Vladyka Agafangel's Life Is In Danger

From March 27, V. Agafangel's blog:
Here's a translated version:
Our Future.  Page 51
I am forced to report that an obvious surveillance operation has begun against me. When I come home, there is a group of “kids” waiting, who enter the building with me and “make believe” they are going to the second floor, while one of them gets in the elevator with me.  The children are from the 7-10 grades and appear disadvantaged. They seem to be carrying out some apparent assignment.  I have received information that they are indeed targeting me. 
As a result, I am also forced to announce that if I am “accidentally” killed, the only person out of all the people in the world that I believe is interested in having me disappear, would be MP Patriarch Kirill (Gundayev).  Therefore, if I happen to die, direct all questions about my demise to him.  It is very unfortunate that I am writing this in all seriousness.
Thank you D.G. for this translation

Something We Can Do

From Fr. Gregory:

Blessings!  Not much in my nature to engage in letter-writing campaigns, but it seems this is a situation which warrants it.  I received a draft of a letter of appeal from John & Nadya Herbst (he was once ambassador to Ukraine & continues to serve in the State Department).  I have edited it somewhat to my taste (and would encourage you to do likewise).  Similar letters might also be sent to your congressman and senators (addresses easily uncovered at http://www.contactingthecongress.org/).  I rather suspect that postal mail, though slower and a little more expensive, may get better attention than e-mail.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
2201 C St, NW
Washington DC 20520

Peace, in the name of the Lord!

We belong to the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (also known as the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia), a church incorporated in New York and guided by Metropolitan Agafangel, who divides his time between New York and Odessa, Ukraine.  We are writing you because we believe that Metropolitan Agafangel is in imminent danger in Ukraine.  In recent  weeks, his movements in Odessa have been shadowed by groups of young men.   They wait for him at his residence. When the Metropolitan arrives, they follow him inside his building, get off on the second floor, and then one of them remains in the elevator and accompanies him to his apartment.  Their manner is threatening.
Metropolitan Agafangel believes that this campaign of harassment and threats is being instigated by the Russian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate because of its displeasure with his opposition to the union three years ago between that church and a part of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.  Since that union, the Russian Orthodox Church- Moscow Patriarchate has waged a propaganda campaign against Metropolitan Agafangel and our church, but this recent turn of events is far more sinister.  The recent election of Victor Yanukovych as President of Ukraine, who is perceived to be friendly to Russia, may have emboldened the Moscow Patriarchate to take more aggressive measures against Metropolitan Agafangel. 
Whatever prompted the appearance of these thugs, we are asking for your help.  We request that the State Department contact the government of Ukraine, insisting that it assure the safety of Metropolitan Agafangel.  We are appealing to you because respect for human rights and the rule of law, including freedom of religion, is not what it should be in Ukraine.  Please help us.  
May the Lord bless and preserve you!

Timeliness is of course important!

Oxnard Won!




With the greatest possible joy and with gratitude to the intercessions of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco and the prayers of our ailing Metropolitan Cyprian, I am pleased to announce, as you will read in the attached Press Release, that our Exarchate parish, the Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Oxnard, California (click on the URL above to see photographs of the Church), was awarded a favorable judgment in the suit brought against it by the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCA), after the ROCA's decision to unite with the Moscow Patriarchate (thus becoming the ROCA/MP).

Having refused to accept union with the Moscow Patriarchate because of its legacy of collaboration with the Soviet régime and its involvement in the World Council of Churches, the Holy Trinity Orthodox Church petitioned Metropolitan Cyprian and our Synod of Bishops and was received into the Holy Synod in Resistance of the Old Calendar Orthodox Church of Greece, which was a Sister Church of the ROCA/MP before also breaking communion with the latter, when it united with Moscow.

Immediately upon the entrance of the Holy Trinity parish into our jurisdiction, The Western diocese of the ROCA/MP filed suit against the parish, in order to confiscate its Church and property, and against the Ruling Bishop of our Exarchate, Archbishop Chrysostomos (for damages in the amount of 2,000,000 dollars); against the Church Warden, Mr. Michael Avisov and his wife, Vivian (for damages in an equal amount); and against the Church Board, accusing all of malfeasance in conjunction with the Board's decision to leave the ROCA/MP.

Though rulings against conservative Episcopalian parishes in California that have broken away from their diocesan structure presented immense concerns for the Holy Trinity parish, by God's Grace, after two years of expensive and stressful litigation, the complaints against the parish and His Eminence, the Warden and his wife, and the Church Board have been dismissed and, as a said, the court has ruled in favor of the Holy Trinity parish, the property of which is now fully and permanently under its control.

It goes without saying that we are thankful not only to all who supported the parish and His Eminence and the Warden and the Board, but to the founders of the Holy Trinity Church, by whose sacrifices it was built. We are especially thankful to all those who helped to cover the considerable costs for these long and difficult years of litigation. It also goes without saying that no one at all holds ill feelings towards those who initiated the suit.

I speak for the Archbishop, our Church, and the parish, I am sure, when I say that we feel great regret that differences in convictions and views led to such a circumstance as this. May peace and love prevail and, as the Apostle of the Nations wrote to the Corinthians, may the truth one day unite all in "the same mind" and "in the same judgment," preserving all that in the past was handed down to us from our Fathers and which we have been enjoined, by the same Apostle, to hold in firmness.

Thanks be to God for all things.

+ Bishop Auxentios

  

News from Holy Trinity Eastern Orthodox Church 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   Contact:  Daniel F. Lula 
              Payne & Fears LLP 

       Phone:  949-851-1100 

Lawsuit Against Holy Trinity Eastern Orthodox Church 
Dismissed by Ventura County Superior Court  

Oxnard, Calif. – March 26, 2010 – Holy Trinity Eastern Orthodox Church, founded in Oxnard more than 40 years ago by refugees who escaped from the former Soviet Union, has prevailed in a lawsuit brought against it by the Russian 
Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR).  The Ventura County Superior Court has entered judgment in favor of Holy Trinity, ending ROCOR’s attempt to confiscate the church’s property. 

