A Response to Bishop John’s Letter

Dear in Christ ROCA Parishioners,

Last Sunday, on the 20th of November, we managed to call a meeting to discuss ROCA diocesan affairs here in Australia. Participants of the meeting were Bishop Ambrose of Methone, Archbishop Andronik, Hegumen Andrei, and me.

Bishop John starts his letter with a lie: “last Sunday… we managed to call a meeting…” In fact, the meeting was organized by Archbishop Andronik and Bishop Ambrose. Bishop John had nothing to do with organizing this meeting. Vladyka Andronik was dealing with B. Ambrose before the meeting, and was only expecting to talk with B. Ambrose. However, B. John did show up completely uninvited.

Bishop John then continues with another lie: “Participants of the meeting were Bishop Ambrose, Archbishop Andronik, Hegumen Andrei and myself”. Yes, B. Ambrose and A. Andronik met, but they talked together in private ONLY. B. John did not participate in their discussions, but was left in another room together with Fr. Andrei. After their private discussions, the two bishops came out and soon afterwards A. Andronik left with Fr. Andrei. Where’s the meeting with all four of them?

Another lie from Bishop John: “we managed to call a meeting to discuss ROCA diocesan affairs here in Australia”. No, A. Andronik and B. Ambrose met just to talk. Who knows what about since they talked in private? It definitely wasn’t a meeting of four clergymen “to discuss ROCA affairs in Australia”.

Concerning the question, upon what canonical basis is Archbishop Andronik separating from the Synod of Metropolitan Agafangel, Fr Andrew reiterated what he has written in his correspondence; that “the Church canons are not applicable for our times” and that we have to seek a “new way” to solve church problems.

It is hard to figure out which words of Fr. Andrei were deliberately misinterpreted here by B. John. However the statement that Fr. Andrei supposedly says that “church canons are not applicable for our times” is an outright lie.

On behalf of our Church, I have to inform you that this proposed path of action by Archbishop Andronik and those that follow him, is not Orthodox. The statement that “the canons cannot apply” contradicts Church Tradition, and the order of Church life as set down by the Church Fathers of the seven Ecumenical Church Councils.

Deliberately slandering others contradicts God’s commandments. Those who practice it are unworthy of the name of Christians.

Church life has never been without temptations. One only has to read the life of St John Chrysostom, whose day it is today, to understand this. Temptations are not an excuse to reject the Church canons and tradition – rather the contrary!

I take this opportunity to also inform everyone about the decisions of the Council of Bishops under Metropolitan Agafangel, held in Ukraine on 25 to 27 October 2016. Contrary to the rumors circulating, the Sobor did not “punish” Archbishop Andronik or Archbishop Sophrony. The Sobor of Bishops rather prefers to let them determine their own fate – a life in the Church, or a schism outside of the Church.

The two bishops have been stopped from serving outside their monasteries. The two bishops have been forcibly removed from managing their dioceses. Most reasonable people would regard such harsh measures as punishments.

It is now up to them to fulfill saintly Patriarch Tikhon’s “Decree №362 regarding the Higher Church Authority of the Russian Orthodox Church, which obliges scattered groups of believers to create a unified management, instead of justifying, and multiplying schisms. As regards those who oppose the creation of a unified management, the Decree instructs to interrupt communion with such.”

B. John quotes the minutes of the Council of Bishop (October 2016), where Decree №362 is given a wrong interpretation. The Decree №362 is on the agenda of the All-Diaspora Council, which is supposed to explain the true meaning of this Decree.

The Sobor of Bishops conciliarly resolved that should the group persist in their non-conciliar actions, and actually carry out the illegal so-called ‘all-diaspora sobor’ in January 2017, then its participants “will be defrocked (in the case of clergy) and banned from communion (in the case of lay people).

B. John showed himself even more “bloodthirsty” than his primate. The Council of Bishops actually threatened to suspend the participants of the All-Diaspora Council, but not to defrock them.

At the All-Diaspora Council evidence will be presented about the many times Metropolitan Agafangel has broken church canons. It will become clear that M. Agafangel is no longer acting like a true Orthodox Hierarch. And that is why M. Agafangel and his supporting bishops are so keen on stopping this Council.

In view of the dire consequences to those who join themselves to this group headed by Archbishop Andronik and Archbishop Sofrony, I offer to all those who are concerned about this matter to meet and discuss a viable future for our Church here in Melbourne. I propose having a friendly discussion between ourselves after the Divine Liturgy at the Church of Saint Gregory the Theologian, 4 Gilbert Grove, Bentleigh, on the 4 December 2016.

Apparently this meeting was poorly attended, since no report has been added on B. John’s website so far.

I understand that many of you have been hurt in the past in our local church life with various misunderstandings from all sides.

Parishioners were deeply hurt not with misunderstandings, but with B. John’s unchristian and unpastoral attitude. For example the fact, that he abandoned the parish leaving it without a priest for a year and a half, until Fr. Andrei took this position.

I personally again apologize for any of my actions in the past that may have disturbed you. In view of the extreme seriousness of what is happening now, let us now all rise above personal misunderstandings, forgive one another and help one another restore peace.

It is our duty as Orthodox faithful of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad to do what we can to maintain Her integrity and existence here in Australia.

I invite you all, and encourage you to share this letter with anyone interested. I may not have your current email addresses.

With love in Christ,

Bishop of Melbourne.