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Statement by Fr. Pimen Simon

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  • Reader Timothy Tadros
    May 9/April, 26, 2007 Dear Fathers, Brothers and Sisters in Christ, CHRIST IS RISEN! I am writing this letter from two perspectives. First of all, I write as
    Message 1 of 1 , May 9, 2007
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      May 9/April, 26, 2007

      Dear Fathers, Brothers and Sisters in Christ,


      I am writing this letter from two perspectives. First of all, I
      write as the rector of the Church of the Nativity of Christ under the
      direct authority of Metropolitan Laurus and his Vicar Bishop for Erie
      and the Old Rite, Bishop Daniel. Secondly I write as a former
      priestless Old Believer and former nastavnik of a priestless Old
      Believer parish who knows firsthand the heartbreak caused by division
      in our Lord's Body – the Church.

      First of all I have been contacted today in regard to events that
      happened regarding Vladika Daniel on Saturday May 5/April 22. Before
      explaining those events, let me again state clearly and
      categorically, as I did in a post I recently sent to the ROCOR
      clergy group list, about the position of Vladika Daniel in regard to
      the impending reconciliation with the Moscow Patriarchate. Vladika
      disagrees with the reconciliation on the timing and reasoning for the
      reconciliation. He has always stated that he supports the concept of
      being "in communion" with the MP, but believes that the over 80 year
      history of ROCOR has created an independent role for ROCOR. He fears
      that ROCOR will lose its independence by "uniting" with the MP. He
      has never stated on any occasion that he believes the MP to be
      graceless, or a "pseudo-church" merely created by Stalin. Please
      remember that Vladika spent his youth in the Soviet Union and was
      baptized by an MP priest in an MP parish.

      For several years he has struggled with what he would do if, and
      when, the reconciliation should take place. On Forgiveness Sunday,
      before Vespers, all of our parish clergy met with Vladika to tell
      him of our deep love for him and our desire that he would remain with
      us. At that point, he advised all seven clergymen present that he
      would not leave ROCOR and that he would continue to come to the
      divine services in the Church of the Nativity and would commune there
      together with us. Vladika did indicate a possibility that he would
      submit his resignation as an active bishop because of his continued
      opposition on the grounds stated above. Vladika actually wrote a
      letter of resignation, but then decided that he desired to remain the
      Bishop of Erie and was not going to resign. In the past several weeks
      in discussions with me and with others who care for him, Vladika
      stated categorically that he wou ld not separate himself from The
      Church Abroad under Metropolitan Laurus. On numerous occasions since
      then, he has stated that he knows there are clergy and laity hoping
      that he would do so, so that he would play a role in forming a new
      jurisdiction. He also has stated that he knows there are opponents of
      the reconciliation who would suggest that after the signing of the
      Act of Canonical Communion, it is Metropolitan Laurus and those
      following him who are leaving ROCOR. Thus, perhaps Vladika Daniel
      would be willing to play a significant part in performing Episcopal
      acts for those who will separate themselves from Metropolitan Laurus'
      ROCOR. Repeatedly Vladika Daniel has stated clearly and strongly that
      any attempts at performing such Episcopal acts would be, as he has
      stated using both terms, "uncanonical" or "unlawful". He has
      indicated that those who would seek to "use him" (his words) must be
      ignorant that this would be an uncanonical act on his part which he
      refuses to even consider.

      Last Saturday after having several conversations initiated by his
      cousin in regard to Vladika moving to Tolstoy Farms, a group of five
      people came ostensibly to take Vladika on what he was told was a 45
      minute drive to view Tolstoy Farms. The word of this trip was
      received by Vladika only on the previous day, and not one of the
      caretakers of the bishop was advised as to what would occur when his
      cousin was to come on Saturday. Absolutely no request was made to
      have Vladika ready for a trip, nor was any information sought about
      the numerous medications which must be taken by Vladika several
      times/ day. When the five people arrived on Saturday morning, without
      previous notice of their arrival time as had been requested, we
      finally learned, after sifting through various conflicting accounts
      of where Vladika was to be taken and for how long, that they had
      purchased a one way ticket for Vladika. He was to fly from Pittsburgh
      (a 2 plus hour drive from Erie ) to New York and then was to be taken
      to Tolstoy Farms.

