Out From the Catacombs: An Interview with Archbishop Lazar (Zhurbenko) (+2003)

August 11, 2015

NFTU: Archbishop Lazar (Zhurbenko) was, arguably, the founding hierarch of the Synod now known as “RTOC“.  He was known in the Catacomb Russian community, having joined the Catacomb Orthodox Church as a young man, he  received Consecration to the Episcopate by ROCOR in the 1980s. Later he emerged in the 1990s as an active participant in the attempts build up True Orthodoxy in Russia. The Consecration was performed in secret, in Russia, with only one Bishop (i.e. a single hand consecration), i.e. Bishop Varnava (Prokofiev) He did not choose to form a separate Synod from ROCOR with ROAC in 1994, but, stayed with ROCOR, until the early 2000s. He was consecrated Bishop for Odessa.

With the attempt to drive Metropolitan Vitaly out of ROCOR in the early 2000s, two prominent figures publicly offered support: Archbishop Lazar (Zhurbenko) in Russia, and, interestingly, Metropolitan Cyprian of Oropos and Phyle.  Met. Vitaly rejected the aid of Met. Cyprian (indeed, he eventually anathematized him and his adherents as heretics, though, he had been in communion with him for some  years previous; though, not without his own objections originally); he did, however, choose the aid of Archbishop Lazar.

Amid some vague circumstances, Archbishop Lazar of Odessa and Bishop Benjamin (Rusalenko) of Kuban, consecrated additional bishops for Russia. However, Metropolitan Vitaly objected to these, supposedly saying, “I consider the consecrations of Hieromonks Dionisy, Germogen, Tikhon, and Iriney, performed by Archbishop Lazar and Bishop Veniamin, to be illicit, and I declare that I have no prayerful or liturgical communion with them.”

This seems to have marked the end of a communion between Mansonville and Abp. Lazar; we thus see the separate beginnings of the ROCiE groups and the RTOC. RTOC has several dozen public communities in the former Soviet Union (as to how many ‘secret’ or unlisted parishes, missions, etc, we are unsure, and for good reason).

Abp. Lazar was received in Russia with ‘mixed reviews’ by some. Some True Orthodox believing him to be a Soviet agent bent on destroying the Catacomb Church; others believing him to have been a tireless worker for the preservation and propagation of Orthodox in Russia.  He was the subject of numerous slanderous attacks by several prominent Moscow Patriarchate (and even ROCOR) clerics. Ultimately, such attacks, while roused up from their slumber every now and again, have died down (and with good reason; there was no evidence for such lies other than the non-evidence of constant repetition)

Below is an interview conducted  prior to the separation of RTOC from ROCOR. The interview (conducted by ROCOR Archpriest Victor Potapov) is reproduced in its entirely from the “Orthodox America” website. The original can be viewed here.


I have to admit that in going to meet Bishop Lazarus I went with certain prejudices. I thought that a person from the underground was sure to be embittered, that he would consider that he alone was honest, that he alone was right, l thought he would be proud of his correctness and purity, and that he would consider the rest of us to have gone astray, perhaps even to be lost. But I must say, I was very favorably impressed by Bishop Lazarus. This is truly a hierarch by the mercy of God. — Priest Georgi Edelstein


This spring, Bishop Lazarus, a member of Russia’s Catacomb Church now guiding the free Russian parishes under the jurisdiction of the Church Abroad, granted the following interview to Archprlest Victor Potapov.


Fr. Victor: Vladika Lazarus, I am so very happy to be able to talk with you. You are unusual in that you are a bishop but you do not represent the official Church. You are a catacomb bishop, but here in the West you serve openly and, by virtue of the fact that we are talking here on the airwaves of “Voice of America’, you are now making yourself known to the entire Soviet Union.

I should like to begin our discussion by asking you to tell us briefly about yourself and the path which led you to the Catacomb Church and to the episcopate.

Bishop Lazarus: I grew up practically an orphan. My mother died in 1933, of hunger, in the district of Belgorod, while my father went away to Kuban where he found work as a carpenter. At least he received what was left after sunflowers are pressed for oil, and this is what he ate. After mother died my sister took me to Voronezh, then I was sent to my father.

During the war some churches were opened in Kuban. We lived near the town of Kropotkin, which – used to be a farm belonging to the Romanovsky family. Someone came to the market and announced that a church had been opened in town. It was a metochion belonging to the Abalsk-Caucasus Missionary Monastery. The following Sunday I went to church. There were a lot of people; even the church yard was full. I had never been in a church and felt rather awkward at first. The saints looking down at me from the walls scared me. But I soon got over this initial reaction and stood through the service. I watched how people crossed themselves and began to make the sign of the cross myself. The next Sunday I went again and squeezed my way through the crowd. The old women pushed me to the front. I gradually became bolder, began to pray better. And from that time I was always drawn to church. At home, of course, there was a lot of work; we had a large household. When a church opened in the capital, I started going there to services, on Sundays, feastdays. 1 came to the attention of the churchgoers and was invited to help out. I was constantly in the altar, helping the priest.

There was a wonderful batiushka, Archpriest Konstantin Vysotsky, from Yaroslavl, Metropolitan Agafangel’s diocese. He greatly revered St. John of Kronstadt, who cured him in his student years (he studied at the St. Petersburg Theological Academy) of a passion for gambling; he served panikhidas for him, spoke a lot about him, with tears.. He was a great preacher and attracted many people, Old Believers, Baptists came to listen. On Sunday evenings after vespers he always held discussions. As an acolyte, I accompanied him when he made house calls to serve molebens, panikhidas.., and then other priests. The priests, of course, were frequently transferred.

In 1944 our church was closed; it was turned into a club for young people. At first no one showed up, but then they were pressed to come, and since the youth had nowhere to go, they began coming.

In 1945 I met some catacomb monks who told me about renovationism [1], about Sergianism, [2] about all these various church currents in Russia. After the war years when I had to leave home where I was no longer needed, some kind people took me in and introduced me to many catacomb believers. I became acquainted with Fr. Samuel, a well-known wandering elder of the Catacomb Church, then with Hiero-schemamonk Elder Theodosius from Mt. Athos, who died in 1948. This was a rare elder: he received everyone–the Tikhonites, as we were so-called then, and from the official church; he made no distinctions and received everyone with love. His manners reminded one of St. Seraphim: affectionate, kind; it was as if a light emanated from him; it drew people, they became glued to him, as it were, and didn’t want to leave him. Even today there are people who remember him. For three years I was in contact with him. I was 16 years old at the time. I came with some believers, and he said to me, “Why don’t I make you some wings?” which was his way of suggesting he make me a monk. I agreed and was tonsured. After Fr. Theodosius died, some believers recommended that I meet a secret bishop who lived in the Caucasus. I spent two years under his guidance, fulfilling various obediences.

