Abp. Hilarion Rebuffed By Our ROCOR-PSCA South American Priests

+CHURCH NEWS+ Issue February 29, 2008
Nathanael Speaks! -"and everybody listens"

ROCOR-PSCA English Web Site http://ruschurchabroad.com/engindex.htm
February 29 2008: ROCOR DR. E.L. MAGEROVSKY REPORTS: "ABP. HILARION REBUFFED BY OUR ROCOR-PSCA SOUTH AMERICAN PRIESTS!"

~ "In a two week trip to South America, Abp. Hilarion of the uncanonical Laurus group met with various clergy of our ROCOR-PSCA jurisdiction in Argentina & Chile who are under the omophorion of Bp. Agafangel.

~ "Abp. Hilarion tried to convince those present at a meeting held in a Buenos Aires hotel on February 13, 2008 to "correct the disorder created in the ROCOR South American churches."

~ "But Archpriests George Petrenko, Constantine Busygin, priest Vladimir Petrenko, and Deacon Eugeny Braga told Abp. Hilarion the same thing that Fr. Benjamin Wosniuk and Mother Juliana of Chile told him a few days before: "It is for (YOUR GRACE) to correct the 'disorder' by coming under the omophorion of Bishop Agafangel!"

~ "The priests then reprimanded Abp. Hilarion for ignoring the countless letters they sent to Met. Laurus prior to May 17, 2007 the date of the ROCOR-MP union. They said to Abp. Hilarion, "We have written to (Met.) Laurus & (Your Grace) countless letters not to join with the MP because this merger is uncanonical. But we received no replies! And now (Your Grace) comes to us!!!?"

~ "In other words, our ROCOR-PSCA clergy in South America have set an example for the rest of us not to cower before uncanonical bishops. -ELM

~ "And we all of the ROCOR-PSCA assert along with our South American clergy and parishioners, "We will be steadfast in our affirmation of where the true Church is and where it is not!"

Bishop Andronik's "North American Administrative District" Web Site http://russianorthodoxchurchoutsiderussia.org/

I.M. Andreyev's introduction to Russia's Catacomb Saints

"TODAY IN RUSSIA. TOMORROW IN AMERICA"
Introduction: CLICK HERE.

This valuable book, published in 1982 by Platina, is sadly going to remain out of print. Platina issued another book in 1998 designed to replace it. In the Introduction alone we might see why it will not be reprinted. In a recent post ("How Did We Get Here?" 12/14/08) Dr. Timothy Clader quotes from the Introduction in his footnotes, which show the connection between the MP and the Antichrist that Archbishop Averky was always warning us about.

For the time being, the entire original book can be found online:
http://russiascatacombsaints.blogspot.com/

It is recommended to print out and save a personal hard copy, since we never know how long something will stay on the internet. -jh

On the Eve of the Vth All-Diaspora ROCA Sobor


http://sinod.ruschurchabroad.org/eng080211.htm

On the Eve of the Vth All-Diaspora ROCA Sobor

The Canonical Status of the PSEA
and the Completed Bishop Ordinations
Fr. Victor Dobroff
2/25/08

“He who follows those leading into schism, will not inherit the Kingdom of God”
(St. Ignatius the Godbearer. To the Philadelphians, III)

            The restoration of order in the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCA) based on the canons is a difficult process, and it is not surprising that the adherents of Orthodoxy and the Holy Canons became confused in various ways.  Some even believed that the ROCA Provisional Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority (PSEA) ended up in a “canonical dead end,” without a way out, and suggested following the path taken by former members of the Church Abroad, who left it before the Synod of Metropolitan Lavr (Skurla) broke with the ROCA last May.

            Unfortunately, all these paths, though seemingly easy and convenient, lead the Church “to debase itself to the level of a new entity.”  Meanwhile, the slow but steady path chosen by the remaining faithful ROCA members under the guidance of the PSEA Chairman, the Most Reverend Bishop Agafangel (Pashkovskiy), may seem narrow and long, but it is unimpeachable in regard to the canons.

            Many who follow the ongoing process of restoring the canonical Church Authority in the ROCA do not understand the particulars of the situation which came in to being after May 17, 2007, and the ways in which the canonical restoration of the Church Abroad can be achieved.

            The existing and still-valid Status of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCA Ustav, ROCA Status), which was observed by ROCA until May 17, 2007, and where applicable, continues to be followed (see the ROCA PSEA Epistle from Nov. 28, 2007), is based canonically (Status Chap. 1, Para 1) and originates from Decree No. 362 of the Most Holy Patriarch, the Holy Synod, and the Supreme Ecclesiastical Council of the Russian Orthodox Church from November 7/20, 1920 (Ukase No. 363 of Patriarch Tikhon, Ukase No. 363), which itself is based canonically on the Resolution of the Local Sobor of the Russian Orthodox Church in 1917-1918.

            The Status of the ROCA, which can be considered the approved Ustav of the ROCA and which is dependant on and derived from Ukase No. 363 of Patriarch Tikhon and the All-Diaspora Sobor of 1921, delineates how ROCA’s authority functions within normal church conditions.  As it is a “living” document that can be amended and is expected to be adjusted to correspond to new circumstances for the Church, the ROCA Ustav has been reviewed many times by the ROCA Synod of Bishops and necessary corrections and additions have been made.

            The current situation of the Church guided by the PSEA is unique in that, since the falling away into schism by the Synod of Met. Lavr, all the elements of church authority which existed earlier have for all purposes ceased to exist: the diocesan structure and an episcopate consisting of two bishops (previously) are all that has survived in ROCA.

            Since the Synod of Bishops’ authority was no longer valid, an intermediate stage began in ROCA after May 17th, dictated by Ukase No. 363 of Patriarch Tikhon, and which required the episcopate that remained to create a PSEA (Ukase No. 363, paras. 2&3) in whatever form necessary to handle church administrative duties (Ukase No. 363, para. 2).

            The requirements of Ukase No. 363 were forthrightly filled by Bishops Daniel and Agafangel on May 22, 2007, when they formed the ROCA PSEA together, and which was communicated to the faithful in the form of the “Declaration of Most Reverend Daniel, Bishop of Erie, Regarding the Creation of the Provisional Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority of the Church Abroad” and the corresponding declaration of the Most Reverend Agafangel on May 29, 2007, with the title “On Our Division.”  They called upon all those who wished to remain in the ROCA to participate in the restoration of canonical order and work toward the convening of the Vth All-Diaspora Sobor.

            It is understood that given the circumstances, the PSEA is obligated to follow the spirit and letter of the Resolution of the Local Sobor of 1917-1918 throughout, until the canonical structure of the ROCA is restored.

            Since elements of the Church Authority are not present, it is not possible to expect and require the PSEA to fulfill every obligation called for by the Status of the ROCA in effect before May 17, 2007, but a general adherence to the spirit of the Status of the ROCA in its church administrative decisions is essential, as proof of the continuation of the PSEA from the original ROCA.

            While Ukase No. 363 of Patriarch Tikhon is still in effect, and until all elements of the Church Authority and Court are restored, all current matters and those which cannot be postponed, such as – accepting priests from other jurisdictions, the transfer of clergy from one diocese to another, divorce requests, awards for clergy and ordinations, the elections and ordinations of bishops, and other matters normally handled by the Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority are dealt with by the Provisional Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority.

            Based on the Status of the ROCA (Chap. 3, para. 28.6), the election and assignment of new bishops and the establishment of new cathedras during the time period between sobors is done by the ROCA Synod, while during a sobor it is done by the entire Sobor of Bishoprics, otherwise known as the Sobor of Bishops or the Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority of the ROCA (Status, Chap 2, para 7).  Sessions of these administrative bodies, according to the Status of the ROCA can be lawfully called and chaired only by the Chairman of the Synod and Sobor – a ROCA hierarch with the office of Metropolitan (Chap 2, para.8).  According to the Status, a Synod meeting can be considered convened (Chap3, para20) if it is attended by the Synod Chairman and at least two bishops of the four permanent members of the Synod (Chap. 3, para.16).

            Therefore, the opinion that Bishops Andronik and Sofroniy, who were ordained in December, 2007, for the PSEA, cannot be considered bishops of the Church Abroad, since they were not approved by a ROCA Sobor of Bishops as required by the Status of the ROCA (and that the decision to ordain new bishops could only be made by at least two ROCA bishops, who would constitute a Sobor) does not make sense and does not even conform to the requirements of the Status.  Especially since according to the Status of the ROCA, two bishops not only cannot constitute a Sobor of Bishops, but also cannot constitute a ROCA Synod, which in accordance to the Status of the ROCA must be made up by the Chairman and his two vice chairmen, plus four more bishops, and can be called and chaired only by a Chairman with the office of Metropolitan.  That is why the view that the new PSEA bishops cannot be considered ROCA bishops is incorrect.

            It is clear that during the organizational period (ruled always by the Patriarch’s Ukase No. 363) up to the restoration of the canonical structure of the Church at the Vth All-Diaspora Sobor, all matters (including the election of bishops) that fall under the purview of the Sobor of Bishops, that is the ROCA SEA, can and must be decided by its provisional body, the ROCA PSEA.  This is illustrated by the example of the election of bishops by a Synod instead of a Sobor, during the time between sobors.  These matters will be ratified later by the Sobor of Bishops, which will occur and be called and held during the Vth All-Diaspora Sobor.

            The canonical legitimacy of the remaining part of the ROCA (“the remnant of Grace” as the Greek Metropolitan Cyprian put it) after the Synod of Met. Lavr left it, the legitimate creation of the PSEA, and the bishop ordinations within the Church Abroad, evokes irritation and criticism from representatives of various other questionable jurisdictions.

            The Eucharistic communion of the ROCA PSEA and the Synod of Met. Cyprian, along with the ordinations they performed together, also result in various judgments.  Let us look at this matter more closely.

