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DOCUMENT: Letter from Archpriest Viktor Potapov ROCOR-(L), Washington DC at an online conference of the ROCOR clergy regarding the scandalous consecration of Archimandrite Peter (Lukyanov)

Dear fathers and brothers,


A little less than a week ago, Father John Shaw sent out to various persons a brief report on the episcopal consecration of Archimandrite Peter Lukyanov . On July 14, the information website www.portal-credo.ru , hostile to the ROCOR (associated with the name of the self-proclaimed Metropolitan of Suzdal Valentin, the head of the “Synods” that our Church Abroad directly or indirectly helped create in Russia) translated the father’s report word for word John, citing his correspondent in Chicago. The report was reprinted by another website, also hostile to ROCOR, www.vertograd.ru , with the addition that the person shouting “anaxios” wanted to clarify the ecclesiological views of the candidate, who has a reputation as a “moderate ecumenist.” Of course, I know very well that Fr. John is not a correspondent for either Portal-Credo.Ru or Vertograd, but I find it remarkable that people in Moscow somehow quickly received and published a message about the consecration. In his message from Chicago, Fr. John informed us that at the consecration [July 12] “there was an unknown brawler who tried to interfere with the service. He was asked to leave.”


At first glance, one might think that the “unknown brawler” (“heckler”) (who, by the way, was wearing a cassock) was politely asked to leave the church.In fact, this was not the case. In fact, in the presence of hundreds of pilgrims, the new bishop's two older brothers and others literally forcibly dragged the so-called "heckler" into the street. "The Heckler" spent the rest of the day in the hospital's emergency room, where he was taken and where he was given first aid and a bandage on his arm.On the grounds that they had received a victim of violence, hospital staff called the police, who interrogated the “heckler” and drew up a report. On July 15, the heckler returned to a hospital in Minneapolis complaining of neck and shoulder pain and was told that he had two damaged cervical vertebrae and a dislocated neck. He spent two days in the clinic.


At the moment, everyone to whom this letter is addressed knows that this “heckler”, whom Fr. John stubbornly refused to name him - Valentin Shcheglovsky. Valentine, who lives with his family in Minneapolis, is a 63-year-old ordained subdeacon and member of the parish council of St. Panteleimon.All his life he was a respected member of the ROCOR, who for many years worked tirelessly at the Russian Orthodox youth camp in Vladimirovo, (near Chicago), which was founded by the late Archbishop Seraphim. I have personally known Subdeacon Valentin for at least forty years.


Why was he forcibly expelled from the Cathedral of the Intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary? Because he dared to exercise his right as an Orthodox Christian and three times declared “anaxios” (i.e. “unworthy”). He was expelled because he dared to openly declare in the face of the Church that the person being ordained to the rank of bishop was unworthy of this rank. Father John Shaw, who, to my knowledge, did not speak with Mr. Shcheglovsky either during or after the consecration, stated several times that the “heckler” exclaimed “anaxios” because he did not agree with the ecclesiological views of Bishop Peter.


I spoke with Mr. Shcheglovsky several times after the incident in Chicago. Contrary to the statement of Fr. John, he exclaimed “anaxios” not because of differences in ecclesiology, but because he was convinced of the veracity of the accusations that Archimandrite Peter was morally unstable, which made him unworthy of consecration.In other words, Valentin Shcheglovsky proclaimed “anaxios”, caring for the moral purity of the Church.


This is what Valentin wrote to priest Vladimir Boykov: “I am not proud of the fact that I spoke out - it was my duty not to remain silent at the moment of the last opportunity, when, in accordance with my understanding of the Holy Canons, it was possible to challenge the unfortunate decision imposed by one group of our bishops on the rest I donot regret it, and, despite the various difficulties and difficulties that are just being read, I would do it again. Our previous bishops would not have allowed this terrible shame and mockery.


You're asking what people who know me in Chicago think?Do you mean those who, in order not to be unnoticed, were present at the “bright holiday” and subsequent gala celebrations? Some have openly avoided me lest I have a detrimental influence on them, while others say one thing and do another. Even a couple of my close friends (40 years of friendship) here in Minneapolis started acting like I had the plague or something worse, and this was only two days after the “event.”I'll be ostracized, I can already feel it. From time to time I remember the sad words of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas (on the day of his forced abdication): “There is treason, cowardice and deception all around.” I say this simply as a statement of fact, without sadness and even with some humor. However, I am saddened by the fact that all attempts to prevent shame have been unsuccessful. May the Lord have mercy on us all!With love in Christ,Valya."


