Letter of Hegumen Gregory (Lourie)
to the Synod of Bishops of ROAC,
September 20, 2005

Your Eminencies,

It was Internet where I got to know the report of your meeting # 52 on September 5th, 2005. In the course of it some resolutions were adopted. They are concerning me and are of such kind that I should be waiting for a full version of the report or at least an extract from it from you. A considerable amount of time has already elapsed since September 5th but I havenít got anything yet. I heard however some opinions of those bishops who took part in the mentioned meeting and I am bound to admit that the spread version of the report is the original one. The content of it is of such kind that I think I can respond on it without waiting for a paper copy with original signatures of bishops or an extract with original signature of the secretary.

Despite some problems with report delivering, I should to say that the quality of our synodic records management is becoming better in comparison with the previous session of the Episcopal Synod of ROAC on July 20th. At least canonical accusations are appearing with numbers of canons now (how featly they are quoted is another question) and there are no more names of those who couldnít be on the meeting in the list of participants and even in the signatures on the report; besides I got a written confirmation from Synod that I am elevated to the rank of hegumen at last (though at the previous session on July 20th I was simply a "hieromonk" for both Synod and my diocesan bishop and in the period between July 20th and September 5th I got only one church reward, it was forbiddance to serve).

These positive signs testify that somehow we are managing to lead a constructive dialogue with Synod and it will definitely help us to build our church government in accordance with canonical laws of the Orthodox Church. This dialogue should be continued and expanded. That is the reason of my appealing to the Episcopal Synod in this letter. It goes without saying that Iíll have to speak about problems instead of achievements in it. But without open discussion weíll never get chance to overcome them.

First of all I would like to clear up the meaning of the events happened at the meeting of the Episcopal Synod of ROAC on September 5th, 2005 and of my present answer.

Iíll start with the last one. Despite the fact that on the meeting of Synod an accusation was brought against me, with which I personally donít agree, my letter isnít an appeal and I am not even going to write one in future. The reason is that the procedure of appealing is a juridical procedure and it is meaningful at disputing a resolution made during a juridical procedure.

But Synod meeting on September 5th didnít resemble a juridical procedure at all. I wonít specify the features of such a procedure here because itís unnecessary, besides Iíve done it already in my letter to the Most Reverend Metropolitan Valentine, dated at August 18th, 2005. That meeting didnít have any of them any way. At the meeting on September 5th instead of the juridical procedure there was only an administrative one: bishops got together and passed a resolution. The problem is that such a resolution canít be passed as an administrative one. In contrast with resolution concerning forbiddance to serve which can be passed administratively in some cases, resolution concerning defrocking, according to canons can be passed only through juridical procedure, the course of which is also determined by canons. If such a resolution is still passed administratively, then it wonít have any canonical power for the accused and its canonical meaning will act exclusively against the bishops who made it. Thatís why if I decided to make an appeal now, I would take part in Synodís breaking canonical laws.

Itís especially difficult for me to understand why Episcopal Synod broke the rule which is definitely familiar to it, the one about citation of the accused person (the 74th Apostolic canon which is applied to priests according to the 29th canon of Carthaginian Synod; more about Byzantine treatment of this norm see in Balsamonís commentary of the 74th Apostolic canon). I got to know about my accusation only on September 8th and only from accidental messages on Internet. It is this violation, made against me by Episcopal Synod that really surprises me, because it canít be explained by simple lack of knowledge of canons. We all remember a story about former protopriest Osetrovís citation in 2001: a protodeacon and an archimandrite (the present bishop Irinarch, member of Synod) were sent to his place then in order to serve him a writ. They bravely tried to hand it in, despite the fact that they were met by the wife of protorpiest who threw the contents of the childís pot out on them. Itís difficult to believe that after such a deed they manage to forget about its aim, i.e. about the rule of citation of the accused.

So, instead of being under trail, I happened to be under an anticanonical administrative procedure. Iíll explain the said above on the example. Imagine several people (some of them have right to be judges, some of them not) got together and passed a sentence upon somebody. Instead of carrying out a juridical procedure they spent time having a nice conversation. Of course, such a behavior can and should be appraised according to the laws, and that is why, I consider myself obliged to apply to Episcopal Synod of ROAC in the present letter.

The following three subjects will be discussed further in it:

- my answer on the official accusation against me,
- the style of records management in our Synod,
- important conclusions concerning the future of our church government.

1. The answer on the official accusations of the Episcopal Synod.

With no regard to the canonical status of the session of the Episcopal Synod on September 5th, I have to admit that on this meeting some accusations were brought against me by church authorities and I am bound to respond according to canonical laws (90th canon of Carthaginian Synod).

In the report of the meeting there are a lot of different accusations against me, but the indictment is based only on some of them, in which I am accused officially. Itís possible to believe that all the accusations against me brought to the Episcopal Synod were thoroughly examined. I dare to make a conclusion that those accusations that Episcopal Synod didnít include in its verdict were considered unfounded, or at least not proved. I have to thank the Episcopal Synod for a good job and answer only on the items of the verdict.

