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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
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
"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
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."
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
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
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
Russian scientists against the church
ACADEMICIANS PROTEST ORTHODOX INTERFERENCE IN PUBLIC LIFE
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'
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)
Religion News Current News Items
American missionary under arrest in far eastern
PROSECUTOR'S INVESTIGATION OF AMERICAN MISSIONARY TO TAKE TWO MONTHS
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
"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)
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
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.
Religion News Current News Items
PETERSBURG CITY COURT LIQUIDATES SCIENTOLOGY ORGANIZATION
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
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
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)
Religion News Current News Items
Antialcohol religious activity a Russian tradition
TEMPERANCE CHRISTIANS HOLD PROCESSION OF CROSS
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
Religion News Current News Items
Continuing difficulties in reuniting Russian
DEEPENING OF SCHISM.
Some clergy of the diaspora church created their own higher church
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
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
Russian original posted on the Portal-credo.ru
site, 18 July 2007
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