September 25, 2012, a Mr. John Robles, of the Voice of Russia World
Service, wrote an article, in which he alluded that our Metropolitan
Valentine of Suzdal and Vladimir, of blessed memory, took financial
assistance from the United States government.
(Read the article)
His article was republished on the blog belonging to Barbara-Marie Drezhlo, along with her own shameful remarks. She did not permit any comments to be made about it. (See the blog)
Most of Mr. Robles’ article is in criticism of an organization called USAID. It is filled with innuendo, unsubstantiated claims, blatant lies, half-truths and slander; all hallmarks of the typical degenerate Communist point of view. Since this article is accompanied by a large photograph of our Metropolitan Valentine, taken in front of our Synodal Headquarters building in Suzdal, Russia, together with Mr. Kyle Hatcher of the American Embassy in Moscow, I feel compelled to make a clarification.
Metropolitan Valentine was the Chief Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church (ROAC), of which I also am a bishop.
The Orthodox Church is not organized like the Roman Catholic Church, or the Anglican Church, where everyone answers to a pope in Rome, or to a king in London, who provides a visible symbol of organizational unity, even though the adherents of these churches may be widely divergent in what branch of theology they profess. The Orthodox Church has always viewed a single bishop, together with his flock, as one complete and entire Orthodox Church. The Holy Apostles left us their instruction that the synod of bishops of each country should meet and elect its own Archbishop. This is the basis for the organization of the Orthodox Church since that time. The organizational unity of Orthodox bishops with each other, and with other national Orthodox churches, is based on all of them sharing the same Orthodox faith, without change, from the time of the Holy Apostles. When one bishop, or an entire synod of bishops, departs from the faith of the Holy Apostles, “which was once and for all delivered to the saints,” we are not only permitted, but commanded to withdraw from prayerful communion with him, until such time as the issue at hand can be resolved.
In 1927, Metropolitan Sergius Stragorodsky, who had illegally usurped the position of Chief Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church (according to ecclesiastical law), made his infamous declaration that, “The joys and sorrows of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union are the joys and sorrows of the Russian Orthodox Christian Church,” and excommunicated all those who refused to accept this declaration, both inside and outside the borders of his country. In making this statement, he, in actuality, separated himself from the historic Orthodox Church and became an apostate. All those clergymen who accepted his declaration also became apostates. They took an active part in identifying for the atheistic government, and bearing witness against in court, those clergymen who would not accept this declaration, most of whom were eventually murdered by the Soviet State; about 200,000 bishops, priests, deacons, monks and nuns. In 1943, these apostates, with the encouragement and aid of the most brutal dictator to have ever lived, Joseph Stalin, formed the organization now known as the Russian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate (ROC-MP), and Met. Sergius was elected as the first patriarch of the Soviet Orthodox Church. Real Orthodox Christians, however, refused to have anything to do with these apostates, and went into hiding.
In 1991, when the Soviet Union came to an end, Metropolitan Valentine (then a parish priest in Suzdal), was one of the first to take advantage of the newfound freedoms in the new Russian Federation. He publicly repented of his time in the ROC-MP, renounced their apostasy, and united himself to that part of the Russian Church that had continued to exist for all those years beyond the reach of the Soviet government’s influence–the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR), with its headquarters in Manhattan. The ROCOR made him a bishop for the hundreds of parishes and thousands of priests and people who were also leaving the ROC-MP.
However, the ROCOR itself had been infiltrated by agents of the Soviet regime over the years, and it was actively seeking to align itself at this time with the ROC-MP. Inevitably, a conflict arose out of this situation, and the people inside Russia realized that they would have to organize themselves independently of the ROC-MP and the ROCOR. In 2007, the ROCOR capitulated to the ROC-MP, and joined it.
So, what this means is that we in the ROAC are by no means schismatics, but, as stated in the 15th canon of the First-Second Council of Constantinople, “…not only are not subject to any canonical penalty on account of their having walled themselves off from any and all communion with the one called a Bishop before any conciliar or synodal verdict has been rendered, but, on the contrary, they shall be deemed worthy to enjoy the honor which befits them among Orthodox Christians. For they have defied, not Bishops, but pseudo-bishops and pseudo-teachers; and they have not sundered the union of the Church with any schism, but, on the contrary, have been sedulous to rescue the Church from schisms and divisions.”
