Church Russian Orthodox Church

Caramasão

Robin
Orthodox Inquirer
Does anyone know if the Russian Orthodox church is active in bringing the gospel to the Mohammedan’s within Russia’s borders?

From the story below, it seems like Orthodox Russia is more interested in preventing the spread of a faith that professes Christian doctrines (Catholicism) than preventing the spread of a religion (Islam) that commands its followers to kill Christians (Surrah 9:29), that denies fundamental Christian doctrine, and whose daily recited prayers tell its followers to not be like the Christians (Surrah 1:6-7).

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lskdfjldsf

Pelican
Orthodox Catechumen
Gold Member
The main challenge Orthodoxy faces in Russia (and elsewhere) isn't Catholicism or Islam but irreligiosity. Stats bear this out -- high divorce rates, high abortion rates, low church attendance, low fertility, few people who view God as important in their lives. Other faiths take root thrive in this vacuum.

It reminds me of Germany during the refugee crisis; scores of Catholics protesting the replacement of Christianity with Islam, yet the pews in their countless cathedrals were occupied by only a handful of old women, with African or Asian priests imported to preside over them.

A healthy church with a religious population is self-evangelizing. I'd imagine their main focus is on clawing back from Soviet irreligiosity rather than converting Muslims.
 
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DanielH

Ostrich
Moderator
Orthodox

The first royal marriage in Russia in over 100 years took place between Grand Duke George Mikhailovich Romanov and his fiancee Victoria, who took the surname Romanovna after her conversion to Orthodoxy. God grant them many years!

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DRIIIVER

Sparrow
Orthodox Catechumen
Fr. Andrew Phillips and Fellow Clergy have Left ROCOR in England and have Joined the Archdiocese of Western Europe

[Excerpts from "Reflections on an International Scandal" by ArchPriest Andrew Phillips of St. John Orthodox Church in Colchester England]

"When on Wednesday 27 October, Bishop Irenei (Steenberg) issued his threats to defrock the 16 clergy who had quit his schism and found refuge in a canonical Diocese of the Moscow Patriarchate, we were forced to respond, after two months of self-imposed silence and being slandered. We had never wanted the issue to enter the public domain but others had done so, forcing us to reply publicly. Thus, with the specific blessing of Metropolitan Jean of Dubna, we issued our collective Statement on Thursday 28 October. This transformed the misinformation and misunderstandings that had prevailed among those who did not know the truth. One well-known Russian Orthodox priest in Continental Western Europe called the Statement, ‘a cornerstone of contemporary Orthodox theology’

Given the refusal to listen to our concerns and the reality here, and firmly believing, as ever, in a future Local Church of Western Europe, which faithfully follows the Russian Orthodox Tradition, where we are in full communion with each other and doing the will of His Holiness Patriarch Kyrill, we were left with no other course of action after repeated attempts to protect the faithful. This course was to ask for and receive the canonical protection of the jurisdiction of Metropolitan Jean of the Archdiocese of Western Europe.

This we received on 23 August 2021 despite the mysterious refusal of our former bishop (Bishop Irenei of London) to issue the requested letters of release, without any reason given. (Though he himself took six priests into his jurisdiction without even asking for letters of release from their bishops). Like Fr Seraphim Rose, who fought against Donatist ‘super-correctness’, I have battled for nearly half a century for the unity of the Russian Church, taking on all extremists on both fringes so that a new and authentic Local Church may be formed, which is why I firmly believe that our future is in the Patriarchally reunited Russian Orthodox Church in Western Europe, and not in schism. Somebody had to have the guts to stand up to this.

Therefore, all actions and tantrums taken against our exodus after it had taken place were canonically null and void, as the canonists agree. There had been nearly two years for dialogue before our exodus, in which time all discussion had been forbidden. Then all other channels for dialogue with other concerned bishops were tried. As regards the extraordinarily unChristian and defamatory and uncanonical self-justifying untruths published against all of us on the internet, such as that this grave ecclesiological and pastoral matter is simply a ‘personality issue’ or a ‘personal act of rebellion’ (sic!), and not an issue of theological, canonical, dogmatic, ecclesiological and pastoral principle for a very large group of people, these have been subject to further action and reported in full to the Church authorities. If sixteen clergy have ‘personality issues’ or are ‘rebellious’, then it would suggest that this is not personal, but theological, as it is. St Nicholas did not slap Arius in the face because of a ‘personality issue’ or as a ‘personal act of rebellion’. Obviously, no-one who has remained loyal to ROCOR for 32 years through thick and thin is rebellious.

As for putting clergy in a different diocese (!) ‘on trial’ (!) on ‘criminal charges’ (!), this is spiritual suicide for the self-appointed judge, jury and executioner. The allegations made are the same as those made against St John of Shanghai, when he left Europe for the USA and was called insane, slandered, put on trial and briefly deprived of his see, dying prematurely. So we are hardly surprised. We share in his sufferings precisely because we are his faithful children. This time has been a time of revelation, when all have shown their real selves. But the people are with us.

So this is really the end of the (long) 20th century, and the beginning of the 21st century for us. This will be the time when we have the historical opportunity to build the Church, not as the last representatives of a century that finished decades ago, but as people who are at the beginning of a new historical period. This sort of opportunity does not come around very often. The stance we have adopted, or rather been forced to adopt, is the beginning of the future, not a relic of the past.

May all be done according to God’s Will, as we all continue to pray:

‘For the peace of the whole world, the good estate of the holy churches of God and the union of all, let us pray to the Lord’"
.