Holy Trinity was founded by Russian immigrants, many of whom lost family members and loved ones in the wake of the Soviet government’s persecution of Orthodox Christians.  These refugees came to Ventura County to work in agriculture after World War II, and became patriotic American citizens. 

In 1965, construction began on Holy Trinity’s beautiful church building, located on Alvarado Street in Oxnard.  Funded entirely by member donations, the church, bearing the typical Byzantine domes and elaborate icons, was completed in 1966.  A plaque on the outside of the church expresses the founders’ gratitude to America, and the church’s articles of incorporation pledge always to uphold the U.S. Constitution. 

In March 2007, after much prayer and deliberation, the members of Holy Trinity voted unanimously to separate from ROCOR after it announced plans to reunite with the Moscow-based Russian hierarchy.  Holy Trinity disagreed with that course because most of its members still remember the Moscow church’s collaboration with the Soviet authorities during the Cold War. 

In April 2007, ROCOR sued Holy Trinity and several of its volunteer leaders, demanding that the church forfeit all of its property – the same property that the individual members of Holy Trinity sacrificed to build.  After two years of litigation, the Superior Court dismissed ROCOR’s complaint and entered judgment for Holy Trinity. 

This now ends the litigation and allows Holy Trinity to focus on preserving and sharing the Orthodox Faith with the Oxnard community.  Holy Trinity holds worship services every Sunday at 2784 Alvarado Street in Oxnard. 

Cherishing Our Sister Churches

The most valuable treasure of ROCOR [Agafangel] is our Sister Churches.  This sisterhood is to be cherished far above everything except our shared right belief, which is what unites us.  We are the only Churches in the whole world who still exhibit the ancient unity that existed among the Churches in apostolic times. -jh


To Remember:  Before ROCOR MP
Letter from Archimandrite Avexis to Metrolpolitan Lavr

This letter was written by Archimandrite Alexis [ROCOR] just prior to the union.  He lists objections to and misgivings about the union.   One reservation is that our Sister Churches need to be in agreement before we go through with the union:

G) Our Sister Churches. Also after the visit of Archbishop Mark to the Monastery of Sts. Cyprian and Justina at Fili in the same decade, our Church entered into a special relationship of Sister Church with the Synod of Metropolitan Cyprian, that of Metropolitan Vlasie in Romania and with Bishop Photii's diocese in Bulgaria. Here people are disquieted that this special relationship is also being betrayed. We have heard nothing of any discussions with the hierarchs of these Sister Churches about a move which will assuredly greatly change our relationship with them. I think it was Khomiakov who characterized one of the greatest evils of the schism of Rome from Orthodoxy in the eleventh century as a lack of brotherly love because they acted unilaterally and without consulting their Sister Churches in the East. It now appears that ROCA is following a similar course with regard to her professed Sister Churches in Greece, Romania and Bulgaria.

Letter of Archimandrite Alexis [*BOW*] to Metropolitan Laurus
and all faithful children of ROCOR(V)
December 2003

Dear-in-Christ, Archpastors, Fathers and Brethren,

I ask your Archpastoral and pastoral blessings and prayers.

Many of our people have urged me to write this letter as they feel that their voice will not be heard at the All-Diaspora Clergy Conference, held in Nyack next week. At the time of writing the representative appointed to attend the conference from England has not canvassed our views and in general he has very little contact with the two monastic communities and our English-language missions.

I can only define our people, as those who look to Saint Edward Brotherhood for some kind of leadership, the parishioners here and at the Convent of the Annunciation in London, those in the other missions within the English-language deanery, and those who correspond with us, and increasingly so those who contact us by e-mail.

The visit of our ruling hierarch, His Grace Archbishop Mark, to London in October opened up the subject of the possible rapprochement between the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and the Moscow Patriarchate. Nowadays people have much freer access to information through internet reports and lists, and so the question in the last few weeks has come very much to the fore.

In these exchanges I have only found one person who seems wholly enthusiastic about developments. Many others have various misgivings and feel disquiet in various ways, and I would like to put these matters before you, so that you are as fully informed of the situation as possible. I shall not be able to do this with any great wisdom or learning, and may have misinterpreted various events or positions, but I ask you to bear with this, that our voice might be heard.

Having mentioned the one person who enthusiastically endorses the idea of a union, I should also say that I have only come across one or two people who believe that any approach to Moscow on the part of our hierarchs is essentially and fundamentally wrong.

In the main this letter reiterates what I have already addressed to Archbishop Mark, and which he has assured me "will certainly help" him "when participating in the conference," although I have expanded several thoughts. As in my letter to the Archbishop, I think it may be useful if I list under various headings some of the things which are troubling people:-

A) Timing. This seems to come highest on everyone's list of worries. They have the impression that we are rushing towards an agreement, and feel strongly that we should be taking time, testing every step as we go. They fear that the union seems likely to be agreed within months, whereas they would feel happier if the time scale extended over several years or even a decade, for reasons that I hope will become clearer in the items below.

B) Fundamental Issues. They feel that the two fundamental issues are the Sergianist past and present of the Patriarchate, and its espousal of Ecumenism, and they hope that these will be wholly renounced and expunged from the life of the Patriarchal Church before we enter into communion with Moscow. From various statements from Moscow spokesmen it seems that rather than renouncing the legacy of Metropolitan Sergius, it is being lauded and he is seen now as something of a hero, whose compromises "saved" the Russian Church. Many have the impression that the present emphasis has been to gloss over these issues and to concentrate on administrative matters pertaining to the status quo after the union.

C) Study of our Past History. It is felt that before we proceed far along the path to any union, a thorough study should be made of the Synod's past position, so that we do not make some kind of unfortunate U-turn on a matter of principle. For instance, when Patriarchs Sergius, Alexis I, Pimen and the present Patriarch were "elected," our Hierarchs issued statements saying that they considered these elections (in that they were not free) out of order. If this is so, do we not have to somehow accept the legitimacy of the present Patriarch, and on what grounds can we do so?

