Back Issue: June-August 2000BISHOP AGAFANGEL APPEALS THE PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE TO STOP THE COOPERATION BETWEEN THE CLERGY AND THE SECRET SERVICE
(Vertograd Inform, Odessa)
His Grace Bishop Agafangel, of Simferopol and Crimea, has sent a letter of appeal to Leonid Kuchma, President of Ukraine. As stated at the beginning of the letter, this is a reply to the head of the Ukrainian State's wishes to "normalize the relationship of the religious organizations in Ukraine."
Bishop Agafangel remind the president, that "the existence of independent organizations in the totalitarian Soviet state was completely ruled out - there were no independent religious, social or political organizations." Once the democratic changes started in Ukraine, many underground organizations "were allowed to come out in the open." including "out Truly Orthodox Russian Church - aka. "Catacomb church," "Tikhon¦s church" or "non-mentioning Church," (a church that did not mention the authorities that were fighting God". However, says the Bishop, having started out open life, we were confronted with the fact that the secret service continues attempting to establish a sort of "surveillance" or control over our Church."
Examples of the activities of these "secret services" are given by the Bishop: members of these government organizations meet with the clergy and give "instructions" to the clergy as to how to behave and how not to behave. This creates an atmosphere of lack of trust among the clergy in our church and there are even some attempts of charging us with carrying out forbidden political activities.
"We are not carrying out and do not intend to carry out any political activities and fully comply with the laws of Ukraine - emphasizes Bishop Agafangel. This is why all attempts to establish any kind of "surveillance" create unbelief and remind us of the not-too-distant totalitarian past." Bishop Agafangel tells the President of Ukraine that Russia is not a good example as "there the Moscow Patriarchate has practically become a political and commercial appendix of government structures". "And this was evident as both were involved in the seizure of the Russian Orthodox Church in Exile's property in the Holy Land, and this is something shameful for both parties in the eyes of the whole world."
Bishop Agafangel recalls that Ukraine is a member of the European Convention for Human Rights, which recognizes and allows free religious worship, and requests Leonid Kuchma to:
"a. Issue a law forbidding the intervention of any secret services in the life of any religious organizations; and
b. Forbid clergy from acting as secret agents of the Ukrainian secret services."
(KNS - Vertograd Inform, Voronezh)
In January 2000 the Department of Justice of the Voronezh denied the registration of All Saint's Community of the Truly Orthodox Russian Church (under the jurisdiction of the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad - ROCOR). This was reported by Prot. Valery Kravetz, in charge of that parish. The Department of Justice stated the following reasons for the rejection: improperly filed application, the existence of another All Saint's church in Voronezh (under the Moscow Patriarchate jurisdiction), the word "Truly Orthodox" in the name of the church creates "inter-religious differences", not enough information about the existence of the Church during a period of at least 15 years (in accordance with the Free Conscience Law of 1997 all religious organizations must "confirm a-15 year existence, without belonging to any sort of centralized religious organization.)
In accordance with Father Valery Kravetz, the 1997 law started a discrimination process in Russia even for the Orthodox, as to demonstrate the existence of religious communities, that met at private homes, outside the framework of the Moscow Patriarchate, is practically impossible. During Soviet times, these religious communities were unknown even for the KGB. Father Valery decided not to announce in the application forms that he belonged to the ROCOR, as, according to this 1997 law, communities with headquarters abroad, cannot get a legal person status in Russia either.
Father Valery was accused that the word "Truly Orthodox" in the name of the Church is a source of 'inter-religious differences" at a meeting of the Expert-Consultants Committee at the Department of Justice. Father Valery said that the members of the committee are mainly supporters of the Voronezh Diocese of the Moscow Patriarchate, who follow instructions received from local Metropolitan Methodius (Nemtzov) who has a large influence on all employees in the Region. Committee members made great efforts to reject the registration of the Truly Orthodox Church. They feared that once registered, our Church would attempt to get the use of a series of church buildings in the Voronezh region, said Father Valery Kravetz. Aside from that, the MP diocese has a "personal vendetta" against Father Valery, who switched over to the jurisdiction of ROCOR several years ago.
Arkady Minakov, Chairman of the Expert-Consultants Committee at the Department of Justice of the Voronezh, confirmed Father Valery's apprehensions during the course of an interview held on February 28 with Keston Institute. He did not hide his sympathies for the Moscow Patriarchate and his loyalty towards Metropolitan Methodius, head of the Voronezh Diocese. Minakov confirmed, that his Expert-Consultants Committee includes teachers from the local religious seminar, who, along with him. confirm the point of view of the diocese. Arkady Minakov said that during the meetings, Father Valery Kravetz gave unclear and incorrect information about himself or his parish. For example, Father Valery denied giving the name of the Bishop to whom his parish reports, although in the bylaws there is a section stating that they must report to a bishop. Minakov says, that all Truly Orthodox Church communities were no longer in existence by 1975, and thus, there should be no church under that name. According to Minakov, a close relationship with the MP will be definitely have a strong political-community weight, and all other orthodox, like Father Valery Kravetz, are "outsiders".
Vyacheslav Kriychkov, official in charge of the registration of religious organizations in the Voronezh Department of Justice, said that he is ready to register Father Valery's parish upon presentation of new documents confirming the existence of the parish during the last 15 years.
Vyacheslav Salnikov, head of the Independent Human Rights Committee, confirmed during the course of an interview that was held on February 29 that the diocese participates in government issues, which is contrary to the principles of separation of church and state. Vyacheslav Salnikov, said openly that the registration of the Truly-Orthdox Church did not take place because of direct instructions from Metropolitan Methodius. Salnykov believes that the Expert-Consultants Committee at the Department of Justice was created as a chastising or punitive entity, and its members include individuals who formerly professed atheism. The diocese has entrusted them with the task not to register any orthodox believers that belong to another jurisdiction.
Prot. Evgueny Levshuk, Secretary of the MP Diocese of Voronezh, said in a telephone conversation with a representative of Keston on March 1 flatly denied the existence of the Truly-Orthodox Church and said no "further comments." Father Evgueny Levshuk did not answer when asked about his role in the Expert-Consultants Committee the Expert-Consultants Committee, and hung up.
(Vertograd Inform, Volgograd)
The parishioners of St. Tzar Martyr's church sent an open letter to all the bishops, clergy, monks and lay people of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Truly Orthodox Church during the first week of Lent, March 6/19, called the Triumph of Orthodoxy.
The authors of the letter believe that the time has finally come to issue a firm decision from a Council of our Church "about the lack of salvation and spiritual grace of the 'Moscow Patriarchate' " ROCOR's Volgograd Parish states that the absence of such a decision "allow the MP to freely continue distributing among our clergy and the believers a series of dangerous errors and delusions." The authors of the letter consider that main delusion is to acknowledge MP "as a part of the Russian Church" or even "Mother Church." If we do so, we accept the erroneous concepts of Bishop Sergey. "The worst of all is to hear expressions of sympathy towards the MP by ROCOR's bishops" underlines the letter.
"Our Church is loosing its confessional spirit" write members of the Volgograd parish. In order to keep up the external organization, some members of the clergy try to reach a compromise with the anti-Christian forces, which include all other "so-called 'churches' that participate in the Ecumenical movement." The authors recall our attention to the fact that the MP "an anathema has already been pronounced against the MP many times already" and recall the words of Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky): "I would recommend that you never forget the anathema declared by the Underground Church against the Moscow Patriarchate." Further, citing the words of the eminent Head of ROCOR, the members of the Volgograd parish remind us of his opinion about the "lack of grace" of the MP: "Would any one dare to assert that God and His grace exist in a church of sly and cunning people, that praises its enemies that are full of Satan and cooperate with him, which is under a double anathema for this reason (-.)? How can a church that sided with those who fight God be full of God's grace?! The answer is clear! (-) Recognizing a church of sly and cunning people as a church that has and safekeeps God's grace is something that we cannot of course do. As there is NO GRACE outside of the Orthodox faith-"
The authors of the open letter prompt us to stop "speculating on the words of some New Martyrs, who were very soft in their remarks against the Sergians at the very beginning. Nowadays, we already have access to some documents that show clearly that a vast majority of the New Martyrs, that have been declared Saints, have taken the stance of a very firm position of St. Martyr Joseph of Petrograd, who categorically denied the existence of God's grace in the "sacraments" of the Sergians. The Volgograd parishioners also consider that to expect repentance from the Sergians is absolute utopia. "The bishops of the MP, state the letter, are themselves a major part of the secret service, whose aim it to destroy the Orthodox faith. It is quite evident that none of the Moscow Patriarchate bishops will repent."
The consequences of the accusation against Sergianism and Ecumenism published in the letter of our Church must be the absolute conviction that "all Sergians and Ecumenists are outside the Church, and therefore, are not full of God's grace." A contrary statement, say the authors of the letter, is precisely to acknowledge the existence of "lack of scruples between the Orthodox faith and heresy" and precisely this "unscrupleness" is the source of Ecumenistic heresy."!
The letter includes an appeal to "acknowledge that all declarations about the brace and salvation of the Sergian and Ecumenical pseudo-churches are heretical, similar to the unification of faith between the orthodox and the Latin Church, or the unification of interests of Christianity and Judaism. All these are one and the same expression of a single idea, the same Ecumenical heresy". The parishioners of the Volgograd True Orthodox Church prompt all true Orthodox people to be extremely careful and very watchful "and not to accept even a small part of Ecumenism." "Today, say the authors of the letter, Satan spreads around Ecumenistic unscrupleness, so that tomorrow people are unable to distinguish antichrist from Christ."
Addressing ROCOR Bishops, the members of the Volgograd parish request them to declare "to all the world that MP has not had and does not have at present nothing in common with the True Orthodox Church of Christ. The time has come to reject any kind of relationship with this agency of the Soviet government." The authors of the open letter prompt all true children of the church, that share the teachings of the New Martyrs about the lack of grace of the MP, "to raise their voices defending the Truth, to spread out messages similar to ours, and not to be afraid of being a minority."
(TOCh. Bulletin - Vertograd Inform, Odessa)
Circular Instructions were issued about the way in which sacraments are to be administered to new members of the church on the territory of the Crimean Diocese. Instructions were signed on January 20 by His Grace Bishop Agafangel, of the Diocese of Simferopol and Crimea. The Bishop explained that it was necessary to issue these instructions because "those who come to our Church are frequently unsure about the validity of their baptism in the Moscow Patriarchate church."
These instructions clearly indicate that all priests who are approached by former members of the MP with these doubts, to investigate thoroughly "and to ask them at length in which way was the baptism carried out at the MP. If it is found out that the baptism was just pouring water over them (without a truly special and weighty reason for it), the person who was baptized did not get properly instructed about the main issues of the Orthodox Faith, he does not know whether any confirmation was performed (as he does not know the difference between annointing oil or chrism) and there are no competent godfathers who could confirm these issues these people are to be considered not baptised and after due instruction they should be baptized and confirmed". Bishop Agafangel states that only those people who have been properly baptized by immersion in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, in accordance with all the rules of the Orthodox Church, are to be considered baptized "in accordance with the rules established by the Holy Fathers of the II Ecumenical Council." Bishop Agafangel allows the acceptance of all former members of the MP "those who have been properly baptized" by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Diocese and the Ukrainian Independent Church, merely through the sacrament of Confirmation.
The same Circular Instructions indicate that "all those who have joined our Church and have already taken Communion at least once, are to be considered full members of our Church and they should not be Baptized again, despite their requests."
Bishop Agafangel reminds all clergy that "The Sacrament of Baptism must be performed by full immersion, with the exception of very special cases, which allow just pouring water of the head (paralysis, a person near death, etc.)" The godfather or godmother at a Baptism may only be members of our Church (who regularly go to confession and communion). At least one of the parents of the person who is being baptized must also belong to our Church (if the individual being baptized because of age or his health condition cannot decide about his own faith)."
Bishop Agafangel likewise issued instructions about the record books that must exist in all parishes. "Data of all newly baptized members of the Church must be recorded in the Church books (and marriages and deaths likewise). Certificates about the Baptism and Confirmation are to be issued only after communion."
(Vertograd Inform, Omsk)
Omsk City Authorities have closed down a bookstore selling Orthodox literature last March 15. The bookstore owner is Nikolay Zelenev, parish member of the local Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. This bookstore is wellknown to all Orthodox believers because it had a wide assortment of Orthodox literature, carefully chosen by the owner. Mr. Zenev's bookstore was the only one in Omsk to which everybody had access to purchase ROCOR's publications. MP's clergy also used to buy publications and church ware at this store.
