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AmericaInterview: Primate of the True Orthodox Bulgarian Church, about his Church. Part...

Interview: Primate of the True Orthodox Bulgarian Church, about his Church. Part two

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Petar Gramatikov
Petar Gramatikovhttps://europeantimes.news
Dr. Petar Gramatikov is the Editor in Chief and Director of The European Times. He is a member of the Union of Bulgarian Reporters. Dr. Gramatikov has more than 20 years of Academic experience in different institutions for higher education in Bulgaria. He also examined lectures, related to theoretical problems involved in the application of international law in religious law where a special focus has been given to the legal framework of New Religious Movements, freedom of religion and self-determination, and State-Church relations for plural-ethnic states. In addition to his professional and academic experience, Dr. Gramatikov has more than 10 years Media experience where he hold a positions as Editor of a tourism quarterly periodical “Club Orpheus” magazine – “ORPHEUS CLUB Wellness” PLC, Plovdiv; Consultant and author of religious lectures for the specialized rubric for deaf people at the Bulgarian National Television and has been Accredited as a journalist from “Help the Needy” Public Newspaper at the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland.
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INTERVIEW: Primate of the True Orthodox Bulgarian Church, Metropolitan Sergius of Messembria (Moiseenko) on the reputation of the TOC, the problems of Synaxis and the “blue lobby”. Part two

Portal “Credo.Press”: Let me turn to the situation in the world of “alternative” Orthodoxy. At the meeting of the International Synaxis of True Orthodox Churches on September 11 this year. In communion with your Church and other Churches-members of the Synaxis, the jurisdiction was adopted, which until recently was officially called the Russian Orthodox Catholic Church (the primate was Metropolitan Mikhail (Anashkin)). Now it has a more complex, “compound” name … Usually, religious scholars point to the ambiguity of the origin of the hierarchy of this Church. Taking her into communication, did you manage to clarify the issue of the origin of the RPKTs hierarchy?

Metropolitan Sergius: First, it should be noted that Metropolitan Michael (Anashkin), like the Church he represents, has the status of a candidate for membership in the Synaxis, according to the Charter of the International Synaxis of the TOC, and we continue to study the history and status of this Church. I am sure that everything will be safely and finally resolved in May 2022 at the next meeting of the Synaxis, and that by that time all controversial issues will be resolved, if, contrary to expectations, such issues arise. After all, membership in Synaxis provides great opportunities, but also imposes considerable responsibilities.

Secondly, this Church has been well known since the 1990s. Perhaps it is one of the first “alternative” ones registered in the Russian Federation. Having the opportunity to care exclusively about their followers, the hierarchy of this Church has never sought to publicize and popularize their activities. Hence, a huge number of omissions, misunderstandings, conjectures and gossip. This is always the case with closed structures. Among “competitors”, such small and not pretending to be known church communities arouse heightened, I would even say – unhealthy, interest. And such excitement around the RPKTs and its primate looks somewhat frivolous.

As far as we know, the origins of the hierarchy of this Church have several sources. The first is the continuity from the Orthodox bishops of the “national” (Belarusian and Ukrainian) Churches, ordained in the 40s of the XX century in the territories of the USSR, occupied by German troops and not controlled by the Moscow Patriarchate revived at the same time. Most of the wartime bishops from these territories left them together with the retreating German troops, and some of them later became part of the ROCOR episcopate. Ukrainian bishops, having found themselves in exile, created their own hierarchical structures on a national basis, but some settled in Western Europe as private individuals. For some of the refugee bishops from the USSR, the figure of Metropolitan Seraphim (Lyade) of Berlin was completely unacceptable; or re-ordination. According to the version that we know, some of the bishops who lived in the West as individuals, during the collapse of the USSR, considered it possible to participate in the consecrations of bishops of the Orthodox Catholic Church, thereby restoring for this Church a continuous line of apostolic succession. This is how the current First Hierarch of the RPKTs Metropolitan Mikhail (Anashkin) was ordained. The second line of apostolic succession of the current episcopate of the RPKTs is “Ukrainian”, leading to the episcopate of the UAOC revived in 1990.

But I think that Metropolitan Mikhail (Anashkin) himself could answer these questions in more detail and competently, if you want to invite him to participate in such an interview.