In 1950 I was arrested. At that time I was in the area of Rostov and wrote a letter asking to see this bishop, not knowing that he had already been arrested. I was sent a telegram and went immediately to Boloshdv, in the Saratov district, and there on the street, at one o’clock at night, I was arrested. They had been waiting for me. I, of course, suspected nothing. They arrested me, brought me to the Party headquarters, and began interrogating me. I denied everything, afraid of betrayal. For three days they tortured me. I still did not admit to knowing him, but they showed me the telegram and my letter. I replied that I was simply going to see a woman who had invited me, and spoke as though I were going to Moscow to Patriarch Alexis [3] in order to be assigned somewhere. I was scared, naturally, and lost my head. I was 19 at the time. They wanted to make a separate case of it there in Rostov, but since I was adamant they decided to take me to Saratov for a face to face meeting with the bishop. They brought me into a large room. Sitting there were ten Chekists. I was scared; they all looked at me. With his back to me sat an old man. When they led me to him and ordered him to stand, I saw it was [my bishop], although I hardly recognized him: his beard was shaved, and he was blue, emaciated, with sunken eyes, but they were affectionate, kind. He told me that we were all here; there was no need to resist: “We are all on the cross, and it will get worse; they will torture us.” He blessed me to ascend the cross, and we parted.

They arrested 150 of us in all, including two hieromonks, in various cities and villages around the country. After the six months it took to decide our case we were sent to prison camp. They couldn t pin anything on us: there were no witnesses, no evidence; we were arrested simply because we were believers of the True Orthodox Church (TOC), who didn’t agree with [Metropolitan Sergius’] Declaration; after 1927 our hierarchs and clergy were obliged to go underground. Renovationists were making a strong case for themselves; then came the Declaration, in Ukraine you had self-made clergy. all around the Church was being tormented. Since they took the churches away from our bishops and priests we were forced to go underground. Furthermore, we saw that Stalin was behind Patriarch Alexis’ election; the Sobor which elected him was not free; it was under strong pressure of the NKVD. Therefore our priests did not recognize him and continued their [underground] existence. And for merely not recognizing Patriarch Alexis, priests were given 25 years’ imprisonment and laymen were given 10 years. So it was with us. Our bishop was sentenced to be executed, but it was commuted to 25 years since people were no longer being executed for violation of that particular statute, 58-11 of the criminal code. They charged us with “group agitation and propaganda”. In fact, we conducted no propaganda whatsoever: we gathered secretly when a priest or hierarch came, fulfilled our religious needs, the Mysteries, had discussions when we could, and dispersed. We didn’t print any leaflets, we didn’t write any books, we didn’t preach on the streets against the authorities. But they were set against us, accusing us of being monarchists, members of the True Orthodox Church, that we didn’t recognize the Soviet regime… They sought for us everywhere. Not just us personally, our group; there are catacomb believers all over the country; there’s not a single city in which, to this day, there aren’t at least a few people belonging to the Catacomb Church. Most are concentrated in the central republics.

  1. The Church was in ruins; things were confiscated, even houses were confiscated, books were taken, vestments, mantias. I myself saw crosses bent down. They cursed, blasphemed; they called us antichrists. Whenever we went in to the examiner they always gave the order, “Stand up, antichrist!”


Fr. Victor: During this wave of arrests, did any bishops avoid arrest? Were they all arrested?

Bishop Lazarus: Our bishop was arrested, of course But some bishops remained: Bishop Peter Ladigin who was consecrated by [New Martyr] Archbishop Andrew of Ufa when he was already in exile; he was recognized by Metropolitan Agathangel and Metropolitan Peter of Krutitsa…


Fr. Victor: In this period of the ’50s, was the Moscow Patriarchate used against you by the Soviet authorities?

Bishop Lazarus: The catacomb believers feared the Moscow Patriarchate priests even more than the police. Whenever a priest came for some reason or other, he was met by a feeling of dread. The catacomb people would say, “A red detective has come.” He was sent deliberately, and he was obliged to report everything to the authorities. Not infrequently, hierarchs and priests told the people outright, directly from the ambo, “Look around, Orthodox people. There are those who do not come to church. Find out who they are and report to us; these are enemies of the Soviet regime who stand in the way of the building of socialism.” We were very much afraid of these Sergianist-oriented priests.

When, in 1961, the priests’ rights were taken away from them and given to the church council, they quieted down and it was easier for us; at least we could, get to our priests and priests began more freely to come to us, to confess and commune us. From 1961 the Moscow Patriarchate calmed down in its attitude towards us. Of course, when foreigners asked representatives of the M.P., “Does a catacomb church exist?” the answer was always “No”. That was a lie. There were catacomb believers all over Russia, just as there are today. Today, however, there is a great disorder caused by the fact that when a bishop died they would send us various impostors who passed themselves off as bishops. We were obliged, of course, to investigate them; we’d discover they were false, planted in our midst, or simply impostors. Naturally, when people learned they had been deceived, they splintered into small groups. This caused great confusion in our midst. This was all caused, as we understood it, by the official Church or its secret collaborators. Even today there are various rumors circulating concerning the Church Abroad, and against me personally.


Fr. Victor.. Vladika, earlier you said that representatives of the Catacomb Church did not accept Patriarch Alexis’ election as lawful: they considered him to have been placed in that position by Stalin. I should like to know the reasons you did not enter the Moscow Patriarchate.

Bishop Lazarus: We did not recognize Metropolitan Sergius’ Declaration because to do so one had to betray Orthodoxy. How? It would mean becoming a builder of socialism, renouncing… not the dogmas of Orthodoxy, but gradually stepping away from Orthodoxy, from the faith. This was the idea behind it. Perhaps Sergius himself didn’t do this; he was told to by enemies of the Church; they wrote the Declaration in such a way as to paralyze church activity. We wanted no part of such evil. This was betrayal, and we didn’t join this Judas business.


Fr. Victor, In what way, concretely, do you see this as a betrayal?

Bishop Lazarus: You see, church leaders are not doing church work; they are merely fulfilling rituals. In their sermons they may say a few words on the meaning of the Feast–and then they turn to socialism and world peace. Furthermore, they have to denounce their sheep to the government deputy, i.e., to the KGB. In the Moscow Patriarchate there was no other way. If, let’s say, a priest showed resistance, they either transferred him to such a remote place that he could die of hunger, or they kicked him out and he was forced to take up an illegal existence.

We considered it an act of Judas to become tied up with the Soviet regime, a regime that was theomachist, traitorous, blasphemous. It directed all its strength to destroy religion, especially Orthodoxy. In order not to participate in this, in order to preserve the purity of Orthodoxy, we went into the catacombs. We did not leave the Church, we did not leave Orthodoxy, we preserved everything, but we left the organization which had been organized by the Soviet regime with the help of Metropolitan Sergius and his dubious synod, people who weren’t very reliable as far as the good of the Church was concerned–renovationists, priestless people… While the better hierarchs, locum tenens, were arrested, harassed; the better bishops, clergy were arrested; they were sought out everywhere, wherever they remained: clergy, monastics..· We considered the Moscow Patriarchate organization to be the KGB, just in a different guise.


