Written by Vladimir Moss



     In August, 2000 the MP held a “Jubilee” Hierarchical Council which seemed at least partly aimed at removing some of the last obstacles towards ROCOR’s unification with it. These obstacles, as formulated by ROCOR during the decade 1990-2000 were: 1. Ecumenism, 2. Sergianism, and 3. The Glorification of the New Martyrs, especially the Royal New Martyrs.


1. Ecumenism


     In the document on relations with the heterodox, which was composed by a small group of bishops and presented to the Council for approval on the first day, few concessions were made to the opponents of ecumenism, apart from the ritual declarations that “the Orthodox Church is the true Church of Christ, created by our Lord and Saviour Himself; it is the Church established by, and filled with, the Holy Spirit…”  “The Church of Christ is one and unique…” “The so-called ‘branch theory’, which affirms the normality and even the providentiality of the existence of Christianity in the form of separate ‘branches’…  is completely unacceptable.”


     But, wrote Protopriest Michael Ardov (ROAC, Moscow), “the ‘patriarchal liberals’ will also not be upset, insofar as the heretics in the cited document are called ‘heterodox’, while the Monophysite communities are called the ‘Eastern Orthodox Churches’. And the ‘dialogues with the heterodox’ will be continued, and it is suggested that the World Council of Churches be not abandoned, but reformed…”[1]


     And why should these ecumenical activities not continue, when the council recognizes no sin in them? For "during Orthodox participation of many decades in the ecumenical movement, Orthodoxy has NEVER been betrayed by any representative of a Local Orthodox Church. On the contrary, these representatives have always been completely faithful and obedient to their respective Church authorities, and acted in complete agreement with the canonical rules, the Teaching of the Ecumenical Councils, the Church Fathers and the Holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church."


     Although there has been much talk about anti-ecumenism in the MP, as in the Serbian Church, it is significant that only one bishop, Barsanuphius of Vladivostok, voted against the document on relations with the heterodox (six Ukrainian bishops abstained). The MP’s Fr. (now Metropolitan) Hilarion (Alfeyev) explained the origins of the document on ecumenism: “The subject of inter-Christian relations has been used by various groups (within the Church) as a bogey in partisan wars. In particular, it has been used to criticise Church leaders who, as is well known, have taken part in ecumenical activities over many years.” In Alfeyev’s opinion, “ecumenism has also been used by breakaway groups, such as the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and the Old Calendarists, to undermine people’s trust in the Church.” Therefore there was a need “for a clear document outlining the theological basis of the Russian Orthodox Church’s attitude towards heterodoxy, i.e. the question of why we need and whether we need dialogue with the non-Orthodox confessions, and if so which form this dialogue should take.” Alfeyev refused to answer the question whether the Council would discuss the matter of the participation of the MP in the WCC, but said that the patriarchate felt obliged to continue negotiations with Protestant and Catholic representatives in the WCC and to be a part of the ecumenical committee.[2]


    After the Council, there was no let-up in the MP’s ecumenical activities. Thus on August 18, “Patriarch” Alexis prayed together with the Armenian “Patriarch”. And on April 21, 2005, he congratulated the new Pope Benedict XVI on his accession, and expressed the hope that he would strive to develop relations between the two churches. When asked how he evaluated Pope John Paul II’s ministry, he replied: “His Holiness’ teachings have not only strengthened Catholics throughout the world in their faith, but also borne witness to Christianity in the complex world of today.”[3] After ROCOR joined the MP in 2007, the MP noticeably increased its ecumenical activities and its relationship with the Vatican continued to improve…


     Deacon Nicholas Savchenko summed up the MP’s degree of immersion in ecumenism as follows: “In an inter-confessional undertaking there are two degrees of participation. One case is participation with the authority of a simple observer, that is, of one who does not enter into the composition, but is only an observer from the side. It is another case when we are talking about fully-entitled membership in an ecumenical organization.


     “Unfortunately, at the present time the ROC MP takes part in the activity of the WCC precisely as a fully-entitled member of the Council. It is precisely on this problem that I consider it important to concentrate attention. After all, it is the membership of the ROC MP in the WCC which most of all, willingly or unwillingly, encroaches upon the teaching of the faith itself and therefore continues to remain an obstacle to our [ROCOR’s] communion [with the MP]. It is possible to list a series of reasons why membership in the WCC is becoming such an obstacle.


     “1. The first important reason consists in the fact that the ROC MP today remains in the composition of the highest leadership of the WCC and takes part in the leadership, planning and financing of the whole of the work of the WCC.