Adherence to the canons of the Church is, by definition, what makes one canonical. When one violates the canons of the Church, one is, by definition, uncanonical. The canonical violations of the ROC-MP, the ROCOR, as well as all other churches of the so-called communion of “World Orthodoxy,” who are all in collusion with each other, are so manifest and numerous that it is beyond the scope of this article to elaborate them. What is to the point of this article is rather the relationship of the new Russian Federation with its citizens who also happen to be believers of religions, and the relationship of the Russian Federation with other nations who are co-signatories with the Russian Federation of international agreements guaranteeing these rights.
In Section One, Chapter Two of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, ratified on December 12th, 1993, we find the following articles:
Everyone shall be guaranteed the right to freedom of conscience, to freedom of religious worship, including the right to profess, individually or jointly with others, any religion, or to profess no religion, to freely choose, possess and disseminate religious or other beliefs, and to act in conformity with them.
Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought and speech.
Propaganda or campaigning inciting social, racial, national or religious hatred and strife is impermissible. The propaganda of social, racial, national, religious or language superiority is forbidden.
No one may be coerced into expressing one's views and convictions or into renouncing them.
Everyone shall have the right to seek, get, transfer, produce and disseminate information by any lawful means. The list of information constituting the state secret shall be established by the federal law.
The freedom of the mass media shall be guaranteed. Censorship shall be prohibited.
Everyone shall have the right to association, including the right to create trade unions in order to protect one's interests. The freedom of public associations activities shall be guaranteed.
No one may be coerced into joining any association or into membership thereof.
Citizens of the Russian Federation shall have the right to gather peacefully, without weapons, and to hold meetings, rallies, demonstrations, marches and pickets.”
In the UN’s “Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” adopted by the UN general assembly on December 10, 1948, just to mention one of the international agreements to which the Russian Federation is a party, we find the following articles:
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.”
My questions to Mr. Robles are these: Do these documents matter, or are they not worth the paper they are written on? In other words, even though you may not agree with our religious thinking, do we have the right to practice it, as long as it is in accordance with local laws? If we do not, why do we not, and why do you have such rights when we are denied ours?
I am not a citizen of the Russian Federation, but of the United States of America. Do I not have a right to complain to my government, which is a signatory of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, (as is the Russian Federation, the heir to another of the initial drafters of this declaration–the USSR), about violations of basic human rights perpetrated against my co-religionists? Who has the right to decide whether I do or don’t anyway? It is a God-given right, and I am taking my right, whether anyone else likes it, or not.
The fact is that the last best hope for guaranteeing these rights for anyone in the world is not the Soviet Union, nor the ex-Soviet Union, nor the neo-Soviet Union, but the United States of America. Not once, but twice, in the last century, we went to war in Europe and in the Orient to defend the rights of the innocent. We defeated our enemies, and then, we gave them back their countries and made friends and business partners out of them. We did this while helping them to repair the damage done, insofar as we were able. We did not create utopian societies there, but we did put into place policies that would prevent our having to come back and straighten them out a third time. Who else has ever done this in history? Certainly not the Soviet Union. Who gave us the right to do it? The men and boys that we left behind, buried in our military cemeteries or at sea all over the world.
Mr. Kyle Hatcher was sent from the American Embassy in Moscow to observe our picket against the corrupt way in which our Church’s legal affairs were being treated by the Russian government and courts. The picket was legally applied for and licensed. It is a basic human right to be able to protest against mistreatment received from one’s government.
I accompanied Metropolitan Valentine to the State Department in Washington, DC, on many occasions, and was his translator. What of it? We did not hide the fact, but published it on our Church’s web sites. What is wrong with informing the US government about violations of human rights? There was no money given to us from anyone in the US government. Anyone who thinks otherwise, does not know how the government works. If you don’t believe me, prove your point; show your evidence. The money we used for restoring churches in Suzdal and in other places was given to us from private donors, who wanted to do something to help Russian Orthodox believers to get back on their feet after 90 years of the most horrific repression the world has ever seen. Why does Mr. Robles see something criminal in that, and not in the repression? Could it be that Mr. Robles is the one wearing the rose colored glasses?
+Bishop Andrew of Pavlovskoye,
Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church of America