Fr. Victor, Vladika, what were the conditions of your imprisonment? You were in the camps for five years for your faith. How did they treat you there?

Bishop Lazarus: When I was arrested, I was held six months for interrogation: day or night, the entire six months they interrogated me, harassed me. Twice I fell unconscious from hunger and exhaustion.

When I was transferred to a regime prison, I was thrown in with thieves, recidivists, frightful people. From these I heard the worst imaginable language, immoral. Prison fare, of course, is well known. We were taken out for 15 minutes for a walk, we weren’t allowed to stop, hands had to be held behind the back. The slightest infraction was punished with three days in solitary. I was given seven and a half. I was held in a basement cell where people were shot; there was water, it was damp. I was supposed to be there for five days. But they kept me and kept me. Finally I knocked for the warden: if they had added more time I should have been told. He went and found out. When I was let out from this cell I fell unconscious, overcome by the warm prison air.

In prison I didn’t meet a single believer. I prayed fervently that at least some Tatar would be put in with me. I felt they were piercing me with swords, morally defiling me, but I didn’t give in. I prayed inwardly. I tried to protect myself from hearing their filthy conversations by stuffing cotton into my ears, but they noticed and pulled it out.

In the camp, of course, I met many believers, priests–worthy priests: Archpriest Paul Kovalevsky from Odessa, Hierodeacon Polycarp from Moldavia–a good singer, very humble; a radiant man. I met Hieromonk Cosma Trnsov who belonged to our “case”. And there were other believers. In the last, the so-called “death camp,” there were 25,000 prisoners. It was located in the village of Spas, in the district of Karagandinsk. There I met Fr. Vladimir Krivoliutski, a priest from Moscow, who had already been imprisoned: the first time because he would not join the renovationists, the second because he didn’t accept Metropolitan Sergius’ Declaration, and the third time because he didn’t recognize Patriarch Alexis. One might ask what this has to do with the Soviet authorities. Why was it that at the trials the examining magistrates always spoke of Patriarch Alexis in such reverential tones; this was very obvious. They took just the opposite tone if Patriarch Tikhon’s name was mentioned; they’d even spit on the floor. And now the Moscow Patriarchate has even glorified him. This amazes us; it almost seems ludicrous.

Fr. Vladimir Krivoliutski was arrested on Pascha night, 1948. A group had gathered; they were all surrounded and each given ten years for not recognizing  Patriarch Alexis. Fr. Vladimir was a well-educated priest, ordained by Patriarch Tikhon, a very worthy priest-elder—in looks, in intelligence and by his life; a radiant batiushka. There are still some people from his community left in Moscow, but for the most part we were scattered and lost contact over the years. In 1956 he wanted to come to the northern Caucasus; he sent some books, but then we received news from his close relatives that Fr. Vladimir had died. We were so sorry, so very sorry.

There was Fr. Sergius Tikhrov from Tambov a graduate of the Moscow Theological Academy. He had also been imprisoned twice. An amazing priest, pastor. After his release in 1955 he went underground. I had no permanent residence and moved about from place to place; it was risky to keep addresses and I would lose track of people. Fr, Sergius died in 1977, in Tambov; he was an extraordinary pastor-confessor.

Then there was Alexander Andrcevich Chefnov, a highly educated man, who also belonged to our group. A secret theological school was established where believers attended theological lectures; there were spirited discussions. Alexander would tell us about the diaspora. It was from him I first heard about Metropolitans Anthony [Khrapovitsky] and Anastassy, and later from others. Many prisoners there came from western Ukraine, from Volhynia, worthy priests; they likewise told us about blessed Metropolitan Anthony whom they recalled with great warmth.


Fr. Victor: Vladika, on one hand you do not recognize the Moscow Patriarchate; you did not become a member of the M.P., but, as I understand, you do not deny the sacraments of the Moscow Patriarchate. Your branch of the Catacomb Church does not rebaptize, it does not re-ordain priests.

Bishop Lazarus: This is not my Personal opinion; it is the position of those well-educated priests with whom I associated. Fr. Vladimir Krivoliutsky belonged to a group led by Metropolitan Cyril of Kazan, a moderate. Fr. Sergius Tigrov was of like mind. They recognized the Mysteries [of the Moscow Patriarchate] because dogmatically there were no violations concerning the Orthodox teaching about the Holy Trinity, and the Mysteries were performed according to the rules of the office. True, they do not immerse, but after all, there were Periods in the Church’s history-in the time of Hieromartyr Cyprian, for example—-when the Church recognized baptism by sprinkling by virtue of necessity. Not because this was the only way: it should be performed by immersion, and we immerse. But this is not always possible. When I was moving about the country, sometimes there was no water, sometimes there was no suitable vessel, and yet I had to perform the baptism; it couldn’t be postponed. And so we would simply pour water over the head, in the name of the Holy Trinity. And we accept the Mystery of Chrismation as a lawful baptism.

We likewise do not deny their ordinations. Re-ordinations were performed only for renovationists, following the instructions of Patriarch Tikhon. And there were exceptions even here. If a renovationist bishop renounced his monastic vows, or if the bishop were married, the ordinations he performed were not considered canonical. But if he were an old bishop, that is, if the bishop performing the ordination were a monk who hadn’t renounced his vows, in that case Patriarch Tikhon accepted the ordination.

The Arians weren’t all rebaptized, the monophysites weren’t rebaptized; all that was required was that they renounce their heresy. The iconoclasts weren’t rebaptized… One can find many examples. Roman Catholics were and were not rebaptized, depending on the times and the local Church. Even in Russia there was no consistent policy with regard to receiving Roman Catholics: some patriarchs in the 17th century rebaptized, others did not. And inasmuch as a final judgment on the Moscow Patriarchate has not been made, we consider that the grace of God has not left the people. After all, there are many pious people [within the Moscow Patriarchate], many good priests grieving, tormented. Not everyone knows of the Catacomb Church, and not everyone can emigrate; they are, after all, in bonds, in prison. For this reason, with respect to those living in the Soviet Union there are no such strict demands. Those in freedom, however, are of course to be faulted for belonging to the Moscow Patriarchate; with regard to them it’s an entirely different matter. But for those in bends there is a certain condescension. After all, not everyone is to blame; a long time has passed.


Fr. Victor:. Vladika, how would you assess the present state of the Moscow Patriarchate?