Personally, I and, as far as I know, His Holiness Metropolitan Seraphim, are not afraid of any “inconvenient” questions, and are always ready for dialogue, no matter how sharp it may be. We hope that the rest of the Synaxis participants share the same position.

– The results of the September Synaxis turned into a sharp activation of the Internet resource aimed at “exposing” jurisdictions that are not in communication with the Moscow Patriarchate and are called “non-canonical” by it. I mean the Anti-Split resource. It, in particular, published materials testifying to the homosexual practice of some bishops of the RPKTs. How did you perceive these publications?

– With sadness and grief. Moreover, the hierarchy of the RPKTs is currently taking all the necessary steps to thoroughly understand this issue.

But what a thing … The Anti-Split Internet portal – what is it? What are the goals he pursues? What tasks does it set for itself? How legitimate is his activity as a media?

After all, it was created during the period of rampant “freedom of speech”, in the center of which was the “fornication of thought.” During the period of high popularity of the “yellow press”, when the information did not need to be verified and there was no responsibility for what you publish. Much has changed now. The times of journalistic ethics and journalistic responsibility began to return. But the information policy of the Internet resource “Anti-split” remained at the level of the “gangster nineties”.

If this portal was created by the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate or its functionaries, then everything is clear. For culture and clarity in presenting information is not their forte. Labels of “sectarians”, “schismatics”, “self-saints” were hung regularly and without regard to the law. Both secular and ecclesiastical. For such concepts can be applied solely on the basis of the final decision of the court. The portal took the liberty of declaring “sectarians” and “schismatics” all who did not share and do not share the positions of the Moscow Patriarchate.

By the way, if you carefully study the signs of a “sect” that pseudoscientific masters from state Orthodoxy have derived in their research, you will see that in these definitions the outline of the ROC MP in its present form is very clearly visible. And this is called, no more and no less, “falling under one’s own anathema.”

I greatly respect one of the founders of the portal, Alexander Slesarev, as an outstanding scientist-historian, the author of many bright articles, I carefully read Anti-schism and all the materials that appear on its pages. Sometimes I am amazed at the publications and wonder if Alexander Valerievich knows what exactly is published on his portal or in his telegram channel? I really hope not. And he should have paid close attention to this. To avoid, so to speak.

– Are you completely sure that it is Alexander Slesarev who is currently editing this project?

– Not sure. But he is the creator of this project and certainly has something to do with it, albeit indirectly. At least after my sharp reaction to the publication in the telegram channel in relation to me (and even then not on behalf of Anti-split, but from incognito in the comments), expressed by me in an email addressed to Alexander Slesarev, the comment was immediately deleted …

Along with objective and high-quality information, this project offers readers a pile of rubbish and abomination. And digging in such mud, savoring greasy details is disgusting for an Orthodox believer.

Well, okay, God will judge them all. It is not my thing to enjoy the miasma of other people’s sewage, and it only causes me to gag. If this portal were an encyclopedic source about “alternative” Orthodoxy, it would not have been worth it. But alas and ah! This resource has slipped to the level of bazaar gossip about unwanted people.

Only a very narrow-minded person, and not a self-respecting media outlet, can speak ill of someone. Moreover, the media, allegedly acting in the interests of the Moscow Patriarchate.

It would probably be more correct if every article on this resource about anyone began with the words: “I, such and such, publishing this material, take full responsibility for every word and authoritatively I declare that … “. And then you can talk about any figure of “alternative” Orthodoxy within the framework of the designated responsibility. But for some reason it seems to me that the creators of Anti-Schism will never agree to such correct steps. I repeat, honesty is not the strongest side of the ROC-MP and its satellites.

Now about the articles on inappropriate behavior and controversial judgments about the orientation of some of the individuals mentioned in Anti-Schism.

I think that to deal with such precedents, if, of course, the publications turn out to be true, is the prerogative of the hierarchy of the persons concerned. Synaxis is not an authoritarian structure, not a policeman with a truncheon who monitors the strict observance of orders given. Synaxis is the coordination of a common life, it is the highest court of appeal, if you will. In the event that we receive a petition from any of our participants to consider the case or to protect against arbitrariness, we will certainly consider such an issue and make our own judgment. Or we will provide the necessary assistance. From spiritual to forensic. But until then, this is an internal affair of each individual Church.

