INTERVIEW: Primate of the True Orthodox Bulgarian Church, Metropolitan Sergius of Messembria (Moiseenko) about his Church, its hierarchy and about his “secular” creativity.
Portal “Credo.Press”: To the International Synaxis of True Orthodox Churches [a union of “alternative” Orthodox jurisdictions, which was initiated by the Tomos of communion between the Synod of Metropolitan Raphael (in the schema – Seraphim) (Motovilov) in Russia and the Synod of the paternal calendar of the Metropolitan Angela in Greece in 2011 – Approx. Ed.] You are the Primate of the CPI of Bulgaria. However, it is noticeable that you spend most of your life in Russia. What is the reason for this and what is the position of the Church you lead?
Metropolitan Sergius: I have been the Primate of the True Orthodox Bulgarian Church for eight years now, with the title “His Beatitude Metropolitan of Messembria and All Bulgaria.” Along with this, I am a citizen of Russia and cannot stay in other countries for more than the allotted time. But that’s not the point. In this interview, I am acting as a co-chairman of the International Synaxis of the True Orthodox Churches.
The Bulgarian Church is small. Especially in comparison with such “giants” as Russian or Greek. But strong and close-knit. Random people do not stay in it. It goes its own way, develops and expands. Lands are being reclaimed, temples are being built, monasteries are being established and built. Everything in due time and in its own way.
As the primate of the Church, I consider my personal great achievements, of course, with the active help of my friends and colleagues, the construction of the first church in the Balkan Peninsula of St. Matrona of Moscow, which has been successfully operating in the city of Plovdiv for five years now, and a small monastery of Saints Cyril, Methodius and all Slovenian teachers in the Chekhov district of the Moscow region, in which today there is a chapel and services are being held.
– You don’t even have a residence permit in Bulgaria?
– I do not see the need for this. In addition, living in Bulgaria is costly and there is simply no need for my constant presence there.
– It is rather unusual that the whole Church only occasionally sees its primate live … As we know, there are several “alternative” jurisdictions in Bulgaria. What is the origin of the hierarchy of the Church you lead, who was its first primate, does it have a Synod and other bishops?
– Well, the ROC-MP also sees its primate periodically, especially recently, although Patriarch Kirill lives in Russia.
As for the ICCP, we hierarchically descend from the Synod of the Bulgarian Patriarch Pimen of the 1990s. The first primate of the IPBC was Metropolitan Daniel (Stoykov), ordained in 1999 by the following hierarchs of the Pimenov Synod: Innocent (Petrov), Metropolitan of Sofia, Boris (Bogoev), Metropolitan of Plovdiv, Gabriel, Metropolitan of Nevrokop, James, Metropolitan of Samemokov Constantine, Bishop of Markianopolis, and Nikon, Bishop of Agatopolis.
Spiritually, ideologically, we are closer to the doctrine of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. At the time when she was real.
The structure of our Church is somewhat different from others. I repeat, we are a small Church and do not need a heap of useless institutions of government. Instead of the Synod, the Supreme Church Council operates in the Church, chaired by the Primate of the Church. And that’s enough. All bishops have the status of vicars and are subordinate to the primate. Currently I have one vicar – Bishop Peter of Diocletianopolis. I very much hope that during the next meeting of the Synaxis in Greece, together with other primates, another bishop will be ordained for our Church, whose name took place three years ago, but the consecration was postponed for one reason or another, quite objective reasons.
– Who is this named bishop and how does the election of bishops in the ICBC take place?
– This is Archimandrite Filaret (Romanov), my assistant, who is currently dealing with all issues related to the monastery in the Chekhov region. The bishop is elected by the Supreme Church Council on the proposal of the primate.
– Why do you and your vicar have titles according to Greek names of cities, and not Bulgarian (Slavic)?
– These are the ancient traditional names of the Bulgarian chairs. And the ancient names of the Bulgarian cities. Plovdiv, for example, was Philippopolis.
– Do you maintain relations with other TOCs in Bulgaria, among which the most famous is the jurisdiction of Metropolitan Photius, which consists in communion with the ROCOR (A) and the “Chrysostomos-Cyprian” Synod of the TOC of Greece?
– No, we don’t. At least, I am not aware of any cases when representatives of the said jurisdiction came to me with offers of communication, or at least attempts to do so.
Our Church is an officially registered centralized religious organization, and has been operating in this status for the second decade. What is the history of the jurisdiction of Metropolitan Photius and whether it is an independent registered structure, alas, I do not know.
– In social networks, you are also known as a poet, writer and composer Svyatoslav Moiseenko – this is the name of your official blog. Some of the texts and images posted on this blog are quite unusual for the Orthodox tradition, given your hierarchical and monastic status. For example, all kinds of hugs, kisses, poems with romantic overtones, the absence of any clear Christian testimony … How does this combine with monastic asceticism and the high dignity of a true Orthodox archpastor?
