Response of the Synod of Bishops of the RTOC to Bishop Akakije’s interview published on the Serbian Portal9 min read
January 18/31, 2020
Holy Hierarchs Athanasius and Cyril
Patriarchs of Alexandria
Venerable Bishop Akakije,
For a rather considerable period of time, we have been expecting you to become aware of your delusions, and repent of your uncanonical acts, which have destroyed our unity. Yet, it is unfortunate that this has not come to pass.
And now, it has come to our attention that you recently gave an interview to your Serbian portal, the content of which no longer surprises us, in that it contains lies intertwined with speculation, unproven accusations, which, in essence, are slanderous, and other «mindless sayings.»
You say that the first of the reasons which caused your distrust of our Synod is “the replacement, under very doubtful circumstances, of the Secretary of the Synod of the RTOC.” Please Note: The person mentioned has never served as Secretary of the Synod, but just as a manager of affairs.
And here the question immediately arises: What right have you to judge and interfere in the internal affairs of another local Church? Did it ever occur to you that these deeds of yours constitute a violation of the Canons of the Universal Church? By deliberately committing such impudent interference in the affairs of the local Russian Church, and no less cynically invading its canonical territory by ordaining priests there, you break off communion with the Universal Church. The consequence of such serious canonical crimes could be the loss of saving Grace.
But, let us turn to the sequence of events from the very beginning.
In 2016, without consulting the Synod of Bishops of the RTOC, who gave you Apostolic succession, you took under your omophorion a large number of faithful from the Russian True Orthodox Church – the Lesna Monastery in France, along with several Western European parishes. This happened after the Lesna Monastery tried to obtain a canonical release from the Synod of Bishops of the RTOC, but was denied. The only parish from the mission of the Lesna Monastery which refused to leave its legal, and canonical bishop was the parish of St. Michael the Archangel in Guildford, England. Even as the Lesna Monastery had no canonical reason to leave the Russian True Orthodox Church, similarly you also, Bishop Akakije, had no canonical justification for receiving them into the True Orthodox Church of Serbia. The only justification published by you upon receiving the Lesna Monastery was that the Russian Church “changed its course” and acquired a “new ideology” (from your “Decision” addressed to Abbess Makrina). This was viewed by our bishops as being absurd. In any case, you still have not explained what this “new ideology” might be! And, what is even more absurd, you severed communion with the Russian Church, which, of course, you would have been obliged to do, if our Church really did adopt a “new ideology,” that is heresy.
Let us turn to questions which concern you directly, since they relate to your confession of Faith, and your hierarchal status. In 2014, after you came to the conclusion that the unification between the Greek True Orthodox Church, the schismatic Cyprianites, along with the schismatic Agafangelites was Orthodox and canonical, you found yourself desiring to unite with them. For eighteen months you tried to convince us, the hierarchs of the Russian True Orthodox Church to whom you owe your bishopric, and whose confession of Faith you agreed with until then, to accept your “new ecclesiology” of compromise and union with schismatics. Politely, but firmly, we expressed our refusal.
Then, in September of 2015, you sent a letter to the Synod of the RTOC in which you insisted that the Russian hierarchs should follow your new path. Otherwise, you wrote, if the Russian and Serbian bishops do not address the Greek bishops together, and if “we do not start and finish this to the end, and do not give them the opportunity to unite [with us], then we will become prosecutors, judges and executioners.” Amazingly threatening words, and, additionally, completely unjust! How could you forget that the Russians and Greeks worked towards union from 2008 to 2011, and in the end, it was the Greeks who broke off relations after refusing to join us in ordaining you bishop. Furthermore, after that, they uncanonically declared the entire Serbian Church to be without Grace (encyclical of August 9/22, 2011).
Then, you traveled to Greece and spoke to their Synod, asking for forgiveness for the “sin” of accepting the episcopal ordination without their consent, when, in fact, it was the Greeks that had sinned, when they tried to appropriate another local Church (Serbian), and refused to allow the Serbian Church to have its own bishops in violation of the 85th canon of the Council of Carthage, and the 8th canon of the Third Ecumenical Council.
At that time, many True Orthodox were shocked by your unscrupulous act. Our Church gave you hierarchal ordination, and thereby revived the STOC. And you, after a few years, run with a penitent letter to Archbishop Kallinikos, the one who derailed communion between the GTOC and the RTOC in 2010, and who entered into communion with Agafangel, who considers the RTOC to be schismatic!
Let’s take a closer look at the circumstances of your “repentance” for accepting the episcopal rank. In your subsequent partial denial of your “repentance,” you still insisted that your consecration was “unauthorized.” You know very well that it was not “unauthorized.” The Governing Council of the Serbian True Orthodox Church had sent several requests for your ordination. When you turned to us, the Russian bishops, we agreed to your consecration only after a two-day meeting in Odessa, during which it became clear how such consecration would be canonical. Even after this, Archbishop Tikhon insisted that all the parishes and monasteries in Serbia express their opinions. Only after that, and only after the Greeks refused to participate, did the Synod decide to perform your ordination. It was a completely canonical consecration, performed in accordance with the will of the majority of True Orthodox Christians in Serbia, and the will of the hierarchy of the Russian True Orthodox Church. This was done only against the will of Archbishop Kallinikos, whom Metropolitan Paul of Astoria called the “Locum Tenens of the Serbian Patriarchal Throne”!