            As a result of the work of a learned commission of ROCA bishops during 1993-1994, it was decided (and approved in 1994 by the ROCA Sobor of Bishops) that the Synod of Resistance of the Orthodox Church of Greece (Holy Synod of Resistance, the Synod of Met. Cyprian) and its episcopate are unquestionably canonical and the ecclesiology of the Synod of Resistance does not contradict the traditional ecclesiology of the Church Abroad.  On the basis of this determination, the ROCA Synod of Bishops decided to establish full church relations with the Synod of Met. Cyprian.

            Since then, nether ROCA clerics nor laypeople, who understand the canons correctly, could even begin to consider our Greek Sister Church not to be orthodox, since all doubts concerning the Synod of Resistance are invalidated by the authority of the ROCA Sobor of Bishops.

            Based on the opinion of ill-informed critics of the canonical ordinations of the new episcopate for the PSEA, one hears various views expressed by those with only a slight connection to the church, that the new bishops ordained with the help of the bishops of the Synod of Resistance of the Orthodox Church of Greece cannot be considered Russian bishops and bishops of the Church Abroad!

            Is it worth replying to such absurd statements by pointing out the historical facts known by all, of the origin of the Russian hierarchy and even the name “Greco-Russian Church?”  Probably not.  Nonetheless, for the sake of those who might be taken in by such statements, let us recall several instances of the ordination of bishops in recent times:

            Ever since the last century, those involved in the church know that the ordination of the Old-Calendar Greek bishops, as well as the Synod of Resistance of the Orthodox Church of Greece, was facilitated by the ROCA episcopate.  To this day, no one would even think of the Old-Calendar Greeks as Russians, since the entire Orthodox world considers them what they really are – Greeks.

            When Bishop Agafangel concelebrated with these “Russian” Greeks in his diocese and in his cathedral, and ordained new bishops for his Church, how could clerics of the ROCA suddenly become “Greeks” and not bishops of their Church and their PSEA?

            As an example, its is also well known that the ordination of the future Patriarch of the Moscow Patriarchate (MP) Alexy I (Simanskiy) on April 28, 1913, was performed and led by the Most Reverend Patriarch of Antioch, Gregory IV.

            It is also difficult to take the opinions of certain commentators seriously, when they say that Bishop Agafangel, who is the only remaining ROCA bishop, could not restore the ROCA episcopate without the help of bishops from another Church.

            We can consider another important example from history, this time from the history of the Church Abroad and the Local Church of the Jerusalem Patriarchate:

            At the end of WWI, because of unrest caused by the demands of Arabs to be involved in matters of the church, all the bishops of the Jerusalem Patriarchate staged a revolt and refused to obey their Patriarch.  Patriarch Damian remained alone, without a single bishop or Synod.  He then asked the ROCA Synod for help in restoring the canonical structure of his Local Church and ordain a new Synod.  His request was answered: the Most Reverend Met. Anthony (Khrapovitsky) could not attend, but he sent the future ROCA hierarch, Anastasiy, to Jerusalem, who together with the Patriarch in 1921, ordained new bishops for the Jerusalem Patriarchate.

            This example alone, of Patriarch Damian and Archbishop Anastasiy, refutes all opinions of the supposed uncanonical nature or “non-Russianness” of the ordination of bishops for the PSEA.

            The PSEA certainly tried achieving its goals on its own, but circumstances in the Church Abroad were such, that having isolated the weak and ailing 77-year old Bishop Daniel from the outside world and having misled him through the false statements of his companions and Met. Lavr, this resulted in Bishop Daniel remaining with them in the MP, and the PSEA was left with only Bishop Agafangel.

            All the other “jurisdictions” claiming to be descendants of ROCA were then examined from the standpoint of the canons and the unfortunate conclusion was made that there was, without any doubt or reservations, not one canonical bishop among them.  Therefore, the PSEA had to turn to other canonically pure church bodies to complete its ordination of bishops.

            The possibility was considered of completing the ordinations with the Most Reverend Bishop Agafangel concelebrating with Irineos, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, or with the Old-Calendar Greek Synod of Archbishop Chrysostomos II, or with the Synod of Resistance of the Orthodox Church of Greece of Metropolitan Cyprian, or with the Romanian Old-Calendar Synod of Metropolitan Vlasy.  For a number of reasons and grounds, and bearing in mind the ecclesiological succession of the PSEA from the original ROCA, the Synod of Resistance of the Orthodox Church of Greece was chosen.

            That way, the ordination of the bishops made by the ROCA PSEA with the help of the Synod of Resistance of the Orthodox Church of Greece was canonical beyond any doubt.  The candidacies of the future bishops were proposed by the clergy and laypeople of the bishop-less dioceses of the ROCA.  They were considered and approved by the Supreme Church Authority – the ROCA PSEA, nominated according to the canons, and ordained as ROCA bishops by canonical bishops.  The newly-named bishops were before and after the ordinations, clerics of the ROCA according to all the accepted precepts.

            As explained earlier, the Status of the ROCA is a document dependant on the Ukase No. 363 and will remain so until all the administrative bodies are restored in the ROCA at the pending Vth All-Diaspora Sobor.  Until then, the ROCA PSEA will exist and act within the framework of Ukase No. 363.  The Provisional Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority, having come from within the ROCA, is bound by the terms set forth in the Status of the ROCA, but only to the extent that is possible practically in the conditions of its existence up to the time of the All-Diaspora Sobor.

            The PSEA structure, having been created according to the canons, embodies the complete authority in the ROCA until the All-Diaspora Sobor is held.  Therefore, it has sufficient authority to ordain bishops.  It can certainly be said that the pending All-Diaspora Sobor, and the Synod of Bishops which will be held at the same time, will openly state their conclusions not only on the ordinations completed for the good of the PSEA, but also on those performed in other parts of the ROCA, which left it before May 17, 2007.

            In considering the arguments of the critics, it should be pointed out that the historical and spiritual connection of the PSEA to the original ROCA is manifest through the union of two bishops: Bishop Daniel (Aleksandrov), a member of the ROCA Synod of Bishops since 1988, and Bishop Agafangel (Pashkovskiy), a member of the ROCA Synod of Bishops since 1995.

            The basis of this union is a historical document – the Declaration of ROCA Bishop Daniel of Erie, signed by him on May 9/22, 2007, which stipulates that Bishop Daniel and Bishop Agafangel together, of one mind and one spirit, established the PSEA and made the decision to fill the ranks of the ROCA episcopate by appealing to the fraternal Old-Calendar Churches for help with the ordinations.  Bishop Daniel freely gave Bishop Agafangel the right to restore the canonical structure and administration of the PSEA, along with convening the Vth All-Diaspora Sobor.  This also gave Bishop Agafangel the right and authority to select, nominate, and approve bishops for the ROCA and to create the Synod of Bishops.
            In sharp contrast to the ROCA PSEA, the many schismatic, newly-formed church groups such as the “ROC In Exile of Bishop Vladimir (Tselishchev)”, “the RTOC of Archbishop Tikhon (Pasechnik)” and other such “most orthodox and most true jurisdictions” which lay claim to historical or spiritual origin in the ROCA all share the same characteristic; they are headed by “archbishops” who were ordained under questionable circumstances and were never members of the ROCA Synod of Bishops, since they appeared only recently as a result of a number of schisms occurring since 2001.

            Critics of the ROCA are fond of pointing to the “Epistle from July 28/11, 2007, of the ROCA PSEA to all the Faithful Members of the Church Abroad” and especially to the part that says, “We aver that the course of our church is based in the principles and all Sobor declarations of the ROCA from its inception to May 4/17, 2007.”  The critics believe that certain Sobor Declarations of the ROCA should be immediately and categorically rejected if the PSEA wishes to establish a new and pure ROCA.  Unfortunately, the critics do not understand that no one is building a new ROCA.  That the PSEA, having originated from the ROCA, obliges the successors to correct the mistakes made earlier.  To preserve the purity of the Church, it is not necessary to denounce one’s heritage.  One only needs to avoid the mistakes of the past and correct them in a spirit of sobornost.  That is what the Holy Orthodox Church did before us and that is what is expected of a PSEA which receives its authority from the original ROCA.

            In considering what has been written here, we see that the accusation that the PSEA does not have any historical or spiritual connection to the original ROCA has no merit.

            Whatever steps the ROCA PSEA may take and whatever path the pure and uncompromised Bride of Christ – the Church Abroad – may take, it will always have not only its critics, but also its enemies and those who wish it ill, though if Truth and the Holy Canons are on its side – the gates of Hell will not prevail over it!

 (Translated from the Russian by Dimitry Gontscharow)

End Times by Elder Ambrosy of Optina

Orthodox Heritage
END TIME INSTRUCTIONS by St. Ambrosy of Optina (+1891)
SOURCE: St. Ambrosy, Elder of Optina, "End Times and Now Collection of Writings"
[edited from the original translation to improve sentence structure]

Saint Ambrosy (also known as Starets Ambrosy) is one of the better known starets of Optina. The Russian Orthodox Church declared him a saint in 1988 and his memory is celebrated on October 10th.

My child, know that in the last days hard times will come; and as the Apostle says, behold, due to poverty in piety heresies and schisms will appear in the churches; and as the Holy Fathers foretold, then on the thrones of hierarchs and in monasteries there will be no men to be found that are tested and experienced in the spiritual life. Wherefore, heresies will spread everywhere and deceive many. The enemy of mankind will act skillfully, and whenever possible he will lead the chosen ones to heresy. He will not begin by discarding the dogmas on the Holy Trinity, the divinity of Jesus Christ, or the Theotokos, but will unnoticeably start to distort the Teachings of the Holy Fathers, in other words the teachings of the Church herself. The cunning of the enemy and his "tipics" (ways) will be noticed by very few -- only those that are most experienced in spiritual life. Heretics will take over the Church, everywhere, and they will appoint their servants, and spirituality will be neglected. But the Lord will not leave His servants without protection. Truly, their real duty is persecution of true pastors and their imprisonment; for without that, the spiritual flock may not become captured by the heretics. Therefore, my son, when you see in the Churches mocking of the Divine act, of the teachings of the Holy Fathers, and of God's established order, know that the heretics are already present. Be also aware that, for some time, they might hide their evil intentions, or they might covertly deform the divine faith, so that they better succeed by deceiving and tricking the inexperienced.