     “Official representatives of the ROC MP enter into the Central Committee of the WCC. The Central Committee is the organ of the Council’s administration. It defines the politics of the WCC, make official declarations relating to the teaching of the faith and gives moral evaluations of various phenomena of contemporary life within those limits given to it by the church-members. The composition of the last CC of the WCC was elected at the WCC assembly in Harare in 1998. As is witnessed by the official list of the members of the CC of the WCC, five members of the Central Committee come from the MP, headed by Bishop Hilarion (Alfeyev). In all there are about 150 people in the CC, including 9 women priests, which we can see from the list of the members of the CC. The last session of the CC of the WCC with the participation of the representatives of the ROC MP took place at the end of August, 2003.


     “Besides participating in the CC, the representatives of the MP go into the make-up of the Executive Committee of the WCC, one of whose tasks is the direct leadership of the whole apparatus of the Council and the organization of all its undertakings. There are 24 people in the official list of the members of the Executive Committee of the WCC, including the MP’s representative Bishop Hilarion (Alfeev). Besides him, there are representatives of the Constantinopolitan Patriarchate, the Romanian Patriarchate and the American Autocephaly in the Executive Committee of the WCC. The last session of the Executive Committee with the participation of representatives of the MP took place at the end of August, 2003. At this last session a new ‘Committee for Prayer’ was formed. It was to occupy itself with the preparation of the text and rite of ecumenical prayers. There are 10 people in all in this committee, including a representative of the MP, Fr. Andrew Eliseev. Besides, the deputy president of the ‘Committee for Prayer’ is a Protestant woman priest. Because of this participation the ROC MP is inevitably responsible for all the decisions of the WCC that contradict the dogmatic and moral teaching of the Orthodox Church.


     “2. The second reason for the incompatibility of membership of the WCC with the canons of the Church consists in the fact that the regulations of the Council presuppose the membership in it not of individual person-representatives, but precisely of the whole Local Church in all its fullness. Each Local Church in the WCC is considered in its complete fullness to be a member or a part of the heterodox community. 


     “In correspondence with the Basis of the WCC, it is a ‘commonwealth of Churches’. In this definition there is a significant difference from the original formulation offered by the commission on ‘Faith and Order’ in 1937, when the future WCC was offered as a ‘community of representatives of the Churches’. The difference is substantial. A community of the Churches themselves is not the same as a community of representatives of the Churches, as we said earlier. In the present case it turns out that the Orthodox Church is considered to be a part of a certain broader commonwealth under the name of the WCC. The legislative documents of the WCC even directly reject any other understanding of membership – after all, if it were not so, the Council would no longer be a Council of churches. And the declaration on entrance into the WCC is given in the name of a church, and not in the name of representatives. In the declaration the church asks that it itself be received into the composition of the WCC. The Council is not a simple association of churches. In the regulatory documents it is asserted that it is a ‘body’ having its own ‘ecclesiological meaning’, as is said about it directly in the heading of the Toronto declaration. The regulatory documents reject only the understanding of the Council as a ‘body’ in separation from the church-members. But in union with the church-members the Council is precisely a ‘body’ with its own ‘ecclesiological meaning’. And this ‘ecclesiological meaning’ of the WCC, by definition ‘cannot be based on any one conception of the Church’, as it says in point 3.3 of the Toronto declaration. That is, the Orthodox Church is considered in its fullness to belong to the ‘body’ with this ‘ecclesiological meaning’, which in accordance with the constitution cannot be Orthodox.


     “Such an understanding of membership in the WCC as the membership of the whole Orthodox Church is contained in the documents on the part of the Local Churches. For example, we can cite the following quotation from the document ‘The Orthodox Church and the World Council of Churches’. This document was accepted at the session of the inter-Orthodoxy Consultation in 1991 in Chambésy. It says in point 4: ‘The Orthodox Churches participate in the life and activity of the WCC only on condition that the WCC is understood as a ‘Council of Churches’, and not as a council of separate people, groups, movements or religious organizations drawn into the aims and tasks of the WCC…’ (Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate, 1992, № 1, p. 62).


     “Such an understanding of the membership of the whole of the Orthodox Church in the WCC was earlier officially confirmed by the Pan-Orthodox Conferences. Thus the Pan-Orthodox Conference of 1968 formulated its relationship with the WCC in the following words: ‘To express the common consciousness of the Orthodox Church that it is an organic member of the WCC and her firm decision to bring her contribution to the progress of the whole work of the WCC through all the means at her disposal, theological and other.’ (Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate, 1968,  7, p. 51). The following, Third Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference confirmed this formulation in the same sense in the Russian translation. ‘The Orthodox Church is a complete and fully-entitled member of the WCC and by all the means at her disposal will aid the development and success of the whole work of the WCC’ (Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate, 1987,  7, p. 53). Although these formulations elicited disturbances at the time, nevertheless they have not been changed to the present day, insofar as only the Local Church herself can be a member of the WCC. Any other interpretation of membership is excluded. Either a Local Church is a member or part of the WCC, or it is not.


