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Patriarchate responds to scholars' letter

POLITICAL DECREE BEHIND ACADEMICIANS' LETTER CRITICIZING CHURCH
Portal-credo.ru, 25 July 2007

The Moscow patriarchate thinks that the recent letter of ten academicians of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAN) to the president of Russia with an accusation against RPTsMP of a forceful "clericalization" of society may reflect the policies of certain offices within the government, writes "Interfax-Religiia."

"I am not surprised that this (the academicians' letter-IFR) could be a political decress of a particular ministry—don't allow people and our society to learn their own culture," said the director of the press service of RPTsMP, Priest Vladimir Vigiliansky, on 25 July at a press confeence in Moscow.

In his words, in today's "supposedly democratic" Russian society there are not only academicians but also individuals in governmental offices "who consider that culture is dangerous for the Russian population and for whom the word 'culture' is suffocating."

The priest also said it was "completely unacceptable that respected scholars have manipulated facts and garbled concepts, accusing RPTsMP, in particular, of a desire to introduce into the schools "the obligatory Law of God."   In his opinion, to oppose such a statement "is the same as sailing against the wind."

"What's the point of discussing if we have to deal partly with hooligans, partly with deceivers, partly with a soviet spirit, which, like a genie in a bottle, has been hitherto kept under the bed by certain persons," the representative of the Moscow patriarchate stressed.

He said that the academicians' letter with its criticism of RPTsMP is "in all manifestations a soviet product" and it reminds one of a complaint to the administration "that someone stamps his foot and the only teaching that is true for all people would move through society."

In his turn, the famous reviewer Mikhail Leontiev supported the priest in his idea of a "political subtext" for the academicians' letter, emphasizing that on many matters he can permit himself to speak more frankly than Father Vladimir, who has an official post that is assigned "greater responsibility."

"Without a doubt there is a very large and serious political party which is institutionally represented by the Ministry of Education. After all, the cry about the church's going into the schools arose on the basis of the systematic opposition of the Ministry of Education to the "Foundations of Orthodox Culture" course," Leontiev declared.

At the same time, he said that all of the reforms being promoted at the present time by the ministry in the sphere of education are strategically directed to the creation "of a coming generation with whom there will be nothing for us to talk about; it will be deprived of both national identity and any kind of cultural codes." (tr. by PDS, posted 25 July 2007)

CREEPING CLERICALISM IN SECULAR SOCIETY
Gazeta, 25 July 2007

The "People's Assembly" [Narodnyi sobor] Orthodox public movement yesterday appealed to the prosecutor's office of Moscow with a demand that the scholar Vitaly Ginzberg be called to criminal accountability for incitement of religious strife. Nobel laureate Academic Ginzburg, commenting in the "News of Education" newspaper on the teaching of the culturological subject "Foundations of Orthodox culture" in the schools of Russia, declared, in particular, that churchmen "want to seduce the souls of children" by "teaching religion in the schools."  The complaint by the small and relatively unknown organization to the prosecutor enlivened the argument between academicians of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAN) and the hierarchs of RPTs, which exploded over the weekend when the scholars addressed the president with a demand to rein in attempts by priests to interfere in governmental affairs.

However, professional jurists do not see any judicial prospects for the complaint by the Orthodox activists against the academician.

"Of course, these words do not have any basis for opening a criminal case and no prosecutor is going to open a criminal case on such a fanciful accusation," the secretary of the Union of Journalists of Russia, the former minister of press and Doctor of Juridical Sciences Professor Mikhail Fedotov told "Gazeta."

Mikhail Fedotov is especially bothered by the fact that the complaint to the prosecutor deals with a Nobel laureate who is the pride of the country. "Vitaly Ginzburg's opinion has great significance for the whole society," the former minister stressed.

"People's Assembly" is a kind of para-Orthodox structure, political scientist Dmitry Oreshkin suggested in a conversation with "Gazeta," "which is trying to deprive a person of his right to his own opinion."