They will persecute pastors and the servants of God alike, for the devil who is directing the heresy cannot stand the Divine order. Like wolves in sheep skin, they will be recognized by their vainglorious nature, love for lust, and lust for power. All those will be betrayers, causing hatred and malice everywhere; and therefore the Lord said that one will easily recognize them by their fruits. The true servants of God are meek, brother-loving and obedient to the Church (order, traditions).

At that time, monks will endure great pressures from heretics, and the monastic life will be mocked. The monastic families will be impoverished, the number of monks will decrease. The ones remaining will endure violence. These haters of the monastic life, who merely have the appearance of piety, will strive to draw monks to their side, promising them protection and worldly goods (comforts), but threatening with exile those who do not submit. From these threats, the weak at heart will be very humiliated (tormented).

If you live to see that time, rejoice, for at that time the faithful who possess no other virtues will receive wreaths for merely remaining steadfast in their faith, according to the Word of the Lord, "Everyone who confesses Me before men, I will confess before My Heavenly Father". Fear the Lord, my son, and don't lose this wreath so as to not be rejected by Christ into the utter darkness and eternal suffering. Bravely stand in faith, and if necessary, joyfully endure persecutions and other troubles, for only then will the Lord stand by you...and the holy Martyrs and the Confessors will joyfully watch your struggle.

But, in these days, woe be to monks tied to possessions and riches, and who, for the sake of love of comfort, agree to subjugate themselves to the heretics. They will lull their conscience by saying: we will save the monastery, and the Lord will forgive us. Unfortunate and blinded, they are not even thinking that through heresies and heretics the devil will enter the monastery, and then it will no longer be a holy monastery, but bare walls from which Grace will depart forever.

But God is more powerful than the devil, and will never abandon His servants. There will always be true Christians, till the end of time, but they will choose lonely and deserted places. Do not fear troubles, but fear pernicious heresy, for it drives out Grace, and separates us from Christ, wherefore Christ commanded us to consider the heretic and let him be unto thee as a heathen man and publican.

And so, strengthen yourself, my son, in the Grace of Christ Jesus. With joy, hasten to confession and endure the suffering like Jesus Christ's good soldier who was told: "Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the wreath of life".

Jesuits Donate Books to Russian Orthodox

Jesuits Donate Books to Russian Orthodox

Metropolitan Kirill Welcomes "One More Sign of Good Relations"

BARCELONA, Spain, FEB. 13, 2008 (Zenit.org).- A donation from Spanish religious congregations of more than 5,000 books to the Orthodox Academy of Moscow has been received as "another sign of the good relations" between the two Churches.

That is how Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, the president of the Department of External Affairs of the Moscow Patriarchate, described the donation.

Jesuit Father Emilio Benedetti told ZENIT how the donation came about: "During the entire month of October 2007, I had the satisfaction of helping Father Dionisyos Shlenov, professor of the Orthodox Theological Academy of Moscow, and Father Valeri, archivist of the Patriarchate of Moscow, to select the books.

"The volumes are duplicates donated by Jesuit theology faculties from universities in Barcelona, Madrid, Bilbao and Granada. Benedictines from Montserrat and Claretian fathers from Barcelona "also donated a series of excellent works," Father Benedetti said.

“We gathered more than 5,000 volumes published by good and well known authors in philosophy, history, theology, fathers of the Church and of biblical exegesis,” he added.

Metropolitan Kirill sent Father Benedetti a letter thanking him for his work. He wrote, "As a member of the Society of Jesus, your help is one more sign of the current good relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church.”

How Did We Get Here? by Dr. Timothy Clader

This was an invited talk, scheduled to be given at 11:00 a. m. on 28 Nov/11 Dec, 2003, at the Clergy Conference of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, Nyack, New York. The talk was canceled.

Beloved Metropolitan, Archpastors, and Pastors: I ask for your blessings and for your prayers for my family and myself. Thank you for asking me to come to this conference. I am an American convert to Orthodoxy, and was invited to give the convert perspective on the issue at hand.

The prime issue at hand is not whether to normalize relations with the Moscow Patriarchate; rather, it is whether we can say categorically and with God's authority that the Moscow Patriarchate has grace.

My family's journey to the Orthodox Church began in the late 1970s. We began to realize that the watered-down Protestantism of our youth was missing something. When we first began to search for that something, we had no idea that it would lead us to the Orthodox Church. In fact, we spent quite some time visiting a variety of Protestant denominations, realizing with each visit that they lacked that "something" we were looking for. We both began to wonder if that "something" perhaps didn't even exist. After we had been at this search for some time, a friend of ours sent us a copy of a letter written by Bishop Ilarion in the late 19`h century. This letter was his response to an invitation for the Russian Orthodox Church to join the then-fledgling World Council of Churches. (Even as Protestants, we realized that the whole concept of the W.C.C. was demonically inspired and smacked of a one-world church.) This same letter stated plainly that "we" (the Orthodox Church) had the truth, and there was no reason for us to join with the W.C.C., since the Russian Orthodox Church embodied the Truth. Bishop Ilarion then invited those churches (from the W.C.C.) to join the Orthodox Church. Because he made such an emphatic statement regarding the Truth, we realized that our own challenge was before us: To decide if this church did, in fact, embody the Truth.

We then bought a copy of Timothy Ware's book, The Orthodox Church, and read it over and over with hunger. After months of prayer, and with great anticipation and some fear (that we might be once more disappointed) , in the summer of 1980 we decided to visit an Orthodox Church. What we found was an English-language mission of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia attached to the Cathedral of the Holy Transfiguration in Los Angeles, California. This mission was run in a small school room; it had a plywood iconostasis and paper icons. In spite of its small size, there were about 30 people crowded into the room, standing shoulder-to- shoulder, including some pious Old-Calendar Greek families who joined ROCOR because of the Calendar issue. The singing was off-key and alternated between Byzantine and Russian chants. It was August, and the temperature was well above 100 degrees. There was no air conditioning. The room was so crowded that we could barely fit inside (we had two small children with us who were both in diapers). When the Ektenia of the Catechumens began, we were ushered out into the hallway. As we stood in the hallway while the Ektenia of the Faithful progressed through the rest of the Divine Liturgy (and in spite of the spartan surroundings) , we were both struck with the unambiguous realization that we were standing outside, and that God was inside, and that we were, at that moment, separated from Him – not only physically, but spiritually as well.

In spite of theheat,in spite of the singing, in spite of the plywood and paper, in spite of the children crying, we were both struck with an immutable fact that hit us like a sledgehammer: This Church had that "something". It wasn't until later that we began to realize that that "something" was God and His grace.

Since we became Orthodox, we have read and listened and learned what you, our beloved Bishops, have taught us.

We learned from Archbishop Averky that the Russian Church in Exile has a love for the Truth, and that the Orthodox Church is the "pillar and ground of the Truth."2 Further, that we are commanded by the Apostle to "walk in the Truth"3 and, following the warning of the great Father of the Church St. Gregory the Theologian, we do not want to "become betrayers of the teaching of the faith and Truth, communing in the leaven of the Evil One and joining ourselves to the plague ridden ... apostates from the Truth."4 Archbishop Averky warned us, however, that "The Russian Church Abroad is dear to us beyond price, but only insofar as it actually remains the lawful heir of the previous Russian Orthodox Church."5 Vladyka reminded us of the words of St. Athanasius, Archbishop of Alexandria:

"We must not serve time, but God."

Archbishop Averky warned us that there will not be a cry that says: "Forward! Forward! To the Antichrist!" No, he taught us, it will be much more subtle; it will seem on some levels to even be good; he taught us, however, that as members of the Russian Church Abroad the age-old motto of the true Church of Christ remains in full force:

Stand... remain unmoved!6

Although these times call for us to "move forward" and to "overlook our differences" , Archbishop Averky states plainly: "For us, `forward' is only the constant spreading , as predicted by the Word of God and the Holy Fathers of the Church, of`Apostasy' and its crown: Antichrist, of whose near arrival so many are already so openly speaking." Vladyka warned us not to become the "salt which has lost its savor." He concluded by saying: "Whoever thinks otherwise, whoever is inclined to `march in step with the times,' consequently, has already entered into some sort of compromise with the `evil of this world,' leading to the Antichrist, and is not a member of the Russian Church Abroad, even if he formally continues to belong to it." 7

Archbishop Averky taught us that – more than anything on earth – we should value our Church's freedom.8 As an American convert, I am eternally grateful to the Russian Church Abroad for accepting my family where we may partake of the Mysteries of the True Faith. I also smile at the realization that - in spite of her own weaknesses and shortcomings – my own country, the United States of America, was entrusted by God Almighty to preserve this kernel of the True Faith when the Synod relocated here. Part of that decision, no doubt, came from the Synod hierarchy realizing that the spiritual freedom of the Church could, in fact, be preserved in this country.

