Written by Vladimir Moss



     The Moscow Patriarchate’s forcible seizure of the Hebron monastery in July this year (1997), and its winning de facto, if not yet de jure control of the convents of the Russian Church Abroad in Jerusalem, has delivered a serious blow to the forces of True Orthodoxy. The seriousness of the blow resides not so much in the material loss of the monasteries, important thought that is, as in the spiritual humiliation of the Russian Church Abroad, and in her perceived weakness in the face of external pressure. Those confessors of the truth who resisted that pressure - Bishop Barnabas, Archimandrite Bartholomew, Abbess Juliana - have been publicly humiliated and banished by their own first-hierarch, Metropolitan Vitaly. The main traitor and appeaser - Archbishop Mark - has been placed in charge of ROCOR’s Mission to the Holy Land only months after the first-hierarch severely rebuked him for his treacherous fraternization with Alexis of Moscow (alias KGB agent “Drozdov”), saying that he had “lost the gift of discernment”. As a result of the abject apology of the first-hierarch of ROCOR to the Muslim Arafat and Patriarch Diodorus of Jerusalem on July 13, and the expulsion of the confessors on July 29-30, the last remnants of True Orthodoxy must be deemed to have surrendered to an unholy alliance of “World Orthodoxy”, Islam and Communism in the land of the God-Man’s Death and Resurrection - and even the tacit support of the Jews has not encouraged ROCOR to undertake a more determined defence of her heritage.

     How did this shameful surrender take place? And what are the lessons for the rest of ROCOR that still remains in freedom?


1. On Obedience to the ROCOR Synod.

     The main argument of the appeasers in their shameless attack on Abbess Juliana has been “obedience”. How often has this argument been used in the history of twentieth-century Orthodoxy as a pious-seeming cloak to justify precisely disobedience to the sacred canons of the Church and surrender to the enemies of Holy Orthodoxy! Was this not the main weapon used by Metropolitan Sergius to crush the opposition of the Catacomb Church? We shall return to the comparison with Metropolitan Sergius later. In the meantime let us enquire whether Abbess Juliana was really disobedient. 

     It must be emphasized, first, that abbots, abbesses and elders have considerable authority in the Orthodox Church to decide what is permitted and what is not permitted in their monasteries and in relation to their own spiritual children. As Sister Marina (Chertkova), Abbess Juliana’s assistant, rightly says: “Abbesses are the mistresses in their communities.” It is known, for example, that St. Ambrose of Optina defied his local bishop with regard to the Shamordino nuns whose spiritual father he was, saying: “There is a Vladyka higher than all vladykas”.

     Bishops can overrule abbots and abbesses in the running of their monasteries only in extreme cases, when the abbot or abbess is clearly sinning against the dogmatic or moral tradition of the Church. It is obvious that Abbess Juliana was defending, rather than sinning against, the tradition of the Church.

     In fact, when the Synod of Bishops ordered, in its meeting in New York on May 13, that the chief heresiarch of modern times should be allowed into the holy places under ROCOR’s jurisdiction and treated “with honour and respect”, it was clearly they who were disobeying both the canons of the Church and a whole series of earlier unrepealed orders and testaments of ROCOR’s Synod and first hierarchs. The canons do not permit heretics to perform services in the churches of the Orthodox (“Patriarch” Alexis wanted to serve at the tomb of Archimandrite Antonin). And the ROCOR Synod’s ukaz of April 19, 1994 was clearly in accordance with the canons when it declared: “The clergy of the Moscow Patriarchate are not allowed to carry out any kind of Divine services (that is: put on an epitrachelion, perform a litiya or prayer service, etc.) on the territory of our monasteries.”

     So Abbess Juliana was clearly acting in obedience both to the canons and to the whole tradition of ROCOR in the Holy Land, as well as in complete agreement with ROCOR’s own highest authorities in the Holy Land at the time (Bishop Barnabas and Archimandrite Bartholomew), when she refused admittance to KGB Agent Drozdov and his suite. The Synod’s ukaz of May 13, 1997 contradicted both the sacred canons, which every clergyman swears to uphold, and the tradition of their own Church. Therefore Abbess Juliana was quite justified in refusing to obey disobedience.


