St Alexander Nevsky
Reverend Fathers, Dear Orthodox Christians of the South American
I hasten to appeal to
you with an epistle in connection with the alarming news that the
Mansonville group (the "Russian Orthodox Church in Exile,"
ROCiE) has "consecrated" for South America a "bishop"
Anthony (former clergyman of the Western American Diocese, Priest
Nikita Orloff, who had disobeyed his spiritual authority, Archbishop
The consecration of
"Bishop" Anthony is uncanonical and unlawful, and therefore,
invalid. This means that all his clerical functions are without
grace, and clergymen concelebrating with him are in danger of losing
their priestly grace.
Church always strictly observed its apostolic succession
(the unbroken chain of episcopal grace beginning with apostolic
times) and for this reason established rigorous rules for consecration.
Among these rules, I note the following:
- The candidacy
of a proposed new bishop must be approved by the Council of Bishops
of the Local Church of which this bishop will be a part.
- A candidate
for the episcopacy may not be a person under suspension.
- The bishops
consecrating him, being at minimum two in number, must themselves
be canonical bishops and not be under suspension.
- A retired
bishop may not, without permission of the ruling bishops, perform
- In just
such a manner, a vicar bishop may not perform a consecration without
the permission of his ruling bishop.
The violation of any
of the above conditions render the episcopal consecration invalid.
The rules of consecration are strictly observed by the Orthodox
Church, for once a link in the chain of apostolic succession is
torn, it cannot be reestablished, and all subsequent consecrations
following an uncanonical bishop are invalid. Consequently, a church
headed by uncanonical bishops is left without grace and falls from
the Universal Church.
Christians must know that all the above-mentioned conditions for
lawful con-secration were violated by the Mansonville group ("ROCiE"),
and so ALL its "bishops" "consecrated" within
it are unlawful and without grace.
It is worth remembering
that in departing into schism, the Mansonville group did not receive
the support of the Russian Church Abroad, and so hurried to begin
ordaining even unsuitable indi-viduals only in order to fill its
ranks with an "episcopacy," in order to appear to people
to be a "genuine Church."
The first "consecration"
was performed by the defrocked vicar Bishop Varnava of Cannes (in
November 2001) in the presence of Metropolitan Vitaly, standing
beside him in his mantle (but in his old age unable to serve and
retired at his own request). So, an unlawful vicar, Bishop Varnava,
unilaterally "consecrated" as bishop the suspended Archimandrite
Sergius (Kindjakov). Soon after, this "Bishop" Sergius
participated in the consecration of two other "bishops"
of the Mansonville group (see the addenda). The new South American
"Bishop" Anthony is also the creation of this uncanonical
group, and as such is an unlawful bishop.
One asks: why did this
so-called bishop take the title "of South America," when
six years ago, the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church
Outside of Russia already appointed a lawful bishop for this cathedra?
Clearly, this "Bishop" Anthony intends to introduce confusion
among the parishes of the South American Diocese.
This is why I appeal
to you, faithful children of the Russian Church Abroad: beware of
this "Bishop" Anthony and do not allow him into our parishes!
Here one must admit
that, unfortunately, our materially-strapped South American flock
is, among the other dioceses of our Church, apparently also the
most poorly informed on church matters in the Fatherland. Indeed,
many of our South American parishioners, especially those of the
older generation, absolutely and earnestly believe that there is
little difference in Russia today despite the change of government,
and have no idea what changes have occurred there and what effect
they have had on the church life of the Russian people.
Relatively few of our
parishioners or pastors have had the opportunity to visit the Russia
of today. Church news reaches South America with great delay and
often in very limited or distorted form. (By the way, the Russian
flock in California stands in stark contrast, for it is by comparitively
well informed. That is why the Western American Diocese, thank God,
is accepting the question of the rapprochement of our churches calmly.)
On the matter
of the rapprochement of our Church with the Church in Russia, the
newspaper Nasha Strana ["Our Nation"] has a negative
influence. This patriotic newspaper, for over sixty years honorably
battling communism, has with the fall of communism in Russia found
itself without a specific enemy. What is left, then, for the editors
and writers of this paper—to close up shop? That would be a shame!
