World Union of Old Believers offers help to settle dispute in Moscow church


RIA Novosti, 8 June 2021


The World Union of Old Believers [Vsemirnyi Soiuz Staroverov—V.S.S.] is ready to join arbitration in the dispute between the rector of the cathedral church of the Pokrov [Protection] of the Russian Orthodox Old Ritualist Church [Russkaia Pravoslavnaia Staroobriadcheskia Tserkov—R.P.S.Ts.] in the Rogozh Sloboda, Archpriest Viktor Zheltsov, and the primate of the RPSTs, Metropolitan Kornili Titov, the head of the union, Leonid Sevastianov, told RIA Novosti on Tuesday (8 June).


On 6 June, a video recording was published on YouTube in which Metropolitan Kornili in the Pokrov cathedral announced the appointment of Archpriest Aleksei Mikheev as its rector and also reported that Viktor Zheltsov is remaining among its clergy, noting that at their last meeting with his participation "there were many curse words, and it ended finally in a scuffle." After that, Zheltsov said that he accepted the metropolitan's blessing to give up the rectorship, but the decision about his removal from the post, in his opinion, does not comport with the charter of the RPSTs, since the charter provides only the right of the bishop to appoint a rector, but not to remove him.


At the RPSTs, RIA Novosti was told that such matters are not submitted by the church for discussion in the news media and they are an intra-church and intra-parish matter.


"Our union does not take anybody's side and it is ready to act in the capacity of a third-party judge. In addition, we are ready to provide high-class specialists in the area of law for a legal analysis of the charter," Sevastianov told RIA Novosti.


The Rogozh community, he explained, accuses the metropolitan of illegally removing the rector of the cathedral, since in accordance with the charter of the RPSTs the rector of the cathedral church may be removed only by the Sacred Council, the highest body in the administration of the church.


"Thus for the community it is obvious that the metropolitan exceeded his authority, which could lead even to the removal from office of the metropolitan himself," the head of the VSS suggests.


In his opinion, the dispute between Metropolitan Kornili and the Rogozh community, which has several times accused the primate of the RPSTs of violations of the traditions of Old Believers, has a years-long history.


"The summit of the confrontation in the past was the council of 2007, where representatives of the Rogozh community insisted on the removal of the metropolitan. At the time, Vladyka Kornili managed to survive and even to press for the removal of the main activists of the Rogozh cathedral. Since then, the hostility has taken a latent form," Sevastianov added.


The Pokrov cathedral church is located in the Rogozh Sloboda. It is the residence of the head of the RPSTs in Moscow and the spiritual center of the Belokrinitsy Accord, which recognizes the priesthood. It was built in the late 18th century and is considered a monument of urban development and architecture with national significance. (tr. by PDS, posted 14 June 2021)

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Old Believers are a presence in Russian scene
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