Thursday, October 01, 1998

Back Issue: October 1998


(Vestnik IPC [Herald of T.O.C.] - Vertograd-Inform, Odessa /Ukraine/)

Pursuant to a decree of Right Reverend AGAPHANGEL, Bishop of Simferopol and the Crimea, a Theological Correspondence Seminary of the Saints Cyrill and Methodius has recently been opened in the Odessa and Crimea Dioceses of our church. The new college will use the syllabus of the Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville. The Rector of the Holy Trinity Seminary, Right Reverend Archbishop LAVR, the Dean, Yevgeni Klar, and the teachers, have pledged their full support to the Sts. Cyrill and Methodius Seminary as a good undertaking much needed by our church.

The founders of the new Theological College have received a complete set of manuals, syllabuses and examination plans from Jordanville. In late August and early September, the Sts. Cyrill and Methodius Seminary recruited its students for the 1998/99 academic year. Archpriest Valery Alexeyev was appointed Rector of the new Theological College. Before acceding to our church, Alexeyev was a professor at the MP Theological Seminary in Odessa and Secretary of the Divinity Commission of the Moscow Patriarchy-s Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Heads of the Sts. Cyrill and Methodius Seminary have appealed to all the virtuous children of the Holy Church asking them to support the new Theological School and donate to it. Donations may be sent to the ROCA Board of Trustees or the editorial offices of the Vestnik IPC [Herald of T.O.C.] magazine at P.O. Box 21, Odessa-5 270005, the Ukraine.

(Vertograd-Inform, Voronezh)

A few days before July 17, 1998, Holy Royal Martyrs- Commemoration Day, the Voronezh Diocese of the Moscow Patriarchy served an official notice to the local government warning it about the Lnon-canonical¦ actions of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and its members- alleged plans to overtake Ilyinskaya Church which houses Voronezh regional archives. In its warning, MP also named those Voronezh communities over which ROCA has jurisdiction. We have received this information from Gennady Boronin, consultant with the department of liaison with religious and public organizations at the information office of Voronezh Regional Administration. Boronin-s department is in charge of relations with religious organizations.

(Vertograd-Inform, St. Petersburg)

As we noted in the previous issue of our bulletin, September 14 was the anniversary day of the assassination of Archpriest Alexander Zharkov, Prior of the New Holy Martyr Grand Duchess St. Elisaveta Fyodorovna community in St. Petersburg. Father Alexander died as a martyr at the hands of unidentified assassins four months after he joined our Church.

On September 11, the day before Archpriest Alexander-s name-day, the incumbent Prior of the St. Elisaveta community, priest Alexiy Tarkhov, and deacon Pavel Simakov, administered a memorial All-Night Vigil in the community church. On the following day, a Divine Liturgy was also served. The new Holy Martyr-s spiritual children honored his memory with prayers on September 13, the day before a full anniversary of his martyrdom.

On September 14, the anniversary day of Father Alexander-s assassination, several dozen St. Petersburg parishioners of our Church came to the grave of the slain archpriest at an old cemetery in Gatchina where Father Alexander lived. Priest Alexiy Tarkhov, Hieromonk Veniamin, Father Superior of the Monastery of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul in Vyshegorod, Pskov Region, and Deacon Pavel Simakov, served a requiem at the grave, whereupon everyone was invited to attend a funeral repast.

(Office of External Ecclesiastical Relations of the Moscow Patriarchy - Vertograd-Inform, Muenster, Germany - Moscow, Russia)

On September 9, the body calling itself the Commission of German Orthodox Churches, which incorporates the German Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad headed by Archbishop of Berlin and Germany MARK, published a statement calling for continued communication between the Moscow Patriarchy and the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, and expressed its disappointment with the Appeal of the ROCA Archbishopric Council of May 13, 1998, which defies such communication.

The Commission-s statement, released by the Office of External Ecclesiastical Relations of the Moscow Patriarchy, proclaims: Lwe regret this dialog-defying stance which has impelled the Archbishopric Council to denounce the ecumenical involvement of Orthodox Churches= (Vertograd-Inform: our italics) once again and to reassert its claim, promulgated in multiple ROCA publications, of Russian Orthodox Churches being guilty of Lthe heresy of the 20th century¦ by becoming involved with ecumenism. In doing this, the Archbishopric Council effectively discredits all those Orthodox Churches which endeavor, in pursuance of their Christ-given mission of creating communion and promoting unity, to establish responsible cooperation within the ecumenical movement.¦

The authors of the statement note that the ROCA has, for several years, been engaged in communion with certain Greek, Bulgarian and Romanian schismatic Lold-school¦ groupings in a bid to create, in association with such communities, a semblance of fundamentalist anti-Orthodoxy. Members of the Commission, including Archbishop MARK, urged the ROCA and its associated groupings to follow the path of communion with Orthodoxy and flee from all things that aggravate the existing dissent and cause new rifts.

The full text of the statement by the Commission of German Orthodox Churches appears in the Documents section of our bulletin.


The 4th Universal ROCA Council, generally approved by the last Archbishopric Council of ROCA and scheduled for the year 2000, will most likely be held in Australia, where preparation for this historical event is already in progress.

* * *
Right Reverend Bishop ALEXANDER (Mileant), who was consecrated for the Buenos Aires See last May, will not be heading for Argentina to take permanent office until two years from now. Bishop ALEXANDER has two years left before he can officially retire from his current secular job and live on his pension. The Argentinean Diocese is unable to provide for its Bishop.


(Vertograd-Inform, Moscow)

Patriarch Alexy II presided October 5 over the first meeting of the Jubilee Commission of the Russian Orthodox Church, as reported by the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate.

"The Divine Services and the celebrations to mark the 2000-th year since the Nativity of Jesus Christ will be held in Bethlehem with the participation of the Russian Orthodox Church. In the Holy Land there, there will be collected in the prayer of thanksgiving, oneness and love all the Fullness of the Ecumenical Orthodoxy," said the Primate.

He noted that the Russian state will also take part. The President of the RF issued in mid-1998 an Order "On preparations for the welcoming of the third millenium and the celebration of the 2000 years of Christianity." On the basis of the Order, the Russian Organizing Committee was formed to carry out the celebrations relating to the great event.

(ENI - Vertograd-Inform, Moscow)

"We have lost our resources," said protopriest Viktor Petlyuchenko, deputy chairman of the Orthodox Church's department of external church relations, told ENI. "We trusted the economic system and banks."

Petlyuchenko said that many parishes which had invested money in profitable short-term investments had lost all their funds as the government defaulted on its debt. However, conservative priests who had chosen to invest in the less profitable, government-backed Sberbank, were now better off, he said. Many other churches which placed their funds in private banks, are now virtually bankrupt.

Russian banks and other major companies have also for the past several years "adopted" parishes in Moscow and other cities. They also contributed to various programmes set up by the Orthodox Church and other religious organisations. Those contributions are now certain to end. Some major institutions in Russia which give money to the churches are certain to reduce their contributions because they themselves have been badly affected by the financial crisis. The Russian state, the churches' biggest benefactor is completely bankrupt.

Last year the Russian government, in a bid to compensate the churches for the damage to religious buildings during the Soviet era, provided benefits to the churches, including exemptions from tax breaks, and from duty on goods and quotas on oil exports. The Russian Orthodox Church has large investments in several major enterprises, including IEC, an oil exporter, and in Saint Springs, the producer of a popular brand of bottled mineral water. Some food importers have also reportedly made use of the church to avoid taxes. The churches' income will now be badly hit by the drop in oil prices and in retail sales.


(Vertograd-Inform, Bucharest)

People and Religions, an international forum bringing together over 2000 religious leaders, politicians, artists and representatives of various international institutions, opened in the Romanian capital on August 30. The Moscow Patriarchy was represented by Metropolitan Pitirim (Nechayev).

Some of the priorities addressed by this pan-ecumenical forum were abolition of the death penalty, the dialog between Christians and Moslems, the future of ecumenical movements, and others.

