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STATEMENT FROM THE CHANCERY OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS

In these exceedingly difficult times, when our Lord has permitted His holy Church to bear the fierce blows of unprecedented persecution from the godless Soviet regime in Russia -- as a result of which many millions of holy martyrs have been tortured and killed for their faith in Christ -- attacks against the Church continue, often by means of spiritual pride and schism, bringing sorrow to the faithful, arousing temptation, and sowing division.

It is with deep concern and sorrow that we must inform you that Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Brookline, Massachusetts, with its former abbot, Archimandrite Panteleimon (Metropoulos) and several other clergymen, has seceded from the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and has declared itself to be "under the omophorion of the hierarchs of the True Orthodox Church of Greece, as the secretary of the monastery, monk Ephraim, writes in his letter of Nov. 25/ Dec. 81 1986 to His Eminence, Metropolitan Vitaly, the First Hierarch of our Church. In his letter monk Ephraim fails to mention which Synod or which Old Calendarist bishops in Greece the monastery will now be commemorating, but reports indicate that the monks have submitted themselves to Bishops Gabriel and Akakios, two independent hierarchs who are not members of any Old Calendarist Synod in Greece.

The course of events which led to this grievous schism is as follows.

In January of this year serious charges of sexual perversion were brought against the then abbot, Archimandrite Panteleimon, by several former members of the brotherhood of Holy Transfiguration Monastery. The bishops of the Church, meeting in Council in New York City at that time, appointed a special Commission, consisting of His Grace Archbishop Antony of Los Angeles and Southern California and His Grace Bishop Alypy of Cleveland, to undertake a non-public investigation of these charges. The bishops of the Commission traveled to Boston and privately questioned at length before the Gospel and Cross, two of the accusors, Hieromonk Gregory and the former monk Mamas (Dana Miller), as well as the accused Archimandrite Panteleimon. The Commission presented its report to the Synod of Bishops at its meeting in Mansonville, Quebec (Canada) on May 16/29 of this year. At this meeting two new accusors, monk Eugenios and monk Menas, appeared (they had just left Holy Transfiguration Monastery several weeks before the meeting) and testified concerning similar immoral acts performed against them by Archimandrite Panteleimon. The written accusatory testimonies of two other former members of Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Hieromonk Theodore and monk Athanasios, were also read at this meeting, while both Hieromonk Gregory and the former monk Mamas gave oral testimonies and were questioned at length. The dean of the New England Deanery, Archpriest George Kochergin, and monk Ephraim spoke in defence of Archimandrite Panteleimon, who at this meeting was extensively questioned by Synod members, but vehemently denied the charges made against him and asked to be relieved of his duties as abbot. The Synod granted this request on May 16/29, decreeing that Archimandrite Panteleimon be retired as abbot of Holy Transfiguration Monastery. This decision was subsequently relayed to him by His Eminence Metropolitan Vitaly.

His Grace Archbishop Antony of Los Angeles was appointed by the Synod to oversee the monastery until the matter of the charges would be resolved, with Hieromonk Isaac remaining as temporary administrator until Archbishop Antony's arrival. Meanwhile, the brotherhood of Holy Transfiguration Monastery elected Hieromonk Isaac as its new abbot, although it was pointed out to the monks that since charges of immoral behavior had been leveled against Hieromonk Isaac as well by one of the former monks, he (Fr. Isaac) and monk Ephraim (one of the three in command at the monastery) were not to be considered as candidates. No minutes of the election meeting or official notification were ever presented to the Synod of Bishops for approval.

The Synod held its regular session again on Nov. 12/25 in Montreal and after further deliberation resolved to request the President of the Synod of Bishops, as the diocesan bishop, to take the following-steps to regularize the situation in the monastery:

1) Release Hieromonk Isaac from his duties as administrator;

2) Suspend both Archimandrite Panteleimon and Hieromonk Isaac from serving in accordance with rule 159 of the Regulations of the Spiritual Consistories: "A clergyman who has been accused of a crime is to be suspended from serving.... The order for this to be done is entrusted to the local Bishop, who is obligated to take care that those who are accused of grave violation of good conduct according to God's laws not approach to serve before the Altar of the Lord."

3) Appoint a Commission to investigate the charges of immoral conduct made against Hieromonk Isaac;

4) Appoint Hieromonk Justin as temporary administrator;

5) Direct the commission to investigate various questions, such as the legal position of Holy Transfiguration, its liturgical practices, and other questions.

His Eminence Metropolitan Vitaly, as diocesan hierarch of Eastern America and New York, in resolutions dated Nov. 20/Dec. 3, 1986, fulfilled the recommendations of the Synod of Bishops, suspending both Archimandrite Panteleimon and Hieromonk Isaac.

