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Reorganization of Orthodox church

COMMENTARY OF THE DAY: HAVE METROPOLITANS APPEARED IN "METROPOLITBURO"?
Portal-credo.ru, 9 May 2003

Back in soviet times church wags renamed the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox church of the Moscow patriarchate the "Metropolitburo." In actuality this church administrative body comprised in the main metropolitans, but amazingly they were metropolitans without metropolias.

The world "metropolitan" in Russian church tradition at some time began signifying not the chief bishop in one or another metropolitan region--a conglomerate of several dioceses or bishop of a large, capital city like Moscow, St. Petersburg, or Kiev--or the personal distinctive of an aged eminent bishop not connected with a see. Thus it was in the capacity of personal distinctions at the All-Russian local council of 1917-1918 that, after the election of the patriarch, such eminent hierarchs as Antony Khrapovitsky, Kirill Smirnov, and Arseny Stadnitsky were elevated to the rank of metropolitan. During the soviet period the existence of metropolitans without metropolias in RPTsMP became the rule and even was carried to absurd lengths; vicar metropolitans appeared. It is interesting to compare this practice with the Byzantine practice where for administrative services bishops were granted, whether fictional or titular, but real metropolitan rank. In the later middle ages hierarchs of the Constantinople patriarchate were sometimes metropolitans of nonexistent cities, but they still were metropolitans and not vicars with a grand personal title.

The abnormality of the departure of the use of the word "metropolitan" from church norms has often been acknowledged so that there even has been frequent talk about finally introducing the metropolia as a church administrative unit into Russian church practice.  Actually there never were metropolias in the Russian church since the time that the church itself, as a canonical entity, was a united metropolitan district, first under the authority of the Constantinople patriarch and later as an autocephalous body. The transformation of the Russian metropolia into a patriarchate in 1589 led to the elevation of a number of bishops (Novgorod, Rostov) to metropolitans, but did not lead to the creation of metropolitan regions. There were several reasons for this. First, such a reform would lead to the splintering of large dioceses into smaller ones, which would lead to a decline in the hierarchs' income, which would evoke intensive dissension. Second, the tendency toward splintering, in the Russian case, would directly contradict the general political tendency toward centralization in which an enormous role was played by the historically developed pattern of a united church center.

In the end, despite frequent proposals for dividing into metropolitan regions that arose, the Russian church remained as a single metropolia. The last attempt to divide the Russi8an church into metropolitan regions was undertaken by the local council of 1917-1918, but its resolution was not implemented, or more precisely, was implemented partially under the impact of the circumstances of the civil war. A great role here was played not by the decision of the council but by the remarkable patriarchal decree No. 362 that defined the procedure for church administration in conditions of civil war. It was upon this basis that in several regions separated from the center there arose metropolitan regions, in south Russia, and later in the Balkans, western Europe, and America (at one time the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia constituted a union of the four metropolitan regions, eastern, west European, American, and Far Eastern). However church development in the Russian emigration showed that Russian metropolitan regions, on the historic example of the ancient mother church, have a tendency to division, autonomy, and the creation of surrounding structures with a single church region. Actually this fact was the main justification for the persistent opposition by the Russian church to the creation of a multi-regional system. Thus the initiative of two years ago to create in Russia seven metropolitan regions parallel to the seven presidential districts quite naturally failed.