So in the former spirit of intolerance towards communism, the newspaper
has directed all its energies towards the "denunciation"
of today’s ecclesiastical and political administrators of Russia.
The soul of the newspaper has become dark and mean-spirited.
Naturally, the South
American flock, in the midst of which this publication operates,
absorbs the negative attitude towards everything happening in Russia.
Some believers truly fear that, taking advantage of the nearing
of the two Churches to each other, agents of the KGB will take vengeance
against our emigration. These fears are strengthened by the Mansonville
are beginning to understand the essence of current events, and over
the last two years the authority of the Mansonville group has noticeably
fallen. Even in Canada, for instance, where the center of the Mansonville
group resides, their followers are scattering. In the USA they have
a very meager following. In Russia and in France, their group has
splintered into two and continues to crumble. Only remote South
America gives them hope, where almost no one knows them personally.
And so in order to recruit new members in South America, they produced
their own new "Bishop," Anthony (Orloff).
It is reassuring that,
by the mercy of God, the main bulk of believers are on our side,
the side of truth, and the Mansonville group will gradually diminish
to nothingness, as do all schismatic groups.
Since the fall of communism
in Russia, a great deal has changed for the better—I have in mind,
first of all, in a spiritual sense. If anyone doubts my opinion,
I suggest that they go to Russia themselves, to see the churches,
the monasteries and religious book stores, to spend time with the
clergy and believers. Then it will become apparent that Russia is
transforming spiritually, as our saints had foretold.
I personally try to
view the question of the rapprochement of the churches in a historical
sense, asking myself: with whom and for what are we drawing near?
We are speaking of rapprochement with the entire Russian Church,
with which we had always been one, but temporarily divided by the
militantly-atheist state. It should be clarified that we are talking
about rapprochement per se, not "convergence," "unification"
or "swallowing up" as our opponents relentlessly call
it. Today the Russian Church consists of millions of believers,
a host of clergymen and monastics. In this Church the grace of God
breathes copiously, miracles are performed, miracle-working icons
are appearingÉ Oh, if only we who live abroad, sated and content,
had such spiritual fervor as do those believers who overfill Russian
churches! And this is why the aim of our rapprochement is the desire
of spiritual union with our People in the Fatherland.
I already wrote, and
I repeat, that we must rejoice at the miracle of the nascent spiritual
renewal in Russia. This is a great mercy of God for which we must
unfailingly thank the Lord. I am saddened that after the fall of
the communist regime, those of us abroad did not conduct molebens
of gratitude everywhere, that we did not establish a day of thanks
just as we had designated a "day of irreconcilability,"
that we continued to read the same prayer for the salvation of Russia
during liturgy, which were read during the period of the most brutal
persecutions of the Church—without a single phrase in thanks to
God for the miracle that had transpired! Besides, in ÎmigrÎ publications,
both ecclesiastical and lay, we describe in detail the problems
in Russia and the Russian Church, yet positive aspects seemed to
go unnoticed. Naturally, reading this one-sided reporting, the Russian
emigration doubts the positive transformations in Russia.
The spiritual renewal
of Russia is a work of the mercy of God. Unfortunately, not all
see this. May that which happened to the people of Israel not happen
to us, when the Messiah promised by the prophets arrived, and many
did not recognize HimÉ
So, what sort of rapprochement
are we talking about? Naturally, we must hold talks with the ad-ministration
of the Moscow Patriarchate, as the official representatives of the
Russian Church. But in fact, we are seeking to draw together the
two divided parts of the once-unified and mighty Russian Church.
With time, the present Patriarch and the other hierarchs of the
MP will pass to the other world, as will we. What will be left after
us? A unified Russian Orthodox Church must remain to resist the
advances of the forces of the Antichrist!