Academician does not understand

Vitaly Ginburg seemed simply shocked by the attacks of "People's Assembly."  In an interview with "Gazeta" he declared that he has never been an opponent of religion and he does not intend in any way to offend the feelings of believers:  "I acknowledge freedom of conscience and I have always said that whoever wants to believe may believe.  I even envy believers. Here I now am sick. I am in bad shape. It would be easier for me if I believed. I simply do not understand what they want from me." Ginzburg thinks that  the appeal to the prosecutor was a consequence of his statements against teaching the foundations of Orthodox culture in the schools and the appearance of theology in the list of academic specialties.  "They are trying to make people not better but worse. Since I am shut in I do not represent myself; how could I go to the prosecutor's office. Perhaps only written answers to some questions. It seems to me that prosecutor will eventually just liquidate this case for absence of the essence of a crime. And I am going to die so soon that they will get what they want from me," the Nobel laureate said with indignation.

The appeal of "People's Assembly" to the Moscow city prosecutor's office also upsets representatives of other religions. "This dispute is not between academicians and RPTs, but more likely between RPTs and the constitution, because in this case the academicians are speaking out as defenders of the Russian constitution, on which the Russian governmental system is based in general," the cochairman of the council of muftis of Russia, Nafigulla Ashirov, told "Gazeta." He does not see in the statements of the academicians anything seditious and he even agrees with them, affirming that "by its actions RPTs casts doubt upon the constitutional principle of the secularity of our state and this is a virtual attack upon the very construction of the government." In addition, he, as also an academician, opposed the introduction of the foundations of Orthodoxy into the schools. "To study any religious confession voluntarily is a right of every person. Let RPTs open their own religious, church schools," he said. "But when state schools teach Muslim children, at the expense of Muslim taxpayers, a religious conception that is alien to them, this is impermissible."

Creeping clericalism

The president of the commission of the Public Chamber for Questions of Regional Development and Local Self-Administration, Viacheslav Glazychev, also expressed criticism of the excessive activism of RPTs in governmental affairs and acknowledge to "Gazeta" that he had expected such a development of matters. Glazychev first expressed concern about "creeping clericalism," the interference of the church in governmental affairs, and he spoke out in defense of the principle of separation of church from the state.

"In general I had expected such a reaction on the part of the Union of Orthodox Citizens and RPTs, because for too long the position of a normal, secular state has not been expressed. It corresponds with the letter of the academicians," Glazychev notes. "The appeal to the prosecutor, in my opinion, is nothing more than an incident. After all the academicians' letter is no more than an expression of a classical point of view of scholars, which in and of itself is a sacred right of every citizen and freedom of conscience as guaranteed by the constitution." He thinks that the attempts of RPTs will not be crowned by success while to think that the statements of scholars "could be classed as incitement of strife requires one to have a very active imagination."

Spirit of the Council for Religious Affairs

In 1991, the new democratic authorities of Russia could not even raise the question whether to change the people in the leadership of the Russian Orthodox church. The answer was obvious.  The church has finally been separated from the state and has been liberated from the yoke of the Council for Religious Affairs attached to the Council of Ministers of USSR, and secular authorities should not in any way interfere in ecclesiastical affairs.

At that time the advisor to President Yeltsin on political matters, Sergei Stankevich, answered for the cooperation of the Kremlin of the time with RPTs. Right on the eve of those events he himself became an Orthodox believer and after 1991 he communicated closely with the patriarchate and prepared the return of the cathedrals of the Moscow Kremlin into the hands of RPTs, against which Yeltsin's siloviki protested at the time. Stankevich worked from the premise that in such a traditional organization as a church there should not be any revolution but that the church organism would gradually liberate itself from the burdensome soviet legacy, and particularly from the hierarchs who had, in their own time, betrayed their own brothers and parishioners to the KGB.

Democrats operated from the perspective of such an obvious fact that in the Soviet Union no kind of spiritually free, independent organizations could exist, and the Russian Orthodox church before 1991 represented a kind of ministry, just like the rest. The officials were named by the Council of Ministers of USSR in accordance with dossiers from the KGB.