2. On Free Access to the Holy Places.

     The critics of Abbess Juliana point to the fact that access to the Holy Places is guaranteed by law for all pilgrims. Actually, while the Oak of Abraham, situated on the grounds of the Hebron monastery, is clearly a Holy Place, the Eleon and Gethsemane monasteries are situated close to, but not precisely on, the sites of the Lord’s Ascension, Agony in the Garden and Betrayal by Judas. However, assuming that the monasteries were situated on a Holy Place, let us consider the force of this argument. 

     Protopriest Benjamin Zhukov writes: “Such a law exists in Israel. But nobody can say with certainty that such a law is also in force on the territory of the Palestinian Autonomy. And even if it is, in view of the special military situation there (as far as Hebron is concerned, the conflicts between the Palestinians and the Jews have led, in the last two months, to tens of deaths and hundreds of people wounded), one can say that the functioning of the law is not the norm in the Palestinian Autonomy. The best proof of this is the fact that there are differences between the various Palestinian levels of authority in evaluating the lawless actions of the Palestinian police in Hebron...

     “If such a law exists in the Palestinian Autonomy, then in Hebron, in the given instance, it became quite inapplicable for us. Arafat considers that we occupy the territory unlawfully. How can we act in accordance with the law concerning the reception of visitors if we are not considered to be the owners of this place? Thus Arafat himself removes from us the basis for fulfilling the law. But we become still less responsible before this law (I repeat, if this law is in force) if the visitor who is planning to come is in the eyes of the authorities the lawful owner. Consequently, the first violators of the law are the authorities themselves, who are placing us in a position outside the law. But what fulfilment of the law is required of us here? The concept of hospitality has very little to do with this...

     “As regards the attitude of the Jews to this law in the given case, it is known that, not long before the projected visit to the Holy Land of Alexis II, one of the important officials of the Israeli Ministry of Religious Affairs, Uri Mor, visited our monastery on Eleon with the aim of finding out what the attitude to the visit of the Moscow Patriarch was there. Our nuns replied that the arrival of the Patriarch, supposedly for the 150th anniversary of the Mission, was nothing other than a Soviet show; the 150th anniversary was an excuse, since the 100th anniversary of the Mission was celebrated triumphantly in Jerusalem in 1958 under the leadership of Archbishop Alexander of Berlin, in the presence of officials of the Jordanian state and, of course, of representatives of the Greek Patriarchate (officially the Mission goes back to its establishment by the Turkish government in 1858). To this Uri Mor replied: ‘You can protest as you like.’ And then he said: ‘I see that your approach is difference from that in Gethsemane... If you don’t want to receive him, that is your business!’ And he added: ‘Israel will never change the status quo on its territories.’ 

     “Patriarch Diodorus’ attitude to this question is also characteristic. When his emissary accompanying Alexis II was rejected, Patriarch Diodorus received the nuns of the Eleon monastery and expressed to them his principled censure. And, demonstrating his power, he said that he could enter Eleon, if he wanted, with the help of the Jewish police, but he would not do this. And he dismissed them in peace, after asking: ‘Whose side is Hebron on?’

     “Let us add that the Catholic monastery of the Carmelites admits nobody, and nobody has laid claims against it. As S. Chertok, a journalist living in Jerusalem, has clearly written (Russkaia Mysl’, N 4179, 19-25 June, 1997): ‘In Israel access to the holy places is truly free. However, in closed institutions this is done at established or agreed hours, and, of course, without resorting to force. This rule particularly applies to monasteries where order is defined by a strict rule.’”[1]

     Even if the law concerning the free access of pilgrims to the holy places were clearer and more strictly applied, it could still not apply to Patriarch Alexis for the simple reason that he was not a pilgrim. Having announced publicly before his visit that he was going to the Holy Land to take possession of the properties of ROCOR, he took the Hebron monastery by force in an operation that was reminiscent of the similar operations carried out by him with the aid of OMON troops in Vladivostok, Ryazan and other places. In other words, he acted like a thief - and no law, secular or sacred, can compel one to accept a self-declared thief onto one’s property.