The decision to close down the Orthodox bookstore was taken due to pressure from Metropolitan Theodosius, the local bishop, who sent a letter to the city administration stating that allegedly "publications against the Orthodox faith" are being sold at Nikolay Zelenev's bookstore. Metropolitan Theodosius forced some 40 members of the clergy of his diocese to sign this letter.
The city administration told Nikolay Zelenev that they do not intend to start an argument with Bishop Theodosius and suggest that he closes down the store voluntarily, without waiting for a forced seizure, with the "so-called assistance of the tax authorities, firemen and other "special services."
This was a real tragedy for Nikolay Zelenev. He lost a job he loved, as he cannot do anything else because of his health (he had recently been operated on a cancer in his throat).
(The Candle of Repentance? Vertograd Inform, Saratov/Krasnodarsk Region)
His Grace Venyamin, Bishop of Chernomorye and Kuban, has addressed his clergy and parishioners on the matter of the damage done by television. The text of this document was published in the February issue of the newspaper "The Candle of Repentance" (Svecha Pokayania), a publication of the Volgograd Parish in honor of the Zar's Martyrs of the Truly-Orthodox Church (Jurisdiction of the Synod of Bishops of ROCOR).
The need to write an address against "one of the most dangerous instruments of Satan for the soul of the believers" was prompted in Bishop Venyamin by the decline in decency, piousness and devoutness among all believers and the desire to "protect his parishioners against the aggressive and soul destructive influence of the outside world."
"Television has a strong influence, causing debauchery and destruction in men and women, it exerts a negative influence on the willpower and weakness it, says Bishop Venyamin. People do not even notice how they become television's slaves (especially of the so-called "soap operas") a psychological dependence is created similar to that caused by alcohol or drugs. Thus television is a deadly venom for the soul."
The Bishop's address especially notices the most negative influence of television on children "who loose their childhood years through TV, and transforms them from children into old people almost immediately, they are no longer innocent children!" When they experience television, says the Bishop, children "will start considering Christianity as a system imposing bans or prohibitions. with a direct or silent protest against it. Switching on the TV freely we leave our own children in the power of antichrist.!"
Fighting against television is "the foremost task of the Orthodox priest", says Bishop Venyamin. The priests must prompt their parish members to "make a decision to throw out the TV or at least to get rid of it."
In closing his address, Bishop Venyamin recalls a true story: "A small girl, a Christian, was present when a TV set was blessed with Holy Water and saw that immediately demons flew out of it. A couple of minutes went by, and all demons returned to the TV without any opposition. They sat down in the form of musicians with their music instruments, balalaykas and started their concert, like in hell. The head of the Chernomor-Kuban Diocese entrusted his clergy with the task to "convince parishioners to reject television and not to allow them to take Communion if they do not promise to say goodbye to television."
(Vertograd Inform, Vladivostok)
Father Roof, former priest of the Australian Diocese of ROCOR, who arrived in Russia a short while ago, is now celebrating mass at the Church of the Holy Trinity, in the village of Vostochny (Region of Primorye). As he considers himself a priest of the Orthodox Church Outside Russia, father Roof, prays for Metropolitan Vitaly, and also mentions the name of the local Bishop Venyamin of the Moscow Patriarchate. It seems that he received permission for this canonical absurdity from the very head of the Primorye Diocese of the Moscow Patriarchate.
Our Bulletin was informed by the representative of the Far Eastern Ishimsk-Sibirsk Diocese that Father Roof is not a member of ROCOR, and he is considered to be a member of the MP clergy. Father Roof also denied the representatives of the Diocese access to his service record certificate. It was confirmed that the village of Vostochny is not part of the ROCOR parishes.
ORTHODOX WORLD *******************************************************************
(Vertograd Inform, Tbilisi)
In the night of 4 July an unknown criminal made an attack on Archimandrite George (Khabeishvili), the superior of the Zarzma monastery of the True Orthodox Church of Georgia. When the criminal began to shoot at Fr. George from close range, the archimandrite succeeded in directing a blow at the butt of the pistol with his hand. However, two bullets hit him in the head. One bullet, entering the right half of his face, came out through his cheek-bone, the other went through his neck and breast and became wedged between his shoulder-blades near the collar-bone itself. Although the position of Fr. George is quite serious, in the opinion of the doctors it is a sheer miracle that no vital organs were damaged. This is especially amazing inv view of the fact that the shot were made with bullets from a displaced centre of gravity, which tears up all the inner organs of a man. Such a weapon is used in particular by the Georgian special services.
In the spring of 1997 the major Georgian monasteries v Shio-Mgvimksy, Betansky, David-Garedzhsky and Zarma v anathematised ecumenism and the other deviations of the official Georgian patriarchate and formed a so-called "monastic opposition". At the same time the brotherhood of the Shio-Mgvimsky monastery wrote a noteworthy open letter to the patriarch of all Georgia, Ilya II. Soon after this the inhabitants of the three "oppositional" monasteries were forcibly evicted from their communities and founded new monasteries, but the representatives of the Georgian patriarchate were just unable to seize Zarmsky monastery, which was defended by the inhabitants of the village of Zarzma (Vertograd-Inform recounted these events in N 9, 1998). After the events of 1997-1998, Fr. George several times received threats against his person.
Fr. George faces a very serious operation for the removal of a bullet. We ask the readers of our bulletin to pray for the health of Archimandrite George.
(Vertograd-Inform, Suzdal v St. Petersburg)
During the Great Fast some monastic tonsures were performed in Suzdal. On March 30 / April 12, 2000, on the day of the commemoration of St. John of the Ladder, after the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, Bishop Theodore of Borisovsk and Sannino carried out five monastic tonsures on inhabitants of the community of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco. Novice Helen, the cell-attendant of Schema-Abbess Euthymia, was tonsured as a rassophor nun with the name Ludmilla. Four already elderly Catacomb rassophor nuns were tonsured into the mantia: nun Patapia received the name Priscilla, nun Catherine became Nun Ebbula, nun Claudia became nun Matron, and the blind nun Photina was name Theophania at her tonsure.
On the next day, March 31 / April 13, in the evening after Mattins on the eve of the day of St. Mary of Egypt and St. Euthymius of Suzdal, Bishop Theodore tonsured into the mantia two clergy of the St. Petersburg community of holy New Nun-Martyr Great Princess Elizabeth, which joined the Russian Orthodox (Autonomous) Church in September, 1999. The priest Basil Lourie received the name Gregory in tonsure, in honour of St. Gregory the Theologian, while Hierodeacon Theodosius (Areskin) was name Theophan in honour of the confessor St. Theophan the Branded, the writer of canons. At the present time Fathers Gregory and Theophan are serving two St. Petersburg communities, the second of which arose on the base of the Centre for Orthodox Enlightenment, the teachers and students of which left the Moscow Patriarchate at the beginning of 1999 and joined the ROAC in the summer of the same year.
EPISTLE OF THE HIERARCHICAL SYNOD OF THE RUSSIAN (ROSSIJSKOJ) ORTHODOX CHURCH TO THE HIERARCHICAL COUNCIL OF THE RUSSIAN (RUSSKOJ) ORTHODOX CHURCH ABROAD
21 August / September 3, 2000. No. 70.
Your Eminence, honourable Archpastors - members of the Hierarchical Council, and also clergy and children and of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad!
The Hierarchical Council of the Church Abroad opens at a time when, on the one hand, the whole world is being shaken by events, each more terrible than the one before - catastrophes, elemental disasters, wars. On the other hand, the whole world is seized by a certain fever for unification: this is observable not only in the political life of the world, but also in its religious life. On the one hand, endless disputes, on the other - a haste to unify everyone and everything: states with states, churches with churches, religions with religions.
The fever for unification that embraces the earthly globe manifests itself in various external forms - sometimes political, sometimes economic, and sometimes also in an ecclesiastical-ecumenical form - but its profound essence remains unchangingly the same.. And in this the zealots of unification place definite hopes on the hierarchs of the ROCA.
But can the Orthodox Church surrender to this spirit of the times - that Church which is unshakably "built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone" (Ephesians 2.20)?
"Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved", says the holy Apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Corinthians (I Corinthians 15.1-2). In another epistle, to the Galatians, he says: "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel that what we have preached to you, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1.8). But to those who have preserved the holy gospel there is the promise of being comforted. "by the mutual faith both of you and of me" (Romans 1.12).
If we open the Acts of the Holy Ecumenical Councils, we see that the holy builders of the Church struggled for nothing more than for the preservation and support in its unchanging form of the faith of the fathers. "We pray you that you keep the faith of the fathers unchanged". "We beseech you to investigate the novelty that has been introduced against the former faith" - this is how the zealots of the Orthodox Faith addressed the Holy Councils. And, having investigated the novelty, and rejected the innovations, and confirmed the Dogmas of Orthodoxy unshaken, the Holy Fathers exclaimed:
"Yes, this is the faith of the fathers! This is how we all believe!"
If we open the works of the Russian teachers of the faith that are closer to us, we see the same care first of all for keeping the patristic teaching unchanged. "Human teachings all strive for that which is new, they grow, they develop. Thus is has become a law: forward, forward! But in regard to our faith it was said from on high: stand. remain unmoved. All that remains for us to do is to be confirmed and to confirm others," appealed the noted holy hierarch of the Vladimir lands Theophan, the Vishensky recluse.
We have to look over all that has passed in order to see whether the order of teachings that was outlined for us has in any way been disturbed." ("On Orthodoxy with warnings against sins against it," Sermons of Bishop Theophan, Moscow, 1991. From his sermons to the flocks of Tambov and Vladimir).
In 1918 "he who restrains" was taken away - and this had fateful consequences not only for Russia, but also for the whole world. Already within two years of the murder of the holy Martyr Tsar Nicholas II, in 1920, the Constantinopolitan Patriarchate in the person of the Locum Tenens of the Patriarchal Throne, Metropolitan Dorotheus of Prussa, issued an encyclical which encroached on the very foundations of Orthodoxy. Heretical communities that have been separated by the Orthodox Church from Her communion were declared to be "churches" having equal rights with her, and Orthodoxy was given the aim of the speediest possible unification with all the apostates.
In contrast to this treacherous document, which marked the beginning of the global apostasy of "World Orthodoxy", in the same year of 1920 the holy Patriarch Tikhon together with the Holy Synod and the Higher Church Council - that is, undoubtedly with the whole fullness of the Central Ecclesiastical authorities of the Russian Church - made a most important resolution, Ukaz no. 362 of 7/20 November, 1920, on the self-definition of dioceses in conditions of possible persecution. The other name for this Ukaz - the Ukaz on decentralization - underlines the fact that the aim of the resolution of the Russian Ecclesiastical Authorities was contradictory to the aim of the encyclical of the Ecumenical throne, which called for the centralization of all confessions of faith.
From now on the broad path and all conditions for unification were created only for the unfaithful: but for those faithful to Christ a violent disunion lay in store: the two parts of the Russian Church were disunited: the one found itself exiled from its native land, while the other was driven into the catacombs by persecutions unprecedented in their ferocity. But in these terrible years the Church of Russia did not cease to constitute one spiritual whole.
The force enabling both parts of the Russian Church to hold out and preserve Their unity in all temptations, especially in the approaching most terrible period - the epoch of the sergianist schism - was their unanimous confession of the faith of the fathers.
"Schism is not antiquity, but novelty", pointed out Theophan the Recluse. This remarkable definition has a universal character and allows always accurately to establish the one who is truly guilty of schism.
By his treacherous Declaration of 1927 Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky) opened wide the gates of the Church for renovationism. It consisted in the undermining of the very meaning of the existence of the Church on earth - not as the pillar and ground of the truth and of eternal Authority, but as the weapon of earthly power.
Both parts of the Russian Church - the part in Russia, and the part Abroad - were completely unanimous in their attitude to the Declaration of 1927. The Hierarchical Synod of the Church Abroad, headed by his Beatitude Metropolitan Anthony, broke communion with the schismatic metropolitan and his synod. The bishops in the homeland that were faithful to the Russian Church did the same. The essence of the sergianist schism was very accurately expressed by New Martyr Bishop Victor (Ostrovidov), when he called Sergius an anti-ecclesiastical heretic. The faithful children of the Russian Church did not visit the sergianist churches, they justly made no distinction between sergianists and renovationists. "We shall not go to renovationism," said the Orthodox. Communications were lost with Metropolitan Peter (Polyansky), the lawful head of the Russian Church, who was in prison, and the treachery of his Deputy forced the Church, both in the Homeland and abroad, to be ruled in its canonical existence by Ukaz no. 362 of the holy Patriarch Tikhon concerning the self-definition of dioceses. With the death of Metropolitan Peter (Polyansky), the Central or Supreme Authority of the Russian Church ceased even its nominal existence. Such an eventuality was foreseen by Ukaz no. 362, which contained detailed recommendations for the ordering of the Church which would avoid schism in this event. But through the efforts of Metropolitan Sergius, a dual authority was introduced, and then a false patriarchate (a common phenomenon, alas, in Church history during the periods when heresy was dominant).