- Archpriest Andrew Phillips

Read the entire article entitled "Reflections on an International Scandal" here. [3 NOV 2021]

Read the official "STATEMENT" (canonical/foundational) on the reasons for leaving ROCOR here. [30 SEPT 2021]

[Both are very long but well worth the read]
 
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DanielH

Ostrich
Moderator
Orthodox
Fr. Andrew Phillips and Fellow Clergy have Left ROCOR in England and have Joined the Archdiocese of Western Europe

[Excerpts from "Reflections on an International Scandal" by ArchPriest Andrew Phillips of St. John Orthodox Church in Colchester England]

"When on Wednesday 27 October, Bishop Irenei (Steenberg) issued his threats to defrock the 16 clergy who had quit his schism and found refuge in a canonical Diocese of the Moscow Patriarchate, we were forced to respond, after two months of self-imposed silence and being slandered. We had never wanted the issue to enter the public domain but others had done so, forcing us to reply publicly. Thus, with the specific blessing of Metropolitan Jean of Dubna, we issued our collective Statement on Thursday 28 October. This transformed the misinformation and misunderstandings that had prevailed among those who did not know the truth. One well-known Russian Orthodox priest in Continental Western Europe called the Statement, ‘a cornerstone of contemporary Orthodox theology’

Given the refusal to listen to our concerns and the reality here, and firmly believing, as ever, in a future Local Church of Western Europe, which faithfully follows the Russian Orthodox Tradition, where we are in full communion with each other and doing the will of His Holiness Patriarch Kyrill, we were left with no other course of action after repeated attempts to protect the faithful. This course was to ask for and receive the canonical protection of the jurisdiction of Metropolitan Jean of the Archdiocese of Western Europe.

This we received on 23 August 2021 despite the mysterious refusal of our former bishop (Bishop Irenei of London) to issue the requested letters of release, without any reason given. (Though he himself took six priests into his jurisdiction without even asking for letters of release from their bishops). Like Fr Seraphim Rose, who fought against Donatist ‘super-correctness’, I have battled for nearly half a century for the unity of the Russian Church, taking on all extremists on both fringes so that a new and authentic Local Church may be formed, which is why I firmly believe that our future is in the Patriarchally reunited Russian Orthodox Church in Western Europe, and not in schism. Somebody had to have the guts to stand up to this.

Therefore, all actions and tantrums taken against our exodus after it had taken place were canonically null and void, as the canonists agree. There had been nearly two years for dialogue before our exodus, in which time all discussion had been forbidden. Then all other channels for dialogue with other concerned bishops were tried. As regards the extraordinarily unChristian and defamatory and uncanonical self-justifying untruths published against all of us on the internet, such as that this grave ecclesiological and pastoral matter is simply a ‘personality issue’ or a ‘personal act of rebellion’ (sic!), and not an issue of theological, canonical, dogmatic, ecclesiological and pastoral principle for a very large group of people, these have been subject to further action and reported in full to the Church authorities. If sixteen clergy have ‘personality issues’ or are ‘rebellious’, then it would suggest that this is not personal, but theological, as it is. St Nicholas did not slap Arius in the face because of a ‘personality issue’ or as a ‘personal act of rebellion’. Obviously, no-one who has remained loyal to ROCOR for 32 years through thick and thin is rebellious.

As for putting clergy in a different diocese (!) ‘on trial’ (!) on ‘criminal charges’ (!), this is spiritual suicide for the self-appointed judge, jury and executioner. The allegations made are the same as those made against St John of Shanghai, when he left Europe for the USA and was called insane, slandered, put on trial and briefly deprived of his see, dying prematurely. So we are hardly surprised. We share in his sufferings precisely because we are his faithful children. This time has been a time of revelation, when all have shown their real selves. But the people are with us.

So this is really the end of the (long) 20th century, and the beginning of the 21st century for us. This will be the time when we have the historical opportunity to build the Church, not as the last representatives of a century that finished decades ago, but as people who are at the beginning of a new historical period. This sort of opportunity does not come around very often. The stance we have adopted, or rather been forced to adopt, is the beginning of the future, not a relic of the past.

May all be done according to God’s Will, as we all continue to pray:

‘For the peace of the whole world, the good estate of the holy churches of God and the union of all, let us pray to the Lord’"
.

- Archpriest Andrew Phillips

Read the entire article entitled "Reflections on an International Scandal" here. [3 NOV 2021]
Read the official "STATEMENT" (canonical/foundational) on the reasons for leaving ROCOR here. [30 SEPT 2021]
[Both are very long but well worth the read]
Why does the article claim ROCOR is in schism or uncanonical? I've never heard such a thing. How is it any less canonical than the MP, which it is under? Switching to be directly under Moscow seems like a matter for ROCOR and MP bishops to decide, not priests. I don't know the fullness of the situation but it seems strange from outside.
 

DRIIIVER

Sparrow
Orthodox Catechumen
Why does the article claim ROCOR is in schism or uncanonical? I've never heard such a thing. How is it any less canonical than the MP, which it is under? Switching to be directly under Moscow seems like a matter for ROCOR and MP bishops to decide, not priests. I don't know the fullness of the situation but it seems strange from outside.
If you have the time I recommend reading the posts linked at the bottom for context of the situation. They are very long, but informative. Overall it would seem that ROCOR is retracting and could possibly disappear in England as the urgency to form one "Local Orthodox Church" for Western Europe takes precedence over various jurisdictions.
 
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Hermetic Seal

Pelican
Orthodox
Gold Member
Although Fr. Andrew has done some valuable work related to liturgics and research/writing on the lives of the Saints of the British Isles, he has always struck me as somebody with supreme confidence in his own "rightness," always eager to opine on exactly how everything ought to be done in his voluminous writings. This is abundantly evident if you've been reading his blog, or any of his books, for a while.

Reading these documents, it seems clear that Fr. Andrew used the events surrounding the reception of Fr. Jacob Siemens to jump ship, throwing out wild accusations of ROCOR "going into schism." Reading what Bishop Irenei wrote, he voiced perfectly reasonable concerns about the reception of this priest, which Fr. Andrew proceeded to use as a basis to weave his dramatic account of events. Bishop Irenei may even be in the wrong and acting mistakenly, but it is hard for me to see how even this justify Fr. Andrew's actions. It seems rather that patiently waiting for Moscow to deal with the situation would be more appropriate.

These two dioceses have become increasingly isolated from mainstream Russian Orthodox unity and the past traditions of ROCOR, much to our distress. Even more there appear to be elements of Russophobia among their leadership.

