruschev’s mockery of the Church, and are silent now, after the speech of the ‘patriarch’ before the rabbis. Moreover, they do not bless others to speak. Why? Because the ‘patriarchate’ has constantly instilled and instills in its flock that in the Church ‘obedience is higher than fasting and prayer’, having forgotten to explain that this refers to the real Church, and not to the false one! These are undoubtedly sincere and assiduous monastics; they also take the ‘patriarchate’ for the Russian Orthodox Church, that is, they also believe in the lie, encouraging those who trust them to believe in it, too….


     “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 the Moscow ‘patriarchate’ to the highest degree. And so now it is extremely unclear what is served by the noisy opening of churches and monasteries, and the adornment of some of them in every way, and the building of Sunday schools and other institutions of the ‘patriarchate’. Does all this serve for the spiritual benefit or the further spiritual corruption of people? Most likely, it is the broadening and deepening of the sphere of evil and destruction, a trap for those who have sincerely been drawn to Christ. They will not be able to strike through to Him as long as they accept the ‘patriarchate’ as the Orthodox Church, as long as they believe in a lie that is incompatible with the Spirit of righteousness, the Holy Spirit.”[32]


     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 Russia priest of the Moscow Patriarchate have reported that by its fragrance this Chrism is indistinguishable from ordinary oil although it should have a very complex fragrance due to the fact that it should consist of a multitude of fragrances symbolizing the manifold gifts of the Holy Spirit.


     “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.[33] 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 Russia?


     “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 Russia had been in force from 1969 to 1986. Subsequently this resolution has not been abolished, it has only been suspended (although on paper only)… At the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s one could regularly observe crowds of Western tourists being admitted to Communion (without prior Confession, of course) in the church of St. John the Theologian at the Theological Academy of St. Petersburg. A Jesuit hieromonk Michael Arranz, a Professor of the Eastern Institute in Rome, who in those years was lecturing on Liturgics at the ‘Orthodox’ Theological Academy in Leningrad, would partake of Communion in the Sanctuary of that church along with the clergy.


     “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 Novgorod diocese, where its ruling Archbishop Lev [Tserpitsky] openly admits Protestants and Catholics to Communion in the ancient Cathedral of St. Sophia in the city of Novgorod. In this and similar instances the obvious motivation is undoubtedly the material benefit gained as a result of attracting foreign tourists, along with their dollars, pounds and marks, into the Patriarchate’s churches…”[34]


     As we have seen, Metropolitan Nicodemus of Leningrad was both a KGB agent and a secret Vatican bishop. In 1992 the Pope said that he had two cardinals among the bishops in Russia.[35] Perhaps one of them was Archbishop Lev….


     Another of them may have been Archbishop Feodosy (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 in the Kaliningrad vicarate of the MP which is… ruled by Bishop Panteleimon (Kutov), a subordinate of Metropolitan Cyril (Gundyaev). In connection with the building project (still only a project, although some donations have already been collected a long time ago) for a Cathedral in the former Koenigsberg (now Kalinigrad), local parishioners hope that ‘this will be an Orthodox church not only by its name. Unfortunately, Bishop Panteleimon’s ecumenical views leave little hope that in the new Cathedral things will be any different from what they are now in the patriarchal churches of the Kaliningrad area, where Orthodox people are offered communion from one chalice with heretics. Bishop Panteleimon himself felt no embarrassment when he declared that ‘Catholics… partook of communion in our churches, and the priests offered prayers for them’.


     “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 Baltic States). In the village (!) Yegla of Borovichi region of the Novgorod district they are building a church which right at the start will be intended for ecumenical services. It will have three altars: Catholic, Protestant and ‘Orthodox’. The number of such ecumenical prayer houses in Russia is growing.”[36]


     “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 in Western Ukrained a prospective priest must remunerate his bishop with a sum of 10,000 roubles (the price of a ‘Volga’ car) for his ordination. Parishioners would collect the required sum and present it to their young priest on the day of his first church service. We have no reason to think that his ‘custom’ has in any way suffered from the anarchy which set in after the beginning of perestroika


     “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 St. Petersburg’s clergy recall a case in the later 70s when one of the well-known Archpriests of that city married his own daughter to a Moslem. It should be added that the perpetration of these and other kinds of unlawful acts is often motivated by the financial and social status of the parties to the marriage…


     “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 Moscow Patriarchate…


     “Criminal power has come to replace party power in Russia. This power has immediately secured the support of the MP and has occupied an appropriate place in its life. The MP itself is acquiring a criminal character with its ‘church’ banks, multi-billion fraud and cooperation with the mafia…


     “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…”[37]


Ecumania: From Chambésy to Balamand


     In 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 (en qewria).”


     This is already completely unacceptable from an Orthodox point of view, and represents a heretical, Monophysite formulation. The two natures and wills of Christ are not distinguishable “only in thought”, but also in reality. Paragraph Seven also speaks of the two natures being distinguishable “only in thought”, which implies, as Ludmilla Perepiolkina points out “an absence of this distinction in reality”.[38]


     Paragraph Five states: “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”.[39]


     Paragraph Eight states: “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 do not commit themselves to accepting the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Ecumenical Councils in the way the Orthodox do, but only “positively respond to their affirmation”, which means nothing in dogmatic terms.


     Paragraph Nine states: “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 is 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 claim 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 states: “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 need to be amended, say these “theologians”, and the anathemas against all the Monophysite councils and fathers, including the notorious heresiarchs Dioscurus, Timothy and Severus, lifted! This is a clear and explicit rejection of the Faith of the Seven Ecumenical Councils! Of course, the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches (with the exception of Jerusalem) have already implicitly rejected the Councils and the Fathers by their communion in prayer and the sacraments with all sorts of heretics, and even pagans, the WCC General Assembly in Canberra in 1991 being perhaps the most extreme example. Nevertheless, it is a further and important stage to say explicitly that the Ecumenical Councils were wrong, that the Monophysites should not have been condemned, that they were Orthodox all these centuries although the Holy Fathers and all the saints of the Orthodox Church considered them to be heretics. This is not simply a failure to come up to the standards of the Ecumenical Councils: it is a renunciation of the standards themselves.


     In essence, the Local Orthodox Churches here placed themselves under the anathemas against Monophysitism from the Fourth Ecumenical Council onwards, and must be considered to be “semi-Monophysites”.


     The ROCOR and the Greek Old Calendarists quickly condemned the Chambésy agreement.[40] Nevertheless, in 1992 the patriarchate of Antioch entered into full, official communion with the Monophysites. There is every indication that the Moscow Patriarchate wants to go along the same path. The MP’s relations with the Armenian Monophysites are especially close.


     Chambésy was followed by the Seventh General Assembly of the WCC in Canberra in 1991, in which the Orthodox delegates blasphemed against the Faith still more blatantly. Thus aboriginal pagans invited the participants to pass through a “cleansing cloud of smoke” uniting Aboriginal spirituality to Christian spirituality (!). In spite of this, Metropolitan Cyril (Gundyaev), head of the Department of External Relations of the MP, said that the WCC was “our common home and we want it to be the cradle of the one church”.[41]


     On November 13, 1991, “Patriarch” Alexis made his boldest ecumenical step yet when he addressed the Rabbis of New York as follows: “Dear brothers, shalom to you in the name of the God of love and peace!… We are all brothers, for we are all children of the Old Testament on Mount Sinai, which, as we Christians believe, was renewed by Christ… Your law is our law, your prophets are our prophets.” Here the patriarch openly, in the name of the Orthodox Church, confessed that “we are one with the Jews, without renouncing Christianity and not in spite of Christianity, but in the name of and by dint of Christianity, while the Jews are one with us not in spite of Judaism, but in the name of and by dint of true Judaism. We are separated from the Jews because we are not yet completely Christian, while the Jews are separated from us because they are not yet completely Jews. For the fullness of Christianity embraces both itself and Judaism, while the fullness of Judaism is Christianity… The Jewish people are near to us in faith. Your law is our law, your prophets are our prophets.”


     The patriarch called on the Jews to work together to build “the new world order”: “by our joint efforts we shall build a new society – a democratic, free, open, just society… where Jews would live with in security and peace, in an atmosphere of friendship, creative brotherhood and the brotherhood of the children of the one God, the Father of all, the God of your fathers and of ours.”[42]


     And the rabbis did not forget the honour paid to them by the patriarch: during the visit of Alexis II to the U.S.A. in 1993 the chief rabbi of New York, Schneier, presented him with the prize “The Call of Conscience”. And both in 1991 and in 1993 the patriarch was a guest of a Zionist organization of the same name; he visited synagogues and met Jewish religious leaders…”[43]


     In February, 1992, the president of the Union of Orthodox Brotherhoods, Sergius Polyakov, declared that the patriarch’s speech to the New York rabbis the previous November had been “clearly heretical”. And a representative of the Tver diocese declared that “almost 60% of the diocesan clergy” were refusing to commemorate the patriarch.[44] Unfortunately, only one of those priests who ceased commemorating the patriarch actually joined the True Church…[45]


     In March, 1992, the heads of the Local Orthodox Churches met in Constantinople and officially renounced proselytism among Western Christians. Of course, this renunciation had been implicit in the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s statements since the encyclical of 1920, and in all the Orthodox leaders’ actions in ecumenical for a 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. This revealed the true essence of ecumenism: “love” for powerful heretics who have no intention of converting to Orthodoxy, and hatred for those “insignificant” heretics seeking refuge from heresy in what they hoped to be the True Church. 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).


     Union with the Monophysites at Chambésy proceeded in parallel with moves for union with the Catholics in other places. Immediately after becoming patriarch, Alexis adopted a more conciliatory attitude towards the uniate Catholics of the West Ukraine. And although he and his senior hierarchs have often protested against Catholic proselytism in Russia[46], it is significant that at the March, 1992 meeting he strongly resisted the call by Patriarch Diodorus of Jerusalem for a cessation of all dialogue between the Orthodox and the Vatican.


     In 1994 the Moscow Patriarchate and other Local Orthodox churches signed the Balamand agreement with the Catholics, in which the Orthodox and the Catholics were declared to be sister-Churches in the full sense, “two lungs” of the same organism (with the Monophysites as a “third lung”?).


     The Balamand Agreement, which was signed on the Orthodox side by Moscow, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Romania, Cyprus, Poland and Finland, declared: “Catholics and Orthodox… are once again discovering each other as sister churches” and “recognizing each other as sister churches”. “On each side it is acknowledged that what Christ has entrusted to His Church – the profession of the apostolic faith, participation in the same sacraments, the apostolic succession of bishops, and, above all, the one priesthood celebrating the one Sacrifice of Christ – cannot be considered to be the exclusive property of one of our Churches.” The baptism of penitent papists into the Orthodox Church was prohibited: “All rebaptism (sic) is prohibited.” The Orthodox Church “recognizes the Catholic Church in her entirety as a sister Church, and indirectly recognizes also the Oriental Catholic Churches” (the Uniates). “Special attention should be given on both sides to the preparation and education of future priests with regard to the new ecclesiology, (that they may) be informed of the apostolic succession of the other Church and the authenticity of its sacramental life, (so that) the use of history in a polemical manner (may be avoided)”.


     This was an official acceptance of the “branch theory” of the Church. There were protests in Greece and Mount Athos, but Patriarch Bartholomew forced the protestors to back down (already in 1992 he had expelled the ROCOR monks of the St. Elias skete from the Holy Mountain). This was the same Patriarch who, only a few years later, extolled the widest possible toleration: “Orthodox Christian and modernist, Protestant and modernist, Jew and modernist, Catholic and modernist: however we worship, as long as we abide in our faith and unite it to our works in the world, we bring the living and always timely message of Divine wisdom into the modern world.”[47]


     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 through considerations of the good it would do for the Church”. Then a purge of the anti-ecumenist brotherhoods began[48], and an amazing decision was made to permit common prayers with heretics with the blessing of the local bishop![49] With the death of the only anti-ecumenist in the hierarchy, Metropolitan John (Snychev) of St. Petersburg, the victory of the ecumenists appeared to be sealed.


     Almost the last major protest against the MP’s ecumenism came in December, 1995, when a group of about fifty clergy of the diocese of Moscow addressed an open letter to the patriarch denouncing the "crypto-catholic" teaching and actions of several modernist priests and laity in the capital. They pointed to numerous instances of the MP offering direct assistance to Latin propaganda, listing ecumenical or purely Catholic radio stations (“Sophia”, “Blagovest”) and periodicals (Simvol, Istina i Zhizn’, Novaia Evropa, Russkaia Mysl’). Active contributors and sometimes even managers of these organs of Latin propaganda included Archpriest Ioann Sviridov (Department of the Religious Education and Catechization of the MP), Igumen Innokenty (Pavlov) (Secretary of the Russian Bible Society), Priest Alexander Borisov (President of the same Society), Igumen Ignaty (Krekshin) (Secretary of the Synodal Commission for the Canonization of Saints of the ROC), Igumen Ioann (Ekonomtsev) (Rector of the Orthodox University of St. John the Theologian), V. Nikitin (chief editor of the official journal of the Department of Religious Education and Catechization Put’ Pravoslavia), the “priest journalists” G. Chistiakov and V. Lapshin, Priest G. Ziablitsev (employee in the Department of External Church Relations of the MP), who was appointed by his superior, Metropolitan Cyril (Gundyaev), to the commission of the Catholic Church (!) for the canonization of one of their saints.


     “Such a scandalous fact,” wrote the fifty clergy, “i.e. participation in a heterodox enterprise of a canonical character, has not been heard of since the Latins fell away from the Church of Christ in 1054… One is left with the impression that the Vatican is attempting to create within the Church a layer of clergy loyal to the Catholic doctrine who serve the cause of union.”[50]


     The patriarch tried to deflect this protest by complaining once more about the Catholic proselytism in Russia and Belorussia. He particularly complained about the Catholics' use of humanitarian aid as a cover for their missionary purposes.[51] It is not recorded, however, that he rejected the offer of one Catholic organization "Aid to the Suffering Church", offered to give every priest in the Russian Church an annual salary of $1000.[52] Nor that he was particularly disturbed when the Pope was declared an honorary member of the new parish of the MP in Ulyanovsk in gratitude for his sending $14,000 for the construction of the city’s Resurrection cathedral…[53] Nor when, in 1996, “Aid to the Suffering Church” gave $750,000 to Radio “Sophia”, in whose programmes the patriarch himself has taken part…[54]


The ROCOR at the Crossroads (3)


     Let us now examine the progress of the ROCOR’s mission in Russia. In 1982 the ROCOR had secretly consecrated a bishop in the Soviet Union, Lazarus (Zhurbenko) of Tambov,[55] who then emerged into the open in 1990. This marked the beginning of the return of True Orthodoxy to open, above-ground life in Russia.


     The origins of the idea of founding an above-ground Church under the authority of the ROCOR inside Russia appear to go back to a correspondence initiated during the perestroika period between the dissident Russian layman (and later priest) Stefan Krasovitsky and Bishop Gregory (Grabbe). Wojciech Zalewski writes: “In April 1989 Krassovitsky in a letter to Grabbe indicated that Alexis Aver’ianov, Zoia Krakhmal’nikova and he himself were thinking about ‘the necessity of try to organize a podvorie of the Church Abroad in Russia’. In September (14/27 September, 1989) he is more specific. Although he did not foresee a possibility that even a single already-established parish would come under ROCA [ROCOR], i.e., under Lazarus’ jurisdiction, he suggests forming and registering an informal society (union, that is, brotherhood) in secret unity with the ROCA. Its members would not attend the MP churches. Krassovitsky even sent Grabbe a proposal for such a society. When the membership grows, he writes, then a request for a church building for our own could be submitted or even a church of our own could be built. Furthermore, it would be useful to take over from the government some schools and ‘educate in these schools a hostile attitude to society in its present moral-ideological condition’. Finally, it will be necessary to find an official name for Lazar’s jurisdiction. At the beginning of October (30 September / 13 October, 1989) Krassovitsky writes ‘[it would be good to get a church for Vladyka Lazarus’ and suggests that priests George Edel’shtein, Oleg Steniaev, Aleksei Aver’ianov and possibly Father Gleb Yakunin all could be helpful in this matter. In turn Grabbe answers by stressing a need for candidates for new bishops without whom ‘the matter could die. Vl. Lazarus must have this in view’ and suggest pulling other member of the Catacomb Church into ROCA’s orbit. To that Krassovitsky replies: ‘According to Vl. Lazar, the canonicity of the church-servers of these groups is very doubtful. Besides, in my experience with them they are either infected with a spirit of narrow sectarianism bordering on unhealthy mysticism, or with heresies like sophianism’ (23 November / 6 December, 1989).”[56]


     In this correspondence we already see many of the reasons for the failure of the ROCOR’s mission in Russia. First, the mistrust and rejection of the Catacomb Church. Secondly, the reliance on dissidents in the Moscow Patriarchate, many of whom turned out to be traitors (Averianov, Steniaev) or never joined the ROCOR (Yakunin). Thirdly, the poor choice of Lazarus as first bishop, when he was neither trusted by the Catacomb Church whom he supposedly represented, nor was willing to conduct above-ground work when that became possible, nor was able to work with his fellow bishops inside or outside Russia.


     In March, 1990, the 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. [57] 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 Russia in place of the disappointing Lazar.[58]


     In the same month of March, the 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

     ”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."[59]


     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 the ROCOR’s mission in Russia. Having said that, this return of the exiles to Russia was undoubtedly one of the most significant and necessary events in Church history, comparable to the return of the Jews to Jerusalem after the seventy-year exile in Babylon. And yet this momentous step was taken almost casually, without sufficient forethought and without a clearly defined strategy. Hence difficult problems arose, problems that the ROCOR in the end found insuperable. These problems can be divided into three categories: (a) The ROCOR in relation to her own flock at home and abroad, (b) the ROCOR in relation to the Catacomb Church, and (c) the ROCOR in relation to the MP.


     (a) The ROCOR in relation to herself. The problem here is easily stated: how could the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad continue to call herself the Church Abroad if she now had parishes inside Russia? After all, her Founding Statute or Polozhenie stated that the ROCOR was an autonomous part of the Autocephalous Russian Church, that part which existed (i) outside the bounds of Russia on the basis of Ukaz no. 362 of November 7/20, 1920 of Patriarch Tikhon and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, and (ii) temporarily until the fall of communism in Russia. With the fall of communism and the creation of ROCOR parishes inside Russia in 1990, it would seem that these limitations in space and time no longer applied, and that the ROCOR had ceased to exist as a canonical organisation in accordance with her own definition of herself in the Polozhenie.


     The solution to this problem would appear to have been obvious: change the Polozhenie! And this was in fact the solution put forward by Bishop Gregory (Grabbe), who possessed unparalleled experience of ROCOR life since his appointment as Chancellor of the Synod by Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) of Kiev in 1931. However, the ROCOR episcopate declined his suggestion.