As a convert to Orthodoxy, I also had to learn what it meant to be in a Church that is a "hierarchal" church. Not only did I read about the difficulties with the Greek Archdiocese and the calendar issue, but also the history of the Metropolia. Finally, following my entry into the Church, there was the crisis that centered around the Boston Monastery. Through these troubled times, we were lead by our hierarchs, as we should have been. I was struck by the strong words of Dositheus:

"The dignity of the Bishop is so necessary in the Church that without him neither the Church nor the name Christian could exist or be spoken of at all... He is the living image of God upon earth... the fountain of the Sacraments." 9

You taught us further that the bishops of the Church were the sole source of authority for the presbyters: No priest had the "right" to celebrate the Mysteries except at the express appointment and authorization of his Bishop. Thus, the Orthodox Church and Its Faith are defined by its hierarchy. The hierarchs of the Church are the guardians of the Faith, and through them the grace and authority to perform the Holy Mysteries flow. Once one becomes a bishop, the Holy. Scriptures warn you to:

"Take heed therefore unto yourselves and to all the flock, over which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to feed the Church of God."10

Further, the Scriptures demand that: "A bishop must be blameless as being the steward of God...holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, that he may be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to confute opponents. For there are also many disobedient, vain babblers and deceivers." 11

As a convert to Orthodoxy, I was aghast at the utter cruelty and demonic force of the Communist state in Russia. During those initial years of uncertainty, the Soviets would intimidate the faithful in many heinous ways. One of the favorite means of shocking the faithful employed by the KGB was to greet parishioners who were arriving at church with their crucified priest hanging, naked, upside down spread-eagle over the center of the Royal Doors. The Soviet state would ask little children if their parents ever said prayers at home, or had icons. If the innocents said "Yes", their parents would disappear soon thereafter, never to be seen again. Those same children were then raised and indoctrinated by the state. Other parents would be cowed into submission and not tell their own children about the Faith at all. I could go on and on, but the tale of atrocities and murders and terrorism and blood baths seemed endless. Much of it was not aimed at political enemies; rather, it was aimed specifically at Orthodox Christians. Besides the many innocent clergy who perished during those years, the Tsar himself, having abdicated the throne, was a power less layperson, but was – together with his family – nonetheless murdered because he was Orthodox.

All of these atrocities were carried out by the Communist Soviet state: the same state to which Metropolitan Sergius pledged full allegiance (while tens of thousands of his fellow clergymen went to their deaths). Why was Sergius' capitulation so important? What difference did it make?

You taught us, dear Vladykas, that our Church is a Church defined by the Faith of its bishops. If Sergius defined the faith of his church, then how did Sergius' church choose its replacement bishops once many had fled Russia or were murdered?

There is no question that the main tool by which the Communist state implemented its ter rorism and strongarmed its policies was with the KGB.12 The KGB hand-picked its members from those people who were particularly cold and ruthless. One had to "prove" one's worthiness to become a member of the inner sanctum of the KGB. This proof could come in many forms: Murders and tortures of the faithful, ghastly acts of terrorism; destruction of churches and holy places; intimidation of the faithful, etc. This same KGB became the breeding ground and source for most – if not all – of the bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate. 12 These bishops were hand-picked by the KGB as looking and acting and seeming like pious pastors, but they were, in fact, KGB agents, selected for their viciousness and cruelty. The Mitrokhin Archives even names the KGB code names for their agents who became bishops in the Moscow Patriarchate.13 Even the present "Patriarch" of the Moscow Patriarchate, Alexsi II, came up through the ranks of the KGB. As a KGB agent, he was known as "Agent Drozdov."14

Following the annihilation of the hierarchy by Stalin, it was systematically replaced by Communist-state- approved bishops.15 These "bishops" have then – following all of the "external" rituals of the Orthodox Church – systematically appointed many additional bishops. It can safely be said that all of the current bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate are KGB operatives or were personally chosen by the same.16

The KGB also orchestrated the joining of the Moscow church to the World Council of Churches. This was useful as a political tool to the KGB: Its faithful hierarchs17 and representatives to the W.C.C. denied – often indignantly – all reports of persecution of the Church by the Soviet state. Tales of outright deception, lying, and pro paganda – all to aid the Soviet state – were the order of the day with the KGB agents in the W.C.C.

This method of infiltration of various organizations by the KGB, with the eventual aim of taking it over, has been their modus operandi for many years. It was used by the KGB to take over most of the Eastern block countries and other countries in Central America and throughout the world with out ever even firing a shot. They simply infiltrated their agents within the body of the government, organization or church, and then began to take control with time. It is a highly successful method that they have used over and over and over.18

When Satan unleashed his unbridled fury on the Russian land in 1917, it was always assumed by many of the faithful that one of the evil one's goals was the destruction of religion. This fact seemed obvious because of the millions of clergy and pious laity that were imprisoned, tortured and murdered, and the tens of thousands of churches and monasteries that were physically destroyed. It is curious, however, that the evil one never seemed to quite finish the job. There were still a few churches standing; there were still some scattered services going on here and there; there were still a few bishops left. The Soviet state was simply preparing the church – the Moscow Patriarchate – to be remade in its own image. With the numbers decimated and the faithful cowed, the Central Committee recognized all along that the ultimate control of the Church rested in controlling the Episcopal ranks. The Evil One knew that the Faith of the Church was defined by Her Bishops.

The godless Soviet state has had 80 years to replace the ranks of the hierarchy with its own. How am I to believe that any of their present hierarchs are even Christians? Based on the simple truths of their selection and their background, I can only conclude that they all must be agents of the Antichrist. I have been presented with no data to support any other conclusion.

As converts to the Faith, you have taught us, holy fathers, that the Orthodox Church is a Church defined and upheld by its Bishops. How can we find grace in a church that has avowed enemies of Christ not only within it, but leading it? We have been told by some that the laity have maintained the faith, and that even though the hierarchy is corrupt, the Moscow Patriarchate still maintains its grace because of the deep faith of the laity.

I am sorry, but this statement flies in contrast to all that I have been taught by you and have learned about Orthodoxy.

You also taught me, dear bishops, that the day of reconciliation with the Moscow Patriarchate would come when several conditions were fulfilled. These included the glorification of the New Martyrs, the rejection of Sergianism, and the rejection of ecumenism. It also included the Apostolic injunction that any clergy who are traitors of Christ (apostates) must be defrocked and can only reenter the Church as laymen.19

If the rumors I have heard are true, it seems that we, as the faithful of the Russian Church Abroad, are not demanding their repentance and defrocking of these apostate bishops; instead, there are some who would even consider the Patriarchate to be grace-filled and submit to her "bishops". Glorification of the New Martyrs came about begrudgingly and half-heartedly; Sergius is now the topic of a book that calls him a "Man of God"20 and the MP still participates in the WCC and is expanding its interaction with the Vatican. So much for the fulfillment of the conditions.

In a letter to Sergius, Metropolitan Anthony declared Sergius' infamous declaration to be no less than an act of treason against the Church. Since the fundamental goal of the KGB is to eradicate reli gion, the dealings of the MP hierarchs who are KGB agents should be considered to be even worse than treason.20

How am I, a convert to the Orthodox Faith, to deal with all of this?

I am eternally grateful to the Church Abroad for showing me the fullness of Holy Orthodoxy. In spite of worldly pressures, poverty and dwindling numbers, the Faith has been preserved by the Church Abroad just as Patriarch Tikhon envisioned, and as our Lord promised:

"Upon this rock will I build My Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."21

I, for one, am not bothered by our lack of glorious cathedrals or swelling numbers. These are, after all, the last times.

Perhaps this odd topic of "unification" with the Patriarchal church is only a wild and vicious rumor. This is my most sincere hope. Sadly, I have also heard that the Patriarchate has offered the Synod autocephaly if only the Synod will recognize the grace of the Patriarchal church. I am not only reminded of the same type of actions being taken by the Pope with the Uniates, but – even more poignantly – I am reminded of the great temptation that Satan presented Christ:

"Again, the devil taketh Him up into an exceed ing high mountain, and sheweth Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and saith unto Him, 'All these things will I give Thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.' Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: For it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth Him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto Him."22

I hope that you know that those of us who left our ethnic and familial roots to become Orthodox are particularly unnerved by this news, and are hoping against hope that the information on the website is false. Placing familial and cultural values at a higher level than the basic tenets of the Faith will completely negate the very reasons that I turned my back on my ethnic and cultural back ground – and much of my family – to become Orthodox.

"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial?"23

"Blessed is the man that hath not walked in the council of the ungodly...." 24

It is my sincere hope that these talks of "reconcilation" and "unification" and "overlooking our little differences" are just talk. From my perspective as a convert to the Faith, it is certainly not easy to walk away from your comfortable ethnic and cultural background. Nonetheless, when you are making that trip from darkness into the Light of the Truth, it is precisely because you are searching for the Truth, and not some cultural equivalent. I am happy that I made that journey, and I hope and pray that it may give me the means to salvation, unworthy as I am. I also hope that those whom I know and love are not taking a walk in the opposite direction.25

"I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."26

Just as the Soviets – through all their persecutions, programs and propaganda over the past eight decades – have created a puppet Russian Orthodox Church to serve the state, and have now unleashed it by declaring it and their Fatherland to be free, so unwittingly have they provided us the freedom to establish our churches in Russia for the resurrection of the Holy Faith.

This is the same Holy Faith that was entrusted to us – the ROCOR – to maintain in its fullness over that same time. Let us rise to meet the challenge as the Church Militant on earth. Our path is clear: There can be no uniting of Christ with Belial. Let us bring back to the true Orthodox faithful in Russia the Church as She has flourished and been preserved in freedom from bondage to the Evil One and his Soviet state. Let us bring to them what the Soviet church cannot:

"[The] Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish."27

Let us step away from the external trappings of the church: For just as the Divine Liturgy was served in that sweaty little classroom 23 years ago, and just as it was served on the breast of an imprisoned saint, and just as it has been served anywhere the faithful are gathered, so it can be celebrated without the beautiful Orthodox churches occupied by the Soviets and their agents. God does not need our stone or wooden edifices; He needs the hearts of the faithful!

"Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom." 28

Looking back 2000 years at the Roman Empire, one can see how the world stage was set for the Advent of Christ. Looking today, one can see how the world stage has been set by the Soviet state and its relations with the U.N., and the W.C.C., with their mutual goal of establishing world peace through one-world government and a one-world church. Using the tools of satellite television and the internet, their mutual goal is more readily and instantly available through mass communications to all peoples throughout the world.

