Bishop Diomid Dzyuban of Anadyr and Chukotka, deposed from the episcopate by the Archpastoral Council, issued a statement where he declared Patriarch Aleksei of Moscow and all the Russias anathema. In this document, released on Thursday, Bishop Diomid also declared anathema Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, the head of the MP Department of External Church Relations, his predecessor in that post, Metropolitan Philaret Vakhromeyev of Minsk and Slutsk, “and all their predecessors, those who participated in the February 1917 Revolution, and all those of like mind with them”. Bishop Diomid intends to declare the Diocese of Anadyr and Chukotka self-governing “in the resolution of dogmatic and canonical questions… we won’t be in subordination to a heretical hierarchy”. At the same time, he announced that the dioceses of Moscow, Smolensk, and Minsk, along with a number of church departments, were vacant as their heads were anathematised in his statement. In conclusion, the deposed Bishop of Chukotka “reserved to himself the duty to assume plenipotentiary powers as archpastor to lead the Orthodox flock in the vacant sees and departments”. That is, he actually declared himself the head of the Moscow Patriarchate!
Meanwhile, the MP issued a statement calling the declarations of the deposed Bishop Diomid “nonsense”, and it asked the faithful to pray that he come to his senses. “When God abandons and punishes a man, He deprives him of his reason. This is precisely what happened in this case”, Fr Vsevolod Chaplin, the deputy head of the MP DECR, said in comments on Bishop Diomid’s statement. In this case, he expressed regret that Bishop Diomid, “who began his way in the church as a sincere and believing man, abandoned church unity, a joyous church life, Christian witness, and openness to people of different faiths and persuasions in favour of the adulation of a small set of followers who suggest to him that he’s the true spiritual leader of Russia”. Turning to Bishop Diomid personally, Fr Vsevolod said, “Vladyki, this is false. You send a message to people where you deceive them and indulge the dark side of your soul”. He expressed the conviction that if Diomid entered into an open and frank discussion with his fellow bishops, it’s still possible for everything to turn out well. “The door to repentance would be open, indeed, it was opened, and it’s still open. However, unfortunately, Diomid flees ever farther from us. Today, he’s at Cape Shmidt in northern Chukotka. Tomorrow, dear God, he’ll flee to some cave”, Fr Vsevolod complained.
In his opinion, if we’re self-sufficient and believing people, with “burning conscience and zeal”, we can find a way to anywhere. “We should pray for Bishop Diomid, we shouldn’t rejoice maliciously, since the Lord makes miracles, and we should give Diomid a chance to confess, to change his mind, and come to repentance”, he said in conclusion. In his turn, Bishop Aleksandr Ishchein of Baku and the Caspian Region reminded journalists that according to the canons only the First Hierarch of a Local Church, a Holy Synod, or the Archpastoral Council can declare a person anathema. One of the main reproaches by Bishop Diomid towards the hierarchy is the participation of the MP in dialogue of the MP with other religions and other Christian confessions, which, in his opinion, besmirches the purity of Orthodoxy. Apropos of this, on Thursday, the sixth session of the Russian-Iranian commission on Islamic-Christian dialogue convened in Moscow. Turning to his fellow delegates in the course of his press conference, Bishop Aleksandr, the head of the Russian delegation, noted that both sets of clergy agree that Muslims and Christians would live together in the world without violating the law of their conscience. “It’s truly a great pity that there are those who aren’t pleased by our efforts in this direction. He doesn’t realise that we’re preventing a possible religious confrontation”, Bishop Aleksandr said, and he expressed the hope that the Lord would help Bishop Diomid “to realise his unfairness”.
17 July 2008
One can only shake one’s head in sadness and dismay. Diomid isn’t alone, unfortunately. There are those who left the ROCOR in a snit after the reconciliation in Moscow and there are those living in a dream-world at SVS and Syosset. Right-wing or left-wing, it doesn’t matter to me. Both are distortions of the Body of Christ. It’s time for all Russian Orthodox on this continent to unify, and the sadness is that there are those who prefer their own private notions to churchly unity. Again, sad in the extreme. How long must this last? By the way, this is a text-book illustration of the schismatical mindset laid out in an excellent essay, The Psychology of Schism, by Deacon Jan Veselak. It’s available here on the ROCOR official website.