However, beginning with Patriarch Alexis II's letter of 1 April to the hierarchs of western Europe and then the decision by the Holy Synod on 7 May, in addition to making personnel sensations, produced organizational sensations. Actually, the decision was made to create within RPTsMP two (for a start) metropolitan regions, for Kazakhstan and western Europe.  Previously for granting self-administration to dioceses located outside of the Russian federation, RPTsMP used the form of ecclesiastical autonomy or, in easier circumstances, the exarchate, as a kind of extraordinary patriarchal representation. However in this case the issue was the creation of autonomous or semiautonomous structures. The metropolitan region, in distinction from the autonomous church, does not have any properties of a local church, but in distinction from an exarchate, it is viewed as a natural and organic (as if occupying its own natural ecological niche) structure. There is a certain logic in the division of such metropolitan regions. Both Kazakhstan and western European dioceses are located outside the Russian federation and they constitute a specific space, but at the same time they have no need for autonomy; indeed such autonomy would be harmful for them since it would weaken them. Thus the choice of the form of metropolitan regions for them is quite natural and to some extent (but only some) continues the logic of Patriarch Tikhon's decree; politically separated territories acquire the right to self-organization, but not to independent jurisdiction.

However it is unclear how the selected forms will develop further. On one hand, it is possible that having completed the implementation of the "one constituent entity of the federation--one diocese" plan, the RPTsMP will advance to grouping these dioceses into larger units (although surely less extensive than the federal districts). On the other hand, it is quite probable that the creation of metropolitan regions is an intermediate stage on the path to granting autonomy to foreign dioceses, let's say a western European metropolia could be the point of crystalization on the path to the formation of a local church of western Europe or, perhaps, a structure like the Orthodox Church in America. In any case, the frequently expressed interest on the part of representatives of RPTsMP (principally, OVTsS) in European integration speaks in favor of the creation of a united Orthodox body in the general European space. (tr. by PDS, posted 9 May 2003)

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Italian prime minister intercedes for pope

MOSCOW MAY HELP PAVE WAY FOR PAPAL VISIT
Associated Press, 7 May 2003

Russia's foreign minister said Wednesday that Moscow would be willing to help arrange a high-level meeting that could lead to the first visit by a pope to his country.

Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov explained that his government could lay the ground work for such a meeting between Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi and the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church aimed at paving the way for the long-sought visit by Pope John Paul II.

The pontiff has repeatedly expressed his desire to visit Russia as part of his efforts to promote greater Christian unity. But his plans have been thwarted by opposition from the Orthodox Church, including a refusal by Alexy to meet with pope - even on neutral ground.

Berlusconi said last month the Vatican had asked him to arrange the meeting with Patriarch Alexy II - a possibility the Italian later discussed with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"If the desire of a meeting with Patriarch Alexy II is expressed, then in this case this request will be transmitted to the Patriarchate and negotiated through diplomatic channels,'' Ivanov said after talks in Rome with his Italian counterpart Franco Frattini.

Ivanov, on a two-day visit to Italy, said he had a phone conversation with Berlusconi on Tuesday, but that the issue did not come up.

Berlusconi is scheduled to meet with Putin in St. Petersburg, Russia at the end of the month. It was not clear whether the Italian leader would seek to meet Alexy II during that visit.

Berlusconi's spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

The Vatican is seeking agreement for a stopover by the pope in Russia en route to a pilgrimage in Mongolia in August.

Relations between the Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church have been badly strained by Russian accusations that the Roman Catholic Church is trying to gain converts in traditionally Orthodox lands in the former Soviet Union.

The Roman Catholic Church contends it has a moral right to be active in Russia, which had Roman Catholic communities - made up mostly of ethnic Germans and Poles - before the 1917 Revolution.  (posted 8 May 2003)

RUSSIAN CATHOLICS FEEL EXCLUDED, BUT SIGNS POINT TO POSSIBLE HEALING OF RIFT WITH ORTHODOX
by Alex Rodriguez
Chicago Tribune, 8 May 2003

Every Sunday, 50 Roman Catholics in this tired, gray factory city 110 miles south of Moscow line up, not to the large red-brick church hidden behind a wall of apartment buildings along Leninsky Prospekt, but to the dusty 10-by-18-foot metal garage alongside.

Half of them sit on benches; the other half must stand. Between hymns, Father Dari Kharasimovich competes with the annoying whir of a large, wall-mounted electric meter. His altar is a desk, his icons include a colored-pencil drawing of Christ thumbtacked into a corner.