D) Study of the Present State of the Patriarchate: This is also an imperative. It is obviously true that the Soviet state has fallen, but it is by no means clear that the Moscow Patriarchate now operates free of state or government interference. According to many commentators, the present sociopolitical situation in Russia is even more deleterious than it was under the Soviets, and it appears that the Church is deeply involved in many aspects of what seems to be a "Gangster State" in a way that is less excusable than its subservience to the Soviets, which after all was a totalitarian tyranny.

E) Putin. Putin's rule in the present process has also caused widespread disquiet. One appreciates that perhaps he was only a catalyst for contact, and no one has any wish to decry his personal piety or adherence to Orthodoxy, but it does appear that his "zeal" is not always according to knowledge. Soon after meeting our hierarchs, it is reported that he went to Rome and proposed some kind of rapprochement between Rome and Moscow. Further, his interest at the best seemed to be to support the Russian state. This aim might be laudable and something we would all like to contribute to, but it is not the purpose of the Church, which is to save souls. It appears that his impute is itself a continuation of the Sergianist tradition: that the "reunion of the churches" is primarily to serve a socio-political purpose. Interestingly enough in this regard, parishioners from the Patriarchal Cathedral Parish in Ennismore Gardens, London, contacted me, and said that they would rejoice to witness the re-union of the two churches, but also felt some disquiet over the present moves, and that it seemed to them to be politically motivated and something of a "fix." They speak much more boldly of the perceived political motivation behind the present moves from the Moscow point of view, than any I have heard from our side. One, a Russian who spends much of his time in Moscow, when visiting us, declared, "Obviously, Putin wants this, and has leaned on the Patriarch!" Such is their trust in the freedom of the Patriarchal administration.

F) ROCOR in Russia. In the early nineties or thereabouts, our Synod began to offer pastoral care to the faithful in Russia, who in conscience could not remain within the Moscow Patriarchate; we provided them with a hierarchy and pastors. In many ways, in retrospect, it seems that this development was not well nourished and supported, and, as we all know, various schisms not unlike those among the Greek Old Calendarists, have arisen. But there remain people in Russia, a number have contacted us, who are still loyal to the Church Abroad for reasons of conscience. A speedy or improper union with Moscow, would betray their faithfulness and loyalty.

G) Our Sister Churches. Also after the visit of Archbishop Mark to the Monastery of Sts. Cyprian and Justina at Fili in the same decade, our Church entered into a special relationship of Sister Church with the Synod of Metropolitan Cyprian, that of Metropolitan Vlasie in Romania and with Bishop Photii's diocese in Bulgaria. Here people are disquieted that this special relationship is also being betrayed. We have heard nothing of any discussions with the hierarchs of these Sister Churches about a move which will assuredly greatly change our relationship with them. I think it was Khomiakov who characterized one of the greatest evils of the schism of Rome from Orthodoxy in the eleventh century as a lack of brotherly love because they acted unilaterally and without consulting their Sister Churches in the East. It now appears that ROCA is following a similar course with regard to her professed Sister Churches in Greece, Romania and Bulgaria.

H) The Proposed Autonomy. This has given rise to disquiet at various levels. Some see it as a useful temporary arrangement to ease the way to full unity, if such a unity can be achieved in a right way without falsehood and compromise of principles. However, several people have expressed the thought that it seems to be the primary concern of our hierarchs and that it is being promoted only so that they can safeguard their own positions and prerogatives. In Britain, for instance, it would make our situation particularly difficult, and even more so for those of us who are not of Russian extraction and who do not follow Russian liturgical practices. What would be the point of our being under a Bishop in Germany, if it were perfectly right and proper to be in full communion with the Moscow Patriarchate who have two hierarchs in this country, and the first language of whose ruling hierarch here is English? (But more of the British situation later).

J) Global Orthodoxy. Entering into communion with Moscow would put us in unhindered and full communion with "Global Orthodoxy" and with those ecumenist jurisdictions such as Constantinople and Antioch (which, Antioch, is de facto in communion with the Monophysites, and in which, as we heard from one of their priests two weeks ago, they are permitted to offer the Holy Mysteries to Roman Catholics). When he spoke to us in October, His Grace Archbishop Mark expressed the view that each rector could refuse to concelebrate with or offer the Mysteries to clergymen, whose position he found uncertain. But this seems on reflection to be untenable, and puts us in the realm of having to make personal judgments. I remember that when I was sent to England in 1977, I was told by the then Protopresbyter George Grabbe, and I assumed this was with Synodal authority, that I should not concelebrate with any non-ROCA clergy, but was to explain that this was not a reflection on the Orthodoxy of the other jurisdictions but only a pastoral matter. Fr Milenko Zebic of the Serbian Church then wanted to come and concelebrate and I explained what I had been told. He was deeply upset and reported the matter to the Serbian Synod who complained to our Synod, and, as Secretary at that time, Fr George himself wrote rebuking me for following the very course he had enjoined upon me! This was simply one instance, and with regard only to the Serbian Church. What opportunities for misunderstanding would open up if "technically" we were in communion with Global Orthodoxy? It would leave our church in a position not unlike that of a Protestant sect which existed in this country until a generation or so ago when it amalgamated with another similar group. This sect called themselves Congregationalists, because each local congregation decided its own policy measures. The hierarchical nature of our church would dissolve.

K) ROCA's present position lost. It has been put to me that ROCA has been respected for decades - a respect which seems to have lapsed somewhat under the Metropolitanate of Met. Vitaly, when her position often seemed unclear or vacillating, - for her firm traditionalist stance which avoided extremism. This respect was accorded us even by those who were in some ways our enemies, and it appears that it greatly heartened numbers of the faithful in Russia, who dismayed by their own corrupt Church administration, could look to the Synod as a beacon. Presumably it was for this reason that people in Russia looked to the Synod for pastoral care as soon as, with the weakening of the Soviet tyranny, this opportunity was opened up to them. If we are subsumed into the Patriarchate that position will be lost, even the "Autonomy" will mean that our position is compromised beyond repair.