The forum was attended by vastly different ecumenical leaders, including heads of the Patriarchies of Alexandria, Antiochia, Romania and Bulgaria, archbishops of the official Orthodox Churches of Cyprus, Albania, Finland, and the Czech Republic, as well as metropolitans and bishops representing other ecumenical Orthodox churches, Romanian Orthodox and Catholic clergymen, representatives of Ethiopian churches, Armeno-Gregorian Church, Syrian and Coptic Catholic churches, and diverse Protestant denominations, including Anglicans, Lutherans and Methodists. Non-Christian religions, including Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, and Japanese cults (Soto Zen, Rinzai Zen, Tendai) were also represented. Politicians, members of scientific, literary and humanitarian organizations were also present at the forum. In his opening address at the first session of the forum, Patriarch of Alexandria Peter VII said: LWe are people living in the same world created by the One True God. We are in this world to obey His Divine Will and observe His Commandments. We are here to share the beauty of entire Creation and to live in love, peace and harmony. Our Lord has given us one special precept: LLove each other even as I love you.¦ The purpose of this forum is to give peace and encouragement to people to engage in good woks praised by God. Speaking about the Christianity-to-Islam dialog, the Patriarch said: LSuch dialog is made possible by issues pertaining to Man and the world, especially insofar as they are concerned with everyday pursuits. Interdenominational communication and interaction are very instrumental in helping the world avoid religious fanaticism - the intellectual malady of a pious man. They cement friendship between nations and promote the ideals of freedom and peace on Earth. By joining forces in seeking solutions to the problems faced by the humankind today we will promote peaceful coexistence and general accord. Religious fanaticism can only create new religious and social problems for those who indulge in it. This unwholesome religious phenomenon engenders nothing but stand-off and strife. Christians and Moslems are under an equal obligation to think of the future and see to it that they convey the true image of Peace of God to Earth.¦

On September 1, addressing Forum participants with his report entitled LEcumenism,¦ Peter VII said: LThe Orthodox Church of Christ seeks and desires communication with all other denominations. Orthodox Church seeks dialog as a vehicle of human charity and unification of all people within the One Holy Conciliatory and Apostolic Church as within a single body, the mystical Body of Christ. No unity can be restored among churches before communication is fully reinstated.¦

The Bucharest Forum ended on September 1 with a grandiose procession of all religions heading for the center of the Romanian Capital where the concluding memorandum of the Forum - the Call for Peace - was read, a pan-ecumenical prayer was administered for those killed in all the wars in the world, and candles were lighted on the Tree of Hope.

The Romanian Patriarch Theoctist told the Forum that he welcomes the Pope-s upcoming visit to Romania. In his interview to Romepress, he said: LRomanian Orthodox Church desires this visit, being convinced of its benefit. This visit needs to be productive, as Romanian Orthodox Church is accountable to the people.¦ The dates of the visit have not been discussed yet, he added.==



A new bright star has recently appeared in the constellation of True Orthodox Churches - the Georgian Orthodox Church. So far, it is quite small, incorporating two monasteries, one convent, and a secular parish in Tbilisi. However, in spite of its size, the new church may be considered very potent, as monks rather than other clergy usually form the real core of a religious community. According to St. Grigory Palama [Epistle to John and Theodore], monasticism in a New Testament Church carries very much the same meaning that was ascribed to the Prophets by the Church of the Old Testament, namely, spiritual shepherding of God's flock. Monasticism is, to a great extent, the bulwark of a church's spiritual insight, without which even those at the helm of the hierarchy would be doomed to perennial blindness. Whatever the direction, monks will always be there paving the way for any church. Whenever anyone else leads the way, albeit with the best intentions, the path will necessarily be divorced from Church.

The Georgian Orthodox Church was founded by monks. The events proximately leading to its founding are described in sufficient detail in the documents appearing below. The highlights are as follows: in the spring of 1997, a considerable percentage of monastics and clergy subordinate to the official Georgian Patriarchate demanded that it withdraw from the ecumenical movement, and proceeded to sever communion with their "Patriarch" Elias. The Patriarchate reacted by withdrawing from the World Council of Churches without, however, renouncing ecumenism as a heresy. Georgian zealots of Orthodoxy demonstrated a rare example of a firm and well motivated stance: they formulated a condition which, if not observed, would reduce any declared opposition to ecumenism to little more than mere lip service. Rather than demanding the termination of a largely casual membership in an ecumenical organization, they drove for a severance of communion with the Patriarchate of Constantinople and other religious organizations involved in the ecumenical movement.

The rift occurred when, in the summer of 1997, it became obvious that the Georgian Patriarchate and Georgian Orthodox zealots were unable to reach a compromise. The Orthodox zealots were immediately excommunicated, subjected to press libel, and expelled from monasteries. Everything went according to the same scenario that had been carried out by the Moscow Patriarchate in Hebron two months before. Finally, as it often happens in similar cases, some of the zealots gave in and gave up their Orthodox faith. In this respect, the fate of Archimandrite Lazarus of the Bet`ani Monastery appears to be quite typical. Lazarus had authored a brochure series on monasticism which is well known in Russia. Initially, he was very vocal in denouncing the Georgian Patriarchate for its deviations from Orthodoxy. In spring, before the monasteries made their official declarations, Archimandrite Lazarus left for Athos. Regrettably, he went there to see the subjects of the heretic Bartholomew, the so-called Patriarch of Constantinople, rather than true Orthodox monks. Lazarus came back with a firm conviction that it was not yet time to sever ties with the Georgian "Patriarch".

Well, we have seen it all happen to our own Russian "patriarchal conservatives" -- those adherents of MP who claim themselves to be traditionalist. They would be sitting and waiting for the world to end, but while the world is still there, the time for separating from the Patriarchate would never come. In their minds, today's problems tends to escape into an eschatological future, but the future, by definition, never becomes the present.

In the fall of 1997, the Georgian Orthodox Church was formally established as an Autonomous Church in the synodal jurisdiction of the True Orthodox Church of Greece, headed by Auxentius, Archbishop of Athens (+1994). Until Georgia receives its own bishop, the ruling hierarch of Georgia is Ephraim, Bishop of Boston.

The documents and materials appearing below begin with the Official Statement of Georgian True Orthodox Church, dated January 28, 1998, in which it announces the severance of its ties with the Georgian Patriarchy. The statement has not been published before in any language but Georgian. It was translated into Russian by Vertograd-Inform directly from Georgian and has been proof-read by its authors. The English translation below is made from this Russian text.

Press Statement

In May, 1997, during the Paschal Week, the Shio-Mgvimi Monastery broke communion with the Georgian Patriarch and accused him of ecumenical heresy. On the same day, and for the same canonical reason, the Betani (Bethania) Monastery, Father Superior of the David of Garedji Monastery, and the Zarzma Monastery also broke communion with the official Patriarchy. Later on in May, a considerable part of the clergy and monastics of the Shemokmeda Diocese presented the Georgian Patriarchy with an ultimatum concerning the Georgian Church's membership in the World Council of Churches (WCC).

In June, the Kvtatakhevi Monastery also acceded to the alliance of the above-mentioned Monasteries. On May 20, 1997, the Synod of Georgian Orthodox Church reacted to this situation with the following resolutions:

1) To terminate its participation in the ecumenical movement and withdraw from WCC and CEC [1];
2) To replace the Fathers Superiors of the rebellious monasteries, to ban their priests from divine service, to excommunicate those without Holy Orders, and to demand repentance from all the parties involved.

On one hand, the Synod thus recognized our claims as canonically justified, but, on other hand, it punished the very people who initiated these justified claims. By commencing persecution and depriving our monks of free access to church life, the Georgian Patriarchy further exacerbated the unjust nature of its decision. However, this was only the beginning of persecution. The monks did give their official thanks to the Synod via the mass media. They still had hope that the Hierarchs, having mended their ways, would adhere to Orthodoxy from then on. Following the personal meeting between Archimandrite John and the Patriarch in late June, 1997, this hope evaporated. The need to appeal to the Synod with a second official letter became obvious. In addition, on July 17, 1997, the "Georgian Republic" (Sak'art'velos Respublika) newspaper carried the Georgian Patriarch's letter to the people, in which he stated that membership of Orthodox Churches in WCC did not constitute a heresy, as WCC was solely a forum for communication and exchange of ideas. With this in mind, wishing to avoid dissent within the Georgian Church and the country, the Georgian Synod issued a harshly worded statement that came as a surprise for many. It is perfectly clear from the foregoing that this largely unexpected statement, purportedly signifying a step back from the abyss of universal religious syncretism, was not driven by any pious motives. On the contrary, it was a purely political move designed to settle certain internal ecclesiastical problems. This was pointed out by Father Superior Archimandrite Georgy (Barishvili) and the Shio-Mgvimi fraternity in their second official appeal: Lthese facts indicate that the Synod's decision to withdraw from WCC was driven solely by the radical sentiment of regular clergy and the religious community. This regrettable outcome could have been foreseen, especially since, judging by its works, there isn't a single true Orthodox bishop in the Georgian Synod ("Alia" newspaper, July 17, 1997).