Bishop Lazarus: We, of course, have little to do with the Moscow Patriarchate. In general, we have nothing to do with any of the bishops or priests of the Patriarchate. And we certainly don’t concelebrate—not with a single bishop, not with a single priest of the Moscow Patriarchate. If it happens that we meet by chance, somewhere in an apartment, we might talk and we might see that here is a good priest, that he sympathizes with us and the Russian Church Abroad, and if, God grant, he should come to us, well and good; we’ll accept him with love, of course. But we’ve heard from priests themselves, from the people, that the Moscow Patriarchate itself is altogether corrupt: it is immoral, it has lost faith in God, it simply serves the authorities who want to use it to build socialism. Communists don’t believe in God, but they want their children to be taught the Law of God. They’ve made a mess of the country, they’ve paralyzed the Church, and now they want to inspire their children with something. What is this?! Without repentance, without turning to God, to Christ, nothing will come of it; it’s all empty.

Today the Patriarchate conducts magnificent services, especially in Moscow where there are churches, singing, many people attend. And why shouldn’t the churches be full? It’s a city of ten million people, and people come to Moscow from all over the country. But there are few in the Moscow Patriarchate who are discerning, who really know the Church. Cultured people are trying to understand what religion is all about, but it’s not the kind of knowledge that is easily acquired; it is given only to those who have a pious heart, who are trying to be with Christ, with Orthodoxy, with the truth.

All these years the Moscow Patriarchate has been denied the right to preach, to conduct pastoral work; it has simply fulfilled rituals. Among its ranks are those who were planted there. There are, we know, komsomol organizations in the seminaries. Graduates are ordained and it turns out that they are unbelievers. Believers who have entered the seminaries have discovered that they are expected to report on classmates, and it becomes obvious who is a believer and who is an unbeliever. Then there are those who simply have no place to go, they can’t find a place in the secular world and they enter seminary to have a career; they don’t care about the Faith, about the people…


Fr. Victor: Vladika, people have been asking: from whom did you receive your episcopacy?

Bishop Lazarus: Our last bishop in Moscow was Sergius, the former rector of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Milevsky. He lived secretly in an apartment not far from the Kremlin. After his death we experienced considerable confusion: we were tossed to and fro, we were infiltrated by vagante bishops. It was all very sad. We priests all searched for a bishop who had survived prison, exile, but we didn’t find a one. We knew something about the Church Abroad, that she had lost neither canonicity nor the fullness of Orthodoxy. And in 1981, at the Sobor preceding the canonization of the New Martyrs, the Church Abroad decided to consecrate a bishop. At that time I was already corresponding with Archbishop Leonty of Chile. I was introduced to him by Archimandrite Eugene Zhukov who lived on Mount Athos, in the kellion of Archangel Michael· and through Vladika Leonty we made contact with the Church Abroad. We began asking that they send us a bishop and consecrate someone. I suggested two candidates: Fr. Michael Rozhdestvensky, living in Petersburg, and Fr. Nikita Kharkov, but when the hierarch arrived neither of them showed up. I had no thoughts of becoming a bishop myself, I didn’t even imagine such a thing; I was scared, but I had to take up this cross. This was in Moscow, in 1982. Of course, I endured a lot of slander; all kinds of rumors spread–that I had been consecrated by Patriarch Pimen, that Patriarch Pimen came here to America and called me here… All sorts of foolishness, dreadful… I cannot name the bishop, but he belongs to the Russian Church Abroad.


Fr. Victor:. Vladika, many believers and clergy of the Moscow Patriarchate have become very interested in the Church Abroad. There is a call now to open parishes of the Church Abroad [there in Russia]. But this has raised a question in people’s minds. According to the canons of the Orthodox Church it is forbidden to have more than one bishop in a city. How can the Church Abroad open parishes in Russia without violating these canons?

Bishop Lazarus: In the Thirty Apostolic Canons we read:” If a bishop or presbyter uses worldly leaders, through them receives his episcopal authority, let him be cast out and excommunicated, and all those associated with him.” Inasmuch as we consider the Moscow Patriarchate hierarchy to be unlawful-although it was passed down along the apostolic chain, it is still unlawful because all the bishops are filtered by the KGB, by the Kremlin–these bishops are unlawful, uncanonical. Therefore one can have a canonical bishop in the same city with an uncanonical bishop. Just as in the time of Arianism and all subsequent heresies—-rnonophysitism, iconoclasm,–next to the catholic church was an iconoclast bishop. We consider the Declaration of Metropolitan Sergius to be a new form of idol worship, a burning of incense before the devil, the worship of form, of a system of false freedom….One can say this is worse than heresy.


Fr. Victor: Against this background, how do you plan to act on your return to the Soviet Union?

Bishop Lazarus: If we find the means, suitable people, church people who with all their heart and soul will serve God and the Holy Orthodox Church, who won’t lead us astray, who won’t dissolve us, who will help us acquire a church building, we shall exist of course. And if the authorities don’t interfere in the internal affairs of the Church we shall exist openly. Before leaving I met with the priests; some of them have agreed to come into the open, while others prefer to hold back for a time. What if something should happen, what if we are arrested, isolated, and our community is left without any pastors? This can happen. The Moscow Patriarchate can even cooperate in this.


Fr. Victor:. Now that you will be serving openly, Vladika, do you anticipate more trouble from the [State] authorities or from the Moscow Patriarchate? How will the Moscow Patriarchate react to your coming into the open?

Bishop Lazarus: Here we cannot say. There experience will tell. Whether the authorities will pressure us, or whether the Moscow Patriachate will try to destroy us by means of various provocations–we don’t know. Of course, the gates of hell will not prevail against Christ’s Church. And the Lord said, Fear not, little flock, Take up your cross… We have renounced everything; we don’t need anything pertaining to this World; we have given ourselves over entirely to Christ and desire to serve Him, as best we know how.

[1] A state-supported movement in the ’20s to ‘modernize’ the Orthodox Church in the direction of Protestantism

[2] The doctrine of loyalty to the Soviet state, proclaimed in the 1927 Declaration of Metropolitan Sergius, which effectively crippled the Church in Russia and limited its activity to a formal performance of rites.

[3] Patriarch from 1945-70.

37 thoughts on “Out From the Catacombs: An Interview with Archbishop Lazar (Zhurbenko) (+2003)

  • August 12, 2015 at 10:25 am

    What a great interview, he sounds like a wonderful hierarch and confessor. Does the RTOC presently recognize the Mysteries of the MP?

    • August 12, 2015 at 12:10 pm

      I think the RTOC has shifted to a “no Grace” position in the Patriarchates in the past 13 years or so. That would seem to make sense. The same with ROAC.

      • August 12, 2015 at 12:16 pm

        So then, they have divested those True Orthodox, who didn’t shift with them in the last 13 years, of their Orthodoxy?

        They seem to have elevated their (relatively) new realization to a dogma.

        • August 12, 2015 at 11:05 pm

          One would have to ask a cleric or prominent laymen of that jurisdiction. I don’t know if they have an official document; otherwise, it’s only speculation on why.