L) Central Ground. Over the years ROCA has also seemed to maintain a perilously difficult central ground, striving to remain faithful to the teachings of the Fathers, but being moderate and accommodating to the weaknesses and difficulties of others. She has thus avoided the extremism and, indeed, the fanaticism of many of the "Old Calendarist" groups and their sectarian spirit, and the laissez-faire attitude of the more "liberal" jurisdictions with regard to the patristic tradition. If she enters precipitously into union with a Moscow Patriarchate which has not set her course aright in this regard, a precious path of moderate traditionalism within the "Orthodox world" will be lost.

M) Glorification's. Some have raised the question of the glorifications of the New Martyrs and other Saints. The Patriarchate has blocked the glorification of those New Martyrs who opposed Metropolitan Sergius' policy (a witness to their continuing Sergianism?), whereas the Church Abroad glorifies these Saints. Further Moscow seems of late to have canonized a series of saints, about some of whom it does not seem fanatical to have reservations.

N) The situation in Britain. The above points have all been general, but there are a number of points which perhaps pertain only to the situation in Britain. Joining with Moscow, with or without autonomy, would put us in full communion with the Sourozh Diocese, which in many ways is completely different from other eparchies of the Patriarchate. It is to all intents and purposes the creation of the late Metropolitan Antony (Bloom) and thus reflects many of his eccentricities. Its character is essentially Evlogian rather than Moscovite; there is a strong anti-monastic bias among the majority of its clergy and people; feminism in various shades is prominent among its intellectuals and Met. Antony even came close to endorsing the acceptance of women priests; many of the clergy have impediments to ordination (it was often said this was how the Metropolitan held their "loyalty"); it is ecumenist broadly and deeply in a way that the (New Calendarist) Greek Archdiocese in this country is not; and in general it reflects the most "liberal" trends within "Orthodoxy." Most of the Moscow parishes and missions in this country operate on the New Calendar. In one parish, at least, the Holy Mysteries are regularly given to Roman Catholics who "wish to become Orthodox." Even if all other things were equal as regards the Patriarchate as a whole, one would not want to be in full communion with Sourozh. Visiting clergy from Russia (MP) have often told us that they see it as something like the "Living Church".

P) Our People. Because ROCA's presence in this country has been weak for decades - (In Archbishop Nikodem's (+ 1976) declining years, the presence naturally weakened. Immediately after his repose there were several changes of administration. I believe that Bishop Constantine's tenure here did not give people confidence in ROCA, and although Archbishop Mark has done much for the ROCA presence in the eighteen years he has been our ruling hierarch, he has of necessity been an absent landlord, and there has been no spokesman for our church here) - because of this, many of the people who now belong to our church have come to us from other jurisdictions, only with time and effort seeing the purpose of ROCA's position. In our own congregation in Brookwood, a number of the people first joined the Patriarchate including three of our monks. They joined us not because of better opportunities, but because they believed that ROCA's course was true and that of the Patriarchate and of Sourozh off course. They have grave misgivings about any hasty "reconciliation." Furthermore, as a community, we have grown, and have been loyal to ROCA, even though as individuals and as a community we have not always been welcome or supported, even though attempts have been made to destroy us by people (even clergymen) within ROCA, and even though in any one of the "official" jurisdictions we would probably have been helped and supported both financially and morally to a much greater extent. We have done so because, even though this left us within a tiny minority of the Orthodox, among people who did not accept us - (even this week people from the Russian language parish who wanted to make a pilgrimage to our brotherhood tell us that they were forbidden to do so on a Sunday), - among people who do not understand us, we believed ROCA's course to be true and worth suffering for. Perhaps as a result of faint-heartedness we feel now that perhaps that struggle was in vain.

I hope that putting these disquiets before you, does not hurt or offend anyone. I felt it was imperative to write as we feel it is important that these disquiets come to the attention of Your Graces and the other clergymen and of the members of the Conference meeting next week in Nyack.

I ask your holy prayers and blessings, and that you attempt to set hearts at rest.
Your unworthy son in Christ Jesus, the sinful monk and unworthy priest,
Archimandrite Alexis [*BOW*] Saint Edward Brotherhood, Brookwood, England

* * *
Aditional information to the letter of Rev. Arhimandrite Alexis. [*BOW*]

St. Edward was the son of king Edgar of England from his first marriage. He succeeded on the throne of his father in 975, but after only 3 years he was assassinated at the age of 15 or 16, under questionable circumstances. It was openly stated that behind his assassination was his stepmother Elfrida, who wished to put on the throne her son Ethelred. The body of the killed young king was buried at the church in Shaftesburry, where he came to be venerated as a saint and martyr.
His relics were lately held in a private museum of archeolog Wilson Cleridge. Since they were considered as miraculous and the young king died before the separation of the Church of Rome from the Universal Church and then Anglican Church from the Catholic Church, both of them wished to obtain into their possession the miraculous relics. When the members of the ROCOR parish turned with their request to Mr. Wilson he made decision to give over the kings relics to them to for veneration in the church. The transfer happened in 1984 when for that purpose delegated by the Synod of ROCOR Bishop Gregory (Grabbe) came to England. The relics were put in a splendorous shrine in church of St. Edward in Brookwood.
The ROCOR Bishop of Richmond and Britain Constantine, requested opinion of other Orthodox clergy serving in England about their opinion about the sainthood of the king Edward. In their expressed to him opinions all agreed that he did not died for religion even that he could be considered as a martyr, and simply he died unjustly in a struggle for the throne.
Bishop Constantine expressed his and other Orthodox clergy of different jurisdictions in England doubts about the sainthood of king Edward. This came to the press and Archbishop of Canterbury requested Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom), Greek Bishops Kallistos and Methodius and Serbian Archpriest Nikolich, who expressed their opinion that the king is a saint. As result of this Archbishop wrote a complain about the matter to the Synod of ROCOR that in 1985 began at their meeting a investigation of Rev. Bishop Constantine (5/18 July, 1985. No. 11/35/4/ 48). Bishop Constantine was removed from his position and favorable Bishop Mark of Berlin and Germany became temporary administrator of the Britain Diocese. (He is still holding this position.)
The matter of relics possession came to the English court and they were transferred for safekeeping in a bank safe. Only in March of 1995 on the day of St. Edward the suit against ROCOR stopped and the holy relics were returned to the church.
His Eminence Bishop Constantine was for a time in Minneapolis and in conversations with him I head his opinion, that the matter of sainthood should have been examined more than it was done and if relics miracles would be certified by the ROCOR Synod then the entire Russian Church would be rejoiced and be able to call the faithful for their veneration. I was able to obtain for publication from his Eminence some copies of his correspondence with Anglican Church and ROCOR Synod about the matter of the relics. As addition I would like to add that Very Rev. Bishop Constantine was not the only Bishop in ROCOR who had doubts about king Edward?s sainthood.