I would like to quote them at full length.

1. Notwithstanding the fact that Hegumen Gregory (Lourie) repeatedly spread the errors of Hieroschema-monk Anthony Bulatovich concerning his teaching of "imyabozhiye" and "imyaslaviye" (name-worshipping), the Synod of Bishops repeatedly summoned him to give an answer. Hegumen Gregory more than once promised, orally and in writing, to cease his internet activities, and then continued it anyway, ignoring the ruling of the Synod of Bishops. As a result, the Synod of Bishops suspended him from serving on July 7/20, 2005, # 51.

2. From the moment of his suspension until the present time, Hegumen Gregory has been organizing "protests" addressed to the Synod of Bishops and Metropolitan Valentine. In the name of several Russian and foreign "experts," presumably indifferent to Orthodoxy, who defend the position of the suspended Fr. Gregory, they have condemned the Synod and threatened it with "initiating the breakup" of the ROAC. The 55th Apostolic Canon says: "If any Clergyman should insult the Bishop let him be deposed."

3. Without the knowledge and blessing of his Ruling Bishop, the suspended Hegumen Gregory traveled around, not only the cities of Russia, but even abroad, leaving his parish without pastoral care, and "hired" a priest of the MP to perform sacraments in the church and in the morgue. Canon 39 of the Holy Apostles says: "Let presbyters and deacons do nothing without the consent of the Bishop."

4. In his sermons, the suspended Hegumen Gregory permitted himself to utter anti-church and anti-canonical comments, calling the holy icons nothing more than "religious pictures, and that blessing them is superfluous," repeating the iconoclastic heresy.

5. Through his admirers and followers, the suspended Hegumen Gregory (Lourie) budiroval [Translatorís note: a verb with a not very clear meaning, obviously connected with French bouder; see discussion below] the masses of the faithful in the parishes of St. Petersburg, Moscow and Suzdal, pitting them against the Synod of Bishops and Metropolitan Valentine, thereby disrupting parish life. Canon 18 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council commands: "Whosoever shall conspire against his Bishop, or his fellow clergymen, hatching plots against them, he shall forfeit his own rank altogether."

6. In the last letter that he addressed to the Synod of Bishops, Hegumen Gregory threatened to "TEAR THE ROAC APART" if the ukase concerning his suspension remains in force, and that even if the ukase is rescinded, the breakup of the Church was inevitable.

Further these accusations are summarized in the following statement:

Taking into consideration the fact that forbidden Hegumen Gregory [Translatorís note: the phrase "forbidden Hegumen " translated literally as it is in Russian] persisted in his outrage violating the monastic vows and the priestly oath, and according to the Church Canons and Apostolic Canons "2nd, 55th, 39th; and also according to the statement of the Fathers of the Fourth Ecumenical Council, can. 18: "Whosoever shall conspire against his Bishop, or his fellow clergymen, hatching plots against them, he shall forfeit his own rank altogether."

Iíll answer separately on every item of the indictment:

1. Iíve already responded on the accusations put forward to justify my suspension in my letter to Metropolitan Valentine dated at August 18, 2005. My arguments werenít confuted in the present report, they were simply ignored.

2. In the report they are accusing me in organizing some protests, but arenít giving any proves of it, though in any legal proceedings, either in civil or church ones, the guilt should be proved, not the guiltlessness. Besides I canít understand what is unlawful in "protests" from the ecclesiastical point of view. Some quotations form the letters in my support which are given in the report donít contain anything anticanonical and I donít really understand why they are called "protests". They are accusing me with reference to the 55th Apostolic canon as a cleric who "vexed" a bishop. It seems that the composer of the accusation understands this rule in the following way: every cleric who arouses a feeling of vexation in a bishop should be defrocked. Such an interpretation would be too broad. I donít know the exact aims of the composer and I wonít begin any canonical dispute with him. I just want to note that reference to the 55th Apostolic canon without any definition of the corpus delicti is incomprehensible. In traditional Byzantine interpretations of this canon the insult means the same notion as in civil courts. Itís especially clear from the Balsamonís interpretation (from a juridical point of view an insult isnít everything that makes a person feel insulted). To show that you are vexed isnít enough for making a claim for protection of honor and dignity. You should have arguments which are as serious as those that are used in civil trails.

