Voices from Russia

Friday, 23 May 2008

The Romanians are Fleeing the Sinking Ship

Today, a post was placed on the Orthodox Christians for Accountability website. For those who wish to wade through it all, the URL is:


In short, the Romanian archdiocese is bailing out of the moribund OCA. They are getting ready to leave, kids. One commenter was expatiating on how Archbishop Nathaniel was such a paragon of Orthodox “unity”. What twaddle. He is going to follow his flock to preserve his living, pure and simple, the OCA be damned. This group is some 27,000 out of the 115,000 in the OCA at present. It is the best-run and best-organised diocese in the OCA, probably because it has built a firewall between itself and Syosset.

I noticed desperation in the comments by Mark Stokoe (the editor), and one woman (I shall preserve her anonymity, as she is a private person) on the “American” church. I shall inform both of these people that they are defending an illusion. I say this not in anger, but, in an attempt to help them out of the mire they are stuck in at present. There is nothing Anglo-Saxon in the OCA, it is a Russian-American construct, and that is the end of it. It is time to tell the “Angliochians” (a construct of a waggish friend, combining “Anglican” and “Antiochian”, satirising the faux pas of recent arrivals) that they are all wet.

It is time to stop playing games. I am not going to go on and on. It is simple. Look at the good trees. Look at the bad trees. Moscow is a good tree. Jordanville is a good tree. Syosset is a dead tree. SVS is a deformed tree. We should not talk of ideal solutions here. This is the real world, and we are grown-ups who can face the truth. It is simple, truly.

You can follow Herman Swaiko, Leonid Kishkovsky, and Paul Meyendorff. Or, you can follow Patriarch Aleksei Rediger, Metropolitan Hilarion Kapral, and Fr Vsevolod Chaplin. You cannot follow both, it is impossible.

The time for choosing is near. Choose wisely.

Vara Drezhlo

Friday 23 May 2008


This is why I make fresh translations from the Russian…

Filed under: inter-Christian relations,Roman Catholic — 01varvara @ 00.00

The following translation from Russian is such a howler that I HAD to share it with you. First, I shall give the Russian original. Then, the Interfax translation shall follow. Lastly, shall be my translation from the original. Interfax is notorious for such howlers, but, I still look over VOR pieces, for they can fall into “Runglish”, that is, English written with Russian grammar and idiomatic rules. All of my Russian pieces are edited for grammar only. It is a point of pride that I stick to the content given by the author. My efforts are only so that the English-speaking have an untrammelled access to Russian material. God willing, I succeed. If not, I apologise.


Кардинал Каспер отслужил мессу в католическом соборе Москвы

Москва. 23 мая 2008. ИНТЕРФАКС:

Председатель Папского совета по содействию христианскому единству кардинал Вальтер Каспер в четверг вечером совершил мессу в соборе Непорочного Зачатия Девы Марии в Москве.

Перед началом богослужения В.Каспер, обращаясь к верующим, передал им приветствие и благословение от папы Римского Бенедикта XVI, напомнив, что несколько недель назад понтифик передал благословение всему российскому народу.

Обращение Бенедикта XVI к россиянам было включено в документальный телевизионный русскоязычный фильм о его жизни, в апреле показанный на канале “Вести”.

Кардинал напомнил, что в своем обращении папа “выразил большую надежду на мирное и благополучное развитие этой великой страны (России – “ИФ”)”.

Также представитель Ватикана, ответственный за межхристианские отношения, в своем обращении отметил, что разделение между христианами и Церквами “не отвечает воле Христа”, и призвал всех не только “молиться непрестанно о мире и единстве в Церкви”, но также “быть активными, чтобы подготовить пути к восстановлению единства”.

В.Каспер совершил мессу на латыни и итальянском языке. Кардиналу сослужили представитель Святого Престола в России архиепископ Антонио Меннини и глава московской католической архиепархии Паоло Пецци.



Cardinal Casper celebrated a mess in the Moscow Catholic Cathedral

Moscow, 23 May 2008 (Interfax):

Chairman of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity Cardinal Walter Casper celebrated a mess in the Moscow Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Thursday.

Before the mess, Casper addressed the believers, conveyed them greeting and blessing from Pope Benedict XVI of Rome, and reminded that several weeks ago the pontific conveyed his blessing to the whole Russian people.

Benedict XVI’s address to Russians was included in a Russian-speaking TV documentary about his life broadcasted by the Vesti TV in April.