The Betani (Bethania) Monastery also published a second official letter of a similar content in the "Alia" newspaper on July 17, 1997. In his open letter to the Synod, Archimandrite John (Vertograd-Inform: Sheklashvili, then a resident monk of the Shio-Mgvimi Monastery), citing the teachings of the Church, gives a convincing explanation why it is so imperative to sever communion with those official churches which are involved in the ecumenical movement: LDenouncing the word Lecumenism¦ and withdrawing from the ecumenical movement are good things. However, they will remain little more than lip service if not confirmed by real actions. Having severed ties with ecumenism in word, the Synod will never do it in deed, unless it breaks communion with all the churches involved in ecumenism¦ (Paragraph Four of the Letter). The same letter also provides ample and lengthy arguments against ecumenism as an Lecclesiastical heresy.¦

The Betani, Zarzma and Kvtatakhevi Monasteries concurrently circulated their own letters of a similar content. The monks' letters, claims and statements addressed to the Georgian Patriarchy met with a hostile reaction. The Patriarchy never responded. Instead, it unleashed a veritable libel campaign against the rebellious monks. Custodians of Orthodox purity were branded Lenemies of the people,¦ Lconscientious agents of adverse political forces,¦ etc. It was certainly easier for the Patriarchy to persecute the dissenters than to mend its own erroneous ecclesiastical policy. The Patriarchy began outright persecution of the dissident monasteries. Some of the friars, wishing to avoid direct confrontation, left their sanctuaries voluntarily. Friars of the Betani Monastery were insulted, beaten and forcefully evicted from their monastery with a 5-minute notice at 9 P.M [2]. These actions were spearheaded by Archimandrite Joachim (Asatiani)[3] and his so-called parishioners [4]. On the next day following the Betani Monastery raid, the Patriarchy held a press conference where it announced that Lthe friars had left voluntarily. No one had been insulted or physically abused.¦ Before these developments, the Patriarchy had not responded to a single official letter or statement of the Betani Monastery.

Meanwhile, the Patriarchy set up a Theological Commission, headed by Protopresbyter Georgy Gamrekeli, and invited the monasteries to participate in its work. The monasteries declined the offer, arguing that:

1) there is no need to study the issue any further. The process has evolved continuously inside the church over the past decade, and everyone has acquired a clear understanding of the problem;

2) the Patriarchy deserves no more trust since the aforesaid hypocritical and immoral actions. These issues should have been put forward and discussed at a universal council of the Georgian Church as had been suggested by our monasteries. However, the top-ranking priests at the Patriarchy did not wish to accept the idea of holding such a council: they were afraid that an authoritative body such as a council could actually find solutions to many unresolved problems.

Meanwhile, the Betani Monastery issued a document excommunicating the heresies of ecumenism in 12 postulates on the basis of Orthodox teachings [Vertograd-Inform: the text of these postulates appears in this issue of our bulletin], and officially sent it to the Theological Commission and the Patriarch, and released it through the mass media. It was the last attempt to preserve unity in the Church. If the Patriarchy had accepted this confession brought forth by the Orthodox Tradition formulated by the monks as anathematizing postulates, the conflict would have ended there and then.

However, following the study and research of relevant material by its Theological Commission, the Patriarchy immediately replied to the anathematizing postulates once again exposing its true hypocritical and immoral nature (cf. "Kavkasioni" newspaper of August 30, 1997). Whereas the postulates took trouble to define in the greatest possible detail the points and teachings that were blatantly heretical from the Orthodox viewpoint and deserved an anathema, the Patriarchy, in its reply, either deviated from the point, or played on words. The authors of the reply feigned incomprehension with respect to the content and intent of certain issues discussed by the postulates. They had long since become habituated to real heresies.==

All this could mean only one thing: the Patriarchy and its adherents were well on the way towards secularization of the Church, and the heresy of ecumenism. This behooved us, the clergy, monastics and laity of the Orthodox Church, to make a stand separately from a religious community that put heresies and lies over the right and true creed. Feeling great responsibility to our God and our country, we have decided to find among us such bishops that are true successors to the Apostles and firmly adhere to Orthodox faith so that, with the help of such bishops, we could restore and replenish the integrity of our Church which has suffered through exposure to heresy. A True Church is unthinkable without true faith and confession, without genuine apostolic succession. We will never become the accomplices, followers, or associates of those who are leading our Christ-loving people to disaster with their God-abominable syncretic religious teachings.==

As for recognition of the rites of chirotony[5], the existing Georgian hierarchy derives from the Russian hierarchy of the early 19th century. Chirotonic consecration of Georgian priests was administered according to the prescriptions and rulings of the Russian Synod. In the 20th century, following the Bolshevik Revolution, chirotonic consecration was, almost throughout the entire hierarchy, administered at the discretion and subject to the permission of the then-ruling atheistic authorities, who naturally chose the priests they could easily manipulate and rely on. Such reliability often took the shape of flagrantly impious sophistries. Let us cite one example. One time, when Patriarch Elias II was celebrating his anniversary at the Opera and Ballet House, laughing, he told his companions a story about how he had sent the following congratulatory telegram to the USSR Communist Party leaders in Moscow: LThe Georgian Church gives its full support to the international and domestic policies of the USSR Communist Party leaders.¦ This domestic policy (!!!) enforced through tyranny and despotism, caused the torture and execution of thousands of Christians. This Ldomestic policy,¦ centered around the ideas of militant atheism, was a satanic religion in its own right that had many faces, as well as its own rituals and minions. The true merits of the slanderous accusations of betraying our Church, our country and our people that the Patriarchy has been trying to lay at our door will be exposed when the LBill of Disclosure¦[6] is passed. Let's find out who has really been betraying their God and country for decades!==

We believe that Orthodox Church abides and hellfire will never get near it. As for the religious organization headed by the so-called Patriarchy (we said Lso-called¦ because judging by this institution's current activity it is not worthy of such a name. In our opinion, it is little more than a religious association of a heretic ecumenical nature), the Patriarchy that is still entangled in the tenets of obscure and immoral religious notions reeking of Caesarian Papism, absorbed by its administrative machine, the Patriarchy that traces its roots back to the era of a Communist regime, this Patriarchy will sooner or later end up on the back shelf of history. And then we will know who to blame for the crimes against religion and morals; and the people will see everything clearly. We hope that the clergy and laity adhering to this religious organization will one day return to the creed of Christian truth. We are calling out to the members of this secular-ecumenical Patriarchy and its apologists: instead of holding your endless slanderous press conferences, come and repent!

January 28, 1998
Translated from Georgian by Vertograd-Inform
[1] The Conference of European Churches. The incumbent head of the Moscow Patriarchy was its president for many years.

[2] See below for more details (the articles titled LThe Glorious Seizure of Betani Monastery by the Storm Troops of the Georgian Patriarchate¦)

[3] This is a colorful and well-known person in Georgia. A former KGB man, he went to jail for some reason in the 1970s. After he was freed, he made a fast and successful church career.

[4] Formerly - Mhedrioni, a kind of paramilitary guard force or OMON. He had also used them to intimidate the monks earlier.

[5] This paragraph was included in the Statement in response to the Georgian Patriarchy-s allegations that the Georgian zealots denied the entire survivorship of archpriestly chirotonies in the Georgian Church.

[6] As part of the disclosure process, KGB archives will be opened revealing everyone-s identity and place within that gruesome organization.


"Christ the Lord called that Church the Catholic Church which maintains the true
and saving confession of the Faith. It was for this confession that He called
Peter blessed when He declared '...upon this rock [i.e., of right faith] I will build
My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matt. 16:18)'."
Saint Maximus the Confessor
"We are orphans and fatherless..." Lamentations of Jeremiah 5:3
"Whoso readeth, let him understand." Matt. 24:15
================= .
In ancient Sodom there lived the righteous Lot and his family. Our long-suffering God, awaiting the conversion, the change of heart of the Sodomites, bestowed upon them all that they needed: air, water, food... life itself. Lot was for them a certain example of righteousness, a model for their correction. But in vain. The measure of lawlessness and sin overflowed; the Lord brought out the family of Lot and destroyed the city of Sodom by fire, thus taking away that life which He Himself had granted.

Like unto Sodom becomes that church in which the abomination of heretical doctrines finds itself a lodging place. Long-suffering and merciful is the Lord, and just as the destruction of Sodom was delayed for the sake of righteous Lot; so too, for the sake of His righteous servants, for the time being He shall not withdraw the grace of the Holy Spirit from that church which is deviating into the heretical gloom so offensive to Him. But for how long? Where is that boundary beyond which lawlessness exceeds His long-suffering and mercy? If the time for an exodus like Lot's is come, then such a time is the termination of the period [allowed for repentance], it is the time for the execution of the judgments of God, the time of righteous anger, the time for the taking away of the very Spirit of Life. The going forth from the midst of sin by the true children of the Church serves as an indication of the spiritual death of the hierarchy of a Local Church. And only then, when the Lord shall have led forth all of them, all those faithful to Him -- His true Church, will the grace of His Holy Spirit completely abandon the assembly of those who have remained behind.

Lot forewarned his sons-in-law of the approaching judgment, but was mocked by them. And his sons-in-law were burned together with all the Sodomites.

We also have the example of Nineveh. The Ninevites repented and the judgment of God was suspended. But what of Sodom? Was Sodom capable of changing? Sodom, in which there was not even a consciousness of the need for amendment?

1) Ecumenism is heresy! That is quite clear. Moreover, it is the heresy of heresies.

2) Of all the errors which the so-called "Ecumenism" comprises, the most fundamental and profound is its error concerning the very nature of the Church itself. This is an ecclesiological heresy. It is contrary to the Nicean-Constantinopolitan confession of faith, for it asserts that there is no "One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church".

3) The so-called "World Council of Churches" already in its very name contains this contradiction of the Orthodox Christian doctrine concerning the Church. And in its "Branch Theory" it totally rejects this dogma. And the "Council" endeavors to accomplish this fundamental rejection by its militant practice of "religious pluralism".