Within the walls of the current RPTs no kinds of discussions are being heard, nor any arguments. Unanimity reigns. Despite its statute, RPTs has not even conducted a Local Sobor, which is a democratic institution that it is generally obliged to conduct according to its statute.

Just like every corporation, RPTs naturally is fighting now with all its strength to increase its influence. But since it doesn't have much influence on society it is easier to influence the government.  Now the pressure is going in the opposite direction and government bureaucrats are being forced to participate in Orthodox events while on duty.

In 1991 the authorities still had the possibility of exercising covert influence on the inner church order—for example, by means of a purge. Active undercover agents of the KGB could be subjected to voluntary retirement. This was not done.Following the blind, purely juridical principle, Yeltsin separated himself from the church, but the church remained soviet within itself. And it subsequently began to live and develop in accordance with its own inertia, following its own idea, which in practice turned out to be quite far away from not only the words written in the Gospel but also from church statutes proper.

Some hopes for changes in church life appeared in connection with the unification of RPTs with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia on 17 May. Experts predicted that the "foreigners" who were accustomed to freedom and sincere faith would be infiltrated now into the stagnant structure of RPTs and demand changes. However this also has not happened. Within the wall of the monastery of the Don everything is as it was before. . . .  (tr. by PDS, posted 25 July 2007)

Russian original posted on Portal-credo.ru site, 25 July 2007


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Russian scientists against the church

ACADEMICIANS PROTEST ORTHODOX INTERFERENCE IN PUBLIC LIFE
Portal-credo.ru, 23 July 2007

In a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin a group of Russian academicians have spoken out against interference of the Russian Orthodox church of the Moscow patriarchate (RPTsMP) in all spheres of public life, Interfax Religiia reports, citing "Echo of Moscow."

"RPTs is trying by all its means to intrude religious faith to the detriment of genuine science," one of the authors of the letter, Nobel laureate Academician Vitaly Ginzburg, declared in an on air interview with radio station "Echo of Moscow," commenting upon the scholars' appeal.

The academicians, in particular, subjected to criticism one of the resolutions of the XI World Russian People's Sobor calling for an expansion of the practice of teaching "Foundations of Orthodox Culture" in the schools which, in the opinion of the scholars, puts other confessions into an unequal position.

In addition, the authors of the appeal are dissatisfied with the idea of listing a "theology" specialty among academic specialties.

"On what basis is it necessary to consider theology—the sum of religious dogmas—as among the scientific disciplines? Any science deals with facts, logic, and proofs, but not with faith in any way," the text of the letter notes.

The scholars emphasize that faith in God is "a matter of conscience and convictions of an individual person."

"We have not intention of fighting with religion, but we cannot remain indifferent when attempts are made to cast doubt on scientific knowledge or to replace the knowledge derived from science by faith," the letter specifically says.

Ten scholars affixed their signatures to the appeal, among them also a Nobel laureate Zhores Alferov, and academicians of the Russian Academy of Sciences Andrei Vorobev, Sergei Inge-Vechtomov, Evgeny Alexandrov, and Mikhail Sadovsky.

The academicians of RAS were supported by the head of the commission of the Public Chamber on Questions of Regional Development and Local Administration, Viacheslav Glazychev, who recently in the course of a discussion of an annual report "On the state of civil society in the Russian federation" he advanced an initiative to condemn "the stormy interference of the church in governmental affairs."

"I view the church with respect, but in our country it is separated from the state. The stormy interference of the church in all governmental affairs instead of being occupied with parish affairs, is excessive," Glazychev stated in an interview with the "Kommersant" newspaper, published on 23 July, calling for a struggle with the expansion of "spreading clericalism."

The head of the commission is alarmed, in particular, by "the energetic introduction of the Word of God into the schools."

"If we were talking about Sunday schools, then everything would be all right, but we are talking about general education schools.  Introduction of a required subject in the schools is a direct attack upon the state, while the public remains silent and those who are trying to resist are subjected to ostracism," he noted.

He said that today in Russian society "people have already gotten used to a mix of wizardries—all kinds of obscurantist guesses, visions, UFOs, and the excessive influence of the church."