     But even if such an impious law existed, it would be necessary to ignore it for the sake of piety, of the Law of God. Would the great confessors of the faith in the Holy Land - Saints Theodosius the Great, Euthymius the Great and Sabbas the Sanctified - have allowed the heresiarchs of their time to carry out services in their monasteries? It is inconceivable. The heresy that preaches that one must sacrifice the Law of God in favour of obedience to unbelieving secular authorities is known as Sergianism from the name of “Patriarch” Alexis’ predecessor in impiety, “Patriarch” Sergius of Moscow. And it is surely no coincidence that the ROCOR Synod’s punishment of those who so bravely struggled to defend her interests was meted out 70 years to the day from Sergius’s notorious declaration of July 16/29, 1927...


3. On Obedience to Patriarch Diodorus.

     What at first sight appears to be the strongest argument advanced by the critics of Abbess Juliana is the fact that ROCOR in the Holy Land commemorates Patriarch Diodorus of Jerusalem, and was therefore bound to receive his friends and guests. Thus according to Protopriest George Larin, who is now Archbishop Mark’s deputy in the Holy Land, “we do not even have the right to perform Divine services in our churches in the Holy Land without the blessing of his Beatitude Diodorus, Patriarch of Jerusalem, and.. we perform the Divine Liturgy on antimens sanctified by his Beatitude, .. we pray for him and commemorate him in the litanies before our First-Hierarch... When hierarchs and priests and deacons arrive on pilgrimage in the Holy Land, they do not have the right (according to the canons of the Orthodox Church) to perform Divine services even in our churches without the Patriarch of Jerusalem’s special permission, which is why we go from the airport first to his Beatitude for a blessing!”[2]

     At the same time Fr. George admits that Patriarch Diodorus “concelebrates with the Patriarch of Moscow and does not wish to concelebrate with our hierarchs”. A strange and clearly uncanonical situation, in which the ROCOR monastics in the Holy Land already have their own first-hierarch, but are forced to have another one - who serves with their chief enemy but not with them! Who was it Who said that one cannot serve two masters?...

     Now Patriarch Diodorus of Jerusalem is not a heretic in the way Alexis of Moscow is. He has criticized the ecumenical movement, and in 1989 left the World Council of Churches, although it appears that he has not broken off all contact with the ecumenical organizations. But his opposition to ecumenism lacks the principled character of that of ROCOR; for he remains in full communion with all the ecumenist Orthodox. In so doing he places himself in an uncanonical situation and compels all true zealots of Orthodoxy to break communion with him. For, as St. John Chrysostom says, “he who communicates with an excommunicate is himself excommunicated”.

     Some people - notably, Archbishop Mark - think we should continue to have close relations with the Jerusalem Patriarchate because, like the Serbian Patriarchate, it was in communion with ROCOR in earlier decades of this century and offered it hospitality. In answer to this argument we may quote the words of the ROCOR Hieromonk Joseph of Moscow in a letter to Metropolitan Vitaly about the Serbian Patriarchate which could apply, without major changes, to the Jerusalem Patriarchate: “Now I would like to return to the last telephone conversation I had with you. This concerns Vladyka Mark's serving with the Serbs. At that time you said that some hierarchs of ROCOR, such as Archbishop John (Maximovich) and Archbishop Nicon (Rklitsky) allowed this. That is understandable. You know, they were raised and looked after by pastors of the Serbian Church. We, too, love the Serbian Church and the Serbian people - the Serbian Church in the person of Patriarch Barnabas once sheltered the persecuted Russian emigre hierarchs. But times change and life does not stand still. It is already 30 years since Vladyka John died, and almost 20 since Vladyka Nicon. The Serbian Patriarch Barnabas and those Serbian hierarchs who feared nobody and offered hospitality to the persecuted Russian Church died a long time ago. The contemporary Serbian episcopate is very far from what it was in the 1930s. You know, almost the same thing has happened with the Serbian Church as happened with the Russian Church. Their episcopate has also been appointed by communist authorities, and they have also gradually departed from the purity of Orthodoxy. This is what the well-known Serbian theologian, Archimandrite Justin (Popovich), who could in no way be accused of not loving his own Serbian Church or of not being Orthodox, wrote about this: ‘... The atheist dictatorship has so far elected two patriarchs... And in this way it has cynically trampled on the holy rights of the Church, and thereby also on the holy dogmas.’ I think that Fr. Justin had a better view of the negative processes taking place in the Serbian Church than Vladyka Mark. The first-hierarchs of the Serbian Church take an active part in the WCC; they pray with all kinds of heretics and people of other religions; they support the anti-Orthodox initiatives of the Patriarch of Constantinople. And must we close our eyes to all this just because in the 1930s Patriarch Barnabas helped our Russian hierarchs - or because Vladyka Mark studied in the Serbian Theological University? This is simply not serious. If we're going to reason like that, and take our memories of the past as our guiding principle in our present actions, without taking into account present realities, then we can come to sheer absurdity and will not avoid serious mistakes. In that case we must have eucharistic communion with the Patriarch of Constantinople because ten centuries ago Rus' received Orthodoxy from Byzantium. 