On a recent rainy Sunday as mass ends, parishioner Tatiana Kikidjan explains. The church is theirs, but long ago local officials commandeered it for use as an office for traffic accident investigators.

"It's humiliating and painful," says Kikidjan, 65, a secretary and a lifetime Catholic. "People who come here out of curiosity leave with the impression that we're a sect."

Roman Catholics across Russia can readily empathize. Twelve years after the fall of communism in Russia, 600,000 Catholics still struggle to find their place in a country that is majority Russian Orthodox and deeply mistrusts the motives of the Vatican.

The rift is a millennium old, with its roots in the Great Schism of 1054 that cleaved Catholicism into separate Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches.

Until this year, the relationship looked as bleak as ever. Russian Orthodox leaders believe Catholic priests and nuns in Russia have been luring Orthodox believers away from their native church, while the Vatican has accused Orthodox leaders and Russian authorities of retaliating by expelling five Catholic priests in the past year.

However, in recent weeks, signs of healing have begun to surface.

During a visit in Italy last month with his counterpart, Silvio Berlusconi, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov announced that the Russian government supported Pope John Paul II's fervent desire to visit Russia, and described the trip as being possible "in the near future."

Perhaps more important was a March meeting in Geneva between the Russian Orthodox Church's liaison with the Vatican, Metropolitan Kirill, and a top Vatican envoy, Cardinal Walter Kasper, ending a year of icy silence.

In a move widely viewed as a sign of goodwill, the Vatican abandoned its bid to reinstate a bishop in Siberia expelled by the Russian government last year. The Holy See reassigned Catholic bishop Jerzy Mazur, who had been accused by Russian Orthodox leadership of proselytizing, to a post in Poland and sent a replacement to his church in Irkutsk.

"It was a gesture, not just to the Russian Orthodox Church, but to the Russian Federation as well," said Viktor Khrul, editor of a Russian Catholic newspaper and a spokesman for the Catholic Church in Moscow. "The Vatican decided, `OK, you don't want him to come back, then we'll replace him.'"

---

A papal visit to Russia could further bridge the chasm between the two churches, but only if the itinerary includes a meeting between the pope and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II, Moscow-based religion experts say.

It also could prove ruinous to the relationship if managed poorly, Khrul said. Published reports last month suggested that the pope was weighing a brief visit to the Russian city of Kazan during his scheduled trip to Mongolia in August. The Kazan stopover would allow him to return a venerated 16th century icon of the Virgin Mary to the Russian Orthodox Church.

However, a decision by the pontiff to visit Russia without attempting to meet with the country's spiritual leader would probably be seen as an affront.

"For the relations between the two churches, it could be fatal," Khrul said. "It would be something like the beginning of another Cold War. We would need decades or centuries to repair the damage."

Recently ill, Alexy II has not weighed in on the potential for a papal visit to Russia. Efforts to reach his main spokesman were unsuccessful.

In the past however, the Russian Orthodox Church has said it would endorse such a visit only if the Vatican formally condemned any attempts by Catholic clerics to convert Orthodox believers in Russia, and called for an end to the oppression of Orthodox members in western Ukraine, which is mostly Catholic.

The Orthodox Church argues it has ample evidence to warrant its demands. In a report it released last summer, the church cited cases of Catholic clergy teaching Catholic doctrine to Orthodox-baptized children in orphanages in Siberia and Moscow. And it viewed the Vatican's establishment of four dioceses in Russia and two in Ukraine last year as steppingstones to further conversion activity.

Roman Catholic leaders say they would issue such a condemnation if they believed their clerics in Russia were guilty of proselytizing. But they don't. If Orthodox believers cross over to Catholicism, they say, it is done without encouragement from Catholics.

---

Baptized Russian Orthodox, Irina Skibinskaya converted to Catholicism seven years ago after visiting a service at Tula's makeshift church. She said she found Orthodox services too rigid.

