Sunday, December 05, 2004

Archbishop Theodore of Borisova and Otradnaya Visits the Communities of the Krasnodar and Stavropol Regions

(Vertograd, Otradnaya - Armavir - Zheleznovodsk - Belorechensk - Suzdal)

Early in the morning on November 3, Right Reverend Archbishop Theodore of Borisova and Otradnaya arrived in Armavir. The hierarch was met at the station by Archpriest Nikolai Khirniy, Dean of Ortradnaya region, who was waiting for Vladika Theodore to arrive at the cossack village of Otradnaya.

In the evening, Archbishop Theodore completed The All-Night Vigil in the 'Kazan' temple of Otradnaya. Vladika was met by the rector and parishioners of the Church with bell ringing and a traditional bread-and-salt ceremony. Archbishop Theodore then concelebrated with Fr. Nikolai Khirniy, the director of the house-church of the Holy Archangel Michael in Volgograd, Archpriest Victor Ulyanov, Priest Vadim Bukatin, Priest Alexei Gorin- the rector of the Church in Belorechensk (Krasnodar region), and the dean of the North Caucasian Deanery, Archpriest George Novakovsky with Deacon Sergius Hubay of Zheleznovodsk.

In the morning on November 4, a moleben with the blessing of the water and the Holy Liturgy were performed. After the Gospel Vladika preached a sermon to the people. At the end of the liturgy was a procession around the block in which the Temple is located. There were about 120 people present at the service. After the chanting of the "many years" all present were invited to the meal. In the evening, Vespers was read with the Akathist to the Kazan icon of the Most Holy Mother of God.

On November 5, Archbishop Theodore completed a requiem Divine Service, and on the following day, November 6, the Divine Liturgy was celebrated in the house-Church of the Beheading of St John the Forerunner in Armavir in the Krasnodar region. Concelebrating with Archbishop Theodore were Hieromonk Jonah (Rossokha), rector of the Church, and Protopriest George Novakovsky. After the Divine Liturgies a panakhyda was served. At the end of the Divine services Vladika Theodore said a pastoral word to those present.

In the second half of the day on November 6 the Archpastor departed into Zheleznovodsk in the Stavropol region, where Archpriest Roman Novakovsky, the rector of the Church of St. Olga and the parishioners met Vladika with bell ringing and flowers. At St. Olga Church, Archbishop Theodore presided over Sunday All-Night vigil, and in the morning on November 7 peformed the Divine liturgy. Right Reverend Theodore concelebrated with Archpriest George Novakovsky, Archpriest Roman Novakovsky, Priest Anastasie, Hieromonk Dimitri, Deacon Sergius Hubay. In the evening at the same Church, Archbishop Theodore served Vespers with the Akathist to the "Joy of All Who Sorrow" Icon of the Mother of God.

On Monday, November 8, Archbishop Theodore visited Belorechensk (Krasnodar region), where in the house-Church in honor of the "Sovereign" Icon of the Mother of God, concelebrated with of the rector, Priest Aleksy Gorin. A molieben was served to the Most Holy Mother of God and St. Demetrios of Thessalonica. The rector acquainted Vladika with the life of community.

On November 10, Archbishop Theodore and those accompanying him returned to Suzdal.

Fire in the Church of St Seraphim in Kurgan

(Vertograd, Kurgan)

The Church of St Seraphim of Sarov in Kurgan in the Orenburg Diocese of the ROAC was completely destroyed by fire on December 2. The suspected reason for the fire was apparently coal that fell from the furnace.
The Director of the Church, Priest Anatoly Manakov and his family are now in a very miserable situation, since for many years Fr Anatoly had no secular work.

ROCOR (V) Removes Archbishop Varnava (Prokofiev) From the Episcopate

(Portal -.Credo.Ru - Vertograd, Mansonville)

According to the Resolution of the Archihierarchical Sobor of the ROCOR (V), which gathered in Mansonville
under the chairmanship of Metropolitan Vitaly (Ustinov), First-Hierarch of ROCOR (V), Archbishop Varnava (Prokofiev), the former Deputy of the First Hierarch, was deposed from the Episcopate.

The resolution of the Sobor says: "in accordance with the canons, notably the 1st Canonical Epistle of Basil the Great; 4th Ec. Canon 18; 2nd Ec. Canon 6; 6th Ec. Canon 34; Gangra, Canon 6;Sardica, Canon 14; First-Second Council Canons 14 and 15, Archbishop Varnava is deprived of the episcopal dignity ".

The resolutuion bears the signature of Metropolitan Vitaly, Bishop Sergius (Kidyakov), Bishop Vladimir, Bishop Bartholomew, Bishop Antony, Bishop Victor, and also Protopresbyter Benjamin Joukoff, the secretary Of Archihierarchal Synod of the ROCOR (V).

