Voices from Russia

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Confessor of the St Andrei Bogolyubsky Convent Removed from Active Ministry and the Superior of the Convent Removed from Office because of Abuse Complaints

Archbishop Evlogy Smirnov of Vladimir and Suzdal (1937- ), he’s going to minimise damage to the Church from this contretemps through his energetic and spot-on actions, just as JP is going to maximise damage to the Church from the Storheim affair through his sluggishness and secrecy.


Archbishop Evlogy Smirnov of Vladimir and Suzdal adopted a series of personnel actions in connection with the controversial situation concerning the St Andrei Bogolyubsky Convent, where two of the children resident at its orphanage ran away recently. Through his decree, which was sent on Saturday to Interfax-Religion, the ruling bishop removed the confessor of the convent, Archimandrite Pyotr Kuchera, from the active ministry, but gave him the right to reside at the convent. In addition, via the same order, the archbishop relieved Mother Georgia Kurchevskaya from her duties as superior of the convent, noting the need for the appointment of a new superior “in accordance with the provisions of the Charter of Russian Orthodox Church and the requirements of the requisite Russian legislation”. The main critic of the convent, Fr Vitaly Rysev, was dismissed as the Dean of the Suzdal Raion and director of the diocesan boarding school in Suzdal, but he retained the post of rector at St Michael the Archangel parish in Suzdal. By decision of the bishop, diocesan boarding schools would be converted to Orthodox grammar schools with an extended day programme, and no school would have residential facilities. According to the same decree, the new leadership of the St Andrei Bogolyubsky Convent must strictly prohibit minors from residing on the grounds, and disallow employees from living at the convent, especially if such employees have children. As stated in the order, all these measures are necessary “in order to improve the atmosphere, taking into account the personal dimension of the prevailing controversy in this situation”.

As reported last fall, two residents of the shelter operated by the St Andrei Bogolyubsky Convent ran away and complained of mistreatment by caregivers. That brought in the Public Chamber and SKP to investigate the matter. According to the results of the preliminary investigation concerning the illegal deprivation of liberty and ill-treatment of Valentina Perova, the RF SKP decided not to prosecute at that time. In November 2009, a commission appointed by the Moscow Patriarchate examined the situation at convent, discovering faulty teaching methods, and noted “a number of fundamental errors in the organisation of the lives of children living at the convent”. Convent superiors were given recommendations to remedy the situation. In December, the superior of the convent was deprived of the rights of guardianship in respect to the children residing in their shelter after a working group reported to the governor of Vladimir Oblast, Nikolai Vinogradov. The scandal surrounding the shelter also drew attention to the nature of the activities of Archimandrite Pyotr Kuchera, the confessor of the convent. Recently, on two occasions, the Synod disciplined him; as a result, he went over to a schismatic body for a short time. In March 2010, the Publications Board of the MP included one of his books on the list of publications forbidden distribution in parishes and monasteries. This fall, another two girls ran away from the shelter, and they complained of abuse from staff. Based on statements from the girls, the SKP opened two criminal cases. This story also received wide publicity.

13 November 2010



Editor’s Note:

There has been no news of the SKP dropping charges… so, Vladyki Evlogy is probably putting forth a “plea bargain” with them. “I’ll remove the offenders and make changes so this never happens again; in return, you’ll drop or reduce the charges”. As you can see from his snap, Vladyki Evlogy is a foxy old bishop; he’s been in the episcopate for 20 years, and he was ordained a priest back in ’69, he’s seen a thing or two. Do compare his alert expeditiousness with Fathausen’s sluggish inertia. As my Nicky said, “He knows how to bish! Fathausen only knows how to slug”. I think that he has something, no?

The Winnipeg magistrate should be made aware of JP’s lethargy, indolence, sloth, and secrecy. For instance, oca.org doesn’t give his actual address in DC; it gives the address of the Washington cathedral, instead. Besides that, no telephone number for Paffhausen in DC is listed… that’s a deep and dark secret. Note well that the konvertsy bloviate about JP’s “openness”… if that’s openness, gee, I’d hate to see “secrecy”.

JP has been faced with analogous situations, and he failed at every juncture. First, it was the Sidebottom affair… “We admit no guilt”. Supposedly, “reforms” in ordination procedure were announced, to take effect on 1 June 2009. Here’s a little aside, on the last Saturday in May 2009, right before the deadline, JP came to our parish, supposedly for a “consecration” of the parish. There was only four weeks notice given of it… and Iggy’s son was ordained to the diaconate. Of course, it was only a “coincidence” that it was on the last weekend before the new regulations were to go into effect…

Then, there was the Koumentakos affair. JP has taken no action against Ray Velencia. NONE. There has not even been a put-up investigation of the affair. Apparently, Velencia is just going to be allowed to traipse off to the GOA, with not even a formal and bootless slap on the wrist. Velencia’s supporters even have a calumnious little website, the OCA apparatchiki don’t complain about THAT. I’ll be blunt. Ray Velencia threw acid in Kristi Koumentako’s face (figuratively), he held her up to public obloquy, he did his best to trash her reputation, and JP supinely smiles an idiot’s grin.

There’s much more, of course (including Tosi’s famous “The records simply don’t exist”), but it’s gotten rather tedious, no? I’d say to the Winnipeg magistrate, “There are two kinds of Orthodox bishops. There’s Vladyki Evlogy, he knows how to ‘bish’… he removed the offenders and made changes so that the offence wouldn’t happen again. Then, there’s Paffhausen… do ask him about the stories surrounding Pierre l’Huillier and about how he protects John Erickson, who covered up the Iliff scandal at SVS”.

I think that the magistrate’s reaction would be the same as the ending to so many of the “Desert Father Stories”… “and they went away greatly edified”.



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