     The reason for this appears to have been that a change in the Polozhenie that removed the spatial and temporal limitations of the 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 the 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’etre of the 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 the 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…


     (b) The ROCOR in relation to the Catacomb Church. Since 1927, when the ROCOR had broken communion simultaneously with the Catacomb Church from Metropolitan Sergius’ MP, she had looked upon the Catacomb Church as the True Church inside Russia with which she remained in mystical communion of prayer and sacraments, even if such communion could not be realised in face-to-face meeting and concelebration. Indeed, after the death of Metropolitan Peter, the last universally recognised leader of the Russian Church, in 1937, the ROCOR commemorated “the episcopate of the persecuted Russian Church”, by which was undoubtedly meant the episcopate of the Catacomb Church. After the war, however, a change began to creep in, at first almost imperceptibly, but then more and more noticeably. On the one hand, news of Catacomb bishops and communities became more and more scarce, and some even began to doubt that the Catacomb Church existed any longer (Archbishop Mark of Berlin declared in the 1990s, when catacombniks were pouring into the ROCOR, that the Catacomb Church had died out in the 1950s!). On the other hand, some Catacomb priests inside Russia, having lost contact with, and knowledge of, any canonical bishops there might still be inside Russia, began commemorating Metropolitan Anastasy, first-hierarch of the ROCOR.


     These tendencies gave rise to the perception that the leadership of True Orthodoxy had now passed from inside Russia to outside Russia. Moreover, the significance of the Catacomb Church began to be lost, as the struggle was increasingly seen to be between the “red church” inside Russia (the MP) and the “white church” outside Russia (the ROCOR). This position was reinforced by the negative attitude taken towards most of the Catacomb clergy still alive in 1990 by Bishop Lazarus of Tambov, the bishop secretly consecrated by the ROCOR in 1982 as her representative in Russia. In particular, Bishop Lazarus rejected the canonicity of two groups of Catacomb clergy deriving their apostolic succession from Bishop Seraphim (Pozdeyev) and Schema-Metropolitan Gennady (Sekach)[60], on the one hand, and Archbishop Anthony (Galynsky-Mikhailovsky)[61], on the other.


     In retrospect, we can see that the consecration of Bishop Lazarus was the first, and perhaps the most serious mistake, that the ROCOR made in Russia. It was a surprising mistake in that the ROCOR might have been expected to consecrate, not the newly appeared Lazarus, but one of the fourteen hieromonks who had been received under the omophorion of Metropolitan Philaret on November 26 / December 7, 1977, after the death of their Catacomb archpastor, Archbishop Anthony Galynsky-Mikhailovsky, in 1976.[62] Moreover, there were other distinguished Catacomb pastors with links to the ROCOR, such as Fr. Michael Rozhdestvensky (+1988), who would have been eminently suitable candidates for the episcopate.


     Besides, the career of Fr. Lazarus himself had not been without controversy. Although he had been reared in the Catacomb Church, and had been in the camps, he had been refused ordination to the priesthood by Archbishop Anthony Galynsky-Mikhailovsky, whom he later accused of being uncanonical. He then joined the Moscow Patriarchate and received ordination there from a certain Bishop Benjamin of Irkutsk. Only a year later, he returned to the Catacomb Church in Siberia, and was instrumental, according to some catacomb sources, in sowing such suspicion against the Catacomb Bishop Theodosius Bahmetev (+1986) that almost the whole of his flock deserted him. Some even accuse him of having betrayed Catacomb Christians to the KGB. [63]


     Be that as it may – and such accusations are easily made, but much less easily proved – there can be no doubt that a large part of the Catacomb Church distrusted Lazarus and refused to have anything to do with him. This was true both of the “moderates” and the “extremists” in the Catacomb Church, both of the “Seraphimo-Gennadiite” branch, led by Metropolitan Epiphany (Kaminsky), of the “Matthewites” led by Schema-Monk Epiphany (Chernov)[64], and of the “passportless” branch represented by the Catacomb Archimandrite Gury (Pavlov), who, when about to be consecrated to the episcopate in New York in 1990 by the ROCOR, categorically refused when he heard that Lazarus was going to be a co-consecrator.


     It was true also of Fr. Michael Rozhdestvensky. He was “the initiator of the complete rejection of the then priest Lazarus Zhurbenko because of the latter’s departing to the MP for his ordination. At a meeting of catacomb clergy in the city of Tambov in 1978, in the presence of the still-flourishing Abbot P, Fr. Vissarion and others, Fr. Michael confirmed this position. This decision was supported in those years by all without exception of the catacomb clergy. But later, when Vladyka Barnabas [of Cannes] was searching for a worthy candidate for consecration to the rank of Bishop of the Catacomb Church, Fr. Lazarus (then already a hieromonk) craftily suggested the widowed Fr. Michael and himself was called to invite him to be consecrated to the episcopate. On receiving the invitation with the signature of Hieromonk Lazarus (Zhurbenko), Fr. Michael Rozhdestvensky, naturally, did not go. Vladyka Barnabas was left with neither a choice nor time, and he was forced to consecrate Hieromonk Lazarus to the episcopate. Fr. Michael’s position in relation to Vladyka Lazarus remained unchanging to the very end of his life [in 1988].”[65]


     But not only did the ROCOR consecrate Fr. Lazarus instead of more suitable candidates such as Fr. Michael: they used his testimony as their sole guide to the canonicity or otherwise of the other Catacomb bishops in Russia. Thus on May 5/18, 1990 the ROCOR Synod reversed the previous decision of the Synod under Metropolitan Philaret to recognize Archbishop Anthony-Mikhailovsky and his ordinations, and told the priests ordained by him “to regulate their canonical position by turning towards his Grace Bishop Lazarus of Tambov and Morshansk”. Again, on August 2/15, 1990 another Ukaz was distributed (but not published) which rejected the canonicity both of the “Seraphimo-Gennadiite” and the “Galynskyite” branches of the Catacomb Church, causing widespread havoc in both.[66]


     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; but in view of both groups’ favourable attitude towards the 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). Of course, it was perfectly reasonable that the ROCOR should first seek to check their canonical status before entering into communion with them. However, even assuming that the main canonical charge brought against them was valid, the way in which they were rejected without the slightest consultation or attempt to come to some kind of agreement was harmful in the extreme.


     First, the possibility of correcting the canonical anomalies of these groups in a peaceful manner and with their complete cooperation was lost.


     Secondly, the news that the ROCOR had rejected them produced catastrophic effects in these Catacomb groups. Thus the present writer remembers coming to a catacomb gathering in Moscow on the eve of the Feast of the Dormition, 1990. The priest entered, and instead of vesting himself for the vigil service, took off his cross in the presence of all the people, declaring: “According to the ROCOR I am not a priest.” Then he immediately went to Bishop Lazarus and was reordained. Meanwhile, his flock, abandoned by their shepherd and deprived of any pastoral guidance, scattered in different directions…


     Thirdly, the impression was created that the ROCOR had come into Russia, not in order to unite with the Catacomb Church and work with her for the triumph of True Orthodoxy in Russia, but in order to replace her, or at most to gather the remnants of the catacombs under her sole authority. And indeed, in one declaration explaining the reasons for the consecration of Bishop Lazarus, the ROCOR stated that it was in order “to regulate the church life of the Catacomb Church”.[67] Moreover, in the years to come the ROCOR Synod did sometimes describe herself as the central authority of the True Russian Church – in spite of the fact that this “central authority” was based, not in Russia, but thousands of miles away in New York!


     The 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.”[68]


     Such repentance was admirable, but unfortunately the fruits of it have yet to be seen. On November 21 / December 4, 1992, Metropolitan Epiphany of the Seraphimo-Gennadiites wrote to Metropolitan Vitaly, but received no reply. And no further attempt was made by the ROCOR to rectify their mistake.


     In 1998 the Seraphimo-Gennadiite hierarchy decided not to seek union with any other Church. In 1999 Metropolitan Epiphanius was defrocked for his communion with the notorious “healer”, “Metropolitan” Panteleimon. More recently, communion was also broken with Bishop Barsanuphius for his decision to register his Church with the authorities in Moldova. At the time of writing this Church has seven bishops, namely: 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.


     The bad reputation of Bishop Lazarus led to a schism between the ROCOR and another branch of the Catacomb Church, the so-called “passportless” - so called, as we have seen, because its members refuse to carry Soviet passports. This branch – if it can be called that, and not simply a “right wing” tendency in several distinct branches – is based mainly in Eastern Russia and Siberia. On the death of their last bishop, Theodosius (Bakhmetev) (+1986)[69], one part of the passportless elected Fr. Gurias (Pavlov) as their candidate for the episcopate, and in the spring of 1990 he travelled for this purpose to the Synod of the ROCOR in New York (for which, of course, he had to compromise and take a passport). However, when Fr. Gurias learned that Bishop Lazarus was to take part in his consecration, believing Lazarus to be a KGB agent, he refused the episcopate, broke with the ROCOR and returned to Russia. After some negotiations with the Greek Old Calendarist Archbishop Chrysostom II of Athens, Fr. Gurias turned to the Auxentiites and received consecration as Bishop of Kazan in Boston in July, 1991. He died in Kazan on Christmas Day, 1995/96.[70]


     The ROCOR’s relationship with the passportless revealed an important theological difference between the True Churches inside and outside Russia in their attitude to the State in Soviet in post-Soviet Russia. In view of the decades of geographical isolation between the Churches such a difference was perhaps not surprising. But it turned out to be perhaps the most important single factor leading to the failure of the ROCOR’s mission in Russia. The Church inside Russia, living in conditions of extreme danger and the very real possibility 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). The 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 of the Catacomb Church became scarcer, on the one hand, and the Soviet beast became, by the standards of the 1930s, relatively gentler, on the other, this eschatological emphasis became less pronounced.


     This difference became a clear theological divergence in, for example, the correspondence between Metropolitan Vitaly and representatives of the passportless in the early 1990s, when the metropolitan compared the Soviet Union to the Roman empire. St Paul had been proud of his Roman citizenship, he wrote, so what was wrong with having a Soviet passport and being called a Soviet citizen? [71]


     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 empire![72] Rome, even in its pagan phase, had protected the Christians from the fury of the Jews: the Soviet Union was, in its early phase, the instrument of the Jews against the Christians. Rome, even in its pagan phase, guaranteed a framework of law and order within which the apostles could rapidly spread the faith from one end of the world to the other: the Soviet Union forced a population that was already Orthodox in its great majority to renounce their faith or hide it “in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth” (Hebrews 11.38).


     Here we see a falling away of the ROCOR from her own earlier teaching. Thus she had, in 1933, explicitly rejected the comparison between Soviet power and Roman power, writing: “As has been repeatedly demonstrated already, 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…”[73]


     (c) The ROCOR in relation to the MP. Closely related to this difference in attitude towards the Soviet State was a difference in attitude towards the Soviet Church – that is, the Moscow Patriarchate. The ROCOR’s position here was tragically double-minded: the bishops proved themselves incapable of making up their minds whether the MP was their bitterest enemy or their most beloved mother, whether it was necessary to fight her or unite with her![74] This double-mindedness bore bitter fruit that was to lead to schism and the collapse of the ROCOR’s mission inside Russia and the eventual fall of the main body of the ROCOR herself.


     The roots of this double-mindedness go back to the post-war period, when large numbers of Christians fleeing towards Western Europe from Soviet Russia were joined to the ROCOR. In receiving these Christians, little difference was made between those who had belonged to the Catacomb Church, and those who had belonged to the MP. Some, even including bishops, turned out to be KGB agents, and either returned to the MP or remained as “moles” to undermine the ROCOR.[75] Others, while sincerely anti-Soviet, were not sufficiently “enchurched” to see the fundamental ecclesiological significance of the schism in the Russian Church. Thus a certain “dilution” in the quality of those joining the 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 – 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 proceeded from the fact that the ROCOR did not break communion with the Local Orthodox Churches of “World Orthodoxy” even after all of these (except Jerusalem) sent representatives to the local Councils of the MP in 1945 and 1948. The reasons for this depended on the Church in question. Thus communion continued with the Serbian Church because of the debt of gratitude owed to the hospitality shown by the Serbian Church to the ROCOR in the inter-war years. Communion continued with the Jerusalem Patriarchate because all churches in the Holy Land, including the ROCOR monasteries, were required, under threat of closure, to commemorate the Patriarch of Jerusalem. Communion also continued, albeit intermittently, with the Greek new calendarist churches, because the Patriarchate of Constantinople was powerful in the United States, the country to which the ROCOR moved its headquarters after the war.


     This ambiguous relationship towards “World Orthodoxy” in general inevitably began to affect the ROCOR’s zeal in relation to the MP in particular. For if the MP was recognised by Serbia and Jerusalem, and Serbia and Jerusalem were recognised by the ROCOR, the conclusion was drawn that the MP, while bad, was still a Church. And this attitude in turn affected the ROCOR’s attitude towards the Catacomb Church, which was no longer seen by many, including several of the bishops, as the only true Church in Russia, but rather as a brave, but not entirely canonical organisation or collection of groupings which needed to be “rescued” by the ROCOR before it descended into a form of sectarianism similar to that of the Old Believers. This pro-Muscovite tendency in the ROCOR was led, by the powerful Archbishop Mark of Berlin, who argued that the ROCOR should return into communion with the patriarchate now that communism had fallen.[76]


     As the 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. This was bound to fail as a weapon against the MP. For for a foreign Church, however Russian in spirit, to claim to be more Russian than the Russians inside Russia was bound to be perceived as arrogant and humiliating (especially in the mouth of an ethnic German such as Archbishop Mark of Berlin!). And so, after the need to display a specifically Soviet patriotism fell away in the early 90s, the MP was able to mount a successful counter-attack, claiming for itself the mantle of “Russianness” as against the “American” church of the ROCOR.


     As a result of all this, at the very moment that the 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, the 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 Russia. The second was working to enlighten the clergy of the very MP itself, and had as its goal the passing on to the [Russian] Homeland of the riches of the [Russian] Abroad’s spiritual and ecclesio-social experience. The adherents and supporters of both these courses of action argued amongst themselves from the start, although it cannot be said that these two approaches would have been completely and mutually exclusive, the one of the other.”[77] This double-mindedness eventually led to the collapse of the mission. For “if the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle?” (I Corinthians 14.8). Looking more at her enemies than at the Lord, the ROCOR began, like the Apostle Peter, to sink beneath the waves. And the MP which, at the beginning of the 90s had been seriously rattled, recovered her confidence and by the middle of the 90s had recovered her position in public opinion, while the ROCOR lost ground.[78]


     This doublemindedness can be seen already in the ROCOR Synod’s statement of May 3/16, 1990, which was in general strongly anti-MP, but which contained the qualification that there might be true priests dispensing valid sacraments in the patriarchate nevertheless. 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 Russia – in parallel, that is, to the parishes of the MP. This, too, was canonical nonsense, and elicited the suspicion that the ROCOR was not really aiming to replace the MP, but to co-exist with it.


Episcopal Civil War


     As we have seen, the ROCOR’s first parish on Russian soil was that of St. Constantine the Great in Suzdal under Archimandrite Valentine (Rusantsov); and the official beginning of the ROCOR’s mission in Russia was marked by the concelebration of three ROCOR hierarchs – Mark, Hilarion and Lazarus - in Suzdal on June 8/21, 1990.[79] Valentine soon began to attract priests and parishes from both the MP and the Catacomb Church. But Bishop Lazarus constantly impeded his work, as did most of the bishops outside Russia. Only Metropolitan Vitaly and Bishop Gregory Grabbe supported him.


     His main opponent was Archbishop Mark of Berlin. In July, 1990, Archbishop Mark wrote a letter to Metropolitan Vitaly full of innuendos against Archimandrite Valentine. Then he ordained a priest for St. Petersburg, established a “Special German deanery” under the Monk Ambrose (von Sievers), who later founded his own Synod, and in general acted as if Russia were an extension of the German diocese. [80] In November, 1991 a correspondent of a church bulletin asked Bishop Valentine about Archbishop Mark’s role. The reply was carefully weighed: “When the situation in Russia was still in an embryonic stage, Archbishop Mark with the agreement of the first-hierarch of the ROCA made various attempts to build church life in Russia. One of Archbishop Mark’s experiments was the ‘special German deanery’ headed by Fr. Ambrose (Sievers). Now this is changing, insofar as the situation in the FROC has been sufficiently normalized. From now on not one hierarch will interfere in Russian affairs – except, it goes without saying, the three hierarchs of the FROC.”[81]


     On October 3/16, 1990, Bishop Gregory wrote to Bishop Barnabas seeking his support for Valentine, and saying that he was not very learned, but “bold” and “right-thinking”. To Archbishop Anthony of Geneva he wrote on October 12/25 that Bishop Mark did not like him, thinking he was a Jew. To Archbishop Anthony of San Francisco he wrote on October 13/26, urging him to support Valentine. Finally, at the end of October, 1990, writes Wojciech Zalewski, “the Metropolitan, urged by Grabbe, approved the consecration of Valentine [to the episcopate], against the opposition of Archbishops Mark of Germany and Anthony of Los Angeles, and directed Archbishop Anthony of Geneva and Bishop Barnabas to consecrate Valentine. This took place in Brussels in February, 1991.”[82] Soon a third bishop, Benjamin of the Kuban (a former member of the Seraphimo-Gennadiite branch of the Catacomb Church) was consecrated. The ROCOR’s mission inside the country was now called the “Free Russian Orthodox Church” (FROC), and its numbers had increased to some sixty parishes, while the Moscow Patriarchate suffered a very sharp drop in popularity.[83]


     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, Russia is in the position of a missionary region. Each of us can receive parishes in any part of the country. For the time being it is difficult to define the boundaries of dioceses.”[84]


     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 New York. While in August that year Valentine expanded the number of his parishes and obtained their official registration, Lazarus’ activities showed no tangible results. Lazarus refused to attend the Sobor in New York to settle his differences with Valentine. Grabbe (letter to Archbishop Anthony of Geneva 23 August / 5 September, 1991) indicates that by this refusal Lazarus breaks church laws which is an especially serious offence ‘in the conditions of our struggle for existence’.”[85]


     Still more serious was the anti-canonical interference of foreign clergy inside Russia. Bishops and priests visiting Russia from abroad often showed an extraordinary inability to distinguish between the true Church and the false. Thus Archbishop Lavr, on visiting Sanino, a village in Vladimir region in which there existed a ROCOR priest, chose instead to stay with the local MP priest! Another bishop shared some holy relics with – the MP Metropolitan Philaret of Minsk (KGB agent “Ostrovsky”)!