We argue a great deal
about whether or not to seek rapprochementÉ But let us think about
what truly unites us and what divides us who angrily quarrel with
What unites us, first
of all, is our Orthodox faith; then, our love for historical Russia:
her glorious past, her saints, her language, her great cultureÉ
We agree that cooperating with a godless state is evil and that
the ecumenical movement contradicts Orthodox teaching on the one,
holy conciliar and apostolic Church. Everyone agrees with these
most important positions of principle—not only those of us living
abroad but those who live in the homeland.
What do we argue and
quarrel about? It is over personalities: this one is a communist,
this one, an ecumenistÉ But the hearts of men can only be known
to God. Let us leave this judgment to Him. We are already in agreement
in principle. Let this main thing be the foundation in the matter
of rapprochement. Arguments over this are in and of themselves timely
and beneficial for an objective decision. It is unfortunate, however,
that these arguments, through the slander of the enemy of mankind,
turn into enmity and divisions. We must in every way try not to
lose our mutual respect, not offend each other or quarrel. The Lord
said: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called
the sons of God."
It is the duty of each
of us to be a peacemaker. We should focus ourselves entirely on
preserving church unity and not break up into numerous warring church
factions, like the Old Calendar Greeks, among whom every year a
new "most true and only correct" church arises, fighting
the other "churches" unto death. Apostle Paul warns: "But
if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed
one of another" (Gal. 5:15).
Let us remember the
words of the Lord: "By this all will know that you are My disciples,
if you have love for one another." Love, and not enmity and
division! I believe in the omnipotent grace of God, "which
healeth that which is infirm, and completeth that which is wanting."
I believe in the wisdom of the path of Divine Providence.
May the grace of our
Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you!
P.S. I ask
the reverend rectors of the South American Diocese to bring this
to the attention of all the clergymen and parishioners.
of Metropolitan Vitaly on his Retirement
In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Dear Brethren Archpastors!
In accordance with my
announcement at the last Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox
Church Outside of Russia in 27 June/10 July 2001, I now reiterate
before all of you, before the entire Council of Bishops, that I
am retiring. And I ask the holy prayers of all of your, brethren
I also pray for all
of you and now let us pray and beseech the Head Pastor, Our Lord
Jesus Christ, that He help our Council of Bishops to elect a new
president of our much-suffering Russian Orthodox Church Outside
of Russia. On my part, I call on all of you to unite around our
Council’s electee and for all of us together to concern ourselves
with the reestablishment of peace and unity among us and our flock.
Only in unity is our strength and we, with God’s help, will be able
to resist all the intrigues of our enemies, both seen and unseen.
I ask all of you, dear
brethren, for your holy prayers and forgiveness.
October 10/23 2001
- After his
retirement, Metropolitan Vitaly did not retain the right to return
from his retirement and assume the occupied position of First
Hierarch. For, in accordance with par. 14 of the Regulations of
the ROCOR, with his knowledge and consent, an extraordinary Council
of Bishops was convened, the election of the new First Hierarch
was conducted and Metropolitan Vitaly himself, after the election,
congratulated Metropolitan Lavr with his election as First Hierarch
and promised his support.
- In fact,
the above document is the very last document that can be confirmed
as having been signed by Vladyka Vitaly. His signature can be
attested to by a large group of witnesses. Later, when Vl. Vitaly
found himself in Mansonville, none of the bishops was able to
freely meet with him, speak with him without outside eavesdroppers,
and not only document bearing the signature of Metropolitan Vitaly
has been received under anything but the most hostile circumstances.
It is even unknown whether Vl. Vitaly himself knows of the existence
of the documents over his signature published by Mansonville.
of the Election of Metropolitan Laurus
On Wednesday, 11/24
October 2001, the day of the commemoration of the holy Apostle Philip
of the Seventy and the Venerable Theophanes the Confessor, having
assembled in the city of New York at the Synodal Cathedral of Our
Lady of the Sign, in honor of her Kursk-Root Icon, at an open extraordinary
session of our Council, praying after the Divine Liturgy, and having
served a panikhida for the ever-memorable Metropolitans Anthony,
Anastasy and Philaret and a service of supplication to the Mother
of God before her miraculous Kursk-Root Icon, and also to the holy
hierarchs Tikhon the Patriarch and John of Shanghai of San Francisco,
the wonderworker, and having invoked the gracious aid of the Holy
Spirit, we, the hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside
of Russia, proceeded to the election of a new First Hierarch of
the ROCOR, after this cathedra became vacant on the decision of
His Eminence, Metropolitan Vitaly, to go into retirement.
