Voices from Russia

Friday, 7 November 2008

The Descendents of the Romanovs shall Move for the Rehabilitation of Grand Princess St Yelizaveta Fyodrovna

Filed under: politics,Revolution/Civil War,Romanovs,Russian,Soviet period — 01varvara @ 00.00

Holy Righteous Martyr Grand Princess Yelizaveta Fyodrovna (1864-1918)


The Romanov family‘s determined to win legal acknowledgement as victims of political repression of all the members of the imperial house who were killed by the Bolsheviks after the Revolution, including Grand Princess St Yelizaveta Fyodrovna, the founder of the Marfo-Mariinskoye House of Mercy. She was executed in 1918 in Alapaevsk. The Archpastoral Council of the MP in 1992 canonised Grand Princess Yelizaveta, along with her faithful cell-attendant Nun Varvara, classifying them as Righteous Martyrs. All documents necessary and a statement of the Romanov family shall be handed over to the General Procurator of the RF, German Lukyanov, the barrister for the Romanovs, told Interfax on Friday. To date, of the 17 members of the imperial house that were killed by the Bolsheviks, 11 have been legally rehabilitated. “It’s also necessary to secure the legal acknowledgement as a victim of political repression of [Dowager-Tsaritsa Maria Fyodrovna], the mother of Tsar Nikolai II, as her rights and freedoms were abridged by the Bolsheviks in the Crimea”, Lukyanov said. On 1 October, the Presidium of the RF Supreme Court ruled that Tsar Nikolai II, the last Russian tsar, and the members of his family were eligible for legal rehabilitation. According to Lukyanov, the Romanov family has yet to receive an official transcript of the decree ordering the legal rehabilitation of Nikolai II.

7 November 2008




Andrei Schmemann, Twin-Brother of the Well-Known Theologian, Died in Paris

Andrei Dmitryevich Schmemann (1921-2008), leading figure in the French emigration, he stood four-square for Orthodox tradition, and did not get on well with his brother’s Renovationism. Vechnaya Pamyat!


Andrei Schmemann, one of the last surviving Russian émigrés of the “First Wave”, passed away in Paris in his 88th year after a long illness, Interfax-Religion learned from sources in the Moscow Patriarchate. He was the son of Dmitri Schmemann, a highly-decorated officer of the Semyonovsky Guards, and was born on 13 September 1921 in Revel (modern Tallinn) in Estonia, where his family fled after the retreat from Petrograd of the forces of General Yudenich in 1919. His twin-brother Aleksandr was one of the most well-known (and controversial) Orthodox theologians of the 20th century. In 1929, the Schmemann family moved to France, and the brothers Aleksandr and Andrei entered the Nikolai II Cadet Corps in Versailles. The instructors, former tsarist officers, educated the brothers in the Orthodox faith and gave them a love for Russian culture, history, and literature. He finished his education as a cadet sergeant-major (vitse-feldfebel), and he retained throughout his life his faithfulness to the ideals of the cadet corps and was a loyal friend to all of his school-mates. As a boy, he entered, and later headed, the Paris branch of the Russkiye Vityazi (Russian Knights), which had a primary mission of spreading knowledge of Russian culture and history. For many years, Andrei Dmitryevich was the chairman of the Association of Russian Cadets in Paris and was the curator of their military museum. In 2000, the Russian Cadets and their descendents, with the full participation of M Schmemann, made a momentous decision. They decided to reconcile and collaborate with the new Russian state, solemnised by a liturgy at the Russian cemetery of St Geneviève de Bois, near the graves of their ancestors and companions-in-arms.

In 2004, President V V Putin met with Andrei Dmitryevich in Cannes and granted him a Russian passport. Up to that time, M Schmemann had only had a so-called “stateless passport”, a temporary identity card for refugees introduced by the League of Nations on the basis of the Geneva Agreements of 1922. “For many years, I lived with disquiet in my soul, feeling myself purely Russian, yet, simultaneously, I realised that I was a man without a country, I was a stateless person. Now, I’m happy that I’m reunited with my Motherland”, Andrei Dmitrievich stated. For more than 50 years, M Schmemann was the warden of the parish of the Mother of God of the Sign in Paris. Together with other leading figures in the Russian emigration, he was one of the founders of the movement OLTR, the initials in French for “[Organisation for] Traditional Local (Western European) Russian Orthodoxy”. Andrei Dmitryevich always remained a staunch supporter of the return of all émigré parishes to the MP’s jurisdiction.