     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[86], 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”. [87]     Instead, he told them to turn instead 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 the ROCOR had “turned its back on the Suzdal diocese of the FROC”.[88]


     A letter dated October 2, 1992 from Archbishop Mark to Protopriest Michael Artsumovich of Meudon gave equally clear evidence, if further evidence was needed, that this ROCOR hierarch at any rate neither intended to protect the rights of the Russian bishops nor in any way respected either them or their flock: “We are receiving [from the MP] by no means the best representatives of the Russian Church. Basically, these are people who know little or nothing about the Church Abroad. And in those cases in which someone possesses some information, it must be doubtful that he is in general in a condition to understand it in view of his own mendacity and the mendacity of his own situation. In receiving priests from the Patriarchate, we receive with them a whole series of inadequacies and vices of the MP itself… The real Catacomb Church no longer exists. It in fact disappeared in the 1940s or the beginning of the 1950s… Only individual people have been preserved from it, and in essence everything that has arisen since is only pitiful reflections, and people take their desires for reality. Those who poured into this stream in the 1950s and later were themselves infected with Soviet falsehood, and they partly – and involuntarily - participate in it themselves, that is, they enter the category of what we call ‘homo sovieticus’… In Russia, consequently, there cannot be a Russian Church because it is all based on Soviet man… I think it is more expedient to seek allies for ourselves among those elements that are pure or striving for canonical purity both in the depths of the Moscow Patriarchate and in the other Local Churches – especially in Serbia or even Greece…We will yet be able to deliver ourselves from that impurity which we have now received from the Moscow Patriarchate, and again start on the path of pure Orthodoxy… It is evident that we must… try and undertake the russification of Soviet man and the Soviet church…”[89]


     Archbishop Mark gave himself away in this shocking and insulting letter: disdain for the “pitiful” and supposedly long-dead Catacomb Church, disgust with the “impure”, “Soviet” Free Russian Church, admiration for the “purity” of the apostate churches of “World Orthodoxy” with their Masonic and KGB-agent “hierarchs”. As for the remark – by an ethnic German - about the “russification” of the Russian Church, the reaction in the heart of Holy Russia was one of understandable dismay...


     In a letter to Metropolitan Vitaly dated December 25, 1992, Bishop Valentine complained that Archbishop Mark’s attacks against him had been distributed, not only to members of the Synod, but also to laypeople and even in churches of the Moscow Patriarchate. And he went on: “On the basis of the above positions I have the right to confirm that after my consecration to the episcopate his Eminence Vladyka Mark did everything to cause a quarrel between me and their Eminences Archbishop Lazarus and Bishop Benjamin…


     “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 began to accuse me of ‘lifting everything under myself like a bulldozer’. Therefore his Eminence Mark chose a different tactic. He wrote a letter to Kaliningrad, calling me ‘a wolf in sheep’s clothing’, and this letter was read out from the ambon in the churches of the Moscow patriarchate.


     “Yesterday I was told that his Eminence Archbishop Mark sent a fax to the Synod insistently recommending that his Eminence Barnabas not be recalled from Moscow until a church trial had been carried out on Valentine. What trial, for what? For everything that I have done, for all my labours? Does not putting me on trial mean they want to put you, too, on trial? Does this not mean that it striking me with their fist they get at you with their elbow?”[90]


     The reference to Bishop Barnabas is explained as follows. In February, 1992 he had been sent to Moscow as superior of the community of SS. Martha and Mary in Moscow, which was designated the Synodal podvorye.[91] Bishop Barnabas went about his task with gusto. On August 3, he organized “a conference of the clergy with the aim of organizing the Moscow diocesan organization of our Church. The conference was attended by more than ten clergy from Moscow and other parts of Russia. In his speech before the participants Vladyka pointed out the necessity of creating a diocesan administration which would unite all the parishes of the FROC in Moscow and Moscow region, and also those parishes in other regions of Russia which wanted to unite with this diocesan administration.”[92] This was a clear call to clergy under the Russian bishops to abandon their lawful archpastor. Barnabas went on to receive clerics who had been banned by the Russian bishops, especially Valentine (whom he accused of homosexuality), ordained priests in their dioceses without asking them.


     The appointment of a foreign bishop with almost unlimited powers in Russia was a direct affront to the attempts of the Russian bishops to prevent foreign interference in their dioceses. The encroachment of the foreign bishops on the canonical rights of the Russian bishops was becoming increasingly scandalous. According to the holy canons (8th of the 3rd Ecumenical Council, 9th of Antioch, 64th and 67th of Carthage), no bishop can encroach on the territory of another bishop or perform any sacramental action in it without his permission.


     Also at the August diocesan conference, “a diocesan council was elected, containing three members of the National Patriotic Front, Pamyat’, as representatives of the laity.”[93] Barnabas showed that his support for these KGB-supported fascists was sincere when he included some fascists in his diocesan administration, and took part in fascist demonstrations (one of his priests actually organized an attack on the offices of the newspaper, Moskovskij Komsomolets). As a result of this, the owner of the Mary-Martha Convent in Moscow, which had been Barnabas’ headquarters, took fright and removed it from the ROCOR.


     On October 25 / November 7, 1992, Metropolitan Vitaly and the Synod of the ROCOR acted to distance themselves from the activities of Bishop Barnabas, sending Bishop Hilarion and Fr. Victor Potapov to Moscow to express the official position of the ROCOR at a press conference; which duly took place on November 13. However, in February, 1993, at a meeting of the Synod in New York, it was decided to reject this press-conference as “provocative” and to praise one of the pro-fascist priests, Fr. Alexis Aver’ianov, for his “fruitful work with Pamyat’”, bestowing on him an award for his “stand for righteousness”. Moreover, no action was taken against Bishop Barnabas, while Fr. Victor was forbidden to undertake any ecclesiastical or public activity in Russia.[94]


     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 29 December, 1992, Archbishop Anthony of Geneva wrote to Bishop Gregory: ‘There is no unity amont the episcopate… You support Bishop Valentine, I – Bishop Barnabas… For the time being I am withdrawing from Russian affairs… The metropolitan contradicts himself and easily falls under others’ influence, as, for example, [Fr. Victor] Potapov and others. Thanks to him we are in a muddle… May God not allow the episcopate to be increased there [in Russia] in order that there should be more dirt and quarrels. There is no [good] man there, and none with us either… Act, holy Vladyko, but do not make mistakes.” On 29 December / 12 January, 1992/93, Bishop Gregory replied that regardless of whether Valentine was nice or not, “he has 43 parishes and care for parishioners is crucial.”[95]


     In 1993 Archimandrite Adrian and the large MP parish in Naginsk applied to come under the omophorion of Bishop Valentine, and was accepted by him on January 18, Bishop Barnabas interfered and suggested they come under his omophorion – which offer was politely but firmly turned down. 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, without any kind of investigation or trial, suspended the archimandrite and wanted to depose Bishop Valentine for accepting such a pervert into his diocese. (Archimandrite Adrian later joined the Ukrainian church, and it turned out that he was indeed a less than strictly moral priest. Nevertheless, this in no way justified Bishop Barnabas’ actions.) The Russian newspapers pointed out that 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.[96] Nevertheless, 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.


     But worse was to come. Bishop Barnabas wrote (on official Synod notepaper) to Metropolitan Vladimir (Romanyuk) of the uncanonical Ukrainian Autocephalous Church seeking to enter into communion with him, and followed this up by visiting him in Kiev. The whole affair was exposed when Metropolitan Vitaly received an invitation from the “Patriarch” to visit Kiev in order to make the inter-communion official.[97] Of course, the MP seized on this to discredit the whole of the ROCOR!


      Bishop Barnabas’ contribution to Russian Church life in this year was summed up as follows: “In the shortest time [he] introduced the most complete chaos[98] 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![99] 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 Kiev in written form. This letter was also widely distributed.”[100]


The First Schism


     On April 14/27, 1993 Archbishop Lazarus sent an “explanatory report” to the Synod detailed the many serious canonical violations committed against the Russian bishops, and in particular against himself, to which the leadership of the 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 the ROCOR. As a result of this, without consulting either him or his diocese, the ROCOR meeting in Cleveland, Ohio retired him, and the administration of his parishes was transferred to Metropolitan Vitaly.


     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”.


     In an emergency report to the Synod dated May 16/29, after sharply criticizing the unjust and uncanonical actions of the Synod, 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 Munich.


     “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[101], 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 Russia?


     “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…”[102]


     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 the ROCOR in Russia to be uncanonical, he had tolerated them out of brotherly love, but was now forced to speak out against them, for they were inflicting harm on the Church. First, the ROCOR did not have the right to form its own parishes in Russia insofar as the Catacomb Church, which had preserved the succession of grace of the Mother Church, continued to exist on her territory. Therefore it was necessary only to strengthen the catacomb communities and expand them through an influx of new believers. Secondly, the hierarchs of the ROCOR had been acting in a spirit far from brotherly love, for they had been treating their brothers, the hierarchs of the FROC, as second-class Vladykas: they received clergy who had been banned by the Russian Vladykas, brought clergy of other dioceses to trial, removed bans placed by the Russian hierarchs without their knowledge or agreement, and annulled other decisions of theirs (for example, Metropolitan Vitaly forbade an inspection to be carried out in the parish of Fr. Sergius Perekrestov of St. Petersburg). Thirdly, the ROCOR hierarchs were far from Russia and did not understand the situation, so they could not rightly administer the Russian parishes. Thus the Synod removed the title ‘Administering the affairs of the FROC’ from all the hierarchs except Bishop Barnabas, which forced the dioceses to re-register with the authorities - although, while a new registration was being carried out, the parishes could lose their right to ownership of the churches and other property. Moreover re-registration was almost impossible, insofar as it required the agreement of an expert consultative committee attached to the Supreme Soviet, which contained hierarchs of the Moscow Patriarchate. Fourthly, the ROCOR hierarchs had been inconsistent in their actions, which aroused the suspicion that their actions were directed, not by the Holy Spirit, but by forces foreign to the Church.[103] Archbishop Lazarus concluded by calling for the formation of a True Orthodox Catacomb Church that was administratively separate from, but in communion with, the ROCOR, on the basis of Patriarch Tikhon’s ukaz ¹ 362, which had never been annulled.


     At the end of the conference it was decided that the Suzdal diocese would follow Archbishop Lazarus’ example in separating administratively from the 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 Cleveland…[104]


     A meeting of the clergy Archbishop Lazarus’ diocese in Odessa on July 4/17 confirmed that their separation from the ROCOR was conditional, “on the verge of a break”. They reiterated their belief that the bans on Archbishop Lazarus were uncanonical and called on the hierarchs of the ROCOR to review them in a spirit of brotherly love and mutual understanding”.


     On October 20 / November 2, 1993 (i.e. over eighteen months since the scandals erupted), the Synod decided to withdraw Bishop Barnabas from Russia and to place all his parishes in the jurisdiction of Metropolitan Vitaly (who, throughout the 1990s, had not set foot once on Russian soil, in spite of numerous invitations).[105] All the parishes of the ROCOR in Siberia, Ukraine and Belarus were to be entrusted to Bishop Benjamin.[106]


      By the beginning of 1994 the Russian bishops had received no reaction whatsoever from the Synod to any of their letters and requests. 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 Russian Federation, so that the Suzdal Diocesan Administration should not lose its registration. This time the reply was swift, only not to the Diocesan Administration, but to the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation under the signature of Bishop Barnabas, saying that the Russian Hierarchs were no longer Administering the affairs of the FROC, and that this duty was laid upon him. As a result I and the member of my Diocesan Council began visiting office after office, a process that lasted many months.


     “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’.”[107]


     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 the ROCOR and Metropolitan Vitaly, whose name would continue to be commemorated in Divine services, since they wished to remain in communion of prayer with them. 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 Fateyevna Shipunova, declared: “It is now completely obvious that the subjection of the Russian dioceses to the Synod Abroad contradicts the second point of Ukaz ¹ 362. The Russian Church is faced directly with the necessity of moving to independent administration in accordance with this Ukaz. After the sergianist schism Metropolitan Cyril of Kazan called for such a move, considering Ukaz ¹ 362 as the only possible basis of Church organization. Incidentally, Metropolitan Cyril also indicated to Metropolitan Sergius Stragorodsky that he had to follow Ukaz ¹ 362 instead of usurping ecclesiastical power. Metropolitan Cyril and the other bishop-confessors tried to organize the administration of the Russian Church on the basis of this Ukaz, but they couldn’t do this openly. Now for the first time the Russian Church has the opportunity to do this. We could say that this is an historical moment. The Temporary Higher Church Administration that has been created is the first legal one in Russia since the time of the sergianist schism.  The Centre of Church power ceased its existence after the death of Metropolitan Peter more than half a century ago, but we have not yet arrived at the Second All-Russian Council which has the power to re-establish Central Church power.”[108]


     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 the ROCOR of their decision. 


     On March 23 / April 5 the Synod of the ROCOR rejected this declaration and the new consecrations, and decided to break communion in prayer with the newly formed Autonomous Church, but without imposing any bans.[109] In this decision the ROCOR Synod called itself the “Central Church authority” of the Russian Church, which contradicted both its own Fundamental Statute and the simple historical fact that, as the FROC bishops pointed out, since the death of Metropolitan Peter in 1937 the Russian Church has had no “Central Church authority”.[110]


     Then, in order to strengthen the ROCOR’s hand in the coming struggle with the FROC, Archimandrite Eutyches (Kurochkin) was consecrated Bishop of Ishim and Siberia on July 11/24.[111]


     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”. [112] However, the FROC, with its direct and ongoing experience of persecution, retained the old formula.


     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 Russia to the most undesirable possible end. Tormented by envy and malice, certain of our bishops have influenced the whole course of our church politics in Russia. As a consequence of this, our Synod has not understood the meaning of the mission of our existence abroad.


     “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 Russia, but also with us here…


     “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 Russia) will be finally and ingloriously destroyed.


     “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 and in Russia who have been deceived by us. Do not calm yourself with the thought that if guilt lies somewhere, then it lies equally on all of our hierarchs. The main guilt will lie on you as the leader of our Sobor…”[113]


     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 the supposedly homosexual 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…”[114] 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![115]


     Some FROC priests – notably Protopriest Lev Lebedev of Kursk – while fully agreeing that the ROCOR bishops had committed uncanonical acts on Russian soil, nevertheless began to express the view that the actions of the FROC bishops had been hasty and were justified only in the case that the ROCOR had fallen away from Orthodoxy, which, as everyone agreed, had not yet taken place. In a letter to Bishop Gregory dated April 4, 1994, and approved by Metropolitan Vitaly, Fr. Lev maintained that no personal reasons could justify legal separation from the authority of the supervising Metropolitan. He claimed that the only legal church authority in Russia was now the ROCOR, which, since it remained faithful to Orthodoxy, had the right to administer all groups that did not want to remain in the falsehood of the MP. Fr. Lev was suspicious of Bishop Valentine because he, unlike all others, had managed to obtained church buildings and registration from the authorities. And he hinted that since the authorities granted rights only to “their own”, Bishop Valentine was in fact one of “their own”.[116] In a letter dated April 13/26, Bishop Gregory accused Fr. Lev of allowing his personal dislike of Valentine to interfere with his judgement. Fr. Lev in his turn accused Bishop Gregory of allowing “personal offence and desire” to dictate his letter to the metropolitan of March 24 / April 6, 1994.


     Bishop Gregory argued that the ROCOR’s two founding documents, the ukaz ¹ 362 and the Polozhenie of the ROCOR, did not allow for the Church outside Russia to rule the Church inside Russia. The ROCOR could help the Church inside Russia, but not rule it:-


     “For decades we living abroad have commemorated ‘the Orthodox Episcopate of the Persecuted Church of Russia’. But in our last Sobor we removed from the litanies and the prayer for the salvation of Russia the word ‘persecuted’, witnessing thereby that we already officially consider that the persecutions on the Russian Church have ceased.


     “And indeed, our parishes in Russia are now harried in places, but basically they have complete freedom of action, in particular if they do not lay claim to receive any old church, which the Moscow Patriarchate then tries to snatch. However it does not always succeed in this. Thus the huge Theophany cathedral in Noginsk (with all the buildings attached to it) according to the court’s decision remained with our diocese…


     “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 Russian Church’ are we still praying for in our churches? But if we took these words out of the litanies, them we would only be officially declaring that we are no longer a part of the Russian Church.


     “Will we not then enter upon a very dubious canonical path of autonomous existence, but now without a Patriarchal blessing and outside the Russian Church, a part of which we have always confessed ourselves to be? Will not such a step lead us to a condition of schism in the Church Abroad itself, and, God forbid, to the danger of becoming a sect?…


     “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 Russia could be received by them.


     “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?”[117]


The Second Schism


     The FROC still sought reconciliation with the ROCOR, and so the two senior bishops, Archbishop Lazarus and Bishop Valentine, went to the Lesna Sobor of the ROCOR in November, 1994, and after asking forgiveness, were again received into communion. Then an "Act" was presented to the two Russian bishops and they were told to sign. This "Act" greatly troubled the two bishops, because they saw that it involved changed 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 Paris, where he was in intensive care for a week.


     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, the 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 Church of God”.


     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 the ROCOR be respectfully asked to amend the Act in a number of points, and a corresponding epistle to the Hierarchical Synod of the ROCOR was drawn up.[118]


     However, two hierarchs present at this meeting – Bishop Eutyches and Bishop Benjamin - interpreted this proposal as a rebellion against the authority of the ROCOR which the senior bishops Lazarus and Valentine had only recently reaffirmed. As Evtikhy put it several years later: “The unfortunate monk Valentine Rusantsov, in signing the Act of reconciliation with the Council of the 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”. [119]


     However, (i) Valentine did not hide the Act from his flock, but discussed it with them openly and extensively, (ii) if his fellow-bishops rejected it before the beginning of the Congress, the final decision, nevertheless, was not to reject it outright but to seek amendments – which was only reasonable considering that it was precisely the Russian flock that would suffer all the evil consequences of its 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 New York for the February 9/22 meeting of the Synod and “for the formalities of re-establishing concelebration”.[120] It is significant that the Synod had also invited Bishop Eutyches, who was not a member of the Synod – but not Archbishop Lazarus, who was a member of the Synod, as agreed at the Lesna Sobor.


     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 the ROCOR’, in which their Graces Lazarus and Valentine, and also Bishops Theodore, Seraphim and I, were declared to be banned from serving.[121] 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 the 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 Russia which, if not independent, but subject to the Synod, was nevertheless an organ of administration. When the ‘Paschal joy’ had passed, the Synodal Bishops suddenly realized: they had themselves reduced their own power, insofar as, with their agreement, Hierarchs could meet in vast Russia and discuss vital problems. Before that, the Church Abroad had not allowed itself to behave like that. And it was this, unfortunately, that the foreign Archpastors could not bear. On receiving for confirmation the protocols of the first session of the Hierarchical Conference with concrete proposals to improve Church life in Russia, the foreign Bishops were completely nonplussed. Therefore a reason that did not in fact exist was thought up – the supposed non-fulfilment of the Act.


     “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 Russian Church living abroad were trampled on, and the Synod on its own initiative ascribed to itself the rights and prerogatives of the Local Russian Church.