On December 12, 1986 His Eminence Metropolitan Vitaly received the letter of  monk Ephraim mentioned earlier, which stated that the brotherhood of Holy Transfiguration Monastery had unanimously decided to leave the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

The Synod of Bishops views this act as a flagrant violation of the holy canons of the Church and as an attempt to avoid the consequences of any final decision a spiritual court might have made concerning the accusations filed against Archimandrite Panteleimon and Hieromonk Isaac and to flee from the spiritual authority of the Church's hierarchy.

The charges which monk Ephraim makes in his letter (as a pretext for departure from the Synod) -- that the bishops of the Russian Synod are now more inclined towards ecumenism and lack concern for the Synod's Greek parishes -- are preposterous, our bishops continue to confess the holy Orthodox Faith just as faithfully and just as unswervingly as they did when Archimandrite Panteleimon entered the jurisdiction of the Russian Synodal Church, seeking refuge from the innovations of the New Calendar churches. Our bishops have warned their flocks countless numbers of times concerning the spiritual danger of the ecumenical movement, of renovationism and modernism, and stand firmly against their encroachment into the life of our Church. They seek no rapprochement with the Soviet-dominated Moscow Patriarchate -- as has been falsely rumored by the enemies of the Church -- as long as the Moscow hierarchy continues to follow slavishly the dictates of the militantly atheistic government of the USSR.

For many years we have considered Holy Transfiguration Monastery to be a vibrant monastic community which has brought many souls to Orthodoxy and spiritual consolation to countless of the faithful. What has transpired within the past year must in no wise be interpreted as an attempt on the part of the bishops (as has been slanderously asserted by evil-intentioned persons) to silence the witness to true and unadulterated Orthodoxy of the monks or to bring detriment to the monastery.

We have been extremely reluctant until this time to make known the details of this case. In presenting these facts now, we wish to make our God-loving flock aware of the true nature of the schism of Archimandrite Panteleimon and the Holy Transfiguration Monastery from the bosom of our holy Church and her lawful Orthodox hierarchy, and to warn the faithful against being deluded into following their example. Let us all pray that the Lord God will enlighten them and bring them to true repentance of their grave sin against the unity of the Church.
 


Nov. 18/Dec. 1, 1986
No. 11/35/213A

STATEMENT FROM THE CHANCERY OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS

In these exceedingly difficult times, when our Lord has permitted His holy Church to bear the fierce blows of unprecedented persecution from the godless Soviet regime in Russia -- as a result of which many millions of holy martyrs have been tortured and killed for their faith in Christ -- attacks against the Church continue, often by means of spiritual pride and schism, bringing sorrow to the faithful, arousing temptation, and sowing division.

It is with deep concern and sorrow that we must inform you that Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Brookline, Massachusetts, with its former abbot, Archimandrite Panteleimon (Metropoulos) and several other clergymen, has seceded from the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and has declared itself to be "under the omophorion of the hierarchs of the True Orthodox Church of Greece," as the secretary of the monastery, monk Ephraim, writes in his letter of Nov. 25/ Dec. 8, 1986 to His Eminence, Metropolitan Vitaly, the First Hierarch of our Church. In his letter monk Ephraim fails to mention which Synod or which Old Calendarist bishops in Greece the monastery will now be commemorating, but reports indicate that the monks have submitted themselves to Bishops Gabriel and Akakios, two independent hierarchs who are not members of any Old Calendarist Synod in Greece.

The course of events which led to this grievous schism is as follows.

In January of this year serious charges of sexual perversion were brought against the then abbot, Archimandrite Panteleimon, by several former members of the brotherhood of Holy Transfiguration Monastery. The bishops of the Church, meeting in Council in New York City at that time, appointed a special Commission, consisting of His Grace Archbishop Antony of Los Angeles and Southern California and His Grace Bishop Alypy of Cleveland, to undertake a non-public investigation of these charges. The bishops of the Commission traveled to Boston and privately questioned at length before the Gospel and Cross, two of the accusors, Hieromonk Gregory and the former monk Mamas (Dana Miller), as well as the accused Archimandrite Panteleimon. The Commission presented its report to the Synod of Bishops at its meeting in Mansonville, Quebec (Canada) on May 16/29 of this year. At this meeting two new accusors, monk Eugenios and monk Menas, appeared (they had just left Holy Transfiguration Monastery several weeks before the meeting) and testified concerning similar immoral acts performed against them by Archimandrite Panteleimon. The written accusatory testimonies of two other former members of Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Hieromonk Theodore and monk Athanasios, were also read at this meeting, while both Hieromonk Gregory and the former monk Mamas gave oral testimonies and were questioned at length. The dean of the New England Deanery, Archpriest George Kochergin, and monk Ephraim spoke in defence of Archimandrite Panteleimon, who at this meeting was extensively questioned by Synod members, but vehemently denied the charges made against him and asked to be relieved of his duties as abbot. The Synod granted this request on May 16/29, decreeing that Archimandrite Panteleimon be retired as abbot of Holy Transfiguration Monastery. This decision was subsequently relayed to him by His Eminence Metropolitan Vitaly.