– Yes, you know how to formulate questions … I did not think that this is of such interest to the broad Orthodox community, but perhaps it would be even better to say about it. Tired of speculation on this issue, and I would like to answer once. But it is comprehensible and detailed. In order not to have to repeat and come back to it again and again.
I am pleased that as a writer, poet, composer, publicist and public figure I am considered one of the best. According to the GLOBAL MSK portal, I am in the 2633th place in the rating of Moscow personalities, in the Culture and Art rating – in the 168th place, and in the ranking of poets – 12th V. Mayakovsky, A. Shaganov, N. Dobronravov, L. Rubalskaya, A. Fet, S. Yesenin, A. Pushkin, A. Voznesensky appear).
It is possible to list my literary prizes and awards for a long time, I will name only a few: the insignia of the Russian Union of Writers “Heritage Star” II and III degrees – for literary activity in the spirit of the traditions of Russian culture; the medal “To the Enlightener of Education” of the Academy of Russian Literature, the silver medal of the Alexander Blok prize “I told you unearthly”; Medal of the Moscow Peace Foundation “For Merit in Culture and Art”; Medal “Our Heritage” named after G.V. Sviridov OOD “Orthodox Russia”, a number of medals of the Writers’ Union of Russia and the Russian Union of Writers.
The gift to create, to create beauty, to write, to compose songs, music, poetry – this is undoubtedly a gift from God. And it is a great sin to bury it in the ground, neglecting what the Lord has endowed you with. My teacher, mentor and, I dare to hope, to some extent a friend, of blessed memory, Metropolitan of Volokolamsk and Yuryevsk Pitirim (Nechaev) said that music, a song is a kind of prayer that flies into heaven. It’s all about what we fill it with.
You are talking about the high dignity of the archpastor … And what is it? In strict asceticism? Unceasing fasting and unceasing prayer? So for this there are hermits and hermits. In wisdom and prudence? I hope this is enough in me. In love, forgiveness and understanding? And this is present in me. Even in excess. In “puffing up your cheeks”, pride and high carrying of your own person (so, God forbid, not to splash along the way)? So I always laughed at such attempts. Understand, whether in a bishop’s robe, in an everyday cassock, or in a secular costume – I have been and remain a bishop, by the grace of God. And this is an axiom. During ordination, the Holy Spirit does not descend on clothing. Per person. And he dwells on a person until his last days. It is unlikely that the apostles, like the first of the bishops, wore a cassock with a cassock, hoods and cockles, robes with bells, panagia and much more. They remained the same as they were before. In the same way in which they followed the Savior. And their strength was not at all in clothing. Out of shape. And only in the content.
In addition, my work evokes, I hope, for the most part, positive emotions. There is no negativity in it. It awakens in human souls the best that allows them to remain light. And somewhere they even appeal to conscience, love, friendship, duty.
I am accused of performing on stage, as an author and performer, in a secular image. But, have mercy, I do not consider it appropriate to do this in a cassock and with a panagia. This is wrong. In the same way, as Archbishop Luke (Voino-Yasenetsky) did not consider it appropriate to operate in brocade vestments and miter.
As for kissing and hugging friends. Don’t you do this when you meet with loved ones? It’s just that you are not being photographed at such a moment. That’s the whole difference. A brotherly kiss is the highest degree of trust. I would like to remind you that it is he who is present during the liturgical greeting “Christ is in our midst – And is, and will be”.
– I do not mean even brotherly kisses, but, for example, kisses on stage with women, which looks unusual for a monk …
– My “kisses” with women are just as chaste. Like a kiss from a mother or sister. And only a perverted fantasy can see otherwise.
– The Apostle Paul says that even if eating meat tempts a brother, he will not “eat meat forever” (1 Cor. 8:13). If you make sure that your activity in show business seduces some True Orthodox Christians, will you be ready to leave it or somehow modify it?
– An ambiguous question. Let’s figure it out. No lies, hypocrisy and hypocrisy.
If my activity seduces my brother, I emphasize – brother, that is, the person whom I perceive as such, accept as such and unhypocritically call such, then this will become a weighty reason for my serious reflections, prayers, and spiritual searches. If all of the above concerns some hypothetical True Orthodox Christians, about whom I do not know and do not know, then, of course, no. The same applies to the apologists of the Moscow Patriarchate. And I’ll explain why.