     “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.


     “In Russia a very real war is now being waged for human souls; every day is full of work. Depriving Orthodox Christians of their pastors without any objective reason witnesses to the haughtiness and lack of love towards our country and its people on the part of the members of the Synod Abroad. We, the Orthodox from Russia, are called ‘common people’ by Metropolitan Vitaly (thank you, Vladyko Metropolitan!).


     “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 Russia, this was very painful to hear…”[122]


     This act of blackmail – we recognize you if you accept a foreign see, but do not recognize you if you stay in Russia – exposed the complete lack of canonical justification in the acts of the ROCOR Synod. Let us recall that: (a) Bishops Theodore and Agathangelus had just been formally recognized as canonical bishops, (b) they had agreed in writing to fulfil all of the ROCOR Synod’s conditions, including the signing of the Act without any alterations, (c) they had not been accused of any canonical transgressions, and (d) they had not been subjected to any investigation or trial, as the canons demanded. Their only crime, it would appear, was that they lived in Russia – a novel charge against a bishop of the Russian Church!


     On February 11/24 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?![123]


     On February 15/28, 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 Russia.


     “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…”[124]


The Aftermath


     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 the schism was complete.


     The mission of the ROCOR to Russia was now effectively dead as a unified, large-scale operation. And opinion polls reflected this change: after the sharp rise in popularity of the ROCOR at the beginning of the 1990s, and drop in the popularity of the MP[125], by the middle of the 1990s the MP had recovered its position. Such a reversal cannot be attributed to any change for the better in the MP, which, as we have seen, continued to be as corrupt and heretical as ever, but rather to the suicidal civil war of the ROCOR hierarchs…


     In May, 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 Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church, or ROAC). On his return, the ROCOR Synod demanded his condemnation and suspension, but no punitive measures were taken. In October, Bishop Gregory died, and no bishop of the ROCOR was present at his burial…


     On 28 August / 10 September 1996 the Hierarchical Council of the ROCOR defrocked Bishop Valentine, citing his supposed violation of the “Act” on January 13/26 and a few irrelevant canons. Not surprisingly, the ROAC rejected this decision. [126]


     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.”[127]


     In 2001 the ROAC was rocked by a series of heresies preached by Hieromonk Gregory Lourié, especially the heresy of name-worshipping. When it became clear that the episcopate was not prepared to act decisively against Lourié, and that the radical sect led by Lourié (and probably supported by the KGB) had taken control, a number of priests and parishes departed to the Greek Old Calendarists.[128]


     At the time of writing, the ROAC has thirteen bishops led by a metropolitan, nine in Russia, two in the Ukraine and one in Latvia.[129] She has 114 open parishes and about 200 catacomb parishes. About 40 of the open parishes are registered; the rest are unregistered.[130]


     Almost immediately after the events of February, 1995, frightened by the threat of defrocking by the ROCOR Synod, Archbishop Lazarus and his vicar, Bishop Agathangelus, left the FROC and returned, “repenting”, to the ROCOR[131], which restored Lazarus to the status of a ruling bishop in October, 1996. Lazarus still hoped for some kind of autonomy for the Russian bishops. However, in accordance with a resolution of the Hierarchical Synod of the ROCOR in 1996, the Hierarchical Conference of the Russian Bishops inside Russia was stripped of what little power it had: its representation in the ROCOR was annulled, and not one of the Russian bishops entered into the ROCOR Synod.


     The reason for Lazarus’ “repentance” is not far to find. As we have seen, he was the first instrument - and the first beneficiary - of the ROCOR’s policy of “divide and rule” towards the Catacomb Church. As such, he could not afford to break his links with the Synod that had promoted him, and ran back to it with his tail between his legs. But his return to the ROCOR did not mean better times for his flock in the Ukraine. Thus Hieromonk (later Bishop) Hilarion (Goncharenko), in a petition for transfer from the ROCA to the FROC, wrote: “Vladyka Lazarus together with the Synod Abroad has cunningly and finally destroyed the whole Church in the Ukraine. My former friends and brothers in the Lord have… turned to me with tearful sobs and the painful question: 'What are we to do now in the stormy and destructive situation that has been created?’”[132]


     In late 2001, after Metropolitan Vitaly broke with the ROCOR Synod, Archbishop Lazarus and Bishop Benjamin sought to come into communion with him. However, Lazarus’ waverings and, especially, his consecration of several bishops without the permission of Vitaly’s Synod (called the Synod of the ROCiE), led to his rejection by the ROCiE. At the time of writing, he leads a Synod of six bishops independent of the three other major non-MP Churches led by Metropolitans Lavr, Vitaly and Valentine respectively…


Other True Orthodox Churches


     Apart from the ROCOR, the ROAC and the Seraphimo-Gennadiites, and offshoots from them, there were at least several other Catacomb Church groups in existence in the mid-1990s.


     The most controversial of them was the “Andrewites”. A very 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[133], 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 Believer.[134]


     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 Moscow, where he consecrated (on his own) two bishops, and later two more, before dying shortly afterwards. In June, 1995, the Andrewites held a Council at which they defined their (rather extreme) position on various questions. The acts of this Council were signed by: Bishops Ambrose (Count von Sievers) of the Goths, Evagrius (Baron Drenteln) of Ingermannland, Paisius (Rogozhin) of Satkinsk and Eustace (Amosov) of Chita. The Council confirmed an earlier decision, made at the Nikolsky Council of 1961, that sergianists were not to be raised to the priesthood except in exceptional circumstances, and only those who had been subdeacons or lower in the patriarchate. In June, 1996 the Andrewites held another Council near Moscow attended by eight bishops (Ambrose, Evagrius, Paisius, Eustathius, Pancratius, John, Babylas and Nectarius) - twenty-two clergy in all. At this Council the 29 canons of the “Nomadic” Council of 1928 (which most observors consider to be mythical) were confirmed, and measures against various sexual sins were adopted.[135]


     The Andrewites claim to be in communion with a “Clementite” Old Believer hierarchy, so called from their first bishop, Clement, who was consecrated by Archbishop Andrew of Ufa in 1925.[136]


     The two main branches of the Greek Old Calendarist Churches – the Matthewites and the Florinites – both had representatives in Russia.


     The Russian Matthewites were based mainly in the Kuban.  Their founder was the Catacomb Schema-Monk Epiphanius (Chernov) (+1994), a former spiritual son of the second hierarch of the ROCOR, Archbishop Theophanes of Poltava (+1940), who came out to the West in 1978.[137] At first he joined the ROCOR in Switzerland, but then, convinced that the ROCOR had fallen away from her former confession and had been infiltrated by renovationism, he moved to England, from where he joined the Matthewite Greek Old Calendarists. On returning to Russia in 1990, he assumed the leadership of a wide net of virtually priestless parishes, bringing them under the omophorion of the Matthewite Archbishop Andrew of Athens. They now have five priests and two deacons and are served mainly by the Matthewite exarch in Russia, Metropolitan Cyricus of Mesogaia.


     “In 1993,” writes Anton Ter-Grigorian, “Chernov, undoubtedly a vivid and talented Church organizer, cut off all ecclesiastical relations with the Greek Matthewites. In the same year he widely distributed his ‘Letter to the Catacomb Christians’ in which he wrote that the Greeks understood nothing about the problems of Russia, were behaving in a provocatively high-handed manner and did not want to consecrate a Russian hierarch. Before his death, which took place a year later, he also distributed in the catacomb milieu his ‘Spiritual Testament’. In the Testament he wrote that they should no longer have any relations with the Greeks and added: ‘finally a true Russian hierarchy has been discovered’. What hierarchy precisely this was he did not specify. However, a part of the communities founded by Chernov declared after his death that this hierarchy had been founded in 1994 by a miraculously discovered Bishop Amphilochius and was not contained in the hierarchy of Archbishop Ambrose (Count von Sievers). The representatives of these hierarchies declared also that Church was planning to go to the Council of the miraculously discovered true Russian hierarchy, but was not able to because of illness and died a few weeks before the Council.


     “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 ‘Greco-Russian Church’. And the representatives of the communities prayed together in their peregrinations round Russia.”


     In 1996 the leaders of the two communities, Archbishop Ambrose and Metropolitan Kyrikos, met in a flat in Moscow. Two of those with the metropolitan went up to Archbishop Ambrose and received his blessing. The metropolitan himself called him “Despota”, bowed to him and took hold of his hand. But the archbishop removed his hand, explaining that “kissing the hands is a Turkish custom, a sign of submission”.


     The meeting lasted for two hours, and ended cordially, and, it appears, with some degree of communion in prayer. After all, the two communities were in effect one, having Fr. Epiphanius Chernov as their common spiritual father. However, Fr. Andrew Sidniev, a former priest of Archbishop Barnabas, did not like the strictly anti-sergianist stance of Archbishop Ambrose, and succeeded in getting an encyclical published in which Metropolitan Kyrikos 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.[138]


     In 1995 five Matthewite bishops in Greece separated from Archbishop Andreas on the grounds of his “iconoclasm”, that is, rejecting the icon of the Holy Trinity in which the Father is depicted as an old man. At the time of writing these five bishops have been reduced to two, and these two are no longer in communion with each other. They do not appear to have any followers in Russia.


     The Florinites had only two or three priests in Russia in the early 1990s. In 1995 they too, suffered a major schism over a decision to defrock Metropolitan Euthymius of Thessalonica for homosexuality (there were other reasons, but this was the most important). The second bishop of the Synod, Metropolitan Callinicus of Lamia, broke from the Synod led by Archbishop Chrysostomos (Kiousis) out of sympathy with Euthymius and in protest at what he considered to be violations of conciliar order. He and Euthymius were joined by the American bishops Paisios and Vikentios, who soon joined the new calendarists, and by Metropolitans Justin and Stephanos, who soon returned to Archbishop Chrysostomos. Both the “Chrysostomites” and the “Callinicites” have since ordained more bishops. The Athonite zealot monastery of Esphigmenou remains loyal to Archbishop Chrysostomos, as does the True Orthodox Church of Serbia led by Hieroschemamonk Akakije and a single priest in Russia. The Callinicites (who should now be called “Macariites”, since their new first-hierarch is Archbishop Macarius) have Churches in Bulgaria and Romania, and about sixteen priests in Russia. Both Synods have Churches in America and Western Europe.


The Third Way?


     In July, 1994 a union took place between the 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 the ROCOR officially rejecting the validity of the Florinites’ defrocking of Metropolitan Cyprian in 1985 and accepting his very controversial ecclesiology as her own. This ecclesiology recognised that the churches of ecumenist “World Orthodoxy” still had grace, justifying this on the grounds of a completely unacceptable theory of the relationship between the Seven Ecumenical Councils and the heretics of their day.


     From the start, there were many critics of the union among conservative members of the ROCOR in Russia and America. Even the two most senior ROCOR bishops, Metropolitan Vitaly and Archbishop Anthony of Los Angeles, were reported to be against it. Thus in his Nativity epistle for 1995/96 Metropolitan Vitaly contradicted the Cyprianite ecclesiology he had signed up to, saying that he personally believed that the Moscow Patriarchate did not have the grace of sacraments.[139] And in December, 1996, he wrote flatly that the Moscow Patriarchate was "the Church of the evil-doers, the Church of the Antichrist", which "has completed sealed its irrevocable falling away from the body of the Church of Christ".[140] Again, although the Romanian Old Calendarists had been in communion with the Cyprianites for several years and had not protested their ecclesiology, their own practice of chrismating new calendarists who came to them suggested that they held to a stricter ecclesiology.[141]


     At first, however, this True Orthodox union, like the earlier (and much more solidly based) one in 1971, appeared to elicit an encouraging response from the heretics. For from the middle of the 1990s, some signs of such a genuinely spiritual revival in World Orthodoxy were discerned in the emergence of anti-ecumenist movements in Russia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Georgia. Thus in November, 1994 the Serbian Bishop Artemije of Kosovo said to his fellow hierarchs with regard to their participation in the ecumenical movement: "We have lost the purity of the faith, the canonical inheritance of the Church and faithfulness to the holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church."[142] Those were honest and true words. But they were not followed up by appropriate action – that is, withdrawal from the ecumenical movement and repentace for participation in it. Thus when 340 priests, monks and nuns of the Serbian Church protested against ecumenism and called on the patriarchate to leave the WCC in the early summer of 1997, none of the Serbian bishops signed the document. And so the Serbian Church remains mired in heresy.


     During the late 1990s, the Bulgarian and Georgian Churches left the WCC. It is particularly interesting to see how and why this took place in the two countries.


     Both these churches were still ruled by communist-appointed “patriarchs”. Patriarch Maxim of Bulgaria had been presented with a serious anti-communist challenge by Metropolitan Pimen, but eventually triumphed over this “schism”. As we have seen, Patriarch Ilia of Georgia was recruited by the Georgian KGB Unit V in 1962, with the codename “Iverieli”.[143] As metropolitan of Sukhumi in the late 1970s he betrayed the Catacomb Schema-Metropolitan Gennadius (Sekach) to the Georgian KGB, as a result of which Metropolitan Gennadius spent two-and-half years in prison in Kutaisi.[144] So why should such a tried and tested ecucommunist leave the ecumenical movement now?


     The Georgian decision was elicited by the separation of two groups from the official Church of Georgia because of the latter’s participation in the ecumenical movement. One priest with his flock joined the Cyprianites, and then a monastery, a convent and a secular parish joined the “Holy Orthodox Church of North America” (HOCNA) under Metropolitan Ephraim of Boston. Rattled by these events, and fearing a more general exodus, the patriarchate withdrew from the WCC in May, 1997 – but then promptly placed the leaders of the True Orthodox under ban! On August 21 the Betani monastery was stormed by the Georgian Patriarchate. At one point the patriarchal leader Archimandrite Joachim shouted at the “disobedient” True Orthodox that one should obey one’s spiritual superior unconditionally, even to the point of becoming a Muslim if so ordered![145]


     Fr. Basil (now Hieromonk 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 Georgian Church officially denounced a number of recent ecumenical documents, branding them ‘unacceptable.’ These documents included: 1) the Chambésy documents of 1990 and 1993 (Union with Non-Chalcedonian (Oriental) Churches); 2) the Framework Agreement between the Orthodox Church of Antioch and the Oriental (Non-Chalcedonian) Church of Antioch; 3) the Balamand Union with the Latins (Roman-Catholic Church) of 1993; 4) Easter Celebration by the Autonomious Orthodox Church of Finland according to the Papal Paschalion; 5) the so-called ‘Branch Theory’ was also denounced; as well as 5) common prayers and intercommunion with non-Orthodox denominations.


     “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 Georgia. However, this statement of the Georgian Synod represents an unprecedented act of an all but complete rejection of the ecumenist politics, not just a cancellation of membership in a few ecumenical organizations. This move could be assumed to signify the beginning of a comeback of the official Georgian Patriarchate to Orthodoxy, if it were not for certain very important circumstances.


     “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 Constantinople which is at the helm of the Orthodox chapter of this heresy. It is necessary to give up the vision of ‘World Orthodoxy’ whereby it is presented as an assembly of local Orthodox churches; instead, it should be viewed as a conglomeration of communities each infected with the ecumenical heresy to a different extent.


     “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 Babel. The Orthodox Church was certainly unable to provide assistance in this task, but a ready-to-wear model did exist: the Anglican Church with its two wings, High Church and Low Church, which have no dogmatic accord between them and completely abhor each other’s rites (for instance, High Church does not admit women to priesthood and does not recognize homosexual marriages), yet they consider themselves parts of a single church and retain full communion with each other.


     “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.


     “In Greece, this theology [gave birth to the Synod of Resisters], a separate organization headed by Cyprian, Metropolitan of Fili and Oropos. Within the ROCOR, a similar attitude practised by some of its members vis-à-vis the Moscow Patriarchate made it possible to hold talks with the MP which received the enthusiastic backing of what looked like the entire German Diocese. In a rather typical development, the same Council of ROCA Bishops (1994) that gave its go-ahead for the talks with the Moscow Patriarchate, also gave its full approval for Metropolitan Cyprian’s ecclesiology.


     “’The Third Way’ between Orthodoxy and ecumenism may yet prove suitable for 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 Georgia. However, as far as the building of the new and tortuous ‘Third Way’ is concerned, Georgia could make a good heap of sand and rocks. This new way is, essentially, a way of distancing oneself from ecumenical lies without causing confrontation. It is a way of coming to terms (and even ecclesiastical unity) with lies and, hence, yet another hopeless journey somewhere away from the truth.”[146]


     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.”’[147]


The Serbian Wars


     Dejan Djokic writes: “As Yugoslavia entered the post-Tito era, there were increasing calls for the pursuit of the… ideal of finding what really happened in Yugoslavia in the Second World War. The official history [which minimised the ethnic elements and called it a ‘national liberation war and a socialist revolution’] was bound to be challenged in the more relaxed political atmosphere which eventually emerged following the death of Tito in 1980, when the so-called ‘hidden’, unofficial, accounts of the war years began to appear. During what one Serbian weekly described as ‘the burst of history’, the official interpretation of Yugoslavia’s recent past was questioned by every engaged intellectual. To many observers in the late 1980s, it must have seemed that the Second World War had broken out for the second time in Yugoslavia – verbally, for the time being…


     “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 Independent State of Croatia of its almost two million Serbs (and also Jews and Roma) and the nature and scope of the genocide have been the subject of scholarly works. The issue remains a bone of contention between Serbs and Croats… Moreover, some Serbs argue that anti-Serbianism has always been present among Croats and that the Ustaša genocide was merely the last phase of a long process…


     “The nationalist discourse in Yugoslavia, but especially in Serbia and Croatia in the late 1980s and early 1990s, sought a reconciliation between victors and losers of the Second World War who belonged to the same nation; between Partisans and Cetniks in the case of Serbs, and Partisans and Ustašas in the case of Croats. In Yugoslavia at the time ‘reconciliation’ meant a homogenisation of the nation by reconciling ideological differences within the nation…”[148]


     The reconciliation between Partisans and Cetniks in Serbia was symbolised by the coming to power of Miloševic, and between Partisans and Ustašas in Croatia – in the coming to power of Tudjman. Miloševic was an atheist who cynically used the religious feeling associated with Kosovo and the battle of Kosovo Polje in 1389 to stir up nationalist feeling at a speech he made at the site of Kosovo Polje on the 600th anniversary of the battle in 1989. The autonomy of Kosovo was revoked, and then that of Vojvodina in the north…


     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.[149] 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 its geopolitical ambitions at the expense of the Orthodox. The Vatican was the first state to recognise Croatia; it was reported that the Catholic Church itself purchased weapons and ammunition that it sent to the Croats[150]; and the Pope called the bloody murderer of Serbs in World War II, Cardinal Stepinac, "undoubtedly the most prominent martyr in Croatia's history".[151] The destruction of Orthodox churches was a particularly eloquent proof that the forces ranged against the Serbs were indeed of the evil one.