G.M. Soldatow"

Photos Sao Paulo Ordination

Court refused to recognize the illegal termination of criminal proceedings on the murder of Nicholas II and his family

March 19, 2010

Moscow's Basmanny Court upheld the decision to dismiss a criminal case of the murder of Emperor Nicholas II and his family, said Interfax Friday, March 19, lawyer Rossiyskogo imperial household Herman Lukyanov.

According to him, the Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, who tried to challenge the Basmanny court ruling investigation for the criminal investigation, intends to appeal the decision of the district court in the city court.
"The court took the position of Prosecutor General's Office and the Investigation Committee under the Prosecutor's Office and does not take into account the decision of the Supreme Court, which ordered the rehabilitation of Nicholas II and his family" - said G. Lukyanov.
Family members last Emperor and those of his closest associates (total 11 people) were shot by a decision of the Presidium Uralsoveta on the night of July 17, 1918.
October 1, 2008 the Presidium of the Supreme Court of Russia agreed on the rehabilitation of Nicholas II and his family, but on Jan. 15, 2009 was adopted by a court order for the criminal investigation of the murder of members of the Romanov family.
House of the Romanovs did not agree with the conclusions of the UPC that the members of the royal family were victims of common criminals, believing that the Romanovs were deprived of life, on behalf of the state.

A Description of Us

St. Gerasimos of Jordan
To: Exarchate Clergy, Faithful, and Friends
From: Archbishop Chrysostomos
Evlogia Kyriou. May God bless you.


Have you seen the new directory of "True Orthodox Churches" at
http://trueorthodoxdirectory.blogspot.com/   I noticed your monastery and convent in Etna and your parishes and convent in Canada are not listed [yet]. 


        This link has been sent to the monastery by at least ten people since yesterday. I knew nothing of its existence. I was surprised to see it. It seems to be quite an extensive enterprise and is nicely (handsomely) done. As for your specific questions, I will answer them in a series of reactions that I would like to enumerate in what I hope will be a logical progression of thoughts:

        a) Our monastery and the nearby Convent of St. Elizabeth are in some respects almost like parishes, given the many pilgrims that we receive here. The parish of Sts. Cyprian and Justina is a tiny parish that simply serves the remnants of the once much larger Orthodox community in Etna, so in fact it is not the focus of pilgrimages here.

        b) We have only two parishes and a convent in Canada. I presume that they were not included because the directory is for the United States.

        c) Our Exarchate consists of a few large parishes and three reasonably large monastic communities (14, 12, and 8 monastics, respectively), as well as some very small parishes, including two parishes that are without clergy at the moment.

        We are a Church in resistance, are interested in unimportance but authenticity, and place emphasis on quality (the maintenance of Holy Tradition and a charitable, inviting witness to the primacy of Orthodoxy) and not quantity.

        Since we consider ourselves a resistance movement within the Orthodox Church, and not the Church itself, we have no need to justify our existence by exaggerating our numbers or importance. We are, moreover, an Exarchate of our Church in Greece: a mere outpost.

        d) With regard to numbers, I must admit that I smiled at the patchwork of "True Orthodox" communities represented on the map of America (the U.S.) in this directory. In fact, many of these communities, which I have seen, are homes with an Icon corner and services of a private kind, bereft of any congregation. They are far short of even a private Chapel.

        e) The majority of Old Calendarists are found, population-wise, in Romania and Bulgaria. In Greece, their numbers are about 1/4 of what most sources in America report and are dwindling precipitously because of extremism and other negative factors.

        f) The only jurisdictions in this directory that are in communion with one another in the United States are our Holy Synod in Resistance and the communities of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, under Metropolitan Agafangel, that did not accept union with Moscow, in 2007. (Prior to that date we were also the only True Orthodox jurisdiction in the U.S. in communion with the ROCA.)

        g) These two jurisdictions are also the only jurisdictions in communion with the majority of Old Calendarists, that is, those in Romania and Bulgaria.

        h) When one reflects on points f) and g), the profile of a strong "True Orthodox" presence in America takes on the sad, but more factual, dimensions of disarray that describe the reality of the situation.

        There are very significant ecclesiological, theological, and even canonical matters that separate our Synod in Resistance and the ROCA under Metropolitan Agafangel from these other groups, such that our definition of traditionalism and resistance is really quite different than the definition that might hold sway among these other jurisdictions.**

        i) The desire to be important and appear strong is, as I have said, the opposite of what we desire. We desire to be faithful. Moreover, in so doing, like the man in Scripture who sent his servants out to the hedges and highways to collect guests for his banquet when his invited friends did not come, we work in difficult circumstances and with few people and resources.

        As Metropolitan Cyprian has always told us, "We use the macaroni that we have on our shelves." In that realism, there is little room for fanciful shows of strength or arrogant claims to excellence and primacy of a worldly kind. We are that proverbial remnant that works in servitude at the core of the Church.

        Some time ago, a young Greek student on the East Coast wrote to me about being ridiculed by his friends because he was an Old Calendarist. (He is one of many such youth who have written me and whom I have counselled about what they suffered in this way.) He told me of the feelings of inferiority that this produced in him and emotionally put forth the hurt that he had experienced.

        I counselled him about his personal reactions to ridicule. But something that he conveyed to me remained with me. One particularly caustic comment was made to him by a schoolmate. I think that I can repeat it almost verbatim:

"You palaioemerologites [Old Calendarists, in low or demotic Greek] are poor and nobody likes you. Your priests are ugly, fat, and stupid. Who pays any attention to you? Nobody. You ought to dig a big hole and jump in it."