I do not deliberately rob the Church, I don’t use the church treasury for personal, selfish purposes, I don’t sit on parishioners’s necks, don’t let donations made to the glory of God go down the drain, like many others. I earn my living by my labor. The same talent that the Lord gave me. In a word, music, song, the ability to create beauty, the ability to give people a good mood, the ability to appeal to feelings and burn the heart with a verb. My poems and aphorisms are widely quoted on the Internet, the thoughts expressed in my publications or novels arouse keen interest and discussion – both in the media and among many readers. The creative evenings that I hold with the help and participation of my friends for admirers of my talent and simply for people who prefer high art to low-grade ersatz leave an unforgettable impression on the participants and a long aftertaste of happiness, joy and purity. All that remains of providing my primary needs goes to charity, charity, church needs.
If my “brothers” or hypothetical true Orthodox believers, embarrassed by my creativity and the talent for which I never tire of thanking the Almighty, insist on stopping my secular creative social activity or fundamentally changing it, I will not oppose and object. But they too should understand that they will have to shoulder the financial burden that will invariably arise as a result of the termination or modification of what I do outside of the Church. Are they ready to shoulder a considerable burden of financial costs on their shoulders? For your own peace of mind? I doubt. And are they ready to reconsider their lives for the sake of my peace of mind? If I am confused by their behavior and activities? I doubt it twice.
– Excuse me, but what, so to speak, is the “price of the issue”? The words of the Apostle Paul (1 Cor., 9: 13-14) are known that those who serve the altar eat from the altar. As a rule, communities are quite successful in maintaining their clergy, but in your case it is generally a question of an entire local Church …
– In this case, we are not talking about the upkeep of an ascetic monk, but about the upkeep of the Primate of the Church with his constant travels, meetings, residence and administration, award fund and hospitality expenses. And this is a completely different level of expenses.
If I am not mistaken, it is the Apostle Paul who calls: “Do not be too wise, but be wise in measure.” And everything has its time. The contradictions between the secular and the spiritual will surely be resolved. By the grace of God. “The days are overwhelmed by his anger” – each day has enough of its own worries.
And yet – do not multiply entities beyond measure. Anyone who condemns should remember: before condemning someone, look into your own heart. And you will find in him a lot of things that deserve the most serious condemnation and censure. And only then, when you cope with your own spiritual flaws, can you try to help your brothers to “see the light”. But not before when you yourself will be pure before God and people.
– Allow me one more clarification regarding the “secular” side of your activity. I have heard bewilderment about the content of your poems and songs. They talk a lot about love – but in a romantic, sentimental, maybe even erotic sense of the word. Such love, from the point of view of the Orthodox tradition, often balances on the brink of sinful passion. But the actual Christian testimony, the Good News, is not heard in these works … What are these priorities connected with?
– You are not right. Heard. In particular, a lot of my songs on a religious and patriotic theme are performed. For example, the songs “Prayer”, “Prayer for Little”, “Russian Cross”, “Prayer of the Strong”, “For Russia”, etc. In general, there are a lot of works on Christian themes in my work.
I must note that there are many temptations in the world that my “brothers in Christ” quite successfully “overcome”, with which they coexist remarkably and to which, let’s say, they prefer not to pay attention. Or not sharpen it.
As a rule, my secular, creative activity excites not real believers. In the souls of true believers, my work evokes the warmest and most grateful response. I know what I’m talking about, because I often see these people at my evenings, creative meetings or lectures. I am attacked mainly by either pseudo-believers, or patented klikush, or functionaries of the Moscow Patriarchate. They are the ones who consider themselves to be the ultimate court, righteous and infallible, despite the fact that I do not fall under their jurisdiction and prefer not to have anything to do with their odious structure. Seeing a “speck” in my eye, they deliberately leave out of the brackets a huge log in their own eye.
In addition, the Moscow Patriarchate is famous for its incredible performances and escapades. I don’t want to go into their church life and talk about how the bishop in the altar, on the Cherubim, hits the priest in the face. This is the business of their hierarchy. I want to say something else. Among the episcopate and priesthood of the ROC-MP, there are a lot of really real showmen, to whom, with my moral principles and internal attitudes, I am so far away! I will name just a few of the most striking examples that are in public space and are not “invasion of privacy” or “deliberate denigration of a bishop or priest.”
For some reason, the Metropolitan-biker who heads the powerful Night Wolves Pride is taken for granted by all, Metropolitan Mark of Vyatka and Sloboda ROC MP Mark, in a fashionable biker outfit, not in a cassock, together with the “wolves” makes joint public trips and “biker religious processions ”.
The winner of the television show “The Voice” is the hieromonk of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate Fotius, who has been successfully touring with concert programs in Mother Russia. In an amazingly fashionable cassock with shimmering silver embroidery on the cuffs and collar, with rhinestones shimmering in the buttons. Looks stunning from the stage! Although, to the credit of Hieromonk Photius, I would like to note his outstanding singing talent and sincerely wish him further success in his work.