      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 writer Jim Forest has pointed out, "Serbia is one of Europe's most secularised societies. Tito's anti-religious policies were more effective than those of Stalin, Khruschev or Brezhnev. Few Serbs are even baptized (the usual estimate is five per cent) and far fewer are active in church life."[152]


     As for marriages, in the diocese of Rashka and Prizren, for example, “for 50 long years almost no one was married and all those families lived in a state of adultery. In [Bishop Artemije of Prizren’s] diocese, the clergy started pressing for having church weddings. In the beginning it went very slowly and with difficulty, but then people got used to this requirement of the Church and the amount of those who marry increases with each year.”[153]


     Whereas in 1931 barely 0.1% of the population of Yugoslavia declared itself to be without religious affiliation, and only about 12.5% in 1953, the figure was 31.6% in 1987. And the phenomenon of religious non-affiliation was particularly striking precisely in the Serb territories (for example, 54% in Montenegro).[154] One survey in 1985 put the proportion of religious believers in Bosnia at 17 per cent.[155]


     These figures cast doubt on the oft-heard statement 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.[156] Thus, according to the dean of the Serbian Orthodox Theological Faculty in Belgrade, the conflict in Bosnia was “not in any way a religious war. What is the religious issue which is the main motive? There is none. Rather, this is an ethnic and civil war with some elements of religion... This is just a case of the religious component pressed into service for either ethnic or secular [interests]."[157]


     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 Serbia. As for the Serbs of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, since the massacres carried out in the zones under Croat control during the Second World War were also anti-Orthodox operations, the Church has not hidden her sympathy for their worries and their political objectives. Certain Serbian Orthodox circles were able for a time to believe that they had found in Milosevic a politician who shared the general preoccupations in this respect, but the Church was not slow to distance herself on experiencing the chicaneries of the regime. Thus in 1993 one could see the minister responsible for religious affairs in Belgrade accusing the Church of getting involved in political affairs and certain bishops of wanting to 'stir up the people against the government', while the patriarchate replied by describing the minister as a 'servant of the communist ideology'. At least one part of President Milosevic's entourage continues to cultivate the anti-religious heritage of the communist regime, beginning with the president's wife herself, Mira Markovic (ex-president of the 'Federation of communists - Movement for Yugoslavia', then founder in 1995 of a new party, the UYL, that is, the 'United Yugoslav Left'), who deplores the importance of religion in Serbia and considers that the country 'has already reverted spiritually to the Middle Ages'; the tendency of the regime to retrieve Serb nationalist symbols does not prevent the wife of the president from criticising the cult of Saint Sabbas, which is very important in the Serbian Orthodox tradition. Wishing to be a guarantor of the unity of all Serbs, the Serbian Church has again reasserted her opposition to the Belgrade regime when the latter tried to distance itself from the Bosnian Serbs so as to obtain a lifting of the embargo imposed by the international community. When the Serbs fled from Krajina in August, 1995, the leaders of the Serbian Church again published a solemn declaration sharply criticising the 'incapacity' of the 'neo-communist' Belgrade regime, which has led to 'a total impasse' and is preventing 'the spiritual, moral and political recovery' of the Serbian people."[158]


     This gesture of defiance towards the communist government was a welcome change from the Serbian Church's “sergianism” in relation to the communists over the previous forty years.[159] On the other hand, as Cigar wrote: "Notwithstanding general condemnations of violence by Patriarch Pavle, 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 Amfilohije of Montenegro, who has reportedly used them to intimidate dissidents. In July, 1993, on the occasion of the city of Belgrade's holy day, Arkan marched prominently beside Patriarch Pavle in solemn procession through the city streets. In that same month, Patriarch Pavle himself led an official delegation to Bosnia, where he presided over widely publicized religious ceremonies with the participation of the top Bosnian Serb government and military leaders."[160]


     In March, 1999, NATO warplanes bombed Serbia in an attempt to stop the latest tide of “ethnic cleansing” unleased by the Serbian army against the Muslim Albanians of Kosovo. On March 23, 1999 the Synod of the Serbian Church issued the following statement: “In the name of God, we demand and beseech that all conflict in Kosovo and Metohija immediately cease, and that the problems there be resolved exclusively by peaceful and political means. The way of non-violence and co-operation is the only way blessed by God in agreement with human and Divine moral law and experience. Deeply concerned about the threatened Serbian cradle of Kosovo and Metohija and for all those who live there, and especially by the terrible threats of the world’s armed forces to bomb our Homeland, we would remind the responsible leaders of the international organisations that evil in Kosovo or anywhere else cannot be uprooted by even greater and more immoral evil: the bombing of one small but honourable European people. We cannot believe that the international organisations have become so incapable of devising ways for negotiation and human agreement that they must resort to ways which are dark and demeaning to human and national honour, ways which employ great violence in order to prevent a lesser evil and violence…”[161]


     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? Of course, NATO’s actions may well have been ill-considered or bungled from a political or military point of view, and it can be argued that these were not the right means to achieve NATO’s stated aims. However, from a moral point of view, NATO’s aims were surely better than those of the Serbian army in Kosovo.[162]


     Serbs also talk about the sacredness of Kosovo Polje and the terrible injustices they have suffered over the centuries. Terrible suffering and injustice there has undoubtedly been; but true martyrs for Christ do not complain about their sufferings but rather count themselves blessed, in accordance with the Lord’s word. 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. Lazar, who chose a Heavenly Kingdom over an earthly, increased by the savagery of men whose aims are quite clearly earthly – or rather satanic, insofar as they involve the rape and murder of peaceful civilians? And how is Orthodoxy glorified when the world sees such savagery committed by supposedly Orthodox Christians on their television screens, with no attempt by the Serbian authorities to condemn it as it deserves?


     On November 29, 1999 Patriarch Pavle took a step backwards towards the communist past when he took part in a festival organised by the communists celebrating the day of the foundation of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1945. He was strongly criticised for this by Bishop Artemije, who called this day “the feast of the annihilation of the monarchy of the Serbian people”, and called for “the reestablishment of the monarchy in Serbia and the return of its lawful rights to the House of the Karageorgieviches, of which they were deprived by the decision of the godless communist authorities.”[163]


     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 the Serbian patriarch was no different from his ally, the Moscow patriarch, in always following the dominant political currents in his country, which is the essence of sergianism. Not only in relation to sergianism, but also in relation to ecumenism, the patriarch could only be described as the opposite of a confessor. He could truly be said to have been defending Orthodoxy against the Catholic Croats and Muslim Bosnians and Kosovans only if he had actually confessed the Orthodox faith against Catholicism and Islam. However, in a letter to the Pope dated January 17, 1992 Patriarch Pavle the patriarch asked for "a true ecumenical dialogue between our two sister Churches".[164] Again, he declared that the Christians and the Muslims had the same God; while his bishops, especially Laurence of Sabac, continued to take prominent roles in the World Council of Churches. The ecumenical activities of the Serbian Patriarchate not only did not cease, but intensified as the end of the millennium drew near…


     As we have seen, there was a reaction against ecumenism in Serbia in the mid-1990s. The movement was renewed to some extent when about 300 clergy and monastics wrote to the Holy Synod: “We ask ourselves: how long will our Holy Synod of Bishops be silent while facing the fact that one Bishop of the SOC (Bishop Irenej Bulovic of Backa) organized a reception of the Cardinal of Vienna in 1996 in his cathedral church as if someone more important than the Serbian Patriarch was coming. He took the Cardinal to the Holy Sanctuary and allowed him to kiss the Holy Table. During the liturgy he also exchanged the kiss of peace with the same Cardinal. One other Bishop (Lavrentije of Sabac) has often taken part in common prayers with ecumenists, pseudo-Christians, pagans and sectarians.


     “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 Theology School building in Belgrade so that heretics might teach their heresy to our students of Theology, while our professors of the School force the students to take the blessings from the Protestants and take part in their lectures.”[165]


     However, Patriarch Pavle remained unmoved, the movement produced no concrete results, and Serbian hierarchs have continued to the present day to pray with heretics, especially Catholics.[166] 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 Serbian Church. This argument completely forgets to mention the rather relevant fact that Fr. Justin denounced the apostasy of the Serbian Church in the most scathing terms, and, as we have seen, in fact broke communion with the Serbian Patriarch. The only True Orthodox Serbs in the world today are those who have followed Fr. Justin in breaking communion with the false patriarchate.


     It is significant that the Serbian wars broke out in 1991, when the last significant anti-ecumenist forces in the Serbian Church, the Free Serbs, had just surrendered to the false patriarchate. This suggests that the war was allowed by God as a punishment for apostasy from the True Faith. 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.[167] 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 Lazar, however, he chose a kingdom on earth, which is not the kingdom of Lazar’s truth and justice.”[168]


The ROCOR and the Serbs


     As the millennium drew to its close, one more tragedy in a century marked by tragedy on an unprecedented scale remained: the fall of that Church which, for most of the century, had symbolised True Orthodoxy more than any other – the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. Having effectively rejected most of the Catacomb Church, as well as that (large) part of her organisation inside Russia that is now known as the ROAC, the ROCOR began inexorably to fall towards the “black hole” of the Moscow Patriarchate. In December, 1996 Archbishop Mark had a meeting with Patriarch Alexis in Moscow which scandalized Russian Orthodox faithful in many countries. And shortly after he issued a joint declaration with Archbishop Theophanes of the MP in Germany which effectively recognised the MP as a True Church with which the ROCOR must unite as soon as possible.


     In July, 1997, when the MP, supported by the Palestinians, seized control of the ROCOR’s monastery in Hebron, Israel, Archbishop Mark was given control of the ROCOR’s commission to investigate the matter. He promptly placed all the blame on Abbess Juliana of the ROCOR’s Eleon monastery in Jerusalem, who had been the Hebron monks’ main supporter and had refused to allow Patriarch Alexis into her own monastery, and secured the expulsion of her and all the ROCOR’s anti-Soviet clerics from the Holy Land! He even compelled Metropolitan Vitaly to make a humiliating apology to the Patriarch of Jerusalem and Yasser Arafat![169]


     In June, 1998, under pressure from believers inside Russia, Metropolitan Vitaly recovered somewhat, and declared that the MP was “a pseudo-patriarchate with a pseudo-patriarch at its head… The Moscow Patriarchate has lost Apostolic Succession, which is to say, it has lost the Grace of Christ. We have not the slightest intention of taking part in a Bishops’ council, or Sobor, jointly with the Moscow Patriarchate.”[170]


     Nevertheless, all the indications were that this was precisely what the majority faction in the ROCOR wanted and was planning for…


     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 Serbia. And bombs are exploding near Belgrade itself. This appeal directs the Archpastors to call the clergy and flock to pray, not only in church but also at home for the salvation of the land of Serbia and its faithful people, to whom we are bound by bonds of consanguinity.” The Appeal then instructed ROCOR priests to pray at the Liturgy “for the suffering Orthodox people of Serbia”, and in molebens - “for His Holiness Paul, Patriarch of Serbia, for the Archpastors, clergy and flock of Serbia”.[171]


     What was immediately striking about this appeal was the fullness of the recognition of “our Sister Church of Serbia” – at a time when the Serbian Church was increasing its ecumenical activity.[172] Logically, of course, this implied that not only the Serbian Church, but also the Moscow Patriarchate and the Ecumenical Patriarchate, with whom the Serbian Church was in full eucharistic communion, were “Sister Churches” of the ROCOR – together, perhaps, with those non-Orthodox churches, such as the Catholic, with whom the Serbs declared themselves to have “brotherly” relations.[173] And yet all these Churches had been anathematised by the 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, the ROCOR was accusing NATO of “slander and violence”. What slander? Surely the 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 the ROCOR – unlike Patriarch Paul, it should be noted – not say a word about that evil? Why was the 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 Eastern Europe and Asia?


     Perhaps the clue here was a word that figures prominently in the “Appeal”: “consanguinity”. Everything, it appears, was forgiven to the Serbs because they had Slavic blood in common with the Russians. And if one did not know better, one could be forgiven for summarising the ROCOR’s apparent position as follows: it is evil to attack a Slavic communist regime for humanitarian reasons using minimal violence to do the job, but the mass torture, murder and rape of non-Slavic victims of that regime is permissible because it is committed by soldiers with Slavic blood in their veins and Orthodox crosses round their necks!


     In 2000, the Serbian Patriarch broke all links with the 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 Pavle 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 Moscow and All Russia, in which he expressed the position of the Sacred Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church in relation to the schismatics. In particular he declared the following:


     “’… The Sacred Hierarchical Synod of our Holy Church has forbidden their Graces, the Diocesan Bishops, to give any kind of canonical permission to priests to depart for the jurisdiction of the above-mentioned ‘church’. We hope that they will stick to this.


     “’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 onto the territory of Russia, thereby violating the canonical authority of the Russian patriarchate. The Sacred Synod has more than once directed its protests to the leadership of the Russian Church Abroad in America and demanded that it cease from such actions since they are anticanonical and worthy of every condemnation.’” [174]


     The communion of certain ROCOR hierarchs with the Serbs had always been presented by them as proof that they were still “in” with World Orthodoxy. Now, however, a choice had to be made: either full integration into World Orthodoxy through submission to the Moscow Patriarchate, or a complete breaking of all ties with World Orthodoxy and a return to the confessing stance of Metropolitan Philaret.


The MP 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, immorality among the leading hierarchs[175], combined with tight cooperation with the leading elites in government and the mafia, and the grossest ecumenism. As we have seen, the anti-ecumenical protests of the early and mid-1990s had been suppressed, the challenge of the ROCOR had been rebuffed, and the “Third Way” practised by the Bulgarian and Georgian Churches had been ignored. While anti-ecumenical elements still existed in the MP, along with renovationist, occultist, nationalist and communist elements, all were held together by the culture of obedience to the patriarch: all was permitted so long as no “schism” was created…


     Many were deceived by the apparent hostility of the MP to the Roman Catholics’ proselytisation of Russia. However, from the remarks of the leading hierarchs it became clear that the argument was simply over the RCs’ supposed violation of a “mutual non-aggression pact”. Russia was the “canonical territory” of the MP, so the RCs had no right there (as the patriarch put it: “Russia has historically been Orthodoxy for a thousand years, and therefore the Roman papacy has no right to make a conquest of it”): they should stick to their own “canonical territory”, the West.


     That meant that the MP renounced any right to convert western heretics to Orthodoxy. As Metropolitan Cyril put it: “In practice we forbid our priests to seek to convert people. Of course it happens that people arrive and say: ‘You know, I would like, simply out of my own convictions, to become Orthodox.’ ‘Well, please do.’ But there is no strategy to convert people.”[176]


     Deacon Nicholas Savchenko writes: “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 [the 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 Harare in 1998. As is witnessed by the official list of the members of the CC of the WCC, five members of the Central Committee come from the MP, headed by Bishop Hilarion (Alfeev). In all there are about 150 people in the CC, including 9 women priests, which we can see from the list of the members of the CC. The last session of the CC of the WCC with the participation of the representatives of the ROC MP took place at the end of August, 2003.


     “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 Local Church in all its fullness. Each Local Church in the WCC is considered in its complete fullness to be a member or a part of the heterodox community.


     “In correspondence with the Basis of the WCC, it is a ‘commonwealth of Churches’. In this definition there is a significant difference from the original formulation offered by the commission on ‘Faith and Order’ in 1937, when the future WCC was offered as a ‘community of representatives of the Churches’. The difference is substantial. A community of the Churches themselves is not the same as a community of representatives of the Churches, as we said earlier. In the present case it turns out that the Orthodox Church is considered to be a part of a certain broader commonwealth under the name of the WCC. The legislative documents of the WCC even directly reject any other understanding of membership – after all, if it were not so, the Council would no longer be a Council of churches. And the declaration on entrance into the WCC is given in the name of a church, and not in the name of representatives. In the declaration the church asks that it itself be received into the composition of the WCC. The Council is not a simple association of churches. In the regulatory documents it is asserted that it is a ‘body’ having its own ‘ecclesiological meaning’, as is said about it directly in the heading of the Toronto declaration. The regulatory documents reject only the understanding of the Council as a ‘body’ in separation from the church-members. But in union with the church-members the Council is precisely a ‘body’ with its own ‘ecclesiological meaning’. And this ‘ecclesiological meaning’ of the WCC, by definition. ‘cannot be based on any one conception of the Church’, as it says in point 3.3 of the Toronto declaration. That is, the Orthodox Church is considered in its fullness to belong to the ‘body’ with this ‘ecclesiological meaning’, which in accordance with the constitution cannot be Orthodox.


     “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 Chambesy. In it 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 Local Church herself can be a member of the WCC. Any other interpretation of membership is excluded. Either a Local Church is a member or part of the WCC, or it is not.


     “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.


     “One more 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 ‘commonwealth of Churches’. In paragraphs 3.2 and 3.3 the meaning of the term ‘commonwealth’ is described in the following words: ‘The use of the term ‘commonwealth’ in the Basis really convinces that the Council is more than a simple functional association of churches… We can even say (using the words of the Resolution on ecumenism of the Second Vatican Council) that ‘real, albeit incomplete communion (koinonia) exists between them [the churches] already now’. From this quotation it follows directly that the church-members of the WCC are considered as entering into limited ecclesiastical communion with other members of the WCC with all their plagues and heresies. The document ‘Towards a common understanding and vision of the WCC’ in point 3.5.3 even directly extends this ecclesiastical communion to the whole Orthodox Church with all her people. The document says that this ecclesiastical communion in the Council ‘is not something abstract and immobile, it is also not limited by the official links between the leadership of the churches and their leaders or representatives. It is rather a dynamic, mutually acting reality which embraces the whole fullness of the church as the expression of the people of God’.


     “The most important document of the WCC having a constitutional significance continues to remain the Toronto declaration – ‘The Church, the churches and the WCC’. On the basis of this document the Local Churches in the 1960s entered into the WCC. In it we also clearly see the principles which radically contradict Orthodoxy. Thus point 4.8 of the Toronto declaration declares: ‘The church-members enter into spiritual mutual relationships through which they strive to learn from each other and help each other, so that the Body of Christ may be built and the life of the Church renewed.’ Evidently, this principle of the ‘building of the Church of Christ’ contradicts the Orthodox teaching on the Church. However, it is precisely this, as we see here, that is inscribed in the foundation document of the WCC and can in no way be changed. Besides, the document in its conclusion says the following about the principles of the Toronto declaration, including the principle of the ‘building of the Body of Christ’: ‘Not one of these positive presuppositions which contain in themselves the basis of the World council are in conflict with the teachings of the church-members’.