"Almost instantly it became clear to me that this was my place, that this was for me," said Skibinskaya, a reporter at a Tula newspaper and the accompanist during mass at her parish. "Here, the priest speaks of complicated issues in an understandable manner."

A thread of insecurity runs through Orthodox leadership that helps explain the accusations directed at Catholics, says Andrei Zolotov, a Moscow-based writer who focuses on religious affairs. That defensiveness, Zolotov said, is the product of more than 70 years of Soviet persecution.

"The Russian Orthodox perspective is that Russians were taken away from their Christian roots by force," Zolotov said. "And now is the time for Russians to return to their historical church."

Catholics say they understand that but do not understand why religious freedom in Russia is applied with different rules when it comes to the practice of their beliefs.

Straits like the ones Catholics in Tula face are repeated elsewhere in Russia. In the southern city of Belgorod near the Ukrainian border, a Catholic parish began holding mass in a small apartment because local Orthodox officials would not allow them inside a church built by Catholics 100 years ago. In Moscow, a coal-mining institute has claimed the 150-year-old Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church for office space.

Tula authorities have promised to one day return to Kharasimovich's parish the 92-year-old church his followers pass by every Sunday as they jam into their small garage. Kharasimovich's parishioners say they need the church not just for the bricks and mortar, but as a sign of acceptance in a country where tolerance has been hard to come by.

The Orthodox Church's acquiescence to a visit to Russia by the pontiff, they say, would send the same message.

"It would have tremendous significance for all of us," Skibinskaya said, "because in small provincial cities like ours, it's difficult to survive - not just materially, but spiritually." (copyright, Chicago Tribune, posted 8 May 2003)

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Prosecutor defends Orthodox textbook

RIGHTS DEFENDERS ACCUSE MOSCOW PROSECUTOR
Mir religii, 8 May 2003

"The Moscow prosecutor's office has effectively come to the open defense of xenophobic medieval prejudices" contained in the "Fundamentals of Orthodox culture" textbook by Alla Borodina, a press release from the all-Russian "For Human Rights" public movement that was distributed on 7 May in Moscow, Blagovest-info reports.

Representatives of the movement received that day in the Meshchansk district court of Moscow materials of the case that was opened on the basis of a suit by the movement last summer. The movement insisted that Alla Borodina's textbook contains offense to the religious feelings of non-Orthodox people and cannot be used in the schools.

According to materials of the case, the prosecutor placed full responsibility for the contents of the textbook not on workers of the educational system who directed the composition of the textbook and approved it for the Moscow schools and recommended it for secondary schools, but on the author of the manuscript, Alla Borodina.

The senior prosecutor of the Moscow city prosecutor's office for supervision of fulfillment of the laws on federal security and interethnic relations, V.V. Rybalka, responded to one of the complaints of the "For Human Rights" movement by declaring: "To demand that the author and other persons connected with the publication of 'Fundamentals of Orthodox culture' be held criminally liable is as absurd as to demand putting the whole Russian Orthodox church and world Christianity itself behind bars." (tr. by PDS, posted 8 May 2003)

MOSCOW PROSECUTOR LIKENS TEXTBOOK TO ORTHODOX CHURCH BUT CONFUSES JUDICIAL BASES
"For Human Rights" Information agency, 7 May 2003

Representatives of the All-Russian "For Human Rights" movement received in the Meshchansk court materials of the case on the "Fundamentals of Orthodox culture" textbook by A.V. Borodina. From these materials it appears that the prosecutor's office itself has become confused about which laws were violated in the course of the publication of the textbook and that the Moscow prosecutor's office has effectively come to the open defense of xenophobic medieval prejudices and the Ostankino district prosecutor's office has tried all along to protect responsible persons of the educational system.

