Monday, April 06, 2009

A Letter Of Appeal From His Grace Bishop Andrew

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Dear All,

My name is Bishop Andrew of Pavlovskoye. I am the American representative of the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church. We are a small group of about 200 communities, worldwide, who do not belong to the “official” Russian Orthodox Church in Russia headed by the recently elected “Patriarch Kirill.” We consider his group, the “Moscow Patriarchate,” to be nothing more than an apostate group, which long ago (1927) opted to serve the interests of the Soviet state, and now the Russian Federation, rather than follow the examples of numerous martyrs for the purity of our ancestral Russian Orthodox faith. The people of our communities are some of the last members of the Church in Russia that was underground for 80 years, or existed in the free countries of the world without recognizing the stolen authority of the so-called patriarchs of Moscow during this period.
The present-day Russian government, in spite of its constitutional guarantees of freedom of conscience, or religion, has been trying for 20 years now, to force us to either join the Moscow Patriarchate, or cease operating. Officially in Russia, there is supposed to be separation of church and state. The church is indeed separated from the government, but the government is not separated from the church. All religions operating in Russia today are supposed to be equal before the law. No one church is supposed to have any more or any less rights than any other. Russian citizens, after so many years of brutal repression, are supposed to be guaranteed today the right to believe as they desire and practice accordingly.
The latest event in the oppression against our Church was the decision on Feb. 5th, of the Vladimir Regional Court to take away all of our church buildings in Suzdal, buildings that we restored from ruins over the last 20 years or so at our own expense in exchange for the right to use these churches indefinitely rent-free. According to Russian law, these buildings can only be used for their original intended purpose - religious ceremonies. That is exactly what we were using them for. Our people in Suzdal have been told that the buildings are not going anywhere; they will not be torn down. If they want to use them, all they have to do is change leadership and realign themselves with the local hierarchy of the Moscow Patriarchate. Our bishops have been attacked physically, slandered with every imaginable charge, arrested, and threatened. Yesterday, our Chief Hierarch, Metropolitan Valentine of Suzdal and Vladimir returned to Russia after a two-week stay. During his stay, we traveled to Washington, DC, and met with several organizations there. I received your email addresses as people who might be interested in writing about our plight. We need help. The only thing that we believe can help in this situation, besides God’s help, of course, is making the world aware of just what is going on in the Russia of today. The leaders of today’s Russian government are still sensitive to public opinion, and little else.
Whether you believe as we do or not, is not the point. If the human rights of our faithful, citizens of Russia, which claims to be a democratic nation, a member of the civilized nations of the world, can be done away with without even the slightest sign of disfavor, then who will be next on the list? Won’t you please raise your voice, inquire into the particulars of these events, and write something to bring the attention of the world to this gross miscarriage of justice?

Thanking you in advance

Bishop Andrew
95 Elm Street
Elmwood Park, NJ 07407 USA

Telephone: (347) 321-4870
Mobile: (551) 580-4965
Fax: (208) 730-7551

1 comment:

  1. JTO Editor's Note: Bishop Andrew is with ROAC-USA under Metropolitan Valentine of Suzdal.


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