After my death our beloved Church abroad will break three ways ... first the Greeks will leave us as they were never a part of us ... then those who live for this world and its glory will go to Moscow ... what will remain will be those souls faithful to Christ and His Church. ~St. Philaret of NY


SS Athanasius & Cyril

Pent XXXV; SS Athanasius & Cyril

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Fr. Gregory

Sat, Jan 30, 2016 at 7:40 PM
To: (parishioners)

Blessings!  It's been a peaceful, pretty busy week here... helped by being snowed in for the first part of it!  Good thing I put off the trip to Haiti.. we couldn't have gotten out of the hollow safely to get to Nashville (though I'm sure the main roads were OK by midday Monday).  I was pleasantly surprised when I did go out on Wed. for legal affairs I didn't have to tangle with any snow or ice at all on the road, not even in the most thaw-resistant section in deep shade on the steep hill.

Just a few words to call your attention to the two extraordinary saints we commemorate today (are there any ordinary saints?), both archbishops of Alexandria (Egypt, not Tennessee), ardent defenders of the Faith against a panoply of heretics (Arius and Nestorius the best-known), both bitterly persecuted by civil and "church" authorities for their courage.

Why is this important?  You're probably more familiar with Arius, who taught that Jesus was not the Son of God, but rather just the greatest of His creations.  Sound familiar?  There are no genuine "Arians" around any more (except, I've heard, a tiny cluster somewhere in what used to be Czechoslovakia) -- that is, with honest historical connections.  But there are plenty of neo-Arians, some masquerading as "main-line" Christians, but the most prominent and loud-mouthed the "Jehovah's Witnesses".  Athanasius wrote a lengthy and beautiful Trinitarian Creed (Athanasian Creed - look it up!) which has, however, had no liturgical usage in the Church.

And Nestorius (sworn enemy of St. Cyril)?  A back-door attack on the divinity of Christ, denying the appellation "Theotokos; God-bearer" to the Mother of God.  There were a number of variations on this.... always trying to escape the uncomfortable and even terrifying notion that it was truly possible for God and Man to be united in one Body.


• Dr. McDougall #2 of 20 Plant-based Health Professionals
Change is happening, and these plant-based health professionals are helping to lead the way. They’re part of the plant-based revolution, out to end chronic illness through a whole, plant foods approach.

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   https://youtu.be/NpuHPJN9DYc   4 minutes

• Joanna is going out of town for 3 weeks.  I'm taking my computer with me, but I don't expect to have much time for it.  Please pray that my quest is successful and for my safe return.  Thank you.  I hope to return by February 20th. 

• InfoWars believes Obama's real father was a Communist agent
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MP doubts "8th Council" is possible

A False Council is scheduled to take place in Constantinople in April 2016.  But will it actually take place?

28 December 2015, 10:30

Russian Church doubts Pan-Orthodox Council possible in current situation

Moscow, December 28, Interfax - The chairman of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk has been cautious about prospects for convening a Pan-Orthodox Council.

"There are doubts about the very possibility of a Pan-Orthodox Council being held at a time when some of the Orthodox Churches are in a state of unsettled conflict, and the leader of the Orthodox Church of the Czech lands and Slovakia has still not had his status recognized by a number of Orthodox Churches, to say nothing of the extremely unstable general political situation worldwide," the metropolitan said in a statement, the Russian Orthodox Church said in a press release.

At the same time the hierarch stressed that the Russian Church has always participated and continues being most actively involved in the pre-Council process, "despite the obvious difficulties in the preparations for the Pan-Orthodox Council."

"As for specific dates of the event, I think it is too soon to talk about them," the hierarch said.

No Pan-Orthodox Council has been convened in more than a thousand years, and preparations to conduct one have been held for half a century now.

In 2014, the leaders of the Orthodox Churches agreed to convene a Pan-Orthodox Council in Istanbul in 2016, "unless prevented by unexpected circumstances."

"It was expected that in the remaining two years it will be possible to redact, and in certain cases, entirely re-write a significant portion of the Council's draft documents, many of which have become obsolete despite being drafted about 30 years ago," Metropolitan Hilarion said.

Progress in reviewing the documents was extremely slow, "as a result, of the eight topics that were expected to be put to the Council, only three have been agreed upon to date, work on the rest has never been completed," Metropolitan Hilarion said.

"So far there is no unanimous understanding among the Orthodox Churches as to the rules under which the Pan-Orthodox Council should operate and what its regulations should be. An ad hoc inter-Orthodox commission which met recently to discuss these issues had to interrupt its work after failing to reach consensus. Many of the issues, concerning preparations for the Council, which were raised repeatedly by Most Holy Patriarch Kirill in his letters to Most Holy Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople last year, have remained without answer to this day," Metropolitan Hilarion said.

Two other interesting articles about the coming pseudo-council
  January 21, 2016

  October 15, 2015

Report from Haiti Mission

Fr. Gregory shares this news:

Well, it finally happened, after 16 years -- politically unstable conditions in Haiti (consequence of postponed elections), compounded by legal issues here (over the attempted, and so far successful, theft of the Cave Spring which is our baptistry), forced postponement of my visit to Haiti planned for next week.  Not so much fear of personal security (though that is of course an issue), but rather the inordinately high probability that I might get there only to be pinned down at Maison Mission, unable (with reasonable security) to get to either St. Dorothy's at LaPlaine, or to St. Augustine's at Cyvadier/Jacmel.   I've cancelled my reservations and made fallback reservations for end of Feb/early March.  

As it falls out, I might not even have been able to get (with reasonable safety) to Nashville Monday for the Tues. dawn flight... we have 6.25" of snow on the ground here, and the road out of our mountain hollow is likely to be impassable except by a heavy 4WD vehicle until Tues. or Wed.

Fr. Amboise was at St. Augustine's for the Sunday before, Theophany services, and house blessings.   He returned home only with considerable difficulty... tap-taps were getting pelted with rocks, and only the motos (for-hire motorbikes, second only to horses as the most dangerous transport known) were getting through.  Thanks be to God, he got back home safe and sound.

Two of the classrooms at St. Augustine's School (hope for photos next visit) have been brought up to par... earthquake cracks repaired, walls finished, etc.  That leaves about 9 to go... as well as a badly-needed library/ computer lab.   Down the line, expect an appeal (with numbers) for your opportunity to underwrite one of those projects (with, if you wish, a memorial plaque for your family or a reposed soul).

I'm about to file a request for another year's donation of food subsidy from FMSC -- the food is free, but the transport costs are considerable.  Thanks to your generosity, we've always been able to meet this badly-needed commitment (provides at least one sound meal each school day for about 500 children).  I'm praying this year to be able to get delivery before the opening of classes for the next term in Sept. or early Oct.  This school year, transit costs from FMSC warehouse to delivery yard in Haiti were just under $6000; in-country trucking costs added about another $500.  Please keep this in your hearts and prayers as the year goes along.

Pseudo-elder Sophrony Name-Worshipper

Pseudo-elder Sophrony (Sakharov) sure sounds like a Name-Worshipper
  Is it a surprise that he puts poets and prophets in the same category?

from Wiki:
  1985: We Shall See Him As He Is published, to mixed reviews: the West generally enjoyed the book, the Russians generally criticised the book. Some criticism was so stinging that it, along with illness, discouraged Elder Sophrony from writing again.

Name-worshippers disagree with GOC Bishop Photios:

• Abuse of capitalizing "Name"
• Abuse of St. John of Kronstadt
  "Name" is capitalized here by deceitful name-worshippers:
  and not capitalized in the original:



"Lord, return to us worthy sheep from the fragments"

This editorial is in regards to Archdeacon German Ivanov's recent posting about his frustration with our Holy Synod for not yet being united with the fragments, "Thoughts Following the Synod Meeting".  ROCANA has published an English translation by an unnamed translator.  I wonder who?  I'd like to ask whoever he is to translate some things for me – things from our Holy Synod that explain jurisdictional ecumenism and why we don't just do what the fragments want us to do to make our Church suit them.  Of all the things out there that need translating – why this?

So, what is it we are supposed to be doing?  which fragment should we join?  which death chamber is the one we should walk into?  ROCiE? ROAC? RTOC?  The requirements are the same for each of them.
1. dump our Cyprianite Sister Churches
2. recognize the selected fragment as canonical

Then what?  Is our joining one of them going to cause the remaining two to join together with us in one big happy family?  If the fragments are not in communion with each other now, how would our uniting with one of them change that?  And if we try to go into communion with a second fragment, would not the first one object?

We can forget that idea.  Other ideas I can come up with are even more ridiculous. 

Last October (2015) Archdeacon German came out with a similar cry: "Start the Unification Process!"

His conclusion through the machine translator:

Just think: what kind of spiritual power, we can imagine if you combine around three principles that most of us are undoubtedly shared:
- The rejection of ecumenism,
- Refusal of Sergianism in all its varieties,
- And a promise to follow the example and throughout the historical path of the Church Abroad.
Is this not sufficient and it is a solid basis for at least a working meeting for the beginning of godly unification process?