     “From what has been said it turns out that membership in the WCC is not simply observation of the activity of the Council. Membership is precisely becoming a part of the ecumenical commonwealth. The ROC MP must not be a member of the WCC since this signifies becoming a member of the ecumenical movement.


     “3. The third reason why membership in the WCC contradicts Orthodoxy is that membership inevitably signifies agreement with the constitutional principles of the WCC and its rules. For example, it says in the Constitution of the WCC (chapter 3) that the Council is created by the church-members to serve the ecumenical movement. Does this mean that the church-members must, or obliged in their fullness, to serve the ecumenical movement? It appears so. Further the Constitution of the WCC (chapter 3) describes the obligations of those entering the Council of churches in the following words: ‘In the search for communion in faith and life, preaching and service, the churches through the Council will… facilitate common service in every place and everywhere and… cultivate ecumenical consciousness’. From these words it follows directly that common preaching with the Protestants is becoming a constitutional obligation of the Orthodox Church. Obligations still more foreign to Orthodoxy are contained in the Rules of the WCC – a separate document that directly regulates the obligations of those entering into the Council of churches. Chapter 2 of the Rules of the WCC is called ‘Responsibilities of membership’. The following lines are found in it. ‘Membership in the WCC means… devotion to the ecumenical movement as a constitutive element of the mission of the Church. It is presupposed that the church-members of the WCC… encourage ecumenical links and actions at all levels of their ecclesiastical life’. These words of the Rules of the WCC oblige the Orthodox Church to perceive the contemporary ecumenical movement with all its gross heresies and moral vices as a part of the life of the Orthodox Church.


     “One more important constitutional document is the declaration ‘Towards a common understanding and vision of the WCC’. This document was accepted by the Central Committee of the WCC in 1997 with the participation of representatives of the Local Churches. It also contains views which are incompatible with the Orthodox teaching on the Church. In the first place this concerns how we are to understanding the term that is the cornerstone of the Basis of the WCC, that the Council is a ‘commonwealth of Churches’. In paragraphs 3.2 and 3.3 the meaning of the term ‘commonwealth’ is described in the following words: ‘The use of the term ‘commonwealth’ in the Basis really convinces that the Council is more than a simple functional association of churches… We can even say (using the words of the Resolution on ecumenism of the Second Vatican Council) that ‘real, albeit incomplete communion (koinonia) exists between them [the churches] already now’. From this quotation it follows directly that the church-members of the WCC are considered as entering into limited ecclesiastical communion with other members of the WCC with all their plagues and heresies. The document ‘Towards a common understanding and vision of the WCC’ in point 3.5.3 even directly extends this ecclesiastical communion to the whole Orthodox Church with all her people. The document says that this ecclesiastical communion in the Council ‘is not something abstract and immobile, it is also not limited by the official links between the leadership of the churches and their leaders or representatives. It is rather a dynamic, mutually acting reality which embraces the whole fullness of the church as the expression of the people of God’.


     “The most important document of the WCC having a constitutional significance continues to remain the Toronto declaration – ‘The Church, the churches and the WCC’. On the basis of this document the Local Churches in the 1960s entered into the WCC. In it we also clearly see the principles that radically contradict Orthodoxy. Thus point 4.8 of the Toronto declaration declares: ‘The church-members enter into spiritual mutual relationships through which they strive to learn from each other and help each other, so that the Body of Christ may be built and the life of the Church renewed.’ Evidently, this principle of the ‘building of the Church of Christ’ contradicts the Orthodox teaching on the Church. However, it is precisely this, as we see here, that is inscribed in the foundation document of the WCC and can in no way be changed. Besides, the document in its conclusion says the following about the principles of the Toronto declaration, including the principle of the ‘building of the Body of Christ’: ‘Not one of these positive presuppositions which contain in themselves the basis of the World council are in conflict with the teachings of the church-members’.


     “From what has been said we can draw the conclusion that membership in the WCC presupposes agreement with its constitutional principles, which contradict Orthodoxy. The ROC MP should not be a member of an organization whose constitutional principles contradict Orthodoxy… “[4]


     However, there was little chance of the MP heeding this good advice after the patriarch had called the WCC “the cradle of the One Church” in 1991…


2. Sergianism


     The MP approved a “social document” which, among other things, recognized that “the Church must refuse to obey the State” “if the authorities force the Orthodox believers to renounce Christ and His Church”.[5] As we shall see, enormous significance was attached to this phrase by ROCOR. However, on the very same page we find: “But even the persecuted Church is called to bear the persecutions patiently, not refusing loyalty to the State that persecutes it”. We may infer from this that the MP still considers that its loyalty to the Soviet State was right and the resistance to it shown by the Catacomb Church was wrong. So, contrary to first appearances, the MP remained mired in sergianism. Sergianism as such was not mentioned in the document, much less repented of. This is consistent with the fact that the MP has never in its entire history since 1943 shown anything other than a determination to serve whatever appears to be the strongest forces in the contemporary world. Until the fall of communism, that meant the communists. With the fall of communism, the MP was not at first sure whom she had to obey, but gradually assumed the character of a “populist” church, trying to satisfy the various factions within it (including nominally Orthodox political leaders) while preserving an appearance of unity. 