From now on the Russian Church trod its path in the conditions of the absence of Central (Supreme) Ecclesiastical Authority. When the last Orthodox churches were closed in Russia in the 1930s, the Russian Church finally departed into the catacombs, preserving communion in prayer with Her half that was abroad and commemorating Her First Hierarchs Metropolitans Anthony, Anastasy and Philaret. Following the spirit and aim of the Ukaz no. 362 of the holy Patriarch Tikhon of 7/20 November, 1920 kept the Orthodox Church reliably free of false strivings for unification.
This was not the case with the sergianist church - it grew strongly into what is now commonly called "official world orthodoxy". The latter was also ruled by a document of 1920, but the document of an opposite tendency - the ecumenical encyclical of the Locum Tenens of the Ecumenical Throne Dorotheus.
"World Orthodoxy" became an inalienable part of the ecumenical movement and dragged the sergianist church after it into the abyss. Into the gates opened by Metropolitan Sergius there now poured without the slightest resistance the false teachings by which the enemy of human salvation has, in the course of the whole of his struggle with the Church, and especially in the 20th century, undermined the teaching of Christ.
The sergianist church accepted all the most destructive innovations of the 20th century - both communism, and ecumenism, by which it clearly marked its complete attachment to the most terrible schism that has ever tormented the Universal Church.
If Metropolitan Sergius, as the holy new martyrs pointed out, had "distorted the dogmatic face of the Church", then under his successors we must speak no longer of distortion, but of a complete overthrow of the Holy Dogmas, and first of all - of the Dogma of the Church as being one and only one. In consequence of this trampling on the Holy Dogmas there appeared crying violations of the Holy Canons - for example, the categorical ban on joint prayers with the heterodox under threat of being deprived of one's rank and expelled from the Church.
Is it necessary to cite examples of the excesses of the ecumenists, which are the more blasphemous in that they have been committed in the name of Christ? In 1983 those abroad had the opportunity of seeing on television the raising of a pagan idol by delegates of the Fourth Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Vancouver, among whom were representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate, while in Russia the "Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate" in its account of this ecumenical Assembly was not ashamed to mention this hideous act in the most positive terms.
After the ecumenical Assembly in Vancouver the Russian Church Abroad, headed by the holy Hierarch Philaret, in its Council in Mansonville in 1983 delivered ecumenism to anathema.
With the fall of the "iron curtain", there finally appeared the opportunity for the forcibly divided parts of the Russian Orthodox Church to unite. But it turned out that in the years that had passed since the death of the holy Hierarch Philaret (1985), too much had changed in the Church Abroad - and a significant part of Her was now under threat of falling under their own anathema.
The concelebrations of clergy and even bishops of the Church Abroad with the clergy and episcopate of the ecumenist Orthodox Churches - which was to have ceased after the Mansonville council of 1983 - again became a commonplace phenomenon. The concelebrations of the majority of the hierarchs of the Church Abroad, not to speak of the other clergy, with the clergy of the ecumenical Serbian patriarchate became a real scourge. And these concelebrations took place in spite of the fact that this patriarchate almost exceeded the Soviet sergianists in ecumenical enthusiasm, while her relationships with her local communists was just as submissive as was that of her Soviet "sister". These concelebrations have not ceased even now, after the recent epistle of the Serbian patriarch to his Muscovite brother, in which he affirms that his patriarchate no longer has communion in prayer with the ROCA.
It was also with a heavy feeling of perplexity that we observed the hasty proclamation, in the Hierarchical Council of the ROCA that took place in 1994, that the ecclesiology of Metropolitan Cyprian of Fili and Orope was identical to the ecclesiology of the Church Abroad. We cannot accept as Orthodox the basic position of this ecclesiology - that the saving grace of the sacraments can supposedly be guaranteed to abide in heretical communities, albeit only up to their conciliar condemnation. One of the Greek metropolitans with his followers calls the hierarchs of "World Orthodoxy" the "sick" members of one and the same Body of Christ - His True Church. One branch is healthy, the other sick. We understand that the ecclesiological resolution of the Council of 1994 is a natural step further downwards afterthe Nativity Epistle of 1986, which was distributed under the signature ofMetropolitan Vitaly, in which the meaning of the anathema against ecumenismaccepted in 1983 was restricted, against all logic, to "members of ourChurch(that is, the Church Abroad)" - as if an anathema applies, not to a heretic,but to a jurisdiction! But we also saw, and we see to the present day, thatthere are enough people in the Church Abroad who understand the wholedestructiveness of the resolutions, and that these people are trying tocorrect the mistake of the Hierarchical Council in 1994.
But of course that which we perceive with the greatest heaviness is theever-increasing tendency of the Church Abroad towards union with the MoscowPatriarchate. It is worthy of note that the very possibility of negotiationswith her was sanctioned in principle by the same Council of the ROCA in 1994which recognized the crypto-ecumenist ecclesiology of Metropolitan Cyprian.
At a time when the Moscow Patriarchate was preoccupied with unity withthe Catholics (the Balamand unia of 1993 - this document has not beendisavowed: on the contrary, certain of its positions have been widelyrealized in life) and with the Monophysites (the Chambesy union of 1990;within the bounds of the programme outlined in it the Moscow Patriarchate isnow getting very close to the Armenian monophysite church), certainhierarchsof the Church Abroad have been insistently seeking to get closer to theMoscow Patriarchate - even in spite of the fact that the patriarchate takesless and less account of the very existence of the Church Abroad,exappropriating her property now not only in Russia, but also abroad. Thishas delivered a huge blow to the dignity of the Church Abroad and Herhierarchy even in the eyes of "outsiders". But still sadder is the fact thatthis witnesses to the apostasy of part of the hierarchs of the ROCA from thepath bequeathed to Her by the first-hierarchs Metropolitans Anthony,Anastasyand Philaret - that is, to their apostasy from Orthodoxy.
If the other, healthy part of the ROCA does not find within itself thestrength to halt the strivings of the apostates, then the final degenerationof the ROCA into a false ecclesiastical organization and Her subsequentdissolution in the ecumenical "great and spacious sea" (Psalm 103.27) of"World Orthodoxy" will become a burning question in the nearest future.
In Russia the stand-off between the Church Abroad and "World Orthodoxy"in the person of the MP has taken a particularly acute form, and thereforethe Russian parishes of the ROCA did not have the possibility of waitingmany years until the hierarchs abroad re-established Church discipline and wereagain established on the path of the holy Hierarch Philaret. This was thecause of the break in eucharistic communion between the Russian [Rossijskoj]Orthodox Church and the Hierarchical Synod of the ROCA which took place in1995. Unfortunately, our actions at that time did not meet withunderstandingon the part of the clerical leadership of the ROCA, which, contrary to thespirit and the letter of Ukaz no. 362 and its own evident inability torestrain the tendencies towards apostasy from the faith in the diocesesabroad, began to insist on his own full right to realize supremeecclesiastical authority in Russia.
The five years that have passed since then have shown whether or not wewere right in our fears.
Our position remains: faithfulness to the dogmas and holy canons of theOrthodox Church and, moreover, the preservation of the Orthodox Faithwithoutcontamination from the ecumenical filth of "World Orthodoxy" and its organicpart - the Moscow Patriarchate. It was on this path that Her ever-memorablefirst-hierarch, the holy Philaret, left the Russian Church Abroad for us,hissuccessors, and this position of ours is similar to that of the majority ofOld Calendarist Greek hierarchs and their flock. We have no "separate"claimsin relation to the Moscow Patriarchate: it is no more than a part of theglobal and now already ecumenical sergianism, which with the same zeal thatMetropolitan Sergius once served Stalin now serves the New World Order andthe coming unification of everyone and everything. It is in no way worse orbetter than some Serbian or Constantinopolitan patriarchate. With all theseecumenical jurisdictions the Russian Orthodox Church broke canonicalcommunion under the holy Hierarch Philaret.
If you, your Graces, honourable Archbishops, clergy and laymen, chooseto return to the faith of the fathers - the holy fathers of UniversalOrthodoxy and the fathers of our Church Abroad - then we shall be togetheragain. Unity of canonical communion will be quickly restored between us, assoon as unity of faith is restored.
But if it is not - if within the Church Abroad there is not found thestrength to stop Her slide into the quagmire of "World Orthodoxy", then theend is inevitable: the Moscow Patriarchate will suck up into itself herremains scattered around the world, and the muddy waters of ecumenism willclose above Her head forever.
May this not be!
The means of salvation are the same for all times: to hear and to carryout, amidst the wavering, unstable elements of the world, the everlastingvoice of the true Mother Church uttered from on high: As you have believed -"in that stand and be saved" (I Corinthians 15.1).
+ Valentine, Archbishop of Suzdal and Vladimir,
President of the Hierarchical Synod of the Russian [Rossijskoj] Orthodox
+ Theodore, Bishop of Borisovskoye and Sanino
+ Seraphim, Bishop of Sukhumi and Abkhazia
+ Victor, Bishop of Daugavpilis and Latvia
+ Hilarion, Bishop of Sukhodolsk
+ Anthony, Bishop of Yaransk
Protopriest Andrew Osetrov, Secretary of the Hierarchical Synod
FROM THE LIFE OF THE MOSCOW PATRIARCHATE *******************************************************************
EPISCOPAL COUNCIL OF MP
A scandal happened at the St. Petersburg religious academy and seminary of Moscow Patriarchate. It was over the decision of Bishop Constantine of Tikhvin, the rector of the schools, to ordain academy student Alexey Tarasov known among his comrades as a secret informer.
According to the words of the seminary members, Tarasov is hated not only by his class-mates, but also but by most other students. During the chirotony on Palm Sunday, a collective act of protest took place, the church sang -anaksios- (not worthy) instead of the prescribed -aksios- (worthy). As a result, almost half of the students were prohibited to receive communion. They were said that if they did not repent, communion will not be administered to them even on Easter.
Alexey Tarasov entered the academy in 1997. The student say that from his very first days at the school he showed extreme discipline in obeying the routine, criticized "liberalism" in contemporary theology, and received a number of encouragements from the academy rectorate. In 1998 he was appointed assistant to the inspector and soon took his vows with the name of Ignaty.
According to the source, on many occasions he humiliated guilty students and threatened "to use his position for personal ends".
The decision to ordain Fr. Ignaty was taken personally by Bishop Constantine, contrary to the student and faculty council opinion. During the incident Bishop Constantine addressed the students asking them to halt the protest. He proceeded with the ordination despite the continuing chanting of "anaksios", which, according to the canons, had to cut short the chirotony.
After the chirotony of Fr. Ignaty, the student indignation grew and the noise "became so loud it could be heard all over the school premises". The school spiritual father announced the order of Bishop Constanine, prohibiting communion of all those who did not agree with his decision".
On May 17 the students composer an Appeal, asking to perform the examination of this matter that would help to close the conflict. But no examination was taken. Moreover, two students and one of the teachers (deacon Alexander Musin) were dismissed from the Seminary without any reason.
Information Bulletin" of the Department of External Ecclesiastical Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate (N 3, 2000, pp. 51-52) published the following interesting document. We are re-publishing it as it was printed there.
By a decision of the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church of December 28, 1998, a Podvorye of the Moscow Patriarchate was formed in the city of Bari, Italy, for the spiritual nourishment of the local Russian-speaking community and the numerous pilgrims who visit this city to venerate the honourable relics of the holy hierarch and wonderworker Nicholas, as well as for the support of working contacts with religious, state and social circles in Italy. The co-worker of the Department of external ecclesiastical relations, the priest Vladimir Kuchumov, was appointed as superior.
From the beginning of the activity of the Podvorye, it became known that in the lower church of the former Russian home for receiving pilgrims, which is partly used, in accordance with an agreement, by the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCA), there was serving a clergyman of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
His Holiness Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow and All Russia wrote to His Holiness Patriarch Pavle of Serbia, asking him to clarify the situation that had been created, which violated the canonical structure of the Orthodox Church, insofar as the pastoral service of a clergyman of the Serbian Patriarchate was taking place in a schismatic ecclesiastical structure having no communion with any Local Orthodox Church.
His Holiness Patriarch Pavle of Serbia sent a return letter to His Holiness Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow and All Russia, in which he expressed the position of the Sacred Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church in relation to the schismatics. In particular he declared the following:
"- The Sacred Hierarchical Synod of our Holy Church has forbidden their Graces, the Diocesan Bishops, to give any kind of canonical permission to priests to depart for the jurisdiction of the above-mentioned 'church'. We hope that they will stick to this.