No.  It is not sufficient.  A foundational element is missing: canonicity.  Ideally the fragments would recognize our ROCA as the sole true valid continuation of the ROCOR and return to us.  Since that is not going to happen Vladyka Agafangle has offered to correct their orders while letting them keep their structure.  None of them will admit they need their ordinations corrected.  The fragments were created in the very beginning for the purpose of separation.  They will resist any efforts at unification – even with each other and starting with each other.

It has been 9 years since the ROCOR-MP union and none of the fragments have found a way to unite with each other where there is no issue of Cyprianism – which is mutually held as their supposed main complaint against us.  It is beating a dead horse to repeatedly revive this go-nowhere idea of uniting the fragments.  Our Holy Synod has made its best offer, the offer still stands.  The fragments have so far not responded.  The ball is in their court.  ROCA is not to blame.  There is nothing more we can do. 

Two months ago Archdeacon Basil in Australia republished an Open Letter from 2012.  It still makes the most sense.  First, I notice that he addresses it mainly to the sheep.  Realizing we are not going to get anywhere with the leaders of the fragments, he addresses the members.  Our prayer to God is for worthy sheep from the fragments to be returned to us.  I'm reposting the open letter here.  All we can really do at this point is repeat what we have said before:

An Open Letter 
from the unworthy protodeacon Basil from Canberra
to all who have ears and eyes to see….. 

I am not sure how to broach this subject of the disunity of our ROCA.  (I am not speaking about those that have subjugated themselves (be they the majority) to the sergianist and ecumenist (post soviet MP), but those, in the time that was chaotic for all of us, went to other jurisdictions (some even creating their own).  Our Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour bless me to say what is right and to offend no-one, I know I speak from my heart that is bleeding and spiritually hurt, and I hope you will understand me and my sincere plea! 

I know many others have stopped attending CHURCH all together and/or have gone to other old calendar jurisdictions.  You all know that I suffer and my pain is great that I could not have been more stronger and relevant in my opposition to the premature union between ROCA and thepost soviet sergianist/ecumenist MP (it is now after the five years ((soviet) MP plan) is more than crystal clear that many of our ROCA brothers and sister are now entrapped in the quagmire of sergianism and ecumenism (or worse) in the post soviet MP.  Families are divided – it  is hard for many to be family.  I hope metropolitan Hilarion (and others that have followed him) can sleep peacefully every night of the rest of their life, but they do not care anymore about the lost sheep (they care more about the post soviet MP medals and banquets that are more befitting to their new life style – their hero and saviour now is KGB agent PUTIN and his cronies).  WOW I am speechless at their five year success!

I come to those that find themselves now in the so called splinter/and or fragments (groups).  I do not mean, again, to offend no-one but if we could be of one heart, our strong ROCA voice, could make the enemies of our LORD JESUS CHRIST pay attention to ROCA, traveling as ever before, on the ROYAL PATH to SALVATION.  Could we together in ROCA not save them  as well?!?  The following is from the Summary of the Minutes of the Meeting of the Central Russian Administrative District. August 1, 2008 –  St. Seraphim of Sarov.

 1. It is with great sorrow that we (STILL) witness the divisions that occurred after the signing of the Act.  The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad is now fragmented, with each group claiming “divine purpose.” 

 2. We hold to the belief that it is still possible to unite the faithful adherents of the Church Abroad around the legacy of the ROCA, which is characterized by a spirit of sobornost; uniting laypeople, clergy, and the episcopate.  The legacy maintains the traditions of the founding hierarchs, a full life within the Church, and the readiness to set aside one’s supposed “truths” for the sake of God’s Truth.  The tendency of other “fragments” to treat lightly the decisions of past sobors and Synod of Bishops is quite worrisome and symptomatic of the irreligious idea of “dogmatic progressiveness.”  This leads them to reject certain decisions, or consider them not quite Orthodox in spirit.  It should be noted that such tendencies are exhibited by bishops who have become ordained only recently or only a few years ago.

 3. We wish to point out that the ROCA PSEA remains an open church body, headed not by a Hierarch, not by an Archbishop, but headed temporarily by Bishop Agafangel.  We do not share the ambitions of those in newly-formed jurisdictions, and seek only to avoid considering any fragment as the body of the Church.  We regret the refusal to maintain sobornost within the fragments of the ROCA, which results in premature ordinations, canonisations, and rejections of past decisions.

 4. We are prepared to engage in dialogue with anyone who considers our divisions to be unnatural and ask them only to answer one question in good conscience: who is creating these obstacles and striving to keep things as they are?  If we are guilty of rewriting the history of the ROCA, prove it to us.  If these divisions are caused by intemperate feelings, let us reject them and return to the conditions that existed before the tragic divisions.

 In my very short and succinct appeal to you… “please return to the church that is based on and lives by the principles and values set down by our founding hierarchs.  Let us continue together on the Royal Path that was charted by them and the sacrifices made by so many that came before us.  Please hear our anguished cry and together let us heal the divisions that have come between us.  From the Parish Council – Holy Ascension Russian Orthodox Church Fairfax, VA May 27, 2012 

Please see the latest invitation (in Russian) from his Eminence metropolitan Agafangel here:
With love in Christ Jesus our Saviour, asking for your prayers,
 the unworthy protodeacon Basil from Canberra, 
13 June 2012, Canberra


KGB 'Christians'

KGB 'Christians': Putin, Stalin, and the KGB’s History of Manipulating the Orthodox Church
by Spyridon Mitsotakis11 Jan 2016

Anyone who grew up with the Eastern Orthodox Church (in my case, the Greek Orthodox Church in New York) will get a good laugh at Vladimir Putin pretending to be a Christian during his first Easter as Russian ruler.

As recounted by the great journalist Anna Politkovskaya (1958-2006), the bravest of all the many Putin-critics to be systematically assassinated, in her book Putin’s Russia:

At the beginning of the Great Matins service there stood, shoulder to shoulder with Putin as if at a military parade, Prime Minister Fradkov and Dmitry Medvedev, the Kremlin’s new éminence grise, head of the president’s office, a man of diminutive stature with a large head. The three men clumsily and clownishly crossed themselves, Medvedev making his crosses by touching his hands to his forehead and then to his genitals. It was risible. Medvedev followed Putin in shaking the patriarch’s hand as if he were one of their comrades, rather than kissing it as prescribed by church ritual. The patriarch overlooked the error. The spin doctors in the Kremlin are effective but, of course, pretty illiterate in these matters and had not told the politicians what to do. Alongside Putin there stood the mayor of Moscow, Yury Luzhkov, who had been behind the rebuilding of the cathedral and who alone knew how to invoke the protection of the Cross in a competent manner. The patriarch addressed Putin as ‘Your Most High Excellency,’ which made even those not directly involved wince. Given the numerous ex-KGB officers occupying top government positions, the Easter Vigil has now taken over from the May Day parade as the major obligatory national ritual.

The beginning of the Great Matins service was even more comical than the handshakes with the patriarch. Both state television channels did a live broadcast of the procession around the cathedral that precedes the service. The patriarch participated in this, despite being ill. The television commentator, who was a believer and theologically knowledgeable, explained to viewers that in the Orthodox tradition, the doors of the church should be shut before midnight because they symbolize the entrance to the cave where Christ’s body was placed. After midnight the Orthodox faithful taking part in the procession await the opening of the church doors. The patriarch stands on the steps at their head and is the first to enter the empty temple where the Resurrection of Christ has already occurred.

When the patriarch had recited the first prayer at the doors of the temple, they were thrown open to reveal Putin, our modest president, shoulder to shoulder with Fradkov, Medvedev, and Luzhkov.

You didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. An evening of comic entertainment on Holy Night. What is there to like about this individual? He profanes everything he touches.

The Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) has been, since its reconstitution during WWII, an instrument of the state. The best illustration of this is probably the 1949 “Greetings from the clergy and laity of the Russian Orthodox Church to the leader of the nations of the USSR, the Generalissimus Joseph Stalin on his 70th birthday.” It states, in part:

Witnessing at every step your noble efforts to make people’s lives peaceful and happy, we see in your person not only a great statesman and leader, guiding the lives of people in a new direction of history, but also a fatherly, caring trustee of all aspects of our human existence with all its various needs.

The Russian Orthodox patriarch at the time of Putin’s Easter show was patriarch Aleksi II, who died on December 5, 2008. Lt. Gen. (r) Ion Mihai Pacepa, the highest Soviet bloc official to defect to the United States, writes of Aleksi II, “The KGB had carried him under the codename ‘DROZDOV’ and awarded him its Certificate of Honor, as was learned from a KGB archive accidentally left behind in Estonia.”

Additionally, we know more from “original KGB documents known as the Mitrokhin Archive (described by the FBI as the most complete and extensive intelligence ever received from any source).” We also know more “from Politburo documents released by Father Gleb Yakunin, vice chairman of a Russian parliamentary commission that investigated the KGB’s manipulation of the church.”

