In Defense of Archbishop Andrew of Blessed Memory
Bishop Gregory of Denver has made some assertions in the recent past that are not true. There are letters in Bishop Gregory's own handwriting that say the opposite of what he now says. In the letters provided in the appendix he has nothing but good things to say about his former brotherhood and spiritual fathers. We have also included Fr. Isaac's handwritten responses. (see Appendices A & B)
Bishop Gregory wrote:
"My reasons for leaving HTM were known years before I left. I had wanted to live skete life. I wanted to be away from the city. I wanted to live in the forest, like St. Nil of Sora. I wanted to be free from practically every visitor that came to the monastery and eventually ended up sitting next to me and my eisle. I wanted a quieter life. Those who lived in the monastery know very well what I am referring to. Monastery life at HTM was not quiet. Something was wrong and I did not know what it was, but I wanted a quiet monastic life."
Bishop Gregory also has written:
"Vladimir Moss asked me if Vladyka Andrew knew about the goings on in Boston. The answer is most definitely yes. When I went to the Holy Mountain in the early 1980's, I met Father Theodore there. He told me that he confessed everything immediately after he left the monastery to Archbishop Andrew. Then he wrote his confession and deposited it with Bishop Gregory Grabbe, and it was put in F. Panteleimon's file. Just so happened that there was another letter there, that of Fr. Athanasios. So it seems the Synod had two witnesses already, even before the full account became obvious.
The claims that Bishop Gregory make are not in accordance to a letter written by Vladyka Andrew to Fr. Simeon Hill (with a copy sent to the then Fr. Gregory) in 1978. Fr. Simeon stayed at Holy Transfiguration in the year of 1978. Fr. Theodore had left the monastery a year before this letter was written. If Vladyka Andrew was aware "of the goings on in Boston" he would not have written such a letter in complete deference to Fr. Panteleimon." (See Appendix C. We are giving only the scan here, as it is clear enough to be read by anyone.)
Bishop Gregory has also claimed:
"Archbishop Andrew was no fool. He understood very well the condition of the monastery. He understood how Fr. Panteleimon was using him, commemorating him as the spiritual father. Holiness by association. Archbishop Andrew also understood that he had only one testimony. He did not know about Fr. Athanasios. Those people whom he told to stay close or not leave the monastery probably were not capable of understanding his reasons or if he told them, they would not obey. If he did tell someone to leave, then he would have to endure the onslaught, which would inevitably come down on him from Fr. Panteleimon and the monastery. Yet when he saw me asking to leave for more quiet, he could immediately justify himself in giving me his blessing, without alienating the powers that be. Even this was difficult though, because Fr. Panteleimon came down to Spring Valley at least two times to ask him to withdraw his blessing. He refused. He continually refused, saying that monks can transfer to better their life. He gave example of St. Zosimas leaving his homeland and going to Mar Sava. Father Panteleimon did not accept this. Finally he came down another time with another Russian priest who told me what happened. F.P. told Archbishop Andrew that he must withdraw his blessing to Fr. Gregory to leave the monastery and start his own, because, "He has no right to leave, the only reason he can leave the monastery is if I am a heretic or immoral." Archbishop Andrew immediately answered and said, "You may not be a heretic, but watch out for the other." When he said this, F.P. left in a rage, did not get his blessing. The Russian priest told me, all the way back to Boston, Father P. was railing against Archbishop Andrew, calling him a person in prelest, crazy old man, etc."
Who this "Russian priest" is or was is a mystery because Bishop Gregory does not reveal his name. Perhaps this is because such an incident never took place. If such an incident took place it is not plausible that Vladyka Andrew would have bequeathed his favorite episcopal staff and panagia to Holy Transfiguration Monastery as a personal blessing. Fr. Panteleimon was cordially received by Vladyka Andrew shortly before he reposed on the feast of the Holy Apostles in 1978. Fr. Panteleimon also was present at Vladyka's funeral and has made numerous visits to the convent at Spring Valley both before and after Holy Transfiguration Monastery left the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad in 1986. He was always received with genuine warmth and respect by the clergy, monastics, and personal at the old age home. All of these facts demonstrate that there was no estrangement whatsoever between Vladyka Andrew and his spiritual son, Fr. Panteleimon.
The real reason that Bishop Gregory has turned against his former spiritual fathers and brothers at Holy Transfiguration Monastery is because Fr. Panteleimon was compelled to write a lengthy letter to the then Fr. Gregory's brother Richard explaining why the fathers at the monastery did not wish Fr. Gregory to serve at the monastery or stay longer than a brief visit (see Appendix D). Since Fr. Gregory was a constant embarrassment to the community, they wished to make it clear that he did not have a blessing to leave and why he did not have a blessing to leave. This letter caused no little consternation to Fr. Gregory. Fr. Isaac replied to this letter gently but firmly. (See Appendix E)
We bear no ill will to Bishop Gregory, but since he has made claims that besmirch the memory of the holy and righteous Vladyka Andrew of Blessed Memory, we thought only right to make the above facts public.