True Orthodoxy in Russia

Posted on October 3, 2013, ROAC American site

An explanation by Archbishop Andrew about the attempt to resolve the differences between the various “splinter” groups of the Russian Church.

A couple of years ago, I started to receive letters, emails and phone calls from people asking me why we bishops, who had once been clergy together in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) but were now in different groups after the Anschluß (that is how I only half-jokingly refer to the capitulation of the ROCOR to the Moscow Patriarchate in 2007), could not get together and resolve our differences. They call our various groups “splinters” of the ROCOR, although I reject that characterization. They wanted to force us all into a locked room and make us sit down together and “duke it out” until we came up with some formula by which we would accomplish the desired outcome.

This kind of thing had already once taken place, in 1995, when the bishops of various groups came together in Suzdal, resolved their differences and formed the Temporary Higher Church Authority of the Russian Orthodox Church (in accordance with St. Patriarch Tikhon’s ukase № 362) with Archbishop Lazar Zhurbenko chosen as its

first Chief Hierarch. This group then appealed to the leadership of the ROCOR to resolve its differences with them and accept mutual recognition and communion. However, they were rebuffed by the same men who would eventually carry the ROCOR into capitulation to the Moscow Partriarchate (MP), a false church organization that was set up by Stalin in 1943 and supported by the Soviet government from that time on, and now by the Russian Federation. After a couple of years, Archbishop Lazar, Bishop Benjamin and Bishop Agafangel would leave this newly reconstituted Higher Church Authority to “return” to the ROCOR, where they sat under epitimia for a year, but were then accepted as bishops of the ROCOR. Two of these bishops (Archbishop Lazar and Bishop Benjamin) would leave the ROCOR again, with Met. Vitaly. After the death of Archbishop Lazar, Archbishop Tikhon was elected in his place and now leads the group known as the “Tikhonites.” Bishop Agafangel would stay with the ROCOR until 2007. When the ROCOR capitulated to the MP, Bishop Agafangel, instead of returning to the Higher Church Authority of the Russian Orthodox Church in Suzdal, which he had once helped to set up, or going to the Tikhonites, started his own group–the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. Since he was alone, he accepted the offer of the Synod in Resistance of Archbishop Cyprianos of Oropos and Fili to help him consecrate his first set of bishops.

After hearing these pleas from the good people of the Russian diaspora for such a long time, I began to think that perhaps we should indeed accede to the requests of the rational sheep of the Church and at least give it a shot. I had already spoken with all of the other bishops individually from time to time about our differences. And so, I did not have any particular reticence about speaking with them all together. However, I did reiterate to the sponsoring Russian Monarchical Society that, just as in the past, I consider the most important question among us to be the doctrine of Cyprianism, and that I would put this question first on the agenda of things that I wanted to discuss at our meeting.

The first meeting was arranged in my home. After some reminiscing about old times in Jordanville and remembering the personages that we all knew, we got down to business and began to speak about the issues that stand in the way of any reconciliation that might take place among us, and/or the re-establishment of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. The meeting lasted about two hours, with me doing most of the talking.

The second meeting was arranged at the home of Archbishop Andronik in Mountain View, NY. There again, the question of Cyprianism was the first thing that we talked about, since we hadn’t come to any conclusions about this topic as a result of the first meeting.

After these two meetings, we started to hear various things on the Russian internet. Met. Agafangel gave an interview to Portal-credo.ru in which he said that he did not consider Cyprianism to be any kind of heresy, but rather the true ecclesiology of the Orthodox Church for the last 2,000 years. In another venue, he characterized his understanding of Cyprianism as the golden, middle-of-the-road, rational, fair and balanced position. The position of the ROAC (that Cyprianism is a kind of “crypto-ecumenism” and condemned by the ROCOR’s anathema against ecumenism of 1983), as stated during our Sobor of 2008 in Suzdal, he characterized as a kind of extremist fanaticism to the right, and the position of the MP as an extremist fanaticism to the left. He did not agree with Bishop Gregory Grabbe’s assessment in 1993 that by going into communion with the Synod in Resistance of Archbishop Cyprianos of Oropos and Fili, the ROCOR had actually placed itself under its own anathema.

Try as I might to make some headway with Archbishop Andronik on this issue, I did not succeed. Archbishop Andronik rejects the idea that Cyprianism is crypto-ecumenism. But he either did not want, or was not able, to explain his position. I believe that this question is far from being fully explored and resolved. I believe that it is a timely topic, about which pious people all over the world are concerned and confused. Who should be talking about it, if not the bishops of the Church?