The cardinal reminded that in his address the pope “expressed big hope for peaceful and safe development of this great country (Russia – IF).

The Vatican’s representative responsible for inter-Christian relations noted that division between Christians and the Churches did not correspond with “the will of Christ” and urged everyone not only “to pray for peace and unity in the Church”, but “to be active and cut the way to restore the unity.”

Kasper conducted the mess in Latin and Italian. Among the cardinal’s concelebrants were representative of the Holy See in Russia Archbishop Antonio Menini and head of the Moscow Catholic Archdiocese Paolo Pezzi.



Cardinal Kasper Celebrated Mass in the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Moscow

Walter Cardinal Kasper (1933- ), President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity

Walter Cardinal Kasper, the President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, celebrated mass on Thursday evening at the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary in Moscow. Before the beginning of the service, Cardinal Kasper addressed the worshippers, and gave to them the greetings and blessing of Benedict XVI, the Pope of Rome. He recalled that several weeks ago the Pontiff communicated his blessings to the entire Russian people. The address of Benedict XVI to the Russian people was shown on the television channel Vesti (News) as part of a documentary covering his life.

Cardinal Kasper noted that the Pope “expressed much hope for the peaceful and constructive evolution of this great country (Russia: Interfax)” in his televised remarks. In his address, Cardinal Kasper noted that the divisions between Christians and the Churches does not “follow the Will of Christ”, and he urged all not only “to pray unceasingly for peace and unity in the church”, but, also, “to be active [in good works] in order to prepare the way for the restoration of unity”. The cardinal served the mass using a mixture of Italian and Latin texts. His concelebrants at the service were Archbishop Antonio Menini, the representative of the Holy See in Russia, and Bishop Paolo Pezzi, the ruling diocesan of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Moscow.

23 May 2008


There! Not as easy as it looks. I wish I were only cutting and pasting… much less time and effort!


It is Time to Smash the Idols

Filed under: Christian,moral issues,Orthodox life,religious,USA — 01varvara @ 00.00

“Get Behind Me, Satan!”

Ilya Repin



In contemporary Orthodoxy in America, we’ve wandered far from what I denote “normal and ordinary Orthodoxy”, especially in the last fifty years. We’ve erected “strange gods” in the place of normative and historical Orthodoxy, and this has come to roost in our day. This is not only true of those on the theological “left”; it’s also bedevilled more traditional believers as well. The errors caused by the deification of Alexander Schmemann, of course, are obvious, but the antics of Count Grabbe and Hieromonk Panteleimon of Brookline were just as hurtful to a balanced expression of the faith as were the shenanigans perpetrated at SVS and Syosset. A false attitude crept into the Church, one illustrated well by a cleric of the ROCOR recently. His article is enlightening, and I recommend it to all. It does not apply solely to the ROCOR situation, and his insights are illuminating. Click here to read it. For our purposes at present, an excerpt from the above piece, I believe, says it all.


The aforementioned Fr Knox calls this mindset: ultrasupernaturalism. This is a belief that one is to expect definite and concrete signs of God’s grace. This view is evidenced by three characteristics:

  1. Extreme standards of perfection. The saints aren’t seen as spiritual athletes, an exception, but are the norm of the Christian life by which everyone’s judged. This is held especially against those who belong outside the group. Despite protestations that he’s just a sinner and doesn’t judge, the schismatic will judge everyone by these standards. This is born out of a narcissistic need to be seen as perfect. The narcissist wants either to be admired or will bask in the glow of another. In the Orthodox Church, many will tend to put on the cloak of false humility and then brag about their starets or bishop. They’ll speak of a long line of saints in their spiritual ancestry. This is done to bolster their own pride and to justify their actions. The purpose is ultimately to make themselves feel righteous and others feel shame.
  2. Rigidity concerning rules, especially regarding repentance. This follows from the first. Many schismatics believe that those who oppose them must repent of their errors. The standards of repentance are so rigid that it would be nearly impossible to achieve. Many believe that the bishops of the Russian Church were collaborators, ecumenists, or outright communists. They demand repentance. The fact that many have repented is irrelevant because they didn’t do a good enough job to satisfy the schismatic. The schismatic lacks empathy and understanding about the ambiguities of life. The Church to them isn’t about bringing sinners to repentance, but, rather, it’s an ideologically-pure organisation that demands perfection. If they accepted the faults of others, then, they couldn’t justify leaving. This sets up criterion number three.
  3. Exclusivity. The schismatic will have no halfway Christians. Christianity is only for the pure. This purity is more in ideological correctness or a rigid adherence to canons. Those in the group who don’t live up to the letter are made to feel shame and guilt. This can be done in a variety of ways. I recommend that people read Margaret Singer’s Cults in Our Midst to gain a greater understanding of the techniques used. These groups tend to be authoritarian, exclusive, and develop a double set of ethics. The latter is called antinomianism.