          • August 12, 2015 at 11:32 pm

            I find it very peculiar that both ROAC and the RTOC originate with bishops that believed that the Patriarchates had grace, but now you are a heretic if you say that they may possibly have it. Or even if one neglects to dogmatically declare that they are graceless… that one is a heretic.

            We’ve already discussed this (ad nauseam), but many prominent 20th Russian hierarchs even believed that the RCC had grace. Does this make them heretics?

          • August 13, 2015 at 12:02 am

            The problem with that logic is that it would mean that someone could say, “Well, we can’t condemn Theodore of Mopsuestia since he died in 428.” After Ephesus there is no question though; similarly, if such a major figure and teacher such as Theodore could eventually be condemned, without condemning everyone in communion with him (everyone), then, it should seem something similar in the benefit should be given to ROAC and RTOC.

          • August 13, 2015 at 4:42 am

            I see your point and I agree, privately held views that are wrong can eventually be condemned. But Theodore’s theology was condemned by three successive imperial synods, one being led by a bishop who was an Ecumenical teacher in his own time, St. Cyril. ROAC/RTOC doesn’t even publish how they privately deliberated to shift their views, yet they treat their decision (realization over the last 13 years) as binding on the whole of Orthodoxy and they’ll invade your territory if you don’t subscribe to it. Did the RTOC invite any of the True Orthodox of Greece to discuss this? Even Arius, Nestorius and Dioscorus had that benefit. The RTOC is being hasty, provocative and anti-patristic and this does not make for the peace in the Churches that we all fervently pray for.

            St. Cyril himself did NOT divest those who kept Theodore in the diptychs of their Orthodoxy despite his theology being condemned by the whole Church, since he wanted to give them time to adjust for the sake of peace. Theodore, and those who esteemed him, were eventually condemned after 172 years by a major council backed by the Emperor, who was a brilliant theologian in his own right.

            The GOC-K document states:

            …this is how the Fathers acted toward heretics. They immediately broke communion with heretics, awaited the convocation of a competent body, namely an Œcumenical Synod, not in order to learn and decide whether the misbelief was a here- sy, but in order—through the official mouthpiece of the Church—that formal clarifications and formulations concerning correct doctrine might be made and the formal condemnation of heretics be pronounced.

          • August 13, 2015 at 9:38 am

            Yes, I understand. It’s all I could think of at the moment as a possible argument that RTOC might use.

          • August 13, 2015 at 10:43 am

            One thing about local councils though, it’s not always obligatory for other Churches to accept them. The Orthodox West never wholly accepted the sound theology of the Council of Carthage led by St. Cyprian. Constantinople canonically deposed all Bulgarian bishops and declared all their followers to be schismatics officially, nonetheless, the Churches of Russia, Jerusalem, Serbia and Romania remained in communion with both the Greeks and the Bulgars.

          • September 2, 2015 at 12:55 am

            So, how’s things in your GOAA? The Metropolitan in Atlanta has told his priests to commune Monophysites without prerequisite. I’ve seen it with my own eyes; heard it with my own ears. And when I asked directly and privately… I was met with silence… and in gently persisting, I received a clinic in obfuscation for an answer. Pre-fab male bovine pasture pie. The practice continues in our once-parish, and my wife and I have no choice but to absent ourselves from this public sacrilege and blasphemy. This is real life, patristic poker aside, bite-you-in-your-pew world orthodoxy soaked in ecumenical harlot wine. Seems you have enough on your plate at your own table. So… why 6+ years of blog queries and debates about True Orthodox, Marlon?

          • September 2, 2015 at 8:13 am


            You have my email address, nevertheless, things are going relatively well for me. I thought we were brothers, and even if we were to disagree on a serious matter, I thought we’d always be. Obviously, by this attempted public attack you no longer feel the same. It seems as though you have found your way out of ecumenism by association, and into spite and fratricidal bitterness.

            There is no need for this, since we were once friends. How about you “keep no company” with me as a contentious and/or heretical man “yet count me not as an enemy, but admonish me as a brother.” (cf. ‭‭2 Thes.‬ ‭3:15‬) May God save us both!

            To answer your question, “why six plus years?” For various reasons:

            1) Maybe I’m overly cautious…

            2) I’m unsure of myself and because things are very complicated and I don’t want to jurisdiction hop.

            3) some True Orthodox are either schismatic, parasynagogues or have embraced heresy themselves. Many of them have deposed and/or excommunicated each other, if you take any of that serious, it’s a cause for caution. Plus, when the gracelessness of World Orthodoxy is held as a dogma that divides True Orthodoxy, that’s a greivous error. True Orthodox Met. Chrysostomos of Florina called it a “Papo-Protestant bugbear” (in translation).

            4) because I enjoy discussing ecclesial issues with informed and serious traditional Orthodox, to a fault even. Fr. Enoch has told me so, and I took it constructively.

            your brother in ICXC,

          • September 2, 2015 at 11:25 am

            My, my dear friend! It is sad that you consider these words an ‘attack’! They are indeed lively and to-the-point. However, let me be quick to ask your forgiveness if what I have said causes you offense. Sincerely.

            How is one to approach you these days? In the past, you have encouraged me to be frank and bold, even to hold you accountable in a sense… assuring me that you would not be offended. I see that has changed.

            Do you imply that one must be ‘serious and informed’ to make comment on a website that is present for the public to peruse? Do you imply that I am not serious and informed? By what measurement do you consider yourself or anyone else ‘serious and informed’? Does well-read imply well-informed? I understand ecumenism and its exploits and poisons, without the assistance of intellectual or academic onanism, quite well. Experientially, far better than you. This understanding resides in my heart and will make its way to my lips and fingertips when I am addressing an adherent of the environs that promote it ever so insidiously… with their veiled rhetorical questions that they delight in casting about in privileged club member-only ‘cigar chats’ on the internet.

            So, are we to understand that you can visit websites and fill them with your questions and proof-texts at will, but will disdain another who posts a simply reply.. and one in which I make no bones about my ‘regard’ for ecumenism and those caught in the embrace of the Roman-Western antichristian wink.

            But, let me approach you more gently and cautiously, if at all, dear soul. I hope your heightened discussions, away from the riffraff of simpletons like me, will net you some answers and acquaint you with an overflow of humility.

            Now, Maxim. Let us remain friends. Doubtless you must have a last scathing word (or perhaps a multitude of them) in reply. I love you. Reply to that.


          • September 2, 2015 at 12:42 pm


            My comments about being informed and serious had nothing to do with you at all. In an answer to your question I responded that I like to discuss Orthodox issues with serious and informed persons such as those that write and comment here. Again, my comment has nothing at all to with your anti-ecumenical pedigree, knowledge, or experience.

