Epistle of Bishop Gregory of Sao Paolo

(Hat Tip: D.G.)

Informational Epistle

To all the faithful members of the South American Diocese
of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad
who did not accept the Act to join with the Moscow Patriarchate
November 8/21, 2010
Synaxis of the Archangel Michael and St. Philaret of New York
Dear members of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad!
Christ is with you!
             Recently, there has been more unpleasantness from representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate (MP) and the Synod of Metropolitan Hilarion, not only to the clergy, but also to the members of that part of the ROCA which did not agree to union with the MP.  It is being done with sophisticated slander, the spreading of lies and gossip, and the sly casting of poison and doubts into the hearts of the so-called “Rusexpatriates” and “fellow countrymen,” who, with a small exception, have little knowledge of the Church and easily accept everything as the truth.  These gossipmongers, raised in the Soviet Union and experts at propaganda, hope to entice and influence those loyal to the Church through these local Rusexpatriates, with whom they are acquainted or have contact, with the goal of tearing away as many people as possible from their rectors and parishes and attracting them to themselves.
             In their published statements, they call us schismatics, noting that all of our clergy has been forbidden to serve and that all mysteries performed by us are invalid.  Presenting historical facts of the last couple of years, they deliberately distort them and draw false conclusions for their own benefit.  One of their main accusations is Metropolitan Agafangel’s supposed disregard of the Synod Ukase which named him to the South American cathedra, which necessitated them to issue a Ukase of censure forbidding him to serve, and two years later, to be defrocked.  This is simply a complete lie, meant to deceive people!
             Indeed, in April, 2007, the Right Reverend Bishop Agafangel was handed a ukase from the Right Reverend Bishop Michael naming him to the South American cathedra, which he ACCEPTED and immediately notified all the clergy of that diocese.  They then began to commemorate him as their ruling diocesan bishop, after Metropolitan Laurus.  The fact that he did not move to South America is presented as proof that he did not comply with the ukase.  But our previous ruling bishop, Bishop Alexander (Mileant) of blessed memory, oversaw the South American diocese for several years while living in Los Angeles (USA).  This was not considered a violation or non-compliance of a ukase by anyone.
             On May 17, 2007, as we all know, the disgraceful betrayal of the Church Abroad occurred, orchestrated by the Most Reverend Metropolitan Laurus, whom we all loved back then.  The Act which the MP considers to be HISTORICAL AND GLORIOUS is considered by us to be DISGRACEFUL, SORROWFUL AND INGLORIOUS, as it clearly undermined and destroyed the foundation of the Church Abroad, which had been worthy up to that point.  This event, as is well known, was a great temptation for many clergy and laypeople and led to discord and divisions among communities, parishes, and even among families.  Is it possible to consider this Act pleasing to God?  What does the Holy Scripture tell us of such seducers?  But for the MP that glorious day was one of victory, as they hoped that this way they would win over and eliminate that voice of conscience which had always rebuked them!  But…
             Bishop Agafangel did not accept the Act of union and on that day (May 17) left the Synod of Metropolitan Laurus.  Logically, from that moment on, all ukases and censures or anything issued from that Synod have no power or meaning not only for Bishop Agafangel personally, but for all those clergy and laypeople who followed him, or those who left the Synod of Metropolitan Laurus even earlier, endeavoring to remain true to those teachings, laws and traditions by which the Church Abroad lived for 80 years and thus allowing the voice of the TRUE, free and uncompromised Church Abroad to live on!
             It is essential to recall what occurred in February, 2008.  At the behest of the Synod of Metropolitan Laurus, Archbishop Hilarion, accompanied by Archpriest Michael Boykov, arrived in Sao Paulo (they later went to Buenos Aires) to convince us to return to their Synod.  In one of the houses, in front of many witnesses, he stated that everyone should continue attending their churches, since Bishop Agafangel WAS NOT UNDER CENSURE!
             Besides, it is not that hard for a normal person to understand how invalid are the censures placed on Bishop Agafangel and all the clergy of the South American diocese.  Let us recall how Metropolitan Sergey (Stragorodskiy) issued an Ukase forbidding Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitskiy) and the all the clergy abroad from serving, because they had not accepted the previous Ukase to submit to the Soviet government, embodied in his Declaration of 1927.  And why did Metropolitan Anthony not acknowledge these ukases?  Because he had left Metropolitan Sergey and his Synod and therefore these ukases were not valid.  Otherwise there would not have been a Church Abroad.  As a result, all the bishops of the local Churches did not consider Metropolitan Anthony under censure, but as the head of the Church Abroad.  Of course, the MP still considered Metropolitan Anthony and all the CA clergy under censure right up to the time of the infamous Act of union.  So much so, that right up to the end Metropolitan Kirill (Gundyayev) himself still called us “karlovtsy schismatics.”
            It is understandable that these people are a nuisance for the MP, since they were unable to extinguish the voice of Truth completely, as in the dark years of Soviet atheism, and so they endeavor to wipe us off the face of the earth.  The Moscow Patriarchate was never interested in the souls of people, but only in fame, authority and power, which is why they were loyal to the atheistic, godless regime that was destroying the Church.  Unfortunately, to this day, this spirit still exists in the majority of its leaders.
             We always loved and will love Russia and the Russian people and never rejected them, never left them and never disdained them.  This is evident by how we preserved the language, the culture and most importantly the ORTHODOX FAITH for all these years.  So much so that it is actually purer than in the Soviet Union itself.  We always prayed and even pray now that the Churches unite and always lived with the hope of uniting the entire Russian Orthodox Church, which we expressed at the All-Diaspora Council in San Francisco.  But this must be done in the TRUTH OF CHRIST and not in lies, deception and compromises with unbelievers and heretics and apostates from Orthodoxy, which is what “World Orthodoxy” aspires to do now and in which the MP is an active participant.  It is they who are making use of the fruits which we sowed and nurtured, which belong to us and which they are now usurping and brazenly posing as its owners.  In spite of everything, we still love them like our own brothers.  We pray for them that the Lord may enlighten them and show them that we are not their enemies and that they leave us in peace, to allow us to pray, and not take our churches from us and not slander us.  Our Lord God will be the judge of us all!
             We call upon all our faithful parishioners and spiritual charges not to give in to false propaganda and hold fast to their faith and their spiritual leaders and may God’s blessing be with all of you! 
+ Humble Gregory
Bishop of Sao Paulo and South America