Thursday, February 24, 2005

Ecumenical News: Patriarch Alexei Sends Congratulations with Inauguration of New Rector of Estonian Evangelical-Lutheran Church

(MP External Relations - Portal-Credo.Ru - Vertograd: Tallinn)

In Tallinn, with the election into the episcopal dignity of Andreas Pyld, the new rector of the Estonian Evangelical - Lutheran church, Patriarch Alexei of Moscow sent his solemn greetings through the MP's Estonian Orthodox Church-Metropolitan Cornelius of Tallinn, who was represented by Archpriest Iuvenaly of Kaarm. Metropolitan Cornelius congratulated Andreas Pyld's election and proclaimed the text of Patriarch Alexei's congratulatory letter to the new bishop of the ELC in Estonia.

A "Fiery Sign" in the Chapel of Blessed Xenia of Petersburg During Her Feast

( - Vertograd: St. Petersburg)

During the day of St Xenia of Petersburg memory, a candle in the east wall of the chapel nearest the tomb fell and destroyed many of the requests for prayer written on pieces of paper. There were an unusually high number of requests during that day, due to the feast. Flames engulfed a number of items between the wall and the candlestand. Pasteboard baskets, cellophane wrappers and more became cinders. Eyewitnesses said that the bonfire stood at two meters for five minutes, until someone managed to find a bucket of water.

The destruction of the notes created a feeling of alarm and pain in pilgrims. Many believed that the combustion of what amounted to hundreds of prayer requests was a sign that "Xenia got tired of the endless, vain requests for earthly goods and financial increases."

The fire ended a day pilgrimage to holy places in the life of St Xenia undertaken by a group of St Petersburg believers. They had brought with them for chapel blessing the newly painted icon of the Saint with a coin from the 18th century, calling to mind the wonderful rescue from the fire of the house Yevdokias Belyaeva: after meeting St.Xenis, the blessed one handed her a five-kopeck coin with the "tsar on the horse" saying: "take a five-kopeck coin, it will be extinguished".

True Orthodox News: In Suzdal, the First ROAC Priest for Argentina is Ordained

On February 22, Metropolitan Valentine of Suzdal and Vladimir ordained Siluan Dignac to the Holy Priesthood in the Tsar St Constantine Cathedral for the ROAC's mission in Argentina. Fr Siluan was the first cleric ordained by the Free Russian Church for South America.

Father Siluan (Silvio Ergasto) Dignac was born on April 7, 1975, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, into a military family. He learned his Orthodoxy in early childhood from his maternal grandmother, although he was brought up in the Roman Catholic faith. From the age of 17, he began to study the writings of the Holy Fathers and began to attend a ROCOR parish in Buenos Aires from the age of 20. In 1999, he was introduced to ROCOR Bishop Alexander (Mileant) and helped Bishop Alexander develop his missionary website and seminary.

Fr Siluan and his wife were recieved into into the ROAC in March of 2004 by Archbishop Gregory of Denver and were given a blessing to start an Orthodox Mission in honor of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God. After Bishop Gregory departed into schism, the mission remained faithful to the Free Russian Orthodox Church.

Hieromonk Joins ROAC From MP in Saint Petersburg

Hieromonk Daniel (Elkind), formerly of the Nizhniy-Novgorod Diocese of the MP, officially joined the Free Russian Orthodox Church on February 9 in Suzdal. His first liturgy as a True Orthodox cleric was held on February 13 in the Parish of St Elizabeth the New-Martyr, St Petersburg alongside Hieromonk Gregory (Lourie).

Hieromonk Daniel (in the world Michael Elkind) was born in 1969 in St Petersburg. In 1991, he was accepted into the St Nicholas Verkhotursky monastery in the Moscow Patriarchate's Ekaterinburg diocese. In 1992 he was tonsured and ordained a hierodeacon, and in 1994 was made a hieromonk. In 2003 he completed his work at the seminary in Nizhniy-Novgorod, after defending his seminal work on "Slavic students of St Paisus Velichkovsky".

Sunday, February 13, 2005

True Orthodox News: Metropolitan Valentine Serves Divine Liturgy in Novaya Kupavna, Moscow Region, Where Rights of Free Russian Church are Threatened

(Vertograd : Novaya Kupavna, Moscow Region)

The First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church, Metropolitan Valentine of Suzdal, served Divine Liturgy on February 6, the feast of St Xenia of Petersburg and the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia at the St Xenia Temple in Novaya Kupavna (Moscow Region), in honor of the parish feast. Concelebrating with the First Hierarch of the ROAC from the Churches of the Moscow Region of the Suzdal Diocese of ROAC were Archpriest Michael Ardov, the rector the New Martyrs Parish, Priest Andrei Valevskiy, the rector of the St Xenia parish and Protodeacon Sergius Slonov of Suzdal.

