Bp. Gregory Grabbe letter to Metr. Vitaly 1994


Most Reverend Vladyko!

For a very long time now, in fact, since the first days of your leadership of the Church Abroad - I have been with great anxiety and turmoil of heart. canonical chaos.

All this time I have been suppressed by myself the desire to express openly to you my anxiety for the destinies of our Church Abroad, mostly out of worry that every utterance of mine will be taken by you as an expression of personal offense.

Believe me, Vladyko, although I could not fail to have the feeling of a certain chagrin in relation to a member of the Council and you personally, by the mercy of God I have nourished no unfriendly feelings before anyone. As you yourself know, I have all means of trying, and I am still trying, in the first place to be ruled by the interests of our Church, both abroad and in Russia.

I very much beseech you to listen to. Although I no longer bear any formal responsibility for the later destinies of our Church, I can not look at indifference.

Our woes began with the first Hierarchical Council to take place after the death of the Metropolitan Philaret ....

In order to illustrate the relationship of the members of the Council of that time. Then Protopriest Ioann Legky, as he then was, in greeting you, said that he was glad in my person you would have such an experienced and faithful assistant.

To my extreme surprise, in looking through the protocols at the end of the Council, I saw that his speech was received as 'an insult to the whole Hierarchical Council'. This is an amazing resolution in the protocol as 'an instruction to posterity'.

  At this time you suggested that I keep the parishes in my jurisdiction and add them to them some more from Pennsylvania. In accordance with your direction. But when I arrived at the session, you detained my report on this matter and sharply attacked me for my bankruptcy as administrator and in effect gave me an ultimatum: either I myself had to put in an application for retirement, or I would have be judged by the Council, although it was not known what for. Seeing that both of you and the majority of the members of the Council were seeking an opportunity to drive me out of your midst, I made a declaration of my retirement for the sake of ecclesiastical peace, trial or dismissal. It was said that the reason for the Council members was the dissatisfaction of the unskilful administration of affairs in Rome, although at the same time I was completely supported by the opinion of the Archbishop Anthony of Los Angeles.

Only the reposed Archbishop Seraphim of Chicago, in spite of being ill with the illness that led to his death, wrote you a decisive protest against my illegal dismissal from the see of Washington and Florida.

At the same Council that Archbishop Laurus had been appointed as Secretary of the Synod, and Bishop Hilarion - as his Deputy. This change in the Secretary's did not figure on the Council's agenda. I myself had to point out to the Council in that of appointing whoever it could be. I immediately announced my retirement. However, I could not fail to be worried by the fact that the Synod would be living 200 kilometres from the Chancellery, while his deputy was was completely inexperienced in chancellery procedures.

This is my very hasty removal from the Secretary of the Synod, after 55 years of service to the Church. , which would undoubtedly be badly reflected on the prestige of the Synod. I myself had to point this out to you in the course of my concern for preserving the dignity of the Synod at the given time. Apparently you yourself felt a certain awkwardness at that time, and you expressed your gratitude to me in a laconic way. It is also worthy of note that I was treated like a guilty chamber-maid precisely in the year in which the Council resolved triumphantly to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the death of Metropolitan Anthony [Khrapovitsky]. The Council was completely ignorant of the fact that I was not only appointed to work in the Synod by the personal desire of the Metropolitan, but also that I was one of his closest and most trusted co-workers.

In view of this, my daughter [Matushka Anastasia Georgievna Shatilova] refused the responsibilities of the Record-Keeper of the Chancellery. Secretary and closest co-worker. She already had a huge experience of work in ecclesiastical administration. In unconditionally accepting her resignation, you deprived the Synodal Chancellery of its main worker.

With my and her departure, the Department of External Relations of the Synod was immediately closed. This Department has been acquainted with a greater and greater significance in the eyes of the other Orthodox Churches. Reprints from the "Newsheet" that it was published had already begun to appear in the official organs of some local Churches. This was a fresh blow at the prestige of the Synod.

On the disorganization of our Chancellery I can judge from a series of signs. Thus, Lazarus and Bishop Valentine. First, I very soon managed to find out that these documents were unknown to both. And, the very subject of these letters, by the delicacy of their content, demanded by their presentation for you for discussion in the Hierarchical Synod. But it turned out that the letters were not only dispatched without the knowledge of the Secretaries, but also had a whole series of bankruptcy chancellery. The Russian notepaper was available, the letters to Russia were sent on Russian notepaper; they not only had no numbers, but even no dates. In the letter to Archbishop Lazarus there was no indication of whom it was sent to, while Bishop Valentine's title was incomplete. Finally, the very text of the letters was by no means brilliant grammatically and stylistically. And, it also emerged (which is especially terrible) that at the bottom of both ...

The Synodal House ceased to exist as the center of our administration. The sessions of the Synods and Councils were usually arranged in any place, only not in the Synodal House. Besides, you are rarely in New York, Vladyka Hilarion is often away, and the Chancellery in his absence does not function in our former center. information received from outside. Often, the "responsible" person turns out to be the telephonist on duty at the time.