3. I have to say the same about the 39th Apostolic canon used in this item of accusation. We still donít know what in composerís opinion this canon means when it prohibits to make "anything" without bishopís concern. Canít he really do "anything"? In universally adopted understanding this canon doesnít mean that all clericís movements (especially when he is absorbed in secular activity with frequent trips) should be approved by bishop. Byzantine commentators (Zonaras, Aristenus, Balsamon) warned against literal understanding of this canon (see especially Balsamonís interpretation) and explained that it is applicable only in the situations concerning bishopís rights which canít be completely entrusted to clerics (penance, excommunication, dealing with Churchís real estate, for example); clerics can use them only within limits established by the bishop. In the same item of the indictment Iím accused in making trips with harmful consequences for my parishís life. But this accusation isnít proved also. In the report of the meeting there arenít any documents or testimonies of witnesses (complaints) which certify that my absence from the parish was harmful for it. Besides in the text Iím called "suspended Hegumen Gregory", as if I did it all after forbiddance to serve. What priestís duties does a suspended cleric have? For some reasons I am also accused in "hiring" a priest of Moscow Patriarchy for performing some sacraments. The accusation isnít proved again. I testify that in our church no priests of Moscow Patriarchy have been serving since August 15, 1997. Speaking about priests serving in different morgues of our city, may be they are "hired", but not by me.

4. Concerning my views on the icon veneration, you can read about them in a special chapter of my monograph about patrology that will be published in the nearest future. One can see clearly in the report that this accusation in iconoclastic heresy was made by bishop Geronty. Bishop Gerontyís texts, used at Synod meeting on September 5, are analyzed in detail in nun Marfa (Senina)ís letter dated at September 20, 2005 in which she also answered on the report of Episcopal Synod meeting on September 5 (ß 7 of nun Marfaís letter; see also ß 3). Thatís why my answer will be short. As nun Marfa showed, Bishop Gerontyís criteria of iconoclastic heresy are so strict that by this term he may call heretic even the Seventh Ecumenical Council, not only sinful me. May be one of the ways to make the Orthodox world to meet a bit more seriously the reports of our Synod meetings will be to stop quoting in them Bishop Geronty.

5. I donít understand completely an accusation in "boudering crowds" because of the word "bouder" which was somewhat new for me [Translatorís note: that is, "somewhat new" in Russian] and which I never met in canons. As I donít have clear understanding of this term, I wonít assert that I never "boudered" anybody. But even taking it all into consideration, I donít see any concrete facts or concrete description of the canonical corpus delicti according to the 18th canon of the Fourth Ecumenical Council which was quoted in this item. According to Byzantine interpreters (Zonaras, Aristenus, Balsamon) the canon is about some evil deeds against bishop which should be punished according to Civil law; it means that clerics against which such accusations are made and proved should be defrocked and brought under civil trial. If bishops think that I am guilty in devising some plan against one or all of them for committing a civil, not a church crime, they should appeal to civil legal institutions.

6. Iíll quote this item one more time: "Addressing Episcopal Synod in the last letter, Hegumen Gregory threatened to "TEAR THE ROAC APART" if the decree concerning his suspension remained in force, and even if the decree was rescinded, the breakup of the Church would be inevitable." I never wrote any letters to the Episcopal Synod and I conclude that the letter ostensibly written to the Episcopal Synod was actually my letter which I wrote to the ruling bishop, Metropolitan Valentine (on August 18, 2005). The phrase in brackets seemed to be a precise quotation, but there are no such words in my letter and there are no such thoughts either, which actually seem to me being rather strange ones. Even if I had such an opinion, according to this item I wouldnít break any canons by it. I have to conclude that the author of the indictment writes here about something personal, not about the real situation.
The summarizing part of the indictment, at last. Apart from the repeating all that has been said in the previous six items, it contains three additional accusations: in violating "monastic vows", "priestly oath" and 2nd Apostolic canon (which was mentioned in the report for the first time).

They arenít bringing forward any additional concrete facts that testify my breaking monastic vows and priestly oath, so I have to conclude that they are testified by all accusations rendered above.

As the accusations arenít proved and often, as in case with "bouder" and the letter with the threat "to tear the ROAC apart" arenít formulated in a sufficiently intelligible way, sometimes itís even difficult to understand what is meant by the composer, so I would consider that the accusations in breaking monastic vows and priestly oath based on them are as groundless as the preceding ones.

Speaking about the accusation in breaking the 2nd Apostolic rule, it seemed paradoxical for me and even a little mystic. This rule is short and sounds in the following way: "Let one bishop consecrate presbyter and deacon and other clercs."

Thus, even theoretically this canon can be broken only by the bishop who wants to consecrate clerics not alone but with help of some other bishops, in the way that bishops themselves are to be consecrated. Historically this canon didnít have a forbidding meaning; it simply set a way of clericís ordainment (see the previous 1st Apostolic rule: it regulates the ordainment of bishops, that should be done by two or three bishops, not by one). Mentioning of this rule could be considered a misprint if it wasnít also cited in the concerning me Ukaz # 67 dated at September 9, 2005 by Metropolitan Valentine where he shortly summarized the indictment.