     “If our relationship to the Serbian Church and people is one of unhypocritical love and gratitude, then especially now, in this difficult time for Serbia, we must help them to come to understand and see those departures from Orthodoxy which are being carried out by the Serbian hierarchy, and for which, perhaps, the Right Hand of God is sending them these horrific military trials which are taking place there. This will be the gratitude of the Russian Church to the Serbian people for the hospitality they received from it in the 1930s.”[3]

     The present writer remembers how, in the 1970s, the superior of the Hebron monastery, Igumen Ignaty, neither allowed members of the Moscow Patriarchate on the territory of the monastery (he drove them away with a stick!) nor commemorated the Patriarch of Jerusalem (although he had friendly relations with some members of that patriarchate). A former member of the Catacomb Church and a close friend of St. John Maximovich, Fr. Ignaty had the gifts of tears and prophecy and was revered as a saint even by the Muslims. He feared God alone, and therefore even the enemies of the faith, sensing his spiritual power, sought to kiss the hem of his garment as he walked the streets of Jerusalem. His example shows how ROCOR could have acted, relying on the power of faith alone.[4]

     The whole tone of Fr. George Larin’s letter, quoted above, is that of course ROCOR should even now remain in communion with the Patriarch of Jerusalem. It doesn’t seem to disturb him that that the Patriarch is in communion with the whole of ecumenist “World Orthodoxy”, including Alexis of Moscow, that in a recent confrontation with Constantinople over its parishes in Australia Jerusalem was forced to submit to the uniate Patriarch Bartholomew, and that the secretary-general of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Metropolitan Timothy of Lydda, has declared: “The Russian monastery of Hebron has been returned to its legal owner [i.e. Alexis of Moscow]”, emphasizing that “the time has come to overcome the divisions now that the Church in Russia is free. There is only one Russian Orthodox Church and one cannot recognize as such the tiny grouping which separated from it a long time ago for whatever reasons”.[5]

     True, Patriarch Diodorus is reported to have distanced himself from that remark. Nevertheless, it is quite clear that ROCOR has gained precious little by its fawning apology to the Patriarch, and that it is quite possible that she will lose even the limited recognition she now has from the patriarchate.

     So what is the point of ROCOR’s presence in Jerusalem? To have a quiet life undisturbed by any conflicts with her neighbours? In that case, she would do best to give up her ineffectual pose of pseudo-independence and join either the Patriarchate of Jerusalem or the Moscow Patriarchate’s Mission in Jerusalem.

     Or to inherit the Kingdom of heaven through a good confession of faith, even to the shedding of blood if necessary? In that case, she should break communion with the Patriarch of Jerusalem and firmly resist all attempts of KGB agents in cassocks to “have cups of tea” and “serve Divine services” in her monasteries.

     This would undoubtedly lead to confrontation, but with God’s help she would undoubtedly succeed - and encourage many other covert opponents of ecumenism in the Holy Land and elsewhere. After all, “the Truth plus one is a majority”. Or, as the Apostle Paul put it: “If God is with us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8.31).

     One bishop critical of Abbess Juliana has written: “Obviously, it was a question of drawing a line at some point: Alexey evidently could not be received as though he were a patriarch, but the other extreme, closing the gates in the face of the delegation is another extreme, which, elsewhere might indeed be appropriate, but in the context was provocative to the local authorities, both civil and ecclesiastical. Diplomacy has little place in matters of principle, but neither, I feel, does provocation...”