"I consider that it is time to defend the position of a normal, tolerant, but secular state," the head of the commission of the Public Chamber summed up. (tr. by PDS, posted 23 July 2007)

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American missionary under arrest in far eastern Russia

PROSECUTOR'S INVESTIGATION OF AMERICAN MISSIONARY TO TAKE TWO MONTHS
Interfax, 23 July 2007

Sixty-five-year-old Pak Hio Sun, a missionary from USA and pastor of the "Grace" [Blagodat] religious organization, who is under suspicion of giving a bribe to an official of the emigration service, was transferred last Friday from temporary detention in an isolation cell in the city of Kholmsk to an investigation cell in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Interfax was told Monday by a senior aide to the prosecutor of Sakhalin province, Tatiana Kutozova.

She said that at the beginning of last week a general consul of USA in Vladivostok, Tom Armbruster, met with the detainee.  "He observed the conditions of the missionary's detention and also met with the Kholmsk city prosecutor, Alexander Duda. The general consul of USA did not make any appeals to the prosecutor's office," Kutuzova noted.

It was reported to Interfax at the Kholmsk city prosecutor's office that the investigation of this case is scheduled for completing in two months.

"There was no complaint regarding health on the part of the missionary. Regular medical observation of the state of his health is being conducted," the agency's source said.

On 13 July the Sakhalin provincial court satisfied the prosecutor's request for taking the missionary from USA, Pak Hio Sun, into custody. The missionary's translator, who is a citizen of Russia and resident of the city of Korsakov, Kim Sun Dia, was issued an order not to depart. (tr. by PDS, posted 23 July 2007)

Related reports

RUSSIAN POLICE ARREST US PASTOR FOR BRIBERY
Daily Times (Pakistan), 12 July 2007

Police on Russia’s Pacific island of Sakhalin have detained a US missionary on suspicion of bribing a local official, prosecutors said. Hio Sun Pak, a 65-year-old US citizen and Pentecostal pastor, and his interpreter were held in a police sting operation. Prosecutors say the two offered a local immigration official 300,000 roubles ($11,700) to halt an investigation into the alleged use of illegal labourers by the missionary’s church. “The representatives of the Blagodat (Grace) church were detained immediately after a bribe ... was handed to the official in the office of the head of immigration control,” local prosecutors said in a statement. Asked to comment on the case, a member of the Blagodat church, which says it has 1,500 mostly ethnic Korean worshippers, said there had been a “misunderstanding.” A spokesperson for the nearest US consulate, in the city of Vladivostok on the Russian mainland, said the consulate was “aware of (the arrest) and is following the case.” Reuters

AMERICAN BRIBEGIVER-MISSIONARY DETAINED ON SAKHALIN
RIA Novosti, 13 July 2007

   Law enforcement bodies of Sakhalin region, the Russian Federation, detained representatives of "Grace" Christian church for the attempt to bribe an employee of the migration service. U.S. citizen, Pak Hio Sun, and his interpreter, citizen of the Russian Federation, Kim Sun Dya, offered 300,000 rubles to stop administrative prosecution  in respect of the Chinese citizens working illegally at the church construction.
   The missionary and interpreter also wanted the representative of Federal Migration Service "to disregard henceforth infringements of the migratory legislation by foreign workers" for a bribe.
   Pak Hio Sun and Kim Sun Dya were detained in the office of immigration control chief straight away after the bribe was transferred to the official. A criminal case is instituted under article “bribing of an official for commitment of deliberately illegal actions or inactivity” assuming punishment as a penalty up to 500,000 rubles or imprisonment up to eight years.
   The Public Prosecutor Office has also assured that the U.S. consulate is informed about detention of foreign citizen.

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Judicial restraint of religio-philosophical activity

PETERSBURG CITY COURT LIQUIDATES SCIENTOLOGY ORGANIZATION
Interfax, 12 July 2007

A Petersburg city court satisfied completely the suit by city prosecutor requesting the liquidation of the St. Petersburg organization "Scientology Center," the prosecutor's office reported to Interfax.