Some clerics believe that Valentin Shcheglovsky is a mentally unstable person who was under the influence of a certain “senior archpriest.” But he is far from alone in questioning the moral purity of the new bishop. He was sincere in his actions and took seriously his right and responsibility to voice his opposition to the consecration.


Ordination to the clergy in the Orthodox Church requires not only the laying on of hands by the bishop, but also the consent of the entire Church - the people of God. During the rite of ordination, the laity proclaim their agreement with the ordination, declaring that the candidate is worthy, by shouting "axios" three times.

But if someone does not agree with the dedication, tries to draw the attention of church authorities to his opinion, and is ignored?


What can he do but come to church and proclaim “unworthy!”Valentin Shcheglovsky did this not only for himself, but also for all those in the ROCOR who do not agree with the ordination of Fr. Petra. In various Internet conferences, Subdeacon Valentinus was ridiculed for proclaiming “anaxios.” What can be said about the violence that was carried out within the walls of the cathedral? Why has no one condemned such shameful behavior?In the official message sent to the ROCOR website, the incident with “anaxios” was not even mentioned, although much was said about the beautiful singing of the Trisagion and the threefold exclamation of “axios!”


This is reminiscent of the reports that we once read on the pages of the Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate. Apart from the short letter quoted above, it was too painful for Valentin Shcheglovsky to write anything more substantive about why he did what he did. A more detailed personal explanation is yet to come.I would not be surprised to learn that some of you would prefer not to hear what I have to say and to pass over in silence the fact that our Church, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, is in a state of deepest crisis.Only a blind person would deny the existence of the crisis, but few seem to understand its depth and scale. The ordination in Chicago is nothing less than a clear manifestation of this crisis. There is a temptation to always prefer “peace” and tranquility to truth, efficiency to honesty, human glory to the will of God.The sacred duty of the clergy is to protect the purity of the Church in this world, even if it is not considered convenient or “appropriate.”


But let's get back to the point. The candidacy of Archimandrite Peter for bishop was already discussed when Metropolitan Vitaly was First Hierarch, but it was rejected because the Metropolitan firmly opposed it, publicly declaring that he, Metropolitan Vitaly, would not allow such a consecration while he was alive.


The minutes document that this year five bishops (Gabriel, Agapitus, Ambrose, Eutyches, Agathangel) of our tiny Council of Bishops were against the candidacy of Archimandrite Peter and that one (Seraphim) abstained. Why did almost half of the Council of Bishops vote against or abstain?A number of clerics commented on this in such a way that if there had been any evidence against the nomination of Archimandrite Peter to the bishopric, it would have been presented long before the consecration took place. IT WAS!


Several years ago, a number of priests, including myself, made a statement. Repeatedly I spoke about this matter with Metropolitan Vitaly, Bishops Gregory (Grabbe), Mark, Hilarion, Alipius and Gabriel. Before the consecration, bishops, priests and laity called and wrote to Metropolitan Laurus, urging him to cancel the consecration.


Their requests were ignored. In a letter to Metropolitan Laurus, which I faxed to him a few days before the consecration, I urged His Eminence to gather Father Peter’s opponents together and listen to them. I said that if it turns out that they are lying, the Synod of Bishops can and should punish them in full accordance with ecclesiastical jurisprudence. I have not received a reply. The rite of consecration continued, despite the fact that the exclamation “anaxios” raises serious doubts about its canonicity.


The 9th rule of the First Ecumenical Council reads: “If some were promoted to presbyters without testing, or even though they confessed their sins during testing, but after their confession, people moved against the rule and laid hands on them: the rule does not allow such people to serve in the priesthood. For The Catholic Church absolutely demands integrity."


In the interpretation of this canon we read:


The Catholic Church demands and desires that priests be blameless or, in other words, free from the burden of sins, just as the Apostle Paul instills what a bishop should be, saying: “Let the bishop be blameless” (ITim. 3:2) or, in others in words not only beyond reproach under the law, but also entirely blameless and free from any imputation as to his moral character.Canon 59 (61 in the Russian edition) of the Carthage Council reads: “It is appropriate to determine this: if we begin to elect a bishop and some controversy arises, since we had such cases under consideration, it will be bold for the three only to gather together for the justification of the one who is about to be ordained: but Let one or two bishops be added to the above-mentioned number, and in the presence of the people to whom the one elected is to be appointed, firstly let there be an investigation into the persons who disprove, then let what they announce be added to the investigation, and when he appears clean before the people, then yes will be ordained."