I don’t think that Patriarch Kirill, for example, deals with the personal affairs of bishops, let alone the priests of the UOC-MP or ROCOR or the American Church, and Patriarch Bartholomew is engaged in scandals taking place in the “canonical” local Orthodox Churches. But if necessary, they intervene after observing all the necessary points. So are we.

By the way, don’t you think that talking about people whose name is mentioned in an unattractive context is not the best method of dealing with badness? The Anti-Schism portal, if it has already taken over the functions of overseeing the moral character of church leaders, should pay attention not only to the “alternative” Orthodoxy, but also, in simple justice, to its own, dear and beloved structure – Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. At least, it would give him a certain flair of ghostly objectivity, or something …

As for homosexuality, licentiousness, drunkenness, uncleanliness, debauchery, embezzlement, pedophilia, violence against the person, sycophancy, hypocrisy, buzzing, and the like, these are the phenomena in the cultivation of which the “alternative” Churches are least of all guilty. Of course, these impurities also touched them, to one degree or another. But still, the biggest breeding ground for sin is the powerful numerous church structures that enjoy the unconditional support of the state. And for each such article in Anti-Schism, ten or more articles from other sources can be cited about an even greater abomination in the Moscow Patriarchate, which, especially recently, has no longer succeeded in hushing up scandals of a sexual, violent, financial or other nature occurring with their functionaries of different ranks. And we do not even need to systematize such data and dump them on any Internet resource for general acquaintance. Everything is done by the indignant public without our participation. By the will of God.

It is no secret to anyone how low the authority of the leaders of the state Church has fallen at the present time. And, unfortunately, her institute itself. Why “Unfortunately? Because we, true Orthodox, one way or another, whether we like it or not, are associatively perceived as Orthodox figures related to the ROC-MP. Sometimes it comes to the point that I have to make excuses, stating that I have nothing to do with this peculiar community.

And now, instead of fighting the filthiness of a vice that penetrates, like metastases of a cancerous tumor, into the body of the Church and eats away at it from the inside, the all-powerful and powerful Moscow Patriarchate and its affiliated organizations are fiercely and selflessly throwing all their forces into the fight against us, believing, obviously that we pose for them a much greater threat than all the vices and sins I listed earlier.

Not necessary. Not worth it. We will never follow the path of the Moscow Patriarchate, seeing what it has become today. In this matter, we are not competitors to them.

– More broadly, does Anti-Split activities pose a threat to the CPI?

– Threat? For us? What do you!

Do not overestimate the importance of such a resource. If it were a serious analytical publication, authoritative and respected, then yes, it would be a problem. And so … You will not seriously pay attention to the gossip of grandmothers sitting on the bench at the entrance? In this case, the same thing.

On the other hand, we are not as defenseless as it might seem. And if suddenly some information causes us significant harm, we will have enough strength and ability to transfer information issues into the judicial and procedural field. I do not think that this is in the interests of any media, including the Anti-Split Internet portal.

– Returning to the phenomenon of the creation of “blue lobbies” among the episcopate of different Orthodox jurisdictions – both “official” and “alternative” – ​​please tell me what factors of church life determine its appearance and even some success in modern conditions, and how to decide problem?

– This is not a problem of different jurisdictions, but of the Christian world as a whole. From ancient times to the present day.

And the answer lies on the surface. Early adoption of monasticism, a young episcopate … The age of unconscious impulses and aspirations, when young blood rages and the urges of the body are unbearable. The closed system of the monastery hostel and no less closed systems of seminary upbringing and education.

In my opinion, monasticism is a feat that not everyone can do. And it should be taken in adulthood, when there is a worthy path and the wisdom of everyday experience behind you. When you have no obligations to the world and loved ones. When love for God exceeds all other feelings. And when you realize that you are truly ready and will be worthy of monastic service.

And young bishops are, in my opinion, generally from the category of absurdity. How can a young man who has barely come to know life be an archpastor and father of fathers? Hence the temptations, and sins, and church decline.

In addition, the episcopal service is in many ways in conflict with monastic vows. And how to reconcile these contradictions in oneself is not clear. A kind of cognitive dissonance sets in, provoking extremes in psychopathic behavior.

This is a topic for another big conversation.

– Do you have pastoral experience, or at least an answer to the question about the possibility and / or the need for the Orthodox Church to support the representatives of the LGBT community?