According to the text of the protocol of the court session held on 21 March of this year, a representative of the Ostankino district prosecutor's office, T.A. Khrapunova, stated literally the following:  "The law 'On education' was violated. It [this question] was not investigated, since it was not the subject of the investigation. There was only one question, whether there was a crime in the actions of Borodina." Thus, representatives of the prosecutor's office explicitly confirm that they reviewed the Black Hundredist textbook, like an ordinary book, ignoring the frequent statements of rights defenders, and that responsibility for the publication and adoption of the academic resources (that contain elements of religious antisemitism, xenophobic attacks on "guests" in the native Russian Orthodox land, direct agitation in favor of Orthodoxy, assignments for exposing satanists and heretics and other gems) lie not on employees of the educational system who directed the composition of the textbook and approved it for the Moscow schools, and recommended it for secondary schools, but on the author of the manuscript, Alla Valentinovna Borodina.

At the same time, in a fax of poor quality sent to the court from the Moscow city prosecutor's office  (they did not deign to send a letter) under the title "Response to appellate complaint," signed by the senior prosecutor for supervision of fulfilment of the laws on federal security and interethnic relations, V.V. Rybalka, the following literally is said: "There are no evidences of violation by any responsible persons of the requirements . . . of the RF law 'On education.'" It says further:   "To require that the author and other persons connected with the publication of 'Fundamentals of Orthodox culture' be held criminally liable is as absurd as to require putting the whole Russian Orthodox church and world Christianity itself behind bars. . . ." (tr. by PDS, posted 8 May 2003)

"FUNDAMENTALS OF ORTHODOX CULTURE" IS PRESIDENTIAL ADMINISTRATION IDEA?
Religiia v svetskom obshchestve, 30 April 2003

Writing on the pages of the "Smysl" magazine, [N. Kevorkova. "Religiia prishla v shkolu," Smysl, n0. 7, 2003, p. 73] Nadezhda Kevorkova expressed the suggestion that in fact the chief role in the introduction of religious disciplines into secular educational institutions, including the schools, was played by the government, or more specifically, the presidential administration, which "the RPTs itself openly speaks" about (the author of the article does not give precise citations). It is the presidential administration, in Kevorkova's opinion, that was the initiator "of the return of religion to the schools," which is confirmed by the holding within its walls of all educational Orthodox conferences and presentations of the "theology" academic major and of the school textbook on Orthodox culture. The letter from the Ministry of Education about introducing the elective subject of "Fundamentals of Orthodox culture" into the schools was sent out after this.

The author calls special attention to the form of teaching the course on Orthodox culture in Russian regions: cases where the study of fundamentals of Orthodoxy were initiated by priests and parishioners themselves are rare. In the majority of region the subject "was introduced 'from above'  with orders 'to organize the study on a voluntary basis.'"

N. Kevorokva sees the initiative of the presidential administration also in the recognition by the state of diplomas of higher educational institutions and in declaring Orthodoxy, Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism "traditional confessions."

In the opinion of the writer, such a situation leads to the conclusion that the state is beginning to engage in proselytism "barring from the schools the real competitors of Orthodoxy, the protestants and Catholics," and even the promise by the Ministry of Education to prepare a textbook on the fundamentals of other "traditional" religions only mitigates the situation but does to change it at base. (tr. by PDS, posted 8 May 2003)

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Metropolitan Kirill assailed by old nemesis

THE DECORATED SELF-DEFENCE ARTIST
"Tobacco metropolitan" struggles for the throne.
by Sergei Bychkov
Moskovskii komsomolets, 8 May 2003

Despite His Holiness Patriarch Alexis II's being still healthy and full of energy, the struggle for the throne has entered a decisive phase. My friend, a person who is extremely knowledgeable in church life,  once complained that unfortunately there is no Orthodox betting pool. I was interested: "On whom would you place your bet?" To my amazement, although he had suffered a great deal from Master Gundiaev, he answered without hesitation: "On Metropolitan Kirill." And he spun out for me a number of weighty arguments.