4) The Orthodox Church, by participating in the activities of the afore-mentioned "World Council of Churches", declares her agreement with all its [the WCC's] teachings and activities. By this very means she becomes a party to all the falsehood and errors of the Council. She becomes heretical to the degree that the Council itself is heretical.

5) This heresy is introduced even more deeply into the body of the Church by the participation of her hierarchy in the various forms of liturgical concelebrations conducted by the institutions of the Council in the course of its routine activities.

6) The Georgian Orthodox Church (GOC) has been an active member of the WCC for a considerable time (since 1962). This lively participation, manifested in the activities of her senior hierarchs, is the path of falling away into heresy, or rather, it is essentially already heresy.

7) Both in their numerous public appearances, and also "ex cathedra", the senior hierarchs of the GOC have shown themselves to be apologists and preachers of the heresy of Ecumenism. At the Local Council in 1995 participation in this movement was recorded in the official documents and confirmed by the ecclesiastical authority. By this means this heresy was definitively implanted into the body of the Local Georgian Church.

8) When the Church begins in any degree to accept heretical teachings, then saving grace wanes in her. Once the Church as a whole accepts a heresy, then saving grace departs from this community, since salvation for its members has become impossible, even if they were to lay down their lives for their convictions.

9) There are only two routes of escape from the situation which has arisen in the GOC: either the Church renounces its error, or else those seeking salvation quit the assembly of the unfaithful.

10) The Church's rejection of the heresy of Ecumenism must be expressed by its departure from the WCC. There is no other way.

11) This can be done only by the senior hierarchs of the GOC -- this is their prerogative. But the hierarchs refuse to do this.

12) Some of the hierarchs consider such a step inconsistent with the contemporary processes of global integration. Subordinating, in their own conceptions, the life of the Church to the mere laws by which society functions, they threaten the Christians with economic difficulties, political, religious, and cultural isolation, and a like multitude of imagined horrors.

13) Such a way of thinking is based on a lack of faith in the providential care for the Church by her Creator and Founder. This is unbelief, this is real atheism which captivates the mind and conscience. They do not realize that the Lord does not abandon His true servants. His eye slumbereth not; and mighty is His right hand.

14) Other of the hierarchs, not possessing a true Christian consciousness and not wishing to comprehend the very essence of the dogmas of the Church of Christ, consider that membership in the WCC is not so very significant a sin. Such as these seek by means of various compromises to deceive both God and themselves.

15) So what then remains for an Orthodox Christian seeking salvation to do, who is certain that this very salvation is not possible without a true faith free of heretical abomination?

16) "...and they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name." Acts 5:41.

"...But as for those who...severe themselves from communion with their president, that is, because he publicly preaches heresy and with bared head teaches it in the Church, such persons are not only not subject to canonical penalty..., but are worthy of due honor among the Orthodox. For not bishops, but false bishops and false teachers have they condemned, and they have not fragmented the Church's unity with schism, but from schisms and divisions have they earnestly sought to deliver the Church."

(Canon XV of the First-Second Council of Constantinople)

In his commentary on Canon XIV of the Fourth Ecumenical Council, Zonaras writes: " Those are also heretics who even partly disagree with the teaching of the Church or who only slightly distort it."

The Monastery of our Righteous Father Shio Mghvimeli (the Cave-dweller) severs eucharistic communion with Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II because of his heresy of Ecumenism.

Archimandrite George, Abbot of the monastery, Archimandrite John, Hieromonk Nicholas, Monk Kyrion, Novice Bessarion. Novice Guram April 14/27, 1997

The Monastery of Righteous Father Shio Mghvimeli (the Cave-dweller).
Other Declarations of the Severing of Communion With Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II
The Abbot of the Lavra of the Righteous David Garedzhe, Archimandrite Gregory, severs eucharistic communion with Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II because of his heresy of Ecumenism, and resigns from the office of abbot.
Archimandrite Gregory April 17/30, 1997
Betani Monastery severs liturgical communion with Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II because of his heresy of Ecumenism.
Abbot of the Monastery, Hieromonk Haggai, Monk Eutyches, Monk Gabriel. April 18 / May 1, 1997
The Abbot of the Zarzma Monastery, Archimandrite George, severs eucharistic communion with Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II and Bishop Sergius of Akhaltsikhe on account of their having fallen into the heresy of Ecumenism.
Archimandrite George May 2/15, 1997
To the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, Ilia II, and to the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Georgian Orthodox Church

Your Holiness; Most-reverend Bishops:

We humbly wish to inform you that with the blessing of the ruling bishop of the Shemokmedi diocese, Kyr Joseph, a meeting of the clergy of the Guria region was held on May 6/19 of this year.

At this meeting we considered the situation which has arisen in the bosom of the Mother Church, in particular, the declarations of the brotherhoods of the St. Shio-Mghvime, Betani, and St. David Garedzhe Monasteries.

We most humbly beg you not to rend the robe of the Church of Christ by schism. For love's sake, resolve to leave the World Council of Churches.

Otherwise we shall subscribe to the decision of the afore-mentioned brotherhoods and shall sever eucharistic communion with you.

1) Abbot of the Shemokmedi Monastery of St. Nicholas, Archimandrite Nicholas
2) Spiritual Father of the Dzhikheti Convent, Archimandrite Andrew
3) Rector of the Shemokmedi Cathedral, Protopriest Basil
4) Rector of the Church of SS. Julitta and Cyricus, Priest Matthew
5) Rector of the Church of St. George in Dvabchu, Priest Constantine
6) Deacon of the Shemokmedi Cathedral, Fr. Cyricus
taken from Jvari Vazisa (Cross of the Vine, 1981 - 1), the official publication of the Georgian Orthodox Church [Translated from Georgian into Russian by the members of the True Orthodox Church of Georgia, and from Russian into English by Vertograd-Inform]==

Upon the invitation of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Swiss Evangelical Church, His Holiness the Blessed Catholicos, Patriarch of All Georgia and President of WCC Elias II paid an official visit to Switzerland between February 9 and 19, 1981. On February 11, Catholicos and Patriarch Elias II visited the offices of the Soviet UN Diplomatic Mission chief, Z. Mironova, and had an Lopen-hearted¦ discussion with her.

On February 13, the Patriarch joined a group of ecumenical movement activists at Lucas Fischer's offices. On February 14, he went to the St. Maurice Abbey (page 6). In his address at the St. Maurice Abbey, the Patriarch said:

Your Eminence, Reverend Fathers,

True followers of Christ have yet to endure great suffering before the Kingdom of Our Lord comes to earth (sic!). It is a sacred duty of all Christians to promote peace and justice, which is what Our Lord wills. Our Lord wills that His Kingdom, the essence of which are truth, holiness and love, come to earth (sic!)... We must be prepared to fight for justice and peace. We must not try to delegate to the Lord the things that are our own work. I am referring primarily to Christian solidarity, the fusion of different movements within a single church dedicated to its Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Your diocese has been very instrumental in rejuvenating your nation spiritually. We, priests, shall join the chorus of the humankind, singing: LPraise the Lord in the firmament of His power that peace abide upon earth and that all men rejoice. God bless you and give you strength! (Page 7).

Here, at St. Maurice, I will pray at the graves of the martyrs (?) even as I pray in my own church (page 13). I hereby convey to local Christians the blessing of our church, and remind them that Christ wishes all Christians to be united.¦

On February 15, the Catholicos and Patriarch of All Georgia, President of WCC Elias II attended a Sunday service (liturgy) at Nigdve Cathedral in Bern, conducted by Prior of the cathedral, Kurt Mart (Page 7) (Russian Translator's note: curiously, this happened on a Publican and Pharisee Sunday).

Addressing the Federation of Evangelical Churches of Switzerland, the

Catholicos and Patriarch said: LI wish you joy in your life and success in your important cause (Page 7).

Christian Church must serve the cause of peace, prosperity and happiness of all men (Page 8).

On the same Sunday night, the Catholicos and Patriarch of All Georgia, President of WCC Elias II administered vespers at an old Catholic church in Bern. Following his sermon, he spoke to a very numerous audience, concluding his speech with this blessing: LGod's Grace, joy and love be with you. Rejoice in both worlds! (an ancient Georgian religious salutation). Amen! (Page 8).

On February 16, the Patriarch attended vespers at the Muenster Chapel in Schaphausen, whereupon he met with Schaphausen pastors, and addressed them with the following words (Page 9):

LOur creed is founded on Holy Scripture and our own cognition of the world around us, which logically leads us to believe in the Creator. God's Grace help you! (Page 9).

This an excerpt from a Swiss press publication: LElias II is a prominent ecumenical activist and successor to Metropolitan Nikodim Rotov (Page 13).