The resolution, most likely, will not be acknowledged canonically by Archbishop Varnava, who threatens to create another division in the ROCOR (V).

Decisions of the Hierarchical Sobor of the ROCOR (V), 2004

Abstracts from the resolutions of the Sobor:

"The Hierarchical Sobor of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (V) took place from November 5/18 to November 7/20, 2004 in Mansonville (Canada), presided over by Metropolitan Vitaly, First-Hierarch of the ROCOR.

Present were:
Metropolitan Vitaly, First-Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and Chairman of the Hierarchical Sobor, Bp. Sergius of Montreal and Eastern Canada, Bp. Vladimir of San Fransisco and Western America, Bp. Bartholomew of Edmonton and Western Canada, Bp. Antony of Los Angeles and South America, Bp. Victor of Slavyansk and South Russia, Mitred Protopriest Benjamin Joukoff, Secretary of the Hierarchical Synod, Protopriest Nikolai Semenov,
the assistant to Metropolitan Vitaly for the West European diocese.

They decreed:
- to revoke the decision of November 23, 2001 designating the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad as the "Russian Orthodox Church in Exile".
- to abolish the decision relative to the regulations accepted on November 15/28 of 2003, in connection with the practical difficulties of its application in Church life; to return to the previous regulations accepted by the Hierarchal Sobor of the ROCOR in 1964 with principal changes in paragraphs 1 and 2.

Election of the New Member Of Hierarchical Sobor
It was decreed to select as a new member of the Hierarchical Sobor the Right Reverend Bishop Antony of Los Angeles and South America.

Election of Deputy Chairman of the Hierarchical Sobor
It was decreed to select as Deputy Chairman of the Hierarchical Sobor Rt. Rev. Bishop Sergius of Montreal and Eastern Canada.

Anathema of "Sergianism"
After the account of the anti-Christian essence of Sergianism and after a report on the anathema already carried out on this question by the Catacomb Bishops, the Hierarchical Sobor accepted a text anathematizing Sergianism.

Bestowing of the title "Most Blessed" upon Metropolitan Vitaly
For many years of leading the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and more than fifty years service in the hierarchical dignity, the Hierarchical Sobor resolved to honor The Most Reverend Metropolitan Vitaly by title "Most Blessed".

On the Glorification of Metropolitan Philaret
Establishment of a Commission for the preparation of Glorification of Metropolitan Philaret of Blessed Memory.

Documents were signed by:
+Metropolitan Vitaly
+Bishop Sergius
+Bishop Vladimir
+Bishop Bartholomew
+Bishop Antony
+Bishop Victor
Mitred Protopriest Benjamin Joukoff, Secretary of the Hierarchical Sobor of the ROCOR"

[Translated from the Russian by Vertograd]

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Greetings to our English-speaking readers

Dear Fathers, brothers and sisters, and English-version readers of Vertograd Orthodox Journal Online:

As a new phase for Vertograd Orthodox Journal begins with an online English-language version, the editorial board sends its greetings and asks your prayers. We look forward to reporting on events in True Orthodoxy as they occur-- and are grateful for all your support over the years.

As our long-time readers know, Vertograd exists to inform its readers about True Orthodox news and events, as well as to report on ecumenical events and activities of international significance. Distributing this information is of paramount importance for strengthening Church unity between all True Orthodox Christians in the struggle against heresy, as well as informed criticism of-- and resistance to-- contemporary trends in the direction of syncretism, false union and ecumenism.

The Orthodox world is completely different from the one of just 100 years ago. Today interest in Orthodoxy (what was once known as the "Greek" or "Russian" Church) grows in the West, and the Church is built daily by Christians from a variety of ethnic and social backgrounds. This amazing reality, one of new converts outside traditionally "Orthodox countries" joining the Church puts the lie to the foolish and ecumenistic notion that religion is simply a facet of one's ethnic background and that "one should die in the religion he was born into." It's also a mark of the changing structure of the Church which, in the face of new and global challenges, relies upon and develops new solutions while maintaining fidelity to what was handed to Her by Christ through His Apostles.

We cannot stress enough: Orthodoxy is not a "national tradition". Her teaching is a light of revelation for all peoples. The truth has no cultural divisions. In the age of the information superhighway, where the preservation of free access to unfiltered information governs peace, it is absolutely necessary for True Orthodox to explain, defend, and preserve the Faith by any means necessary.