     These comments betray a lack of understanding of the situation in which Abbess Juliana and her fellow zealots were placed. First, she had been ordered to receive him “with honour and respect”, which precluded treating him as though he were not a patriarch. True, the synod had given her a speech to the patriarch in which it was written: “We welcome you not as the Patriarch of all Russia, but as a guest of Patriarch Diodorus of Jerusalem”. But, as Abbess Juliana has written, “standing in front of the television cameras I would have been shamed in front of the whole world!!!... This seemed to me absurd. Every welcome is already a welcome, and holding in my hands the paper, the reporters could have put into my mouth completely different words. And in essence I would have had to go up to receive his blessing.

     Again, a highly respected protopriest from Russia, while criticizing the Synod for going too far in one direction, criticizes Abbess Juliana for going too far in the other, saying that she should have let Alexis in, but “drily, officially”. However, even if she had received him “drily” and “officially”, could she, a frail woman who did not have the support even of all her nuns, have prevented him from serving at the tomb of Archimandrite Antonin once he and his vast entourage had crossed the threshold of the convent? If she had tried to do so, the scandal may have been even greater, and she might well have been simply pushed aside, just as she was pushed aside at Hebron.

     In any case, if the KGB Agent “Patriarch” had been allowed into the citadel of ROCOR in Jerusalem, the real relationship of ROCOR to him and his patriarchate would have been completely misrepresented and the whole world would have known who the real master, not only on Eleon, but in the Russian Church as a whole, was.

     The fact is that the provocation was not on the part of Abbess Juliana, but of KGB Agent Drozdov supported by the Patriarch of Jerusalem. And since this was a matter of principle - a matter of presenting a true confession of faith before the world’s media and the world’s chief “Orthodox” heresiarch - there could be no place for diplomacy here. For if diplomacy involves giving the impression of a false confession of faith for the sake of property or the friendship of the world, a true Christian can come to no other conclusion than that it is from the evil one. As the Apostle James says: “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (4.4).


4. Quo Vadis, Russian Church Abroad?

     Let us turn now from the defence of Abbess Juliana to the truly most shocking aspect of this whole affair - the letter of apology to the Muslims. There can be no doubt that Metropolitan Vitaly was forced to do this by the same man who has already defied his authority in so many ways - Archbishop Mark. In fact, Mark himself admitted to Sister Marina that he had to shout at the metropolitan to make him write the letter. This is the same Archbishop Mark who, in December of last year, without the blessing of the metropolitan, met the false patriarch in Moscow, and was severely rebuked for that. Nor was he sent to the Holy Land in July at the bidding of the Synod - he came of his own will, having supposedly heard about the events “from the newspapers”. Many suspect - and there is certainly much evidence pointing in that direction - that the events in Hebron and Jerusalem were actually planned by the Moscow Patriarch with Archbishop Mark at that December meeting.

     Archbishop Mark’s position in relation to Moscow is set out in a recent article in Vestnik Germanskoj Eparkhii (N 4, 1997). He begins by affirming that the events in the Holy Land should not stop attempts to overcome the schism with the Moscow Patriarchate - which, however, he says is a “division”, not a “schism”. Then he reviews the main obstacles to union in a perfunctory and misleading way. Finally, he calls for an All-Emigration Council to review relations with the patriarchate and to consider the question: “Is eucharistic communion possible with complete autonomy?” This shows where his thought is moving - towards making ROCOR a “completely autonomous” Church in communion with the patriarchate, like the Orthodox Church of America!

     The failure to be accepted at Eleon was a setback for the MP, as was the initial failure to take over the Hebron monastery. The fact that the monastery was eventually taken over only by force was more that a setback - it was a public relations disaster, which threatened to become an international crisis as American senators, who included several Jews, prepared to berate the Russians for their collaboration with Arafat in the seizure of property belonging to an American-registered Church. However, the Moscow Patriarch’s potentially disastrous defeat was deftly turned into a stunning victory through the good services of Archbishop Mark, who forced the metropolitan to apologize, and put the blame for the loss of the Hebron monastery, not on the communists or Muslims, but on - Abbess Juliana!