In his interview to Molodyozh Gruzii (Youth of Georgia) newspaper (1990 -10), Patriarch Elias II said:

I have sent letters to the Patriarchy (Vertograd-Inform: of Jerusalem) and Prime Minister of Israel, requesting that the monastery (Monastery of the Holy Cross, in Palestine) be transferred to the Georgian Church. We trust that history will see to it that justice is done. When the monastery becomes the property of the Georgian Church again, we propose to allocate several rooms in it for a museum to house an exposition vividly depicting the history of cultural ties between the Georgians and the Jews, and their mutual influences. We also propose to allocate a room for Jewish praying at the monastery. This will also be very conducive to our mutual rapport.¦

(Molodyozh Gruzii, 1990 - 10)==


1) To the ecumenical so-called Branch Theory, according to which the Church of Christ consists of many separated denominations (schisms): Anathema! Anathema likewise to those who preach this false doctrine, share it, accept it, or are indifferent to it. For thereby they deny the uniqueness of the Church of Christ as expressed in the ninth article of the Nicene Symbol of Faith: "I believe in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church".

2) To the dogmatic Constitutional Basis of that heretical assembly, the World Council of Churches, which declares that: "The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the Scriptures and therefore seek to fulfill together their common calling to the glory of the one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit", and to those who consider a general confession of belief in Christ according to the Scriptures as sufficient for unity, there by totally denying Holy Tradition, and who at the same time recognize the various heretical assemblies as Churches of God, and consider their heretical doctrines to be based on Holy Scripture, rather than as false and willful interpretations (which is the very essence of heresy): Anathema!

3) To the ecumenical doctrine which recognizes the assemblies of the heretics as grace-bearing and possessing uninterrupted Apostolic Succession,and which considers possible a "union" between the Orthodox and Non-Orthodox Churches (see: "Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate", No. 2, 1961, p. 69)without a unity in Faith, or based on the concept of so-called doctrinal minimum, which has been openly proclaimed at the various ecumenistic gatherings and expressed in official documents: Anathema!

4) To the documents adopted as a result of the "theological" dialogue held between the Orthodox and Monophysites (ChambИsy, Switzerland, 1990, 1993),in which both are recognized as Orthodox, and the Monophysites' Christological heresy is declared to be Orthodox doctrine, where by the Forth Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon is rejected and condemned, and all subsequent Ecumenical Councils are ignored: Anathema!

5) To the documents adopted as a result of the "theological" dialogue between the pseudo-Orthodox and the Papists, in particular the so-called Balamand Unia (1993), which refers to the Papist assembly as a "Sister Church", and which declares that it possesses grace and uninterrupted Apostolic Succession, that its sacraments are true, and which forbids proselytizing (i.e., the conversion from the Papal error to the saving faith of the Orthodox Church): Anathema!

6) To those who unlawfully "lifted" the Anathemas placed on the Papist assembly in 1054, and to those who did not resist this lawlessness and by this very act placed themselves in opposition to the Holy and Great Synods held in Constantinople (in 1341, 1347, and 1351) which condemned the Papal innovation, and likewise to those who do not consider Papism to be a heresy and who consider ecclesiastical union with the Latin heretics to be admissible: Anathema!

7) To the agreement reached in Antioch in 1991, as a result of which the Orthodox Church of Antioch entered into full ecclesiastical union with the Syrian Monophysites, the Jacobites: Anathema! Anathema to all those who do not consider Monophysites to be heretics and who do not avoid prayerful and eucharistic communion with them. For they have all been anathematized by the 630 Holy Fathers present at the Four th Ecumenical Council held in Chalcedon,and remain under ban now and in the age to come.

8) To the so-called New Style, which appeared as a result of the introduction of the Papal Gregorian Calendar into the Orthodox Church, and which is totally inadmissible canonically, and constitutes a dogmatic-ecclesiological heresy inasmuch as it rejects the holy doctrines, Tradition, and liturgical unity of the Church, as well as the ninth article of the Nicene Symbol of Faith: "I believe in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church": Anathema! (For it is not possible both to keep the Fast and to celebrate Christmas or Pascha in one and the same Church, and at one and the same time -- as occurs in the ecumenistic pseudo-Orthodox assemblies.) The Papal Calendar has already been condemned by Canon I of the Local Council of Antioch and by the Local Councils of Constantinople (in1583, 1587, and 1598).

"Whosoever does not follow the customs of the Church which the seven Holy Ecumenical Councils have decreed, and the Holy Pascha and calendar which they have enacted well for us to follow, but wants to follow the newly-invented Paschalion and the new calendar of the atheist astronomers of the Pope, and, opposing them, wishes to overthrow and destroy the doctrines and customs of the Church which we have inherited from our Fathers, let any such have the anathema and let him be outside of the Church and the Assembly of the Faithful.

"We exhort all pious and Orthodox Christians: remain in those things which you learned and in which you were born and bred, and when the times and circumstances call for it, shed your very blood in order both to keep the Faith given us by our Fathers and to keep your confession."

Jeremias II, Patriarch of Constantinople Silvester, Patriarch of Alexandria Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem and the rest of the Bishops of the Synod who were present (Constantinople, 1583)

9) To those who flouted the resolutions of the aforementioned Councils condemning and banning the Gregorian Paschalion and calendar, and who willfully, treacherously, and forcibly introduced this novelty into the Church, or who support the New Style and attempt to establish it in the Church or are unscrupulous and indifferent in their relations with the excommunicated adherents of the New Style, and who do not wish to severe ecclesiastical union with them: Anathema! Let them read again the words of the Anathema pronounced by His Holiness, Cyril V, Patriarch of Constantinople upon the innovators in his "Sigillion" of 1756.

10) To the heretical and blasphemous ecumenistic "liturgies" (e.g., theso-called Lima Liturgy) in which "members of the Orthodox Church" participate, likewise to the common services during which Orthodox Christians pray together with heretics and take part in various "sacred rites", whereby abomination is introduced into the Church, and in violation of the Tenth, Forty-fifth, and Eighty-fifth Apostolic Canons and Canon Thirty-three of the Local Council of Laodicea: Anathema! Anathema also to those who give the Body and Blood of Christ to the heretics, or who receive their false "communion" from them. Anathema to those who serve other ecclesiastical Mysteries for the heretics, or participate in their "sacraments".

11) To those who pray with pagans, shamans, magicians, priests and wizards of heathen cults, and to those who join in their meditation sessions and cultic rituals, or who conduct "divine services" at their "altars", and to all the participants in the various Pan-ecumenical Sundays: Anathema!

12) To all the other heretical doctrines and documents of the ecumenists which were jointly prepared by them and which they now seek to secretly and stealthily introduce into the Church: Anathema!

To those who do not reverence the dogmatic and canonical teachings of the Orthodox Church, Her Holy Tradition and practices, and who attempt to introduce the spirit of Renovationism into the Church of Christ: Anathema!

To those who sympathize with the aforementioned and anathematized doctrines and acts, and who attempt to defend and justify them, or who assume an attitude of lukewarm indifference towards them: Anathema!

To all the heresies and heretics anathematized by the Ecumenical and Local Councils, we, together with the Holy Fathers, proclaim: Anathema!

Anathema to all heretics! Anathema! Anathema!

Hieromonk Haggai, Abbot of Betani Monastery, Monk Eutyches, Novice George, Novice Vazha, Monk Gabriel, Novice Zurab, Novice Zaza, Monk Cyrion, Novice Kakha, Novice Mamuka.
Betani Monastery July 22 / August 4, 1997

After the remarkable ultimatum signed by the "Abbot of Sveti-Tskhoveli, Shio-Mghvime, Kvtatakhevi, Zarzma, and Betani Monasteries", Archimandrite Joachim,[1] the storming of Betani Monastery began on the morning of August 21. Within the monastery at this time were found four monks, three novices, and several laymen, close friends of theirs.

Prior to the arrival of the storm troops, the brethren had opened the gatesof the monastery and the church. The Iveron Icon of the Most-holy Theotokos was brought to the gates of the monastery, and a Moleben of Compunction was served before it. When the crowd headed by Archimandrite Joachim and priestsfrom the Patriarchate appeared, the brethren went forth to meet them with crosses and icons. They had wanted to deliver a short address to those who had arrived. They were prevented from doing so however by Archimandrite Joachim, who, having darted behind the brethren, began to cry out: "Don't listen to them, get inside, get inside!" Having noted some consternation inthe ranks of the attacking forces, he began to call upon them by name in a commanding tone, ordering his glorious warriors to gallantly enter the monastery's territory, and then the crowd, having milled around, burst in to the monastery. The brethren read their address to the few who had remainedat the gates -- the drivers who had brought the crowd -- and then they retired to their cells.[2] In the church the prayer service of the victors lasted for almost two hours. Then they divided up into groups and began to pound on the cell doors. The brethren asked them not to disturb them, and declared that they did not wish to enter into any sort of "chats" whatsoever. But the knocks and cries continued. The storm troops (for the most part priests) entered into several unlocked cells without any permission at all, attempting to draw the inhabitants into a debate. In spite of these protests, they continued coercing the unresponsive brethren for the courseof an hour and a half.

