Fr. Victor Melehov Responds to ROCOR-A Schism

The Fruits of a Schism

Last month (October, 2018), the Agafangel Synod deposed two of its bishops (Archbishop Andronik of Canada, and Archbishop Sophroni of St. Petersburg, Russia), and summoned the suspended Abbot Andrei (Erastov) from Australia. Why is this important to the Orthodox Faithful? Because the kaleidoscopic deceit of this synod continues to spin even beyond the boundaries of its own control.

To bring some clarity to this confused and fog-bound “circus,” I have written this brief chronology of pertinent events before and after the fall of the ROCOR into union with the Moscow Patriarchate (MP):

– Shortly after his ordination in 1994, the young Bishop Agafangel displayed his ignorance of Orthodox ecclesiology by publishing an article proclaiming the validity of sacraments outside of the Church:

“…the Grace of the Holy Spirit, the Grace of the Sacraments, resides also with the Catholics, Monophysites, and in part, with Old Believers and Protestants who have not violated the formula in performing the sacraments (baptism). The Orthodox Church does not re-baptize those who come from these heresies, but receives them through repentance. Catholics and Monophysites are not chrismated a second time. The Sacrament of Marriage is also accepted. In the Moscow Patriarchate, there are six Sacraments which have been preserved and are recognized as valid – baptism, chrismation, the priesthood, marriage, unction, repentance.”

(Bishop Aganfangel Pashkovsky, Vestnik TOC, No. 2, 1994, pg. 30)

– Assigned by the ROCOR Synod to the Ukraine (where he was born in Odessa), Bishop Agafangel worked alongside Archbishop Lazar of Odessa and Tambov (who ordained him) until 2001.

– In 2001, Metropolitan Vitaly was forced to resign by the ROCOR Synod, led by the new Metropolitan Laurus, who had a firm intention to join the Moscow Patriarchate (MP)

– Almost immediately, Met. Vitaly came out of retirement with the intent of opposing any union with the MP. Archbishop Lazar and Archbishop Benjamin (of Chernomorsk & Kuban) declared their support for Met. Vitaly, and after the First Voronezh Conference of the Russian clergy, sent Bishop Agafangel to the Synod in New York instructing him to present their protest, signed by the bishops, clergy and participants of this Conference.

– Arriving in New York, Bishop Agafangel betrayed the will of his fellow bishops and all the Russian clergy, and announced his own support of the newly elected Met. Laurus.

– Archbishop Lazar and Archbishop Benjamin soon separated from the Synod of Met. Laurus for reasons of Faith; the result of their rejection of the Sergianism and Ecumenism of the MP. They began ordaining bishops for their RTOC Synod (including the present Archbishop Tikhon and Bishop Germogen), which they were obliged to do according to the canons of the Church; appointing worthy candidates to widowed Russian cathedras.

– In 2007, Met. Laurus completed his stated mission by bringing the entire ROCOR under the jurisdiction of the MP, thereby betraying the century-long witness of Faith of the ROCOR and the persecuted Russian Church in the catacombs.

– Just prior to Met. Laurus’ betrayal in 2007, Bishop Agafangel announced that he agreed with joining the MP, but at that point in time it was “still too early.” Following this announcement, Bishop Agafangel issued a false proclamation regarding his secession from the Synod of Met. Laurus, signed by Bishop Daniel (of Erie, PA) and Bishop Agafangel. However, after two weeks Bishop Daniel dissociated himself from this appeal, saying that he remains with the Synod of Met. Laurus and does not wish to create a schism. Then, Bishop Agafangel began to form his own synod – ROCOR(A). Collecting the remaining parishes reluctant to follow Met. Laurus, Bishop Agafangel refused the offer of his former brother bishops of the RTOC to help restore the episcopate abroad, stating that anyone who left ROCOR (because of its path to the MP), before he himself left the Synod of Laurus, was a schismatic. Having made such a frivolous statement, Bishop Agafangel apparently overlooked the fact that he was thereby calling Metropolitan Vitaly a schismatic also. Met. Vitaly left his former brother bishops-betrayers in 2001.

– Bishop Agafangel appealed to the Greek Cyprianite Synod (the Synod in Resistance). The Cyprianite Synod was deposed by the True Greek Orthodox Church (TGOC) under Archbishop Chrysostom (Kousis) for creating a schism in the TGOC and for their heretical ecclesiology (Cyprianism – confessing that the Mother/World Orthodox Church was ailing, but still valid).

– Bishop Agafangel succeeded in convincing the Greek Cyprianites to ordain with him a synod of bishops for his new jurisdiction (ROCOR(A)). Lacking any understanding of his own ecclesiology, Bishop Agafangel announced that he too is a Cyprianite. Thus, he and every bishop of his new synod came under the Anathema Against Ecumenism declared by the 1983 ROCOR Sobor under the direction and guidance of the Holy Hierarch Philaret (3rd Metropolitan of ROCOR). In such a manner, the Agafangel Synod: 1) anathematized itself from its very beginning, 2) made itself uncanonical through its invalid ordinations by deposed Greek bishops, 3) became heretical through its proclaimed Cyprianite ecclesiology, and 4) became schismatic because of its rejection to recognize and join their brother bishops in the Russian Church. – Shortly thereafter, under controversial circumstances, Bishop Agafangel became Metropolitan of his newly created ROCOR(A). He expanded his synod and jurisdiction through receiving bishops and clergy of dubious ecclesiology (i.e., from the Gennady-Sekachov sect to the MP). The need to establish an Orthodox ecclesiology was never seriously addressed, or perhaps even understood. Thus, under such circumstances, the hieromonks Andronik and Sophroni became “Archbishops” of this organization.