     “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… [177]


     At the time of writing, the MP’s participation in the World Council of Churches and the ecumenical movement continues unabated…


Two Robber Councils


     At the beginning of the new millennium there came to power in Russia the KGB Colonel Putin. He quickly showed a greater interest in religious matters than his predecessor, and the pace of change in the ecclesiastical sphere began to quicken. His personal religiosity, however, was of a very dubious kind. 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 North Korea;


     “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 Germany;


     “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;


     “10) he has not removed the satanic mausoleum in Red Square nor its filthy contents.”[178]


     In August, 2000 the MP held a “Jubilee” Hierarchical Council which seemed to be at least partly aimed at removing some of the last obstacles towards the ROCOR’s unification with it. These obstacles, as formulated by the ROCOR during the past ten years, were: 1. Ecumenism, 2. Sergianism, and 3. The Glorification of the New Martyrs, especially the Royal New Martyrs.


     1. Ecumenism. In the document on relations with the heterodox, few concessions were made on the issue 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 Church of Christ is one and unique…” “The so-called ‘branch theory’, which affirms the normality and even the providentiality of the existence of Christianity in the form of separate ‘branches’…  is completely unacceptable.”


     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…”[179] Moreover, immediately after the Council, on August 18, “Patriarch” Alexis prayed together with the Armenian “Patriarch”.


     Although there has been much talk about anti-ecumenism in the MP, as in the Serbian Church, it is significant that only one bishop, Barsonuphius of Vladivostok, voted against the document on relations with the heterodox (six Ukrainian bishops abstained).


     2. Sergianism. In its council 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 the 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”.[180] If we relate this phrase to the immediately preceding Soviet phase of Russian Church history, then we conclude that for the MP it remains the case that loyalty to the Soviet State was right and the resistance to it shown by the Catacomb Church was wrong. So, contrary to first appearances, the MP remained mired in sergianism.


     Moreover, sergianism as such was not mentioned, much less repented of. This is consistent with the fact that the MP has never in its entire history since 1943 shown anything other than a determination to serve whatever appears to be the strongest forces in the contemporary world. Until the fall of communism, that meant the Communist Party of the USSR. With the fall of communism, the MP was not at first sure whom she had to obey, but gradually assumed the character of a “populist” church, trying to satisfy the various factions within it (including nominally Orthodox political leaders) while preserving an appearance of unity. The consequent lack of a clear, single policy is especially evident in the decisions of the Jubilee council.


     In this connection Protopriest Vladimir Savitsky, Hieromonk Valentine (Salomakh) and Deacon 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’.”[181]


     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 restoral of the red flag to the armed forces and approving the retention of the music of the Soviet national anthem. This has also meant a reversion to the doctrine of sergianism.


     Thus on July 18, 2002, the Moscow Synod ratified a document entitled “The relationships between the Russian Orthodox Church and the authorities in the 20s and 30s”, which justified sergianism as follows: “The aim of normalising the relationship with the authorities cannot be interpreted as a betrayal of Church interests. It was adopted by the holy Patriarch Tikhon, and was also expressed in the so-called ‘Epistle of the Solovki Bishops’ in 1926, that is, one year before the publication of ‘The Epistle of the deputy patriarchal locum tenens and temporary patriarchal Synod’. The essence of the changes in the position of the hierarchy consisted in the fact that the Church, having refused to recognise the legitimacy of the new power established after the October revolution in 1917, as the power became stronger later, had to recognise it as a state power and establish bilateral relations with it. This position is not blameworthy; historically, the Church has more than once found herself in a situation in which it has had to cooperate with non-orthodox rulers (for instance, in the period of the Golden Horde or the Muslim Ottoman Empire).”[182]


     However, Soviet power was very different from the Golden Horde or the Ottoman empire, 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.


     3. 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 Catacomb Church who rejected Metropolitan Sergius, on the other. Non-royal martyrs killed before the schism with the Catacomb Church could be "safely" canonized. Thus in 1989, the MP canonized Patriarch Tikhon, and in 1992 it canonized three more martyrs and set up a commission to inquire into the martyrdom of the Royal Family.


     In 1998 an MP publication wrote: “No less if not more dangerous as an ecclesiastical falsification is the MP’s Canonization Commission, headed by Metropolitan Juvenal (Poiarkov), which has suggested a compromise glorification of Tsar Nicholas Alexandrovich: ‘Yes, he was guilty of the tragedy on Khodynka field, he hobnobbed with Rasputin, he offended the workers, the country became backward. In general as a ruler of a state he was completely useless. Most important, he brought the country to revolution. But he suffered for Christ…’ Such a falsification will only continue that dirty stream of slander which the Christ-fighters began to pour out already long before 1917…”[183]  


     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, the ROCOR activist Sergei Kanaev writes: “In the report of the President of the Synodal Commission for the canonisation of the saints, Metropolitan Juvenaly (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.[184] 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’.[185] 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 care for the good of the Church’.[186] 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.”[187]


     Other Catacomb martyrs were “glorified” by the patriarchate because their holiness was impossible to hide. Thus the relics of Archbishop Victor of Vyatka have recently been found to be incorrupt and reside in a patriarchal cathedral – in spite of the fact that he was the very fist bishop officially to break with Sergius and called him and his church organization graceless! Again, the reputation of Metropolitan Cyril of Kazan was too great to be ignored, in spite of the fact that by the end of his life his position differed in no way from that of St. Victor or St. Joseph.


     Some, seeing the glorification of the Catacomb martyrs by the successors of those who had persecuted them, remembered the words of the Lord: “Ye build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the sepulchres of the righteous, and sayu, ‘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 subtly downgrading the exploit of the true martyrs without denying it completely, 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 Heavenly Kingdom, and he recognized the declaration of Metropolitan Sergius, so you must be reconciled with it and its fruits.' This will be done not in order to glorify martyrdom for Christ's sake, but in order to confirm the sergianist politics."[188]


     The main thing from the patriarchate’s point of view was that their own founder, Metropolitan Sergius, should be given equal status with the catacomb martyrs whom he persecuted. A significant step in this direction had been taken in 1993, when the patriarch said: “Through the host of martyrs the Church of Russia bore witness to her faith and sowed the seed of her future rebirth. Among the confessors of Christ we can in full measure name… his Holiness Patriarch Sergius.”[189]


     By the time of the council in 2000, the patriarchate still did not feel able to canonise Sergius – probably because it fears that it would prevent a union with the ROCOR. But neither did it canonise the leader of the Catacomb Church, Metropolitan Joseph of Petrograd – which suggested that a canonisation of the two leaders was in the offing, but depended on the success of the negotiations between the MP and the ROCOR.


     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 Catacomb Church, many of whom were betrayed to the godless authorities by Metropolitan Sergius's church organization…, and at the same time declares that these martyrs are schismatic and uncanonical!"[190]


     For in the last resort, as Fr. Peter points out, for the Moscow Patriarchate this whole matter is not one of truth or falsehood, sanctity or impiety, 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."[191]


     The MP council’s documents were well characterised by 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”.[192]


     Two months later, in October, 2000, the Hierarchical Council of the ROCOR took place in New York. In almost all its acts it represented a reaction to, and to a very large extent an approval of, the acts of the Moscow council. Its most important acts were three conciliar epistles addressed: the first to the Serbian Patriarch Paul, the second “To the Beloved Children of the Church in the Homeland and in the Diaspora” and the third “To the Supporters of the Old Rites”.


     The first of these epistles, dated October 13/26, declared that the 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 the ROCOR had officially reissued its anathema on ecumenism and the ecumenists, and only a few months after the Serbian Patriarch himself had said that there was no communion between his Church and the ROCOR, calling the 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, the 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 has 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 Russia. This process is difficult and is not being carried forward without opposition. Nevertheless, a radiant indicator of it is the recent glorification of the New Martyrs of Russia headed by the slaughtered Royal Family and the condemnation of the politics of cooperation with the godless authorities which took place at the last Council of the Russian Church in Moscow.


     “There still remain other serious wounds in the leadership of the Russian Church which hinder our spiritual rapprochement. Nevertheless, we pray God that He may heal them, too, by the all-powerful grace of the Holy Spirit. Then there must take place the longed-for rapprochement and, God willing, the spiritual union between the two torn-apart parts of the Russian Church – that which is in the Homeland, and that which has gone abroad. We pray your Holiness to grant your assistance in this.


     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 Moscow, whom they now characterised in glowing and completely false terms as if they had already returned to Orthodoxy! Why, then, should the ROCOR bishops continue to speak of ecumenism as an obstacle to union with the MP? As the Kursk clergy pointed out: “It is not clear how long, in view of the declared unity with the Serbian patriarchate, this last obstacle [ecumenism] to union with the MP will be seen as vital”.[193]


      The second of the epistles, dated October 14/27, made several very surprising statements. First, it again spoke of “the beginning of a real spiritual awakening” in Russia. Considering that less than 1% of the Russian population goes to the MP, then, even if the spiritual state of the MP were brilliant, this would hardly constitute “awakening” on any significant scale. However, as Dmitri 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 Russia the Orthodox Church is associated with the MP). In my opinion, the MP rather hinders than assists the spiritual awakening of the Russian people (if we can talk at all about any awakening in the present exceptionally wretched spiritual condition of Russia).”[194]


     Secondly, the 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 the ROCOR for the past twenty years! Moreover, as Protopriests Konstantin Fyodorov and Benjamin Zhukov wrote, “the possibility of turning in prayer to the Russian New Martyrs was opened to the people not by the Moscow Patriarchate (as is written in our Hierarchical Council’s Epistle), but by the martyric exploit of these saints themselves, who were glorified by our Church in 1981. The prayer of the Russian people to these saints never ceased from the very first day of their martyric exploit, but was strengthened and spread precisely by the canonization of the Church Abroad.[195]


     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”.[196] As if 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) could blot out a Declaration which caused the greatest schism in Orthodox Church history in 900 years and incalculable sufferings and death – without even mentioning that Declaration or its author by name! In any case, as we have seen, the Moscow Synod in July, 2002 declared 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 of Cannes - obliquely recognised this 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 those with “bishops” and “priests” (the Popovtsi) and those without (the 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 Kursk diocese pointed out: “The conciliar epistle to the Old Ritualists, in our opinion, is not only an extremely humiliating document for the Orthodox Church, but also contains signs of a heterodox ecclesiology. Effectively equating the Old Ritualists with the confessors of Orthodoxy, the Hierarchical Council, first, leaves them with their convictions, thereby blocking the path to repentance, and secondly, either teaches that outside the Orthodox Church there can exist true confession, or considers that the Church can be divided into parts which for centuries have not had any eucharistic communion between themselves. Both in form and in spirit the epistle in question represents a complete break with the patristic tradition of the Orthodox Church…. It seems that all that remains to be added is the request: ‘We humbly beseech you to receive us into your communion and be united to the Holy Church.”[197]


     The October Council elicited a storm of protest from both inside and outside Russia. 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 the 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!”[198]


     Soon bans were being placed against the protestors. Bishop Gabriel of Manhattan banned Hieromonk Paisius of Richmond Hill, New York; Bishop Michael of Toronto banned Hieromonk Vladimir of Mansonville, Canada; Bishop Agathangelus of the Crimea banned Priest Nicholas Furtatenko of Kiev; and Bishop Evtikhy of Siberia banned three priests from St. Petersburg and two from Omsk. It was clear that opposition to the false council of 2000 was increasing both inside and outside Russia. The question was: would this opposition finally break with the ROCOR and, together with those who had already broken with the ROCOR or been unlawfully expelled from it, form a coherent and united force capable of regenerating the Russian Church? At the time of writing (January, 2005), it is too early to give a definite answer to that question…

[1] Fr. Andrej Rumyantsev, “Kesariu – Kesarevo”, Vecherniaia Moskva, 21 September, 2000, p. 1 (in Russian).

[2] However, Vladimir Rozanskij (“Rome and Moscow: a willing separation?” Asia News, 3 June, 2004), “Moscow’ authorities confirmed that ‘for Easter [2004] less than 1% of the population attended any kind of religious service’. In the last ten years, there are twenty times more churches than there were under communism, with buildings being built or reopened. Yet in relation to the immediate post-communism years, only one third of people now attend the services”.

[3] 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”, Vertograd-Inform, September-October, 2000, pp. 46-72 ®.

[4] Bishop Theophan, Tolkovanie na Vtoroe Poslanie sv. Apostola Pavla k Soluniam, 2.3-5.

[5] See Mikhail Nazarov, Tajna Rossii, Moscow: “Russkaia Idea”, 1999 ®.

[6] Rhoda, “Russian Freemasonry: A New Dawn”, paper read at Orient Lodge ¹ 15 on June 29, 1996,

[7] Keston News Service, ¹ 369, February 21, 1991, p. 6.

[8] Letter in Literaturnaia Rossia, June 14, 1991 ®; Oxana Antic, "Patriarch Aleksii II: A Political Portrait", Report on the USSR, vol. 3, ¹ 45, November 8, 1991, p. 17.

[9] “Patriarch Alexis II: I take on myself responsibility for all that happened”, Izvestia, ¹ 137, June 10, 1991; Bishop Gregory Grabbe, "Dogmatizatsia Sergianstva", Pravoslavnaia Rus', ¹ 17 (1446), September 1/14, 1991, p. 5 ®.

[10] Grabbe, "Dogmatizatsia Sergianstva", op. cit., p. 5.

[11] Hieromonk Tikhon (Kazushin), personal communication; Natalya Babisyan, "Sviashchenniki na barrikadakh", Khristianskie Novosti, ¹ 38, August 22, 1991, p. 21 ®.

[12] Ellis, "The Russian Church: hopes and fears", Church Times, September 13, 1991.

[13] Sokolov, op. cit.

[14] 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, no. 36, September 6, 1991, p. 82).

[15] 30 Dias, Rome/Sao Paolo, August-September, 1991, p. 23.

[16] Kozyrev, “[orthodox-synod] Re: The Orthodox Episcopate of the Russian persecuted Church”, ”, 28 November, 2002.

[17] Quoted by Anatoly Krasikov, "'Tretij Rim' i bolsheviki (bez grifa 'sovershenno sekretno')", in Filatov, S.B. (ed.), Religia i prava cheloveka, Moscow: Nauka, 1996, p. 198 ®.


[19] Kharchev, Argumenty i Fakty, 1992, no. 8, p. 5 ®.

[20] Sheimov, Tower of Secrets, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1993, p. 418.

[21] Shushpanov, Moskovskie Novosti, 12 July, 1992, p. 20 ®.

[22] For more details of the parliamentary commission's revelations, see Praymoj Put', ¹¹ 1-2, January, 1992, p. 1; ¹ 3, February, 1992, p. 1; Spetsialnij vypusk, February, 1992; Alexander Nezhny, "Tret’e Imia", Ogonek, 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?", Pravoslavnaia Rus', ¹ 9 (1462), May 1/14, 1992, pp. 609; "Ne bo vragom Tvoim povem...", Vestnik Germanskoj Eparkhii Russkoj Pravoslavnoj Tservki za Granitsei, ¹ 1, 1992, pp. 16-22; Fr. Victor Potapov, "Molchaniem predaåtsa Bog", Moscow: Isikhia, 1992, pp. 36-39; Joseph Harriss, "The Gospel according to Marx", Reader's Digest, February, 1993, pp. 59-63.    

[23] 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, September 23, 2000; Arnold Beichman, “Patriarch with a KGB Past”, The Washington Times, September 29, 2000.

[24] Andrew and Mitrokhin, London: Allen Lane the Penguin Press, 1999, pp. 639-640.

[25] Andrew and Mitrokhin, op. cit., p. 650.

[26] The Philadelphia Inquirer on May 3, 1992; quoted in "The Church of the KGB", Living Orthodoxy, vol. XIV, ¹ 2, March-April, 1992, pp. 22-23.

[27] Andrew and Mitrokhin, op. cit., p. 661.

[28] Dunlop, “The Moscow Patriarchate as an Empire-Saving Institution”, in Michael Bourdeaux, M.E. Sharp (eds.), The Politics of Religion in Russia and the New States of Eurasia, 1995, Armonk, NY, p. 29.

[29] Felix Corbey, “The Patriarch and the KGB”, Keston News Service, September 21, 2000.

[30] M. Pozdnyaev and Archbishop Chrysostom, "Ya sotrudnichal s KGB... no ne byl stukachem", Russkaia Mysl', 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.

[31] Anonymous, “O Pravoslavnom Tsarstve i Poslednem Vremeni”, no date or place of publication ®.

[32] Lebedev, Velikorossia, St. Petersburg, 1999, pp. 644-647 ®.

[33] In an article published in Pravoslavnoe Slovo, 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?”

[34] 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).

[35] Perepiolkina, op. cit., p. 204.

[36] Perepiolkina, op. cit., pp. 213-214.

[37] Perepiolkina, op. cit., pp. 125, 127, 129, 130.

[38] Perepiolkina, op. cit., p. 251.

[39] Perepiolkina, op. cit., p. 252.

[40] Metropolitan Calliopius of Pentapolis, Prodosia tis Orthodoxias, Piraeus, 1991 (G); O Pharos tis Orthodoxias, 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", La Lumière du Thabor, ¹ 31, 1991 (F).

[41] 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.

[42] Rech’ Patriarkha Alekseya II k rabbinam g. Nyu Yorka (S.Sh.A.) i Eres’ Zhidovstvuyushchikh, U.S.A., 1993 (MS, in Russian), TOO “Pallada”, Moscow, 1992, pp. 8-10 ®.

[43] Hierodeacon Theophanes, op. cit., pp. 19-20.

[44] Pryamoj Put', February, 1992, p. 5; E. Polyakov, "Khronika Tserkovnoj Zhizni v Yanvare-Fevrale 1992 g." (MS), p. 2 ®.

[45] Russkii Pastyr’, ¹ 30, I-1998, p. 86. Cf. Fr. Timothy Alferov, "Nekotorie uroki dvizhenia 'nepominaiushchikh', Russkii Pastyr', ¹ 19, II-1994, pp. 102-104  ®.

[46] 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).

[47] Patriarch Bartholomew, Address at Emory University at the Presidential Medal award ceremony, October 31, 1997.

[48] See A. Soldatov, "Obnovlenie ili obnovlenchestvo?", Pravoslavnaia Rus', ¹ 20 (1521), October 15/28, 1994, pp. 6-9 ®; Service Orthodoxe de Presse, ¹ 194, January, 1995, pp. 7-10 (F); V.N. Osipov, "Pravoslavnoe serdtse na vetru", Pravoslavnaia Rus', ¹ 2 (1527), January 15/28, 1995, pp. 14-15 ®.

[49] Perepiolkina, op. cit., p. 205; from the Documents and Reports of the Council published by the MP in 1995, p. 191.

[50] Perepiolkina, op. cit., pp. 215-216.

[51] Service Orthodoxe de Presse, ¹ 204, January, 1996, p. 13 (F).

[52] "Wages for Popes", 30 Days, ¹ 6á, 1994; reprinted in "Vatican Diary", Orthodox Christian Witness, January 2/15, 1995, pp. 7-8.

[53] Perepiolkina, op. cit., p. 205.

[54] Perepiolkina, op. cit., pp. 217-219.