He was also, of course, called a schismatic and a heretic and not Orthodox: shorthand for the credentials so generously attributed to us to these days by our innovating Orthodox brethren.

        I cannot remember the exact words that I used to reply to this particular barrage of "kind" adjectives, but in effect I told the young man that we are working towards Heaven, not Hollywoood, and that most of these accusations, except those of heresy and so forth, were in many cases quite true.
        My advice to him was to measure himself by his honesty, his sincerity, his ability to endure such name-calling, his love for others (including his enemies) and his willingness to imitate Christ, Who was born, lived, and died in obscurity, Who has been mocked and ridiculed throughout the ages, and yet Whose effect on civilization (much to the chagrin of arrogant society) has endured for almost two thousand years.

        It is in our faithful unimportance that we are uplifted to the status of gods by Grace, in humility that we boast, in poverty that we are enriched, and in scorn and ridicule that we find peace and spiritual solace.

        Thus, I congratulate the person who worked so diligently on this directory, which is quite an accomplishment, while I emphasize to our own clergy and faithful that we are insignificant and should strive to continue being so. Again, if we are to boast, let it be in Christ and our precious Orthodoxy.**

*edited for ROCOR Refugees
**emphasis mine  -jh


√ New Blog 
Vladimir Djambov, from our Sister Church in Bulgaria
also see: http://members.multimania.co.uk/interpreting/

√ From Vl. Agafangel's blog
March 15, 2010

As it turns out not to formulate a brief and clearly that there sergianism. I've thought that a precise definition sergianism, perhaps the following:

Sergianism is the sin of worshiping the Antichrist. 

The more I think about it, the more convinced that the way it is.
88 comments or Leave a comment
To see the comments through the Google translator, click on 88 comments

Where Some Envision Czar’s End, Church Sees Building Site

This article recently appeared in the New York Times, comments please.
Published: March 12, 2010

MOSCOW — Visitors from around the world have turned an isolated ravine in central Russia into a pilgrimage site in recent years. They arrive to gaze at the unadorned earth where the Bolsheviks, in one final act to defile the dynasty that they toppled, are believed to have dumped the remains of Czar Nicholas II and his family in July 1918.

Scientists say the Yekaterinburg site should be protected. 

But now the site is being threatened by an unlikely opponent: the powerful Russian Orthodox Church, which to this day has not acknowledged that the bones retrieved there over the last two decades are those of the royals. 

The church wants to build a large Russian Orthodox cemetery and cathedral at the site, effectively obliterating its historic and archaeological value, according to professionals who have worked at the site and experts on the royal family. The church hopes to begin construction in April, when its leader, Patriarch Kirill I, visits for a groundbreaking for the project, in Yekaterinburg, in the foothills of the Ural Mountains. 

The project will not include memorials or other references to the remains because the church does not believe they are genuine, a position that flies in the face of an overwhelming scientific consensus based on extensive DNA testing by major laboratories in Russia, Europe and North America. 

“The results of our studies provide unequivocal evidence that the remains of Nicholas II and his entire family, including all five children, have been identified,” a team of prominent Russian, American and Canadian researchers wrote last year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States. 

After conducting its own inquiry, the United States Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory reached the same conclusion last year. 

The church’s seemingly inexplicable stance has bewildered the experts, particularly because the remains have been so closely scrutinized by so many. 

But it is a longstanding conflict. In 1998, for example, when the bones of Nicholas and most of his family were interred in the crypt of the czars in SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg, the church would not endorse the ceremony because of its concerns. 

The most recent DNA studies have been aided by a surprising breakthrough. In 2008, investigators came across a blood-stained shirt that Nicholas wore when he was attacked during an attempted assassination in Japan in 1891. The shirt had been stored in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, and the blood provided samples of his DNA. 

Nevertheless, scientists and archaeologists said the church seemed determined to move forward with the project, and that there was little chance of stopping it. 

“The church hates these remains and wants to destroy any evidence of them,” said Vladimir Solovyov, one of the Russian government’s most famous criminologists, who has long spearheaded the research into the bones. “It is difficult to understand how, two decades after they were first discovered, the church continues to deny them.” 

Mr. Solovyov and other experts said that while bones had been removed from the site it was highly likely that other remains, as well as artifacts related to the royal family, were still buried at the site. 
Local officials have declined to impede the project. Under Communism, the church was brutally persecuted, but since the Soviet Union’s fall it has grown increasingly influential, especially at the regional level. 

The dispute over the site is an unanticipated twist in the tale of the demise of the Romanov family in the final days of the Russian Revolution. 

Bolshevik guards knifed and shot to death the czar, his wife, five children, a doctor and three servants in the basement of a house in Yekaterinburg, 900 miles east of Moscow, where they were held after the czar abdicated. 

To prevent royalists from discovering the graves and making martyrs of the family, the guards first discarded the mutilated bodies in a mine shaft, then moved them to a ravine off a main road. 
The remains lay there untouched for decades. In 1991, as the Soviet Union was collapsing, it was announced that they had been located. 

Church officials immediately expressed skepticism. They questioned why the bones of only 9 people were found at the site, when 11 were killed. The remains of the czar’s son, Aleksei, and one sister were missing. 

In 2007, a group of amateurs located the remains of Aleksei and his sister in a separate spot at the site. Recent DNA inquires have confirmed those findings, though there is some debate about whether the sister is Maria or Anastasia. 

Church officials nevertheless said questions persisted about whether the bones were authentic, as well as how the Romanov family was killed by the Bolsheviks. They said a church panel was conducting a new inquiry into the evidence. 

The issue has become entangled in separate questions about whether the murders of the czar and his family have been adequately examined and whether they were a criminal act or one of political persecution. Church officials said the government had failed to delve properly into those matters. 