After a brief conference Joachim sent some people to the Patriarchate for further instructions. Upon the return of the envoys, the concluding phase ofthe engagement began. Their main forces went into action, who, in response to inquiries, referred to themselves as "Joachim's novices". Headed by theirown high-ranking leader himself, these "novices in mufti", swearing loudly, forced their way in upon the brethren, and by shoves and kicks drove themout of their cells. To the brethren's request that they be allowed to remaina few days, the Archimandrite (who had taken a most active role in this partof the victorious operation) replied that they should clear out immediately.The bags containing the personal effects of those departing were searched. These men in mufti were waiting for the slightest provocation so that they themselves might enter directly into "physical contact" with the enemy. Outside the monastery gates there still stood some rather ashamed priests and laymen. The departing inhabitants turned to them with the request that they testify to the sheer violence done them, to which some turned away their faces, while one priest declared that "he washed his hands of them." I wonder if, in saying this, he realized how remarkably appropriate the parallel was! However (knowing Georgian priests), it's hardly likely. Already towards evening the brethren ascended the hill to the horse farm located there.[3] No one is living permanently on this farm. The watchman,who happened to be away then, some time earlier had offered the monastics the temporary use of the farm's accommodations, in the event that they should be expelled. At first they had thought to make use of the offer, but then, having reconsidered, they decided not to do so. At that moment the victorious storm troops drove up and offered them some watermelon and bread to eat. One of those in the trucks advised the exiles to spend the night in the farm buildings. Oh, gifts of the Greeks! This latter stratagem surpasses that of Odysseus![4] Oh, the blessed simplicity of the uninitiated and weary ones! They enter and settle down for the night; meanwhile the "novice", of course, telephones the managers and informs them that someone has broken into their buildings! All this became clear in the morning withthe arrival of the horsemen accompanied by the watchman, who, however,having learned of all that had taken place, and having inspected the farm, said that they had no claims to lodge against the monastic brethren. In the morning though, the brethren left the farm and ascended further up the mountain to a settlement of dachas called Kveseti. Along the way they weremet by envoys who announced to them the Patriarch's mercy -- permission tosettle in the monastery of Shavnabada, and they offered to take them thereat once. Having received a refusal, they drove off. In the village the brethren, with the permission of the guard, settled in a half-ruinedwarehouse, where they, two to a mattress, spent last night. In leaving the monastery they, being some what bewildered, had left their warm clothing intheir cells, since the first things they had grabbed while being shoved outof their cells had been their rassas, crosses, and Gospels.[5]

This evening (August 22), during a television interview, the most honorableProtopresbyter George Gamrekeli announced that "after the lawful abbot hadentered the monastery, the brethren, as an act of protest, went off into the forest" (sic!). May their [the Patriarchate's] righteousness be with them unto the ages! Thus was brought to completion the latest glorious action ofthe Georgian Patriarchate, which no doubt will be one of the most remarkablepages of her history. But then, has it, in fact, been brought tocompletion...? It is noteworthy that this victory proved possible thanks tothe historic linking of the red KGB agents (who have now assumed the dirtycolors of "spiritual" obedience) with the laboring masses of the Patriarch.

(The translation of this article and some other materials of this issue were made by Otari Babunashvili -=

For= approximately the last ten years Archimandrite George (Khabeishvili) has been rebuilding the ancient monastery of Zarzma and re-establishing monasticism there. Until very recently the monastery was inhabited by two ofhis disciples, the nuns Fevronia and Marina, while Fr. George, their spiritual father, lived outside the monastery enclosure, in an adjacentbuilding.

Together with other pious Orthodox Christians in Georgia, Fr. George grewprogressively more alarmed and disturbed over the Georgian Church's involvement in the Ecumenical movement in general, and in the World Council of Churches in particular. On April 14/27, 1997, the fathers of theMonastery of Saint Shio of Mghvime published a lengthy _Open Letter toCatholicos-Patriarch Ilia II_, in which they denounced the heresy of Ecumenism, and declared that they were severing communion with the Patriarchfor his adherence to, and participation in, this heresy. Soon there afterother monastic communities and pious laymen began to publish similar declarations. Thus on May 2/15, 1997, Archimandrite George and his community at Zarzma officially severed communion with the Patriarch and with their local hierarch, Archbishop Sergius of Akhaltsikhe.

On May 20, 1997, at a hastily convened Synod, the hierarchs -- under pressurefrom various quarters -- announced that the Georgian Orthodox Church would bewithdrawing from the World Council of Churches and the Conference of European Churches. However, the Synod also suspended the non-commemorating clergy from serving, and relieved them of their positions. At the same timethe protesting laymen were banned from receiving Communion.

Fr. George, among others, refused to recognize the decree, and remained atthe monastery of Zarzma with his two disciples. The first attempt to drivethem from the monastery was thwarted by the inhabitants of the villages surrounding Zarzma, who came to Fr. George's defense and drove off theattackers. The impoverished villagers greatly love and respect their spiritual father for his piety and generous almsgiving.

On August 19, 1997, Archimandrite Joachim (Asantiani), who had been appointed by the Patriarch as abbot over all five of the non-commemorating monasteries, delivered an ultimatum to the fathers of Betani Monastery that they were to vacate the premises within forty-eight hours or else harsher measures would be taken. On August 21, 1997, the fathers at Betani werebeaten and expelled from their monastery by a mob led by ArchimandriteJoachim.[6] Three days later, on August 24, 1997, Archimandrite Joachim andhis "novices" showed up at the Zarzma Monastery and presented a similar ultimatum to the Abbot, Fr. George: surrender the monastery within twenty-four hours, otherwise they would take it by force. Fr. Georgerefused. The "Guests" did not leave a copy of the ultimatum with Fr. George, evidently fearing that he would publish it. And owing to the bad publicityover the storming of Betani, the Patriarchate temporarily retreated fromits aggressive stance and left the monastery of Zarzma in peace.

Then on September 4, 1997, around 6 PM, an official from the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia, who introduced himself as the Chairman of the Department of Criminal Investigation and Deputy Minister of the Interior, Levan Khozrevanidze, appeared at Zarzma Monastery. He was accompanied by several other officials: the Chief of Police for the Akhaltsikhe Region,Mikhail Maisuradze; the local Chief of Police of the Adygeni area, Gela Kokhodze; and the Public Prosecutor for said region, name unknown.

Khozrevanidze declared that if Fr. George did not leave the monastery voluntarily within the next few days, they would "ruin" him. (Prison slangfor slander, false rumors, and for the subsequent court cases based on such calumny.) They made it clear that if a criminal charge could be leveled against Fr. George, then the police would have a legitimate cause to get involved and drive him out.

Knowing that they were quite capable of carrying out their threats, Fr.George gave way to wrath and left the monastery on September 5, 1997. Hehoped that his voluntary departure would pacify the officials and thus allowthe nuns, who had stayed behind, to remain in the monastery. He also wished to spare the local populace who would suffer harm if they came to hisdefense.

On September 8, 1997, the Patriarch -- suddenly quite solicitous for the welfare of the villagers of the Zarzma region -- sent them a truckload offlour. The hungry villagers could certainly have used the flour, however,they sent it back to the Patriarch with a message: "We will not sell ourspiritual father for a truckload of flour!"[7]

On September 9, 1997, the local Chief of Police telephoned Fr. George, who was then in Tbilisi, and ordered him to return and calm the restless populace; otherwise he threatened to have Fr. George arrested on trumped upcharges. Fr. George refused to comply. In retrospect Fr. George feels thatit was merely a ploy to detain him, or at least to verify his whereabouts before proceeding to attack the monastery.

Later that same day, September 9, the following people arrived at the monastery: the Chief of Police for the Akhaltsikhe Region, Mikhail Maisuradze, accompanied by approximately twenty regular policemen; the local hierarch, Archbishop Sergius (Chekurishvili) of Akhaltsikhe; the Hieromonks Luke, Arsenius, and Stephen; approximately ten nuns; and the notorious Archimandrite Joachim (Asantiani), accompanied by four unidentified persons.[8] Without warning they broke in the doors of the monastery enclosure. At that time the nun Marina was ringing the bells to sound the alarm for the villagers to come to their aid. Hieromonk Stephen(Kalajishvili) seized her arm, twisted it behind her back, and dragged her away from the bells. He then tore the clappers out of the bells so that they could not be rung anymore.

Meanwhile the inhabitants of the neighboring villages had gathered. Although they were too late to prevent the mob from breaking into the monastery, they nevertheless surrounded the main church and refused entry to the crowd --even to the Chief of Police, and the Archbishop and his monastics. The villagers declared that they wanted their own spiritual father returned tothem, Fr. George, whom they had known for so many years and who had helpedthem so much. The authorities attempted to reason with them and win the mover, but to no avail. Then they announced that the villagers had one weekto think it over and calm down; otherwise there would be trouble for them.

For the time being, Mother Febronia and Mother Marina have settled in the buildings adjacent to the monastery. The government officials and the StateChurch claim that these also form part of the monastery complex, but Fr.George counters that the land and the former school building were given tohim by the villagers in exchange for the new, larger school which he had built for them closer to their village. At present Fr. George is threatening to take the authorities to court if they do not cease harassing the nuns and trying to evict them.