In the course of an investigation, conducted by the Chief Directorate of the Ministry of Justice for St. Petersburg and Leningrad province, it was established that the organization has engaged in violation of existing legislation of the Russian federation.

"In accordance with the charter of the Scientology Center, the goal of the creation and activity of the organization is the propaganda of the philosophical ideas and teaching of Ron Hubbard as direction for a person's life. However propaganda of the ideas and teachings of Hubbard actually was turned into educational activity which was conducted on the basis of payment outside of the limits of the Russian law "On Education" and without the appropriate license," the prosecutor's office reported.

In addition, the organization conducted forms of activity that are not provided for in the charter, such as "auditing" and "cleansing," which are not propaganda of the ideas and teachings of Ron Hubbard but are the practical application of the propositions of his teachings.  Such activities are advertised by the organization as services in the sphere of health maintenance, although the organization did not have a license for this kind of activity.

Also scientologists rendered services that did not correspond to the goals of the charter of a consultative character on questions of professional fitness and they conducted testing of persons to determine individual personality characteristics. The results of these tests were used for drawing new members into the activity of the organization.

In violation of the charter of the Scientology Center, minors were drawn into participating in the organization and they attended events to which only members of the organization had access and they also studied the concepts of the teachings of Ron Hubbard. (tr. by PDS, posted 23 July 2007)

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Antialcohol religious activity a Russian tradition

TEMPERANCE CHRISTIANS HOLD PROCESSION OF CROSS
Portal-credo.ru, 20 July 2007

The tradition of processions of the cross by temperance Christians was revived in St. Petersburg, according to a report by "Religion and the Media," citing the publication of the St. Petersburg diocese of the Russian Orthodox church, "Voda zhivaia" ["Living Water"]

On 15 July a procession of the cross by temperance Christians [Rus. "trezvenniki" = "abstainers" or "teetotalers"] was held in St. Petersburg in which clergy and parishioners of the church of Christ's Resurrection near Warsaw Station participated. It was led by the rector of the church, Arkhimandrite Sergii Sturov. The route of the believers extended from the church of Christ's Resurrection to the church of St. Andrei of Crete [lived A.D. 660-740] on Riga boulevard.

Such a procession has been conducted in the diocese for three years in a row, in memory of pre-Revolutionary processions of the cross by temperance Christians. The date on which it is conducted is connected with the death of Archpriest Alexander Rozhdestvensky (19 July), who was the founder of the significant Alexander Nevsky Society of Sobriety, created in 1898. The route also is no accident: the rector of the church of St. Andrew of Crete at the beginning of the twentieth century was Archpriest Filosof Ornatskii, who is now commemorated in the canon of new martyrs and confessors of Russia. Father Filosof was the president of the Society for the Dissemination of Religious and Moral Enlightenment in the spirit of the Orthodox church and he was one of the instigators of the construction of the Resurrection church near Warsaw Station, one of the most "remote" workers' regions of Petersburg. Through his efforts, in a brief period of time there appeared not simply an Orthodox parish here but also an active temperance society was formed.

Today the parish strives to revive the prerevolutionary traditions of the Petersburg temperance Christians. Every Monday a prayer service is held in the church with an akathist before the icon of the Most Holy Mother of God of the "Inexhaustible Chalice." [tr. note:  This icon is honored by Russian Orthodox believers as especially miraculous with respect to recovery from alcoholism.  Click here to see a copy of the icon.]

According to Rector Arkhimandrite Sergii, it would be remarkable if the church could sign an agreement with the administration of nearby enterprises regarding employment of people suffering from alcoholism who are undertaking a course of rehabilitation in the church.  If people who have definitely overcome alcoholism get a recommendation from work from the church, there would be many more abstainers. For sure among drinkers there really are many highly skilled workers who are capable not only of working well but also of training successors, Fr Sergii supposes.