– I am not inclined to divide people by color and severity of sin. The doors to the temple are open to everyone. And the last murderer seeks confession in order to receive absolution.

I don’t understand at all why the question of separate care for the representatives of the LGBT community suddenly arose? With the same success, you can think about the separate care of prostitutes, thieves, murderers, adulterers, etc. Since when did we begin to divide people according to their sins? Determine who is sinful and who is not very? Who is worthy of leniency and who should be ostracized?

In my life there have been periods of pastoral ministry in the prisons of St. Petersburg. And different people came to me for comfort and guidance, with varying degrees of sin. And angry with the whole world, and lost interest in life. But in their eyes there was always hope of forgiveness.

For the True Church – real and not ostentatious – only the catechumens and the faithful exist as her children. That is, those who confidently follow the path of Christ, and those who are just taking this path. And I didn’t hear something, so that instead of “go out”, it sounds like “go out, LGBT, prostitutes, thieves, drug addicts, murderers, embezzlers, liars and other sinners; remain only the righteous. ” The task of the Church is the salvation of a single soul. Its greatest achievement is when the sinner becomes righteous.

The problem of caring for LGBT people is far-fetched. For it does not exist. There is a shepherd and a flock. Confessor and sinner. And the task of the confessor is to help those in need to take the path of correction. And stay on it.

– By “nurturing the representatives of the LGBT community,” I do not mean the encouragement of sin, but the reaction of the Church to the change, so to speak, of the scientific approach to the phenomenon and its social perception. In the Orthodox tradition, all these issues are pushed into the area of ​​deviant behavior …

– I am against church recognition of LGBT marriages. For marriage is a blessed union of a man and a woman, the fruit of which is the birth of a child. I still consider LGBT people a sin that needs repentance and guidance on the right path. I still think that this is not done by prohibitive and punitive methods, but by thoughtful and painstaking pastoral work. This is a problem not only for the sinner, but also for his spiritual father. If, naturally, a person repents of this sin and seeks spiritual help.

– It is obvious that in some “alternative” jurisdictions it is easier to become a bishop than in “official” ones. In your opinion, does this attract a large number of random people, adventurers or people with mental disabilities to the TOC, who make their church choices not on religious grounds? If this problem exists, how can it be solved?

– Nobody is immune from this phenomenon. This was especially common in times of social instability, when church activities, government or “alternative”, were a very profitable business. Then there was a huge number, so to speak, of the “non-church priesthood” who donned robes with crosses and panagias for the sake of fabulous profits.

But where are they all? They are not here. The business has become unprofitable. Rather, even subsidized, especially if we talk about “alternative” Orthodoxy, where everything is transparent. And the goats were separated from the lambs.

You know that Vladyka Seraphim (Motovilov) and I stood at the origins of the creation of the official True Orthodox Church in Russia. And for twenty-five years now, day after day, we put our lives on the altar of True Orthodoxy, preserving and increasing what is a saving beacon for many thousands of believers. And now a true Orthodox bishop is not money, power and prosperity. This is painstaking, hard and daily work, the results of which, perhaps, will not be seen by you.

– Is there a danger of activities hostile to the Church of the forces or the same ROC MP, aimed at discrediting the very concept of “True Orthodox Church” through such an introduction into its episcopate of persons causing scandals, leading an immoral lifestyle? Is it not worth it, based on the negative experience of the last 20 or even more years, to somehow “revise the personnel policy”, to make the selection of candidates for hierarchical degrees stricter and more consistently apply the canonical rules to those who violate them?

– This danger has always existed. The introduction of marginal individuals into the ranks of the TOC under the guise of good-looking and “pious” ministers who have allegedly suffered from unjust persecution by the church authorities is the favorite position of the former clerics of the ROC-MP who ask to us. And to figure out where is the truth, and where is the lie, where is sincerity, and where is the game – it is extremely difficult.

During our quarter-century of activity, there have been many such cases. Moreover, some of them inflicted enormous harm on both the CPI institute and its ideology. But the Lord allows difficulties and failures in order for us to overcome them, doesn’t he?

Thanks to the received, at times quite tough, and somewhere even cruel, tempering, we have changed significantly. We learned to recognize crooks of different stripes, swindlers and swindlers. We learned to understand what exactly motivates a person who comes to us. The desire to serve God and people, or the desire to fill up your purse to capacity, or the desire to do an excellent job of destroying an unwanted structure. Of course, there are all kinds of cases. And we sometimes make mistakes. But the good news is that there are fewer and fewer such errors.

