Archbishop Theodore of Borisovskoye and Otradna, Secretary of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church (ROAC), Responds to Various Questions from the Faithful:

Who ordained Vladyka Valentine to the episcopacy?

Vladyka Valentine was made a bishop by four hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR)—Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany, Archbishop Anthony of Geneva and Western Europe, Bishop Barnabas of Cannes, and Bishop Gregory. The consecration took place in the memorial church of St. Job the Muchsuffering on February 10th, 1991, in Brussels.

What led to the reason why Vladyka Valentine left the ROCOR?

He got in the way of the ROCOR’s plans for unification with the heretics/ecumenists of the Moscow Patriarchate, which had already begun by then. The ROCOR’s well-known expert on canon law, Vladyka Gregory (Grabbe), wrote in one of his articles, that the Synod of the ROCOR “did absolutely everything possible to force the Russian Prelates to separate themselves administratively.” In the process of getting rid of Vladyka Valentine, the Synod of the ROCOR committed a whole series of canonical infractions, and, unfortunately, was supported in this by almost the entire episcopacy of the ROCOR.

By separating himself from the ROCOR, didn’t Vladyka Valentine cause a schism, the so-called “Suzdal schism?”

The thing is that, in connection with the revolution in Russia and the Bolsheviks’ persecution of the Church, the central Higher Church Authority of the Greek-Russian Orthodox Church, as it was called back then, disappeared. This took place in the year 1937, when the Hieromartyr Peter Krutitsky, the legitimate Locum Tenens of the Patriarchal Throne (i.e. recognized as such by the entire episcopate of the Russian Church), died. The Bolsheviks could not permit the convocation of a Sobor in order to elect a new patriarch at the time, when there was an ongoing, all out, persecution of the Church, and of religion in general. However, the holy Patriarch Tikhon had providentially foreseen the possibility of such a difficult situation developing, and as far back as 1918, had issued a very important document, establishing a canonical form of government for the Russian Church in the case that the central Higher Church Authority disappeared. This was Ukase #362. It grants the right to dioceses and even to individual bishops “who are found to be in similar circumstances” to govern themselves independently (the right of autonomy). During the time of persecution, the Church was forced to return to the conditions that She was in during the first three centuries of Christianity, with the simplest and most basic form of church organization—communities of believers with their bishops at the head. This basic unit—one bishop with his flock—constitutes one complete church. It goes without saying that the bishops inside Russia, for example, were “in similar circumstances” of persecution as well as the bishops outside of Russia; and furthermore, neither group was required to be in administrative subjugation to the other. The catacomb part of the Russian Church existed in parallel with the part that was abroad. During that time, many catacomb priests commemorated Metropolitan Philaret, the First Hierarch of the ROCOR, as the head of the Church.

From this it is plain to see why the bishops inside Russia, finding themselves in a situation where they were completely torn away from and even persecuted by the Synod of the ROCOR from 1992-1994, in accordance with Ukase #362, had every right to adopt an autonomous existence, independent from the authority of the ROCOR, to which they earlier had submitted themselves voluntarily. The Synod of the ROCOR itself, as the part of the Russian Church which was outside of Russia, also existed as such on the basis of this same ukase, and in this sense, had an equal footing, both with the Catacomb Church, and with the Synod of Bishops of the ROAC. So, for this reason, there was no schism, nor could there be one.

Now that the ROCOR(L) is joining the Moscow Patriarchate (MP), some of the clergy and laity of the ROCOR, who are opposed to this, are looking for another Russian jurisdiction to go to. Some of them are joining the True Russian Orthodox Church (TROC), but do not want to go to the ROAC because they think that your Church is not canonical, since the bishops of your Church, especially Bishop Valentine, were deposed by the ROCOR. What do you have to say to this?

The bishops of our Church were never deposed by the ROCOR. To the contrary, one of them, Vladyka Agafangel (Pashkovsky), was even received into the ROCOR in his rank as bishop. Vladyka Valentine was indeed “deposed,” but in this case, according to St. Paul, “they judged another man’s servant,” i.e. he was someone the ROCOR no longer had any say about. Furthermore, this “deposition” was done in accordance with an agreement between Mark of Berlin and the Moscow Patriarchate. Both the ROCOR and the MP performed this action at almost exactly the same time.

