Resolution of the Clergy of the St. Petersburg and Northern Russia Diocese

“…and the sheep listen to his voice.
He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out…
When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them,
and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.”
John 10:3,4
“But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him,
because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”
John 10:5
We are thankful to God and our Savior Lord Jesus Christ, who pours out life-giving mercy
on His Holy Church! Truly the Good Shepherd, “calls his own sheep by name.” “That is the
nature of the Shepherd, showing his deep concern for each one of his sheep. He would not
have called them by name, if after all his toil, he would not know each of them individually.”
This is what the Holy Church tells us in the words of the Greek theologian of the 12 century
Euthymius Zigabenom. The Savior provides the example and “goes on ahead of them,” His
wards and herd, “leading them on the straight path and protecting them,” He Himself fulfilling
that which He teaches to others.
We, the clergy of the St. Petersburg and Northern Russian Diocese, only want, as
Chrysostomos said, “to play our pipe to the herd”; that is to confess the word of God, serve as
pastors and lead the souls of the faithful to eternal salvation. “But when the wolf appears,”
the saint continues, “one must take up his sling.” The wolf is a danger and a threat to Christ’s
herd. We now raise our voices in defense of the parishes entrusted to us from the “stranger’s
voice,” the destructive actions and decisions of Metropolitan Agafangel (Pashkovskiy) and the
Synod he heads. In this we agree with the majority of ROCA clergy in Russia, Europe, North
America, South America and Australia, who did not accept union in 2007. Recent events
present a choice to us, either follow the path of pastoral care and full sobornost, exemplified
by the ROCA historically, or close our eyes to the administrative lawlessness, which resembles
many of the representatives of the Moscow Patriarchia or uncanonical catacomb groups.
Indeed, since when is such behavior acceptable in the Church, to quickly rid it of
“problem” people who pose “uncomfortable” questions; people who are actually trying to
stop the damage of wrong decisions. This is how the administrative machine of Met.
Agafangel punishes and censures without the necessary objective investigation, without the
necessary judicial procedure.
As an example, the treatment of Bishops Dionisiy and Iriney is appalling; “…let’s censure
them first, and then go there to talk with them.” (Met. Agafangel, minutes from November
12\25, 2016.) Much dissatisfaction also resulted from the establishment of dual power in the
North American diocese (minutes from April 15\28, 2016). They assured B. Andronik that it is
for the good of the diocese, and believing this, he adds his signature to the decision, but
quickly realizes he has been tricked and removes the signature.
Another reason for the unrest is the incursion into the St. Petersburg diocese by
accepting the parish in Dudachkino. The false explanation is offered, that Fr. Aleksandr Sukhov
left the diocese of his own free will, because of the so-called, “heretical and schismatic”
meeting in Naverezhiye, which has little to do with reality. For some reason, no one in the
Odessa Synod was concerned that Fr. Aleksandr had stopped taking part in the life of the
diocese for some time now and in five years had attended only one diocesan meeting. Fr.
Aleksandr did not listen, despite the numerous words of advice and explanations provided by
the ruling bishop, Abp. Sophroniy. No one in the Odessa Synod was very troubled by the
unhealthy nature of church life in the Dudachkino parish. For example, on the iconostasis of
the church in Dudachkino is a depiction of Rasputin with a halo holding Holy Martyr Tsarevich
Aleksey in his arms, which Bishop Gregory of Sao Paulo and South America called blasphemy.
The troubles in the Holy Trinity parish in Astoria and the rushed, unlawful punishments
issued by the July Synod have destroyed the authority and trust in Met. Agafangel and his
Synod to such an extent, that we are compelled to adopt extreme measures to protect our
parishes. This Synod does not simply make mistakes, it rushes to make them, approving
clearly contradicting decisions. Thankfully, our brothers in the Greek Church took an active
role in helping the situation.
Archbishop Kallinikos personally called Met. Agafangel on the eve of the July Synod and
asked to not make any rash decisions or disciplinary actions. He is assured that nothing of the
sort will be done. At the same time, Met. Agafangel posts on his page in Facebook, “Only Love
can be higher than the Law, only Mercy can be higher than Right, and only Forgiveness can be
higher than Fairness…and may such a life become the rule for us.” But instead, the July Synod
approves decisions that dumbfound our Greek brothers, while we are “cuffed on the head,” as
Protodeacon German Ivanov-Trinadzaty of Lyon put it.
God sees that we do not wish to participate in a “concert of blaming each other,” as St.
Basil the Great calls family conflicts. We are thankful to God that since 1990 we were able to
experience the true Russian Orthodox Church Abroad under Met. Vitaliy (Ustinov) and the
many venerable bishops, pastors, and Brother Joseph and the wonderous Iveron icon of the
Mother of God. We understood this voice of Christ. We now have something to compare with
and that is why this stranger’s voice is completely unacceptable to us, or more precisely, the
sound of the current Odessa Synod from which, as the Gospel tells us, one wants to run away
from, to escape this imitation of the religious foundation of the ROCA. Do the members of this
Synod not understand that seeing such “administration,” that no sound thinking person in the
church would want to join them?
Therefore, to protect and shield our parishes from the unacceptable actions of Met. Agafangel
and his Synod, we consider it our pastoral duty to declare:
1. We do not recognize the “punishments” of the Odessa Synod in July, 2016, in regard
to Archbishop Andronik and Archbishop Sophroniy. We continue to consider
Archbishop Sophroniy our ruling bishop.
2. Each rector can decide whether to commemorate Met. Agafangel during the Litany
of Fervent Supplication or a moleben as the ailing Metropolitan Agafangel.
3. We consider the calling for an All-Diaspora Council* a necessary step to resolve the
crisis in the Church, and which will allow a conciliar judgment of the actions of Met.
Agafangel and his Synod and lead to relieve the situation.
4. We pray that reason and peace be restored in the Church and hope that our oneness
in Christ will be restored by returning to the foundational spiritual basis of the ROCA.
In closing we remind everyone that the doors to repentance are open to all, and instead
of constantly being preoccupied with convincing yourself of various things and applying
pressure to put down “uprisings” that threaten unrest in the Church, it would be far better to
use the time to rescind all the dictatorial punishments and ask forgiveness for the mistakes
Archbishop of St. Petersburg and Northern Russia
Hegumen Pakhomiy (Papazov)
Hieromonk Ignatiy (Krutkov)
Hieromonk Sergey (Pereskokov)
Hieromonk Savvatiy (Shvashtein)
Hieromonk Zosima (Kuzmin)
Hierodeacon Pavel (Lipin)
Archpriest Sergey Platunov
Fr. Igor Dubrov
Fr. Aleksandr Richagov
Fr. Oleg Orlov
Deacon Viktor Zavodov
Deacon Aleksey Badanov
Parish of Holy New Martyr Grand Duchess Elizabeth, Augsburg, Germany
August 17\30, 2016
* There are some that say that convening an All-Diaspora Council without allowing Met. Agafangel to
participate in its preparation contradicts the Status of the ROCA, and that a Council does not serve as a judicial
body. Allow us to ask, does the Status of the ROCA allow an election of a metropolitan at an All-Diaspora
Council? The answer is obvious, it does not. Yet Met. Agafangel allowed that, and he was right to do so.
Further, if the primary reason for the unrest is the loss of sobornost in the Church, what better way to restore
it than convening a council, which would be free from the abuse of power exercised by Met. Agafangel and his
Synod? If the Metropolitan needed the conciliar voice of the Church to be chosen for his position, then a
council has the right to call the Metropolitan to account for his actions.