            I encouraged you to always engage me frankly, as men used to do, when WE had a discussion. You haven’t tried to contact me via email to inquire into my well-being, to debate or to charge with anything as a true friend or brother would. Instead, after no interaction for months and the first thing in the a.m., you initiate a loving reunion by asking me about “my GOAA” and talking about ‘Ecumenical whore wine and bovine men chewing pews”. (??)
            As a point of fact, none of the True Orthodox here, including people who’ve been True for years, has ever responded to me in such a manner. I’m not offended, I was initially taken aback, then actually hurt as a friend betrayed. At present, I’m illumined; you can talk about love and “dear one” all you want, but I know a gangster hustle when I see one.

            If you have anything to say to me, feel free to call me.


            NFTU, sorry for the personal stuff on your blog. Pax!

          • August 13, 2015 at 10:19 am

            Thank you. I’m going to look into this, however, ROCIE faces the same issue because as you well know, Met. Vitaly stated:

            ‘At the present time, most other Orthodox Churches have been shaken to the core of their being by two successive blows: the new ecclesiastical calendar and ecumenism. Despite their impoverished state, however, we do not declare and may the Lord save us from ever having to declare them as having lost God’s grace.’ (1986 Nativity Epistle Pravoslavnaia Rus’ 1 [1987]: 1)

            Yet another statement acknowledging World Orthodox errors without ecclesiological dogmatics. This very same issue fractured the True Orthodox struggle in Greece and Romania from the very beginning, apparently no one has learned anything.

          • August 13, 2015 at 11:40 am

            It wouldn’t be accurate to say it ‘fractured’ in Romania in the same way as in Greece; unless I’m mistaken, 98 or 99% of all True Orthodox in Romania are part of the same jurisdiction, the Romanian True Orthodox Church under Metropolitan Vlasie.

          • August 13, 2015 at 11:53 am

            Ok, I should’ve been more precise. I meant it to be in a more qualitative way (i.e. Florinite/Matthewite) rather than a quantitative sense, as far as demographics or number of schisms.

          • August 13, 2015 at 11:41 am

            Met. Vitaly might have said, “Well, I was mistaken then. I am much clearer now.”

          • August 13, 2015 at 10:10 am

            Fr. Enoch,

            I’m not trying to lure you into a protracted debate but what is your view of the quotes below?

            Synod of Russian Bishops Abroad 1974:

            Concerning the question of the presence or absence of grace among the new calendarists the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad does not consider herself or any other Local Church to have the right to make a conclusive decision, since a categorical evaluation in this question can be undertaken only by a properly convened, competent Ecumenical Council, with the obligatory participation of the free Church of Russia. (Thirty Years of Trial: The True Orthodox Christians of Greece, 1970-200 pg. 9 by Vladimir Moss)

            V. Moss, New Zion in Babylon Vol. 4, p. 148:

            The OCA Archbishop John (Shahovskoj) tried to argue that the position of ROCOR towards the MP in this period was hypocritical insofar as it simultaneously called the MP apostate and sorrowed over the persecutions in the USSR and the closure of churches, although according to its logic, it should have rejoiced over the closure of apostate churches. In reply, the secretary of the ROCOR Synod, Fr. George Grabbe, replied while calling the the MP “apostate” and even, in some cases, using the word “gracelessness”, ROCOR never, at any of its Synodal sessions, expressed any doubt that the pastors and laymen belonging to the MP who were faithful to God were true pastors. Then, citing examples of the infiltration of agents into the hierarchy of the MP, Fr. George continued: “That is the gracelessness we are talking about! We are talking about those Judases, and not about a few suffering people who are vainly trying to save something, the unfortunate, truly believing pastors.”

            This seems to be the wisest course (in my estimation) and this is basically the stance of historic ROCOR, present GOC-K and + Lazar of the RTOC and ROAC approx. 13 years ago. +Grabbe’s definition of ‘gracelessness’ quoted above especially reminds of the most controversial portion of the GOC-K document:

            “…concerning their validity or concerning their soteriological efficacy, in particular for those who commune ‘knowingly’ [wittingly] with syncretistic ecumenism and Sergianism…”

            Therefore, it’s those ‘Judases’ who are ‘knowingly/ wittingly’ bowing the knee to Baal. They need to repent or be cast out. Can anyone who may legitimately disagree honestly say that these positions are outdated and/or “heretical” to the point of excluding anyone who may still hold them from Orthodoxy? Met. A. Khrapovitsky was of the same mind as the quotes above:

            ‘True, P[atriarch] Jeremiah in the 15th [correct: 16th] century and his successor in the 18th anathematized the calendar itself, but this curse: 1) touches only his contemporaries and 2) does not extend to those frightened to break communion with him…as long as the last word has not been spoken, as long as the whole Church has not repeated the curses of Patriarch Jeremiah at an Ecumenical Council, we must retain communion, so that we ourselves should not be deprived of salvation, and, in aiming at a gnat, swallow a camel… (The Russian Church and the New Calendar by Vladimir Moss)

            The GOC-K has explicitly stated that the Patriarchates are departing from Christ, and therefore the Mysteries, and yet it is not as simple as people make it out to be. Based upon historical precedence in the Russian Church, pastoral consideration and theological nuance, the GOC-K is not innovating or departing from Orthodoxy.

          • August 13, 2015 at 10:12 am

            We’ve gone down this road in the comments section and the NFTU forum before.

          • August 13, 2015 at 10:30 am

            Understood. In your opinion, has the GOC-K sinned as grievously as ROAC/RTOC claims? And on what basis?

          • August 14, 2015 at 1:29 am

            In my purely personal opinion, considering the history, I am not convinced that they have. Again that is all it is, an opinion. I can see the arguments, but, then, there are problems with the arguments in many cases.

          • August 13, 2015 at 1:34 pm

            I think the problem is that the phrase “a cleric or prominent layman of that jurisdiction” would mean someone like Father Victor Melehov or Vladimir Moss. In the case of Fr. Victor, whom I know personally and quite well, he has gone through jurisdiction after jurisdiction in a quest for political power in the church, which Abp. Tikhon has now satisfied, making him secretary of RTOC. In the case of Vladimir Moss, whom I like personally and even respect for the quality of his non-polemic works, I really do not think his opinion on such matters can be taken seriously, given his inclination to interpretations that suit whatever jurisdiction he is with at the moment. Lastly, given that RTOC only became stricter once SIR rejected overtures for union c. 2007, it is more reasonable to believe that they presently hold to a nearly Matthewite position because that is the only way they can justify their position without being schismatics.

          • August 13, 2015 at 5:20 pm

            Be that as it may, we would still have to judge the ideas based on their merits. However, I do not know if such ideas have even been presented in a coherent fashion to judge on that basis to begin with.