As far as the Synod of Vladyka Tikhon goes, the separation from ROCOR was done by Bishop Valentine in concert with Archbishop Lazar, and furthermore, by the latter’s initiative. However, Bishop Evtikhy scared Vladyka Lazar so much with the threat of punishment by the ROCOR, that after taking part in ordaining new bishops for the Russian Church, he gave in and returned to the ROCOR. Vladyka Valentine, conversely, remained faithful to Ukase #362 of St. Patriarch Tikhon, which was the basis upon which he and Vladyka Lazar had separated from the ROCOR in the first place. However, nothing good came of Vladyka Lazar’s return to the ROCOR. At that time, after the 1994 sobor in the Lesna Convent, at which the decision do begin talks with the MP was adopted, many began to see that the spiritual course of the ROCOR had taken a sharp turn for the worse, and that sooner or later, the bishops inside Russia would either have to join “world Orthodoxy” along with the ROCOR, or else they would have to separate themselves on the basis of an autonomous existence in accordance with the ukase of Patriarch Tikhon, in order to preserve the Orthodox Faith. For this reason, it is no wonder that as a result, Vladyka Lazar was forced to separate himself again, in 2003. This time, however, as a result of the intrigues of those around him, he did not return to Vladyka Valentine. This is the very same jurisdiction that Archbishop Tikhon is in charge of now. We are not opposed to having a dialogue and establishing a relationship with them.

Many people are saying now that, although the Moscow Patriarchate is indeed part of the one Russian Church, they are not ready to join up with it because the proper conditions have not yet been met, i.e. the MP has not yet made a satisfactorily clear statement condemning Sergianism, nor has it withdrawn from membership in the World Council of Churches. What do you have to say about this?

The Moscow Patriarch is not a church at all. In our Church, there are no Christians in name only, but only those who place the truth above their own benefit. The government exploits the MP, and its doors are open to anyone and everyone, and in contradistinction to us, it is not possible for it to cleanse itself in the fires of persecution, suffering, and poverty. In the MP, the spirit of this world is at work. The government, and even the MP’s own hierarchs, make use of it for their own benefit. It could be said that the MP does not operate vertically, in the direction of God, but horizontally. It is constantly becoming broader and more inclusive, absorbing all kinds of humanistic movements, and that it is filled to overflowing with junk theology—Sergianism and ecumenism. In our Church, the majority of the communities are still in the catacombs, whose main characteristic, I would say, is their concentration on the spiritual life, but in the communities of the MP, there is nothing but oeconomia regarding the canons of the Church, and complacency when it comes to the dogmas of the Faith. The Moscow Patriarchate has no intention of leaving the World Council of Churches, and it does not want to lose its political relevance. Whether or not all of the different religions are equal before God, is a matter for God to decide, not Metropolitan Kirill Gundyaev. If sin is born of weakness, and man needs to be strengthened in faith and comforted, then heresy is born of a stubborn will, and heretics, according to the teachings of the Holy Fathers, must be cut off, so that they do not infect the flock of Christ.

Many often express the desire for all True Orthodox Churches throughout the world to recognize each other, to be in Eucharistic communion with each other, and to support each other, especially in these last days of the final battle between the Church of Christ and the church of the Antichrist, which is even now taking shape. Do you think that such a unity is possible?

We are not open to having any dialogue with the churches of “world Orthodoxy,” but we are open to the idea of having a relationship and dialogue with all True Orthodox Churches, if they have legitimate Apostolic succession and share our views on ecumenism, Sergianism and the new calendar. Unity with them is desirable for us. I think that all True Orthodox Churches should definitely support each other.

What is your position, and what is the position of your Church, on the ROCOR?

Our position on the ROCOR is one of love, and of sorrow for the fact that once She joins the MP, She will cease being the Church of Christ. Unfortunately, this ark of the truth is already wide open for accepting the heresies of world Orthodoxy; the house is burning and engulfed in flame. It is time for Her to think about saving Her life, and about salvation in Christ.

In 1994, A. Shtilmark made accusations against Metropolitan Valentine, who was then known as Bishop Valentine, of a moral nature.

This accusation, as His Grace Bishop Gregory (Grabbe) said at that time, was made by an enemy of the Church, since Shtilmark was a member of the Moscow Patriarchate, and according to the canons, it was not admissible for deliberation by the Synod of the ROCOR. Nevertheless, the Synod demanded and explanation from Bishop Valentine, which he immediately furnished. The Synod of Bishops of the ROCOR, which met in the Lesna Convent, dismissed all of A. Shtilmark’s accusations as uncanonical. In witness to this, Bishop Valentine received an ukase signed by the Secretary of the Synod, Bishop Hilarion, on December 1st, 1994.