"We are sorry that such a thing could have taken place, and we hope that this incident will in no way spoil the age-old good brotherly relations that have existed throughout the course of our united history.
"In this hope, we beseech Your Holiness and the Most Holy Russian Orthodox Church, which is so dear to us, [to forgive] our oversight, which took place in the city of Bari, and not to consider it to be a sin. We assure you that such an unpleasant incident will not be repeated.
"Your Holiness knows the brotherly and Christian relations that the Serbian Orthodox Church and people had towards Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) of Kiev and the bishops, monks and Russian people who came to us in flight from the violence of the communists in 1918. This brotherly relationship continued only until, after the fall of the communists, the representatives of the Russian Church Abroad started to spread their priesthood onto the territory of Russia, thereby violating the canonical authority of the Russian patriarchate. The Sacred Synod has more than once directed its protests to the leadership of the Russian Church Abroad in America and demanded that it cease from such actions since they are anticanonical and worthy of every condemnation."
UN RELIGIOUS SUMMIT WAS HELD IN NEW YORK
A delegation of romancatholic bishops, represents of the Commission of the Bishopric Conferencies of the European Community (COMECE), visited Serbia from 13th till 17th of Jule, after the invitation of the Serbian Church. They discussed theological issues, visited several churches and refugee camps and in the end they edited a common declaration (published in ("Politika", Saturday 29 Jule 2000) in which they made open ecumenical statements and told about common prayers:
"(...) We, the bishops, members of the delegation of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the delegation of the Commission of the Bishopric Conferencies of the European Community (COMECE), encountered for the sake of three-day meeting in Belgrade. In common prayer and fraternal dialogue and with a feeling of praying veneration and admiration for the sancrithy of the Serbian Orthodox Church, we came even closer to each other.
The fact that in this jubilant year we continued the contact, which didn't stop even in the war years, causes us a great joy. The days spent together have deepened the sense of our Christian tights. We are bounded by the hope that, through the continued dialogue on theological and pastoral challenges of our time, we will work for the good of all the people in Europe and throughout the world. Through the ecumenical discussions about our theological and pastoral heritage we want to offer our contribution to the unity of our Churches. We decided to continue our dialogues in the following years. In the next year already, we want to talk about what we expect from Europe and for Europe.
Our meeting was a fruitful spiritual event and a new impulse. Our churches have a common responsibility for the future. Serbia and Yugoslavia have their place in Europe. We want to encourage youth to live in truth and love. For three days we were praying together to God, talking and listening to each other. In our piligrimage we found again a lot of common things.
These were really three days of hope.
The participants and signers of the Declaration were, on behalf of the Commission, bishops dr Josef Homayer (Hildesheim, Germany), Luke de Hovre (Bruxelles, Belgium), Josepf Duffy (Monagan, Ireland) and John Mone (Pacely, Scotland), a on the side of the SOC bishops of Shumadija dr Sava, of Shabac and Valjevo Lavrentije, of the Middle Europe Konstantin, of Branichevo dr Ignatije and lowersigned Bishop of Bachka dr Irinej."
PATRIARCH ALEXIS II AS A CHURCH FIGURE
In our time many ordinary believers of the MP, when coming across criticism of their hierarchy, and in particular the patriarch of Moscow and all Rus- Alexis (Ridiger), and notably in connection with the accusation that he has betrayed Orthodoxy and has openly confessed the heresy of ecumenism, stand shoulder-to-shoulder with "His Holiness" and demand that they be given concrete facts proving his apostasy from the faith. In actual fact, it is not difficult to prove this; it is sufficient merely to take into one-s hands a selection of issues of the Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate during the last two or three decades, and also to acquaint oneself with the interview the patriarch gave to SMI, with the decisions of the synod and the resolutions of the Hierarchical councils of the MP in the years 1994-97, and compare them with Orthodox ecclesiology and patristic teaching.
The Servant of the Ecumene
While he was metropolitan of Tallin and Estonia, and then Leningrad and Novgorod, Alexis II headed one of the most important ecumenical organizations of our age v the Conference of European Churches (CEC), into which the majority of the Christian denominations of Europe entered on equal terms. In this post Alexis worked hard to unite and coordinate the activity of all the member churches of the CEC in "the Church-s peace-making service to the world". This was expressed in the conducting of ecumenical conferences, in joint declarations and inter-confessional prayers. However, Alexis was not the first comer here: the MP had been taking part in "peace-making activity" for a long time already, since the 1940s (the true "first comer" in this filed may be considered to have been the Stalinist metropolitan, Nicholas (Yarushevich)). It is not surprising that this ecclesiastical "struggle for peace" should have required a theoretical underpinning, which appeared shortly in the distorted form of a "theology of peace", that is, a theological doctrine justifying and interpreting the necessity for the preservation of peace on the planet. It became the aim of this struggle to unite the whole of humanity, all "men of good will" and all Christian confessions (and even non-Christian religions) in a single impulse towards a peaceful future for humanity. Ideologically, this movement was characterized by two elements v humanism and ecumenism.
Already in 1966, in his speech before the delegation of the German Evangelical church at a conference in Moscow, the future head of the MP in the name of Christ Himself declared that "Jesus Christ considers His own, that is, as Christians, all those who believe in Him and obey Him, and this is more than the Orthodox Church." If we remember that, according to Orthodox teaching, Christ adopted people to Himself only in His Hypostasis, that is, in His Body which is the Orthodox Church, then it is obvious that the metropolitan is here confessing a christological heresy, considering as Christians those who are outside the Church v calling them "God-s", that is, the Church-s.
Alexis still more clearly confesses that all the non-Orthodox Christians are the Church of Christ in his report to the 8th General Assembly of the World Council of Churches, published in the Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate in 1980 (nos. 1-3). Here, blasphemously mixing up and identifying the concepts of the presence of God in the world and His energies and presence in the Church, the metropolitan very distinctly reveals his heretical teaching on the "all-embracing and unconditional" Incarnation of Christ, which automatically turns the whole of humanity, all Christians, Muslims, pagans, and in general all "men of good will" into members of the Body of Christ, that is, the Church! Metropolitan Alexis openly teaches that the same grace of the Holy Spirit acts in the non-Orthodox churches v the participants in the WCC v as in the Orthodox Church: We (the CEC) have learned to pray together, to understand the spirit and depth of prayer for each other, to feel the breath of the grace of the Holy Spirit in joint prayer to the Lord - we must thank God for the joy of our communion in Christ, for the joy of the ever-increasing experience of brotherhood and sisterhood in Christ in our work." Thus it was precisely in joint prayers with heretics that the archpastor felt the breath of "the grace of the Holy Spirit"! We should note that "ecumenical prayer" is a very important moment in the ecumenical dialogue, it not only witnesses to the presence among the ecumenists of some common "god" to whom this prayer is raised, but it is also a practical recognition of the action of the Holy Spirit in heterodoxy, thereby aiding the aggiornamento of the churches. This is what the future head of the MP says on this subject: "The aggiornamento of the churches is attained in the first place by prayer and brotherly love; joint prayers create a special atmosphere, a spiritual mood; (he goes on to cite A.S. Khomyakov) prayer is the life of the Church and the voice of her love, the eternal breathing of the Spirit of God. We believe that through joint prayers the breathing of the Spirit of God jointly enriches us all."
According to Orthodox teaching, it is precisely the Holy Spirit that makes a man a member of the Church of Christ, a Christian. But Metropolitan Alexis recognises that the Holy Spirit works in heretics just as in the Orthodox Church, and therefore heretics, like Orthodox Christians, are the Church of Christ: "We believe that the Holy Spirit v visibly or invisibly v continues until now His saving activity in the world. You and I, dear brothers and sisters, representing various Churches and the human race, live by the same real and grace-filled power of Pentecost". From this there follows an open admittance on the part of the metropolitan that the heretical communities are the Church and the Body of Christ: "We, the Orthodox, are lovingly disposed to our non-Orthodox brothers, for we have all been baptized in one Spirit, and we have all been made to drink into one Spirit" (I Cor.12.13). Here the Apostle Paul-s eucharistic (even liturgical) terminology has not been used in vain, so as once more to emphasise: Orthodox and heretics are not simply a divided Church, but the Body of Christ, organically one in the Holy Spirit.
The source of this teaching of Metropolitan Alexis on the Holy Spirit is a heretical Christology, whose essence consists in the assertion that "we all have been received into the nature of Jesus Christ the God-man as an integral nature. And this truth forces us to believe that every person striving towards goodness and righteousness does the work of Christ on earth, even if he intellectually has not known Christ or has even rejected Him. From the Godmanhood of Christ it follows that the path into the Kingdom of God has been opened to all men. Consequently, with the Incarnation of the Son of God the whole of humanity becomes His potential Church, and in this sense the boundaries of the Christian Ecumene (or the pan-human family) are far wider than the boundaries of the Christian world." Hence Metropolitan Alexis- teaching becomes understandable: insofar as Christ has received into His Hypostasis the common nature of man, all people, that is, all human hypostases of all generations are saved and remain in Christ, that is, in the Church. In other words, Christ has saved the whole nature of man, and consequently, according to the thought of Metropolitan Alexis, all people.
However, according to the Orthodox teaching, "God the Word, on becoming incarnate, did not take on the nature viewed as an abstraction in pure thought,- nor the nature contemplated in species (that is, viewed in all the hypostases of the human race v H. Th.), for He did not take on all the hypostases, but He took on that which received its existence in His Hypostasis". That is, it is impossible to say that since God the Word became Man, all people are saved by virtue of being men. But Metropolitan Alexis affirms that in the humanity of Christ is contained all men-s hypostases. Such a teaching was confessed in the 11th century by the Monk Nilus of Calabria, who taught that all human hypostases are present or are contained in the humanity taken on by the Lord and are "co-deified" together with Him. The Orthodox Church anathematized Nilus and his heresy: "If anyone dogmatises that all human hypostases are in the flesh taken on by the Lord and are co-deified with it, let him be anathema, for this is empty chatter, or, rather, manifest impiety." And although the metropolitan makes the qualification that humanity for him is only "the potential church", nevertheless he later on unambiguously speaks of the whole of humanity as of the Church v the Body of Christ, the Temple of the Holy Spirit: "Christ redeemed, cleansed and recreated a common human nature for all, while the Holy Spirit morally transfigures each human personality, gives the Christian the fullness of grace, makes him a temple of God and dwells in him, raises the growth of spirituality in the mind and the heart, leads him to every truth and gives him spiritual gifts to his benefit: to one v the word of wisdom, to another v the word of knowledge, by the same Spirit- and other gifts (I Cor. 12.7-11), so that human talents should be revealed more fully." In this way, insofar as God the Word has been incarnate in a common human nature, His Body is the divided Christian Church in the combination of all its separate parts. However, the saving action of the Holy Spirit is poured out even beyond the bounds of the Body of Christ, penetrating into and deifying the body of the whole of humanity: "The all-embracing and most powerful force of the Holy Spirit is spread out onto the whole life of our world, transforming it in the course of the historical process of the struggle between good and evil."
And so, thanks to a clever substitution of concepts, the real difference between the grace of the Holy Spirit, by which God providentially preserves the world in existence and leads people to the Church, and the deifying mystical presence of the Holy Spirit in the Body of Christ, the Church, is destroyed, which completely abolishes the difference between the Church and the world: now "the culture efflorescence of European and world Christianity" is declared to be an action of the Holy Spirit, and even the Salt-2 treaty between Brezhnev and Carter concerning the limiting of strategic offensive weapons is also "a manifestation of the invisible power of the Holy Spirit acting in the world for the good of the whole of humanity."
The consequences of this "pan-human Pentecost" are expressed by the metropolitan mainly in the terms of humanism and peace-making: "Christian concern for questions of social justice", "the elements of the movement for peace", Christians- service to people and their "involvement in all the complexity of the real life of the world". In this way the life of grace in the Body of Christ is substituted by a humanistic "serving the affairs of the world".
It is understandable that this "theology of peace" should be very convenient for the dialogue not only with any heretical Christian communities, but also with any religions, even with utopian teachings like communism.
But how is such a faith compatible with the Orthodox teaching on the uniqueness and singleness of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church? Yes, admits Metropolitan Alexis, "the oneness and unity of the Church is an ecclesiological axiom", but in actual fact "an invisible unity as the unity of Christ and the Holy Spirit lives in the visible multitude of Churches, each of which has its particular face", affirms the metropolitan, citing his brother in ecumenism, Professor Archbishop Vladimir (Sabodan). Before us here is the classical ecumenist ecclesiology v "the branch theory", which was invented by Archbishop Stylianos of Australia (Constantinopolitan patriarchate), or, using the language of Soviet theological thought, the ecclesiology of "the traumatized Body of Christ", a fruit of the refined minds of the "ecumenist theologians" of the MP v the main teacher and implanter of the ecumenist heresy in the MP was Metropolitan Nicodemus (Rotov).