7 November 2008



Editor’s Note:

Although they were twins, Aleksandr Dmitrievich and Andrei Dmitryevich were antipodes apart in their attitude to the Church and Russia. Andrei was faithful to Tradition, whereas Aleksandr wasn’t. Andrei led the fight against Renovationism in Western Europe, as one saw in the so-called “Paris jurisdiction”. The group that he founded, OLTR, deserves your prayers and support. They’re persecuted by the present Bishop Gabriel, as exemplified by his nasty actions towards Mme Plas in Nice. They’re modern-day confessors. Vechnaya Pamyat, rab bozhii Andrei! May the Lord grant you rest and repose in the Heavenly Mansions! We’ are all the poorer with his passing.


Fr Daniil Sysoyev Urges the Faithful to Reject the “Ideology of Rigor Mortis” Now Rampant in the Church


Patriarch Aleksei Rediger of Moscow and all the Russias (1929- ), leading our Church into the future, changing the non-essential, standing firm on the substance. A holy and righteous leader, I say.

An insufficient knowledge of the basics of Orthodox faith by ordinary people is a serious problem for the Church, Fr Daniil Sysoyev, the rector of St Thomas the Apostle parish in Kantemirov, said. “The Church is considered as a kind of dead body, it is thought to be frozen. According to some, nothing should be changed in it. It is understandable that we should not change dogmatics and Church Tradition, no one argues with that. However, the problem is that people try to preserve superstitions and false ideology, and, what is worse, they try to hang on to bad remnants of the Soviet period”, Fr Daniil told our Interfax-Religion correspondent. He called this problem “an ideology of rigor mortis. It is not conservatism; rather, it is the murder of the Church”.

A conference devoted to the problems of contemporary pastoral ministry will be held this Saturday in Moscow as a part of the Pravoslavnaya Rus (Orthodox Russia) exhibition-forum. Patriarch Aleksei, Metropolitan Kirill, and renowned priests and laymen will participate in the forum and discuss acute questions of church life. In Fr Daniil’s opinion, today, “Paganism often disguises itself in the Church under the mask of Christianity, and it is hidden under a façade of pietism rather than in overt exterior manifestations. People forget that their goal is to reach sanctity. Some of them believe it is a sin even to think of such a possibility, that they could reach sanctity, even though it is the fulfilment of a direct commandment of the Lord. We should spare no effort to overcome this problem”, he emphasised. “People coming to church see it as an assembly-line of spiritual services. They are not offered any spiritual growth; therefore, they go to the sectarians”, Fr Daniil complained.

7 November 2008



Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev Asks the All-American Council Not To Include His Name in the List of Candidates for the First Hierarch of the OCA


Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev of VIenna and Austria (1966- ), the Representative of the MP to the European International Institutions

Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev of Vienna and Austria, the representative of the Moscow Patriarchate to the European International Institutions, addressed the All-American Council (sic) of the OCA, asking not to be nominated as a candidate for the First hierarch of the OCA. “I must clearly state that I will not allow my name to be advanced as a candidate for this position”, Vladyki Hilarion stated in an open letter published by the OCA official website.

In recent weeks, several OCA priests conducted an open campaign for the election of Bishop Hilarion as the First Hierarch of the OCA. Vladyki Hilarion said that he received letters and phone calls asking him personally for his permission to allow them to advance his name for the nomination for this position, and he felt grateful “for this unexpected outpouring of love and appreciation” and trust from so many Orthodox Christians in America.