These are, quite frankly, bold and outrageous claims and I'm trying to figure out why I should take the world of one idiosyncratic priest who's written literally millions of words over the past decades about exactly how he thinks things should be, over a more objective source.

On the other hand, the ROCOR bishop for Western Europe was a US citizen living in London, one who — although clearly possessing qualities suited to dealing with American college students converting from a politically highly conservative White US Protestant background — was not well-disposed to engaging with local British or European people, especially from non-academic walks of life.

The condescension is palpable.

We certainly need a bishop who understands the local cultures and local people, and not one from a different Continent, with little knowledge of the ways in which the geographies, histories and mentalities of the non-academic and non-Protestant peoples around him vastly differ from his own.

I bet St. John of San Francisco's critics said all the exact same things.

What this characteristically gargantuan editorial amounts to is basically, "ROCOR in Europe doesn't do things the way I would like, therefore I am jumping ship to greener pastures now that I have some sort of justification to do so."

The anachronistic separation and artificial differentiation from it through the imposition of a novel and alien sacramental theology, which is not part of the Russian Orthodox Tradition is clearly unhelpful.

this decree effectively created a permanent schism in which clergy and faithful of ROCOR in Western Europe are no longer de facto in sacramental communion with the Russian Orthodox Archdiocese of Western Europe.

This is an astounding leap of logic, a total interpolation of Fr. Andrew's ideas about why Bishop Irenei (who Fr. Andrew can rarely even bring himself to call by name) might have forbid concelebration with Fr. Jacob. We are only hearing one side of the story here. Again, even if Bishop Irenei might have been in the wrong, that doesn't justify immediately throwing ROCOR under the bus because a Bishop potentially made a wrong call.

Like Fr Seraphim Rose, who fought against Donatist ‘super-correctness’, I have battled for nearly half a century for the unity of the Russian Church, taking on all extremists on both fringes so that a new and authentic Local Church may be formed, which is why I firmly believe that our future is in the Patriarchally reunited Russian Orthodox Church in Western Europe, and not in schism. Somebody had to have the guts to stand up to this.

Such humility.

We have had to put our finger on *the* issue that nobody wanted to face up to – namely the clash between (intrinsically moderate, sensible) Russian traditions and (intrinsically extremist, sectarian) Greek Old Calendarist traditions, which have become so popular among some in the United States and in two or three other places.

Don't skip past this; he's basically calling all of us fanatics. Good thing we have Fr. Andrew who has all the right answers and the Exact Right Version Of Orthodoxy! Never mind that trying to tar conservative Orthodox in America in canonical jurisdictions who reject liberalizing elements such as covid novelties as being on par with Old Calendarist schismatics is completely outrageous.

Bottom line, you have a huge burden of proof to say that ROCOR has schismed from the Russian Church, which Fr. Andrew has not met. It is far more plausible that he is simply engaging in rebellion and discord in pursuit of his own agenda, which is not surprising at all if you've read his writings.

And let's recall from the response put out by ROCOR a few months ago:

Statements implying that their ‘reception’ into the Paris Archdiocese is valid or accepted by other parts of the Russian Orthodox Church is directly refuted by statements received from the local Diocese of the Moscow Patriarchate as well as the office of His Holiness the Patriarch this week, both of which categorically reject the anti-canonical actions undertaken and recognise that the clergymen and parish involved remain under the sole canonical jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, that these men remain clerics of the ROCOR, under whatever appropriate canonical suspensions or other responses it may issue.
Claims made by Archpriest Andrew in circulated correspondence, that his attempted departure from the Church of his obedience to another hierarch was done ‘with a Patriarchal blessing’, has been denied directly by the Patriarch’s office in written correspondence of this week, in which it is confirmed that His Holiness not only gave no such blessing, but knew nothing of Fr Andrew’s actions or intentions. The same correspondence reiterates that the position of the Moscow Patriarchate, with which we in the ROCOR and this Diocese are in the closest relationship and constant co-labours, is entirely in support of the canonical position of the Church Abroad in this matter. Efforts to portray this act of personal rebellion as if it were done in support of unity, or in the name of faithfulness to the Patriarch or Patriarchate, are entirely disingenuous and rejected by the Patriarchate directly.

If this is true (which, as an official publication of ROCOR Europe, I'll assume it is until given good reason to believe otherwise), it renders Fr. Andrew's actions null and void, and in rebellion and schism despite how good his justifications sound on the surface. His contortions in the "Statement" blog post just amount to trying to explain how ROCOR is in schism, and apparently Moscow hasn't figure it out yet (but he has!), thus justifying his actions.
 
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DRIIIVER

Sparrow
Orthodox Catechumen
Although Fr. Andrew has done some valuable work related to liturgics and research/writing on the lives of the Saints of the British Isles, he has always struck me as somebody with supreme confidence in his own "rightness," always eager to opine on exactly how everything ought to be done in his voluminous writings. This is abundantly evident if you've been reading his blog, or any of his books, for a while.

Reading these documents, it seems clear that Fr. Andrew used the events surrounding the reception of Fr. Jacob Siemens to jump ship, throwing out wild accusations of ROCOR "going into schism." Reading what Bishop Irenei wrote, he voiced perfectly reasonable concerns about the reception of this priest, which Fr. Andrew proceeded to use as a basis to weave his dramatic account of events. Bishop Irenei may even be in the wrong and acting mistakenly, but it is hard for me to see how even this justify Fr. Andrew's actions. It seems rather that patiently waiting for Moscow to deal with the situation would be more appropriate.



These are, quite frankly, bold and outrageous claims and I'm trying to figure out why I should take the world of one idiosyncratic priest who's written literally millions of words over the past decades about exactly how he thinks things should be, over a more objective source.



The condescension is palpable.



I bet St. John of San Francisco's critics said all the exact same things.

What this characteristically gargantuan editorial amounts to is basically, "ROCOR in Europe doesn't do things the way I would like, therefore I am jumping ship to greener pastures now that I have some sort of justification to do so."