Even if Episcopal Synod indirectly alludes to the possibility of my being a bishop in future, so in this case I also canít agree with the accusation. Church legal procedures donít allow punishing for a non-committed crime even for "prophylaxis".


2. Text of Synodís session report as a sign of confusion in our church government.

A small part of rather an extensive report of the meeting analyzed above gives us a clear notion of the chaotic style in which itís written. To some extent, these problems with records management are reflecting our problems with church government. We were speaking about canons, or being more precise about their breaching up to now. And as we have just seen the references to canons appeared at some items of accusation at last and it should be appraised, though it doesnít testify that bishops understand their meaning.

The latest Synodical resolutions were lacking not just canonical, but common sense, unfortunately.

Thus discussing a question about imyaslavie Metropolitan Valentine several times made mutually exclusive statements. At first he quoted Synodical description dated at December 3, 2001, where itís said that problem of imyaslavie is in the competence of the future Council. Then he retells resolution made on May 18, 2002 (the full text of which wasnít published officially), where itís unexpectedly said that "in 1917-1918 All-Russian Church Council reprobated this question [Translatorís note: "ÖreprobatedÖ question" is the exact formulation of the Russian original]." (i.e. question about imyaslavie) On the next page Metropolitan suddenly writes one more time, that Council in 1917-1918 didnít manage to consider a problem of imyaslavie and in some pages he repeats this conclusion. Itís still unclear what in Metropolitanís opinion Church Council decided in 1917-1918 Ė did it manage to "reprobate this question" or it simply hadnít time to consider it. If we have confidence in his rendering of Synodical resolution made on May 18, 2002, then a question arouses, why such a historical nonsense (as if All-Russian Church Council officially reprobated imyaslavie) appeared in the text of resolution.

Since I donít have an official version of that resolution, which some time ago was only partly given in press release for "Vetrograd" magazine, I canít verify the precision of Metropolitan Valentineís rendering. Theoretically I have to admit that it may be very low. Somewhere above weíve already seen the example of rather an unreliable rendering of a common text made by Metropolitan Valentine.

However literally could he render the text of Synodical resolution made in 2002, text of the record made on September 5 clearly shows that Metropolitan Valentine contradicts himself in concrete and especially important for his argumentation facts, but he doesnít notice it. If Metropolitan Valentine had any notion about what All-Russian Church Council had decided or hadnít, such contradictions would be impossible. They appear only when a person is trying to use otherís argumentation without understanding it.

Whose argumentation is Metropolitan Valentine using in his treating of the problem of imyaslavie, given in the report of his speech then? I would allow myself to give rather a diffuse quotation of a key part of the speech not for analyzing, but for revealing of the source where he had taken it:

The New Martyr Bishop Basil Priluzhsky characterized the ecclesiasticaljuridical position of the "imyabozhniki" (name-worshippers) thus: "At the present time, according to the preliminary court Decision of the Holy Synod of May 10-24, 1914, Ļ 2 4136, as stated in the original wording of this Decision, which can be found in the Synodal archives under "Case of "imyabozhniki" (name-worshippers) (volume III, section 11. pages 444-449), confirmed by the decision of March 10, 1916, Ļ 2 2670, anyone in Russia who stubbornly holds to the teachings of the "imyabozhniki" (nameworhippers) is placed under the Churchís lesser ban. They are banned from performing the Sacraments of the Church and from participating in them, having only the right be present at Church services. The clergy among them have the right to wear the riassa. It was left up to the diocesan bishops to soften or remove this punishment from those "imyabozhniki" (name-worshippers) only, who repented of their errors and asked the Church for forgiveness."

This decision of the Holy Synod has never been rescinded by anyone; neither by the All-Russian Local Council in 1917-1918, which did not have a chance to look at this question, nor by St. Patriarch Tikhon, who confirmed the suspension of the "imyabozhniki" (name-worshippers). It follows, therefore, that it is still in force and is still canonically binding for the Russian Church.

Patriarch Germanos V of Constantinople approved the April 5, 1913, decision of the Kinot (government of Mt. Athos-tr.) thereby confirming the decisions of the Holy Kinot of Mt. Athos by the Higher Church Authority of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. The Holy Synod of the Russian Church, in its epistle published on May 18, 1913, joined its voice to the decision of the Synod of the Church of Constantinople, which had condemned this new teaching as "blasphemous and heretical."

On August 27, 1913, the decision of the Holy Synod, Ļ 7644, followed, according to which the heretics were called by the name of "imyabozhniki" (name-worshippers), and were not even considered to be monastics until they exhibited complete and sincere repentance.

In his letter to the Holy Synod of December 11, 1913, Patriarch Germanos joined his voice to the measures adopted by the Higher Authority of the Russian Church toward the "imyabozhniki" (name-worshippers), and left any further juridical action against them up to it, since they were within the boundaries of the Russian Church.