There were eighteen
hierarchal electors, of whom six were not present but sent in their
votes in writing.
At the first ballot,
the votes of Their Graces were distributed as follows: Archbishop
Laurus - 12 votes; Archbishop Mark - 1 vote; Archbishop Hilarion
- 1 vote; Bishop Benjamin - 1 vote; and three hierarchs abstained.
Thus, the Right Reverend Laurus, having received 2/3 of the votes
on the first ballot was, in accordance with the Order for the Election
of the First Hierarch, elected the fifth First Hierarch of the ROCOR.
We beseech Almighty
God to send down His blessing upon the further ministry of our First
Hi-erarch, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus. Amen.
I give thanks, accept and say nought against it
Statement of the Synod Chancery
As has become known
from publications in the internet, anti-ecclesiastical acts were
performed at Holy Transfiguration Skete in Mansonville, Canada—the
"consecration" of two suspended clergymen. On November
3 of this year, the retired Metropolitan Vitaly and the defrocked
former Bishop of Cannes Varnava (Prokofiev) "consecrated into
the episcopacy" Archimandrite Sergius (Kindjakov) who was suspended
from his priestly functions.
The following day, a
similar "consecration" was performed over Archimandrite
Bartholomew (Vorobiev), who was suspended from his priestly functions
[note: in fact, Archim. Bartholomew was "consecrated"
a week later—Bp. Alexander]. The Council’s decision on his defrockment
was delivered to former Bishop Varnava in the presence of three
witnesses, on the very day of the first consecration at 9 am, that
is, before the beginning of the service.
For this reason, both
of these "consecrations" must, in full accordance with
the Holy Canons, be considered invalid.
We also with to remind
everyone that Vladyka Vitaly was hardly in any condition to perform
a "consecration" properly, since he has not performed
divine liturgy for three years now. It is noteworthy that at one
of the meetings of the last Council of Bishops, on 16/29 October,
2001, both of the mentioned clergymen (Archim. Sergius and Archim.
Bartholomew) were removed as candidates, having been several years
earlier proposed as possible candidates by the Council of Bishops
several years earlier.
So, these false consecrations
were yet further evidence that the wicked earthly forces that for
long have tried to destroy our Church are attempting to exploit
all possible human failings and passions to introduce schism into
the walls of the church.
For this reason,
we appeal to the faithful clergy and God-loving flock of the Russian
Orthodox Church Outside of Russia with the warning not to recognize
these unlawful acts and not to suc-cumb to the calls of those who
have fallen to temptation, possessed by the spirit of schism, who
know not what they do, tearing the seamless Garment of Christ and
in their madness participating in the destruction of that very Church
which they ostensible try to defend.
Gabriel Secretary, Synod of Bishops 23 October/5 November 2001
Sergius (Kindjakov) is "consecrated" on November 3,
2001 with the par-ticipation of Vladyka Vitaly and the suspended/defrocked
Vicar Bishop Varnava, who was unilaterally "restored"
by Vl. Vitaly;
Vladimir (Tselishcheff) was "consecrated" on November
6, 2001, by "Bp. Sergius" and the defrocked Bp. Varnava;
Bartholomew (Vorobiev) is consecrated on November 11, 2001 by
Vladyka Vitaly, "Bishop Sergius" and "Bishop Vladimir."
"ROCiE" Suspends Bishop Varnava from his Priestly Functions
(Again!) on June 25/July 8, 2004
25 June/ 8 July 2004
the Report concerning the destructive activities of Archbishop
Varnava and, in part, concerning his refusal to recognize the decisions
of the Sobor, the majority of which he himself signed, as well as
his spreading of false information regarding the handling of affairs
by the Synod of Bishops.
charges are brought against Archbishop Varnava:
His refusal to recognize the Sobor's decision of 8/21 August 2002
concerning Archbishop Lazar's group and the corresponding Ukaz of
1/14 November 2003, as well as the fact of his providing
all sorts of support to Lazar's group, up to and including the publication
of his declarations and Epistles upon their official internet website.