Obviously this was a serious incident. Both the Church and government, acting together, crudely violated the canons, freedom of conscience, and basic human rights.


[1] Archimandrite Joachim Asantiani, appointed by the Patriarch as head of all five monasteries in place of the protesting abbots, had given the fathers of Betani Monastery forty-eight hours to vacate the premises orelse be evicted by force.

[2] Eyewitnesses report that Archimandrite Joachim shouted at the brethrenfor all to hear, that one should obey ones spiritual superiorsunconditionally, even to the point of becoming a Moslem, if so ordered! Onhearing this the brethren realized that further discussion with such aperson would be useless, and so they retired to their cells.

[3] This "farm" is a base for tourists, and consists of stables, aracecourse, and other facilities. Enthusiasts can rent horses in Tbilisi andthen spend two or three days, accompanied by a guide, following the bridle path which leads through the countryside to this farm.

[4] I. e., the Trojan Horse.

[5] The nine brethren have now been given permission by the owners to settle temporarily in a nearby dacha.

[6] Earlier the Patriarch had sent an envoy with provisions to the fathers who had been expelled from Betani, offering to allow them to return to their monastery (of course, on condition that they resume commemorating him). They replied that if the Patriarch indeed wanted them in Betani, whyhad he so recently driven them out with beatings? They sent the envoy andthe food back to the Patriarchate.

[7] No doubt some of his "novices in mufti", i.e., the thugs who had beatenthe fathers at Betani and expelled them.

[8] Subsequently it was learned that the clergymen of the State Church andthe government officials, lacking the support of the local populace, were unable to maintain their position, and thus withdrew from the monastery on the day following their attack. Archimandrite George and the nuns then reoccupied the monastery proper. Since that time they have been under intense pressure from the ecclesiastical and civil authorities to quit the monastery before the feast day of its founder, Righteous Serapion, on October 29 / November 11.


The document below indicates that the Georgian Patriarchy continues its persecution of Orthodox zealots even after there expulsion from monasteries.

Abraham, Archbishop of Sagaredjoi and Gurdjaani [1]
Chairman of External Ecclesiastical Relations
Director of the Theological Seminary and Academy of Tbilisi

Attn: Mr. M. Ustiashvili,
Head of Patardzeuli Community

Mr. Merab,

I would like to make you aware of the following facts about certain so-called religious persons currently active in Patardzeuli Community.

On May 20 this year, the Holy Synod of Georgian Orthodox Church banned several persons from administering divine services for their unlawful activities and their attempt to cause a schism within our Church.

Some of the persons thus ostracized from divine services have acquired a house in Patardzeuli Community, where they now continue their anti-ecclesiastical activities which contradict our state and national interests.

It has become known to us that they have attempted to enter our churches and monasteries, which is absolutely inadmissible. As the ruling Archpriest of Sagaredjoi and Gurdjaani, I am calling out to you to prevent them from entering our churches. Letting them possess houses or land would also be undesirable.

We have lodged a written petition to the area community council of Sagaredjoi requesting it to take appropriate measures.

Yours Truly,
+ Abraham, Archbishop of Sagaredjoi
[1] Our editor has been informed by a member of Georgian Church that Archbishop Abraham was formerly a prominent Komsomol functionary, whereupon he became Secretary of the Communist Party Committee of MIION, a major high-security electronics manufacturer for the national military-industrial complex. It is not known how he joined the Church. He studied at the Catholic Institute of Eastern Rite Churches in Regensbruecke, Germany, for two years.



In their address on the occasion of Orthodox Sunday in 1992, Heads of Holy Orthodox Churches [1] called out to all Orthodox believers, urging them to aspire to a more profound and canonically justified unity, so that the Body of Orthodox Church would cease to appear rifted in that sense (Paragraph 3). Bearing this in mind, it gave us great joy and a feeling of harmony to learn about the talks between Russian Orthodox clergymen of the Moscow Patriarchy, and priests of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad in Germany and, in particular, about their joint statement made between December 14 and 16, 1997, in Neil. We shared the hope of further fruitful progress along our common path, expressed in that statement.

We were all the more disappointed and astounded by the address of the Archbishopric Council of ROCA, dated May 13, 1998, which reads: LArchbishopric Council deems it necessary to make it perfectly clear that our Church has never been engaged in any negotiations concerning its possible unification with the Moscow Patriarchy, as this would effectively signify voluntary dissolution of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. Therefore, it should be quite obvious that our Church has no intention to hold such negotiations at this point in time.¦ We regret this dialog-defying stance which has impelled the Archbishopric Council to denounce the ecumenical involvement of Orthodox Churches once again and to reassert its claim, promulgated in multiple ROCA publications, of Russian Orthodox Churches being guilty of Lthe heresy of the 20th century¦ by becoming involved with ecumenism. In doing this, the Archbishopric Council effectively discredits all those Orthodox Churches who endeavor, in pursuance of their Christ-given mission, to establish responsible cooperation with ecumenical organizations.

In its summary memorandum, the Pan-Orthodox Forum held in Saloniki, Greece, on May 1, 1998, unanimously denounced those factions that Lunder the pretext of opposition to ecumenism, choose to criticize Heads of Church and undermine their authority in an attempt to cause rifts and schisms within Orthodox Church (Paragraph 4)¦. We cannot accept uncritically the fact that Russian Church Abroad has, for several years, been engaged in eucharistical relations with certain Greek, Bulgarian and Romanian schismatic Lold-school¦ communities in a bid to create, in association with such communities, a semblance of fundamentalist anti-Orthodoxy.

Our sorrow became deeper still when we learned about the lawsuit filed by Russian Church Abroad in Germany seeking to expel the Moscow Patriarchy community in Dresden from a church building it had occupied for over 50 years. We are grieving because this is not a quest for justice or understanding in the spirit of Christ-s love; such actions betray a desire for dissent, division and strife. Slander against Orthodox Churches and accusations of heresy indicate than none of this could be happening in the name of truth. The identity of St. John Church, as Orthodox Church is sometimes referred to, is best expressed in the Apostle-s warning to the peoples: L...and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have no charity, I am nothing¦ 1 Corinthians: 13,2.

We are urging ROCA and its associated communities in Greece, Romania and Bulgaria, as well as inside the Diaspora, to follow the path of pan-Orthodox communion as written in the aforesaid joint statement of Heads of our Churches, and deny all things that aggravate the existing dissent and cause new rifts. To wit:- the words of St. John the Evangelist: causing rifts among churches is no lesser sin than falling prey to false teachings.

"See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all man. Rejoyce evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of our God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Abstain from all appearances of evil". (I Thes. 5:15-22) [2]

September 9, 1998
For and On Behalf of the Board of
the Commission of German Orthodox Churches,
[1] On this day, the first meeting of heads of official Local Orthodox Churches closed in Constantinople (Istanbul) The meeting, chaired by Patriarch Bartholomew, was attended by Head of the Moscow Patriarchy. In its summary document, the meeting strongly denounced the schismatic activities of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.

[2] The following words were excluded from this citation: "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good" (I Thes. 5:21)


I.I. OSIPOVA "THROUGH FIRE OF TORMENT AND SEAS OF TEARS..." Persecution of the True Orthodox Church as Evident from Investigation Files and Personal Files on Concentration Camp Prisoners.
By Subdeacon Nikolay Savchenko
Moscow, Serebryaniye Niti (Silver Threads), 1998. 432 pages. ISBN 5-89163-005-2

Only 1000 copies of the book by I. I. Osipova, a historian, on persecution of the True Russian Orthodox Church during Soviet era were published by Serebryaniye Niti Publishers in Moscow. The book is a unique collection of interrogation minutes, informant reports and investigation files on members of True Orthodox Church, also known as the Catacomb Church. The list of high-rankling clergymen, priests and monastics imprisoned or executed for their affiliation with TOC is truly invaluable. This list with brief biographies alone takes up 148 pages of the book. The book features, alongside other investigation material, detailed investigation file information on what was called "TOC branches" in Leningrad, the City and the Region of Moscow, the Ukraine, Black Sea provinces, Northern Caucasus, the Voronezh, Yaroslavl and Ufa Regions.

The book brings to us the living voices of the preachers of Truth. "I will not accept Soviet Rule; I gave my oath to our Father the Tsar, and I-ll die for it," said monk Makarius (Oleinikov) at an interrogation (p. 100). Monk Arseny (Kordi) was as staunch in his commitment to "God-Instituted rule." "In my opinion," he said, "persecution and blasphemy against religion and Orthodox believers will never end in Russia, unless Monarchy is restored and a God-Anointed Sovereign is instituted to rule the Russian country." Cossack Chieftain Georgy Sopnev responded to his Bolshevik tormentors with righteous zeal and courage: "I gave the Tsar, the Motherland and the Fatherland an oath of true and faithful service and I-ll never step back from it no matter how long you keep me in custody, and I-ll die with it. All my family, my son and my brother firmly share this creed" (p. 104). In those years, such ardent zeal meant sure death, and True Orthodox believers knew it. Most of them fearlessly called Soviet Rule the Antichrist and prayed for its end. Unflinchingly they stated their readiness to die for their creed, and the book contains abundant evidence of this.