On February 14-18, 1914, the Decision of the Holy Synod, Ļ 1471, to convene an ecclesiastical court to hear the case of "those who stubbornly and consciously adhere to and disseminate false teaching" followed, which was assigned to the chancery of the Moscow Synod.

Schema-monk Anthony (Bulatovich), using his connections (through Gregory Rasputin), received support in certain secular circles, which, in turn, put pressure on the Emperor.

Outwardly, the "imyabozhniki" (name-worshippers) looked like pious venerators of the Name of God, who were being persecuted for their especial piety. The holy Martyr Nicholas II, not being a theologian, and not having the time to delve into the question, but in accordance with his philanthropic nature and moved to sympathy towards those who passed themselves off as suffering for the Faith, stated that in his opinion it was essential to exonerate the Athonite exiles, and restore their rights to them.

The Moscow Synod Chancery Office, headed by Metropolitan Makary of Moscow, was in a state of confusion, as evidenced by two contradictory rulings, arrived at on the same day and at the same meeting held on May 7, 1914, and as reflected in two contradictory dispatches to the Synod on May 8, 1914, Ļ 1142, and Ļ 1143.

In the first dispatch, Ļ 1142, the teaching of the imyabozhniki (nameworshippers) is confirmed as heresy ("new false-intellectualizing upon the names of God, ushered in by Schema-monk Ilarion, Anthony (Bulatovich) and those of like mind with them"); the second, apparently, is the expression of Metropolitan Makaryís bewildered state of mind, resulting in the appearance of a plan to send the "imyabozhniki" (name-worshippers) who were insistent in their beliefs, to a monastery, and to "vacate the court case which had been brought against them." The plan was left up to the discretion of the Holy Governing Synod, which suddenly negated everything that had formerly been undertaken and maintained by the Higher Authority of the Church of Constantinople, by the Higher Authority of the Church of Russia, and by the very Moscow Synodal Chancery Office itself, and was turned down by the Holy Synod.

In the Decision of the Holy Synod (Ļ 4136 of May 10-24, 1914), there were but a few concessions made to the imyabozhniki (name-worshippers); they were allowed to continue wearing their riassas and to be present at church services without the right to take part in the Sacraments. However, a final judgment about them was postponed to a later time.

Thus, the claim made by the present day adherents of this false teaching, that their condemnation was rescinded by the Holy Governing Synod in 1914, is FALSE. The Holy Synod not only did not exonerate them and recognize "imyabozhiye" (name-worshipping) as "completely Orthodox" in 1914, but the Holy Synod stood unwaveringly in its position that "imyabozhiye" (name-worshipping) is indeed a heresy.

V. Zelentsov, in his report to the Council, points out that "Anthony (Bulatovich) falsified the Decision of the Holy Synod (Ļ 4136), having received an excerpt from it containing text taken from this decision, which distorted its meaning, and subsequently made use of this excerpt.

The author of the cited report made to the Local Council of 1917-1918, V. Zelentsov, calls it outright "deception." "To complete the picture of this deception, I would point out," says V. Zelentsov, "that concurrently with this, the Synodal chancery and its Ďboss,í Sabler, chose to defer printing the genuine text of the May 10-24, 1914, Decision of the Holy Synod, Ļ 4136, in the "Church Bulletin," evidently, to avoid exposing the contrived sense of this decision, as it stood in the Ďexcerptí which Fr. A. Bulatovich had received." For his part, this was already the second instance of falsifying the sense of an official document condemning "imyabozhiye" and "imyaslaviye" (name-worshipping).

In the Archives concerning the "imyabozhniki" (name-worshippers) there is a document (532), composed by all of the Russian monks on Mount Athos (4,500 monks). According to this document, (6, 11) in 1912, Fr. A. Bulatovich hid the real letter from the Vatopedi Monastery on Mount Athos sent to the Russian Skete of St. Andrew, condemning "imyabozhiye" (nameworshipping, as well as the revolt of the "imyabozhniki" (name-worshippers) against the Orthodox Hegumen Ieronim. At that time, Fr. A. Bulatovich read another, falsified version of this letter, which justified the "imyabozhniki" (name-worshippers). (Theological Works Ļ 33, 1997, page 196).

The final case against the "imyabozhniki" (name-worshippers) was transferred to the jurisdiction of the up-coming Local Council of the Russian Church of 1917-1918. However, the third session of this Council, owing to the circumstances of the time, was unable to complete its work on the heresy of the "imyabozhniki" (name-worshippers).

Such well known heretics/Sofists as Fr. Sergius Bulgakov and Fr. Paul Florovsky, also took the side of the "imyabozhniki" (name-worshippers), which does not speak well for the "imyabozhniki" (name-worshippers). Inside the Moscow Patriarchate, known for its ecumenical policy of justifying any and all heresies, some voices, critical of this heresy, can be heard. Convincing arguments against "imyabozhiye" and "imyaslaviye" (nameworshipping) have appeared in the newspaper "Russian Herald" (Ļ 21-22, 2000) in an article by Peter Andrievsky under the headline "Are imyabozhniki (name-worshippers) Orthodox?" This question, it seems, is not so hard to answer if we remember that "imyaslaviye" (name-worshipping) was condemned long ago by the Holy Fathers, and that the heresy "imyabozhiye" (name-worshipping) is an extension of the heresy of Eunomios, which was condemned at the Second Ecumenical Council.

