We continue our commentary with a document of 6 July on the situation of the Church in the Republic of Moldavia (Moldova). We note that this article quotes exactly Canon XV of the First and Second Council, under which we were received into the Patriarchate of Romania by the canonical authorities, when we were fleeing persecution in February 2022, and which we quoted in our commentary yesterday, and adds that: ‘The fact that the structure of Russian Church occupation in the Republic of Moldova is based on abuse of power and coercion, not on free choice or conviction, is demonstrated by the mechanism of sanctions or threats of disciplinary sanctions against priests who choose to escape from Moscow jurisdiction and ask for admission under the protection of the Romanian Orthodox Church, through the Metropolia of Bessarabia; and also; ‘The Metropolia of Bessarabia is a Church of peace and unity and has endured persecution and slander from the Russian structure for decades, but we cannot remain indifferent when simple believers or priests are attacked and intimidated’. It now seems inevitable that, exactly as we have been predicting for over a year now with our pleas for autocephaly, the tragic nationalism of the Patriarchate of Moscow has not only lost the territories of the Ukraine and Latvia, but also soon Moldova (with all its parishes in the Diaspora) and also Kazakhstan. (See: https://parlonsorthodoxie.wordpress.com/2023/07/07/les-dirigeants-orthodoxes-du-kazakhstan-disent-maintenant-que-lautocephalie-pour-leur-eglise-nationale-est-inevitable/).
ON THE LACK OF CANONICITY OF THE STRUCTURE OF THE RUSSIAN CHURCH OCCUPATION IN THE AREA BETWEEN THE DNIESTR AND THE PRUT
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We note with sadness that the Metropolia of Chisinau, the structure for ecclesiastical occupation of the Moscow Patriarchate, continues to misinform public opinion, falsifying the truth, distorting reality and presenting truncated or tendentious aspects of Church history or canons. This situation denotes imperial reflexes, fear of the loss of power and influence in society, opacity to the truth, inadequacy before the social processes of de-Sovietisation and the inability to engage in constructive dialogue in the interest of Orthodoxy.
Considering the declarations in the statement ‘The opinion of the Orthodox Church of Moldova regarding the press release issued by the Metropolia of Bessarabia’, the Metropolia of Bessarabia wishes to make the following clarifications:
Until 1812, the area between the Dniester and the Prut was shepherded by the Metropolia of Moldova based in Suceava and then in Iași, and for a period, the territories placed under Turkish military administration (the kingdoms of Reni/Tomarova, Chilia, Ismail, Cetatea Albă/ Akkerman, Tighina/Bender and Hotin), were under the jurisdiction of the Metropolia of Proilavia based in Brăila, both canonically subordinated to the Ecumenical Patriarchate;
On May 16, 1812, the Tsarist Empire annexed the eastern part of the Romanian Principality of Moldavia, located in the area between the Rivers Dniester and Prut;
In August 1813, the Tsar of Russia Alexander I, without consulting the hierarchs, clergy and believers, decided to establish, by imperial decree (ukaz), that our national territory be annexed by Russia, forming a diocese called Chisinau and Hotin. For this structure of ecclesiastical occupation, Tsar Alexander I designated a hierarch placed under ban and anathema by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople, as requested by the Metropolitan Synod of Iași headed by the Metropolitan of Moldova Veniamin Costachi;
The ukaz of the Russian Tsar Alexander I was a usurping secular-political act and was issued in gross violation of Church law, especially Canon 34 of the Apostles, Canon 2 of the Second Universal Council in Constantinople (381), Canon 8 of the Third Universal Council in Ephesus (431), of Canons 13, 21 and 22 of the Council of Carthage, of Canons 15 and 16 of the local Council of Constantinople and others.
This imperial ukaz was, from a canonical and ecclesiastical point of view, null and void ab initio, since a diocese can only be established by the canonically justified ecclesiastical authority for it.