First, "tobacco metropolitan" is the only billionaire among the Orthodox episcopate. There is the hope that after he becomes patriarch he will not steal. Second, he is administratively talented and energetic. He is the only one who knows how to put together a strong team. And this is not just in the Department for External Church Relations. His people completely surround and successfully serve the current patriarch. The patriarch's speechwriter, Fr Vsevolod Chaplin, is completely devoted to "tobacco metropolitan." The chief of protocol, Deacon Vladimir Nazarkin, is also his man.

Third, "tobacco metropolitan" knows how to handle relations with the presidential administration, the government, and among duma leaders. And finally, lastly, Master Gundiaev holds solidly in his hands a mass of compromising information about the Orthodox episcopate. Many bishops know this and tremble.

One can envy the business capacity of "tobacco metropolitan." He successfully has accomplished the strategy worked out by his team that he himself calls a "permanent battle." In August 2000, at the jubilee bishops' council, he imposed on the gathering the 300-page text of the "Bases of the social doctrine of the Russian Orthodox church." The council lasted less than three days. Naturally, none of the bishops could master even 100 pages. The more so since the council had to canonize 500 new confessors and martyrs. And finally "tobacco metropolitan" insisted on introducing amendments into the charter. Even his old friend and mentor, Master Poiarkov, began to groan and called the assembly not to introduce innovations but to live with the old charter. Master Gundiaev inserted a point into the amended draft of the charter: if a bishop has not "served" in his diocese for two years, then he does not have the right to aspire to the patriarchal throne. Who has the real aspirations for the patriarchal throne? The only pity is that he is too anxious.

Recently in the Union of Writers he presided over a presentation of a book by the president of the All-Russian Sambo Federation, Khlopetsky, "And the permanent battle." One might wonder what an Orthodox bishop has to do with self-defence (sambo) and its creator, Vasily Oshchepkov. The first book of a trilogy, "Formation," was co-authored by the "tobacco metropolitan" with Khlopetsky. It describes the years that Vasily Oshchepkov spent in Japan studying in the ecclesiastical seminary and about the influence of the prominent missionary, Archbishop Nikolai Kasatkin. He brought Orthodoxy to Japan and was canonized by the church. In the first part of the trilogy, "tobacco metropolitan" presented a contemporary version of a hagiography of Nikolai of Japan. Athletes were so enthralled that they granted Master Kirill two medals. One for service in the development of sports and the Olympic movement and the second, a gold medal of the World Sambo Federation.

Nevertheless, the "tobacco metropolitan" does not consist in some achievements only. Among his serious shortcomings one should mention his enormous miserliness. This is not about his life style or those cases involving personal needs. There is no shortage of money to build a lavish dacha or villa in the West. In the fifteen years he spent in Smolensk and Kaliningrad, only one church was built in Smolensk. In Kaliningrad "tobacco metropolitan" promoted the construction of the church of Christ the Savior, which, according to his proud design, was not supposed to yield place to the Moscow church. However he did not grant any money for the construction. In ten years the only thing that had been built on the site was the foundation. And only after the arrival of Governor Admiral Vladimir Egorov was the construction of the church begun. Of course, without the participation of the diocese. Recently "tobacco metropolitan" visited the site and stated: "Despite certain difficulties in construction, shortage of needed scaffolds and of financing, we are satisfied with the course and amount of work. The cathedral church of Christ the Savior that is being built is not just a church where divine services will be conducted but it also is a symbol of the city and province and thus it should be constructed by the whole world." The last phrase is very deceptive. Why by the whole world? The city includes Catholics, protestants, and atheists. Why should they pay for the construction?