This is an astounding leap of logic, a total interpolation of Fr. Andrew's ideas about why Bishop Irenei (who Fr. Andrew can rarely even bring himself to call by name) might have forbid concelebration with Fr. Jacob. We are only hearing one side of the story here. Again, even if Bishop Irenei might have been in the wrong, that doesn't justify immediately throwing ROCOR under the bus because a Bishop potentially made a wrong call.



Such humility.



Don't skip past this; he's basically calling all of us fanatics. Good thing we have Fr. Andrew who has all the right answers and the Exact Right Version Of Orthodoxy! Never mind that trying to tar conservative Orthodox in America in canonical jurisdictions who reject liberalizing elements such as covid novelties as being on par with Old Calendarist schismatics is completely outrageous.

Bottom line, you have a huge burden of proof to say that ROCOR has schismed from the Russian Church, which Fr. Andrew has not met. It is far more plausible that he is simply engaging in rebellion and discord in pursuit of his own agenda, which is not surprising at all if you've read his writings.

And let's recall from the response put out by ROCOR a few months ago:




If this is true (which, as an official publication of ROCOR Europe, I'll assume it is until given good reason to believe otherwise), it renders Fr. Andrew's actions null and void, and in rebellion and schism despite how good his justifications sound on the surface. His contortions in the "Statement" blog post just amount to trying to explain how ROCOR is in schism, and apparently Moscow hasn't figure it out yet (but he has!), thus justifying his actions.
For Context, this is the opening to the "STATEMENT" from the perspective of Fr. Andrew Phillips and Clergy:

Posted October 28th: Following the dramatic events yesterday [October 27th] when Bp Irenei threatened to defrock everyone for defending Orthodoxy, His Eminence Metropolitan Jean of Dubna has specifically blessed the publication of the following text on all media in order to counter all manner of untruths that have been circulated on the internet over the last two months. We have been forced into replying and our collective answer is here.

On the Reception of Clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia by the Moscow Patriarchate Archdiocese of Orthodox Churches of Russian Tradition in Western Europe.

1.
On 23 August 2021, a group of thirteen Russian Orthodox clergy in the United Kingdom (hereafter “the clergy”) moved from the ROCOR Diocese of Western Europe (hereafter “the ROCOR Diocese”) to the Moscow Patriarchate Archdiocese of Orthodox Churches of Russian Tradition in Western Europe (hereafter “the MP Archdiocese”).
This transfer was formally announced by the MP Archdiocese in its Communique of 3 September 2021:

Suite à leur demande instante et répétée ainsi qu’à leur Pétition, par économie canonique pour qu’ils puissent vivre en plénitude la grâce de l’Église orthodoxe, les 21 et 23 août dernier ont été reçus au sein de l’Archevêché des églises orthodoxes de tradition russe en Europe occidentale les communautés et les clercs du Royaume-Uni ci-dessous mentionnés: ... [Whereafter follow the names of the major clergy transferring from ROCOR to the MP Archdiocese.] Translated: "Following their urgent and repeated request as well as their Petition, out of canonical economy so that they can fully live the grace of the Orthodox Church, last August 21 and 23 were received within the Archdiocese of the Churches Orthodox of Russian tradition in Western Europe the communities and clerics of the United Kingdom below mentioned..."

2. This transfer was motivated by two principal factors. Firstly, the clergy sought to escape the situation of schism into which they had been placed by the ruling Bishop of the ROCOR Diocese, Bp Irenei Steenberg. Secondly, the clergy could not reconcile themselves either with the Bp Irenei’s attack upon Russian Orthodox tradition, or with anti-canonical actions of Bp Irenei, actions which greatly exceed the limits of his own canonical jurisdiction within the Church.

3. The clergy had hoped that their transfer would occur quietly and without controversy. Unfortunately, due to subsequent actions of Bp Irenei Steenberg and a small number of clergy within the ROCOR Diocese, this has not been possible. Various misrepresentations of this transfer have been circulated, online and in correspondence – most significantly the false assertion that this transfer did not take place in a canonical manner. Subsequent to their transfer, Bp Irenei himself, in violation of both the Holy Canons of the Orthodox Church and ROCOR’s own procedures, issued several of the clergy with notices of suspension and summons to appear before his Diocesan Court. To date, these recriminatory actions are ongoing.

4. In consequence, it has become necessary to prepare the following statement. This statement will have four components. (1) It will present the reasons for the transfer of the clergy from the ROCOR Diocese to the MP Archdiocese in August 2021. (2) It will correct the erroneous claim that the transfer of the clergy did not take place in a canonical manner. (3) It will highlight violations of the Holy Canons, ROCOR’s own procedures, and natural justice by Bp Irenei Steenberg and his Diocesan Court in Bp Irenei’s recriminatory actions against the clergy. (4) It will attempt to outline what is required to end the current schism into which the ROCOR Diocese has been placed by Bp Irenei, and what is needed for a constructive path forward.


I. The Reasons for the Transfer.

5. The transfer of clergy from the ROCOR Diocese to the MP Archdiocese was prompted by three issues: (i) the breach of ROCOR’s sacramental communion and canonical unity with the MP Archdiocese in the United Kingdom in January 2021; (ii) the non-canonical action of the ROCOR Bishop of Western Europe in publicly judging clergy outwith his jurisdiction in February 2021; and (iii) the statement of intention to cease ROCOR’s sacramental communion with the Diocese of Sourozh, in April 2021.

(i) The Schism of ROCOR from the MP Archdiocese in the United Kingdom.

6. On 17 December 2020, Metr John of Dubna, the ruling Metropolitan of the MP Archdiocese, received the Greek Catholic Priest, Fr Jacob Siemens into the ranks of its clergy at the Cathedral of St Alexander Nevsky in Paris. In receiving Fr Jacob, Metr John did not perform a reordination, but rather received Fr Jacob by vesting and concelebration.