The church canonized the czar and his family in 2000. Russia’s Supreme Court formally rehabilitated them in 2008, ruling that they were the victims of “unfounded repression.” Citing that decision, family heirs have called upon prosecutors to reopen an inquiry into the murders in order to establish exactly how they were carried out. Prosecutors refused last year, saying that too much time had passed. 

Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, a spokesman for Patriarch Kirill I, said government officials and scientists needed to provide more information about their inquiries. 

“Many people still have questions, the crime has not been completely investigated, the case was closed without detailed consideration of all the theories about the guilt or lack of guilt of a number of people,” Father Chaplin said. 

“This is what causes many people to have doubts” about the authenticity of the remains, he said. 

Scientists said they had disclosed all their work, stressing that recent inquiries had been published in widely respected journals, available on the Internet. They countered that the church’s refusal to acknowledge the remains stems from its resentment over not being asked to take part in the original excavation in the 1990s. 

Currently, there are crosses and small memorials at the ravine to mark where bones were found. 

Father Chaplin said the early stages of construction would not affect those exact spots. 

“It is possible to carry out archaeological excavations quite fast on this territory, on this small part, so that in the future it can be used for the cemetery,” he said. 

But Sergei Pogorelov, a government archaeologist who has long worked at the site, said the entire area should remain a preserve. He said it would take many years for archaeologists to ensure that they had examined all the surrounding land. 

Mr. Pogorelov accused the church of clinging to its doubt about the bones because it did not want to concede that its suspicions in the 1990s were unwarranted. 

“It is very hard for the church to admit its mistakes,” he said. 

“This site will be destroyed as a place of any significance,” he said. “This is the history of our country, and it will be ruined.”

Archbishop Mark's "Friend"

from Vernost #10 [2005]
By Konstantin Preobrazhensky 

1. Revelations from Mitrokhin's Archives.

“Friend” – that is the secret police code name of archpriest Vasiliy Fonchenkov, a priest of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. In the 1970s, he helped the KGB imprison anti-communist priests. Now, his past does not prevent him from being a member of the clergy of the Church Abroad. The KGB is so sure of the Church's indifference, it can openly reveal its agents. “Friend” serves as a priest in Salzburg, Austria.

Don't believe me? Allow me to refer you to the book, “Mitrokhin's Achives,” co-authored with Professor Christopher Andrew (who wrote “The Sword and the Shield” - published by Basic Books). Vasiliy Mitrokhin was the director of the KGB archive division and was able to bring a large amount of secret documents to the West in 1992. For ten years, he risked his life by secretly bringing copies of the documents from KGB headquarters. I know him because I met him in the corridors of the Lubyanka. He gave the impression of a dour, dedicated communist. Apparently, his severe demeanor kept him above suspicion.

Mitrokhin's meticulous scholarship avoids baseless accusations and allows us label this priest a KGB agent. Here are the facts he presents:

“The Christian Committee for the Protection of the Rights of Believers tried to safeguard itself against penetration by the KGB by keeping the committee small, made up of never more than four people. Finally, in May of 1979, Fr. Vasiliy Fonchenkov joined the committee. What the committee did not know was that he had been recruited by the KGB's Fifth Directorate nine years before and was given the alias “Friend.” As noted in his personal file, 'he was helpful in the development of contacts in the Orthodox Church that were of operational interest and carried this out conscientiously and enthusiastically.' Fonchenkov worked as an instructor in the Theological Academy in Zagorsk from 1972 on, while also a member of the department of international affairs of the Moscow Patriarchate. From 1976 to 1977, he was a priest at the Church of St. Sergey in East Berlin, and editor of 'Stimme der Orthodoxie” (Orthodoxy's Voice), the journal of the Central-European diocese of the Moscow Patriarchate. The contacts which 'Friend' developed within foreign churches were a plus for the Christian Committee, which did not suspect a thing.

The battle which the KGB waged against “dissidents” within the Orthodox Church peaked in 1979-1980. It was characterized by a wave of arrests of the leading dissidents (chief among them was Fr. Gleb Yakunin), followed by imprisonment or public displays of penitence. Possibly to protect Fonchenkov from being found out, he was summoned to the KGB for questioning, after which he stated that he had been threatened with arrest, though the charge against him was never revealed.” (Here and further on, I am citing from Christopher Andrew's book, “The Sword and the Shield,” New York, “Basic Books,” pages 495-496.)

That fact that Fr. Vasiliy Fonchenkov worked in the department of international affairs of the Moscow Patriarchate is enough proof that he was an agent of the KGB. This department is not a canonical church body. It was created by the KGB to exploit operational contacts within foreign churches. The real directors of this department are not part of the Patriarchate. They can be found in a small, rose-colored building near the “Vernadskiy Prospekt” metro-station. That is the office of “RT,” a foreign intelligence unit. The abbreviation stands for “Reconnaissance outside of Russia's Territory.” The “RT” department also sends Russian scientists and public figures on spy missions abroad. Several of its intelligence officers work as laypeople in the Patriarchate's Department of International Relations.

You might ask, “Is it possible, that not all of them are agents?” Unfortunately, all of them are. You can't have people who are not agents witnessing operational activity or other violations of the separation of church and state. The KGB can work clandestinely, only when everyone involved has sworn their allegiance.

The author of “Mitrokhin's Archives” also notes that in 1979 the KGB was able to force Fr. Dmitriy Dudko to repent in a public statement, though a similar attempt with Fr. Gleb Yakunin failed. That is why, the author adds, “only Yakunin's wife was allowed to witness his trial. All other family members, friends and western journalists were kept out. (…) Fonchenkov was also barred. This may have been done to protect him possibly from being exposed as an agent.”

This period of Fonchenkov's life is presented on the official website of the Moscow church thusly: “In 1973, he was made a priest. In 1976-77, he was the pastor at the Church of St. Sergey in Karlshorst (Berlin), and editor of the journal 'Stimme der Orthodoxie.' In 1979, he became a member of the Christian Committee for the Protection of the Rights of Believers. He is currently a priest in the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, serving in Salzburg.” His becoming a member of the Committee is portrayed as a reward for his service as a priest, as is his being the editor of the church journal in German. People not in the know may think that Fonchenkov is still on the Committee, tirelessly working for the rights of believers. It would be inconceivable for them to think that he joined the Committee to destroy it and to have the members imprisoned.