The main problem for the parish now is lack of space conducive for conducting meetings with people suffering alcohol dependency. If such premises were to be found, the sobriety movement would have greater chances of success.  (tr. by PDS, posted 22 July 2007)


"SOBRIETY ISLAND" FORMED IN ALTAI FOR COMBATING DRUNKENNESS
Novye izvestiia,  20 July 2007

An unusual means for popularizing a healthy lifestyle has been devised in Altai Territory. Yesterday "Sobriety Island" appeared here. It seems that it was not developed in a vacuum. People combating alcoholism in Altai simply gave a new name to Jubilee Island. Now, with the approval of the administration of Barnaul, people whose lives are free from alcohol will recreate here. Experts note that the struggle with alcohol has never been conducted in this way in Russia.

Recently fifteen activists of the "Altai—Territory of Sobriety" public movement landed on Jubilee Island in the Ob river. They poured out glasses of tomato juice, sang a hymn to the defeat of the green serpent, and erected on the island a new plaque declaring that it will henceforth be an alcohol-free zone.

"The weather also was very conducive; it was warm and sunny. It was as if nature was approving our work," the initiator of the action, Aleksei Bragin, told "Novye izvestiia. "Now this is not Jubilee Island but Sobriety Island. We imagine that such action will help to increase the number of convinced opponents of alcohol in our region. We hope that youth will be attracted to us so that they will see for themselves an example of a healthy lifestyle and will bring their friends and parents. Here one can sunbathe, swim, and play games. In a word, they can enjoy themselves fully, only without alcohol or drugs."

The administration of the city of Barnaul explained to "NI" that the maps will designate the island as "Jubilee" as previously. However the new, unofficial name will be used along with the official name "for the purposes of combating alcoholism." Local officials promised even to strengthen the new status of the island and forbid by law consuming alcoholic beverages there.

"There have never been such initiatives in Russia," the All-Russian Society of Sobriety and Health told "NI."  "It has long been understood that the problem cannot be solved by simple moralizing. This requires some especially vivid, interesting idea. All signs are that many people will hear about the unusual island, including youth. For the past several years we have been striving to create among the growing generation a correct understanding of a healthy lifestyle, but so far no special results have been seen. One can place hopes in Sobriety Island. In my view, for now there is every chance of success."

Russian original posted on Gazeta Protestant site, 20 July 2007

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Continuing difficulties in reuniting Russian Orthodoxy

DEEPENING OF SCHISM.
Some clergy of the diaspora church created their own higher church administration
by Pavel Krug
NG-Religiia, 18 July 2007

Two months have passed since the signing of the Act on Canonical Communion between the Russian Orthodox church of the Moscow patriarchate (RPTsMP) and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR). Throughout this time rumors have circulated among "diaspora folk" about the planning of a schism by a portion of the clergy of ROCOR who do not accept the reunification with the church in the fatherland. These rumors have been justified. The leader of this movement is the "diaspora" Bishop of Odessa and Tauride Agafangel Pashkovsky, whom Metropolitan Laurus inhibited from ministry on 20 May. Last week supporters of the inhibited bishop gathered in the city of Astoria (New York, USA) and formed the Provisional Higher Church Administration of ROCOR. This was reported on the website "Herald of the Eastern American diocese."  The "Pashkovites" consider that it is not Bishop Agafangel that went into schism but Metropolitan Laurus and other members of the diaspora synod.

Earlier, the Bishops' Synod of ROCOR, which united with the Moscow patriarchate, met in extraordinary session in San Francisco on 28-29 June. Documents adopted by the synod appeared on the official ROCOR site more than a week later. What is initially striking about them is the retention of the prerevolutionary orthography, which the diaspora church has no intention of abandoning after the signing of the Act on Canonical Communion. ROCOR hierarchs noted that "not all servants of our church and not all pastors have unanimously accepted what has happened. Some even have abandoned the church, transferring into various groupings that have no canonical basis, or even forming new pseudochurch structures." Thus, the fact of schism was already officially recognized at the end of June.

