Metropolitan Agafangel’s Answer to the
“Open Letter of the Synod of Bishops
to the Clergy of the South American Diocese”

Reading the open letter of the Synod of Bishops to the Clergy of the South American Diocese published on the official website of the Synod of the ROCOR that is part of the Moscow Patriarchate, one gets the feeling that it was written not in New York, but in Moscow, and that the author was not a Russian of the old diaspora but a "new" Russian.

One gets this feeling, because the writer is using modern Soviet-style language and ideas and not writing in the style of the old Russian émigrés at all.  The letter’s tone is reminiscent of the post-war spirit of the late 1940's - "Come back", it says, "all is well in Russia." – and this is the main theme of this letter.

This answer transgresses with many open distortions, and unfortunately, the author knows this, yet does so on purpose.  One example, is the assertion that Metropolitan Laurus was the ruling bishop of South America ("On the death of Bishop Alexander (Mileant), in full accord with the Status of the ROCOR, and based on the Holy Canons, Metropolitan Laurus remained your First Hierarch, your ruling bishop" ).  This is an obvious falsehood.  Archbishop Laurus was the ruling bishop of the Syracuse Diocese, and after his election as Metropolitan, became the ruling bishop of the Eastern America and New York Diocese. This is known by everyone in the émigré community and author of the article as well, but he writes this deliberate lie to mislead the readers.  Further, based on this false proposition, the canons are invoked, as they apply to the clergy that broke communion with their bishop and implying that this bishop is Metropolitan Laurus.  But Metropolitan Laurus was not bishop of South America, as another bishop had been appointed there, and it is to him that the clergy of diocese were subject canonically.  It was from him, and not from the Metropolitan Laurus, that the clergy could leave if he preached heresy.  This did not happen and the clergy remained with their bishop in full accordance with the canons and their consciences.

Another falsehood is made further in the "open letter," that there is no heresy in the Moscow Patriarchate.  Only this contradicts the whole history and tradition of the Church Abroad, which has always maintained that the Moscow Patriarchate is guilty of the heresy of ecumenism and the sin of sergianism.  This aspect which is so important to us is completely omitted in this letter, which also suggests that it was written in Russia, rather than abroad, for in the Moscow Patriarchate, ecumenism and sergianism are regarded as secondary and long consigned to the past.  This is not so for the Church Abroad.  The heresy preached by the Moscow Patriarchate is precisely the main obstacle for dialogue with it.  This was always maintained by all of our First Hierarchs, Bishops' councils and the collective conscience of the Russian diaspora.

There is another falsehood in the “open letter” that, "persecution of the Orthodox Church in any form in the Russia of today by the government does not exist at all."  This is written in light of the lawless seizure of churches in Suzdal and other places, which, for example, was even documented by the U.S. Congress.  The sad fact is that totalitarianism is being revived actively in the Russian Federation and this is recognized by the entire free world.  One of the main components (its ideological part) of the nascent totalitarianism is the control of the Moscow Patriarchate by the FSB.  But the author of the “open letter” somehow does not see this and tries to influence the mind of the reader with stories of how the "process of revival continues throughout the depth and breadth of the Russian land - embracing a large part of our brothers and sisters."  Indeed, it embraces them spiritually so they may fall under the domination of the new regime.  The government is spending vast amounts of money on this.

The conclusion of the “open letter” cites the words of St. Ignatius (Brianchaninov), "Understand the times!"  The words of Apostle Paul could be added, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.  For people will (…) have a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. (…) Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.  But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.
   (2 Tim 3.1,5,12-13).

We see that the Open Letter of the Synod of Bishops of the ROCOR(MP) is written falsely, and therefore, to believe it, and especially to take heed of it, is not possible.

+ Metropolitan Agafangel
Odessa, July 22\August 4, 2010.
Holy Myrrh-bearer and Equal-to-the-Apostles Mary Magdalen