[55] On August 1/14, 1990, the ROCOR decided to throw some light on this secret consecration by declaring: “In 1982 his Eminence Anthony, Archbishop of Geneva and Western Europe, together with his Eminence Mark, Bishop of Berlin and Germany, on the orders of the Hierarchical Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, secretly performed an episcopal consecration on Hieromonk Barnabas (Prokofiev), so that through the cooperation of these archpastors the Church life of the Catacomb Orthodox Church in Russia might be regulated. Since external circumstances no longer compel either his Eminence Bishop Lazarus in Russia, or his Eminence Bishop Barnabas in France to remain as secret Hierarchs of our Russian Church Abroad, the Hierarchical Synod is now officially declaring this fact.” ("Zaiavlenie Arkhiereiskago Sinoda Russkoj Pravoslavnoj Tserkvi Zagranitsej", Pravoslavnaia Rus', ¹ 18 (1423), September 15/28, 1990, p. 6 ®) The consecration was carried out by Archbishop Anthony of Geneva and Bishop Mark of Berlin, while the ordination papers were signed by Metropolitan Philaret, Archbishop Vitaly, Archbishop Anthony of Geneva and Bishop Gregory Grabbe, the secretary of the Synod (letter to the present writer from Matushka Anastasia Shatilova, the daughter of Bishop Gregory, October 3, 2000).

[56] 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).

[57] As Fr. Valentine told the story: “In the Vladimir diocese I served as dean. I was a member of the diocesan administration, was for a time diocesan secretary and had responsibility for receiving guests in this diocese. And then I began to notice that I was being gradually, quietly removed. Perhaps this happened because I very much disliked prayers with people of other faiths. It’s one thing to drink tea with guests, and quite another… to pray together with them, while the guests, it has to be said, were of all kinds: both Buddhists, and Muslims, and Satanists. I did not like these ecumenical prayers, and I did not hide this dislike of mine.

     “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 ‘Tikhonite Church’ existing in exile. If we write to their first-hierarch, Metropolitan Vitaly, and he accepts us – will you agree to be under his omophorion? The church people declared their agreement. However, this attempt to remove me did not pass without a trace, I was in hospital as a result of an attack of nerves. And so, at the Annunciation, I receive the news that our parish had been received into the ROCA.” (“Vladyka Valentin raskazyvaiet”, Pravoslavnaia Rus’, ¹ 17 (1446), September 1/14, 1991, pp. 9-10 ®).

[58] Thus on October 13/26, 1990, he wrote to Archbishop Anthony of San Francisco: “Vladyka Lazar is a fine person, but too accustomed to the catacombs, while he does not have the right to live in Moscow. He is not capable of heading open work. I hope that you, Vladyko, as a member of the Synod will help poor Valentine” (Zalewski, op. cit., p. 4).

[59] ”The Position of the ROCA on the Free Russian Orthodox Church”, adopted by the Council of Bishops of the Russian Church Abroad, 2/15 March 1990.


[60] On Bishops Seraphim and Gennadius, see Andreyev, Russia’s Catacomb Saints, op. cit., chapter 40; Hierodeacon Jonah (Yashunsky), “Nashi Katakomby”, Vestnik RKhD, 1992, ¹ 166 ®; Bishop John and Igumen Elijah, Tainij Skhimitropolit, Moscow: "Bogorodichnij Tsentr", 1991 ®; Kto est’ kto v rossijskikh katakombakh, op. cit., pp. 53-60 ® (a very hostile account); V. Moss, "The True Orthodox Church of Russia", Religion in Communist Lands, Winter, 1991;

[61] 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)”, Suzdal’skie Eparkhial’nie Vedomosti, ¹ 7, March-May, 1999, pp. 35-40 ®; Kto est’ kto v rossijskikh katakombakh, op. cit.

[62] The full text of this resolution was as follows: “There were discussions on the question of the fourteen clerics accepted into communion of prayer from the Catacomb Church who submitted their petitions to the Hierarchical Synod through Archimandrite Michael of the monastery of St. Panteleimon on the Holy Mountain, which were received on November 26 / December 7, 1977. At that time the Hierarchical Synod of the ROCOR in its session of November 26 / December 7, 1977 accepted the following resolution:

     “Trusting the witness of the fourteen priests that their reposed leader Archbishop Anthony (Galynsky) was correctly consecrated to the episcopate, and carried out his service secretly from the civil authorities, it has been decided to accept them into communion of prayer, having informed them that they can carry out all those sacred actions which priests can carry out according to the Church canons, and also giving the monastic clerics the right to carry out monastic tonsures. They are to be informed of this in the same way as their address was received.”

     The following priests were accepted into communion: Hieromonks Michael, Raphael, Nicholas, Nicholas, Nathaniel, Epiphanius, Michael and Sergius, and Abbots Barsonuphius and Nicholas,

[63] See Kto est’ kto v rossijskikh katakombakh, St. Petersburg, 1999, pp. 66-69, and E.A. Petrova, "Perestroika Vavilonskoj Bashni – poslednij shans veslukavogo antikhrista", Moscow, 1991, pp. 5-6 (MS) ®

[64] V.K., Kratkij ocherk ekkleziologicheskikh i yurisdiktsionnykh sporov v grecheskoj starostil’noj tserkvi, St. Petersburg: Izdanie Vestnika I.P.Ts. “Russkoe Pravoslavie”, 1998, pp. 30-31 ®.

[65] “Kritika zhurnala ‘Vosvrashchenie’”, Tserkovnie Novosti, ¹ 11 (67), November-December, 1997, p. 1 ®.

[66] “Spravka iz Kantseliarii Arkhierejskago Sinoda”, 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", Pravoslavnaia Rus', ¹ 24 (1453), December 15/28, 1991, pp. 11-12 ®.

[67] “Zaiavlenie Arkhierejskago Sinoda Russkoj Pravoslavnoj Tserkvi Zagranitsej”, Pravoslavnaia Rus’, ¹ 18 (1423), 15/28 September, 1990, p. 6.

[68] Private e-mail communication, July 15, 1998.

[69] On Bishop Theodosius, see Petrova, op. cit.; Kto est’ kto v rossijskikh katakombakh, op. cit., pp. 36-37 ®; V. Moss, “Hieroconfessor Bishop Theodosius (Bakhmetev), Living Orthodoxy, vol. XXI, ¹ 2, March-April, 2000, pp. 10-12.   

[70]  See "A Biography of Archimandrite Gury", The True Vine, vol. 3, ¹ 3 (1992); Vozdvizhenie, ¹ 2 (15), February, 1996 ®; Kto est’ kto v rossijskikh katakombakh, pp. 44-46.

[71] Metropolitan Vitaly, “Otvet bespasportnomu”, Pravoslavnyi Vestnik, February-March, 1990; Petrova, op. cit.

[72] Petrova, op. cit.

[73] Encyclical Letter of the Council of Russian Bishops Abroad to the Russian Orthodox Flock, 23 March, 1933; translated in Living Orthodoxy, #131, vol. XXII, no. 5, September-October, 2001, p. 13.

[74] Ñf. Fr. Timothy Alferov, “Î polozhenii rossijskikh prikhodov RPTsZ v svete itogov patriarkhijnogo sobora”, Uspenskij Listok, ¹ 34, 2000 ®.

[75] This forced the ROCOR Synod to take special measures to “ferret out” potential spies. Ñf. Bishop Gregory (Grabbe), Pis’ma, Moscow, 1999 ®.

[76] See, for example, his article “Sila Tserkvi v edinenii very i liubvi”, Vestnik Germanskoj Eparkhii, ¹ 4, 1997 ®.

[77] Alferov, “O polozhenii rossiiskikh prikhodov RPTsZ v svete itogov patriarkhiinogo sobora”, Uspenskii Listok, ¹ 34, 2000; translated by G. Spruksts, St. Stefan of Perm Guild.

[78] See table 10.7 in Kaariainen, op. cit., p. 153.

[79] Fr. Stefan Krasovitsky, “Torzhestva v Suzdale”, Pravoslavnaia Rus’, ¹ 15 (1420), August 1/14, 1990, p. 3 ®.

[80] In an interview that the present writer had with Bishop Lazar 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.

[81] Priamoj Put’, special issue; “Vladyka Valentin vernulsa iz Ameriki”, Pravoslavnaia Rus’, ¹ 3 (1456), February 1/14, 1992, p. 14. Italics mine (V.M.).

[82] Zalewski, op. cit., p. 4.

[83] 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”, in Bessmertnij, A.R. & Filatov, S.B., Religia i Demokratia, Moscow: Progress, 1993, p. 41, note 5 ®.

[84] “Vladyka Lazar otvechaiet na voprosy redaktsii”, Pravoslavnaia Rus’, ¹ 22 (1451), November 15/28, 1991, p. 6.

[85] Zalewski, op. cit., p. 5.

[86] Priamoj Put’, January, 1992, p. 5; Nezavisimaia gazeta, January 18, 1992 ®.

[87] There was much speculation whether Archbishop Mark was not himself the wolf in sheep’s clothing. Thus in 1997 he had a secret meeting with “Patriarch” Alexis. Soon after, the “patriarch” took over the ROCOR’s monastery in Hebron, Israel by force, expelling the monks. Could all this be linked, wondered believers, with the fact that in 1983 Mark was detained at Leningrad airport for more than 24 hours for the possession of anti-Soviet literature, and was then released unharmed, claiming that “nothing had happened”? In fact, the Hebron newspaper El Mascobbiyeh reported that since February, 1997 the monastery had secretly been transferred to the MP through the head of the Russian ecclesiastical mission in Jerusalem, Vasily Vasnev (Abbess Juliana, in “Paroles d’un detraque et reponse de Mere Juliana”,, June 22, 2004.

[88] Priamoj Put’, January, 1992, pp. 3-4; Priamoj Put’, March, 1992, pp. 3-4 ®.

[89] Quoted in Suzdal’skij Palomnik, ¹¹ 18-20, pp. 108, 109.

[90] Suzdal’skij Palomnik, ¹¹ 18-20, pp. 63-64 ®.

[91] According to Mrs. Anastasis Shatilova, it was Barnabas himself who asked for this jurisdiction (Church News, July, 2003, vol. 14, ¹ 66 (#120), p. 4).

[92] Pravoslavnaia Rus’, ¹ 17 (1470), September 1/14, 1992, p. 12

[93] Pravoslavnaia Rus’, ¹ 18 (1471), September 15/28, 1992, p. 11.

[94] Sergius Bychkov, “Voskresenie mifa”, Moskovskie Novosti, March 7, 1993; “Ukazanie Protoiereiu Viktoru Potapovu”, February 4/17, 1993 (no. 11/35/39). The official publications of the ROCOR shed little light on this about-turn, saying only that the Synod “reviewed and changed certain of its decisions of December 12, 1992” (Tserkovnaia Zhizn’, ¹¹ 1-2, January-February, 1993, p. 3 ®).

[95] Zalewski, op. cit., p. 5.

[96] Emergency report to the ROCOR Synod, May 16/29, 1993, Suzdal’skij Palomnik, 18-20, 1994, p. 92. In a later report to the Synod (June 9/22, 1993, Suzdal’skij Palomnik, ¹¹ 18-10, 1994, pp. 94-95), Bishop Gregory, after enumerating Bishop Barnabas’ transgressions, appealed that he be brought to trial.

[97] According to the Ukrainian publication Ohliadach (“Observor”), even after Bishop Barnabas was banned from Russia by the ROCA Synod, he continued his links with the Ukrainians. “On an unofficial level, relations have continued to the present. With the secret blessing of Archbishop Barnabas, Archimandrite Ioasaf (Shivaiev), dean of the Russian parishes of the ROCOR, went under the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kievan Patriarchate” (quoted in Church News, July, 2003, vol. 14, ¹ 66 (#120), p. 3).

[98] 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, ¹¹ 18-20, 1994, p. 5).

[99] Protocol no. 8, April 30 / May 13, 1993.

[100] Istoki Rossijskoj Pravoslavnoj Svobodnoj Tserkvi, Suzdal, 1997, pp. 19-20 ®.

[101] 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. In spite of this, and Bishop Valentine’s repeated protests of his innocence (which appear not to have reached Metropolitan Vitaly) the 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, ¹¹ 18-20, 1994, pp. 123, 126).

[102] Suzdal’skij Palomnik, ¹¹ 18-20, 1994, pp. 89-90.

[103] 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, ¹ 23, 1995, p. 54; letter to the author by Hieromonk Vladimir (Ovchinnikov) of June 23 / July 6, 1993).

[104] Suzdal’skij Palomnik, ¹¹ 18-20, 1994, p. 121; letter to the author by Hieromonk Vladimir, op. cit.

[105] Later, on June 26 / July 8, 1994, Bishop Barnabas was forbidden from travelling to Russia for five years (Tserkovnaia Zhizn’, ¹¹ 3-4, May-August, 1994, p. 5).

[106] Tserkovnaia Zhizn’, ¹¹ 5-6, September-December, 1993, pp. 7, 9.

[107] Suzdal’skij Palomnik, ¹¹ 18-20, 1994, pp. 159-160.

[108] Suzdal’skij Palomnik, ¹¹ 18-20, pp. 168-169.

[109] Tserkovnaia Zhizn’, ¹¹ 1-2, January-April, 1994, pp. 14-16; Suzdal’skij Palomnik, ¹¹ 18-20, 1994, pp. 196-198.

[110] Suzdal’skij Palomnik, ¹¹ 18-20, 1994, pp. 198, 200-201.

[111] Tserkovnaia Zhizn’, ¹¹ 3-4, May-August, 1994, pp. 60-65.

[112] As Protopriest Benjamin Zhukov asked: “What Church were they talking about? A lack of precision was revealed, and confusion was created between ‘the persecuted Russian Church’ of the Tikhonites, Josephites and all the catacomniks, on the one hand, and the MP on the other. It was as if there few who understood what was going on. After all, the MP with the aid of OMON had already begun to take away the churches in Russia that had passed over to us, and our Church had begun to be persecuted by the MP. Therefore the Metropolitan and a series of church-servers never changed the former formula, witnessing to the fact that for them the Russian Church was not the MP” (Zhukov, “Poslanie nastoiatelia khrama RPZTs v Parizhe”, in Otkliki na deiania Arkhierejskogo Sobor RPTsZ 2000 goda i na prochie posleduischie za nim sobytia, part 2, Paris, 2001, p. 85 ®).

[113] Bishop Gregory, Pis’ma, Moscow, 1998, pp. 123-125; Suzdal’skij Palomnik, ¹ 23, 1995, pp. 21-23.

[114] Suzdal’skij Palomnik, ¹¹ 18-20, 1994, p. 149.

[115] Grabbe, Doklady, Moscow, 1999, p. 85 ®.

[116] Zalewski, op. cit., p. 7.

[117] Suzdal’skij Palomnik, ¹¹ 18-20, 1994, pp. 128-129, 130.

[118] Here is the original Act of November 16/29, 1994, together with the changes proposed by the FROC’s letter of January 14/27, 1995 (in italics) (see Suzdal’skij Palomnik, ¹ 22, 1995, pp. 26-27): “We, the Hierarchical Synod of the 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 Russian Church and the establishment of the Temporary Higher Church Administration.” Comment by the FROC bishops: We definitely do not agree with the definition of the actions of the Russian hierarchs as a schism, for these actions were a forced measure aimed at guarding the canonical rights of the Bishop in his diocese, and the created Temporary Higher Church Administration was formed, not in spite of, but in accordance with the will and ukaz no. 362 of the holy Patriarch Tikhon, at a time when the Hierarchical Synod of the ROCOR left the Russian hierarchs without any communications, directives, holy Antimins or holy Chrismation. If we recognize our mutual responsibility for the disturbances that have arisen in the Russian Church, then it is our right to recognize certain hasty actions of the Hierarchical Sobor and Synod as uncanonical and as inflicting direct harm on the work of restoring true Orthodoxy in Russia, which has served as the terminus a quo for [our] conditional administrative separation and the formation of the Temporary Higher Church Administration. The concrete intra-ecclesiastical situation has dictated such a course of action on our part, but at the same time we have admitted that administrative independence must in no way automatically lead to canonical and eucharistic independence. Such communion has not been broken by us, in spite of the one-sided decision of the Hierarchical Synod of the ROCOR.

     “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 the 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 the ROCOR could not be a guide for us in our actions since at that time we were administratively independent of the 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 the ROCOR, are to be considered to be invalid.”Comment of the FROC bishops: Until the moment that we ceased to be members of the 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 the 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 Tambov”.Comment of the FROC bishops: The formulation of this point admits of an ambiguous interpretation and is therefore on principle unacceptable for us. Judging objectively, his Grace Archbishop Lazarus did not lose his rights as a ruling bishop, in spite of the ukaz of the Hierarchical Synod concerning his retirement. The ukaz seems to us to be canonically ill-founded, and therefore lacking force and unrealized. We suggest the formulation: ‘In view of the erroneous actions of the Hierarchical Synod of the ROCOR, Archbishop Lazarus is not to be considered as having been retired and is recognized as having the rights of the ruling hierarch of his diocese with the title (Archbishop of Tambov and Odessa).

     “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 a Spiritual Court appointed by the present Hierarchical Sobor.” Comment of the FROC bishops: The given point is excluded, in agreement with the Ukaz of the Hierarchical Synod. [This refers to the ukaz dated November 18 / December 1, 1994, quoted above, which reinstated Vladyka Valentine as Bishop of Suzdal and Vladimir.]

     “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 the ROCA. One of the member 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 the 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 the ROCOR.

[119] “Obraschenie Episkopa Evtikhia Ishimskogo i Sibirskogo”, Otkliki na ‘Poslanie Arkhierejskogo Sobora RPTsZ vo Otechestve i v rasseianii suschim’ i na prochie dokumenty Arkhierejskogo Sobora RPTsZ oktiabr’ 2000 goda, Paris, part 3, p. 60 ®.

[120] Suzdal’skij Palomnik, 23, 1995, pp. 32-33.

[121] This Decree, dated February 9/22, 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, ¹ 23, 1995, p. 31; Tserkovnie Novosti, ¹ 1A (43), February, 1995, p. 3.

[122] “Witness” of February 15/28, 1995, Suzdal’skij Palomnik, ¹ 23, 1995, pp. 35-36.

[123] Tserkovnie Novosti, ¹ 1A (43), February, 1995, p. 5. The Synodal Epistle said that “on returning to Russia, Archbishop Lazarus and Bishop Valentine committed an unheard-of oath-breaking: not carrying out individual points of the Act they had signed, they subjected all its points to criticism and began to spread lies concerning the circumstances of its signing”.

[124] Suzdal’skij Palomnik, ¹ 23, 1995, p. 34.

[125] V. Moss, "The Free Russian Orthodox Church", Report on the USSR, ¹ 44, November 1, 1991; L. Byzov, S. Philatov, «Religia i politika v obschestvennom soznanii sovetskago naroda», in Bessmertny, A.R., Philatov, S.B. Religia i  Demokratia, Moscow: Progress, 1993, p. 41, note 5 ®.