      Since we were not sure who was coming to Erie nor the purpose of the
      visit , we suspected actions might be taken against Vladika's stated
      desire to many of us on numerous occasions, that it was his desire to
      remain in Erie and finish out his days with his flock, the clergy and
      parish of the Church of the Nativity. Vladika remains the Bishop of
      Erie, and those who came to take Vladika never even consulted with
      the Metropolitan as to the propriety of taking him from the parish
      for which he was consecrated to act as a Vicar bishop. Therefore, the
      president of the parish council, Fr. Deacon Markel Wassell, Fr.
      Theodore Jurewicz, the assistant priest of the parish, Luke Gehring,
      Vladika's personal caretaker, Fr. Deacon Stefan Klimczak, who
      prepares meals on a daily basis for Vladika , Reader Seraphim Wing
      and Justina DiPlacido, a highly trained nurse who knows every aspect
      of Vladika's medical con ditions, along with myself rushed to the
      house as soon as we learned of the arrival of the "visitors". Once we
      learned what the real intention of this visit was, I proceeded to
      explaine to Vladika several times that this group planned on taking
      him to Tolstoy Farms, and that although supposedly this was only for
      a visit, it was clear that this was part of a much broader plan by
      numerous people present and numerous people out of sight to get
      Vladika away from our parish. On every single occasion that I
      explained this to Vladika, I told him that if he wanted to leave or
      live at Tolstoy Farms, that, of course, was his prerogative. Our
      concern was that this was completely opposite his stated intention to
      everyone of us present, and to others in the parish, that it was his
      desire to remain in Erie and to remain as the Vicar Bishop under
      Metropolitan Laurus for Erie and the Old Rite. Furthermore, we were
      deeply concerned that such a trip would be extremely taxing to his
      fragile health. Once Vladika understood the purpose of this party's
      visit, he stated several times that he wanted to remain and live in
      Erie, and that he wanted no part of any plan to use him as a bishop
      for those who plan to disassociate themselves from the Synod of
      Bishops under Metropolitan Laurus. One of the party was apparently
      the financier of Vladika's trip to Tolstoy Farms. He stated clearly
      after hearing Vladika's answer, that it was very clear to him that
      Vladika had no desire to leave Erie and no desire to be part of
      any "schism" from ROCOR. Vladika's cousin and the other members of
      the visiting party were given adequate time to meet with Vladika
      alone after we left, and they eventually left Erie after realizing
      that Vladika wanted no part of this plan.

      Contrary to any rumors, or outright lies being disseminated, Vladika
      is not under "house arrest" or being controlled in any way. The day
      before the events described, Vladika had an Old Calendar Greek bishop
      come to visit him. Luke, Vladika's caretaker, prepared tea for them
      so that they might have a cordial visit. I never asked Vladika the
      purpose of the visit or the content of their conversation. Vladika
      speaks to whom he pleases. Vladika attends services every Saturday
      and Sunday and every feast day. He is the shepherd and we are his
      flock, not vice versa. Vladika Daniel is the Bishop of Erie and the
      Old Rite. Has anyone removed him from that office so that he may be
      taken elsewhere?

      Finally, on a personal note, as indicated at the beginning of this
      long letter, I would like to make my personal plea to those who plan
      on leaving ROCOR to reconsider. I have certain concerns about this
      reconciliation as do others. As an Old Ritualist I am very troubled
      by the common practice of "pouring" baptism, rather than immersion,
      and I hope that that practice is being eliminated. Like so many
      others, I wish that the MP would leave the WCC. But I have read all
      of the documents from the MP and the documentss and explanations from
      our commission members and can not find heresy being preached as part
      of the official teachings of the MP. And I know how commonly bandied
      about the word "heresy" can be. Remember, my forebears were convinced
      that the reforms of the Patriarch Nicon were heresy, and to be
      honest, many of those reforms were reckless, and ill-advised. And so
      my forebears, convinced that the last times had come, refused to
      follow the " government Church " and a division began in the Russian
      Church that has not been healed 350 years later. The old saying
      that "schism breeds schism" is without a doubt true, and all one need
      do is look at the history of the Greek Old Calenderists during the
      past century and all of the new jurisdictions that have sprouted from
      ROCOR in the last 15 years to certify the inevitability of such
      continuing schisms.

      I have prayed since the first day that priesthood was restored to our
      parish and I became an Old Rite priest rather than an Old Believer
      nastavnik, that untiy might be restored to the Church inside and
      outside of Russia , and that the Old Believers could then be
      reconciled to one, holy Russian Orthodox Church. Certainly false
      unity must be avoided, but less us be careful to reject a healing of
      the divisions of the Lord's Body when possible. In 1982 when I first
      attended Divine Liturgy at a ROCOR conference in Ipswich , Mass.
      while we were still priestless, I cried one morning at Liturgy when I
      thought of all my forebears who had lived their entire lives without
      ever having partaken of the Eucharist. And on the next morning I
      cried when I thought of all the innocent children in my parish and in
      so many priestless parishes who had never partaken of the Eucharist.
      I then became determined that this would be the last generation in
      our parish that would exist so sadly as part of a schism – however
      and whoever one might argue caused the schism. I beg those of you
      about to leave ROCOR to remember the Old Believers and their tragic
      experience. You may be convinced that these are the last times and
      you need not concern yourselves with a long term future, but so
      thought my forebears and 350 years later this world still exists. You
      may think it impossible that you will end up priestless, but so also
      thought the original leaders of the Old Believer movement. If the MP
      betrays their agreements, we can leave, but for now I believe that we
      must be obedient to our bishops, our shepherds. And if I, a person
      raised as a priestless Old Believer understands the need for
      obedience to the "Niconian" bishops who direct ROCOR, how can I
      understand that you who have been born, or converted to Orthodoxy,
      under ROCOR can not trust that they are guid ed by the Holy Spirit
      and we must obey unless heresy is the fruit of their teaching. You
      don't really believe that do you?? These men such as the Metropolitan
      whose entire life has been spent as a faithful son of ROCOR would now
      recklessly betray his Church? I pray that we may all continue to
      partake of the Holy Eucharist from the one chalice set before us by
      our Holy Church . Christ is Risen!

      With love in Christ,

      Fr. Pimen Simon

      P.S. Since I don't subscribe to many of the group lists, I am sending
      this to the ROCOR clergy list. Anyone who receives it has my
      permission to post it to any other Orthodox lists or to any Orthodox
      web sites
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