     In this connection Frs. Vladimir Savitsky, Valentine (Salomakh) and Nicholas Savchenko write: “The politics of ‘populism’ which the MP is conducting today is a new distortion of true Christianity. Today this politics (and the ideology standing behind it) is a continuation and development of ‘sergianism’, a metamorphosis of the very same disease. Today it seems to us that we have to speak about this at the top of our voices. Other problems, such as the heresy of ecumenism and ‘sergianism’ in the strict sense, while undoubtedly important, are of secondary importance by comparison with the main aim of the MP, which is to be an ‘all-people’ Church, In fact, in the ‘people’ (understood in a broad sense, including unbelievers and ‘eclectics’) there always have been those who are for ecumenism and those who are against. Therefore we see that the MP is ready at the same time to participate in the disgusting sin of ecumenism and to renounce it and even condemn it. It is exactly the same with ‘sergianism’ (understood as the dependence of the Church on the secular authorities). The MP will at the same time in words affirm its independence (insofar as there are those who are for this independence) and listen to every word of the authorities and go behind them (not only because that is convenient, but also because it thus accepted in the ‘people’, and the authorities are ‘elected by the people’). In a word, it is necessary to condemn the very practice and ideology of the transformation of the MP into a Church ‘of all the people’.”[6]


     This analysis has been confirmed by events since the former KGB Director Putin came to power in January, 2000. The MP has appeared to be reverting to its submissive role in relation to an ever more Soviet-looking government, not protesting against the restoration of the red flag to the armed forces and approving the retention of the music of the Soviet national anthem. 


     In 2001 Patriarch Alexis stated: "As regards the accusations of the so-called Sergianism, I would like to say that one has to live here, in the homeland, to understand that it is an artificial accusation and an artificial pretext whipped up only to prevent reunification ... (the 1927 declaration) was a courageous step by which Metropolitan Sergei tried to save the Church and the clergy."


     A courageous step! So there is nothing to repent of in Sergianism!


     Later, on July 18, 2002, the MP Synod issued an official justification of Sergianism, ratifyin a document entitled “The relationships between the Russian Orthodox Church and the authorities in the 20s and 30s”, which declared: “The aim of normalising the relationship with the authorities cannot be interpreted as a betrayal of Church interests. It was adopted by the holy Patriarch Tikhon, and was also expressed in the so-called ‘Epistle of the Solovki Bishops’ in 1926, that is, one year before the publication of ‘The Epistle of the deputy patriarchal locum tenens and temporary patriarchal Synod’. The essence of the changes in the position of the hierarchy consisted in the fact that the Church, having refused to recognise the legitimacy of the new power established after the October revolution in 1917, as the power became stronger later, had to recognise it as a state power and establish bilateral relations with it. This position is not blameworthy; historically, the Church has more than once found herself in a situation in which it has had to cooperate with non-orthodox rulers (for instance, in the period of the Golden Horde or the Muslim Ottoman Empire).”[7]


     However, Soviet power was very different from that of the Tatars or Ottomans, and “bilateral relations” with it, unlike with those powers, involved falling under the anathema of the Church. Moreover, if the Church at first refused to recognise Soviet power, but then (in 1927) began to recognise it, the question arises: which position was the correct one? There can be no question but that the position endorsed by the Russian Council of 1917-18 was the correct one, and that the sergianist Moscow Patriarchate, by renouncing that position, betrayed the truth – and continues to betray it to the present day through its symbiotic relationship with a government that openly declares itself the heir of the Soviet State.


     In January 24, 2005 Metropolitan Kyril (Gundiaev) of Smolensk, head of the MP’s Department of Foreign Relations, confirmed that the MP does not condemn sergianism: “We recognize that the model of Church-State relations [in the Soviet period] did not correspond to tradition. But we are not condemning those who realized this model, because there was no other way of preserving the Church. The Church behaved in the only way she could at that time. There was another path into the catacombs, but there could be no catacombs in the Soviet space…”[8]


     And yet the catacombs did exist “in the Soviet space” and produced a rich crop of sanctity…[9]


     In 2017, when Kyril was already patriarch, he offered praises to Sergei, and even, with the participation of multiple metropolitans, blessed a statue of him. So much for repentance for Sergianism!


