After Metr. Laurus
May 2008

Ephraim Lopatin
Translated by Seraphim Larin

(As it appeared in “Our Country” - Nasha Strana – No.2840)

The death of Met. Laurus’ (Shkurla) at the Holy Trinity Monastery at Jordanville, occurred on the triumphant Sunday of Orthodoxy, a day when a special rite is performed in all our churches, declaring Anathema to all heretics that have fallen away from the Church – including ecumenists.  Having reposed at night on the eve of this Service, Met. Laurus did not hear this anathema.

He outlived his benefactor Met. Vitaly (Ustinov) by some 18 months, who died as the last First Hierarch of the traditional ROCA in September 2006, at the Holy-Transfiguration skete at Mansonville.

As a matter of fact, at the end of World War II, Met. Vitaly covertly spirited away the then adolescent Vassily Shkurla – future Laurus - from his native Slovakia, saving him from the advancing soviet forces.  Some nearly half a century will come to pass before Met. Laurus, having replaced Met. Vitaly (who was sent to retirement) as head of ROCA, will lead the Overseas Church under the omophorion of the Moscow Patriarchate.

That’s why to some, he will remain a historical identity that had heeded president Putin’s call and brought about the unification of ROCA and the MP. Whereas to others, his name will always be linked with the betrayal of the ROCA, and his personal disloyalty to Met.Vitaly.

In describing the occurrence, some Russian journalists couldn’t refrain from drawing an analogy with Schiller: “Laurus had done his deed, Laurus can now go.”  Even a year hadn’t passed since the unia with the MP, when Met. Laurus went to another world.  It would appear that there is far more grieving within Russia over his passing than there is overseas.  The Moscow Patriarchate regards him as a hero.  At the end of February of this year, in the Martha-Mary Cloister in Moscow, (which in point of fact was recently part of ROCA until its seizure by the MP) Met. Laurus was awarded the medal of Andrew the First-called for his “Faith and Fidelity”.  The fortieth day of Met. Laurus’ demise will fall on the day when Judas’ betrayal of Christ is commemorated… complete mystification…

In New York, the Synod had resolved that during Church Services, the first name to be commemorated after patriarch Alexis’ was to be that of locum-tenens, Canadian-born archbp. Hilarion of the Australian-New Zealand Diocese.

However, archbp. Hilarion did not head the requiem mass at Jordanville for the reposed Met. Laurus – it was the MP metropolitan Juvenalis from Moscow!  It’s not very long ago that one would be aghast at such a thought, because this Juvenalis is a covert KGB agent with a code-name “Adamant” – a typical soviet archbishop, a confirmed ecumenist and Sergianist – i.e., a servant of the godless authorities.

He was tonsured in 1959 by the celebrated archimandrite Nikodim (Rotov), the future metropolitan of Leningrad, who eventually died in the arms of the Roman Pope John-Paul I.

In 1960, this newly-tonsured monk was part of the MP delegation to the Ecumenical Assembly of European Youth, held in Lausanne.  In the same year, he also graduated in a course for student-theologians at an Ecumenical institute at Bosse, Switzerland.  In 1965, he was already a bishop and Deputy Chairman of the Department of Internal Church Relations.

Such a rapid career rise for a 30 year-old could only be achieved through faithful service to the authorities… and such an individual headed a church service at the Holy Trinity monastery, where at one time services were conducted by such legendary archbishops – renowned for their anti-MP stand – as the builder of the monastery Vitaly (Maksimenko) and its dean Averky (Taushev)!

The death of Met. Laurus will bring about big changes in the church life of ROCA (MP) in Canada.  The candidate for the post of First hierarch must be in accord with Moscow, as it will be affirmed by the patriarch.  Logically speaking, the most likely candidate would have to be archbp. Hilarion, while the vacancy created in the Australian Diocese can possibly be filled by the Australian bishop Gabriel, currently guiding the parishes in Eastern Canada.

It’s doubtful that the cathedral church of Holy Nicholas in Montreal will be left without a bishop.  While there are no “spare” bishops, they could materialize.  In any case, there is a candidate who comes from Montreal: hieromonk, and possibly already archimandrite, Nicholas Perekrestov.  While he hasn’t lived in Montreal for a long time, he is well remembered by the parishioners and for this, it’s doubtful that they would have a burning desire to see him in the role of dean of their cathedral.  As the saying goes: “He is a horse of a different colour”.  All this may beget significant disturbances within the Holy Nicholas parish, which currently remains as a “quiet backwater” in the troubled ROCA(MP).

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