Teacher and Pupil
We shall now see that it was precisely Metropolitan Nicodemus who initiated Metropolitan Alexis into the wisdom of ecumenism. We can learn how the latter believed in God and the Church from his numerous articles, reports and speeches.
Metropolitan Nicodemus begins his exposition of his ecumenist faith with an Orthodox thesis on the unity of the whole human race in Adam: "Mankind, the whole Adam (in the expression of St. Macarius the Great) is united by means of the Incarnation, Cross and Resurrection of the last Adam (I Cor. 14.45), the second Man, the Lord Who "for us men" came down from the heavens (I Cor. 15.47), and, having tasted "death for us all by the grace of God" (Heb. 2.9), "is the Saviour of all men" (I Tim. 4.10)- We all, in accordance with the ineffable wisdom of God, have been bound from the beginning with the bonds of unity and brotherhood". But further on Metropolitan Nicodemus reveals his understanding of this unity: "Christ died for all men, and, as the new Adam, he laid the beginning for a new humanity- The fullness of the grace-filled gifts are communicated to people by the Holy Spirit in the Church of Christ. However, it would be a dangerous error to consider that Christ, the Redeemer of the whole world, does not extend His saving influence on the whole of humanity." This saving influence consists, according to Metropolitan Nicodemus, "in faith in Christ Jesus, acting through love in each separate person, as in the whole of humanity, with which we are united by our common human nature. God redeemed us into an undivided, indivisible, unchanging and unconfused union with this nature through the incarnation of the Only-Begotten Son." "By taking on and deifying our nature in the Divine Incarnation the Chief and Accomplisher of our faith (Heb. 12.2) and of eternal salvation (Heb. 5.9), our Lord Jesus Christ reconciled, united and related the whole of humanity with God, and all people with each other". "The Church as the Kingdom of God is likened to leaven which penetrates into all the parts of the whole that is humanity, into the whole world, and acts with that measure of power which corresponds to the moral level of the bearers of Christ-s truth. And although far from all people actively and consciously abide in the Church, the Church abides in all through the love of Christ, for this love is not limited by any part of humanity, but is distributed to all people." Hence "the activity of the Spirit of God is not limited by confessional limits. His manifestation is completely and, above all, unconditionally revealed in the Church, but the traces of His presence are evident everywhere where there are the fruits of spiritual life: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness-" Therefore all people, the whole Body of humanity (Adam), is invisibly united with God and is a certain "invisible Church". The organization of the Church is understood by Nicodemus as "the visible Church", in which "baptism defines the visible belonging to Christ". Metropolitan Nicodemus consciously confesses the "baptism" of Protestants to be true, turning to his "brothers in Christ", the Protestants, the members of the WCC: "Through the mystery of holy Baptism we are engrafted onto the saving Divine Vine-" But the visible Church "is called to realize the fruits of the Incarnation and Redemption in the life of her immediate members."
And so, according to Metropolitan Nicodemus, all people are "Christians", it is true that the Church of Christ, the Body of Christ, the New Adam, is one, but it is not yet united into one ecclesiastical organization under one leader. The aim of the ecumenists is to create this mediation, that is, one single visible ecclesiastical organization for all. In this way the ecumenical Church and the world become indistinguishable from each other. It is not difficult to find the primary source of this faith. It is sergianism v a heretical teaching that the Church, the Body of Christ, is a simple ecclesiastical organization, just like ordinary secular organizations, political parties, communities, commercial structures, etc.
As we see, Metropolitan Alexis Ridiger repeats his teacher in everything, and now nobody can object to the statement that even before his appointment to the patriarchal throne (1990) Metropolitan Alexis openly confessed the ecumenical heresy v like all the leading hierarchs of the MP of that time, including Patriarchs Alexis I and Pimen.
Later we shall see whether Alexis (Ridiger), on becoming patriarch, renounced this open confession of heresy or not.
In the post of Patriarch of the Moscow Patriarchate
After Metropolitan Alexis was "elected" patriarch of the MP at the dawn of perestroika at the Local Council of 1990, his ecumenist convictions did not change at all.
Patriarch Alexis II continues to carry out his ecumenical functions as fervently as did his predecessors. Thus at the beginning of 1990 the head of the MP together with the synod again confessed the "branch theory", declaring that "the Evangelical and Orthodox Churches have been called in an equal way by Jesus Christ, their Lord, to witness and serve." The patriarch recognizes the Buddhists as his "brothers", and prays together with heretics: the Armenian catholicos and the Syrian, Ethiopian and Coptic Monophysite hierarchs, thereby falling under the anathemas of the 4th, 5th and 6th Ecumenical Councils.
But the most scandalous of all was the patriarch-s famous speech before the rabbis of New York (U.S.A.) on 13 November, 1991. The patriarch openly, in the name of the Orthodox Church, confessed that "we are one with the Jews, without renouncing Christianity and not in spite of Christianity, but in the name of and by dint of Christianity, while the Jews are one with us not in spite of Judaism, but in the name of and by dint of true Judaism. We are separated from the Jews because we are not yet completely Christian, while the Jews are separated from us because they are not yet completely Jews. For the fullness of Christianity embraces both itself and Judaism, while the fullness of Judaism is Christianity- The Jewish people are near to us in faith. Your law is our law, your prophets are our prophets." The patriarch called on the Jews to work together to build "the new world order": "by our joint efforts we shall build a new society v a democratic, free, open, just society- where Jews would live with in security and peace, in an atmosphere of friendship, creative brotherhood and the brotherhood of the children of the one God, the Father of all, the God of your fathers and of ours." And the rabbis did not forget the reverence paid in their honour by the patriarch of Moscow: during the visit of Alexis II to the U.S.A. in 1993 the chief rabbi of New York, Schneier, presented him with the prize "The Call of Conscience". And both in 1991 and in 1993 the patriarch was a guest of a Zionist organization of the same name; he visited synagogues and met Jewish religious leaders.
The MP-s involvement in world ecumenism is so strong that the MP-s hierarchy always replies with refusals to all the protests and demands of the patriarchal conservatives to leave the WCC and renounce the practice of ecumenical prayers. Moreover, the Hierarchical Council of 1994, which was headed by Patriarch Alexis, publicly recognized its participation in ecumenism "to be dictated by considerations of benefit for the Church" and synodically legalized the carrying out of joint prayers with the heterodox both in "the general external activity of the Church" and at the diocesan level, "which is defined by the canonical order of the Orthodox Church."
In 1997, at the Hierarchical Council that took place in Moscow, it was resolved "to reject the persistent suggestion of some pastors to stop all relations with Ecumenism". Apparently, Patriarch Alexis and his brothers in ecumenism, the hierarchs of the MP, decided come what may to accomplish that which Metropolitan Nicodemus insistently strove towards: "It is necessary to instill an ecumenical consciousness ever more deeply and broadly in the consciousness of our believers, to strive to attain ecumenical enlightenment in the mass of the Christians."
During Patriarch Alexis- visit to Armenia in May, 1996, he together with the hierarchs accompanying him took part in a session of the synod of the Armenian church at which questions of "the further merging together of the two sister churches" were discussed. Speaking in front of the hierarchy of the Armenian church, Patriarch Alexis highly valued "the striving for union of the ancient Eastern Orthodox Churches", and called the existing division "an unhealed wound on the body of the church" and promised to apply "special effort for the speed overcoming- of the division". In the course of the visit Patriarch Alexis together with the head of the Armenian Monophysites, Patriarch-Catholicos Garegin, twice carried out joint prayer services and blessed the people from the altars of the Armenian churches.
On 22 June, 1997 Patriarch Alexis, together with Cardinal Martini of Milan, opened the 2nd European ecumenical assembly in Graz. There he prayed with Catholics in the Lower-Austrian Benedictine monastery of Melk, and then took part in a service in the cathedral church of St. Stefan together with the papal nuncio in Austria, Archbishop Skvicharini, and Archbishop Schenborn of Vienna.
Finally, on 21 April, 2000, while speaking about the perspectives for mutual relations between the MP and the Catholic Church during a meeting with the president of the Palace of Representatives of the Parliament of the Kingdom of Belgium, Herman de Kru, the patriarch once more assured his foreign guests that the church led by him "will not begin to isolate itself from the western world and western Christianity". In the course of a discussion taking place in the Danilov monastery, Patriarch Alexis noted that "ecumenical contacts on a bilateral basis will be continued".
One could cite many such examples. However, the fact remains: Patriarch Alexis, having prayed for the whole of his life with heretics, has never renounced and is not renouncing his ecumenist heresy, continuing openly, ex cathedra, to confess heretics and non-Christians to be "the Church of Christ", that Church of which he himself considers himself to be a member and to which, consequently, his followers belong.
Sender: Archimandrete Antony
"Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent His Angel and hath delivered me from all the expectation of the people of the Jews."
(Acts 12, 11)
By your holy prayers, God has released me from captivity after having seen death many times. With the assistance of the Red Cross, we were transferred from our Jerusalem Mission across the front line to the Mt. of Olives. Together with me came out Deacon Spiridon with his wife and my mother. I left in the Mission father Methody with two old monks?Vsssily and Nikifor?to take care of the two Churches and Monastery. Father Melety at the last minute refused to leave and remained in the Mission.
We have stayed 6 weeks on the other side. During 28 days the New City was shelled, hitting our Mission building daily. Yet the main danger was not from bombardment but aggressions by which pro-soviet elements could surprise us. The English unexpectedly left a day earlier. Up till the very last I was busy with Mr. Antipoff, drawing up letters and conditions to the British Consul about receiving us under his protection. The New Russian Ecclesiastical Mission Order was signed by the High Commissioner on 24th April/7th May and, as the Government printing office was closed, it was sent to a private one in the Jewish Zone. On Thursday, the last day of the British rule, the newly-printed Law was stolen by armed men. I immediately telephoned the Aid-de-Camp of the High Commissioner, who took up the matter, communicated with Mr. Fox Strangways and told me that "there is no cause for alarm" since they intend to print it again in England and that I should keep in touch with the British Consul.
Both Passion and Paschal weeks have passed in prayer, all Services being held in the small Church because of the heavy fighting raging throughout Jerusalem. I frequently visited Mr. Antipoff in the Old City in connection with the new Law, attempting to obtain the newly-published copy of it, which was especially difficult owing to the indescribable chaos which reigned everywhere at the end of Mandate.
On the eve of 1/14th May I was urgently finishing the project of transfer of our powers. I had spent an almost sleepless night, unable to decide the question of whether or not to leave; I prayed God to arrange what was most useful for the Mission and show me the way. Had I not been at the head of an institution, I would not for a moment remained as I fully realized the danger. But the fear of leaving the Churches on the one hand and the possibility of an end to the fighting overcame my apprehension or personal danger. During the last days I was preparing myself for death the best way I could.
On the morning of 1/14th May, after Holy Communion I had complete peace in my heart, and even Paschal joy. I remembered the words of the Psalm: "I shall not die, but live, and declare the works or the Lord." (Ps. 117, 17) It became obvious that the British are leaving Jerusalem and that our Compound will be taken by Jews. At 8 a.m. the English sentries were still standing near our building but the neighboring buildings of Post Office and prison were already in the hands of the Jewish army and from there were heard noise and loud shouting. At 9 a.m. Father Vassily left the Mission with the last British soldiers. We began to expect the seizing of the Mission and some of our Fathers asked me to leave because they felt my life and safety was in danger. I considered it improper to leave alone, not taking with me those whose lives and safety were also endangered. Therefore I called them together and offered to leave with me. The discussion and preparations took about 20 minutes. When at 9:30 we were ready, carrying small suitcases which held the most important documents of theMission and approaching the front door, feverish shooting began in our Compound; the place became empty; someone was wounded, and we understood that it would be madness to go out. So we remained, expecting death and watching from which side the new masters will break in. Almost immediately the Jewish soldiers got through into the second storey and we heard the stamping of their feet. But to the Mission itself nobody appeared for two full hours, during which time we felt ourselves condemned to death.
At 11:30 a.m. when, with dried mouths, we were standing in the Mission corridor, armed soldiers forced their way in by breaking one of the inside doors between us and the Law Courts. The soldiers were nervously excited and expected to meet resistance. At the sight of monks, they asked who were we; the commanding officer addressed himself to me in English: "Do not be afraid, we came to protect you. Where is the corner room?" Immediately they installed themselves with their machine-guns, hand grenades and other weapons in your corner room, salon and my office with the telephone. They gradually took more rooms in that part of the Mission, turning it into a section of their Headquarters, During the first few days, because we happened to be on the front line, all who appeared outside the Mission or stood inside by the windows were shot at. In our windows loopholes were made for shooting. A number of bullets came in. The next day bombardment began.
