Written by Vladimir Moss


Olga Moss

Introduction: Recent reports from Russia and Serbia that the MP's Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) of Sourozh is considered to be a saint and may be canonized, together with the fact that the St. Herman Calendar for 2006 included the date of his death as if he were a righteous man, led me to ask my wife, Mrs. Olga Moss, who was very close to him for several years in the 70s, to write down what she knew about him. Some will object that one should not speak ill of the dead. Our reply is: if, by not knowing the true facts about a dead man, the living are going to be led into soul-destroying error by venerating and praying to a pseudo-saint whose teaching was heretical and his life unclean, then it is better - better, perhaps, even for him, wherever he may be now -  that the truth be told.

Readers will excuse us if, in order to put these facts into context, my wife includes some biographical details about her own life.

Vladimir Moss.

I was born in Batavia, Indonesia. My father was Dutch and worked for a Dutch bank. My mother, born Maria Arsenievna Morozova, was a White Russian from Moscow. Every six months or so we had to move to a different town. All the schools I went to were Protestant. When the war broke out my mother and I were in prison under the Japanese for three and a half months, exactly 100 days, and after that we were in a concentration camp for approximately two years.

After the war I came to England with my first husband, an English officer serving in the Gurkhas in Java. I joined the Anglican Church and had my four children baptised in it. Looking at the beautiful churches with their stained-glass windows depicting the apostles and the saints, and hearing the creed being recited, I presumed that the Anglican Church had the Apostolic Faith. But when I was about 40 years old, I felt something missing in the churches. I was also weary with listening to sermons on third-world poverty and politics, and never about spiritual subjects such as the angels, death, hell, etc., or with a profound interpretation of the Scriptures. Then I met someone who belonged to the Moscow Patriarchate in Ennismore Gardens, London. That Sunday I visited it and when I entered and heard the choir sing: "Iisus Khristos", I realized how hungry I had been for the worship of the Lamb. My heart longed for spiritual food and worship.

Always as a child I had believed in the Divine Mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ. My mother, being Orthodox, used to take me to Orthodox liturgies, while my father, being a Protestant, took me to the "Apostolic" Church. When I was about nine years old, when my father was on leave and we were staying with relatives of my mother in Paris, I met Vladyka John Maximovich.

Since as a child I had never been stopped from receiving communion in the Orthodox Church, although I was baptised in the Lutheran Church, I went up to receive communion in Ennismore Gardens without first doing confession. But when I was told by Fr. Michael Fortounatto that I had to do confession first, I readily agreed. Then my mother pointed out that I should be received into the Orthodox Church since I had only been baptised in the Lutheran Church. So I phoned up Metropolitan Anthony Bloom, who told me to come to his house in Upper Addison Gardens, where he gave me chrismation. I asked my youngest daughter, Sonia, to come with me to be a witness.

Metropolitan Anthony then asked me to arrange retreats that were to be conducted by him. So we had retreats in St. Teresa’s convent school in Effingham and other places.

In 1970 I went to the Lebanon and then to Jerusalem. After three weeks in Beirut and one week in Jerusalem, I joined up with a wonderful Orthodox group from America belonging to the Russian Church in Exile, as she was then called. They took me to Hebron, where I met the saintly Igumen Ignaty. They complained to him that I belonged to the Moscow Patriarchate. He looked at me intently and smiled: "Olga does not know, but when she finds out the truth about the Moscow Patriarchate, she will act and leave it." I was bewildered! What was wrong with the Moscow Patriarchate? I asked to do confession with Fr. Ignaty, and suddenly tears poured out of my eyes. But then they stopped as abruptly as they had started. I felt as if I had been cleansed from soot like a chimney. Fr. Ignaty had the gift of giving people tears of repentance. I went back to may seat and wondered in what way I had sinned so much!

Returning to England, I began to listen carefully to the sermons of Metropolitan Anthony, and to the talks he gave at the retreats I organized. I was shocked when I heard him say to an Anglican girl who had a fiancée who could not accept that the Lord went up with a human body at the Ascension: "Of course not! What would God the Father say to Christ: 'What is this human flesh sitting next to me?'" She laughed in a relieved way, thinking it was not essential to believe that the Lord went up with His human body! I was at a loss and ignorant, but I knew in my heart that the reason why Christ died for us was in order to carry His humanity into the life of the Holy Trinity. I eagerly started to read the Church Fathers, to learn how to answer heretics and in that way learn the truth more exactly.

On another occasion I gave Metropolian Anthony a lift to Woodham church in Woking, where he gave a talk on the Orthodox Church. One speaker asked: "Do you believe that the Orthodox Church is the True Church?" He replied: "It is for me! But if you are English, then it is your culture to be an Anglican." I was very angry, and had words with him when I drove him to Ennismore Gardens. Surely, I said, there is only One True Church, which is the Bride of Christ, and there cannot be thousands of different Christian Churches all believing something different? He did not answer, but changed the subject, saying only that we have to be tolerant with "beginners". I was alarmed and thought: How would the Apostles and Saints have answered that question?

I also noticed that Metropolitan Anthony never liked to speak about the Church as the elect.