They tried to discredit us in every way. And through strange personalities, and through the characterization of the ideology of the True Orthodox Church as pernicious for an Orthodox person. And I want to note that the last option is the most terrible.

The thing is that the ROC-MP is not too picky about the methods of struggle. And he especially welcomes the two inherited from the Soviet period: prohibit and not let. But in the fight against us, the Moscow Patriarchate went further. She began to use certain techniques to process the consciousness of the population, known as the “Overton Window”. When systematically and consistently, using all available resources of state, public and own church propaganda, a stable image of the enemy is formed. And this enemy is the True Orthodox Church, which did not recognize the bloody and godless power in the twenties of the last century, went into the catacombs in order to preserve its right to the truth, lost bishops and priests in the millstones of the GULAG, but did not make a deal with conscience, did not recognize the shameful “declaration” of Sergius (Stragorodsky) and worried about only one thing – about the salvation of human souls.

Think for yourself, will such a Church be pleasing to those who serve not God, but Mamon? To those who honor sycophancy and betrayal? Those who are ready for any abominations, for the sake of a satisfying and calm life? Of course, the CPI has become an intolerable thorn that cannot be removed. And when the USSR collapsed and it became possible to leave the catacombs, the Moscow Patriarchate, being careful not to directly persecute the dissent, began to use the most vile methods of the most black PR, using the media loyal to it. Or by creating their own, supposedly unrelated media.

At the present time, when the so-called “alternative” Orthodoxy is being united into a single family, moreover at the international level, the activation of those whose well-fed life is threatened by such a union is not surprising. And after the Council of Primates of the TOC on September 11-12 this year, this is especially noticeable …

As for the “personnel policy” you mentioned … Well, we are not the Moscow Patriarchate. Let’s put our trust in the will of God. And on our twenty-five years of experience. Perhaps the Lord will rule. Moreover, changes in the true Orthodox world are already visible. Structures that, by and large, have nothing to do with True Orthodoxy, but only hiding behind the name of the TOC, self-disintegrate, going into the past, becoming a trembling shadow, even the memory of which will soon dissipate completely. As for the “fragments” that appear in different places, they cause bewilderment at best. Or become a laughing stock in the eyes of others.

Ahead of the True Orthodox Church is a bright future, for the time has come for the gathering. In May 2022, at the next meeting of the International Synaxis of True Orthodox Churches, decisions will be made to determine the future of the Church for many decades to come. And in order to better understand the internal moods and events taking place in the external space, we will organize a number of scientific and social and educational conferences about the life of the True Orthodox Church, its goals and objectives, its prospects and aspirations, where anyone can participate in the discussion of the most acute church moments. And not only to ask a question, but also to get an answer guaranteed.

I want to say once again that we, the leadership of Synaxis, and, in principle, the bishops of the TOC, are always ready for dialogue. We are not afraid of “difficult and uncomfortable” questions. We are honest in our answers. And we are not afraid to come face to face with the questioners. And answer without looking down. We just have nothing to be ashamed of. And there is nothing to hide.

We are ready! But are those who usurped the right to truth ready? Is the Moscow Patriarchate ready to do the same?

I think no! Too many skeletons in the closet. And there are too many people who want to openly ask questions, looking into the eyes of top managers from Orthodoxy.

I believe that any Church is strong not only by faith, but also by honesty and openness before the people of God. And only in this case “the gates of hell will not prevail against her.”

– The history of the Church has always been accompanied by such phenomena as heresies and schisms – the first of them are described in the Acts of St. Apostles. Can you give examples of schisms in the modern Orthodox world – especially among those who do not rightfully call themselves “True Orthodox”?

– Heresies and schisms have always been, are and will be. For one reason or another. And you can fight them only by the power of your own faith, the purity of your own soul and the example of your own life.

All forceful methods of struggle are initially doomed to failure. For whoever slays a dragon becomes a dragon himself. You cannot cast out demons by the power of a prince of demons. Only by faith, prayer and personal example. No blasphemy and no labeling.

Questions prepared by the editors of the Portal “Credo.Press”

Published: 08.12.2021 в 22:02

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