And with those details in hand, the “election” of a new patriarch in 2009 was quite a sight to behold:

On January 27, 2009, the 700 Synod delegates assembling in Moscow were indeed presented with a slate listing three candidates. All, however, belonged to the secret KGB army: Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk worked for the KGB under the code name “MIKHAYLOV”; Metropolitan Filaret of Minsk has just been identified as having labored for the KGB under the codename “OSTROVSKY”; Metropolitan Kliment of Kaluga was recently discovered to have been listed under the codename “TOPAZ”.

When the bells at Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow announced that a new patriarch had been elected, Metropolitan Kirill, aka “MIKHAYLOV,” proved to be the winner. Presumably, the KGB/FSB considered him to be in a better position to carry out its tasks abroad, where he had directed his efforts during most of his professional life. In 1971, the KGB had sent him to Geneva (Switzerland) as a representative of the Russian Orthodox Church to the World Council of Churches (WCC), the largest international ecumenical organization after the Vatican, representing some 550 million Christians of various denominations throughout 120 countries.

His task was to use his position in the WCC to spread the doctrine of Liberation Theology—a Marxist religious movement born in the KGB—throughout Latin America. In 1975, the KGB had infiltrated “MIKHAYLOV” into the WCC’s central committee, and in 1989 the KGB had appointed him chairman of the Russian patriarchate’s foreign relations as well—positions he still held when he was "elected” patriarch. Indeed, in his acceptance speech “MIKHAYLOV” announced that he would establish religious television channels in Russia that would broadcast abroad.

Kirill/“MIKHAYLOV” recently attacked the “Godless” Ukrainians – though, according to one journalist (a recipient of the Blessed Karol Wojtyla [Pope John Paul II] prize for excellence in journalism dealing with religious themes), “25% of the population attends Easter services in Ukraine compared to 2% in Russia.”

In November, Kirill/“MIKHAYLOV” asked that Russians “remember positive achievements of the Soviet period”:

Moscow, November 5, Interfax – Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia urges to sober evaluation of the Soviet period in the Russian history.

“There would not be modern Russia, if not heroism of the preceding generations, who in the 20s and the 30s not only turned up the soil, though it is also important, but founded industry, science and defense power of the country,” Patriarch Kirill said on Wednesday at Moscow Manege at the opening of the 14th forum-exhibition Orthodox Russia. My History. The 20th century. 1914-1945. From great perturbations to the Great Victory.

According to him, we should not doubt successes of certain state leaders, who stood at the commences of such revival, modernization of the country, even if these leaders committed crimes.

“Where there was will, strength, intellect, political decisiveness, we call it doubtless success as in case with the Victory in the Great Patriotic War, and where there was blood, injustice, and sufferings, we say that it is unacceptable for us, people of the 21st century,” the primate said.

“We do not identify ourselves with these bloody pages, we give these historical personages to God’s judgement, but these negative things should not give right to exclude all positive things that were done, at the same time, all positive things done by certain people should not exclude critical attitude to crimes committed by them,” he said.

The patriarch expressed hope that current exhibition would “help realize the beauty of our people’s heroism in the 20s, 30s and 40s, to see the hard pages and understand:  in order to love our Motherland, we should not exclude any historical period from the historical memory, but we should take it with common sense and clear moral perception and then truth will be separated from lies, and the good from the evil.

Kirill/“MIKHAYLOV” left the “certain state leaders” unidentified – but the only “state leaders” of the “20s, 30s and 40s” were Lenin and Stalin. The single most prominent theme of Stalinism is: “The leadership of Comrades Lenin and Stalin turned Russia from a backward nation into an industrialized power, which is why Russia – under the wise leadership of Generalissimus Stalin – was able to defeat Hitler.”

Not a word of it is true, and Stalin knew it. Putting aside Stalin’s 1939-1941 alliance with Hitler that started the war to begin with, Stalin’s 1941 decision to ignore intelligence about an impending invasion, and his amazing wartime leadership that resulted in 20 million Russians dead, let’s focus on industrialization. As recounted in No Left Turns by conservative icon Representative John M. Ashbrook of Ohio:

Let us take a look at a statement made by Stalin to Ambassador Averell Harriman.  This is what Harriman told the State Department that Stalin said to him: “About two-thirds of all the large industrial enterprises in the Soviet Union had been built with United States help or technical assistance.”

That is right.  In Stalin’s own words, two-thirds of the Soviet large industry was made with U.S. help.  By the way, today, Harriman is still in favor of trade with the Soviet Union.  Another interesting point is that the remaining third was built with considerable help from firms in Europe, including Germany, Britain, France and Italy.

It is also worthwhile to note that Lenin and Stalin were the masterminds behind the plot to eradicate Christianity in Russia and Ukraine. In 1996, Yale University Press’s Annals of Communism series published a collection of documents from Vladimir Lenin’s secret archive. On March 19, 1922, amid a mass famine in Russia and Ukraine, Lenin issued the following orders:

It is precisely now and only now, when in the starving regions people are eating human flesh, and hundreds if not thousands of corpses are littering the roads, that we can (and therefore must) carry out the confiscation of church valuables with the most savage and merciless energy, not stopping [short of] crushing any resistance.

This kicked into high gear under Stalin. On September 11, 1932, Stalin wrote to one of his henchmen:

At this point the question of Ukraine is the most important. The situation in Ukraine is very bad. If we don’t take steps now to improve the situation, we may lose Ukraine. The objective should be to transform Ukraine, in the shortest period of time, into a real fortress of the U.S.S.R.

A year later, Pavel Postyshev, another Stalin henchmen, told a meeting of the Central Committee in Ukraine, “Under the direct leadership and directions of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and personally of comrade Stalin, we smashed the Ukrainian nationalist counterrevolution.”

Stalin’s method of destroying true Christianity in Ukraine was addressed in a 1953 speech by Raphael Lemkin, who coined the term “genocide” and dedicated his life to bringing the crime to an end. In this speech to the Ukrainian community of New York commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the Soviet-orchestrated Ukrainian Famine of 1932-1933, which left somewhere between seven and twelve million dead, Lemkin explained:

Going along with this attack on the intelligentsia was an offensive against the churches, priests and hierarchy, the ‘soul’ of Ukraine. Between 1926 and 1932, the Ukrainian Orthodox Autocephalous Church, its Metropolitan Lypkivsky and 10,000 clergy were liquidated. In 1945, when the Soviets established themselves in Western Ukraine, a similar fate was meted out to the Ukrainian Catholic Church. That Russification was the only issue involved is clearly demonstrated by the fact that before its liquidation, the Church was offered the opportunity to join the Russian Patriarch at Moscow, the Kremlin’s political tool.

Only two weeks before the San Francisco conference, on 11 April 1945, a detachment of NKVD troops surrounded the St. George Cathedral in Lviv and arrested Metropolitan Slipyj, two bishops, two prelates and several priests. All the students in the city’s theological seminary were driven from the school, while their professors were told that the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church had ceased to exist, that its Metropolitan was arrested and his place was to be taken by a Soviet-appointed bishop. These acts were repeated all over Western Ukraine and across the Curzon Line in Poland. At least seven bishops were arrested or were never heard from again. There is no Bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church still free in the area. Five hundred clergy who met to protest the action of the Soviets, were shot or arrested.

Throughout the entire region, clergy and laity were killed by hundreds, while the number sent to forced labour camps ran into the thousands. Whole villages were depopulated. In the deportation, families were deliberately separated, fathers to Siberia, mothers to the brickworks of Turkestan and the children to Communist homes to be ‘educated’. For the crime of being Ukrainian, the Church itself was declared a society detrimental to the welfare of the Soviet state, its members were marked down in the Soviet police files as potential ‘enemies of the people’. As a matter of fact, with the exception of 150,000 members in Slovakia, the Ukrainian Catholic Church has been officially liquidated, its hierarchy imprisoned, its clergy dispersed and deported.

These attacks on the Soul have also had and will continue to have a serious effect on the Brain of Ukraine, for it is the families of the clergy that have traditionally supplied a large part of the intellectuals, while the priests themselves have been the leaders of the villages, their wives the heads of the charitable organizations. The religious orders ran schools, and took care of much of the organized charities.

That the Russian Orthodox patriarch, Kirill/“MIKHAYLOV,” would praise the two men responsible for all this tells all you need to know about the state religion of Putin’s Russia. It also says a lot about what kind of fate awaits any true Christians who would fall under Russian domination.

Hope for the besieged Christians of the world belongs not in the hands of Vladimir Putin, but in a new American president who will defend them from both the Islamic State and the KGB.


Only worthy individuals should enter into the clergy


"If we have a good priest (or bishop), we give thanks to God. 
If a bad one, we endure him".

- old Russian saying

We can pray to St. Basil if we have a bad bishop.
 ~ excerpt from a life of St. Basil:

...Saint Basil almost daily celebrated Divine-services.  He was particularly concerned about the strict fulfilling of the canons of the Church, and kept attentive watch, so that only worthy individuals should enter into the clergy....