7. Upon learning of this event, the ruling Bishop of the ROCOR Diocese, Bp Irenei Steenberg, rejected the reception of Fr Jacob Siemens by vesting and concelebration. In his Directive № 359/E, dated 23 January 2021, Bp Irenei stated that it is absolutely impossible for a Catholic Priest to be received into the Orthodox Church as a Priest by vesting and concelebration:


... the ‘reception’ on 4th / 17th December 2020 by the Archdiocese of an heterodox individual by the name of James [sic] Siemens, resident in the environs of Cardiff, Wales, purportedly into the ranks of the Holy Orthodox clergy but in a manner that appears to us to be in violation of the Holy Orthodox Canons as well as the firm practices of the Russian Orthodox Church as a whole: namely, that this individual, who was a Ukrainian Catholic Uniate priest, was ‘received’ into Orthodoxy apart from the sacramental measures of Baptism or Chrismation, and further, was thereafter acknowledged as an Orthodox Priest, without having an Orthodox ordination. While the former situation (reception into Orthodoxy ‘by confession’) is canonically highly irregular, but not an entirely unprecedented misapplication by economia of the canonical measures meant to apply to one who has an Orthodox baptism/chrismation and returns from schism (in this case, improperly applying it to a man who never had either), the latter issue, or ‘recognising’ a heterodox ordination as if it constituted the establishment of a man as an Orthodox priest, is wholly uncanonical and goes against the most basic foundations of the Holy Orthodox Church, to whose true nature we are called to be obedient and, when it is challenged, to defend, for the sake of the faithful.

8. In the same Directive № 359/E, of 23 January 2021, Bp Irenei Steenberg responded to the MP Archdiocese’s reception of Fr Jacob Siemens by formally directing his clergy (in boldface), as follows:

You may neither concelebrate nor participate liturgically, or in any ecclesiastical measure, with the aforementioned James Siemens, nor with any clergy or local institutions of the Archdiocese / Exarchate in the British Isles. Further, if You have any spiritual children or parishioners who at times have attended Exarchate parishes in the UK for reasons of proximity, etc., you must inform them that until this matter is resolved, they may not receive the Sacraments at any parish of the Exarchate in the British Isles. [1]
9. With this Directive, Bp Irenei Steenberg ruptured the unity of the Russian Orthodox Church in the British Isles. On the one hand, since there can be no sacramental communion without concelebration and liturgical participation, Bp Irenei’s Directive to forbid the concelebration and liturgical participation of ROCOR with the MP Archdiocese in the British Isles amounted ipso facto to a rupture of ROCOR’s sacramental communion with the MP Archdiocese in the British Isles. On the other hand, since canonical unity is realised precisely through reciprocal ecclesiastical measures, there can be no canonical unity between two Dioceses or Churches without both participating in such common ecclesiastical measures. As such, Bp Irenei’s Directive to forbid all ROCOR participation in any ecclesiastical measure with the MP Archdiocese amount ipso facto to a rupture of ROCOR’s canonical unity with the MP Archdiocese in the British Isles. And since a rupture of sacramental communion and canonical unity is a schism, Bp Irenei’s Directive to effect a rupture of ROCOR’s sacramental communion and canonical unity with the MP Archdiocese in the UK amounted to the initiation of a schism of ROCOR from the MP Archdiocese in the British Isles.

10. Bp Irenei Steenberg’s decision to initiate a schism with the MP Archdiocese on this basis could not be accepted by the clergy.

10.1. Principally, as Russian Orthodox Christians, the clergy could not accept Bp Irenei Steenberg’s absolute dogmatic denial of the reception of Catholic Priests into the Russian Orthodox Church by vesting and concelebration. For the reception of Catholic Priests in this manner is entirely standard practice in the Russian Orthodox Church. Indicatively:


  • The MP Archdiocese receives Catholic clergy by vesting and concelebration, as witnessed for example by the reception of Fr Jacob Siemens by Metr John of Dubna.
  • The Moscow Patriarchate receives Catholic clergy by vesting and concelebration, as was the case for example with the reception of Hmk Gabriel Bunge by Metr Hilarion (Alfeev) of Volokolamsk.
  • Hierarchs of the Russian emigration, such as St Tikhon of Moscow, Metr Evlogy (Georgievsky), and Abp Georges (Wagner) all consistently received Catholic Priests by vesting and concelebration.
  • It was through vesting and concelebration that St Alexis (Toth) of Wilkes-Barre, and the many Catholic Priests who followed him, were received from Catholicism into the Russian Orthodox Church.
_______________________________________________________________________________

I do not have the wisdom to know the hearts or spirit of each of these men nor the discernment to make any determination. I am simply hoping that the truth in its entirety can be revealed so that the Church in England can move forward in peace.
 
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orthoaussie2121

Sparrow
Orthodox
Although Fr. Andrew has done some valuable work related to liturgics and research/writing on the lives of the Saints of the British Isles, he has always struck me as somebody with supreme confidence in his own "rightness," always eager to opine on exactly how everything ought to be done in his voluminous writings. This is abundantly evident if you've been reading his blog, or any of his books, for a while.

Reading these documents, it seems clear that Fr. Andrew used the events surrounding the reception of Fr. Jacob Siemens to jump ship, throwing out wild accusations of ROCOR "going into schism." Reading what Bishop Irenei wrote, he voiced perfectly reasonable concerns about the reception of this priest, which Fr. Andrew proceeded to use as a basis to weave his dramatic account of events. Bishop Irenei may even be in the wrong and acting mistakenly, but it is hard for me to see how even this justify Fr. Andrew's actions. It seems rather that patiently waiting for Moscow to deal with the situation would be more appropriate.



These are, quite frankly, bold and outrageous claims and I'm trying to figure out why I should take the world of one idiosyncratic priest who's written literally millions of words over the past decades about exactly how he thinks things should be, over a more objective source.



The condescension is palpable.



I bet St. John of San Francisco's critics said all the exact same things.

What this characteristically gargantuan editorial amounts to is basically, "ROCOR in Europe doesn't do things the way I would like, therefore I am jumping ship to greener pastures now that I have some sort of justification to do so."