[126] Orthodox Life, vol. 47, ¹ 3, May-June, 1997, pp. 42-43; Suzdal’skij Blagovest’, ¹ 3, January-February, 1997, p. 3.

[127] Suzdal’skie Eparkhial’nie Vedomosti, ¹ 7, March-May, 1999, p. 7 ®. For a more detailed account of the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church, see V. Moss, “Rossijskaia Pravoslavnaia Tserkov’. Ocherk istorii novejshego perioda (1982-1998gg.)”, Suzdal’skie Eparkhial’nie Vedomosti, ¹ 8, June-September, 1999, 8-18 ®; “The Free Russian Orthodox Church: a short history (1982-1998)”, Vertograd-Inform, ¹¹ 16-17, February-March, 2000, pp. 14-37. Cf. also: “Rossijskaia Pravoslavnaia Tserkov’, 1990-2000”, Vertograd-Inform, ¹¹ 7-8 (64-65), July-August, 2000, pp. 22-39 ®.

[128] See many articles in the internet-almanac “Romanitas”,, for the years 2001-2004.

[129] Details are known about the following three bishops: (1) Metropolitan Valentine of Suzdal and Vladimir (Rusantsov Anatolij Petrovich), born March 3, 1939; tonsured monk in MP October 21, 1958; ordained hierodeacon October 28, 1958; ordained hieromonk September 3, 1961; ordained archimandrite April 7, 1973; joined ROCOR April 7, 1990; consecrated bishop of Suzdal and vicar of Archbishop Lazarus on February 10, 1991 in Brussels by Archbishop Anthony of Geneva, Archbishop Mark of Berlin, Bishop Barnabas of Cannes and Bishop Gregory Grabbe. (2) Bishop Theodore of Borisovskoye and Sanino (Vladimir A. Gineevskij), born April 5, 1955; tonsured monk in MP November 26, 1976; ordained hierodeacon December 2, 1976; ordained hieromonk March 5, 1977; ordained hegumen June 13, 1982; joined ROCOR April 7, 1990; consecrated bishop of Borisovskoye and Sanino March 19, 1994 by Archbishop Lazarus and Bishop Valentine with written approval of Bishop Gregory Grabbe. Raised to the rank of metropolitan on March 2/15, 2001. (3) Bishop Victor of Daugavpiels and Latvia (Kontuzorov Victor Petrovich), born in 1944, ordained priest in MP February 15, 1980, tonsured monk in 1988, ordained hegumen March 12, 1991; joined FROC in 1995, having never been in the ROCOR; consecrated bishop of Latvia June 21, 1995 by Archbishop Valentine, Bishops Theodore of Borisov, Seraphim of Sukhumi, Alexander of Kazan and Arsenius of Tula and Brjansk. (The two latter bishops were consecrated during the HCA in 1994 and subsequently deposed in 1996 and 1997. Arsenius attempted to rejoin the ROCOR but was rejected, Alexander was deposed in 1997 for drunkenness. Now they both, together with a former bishop of the official Georgian Church, Amvrosij Katamadze, form a separate group with no communion with anyone else. Their flock consists of about 20 to 25 communities.)

     In 2004 Bishop Gregory (Abu-Asy) of Denver, who had been consecrated by the ROAC Synod, was first raised to the rank of archbishop, and then, a few weeks later, expelled from the Church without a canonical trial.

[130] Olga Mitrenina, “RE: [paradosis] Reply to ROAC Rocky Mountain News Article”,, April 21, 2004. Mitrenina continues: “The size of parishes differs. The largest one is in Zheleznovodsk. During the persecutions they collected 3000 signatures of the parishioners, who were against giving the church to MP. Do not forget that most of the parishes cover a large territory, if there are not too many True Churches in the region. But most of the parishes are not as large as in Zheleznovodsk. Our parish in St. Petersburg (that is counted large) is about several hundred parishioners (but less than 500). Many ROAC parishes (if they do not have an open church and serve in a room) are about 40-50 people.”

[131] Tserkovnaia Zhizn', ¹¹ 3-4, May-August, 1995, pp. 3-4.

[132] Suzdal’skij Blagovest’, ¹ 3, January-February, 1997, p. 3.

[133] Bishop Ambrose (von Sievers), "Ispytatyel'niye Voprosy zadanniye smnyevayushchim Preosvyashchennomu Amvrosiyu Episkopu Gotfskomu" (MS, 7/20 June, 1994), personal communication, and “Episkopat Istinno-Pravoslavnoj Katakombnoj Tserkvi”, Russkoe Pravoslavie, ¹ 4 (8), 1997, 1-20. See also I.I. Osipova, “Skvoz’ Ogn’ Muchenij i Vody Slyoz…”, Moscow: Serebryanniye Niti, 1998 ®.

[134] See, for one side of the argument, Archbishop Ambrose (von Sivers), “Otpal li Arkhiepiskop Andrej (Ukhtomsky) v Staroobryadcheskij Raskol?”, Russkoe Pravoslavie, N 2 (11), 1998, and Paul Boyarshinov, "Svyashchennomuchenik Arkhiepiskop Andrei Ufimskij (v miru Knyaz' Ukhtomsky) Izsledovaniye Zhiznedeyatel'nosti", Diploma thesis, Holy Trinity Theological Seminary, 1995 (MS); and for the other side, Bishop Gregory (Grabbe), "Po Povodu stat'i ob Arkhiepiskope Andreye (kn. Ukhtomskom)", Vestnik Germanskoj Eparkhii Russkoj Pravoslavnoj Tserkvi za Granitsei, no. 3, 1993, p. 14 ®. See also the extensive material on Archbishop Andrew published in Vozdvizhenie, ¹¹ 12 (32) and 13 (33, winter and spring, 2000 ®.

[135] 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’)”, Vertograd-Inform, ¹ 2 (59), 2000, pp. 46-49 ®. See also Kto yest’ kto v Rossijskikh Katakombakh, op. cit., pp. 10-24.

[136] Bishop Ambrose (von Sievers), “’Klimentovskaya’ Ierarkhiya I.P.Ts.”, Russkoe Pravoslavie, ¹ 5 (9), 1997, pp. 1-11 ®. See also Kto yest’ kto v Rossijskikh Katakombakh, op. cit., pp. 24-27. This latter publication also has information on several other small Catacomb groups.

[137] 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, November, 1995), there is no mention of his supposed episcopate.

[138] Ter-Grigorian, “Mitr. Kirik Mesogejskij i Arkhiepiskop Amvrosij Gotfskij – vstrecha na Elbe »,, September, 2004 ®.

[139] Pravoslavnyi Vestnik, January-February, 1996 ®.

[140] Letter to Archbishop Mark of Germany and Great Britain, November 29 / December 12, 1996 ®.

[141] Archimandrite Cyprian, secretary of the Romanian Synod, personal communication, August, 1994.

[142] Tserkovnie Novosti, June, 1997, ¹ 6 (62), p. 4 ®.

[143] Orthodox Tradition, vol. XV, ¹ 1, p. 34.

[144] Nun E., a close disciple of Metropolitan Gennadius, personal communication, September, 1990.

[145] Vertograd-Inform, ¹ 2, December, 1998, p. 25.

[146] Lourié, “The Synodal Decision of the Official Georgian Church and ‘the Third Way’ between Ecumenism and Orthodoxy”, Vertograd-Inform, ¹ 10 (43), October, 1998, pp. 7-8 ®.

[147] “Looking Back on Harare”, Orthodox Tradition, vol. XVII, ¹ 4, 2000, p. 4.

[148] Djokic, “Coming to Terms with the Past: Former Yugoslavia”, History Today, vol. 54 (6), June, 2004, pp. 18-19.

[149] Thus in May, 1992, the Holy Synod of the Serbian Church declared: “As of yesterday, the Serbian people in Croatia, Dalmatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina have ceased to exist… Today Serbian Christians commemorate the 50th anniversary of their suffering on the territory of the notorious Nazi ‘Independent State’ of Croatia, as well as in Kosovo and Metohia – by experiencing new suffering…

     “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 Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina. For instance, in Sukhopol, near Virovitica, Odzhak in Bosanska Posavina; Duvno and Livno, Smiljan in Lika and other places. Refugees testify that once again, as in 1941, bottomless pits are being opened into which innocent Serbs are being cast” (in Perepiolkina, op. cit., p. 237).

[150] Antonios Markou, "On the Serbian Question", Orthodox Tradition, vol. XI, ¹ 4, 1994, p. 16.

[151] "'World Orthodoxy's' Sister Church to canonize murderer of the Serbian Orthodox people", Orthodox Christian Witness, September 12/25, 1994, p. 2.

[152] Forest, "An Orthodox Response to the War in Former Yugoslavia", Orthodox Outlook, vol. VIII, ¹ 6, 1995, p. 32. It should also be mentioned that baptisms in the Serbian Church are now very often only pourings, not full immersions.

[153] Church News (the English translation of Tserkovnie Novosti), vol. 9, ¹ 8 (64), August, 1997, p. 7.

[154] Sergej Flere, "Denominational Affiliation in Yugoslavia, 1937-1987", East European Quarterly, XXV, ¹ 2, June, 1991, pp. 145-165.

[155] This figure cited in Norman Malcolm, Bosnia. A Short History, London: Papermac, 1996, p. 222.

[156] Vrcan, "The War in Former Yugoslavia and Religion", Religion, State and Society, 22/4, 1994, pp. 374-75.

[157] Cited in Norman Cigar, Genocide in Bosnia, Texas A&M University Press, 1995, p. 67.

[158] Jean-François Meyer, Religions et Sécurité Internationale, Berne, Switzerland: Office Central de la Defense, 1995, pp. 24-25.

[159] “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.

     “The Serbian Church, which was far from being as cruelly persecuted by the godless as the Russian, made no protest against the participation of their own Patriarch German in the ecumenical movement and even his position as one of the presidents of the WCC. The hierarchy of the Serbian Church did not find in itself enough spiritual strength, as did the Russian Church, to create in its depths an anti-communist and anti-ecumenist popular movement, although individual true holy new martyrs were found in it. For a little more than fifty years of communist dominion in Yugoslavia, not one courageous speech of members of the Serbian hierarchy against godlessness and ecumenism was known abroad.” (Tserkovnie Novosti, June-July, 1999, ¹ 4 (80), p. 4 ®.

[160] Cigar, op. cit., pp. 67-68.

[161] Translated in The Shepherd, vol. XIX, ¹ 8, April, 1999, pp. 18-19.

[162] Pro-Serbian commentators argue that the West is the victim of anti-Serb propaganda. The present writer has watched many programmes on the Serbian wars on British television in the last eight years. No anti-Serb bias is evident in them. Detailed and generally accurate documentaries have been 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 are invited to express their point of view in all debates on the Serbian wars. On the other hand, Russia’s NTV station seems to be the only media outlet in Serbia or Russia which reports “ethnic cleansing” in Kosovo (Anna Blundy, “Russian Viewers finally see case for Nato”, The Times (London), April 7, 1999, p. 2).

[163] “Episkop ofitsial’noj serbskoj tserkvi oblichaet svoego patriarkha”, Vertograd-Inform, ¹ 1 (58), January, 2000, p. 13 ®.

[164] Florence Hamlish Levinsohn, Belgrade: Among the Serbs, Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1994, p. 238.

[165] John Chaplain, “Re: [paradosis] Alternative Orthodoxy is loosing its illusory legitimacy…”, May 26, 2004.

[166] Thus in 2000 the Catholic Archbishop of Zagreb, Jospi Bozanic, celebrated a mass in a suburb of Novi Sad in northern Serbia which was attended by the local Orthodox bishop. “Serbskaia Patriarkhia i Katolicheskaia Tserkov’: ‘V Sovmestnoj Molitve… My Stali Yeshcho Blizhe’”, Vertograd-Inform, ¹¹ 7-8 (64-65), July-August, 2000, pp. 18-19 ®.

[167] A poll carried out in 2002 by the Ministry for religious affairs of the republic of Serbia indicated that 95% of the population (excluding Kosovo) considers itself to be believing and only 0.5% - atheist. Out of a population of 7,498,001, 6,371,548, or 85%, were Orthodox (, 20 July, 2003, in Pravoslavnaia Rus’, ¹ 16 (1733), August 15/28, 2003, p. 16 ®.

[168] Judah, The Serbs, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1997, p. 309.

[169] See materials in Russkoe Pravoslavie, ¹ 3 (7), 1997 ®.

[170] Vitaly, “Letter to a Priest”, Vertograd-Inform, ¹ 1, November, 1998, #2, p. 17 (English edition).

[171] Translated in The Shepherd, vol. XIX, ¹ 8, April, 1999, pp. 20, 21.

[172] For details, see Vladimir Kirillov, “Mysli, voznikshie polse prochtenia pis’ma Arkhierejskogo Sobor RPTsZ 2000 goda serbskomu patriarkhu Pavlu”, in Otkliki na deiania Arkhierejskogo Sobor RPTsZ 2000 goda i na prochie posleduischie za nim sobytia, part 2, Paris, 2001, pp. 22-24; and pp. 47-51 ®.

[173] Ibid., p. 26.

[174] “Information Bulletin” of the Department of External Ecclesiastical Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, ¹ 3, 2000, pp. 51-52.    

[175] Bychkov, “The Synod against a Council”, Moskovskii komsomolets, August 20, 1999, quoted by Joseph Legrande, “Re: [paradosis] Re: Solovki (WAS: Dealing with Heresy)”,, 31 August, 2002.

[176] Gundiaev, interview conducted by Alexis Venediktov, March 22, 2001.

[177] Savchenko, “Tserkov’ v Rossii i ‘Vsemirnij Soviet Tserkvej”, Pravoslavnaia Rus’, ¹ 2 (1743), January 15/28, 2004, pp. 10-12 ®.

[178] Spukts, “Re: [paradosis] A Russian Conversation in English”,, 24 June, 2004.

[179] Ardov, “The ‘Jubilee Council’ has confirmed it: the Moscow Patriarchate has finally fallen away from Orthodoxy” (Report read at the 8th Congress of the clergy, monastics and laity of the Suzdal diocese of the Russian Orthodox [Autonomous] Church, November, 2000).

[180] Iubilejnij Arkhierejskij Sobor Russkoj zarubezhnoj tserkvi. Moskva 13-16 avgusta 2000 goda, St. Petersburg, 2000, p. 159 ®.

[181] Protopriest Vladimir Savitsky, Hieromonk Valentine (Salomakh) and Deacon Nicholas Savchenko, “Pis’mo iz Sankt-Peterburga”, Otkliki na deiania Arkhierejskogo Sobor RPTsZ 2000 goda I na prochie posleduischie za nim sobytia, part 1, Paris, 2001, p. 92 ®.

[182] Moskovskij Tserkovnij Vestnik, ¹¹ 14-15, pp. 243-244; quoted by Fr. Michael Ardov, “’Sergians’ continue in the same spirit”,

[183] Pravoslavie ili Smert’, ¹ 8, 1998.

[184] Iubilejnij Arkhierejskij Sobor, op. cit., p. 44.

[185] Iubilejnij Arkhierejskij Sobor, op. cit., p. 43.

[186] Iubilejnij Arkhierejskij Sobor, op. cit., p. 44.

[187] Kanaev, “Obraschenie k pervoierarkhu RPTsZ”, in Otkliki na deiania Arkhierejskogo Sobor RPTsZ 2000 goda i na prochie posleduischie za nim sobytia, part 2, Paris, 2001, pp. 3-4 ®.

[188] "Ierei o. Oleg otvechaet na voprosy redaktsiii", Pravoslavnaia Rus', ¹ 23 (1452), December 1/14, 1991, p. 7 ®.

[189] Quoted by Fr. Peter Perekrestov, “The Schism in the Heart of Russia (Concerning Sergianism)”, Canadian Orthodox Herald, 1999, ¹ 4.

[190] Perekrestov, "Why Now?" Orthodox Life, vol. 44, ¹ 6, November-December, 1994, p. 44. It is open to question whether the patriarchate's canonisation of even the true martyrs is pleasing to God. Thus when 50 patriarchal bishops uncovered the relics of Patriarch Tikhon in the Donskoj cemetery on April 5, 1992, witnesses reported that "it was even possible to recognise the face of the Patriarch from his incorrupt visage, and his mantia and mitre were also preserved in complete incorruption. Witnesses also speak about a beautiful fragrance and an unusual feeling of reverential peace at that moment. But then, as some patriarchal clerics confirm, on contact with the air the relics crumbled, or - as the Catacomb Christians remark - the relics were not given into the hands of the Moscow Patriarchate. Then they buried them in plaster - a blasphemous act from an Orthodox point of view..." (Eugene Polyakov, personal communication, April 5, 1992).

[191] Perekrestov, “Why Now?” op. cit., p. 43.

[192] “Obraschenie kurskogo dukhovenstva k mitropolitu Vitaliu”, Otkliki na deiania Arkhierejskogo Sobor RPTsZ 2000 goda i na prochie posleduiuschie za nim sobytia, part 3á p. 80 ®.

[193] “Obraschenie kurskogo dukhovenstva k mitropolitu Vitaliu”, Otkliki na deiania Arkhierejskogo Sobor RPTsZ 2000 goda i na prochie posleduiuschie za nim sobytia, part 3á p. 79 ®.

[194] Kapustin, “Raz’iasnenia Episkopa usilili somnenia”, Otkliki na deiania Arkhierejskogo Sobora RPTsZ 2000 goda i na prochie posleduiuschie za nim sobytia, part 3, p. 66. Kapustin was actually commenting on Bishop Evtikhy’s report to the Council. However, since the Council in its epistle accepted Evtikhy’s report almost in toto, and repeated many of his points, the remarks on the bishop’s report apply equally to the conciliar epistle.

[195] Fyodorov, Zhukov, “Ispovedanie iskonnoj pozitsii RPTsZ”, Otkliki na deiania Arkhierejskogo Sobor RPTsZ 2000 goda i na prochie posleduiuschie za nim sobytia, part 3, p. 46.

[196] Again, it was Bishop Evtikhy’s report that played the vital role here: “We simply no longer notice it, one phrase from the Social Doctrine is sufficient for us” (A. Soldatov, “Sergij premudrij nam put’ ozaril”, Vertograd, ¹ 461, 21 May, 2004, p. 4 ®).

[197] “Obraschenie kurskogo dukhovenstva k mitropolitu Vitaliu”, Otkliki na deiania Arkhierejskogo Sobor RPTsZ 2000 goda i na prochie posleduiuschie za nim sobytia, part 3. pp. 81-82, 76 ®.

[198] Krasovitsky, Vershillo, “Esche raz o sergianstve”, Otkliki na deiania Arkhierejskogo Sobor RPTsZ 2000 goda i na prochie posleduiuschie za nim sobytia, part 2, p. 52 ®.