     Kyril’s position as head of the Department for External Relations was taken by Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev), who made this startling revelation to the American ambassador in Russia, as revealed by Wikileaks: “A (or the) main role of the Russian Orthodox Church is in providing propaganda for the official politics of the government.”[10]


     A clear example of how Sergianism continues to exist in practice is provided by the fact that the president of North Korea, Kim Chen Ir, though no friend of religion - in fact, religion is banned in North Korea – has nevertheless allow the MP to build a church to the Life-Giving Trinity in Pyonyang! Moreover, the beloved leader is devoting about $1,000,000.00 to its building! This is a country where millions of people are starving...


     The question is: why should this avowed enemy of God be helping to build a church to the Life-Giving Trinity? Could it be that the black ryassas of Korean clergy could provide a good cover for exchanges between the beloved leader of the Korean masses and the beloved leader of the Russian masses?


     A clue is provided by the interesting fact that four students from North Korea have been studying in the Moscow theological seminary, and are now deacons in the MP, serving in the St. Nicholas cathedral in Vladivostok. And why have they come to Russia to study Orthodoxy? It seems they are quite frank in their reply to this question: they are in Russia at the command of their secular masters. "Orthodoxy comes to us with difficulty, but our great leader comrade Kim Chen Ir has taken the decision to build an Orthodox church in Pyonyang," declared Deacon Fyodor to journalists.


     ROAC priest Fr. Michael Ardov has commented well on this: "This is the sin of dual faith, for which the Lord punishes more severely than for lack of faith. A Christian cannot at the same time bow down to the Lord and to the powers of darkness. In North Korea there reigns the cult of the family of the Kims, which is accompanied by barbaric rites. The bishop of Vladivostok Benjamin should not allow the North Korean double-faithers over the threshold of the church even under threat of his being banned from serving. It is in this that his episcopal duty lies, and not in fulfilling the commands of the bosses like a soldier. But he has prepared the latter, demonstrating sergianism in action. It is noteworthy that this same Bishop Benjamin, being a professor of the Moscow theological academy, has the reputation of being a strict zealot of Orthodoxy. His example shows why in principle there can be no good bishops in the Moscow Patriarchate..."[11]


3. The New Martyrs


     The major problems here from the patriarchate's point of view were the questions of the Royal Martyrs, on the one hand, and of the martyrs of the Catacomb Church who rejected Metropolitan Sergius, on the other. Non-royal martyrs killed before the schism with the Catacomb Church could be "safely" canonized. Thus in 1989, the MP canonized Patriarch Tikhon, and in 1992 it canonized three more martyrs and set up a commission to inquire into the martyrdom of the Royal Family, about which an MP publication wrote in 1998: “No less if not more dangerous as an ecclesiastical falsification is the MP’s Canonization Commission, headed by Metropolitan Juvenaly (Poiarkov), which has suggested a compromise glorification of Tsar Nicholas Alexandrovich: ‘Yes, he was guilty of the tragedy on Khodynka field, he hobnobbed with Rasputin, he offended the workers, the country became backward. In general as a ruler of a state he was completely useless. Most important, he brought the country to revolution. But he suffered for Christ…’ Such a falsification will only continue that dirty stream of slander which the Christ-fighters began to pour out already long before 1917…”[12]   


     After nearly a decade of temporising, the MP finally, under pressure from its flock, glorified the Royal New Martyrs and many other martyrs of the Soviet yoke. In 1989-90, Metropolitan Juvenaly had declared that they would glorify them “in proportion as they were rehabilitated by Soviet power”… Then, having unanimously rejected ROCOR’s 1981 glorification at their council in 1998 (Juvenaly called it “premature”), two years later they unanimously accepted it. The glorification of the Royal New Martyrs was a compromise decision, reflecting the very different attitudes towards them in the patriarchate. The Royal Martyrs were called “passion-bearers” rather than “martyrs”, and it was made clear that they were being glorified, not for the way in which they lived their lives, but for the meekness with which they faced their deaths. This allowed the anti-monarchists to feel that Nicholas was still the “bloody Nicholas” of Soviet mythology, and that it was “Citizen Romanov” rather than “Tsar Nicholas” who had been glorified - the man rather than the monarchical principle for which he stood.