This is an astounding leap of logic, a total interpolation of Fr. Andrew's ideas about why Bishop Irenei (who Fr. Andrew can rarely even bring himself to call by name) might have forbid concelebration with Fr. Jacob. We are only hearing one side of the story here. Again, even if Bishop Irenei might have been in the wrong, that doesn't justify immediately throwing ROCOR under the bus because a Bishop potentially made a wrong call.



Such humility.



Don't skip past this; he's basically calling all of us fanatics. Good thing we have Fr. Andrew who has all the right answers and the Exact Right Version Of Orthodoxy! Never mind that trying to tar conservative Orthodox in America in canonical jurisdictions who reject liberalizing elements such as covid novelties as being on par with Old Calendarist schismatics is completely outrageous.

Bottom line, you have a huge burden of proof to say that ROCOR has schismed from the Russian Church, which Fr. Andrew has not met. It is far more plausible that he is simply engaging in rebellion and discord in pursuit of his own agenda, which is not surprising at all if you've read his writings.

And let's recall from the response put out by ROCOR a few months ago:




If this is true (which, as an official publication of ROCOR Europe, I'll assume it is until given good reason to believe otherwise), it renders Fr. Andrew's actions null and void, and in rebellion and schism despite how good his justifications sound on the surface. His contortions in the "Statement" blog post just amount to trying to explain how ROCOR is in schism, and apparently Moscow hasn't figure it out yet (but he has!), thus justifying his actions.
I have been reading Fr Andrew's blog for many years. I believe your critique to be 100% correct.
 

Hermetic Seal

Pelican
Orthodox
Gold Member
That is good orthoaussie, because I admit that I am new to all this, relatively speaking, and admit I lack broader perspective. I don't claim to be an expert about canon law and the "legal" issues involved in this dispute, and again, I think there are real issues that ought to be addressed. But I am inclined to take the word of the "official" ROCOR sources over that of one idiosyncratic priest.

This interview with Antiochian priest Fr. Gregory Hallam has a blurb in it that came to mind during this whole affair (the whole interview is worth reading, too):

7.) Should consider that the Russian emigration has contributed mostly to the rebirth of English Orthodoxy in the UK?

Father Andrew Phillips thinks so, but he is wrong. He is deeply in love with Moscow and cannot apparently find any good anywhere else! The Orthodox Church is ONE and we can do without this ethnic fetish, which sadly even some Englishmen practice.
 

DRIIIVER

Sparrow
Orthodox Catechumen

From Cardiff to New York and Moscow: How in One Tragic Year a Local Schism Was Spread Worldwide

Update on the situation regarding developing schism by ROCOR Bishop of London Irenei Steenberg, written by Fr. Andrew Phillips, who along with others, was taken in by Bishop John of Dubna of the Russian Orthodox Church:

EXCERPT: "For over two years now we have prayed daily to St John of Shanghai and Western Europe for help against our persecutor. After twelve years as our Archbishop in Europe, in 1962 St John was sent from here to resolve a financial scandal in the USA. There the future Fr Seraphim (Rose) was received into ROCOR by chrismation. There the future St John was put on trial by certain ROCOR bishops and their allies, with the result that within three years he had died. This latest sorry saga, so unnecessary, is just another example of how those who stand up for the Faith are persecuted. The persecutors are in fact anti-Mainstream, anti-Orthodox and anti-Russian.

We were the first to become aware of all the details, intentions and repercussions of the Irenei Schism. That is why we acted before others. Still today, most are in ignorance, still unaware of what has been happening in their Church. However, as all becomes public, all the remaining clergy and people of ROCOR who wish to keep faith with the Russian Orthodox Church, the Church of St Tikhon of Moscow, St Alexis of Wilkes-Barre, St Jonah of Hankow, St Seraphim of Boguchar and St John of Shanghai, may also have to quit the rebellion of schismatic bishops. Then they too can return to canonical communion with the Russian Orthodox Church in one of the local groups which faithfully represents it."


READ THE ENTIRE POST HERE
 

OrthoSerb

Robin
Orthodox

From Cardiff to New York and Moscow: How in One Tragic Year a Local Schism Was Spread Worldwide

Update on the situation regarding developing schism by ROCOR Bishop of London Irenei Steenberg, written by Fr. Andrew Phillips, who along with others, was taken in by Bishop John of Dubna of the Russian Orthodox Church:

EXCERPT: "For over two years now we have prayed daily to St John of Shanghai and Western Europe for help against our persecutor. After twelve years as our Archbishop in Europe, in 1962 St John was sent from here to resolve a financial scandal in the USA. There the future Fr Seraphim (Rose) was received into ROCOR by chrismation. There the future St John was put on trial by certain ROCOR bishops and their allies, with the result that within three years he had died. This latest sorry saga, so unnecessary, is just another example of how those who stand up for the Faith are persecuted. The persecutors are in fact anti-Mainstream, anti-Orthodox and anti-Russian.

We were the first to become aware of all the details, intentions and repercussions of the Irenei Schism. That is why we acted before others. Still today, most are in ignorance, still unaware of what has been happening in their Church. However, as all becomes public, all the remaining clergy and people of ROCOR who wish to keep faith with the Russian Orthodox Church, the Church of St Tikhon of Moscow, St Alexis of Wilkes-Barre, St Jonah of Hankow, St Seraphim of Boguchar and St John of Shanghai, may also have to quit the rebellion of schismatic bishops. Then they too can return to canonical communion with the Russian Orthodox Church in one of the local groups which faithfully represents it."


READ THE ENTIRE POST HERE
At this point Father Andrew is regurgitating the same material over and over again. There's little new in any of this latest post. He does have a track record of repeatedly posting on the same topic multiple times. As other commentators have noted he does have a history of questionable judgement when it comes to posting things on his website. My personal criticism is that a lot of his accusations are not very direct and undermine character without actually giving any specific evidence. The insinuation in one of his previous posts that ROCOR is Russophobic without any example would be typical of this. Also he tends to flip flop a lot on certain topics. Historically he has been quite dismissive of St Sophrony, describing him as a "former Hindu". I always found this quite low as St Sophrony dabbled in eastern mysticism as a youth, prior to his decision to repent and become a monk. You can hardly hold that against him if he's repented and completely turned his life around, dedicating it to God. He was also very negative on the Archdiocese based in Paris, accusing them of modernism, dying out etc. Now he's done a 180 degree turn and joined the Archdiocese whilst emphasising how he venerated St Sophrony's icon in Paris when he was received into it (Archbishop Jean's spiritual father was the then Archimandrite Sophrony). It's difficult to keep up with him.