Known throughout Russia, and throughout the post-Soviet environment, an enterprising television producer and television showman, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk ROC MP. He is a TV presenter, composer, scientist, diplomat, politician, and writer! Just what is his book “Jesus Christ” in the series – think about it! – “Life of Wonderful People”! Bravo, maestro! Moreover, Metropolitan Hilarion was awarded the State Prize of the Russian Federation for his amazing work! Great educator! A champion of the powerful cement bond called Church-State …
Well, and one more figure, modestly standing in this row, on a par with many others. Metropolitan of Pskov and Porkhov ROC MP Tikhon. Film director and film producer, winner of the Golden Eagle film award, lover of theatrical performances and dramaturgy, writer, member of the Presidential Council for Culture, laureate of the RF Government Prize in the field of culture and winner of the state award – the Order of Friendship! Probably, all this is solely for church activities and monastic exploits.
The list goes on. But is it worth it?
As you can see, against the background of such venerable masters, my modest person could, in principle, be ignored. But no! I am the one that sparks your interest! According to the principle “How dare he?” We can! Him – no! We decided so!
Summing up this issue, I want to note that, unlike other high persons, I do not suffer from hypocrisy and hypocrisy. I call black – black, white – white! I do not speculate with a robe to attract an audience and prefer to draw the red line, sharply demarcating the spiritual and the material, rightly believing that everything has its time and everything has its place. Svyatoslav Moiseenko and Metropolitan Sergius are two sides of the same person, congenial to each other and equal in their activities. Invariably complementary to each other and in no way contradicting each other. And this, in my opinion, is very correct. It is much worse when, on the contrary, well-known personalities in the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate begin to substitute material for the spiritual and, in pursuit of material values and power, forget about their vocation to serve God and to save human souls.
And for sure, they have no right to condemn or judge me. Do you know why? It’s simple. Do you have any complaints against me as a writer, poet, composer, publicist? No. Do you have any complaints against me, as a bishop regarding church and spiritual practices? No. I am absolutely transparent in both the first and the second.
But I have questions for a number of managers from the Moscow Patriarchate. And I am afraid that they are not ready for such transparency.
– As you know, in the Orthodox environment, a negative attitude towards the modern stage prevails, the repertoire of which often seems sinful, turned to the base passions of man, especially the flesh. Variety performers often cross the line of vulgarity and directly call to commit a sin. Are you ready to admit that the performance of such works is unacceptable for an Orthodox Christian – just as, say, work in a casino or gay clubs is unacceptable?
– The stage is just the spirit of the times. This is the imprint of the current state of society. This is what is in demand by the majority at the moment. This can cause strong rejection among the minority to which I belong. But my opinion does not affect the choice of the bulk. Although I try my public activity to do everything possible to change such a pernicious tendency. As for casinos and gay clubs … This is also a trend of the last thirty years.
But you only see particulars. The whole picture seems to me. It’s not about casinos and gay clubs. Why are hetero-clubs with striptease, crazy alcohol and drug couples better? What is better bloody bullfight or brutal fighting without rules? Is it “traditional”? Give it up! This activates no less, and maybe even lower instincts than gay clubs and casinos. And you know what? Its accessibility and permissiveness. Only those who are already infected with the sin of debauchery will come to the casino. In gay clubs, too, I suppose it is difficult to meet people who are alien to this side of life. They are systems locked within their own sins. The rest are open and supported by purposeful propaganda. And this is much worse!
But you are right in your own way. Dirt should not be encouraged. There is a danger of imperceptibly turning into pigs. Each person, by the providence of God, is given the right to choose. Everyone tries on this or that clothes, everyone says this or that word, everyone participates in this or that process, supporting this or that phenomenon. The main thing is not to make a mistake in your choice.
A little remark, so to speak. Recently, as a VIP guest, I attended one significant anniversary pop concert that lasted four hours. With provocative cuts on the dresses of the singers, with lyrics of songs that are by no means Orthodox, with ladies selflessly dancing with delight in the aisles between the seats of the auditorium during performances of their favorite artists (in principle, this is typical of any concert), with a high-class post-concert buffet table in the backstage , with exquisite dishes and no less refined alcohol in the relaxed atmosphere of the capital’s bohemia.
It was a good concert, thanks to the organizers. Bright, colorful, rich, generous with pleasant surprises and impressions, with festive emotions and loud applause.
With one little clarification. It took place in the Hall of Church Councils of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. It’s a common thing … Variety concert. With all the accompanying, by no means Orthodox, nuances. In the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. And in the concert, as an artist, Hieromonk Photius took part.
Well, I can only applaud and say bravo to the marketing service of the Moscow Patriarchate, which over the past ten years has managed to turn the Hall of Church Councils into an expensive high-status stage! For money is above all! As they say, just business, nothing personal …
Draw your own conclusions.
Questions prepared by the editors of the Portal “Credo.Press”
Published: 07.12.2021 в 22:02
(To be continued)