     Protopriest Benjamin makes some illuminating comments on the diplomatic significance of the metropolitan’s letter to Arafat: “In the letter to Arafat there is not a word about the unlawful seizure of property, about the inhumane beating of the monastics, aboutthe crying violation of international law, as was expressed by Archbishop Laurus in his protest. Nothing of the kind! In this address, eight days after the lawless actions of the Moscow Patriarchate with the help of the Palestinian OMON, under the guise of a ‘diplomatic note’ with the aim of receiving Hebron back again, there took place a complete ‘whitewash’ and ‘justification’ of all the criminals in the affair of the seizure of Hebron. Perhaps, in fact, in such circumstances Hebron will be returned to our Church: the Moscow Patriarchate would make off, as Khrushchev once made off in Cuba, having got a long way in! Perhaps... but would it not be better to sacrifice Hebron (we may even say that we do not have the strength to keep it), rather than to sacrifice our faithful monks, whose exploit we did not defend in this lamentable letter. We have similarly failed to value the exploit of those who trusted us and who have been beaten up by the OMON in our homeland... This was a diplomatic failure for the whole world to see!

     Actually, there is no hope of ROCOR getting Hebron back again. This is clear from the following report (Church News, August, 1997, pp. 1-2): “When two monks from the Holy Trinity Monastery in Hebron (Fathers Elias and Vladislav) expressed a desire to accompany Abbess Juliana to Chile, Archbishop Mark permitted them only to help with transporting her luggage, and then with a definite order that they return within no more than three weeks because he had assigned them to Hebron as soon as the monastery is returned to the Church Abroad! He threatened them that the responsibility for the Church Abroad not receiving back the monastery would be upon their consciences [!!!] precisely because he has no one else to send there. Both of these monks have only Russian passports and Abbess Juliana became very concerned that they might be deported from Israel by force. Therefore she applied to the Director of the Department of the Ministry for Christian Denominations, Mr. Uri Mor, asking him to suggest to Archbishop Mark that he not send those monks to Hebron. He promised this and at the same time expressed his astonishment that the Church Abroad would believe in the highly improbably possibility of Abraham’s Oak being returned to her. Mor was also astonished that Archbishop Mark would appoint two monks with only Russian passports and who, therefore, might be very easily deported to Russia due to her friendly relations with the Palestinians.

     “Archbishop Mark is not ashamed to be cunning: on the one hand, he fosters among the trusting members of the Church Abroad the unrealizable hope of the return of Abraham’s Oak seized by the Moscow Patriarchate and, on the other, he is not afraid to send off to the punishment of the Moscow Patriarchate two monks who happened to oppose it. It seems that he ‘falls between two stools’, having the intention of delivering to the Moscow Patriarchate all the properties of the Church Abroad, and at the same time he is trying to avoid being called simply a traitor!”

     If the idea that Archbishop Mark might actually be planning to hand over the remaining properties of the Church Abroad to the Moscow Patriarchate seems far-fetched, the following remark by his close assistant in this affair, Protopriest Victor Potapov, should convince people that such a betrayal is by no means out of the question. “We declare outright,” he said in an interview with Nezavisimaia Gazeta - Religii (July 24, 1997), “that we consider the Church Abroad to be an inalienable part of Russian Orthodoxy and that we would like to give over to Russia everything that we have available, and in particular also here in the Holy Land.”[6]

     Further confirmation of this very real possibility is provided by the news that Soviet personnel are being moved into Jerusalem to take the place of the confessors Archimandrite Bartholomew and Abbess Juliana. Thus Archimandrite Bartholomew’s position as Head of the Mission is to be taken by Archimandrite Alexis (Rosenthal), of whom Sister Marina (Chertkova) has written (with Abbess Juliana’s approval) that he is “a most crude and insolent man.. who is no worse at administering hidings than the Palestinian police”. And Abbess Juliana’s place as abbess of the Eleon monastery is to be taken, according to unconfirmed reports, by Mother Moisea, of whom a former Head of the Jerusalem Mission has written: “She was often in the USSR on secular business. On leaving France she settled in Gethsemane. In his time Archimandrite Anthony (Grabbe) was warned by the Israeli police that Sister Nonna [now Mother Moisea] was known to them as a Soviet agent...”[7]