I've met both Father Andrew and Bishop Irinei, although I can't claim to know them well on a personal level. Both were very welcoming when I visited their respective parishes. It's unfortunate that it has come to this split.
 
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Hermetic Seal

Pelican
Orthodox
Gold Member
Again, we're only seeing one side of the story, from an extremely biased source with a personal conflict of interest, in an article marked by pretentious and self-aggrandizing statements like:

Archpriest Andrew Phillips, long known for his struggles for Russian Orthodox unity and his equal rejection of all extremes, both of new calendarism, with its old-fashioned modernism, anti-spiritual ecumenism and free-for-all liberalism, and of old calendarism, with its insecure pseudo-traditionalism, aggressive sectarianism and censorious phariseeism, at last publishes his response to the persecution...

While it does sound like there are real canonical issues involved here, I'm not convinced that this isn't ultimately a fairly minor molehill being turned into a mountain by Fr. Andrew to justify his desire to migrate to where the grass is seemingly greener in pursuit of his ideal, perfect version of Orthodoxy. Isn't not concelebrating a mild form of dispute between jurisdictions? Fr. Andrew's post creates the impression that the situation between ROCOR and the Paris exarchate is synonymous with severing communion between them, which strikes me as dishonest. There's clearly a dispute, but I don't trust Fr. Andrew to objectively evaluate or report it.

However, as all becomes public, all the remaining clergy and people of ROCOR who wish to keep faith with the Russian Orthodox Church, the Church of St Tikhon of Moscow, St Alexis of Wilkes-Barre, St Jonah of Hankow, St Seraphim of Boguchar and St John of Shanghai, may also have to quit the rebellion of schismatic bishops. Then they too can return to canonical communion with the Russian Orthodox Church in one of the local groups which faithfully represents it.

In other words, better leave ROCOR like I did or you're in schism. This is absolutely outrageous grandstanding, and Fr. Andrew's pompous and condescending tone makes me ill inclined to regard him as doing anything other than pursuing his own self-interest. Again, I am much more interested in objective sources, and what ROCOR itself says in response to these matters.
 

OrthoSerb

Robin
Orthodox
While it does sound like there are real canonical issues involved here, I'm not convinced that this isn't ultimately a fairly minor molehill being turned into a mountain by Fr. Andrew to justify his desire to migrate to where the grass is seemingly greener in pursuit of his ideal, perfect version of Orthodoxy. Isn't not concelebrating a mild form of dispute between jurisdictions? Fr. Andrew's post creates the impression that the situation between ROCOR and the Paris exarchate is synonymous with severing communion between them, which strikes me as dishonest. There's clearly a dispute, but I don't trust Fr. Andrew to objectively evaluate or report it.

In other words, better leave ROCOR like I did or you're in schism. This is absolutely outrageous grandstanding, and Fr. Andrew's pompous and condescending tone makes me ill inclined to regard him as doing anything other than pursuing his own self-interest. Again, I am much more interested in objective sources, and what ROCOR itself says in response to these matters.
Can't really disagree with this. It's almost like he's trying to escalate the issue and make the implications as broad as possible. Suddenly there are schismatics everywhere in his previous jurisdiction, though he never mentioned them before. I'm sure he'd claim that he's merely the messenger and previously his hands were tied. But he's not a particularly convincing or effective messenger. What with the history of changing stances and innuendos/accusations without evidence. And now the repetitive self-justification. Looking at fairly recent Saints and how they reacted under genuine persecution, there is barely any self justification whatsoever (St John of Shanghai and San Francisco, St Nektarios of Aegina).
 

nagareboshi

Kingfisher
Orthodox
Does anyone have recommendations for systematically curated Russian Church content, in the Russian language with English subtitles? For example, my impression is that the reposed Father Daniel Sysoev created a lot of highly-edifying media content, but only a small amount of it is translated into English:



Anything like documentary series, or translated sermons, etc.
 

DRIIIVER

Sparrow
Orthodox Catechumen

From Cardiff to New York and Moscow: How in One Tragic Year a Local Schism Was Spread Worldwide

Update on the situation regarding developing schism by ROCOR Bishop of London Irenei Steenberg, written by Fr. Andrew Phillips, who along with others, was taken in by Bishop John of Dubna of the Russian Orthodox Church:

EXCERPT: "For over two years now we have prayed daily to St John of Shanghai and Western Europe for help against our persecutor. After twelve years as our Archbishop in Europe, in 1962 St John was sent from here to resolve a financial scandal in the USA. There the future Fr Seraphim (Rose) was received into ROCOR by chrismation. There the future St John was put on trial by certain ROCOR bishops and their allies, with the result that within three years he had died. This latest sorry saga, so unnecessary, is just another example of how those who stand up for the Faith are persecuted. The persecutors are in fact anti-Mainstream, anti-Orthodox and anti-Russian.

We were the first to become aware of all the details, intentions and repercussions of the Irenei Schism. That is why we acted before others. Still today, most are in ignorance, still unaware of what has been happening in their Church. However, as all becomes public, all the remaining clergy and people of ROCOR who wish to keep faith with the Russian Orthodox Church, the Church of St Tikhon of Moscow, St Alexis of Wilkes-Barre, St Jonah of Hankow, St Seraphim of Boguchar and St John of Shanghai, may also have to quit the rebellion of schismatic bishops. Then they too can return to canonical communion with the Russian Orthodox Church in one of the local groups which faithfully represents it."