          • August 13, 2015 at 5:36 pm

            I think that facts have merit. It is a fact that Fr. Victor has an inordinate amount of influence in their synod. It is a fact that Vladimir Moss does as well. It is a fact that their synod, with Moss and Melehov in the background, picks and chooses when it is acceptable to believe that the MP may or may not have grace. It is a fact that it is utterly hypocritical for them to say, on the one hand, that Bp. Lazarus was in the church when he said that the MP had grace while, on the other hand, to say that the GOC, ROCA under Met. Agafangel, et alia, are outside the church when the latter maintain a stricter confession of faith than Bp. Lazarus did. The best explanation for these inconsistencies is the fact that RTOC needs the revisionism in order to justify its existence. In light of these facts, I do not think it is incumbent upon anyone to feel that, because a relatively small faction has spoken, we must be separate from the Orthodox Catholic Church. For, just as surely as heresy, schism sunders one from the church. If NFTU wants to relegate such relevant facts to the category of ad hominem, I must really question whether the editors of NFTU are striving for any sort of objectivity.

          • August 13, 2015 at 6:11 pm

            All the above are good points (except for the ‘ad hominem’ remark, since I was saying that even, in essence, a bad man, can, of course, make a good argument). What is true, interestingly, is, from what I just read in the RTOC Report on the Manner of the Reception of Sergianist clergy in 2009, that they state, “Since RTOC is not the fullness of the Local Russian Church, but only one part of the Russian Church, the Synod of Bishops RTOC can not make a final judgment on the grace of the sacraments, or lack of grace MP.”

          • August 13, 2015 at 6:23 pm

            With respect to NFTU’s objectivity, I am encouraged, Father, by your response. I will take a look at the link you have posted. As to your point that a bad man can make a good argument, this is, of course, true. Yet, I would point out that, merely because a bad man *can* make a good argument, the probability is not very high that he will have the discernment to make a good argument, especially where such complicated matters as our present ecclesiastical situation is concerned.

          • August 13, 2015 at 6:39 pm

            To be honest, Father, this is me speaking. Even in the above note on the interview, which was done under the “NFTU” heading, I did try to be objective. If I had wanted to give my opinion, what I really thought, I would have probably had “Hieromonk Enoch” as the preface of sorts.

            I do not fundamentally disagree with you, Father John, in the previous post. That’s why I said that I haven’t seen RTOC writers present a coherent case as to why they can say they have an official agnostic position on the MP, but, have a condemnatory attitude toward the previous Church Union. (i.e., my comment, “I do not know if such ideas have even been presented in a coherent fashion to judge on that basis to begin with.”)

            However, what I want to know, really, is the arguments that RTOC does use. For all we know, Father Victor or Vladimir Moss could be part of some other jurisdiction next week, but, RTOC might use the same reasoning; at that point, we would have to understand why they say what they say.

          • August 16, 2015 at 1:59 pm

            Dear Father John and others, One does not need to have a “nearly Matthewite position” in order to be disturbed by the Kallinikos-Cyprian-Agafangel-Irenaeus union. Many people, inside and outside of the union, are disturbed by the compromises that were involved.

            It should disturb us that, today, because of the union, the Kallinikos synod has an ecclesiastical relationship with the ecumenist “Patriarch” Irenaeus of Jerusalem, since Metropolitan Agafangel’s followers in the Holy Land commemorate Irenaeus and Agafangel even asked for and received a blessing from Irenaeus for a consecration of a bishop. It disturbs even some of these compromised bishops, but they do not love the faith enough to correct the problem.

            It should disturb us that Kallinikos sided with the compromised synod of Agafangel rather than the ROAC or RTOC, which both seem to have a clearer confession of faith against ecumenism.

            It should disturb us that, because of the union, the Kallinikos synod’s latest document on ecclesiology refuses to clearly endorse Saint Philaret’s anathema against ecumenism, and thus is a retreat from the former position that the anathema was “nonnegotiable.”
            The Romanian synod, the largest grouping in the union, has objections to the statement and some of the Romanians’ concerns were incorporated into footnotes in a second edition. Nevertheless, these bishops have not yet clearly reaffirmed the anathema against ecumenism. This should disturb us all. It should disturb us all that the Romanian group had a degree of intercommunion with the Moscow Patriarchate in Moldova.

            It should also disturb us that the Kallinikos synod dropped its previous “nonnegotiable” demand that the Cyprianites accept the belief that those who abide in Orthodoxy (no matter how few) have the right and duty to condemn heresy. It should disturb us that the union’s ecclesiology statement adoped the Cyprianite emphasis on a “Major Synod” — a fantasy of Metropolitan Cyprian the Elder that may never actually be held. It should disturb us that the ecclesiology statement borrowed so much wish-washy verbiage from Bishop Photiy of Traiditza and other Cyprianites.
            It should bother us that it has been falsely claimed that the Cyprianites have “taken down” from the Internet their old ecclesiology documents, whereas the truth was that they remained on the Internet.
            If one is a genuine Orthodox Christian, he will be disturbed by the compromises that were involved in the Kallinikos-Cyprian-Aagafangel-Irenaeus-Photiy Unia.

          • August 16, 2015 at 5:27 pm

            It is interesting. Your interpretation of the Anathema against Ecumenism was not shared by St. Philaret. When the anathema was promulgated, the patriarch of Jerusalem continued to be commemorated in ROCOR parishes in the Holy Land. Like Vladimir Moss, who left ROCOR under St. Philaret, your strictness seems to exceed Saint Philaret’s. This is pride, to consider one’s own discretion to be greater than a saint’s.

            On a related note, in what sense is Pat. Irenaeus an ecumenist? He is not in the WCC. You will say that is because he was defrocked. You cannot simultaneously say that the Jerusalem Patriarchate no longer exists and also say he is defrocked. This is a sectarian red herring. For any defrockment of Pat. Irenaeus to be valid it would be necessary, but not sufficient, for the Jerusalem Patriarchate to be in the church.

          • August 17, 2015 at 12:34 am

            In what sense is Irenaeus an ecumenist? His whole life he has affiliated himself with or supported world (ecumenist) Orthodoxy and has not been affiliated with true Orthodoxy. The gulf is wide, and it is clear which side Irenaeus is on. The topic at hand is the inexcusability of your (Kallinikos) synod being in communion (of some sort) with that ecumenist claimant to be patriarch in 2015. The situation 30 years earlier does not provide any excuse for the betrayal going on today. (Diodoros actually tried to leave ecumenism and support old calendarists, before capitulating after Saint Philaret’s repose; so the historical contexts, thirty years apart, are very different.) Today, your own synod sees the current Agafangel-Irenaeus relationship as improper. The largest segment (the Romanians) of the union saw the ecclesiology statement as inadequate. Many clergy and laypeople within the union are disappointed with the compromises their bishops have made. And several traditional jurisdictions (ROAC, RTOC, STOC, GOC-Makarios) have justly criticized Kallinikos’s new, semi-Cyprianite (semi-Phyleite) ecclesiology. Saint Philaret anathematized the ecumenists. The Kallinikos-Cyprian union blatantly refused to unequivocally affirm Saint Philaret’s anathema. That’s the problem; and there is no excuse for this betrayal.