An unexpected discovery is made in the chapter dealing with the case of the monks of Vysoko-Petrovsky Monastery (Moscow). The author maintains that the case files contained reports by Catholic Bishop Pius N?v? to Rome on church developments in Russia, which had been intercepted by Soviet security services. Bishop N?v? was reporting that the idea of subordination to Pope as the only means of "salvaging" the Church was gaining ever growing numbers of supporters in Russia among both renovationist and Sergian episcopate members. For instance, Archbishop Bartholomew (Remov) had secretly adopted Eastern Rite Catholicism, which he would later acknowledge during interrogations. Bishop N?v? was also reporting that five renovationist bishops and a group of parish priests headed by Bishop Vladimir (Rozanov) were ready to join Catholic Church. However, the most important and amazing thing in the Catholic Prelate-s report was the fact that he had been contacted with a similar proposition by none other than Bishop Nikolay (Yarushevich), the would-be Metropolitan Krutitsky, a No. 2 person in the Sergian hierarchy of the 1940s?1960s. According to Bishop N?v?, Nikolay had told him that "the current state of Orthodox Church is so grievous that it can only save itself by making an alliance with the Catholic center; otherwise nothing will ever be straightened out again." He even added that "at least one diocese should do it first, and others would follow suit later" (p. 133). In his report, the Catholic Bishop also noted that a group of clergy in Leningrad shared Bishop Nikolay-s opinion.

Although unexpected, the proposed method of "salvaging" the Church appears quite logical in the light of Sergian ecclesiastic philosophy. Indeed, if administrative subordination to an atheist government is an acceptable sacrifice when it comes to "salvaging" the Church, why not pledge allegiance to the Pope, who-s Christian, for the same cause? Why is it acceptable to say, as the Declaration did: "we want to be with the Soviet Government", but not "we want to be with the Pope"? Why would someone who calls Soviet Rule "God-Constituted" draw the line at calling the Pope-s Holy See the same name? This could have been the reasoning that induced Bishop Nikolay (Yarushevich), the closest associate of Metropolitan Sergius, to desire an alliance with Rome.

The chapter on the Yaroslavl Branch of TOC gives us some curious details of what Metropolitan St. Agathangelos of Yaroslavl, a Holy Martyr, thought about Metropolitan Sergius- new church policy. According to one layman-s letter quoted in the chapter, no one in the diocese ever mentioned Sergius or the Soviet Government while Metropolitan St. Agathangelos was still alive.

We could not possibly overlook one other important and tempting fault we noted in the book which is the subject of this review. The author gives full and unconditional credence to the myth of the so-called "Nomadic Council" of 1928, created by "Archbishop" Ambrosius (Smirnov-Sievers) [1]. Notably, in her chapter on the council, as well as some other parts of the book, the author consistently cites Ambrosius- publications, never invoking a single piece of archival evidence [2]. As one becomes familiar with the full body of the book, it becomes fairly obvious that no archival evidence or investigation files are convincing enough to support the "Nomadic Council" myth. We cannot believe that in the Act of that Council, which was allegedly undersigned by 70 hierarchs of the Greco-Russian Church, the Savior-s name was written as *Isus*, the way Old Rite Believers wrote it, and the way Ambrosius himself does. Furthermore, the hierarchs could not have unanimously excommunicated the Council of 1666?1667 as "an assembly of rogues." The Council could not have agreed to recognize all Onomatodox believers as "true believers," thus easily ending the stalemate unresolved by the Council of 1917?1918. The procedure of assignment by hierarchs of casting vote powers to their proxies, which violated the provisions of the 1917?1918 Local Council, could not have been adopted without any deliberation or objections at all. The seventy attending hierarchs could not have been unaware of the fact that only the First Hierarch, Metropolitan Peter, had the power to convene a Local Council such as the self-proclaimed "Nomadic Council," and that only Metropolitan Peter or, in his absence, his chirotonically immediate subordinate hierarch had the authority to chair such a Council. The "Nomadic Council" was, however, chaired by a certain Novosyolov, a certain Borotynsky, and others who by no means had such powers. The First Hierarch or the chirotonically eldest hierarch could only lose their chair powers in court. However, the council organizers chose to usurp them. The Holiest Patriarch Tikhon could not have been defiled brazenly and shamelessly during synodal deliberations the way Ambrosius describes it [3]. There can be only one explanation for all these mutually contradictory details: the "Nomadic Council" never happened.

We hope that the author will soon rectify this regrettable drawback in her work.

[1] "Archbishop" Ambrosius (known as Andrei Smirnov to the secular world), who also called himself "Count von Sievers", is head of a small religious group calling itself "Andreivites" (or, more accurately, "pseudo-Andreivites"). According to Ambrosius, this group is a direct successor to Archbishop Andrei (Ukhtomsky) of Ufa (+ 1937), the founder of one of the "ramifications" of the Catacomb Church. However, we have sufficient reason to doubt this statement. On one hand, we know for a fact that a predominant percentage of real "Andreivites", most of whom live in Bashkortostan and Chelyabinsk Region, are either not aware of Ambrosius or have never recognized him as their bishop. On other hand, the person of Ambrosius, who has changed denominations (MP, ROCA, Greek Orthodox "Old Stylers," and others) more than once over his church career, inspires considerable distrust to his own autobiographical accounts. Finally, the multiple contradictions and downright falsification of historical fact carried by Russian Orthodoxy, a journal published and edited by Ambrosius (not to be confused with an eponymous journal published by a group of ROCA followers in St. Petersburg) do not merit much confidence. In any case, the authenticity of Ambrosius as a Hierarch, especially one of the highest order, of the Russian Catacomb Church, is inconceivable.

[2] According to Ambrosius himself, the only "list" of "acts" of this council extant was recovered by an Ambrosian bishop Evagrius (Drenteln) from the bottom of the Rybinsk Reservoir, of all places. The subsequent fate of this "list" remains unknown, especially since, according to Ambrosius again, Bishop Evagrius went missing (was assassinated) in 1997. Therefore, the only remaining evidence of the "Nomadic Council" are publications in Ambrosius' own Russian Orthodoxy, where that Council's "acts" appeared with commentary by Ambrosius and Evagrius for editor. There is no reason whatsoever to consider this publication scientific or even credible.

[3] It should be noted that the overall "style" of the council speakers whom Ambrosius quotes in his comments on the council's "acts" was so unrestrained and occasionally offensive that any respectable reader would distrust it. Particularly annoying is their constant vilification of the Saints, dropped parenthetically and sometimes devoid of any argumentative support. This "style" (unless a figment of Ambrosius' own imagination) gives very convincing evidence of the true "canonical merit" of such a council. In spite of our fear of abusing the reader's attention, we have to provide a number of quotes in support of our view:

"Bishop Mark (Novosyolov): the Tsar did a bad job ruling the country. He was weak. I cannot call him a Saint.

...Bishop Jove: Strongman Andrei talked about Rasputin a lot.

Bishop Sergius: Andrei of Ufa should be minding his own business. Look at the .... he left his diocese in. Even though Grishka was a Khlyst and a rogue, the Tsar and his family are Saints."


"O.P. Borotinsky: Peter (Patriarch Locum Tenens Metropolitan Peter Polyanski ? editor of the Russian Orthodoxy) is a traitor. Let's condemn him now, or it will be too late... He's the real enemy and he covers up for Sergius...

Bishop Jove: he has usurped the power. People have long been talking that he's in Tuchkov's service.. We mustn't listen to Peter. Remember how he vilified Strongman Andrei!

O.P. Borotinsky: they've made an icon out of Tikhon. I wouldn't be surprised if the Testament turned out to be real.

Bishop Mark: neither would I.

O.P. Pervushin: Tikhon and Tuchkov put the Danilovites in jail. Everyone knows it's true.

O.P. Borotinsky: we must condemn Peter and set things straight with Tikhon... Remember what Father Archimandrite Davyd said about Tikhon? He called him "the condemned patriarch."

O.P. Pervushin: he called Tikhon's Synod "the whore."

O.P. Borotinsky: Tikhon was too quiet. Did things for "the reds" on the quiet. I wish Strongman Anthony of Kiev were Patriarch.

Bishop Mark: Strongman Anthony is no simple man.

O.P. Borotinsky: but he's still a better choice. However, we must condemn them both... Joseph is going to be a handful. Why is he doing this?

O.P. Pervushin: Peter is a chess player, just like Sergius. They are going to eat each other up like a pair of tarantulas.

Bishop Mark: they ate Hilarius, the smart one, first...

O.P. Borotinsky: don't go there. Was he an evil man!"

(quoted from Russian Orthodoxy, 1997, No. 3 (7), pages 13, 17v18).