Documents adopted in San Francisco touch on the problem of ecumenism and ecclesiastical modernism (which are called "fatal"), as well as the problem of "sergianism," which is designated as "a peculiarity of relations between church and state under conditions of a totalitarian regime." All these "dangers" are proposed for discussion (and apparently condemnation) at a local council (sobor) of the reunited Russian Orthodox church. To be sure, when such a council can be convened is unknown. In any case, for the success of this event the church must be united ("church problems can be overcome only within the confines of the church yard"). Despite the pacific tone of the document, much can easily be read between the lines—all "schismatics" who are acting contrary to the Act on Canonical Communion must either repent or be prepared for stern measures, that is, for inhibition from ministry, unfrocking, and excommunication from the church.

On the eve of the session of the Bishops' Synod, Bishop of Berlin and Germany Mark Arndt inhibited two clerics of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission of ROCOR in the Holy Land, Hegumen Andronik and monastic priest Ilia. The formal basis for this decision was their voluntary abandonment of their vows, but the real reason was the attempt to create the Provisional Higher Church Administration. For this the Jerusalem "foreigners" decided to obtain the signature of Bishop of Erie Daniil Alexandrov.  At first he even signed the paper (now this document can be considered a rarity!), but then he reconsidered and renounced his signature. Bishop Daniil himself described all of this in a videotape to believers.

The plot involving the Pennsylvania bishop ended in a victory for the supporters of Metropolitan Laurus, who personally visited the aged hierarch who had returned from Russia.  "You have not only rejected the claims of those who intended to use your name for the successful creation of a really antichurch group," the synod of ROCOR thanked Bishop Daniil. "Despite your physical frailty, you found in yourself sufficient strength so that members of our church who are wavering and upset were able to see you with their own eyes, before the video camera, so that no doubts would remain as to your understanding of what is happening in the Russian church."

Thus, among the hierarchs of ROCOR the only unreconciled opponent of the Act on Canonical Communion remains Bishop Agafangel Pashkovsky. Back in June, in a "final epistle of exhortation," adopted at the session of the synod in San Francisco, the inhibited bishop was accused of organizing a "pseudochurch."  "You have joined with the organizers of a certain 'true and genuine diaspora church;' you have received under your omophorion clergy of other dioceses; you are forming an illegal 'Provisional Higher Church Administration.' How is this compatible with your concern for your own diocese, for which you boldly declare your worry?" the ROCOR synod queries Bishop Agafangel in its appeal.

Now this question may be considered useless. "The supreme church authority in ROCOR, having recovered from the heretical wounds of ecumenism and sergianism, has again restored its canonical magnificence in all its glory," the supporters of Bishop Agafangel declared on 11 July. The Provisional Higher Church Administration intends to meet once every six months and it has announced the Fifth All-Diaspora Sobor for the autumn of 2008.

The "Pashkovites" explain their claims in the following way. "We share the sincere desire of all true servants of our church to see the Russian Orthodox church united," says their appeal "to all faithful servants" of ROCOR. "But we do wish, to a great degree, to see the Russian church standing in the truth. In this case we see that the representatives of the Moscow patriarchate has maintained their loyalty to their principles of ecumenism and sergianism, while our representatives bowed to their pressure. Affirmations of some ROCOR representatives that it is possible to reject the heresies while at the same time maintaining eucharistic unity contradict the dogmas and canons and the whole Sacred Tradition of the Orthodox Church."

At the same time, the RPTsMP considers that the creation of the Higher Church Administration and other decisions of supporters of Bishop Agafangel have no force. "It is completely obvious that the meeting of clergy held in New York has no canonical authorization for making decisions regarding the Russian diaspora church," Archpriest Nikolai Balashov, secretary of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow patriarchate, told RIA Novosti in an interview. He also expressed sorrow that Bishop Agafangel "did not consider it necessary to heed the brotherly counsel" with which members of the ROCOR synod appealed to him at the San Francisco session.

It seems that Bishop Agafagel has gone for broke—openly declaring his Provisional Higher Church Administration to be the only legal church authority. There is now every reason to expect that at the next ROCOR Bishops' Synod in September of this year one must expect his defrocking and further inhibitions of his supporters. (tr. by PDS, posted 20 July 2007)

Russian original posted on the Portal-credo.ru site, 18 July 2007

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