It is misleading as well, when a group of "imyabozhniki" (nameworshippers) claims that Patriarch Tikhon defended Fr. A. Bulatovich. In actual fact, Fr. A. Bulatovich did not submit to his suspension from serving, and left the Russian Church unrepentant and suspended.

The fragment is literally repeated from the report of the former protopriest Osetrov (defrocked at Episcopal Synod of ROAC in 2001 and re-ordained in the MP soon after that) dated at December 4, 2000 and which he published in the special issue of "Suzdal Diocesian Herald", dedicated to Metropolitan Valentine (# 11, 2001; this issue was especially famous in Suzdal due to the material about the case in 1988 initiated against the future Metropolitan Valentine with accusations in homosexuality and then recent accusations in pedophilia.)

Metropolitan Valentine got Osetrovís report either on the very December 4, 2000 or on the next day the latest. Being familiar with its content for so many years Metropolitan Valentine neither got things going nor acknowledged that Osetrov had been right. That led to the accusation of the last one. Iíve mentioned it at the beginning of this letter already.

That was the report where imyaslavie was strictly reprobated as "Eunomiusí heresy". However, Metropolitan Valentine repeats Osetrovís words as his own now and at the same time he repeats, but in his own name, Osetrovís detraction of the Tsar-Martyr, who seemed "being put under pressure" by Rasputin in such an important for the Church question.

What happened during these 5 years, from 2000 when Osetrovís report was written and then rejected by Metropolitan Valentine and to 2005 when Metropolitan Valentine began to set up Osetrovís thoughts for his own?

If Metropolitan Valentine changed his theological convictions, why then didnít he confess in his former sympathy to "heresy"? And if he didnít change his theological convictions, then which ones did he change?

I think itís unnecessary to seek an answer on these questions. Applying to Episcopal Synod, I would like to draw attention not just to the concrete Metropolitan Valentineís decisions but to the very style of his thinking which influences his making decisions and which is seen in the reports of his speeches.

On the one hand we see that Metropolitan Valentine doesnít have clear understanding of his own words, on the other - he tries to set up for his own thoughts those that he took in the doubtful (if not to say troubled) sources, which he feels embarrassed to name openly.

One more part in the same Metropolitan Valentineís speech attracted my attention. This time he named a source, which was the words of the former ROAC priest, Roman Pavlov, who left our Church. Fr. Roman, calling "many ROAC people" to witness in his turn, writes that they seemed to think "that Fr. Gregory rigged [the author was likely to mix this word with "institute" up, These words sound similar in Russian. Compare: "ŤŪŮŲŚŪŤūÓ‚ŗÚŁ" and "ŤŪŤŲŤŤūÓ‚ŗÚŁ"] a trial against First-Hierarch on purpose, because he wanted to control himÖ"

Here Metropolitan Valentine is referring to Fr. Roman for the same reason as Fr. Roman was referring to anonymous "many ROAC people": itís shameful to make such accusations in oneís own name. They are, so to say, too exotic. They are shameful because a person who makes them usually doesnít believe in them seriously or he is afraid to look in otherís eyes as a person with paranoiac fears. I will not try to guess which of two shameful thoughts Metropolitan Valentine had, I will only try to persist that quotation of such an accusation definitely reflects some psychological needs of the accuser. Such an accusation doesnít have any formal canonical sense, because nobody either tried to prove it, or to include into the indictment.

The examples of violation of logic in the text of the report can be multiplied, but the ones mentioned above are already enough for appraising a degree of confusion in our church government system as it can produce such reports.

Such government system couldnít give an appropriate answer to the ultimatum presented by archbishop Anthony of Yaransk and Vyatka where he demanded to find a final decision of question on the Name of God. Thatís why, a hierarch, who violated Synodical resolution made in 2001, - archbishop Anthony Ė was left without any punishment and American Clergy, operating through him, though were accused (and it should be said, through the same anticanonical procedure, that was used against me), but were never brought to trial.

3. Canonical grounds and real possibilities of church government.

Now our Church ill-wishers are only laughing at our declarations about the necessity of sticking to canons (the last one was made at the Diocesan Congress of Clerics and Laity on September 3-4, 2005 by Metropolitan Valentine). They think that this is naive hypocrisy. But in the previous part of the letter I tried to show that the problem here is not in hypocrisy. It is much deeper. That mental activity confusion, which is seen in the report of the Synod meeting on September 5, makes impossible to follow logic laws at all, and it doesnít matter what logic it will be: a common one or a canonical one.