At one retreat, Vladimir, who had just come on the scene in Ennismore Gardens, asked Metropolitan Anthony a question about the Holy Spirit. He gave an evasive answer, and Vladimir looked puzzled. As I had been in the Lebanon and talked with Abbot Elias and his monks about the Holy Spirit, I went up to Vladimir and said: "God the Holy Spirit is a Person in His own right - the third Hypostasis of the Holy Trinity." For Vladimir, this came as a revelation. I continued: "I’ve discovered that Fr. Anthony can speak neither about the Holy Spirit nor about the Church." I also told him that, according to the Arab Orthodox whom I had visited in the Lebanon, all the words for the Holy Spirit in Syriac and Aramaic, such as "ruach" and "shekinah", are feminine.

Once someone asked Metropolitan Anthony about the ten virgins, and why the five wise virgins did not share their oil with the foolish ones. He laughed and said that in fact the action of the five wise virgins was quite unchristian! I looked up St. John Chrysostom on this passage, and found that, according to him, the source from which the wise virgins get their oil is the Holy Spirit, and that oil is grace and one cannot share grace with anyone else. One can only tell him where to get it.

Once my mother came to England and spoke to Metropolitan Anthony for quite a long time after the liturgy. He seemed quite scared of her. Then she told me: "He’s not Orthodox", and compared him unfavourably with the bishops and priests of the Russian Church in Exile whom she had known.

He once told me that as a bishop he could break the canons. When I told this some years later to Metropolitan Epiphanios of Cyprus, he laughed and said: "It is precisely we bishops who have to uphold and protect the canons!"

Once a member of the Russian Church Abroad who was a practising homosexual was told by Vladyka Nikodem of Great Britain that he was not allowed to receive communion as long as he practised this sin. He went to the senior priest at Ennismore Gardens, Fr. Michael Fortounatto, who put his arm around him and told him that in Ennismore Gardens they would allow him to receive communion since the Moscow Patriarchate was the Church of Love!

Archimandrite Barnabas, who had a small monastery in Wales, told me the following story. He said that he and Anthony Bloom and one other person had been living in a skete in France shortly after the war. (It should be pointed out that Metropolitan Anthony was a French citizen, a surgeon by training, who had worked for the maquis, the communist underground, during the war.) Once a man from Moscow came to the skete and asked to speak to each of the monks separately. The three monks gathered afterwards to compare notes. Anthony Bloom refused to reveal the contents of his conversation with the man, but Archimandrite Barnabas and the other monk found that he had made them both the same offer: if they joined the MP, opened a parish for the patriarchate in London, and supplied them with information about the parishioners gleaned from confession or gossip, then they would be well looked-after by Moscow.

Archimandrite Barnabas and the other monk rejected the proposal, but very soon Metropolitan Anthony and his mother turned up in London in a house with a plaque saying "Moscow Patriarchate", and proceeded to divide the parish of the Russian Church in Exile, bringing many people to his new MP parish. Within a few years he was promoted to the episcopate.

On Good Friday, 1975, I was sitting outside the cathedral in Ennismore Gardens waiting for the burial service to begin. Two women came up to me separately and began to talk to me. One was a young Frenchwoman. She cried and said that Metropolitan Anthony had raped her. I could not believe it! But then the other woman, an Englishwoman who worked for Church Times, and said that she had been raped by him. The descriptions given by the two women, who did not know each other, were almost identical! I went to Fr. Michael Fortounatto and told him what I had heard. He looked at me haughtily and said: "Are you not used to sin?!" I was stunned!

After Pascha I went to the church again, to the place where confessions were heard. Metropolitan Anthony came out, and I told him: "I haven’t come to do confession, but to ask you if it is true that you have raped Francoise and [the other woman’s name]?" He said: "I have! But I’ll tell you something. I know that when I die I will go to hell. But not because of the sins I’ve committed against women – that’s nothing! “ but because of the sin I’ve committed against the Church." I said that even Judas could have been saved if he had repented and not lost hope in the mercy of Christ. But he said: "It’s too late!"

What could this sin against the Church be? I did not dare to ask. Everything was happening at once. It was like a pack of cards falling down!

Metropolitan Anthony once told me that Metropolitan Nikodem of Leningrad was a great friend of his and a wonderful Christian, and that they had gone together to represent the MP at the General Assembly of the World Council of Churches in New Delhi in 1961. At that time I did not know that Metropolitan Nikodem was a KGB bishop, and there was nothing written against him in the English newspapers. However, my father sent me from Holland a large article from De Telegraaf which claimed that Metropolitan Nikodem was a major-general of the KGB. I went to speak to the foreign editor of De Telegraaf, and he told us that Metropolitan Nikodem had been spotted as good material for the KGB already in his childhood. But he also told us: "Your greater enemy is Anthony Bloom, since he is an arch-ecumenist and erodes the Orthodox faith from within."

It is certainly true that Anthony Bloom was an ecumenist. He was even given a decoration by the Anglicans for his ecumenical work. He wore this on many occasions.