St. Basil would not be intimidated

excerpt from a life:

The Arian emperor Valens, mercilessly sent into exile any bishops who displeased him.  He sent to Saint Basil the prefect Modestus, who began to threaten the saint with ruin, banishment, beatings and even death by execution.  St. Basil replied:

 "All this for me means nothing, since one cannot be deprived of possessions that one does not have, beyond some old worn-out clothing and some books, which comprises the entirety of my wealth.  For me it would not be exile, since I am bound to no particular place, and this place in which I now dwell is not mine, and indeed any place whither I be cast shalt be mine.  Better it is to say: everywhere is the place of God, whither be naught stranger nor new-comer (Ps. 38).  And what tortures can ye do me? – I am so weak, that merely but the very first blow will be felt.  Death for me would be an act of kindness: it wilt bring me all the sooner to God, for Whom I live and do labour, and to Whom moreover I do strive".

The official was bewildered by such an answer, having never heard someone speak like this.   St. Basil continued:

"Perhaps, thou hast never had encounter with a bishop; otherwise, without doubt, thou wouldst have heard suchlike words.  In all else we are meek, the most humble of all, and not only afront the mighty, but also afront all, since such is prescribed for us by the law.  But when it is a matter concerning God and they make bold to rise up against Him, then we – being mindful of naught else, think only of Him alone, and then fire, sword, wild beasts and chains, the rending of the body, would sooner hold satisfaction for us, than to be afraid".

Archimandrite Alexis answers a question for ROCOR-MP member

“I WOULD LIKE to take the opportunity to ask you a question that, quite frankly, could determine my Orthodox Christian life.  I read the article you sent me, and to be honest, I am all stirred up already with regards to ecumenism!  My parish is, as you know, that of Russian Orthodoxy  ... I was given enlightenment regards to Orthodoxy as having the full truth.  So my point being, if my parish here follows the old calendar, but is part of ecumenism, are they in your opinion ‘Heretics’?” - G.S. by email. 

I THINK that we must realize that the calendar is not the only issue which conscientious Orthodox Christians must reflect upon in our times.  (The new calendar) is a deviation from the Tradition of the Church, and, more deeply important, it was introduced to promote ecumenical relations with the heterodox denominations of the West.  So, ironically, a split was caused within the Church community to promote union with people of other faiths. 

The purpose of the new calendar supposedly was to help unify all Christians, but instead it caused schism within the Church Body.  

Your church being with the Moscow Patriarchate will be on the old calendar, I presume.  This means that in that respect it is being more faithful, and one is able to keep the annual cycle of feasts and fasts as our Fathers have in generations before us. 

However, the issue of Ecumenism remains.  The Moscow Patriarchate is an organic member of the World Council of Churches, membership of which presupposes an un-Orthodox understanding of the Church. In the first instance under the Soviets the Patriarchate was forced to participate as this gave the Soviets a voice in the West and aided their propaganda programme.  However the Soviet regime has ostensibly fallen - I say ostensibly, because it appears that the present regime is heading back in the same direction - and churchmen there claim that their church administration is free, and yet they have continued that membership of the WCC and engage in other ecumenical activities.  So now, presumably this is done not under pressure but because it reflects their confessional stance.  The Moscow Patriarchate is also in full communion with other national Churches whose commitment to Ecumenism is even more marked than their own, and when we receive the Holy Mysteries together we confess that we are of “one mind and one heart” with those we commune with.  So one must presume that, for instance, they are of “one mind and one heart” with those who commune with Monophysites. 

And with regard to Moscow there is the question of what we call Sergianism - the collaboration of the Church through most of the Soviet period with a state whose intent it was to destroy religious belief.  Such a collaboration, which involved betraying faithful Christians to the Soviet authorities and sending them to the camps and to their death, gives us reason enough to doubt that the church administration is canonical and true. 

We have reason to doubt the ROCOR-MP Church administration is canonical.

It was for these reasons that, when the majority of the hierarchy of the Russian Church Abroad opted to subject itself to the Patriarchate in 2007, we left to join the Traditionalist Orthodox in the Church of Greece. 

However, it is not for me to say, as a member of a very insignificant, small and unimportant semi-monastic community, whether or not the Patriarchate is in heresy.  The old Russian Church Abroad would only “wall herself off” from its administrations and await the decision of a free and cleansed Church of Russia after the fall of the regime.  Sadly, so far such an opportunity has not been granted us, because the present administrators of the Patriarchate are the same persons, many ex-KGB agents, who ran the Church for the Soviets. 

All I can say is that for our community there was reason enough not to place ourselves under the Patriarchate.  It remains largely faithful about the calendar, but is engaged in Ecumenism and has not been cleansed of its Sergianist past.  It is therefore involved in heresy and its canonical status is certainly questionable.  By canonical, I mean in the fundamental and true sense - following the canons.  Nowadays the term is often used (as a smokescreen) to mean official, established, accepted by all the other churches whose adherence to the canons is also worth questioning.  Whether the time has come to say outright that it is heretical, is something for which we must wait for true Orthodox hierarchs to declare.  I hope this helps you, inadequate though it is. 

article from The Shepherd Magazine January 2016

Nativity Epistle Vladyka Andronik

  Русская Православная Церковь Заграницей Сиракузско-Никольская Епархия
Russian Orthodox Church Abroad Syracuse-St.Nicholas Diocese
 2781 Route 145, Schoharie, New York, 12157 Tel 518.827.7555; Cell: 646.300.2300

Dear Fathers, monastics and laypeople! Brothers and sisters!

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.” (Luke 2:14)

May we be filled with the joy of the Lord and that everlasting peace promised to us by the Savior Himself, the Lord our Jesus Christ, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.” (John 14:27)

The Lord came unto this world and was incarnate for one sole reason, to reconcile us with Him, our God. For the first time in all the history of the world and its centuries-old human race, the long-awaited encounter occurred between God Incarnate, the One All Holy, the One All Pure, and fallen corrupt humankind. Just as the light of the sun illuminates not only the very depths of the ocean, every crevice and even the dust in the air, the Light of Day shines forth laying bare the sin of Adam. To fulfill His promise and grant us His Holy gift of this world, the Lord awaits from us only one thing, true repentance from the heart of our sinfulness, and thereby cleansing our hearts, our souls, for we see ourselves as the Prophet Isaiah describes, “From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but bruises and sores and raw wounds; they are not pressed out or bound up or softened with oil.” (Isaiah 1:6), and so it is from the days of our youth to this very day, this very minute. Our very life is an utter affront to the truth of God, the eternal Truth – Christ. If we approach repentance on this basis, then the Lord will send us the gift of tears, which like the waters of baptism will wash away all our sins. Then we will see much that is wondrous and glorious in our soul, for it is then that the Lord will send His Godly gifts of spiritual peace and blessed stillness, a stillness that will enable us to be as one with the stillness of God’s spirit.

I cannot grant you any greater gift to all of you in these holy days of Nativity than this, for I know not any other greater gift in this world!

+Andronik, Archbishop
Syracuse and St. Nicholas

Note on machine translations

Reader Daniel in Oregon

Note: Only the machine-translator uses, in its weird version of English,  the western semi-worldly  term, 'Christmas', as in Russian it is always, the standard and more soundly Orthodox term for this great Orthodox Christian feast: 'The Nativity of Christ'. 

So, every time the more secular word, 'Christmas' appears, in google/machine English translations from the Russia  texts, it actually should be, The Nativity of Christ, or simply, 'Nativity'. 

The mindless, soulless translator machine, does what it wants!

"Merry Christmas" ?

We are Orthodox.  We do not greet each other in the feast as the world does with "Merry Christmas".  We greet each other with, "Christ is born!"  And we Orthodox respond to that greeting with, "Glorify Him!"

Did you receive a "Christmas" greeting from an English-speaking monastery?  If so, then you are not the only one.  What did you think of that?

One bold response from a voice in the wilderness:

Christ is born.
We are not Roman Catholics

ROCOR has both feet on the Royal Path

RTOC priest Siluan, in a recent multi-recipient emailing, calls attention to a comment made by Vladyka Agafangel in his livejournal March 23, 2008


Vladyka's comment through the machine translator says:
The Church Abroad has always been a mean way - between sectarian deviation (which is represented by numerous TOC) and apostasy (which is now represented by the so-called Orthodox world). We do not "gravitate", therefore, either to the TOC or the MP. So will "neither here nor there," as you say. Those who have ears to hear it, and those who have eyes - see.

I understand it this way:

The ROCOR has always followed the Royal Path – between sectarian deviation (super-correct) and apostasy (world-orthodoxy).  We do not lean toward either side – neither towards the TOCs nor towards the MP.  We are "neither here nor there", meaning that we are not partially in either the left or the right.  We do not have one foot in the TOCs and the other foot in world-orthodoxy at the same time.  Rather, we have both feet on the Royal Path.