In Synod resolution made on September 5 is seen a nearly symbolic closing of a circle: Metropolitan Valentine is using against me the same anticanonical procedure of defrocking, which was used against him in ROCOR. You can find differences only in small details, but the main actions are the same: instead of canonically justified court there is an antycanonical procedure, against which (in bishop Valentineís case) were bishop Gregory (Grabbe) and Diocesan Congress of Suzdal Diocese of the ROCOR.
The very defrocking in bishop Valentineís case was relatively canonical: at least his "fault" was obvious (serving after forbiddance to serve; this forbiddance, however, was made anticanonically). In my case they had only some absurd unproved ideas, which they didnít even try to examine.

I am writing about it here not because I am attaching much importance to canonical accusations made against Russian bishops in ROCOR. My views on this problem are even more radical than the late bishop Gregory (Grabbe) had. I think that dealing with ROCOR we should follow canonical laws and stop paying attention to administrative decisions of Russian Church of the Synodical period. I expressed these views many times publicly and I wonít repeat them here. I am reminding about "Suzdalite" argumentation of the middle of the 1990s only because of the fact that now Metropolitan Valentine is openly violating it: then they were speaking that accusations against Russian bishops made by ROCOR didnít have any power because they werenít canonical. So, they were uncanonical. But from the administrative point of view there was nothing wrong in them: administratively Russian bishops were a part of ROCOR, thatís why they were under administrative power of Synod ROCOR. At the Synod as in pre-revolutionary Russian Church of Synodical Period, they think that juridical church procedure can be replaced by administrative one. Thatís why Synod ROCOR, as it was considered in ROCOR, had right to take any decisions concerning Russian bishops.

Ten years ago Metropolitan Valentine following bishop Gregory (Grabbe)ís decision, disagreed, but that time it was a specific case, he was a central person then. Now he himself plays and makes Synod of ROAC to play the role that is extremely coincides with the role of Synod in his own case ten years ago.

Our opponents in ROCOR consider it to be of the same value as his signature under the acknowledgement of being a schism-maker and of being rightfully defrocked.

But, Iíll repeat, for us - faithful children of the Church of Russia - this means another thing: it means that our First-Hierarch has become a victim of serious mental fatigue.

Long before the present events, on December 12, 2000 I sent Metropolitan Valentine a strictly confidential letter with an enclosure, where I warned him against serious risk for our Church caused by recognition of even indirect administrative and anticanonical ways of governing which were worked out by the Russian Church of the Synodal period. I gave a good example of impossibility to preserve pre-revolutionary anticanonical traditions of governing: in such case we would have to admit that our Church is in schism from ROCOR. I remember that our First-Hierarch was then expressed very much by this letter. But it seems that in some years he had completely forgotten it. Thatís why I wonít keep it in secret any more and attach it to the present letter to Episcopal Synod as an enclosure.

So for the very existence of our Church it is vitally important to observe the canonical laws of church government. The present church authorities, however, canít provide this observance. The reason is not their ill will, but probably their pure physiology.

I guess a lot of people in our Church think: "What shall we do?" I would be glad to give an answer.

But we shouldnít be in hurry answering serious questions. Thatís why I donít want to induce Episcopal Synod or anybody else in our Church to act resolutely. I even donít want to ask about abolition of Synodal resolutions made on July 20 and September 5, because I consider it improper to divert bishopsí attention from the strategically important tasks to such relatively unimportant details.

Thatís why at this time I am asking bishops only for one thing: to take thought.

Unworthy servant
of the Synod of Bishops,
Hegumen Gregory (Lourie)

An appendix to a confidential letter from Hieromonk Gregory (Lourie)
to archbishop Valentine of Suzdal,
December 12, 2000.

What will be/is the basis of church law in our Church?

The aim of my writing isnít a request for issuing new church government documents, but a wish for thorough understanding of the problem that was put forward by live itself without anybodyís intervention. Its solution wonít depend on those documents that weíll accept. It will be sorely dependable on the clarity of our inner position.

Iíll remind you that nobody in ROCOR has ever aroused a question about the sources of the church law: they accepted the succession of the modern church from the pre-revolutionary church, and the modern church law from the pre-revolutionary church law as a natural one. For example, Bishop Gregory Grabbe often quoted not only canons, but the Regulations of the Spiritual Consistories (Ustavy duxovnyx konsistoriy, the main document at the Synodal period, passed in 1841 as an additional act of legislation to the Spiritual Regulation (Duxovnyj Reglament), 1721 and changed a little in 1883).

And how does our church looks on this matter? Nobody ever denied the succession of our law form the ROCOR law and consequently from this pre-revolutionary Synod (though nobody ever affirmed this officially). But in reality everything was different. The very formation of our church in 1990-1996 was a clear denial of Synodal norms when they were in contradiction with canons of Universal Church. Among variety of available examples Iíve chosen the most interesting ones: forcible dismissal of bishops as a way of punishment, Russian bishopsí accusation in 95 and defrocking in 96.