At the same time, Vladyki Hilarion indicated several of the reasons why his election would be impossible. First of all, in his view, “First of all, the OCA must be headed by an American. If a Russian bishop was elected its First Hierarch, this can be interpreted as an implicit denial of its autocephalous status”, Bishop Hilarion said. Furthermore, in Bishop Hilarion’s opinion, a Russian bishop “would find it extremely difficult for to act freely” in this position, since, even before he arrives, opposition to him will form, “simply on the basis of his being Russian and not American. They will regard him as the ‘hand of Moscow’ and his actions will be constantly and deliberately misinterpreted”, Vladyki Hilarion wrote. Finally, he noted that His Holiness Patriarch Aleksei II of Moscow and all Russia expressly asked him to continue his service as a bishop in the MP.

Vladyki Hilarion stated, “I received the Orthodox faith through the Russian Orthodox Church. She is my spiritual mother, whom I love deeply and wholeheartedly. At the age of twenty, I received monastic tonsure, and, since then, I have been fully obedient to my Church, to its Patriarch, and the Holy Synod. My life is in the hands of His Holiness and I will never accept any proposal concerning my service without his prior consent”. He emphasised that he believed that the discussion around his name would die down naturally, however, it had intensified as the All-American Council (sic) approached, and he felt compelled to make this statement “so that its participants should not waste their precious time” considering his candidacy. The All-American Council (sic), which will elect a new First Hierarch of the OCA to succeed the retired Metropolitan Herman Swaiko, will open on Monday in Pittsburgh PA.

7 November 2008



Editor’s Note:

Firstly, let me give a note on terminology. The triennial convention of the OCA is not a council in even the most charitable sense (it is why I put “sic” after each statement of “Council”). A council is composed of bishops, who meet whenever necessary to consult on problems in church life. It is not a ginned-up imitation of “American democracy” as are the OCA (and AOCANA) conventions. At the least, the AOCANA is more honest, as it calls its conventions “conventions”, not “councils”. If we remember that so-called “American democracy” is the political embodiment of Radical Protestantism, one can understand the reason for my caveat.

As for the Pittsburgh convention itself, it bids fair to be “interesting”. There are things other than a vacant Metropolitanate to consider. All the skeletons are going to come out of the closet, or, there is going to be an open effort to quash same, or, what is most likely, a combination of the two that shall leave no party to the affair satisfied.

Shall Raymond Velencia (he is named, because his crime was especially heinous) be seated as a delegate, despite having a lawsuit pending against him? After all, he shared pastoral confidences with the entire world, a noisome and vile act if there ever was one. If the OCA wishes to show its remorse and to begin to give recompense to the Koumentakos family, it would not allow this moral monster to sit as a delegate; it would strip him of his priesthood, and stand aside from the rightful civil suit against him. Otherwise, the corporate body may find itself liable for this individual’s actions.

There are many others… Shall a certain priest of the Diocese of the South be seated as a delegate after shielding Robert Kondratick and allowing him to remain an official representative of a parish of his diocese after RSK was rightfully defrocked for corruption and destruction of records? If he did it once…

What about the former treasurer of the Diocese of New York and Washington who was forced to resign and the books were found in an absolute mess afterwards? At best, that is incompetence and/or negligence. At worst, it is corruption. When the Episcopalians caught their treasurer in similar shenanigans, she ended up wearing prison-orange and doing state time here in New York.

What about the priest who was allowed to raise an objection to a motion at the last convention, even though that motion had majority support, even though the priest involved had a pecuniary interest? I would say that the priest involved loves Mammon and filthy lucre more than God.

What about the well-connected priest in the central administration who fled to Arizona when all of this blew up in 2005? I make the observation that the only reason apparatchiki flee Dodge is to avoid trouble when the still blows up.

Do the delegates know the above? Yes, they do, and more besides. You shall note that most of the miscreants go unnamed. I wished to illustrate sorry trends, not run a personal vendetta. In the case of Mr Velencia, it is so open and scandalous that a name was necessary. If the OCA continues to receive him as “a goals-oriented priest”, it deserves the worst that can happen to it. The poor Koumentakos family… spare a prayer for them.

May God have mercy on the poor people of the OCA… they deserve better.


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