And now you say that your ordination was a sin and “unauthorized.” Whom shall we now consider you to be? Is one a bishop who considers his own canonical ordination a sin and “unauthorized?” Keep in mind that by doing so, and by displaying your gross ingratitude to the Russian bishops who ordained you (with significant harm to themselves), and to all those who voted for you, and suffered because they supported you, you have insulted your own episcopal rank. In as much as you continue to function as a bishop, we can only assume that this “repentance” was just a crafty ploy to be taken back into communion with the Greek Church, but, of course, only with all your rights and authority, since, in fact, you are very ambitious (in this regard, the Greeks were correct).
If you really did consider your episcopal consecration to be a sin, then logically, you would have to put aside your episcopal rank, and retire to the monastery to repent until the end of your days. That would be true humility, unlike your feigned humility, which you have shown us here.
In November 2015, you wrote to Bishop Photius (of the Greek Synod) a letter condemning the stubbornness of the Russian bishops, Vladimir Moss, and Protopresbyter Victor Melehov (who is accused of everything wrong happening in our Russian Church). “I think,” you wrote, “that we should speak with them and explain the position of the GTOC regarding this issue, so that the RTOC does not form its decision on the basis of the writings of Vladimir Moss and the position formulated by Fr. Victor Melehov.”
Soon thereafter, you filed an official petition to enter into communion with the Greeks, the Cyprianites, and the Agafangelites, but they rejected you. No surprise here! Nobody needs ambitious defectors. They have no respect anywhere, and they are not to be trusted.
Since then, you act as if your formal association with us means nothing to you at all. Thus, it appears that you support the Omsk schismatics – the heretical Cyprianites (whose odious epistle was published on Lesna’s website), and who were deprived of their priestly rank by our Synod of Bishops for rejecting our confession of faith regarding the Moscow Patriarchate. Here, for example, are the pearls (confession of Faith) of the schism-leader of the Omsk schismatics-heretics, Saveliev, which he issued in his address to the Synod in June 2015:
“One never ceases to be surprised at the arrogance of people who have never been clergymen in “official Orthodoxy” for a single day, who have not performed a single sacrament, but shout more than anyone: “It is empty, there is no Grace, nothing takes place there!” How do you know that? You were not there. They should ask those who left the Moscow Patriarchate, if only for the sake of curiosity, what they were experiencing there. Were you experiencing something, or not feeling anything. I testify: when I left the Patriarchate 25 years ago, Grace was there in full measure in all the sacraments performed! I did not leave from Grace, but from the iniquities of the bishops; from the same Ecumenism at the local level, and from the impossibility of fighting all this from within! Yes, a quarter-century has passed, but to this day, those coming from the Patriarchate, whether laymen or clergy, testify to the same thing! ”
Thus, by taking under your omophorion the above-mentioned schismatic-heretics, who were defrocked for their canonical transgressions (essentially excommunicated), and concelebrating with them, actively preaching the heresy of Cyprianism as the teaching of the Church, you became a partaker in this heresy, and subject to the 11th canon of the Apostles.
Let us remind you, how at a meeting in the Lesna Monastery, in November 2018, between those seeking rapprochement, the so-called fragments of ROCOR, essentially identical to the schismatics who were deprived of their dignity for canonical crimes (i.e., your wards – the Omsk “clergy”), the following was stated:
“Both parties agree that Patriarch Tikhon’s Ukaz No. 362 is our common canonical foundation. Although the creators of Ukaz No. 362 had implied the territorial organizing principle of Church Districts/Diocese, however, under current circumstances, due to the loss of episcopal authority after the union of the majority of the ROCA’s bishops with the MP, Church Districts/Diocese can also be built on the principle of personal trust in a bishop. The clergy and laity have the right to determine how they organize themselves, which bishop to turn to in order to organize their church life, and it does not matter in which territory this bishop performs his ministry.”
This could be viewed by Orthodox people that you, and those like-minded with you, are recommending the rewriting of the Canons of the Universal Church! What is this, if not a new renovationism, which is much more dangerous than the renovationism promulgated during the years of the Bolshevik terror, and which is more like an attempt to ruin the unity of True Orthodox Christians, together with eroding the borders of Orthodoxy in preparation for the coming of the Antichrist? Is it for this that the Russian bishops gave you Apostolic succession?
We imperatively urge you to prudence – Bishop Akakije. You must be honest with us, the Russian bishops, and with your flock. Do you agree with the confession of Faith of our Church? Does the “Answer” of our Synod to the Omsk heretics express the Orthodox Faith or not? If so, then you must say this, support the Orthodox Faith, and condemn the heretics. If not, then you must say that, and with this explain your accomplished separation from us, teaming up with the Cyprianites and many pseudo-zealots who speak of the presence of Grace in the churches of World Orthodoxy, which you, at the same time, called in your interview (we quote): – “the satanic synagogue of the World Council of Churches, the main features of which is the Ecumenical-Sergian heresy.”
Your actions indicate that you are seeking recognition from any synod. Thus, you continue to show your instability, your confusion in Faith, and the betrayal of your benefactors, which ultimately increases distrust towards you. “Quo vadis, Akakije?” Remember: “A double-handed man,” says the Apostle James, “is unstable in all his ways.”
It is obvious, in spite of everything that we have done for you, a brother Church, over these years, you are waging a war against us, in order to provoke us into preposterous dialogues and useless polemics. So be it. We do not want war, but we will not allow our Church to be mocked. Our goal is but one: Orthodoxy, and not heresy, must be victorious in the end.
Synod of Bishops
Russian True Orthodox Church