After the liturgy, which was chanted by the Suzdal chorus, a communal meal took place during which First Hierarch of the ROAC talked with the parishioners.

Divine services took place in the temporary chapel made in the Church-house. The community in Novaya Kupavna has been involved in legal proceedings for many years, due to Moscow's Noginsk regional administration attempting to destroy the community. The building of the Temple was stopped for this reason, the walls of which are already built.

True Orthodox News: Archpriests From Russia and USA Travel to Switzerland for Divine Services

(Vertograd : Geneva)

In the Free Russian Orthodox Parish of St George the Great Martyr in Kopp, not far from Geneva (Switzerland), Divine Services took place on Jan. 22 and 23. From Russia, the rector of the Tsar-Martyr Nicholas Temple in Golovinsky cemetery in Moscow, Archpriest Michael Ardov, arrived to act as primary celebrant. Arriving to assist at services was Hegumen Andrei (Maklakov) of St Nicholas Church in New York.

On January 22, All-Night Vigil was served, with Divine Liturgy on January 23. On the same day, on with the blessing of Metropolitan Valentine of Suzdal, the great blessing of water was performed, since the Theophany holiday had not yet ended.

All the local parishioners and guests confessed and partook of the communion of the Holy Mysteries of Christ.

World Orthodox News: Question About Status of Church Property in Palestine Does Not Bear Threat to Negotiations with ROCOR(L), According To MP

(Interfax - ITAR-TASS - Vertograd : Moscow)

The official representative of MP's Department of External Relations, Archpriest Nikolai Balashov, stated in an interview with Interfax that the proceedings concerning the legal status of properties in the Holy Land does not bear a threat to the
negotiations process with ROCOR (L). Since these areas were given to the MP in 1997 and 2000, as the negotiations began, no one assumed that "their present status would be newly brought into question, and that their legal registration would cause manifestation of worry".

In the opinion of Fr. Nikolai Balashov, "it is important to forego the old property disputes, and to proceed from the acknowledgement of the present reality, focusing from the time of when the negotiations began".

Fr. Nikolai Balashov gave the interview for Interfax amidst protests expressed by the press- service of ROCOR (L) against the legal registration of property of ROCOR in the holy Land, seized in 1997 and 2000. The Moscow Patriarchate was able to gain control of the properties with the military assistance of the Palestinian authority.

Ecumenical News: Patriarch of World Orthodoxy Opens Ecumenical Chapel

(SANA - Vertograd: Damascus)

Patriarch Ignatios IV Hazim of Antioch and All the East of the Greek Orthodox and Patriarch Gregarious III Laham of Antioch and All the East of the Greek-Catholics on the evening of February 4 headed a special service celebration on the occasion of concecration of Saints Peter and Paul Joint Church in Dummar, on the outskirts of Damascus.

"This event is the start point towards uniting the Antiochian Church within the framework of the comprehensive national unity in Syria," Patriarch Laham said in his sermon. For his part, Patriarch Ignatios IV Hazim underlined that the consecration of a joint church is an exceptional event that plays an important role in enhancing national unity.

Ecumenical News: Patriarch Offers "Fraternal Prayer" for Pope's Health

(Official Web-Site of MP - Zenit - Vertograd : Moscow)

According to the Roman Catholic news service, Patriarch Alexei of Moscow offered his "fraternal prayer" for Pope John Paul II. Below is the text of the telegram to Pope John Paul II from Patriarch Alexei II of Moscow, which is available at the official website of the Moscow Patriarchate:

Your Holiness!

Please accept, your Holiness, the expression of our brotherly support in prayer in connection with the illness that has befallen you. May the most merciful God grant you healing and strengthen your forces in carrying the high office of the First Hierarch of the Roman Catholic Church, for the benefit of your flock and for the benefit of joint Christian service to peace and justice.

With Love in the Lord,
Patriarch Alexei of Moscow and All Russia

Monday, February 07, 2005

World Orthodox News: On the Eve of the Session of the Hierarchical Synod of the ROCOR (L), Metropolitan Kyrill (Gundyaev) Gives Sergianist Statement

(RIA-Novosti--Vertograd: Moscow)

"We recognize that the model of church-state relations did not correspond to tradition. But we do not condemn those who applied this model, because there was no other way of preserving the Church", stated the chairman of the MP's Committe on External Relations, Metropolitan Kyrill (Gundyaev) on January 24, during International Christmas readings in Moscow, the day before the beginning of the Synod meeting of ROCOR (L).