The interpretation of this rule is also useful:


“If any objection is raised by others by way of accusation against a candidate (since such possibilities often occur) ..., only three people cannot judge and acquit him, but besides them, one or two bishops must be added. And first before the people, in whose diocese the candidate is ordained, they must carefully examine the identity of the accusers, what their reputation is, and if they find themselves free from slander in the eyes of the people, let him be ordained bishop. ”What has changed in the time since Metropolitan Vitaly was First Hierarch and prohibited the consecration of Archimandrite Peter? Is it possible that now all the evidence that was presented then is no longer valid?


Let us remember the recent history of the ROCOR: our intervention in the life of the Russian Church in the former Soviet Union.


How our bishops triumphed then, having received the opportunity to establish a new, independent hierarchy. Archimandrite Valentin of Suzdal was chosen to become the second bishop in Russia (Lazar was the first), and was soon elevated to bishop. Our hierarchs quickly cooled down on the new Suzdal bishop and took the accusations of sodomy that were brought against him very seriously.Nothing resembling an investigation into Valentin's case and the allegations against him was undertaken. Nevertheless, he was deposed and, without a church trial, he was defrocked, and, moreover, this was done in absentia. Two bishops who participated in Valentine's consecration later noted in a conversation with me that they were against the consecration.


Then why did they participate in this, even lead it?When José Muñoz-Cortes, custodian of the myrrh-streaming Iveron Icon, was killed in Athens, how quickly many of our hierarchs and clerics believed the slander!They published slander in one single short article in a Greek tabloid newspaper about the ascetic guardian of a sacred and beloved icon, who never gave any reason to reproach himself for impious behavior!Why are some of the clergy of our Church, who so quickly believed the accusations against Valentin of Suzdal and Brother Joseph, and who know about the immoral inclinations of Archimandrite Peter, now ready to “look the other way”? Why? Perhaps this is the result of statements that Valentin of Suzdal is homo sovieticus, and not a real Russian, that Brother Joseph is just some kind of foreigner incomprehensible to us, and not a real Russian? Is this the idea that “one of us,” Archimandrite Peter, can be approached with different, softer standards?Over the past few weeks, emails have stated that we should not make our differences public. Because this will play into the hands of the enemies of ROCOR.


I believe that the consecration in Chicago is what the enemies will use, and are already using.


I refer you to two articles entitled “Pedophilia in ROCOR(L)” and “Metropolitan Vitaly: the consecration of Archimandrite Peter (Lukyanov) is invalid”, sent to “Listok” - a website strongly hostile to ROCOR, and to very recent publications on Budzilovich’s website under the heading “Anaxios” at the risk of his life.”


Be that as it may, who is the enemy? Where should we look for it? In Moscow, Istanbul or maybe New York? It is more likely that he is among us, like a cancerous tumor, slowly but surely destroying our Church from the inside. One can speculate on why individual bishops may privately express their doubts regarding the consecration of Fr. Peter, but in no case publicly, why some priests may admit that they knew about the obstacles to consecration, but in no case could they talk about consecration as incorrect, but consecration is already a fait accompli that cannot be disputed. The Church teaches that a Christian must live according to the highest standards, that we must completely reject all church politics, the friends of our youth, if they interfere with our salvation.


We must be faithful to Christ and His Church. It is the duty of all His children to do His will in everything, and let the chips fall where they may.


It is a fait accompli that Father Peter has been ordained a bishop. It is also a fait accompli that the objections to the ordination of Fr. Peter were heard long before the consecration itself, and that today they have not been withdrawn, according to the canons of the Church.It is a fait accompli that, in violation of church tradition, the consecration of Fr. Peter became a bishop despite public accusations that he was unworthy of it. It is a fait accompli that until these charges are dropped his episcopal authority will be in doubt and his reputation will be blemished. If he is not guilty of what he is accused of, he should have agreed to stop the consecration and demand an investigation to clear his name. This can still be done. Let the bishops of our Church call all the witnesses and, in the presence of the newly consecrated bishop, listen to the many accusers (many of whom are clergy) and the accused. It would be honest, it would be in the interests of the new bishop, and most importantly, it would be in the interests of the ROCOR. God bless us.


 In Christ, Archpriest Viktor Potapov




Video of Peter Lukyanov's consecration where the Anaxios was shouted in protest.

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