– As usual, one schism breeds another. Soon, Archbishops Andronik and Sophroni left Agafangel’s synod for reasons of administrative disagreements (i.e., not for canonical matters of Faith). Almost simultaneously, Bishop Stefan (Sabelnik) left the RTOC Synod for similar reasons of administrative disagreements. All three bishops were suspended and retired by their respective synods for such uncanonical actions.

– Claiming to be preparing their new “church” for the “last times,” all three bishops ignored their respective synods’ decisions to suspend and retire them, and proceeded to form a “quasi synod” with no particular administration. Of course, they too claimed to be the continuation of ROCOR.

– The first major decision of this quasi synod (or The ROCOR of the Last Days) was to make the suspended Abbot Andrei Erastov a bishop. As absurd as this new schismatic organization is, what is more astounding is that Abbot Andrei agreed to such a ridiculous ordination. Of course, Abbot Andrei was also a clergyman of the Agafangel Synod.

– Subsequently, all three bishops were deposed by their respective synods. All three bishops were reduced to the status of “simple monk.” The monk Stefan (Sabelnik) died this past year.

– The suspended Abbot Andrei Erastov has been summoned to appear before the Agafangel Synod, apparently to be given a chance to explain himself and repent. Meanwhile, he has been actively parading about Australia pretending to be a bishop, and creating confusion and discord among the faithful.

Of course, almost every paragraph above could be expanded into a topic of its own. Indeed, there are more actions and details which serve to further detract from the legitimacy of this synod. Suffice it for now to simply conclude from the above, that from Agafangel to Andrei, such a delusional kaleidoscope of ecclesiology and actions could seriously harm the spiritual life of the faithful. Hence, the need for this brief summary of its history.

To complete this commentary on a lighter note, one might imagine, keeping in mind all of the above, that people amongst the Orthodox might now begin to ask: How many simple monks, who had an episcopal rank, but could not keep it, does it take to transform a suspended abbot into a bishop?

Protopresbyter Victor Melehov
November, 2018

One thought on “Fr. Victor Melehov Responds to ROCOR-A Schism

  • December 17, 2018 at 5:12 pm

    In the name Of the Father, The Son, And the Holy Spirit.
    In 2005 I left st. petersburg Florida after St. Andrews split over Vladica Gabriel and father igors protests against moscow patriarchette. I left after six years of opening and closing and lighting lampadas for most services and headed to holy cross monastarey in west virginia with a blessing from vladica gabriel in 2005. with many debts i was working 45 minutes through the moutains and clear of debt.and keeping a monastic cycle for part of three and a half years. i couldn’t raise enough money to be tonsured and clear of debt, bishop george was consecrated i received a settlement for almost twenty thousand. I wanted to pay my bills and become a novice, father alexander asked for the money and told me to live there stay a lay brother and not wory about my bills. disgusted i asked bishop george to take the money a trusted jesus prayer man friend, and was sent to jordanville Holy Trinity Monastarey. Upon arrival father Luka said “they gave you a black eye” and said “i didn’t mind my business” Six and a half years went by and i did some reading we were in the wcc, with moscow, in communion with new calendar groups and oca, and i didn’t know full russian but somebody said Patriarch Kyrill(mp) read forgiveness over the bowing rocor at the reunion ceremony. thrown out when i handed out papers at Holy Trinity Monastery against obediance concerning this with my belongings in my hand I hitchhiked To Holy Ascencion in woodstock, helped start St.johns in cobbleskill visited vladica androniques at mountainview, visted goc skete in georgia USA, made a few trips to holy transfiguration monastarey in boston, and basically inquired alot with many people in these groups, tried to send help to my ailing brothers from these groups(vladica demetri visted father luke for two and a half hours i was waiting outside the office, the result was “secret”. Vladica andronique forbid me to take books that i spent money on to help my brothers get out in jordanville. i spent months helping DC. John Blonner and wasn’t allowed communion after several trips to youre cathedral. Twelve years time in these places did i spend, and six solid years in the st. pete florida parish. If i publically told you all that was told to me you would feel bad. Personally i practiced the jesus prayer, and noticed a change in spirituallity visting all these groups(not for the better). I think the bibles and prayer books were revised to hide the actuality of the end times. one of the last great jesus prayer men of old valaam in russia said Even the best monks could not make unless they had holy communion and he prepared his own ingrediants and Holy communion in reserve for the attack on valaam for his brothers over the calander issue, his name was elder michael. Many monks parished were killed or left to freeze or exiled over just the calander issue from old valaam. President Putin in russia through his media people assimilates Christianity with communism, and says valaam is one of his favorites? he claims that they allowed monks to collect their belongings and sacred things before evicting them from the monastareys. I spoke in the last two years with catacomb priests form russia who say they are still harrassed in russia father gregory and father michael. After reading and experiencing all these things for twenty years i wonder if people believe in the son of God, Jesus Christ. I read you article father victor and many others, here is question is the product code the devil’s mark?, and should we use product code wine and bread to make Holy Communion? And how many people in public know that some of these groups and people are handing out “father” communion and not Jesus Christ Son Of God communion. Which and please here this, and take note with the “much study and weariness of the flesh” of all these backstabbing and spitefull tales of all these internet stories, jesus humble and forgiving said you would know his disciples by those who showed love towards one another. Please jesus forgive all these groups over trying to find my way through them all i’m sick in spirit, living in a tent in the winter, and hoping death and a meeting with God, will explain what happened to his church and his son Jesus and his humble holy spirit that brings peace and forgiveness, youre prayers father victor please, many pairs of shoes did i put holes in trying to help these groups. In jesus christ i hope, father victor vladimir samarin .

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