In the emailing was also included this photo:

What is this document?  Here is what came out of the translator:
  An extract from the Council of the Russian Arhіereyskago
  Orthodox Church Outside ot 25/8 May 1998
  Arhіereyskіy SOBOR Russian Orthodox Church Abroad
  Imtli suzhdenіe: naimenovanіi of our Church unto predљlah Rossіi.
  Resolved: to bless rossіyskim eparhіyam ROCA register
  beneath nazvanіem: Russian True Orthodox Church (RTOC)

It looks like this is a decision of the 1998 ROCOR synod to bless our Church in Suzdal (suzhdenіe) to register under the name RTOC.  

  Why is Fr. Siluan sending out this email?
The subject line of the email translates: "Contradictions".  Probably Fr. Siluan is trying to show a contradiction between what ROCOR said in 1998 and what Vladyka Agafangel says in 2008.  Maybe the purpose is to show that Vladyka Agafangel can not be the valid continuation of ROCOR, based on this and other seeming contradictions of past and present.

But, it was later, after 1998, that events raised the canonical issues regarding RTOC.  The RTOC that was blessed by the ROCOR synod in 1998 is NOT the same body that was later contrived by that mess that came out of ROCiE.  The RTOC of today is not that body that the ROCOR blessed back in 1998.  The RTOC of today is a ROCiE schism.  There should be no contradiction in our understanding.

      Personally I appreciate having Vladyka's 2008 comment brought out at this time.  There are certain people in ROCOR I'd like for them to see it.  Certain of my people who, back then, accused me of having my "own brand of Orthodoxy" and of being "myopic".
      I confess to being "myopic" in the sense that I see things only from my position of old convert (20 years in the Orthodox Church), American convert, and lay-follower of Fr. Seraphim Rose.  But I emphatically deny having my "own brand of Orthodoxy".  I strive always to conform my understanding to that of my Synod.  Vladyka's 2008 comment shows that back then I was actually right in step with my Synod. 


Read More:
Truth About the Suzdal Schism
by Archpriest Lev Lebedev


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MP Journalist Fired for criticizing the MP policies


Sergei Chapnin, author of the First Things article “A Church of Empire” was recently fired from his post at the Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate for criticizing the patriarchate's policies. On January 5, he was interviewed by Rosbalt.ru. A portion of the interview is translated below. —Ed.

Is the war in Ukraine a very serious blow to the Church?

It's certainly a very serious ordeal. Because the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) behaved very carefully in the public sphere for many years, until the second Maidan, it achieved very good results. People began simply to call it the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, without adding “Moscow Patriarchate.” It genuinely was both the largest and the most influential church in Ukraine. And the fact that it canonically answered to the patriarch in Moscow was not of great concern.

But after Crimea, there was a reassessment of the churches' role. The noncanonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kyiv Patriarchate came to be seen as a national church, and the UOC-MP became the “Moscow Church,” somehow “not our own.”

The problem of self-identification is very serious for the Orthodox. Even in the UOC-MP, there are quite a few parishes that no longer commemorate the Patriarch of Moscow at the Liturgy. I should clarify that the jurisdiction of the church is determined, in part, by the commemoration of the name of the church's primate at the Liturgy. In Ukraine they would first commemorate the Patriarch of Moscow, then His Beatitude the Metropolitan of Kiev, and then the local bishop. So now, without leaving the UOC MP, some priests have stopped commemorating the Patriarch—a stance actively supported by their congregants. This is a mild form of internal opposition within the Church.

One simple fact shows just how serious the problem has become: a year ago Metropolitan Onufriy of Kiev and All Ukraine insisted that his priests commemorate the Patriarch, but on December 28, 2015, he suddenly changed its position and recognized the priests' right not to commemorate Patriarch Kirill.

For the Church, this is one of the signs of serious geopolitical catastrophe. And it raises a very serious question: what will happen to Ukraine in an ecclesial sense? There is no way Moscow can influence the situation in Ukraine.

The patriarch needs to maintain the status quo. Whatever wonderful and commendable things he may do, if the UOC-MP breaks away under his watch, that is the only thing Patriarch Kirill will be remembered by. It's like a toothache, and it's unclear how to treat it while they're injecting the painkillers.

In theory, there are two options: wait until it all blows up, and the UOC becomes independent on its own. Or to take the lead and grant independence. There is not enough willpower to accomplish the latter. The Metropolitan of Kiev does not have a clear path; instead, he is trying to balance between the interests of different groups, and so far he is succeeding.

In your opinion, should the church build a “national policy”?

It is dangerous to mix religion and national identity. We must have the courage to consistently say that these are two different things. Yes, there is a connection between them, but you cannot equate one with the other. The Church is, before all else, the fellowship of those who believe in Christ as Savior and jointly participate in the Liturgy. Everything else—politics, nationality, ethnicity, culture—has to take a back seat.

In antiquity, the church's unity was emphasized in its name. They called it the Orthodox Church of such and such a land: of Antioch, of Jerusalem. Later, geography “jumped” to the start of the name and became an adjective: the Serbian Church, the Russian Church, and so on. This way the national element became much more prominent, and fomented the rise of nationalist mindsets within the churches.

Anyone who says, “I am a member of the Russian Church!” is usually talking about patriotism, not so much cultural as political. Orthodox are now Russian patriots first, and everything else second. But the Russian Orthodox Church today has the trappings of a national church. As soon as Russia starts to use Orthodoxy as a form of national identity, not only in Ukraine but also in Belarus, the Baltics, or Kazakhstan—that's where the trouble starts.

Once they tried to say that the Russian Church encompassed the territory of Russia, and that the Moscow Patriarchate was what held it together. It was a nice idea, but it didn't work out.

What about the realm of ideas? There is great geopolitical patriotism and fervor in our country today, which seems to be expressed even more strongly in the Church.

The main thing that happened in the ideological sphere in recent years is that Russia came to grips with its own history, so to speak. It decided that we can be proud of the history of the Soviet Union. The thought is: this is a mighty history, and we are its heirs, so we value that great and victorious history.

What does this mean? Today the Church—without any outside pressure—recognizes the general secretaries of the Communist Party as great rulers of the Soviet era. Whatever atrocities Stalin committed, it is thought that his great accomplishments cannot be diminished, since Russia won the war under his guidance. It's as though that makes up for his crimes.

I see a serious spiritual and theological problem in the fact that the Church openly talks like this. In honoring Stalin as a “great leader,” we insult the memory not only of the saints who suffered during the years of persecution, but all those who fell victim to the Stalinist regime. The Church was virtually destroyed by Stalin, and now it recognizes his service to the nation. It's an incredibly fragile position, and I would say, a spiritually unhealthy one. And now, Igumen Evstafii calls for Lenin's remains to stay in their Mausoleum. Communists in various cities erect busts of Stalin, and the Church remains silent.

But it's widely held that Lenin and Trotsky destroyed the Church, while Stalin in fact revived it after he gained enough power and a casus belli appeared.

This is not true. In the 1920s, the church existed both legally and illegally, that is, in the catacombs. It was virtually destroyed in the 1930s, and its blood is unquestionably on Stalin's conscience. The temporary change of course after 1943 was a tactical decision by the Communists. If someone sees anything more in this, he is deluded.

The flourishing of all things Soviet is an obstacle to the formation of a modern Orthodox culture and a new Orthodox identity. If we embrace the Soviet past and take pride in it, then we should reject the heritage of pre-revolutionary Russia, which the Communists destroyed by all means possible. It's one or the other.

By ignoring this choice, Russia has fallen into “hybrid religiosity,” that is, we are reviving Orthodox traditions as well as Soviet ones. This fusion leads to the formation of a post-Soviet civil religion, which exploits Orthodox tradition but in fact is not Orthodoxy.

This is a new version of “Orthodoxy without Christ.” We care very much about Russian saints and Russian greatness; we care about being a patriot. Prince Vladimir and Alexander Nevsky, for example, acquire special significance, while we somehow forget the the Gospel, and Christ Himself isn't quite so necessary.

The idea of American civil religion is relatively well-known. It, too, serves as a form of national identity with a strong messianic component, but differs fundamentally from post-Soviet civil religion: it includes God. Yes, God without a name—the Absolute, as the Supreme Intellect. But in post-Soviet civil religion there is no God at all.

Well, then, what is the fate of the “liberal” wing? How does one go about being an “Orthodox European” in today's Russia and its Church?

Of course, the “tentatively liberal” wing hasn't gone anywhere. By the way, you should avoid this artificial dichotomy between “liberals” and “patriots.” The first are better called Christian democrats, and the second, followers of the post-Soviet civil religion. Christian democrats are those who do not see themselves as isolated from European Christian civilization. Many have been to the West and have seen how the Orthodox live in Greece, the Catholics live in Italy and France, and the Lutherans live in Germany. There are aspects of crisis there as well, but Christianity in Europe is much more rooted and vigorous.