Our condition in the Mission was more than depressed because we felt ourselves half-thieves in our own house! Everything was managed by orders of the Jews, who treated us mostly (but not always) exteriorly with forced politeness. We were not so much afraid or shelling as of possible reprisals, although the shelling was very strong. During 28 days the Mission was subject to daily artillery fire at any hour, both day and night. Our building itself received 100 to 200 direct hits and innumerable shel1s around us. Father Theophilact was killed inside his cell in the Mission by a shell which blew his brains out. We buried him during bombardment without a coffin in the little garden beside the small Church. Father Nikifor's arm was wounded by a splinter entering his basement room, which we had considered safe. The shells could not penetrate our thick walls but sometimes entered through doors and windows. Practically not a single room escaped, damage from splinters which destroyed the remains of the glass and were lying together everywhere with pieces of plaster, glass, dust and rubbish, making a great chaos. Between 10 and 20 kg of splinters were found daily in our building. Some of the bombs were incendiary ones. During the most intense bombardment I counted up to 70 explosions just outside my window in only half an hour. The sound of exploding shells was horrible, probably because it was reflected by the surrounding buildings. Each explosion shook the Mission; it was difficult to find which rooms were safer as bombs were railing at almost every spot including the four inside yards. We remained on the first floor as the cellars did not appear much safer. Happily, the damage to our two Mission Churches was done only to the roofs, leaving the inside so far almost intact. There was every reason to believe that our lives were in danger from the extreme pro-soviet elements. That is why, during the heaviest bombardment we were rejoicing that no one would come to take us. The Mission was occupied by Haganah, the primary Jewish fighting organization. But the extreme groups of "Irgun" and "Stern" were occupying nearby buildings. Their members sometimes appeared in the Mission so it was especially unpleasant when I met a soldier who had on his helmet the red soviet star with sickle and hammer. He threw me a piercing look; we were forbidden not only to go out in the streets but even to walk around the Mission building and to talk to anyone. Bolsheviks have made several attempts to abduct me. In one characteristic case right in the beginning of our arrest, a well-known Bolohevik appeared, introduced himself and stated that he is spoken of as a Bolshevik but that it is not true, that he was never a member of the Party and considers that in these difficult times we all must unite together around the Church, that even unbelievers, when the shells explode nearby, "involuntarily make the Sign of the Cross" (and he waved his hand uncertainly in front of his face1 proving that he himself has never made the Sign of the Cross). "You are under home arrest. Your life is in danger. There are here extreme elements. You have made mistakes in the past. It is known that you were turning out certificates for the Arab Committee. I wish to introduce you to some influential people. The car will be sent for you tomorrow. I refused this offer under a sensible-sounding pretext.
On the 6th of May, the day of St. Job the Sufferer, a search was carried out in the Mission. We experienced it as a great trial. Heavily armed men ordered us to leave the Mission for three hours, after having previously searched me. All the keys were demanded of us with a warning that the doors otherwise would be broken. I asked for a warrant and a hastily-written note was shown me to the effect that "any obstacles will be subject to severe penalty. However it later became evident that they represented Haganah Security Force and not the ordinary bandits. Outside, shells were exploding and I was glad that we were permitted to go to the nearby Red Cross Hospital with the Arab staff. During three hours I was expecting cross examination and arrest, which could only mean the worst. After three hours I was called out alone. In the office were collected many of our files, letters, contracts or lease and all our documents of immovable properties ownership. The Jews were extremely nervous and said to me that as they have no time they are taking everything away for investigation for 10 days. I asked them for a receipt. They were in a hurry and it was impossible to make a list. So I asked at least to count the documents and was given a receipt for 78 contracts and other valuable papers. In the pile I noticed my correspondence regarding the Soviet campaign against the Mission. Also I saw the new book of Father Michel "Canonical Position of the High Ecclesiastical Authority in USSR and Abroad".
The search party left and I tried hard not to give in to this heavy blow yet I was not far from being completely broken. These documents were collected by me during 15 years. I had to travel all over Palestine and search through ancient Turkish archives and was successful in finding registrations of our lands; a number of documents were received after protracted and costly litigations; many were received through a special Land Settlement during the British rule. As a result most of our properties were properly registered. Now these efforts seem to have been undertaken in vain. But what was still more depressing was the fact that they were unrenewable since the British left. Especially valuable were the documents of the long lease of our house in Jaffa Road in Jerusalem, which, after 2-1/2 years is returning to us and was the main and long awaited possibility of our sufficient means of existence in the near future. The loss of documents meant the loss of ownership. All the long labors and hopes were crashed. I asked God to help me bear all this. The loss of documents was the culmination of the successive blows. At first came the realization that I ceased to be the Chief of the Mission, be coming a miserable prisoner among a small group of ten monks; next was the heavy bombardment, while I was in complete ignorance of the fate of our Convents, knowing only that if Sisters were alive they had no money since all of our income stopped. Very depressing was the realization of personal danger from the extreme elements. The loss of documents filled the cup and I fell ill. I could not move at all but, after ten days in bed, I gradually got better and began to work again. I have put in order accounts for the year 1948. Our last income was In April. The total income during January - April 1948 was about LP 150?which was paid out to the convents. The Mission staff received no salaries and for food we have received during 1948 only a part of necessary expenses. In cash remained 003 mils, i.e. nothing.
Gradually I began to realize that God wishes us not to rely on contracts, documents and agreements but to rely on Him for He is powerful to feed and keep us without documents. In this respect, I thanked God for these tests. All that has happened made one look back through the whole life, see everything in a new light and entrust oneself more completely to the mercy or God. One thing was incomprehensible to me: up till now God has clearly helped us in the Mission affairs and now it seemed as if I had made the unreparable mistake or remaining, although involuntarily, in the Mission. If one should blame anyone for my staying back then one ought to put the blame on the Obedience which made me up to the very last be busy with the New Law and its application. Ten days passed but no documents were returned. I had little hope for it, fearing that they might have been handed over to the new Soviet Consul Ershov, whose arrival in Jerusalem was announced in the papers to be shortly expected. After a fortnight I sent a letter to the Haganah Security Force.
Referring to the receipt they gave me, I pointed out that the land documents can be of no danger to the public security; they belong to us and are of great value to the Mission. There was no answer. After that, three times I visited the Military Governor asking him to return our documents, which was also of no avail. The Military Governor established his office in a neighboring house of the Nikolaevsky's Hospice and we were allowed to visit his office if we had business.
After a month since the end of Mandate, a four weeks truce was fixed between the Jews and Arabs. In the beginning of the truce a kind of revolution took place among the Jews. According to the official account, it was a clash between the Irgun group and Haganah. After a few days the Haganah took the situation in hand and reconciliated with the Irgun. The official story, however, might not have been true since Haganah had in the past closely collaborated with the Irgun. In any case the fact remained that this collaboration had continued after the revolution and it gives us sufficient grounds to realize that there is a tendency towards the extreme left. If we were not so far killed by the Jews, this might only naturally happen in future, bearing in mind the above. God does not reveal to us the future and it is most difficult to find the right way of action in the extremely complicated situation which prevailed around. After much painful thinking and our experience of the two month's arrest, I felt it would not be a mistake to leave the Mission. I followed the example or the Latin Convents in the Jewish zone who have evacuated, with the assistance of the Red Cross, their monastic staff, leaving some two persons in each place to look after church property-without which there was little hope of retaining it. The Deacon Methody agreed to remain and I handed over to him the keys of two churches, the library and other premises. I left the Holly Communion to him with permission in case of danger of death to give It to those who desired. Together with Father Methody remained Father Vassily the sacistan and Father Nikifor. At the very last moment Fr. Melety refused to go with us. A positive thing about it is that he will be able to celebrate Liturgy as he did up to now. But I was unable to hand over to him the Mission which had already been handed over to Father Methody. Father Melety did not object; the bombardment made him a complete invalid.
Not all who applied to the Red Cross for transfer were successful. It was a miracle that our request was granted. It happened by your holy prayers as well as by the prayers of our flock which heartily prayed in the Convents for our deliverance in the same way as St. Peter was freed from prison by the eager prayers of the faithful. A few days before the liberation, I noticed by the turn of events that apparently we will be released. God helped me for instance, to repair the Cathedral doors broken by Jews, hide precious Church articles and make relative order in the Mission itself. But most remarkable was the return of our documents! They were brought by the same Jew who took them. He apologized for keeping them 1-1/2 months instead of the promised 10 days. I received approximately the same number of papers taken away for investigation with the exception of one agreement for a part of our Jaffa Road house. Possibly it was not among the papers taken away for investigation but I had no chance to verity this. Also missing were the file containing papers about the Soviet aggresion, as well as Fr. Michel-s new book and all the material concerning the New Law, including the Law itself. I left a sufficient quantity of rood to Father Methody, a small sum of money and a certificate that he is appointed to be in charge of the building and Churches. On the day when the documents were returned, we were visited by a Swiss lady of the Red Cross and I asked her to arrange the matter or our transfer. She immediately went to the Jewish Agency. Two days later, which was the very last day of the truce, the Assistant Military Governor came to the Mission and informed me that in half an hour a Red Cross ambulance would come to take us to the Arab Zone. We were not permitted to lake any important documents. I took a few clothes and small articles, about 40 spiritual books as well as two portable typewriters. Haganah inspected our luggage most carefully, examining each of the few manuscripts we had. A few minutes before our departure, at my request, a man in charge of the search party unexpectedly allowed me to take the documents of ownership. He looked through them, not letting us take a few plans attached to them which remained in the Mission. There were some Arab war prisoners travelling with us in the same car. Through the window we could see for the first time the vast destruction in the Jewish part or Jerusalem?a clean, tidy town had become a battered, shattered and dirty place which looked like anything but a town. As far as we were able to see from the ambulance1 not a single house escaped damage. There were many large gaps in the roofs and many were completely destroyed. We traveled through Jaffa Road where we saw passersby. Soon we entered the empty military zone, arriving to the last Jewish roadblock, near St. Ceorges. Here the accompanying Haganah men left us and we passed through the No Mans Land only with the Read Cross staff. About 200 metres further we entered the Arab line where our arrival was already expected. The Arab representatives of the Red Cross brought us into the Old City and the Mt. of Olives. Our sisters there met us with prostrations, greeting with the words "Christ is Risen!" It was the same in Gethsemane and Bethany. We made a Thanksgiving service. For about three days I felt myself as in a dream, thanking God for freedom and all other miraculous care He has shown us during the last two months.
I was preparing this report not without much effort. First, because the English language is to be used at Censorship's advice, and second, I feel quite weak and rather exhausted after all our experiences but I thank God I am not ill.
There are a number of other points which I will report to you shortly, otherwise this letter would be still more delayed. I decided to come here so as to get in touch with those of our priests and Churches abroad who can help us in a separate envelope. I am sending you a copy or my circular letter to them.
Asking for your holy prayers and pastoral blessing
Your Grace's most humble and devoted servant
(signed) Archimandrite Antony
14/71 July, 1948
Sender: Archimandrete Antony
Last week I sent you a description of our captivity ending with our release from the Mission. I received your letter in reply to my second telegram. I was both supported and greatly touched by your complete understanding of the situation and dangers experienced by us, as yet unknown to you, as well as your care for me.
I am now morally resting in Amman, greatly enjoying freedom which is valued more after captivity; in a way I feel light at heart without the pressure of numerous duties, which I was unable to perform; physically I am exhausted, for up till now I had not a single day of respite. Just now I am busy corresponding with abroad.
It became evident to me from your letter that it is Archbishop Vitaly to whom I owe a special gratitude for my release; not knowing this, I had many times an idea in the Mission that possibly Archbishop Vitaly is interceding.
Two applications were sent by me to the Red Cross. One of them right in the beginning of our arrest; however, we were released only 1-1/2 month later. During our arrest, up to 10 times I was summoned by the Military Governor, once under shells, and almost every time it was either trouble or new restrictions; towards the end I was strictly forbidden to talk to anyone or to get in touch with anybody, including the Red Cross. I was allowed to address myself only to the Governor.