2. Fr. Gleb Yakunin Speaks Out.

Then I thought, “what would Fr. Gleb Yakunin, the main hero of this episode, have to say?” and I dialed his Moscow telephone number.

“I was not alarmed by Fr. Vasiliy Fonchenkov's admission into the Committee,” Fr. Gleb explains. “We had known each other for some time, and I knew he was an anti-communist. It did not bother me that he was a son of a prominent Bolshevik, for whom even a street in Moscow was named. In those years, the children of Stalinists often became opponents of the regime. I must say, I did not pay attention at the time to how easily he clicked-in with us. You know, contacts with dissidents were dangerous for people in the Soviet Union. I was not completely sure that Vasiliy Fonchenkov was a KGB agent, even though he taught in the Theological Academy, which was tightly controlled by the “state service.” The KGB department that oversaw the Aacdemy was in a building across from the entrance to the monastery and behind a movie theater.”

“I hold no grudge against Fr. Vasiliy and I am even grateful that he gave me subtle warnings of my pending arrest,” Fr. Gleb points out. “He also did not testify against me. He and several others were excluded from being called as witnesses, though logically, they should have been involved. The KGB protects its agents that way. After I was sent to prison, Fonchenkov became chairman of the Committee, though he was removed a year later. We found out that the Politburo declared that all the dissident movements had to be squashed through repression, and they decided not to risk their own people.”

“After I was released from prison, I never met Fr. Vasiliy Fonchenkov, though he called me after Mitrokhin's book came out. You could tell by his voice that he was upset. He insisted that everything written about him was disinformation and asked if I wanted to publicly refute it. I refused, explaining that I considered Mitrokhin's book an important source of information. He asked if I had anything to do with its publication. I told him that I had not and went on to thank Fr. Vasiliy for warning me of my pending arrest. He did not like that and stated that he had not warned me of anything. I have to add, that he was calling me from Moscow. He had to return there after several priests wrote irate letters to Metropolitan Lavr. But when that small storm passed, Vasiliy Fonchenkov came back out to the West,” Fr. Gleb added with a sardonic laugh.

3. Do two boots make a pair?

“Friend” is far from alone. It is simply that God forces us to realizations through the likes of him. For some time now, the KGB has sprinkled the Russian Church Abroad throughout with “friends.” There are quite a few with similar life stories. They start by working in the KGB-dominated Patriarchate foreign department. Then for some mysterious reason, they join the Church Abroad, though one can safely say they do so by order of the KGB. It must be noted that this crossing over to the Church Abroad is not accompanied by any penitence or breaking from Moscow. In which case then, the point of coming over is lost. Meanwhile, in the Church Abroad, they openly work for the benefit of Moscow. Somehow, this does not alarm anyone around them.

One can easily imagine, what would have happened to the Soviet agent Stirlitz, the hero of the famous film “17 Moments of Spring,” if he had walked the halls of the Gestapo praising Stalin. But in the Church Abroad, this is ignored for some reason. It shows how strong the KGB's influence in the church is.

As it prepares to swallow up the Russian Church Abroad, the KGB carefully monitors opinion in the émigré community. It is currently concerned that many point out how priests had been recruited by the KGB. They have countered that with an argument meant to confuse the issue: “Yes, all Soviet priests serving abroad were KGB agents! So what? That's the way it was back then!” I heard this from several émigrés lately.

It incorrectly makes to appear that the work of these agents is a thing of the past. If the Soviet regime collapsed, then of course, this sort of activity has also stopped. But the KGB or the FSB has not been eliminated! Just the opposite, it has taken control of the entire governmental structure.

All those who were agents during the Soviet epoch, are still agents today. There is only one way to stop being a KGB agent – renounce it publicly, in the press and only then will the KGB drop you from its rolls. This has happened, even among priests, but our “Friend” has not done so.

I have not personally seen his official file, but I am sure that it includes this statement, “Instrumental in cases leading to the arrest and prosecution of targets of operations.” This means he is a valuable agent, not some country priest who, for example, tells the KGB that other priests drink to avoid them paying too much attention to him. “Friend” can then be used in important operations. That is why it is no coincidence that he is in Austria.

That country is important to the Russian intelligence service. Its counter-intelligence department is small, as neutral Austria is of not much interest to most foreign intelligence services. That is why the KGB or FSB is used to running risky operations there, which could get them in trouble in other countries.

Usually, this involves meetings with especially valuable agents, who run great risks in their country since they can be generals, members of Parliaments, or scientists with security clearances. Here is what one such Russian agent may say to his co-workers:
“Man, I want to go to Austria! To Salzburg! You know, to walk around all the old Mozart places!”
“Well, get going, that's a great idea!” – his colleagues agree.

In a few days, our hero is walking the ancient streets of Salzburg, meeting a Russian diplomat or another official in a pre-arranged place. But what if someone is following the diplomat?!! No, it's better to stop into a beautiful ornate Russian church, have a chat with the priest and then pass the envelope with the film to him. No counter-intelligence department will dare enter into the church – a church is sacred!

Fr. Vasiliy Fonchenkov is the right-hand man of Bishop Mark. Is it possible that Bishop Mark knows nothing about Mitrokhin's book? Or maybe he considers the mention of such a person in that book to be a source of pride? Bishop Mark's life story has enough unanswered questions and it looks more like the profile of an agent with no official cover. It is still not clear how he, a native East German and an army officer of that country, managed to make it to the West in the 1960's, which could not be done then legally. In the 1970's, the future archbishop was held by the KGB for questioning in Moscow for bringing anti-Soviet pamphlets, but then inexplicably released later. That would not have been possible legally. I analyzed all of these inconsistencies in my article “The Two Secrets of Bishop Mark,” which can be found on the Internet.

I read in an Internet article that Czar Nicholas II appeared to Fr. Vasiliy Fonchenkov in his sleep. I wonder what he said to him? “Friend, why are you working for the Cheka (KGB), the same one that killed me?”