His refusal to recognize the decisions of the Sobor of 16-20 May
2003, which were re-solved upon and signed by Vladyka Metropolitan
and Bishops Sergii, Vladimir and Varfolomey, with some of them having
been signed by [Archbishop Varnava] himself.
In a letter
dated 14/27 December 2003, Archbishop Varnava declared that
"[Their] candidacies were 'accepted' in the month of May in
entirely abnormal circumstances', which he himself had been
responsible for creating, and that "one can speak of such
a 'Sobor' only conditionally". He contested the hierotonia
of Fr. Viktor Pivovarov, which he himself had proposed, rejecting
it in June in Paris, and, at the same time, slandering Fr. Victor
in the matter of his family situation and his ordination.
His refusal to recognize the 15/28 November 2003 decisions of the
Synod and calling this Synod of Bishops (at which he himself
was present, sealing all its decisions with his signature) "a
conference of proto-priests" and the manner in which
it conducted its affairs - "a glaring outrage"
(Letter dated 14/27 December 2003) In part:
- In the matter
of changing the status of eparchies in accordance with the Regulations
Concerning ROCA, given the available written responses from
all the Hierarchs, Archbishop Varnava declares that the decisions
adopted concerning the creation of new eparchies in Russia, being
groundless, are unlawful and, consequently, void". (a
letter to the Secretary of the Synod, dated 9/22 December 2003).
- In the matter
of Hieromonk Seraphim (Baranchikov), Archbishop Varnava, having
himself signed the decision concerning his defrocking, subsequently
permitted him to serve sacrilegious "divine services".
Despite the decision of the Sobor of 1998, concerning the release
of the Rumanian epar-chy from ROCA control, Archbishop Varnava,
on his own authority, arbitrarily placed it under his omofor on
20 January/2 February 2002, thus violating common ecclesiastical
regu-lations, and, at the same time, assured the Rumanian priests
that Metropolitan Vitaly's letter of 26 March/8 April 2002, also
bearing the signatures of Bishops Sergii and Vladimir and pointing
out the immutability of the decisions of the Sobor of 1998, possesses
only an historical significance.
The false declaration that the Ukazes concerning his being retired
bear forged signatures: "Neither Vladyka Metropolitan..., nor
the other Hierarchs signed them, nor could they have signed them,
inasmuch as that would have been a lawless act on their part",
thus changing the subject from being one of a conciliar decision
to being one of a supposed interference in another's eparchy.
His refusal to recognize the decisions concerning the removal of
sanctions imposed upon mitred Proto-priest Veniamin Joukoff,
for, as is evident from the Ukaz of 6/19 January 2004, numbered
_ 24/04/_: "a thorough investigation of the charges brought
against Fr. Veniamin revealed that they were groundless and unlawful,
for, in accordance with Canon 16 of the Council of Carthage, the
imposition of sactions cannot be based "upon animosity or bias".
We have resolved:
In view of the above-indicated
violations, which clearly bear witness to Archbishop Varnava's refusal
to submit to the Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority, regarding an
entire array of vital issues dealing with the ecclesiastical well-being
and moral arrangement of church life, and taking into account the
written responses of all the Hierarchs:
prohibit Archbishop Varnava from conducting any further sacred
services until such time as he repents.
remind Archbishop Varnava that one who dares to conduct Divine
Services while under ban is deprived of his priestly rank.
Vitaly, First-Hierarch of ROCA
Proto-priest Veniamin Joukoff, Secretary of the Synod of Bishops
note: Please note that those "consecrated" by Bishop Varnava
themselves were finally forced to suspend their "spiritual
father"—and for the very same violations for which he had previously
been defrocked by the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox
Church Outside of Russia!--Bishop Alexander.