The Banishment of the Boyarina Morozova

Vasili Surikov



A classic portrayal of a religious fanatic…


The exclusivity has already been mentioned. These groups tend to be centred around a charismatic leader, who’s seen as very spiritual. Sometimes, the leader holds great power over everyone. Other times, the leader’s a distant figure head symbolising the movement. In the latter case, everyone in the group has greater responsibility in maintaining the purity of belief. More often than not, there’ll be a small number of people who use the leader and they themselves are the true authorities. Either way, the average follower is under scrutiny to keep up the appearances of perfection. All this gives the schismatic a sense that he belongs to a different and superior society. The rules of the group are more important than that of the greater society. This gives the schismatics a sense of superiority and entitlement. Worldly society has no real authority over them and sinful people have no real rights. They may obey civil laws begrudgingly to avoid prison. Many begin to talk about belonging spiritually to theocracies and ideal governments that don’t exist. The realpolitik of political life is scorned. Some will even begin to develop their own communities.

The schismatic, suffering from a sense of superiority, entitlement, and exclusion, begins to see his group as an island haven in a sea of sin and hostility. The overwhelming sense of hostility will lead to the group developing paranoia. These groups become suspicious of others. People in the group begin to doubt the loyalty and fidelity of others. They speak little of their internal conflicts. The group image of perfection is upheld at all costs. When this occurs, the Christian schismatic become apocalyptic. People begin to talk more about the Devil and the Antichrist ruling the world. This way of thinking only increases the schismatic’s justification for his behaviour. There becomes an increasing belief that the end is near. Talk in the community will be about how God will only save the faithful remnant. Now, an interesting phenomenon occurs. The superior people, especially the leaders, begin to fall into antinomian behaviours. Antinomianism means against or opposed to the law. Throughout history, exclusive apocalyptic movements end up justifying immoral behaviours for themselves. The most common sins involve money and sex. It isn’t uncommon for the leader or leaders to exploit members for money and sex. Notice the number of money and sex scandals that are involved in these groups. Of course, these scandals happen everywhere, but the schismatic will justify the behaviour or claim persecution. They’ll make themselves out to be martyrs.


Veselak, Deacon Jan, On the Psychology of Schism


“Throughout history, exclusive apocalyptic movements end up justifying immoral behaviours for themselves. The most common sins involve money and sex. It isn’t uncommon for the leader or leaders to exploit members for money and sex. Notice the number of money and sex scandals that are involved in these groups”. This is a textbook description of the current long-running crisis in the OCA, it fits perfectly. A priest in Maryland, one Raymond Velencia, blabs to the entire world what he heard in confession and counselling, and the leadership rewards him by calling him a “goals-oriented priest” and defends him and his actions.  As all know the sordid details of the financial and sexual escapades amongst the OCA hierarchy, there’s no need to repeat it.


“Crucify Him!”

Ivan Glazunov



This is what “true-believers” and schismatics do to the Body of Christ…


Why did this situation come about? The Metropolia wasn’t so, in fact, it was known for its prudence, caution, and good-sense. In fact, when I asked a fellow-parishioner, “What would’ve happened in the old Metropolia to this priest (Rev Velencia, he who blabbed confessions)?” She replied without hesitation, “They would’ve ripped his head off”. What happened? It’s a salutary warning to all of us. A single man, Alexander Schmemann, brought his singular ideas to fruition because of a fortuitous series of events. Firstly, there was a generational crisis in the Metropolia, as the generation born in the ’30s and ’40s was ashamed of their roots and tried to efface them. Secondly, Schmemann was better educated than any of his American contemporaries. Thirdly, the Russian Church was under attack by the atheist authorities and unable to help. Lastly, his notions of an “autocephalous American Church” were seconded by Nikodim Rotov, who used Schmemann in an attempt to mitigate the attacks of the communists on the Church (it had nothing to do with America, thank you very much). All of these factors had to be present, and, unfortunately, they were. That’s why a repetition of this is impossible at the present time.