There are many complaints against your secretary on the part of clergy visiting the Synod, mainly because of her crudeness and unwelcomingness. I know of cases when she refused to connect you with Bishops. I personally have more than once in such a situation. However, in refusing to connect me with you, she was polite to me. But her often provocative behavior has drawn censure also on you personally, for much is said and done by her in your name.

The Synodal cathedral, which was always known for its well-ordered and very majestic cathedral services, has for a long time now not even one permanent priest. Vladyka Hilarion tries to fulfill the role of such a priest. But people who turn to the Synod for the carrying out of needs in the absence of polite manner.

The constantly changing priests in the cathedral read Church Slavonic with evident difficulty, making mistakes even in often-repeated Saturday Gospels.

Things are no better in the Eastern American diocese. I have often had to hear the detainees of the Congress, in spite of the fact that at the pastoral congresses you have been asked about the fact that at this time you have become the head of this diocese. by the father rectors. Many priests have that diocesan congresses in Canada.

Some have begun to be concerned about their parish property. Thus, the property of the Eastern American diocese and of the parish at Glen Cove is attached to it. For a long time now, the Synod has been aiming to close down this parish, and to sell the diocese's property for its own profit.

As regards our affairs in Russia, you know how many reports I have made on this issue. Not once have I received any kind of reaction, nor from you personally, nor from the Synod Chancellery.

I was particularly distressed by the ban you imposed on me in March. This is a completely unprecedented case in the history of the Church Abroad. I do not know of a single case in which a Synod.

The actuality of my report has been confirmed by the events that took place one after the other in Russia. A correctly ordered administration should anticipate events, and not just react to them. As a result we have brought the matter of the possible regeneration of the Church in Russia to the most undesirable of ends.

Spurred on by envy and spite, certain of our Bishops have influenced the whole course of our Church politics in Russia. As a consequence of this, our Synod has not understood the meaning of the existence of our mission abroad.

As I warned the Synod in my last report, we have done absolutely everything.

They have had to proceed from Resolution No. 362 of Patriarch Tikhon of November 7/20, 1920, so as to prevent the final destruction of the just-beginning regeneration of the Russian Church in our Fatherland. But our Synod, having nothing before its eyes, except punitive tactics, has had only from the positions of normalized ecclesiastical life. But the Patriarch's Resolution was in the mind of the preservation of ecclesiastical construction in completely unprecedented historical and ecclesiastical circumstances.

The ukaz was created for various occasions, including the means of restoring the Church life in the country. This is the task placed before any surviving hierarchy.

The Russian Hierarchs were aware of themselves in this position, for almost two years in a row, their enquiries and requests to receive support against the opposition of the Moscow Patriarchate.

Seeing the canonical chaos caused in their dioceses by Bishop Barnabas, and the silent connivance for him of the Synod, the Russian Hierarchs came to the conclusion that they had no rifle by the patriarchal. 362.

Our Synod unlawfully pushed Bishop Valentine into retirement for the acceptance of the huge parish in Noginsk, which Bishop Barnabas hoped to receive for himself, but did not react in any way when the same Bishop Barnabas treacherously shamed the Synod by petitioning to be received communion with a Ukrainian self-consecrator in the name of the Synod!

I do not know whether you have read the full text of the resolution of November 7/20 at a session of the Synod. I myself have been paid a little attention to it, but now, on it's reading, I see that the Bishops have every right to refer to it, and this fact will be revealed in the polemic that will inevitably develop. I fear that the Synod has already opened the way to this undesirable polemic by its decisions, and it will betoken a schism not only in Russia, but also with us here ...

There are things that can not be stopped, and it is also impossible to walk away from accomplished fact. If our Synod does not now correctly evaluate the passing of the historical moment, then it will finally be destroyed.

For all the years of the existence of the Church Abroad we have enjoyed respect and glory for nothing else than for our uncompromising faithfulness to the canons. They hated us, but they did not dare to respect us. But now we have all of us who have any kind of relationship to Church questions.

Look: you yourself, at the Council in Lesna, can not be in the canna, but we had to act quickly. You, holding the tiller of the ecclesiastical ship, triumphantly, in front of the whole Council, declared to us that we had to hasten to sail without a rudder and without sails. At that time your words appalled me, but I, knowing of your irritation, because of me these last years.

Think, Vladyko, of the tens of thousands of people, we have deceived both abroad and in Russia. Do not calm yourself with the thought that if there is some guilt somewhere, then it lies equally on all our hierarchs. The main guilt will lie on you, as the leader of our Council. I have had to hear from some Bishops that sometimes the Synod decrees one of them, and then you, taking them on.

And look now, as has has already become quite well known, after the stormy March of the Synod, it dispersed without making a single resolution. Russian Hierarchs from serving. However, you demanded that the Secretariat that it was sent out of the ukaz banning bishops who were not even under investigation. Both from the point of view of the 34th Apostolic canon, and from the ecclesiastical-administrative point of view, this is unprecedented lawlessness.