READ THE ENTIRE POST HERE
I did not have the intention of this post causing a stumbling block and encouraging others to disparage either Fr. Andrew or Bishop Irenei. I thought this sub forum was for current events in the Russian Orthodox Church.

As @Roosh has updated the guidelines for the Public Figures forum perhaps that should also be applied to all other sub forums, especially when we are speaking about current clergy in good standing and not excommunicated from the Church in any way.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us!
 

DRIIIVER

Sparrow
Orthodox Catechumen

STATEMENT OF METROPOLITAN JEAN OF DUBNA

On the Reception of Clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia by the Moscow Patriarchate Archdiocese of Orthodox Churches of Russian Tradition in Western Europe.



Update on the situation regarding developing schism by ROCOR Diocese of Western Europe Bishop of London Irenei Steenberg from the Moscow Patriarchate Archdiocese of Orthodox Churches of Russian Tradition, written by Fr. Andrew Phillips and Bishop John of Dubna:

13.1.
The clergy could not accept the judgment of Fr Jacob Siemens as a “non-priest,” for reasons following from those stated above (paragraph 10.1). Just as Fr Jacob was a Catholic Priest received into the Orthodox Priesthood through vesting and concelebration, so too (to take one example of many) was St Alexis of Wilkes-Barre a Catholic Priest received into the Orthodox Priesthood through vesting and concelebration. By the logic of Bp Irenei Steenberg’s judgment, were it the case that, owing to his manner of reception, Fr Jacob was not a Priest but a “non-Priest” exercising a sacramentally fictitious ministry, then so too would St Alexis of Wilkes-Barre have been a “non-Priest” who spent the entirety of the Orthodox clerical service – a service for which the Russian Orthodox Church recognises him as a saint – exercising a sacramentally fictitious ministry. Such a position, however, is unacceptable, as it is a direct rejection of the authenticity of the ministry of a canonised Russian Orthodox saint. As Russian Orthodox Christians, the clergy could not accept any judgment entailing such a consequence, and as such they could not accept the content of Bp Irenei’s judgment of Fr Jacob Siemens.

13.2. Nor could the clergy accept Bp Irenei Steenberg’s judgment – however explicitly or implicitly stated – that Hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church, such as Metr John of Dubna, are guilty of “spiritual deception” when they recognise the Priesthood of Russian Orthodox Priests received from Catholicism by vesting and concelebration. For, were Metr John of Dubna guilty on this basis of “spiritual deception,” then so too (in light of paragraph 10.1, above) would St Tikhon of Moscow, Metr Evlogy (Georgievsky), Abp Georges (Wagner), Metr Hilarion of Volokolamsk, and many other Russian Orthodox Hierarchs be guilty of “spiritual deception” – since they too recognise as Orthodox Priests those Priests who were received from Catholicism by vesting and concelebration. But such a judgment – which judges even canonised Russian Orthodox saints to be guilty of “spiritual deception” – is not only incompatible with Russian Orthodox tradition, but is a direct attack upon Russian Orthodox tradition. As Russian Orthodox Christians, the clergy could not accept any judgment entailing such a consequence, and as such they could not accept the content of Bp Irenei Steenberg’s judgment of Metr John of Dubna as guilty of “spiritual deception.”

13.3. Moreover, just as the clergy could not accept the content of Bp Irenei Steenberg’s public judgments regarding Fr Jacob Siemens and Metr John of Dubna, neither could they accept the fact that Bp Irenei had issued such public judgments at all. For, as attested by, indicatively, Canon 14 of the Protodeutera Synod, Canon 2 of the Second Ecumenical Synod, and Canon 13 of the Synod of Antioch, it is a general principle of canonical order in the Orthodox Church that each Hierarch respect the limits of his own jurisdiction:

Each [Bishop] needs to know his own due limits … [2]
Bishops are not to go beyond their jurisdiction to Churches lying beyond the limits of that jurisdiction, so that there be no confusion of the Churches … [3]
Let no Bishop dare to go from one Eparchy to another … unless, having been called upon to do so, he arrive with letters from the Metropolitan and from the Bishops into whose territory he goes. If, without being called by anyone, a Bishop depart in an irregular manner to … impose himself on ecclesiastical matters which are not for him to be concerned with, then the things done by him shall be void; and, for his irregularity, he shall be subject to punishment for his unreasonable undertaking, being immediately deposed by the Holy Synod.[4]
However, neither Fr Jacob Siemens nor Metr John of Dubna are clergy under Bp Irenei Steenberg’s jurisdiction. Indeed, not only are neither clergy within Bp Irenei’s own ROCOR Diocese, but neither are clergy within ROCOR at all. And as such, Bp Irenei had no canonical jurisdiction to pass public summary judgment on either. Rather, any concerns which Bp Irenei had about either Fr Jacob Siemens or Metr John of Dubna ought to have been referred by him to the appropriate body which does possess the canonical jurisdiction to judge the matter of concern. In the case of Fr Jacob, this would mean referring the concern to Fr Jacob’s Diocesan Bishop; whilst in the case of Metr John, it would mean referring the concern to the Archiepiscopal Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate. Then, in each case, having referred the matter, Bp Irenei should have left it with the body in question to investigate and pass judgment (or indeed, to decide whether or not to pass judgment at all). However, by failing to follow the canonical path, but instead choosing to pass summary judgment upon Fr Jacob and Metr John, Bp Irenei acted ultra vires, assuming for himself the jurisdiction that belongs (in the one case) to the Metropolitan of the Moscow Patriarchate, and (in the other case) to the Archiepiscopal Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate. And, as Russian Orthodox Christians, faithful to the canonical structure of the Russian Orthodox Church, the clergy could not accept such anti-canonical action on the part of Bp Irenei – action whose anti-canonical nature is of such gravity that Canon 13 of the Synod of Antioch (quoted above) requires punishment with deposition.

Read the Statement in Full HERE:

Again this is an issue I hope is resolved and communion between both jurisdictions can once again be at peace. I pray that Christ is glorified through this situation and all involved might act in humility and in the best interest of the Church and Her people.
 
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