According to metropolitan Kyrill, what the representatives of the Church Abroad call "Sergianism" was in reality the policy of survival: "the Church behaved in the way which was the only possbile way at that time. Another way was into the catacombs, and there could be no catacombs in the Soviet territories". This statement of Metropolitan Kyrill can show his foreign colleagues that union will necessarily have to rise above "some contradictions". Furthermore, this statement of the head of the division of External Church Relations also made clear what precisely the boundaries of "civil disobedience" are for the Moscow Patriarchate: in dire circumstances, the "the only possible way" is the way of gratifying the civil authority.

DOCUMENT: "We Cannot Remain Silent After Such Statements— This Will Turn Our Flock Against the Ongoing Talks"

"We Cannot Remain Silent After Such Statements— This Will Turn Our Flock Against the Ongoing Talks."
Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany, President of the Committee of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia on Discussions with the Moscow Patriarchate, Reacts to the Statement Made by His Holiness Patriarch Alexy During a Meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas

As reported by the official websites in Russia, while on a trip to Russia on Monday, Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas visited Danilov Monastery in Moscow, where he met with Patriarch Alexy of Moscow and All Russia. Over the course of their conversation, the Patriarch expressed gratitude to the leadership of the Palestinian Autonomy for transferring to the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission of the Moscow Patriarchate church property in Hebron and Jericho, which had been preserved and protected for many years by the Russian Church Abroad. In 1997, representatives of the Palestinian Authority forcibly ejected monks and nuns belonging to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia from Holy Trinity Monastery in Hebron (who had been collecting fruits there that day) and turned it over to the Moscow Patriarchate. In January 2000, on the day of St Seraphim of Sarov, soon after the celebration of the 2000th year of the Nativity of Christ in Bethlehem, monastics (mainly those who had been ejected from Hebron in 1997) were arrested by Palestinian forces, again with the use of physical force, at the premises of the Russian Church Abroad in Jericho, which was then turned over to the Moscow Patriarchate. "I presume that the time has come when it is legally necessary to secure this property in the name of the Mission (of the ROC/MP—ed.)," stated Patriarch Alexy.

The members of the Committee of the discussions with the Moscow Patriarchate had expected that the Moscow Patriarchate, as a symbol of peacemaking, would return at least one of the properties seized unlawfully in the Holy Land, which would be a noble gesture on the part of the ROC/MP and would heal the most recent wound on the Body of the Russian Church. For this reason, the statement made by the Moscow Patriarchate elicited a protest on the part of the President of the Committee of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. The request made by the Moscow Patriarchate is even more stunning since, as far as it is known, the ROC/MP has not yet succeeded in formalizing the legal ownership of church property either in Russia or in Israel or in lands controlled by the Palestinian Authority.

"I am very disappointed," stated Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany to Kommersant correspondent Pavel Korobov, "For at the beginning of the process a declaration was made that we must refrain from any actions and statements that could insult the other side. And this is precisely such an action. We cannot remain silent to such a statement—this will turn our entire flock against the talks," added Archbishop Mark. "But if this is a misunderstanding, a corresponding statement should be issued."

"Very recently," continued Archbishop Mark, "the Moscow Patriarchate expressed its opinion that one must re-ordain all our priests in Russia. But not one of our bishops would agree to this. Sometimes I ask myself, maybe this is someone's attempt to sabotage the process of negotiations."

In a recent interview given to NG-Religiya, Archbishop Mark noted: "There are such fears [within the flock of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia—ed.] regarding property. The President of Russia, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, during a meeting with us in May of this year, in the presence of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II and of the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, unequivocally spoke out on this topic, stressing that neither the Russian Government nor the ROC/MP will make any claims on the property of the Church Abroad. Still, many are not convinced! It is necessary that steps be taken to ensure such trust."

Press Service of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia

# PORTAL-CREDO.RU: Archbishop Mark of Berlin is re-exposed to the "true essence" of the Moscow Patriarchate


That circumstances would hinder the process of "reunification" between the ROCOR (L) and the Moscow Patriarchate has already been noted long ago-- it was clear even in the days of the "historic visit" to Russia of the official "Diaspora" delegation headed by Metropolitan Lavr during May of last year. Usually this was explained by the insurmountability of a number of ecclesiastical-historical and canonical problems, discussed at the joint sessions of the commissions of the two churches for "reunification". The first problem is that of ecumenism - in fact, formal relations between the ROC-MP did not change, and the Moscow Patriarch remains an important member of the World Council of Churches and participates in the prayers with the heterodox. But the ROCOR anathematized ecumenism in 1983. Second would be "Sergianism": now, in the era of Putin's patriotic renaissance, the ROC-MP is completely disinclined to reject the church policy of the "Stalinist" Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky), from which it had already outright refused in the beginning of the 1990's. Finally, there is the problem of church property abroad, which both sides actively refused to address, asserting that there was almost no problem. And here, as a result, it proves to be the main stumbling-block.