     As regards the other martyrs, Sergius Kanaev writes: “In the report of the President of the Synodal Commission for the canonisation of the saints, Metropolitan Juvenal (Poiarkov), the criterion of holiness adopted… for Orthodox Christians who had suffered during the savage persecutions was clearly and unambiguously declared to be submission ‘to the lawful leadership of the Church’, which was Metropolitan Sergius and his hierarchy. With such an approach, the holiness of the ‘sergianist martyrs’ was incontestable. The others were glorified or not glorified depending on the degree to which they ‘were in separation from the lawful leadership of the Church’. Concerning those who were not in agreement with the politics of Metropolitan Sergius, the following was said in the report: ‘In the actions of the “right” oppositionists, who are often called the “non-commemorators”, one cannot find evil-intentioned, exclusively personal motives. Their actions were conditioned by their understanding of what was for the good of the Church’. In my view, this is nothing other than blasphemy against the New Martyrs and a straight apology for sergianism. With such an approach the consciously sergianist Metropolitan Seraphim (Chichagov), for example, becomes a ‘saint’, while his ideological opponent Metropolitan Joseph of Petrograd, who was canonized by our Church, is not glorified. For us another fact is also important, that Metropolitan Seraphim was appointed by Sergius (Stragorodsky) in the place of Metropolitan Joseph, who had been ‘banned’ by him.”[13]


     Other Catacomb martyrs were “glorified” by the MP because their holiness was impossible to hide. Thus the relics of Archbishop Victor of Vyatka were found to be incorrupt and now lie in a patriarchal cathedral – although he was the very first bishop officially to break with Sergius and called him and his church organization graceless! Again, the reputation of Metropolitan Cyril of Kazan was too great to be ignored, in spite of the fact that by the end of his life his position differed in no way from that of St. Victor or St. Joseph. But several years after his canonization St. Basil, Bishop of Kineshma, was decanonized”…


     Some, seeing the glorification of the Catacomb martyrs by their opponents, remembered the Lord’s words: “Ye build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the sepulchres of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets’. Therefore ye bear witness against yourselves that ye are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up the measure of your fathers!” (Matthew 23.29-32). 


     This blasphemous canonisation of both the true and the false martyrs, while downgrading the exploit of the true martyrs, had been predicted by the ROCOR priest Fr. Oleg Oreshkin: "I think that some of those glorified will be from the sergianists so as to deceive the believers. 'Look,' they will say, 'he is a saint, a martyr, in the Heavenly Kingdom, and he recognized the declaration of Metropolitan Sergius, so you must be reconciled with it and its fruits.' This will be done not in order to glorify martyrdom for Christ's sake, but in order to confirm the sergianist politics."[14]


     The main thing from the MP’s point of view was that their founder, Metropolitan Sergius, should be given equal status with the catacomb martyrs whom he persecuted. Thus in 1997 the patriarch said: “Through the host of martyrs the Church of Russia bore witness to her faith and sowed the seed of her future rebirth. Among the confessors of Christ we can in full measure name… his Holiness Patriarch Sergius.”[15] And more recently Patriarch Cyril blessed the erection of a statue to Sergius. By 2000 the MP did not feel able to canonise Sergius yet – probably because it feared that it would prevent a union with ROCOR. But neither did it canonise the leader of the Catacomb Church, Metropolitans Joseph of Petrograd and Cyril of Kazan. 


     The patriarch's lack of ecclesiastical principle and ecclesiological consistency in this question was pointed out by Fr. Peter Perekrestov: "In the introduction to one article ("In the Catacombs", Sovershenno Sekretno7, 1991) Patriarch Alexis wrote the following: 'I believe that our martyrs and righteous ones, regardless of whether they followed Metropolitan Sergius or did not agree with his position, pray together for us.' At the same time, in the weekly, Nedelya 2, 1/92, the same Patriarch Alexis states that the Russian Church Abroad is a schismatic church, and adds: 'Equally uncanonical is the so-called "Catacomb" Church.' In other words, he recognizes the martyrs of the Catacomb Church, many of whom were betrayed to the godless authorities by Metropolitan Sergius's church organization…, and at the same time declares that these martyrs are schismatic and uncanonical!"[16]


     For in the last resort, as Fr. Peter pointed out, for the MP this whole matter was not one of truth or falsehood, but of power: "It is not important to them whether a priest is involved in shady business dealings or purely church activities; whether he is a democrat or a monarchist; whether an ecumenist or a zealot; whether he wants to serve Vigil for six hours or one; whether the priest serves a panikhida for the victims who defended the White House or a moleben for those who sided with Yeltsin; whether the priest wants to baptize by immersion or by sprinkling; whether he serves in the catacombs or openly; whether he venerates the Royal Martyrs or not; whether he serves according to the New or Orthodox Calendar - it really doesn't matter. The main thing is to commemorate Patriarch Alexis. Let the Church Abroad have its autonomy, let it even speak out, express itself as in the past, but only under one condition: commemorate Patriarch Alexis. This is a form of Papism - let the priests be married, let them serve according to the Eastern rite - it makes no difference, what is important is that they commemorate the Pope of Rome."[17]