General information about True Orthodoxy is already available on the Internet. It's not the aim of this journal to simply become a database of historical information. At a time of great social upheaval for True Orthodox Christians and society at large, this just isn't enough. News services and online information feeds such as this one are the new chroniclers of how the True Orthodox Christians, both individually and collectively, leave their mark on the modern world and future history-- as it occurs. It is our hope that the English-language version of Vertograd will become a real contributor to this ongoing, and difficult, process.

Again, we ask your prayers as we begin a new phase of the task at hand: reporting on current events in truth while at the same time maintaining fidelity to the one source of all truth. Were we to lose the former, we would have no value as writers; but were we to lose the latter, we would have no value at all.

The Editorial Board
Vertograd Orthodox Journal

Archimandrite Michael (Graves) Found Dead

(Vertograd, Haiti) On Thursday, November 26, 2004, Archimandrite Michael (Graves), administrator for the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church's Haitian mission, was found dead in the bathroom of Maison Orthodoxe, the mission's administrative center. The official report states that the cause of death was cardiovascular failure. The circumstances surrounding his death are unclear; he was found alone by two young boys some time after his actual repose. There were no reports of Father Michael having health problems before.

Fr. Michael singlehandedly started the mission to Haiti two decades ago, and he along with his attached parishes joined the Russian Autonomous Church in June of this year. An active speaker in defense of the Metropolitan during this period, he gained the respect and admiration of almost everyone he dealt with, except his most bitter enemies.

In his most recent semi-weekly newsletters, Fr Michael's tone became peculiarly ominous, including in his second-to-last edition a prediction of his own incarceration or death due to the political circumstances in Haiti. Fr. Michael had a number of enemies both inside and outside the Church. Yet his views were consistent with the Gospel; he refused to recognize any nearby government as Christian in nature and was more concerned with consistency with the Gospel above all else. Without a full investigation in Haiti, it is currently impossible to determine whether Fr. Michael simply died of stress-related heart failure or whether this was a skillfully executed murder on the part of local warlords, who had imprisoned and killed Roman Catholic priests in recent weeks for political views similar to Fr. Michael's.

The Hierarchical Synod of the ROAC issued the following Statement on the death of Archimandrite Michael: “The news of the repose of Father Archimandrite Michael has shaken the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church. We extend our sincerest sympathies to all of Father Michael's relatives and to all who were close to him. We pray that the Lord grant rest to his soul and admit it to where the righteous repose. The President and Hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church"

Archimandrite Michael will be buried with his parents in his native New Jersey, United States.

Harrassment of ROAC Clergy at the Behest of the MP Continues in Trestna

(Vertograd, Tver): On October 9, the Moscow Patriarchate's Dean of the Tver Diocese arrived at the home of Hiermonk Sergei (Mironov), rector of the Joy of All Who Sorrow Parish (ROAC) in Trestna (Tver region), accompanied by two priests, several women and a pair of militia men. As Hieromonk Sergei was travelling at the time, they instead addressed the hieromonk's mother in a rough manner with demands, claiming that according to the recent "report" of MP Archbishop Victor on the Eparchial assembly of October 29, that Fr. Sergei was deprived of his registration to operate within the region.

Officially it was also declared that there would be "no parishes, except parishes of the MP" and that registration was not valid unless confirmed by the local MP Archbishop (which is false). The "delegation" then visited a local administrator's home and, calling her a "lost sheep", threatened to have her removed from her post if she did not comply with the Patriarchate's orders. They then explained she would soon understand what would happen if they did not comply and hand over the parish to the MP, and that they would have to send over "criminal authorities".

It is not the first case known of pressure on Fr. Sergei by Tver diocesan clergy of the MP; already they had threatened sending such "authorities" over for a visit.

The Church in Tresna received official registration on the 20 of July, and on October 7, received a church-building to work with from the local authorities to use as a youth center. All the work Fr Sergei has done has been without compensation, whereas the local MP priests are known to charge even for distributing holy water and Paschal willows in the area. Thus their motivation is clear in their sudden interest in a young, fair and committed priest in Tresna who is now operating on their "turf".

MP Holds Third Meeting of ROCOR-MP Dialogue Commission

(DECH MP - Vertograd, Moscow): The Division of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate (MP) held its third working session of the Dialogue Commission between the ROCOR (L) and the Moscow Patriarchate from November 17-19.

Parties present produced complementary documents on questions of the relation between the Church and state and about the Orthodox Church's relations to other religious bodies. Questions were discussed on a canonical level concerning ROCOR's status as the self-governing part of the "united local Russian Church", as well as the conditions for establishing intercommunion. Guidelines were submitted to be sent to their respective authorities on the matter.

The members of the commission noted how significantly advanced the parties were towards full unity in the scope of a year since the first visit of the Moscow delegation of the ROCOR (L) headed by Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany (November 17-22, 2003). The next joint session of the commission is planned for spring of 2005.