     Where, then, is the Russian Church Abroad going? On the evidence of the events in Hebron and Jerusalem, the answer must be: straight into the coils of the Soviet Moscow Patriarchate. Last December, when Metropolitan Vitaly vigorously rebuked Archbishop Mark for his betrayal, saying that he had “lost the gift of discernment” and that the Moscow Patriarchate was “the Church of the Antichrist”, the zealots of True Orthodoxy took heart, thinking that in the person of the first-hierarch of ROCOR, at any rate, there was a man who would withstand the antichristian onslaught coming from the KGB- and Mafia-controlled Moscow Patriarchate. However, the situation has now been entirely reversed, the metropolitan has publicly disgraced his most faithful followers, and Archbishop Mark has become the de facto ruler of ROCOR, giving him a very powerful position from which to negotiate his openly declared desire to enter into communion with the false patriarchate while retaining “complete autonomy” for the Russian Church Abroad. 

     In July, 1927, a physical earthquake shook Jerusalem, as if heralding the spiritual earthquakes that were to come in the Heavenly Jerusalem, the Church of Christ, through the notorious declaration of Metropolitan Sergius, which placed the Russian Church in de facto submission to the communists. 70 years later, the contemporary leader of the sergianist heresy has come to Jerusalem, and by a naked display of brute violence has obtained from the contemporary leaders of the anti-Sergianists, the Synod of the Russian Church Abroad, another submission to the antitheist powers, another sergianist declaration (on the precise day that the first sergianist declaration was made!) - and another condemnation of the confessors of the truth. The fact that the confessors have not suffered imprisonment or torture, but “only” a physical beating, public humiliation and exile, should not hide from us the fact that the sergianist heresy has now occupied the last bastions of the truly Orthodox Church in her heartland, Jerusalem.

     Of course, with God all things are possible, and a resurrection of ROCOR is possible even now. But it will be possible only if ROCOR, on her part, outrightly rejects Archbishop Mark and his Judas-like, neosergianist betrayal of the Church into the hands of her worst enemies. It will be possible only when a return is made to obedience to the testaments of the first three first-hierarchs of ROCOR, Metropolitan Anthony, Anastasy and Philaret, to the apostolic canons of the Church which forbid praying with heretics or recognizing their sacraments, and to the command of the Apostle of truth and love, who said: “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed; for he that biddeth him God speed is a partaker of his evil deeds (II John 10,11).


October 2/15, 1997.

Saints Cyprian and Justina.

[1] Letter of July 19, 1997 to Alexander Ivanovich Musatov.

[2] Letter of August 18/31, 1997 to Fr. Stefan Krasovitsky.

[3] Over thirty years ago, Archbishop Averky of Jordanville wrote to Metropolitan Philaret: “With regard to the question of the Serbian Church, whose Patriarch German is a stooge of the communist Tito, as the Serbs themselves are convinced, calling him ‘the red patriarch’. We have heard this from many clergy and laity who have fled from Serbia. How can we recognize, and have communion in prayer with, ‘the red patriarch’, who maintains the closest friendly relations with red Moscow?

     “Cannot our Hierarchical Council make erroneous decisions? Do we in the Orthodox Church have a doctrine about the infallibility of every Council of Bishops?” (Letter of September 14/27, 1966).

[4]And even after Fr. Ignaty’s repose in 1986, there continued to be ROCOR clergy in Jerusalem who followed his example. Thus a close friend of Fr. Ignaty’s, Archimandrite Nektary (Chernobyl), who had been a member of the Catacomb Church in Russia and died in 2000, “never communed with clergy of jurisdictions entering into the ecumenical World Council of Churches. He openly reproached representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate who had betrayed Holy Orthodoxy” (Vospominania, Jordanville, 2002, p. 9).

[5] Service Orthodoxe de Presse, N 221, September-October, 1997, p. 16.

[6] Fr. Victor is also reported to have said that we shall get back Hebron, but we shall have to live together with the Moscow Patriarchate there - “you’ll have to make room for them”!

[7] Church News, June, 1997, p. 1.

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