     It is open to question whether the patriarchate's canonisation of even the true martyrs is pleasing to God. Thus when 50 patriarchal bishops uncovered the relics of Patriarch Tikhon in the Donskoj cemetery on April 5, 1992, witnesses reported that "it was even possible to recognise the face of the Patriarch from his incorrupt visage, and his mantia and mitre were also preserved in complete incorruption. Witnesses also speak about a beautiful fragrance and an unusual feeling of reverential peace at that moment. But then, as some patriarchal clerics confirm, on contact with the air the relics crumbled, or - as the Catacomb Christians remark - the relics were not given into the hands of the Moscow Patriarchate. Then they buried them in plaster - a blasphemous act from an Orthodox point of view..."[18]


     The MP council’s documents were well characterised by the ROCOR clergy of Kursk as follows: “Everywhere there is the same well-known style: pleasing the ‘right’ and the ‘left’, the Orthodox and the ecumenists, ‘yours’ and ‘ours’, without the slightest attempt at definiteness, but with, on the other hand, a careful preservation of the whole weight of the sins of the past and present.”[19]


     The “Jubilee Sobor” was final proof, if proof were needed, that the MP had not repented and could not repent unless its higher echelons were removed and the whole church apparatus was thoroughly purged.


     To this day there is no sign of that happening…




     The Jubilee Council is just one example of the deceptions practiced by the MP in this period. Gregory Bystritsa writes: “3 examples of why I avoid reading material from most popular Orthodox websites and why I trust almost nothing coming from the leaders of the MP:

     ‘1) From a ROCOR page (shortly before union with Moscow):

     "For in August 2000, not only did the Patriarchal Church begin canonizing the New Martyrs and Confessors, but also it condemned yet again the excesses of the Sergianist period of its history, its compromises with the atheist State and also its compromises with the ill-absorbed Renovationism of the ‘Living Church’ schism and the Ecumenist heresy.’

     ‘So we are led to believe the MP turned against ecumenism?! But their ‘synodally’ accepted document from August 2000 states:

     "’During Orthodox participation of many decades in the ecumenical movement, Orthodoxy has NEVER been betrayed by any representative of a Local Orthodox Church. On the contrary, these representatives have always been completely faithful and obedient to their respective Church authorities, and acted in complete agreement with the canonical rules, the Teaching of the Ecumenical Councils, the Church Fathers and the Holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church’.

     “How could Moscow condemn the Ecumenist heresy - if they do not even believe it exists?!

     “And we are led to believe the MP turned against Sergianism in August of 2000?!

     “But Patriarch Alexy II stated in 2001: ‘As regards the accusations of the so-called Sergianism, I would like to say that one has to live here, in the homeland, to understand that it is an artificial accusation and an artificial pretext whipped up only to prevent reunification ... (the 1927 declaration) was a courageous step by which Metropolitan Sergiy tried to save the Church and the clergy.’

     “Note: Patriarch Kirill, in 2017 also offered praises to Patriarch Sergius on multiple occasions - and he even blessed a statue of him (with the participation of multiple metropolitans).

     “2) Another example:

     “Metropolitan and (now Patriarch Kirill) stated (in 2007) concerning the "Department for External Church Relations":

     "’The basis of the modern full-scale and multi-sided activity was laid by the founder of the Department Metropolitan Nikolai (Yarushevich) and his successor Metropolitan Nikodim (Rotov). They created the Department which subsequently faced a hard task of developing relations between the Church and the State, the Church and the Society, interfaith and inter-confessional ties during the collapse of the Soviet Union, destruction of stable social connections, during the period of breaks and divisions.

     “The main task of the Department has always been to provide adequate participation of the Church in public life, to keep the voice of Orthodoxy heard in Russia and the whole world, so that the Russian Orthodox Church, no matter what the historical circumstances are, accomplishes her main mission – saving people."

     “While conversely, a priest of the MP who worked in the department stated:

     "’Without exception we are all to blame - some were informers, some pretended not to see, hear or understand. We priests were ordained by officers of the KGB. This we all knew. So, am I not to blame for being silent about it all these years? Can anyone really say they did not know that from top to bottom the Department of External Affairs was a branch of the KGB?’

     “And another clergyman who had worked in the department further related:

     "’During my 6 years of employment I reached certain heights in the Department (of External Affairs) and made a career for myself in the Church... It is known that the Department of External Affairs was formed in 1946 by Beria (Minister of State to Stalin). From the very beginning the work of the Department has been conducted under strict supervision of the KGB...