Is it possible that even our most esteemed and pious leaders could be drawn into this deceit? I hope and pray to God that this could not be so.

There is a holy and pious and heartfelt desire on the part of all of the faithful of the Russian diaspora that someday Russia would be (spiritually) resurrected. Since the dawn of the Communist revolution our premise has always been that Satan was seeking to completely destroy the Church; i.e., to obliterate it from the earth. It is abundantly clear, however, that this was not the Evil One's goal; rather, Satan sought to recreate the "Orthodox Church" in his own image: To present himself as an "angel of light." St. Paul warns us of this very possibility in his second Epistle to the Corinthians, and he speaks directly to the issue of the ranks of the bishops (apostles) in the Church:

"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel, for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light." 29

Then what happened to the resurrection of Holy Russia? Are we to conclude that the blood of the New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Land had no voice before the throne of God? I would submit that this resurrection has already been taking place right in front of us. The New Martyrs were glorified. The Royal Martyrs have rightly assumed their place on the right hand of the Throne. Holy Orthodoxy has spread to all the ends of the world. These are the fruits of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, and they are happening now, and have been happen ing all around us!

"But... but...," you say, "is this all there is? What about the glory of the Patriarchate? What about the huge churches, trimmed in gold, with booming deacons; what about the glory of the Fatherland?" It is this very thought that the Evil One has used to such effect with some of the pious faithful. As a convert to Orthodoxy, looking at this with non-Russian eyes, it is plain and clear to me that Satan has recreated the Moscow Patriarchate in his own image to provide this illusion to the faithful, and, in turn,to drag them unwittingly to the edge of the abyss.

I say: Awake, sleeping giant! It is time for the Church Abroad to take its rightful place in history and fight this "abomination of desolation"30, 31 that has set itself up in Christ's place.

I am reminded by the words of our Savior regarding the last days, and hope that they are not upon us:

"And then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, He is there; believe him not: For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect." 32

Finally, I am reminded of Bishop Ilarion's response to the invitation from the W.C.C., which was to refuse to join them, but to instead ask them to join the Orthodox Church. It seems to me that it is once again time to refuse discourse with the MP in regards to joining it or recognizing its grace; rather, it is time to invite the MP to repent and join the True Church.

My prayers are with our little remnant of the True Church.
In Christ -
Timothy J. Clader, M.D.
Choir Director and Parishioner
Protection of the Mother of God
Russian Orthodox Church
Rochester, New York, USA

ENDNOTES
1 Archbishop Averky, On the Russian Church Abroad, from the writings of Archb. Averky, reprinted from Stand Fast in the Truth, compiled by Fr. Demetrios Serfes, pp. 3-5, and republished by the St. John of Kronstadt Press, Liberty, TN
2 I Tim 3:15
3 II John 1:4
4 cf. the Works of St. Gregory, Part I, p. 192
5 ibid, Archbishop Averky, On the Russian Church Abroad
6 cf. the words of Bishop Theophan in On Orthodoxy, with Warnings about Errors against It, p. 7
7 ibid, Archbishop Averky, On the Russian Church Abroad, p. 4

8 A particularly moving passage on this topic is found in I. M. Andreyev's masterpiece Russia's Catacomb Saints (St. Herman of Alaska Press, Platina, CA 1982, pp. 48-49), as follows:

"After the death o£..Patriarch [Tikhon], his successors one after another were banished. And then Metropolitan Sergius, becoming head of the church, published the Declaration known to everyone, which acknowledged the joys and sorrows of the Soviets as his own and declared all martyrs political criminals.

"All Orthodox Russia was shaken, and delegations with protests extended to Metr. Sergius from all corners of the land. "As a member of such a delegation from the Petrograd Diocese I [I. M. Andreyev] too came to Moscow. In the Metropolitan' reception room forty people were waiting, and everyone of whom I asked his reason for coming replied that he had come as a delegate to see the Metropolitan. Russia had not accepted the Declaration!

"The Metropolitan received us out of order. Finding out the reason why we had coma, he reaffirmed everything written in the Declaration, and in answer to our convictions called us `counter-revolution aries' and `schismatics. ' Not taking his blessing, we left without obtaining anything.

"Soon the churches that did not accept the Declaration began to be closed. In Petrograd only one remained, but everyone who entered it was registered and later arrested. This was the time when the atheist Soviet power demanded of believers that they go to churches of the official Church. [i.e., the Moscow Patriarchate]

"I, too, was arrested and banished for five years. At Solovki I encountered many hierarchs of the true Church. And there we already had our Catacomb Church.

"In the concentration camps the persecution against faith was completely open: priests were shorn and shaved, forbidden to wear cassocks and crosses. For making the sign of the Cross a new term of imprisonment was given. Of course there was no question of any open services. The relics of saints were exhibited for mockery in an anti-religious museum with blasphemous inscriptions- even the saints suffered with us! The monks of Solovki who remained there as specialist laborersw ere forbidden to have any contact with the prisoners under penalty of death. It was especially difficult before great feasts: it was impossible to gather even in twos, no one was allowed anywhere without special passes, night rounds were made more frequent, sentries were doubled. In order to pray one had to be ready at any minute for a martyr's death. And we were ready for it, always carrying with us, like the first Christians, a Particle of the Holy Gifts. I brought such a Particle abroad and gave it to Metropolitan Anastassy.

"And not only were we ready to die, but many did die, confident that somewhere there, outside the reach of the Soviet authorities, where there is freedom-there the Truth was shining in all its purity. There people were living by it and submitting to it. There people did not bow down to Antichrist. And what terror overwhelmed me when, fairly recently, I managed to come abroad and found out that some people here `spiritually' recognize the Soviet church. Spiritually! Many of us there fell, `for fear of the Jews,' or giving in to the temptation of outward cooperation with the authorities. I knew priests of the official Church [MP] who, at home, tore their hair out, who smashed their heads making prostrations, begging forgiveness for their apostasy, calling themselves Cain-but nonetheless they did not have the strength to decide upon
martyrdom. But even they spiritually did not recognize the Red Church. But these others abroad-it is precisely spiritually that they submit to it. What good fortune that our priest-martyrs, in dying, did not find out about this betrayal!"


9 What is a Bishop? Published by the St. John of Kronstadt Press, Liberty, TN
10 Acts 20:28
11 Titus 1:5, 7, 9-10
12 From the Records of the Council for Religious Affairs to the Members of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, published in Russian 1974; English translation, Monastery Press, 8011 Champagneur Ave., Montreal, H3N 2K4 Que. 1981
13 Andrew C, and Mitrokhin V: The Sword and the Shield, the Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB, Published by Basic Books, A member of the Perseus Books Group, NY, NY 1999 ISBN 0-465-00310- 9 pp. 486-507
14 ibid, p. 507
15 ibid, p. 501
16 I. M. Andreyev: Russia's Catacomb Saints, St. Herman of Alaska Press, Platina, CA 1982
17 ibid, p. 487
18 Crozier B: The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union, @ 1999 Prima Lifestyles, ASN 0761520570
19 Apostolic Canon Number 62, The Rudder (Pedalion), English Translation of John Nicolaides, 5th Ed., Athens, Greece, 1908; Published by The Orthodox Christian Educa tional Society, Chicago, IL 1957, pp. 107-108
20 Last Will and Testament, Archbishop Antony of Los Angeles, 24 Nov/7 Dec 1995 21 Matt 16:18
[20 Apparently there is a typo here as the original article lacks two # 20 footnotes.]
22 Mt. 4:8-11
23 II Cor. 6:14-15
24 Ps. 1:1
25 I. M. Andreyev: Russia's Catacomb Saints (St. Herman of Alaska Press, Platina, CA 1982, p. 51):

"This is why the question of our jurisdictional divisions is not a question of `quarrels of bishops over portfolios.' No, it is a question of cooperation (or tacit agreement) with the forerunners of Antichrist, or else uncompromising battle against them. This alone separates us from those who have broken away from the Truth; but it does not separate us from the Russian people, for there the soul, even if it is invisible, even if it has retracted within itself, is still alive, is not spiritually enslaved; it is drawn to the light of Truth."


26 11 Cor. 6:16-18
27 Eph. 5:27
28 Lk. 12:32
29 II Cor. 11:13-14
30 Matt. 24:15
31 Mk. 14:14
32 Mk. 13:21-22
http://911revisited.com/video.html

Published in "Living Orthodoxy" #155, Vol. XXVI #5,
Sept.-Oct., 2006 by
St. John of Kronstadt Press, Liberty, TN

Explaining the ROCOR Splits

> Date: Sat, 9 Feb 2008 09:21:24 -0800
> From: Joanna
> Subject: Russian "splits" info request
> To: Daniel

JOANNA: (Dear Daniel, Would you please tell us about the different ROCOR splits?)

DANIEL: Wow! Joanna, you DO ask lots of BIG/Deep questions! I shall try to hit most of your questions...what I know. I am told that there are more than 9 Russian dissident jurisdictions, perhaps even twice that number in Russia!

JOANNA: (ROCIE-V, RTOC/FROC, ROAC are the only ones I know. Are there more? My understanding is that ROCIE-V is the "Vitaly Group". ROCOR/ROCOR-MP has always said that they are a schism of misguided troublemakers who kidnapped the senile Met. Vitaly. And that they subsequently suffered schisms within themselves, proving themselves to be a schism. However, the Lesna Convent went with them, and I doubt Lesna made that move without careful considerations.)

DANIEL: Well, ROCIE-V is one of 3 main further-schisms, from the original Vitaly-ite/Mansonville Schism of 2001, and the head of one of those 3 factions, is this Bp. Vladimir-Teleschev. Those 3 groups are in a meltdown mode at present. We may get some of them..to..Vl. Agafangel. The full truth of what all transpired in 2001 surrounding Met. Vitaly:

1) He, on his own decision, decided to officially RETIRE as metropolitan/bishop-

2) He did go through his canonical/orderly retirement process, and did concure that Met. Laurus was his VALID/canonical successor-

3) there was no evidence then---or now, that Vitaly was forced/pressured to retire (he knew his mind and health were slipping, and HE desired to retire!!!)