DAILY SERVICES IN THE MISSION
Up to the last day we did not miss a single Service, as it seemed to us that it made no difference whether we shall observe the breaking of glass and flying in splinters in our cells or in the Church, although mostly we hurried along the corridors expecting any moment the explosions of deadly shells; the corridors were exposed to danger due to the large windows. On many occasions the shells landed in front of corridor windows immediately before or after we risked hurrying to Church. The thunder of explosions was especially strong when bombs fell under the windows of our small Church, preventing to hear the Service, yet the prayerful spirit was very high, although there was mostly only one singer. Especially memorable was the Ascension Eve Service for its highest prayer combined together with the terrific explosions. Up to 30 persons were visiting our Church, mainly from Elizavetinsky-s Hospice. The old women were terrified by the bombardment, yet they were unable to understand anything to such an extent that were coming to pray amidst exploding shells. It was impossible to make them realize the danger. Miraculously, amongst them there were only two who received slight wounds.
GOOD RESULTS OF CAPTIVITY
There were a number or positive results as the consequence of my forced captivity in the Mission. First of all, I realized through my own experience that such captivity was useless for the interests of the Church. This is why I informed the three Abbesses, as soon as I was set free, that they should not remain in case of danger of seizure of their Convents. The next day Gornaya Convent was attacked and captured only a few days after the above instruction which made Mother Elizabeth leave the Convent. My previous instruction to all Abbesses (which I then considered to be the best, hoping in victors' mercy) was?as I intoned you before?to remain at their posts. Another gain was that no one can reproach me that I hurriedly and unreasonably left the Mission without management.
LIBRARY AND VESTMENTS
I was painfully worried about the safety of our library and vestments during the last months, but realized with sadness that only if the conditions were normal, it would have been possible to save at least a part of our spiritual treasures. Our Mission during the last period and especially the last three years represented circumstances in which the care for books and vestments was beyond our power and altogether impossible. I left the books in the two library rooms and the Church articles were put away together by me in the usual place and locked well.
After my release I learned that Mr. Antipoff has moved to Jericho and that the new British Consul is staying in a large building near Damascus Gate (which was formerly occupied by the Secretariat). Now this place is within the front line of Arab zone and it is impossible to get there during military operations and difficult during a truce. The new British Consul arrived in Jerusalem a few days after the British left. I went to Jericho to meet Mr. Antipoff. He informed me that he had not yet applied to the Consul because he was waiting for me. Mr. Antipoff considers that the Consul will be unable to give us a definite answer until the general political situation in Palestine becomes clearer. We decided to write a letter to the Consul, asking him to inform us of the fate of the stolen Law, whether it was reprinted and, if so, to send us a certified copy. I handed our letter to the British Legation in Amman to be forwarded to Jerusalem. At this stage, so far end our steps in getting in touch with the British Consul.
DEATH OF FATHER THEOKTIST
Antipoff moved to Jericho as it became dangerous to live in the Old City. The Jews bombed it with a heavy artillery. The power of explosions was terrific: our Father Theoktist was killed by a shell near the Holy Sepulchre together with several other Greek monks. Ten missiles fell in our Gethsemane, not causing any damage to people or buildings; God only knows what will happen in future.
LIFE ON MOUNT OF OLIVES
During my 10 days stay in our Mt. of Olives Convent we observed day and night battles in Jerusalem. It was so tragic to realise that this extremely sharp and colorful picture of fighting raging in front of us as on the palm of one's hand was neither a panorama nor a film but a reality. There were days when we saw a hail of Arabs artillery fire directed on the New City. At first the smoke of each exploding shell could be seen, then new explosions followed. Gradually the smoke increased as the explosions mired together with the dust and fire of burning buildings. During an hour a considerable part of the City was wrapped in a compact, impenetrable black cloud of smoke, through which one could not see anything. There could only be noticed the flares of explosions amidst the black mass of smoke in the beautiful blinding sunshine. The roar of artilerry made everyone nervous and people rushed to the open space, mainly near the place of Ascension, without paying attention to the hail of bullets whistling from all directions to the Mt. of Olives from Jewish positions. Sitting behind a low stone wall by the road, they were watching this terrible and unique scene of death and destruction. still stronger was the impression of the night battle when the sound of artillery was more powerful. The explosions of 6-inch shells in Jerusalem made our Mt. of Olives Convent buildings shake and windows ring. The missiles hissed over our heads as they flew towards Jewish Jerusalem; the machine guns furiously attacked a Jewish airplane which was bombing the Old City and other Arab positions; the cannons brightly flared up and 30 - 60 seconds later the shells exploded flaring up again; differently colored rockets hovered over the City and the sky was full with clouds of red, brightly-shining tracer bullets. The course of the battle was not understood by us; yet one thing was clear - we were in the midst of front-line fire and might find ourselves on the other side of the front in a very short time, a matter of minutes, not hours! This picture of night battle was even more impressive and terrifying because in the Jewish part buildings were ablase from the incendiary bombs; they were ominously illuminating the New City, Mt. Zion and spreading their light as far as the Mt. of Olives.
SITUATTON OF OUR CONVENTS
I have already written to you about the material situation of our Convents. Abbess Maria [VD-Inform? Abbes Maria (Robinson), superior of Gethsemane convet, Tonsured by Metr. Anastassi] is as yet in a better position than we because she is successfully collecting donations. She is responsible for maintaining the Hospital, opened by her in Bethany, which increases her expenditures. A new donation of LP.150 arrived last week. The last maintenance paid by the Mission to our Convents was in April, before the end of the Mandate. After my release from the Mission I gave Mother Antonia [VD-Inform? Superior of Mt. of Olives] and Mother Elizabeth [VD-Inform? Superior of Gornaya, died last year] the support of the poorest Sisters, about LP.l00 which accumulated from private donations, chiefly from Archbishop Vitaly.
Although this was not much, yet owing to the fact that the sisters had some food stores it was possible so far to avoid complete starvation which will inevitably take place if no new donations arrive. Mother Antonia [VD-Inform? Erlikoff] and Mother Elirabeth were giving out very small sums only to those Sisters who had nothing, so as to enable them to buy some flour. From Amman I applied to the British consul in Jerusalem for payment of rent in respect of the Law Courts (about LP.130.-) which remained unpaid to us.
THE FATE OF OUR PROPERTIES IN PALESTINE
There is some news about our properties. In Hebron everything is in order, according to reports of some Arabs. Father Niphont receivd 400 Aralb refugees and verbally invited our Gornaya sisters for whom he reserved two rooms. There is no proper communication with him since the usual road between Jerusalem and Bethlieham is unpassable; one must travel through the desert by a dangerous, bad and dirty road, passing on the way St. Sava Monastery. It takes much time and is very expensive because the distance by this road between Jerusalem and Bethlieham is 48 km.
I have no news about Jaffa and Haifa properties but according to some indirect information I believe that Father Avramy and Mother Tabitha (manager of our Jaffa convent) are alive, although there is huge destruction around our garden in Jaffa. Our Beit Zahar property is ruined. They say that even the remains of the large house which was destroyed by bombardment, are now taken away by the population, stone by stone.
Magdala Garden was looted, with the engine miraculously left untouched! Sister Olga Bondareva and our manager of the Garden are alive after having had a narrow escape from death. The last information from them (Jewish zone) I received before I left the Mission.
All our Jericho properties are overcrowded with refugees who occupied them without our permission and, needless to are not paying any rent?
St. Hariton Place (Fara) is under management of Father Gennady, who so far is able to move about. I cannot imagine what will happen if he will get ill or move away.
In Gornaya, according to information received from partisans who escaped one day after Jewish occupation, our Convent was looted by the new masters. Boisheviks are said to have opened the Church and to be ruling the Convent, which is quite certain, even without any reports.
OUR LIFE IN AMMAN
I came to Amman with the main purpose of getting in touch with abroad so as to receive help. In addition I had another aim?to get in touch with the British Consul in Jerusalem as it is more difficult to contact him there either personally or by Post. Besides, I remember your instruction to move away in good time together with those who do not wish "to bend their knees to Baal" in case the Mission will be lost for us. Although one cannot say finally that this has taken place, it would be too great a risk to expect a good outcome of events while staying on at Mt. of Olives. Even here, a place which is far from our Soviet enemies, one cannot feel sure of our solid safety. During a short period of our stay here, I experienced troubles from the least expected direction?to such an extent that I have decided to appeal to Archbishop Vitaly for help in the event these troubles are repeated. So far we have succeeded in putting things aright. In Jericho on the way to Amman we met Mother Elizabeth who came there from Bethlehem with her group, travelling also to Amman which seems to be at present the only place where we can hope to save at least a small part of our monastic establishments.
Three days ago Aleeffs [VD-Inform? Ekaterina Borisovna, the director of Bethany school, and her husband] arrived in Amman. They told me that Fathen Melety sent a letter to Gethsemane, imploring to be liberated. He wrote that he regrets much the mistake he made by remaining in the Mission. I believe that he remained in the Mission mainly because of his lone attachment to another jurisdiction. However he realised that there is no benefit in it while the battle around the Mission is raging. Before I left the Mission I had warned him that he would regret his decision to stay.
Father Vassily [VD-Inform? teacher and choir-director] is in Beirut. He went there through Amman last week. He was promised the American Visa in two months time. While in Damascus he visited Patriarch Alexandros, apparently without considering first how he should behave. They spoke to each other not quite polite words concerning the Soviet Patriarch.
FATHER SERAPHTM SEDOFF
I would prefer to avoid speaking about Father Seraphim Sedoff because I do not wish to judge others while I myself received mercy from God. But I am forced to speak about him so as to make Your Grace understand who shared captivity with me. Before the British left, I allowed Father Hippolit at his request to move to the Old City; now he is in Beirut with Father Germogen. In the morning of May 1 Father Vassily left us after he asked my permission to go to Getfisemane. So in the MissioE remained: Fr. Melety, Fr. Seraphim Sedoff, Deacon Methody, Deacon Spiridon with his wife (the cook), Fr. Gerasirn of Fara, Fr. Vassily the sacristan, Father Nikifor the bell ringer, Fr. Theofilakt (who was killed a few days later), my mother and myself. While still in the Mission Fr. Seraphim made a close friendship with Fr. Gerasim. He contacted the Red Cross secretly from me and left the Mission with Fr. Gerasim by the Red Cross to the Old City, informing me of their departure only 5 minutes in advance. All of the Mission Fathers received his action as a great shock; in our position with everyone longing for freedom, such a seemingly small incident was depressing to everybody. Also, this secret departure was the cause of special restrictions imposed on us by the Jewish Governor. Father Seraphim was received by Abbess Maria. As far as his spiritual state is concerned, this incident revealed what was hidden before. Without giving the details of his behaviour, I can only say that I consider it wise and indispensable to keep away from him as far as possible. As I wrote to you before, I announced to him just before Pascha that all the privileges of his rank are restored to him.
MEMBERS OF OUR MISSION WHO ARE PLANNING TO JOIN US
Mother Tatiana of Mt. Olives has decided to move in case of extreme danger. Mother Antonia [VD-Inform? Schema-Abbess] often writes to me, she decided to remain, in the hope that God will help her to get out if and when she will be deposed. I wrote her that it is a holy undertaking to become a martyr but, since she intends to stay not for martyrdom but simply so as not to leave the Convent without management, it would be wiser for her to go, following the example of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who went from Herod to Egypt and from the Jews in Nazareth; another example is St. Paul who escaped in a basket from Drmascus. Mother Antonia is strong in spirit in spite of being nearly a complete invalid. I think her physical state is probably the main reason for her determination to remain at her post. Mother Maria, advised by some English people, so far has decided not to move anywhere. I sent to Father Archimandrite Seraphim of Gethsemane a certificate that he is to act as my deputy in case he will remain there while communication with me will be interrupted. This might be of some use in case of an emergency. Mother Tabitha [VD-Inform? Abbes Tabitha, superior of Gornaya was released in 1946 for her health, ruled for 26 years, loved by sisters] has an idea of returning to Gornaya fom Taibeh. I would not have written you of such a strange idea but her idea of leaving the Convent was a mystery to me until recently when I learned that she could absolutely not bear the bullets.
My mother is with us. She held herseif in the Mission most bravely but after two months of captivity she looks 10 years older. I am afraid she might not recover.
Misha [VD-Inform? Vladyka-s youngest brother] is in Haifa where he was employed before by a petroleum company. He is planning to go to Cyprus.
Mr. and Mrs. Krougloff left Jerusalem to Cairo through Amman. Mr. & Mrs. Staroskolsky (he was employed by the OPS [VD-Inform? Orthodox Palestinian Society] and they lived in the Russian Excavations House) recently left for Beirut. They lived at a very dangerous spot and could not bear any more heavy bombs. After the departure of these two families, three attempts were made to seize our Excavations by Fr. Benjamin with some other pro-soviet Russians. Antipoff succeeded in not letting them in up till now.