     “Nearly all the employees of my Department were agents of the KGB, including myself. I was recruited while I was still a seminarian. It was impossible to land a job in this department in any other way. They did not just take people off the street; this is especially true of the clergy selected to work in our far-reaching network abroad. One can see what sort of mission they carry out. This is also true concerning all the other Departments: the Department of Publications, the newly created Department of charity, and the KGB formed All-Orthodox Youth movement.’

     “3) The Moscow synod of Nov.-Dec- 2017 offered some moderate criticisms of the Cretan synod of 2016. This gave the impression to many that they are traditional and even perhaps oppose ecumenism. The hypocrisy however, is that, this same synod offered praises to the Havana declaration and ordered the publication of their version of the ‘Relationship’ document which is entitled ‘Basic Principles of the Attitude of the Russian Orthodox Church Toward the Other Christian Confessions’ - this document of Moscow is, in many ways worse than the heretical ‘Relation’ text of Crete [the pseudo ecumenical council held in Crete in 2016]...

     “I offer these as examples of what I have gradually realized through the years - namely, that if you read the official or popular versions: then all seems well. But if you dig a little deeper (and you don't have to dig that far!) - it becomes evident that we are being fed lies upon lies...

The above examples are but a few of many...”[20]


January 31 / February 13, 2022.

Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee.


[1] Ardov, “The ‘Jubilee Council’ has confirmed it: the Moscow Patriarchate has finally fallen away from Orthodoxy” (Report read at the 8th Congress of the clergy, monastics and laity of the Suzdal diocese of the Russian Orthodox [Autonomous] Church, November, 2000).

[2] Church Newsvol. 12,  6 (88), July-August, 2000, p. 8. Alfeyev had already shown his ecumenist colours in his book, The Mystery of Faith (first published in Moscow in Russian in 1996, in English by Darton, Longman and Todd in 2002), which was strongly criticised from within the MP by Fr. Valentine Asmus.

[3] Associated Press, April 21, 2005; Corriere della Sera, April 24, 2005.

[4] Savchenko, “Tserkov’ v Rossii i ‘Vsemirnij Soviet Tserkvej” (The Church in Russia and the World Council of Churches), Pravoslavnaia Rus’ (Orthodox Russia), 1743, January 15/28, 2004, pp. 10-12.

[5] Iubilejnij Arkhierejskij Sobor Russkoj pravoslavnoj tserkvi. Moskva 13-16 avgusta 2000 goda (The Jubilee Hierarchical Council of the Russian Orthodox Church, Moscow, 13-16 August, 2000), St. Petersburg, 2000, p. 159.

[6]  Protopriest Vladimir Savitsky, Hieromonk Valentine (Salomakh) and Deacon Nicholas Savchenko,

“Pis’mo iz Sankt-Peterburga” (Letter from St. Petersburg), Otkliki, op. cit., part 1, Paris, 2001, p. 92.

[7] Moskovskij Tserkovnij Vestnik (Moscow Church Herald)№№ 14-15, pp. 243-244; quoted by Fr. Michael Ardov,

[8] Gundiaev, in Vertograd-Inform, № 504, February 2, 2005.

[9] See V. Moss, The Russian Golgotha, Wildwood, Alberta: Monastery Press, 2006, volume 1: North-West Russia.

[10] “Otkrovenie Tovarishcha Alfeyeva” (A Revelation of Comrade Alfeyev), Nasha Strana  (Buenos Aires), N 2907, January, 2010, p. 4.

[11] Ardov,

[12] Pravoslavie ili Smert’ (Orthodoxy or Death) 8, 1998.

[13] Kanaev, “Obrashchenie k pervoierarkhu RPTsZ” (Address to the First Hierarch of the ROCOR), in Otklikiop. cit., part 2, Paris, 2001, pp. 3-4 ; Iubilejnij Arkhierejskij Sobor (Jubilee Hierarchical Council), op. cit., pp. 43, 44.

[14] "Ierei o. Oleg otvechaet na voprosy redaktsiii" (The Priest Fr. Oleg Replies to the Questions of the Editors), Pravoslavnaia Rus'(Orthodox Russia) 23 (1452), December 1/14, 1991, p. 7.

[15] Ridiger, in Fr. Peter Perekrestov, “The Schism in the Heart of Russia (Concerning Sergianism)”, Canadian Orthodox Herald, 1999, 4.

[16] Perekrestov, "Why Now?" Orthodox Life, vol. 44,  6, November-December, 1994, p. 44.

[17] Perekrestov, “Why Now?” op. cit., p. 43.

[18] Eugene Polyakov, personal communication, April 5, 1992.

[19] “Obrashchenie kurskogo dukhovenstva k mitropolitu Vitaliu” (Address of the Kursk Clergy to Metropolitan Vitaly), Otklikiop. cit., part 3, p. 80.

[20] Bystritsa, Facebook, September 3, 2018.

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