Schmemann founded the cult of autocephaly and launched the pervasive spread of American phyletism in the OCA and AOCANA (the latter is more infested than the former, intriguingly enough). In some OCA circles, you can say nothing against Schmemann. They say, “You see, the present crisis would have been avoided only if Schmemann had escaped an early death from cancer”. He’s become a godlike figure, especially to uninformed American converts who never met him. As long as one invokes the god-man Schmemann (no irreverence intended), one can do as one pleases, unfettered by common morality and decency. I’ve had the opportunity to observe one of the OCA apparatchiki at length, and it disturbs me. There’s a complete lack of restraint in the man, and I find that he completely disregards the truth. 25 years ago, he attacked the ROCOR unmercifully, and, now, he’s done a complete volte-face. He’s never said that he was sorry; he merely changed his position because it was expedient. I’ve seen a man who embodies all the principles of Orwell’s 1984, anything inconvenient goes down the “memory hole” and all his statements are in Newspeak delivered with an unctuous smile. Don’t think that the priesthood is immune from temptation and evil, I’ve seen for myself that isn’t true. Reflect on the fact that such a moral monster (and Rev Velencia) finds favour with SVS and the Syosset apparat.

I should say at this point that I am far from perfect, and I do not place myself as a standard for anyone else. However, after some 54 years of life, I realise that the ordinary truths of the Church resonate throughout the ages. I also know that we should never put a mere human in the place that is reserved for Our Lord Christ alone. That’s why the OCA is foundering and why the AOCANA is probably going to leave mainstream Orthodoxy (there is no space to go into the topic of the megalomania of Philip Saliba, an interesting study). It’s time to topple the idols. After the image of Schmemann falls, one shall find, just as we saw after the fall of communism in 1991, that few actually believed in it at the end. That’s the sadness of it all. Save for a few deluded pseudo-intellectuals and ignorant converts, no one actually believes in Schmemann’s drivel today. Yet, it’s used as the justification for keeping a corpse of an organisation alive. I’d say to His Holiness Patriarch Aleksei, “Smash the idols, sir, and set these people free”. May such happen soon.

Friday 23 May 2008

Vara Drezhlo

Albany NY USA

Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev says that the participation of Non-canonical Churches in the Orthodox-Anglican Dialogue is impossible

Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev of Vienna (1966- ), Representative of the MP to the European Institutions, at the première of his Christmas Oratorio in Moscow

Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev of Vienna and all Austria, the Representative of the Moscow Patriarchate to the European Institutions, again stated that the participation of non-canonical Churches in the inter-Christian dialogue was impossible, the representation’s press service told Interfax-Religion. At a session of the Supervisory Committee for the Orthodox-Anglican Dialogue in Istanbul, Bishop Hilarion reminded his colleagues about the Ravenna incident in October 2007, which took place during a meeting of the Mixed Orthodox-Catholic Commission. The delegation of the MP left the meeting because representatives of the so-called Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church, set up by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 1996 on the canonical territory of the MP without the latter’s approval, were amongst the members of the EP delegation.

Vladyki Hilarion laid emphasis on the fact that the MP cannot participate in a dialogue together with representatives of the Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church, for to do so would deviate from a decision of the Bishops’ Council of 2000. He warned the participants of the Orthodox-Anglican Dialogue against a repetition of the “Ravenna scenario”. Other Orthodox participants in the Istanbul session were Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokletia (EP) and Metropolitan Nifon of Targovishte (Romanian Patriarchate) whilst the Anglicans were represented by Bishop Mark Dyer, Rev Jonathan Goodall, and Gregory Cameron.

23 May 2008



Editor’s Note:

It looks as though Moscow is hoisting the battle ensign of St Andrew up to the top of the foretruck, beating to quarters, clearing the decks for action, and rolling out the heavy artillery.


This is a specific warning that this Dialogue cannot invite any of the Osborne schismatics or their Parisian mates. FULL STOP. If they dare to do so, the MP delegation shall walk out without hesitation, leaving the others with their nicks around their ankles in the sight of the entire world. That would be quite a spectacle, would it not?

This does not bode well for any of the renegade bodies set up by the EP in the Ukraine, Estonia, France, and England, or for their allies in the OCA. What does Moscow know that we do not? Is this the beginning of the long-awaited reshuffling of the deck in diaspora Orthodoxy? God willing, it is. May God keep us all.


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