On September 16th of this year, Met. Agafangel, while on a pastoral visit to his parishes in the US and Canada, presided over a diocesan meeting at the Tolstoy Foundation in Valley Cottage, NY, where his church has a parish. At this meeting they discussed me. The result of this discussion is the following sentence, which they posted on their organization’s official web site:

“Also, in view of recently discovered facts concerning the immoral lifestyle of Bishop Andrew (Maklakov) of the ROAC, the meeting resolved to address the flock with a warning that any contact with him is impermissible.”

When asked what he meant by that in an email, Met. Agafangel responded by saying:

“Eight years ago, he raped a little girl, and 2-3 years ago, he was caught in an act of разврате (this word may be translated by any of these: depravity, debauchery, degeneracy), but he managed to hush it up. Several persons confirm this. Also, in 2010, he was convicted in court of fraud and given a two-year suspended sentence, this is on the internet. This information is confidential, I ask you not to disseminate it, +M.A.”

It has also come to my attention that Archbishop Andronik in his private conversations with his clergy and parishioners, as well as with other people outside of his own church, has told them that I am a homosexual.

I am now being inundated with a number of requests to make a public statement in answer to these public and semi-public allegations. Not to do so would seem to people that I have nothing against what is being said about me and this could be taken as an acquiescence on my part as to their veracity.

First, I will speak about the charge of fraud.

In 2004, when I was first assigned as assistant to Fr. Vladimir Shishkoff and had to move to New Jersey, I found that my car insurance bill had risen to four times what I had been paying previously. The car insurance rates in New Jersey are among the highest in the nation. My only income is a small Social Security Disability pension, which I receive as a result of a traffic accident in 1987, subsequent to which my left knee was replaced with a prosthetic device. I was aware that many people register their cars in other states in order to save some money on the costs of maintaining them. In some states this is a legal practice. I asked a friend in Virginia if I could use his address for this purpose and he allowed me. After a year had gone by, however, his wife got tired of forwarding my mail and became concerned that she might get into legal trouble for taking part in this arrangement. So I went down to Virginia, opened a Personal Mail Box in a business that provides such things, and used that address for my car registration. After 4 years, my friend and his wife decided to report me to the police in Virginia. I was arrested and held in a maximum security jail with murderers, rapists, drug dealers and other serious and violent criminals for 10 days, until the state of Virginia could send two officers up to New Jersey for the purpose of transferring me down to Virginia for trial. Because of the way the Virginia law is worded, there was no way for the judge to mitigate my situation, for example, because I had never been in trouble with the law before, etc., and the least punishment he could give me was a two year suspended sentence, which is what I received. I was not given, nor did I serve, probation. My two year suspended sentence has now passed. I have paid my debt to society for my crime, which was not fraud, by the way, but “unlawfully obtaining documents from DMV.” It was deemed unlawful because on the DMV form that I filled out for my car registration I had put my mailing address in the box where my residential address was asked for. I cannot hide these facts, they are readily available on the internet to anyone who Googles my name, or to anyone who might have access to public records, like say, any officer of the court.

As a result of this crime, I will have to go through the rest of my life as a convicted felon. This means that I can never run for public office or own a firearm. I have learned my lesson, and I am truly sorry and embarrassed for having behaved in this way.

As far as the charges of immorality are concerned, I have the following to say:

I live in a country whose laws state that a man is innocent until proven guilty. The burden of proof is now on those who have accused me. According to the laws of the Church, if you accuse someone in spiritual court, and don’t prove your case, the punishment that would have come to the accused is applied to the accuser.

So now I say to Metropolitan Agafangel, Archbishop Andronik, and to the clergy and lay people who signed their names to the minutes of their diocesan meeting: Prove your case. Name names; name places; name times. Until you do prove your accusations, I say to you that you are liars, slanderers, and have broken God’s commandment against bearing false witness against your neighbor.

The word for liar, or slanderer, in Greek is diavolos. The word for liar, or slanderer, in Hebrew is satan.

When the Lord said to the Pharisees who accused him, “You are of your father the devil,” He was saying this because they spoke lies and slanders against Him, and in so doing made themselves, by their emulation of Satan’s behavior, (the first liar, or arch-liar), worthy offspring of him.

If you do not prove your accusations, if you cannot prove your accusations, then I expect you to make a full retraction of your accusations in public, just as you have accused me in public.

Until you do one or the other of these two things, I will not continue our dialogue with you about resolving the differences between our churches.

+Archbishop Andrew of Pavlovskoye and Rockland
Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church

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