          • August 17, 2015 at 7:38 am

            Just to be clear, I am not under the GOC but under Abp. Andronik of the ROCA.

            “The situation 30 years earlier does not provide any excuse for the betrayal going on today”

            With regard to Pat. Irenaeus, it was not merely 30 years ago. ROCOR never took the approach you are describing. It is that simple. That being said, Pat. Irenaeus is obviously not in communion with world Orthodoxy. He does not even serve.

            “The largest segment (the Romanians) of the union saw the ecclesiology statement as inadequate.”

            Whatever their objections may or may not have been, they just recently concelebrated with bishops of the GOC and ROCA under Met. Agafangel. They must not consider us all heretics. Again, here we see another sectarian red herring.

            “Many clergy and laypeople within the union are disappointed with the compromises their bishops have made. And several traditional jurisdictions (ROAC, RTOC, STOC, GOC-Makarios) have justly criticized Kallinikos’s new, semi-Cyprianite (semi-Phyleite) ecclesiology.”

            It is dishonest to act as though there is a united front against this union. ROAC and RTOC do not even recognize each other as evidenced by the fact that when Fr. Siluan Dignac was received into RTOC by ROAC his ordination (done earlier by ROAC) was corrected. Like HOCNA, GOC-Makarios is a schism that was created to insulate a homosexual from ecclesiastical trial. (Please do not ask me to read Makarios of Petra’s “history” of the synod of Abp. Chrysostom Kiousis. I have read it multiple times and do not agree with its conclusions.)

            “Saint Philaret anathematized the ecumenists.”

            True enough, but he did not cause the synodal recognition of any of them. Unlike you, his approach was not sectarian but pastoral.

            Candidly, as a parish priest with seven children and many responsibilities, I haven’t the time to sit here and banter back and forth. It is helpful to look at the decision of the synod under St. Philaret on the Elder Tavrion affair. The entire decision may be found at

            It reads:

            “Mutual love and concern for Church unity, which is especially necessary in times of heresy and schism, require from each of us great caution in what we say. If no one is supposed to condemn his neighbor in haste, even more care is demanded where our own primate is concerned. Rash implications about his allegedly unorthodox preaching as well as open criticism in sermons reveal a tendency towards condemnation and division which is unseemly in Christians. The Apostle said, “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant?” How much more appropriate might it be to say. “Who art thou that judgest thy metropolitan?” Such an attitude, which can easily develop into schism, is strongly censured by the canons of the Church, for it shows willful appropriation by clerics of the “Judgment belonging to metropolitans” (Canon XIII of the First-and-Second Council). Everyone must be very careful in his criticism, particularly when expressing it publicly, remembering that “Judgment and justice take hold on thee” (Job 36:17). If, contrary to the apostolic teaching about hierarchical distribution of duties and responsibilities all the clerics and laymen were to supervise their hierarchs (I Cor. 12:28-30), then instead of being a hierarchical Body of Christ, our Church would turn into a kind of democratic anarchy where the sheep assume the function of the shepherd. A special grace is bestowed upon bishops to help them in their work. Those who seek to control their bishop should be reminded of Canon LXIV of the Sixth Ecumenical Council which quotes the words of St. Gregory the Theologian:

            Learning in docility and abounding in cheerfulness, and ministering with alacrity, we shall not all be the tongue which is the more active member, not all of us apostles, not all prophets, nor shall we all interpret.

            And again:

            Why cost thou make thyself a shepherd when thou art a sheep? Why become a head when thou art a foot? Why cost thou try to be a commander when thou art enrolled in the number of the soldiers?

            The canon ends with the following words:

            But if anyone be found weakening the present canon, he is to be cut off for forty days.

            The situation of the Church in Russia is without precedent, and no norms can be prescribed by any one of us separately. If the position of the Catacomb Church would change relative to its position in past years, any change in our attitude would have to be reviewed not by individual clergymen or laymen but only by the Council of Bishops, to which all pertinent matters should be submitted.”

          • August 17, 2015 at 5:43 pm

            In 1983, the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia under Saint Philaret of New York adopted the Anathema against Ecumenism and directed, as the Council’s letter stated, that the Anathema “be added to the Rite of Orthodoxy” (Pravoslavnaia Rus, October 1983; Orthodox Life, November–December 1983). This conciliar directive meant that all churches in ROCOR should have begun to read the anathema on the Sunday of Orthodoxy every year. This means that all of the ROCOR fragments to this day should read the Anathema in church every year. In 2008, the Kiouses synod told the Cyprian synod that it was “non-negotiable” that they accept this anathema. The Cyprian synod responded that they had “always been _critical_” (ἦτο ἀνέκαθεν _κριτική_ [with the word “critical” emphasized in the Greek]) towards the Anathema. The 2014 statement had a compromise in which the anathema was a good step towards a Major Synod of the future. This was clearly backsliding on the part of the Kallinikos synod.

            So, I ask: Does your church under Metropolitan Agafangel read the anathema in church on the Sunday of Orthodoxy as Saint Philaret and the Council directed to be done in all ROCOR communities? Or do you follow the Cyprianite-Phyleite attitude of criticism towards the anathema? Or do you follow the wishy-washy ambiguity of the 2014 compromise statement?

          • August 17, 2015 at 10:08 pm

            Tell me, since you feel as though you can ask questions of everyone else, what is your name and to which synod do you belong?

          • August 16, 2015 at 7:12 pm

            It should also bother us that HOCNA embraces the Imiaslavist heresy.

          • November 22, 2016 at 5:53 am

            The Peace of IC XC! I am a layman under the protection of the RTOC Synod. I would like to point out that, as for the issue of MP’s grace, no Catakomb Synod accepted at any point in history that the MP (Sergianist) had or had the Grace of the Holy Spirit. There was grace in some pious believers, and even saints who lived in these institutions ( “MPs”) made by human hands (by the Communists), it is a little mischievous and induces the unsuspecting to mistake in a misperception of Grace. Grace has been in a time in some, for God is Righteous and knows of all things. But as Saint Vladimir Lazaro himself says, those who lived outside the Soviet Union, and stood in the MP were against Christ, and against the Holy Church, and those who lived within Communist-dominated lands suffered terrible persecutions if they were True Orthodox, were Most of them deceived by the MP’s own priests, and among them there were pious people, but the grace in the Serbian MP never existed (for it was something created by a worldly power bought at blood price, 30 silver coins). The MP, to this day is a betrayer of Christ and His Holy Church, for Sergio acted as Judas Iscariot, sold the Russian people, the believers, the Communists, and never repented of it to this day. Worse, they joined the C.M.I (World Council of Churches), the Pope of Rome and Ecumenism. Lord, have mercy!

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