As our sources at the OVTsS have informed us, "tobacco metropolitan" prepared a real intrigue for yesterday's session of the synod. He wants to transfer the elderly Metropolitan Vladimir Kotliarov of St. Petersburg and Ladoga to the Stavropol see, since Metropolitan Gedeon of Stavropol died in March. Next year Metropolitan Vladimir will turn seventy-five. According to the charter he should submit his resignation and retire. "Tobacco metropolitan" himself plans to occupy his place, since the capital city should have a prominent and significant metropolitan! Especially on the eve of the 300th anniversary of Petersburg. And he wants to install his deputy, Archbishop Kliment Kapalin of Kaluga and Borovsk as head of OVTsS. The chancellor of RPTs, Metropolitan Sergius, he wants to send to Kazakhstan and replace with Archbishop Arseny of Istrinsk. This combination will clear the way for "tobacco metropolitan" to the patriarchal throne.

One should not forget that the elections for patriarch are secret. And the upcoming local council will most likely not be devoted only to the election of a patriarch. Most likely the council will take up the reform of the divine liturgy that was begun long ago, the problem of the participation of clergy and laity in church administration, and the problems of social service. Then the election of the patriarch will include everybody. In such an event the "tobacco billionaire" can hardly aspire to the patriarchal throne. (tr. by PDS, posted 8 May 2003)

HOLY SYNOD MAKES A NUMBER OF PERSONNEL APPOINTMENTS AMONG RPTs HIERARCHS
Mir religii, 7 May 2003

Patriarch Alexis II today chaired a session of the Holy Synod, the supreme body of the Russian Orthodox church. The synod appointed new bishops, ITAR-TASS reports.

Bishop Feofan of Magadan was transferred to one of the largest southern dioceses, Stavropol and Vladikavkaz. He replaced the late Metropolitan Gedeon. Bishop Gury of Korsun was appointed to the Magadan see.

A metropolia was created in the territory of Kazakhstan. It will comprise three local dioceses. Metropolitan Mefody Nemtsov was appointed to head it; he previously had been ruling bishop of Voronezh and Lipetsk. Metropolitan Sergius of Solnechnogorsk was named Metropolitan of Voronezh; he retains the post of chancellor of the Moscow patriarchate.

Archimandrite Longin, the rector of the Saint Sergius Holy Trinity lavra's annex in Moscow, was appointed head of the Saratov diocese. Another archimandrite, Veniamin, superior of the Nicholas Ugreshsk monstery, was appointed bishop of Liuberetsk; he will become an assistant to the patriarch in the Moscow diocese. Their consecration to the office of bishop will be held in the near future. (tr. by PDS, posted 8 May 2003)

RANK AND FILE WORKERS OF OVTsS VIEW METROPOLITAN MEFODY NEGATIVELY AND SUPPORT HIS TRANSFER FROM VORONEZH TO KAZAKHSTAN
Portal-credo.ru, 9 May 2003

The majority of employees of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow patriarchate have recently assessed the activity of Metropolitan Mefody Nemtsov negatively, a source at OVTsSMP told Portal-credo.ru. The decision made on 7 May by the Holy Synod of RPTsMP to transfer Metropolitan Mefody from Voronezh to the capital of Kazakhstan was received positively in a number of synodal institutions.

An extremely negative image of Metropolitan Mefody has developed in the eyes of Moscow church bureaucrats; he is considered the "only atheist metropolitan, who has bred sectarians, adherents of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, and others in his diocese. Besides, he is married to the daughter of a highly placed KGB officer," an employee of OVTsSMP told portal.ru.

In addition to Metropolitan Mefody's negative image, he also is considered a candidate for the patriarchal throne and the chief competitor of the chairman of OVTsSMP, Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad. "At one time Mefody even was accused of organizing a PR campaign against Kirill in Moskovskii komsomolets and other news media, but then it turned out that the instigator of this anti-Kirill campaign was another metropolitan," a source told Portal-credo.ru. (tr. by PDS, posted 9 May 2003)

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If material is quoted, please give credit to the publication from which it came.
It is not necessary to credit this Web page. If material is transmitted electronically, please include reference to the URL, http://www.stetson.edu/~psteeves/relnews/.