4) AFTER his canonical retirement, he...or perhaps those around him...who were controling him and issuing statements with his signature on them, etc.........."RE-INSTATED HIMSELF! as "The Metropolitan". Which act, is totally forbidden by many canons, and was absolutely BOGUS!!! Unfortunately, as we can NOW see, Met. Laurus -Skurla was indeed THE LAWFUL/CANONICAL New Metropolitan of ROCOR. PERIOD!

(The enemies of our faith, as in Russia, USE OUR OWN CANONS ..to destroy and enslave our church! & to get THEIR agents into positions of high church authority...and this is what apparently occured when Laurus Skurla CANONICALLY ascended the Met. Throne of ROCOR!) HOWEVER! regardless, Met. Vitaly Ustinov DID TRULY....NEED! to retire, he was too far gone physically/mentally!....and that sad reality had ZERO to do with the KGB, but it was...working in their favor...that is true.

5) SO! everything! which Vitaly Ustinov did or said or signed ot ordained or co-consecrated, after his retirement, was and STILL IS, totally null and void and anti-canonical. That is THE TRUTH back then, it is still the truth, and that is Vl. Agafangel's position today.

Hence, none of the "priests' or "bishops" which he ordained (or so, we are told by the crazies around him that "HE" performed-?) are real or valid Orthodox clergy....THAT! is their problem, and why Vl. Agafangel CANNOT unite with those 3 groups.

6) As far as who "kidnapped Met. Vitaly", etc. : Truly, he was wisked away by FIRSTLY the schism-plotters (organized by Bp. Barnabas of Cannes)...who had his own POWER agenda...i.e. he PLANNED on soon--retiring (again?) Vitaly,...as he was clearly...loosing his mind to some form of Alzheimers or whatever, and then Barnabas would ascend the Met. Throne as the new -ROCOR Metropolitan, etc.

7) Bp. Michael -Donskov did in fact go with some rough-types, to "rescue Vitaly" from those schism plotters, and hence that photographed obscene debacle which was broadcast around the world, by the Mansonville propaganda machine. What is MY opinion of all of that?: It is ALL discusting and unChristian behavior...on all sides, but the blame has also got to be shared by both "sides".

The Lesna Convent went to, Bp. Tikhon of Omsk's group. which may be your "RTOC"...but I am not sure of their designation ... Tikhon being the sucessor to Bp. Lazarus...who once was in ROCOR, but who was deposed by ROCOR in the past, THEY (the pro-Bp.Lazar/Tikhon crowd) say, for uncanonical excuses, etc. New Bp. Stephan Sabelnik in New Jersey is part of that group, and they are a major rival to Vl. Agafangel . Well, what to say about the difficult decision-making processes of anyone who HAD to leave the uniate-ROCOR-MP...before OR after the signing of the Act? Each priest, each parish, each monastic community, each layman, etc. had to...make such momentous decisions THEMSELVES and following the best that they could decide to do. For those who left ROCOR before the signing of the Act,..obviously, they HAD to join themselves to an already EXISTING church/bishop....i.e. they felt that they could not WAIT till the Act was signed, so...they did that. With our Vl. Agafangel's strategy...i.e. to remain a loyal part of the Old /Valid ROCOR...untill the final moment of Signed Betrayal...and then to depart...that course of action these others could not accept. They wanted to leave and to leave quickly. Our Vl. Agafangel very much believes in proper and canonical Orthodox Church ORDER...which is his game plan. But yes, others attack him for that, and blame him for "not leaving sooner".

JOANNA: (RTOC/FROC I understand is the Catacomb Church. Wasn't ROCOR/ROCOR-MP in communion with them at one time? When and why did that end? I hadn't heard a word about them in years, and only really learned they still existed after D-Day. In discussing the coming union with Fr. James Baglien I asked him "Where is the Catacomb Church?" He was absolutely silent. Later I learned at St. Joseph's that the Catacomb Church just died out for not having any bishop.)

DANIEL: Well, many people believe that.....there is NO living Russian church group TODAY that can legitimatly claim, as being "the successors to the catacomb Russian church". Never-the-less, the one you mention here, plus ALL of the other sundry such Russian churches, they ALL claim this catacomb inheritance. Our Vl. Agafangel says that on that claim, they are ALL BOGUS, or as we would say, "Whistling Dixie". He reminds all, that such "catacomb bishops" died out....a long time ago....because of communist/effective persecutions.

But, yes, in the past, our ROCOR did go to Russia, and consecrate bishops for them, as they had NO LIVING BISHOPS! ROCOR also did the same for the Old Calendarists...who also had NO bishops for awhile, after they seceeded from the State Greek Church. But! as to the whole tortured history of the ups and downs in relations of ROCOR ...and those Russian groups that ROCOR at first helped...and later...seemed to turn against....I DO know some of that history...but I am not an expert.

HOWEVER, some of the current major impediments between our Vl. Agafangel and them (&why Vl. Agafangel calls them uncanonical), stem from those past unpleasant doings,...which some...blame.....Met. Vitaly (personally) for....and others (as our Vl. Agafangel) blame the Russian groups for.....especially blaming, now departed, Bp. Lazarus...as the instigator of schism. This Bp. Lazarus was succeeded by the current Bp. Tikhon of Omsk......a big attacker and rival to our Vl. Agafangel.

In conclusion, most astute/honest observers of Russian affairs, believe, that today there is NO-continued catacomb church in Russia. AH! but their spiritual-heritage,...everyone claims that link, yes.

JOANNA: (ROAC I know nothing about except that according to Sbn. Nathanael's livejournal, they seem to be rather upset with ROCOR-PSCA for not joining them, and they have apparently done some things to undermine ROCOR-PSCA.)

DANIEL: As far as all the many letter-designations of the various Russian churches, etc...YOY!!! Between the English-letter designations and the Russian-languiage-Cyrillic designations.....it is all that I can do, to remember MY OWN NAME!!! It is very confusing. One needs to know the full name of each group's head-bishop, his first and his family name....and THEN! one can begin to seperate them all. Also, those letter designations, in both English letters and Russian letters...keep CHANGING. Finally, I know it has always been Vl. Agafangel's hope/desire/aim to unite these splits under him.

JOANNA: (What hope is there for that? When is the SOBOR scheduled when this will be discussed? And, why did not ROCOR-PSCA just join one of the splits and work towards unity from there? Why is it that none of the splits are in communion with each other? Is ROCOR-PSCA willing to be in communion with any of the splits, if they would accept us? Is Cyrprianism the dividing issue? (It is at St. Joseph's).)

DANIEL: Well, what you ask here, is THE most crucial matter. Vl. Agafangel HAS said many times, that he IS open to conferring with most of these groups...but that THEY have shown no interest in such a positive dialogue, but rather, they attack him right and left, etc. However, he has also said: It is useless to attempt "unity" with those CLERGY who are uncanonical/invalid, which is true about many of those Russian dissident churches, so...he welcomes laity and lower clergy to come to him, from OUT of those groups , and in some cases he will exercise "economia" and not re-ordain such clergy, etc. BUT! he has reminded all, that HE CANNOT be the final arbiter of all those groups and HE cannot pretend to have such supreme-authority to personally FORCE anyone to follow what HE believes is correct church order, etc. Vl. Agafangel states that...a future All-Russian Church Council (Sobor V) will decide all these matters, and at which council, ALL can be present and there they can speak for themselves, etc. He hopes! that such a council can be a reality....later this year, or thereabouts. HOWEVER!!! WHO??? CAN??? SUMMON, such a meeting like that? In past times, Czars or Emperors did that.

Vl. Agafangel 's REASON FOR EXISTANCE IS: HE is the only canonical episcopal continuation of the old-pre-"act" ROCOR!!! He has said, however, that Bp. Valentine of Suzdal (whichj abreviation, I don't remember now).."is the closest to us of all the Russian jurisdictions"...i.e. we can work with them. That sizable church has over 300 parishes and lots of clergy and laity in Russia.

As to the various likes/hatreds towards the Cyprianite Synod: AH! that! is a very divisive matter, VERY! Vl. Agafangel, however, seems to be saying, that he considers them as just his cup of tea, he likes their non-extremist ecclesiology... (as he very much dislikes Mathewite-ism), they are THE ONLY fellow Orthodox who had offered to co-consecrate our new bishops...and who DID SO! , it was ROCOR who years back, gave THEM their episcopate, so now they are reciprocating back, Vl. Agafangel's own ecclesiology HOWEVER does have differences with them...i.e. he does not believe that it is alright for his clergy to commune MP laity, etc, ...so even though he is "in communion with the Cyprianite Syniod" (yes, that is true), yet... as has always been true in Orthodox church history......he runs his own church...at the pastoral/episcopal administration level......AS HE SEES FIT AND PROPER! Also too, there were/are other personal/friendship issues, as Vl. Agafangel and that Bp. George of Alania, etc. have been close friends for many years, etc. Also, Vl. Agafangel has stated that he is also warm & personal friends with OTHER G. Old Calendar synod-bishops (ones who dislike the Cyprianites), though he and they are not "officially in communion with each other". Such is life! Little is cut& dried!

Such is the tangled realities of Orthodox church life...of the past...and of the present.

*In a nutshell about the character of Vl. Agafangel (Pashkovsky): He seems to be a sincere humble real Orthodox Christian SOUL and a dutiful bishop....who had this present MESS thrust upon him, by his traitorous former ROCOR-brother bishops ..... and he is just ... rolling with the punches/with the help of God! His Ukrainian diocese, alone, is quite a handfull for any bishop....but now, Vl. Agafangel HAS to be ...a bishop for....THE WORLD!!! May God help him and those struggling so valiantly with him. He simply......COULD NO! go along with the betrayal, just as we cannot.