His Grace Archbishop Antony of Los Angeles was appointed by the Synod to oversee the monastery until the matter of the charges would be resolved, with Hieromonk Isaac remaining as temporary administrator until Archbishop Antony's arrival. Meanwhile, the brotherhood of Holy Transfiguration Monastery elected Hieromonk Isaac as its new abbot, although it was pointed out to the monks that since charges of immoral behavior had been leveled against Hieromonk Isaac as well by one of the former monks, he (Fr. Isaac) and monk Ephraim (one of the three in command at the monastery) were not to be considered as candidates. No minutes of the election meeting or official notification were ever presented to the Synod of Bishops for approval.

The Synod held its regular session again on Nov. 12/25 in Montreal and after further deliberation resolved to request the President of the Synod of Bishops, as the diocesan bishop, to take the following steps to regularize the situation in the monastery:

1) Release Hieromonk Isaac from his duties as administrator;

2) Suspend both Archimandrite Panteleimon and Hieromonk Isaac from serving in accordance with rule 159 of the Regulations of the Spiritual Consistories: "A clergyman who has been accused of a crime is to be suspended from serving.... The order for this to be done is entrusted to the local Bishop, who is obligated to take care that those who are accused of grave violation of good conduct according to God's laws not approach to serve before the Altar of the Lord."

3) Appoint a Commission to investigate the charges of immoral conduct made against Hieromonk Isaac;

4) Appoint Hieromonk Justin as temporary administrator;

5) Direct the commission to investigate various questions, such as the legal position of Holy Transfiguration, its liturgical practices, and other questions.

His Eminence Metropolitan Vitaly, as diocesan hierarch of Eastern America and New York, in resolutions dated Nov. 20/Dec. 3, 1986, fulfilled the recommendations of the Synod of Bishops, suspending both Archimandrite Panteleimon and Hieromonk Isaac.

On December 12, 1986 His Eminence Metropolitan Vitaly received the letter of monk Ephraim mentioned earlier, which stated that the brotherhood of Holy Transfiguration Monastery had unanimously decided to leave the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

The Synod of Bishops views this act as a flagrant violation of the holy canons of the Church and as an attempt to avoid the consequences of any final decision a spiritual court might have made concerning the accusations filed against Archimandrite Panteleimon and Hieromonk Isaac and to flee from the spiritual authority of the Church's hierarchy.

The charges which monk Ephraim makes in his letter (as a pretext for departure from the Synod) -- that the bishops of the Russian Synod are now more inclined towards ecumenism and lack concern for the Synod's Greek parishes -- are preposterous. Our bishops continue to confess the holy Orthodox Faith just as faithfully and just as unswervingly as they did when Archimandrite Panteleimon entered the jurisdiction of the Russian Synodal Church, seeking refuge from the innovations of the New Calendar churches. Our bishops have warned their flocks countless numbers of times concerning the spiritual danger of the ecumenical movement, of renovationism and modernism, and stand firmly against their encroachment into the life of our Church. They seek no rapprochement with the Soviet-dominated Moscow Patriarchate -- as has been falsely rumored by the enemies of the Church -- as long as the Moscow hierarchy continues to follow slavishly the dictates of the militantly atheistic government of the USSR.

For many years we have considered Holy Transfiguration Monastery to be a vibrant monastic community which has brought many souls to Orthodoxy and spiritual consolation to countless of the faithful. What has transpired within the past year must in no wise be interpreted as an attempt on the part of the bishops (as has been slanderously asserted by evil-intentioned persons) to silence the witness to true and unadulterated Orthodoxy of the monks or to bring detriment to the monastery.

We have been extremely reluctant until this time to make known the details of this case. In presenting these facts now, we wish to make our God-loving flock aware of the true nature of the schism of Archimandrite Panteleimon and the Holy Transfiguration Monastery from the bosom of our holy Church and her lawful Orthodox hierarchy, and to warn the faithful against being deluded into following their example. Let us all pray that the Lord God will enlighten them and bring them to true repentance of their grave sin against the unity of the Church.

+ Bishop Hilarion
Deputy Secretary