After 2001, when the First-Hierarch of the ROCOR and the conservative clergy departed from it, the enthusiastic moods in the church, which was now the ROCOR (L), only increased-- the recent and formerly accursed MP was shown to be the "Mother Church", the "sole church of the Russian people", and the "church of the new-martyrs", and Patriarch Alexei II, still referred to in the foreign press by such names as "Agent Drozdov" and "heretic" suddenly became "His Holiness".

Like the series of blanket condemnations, this new enthusiasm was scattered suddenly and for trifling reasons. Even some fifty-six days ago at the Hierarchical Synod meeting in New York, during which the permission of His Holiness was sought to publish separate, but already long ago matched and combed, documents which were accepted by the commisions for "reunification", the echoes of new prophecies were sounded in the halls of the synodal house about union occurring at the beginning of 2006. And here suddenly on January 31, we find a response to the "protocol" issued by Patriarch Alexei II during his meeting with new Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas from no less than the main ideologist of "reunification" on the side of ROCOR (L)-- Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany.

The ecclesio-politcal course of this individual changed radically several times - and the hostage of these fluctuations was the entire Church Abroad, suffering from a sharp scarcity of intellectuals in the episcopal dignity. With the Archbishop's seal of approval they are characteristically, categorically confident in the rightness of their course, demonstrating perfect unwillingness to listen to their opponents and enter into any dialogue with them. The Archbishop announces his study ex cathedra as the established position, not as some pitiful fundamentalist, especially not from unwashed Russia. The Archbishop's seal was originally stamped on the "Russian project", and spoke in favor of maximum development of "parallel" structures in Russia. Then, faulting the fastidiousness of the homo sovieticus, the inaccuracy of this course was proclaimed, since contemporary Russian people were not ready for civilized church life. Finally, at the end of the 90's, a course was undertaken to unite with the MP, the diocese of which in Germany began to pass to the ROCOR. Changes in course were never stamped with an Archbishop's seal of repentance -- only changes in "historical circumstances" were noted. Only during November of 2003 did the Archbishop privately obtain forgiveness from Patriarch Alexei II, and not for himself, but for all the "insulting statements" made by representatives of ROCOR towards the MP.

Most likely, this change of course in this sequence, which had the Archbishop's seal of approval on the 31st of January, will also be attributed to a change in the circumstances. Indeed, "system errors", which translate to the German hierarch into numerous opponents from both within and without the ROCOR (L), could not be allowed. Thus, the MP goes from being "Sergianist" to the "Mother Church" and now back to "persecutor and tormentor", and Archbishop Mark remains solid as a rock.

Thus, on January 31, 2005, in the presence of Mahmoud Abbas, the ROC-MP is again buried in "Sergianism". It asked the Palestinian leader to legally secure the monasteries in the Holy Land as Patriarchal property, which was recently taken away from ROCOR scandalously and violently. Technically, the ROC-MP always considered this property as its own, which is why we refer to the statement of the Patriarch as a "protocol". But indeed, Archbishop Mark did not know, or he forgot, or he forced himself to forget the "true essence" of the Moscow Patriarchate. The luster of the cupolas, the countless assemblies of clergy and the crowds of laity, the sweet sounds of the singing of church choirs and the personal charm of His Holiness distracted his attention from the tears of the Sisters in Jericho. But Vladika was warned - all the splendor of the "spiritually revived" Russia will fall to another's feet.

Attempting to save face, Archbishop Mark explains that while the Church Abroad is ready to swallow the forced removal of its property here in the Holy Land, that allegedly the flock will not understand. The Masonic theories of the "rights of man" eclipsed the reason even of those in the West, who sincerely believed that the luster of cupolas guaranteed the truth of the ROC-MP. But the ROC-MP explains that on its side, there is no meaning to these Masonic theories - if the church is one, then the owner of property is one. A property question here has become, which once had archbishop's stamp as no hindrance to union (indeed it it actually threatened the loss of last arrivals in Germany), the stumbling block in this "historical process".

Our portal forecast-- a year ago-- such a dispute and even a fiasco surrounding such a solemn "process of unification". This forecast was not based, however, on the ill wishes and obvious interception of the initiative by metropolitan Kyrill (Gundyaev). Indeed, when Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov) ventured into the process - the conservative antipode of the MP's Committee on External Relations - President Putin was inclined to lend his hand to the union. Undermining the process of union, Metropolitan Kyrill sharply weakens the position of Fr. Tikhon and deprives him of the President's confidence, since the latter- who acted on the initiative of Fr. Tikhon- now finds himself in a stupid position. At the same time, he robs of the foreign hierarches of the authority which they held in conservative church circles. As for the property, it will nevertheless gradually pass into the hands of the ROC-MP, regardless of the twists and turns taken by the "wise course" of the Archbishop's seal of approval.

Alexander Soldatov