Is Metropolitan Agafangel Assuming Patriarchal Powers? by Vladimir Moss

November 28, 2014  (Source:

During the recent Council of ROCOR-A, the jurisdiction led by Metropolitan Agathangel of New York, there was a detailed discussion of an “Address” by clergy and laity of the North of Russia led by Archbishop Sophrony of St. Petersburg dated October 17/30, 2014, that called into question the authority of Metropolitan Agathangel and his relatively pro-Ukrainian and anti-Putinist course. From the published Protocols, it appears that Agathangel has largely succeeded in crushing this rebellion, although the destiny of Bishops Dionysius and Irenaeus (both formerly of RTOC, who did not appear at the Council) remains to be determined. Perhaps the most interesting and important part of the discussion relates to a remark by Agathangel that appears to say that the famous ukaz number 362 of Patriarch Tikhon and the Russian Holy Synod and Council dated November 7/20, 1920, which formed the basis of the independent existence of the Russian Church Abroad until its fall in 2007, is no longer applicable to the present Church situation. From the protocols, it does not appear that this remark was taken up or discussed by any of the hierarchs present. However, its implications are very great, and therefore need to be analyzed and evaluated…


The context of the remark is as follows:-: “12. [Quoting from Archbishop Sophrony’s “Address”] ‘We see and are convinced that the activity of Metropolitan Agathangel in administering the Church is increasingly trampling on the traditions and conciliar decisions of ROCOR, which is eliciting justified disturbance among the clergy and a wide circle of laity. In view of this, we recognize that the moment may come when we shall be forced to apply Patriarch Tikhon’s ukaz no. 362 in our ecclesiastical activity (the objective conditions for the application of this ukaz have already appeared). We await the final word that must be given on this matter by the fullness of our Church.’


“Bishop Athanasius. This is the culmination of the ‘Address’, an ultimatum delivered to the whole Church by a group of people.


“President [Metropolitan Agathangel]: The reference to ukaz no. 362 is inappropriate, for the Higher Church Administration is active, and communications with it have not been broken.”[1]


In order to evaluate this remark, we need to refresh ourselves as to the main import of ukaz no. 362. The Patriarch and his Higher Church Administration issued it towards the end of the Russian Civil War, when communications with groups of bishops in the East and South of the country – and in particular, with the Bishops of the South Russian region under the leadership of Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky), who later formed the core of the Russian Church Abroad – were unreliable or completely broken. The first three points of the ukaz read: “’1. With the blessing of his Holiness the Patriarch, the Holy Synod and the Higher Church Council, in a joint session, judged it necessary… to give the diocesan Hierarch… instructions in case of a disconnection with the higher church administration or the cessation of the activity of the latter…

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4 thoughts on “Is Metropolitan Agafangel Assuming Patriarchal Powers? by Vladimir Moss

  • November 28, 2014 at 11:22 pm

    Unfortunately, this was a concern I had in regards to Metropolitan Agafangel and even voiced such to Metropolitan Moses several years ago. With the current situation, I cannot extrapolate a peaceful resolution. I anticipate fallout over this but hopefully this doesn’t spill over.

  • November 29, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    Hmm. As a fan of much of Rdr Vladimir Moss’ work on the Russian Church, if you follow this to its logical conclusion, even Churches which break down in communications for personal reasons can form a THCA. I’m not sure that Ukaz 362 does that, because it envisions the formation of provisional HCA’s (which the ROCOR-A can claim to be) with the goal of the HCA acting with the fulness of the Church. I can understand the argument from distance that the ROAC used, but it’s fairly obvious both parties seem quite capable of communications.

    • November 29, 2014 at 6:15 pm

      Can you restate that? I’m a little confused….

      • November 29, 2014 at 6:42 pm

        The THCA can still discipline its own membership Synodally. If even that power is restricted by the Ukaze, *every bishop* could form a THCA for whatever reason. I’m not saying I agree with either party but Vladimir’s argument that Metr Agafangel is assuming Patriarchal power is stretching it somewhat.

        Ukaze 362 states:

        “2. In the event a diocese, in consequence of the movement of the war front, changes of state borders, etc., finds itself completely out of contact with the Higher Church Administration, or if the Higher Church Administration itself, headed by His Holiness the Patriarch, for any reason whatsoever ceases its activity, the diocesan bishop immediately enters into relations with the bishops of neighboring dioceses for the purpose of organizing a higher instance of ecclesiastical authority for several dioceses in similar conditions (in the form either of a temporary Higher Church government or a Metropolitan district, or anything else).

        3) Care for the organization of a Higher Church Authority as the objective of an entire group of dioceses which find themselves in the position indicated in paragraph 2, is the indispensable obligation of the senior bishop of such a group.”

        One would assume that Metr Agafangel would be that senior Bishop. If this breakdown is over matters of faith and ecclesiastical order, that’s fine. But the inherent prerogatives of a Synod exist in a THCA.

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