In Amman there are some Russians from Jerusalem, also Mr. Harlampy Khouri with his family. They left Katamon together with all inhabitants before the Jews took it. There are a greet many refugees in Jericho as they are no longer allowed in Amman. We arrived on the last day when it was still permitted. Here in Amman are tens of thousands of refugees from Palestine End most of them lost everything.
In the English school where we are staying we have Services in a classroom which we perform on the days of great saints. In three weeks time we will have to find another place. It is almost impossible to find accommodation here now.
I neglected to mention in my first letter that the Jews have taken away from the Mission some of our furniture and also part of our rood stores. Mother Antonia was greatly comforted on learning that you sent her a letter, although she did not yet receive it. Mother Elizabeth received your letter.
Everyone thanks Your Grace for your greetings and asks for your blessing.
I ask you especially to pray that Cod will instruct me to act in the right way and will continue to extend to us His protection.
Asking for all of us your holy prayers and pastoral blessing,
Your Grece's humble and devoted servant,
25th July/7th August, 1948
Copy of the Report to Metropolitan Anastassy
STORY OF 12-MONTH-LONG DETENTITON OF HIERODEACN METHODE
Most Graceful and Dear Easter!
On the first week of Pascha, our hierodeacon Methode came from the Jewish Zone of Jerusaem to our Eleon Monastery. He appeared in a state of complete exhaustion, looked like a skeleton, spoke only with difficulty, mostly whispering. Now and then he used to stop and ask to be left alone for a moment to regain his strength because he felt so tired. Also he could not support sitting with light directly on his eyes. The story of his release from detention is as follows:
The moment we knew that he and Father Nikifor were driven away from the Mission and detained in some other place, I sent a petition to the International Red Cross asking for his transfer. I applied to them several times. Together with me, Mother Abbess Antonia asked the same.
The first answer to those applications came on the Easter week, but after Father Nikifor had already died I received two letters, one from Father Methode who wrote he was very ill and afraid of dying soon, the other from the Red Cross informing me that not withstanding strong pressure on them and the agreement from the Arab authorities, the Jews were still refusing his transfer. On learning this I immediately set out to Amman in order to get help from all availabe quarters. I wrote a memorandum to the Governor of Jerusalem and to the Chief of the Red Cross and also I applied to the Americans?the catholic monks having their representatives in the Jewish part of Jerusalem, and I asked Bishop Vitaly to be of help too. In my report I stressed that Father Methode could not represent any danger to the Jewish authorities, being as ill as he was and also not well-educated. Apparently the most efficatious proved to be the applications to the Catholics and to the Governor. Father Methode was released after 12 days. The Governor even sent to fetch him in his car.
Father Methode told us about his staying with the Jews, that in summer 1948, while shells had been falling around the Mission, The Soviet Consul from Tel-Aviv came and demanded the Cathedral to be opened for him. Father Methode went to see the Jewish Military Governor (then staying at the Police quarters St the Nikolaev's Close) with a hope to get from him some means of protection. But the Governor ordered Father Methode to open the Cathedral as well as all the cells of the Mission to be visited by the Soviet representative. The latter immediately started the search for documents. Father Methode followed him, intending to witness what would happen. On seeing him, the Soviet Consul grasped him on the chest and, saying it was not Father Methode's business, drove him away from the office by force. Then the documents were loaded onto several cars, also a few other things, and taken away, in spite of Fr. Methode's strong objections. After the perquisition Father Methode closed the doors again and the Soviet Consul apposed his seal onto several doors including the office and other cells (also a cell of Fr. Vassily). The perquisition was repeated three times more. Father Methode was worried by the "pseudo brethren" also (Fr. Melety and Vassily) who made proof of their animosity towards him. He had been from May to December under house detention.
In November there came a Soviet Archimandrite Leonide and the arch- priest Vladimir Elkhovsky (the latter had already departed to Sov. Russia). Archimandrite Leonide was said, to be an abbot of one of the Moscow churches. Before he came to Jerusalem, the Military Governor had called Fr. Methode and warned him about the appointment of the new "chief" of the Mission, Father Methode replied that he would neither accept him nor hand over the keys of the Mission to him before he received information about him from Metropolitan Anastassy. Father Melety had met the Moscow officials. On seeing Father Methode, the Soviet Archirnandrite reproached him for not having met them.
? But you knew I was coming from Moscow?
? Metropolitan Anastassy has not written me about your coming.
Several times during the next 3 days had been asked to hand over the keys of the churches, of the vestry and the premises but, as he constantly refused, his cell was searched, the doors forced and the drawers broken open but the keys were found nowhere. Under continuous pressure, Father Methode was at last made to promise that he would hand over the keys on condition that the Israeli authorities demand them from him directly. Consequently he was sent the following letter:
STATE OF ISRAEL 1/XII/48
Jerusalem To/ Mr. Hierodeacon Methode.
This is to propose that you hand over the keys and all other belongings of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission to the representatives of the Orthodox Church arrived from Moscow; they are Archimandrite Leonide and the priest Fr. Vladimir.
After that, Fr. Methode had to hand over the keys against the receipt signed by the archpriest Vladimir Eikhovsky. Then he was incarcerated in his cell together with Fr. Nikifor. They were issued with a set of written "rules" from the Military Governor, forbidding them to mention my name, to speak about the Arabs, not to go out anywhere except a small adjoining courtyard with facilities and not to leave their cells at all after sunset. The Israeli policemen were put on guard outside their cell and remained there day and night. The "rules", after they had been read, were taken away and kept by Father Melety.
That detention lasted about 4 weeks during which time the Soviet archimandrite together with Fr. Melety and Mr. Samarsky, (ex-secretary of the Orth.Pal.Soc. [VD-Inform?Orthodox Palestinian Society]) and 3 other Russians from Jerusalem who entered the Bolsheviks service, had been often to press; On Father Methode for his recognition of the Soviet archirnandrite and persuading him to officiate with the latter. Fr. Methode always reminded them of his oath and kept saying that he would agree to anything provided he receives a written order of your Excellency. Such an answer irritated the new masters or the Mission immensely. Archimandrite Leonide tried to assure Fr. Methode that his oath was or no importance because you, your Excellency and I, we took it from him "illegally", i.e. against the rules for ordination and that in the Soviet Church the clergy, not being tied by any oath, are free to move to any place of their choice?which is not the usual practice of the Church Abroad. The Bolsheviks threatened Father Methode with death for his loyality toward me. Father Melety assured him that Fr. Leonide is "good and humble". They offered him also a 20 pounds monthly salary if be would agree to go to their side.
The Governor also called Father Methode and suggested he officiate with the soviet clergy. The interview was conducted in Russian. Father kept refusing any changes unless he receives your written order. Then the Governor offered him a post as Manager of Properties at Jaffa or Haifa. Father Methode again replied he was ready to obey only direct orders from Metropolitan Anastassy. The Governor insisted no more, but asked Father Methode to leave the Mission and to move into the Katamon during the next 24 hours.
? What evil have I done to you that you drive me away from the Mission?
? No evil have you done to us but this is what is required by the supreme Moscow Authorities.
? Are you then under Moscow authorities and not under Israeli ones?
? Not at all, we are governed by ourselves but the Russian properties are under Soviet rule.
Father Methode was afraid that, on pretext of moving him to the Katamon, he would be sent back to the Karpet and therefore replies that as he was ill he would like first to see the proposed room. The Governor was at first reluctant to agree but as Fr. Methode refused to leave the Mission otherwise he afterward rave permission. It appeared that his new room was in a private house owned by a Greek woman, standing in a row of other houses used for detention of the Arabs. At his request, Fr. Methode was granted 3 days for collecting his things and moving together with the sick Fr. Nikifor to the new place.
After 3 months Fr. Methode received a special permission before Great Lent to go to Gornaya to see what had happened there. One of the Rumanian Sisters there told him all nuns seemed to have recognized tile Soviet clergy, attended the Church and received the sacraments. They get a 4 pounds monthly allowance on condition of regular church attendance and recognition of the Soviet government.
What is the mood of several of those Sisters (and maybe or a great many) in reality was indicated in the letter of a nun (Pelageya Mouravieva) to a friend in the Eleon convent. She wrote "Everything is well arranged here. There is water laid in. But I would be happy to have been drowned in a cistern and can never forgive myself for not having gone away from here when there was still time." The old women (ex-pilgrims) are also obliged to attend the soviet church lest they be cut off from assistance. Five of them are exceptions: Anisia, Irene, Maria (arrived from Soviet Russia), Anastassya Nesterova and Olga Stepanova. The former two have completely left the Soviet church and the other three go to church and receive the "antidor" (not to lose the grant) but no sacraments. Father Methode was given the Holy Gifts and has used Them himself, given to Father Nikifor before he died and also to Anastassia. Olga Stepanova lived all that time at Tiberias. Father Nikifor had a stroke in Katamon and died within a week. Some time after came the two Greek priests, Fr. Khrisanf (Fr. Kiryak's nephew) and Archimandrite Gregory. They sang the funeral Service. But Fr. Methode refused to join them in that and did not follow them with the body to the cemetery because both or them often served with Fr. Leonide in the Cathedral and at Gornaya. They kept persuading Fr. Methode to recognize the Soviet Archimandrite and return to the Mission. Father Nikifor has prepared a coffin for himself to be buried in but they buried him without it because they said in Soviet Russia people are not buried in coffins. Now Fr. Nestor lives in the Mission. He came from Carmil and was given a "mantle" by the Soviet Archimandrite. Beside him there is a Russian from Poland who sings the Services. On Feast days there come the Gornaya Sisters but they sing very badly by what was said by the Greeks and those are friends of the Soviet clergy.
The Soviet Archimandrite occupies one of the most modest cells and the archpriest Vladimir lived in that one across the refectory. Some time he was serving as a rather-confessor for the Gornaya Sisters instead of Fr. Issaya. The latter was for a time sent to Jaffa because once be fore the end of the Liturgy he ran out of the church to catch Mother Antonina bringing fish from the town. As he somehow did not get his portion of fish the last time it was brought in, he got very excited now and even took that poor Mother by the throat in his efforts to receive his due. All that story was told to Fr. Melety and overheard by Fr. Methode. As improbable as it may seem, this story is supposed to be true because Fr. Methode being very pious would not lie even in trivial matters. Later Fr. Issaya was forgiven and allowed beck to Gornaya. Sometimes he came to officiate in the Mission and also seems to be used sometimes as a policeman... he searched Fr. Methode's luggage before his departure.
Also very much like a policeman is the soviet Archirnandrite, fat, fiftyish and with red hair and speaking only Russian. He officiates in a careless way and does not know how to make the Sign of the Cross.
While at the Katamon Fr. Methode was visited by 3 Bolsheviks who brought a renewed proposal from the Soviet Archimandrite to enter with him into liturgical communion. Fr. Methode again referred to the necessity of receiving your order. Then they said you had made peace with the Soviet Patriarch and are presently in Moscow. Fr. Methode replied that he would believe this only on receiving your letter from Moscow. The visitors said, "Now it is impossible to write from there." Fr. Methode said, "How could that be? You said there is now complete freedom!" The visitors then promised to Fr. Methode the rank of a priest or even an Archimandrite. After Father Methode refused to listen to this, they asked what to tell on his behalf to Father Leonide. "Teil him that I would do anything ordered to me by Metropolitan Anastassy." Then the three men said "Now we will have a joke with you" and they lifted him high in the air. Father Methode expected to be thrown on the ground and die as he was very weak and ill. He shouted for help and a neighbor heard him. The Bolsheviks took fright and ran away.
At Pascha some nuns brought festive food to Fr. Methode but he throw it to the hens because "it was blessed by godless clergy". Father Melety also came uninvited and Fr. Methode did not want to receive him. But he insisted on entering the cell and giving the Paschal kiss, saying he was repenting and would try not to officiate anymore with the Soviet Archimandrite. Also He hoped to cross over to the Arab side but the Moscow authorities would not allow him to do so. The "repentance" of Fr. Melety is not sincere as it is known he only wants to cross over to preserve his considerable sum of money which he had no time to change into Jewish currency. The sympathy of Fr. Melety for the Soviets was very deep and of long duration.
At Pascha Fr. Methode fell seriously ill. As the result of all he had suffered he had a nervous breakdown and sharp pain in the region of the solar plexus. He can speak only with an effort, in whispers and cannot bear light directly in his eyes. He refused to enter an Israeli hospital and so is in a German one. Here on the Eleon he says he is very happy. I hope he will soon pick up. His illness dates from the time he was thrown out of the office by the Consul. In sending my report of all these events to your Excellency, I venture to suggest that Father Methode deserves a reward for standing firm in not recognizing the Soviet Archimandrite even when under duress. I would intercede for him for being granted a rank of Archdeacon which I think he fully deserves.
Asking your holy prayers and blessing,
I remain your Excellency's humble servant,