*An added recent update from Vl Agafangel: Because of the recent consecration of Bp. Stephan Sabelnik, by Tikhon of Omsk, our church considers that literally, an act of war, and a major betrayal of promises made to us by them...to NOT take/keep our-ROCOR parishes/clergy/people...and to NOT set up a rival-church to our church. THEREFORE, Vl. Agafangel now proclaims: We have nothing more to talk about with that group. Talk is ended with them. We await the future church council to decide these matters, etc.

JOANNA: Your explanations will be appreciated.)

(Love in Christ, Joanna)

(P.S. Also, I wouldn't mind knowing the truth about ROCOR-PSCA's supposed attempt to kidnap Bishop Daniel.)


DANIEL: Wow! Another deep question from you!: In a nutshell, from his earlier FREE public statements, Bp. Daniel was clearly against the "union" 100%. The ROCOR-MP-Skurla forces, have him under their house-arrest next to the Erie church. That operation says that it, under Pimen Simon & his gang, is "caring for Bp. Daniel...and protecting him from the schismatics...with which...he wants nothing to do, because...he is....loyal to Met. Lavrus, etc." A few of our priests DID attempt to rescue him out of there, but failed. The hope was to get him to Tolstoy Farm, a free place, and THERE he could say what side (if any) he was on, but anyway...there he WOULD have received loving and good medical care, etc.

But about more of the particulars, I can relate to you later. At present, the ROCOR-MP side is continuting to USE Bp. Daniel for their propaganda purposes. So, it is THOSE RASCALS! who have kidnapped Bp. Daniel. This past year, when a blood-kin of Bp. Daniel phoned and attempted to speak with her uncle, Pimon Simon took the phone and wouldn't allow her to speak with Bp. Daniel. So, she BEGGED P. Simon to let her uncle go! Simon's response, said with mocking laughter as he spoke to her:

"Ha! Ha! We will keep him for as long as he is useful to us, and when we are done with him, we will give him to you in about a year."

So, who? are the kidnappers? and who? is holding him against his will?

And as far as legal remedies to this? Well, apparently THE problem there, is that the blood-kin are disorganized and have so far NOT chosen to take any serious legal/police actions to rescue Bp. Daniel. Pimon Simon, is, afterall, a lawyer, and he knows all the legal angles.

Our ROCOR-MP foes's BIG Plan, was to STOP our "schism" dead in it's tracks, by withholding from helping us (it takes a minimum of TWO bishops to co-consecrate one new bishop,...and we had ONLY Vl. Agafangel....we needed also Bp. Daniel, etc.) this Bp. Daniel. So, untill we received the timely aid of our close-friends, the Cyprianite Synod, we WERE INDEED IN A PICKLE! Now, we can co-consecrate more new bishops...ad infinitum as we need them. So, our foes have failed. Yet, we do receive much criticisms from various voices, who question the Orthodoxy or canonicity of the Cyprianite Synod....for a variety of issues/accusations, etc. Our Vl. Agafangel has REJECTED all such critics, as themselves not being truly or fully Orthodox ....and of not knowing WHAT they are talking about. He accepts our Cyprianite friends ....while running his church ...differently...in certain PASTORAL/Church discipline matters...i.e. they and we are "in communion"...but we also have some different approaches to issues, etc. His one question which he asks those other G. Old Calendarists is: "What right do you have, for proclaiming the Cyprianites as heretical/non canonical, etc?

Because, for one matter, when THEY anathematized the Cyprianites, the Cyprianites threw back at them, THEIR own anathema, etc. So, whose anathema is THE CORRECT/VALID one?" And too, one must remember, Vl. Agafangel is very Russian, and hence by definition, he has an ingrained...dislike of...various Greek..fanaticisms...and too, he does not sympathize with fanaticisms within Russian circles either. He see himself, as a moderate and common-sence NORMAL person. He has made the statement on his blog site: "I have my opinions on various matters, my clergy have their's. and others have their's, but I do not feel that I have the right to force MY ideas on others, let everyone think aand speak as he wants....like it used to be in the best times of ROCOR."

Signed: Daniel the exhausted/answer man (?) to the world (?)

On the Eve of the Vth All-Diaspora ROCA Sobor

http://sinod.ruschurchabroad.org/eng080211.htm

On the Eve of the Vth All-Diaspora ROCA Sobor

The Canonical Status of the PSEA
and the Completed Bishop Ordinations
Fr. Victor Dobroff

“He who follows those leading into schism, will not inherit the Kingdom of God”
(St. Ignatius the Godbearer. To the Philadelphians, III)

            The restoration of order in the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCA) based on the canons is a difficult process, and it is not surprising that the adherents of Orthodoxy and the Holy Canons became confused in various ways.  Some even believed that the ROCA Provisional Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority (PSEA) ended up in a “canonical dead end,” without a way out, and suggested following the path taken by former members of the Church Abroad, who left it before the Synod of Metropolitan Lavr (Skurla) broke with the ROCA last May.

            Unfortunately, all these paths, though seemingly easy and convenient, lead the Church “to debase itself to the level of a new entity.”  Meanwhile, the slow but steady path chosen by the remaining faithful ROCA members under the guidance of the PSEA Chairman, the Most Reverend Bishop Agafangel (Pashkovskiy), may seem narrow and long, but it is unimpeachable in regard to the canons.

            Many who follow the ongoing process of restoring the canonical Church Authority in the ROCA do not understand the particulars of the situation which came in to being after May 17, 2007, and the ways in which the canonical restoration of the Church Abroad can be achieved.

            The existing and still-valid Status of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCA Ustav, ROCA Status), which was observed by ROCA until May 17, 2007, and where applicable, continues to be followed (see the ROCA PSEA Epistle from Nov. 28, 2007), is based canonically (Status Chap. 1, Para 1) and originates from Decree No. 362 of the Most Holy Patriarch, the Holy Synod, and the Supreme Ecclesiastical Council of the Russian Orthodox Church from November 7/20, 1920 (Ukase No. 363 of Patriarch Tikhon, Ukase No. 363), which itself is based canonically on the Resolution of the Local Sobor of the Russian Orthodox Church in 1917-1918.

            The Status of the ROCA, which can be considered the approved Ustav of the ROCA and which is dependant on and derived from Ukase No. 363 of Patriarch Tikhon and the All-Diaspora Sobor of 1921, delineates how ROCA’s authority functions within normal church conditions.  As it is a “living” document that can be amended and is expected to be adjusted to correspond to new circumstances for the Church, the ROCA Ustav has been reviewed many times by the ROCA Synod of Bishops and necessary corrections and additions have been made.

            The current situation of the Church guided by the PSEA is unique in that, since the falling away into schism by the Synod of Met. Lavr, all the elements of church authority which existed earlier have for all purposes ceased to exist: the diocesan structure and an episcopate consisting of two bishops (previously) are all that has survived in ROCA.

            Since the Synod of Bishops’ authority was no longer valid, an intermediate stage began in ROCA after May 17th, dictated by Ukase No. 363 of Patriarch Tikhon, and which required the episcopate that remained to create a PSEA (Ukase No. 363, paras. 2&3) in whatever form necessary to handle church administrative duties (Ukase No. 363, para. 2).

            The requirements of Ukase No. 363 were forthrightly filled by Bishops Daniel and Agafangel on May 22, 2007, when they formed the ROCA PSEA together, and which was communicated to the faithful in the form of the “Declaration of Most Reverend Daniel, Bishop of Erie, Regarding the Creation of the Provisional Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority of the Church Abroad” and the corresponding declaration of the Most Reverend Agafangel on May 29, 2007, with the title “On Our Division.”  They called upon all those who wished to remain in the ROCA to participate in the restoration of canonical order and work toward the convening of the Vth All-Diaspora Sobor.

            It is understood that given the circumstances, the PSEA is obligated to follow the spirit and letter of the Resolution of the Local Sobor of 1917-1918 throughout, until the canonical structure of the ROCA is restored.

            Since elements of the Church Authority are not present, it is not possible to expect and require the PSEA to fulfill every obligation called for by the Status of the ROCA in effect before May 17, 2007, but a general adherence to the spirit of the Status of the ROCA in its church administrative decisions is essential, as proof of the continuation of the PSEA from the original ROCA.

            While Ukase No. 363 of Patriarch Tikhon is still in effect, and until all elements of the Church Authority and Court are restored, all current matters and those which cannot be postponed, such as – accepting priests from other jurisdictions, the transfer of clergy from one diocese to another, divorce requests, awards for clergy and ordinations, the elections and ordinations of bishops, and other matters normally handled by the Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority are dealt with by the Provisional Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority.

            Based on the Status of the ROCA (Chap. 3, para. 28.6), the election and assignment of new bishops and the establishment of new cathedras during the time period between sobors is done by the ROCA Synod, while during a sobor it is done by the entire Sobor of Bishoprics, otherwise known as the Sobor of Bishops or the Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority of the ROCA (Status, Chap 2, para 7).  Sessions of these administrative bodies, according to the Status of the ROCA can be lawfully called and chaired only by the Chairman of the Synod and Sobor – a ROCA hierarch with the office of Metropolitan (Chap 2, para.8).  According to the Status, a Synod meeting can be considered convened (Chap3, para20) if it is attended by the Synod Chairman and at least two bishops of the four permanent members of the Synod (Chap. 3, para.16).

            Therefore, the opinion that Bishops Andronik and Sofroniy, who were ordained in December, 2007, for the PSEA, cannot be considered bishops of the Church Abroad, since they were not approved by a ROCA Sobor of Bishops as required by the Status of the ROCA (and that the decision to ordain new bishops could only be made by at least two ROCA bishops, who would constitute a Sobor) does not make sense and does not even conform to the requirements of the Status.  Especially since according to the Status of the ROCA, two bishops not only cannot constitute a Sobor of Bishops, but also cannot constitute a ROCA Synod, which in accordance to the Status of the ROCA must be made up by the Chairman and his two vice chairmen, plus four more bishops, and can be called and chaired only by a Chairman with the office of Metropolitan.  That is why the view that the new PSEA bishops cannot be considered ROCA bishops is incorrect.