Those Orthodox who participate in global Christian culture are not especially visible. For them the profession of faith is foremost a personal choice, an action. They do not feel the need for declarations, for public demonstrations, to fight for traditional values. The source of faith is Christ Himself, not fighting for values.

And plenty of Orthodox dioceses in Russia have long-standing and positive relationships with those very same Catholics. Orthodox priests easily visit them in Europe, befriend them, and arrange student exchanges; one receives a grant, another collaborates on social projects. It just goes unpublicized in order to fend off accusations of “betraying Orthodoxy.”

There are those who want to pick fights and find enemies, and there are those who just want to labor on the Church's behalf. People who believe in Christ are peaceful.

What cautious predictions can we make today?

We are on the threshold of major changes. The biggest taboo, the ban on direct criticism of the Patriarch, has disintegrated in recent years. And it has been destroyed in the most radical possible way: not by a person off the street, but by one of his closest aides. For many years the Patriarchal court commanded some, and quietly whispered to others, that anything can be forgiven except for criticism of the Patriarch. This worked for almost seven years. It's not that everyone feared him, but that much was entrusted to the Patriarch when he was elected.

Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin broke the ban on criticism the day after his resignation, but it would be naive to suppose that it was only an emotional reaction to the Synod's decision. It's is a definite indication that trust is no longer a universal tool of church governance. The situation in the church has been destabilized, and may soon become unmanageable. But in any case, it's too early to discuss it.

I won't talk about timing, but it's certain that church life, and the Church itself, will change significantly in the coming years, in the direction of simplicity. Pathos, puffing up the cheeks: all that froth requires financial security. But there's less and less money, and froth inevitably dies down. The ones who will remain are those who lived peacefully and prayed. I hope that these Orthodox Christians will become more visible.

