While this letter lacks a clear author– it was sent by a hierodeacon– it was obviously intended to act as a sort of answer to some of the things that are being distributed on the Internet, including NFTU. We will try to get independent confirmation of its authorship. For the sake of fairness, we will publish it in advance of discovery. It was published in our comments section here.
The email was dated 2012-09-24.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Our Bishop Gregory visited us over the weekend of September 15-16, and I spoke with him for about a half an hour. Also, this past Thursday and Friday I visited the monastery and the diocese house, and had a long conversation with Metropolitan Ephraim. I also spoke with Fr. Hesychius. I would like to tell you what they said to me, so that you can be accurately informed as to recent events in the monastery and in our Church. Please forgive me if you already have this information.
I asked both Metropolitan Ephraim and Bishop Gregory very pointed questions about the name-glorifying they are accused of teaching, (or ‘imiaslavie”, as it’s called in Russian).
They both affirmed that:
– they do not believe that God’s Name is God’s Essence;
– nor do they separate God’s name from God;
– nor do they consider God’s name to be another deity; and,
– nor do they deify letters, sounds, or random/accidental thoughts about God.
That is to say, they do not believe or teach heretical ideas. Metropolitan Macarius of Toronto in agreement with them.
As for Fr. Panteleimon, both our bishops stated the same thing:
– he is fatally ill (probably pancreatic cancer) and will repose soon;
– he has voluntarily retired from the priesthood, and gone to spend the rest of his days in peace in the skete in Maine;
– before taking his leave of the monastery brothers, he faced them all in assembly and asked their forgiveness in a general sense, (just as we do with each other on every Forgiveness Sunday); and,
– and there were no admissions by our bishops or Fr. Isaac as to any moral abuse on Fr. Panteleimon’s part.
Metropolitan Ephraim adds, “I have known Fr. Panteleimon for over 30 years. He was highly recommended by Elder Joseph the Hesychast, Elder Ieronymos of Aegina, and Archbishop Andrei of Novo-Diveyevo – all of them holy and clairvoyant elders. Saint Philaret of New York wanted to make Fr. Panteleimon a bishop, but Fr. Panteleimon refused. I have seen Fr. Panteleimon heal someone of an illness by his prayers. I do not believe that these holy and clairvoyant elders, and this saintly Metropolitan, were all mistaken in their judgement about Fr. Panteleimon”. Metropolitan Ephraim confirmed that he has never known Fr. Panteleimon to be guilty of any of the slander that has been directed at him for many years.
Fr. Hesychius explained that:
– The monks who have rebelled and accused our bishops of heresy, first wanted to take over the monastery and expel Fr. Isaac;
– A lawyer (Leonid Ponamarchuk from Seattle – Fr. Ihnat Ponamarchuk’s son) asked for the monastery bylaws, reviewed them, and pointed out that the Abbot cannot be replaced except by a unanimous vote of all the schemamonks in the monastery;
– Being unable to take over the monastery or expel Fr. Isaac, the rebels then said to Fr. Isaac that they would not expel him if he would give them 10 million dollars; and,
– The monastery had sold a small property in Maine with a small house on it, worth 1 million dollars; Fr. Isaac refused to give the rebels 10 million dollars, but, being the person he is, he gave them 1 million dollars. They and Bishop Demetrius have joined the Kallinikos Synod of Greece.
About half of the monks have left the monastery, including Fr. Ignatius & Fr. Parthenius. Bishop Gregory says that we will be visited mainly by himself and by Fr. Hesychius.
It seems we may not be getting visits as often as before – but we will see – nobody could tell me for sure.
As for the Russian bishop, Gregory (Lourie), whom some people have expressed concern about:
Metropolitan Ephraim and our Bishop Gregory both agree that he is intelligent, but unreliable (Metropolitan Ephraim described him as “a loose cannon”). When he visited the monastery some time ago, they admitted him to Holy Communion, not knowing the full story concerning him. Since then, they see him as I’ve just described, and have publicly admitted their mistake. Metropolitan Ephraim gives this example: “..the Russian bishop Gregory (Lourie) has stated publicly that Saint Nicholas is a mythical figure who never really existed” (!!!!). – Can you imagine a Russian bishop saying such a thing???
All of our convents remain strong supporters of Metropolitan Ephraim and our Bishop Gregory.
I wanted to give you this information so that nobody would be distracted by false rumors.
I will let you know as soon as I find out about more visiting clergy.
Please pray for Fr. Isaac and his monks, and for our bishops.
If you have any questions, I’ll try to answer them as best as I can.
Yours in Christ,
unworthy XXXX, hierodeacon