            It is clear that during the organizational period (ruled always by the Patriarch’s Ukase No. 363) up to the restoration of the canonical structure of the Church at the Vth All-Diaspora Sobor, all matters (including the election of bishops) that fall under the purview of the Sobor of Bishops, that is the ROCA SEA, can and must be decided by its provisional body, the ROCA PSEA.  This is illustrated by the example of the election of bishops by a Synod instead of a Sobor, during the time between sobors.  These matters will be ratified later by the Sobor of Bishops, which will occur and be called and held during the Vth All-Diaspora Sobor.

            The canonical legitimacy of the remaining part of the ROCA (“the remnant of Grace” as the Greek Metropolitan Cyprian put it) after the Synod of Met. Lavr left it, the legitimate creation of the PSEA, and the bishop ordinations within the Church Abroad, evokes irritation and criticism from representatives of various other questionable jurisdictions.

            The Eucharistic communion of the ROCA PSEA and the Synod of Met. Cyprian, along with the ordinations they performed together, also result in various judgments.  Let us look at this matter more closely.

            As a result of the work of a learned commission of ROCA bishops during 1993-1994, it was decided (and approved in 1994 by the ROCA Sobor of Bishops) that the Synod of Resistance of the Orthodox Church of Greece (Holy Synod of Resistance, the Synod of Met. Cyprian) and its episcopate are unquestionably canonical and the ecclesiology of the Synod of Resistance does not contradict the traditional ecclesiology of the Church Abroad.  On the basis of this determination, the ROCA Synod of Bishops decided to establish full church relations with the Synod of Met. Cyprian.

            Since then, nether ROCA clerics nor laypeople, who understand the canons correctly, could even begin to consider our Greek Sister Church not to be orthodox, since all doubts concerning the Synod of Resistance are invalidated by the authority of the ROCA Sobor of Bishops.

            Based on the opinion of ill-informed critics of the canonical ordinations of the new episcopate for the PSEA, one hears various views expressed by those with only a slight connection to the church, that the new bishops ordained with the help of the bishops of the Synod of Resistance of the Orthodox Church of Greece cannot be considered Russian bishops and bishops of the Church Abroad!

            Is it worth replying to such absurd statements by pointing out the historical facts known by all, of the origin of the Russian hierarchy and even the name “Greco-Russian Church?”  Probably not.  Nonetheless, for the sake of those who might be taken in by such statements, let us recall several instances of the ordination of bishops in recent times:

            Ever since the last century, those involved in the church know that the ordination of the Old-Calendar Greek bishops, as well as the Synod of Resistance of the Orthodox Church of Greece, was facilitated by the ROCA episcopate.  To this day, no one would even think of the Old-Calendar Greeks as Russians, since the entire Orthodox world considers them what they really are – Greeks.

            When Bishop Agafangel concelebrated with these “Russian” Greeks in his diocese and in his cathedral, and ordained new bishops for his Church, how could clerics of the ROCA suddenly become “Greeks” and not bishops of their Church and their PSEA?

            As an example, its is also well known that the ordination of the future Patriarch of the Moscow Patriarchate (MP) Alexy I (Simanskiy) on April 28, 1913, was performed and led by the Most Reverend Patriarch of Antioch, Gregory IV.

            It is also difficult to take the opinions of certain commentators seriously, when they say that Bishop Agafangel, who is the only remaining ROCA bishop, could not restore the ROCA episcopate without the help of bishops from another Church.

            We can consider another important example from history, this time from the history of the Church Abroad and the Local Church of the Jerusalem Patriarchate:

            At the end of WWI, because of unrest caused by the demands of Arabs to be involved in matters of the church, all the bishops of the Jerusalem Patriarchate staged a revolt and refused to obey their Patriarch.  Patriarch Damian remained alone, without a single bishop or Synod.  He then asked the ROCA Synod for help in restoring the canonical structure of his Local Church and ordain a new Synod.  His request was answered: the Most Reverend Met. Anthony (Khrapovitsky) could not attend, but he sent the future ROCA hierarch, Anastasiy, to Jerusalem, who together with the Patriarch in 1921, ordained new bishops for the Jerusalem Patriarchate.

            This example alone, of Patriarch Damian and Archbishop Anastasiy, refutes all opinions of the supposed uncanonical nature or “non-Russianness” of the ordination of bishops for the PSEA.

            The PSEA certainly tried achieving its goals on its own, but circumstances in the Church Abroad were such, that having isolated the weak and ailing 77-year old Bishop Daniel from the outside world and having misled him through the false statements of his companions and Met. Lavr, this resulted in Bishop Daniel remaining with them in the MP, and the PSEA was left with only Bishop Agafangel.

            All the other “jurisdictions” claiming to be descendants of ROCA were then examined from the standpoint of the canons and the unfortunate conclusion was made that there was, without any doubt or reservations, not one canonical bishop among them.  Therefore, the PSEA had to turn to other canonically pure church bodies to complete its ordination of bishops.

            The possibility was considered of completing the ordinations with the Most Reverend Bishop Agafangel concelebrating with Irineos, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, or with the Old-Calendar Greek Synod of Archbishop Chrysostomos II, or with the Synod of Resistance of the Orthodox Church of Greece of Metropolitan Cyprian, or with the Romanian Old-Calendar Synod of Metropolitan Vlasy.  For a number of reasons and grounds, and bearing in mind the ecclesiological succession of the PSEA from the original ROCA, the Synod of Resistance of the Orthodox Church of Greece was chosen.

            That way, the ordination of the bishops made by the ROCA PSEA with the help of the Synod of Resistance of the Orthodox Church of Greece was canonical beyond any doubt.  The candidacies of the future bishops were proposed by the clergy and laypeople of the bishop-less dioceses of the ROCA.  They were considered and approved by the Supreme Church Authority – the ROCA PSEA, nominated according to the canons, and ordained as ROCA bishops by canonical bishops.  The newly-named bishops were before and after the ordinations, clerics of the ROCA according to all the accepted precepts.

            As explained earlier, the Status of the ROCA is a document dependant on the Ukase No. 363 and will remain so until all the administrative bodies are restored in the ROCA at the pending Vth All-Diaspora Sobor.  Until then, the ROCA PSEA will exist and act within the framework of Ukase No. 363.  The Provisional Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority, having come from within the ROCA, is bound by the terms set forth in the Status of the ROCA, but only to the extent that is possible practically in the conditions of its existence up to the time of the All-Diaspora Sobor.

            The PSEA structure, having been created according to the canons, embodies the complete authority in the ROCA until the All-Diaspora Sobor is held.  Therefore, it has sufficient authority to ordain bishops.  It can certainly be said that the pending All-Diaspora Sobor, and the Synod of Bishops which will be held at the same time, will openly state their conclusions not only on the ordinations completed for the good of the PSEA, but also on those performed in other parts of the ROCA, which left it before May 17, 2007.

            In considering the arguments of the critics, it should be pointed out that the historical and spiritual connection of the PSEA to the original ROCA is manifest through the union of two bishops: Bishop Daniel (Aleksandrov), a member of the ROCA Synod of Bishops since 1988, and Bishop Agafangel (Pashkovskiy), a member of the ROCA Synod of Bishops since 1995.

            The basis of this union is a historical document – the Declaration of ROCA Bishop Daniel of Erie, signed by him on May 9/22, 2007, which stipulates that Bishop Daniel and Bishop Agafangel together, of one mind and one spirit, established the PSEA and made the decision to fill the ranks of the ROCA episcopate by appealing to the fraternal Old-Calendar Churches for help with the ordinations.  Bishop Daniel freely gave Bishop Agafangel the right to restore the canonical structure and administration of the PSEA, along with convening the Vth All-Diaspora Sobor.  This also gave Bishop Agafangel the right and authority to select, nominate, and approve bishops for the ROCA and to create the Synod of Bishops.
            In sharp contrast to the ROCA PSEA, the many schismatic, newly-formed church groups such as the “ROC In Exile of Bishop Vladimir (Tselishchev)”, “the RTOC of Archbishop Tikhon (Pasechnik)” and other such “most orthodox and most true jurisdictions” which lay claim to historical or spiritual origin in the ROCA all share the same characteristic; they are headed by “archbishops” who were ordained under questionable circumstances and were never members of the ROCA Synod of Bishops, since they appeared only recently as a result of a number of schisms occurring since 2001.

            Critics of the ROCA are fond of pointing to the “Epistle from July 28/11, 2007, of the ROCA PSEA to all the Faithful Members of the Church Abroad” and especially to the part that says, “We aver that the course of our church is based in the principles and all Sobor declarations of the ROCA from its inception to May 4/17, 2007.”  The critics believe that certain Sobor Declarations of the ROCA should be immediately and categorically rejected if the PSEA wishes to establish a new and pure ROCA.  Unfortunately, the critics do not understand that no one is building a new ROCA.  That the PSEA, having originated from the ROCA, obliges the successors to correct the mistakes made earlier.  To preserve the purity of the Church, it is not necessary to denounce one’s heritage.  One only needs to avoid the mistakes of the past and correct them in a spirit of sobornost.  That is what the Holy Orthodox Church did before us and that is what is expected of a PSEA which receives its authority from the original ROCA.

            In considering what has been written here, we see that the accusation that the PSEA does not have any historical or spiritual connection to the original ROCA has no merit.

            Whatever steps the ROCA PSEA may take and whatever path the pure and uncompromised Bride of Christ – the Church Abroad – may take, it will always have not only its critics, but also its enemies and those who wish it ill, though if Truth and the Holy Canons are on its side – the gates of Hell will not prevail over it!