It wasnít difficult for Bishop Gregory Grabbe to prove that all these actions were anticanonical and consequently unlawful. The last statement, however, isnít obvious for Russian church tradition (I write tradition with a small letter because by this word I mean not the real Church Tradition, but a local tradition.). ROCOR actions against Russian priests, though being anticanonical, werenít absurd or imposturous. They corresponded even to Bishop Gregory Grabbeís favorite (in other cases) Regulations of the Spiritual Consistories. The absence of appropriate explanations from our side (from the side of Bishop Gregory Grabbe and our church) was and is one of the weak points of our canonical position.

For the Synodal period it was normal to solve all the questions concerning bishops without any canonical procedure. In ROCOR everything was the same. It is interesting that Bishop Gregory Grabbe never managed to find an example of a canonical trail against bishops both in Russian church of Synodal period and in ROCOR. Heíd definitely give such an example if he could.

In Synodal period church had position of a ministry in the state (this is the basis that transforms all Synodal order into a church crime, not the absence of a Patriarch: all Synod resolutions were passed by the civil authorities as it usually happens in state ministry), and in such an organization the position of clerk depends only on the higher authorities and not on any independent courts. Thatís why another order than the present one of the ROCOR was simply impossible in the Synodal period. Bishops were forced to submit themselves to an illegal violence either when decisions were made by the state institution Ė Synod, Ė or (in the case of the ROCOR) when they felt that their fault became obvious and they have no place to go. In other cases bishops remembered canons and didnít submit. Metropolitans Eulogy and Platon behaved in the same way some time ago and were examples for us (our enemies in ROCOR always notice similarity in our behavior). The real reasons of bishopsí separating form ROCOR were seen in their deeds. Eulogy and Platonís aims, as a matter of fact, happened to be dogmatic: their desire for independence from ROCOR disguised a distinction in their faith that was ecumenist one. As for our Church, in the present situation we donít see anything wrong till now, but actually so little time has elapsed that itís too early to make final conclusions.

Forcible retirement of bishops as a way of punishment - so rightfully laughed at by Bishop Gregory Grabbe Ė is also a normal act of Synodal "legal procedure". The last who was punished in that way before revolution was saint martyr Germogen (Dolganev) sent to the monastery for exposure of Rasputin in 1912. This church crime was committed by Synod by the order of Tsar. Itís known that Tsar confessed in this trespass and begged saint martyrís pardon in 1918. After February revolution the same punishment was used against Saint Bishop Macarius, Metropolitan of Moscow, who didnít submitted and forbade to serve all Moscow priesthood which ceased to mention him in their services, and Saint Petersburgís Metropolitan Pitirim, who submitted because, unlike Macarius, didnít have any spiritual authority.

Synodal norms of church government were even formally considered more powerful than canons, passed by the Universal Church. Although they were never - it should be underlined Ė approved by the Eastern Patriarchs (they blessed only abolition of Moscow Patriarchy in 1721; Peter I and Feofan Prokopovich deceived them by concealing the existence of the Spiritual Regulation and the real meaning of the Synodal order, thus having transformed all church government into a state ministry).

So, if we, as ROCOR does, will accept the Synodal norms, then we shouldnít speak about illegality of forcible dismissal of bishops and we shouldnít dispute the principle (acting in any business office, though being unlawful in the Church of Christ): authorities both give power and take it away. According to Synodal laws, ROCOR hierarchs were right and we were wrong in all our quarrels with them.

But we are not ready to admit the dismissal of Russian bishops as lawful act, I dare say. Do we have any ground for it except of our wish? Bishop Gregory Grabbe didnít give a full answer on this question. He abolished for himself the Synodal law only in one sphere of life, but didnít explain, why he did so and if other Synodal norms should be still used. Thinking logically itís obvious that all Synodal resolutions are equally unlawful, even when they are just in their meaning. At the best they have a juridical position of just verdicts made by a group of gangsters, something like Shariyah [traditional Muslim] courts in Chechnya.

It goes without saying that I donít believe in Godís trial following any other trail, except a trail carried out according to the Godís will, fixed in dogmas and canons of Universal Church, not in human speculations of Synodal period. Moreover, I subscribe to an opinion of those Russian saints (from St. Ignatij Bryanchaninov to Mark Novoselov) who thought that failure of Russian Church is the only one way for reforming it and the only one punishment for the trespasses of Synodal period. So I think the question concerning acceptance of the Synodal period laws is a turning point which determines all our future.

If we stick to the norms of Synodal epoch, weíll lose forever the sure ground of our independent existence, the ground of pure Orthodox with its dogmas and canons, and not of the trespasses and compromises of Synodal period.


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