Interview by Leonid Smirnov
Translation by Ivan Plis

5 January 2016   Церковь будет меняться в сторону простоты" 
   Православная вера переживает кризис вместе со всей Россией. И, как и у страны, перспективы Веры и Церкви пока не ясны, надежды есть у всех «лагерей». С корреспондентом «Росбалта» беседует один из двух «знаковых людей» в рядах Церкви, получивших отставку в последние дни — еще недавно главный редактор «Журнала Московской Патриархии» Сергей Чапнин.
— Сергей Валерьевич, неравнодушная к Церкви общественность успела подивиться почти одновременной отставке представителей «правого» и «левого» крыльев — Вашей и протоиерея Всеволода Чаплина. Что бы можно сказать на злобу дня?
— Со мной ситуация простая: патриарх четко обозначил политическую мотивацию отставки, и одного мотива было вполне достаточно: недопустимое инакомыслие внутри Московской патриархии. Задачу он поставил жестко – всем научиться говорить одним голосом, палитры мнений быть не должно. Построились и взяли под козырек все без исключения: и образованные, и необразованные; и молодые, и старцы; и миряне, и митрополиты. Не построился – иди вон.
   Отец Всеволод — одна из ключевых фигур в патриархии, и для его отставки, казалось бы, нужен и набор мотиваций, и некоторая режиссура. На заседании Синода 24 декабря прозвучало слово, которое, мне кажется, станет ключевым для патриархии в ближайшее время — оптимизация. В результате административной реформы патриарха Кирилла сильно раздуты штаты. Появились новые церковные структуры и большая армия церковных чиновников, которых надо кормить. Экономический кризис уже ударил по Московской патриархии и возникла необходимость ужиматься.
   Синодальный отдел, который стоит первым в списке на реорганизацию, — это информационный отдел, возглавляемый Владимиром Легойдой. Но я прогнозировал, что в следующем году его сольют с патриаршей пресс-службой. Разделение между ними искусственное, обычно этим занимается одно и то же подразделение.
   Однако патриарх пошел другим путем. Прикрываясь риторикой «оптимизации», он решал свои политические проблемы. В случае с о. Всеволодом – это не борьба  инакомыслием, а крайнее раздражение, что подчиненный может мыслить самостоятельно. Таких сотрудников в окружении патриарха уже не осталось. За исключением, пожалуй, нового епископа Тихона (Шевкунова).
   Но степень самостоятельности отца Всеволода тоже вызывает некоторые вопросы. Случайно ли, что до сих пор не прозвучало ни слова осуждения в адрес тех эпатажных, пошлых, а порой и откровенно провокационных высказываний, которые позволял себе отец Всеволод на протяжении последних лет?
   Тем не менее понятно, что если о. Всеволод снят, с его отделом что-то нужно делать. И патриарх сливает его с информационным отделом. Новая структура получает название «Отдел по взаимодействию с обществом и СМИ». Сокращенно — ОВЦОСМИ — «овцебык» какой-то. Но неудачно не только это. Союзом «и» должны соединяться равноправные или равновеликие субъекты. А здесь Церковь показывает, что для нее отношения со СМИ не менее важны, чем отношения с обществом. Это абсурд, но я не удивлен. Отношения со СМИ – это главный инструмент формирования «виртуального образа» Церкви. И для церковного руководства виртуальное стало не менее значимо, чем реальное.
— Какая версия опалы о. Всеволода Вам представляется наиболее вероятной?
— Я не идеализирую о. Всеволода, но это ликвидация тех, кто в окружении патриарха еще мог позволить себе самостоятельную позицию. Самостоятельность, насколько я понимаю, это теперь главное, что крайне раздражает патриарха. Теперь его окружение состоит из раздавленных чиновников, отказавшихся мыслить самостоятельно.
   Не исключено, что свою роль сыграли и «пожелания» со стороны государства. Концепция «священной войны», которую активно развивал о. Всеволод в последнее время — а я уверен, что у него это искренне — очень опасна. К христианской традиции это отношения не имеет. Среди политических ошибок России осени 2015 года весьма заметная ошибка о. Всеволода.
   Буквально в первые дни бомбардировок Сирии он сказал о «священной борьбе против терроризма», но акценты тут же были смещены, и в СМИ это было интерпретировано как «священная война», которую православная Россия ведет против мусульман в Сирии. Возникла очень опасная ситуация.
   МИДу пришлось выступить чуть ли не с официальным опровержением, и это вызвало серьезное недовольство в руководстве страны. Но был ли этот аргумент решающим в увольнении Чаплина, я сказать не могу.
— Можно ли провести параллель между отставкой о. Всеволода и отставкой президента ОАО «Российские железные дороги» Владимира Якунина?
— Вопрос интересный… Отвечу так: да, между ними можно провести параллель, но это касается позиции, а не причин отставки. И Чаплин, и Якунин выступали с консервативных христианских позиций. Владимир Якунин очень увлекся игрой в конспирологию и был озабочен созданием «всемирного форума консервативных сил». Для этого он создал и финансировал проект под названием «Диалог цивилизаций». Но это диалог постепенно скис.
   Отец Всеволод был прагматиком и занимался формированием «консервативной православной общественности» в России. Другими словами, он тоже выступал как своего рода системный интегратор консервативных сил.
   Но здесь важно другое. И для Якунина, и для Чаплина консерватизм был «позой» или, если хотите, игрой для взрослых мальчиков. В экономике Якунин как глава ОАО РЖД был последовательным либералом. И Чаплин на самом деле тоже весьма либеральная фигура. Я не сомневаюсь, что программа, с которой он выступит в ближайшее время, по содержанию не может быть консервативной. Несомненно, будет апелляция к нормам церковного права, которые сегодня постоянно нарушаются, но призывы к восстановлению канонического строя церковной жизни будут восприниматься как либеральная программа, хотя он и постарается привлечь под свои знамена часть «православных консерваторов».
— О. Всеволод не пропадет, наверное?
— Большой вопрос. Епископы и священники из команды патриарха Кирилла, которые в последние 5-6 лет стали настоятелями крупных московских храмов, знают, что вотчину им дает «церковный князь». Они настоятели не потому, что хорошие священники. Их главная работа в Патриархии, все они, прежде всего, церковные чиновники. Но как чиновниками им практически ничего не платят, и единственный шанс себя как-то обеспечить — стать настоятелем храма. Они так и кормились — от храма, а не от оклада.
   Это механизм призван полностью блокировать недовольство: если сделал что-то не так в Патриархии, то тебя не только снимут с должности, но и лишат настоятельства. Поэтому, где окажется о. Всеволод в ближайшее время, сказать трудно. Я очень сомневаюсь, что патриарх оставит ему настоятельство в храме на Трех горах.
   Ему остается только одно – активная общественная деятельность. И это очень интересно при условии, что он найдет источники финансирования.
— Теперь, если можно, «от частного к общему». Я очень хорошо помню, как в годы перестройки митрополита Кирилла называли «модернистом», лидером «левого крыла в православии». Вероятность его воцарения на патриаршем престоле оценивалась как очень небольшая, и высказывались опасения, что тогда «будет раскол». Немного странно слышать это сегодня, не так ли?
— «Модернизм», «левое крыло» — эти слова из политического лексикона в церковном контексте практически теряют свой смысл, превращаются в ярлык. Некоторое рациональное содержание остается, но доминирует что-то иррациональное – непонимание, страх и осуждение.
   В 1980-е годы митрополит Кирилл активно размышлял о том, какой должна быть церковь в современном мире. И когда я впервые об этом услышал на Первом съезде Союза православных братств в октябре 1990 года, я почувствовал глубокую солидарность с ним. Он говорил, что возрождение церкви начинается с прихода, с развития приходской жизни. Мне трудно описать, как много эти слова значили для нас, молодых, только-только крестившихся студентов, еще не вышедших из Советского Союза.
   В те годы по мере сил он пытался развивать эту программу. И в его Синодальном отделе по внешним церковным связям зарождались практически все прочие отделы. Было очевидно, что церковь не может не реформировать ту систему управления, которая сложилась в 1943 году после некоторого ослабления гонений со стороны коммунистического государства.
   А почему «модернизм»? Православное сознание было законсервировано в советское время, сами православные находились в изоляции. Все, что развивалось, что не стояло на месте, казалось, несло такому православию угрозу. Прежде всего, это были экуменические контакты с христианами Запада, в которых активно участвовал Кирилл.
   Но эта «угроза с Запада» была прежде всего связана с непониманием. Не все можно и нужно принимать, но для ответственного решения требовались серьезные богословские исследования, которые некому было проводить. Например, как мы понимаем крещение не само по себе, а в отношении к тому, как его понимают католики и протестанты разных деноминаций. Это требовало широчайшего кругозора, серьезного знакомства с богословием различных церквей. В советское время таких специалистов не было, изучить это никто не мог — а то, чего ты не знаешь, ты оцениваешь как угрозу.
   Кирилл с этими проблемами работал, и, соответственно, воспринимался как проводник «опасных идей». Но он прекрасно использовал шанс познакомиться с христианством в разных странах мира. Он их посещал, практически со всеми христианскими лидерами был знаком лично. С таким багажом он подошел к патриаршеству.
   На рубеже 1980-х и 1990-х был некоторый шанс, что раскол между «правыми» и «левыми», условными «консерваторами» и «либералами» будет преодолен, потому что перед Церковью открываются новые возможности, и нужно просто вместе работать: проповедовать, заниматься миссионерской деятельностью, образованием, социальной работой. Работа найдется всем. И на несколько лет возникло некоторое затишье в идеологических спорах внутри церкви.
— Эти надежды не оправдались, как мы видим?
— К сожалению, все это закончилось уже в 1994 году конференцией, на которой был осужден о. Георгий Кочетков и его община за «либеральные эксперименты». Церковные иерархи на этой конференции не появились. Это была в чистом виде общественная инициатива, но это была манифестация растущей силы «правых». Их голос становился все громче, они стали открыто и все более грубо осуждать всех, кого считали своими противниками.
   Кстати, сам митрополит Кирилл попал под жесточайшую, уничижительную критику со стороны газеты «Русь православная», радиостанции «Радонеж» и «Русской линии». Об него ноги вытирали, это было совершенно неприлично. Теперь все они постоянно твердят: «Мы за патриарха, нас не трожь! Наши доносы сам патриарх читает с удовольствием».
   Думаю, что вопреки здравому смыслу, патриарх Кирилл испугался «правых» и стал делать реверансы в их сторону. Ошибка здесь в том, что их сознание очень четко делит весь мир на «своих» и «чужих». Да, чужие могут делиться на тех, кого мы кусаем, и тех, кого не кусаем, но чужие никогда не станут своими. Все усилия патриарха Кирилла привели лишь к тому, что он перешел в статус чужих, которых не кусают, своим и он не стал. Да, «правые» ему присягают, но это лицемерие, политическая игра. Думаю, что на самом деле патриарх об этом знает.
   Кстати, патриарх поручил именно отцу Всеволоду курировать «правых». Он с ними встречался, привлекал к работе, раздавал церковные награды. И то, как с о Всеволодом расшаркивались в последние годы, казалось бы, позволяет говорить об успехе его миссии. Однако после отставки «правые» тут же припомнили Чаплину весь его либерализм, и отказали в какой-либо поддержке.
   История отношений патриарха Кирилла с правыми ждет отдельного разговора, и я бы даже сказал исследования. Думаю, здесь уже можно подводить итоги. И заседание Синода 24 декабря тоже можно назвать началом подведения итогов семи лет патриаршества.
— Каковы эти итоги?
— Когда митрополит Кирилл стал патриархом, возникла программа больших реформ. Которая в целом проведена. Но у всякого решения есть плюсы и минусы. Здесь, как мне кажется, они не посчитаны. Громадная и неповоротливая церковно-административная система, созданная за последние шесть лет, в условиях кризиса нежизнеспособна, с таким числом чиновников церковь в кризис не выживет, да и эффективность их работы нельзя назвать удовлетворительной.
   Придется опять сокращаться. Синод решил назвать это оптимизацией, но по сути это признание того, что далеко не всё в реформах патриарха Кирилла оказалось удачным. Это первый итог.
   Второй — недовольство старой командой. Уволен Чаплин — а поскольку это был один из самых близких к нему людей, при всей сложности их отношений, его увольнение нужно воспринимать как весьма болезненную реорганизацию.
   Третий вывод: Синод начинает признавать, что с новыми епископскими хиротониями (назначениями) есть проблемы. Сотни епископов рукоположены за шесть лет. И вот Синод рассмотрел положение в Анадырской епархии, снял епископа и назначил нового. Впервые отправлен на покой епископ, рукоположенный самим патриархом Кириллом — хиротония мая 2011 года. Серьезные проблемы с этими молодыми епископами уже были, но до сих пор Синод предпочитал переводить их с епархии на епархию.