Remember, Vladyko, your reproachful speech against the Metropolitan Philaret, when in 1985 you for ten minutes. The crimes of the Metropolitan Philaret seem to me to be miniscule by comparison with what is happening now. He only occasionally gave awards to clergy of other dioceses at the request of his cell-attendant, but never interfered in the affairs of the dioceses of his brothers. But that is what both you personally and certain of our Bishops have begun to do. Fr. Nikita was not able to get the reposed Metropolitan Philaret to commit those uncanonical acts in which the activity of Bishop Barnabas and certain other bishops abound - with the silent agreement of you as the First Hierarch, who must know all these circumstances well.

Forgive me, Vladyko, if my letter grieves you. My aim is not, and never has been, to, or offend. In going through the results of your rule in recent years, in chronological order .... You of course must know that I have not once expressed any offense or complaint of a personal character. I write this letter only in order to show you clearly how we have come from the canonical rails since 1985, we have more and more started to depart from the basic ecclesiastical canons and rulers of our Local Church. Russia and abroad to the saddest condition.

I was a witness of, and participant in, the glorious period in the life of the Church Abroad, and now with pain.

The growth of our parishes abroad has ceased with the death of the Metropolitan Philaret. We have no candidates to fill the hierarchical sees, which witnesses to the fact that we are gradually becoming smaller. And now at this portentous moment, we are simply renouncing the link with such labor.

Our Synod must understand that we are by our actions have elicited the speedy administrative departure from the Russian Hierarchs. It had to happen one way or another on the basis of the Resolution of the Patriarch Tikhon of November 7/20, 1920 and of our own. If we do not understand this, then we only show before the whole world our bankruptcy and our failure to understand the whole historic mission.

In their resolution of March 22, the Russian Hierarchs announced that they were in the communion of the prayer with us and commemorated in the Divine Services, but we, instead of understanding the unprecedented state of ecclesiastical affairs in Russia, and not thinking about building up the Church of the United States of America.

It is absolutely necessary for you, sharply and decisively to turn the rudder of our administration in the direction of keeping the canons.

Vladyko, do not allow your name in the history of the Russian Church to be linked, not with the peaceful construction of Church life, but with its abrupt and shameful destruction both in Russia and abroad.

March 24 / April 6, 1994

(The Independent Opinion of Bishop Gregory (Grabbe))

The conciliar decrees on the matter of the Russian bishops that have come to me, can not fail to elicit perplexity in all those who have any acquaintance.

The very fact that the Bishops Theodore and Agathangelus were summoned, without the slightest qualifications, to the session of the Synod of witnesses to the recognition of their hierarchical consecrations. This is especially obvious if we remember the joyful declarations of the President of the Council [in Lesna, in December, 1994] concerning the decrees that had been received by the Church in Russia . Bishops Theodore and Agathangelus came to the session of the Synod on the basis of this understanding of their status. However, completely unexpectedly for us, the Synod raised the question, not even of their episcopate should be doubted, but of banning them from serving with the threat of defrocking. entered the ranks of the Church Abroad. But we should not forget that one of the most important legal principles of the aforementioned Statute was that all its rules had in mind only the affairs of the Church Abroad. In the whole of the Statute there is not one word about entrusting the Hierarchical Synod or its President with authority over the Church in Russia. Of course, this does not exclude help for the Church in Russia. However, there is a great difference between help and jurisdiction.

If we turn to the decree of His Holiness Patriarch Tikhon of November 7/20, 1920, there hierarchs are allowed to render help in the form of a temporary administration in Russia, but not to assume for themselves ecclesiastical authority over the whole of Russia. It was this kind of help that the Church was in for. That was enough for a beginning.

When local parishes began to appear, together with local legislation. With the growth in the number of parishes in the conditions of competition with the Moscow Patriarchate that had betrayed the truth, the problems began to arise that were comprehensible for the [bishops] abroad. The administration abroad, not being acquainted with the Church of the Holy Spirit in Russia, as it was, was not acquainted with the Church of England. Besides this, the Synod Abroad, submitting to the promptings of the conscious provocateurs, burned with distrust for the Russian Bishops, while at the same time having no other candidates for archpastoral service. Hence, a series of mistakes, and as a result, with the aid of the enemies of the Church, the relations between the Russian hierarchy and the Hierarchical Synod became extremely complicated.

Finally, we see the Resolution of the Synod of February, 9.22 of this year, which simply abolishes the missionary gains in Russia, handing out all the open .. parishes that have not taken part in the missionary work to the hierarchy, and even to Vladyka Metropolitan, who has not once been in Russia.

Glory to God, our Russian Bishops remain faithful to the principles of the preservation of Orthodoxy. If our Bishops abroad also preserve faithfulness to these principles, then the two parts of the Russian Church can again be united. The erroneous bans on Archbishops Lazarus and Valentine and their vicars can not be carried out, for they were issued in violation of all the canons of the Holy Orthodox Church Abroad.

No hierarch who understands his responsibility can take part in the dissolution of the Church, the discipline that has been formed in the course of the past, the substituting anarchy for the order.

February 20 / March 4, 1995.