I was still in the MP when once I was drinking some tea after the liturgy. Metropolitan Anthony came up to me and said: "Today I’m going to your country." He meant Holland, which is where my parents lived. I asked him: "Why?" He replied: "I have to see Bishop Dionysius, as he has caused a crisis in the Church." I asked: "Why? Is he a Mason?" He replied: "It is worse than that. I have to discipline him." At that time his driver used to be a Russian woman from Cambridge called Irene, so I asked him: “Is Irene taking you to the airport?" He replied: "No, I’m going by taxi." I asked: "When will you be back?" He said: "Today, I’m just going over to see him."

Now on that day, which was Sunday, I did not know that I myself would be going over to Holland soon. My father phoned me and asked me to come. When I had arrived and was sitting with my parents in their sitting room, my father said: "Isn’t it awful that Bishop Dionysius died so suddenly last Sunday?" I said that I had not read anything about it in the English newspapers. My father told me that Bishop Dionysius had asked reporters from all the Dutch newspapers to come and see him. This was on a Friday. He told them that he had left the Moscow Patriarchate because Patriarch Pimen had been telling lies publicly on television and radio, saying that there was no persecution of the faithful in Russia and some other lies. The next day, Saturday, the papers published this head-line news. Then, on the Sunday, Fr. Arseny, the monk who lived with Bishop Dionysius, and who had left him in the morning after the liturgy, returned in the evening to find him dead. On Monday the newspapers announced that Bishop Dionysius had died of a heart-attack. I was stunned!

I went with my parents to visit some friends, and Fr. Arseny happened to be there. He told me with tears that nobody wanted to bury his bishop. The MP refused to do so, and the Russian Church in Exile also refused because, although he had applied to join them, he had not yet been officially received by them. Instead, he had been buried by the local council with Fr. Arseny and his parishioners standing round his coffin crying. I said to the monk: "Of course you know that Metropolitan Anthony visited him on Sunday?" "What?!" exclaimed Fr. Arseny. I told him of our conversation and how he had told me himself that he was going to visit Bishop Dionysius that day because he needed to be discipline because of the crisis he had caused in the Church. Fr. Arseny went pale and said: "I had better disappear from the scene now that I know this..."

Coming back to England after the nightmare of all these discoveries I had been making about Metropolitan Nikodem of Leningrad, the women who claimed they had been raped by Metropolitan Anthony Bloom, his confession that he would go to hell for his sins against the Church, I consulted with the other members of our parish, and on the feast of the Dormition we decided to leave the Moscow Patriarchate. Then I decided I had to go and see him to tell him personally that I was leaving. He granted me an interview in his house in Upper Addison Gardens. We sat opposite each other with the window on either side of us. Not knowing how to begin, I asked him to pray to the Holy Spirit to guide us. He seemed surprised, but agreed. Then I said: "Why did you lie to me about Metropolitan Nikodem, saying that he was a wonderful Christian? According to the Dutch newspapers that he is a major-general of the KGB, and according to Keston college, he is a lieutenant-colonel of the KGB. He was groomed as a child to become a KGB agent." Metropolitan Anthony went pale and looked worried. "How much more do you know?" he asked. "I want to know for whom you are working - Christ or Antichrist? The Prophet Elijah said you cannot have one foot in each of two opposing camps." He jumped up: "What are you going to do?" I said: "Leave you, of course, as you are not a true bishop." He did not deny this, but said: "Where are you going?" I said: "Perhaps to the Russian Church in Exile." He snapped: "That splinter group!" I said: "I’d rather be with a splinter group if God is there than with a mighty Church organization if God is not there." "What is the parish going to do?" I answered: "Leave you, of course." "I want all of you to come to my house next week after the liturgy of the Exaltation of the Cross to talk with me. Then I will show you documents to prove that you are wrong." I said: "We’ll come to your house, but not to the liturgy." "Olga," he said, "there is nothing wrong with the Cross of Christ." "There is nothing wrong with the Cross of Christ," I agreed, "but there is with the man whose hands are holding it."

On the feast of the Exaltation, several members of the parish, including Vladimir and I, went to his house. Vladimir explained the reasons for the parish’s decision - the sergianism and ecumenism of the Moscow Patriarchate. I then asked the metropolitan to show us the documents he had to prove that we were wrong. He said that he could not find them at that moment. They were in his attic! We told him that he had had enough time to find them, and began to leave the room, not asking for his blessing. I was the last to leave. "May God be with you," he said to me. "He will be," I replied, "if I remain faithful to Him."

Our parish joined the Russian Church in Exile on the feast of the Protecting Veil, 1975. Over a year later, in January, 1977, we were visting Archbishop Vitaly in Montreal. To our amazement, he told us that Metropolitan Anthony Bloom had applied to be received by the Russian Church in Exile during the year after we had left him. The Synod of Bishops had met to discuss his application, and it was agreed that he could be received into the Church, but not as a bishop. Metropolitan Anthony did not accept this condition, and remained in the MP. As Archbishop Vitaly said to us: "How could we receive him as a bishop when for years he had collaborated with the communists?"

Woking, March 4/17, 2006

(Published in Vernost’, no. 41)

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