— А что за проблемы? Произведено «дробление» епархий, и число епископов сильно возросло?
— Да, епископов на территории России стало в два с лишним раза больше. Было примерно 70 епархий, сейчас около 200. Мотивация была такова: в епархии должно быть 100-150 приходов, чтобы епископ был ближе к духовенству и народу.
   Но 100-150 приходов – это очень относительная история. Например, в Туве всего десять приходов. И численность русского населения такова, что больше уже не будет, возможности роста исчерпаны. Однако это субъект Федерации — туда поставили епископа. А у нас в Москве у благочинного по 20-30 храмов. Получается, что епископ в Туве — это меньше половины, а по финансовым доходам и 1% благочинного в Москве.
— Что за епископы приходят, и что они получают для себя вместе с приятным повышением по службе?
— По сути, карьера строится очень незамысловато. Молодые ребята приходят в церковь, получают худо-бедно семинарское образование, затем без серьезной учебы какое-то светское образование. Проводят время на приходе или в монастыре — то есть, в полном отрыве от современной жизни, и вдруг… счастье! Их ставят управлять епархией.
   Почти все епископы, которые поставлены за эти шесть лет, не имеют необходимого опыта и навыков управления. Кто-то научится, а кто-то и нет. Епархия — это всегда юрлицо. Им нужно хорошо знать законодательство – и светское, и церковное, вести бухгалтерию, понимать нужды и потребности священников, а они, монашествующие, нужды и потребности женатого духовенства знают очень плохо.
   Плюс им нужно создавать с нуля — в районах, порой безнадежно бедных — епархиальные управления: найти здание, секретаря, бухгалтера и т.п.
   Берется область, митрополит сидит в сравнительно благополучном областном центре плюс оставляет себе районы побогаче, а область делится еще на две-три епархии. Одна епархия — несколько районов. Там образованных или просто приличных не всегда найдешь… Многие районы депрессивные, промышленности нет, единственные живые деньги — это деньги госслужащих и пенсии. Как развивать церковную жизнь?
   Да, есть районы, где исторически православие укоренилось, и люди ходят в храм. А есть районы, где не ходят. Есть город, где на 30 тысяч жителей десять храмов, и все живут хорошо. И есть город, где на те же 30 тысяч один храм, и священник еле-еле выживает, нищенствует. Потому что нет традиции ходить в храм.
   Плюс к тому, никто не хочет решать проблему бесправия приходского духовенства. Священник полностью зависит от своего епископа. Поскольку с ним не заключается трудовой договор, он даже не может апеллировать к Трудовому кодексу. Фактически это состояние рабства. Если епископ приличный — это рабство может быть в латентном состоянии. А если епископ негодяй, он давит и священников, и приходы. Прежде всего, выдавливая из них деньги.
— Обратимся к внешней политике. Война на Украине — это очень серьезный удар для церкви?
— Безусловно, это очень серьезное испытание. Поскольку Украинская православная церковь Московского Патриархата (УПЦ МП) в течение долгих лет, до второго Майдана, вела себя очень аккуратно в публичной сфере, она добилась очень хороших результатов. Ее стали называть просто Украинской православной церковью без добавления Московского Патриархата. Она действительно была и самой многочисленной, и самой авторитетной церковью на Украине. И то, что она канонически подчиняется патриарху, который находится в Москве, было не очень существенно.
   Но после Крыма произошла переоценка роли церквей. Неканоническая УПЦ Киевского Патриархата воспринимается как национальная церковь, а УПЦ МП называют "московской церковью". "Не наша"...
   Проблема самоидентификации для православных стоит очень остро. Даже в УПЦ МП есть немало приходов, которые перестали поминать Патриарха Московского на литургии. Поясню, что юрисдикция церкви определяется, в частности, поминовением имени предстоятеля церкви за литургией. На Украине поминался сначала Патриарх Московский, затем Блаженнейший Митрополит Киевский, а после местный епископ. Так вот, сейчас, не уходя из УПЦ МП, некоторая часть священников перестала поминать патриарха, и эту позицию активно поддерживают прихожане. Это мягкая форма противостояния внутри самой церкви.
   О том, что проблема стоит очень остро, говорит один простой факт: год назад митрополит Киевский и всей Украины Онуфрий настаивал на поминовении священниками патриарха, но 28 декабря 2015 года неожиданно поменял свою позицию и признал за священниками право не поминать патриарха Кирилла.
   Для церкви это один из признаков серьезной геополитической катастрофы. Встает очень серьезный вопрос: что будет с Украиной, в церковном смысле? Москва на ситуацию на Украине влиять не может никак.
   Для патриарха важно сохранить существующий статус кво. Что бы он ни делал замечательного и выдающегося, но если при нем УПЦ МП отколется, патриарх Кирилл войдет в историю только с этим. Это как зубная боль, и непонятно, как ее лечить, пока колют обезболивающее.
   По идее, есть два варианта: ждать, пока это все рванет, и УПЦ сама станет независимой. Или возглавить процесс и дать эту независимость. На второе решимости пока не хватает. У митрополита Киевского ясной линии нет, он пытается балансировать между интересами разных групп, и пока у него это получается.
— А как бы надо, на ваш взгляд, строить национальную политику в церкви?
— Опасно смешивать религиозную и национальную идентичность. Надо набраться мужества и последовательно говорить о том, что это разные вещи. Да, связь между ними существует, но отождествлять одну с другой нельзя. Церковь – это прежде всего сообщество тех, кто верит во Христа как Спасителя и совместно участвует в литургии. Все остальное: политика, гражданство, национальность, культура должно отступить на задний план.
   В древности единство церкви подчеркивалось в названии. Говорили так: православная церковь в таких-то землях, в Антиохии, в Иерусалиме. Позднее география «перепрыгнула» в начало в виде прилагательного: Сербская церковь, Русская церковь и т. д. Таким образом, национальный компонент стал гораздо ярче. И как следствие это вызвало рост националистических настроений внутри церквей.
   Тот, кто говорит: «Я член Русской церкви!», обычно активно говорит о патриотизме, и не столько культурном, сколько государственническом. Православные теперь первую очередь патриоты России, а все остальное — во-вторых. Но Русская Православная Церковь сегодня носит наднациональный характер. Как только Россия начинает использовать православие как вариант национальной идентификации, не только на Украине, но и в Белоруссии, в Прибалтике, в Казахстане начинаются проблемы.
   Одно время была попытка говорить о том, что Русская церковь находится на территории России. А то, что объединяет всех вместе — это Московский Патриархат. Это был красивый ход, но не сработало.
— А что в области идей? У нас сейчас в стране державно-патриотический подъем, а в церкви это, кажется, выражено еще сильнее?
— Главное, что произошло в идейной сфере за последние годы — то, что Россия как бы «разобралась со своей историей». И признала, что историей Советского Союза мы можем гордиться. Это великая история, мы ее наследники. И эта история великих побед для нас представляет великую ценность.
   Какие выводы из этого следуют? Сегодня Церковь – без всякого давления извне — признала генеральных секретарей коммунистической партии как великих правителей советской эпохи. Какие бы злодеяния Сталин ни творил, его великие достижения нельзя принижать, под его водительством Россия одержала победу в войне. И это будто бы искупает его преступления.
    В том, что Церковь говорит об этом открыто, я вижу серьезную духовную и богословскую проблему. Чествуя Сталина как «великого вождя», мы оскорбляем память не только святых, пострадавших в годы гонений, но и всех тех, кто стал жертвой сталинского режима. Церковь была Сталиным фактически уничтожена, и теперь она признает его заслуги перед нацией. Фантастически уязвимая позиция… Я бы сказал, духовно нездоровая. И вот уже очередной игумен Евстафий призывает к тому, что останки Ленина должны остаться в Мавзолее. Коммунисты в разных городах открывают бюсты Сталина, и церковь молчит.
— Но ведь принято считать, что церковь уничтожили Ленин и Троцкий, а Сталин ее как раз возродил, когда набрал достаточно власти, и появился повод в войну.
— Это не так. В 1920-е гг. Церковь существовала и легально, и нелегально, в катакомбах. Фактически она была уничтожена в 1930-е, и это, безусловно, на совести Сталина. Временное изменение курса после 1943 года — это тактическое решение коммунистов. Если кто-то в этом видит нечто большее, он обманывается.
    «Расцвет советского» блокирует формирование современной православной культуры и новой православной идентичности. Если мы принимаем советское прошлое и гордимся им, то следует отказаться от наследия дореволюционной России, которую коммунисты всеми доступными способами уничтожали. Здесь или — или.
   Не делая этого выбора, Россия попала в ситуацию «гибридной религиозности», то есть, мы возрождаем и православные традиции, и советские. Такой сплав приводит к формированию постсоветской гражданской религии, которая эксплуатирует православную традицию, но по сути православием не является.
   Это новая версия «православия без Христа». Нам очень важны русские святые, величие России, важно быть патриотом. Особое значение приобретают, например, князь Владимир и Александр Невский, и как-то забывается Евангелие, становится не очень-то нужным и Сам Христос.
   Достаточно широко известна модель американской гражданской религии. Она тоже служит формированию национальной идентичности с мощной мессианской составляющей, но принципиально отличается от постсоветской — в ней присутствует Бог. Да, без имени, как Абсолют, как Высший разум. В постсоветской гражданской религии Бога нет.
— Ну, а какова же судьба «либерального» крыла — вообще, как быть «православному европейцу» в сегодняшней России и ее Церкви?
— Конечно, «условно-либеральное крыло» никуда не делось. Впрочем, стоит избегать этого искусственного противопоставления «либералов» и «патриотов». Первых корректнее называть христианскими демократами, а вторых – последователями постсоветской гражданской религии. Христианские демократы — это те, кто не мыслят себя в отрыве от европейской христианской цивилизации. Многие были на Западе, знают, как живут православные в Греции, католики в Италии и Франции, как живут лютеране в Германии. Кризисные тенденции присутствуют и там, но христианство в Европе гораздо более укорененное и энергичное.
   Православные, которые переживают свою причастность к мировой христианской культуре, особо не заметны. Для них исповедание веры – это прежде всего личный выбор, поступок. Они не чувствуют потребности в декларациях, публичных акциях, борьбе за традиционные ценности. Источник веры – Сам Христос, а не борьба за ценности.
   И у целого ряда православных епархий в России есть долгие и добрые отношения с теми же католиками: православные священники спокойно ездят к ним в Европу, дружат с ними, идет обмен школьниками, кто-то гранты получает, у кого-то совместные социальные проекты. Это не афишируется только из опасения, что начнутся обвинения в «предательстве православия».
   Есть те, кто хочет задираться и искать врагов, а есть те, кто хочет просто потрудиться для Церкви. Люди, которые верят во Христа — они тихие.
— Какие осторожные прогнозы можно сегодня сделать?
— Мы на пороге больших перемен. Рассыпалось в прах главное табу последних лет – запрет на прямую критику патриарха. И разрушено оно самым радикальным способом – не случайным человеком, а одним из ближайших его помощников. Много лет окружение патриарха кому приказывало, а кому тихо шептало на ухо: мол, всё можем простить, кроме одного – критики патриарха. Почти семь лет это работало. Не то, чтобы все боялись, но патриарх при избрании получил большой кредит доверия.
   Запрет на критику нарушил протоиерей Всеволод Чаплин в первый день после своей отставки, но было бы наивно полагать, что это исключительно эмоциональная реакция на решение синода. Это верный признак того, что кредит доверия больше не может быть использован как универсальный фактор церковного управления. Ситуация в церкви дестабилизирована и уже в ближайшее время может стать неуправляемой. Впрочем, говорить об этом пока рано.
   О сроках не скажу, но то, что церковная жизнь и церковь как таковая будут заметно меняться в ближайшие годы — это точно. В сторону простоты. Для пафоса, для надувания щек — для всей этой пены нужно финансовое обеспечение. А денег все меньше. Пена неизбежно осядет. А те, кто жил тихо и молился, останутся. Надеюсь, настоящие православные христиане будут заметнее.
   Беседовал Леонид Смирнов
Подробнее: http://www.rosbalt.ru/moscow/2016/01/05/1476536.html