The Metropolia of Moldavia based in Iași and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople officially formulated vigorous protests in relation to the arbitrary and abusive act of the Russian Tsar Alexander I. The protests of the Metropolia of Moldavia and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople were completely ignored both by the imperial court in Petersburg, as well as by the Russian governing Synod, led by the Ober-Procurator Alexandr Golitsin, a layman appointed by the Tsar’s ukaz;
The Church annexation and the non-canonical occupation of the area between the Dniester and the Prut triggered and maintained a process of forced Russification, the Romanian language of worship being gradually replaced until its complete elimination, with the Slavonic and Russian languages. The savagery of this process culminated in the burning by Archbishop Pavel Lebedev (1871-1882) of church books in the Romanian language and in the exile to Siberia of Romanian priests who opposed Russification;
In 1940, in the context of the Second World War, the atheist Soviet state annexed Bessarabia. The hierarchs, as well as part of the clergy and faithful of the Metropolia of Bessarabia, were forced either to flee to Romania or to endure martyrdom. Orthodox priests and believers remaining in Bessarabia were forced to join the abusive jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate, an entity subordinate to the Soviet secret police (NKVD, later KGB);
Both in 1940 and in 1944, the Metropolia of Bessarabia, composed of the Archdiocese of Chisinau, the Diocese of Hotin and the Diocese of the White Citadel – Ismail, had to temporarily suspend their activity until the end of the Russian military, administrative-political and canonical occupation;
Beginning in 1940 and 1944, the abusive jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate was implemented by the Soviet secret police through the so-called ‘Apparatus of the Plenipotentiary for the Affairs of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Moldavian SSR’;
The Metropolia of Bessarabia was canonically reactivated on 14 September 1992, under conditions of freedom, shortly after the end of the state of foreign occupation, being re-admitted into the canonical communion of the Romanian Patriarchate on 19 December 1992, when a Patriarchal and Synodal Act was issued regarding the recognition of the reactivation of the autonomous, old calendar Metropolia of Bessarabia, with its residence in Chisinau;
The local structure in the Republic of Moldova of the Moscow Patriarchate, titled pompously and abusively as the ‘Metropolia of Chisinau and ALL Moldova” or the “Orthodox Church of Moldova” is a non-canonical structure, subordinate to the center of power in Moscow, being infiltrated by representatives of the secret services of the Russian Federation. It has constantly been in open complicity with the unconstitutional and separatist regime in Tiraspol and was marked at its peak by the degrading phenomena of corruption, cronyism, abuse of power, immorality and depravity. The main promotion criterion in the non-canonical structure is anti-Europeanism and anti-Romanianism, fuelled by Russian propaganda structures.
Corruption, simony, abuse of power, immorality and depravity of the leaders of the Russian structure of occupation, as well as propaganda in favor of the war to which the leadership of the Moscow Patriarchate indulges, are the main objective causes for which Bessarabian priests and believers decide to flee from the captivity of the Russian Church and return to the historical traditional and canonical jurisdiction of the Metropolia of Bessarabia (Romanian Patriarchate);
The attacks against the Metropolia of Bessarabia, to which the Russian ecclesiastical occupation structure in the Republic of Moldova indulges, have contributed significantly to the deterioration of relations between the Romanian and Russian Patriarchates. These attacks are in flagrant contradiction with the decision of the two Patriarchates of 15 January 1999, that their Metropolitans in the Republic of Moldova “move from hatred and confrontation to understanding and cooperation”;
The fact that the structure of Russian Church occupation in the Republic of Moldova is based on abuse of power and coercion, not on free choice or conviction, is demonstrated by the mechanism of sanctions or threats of disciplinary sanctions against priests who choose to escape from Moscow jurisdiction and ask for admission under the protection of the Romanian Orthodox Church, through the Metropolia of Bessarabia;
The Metropolia of Bessarabia receives and will receive into communion all Romanian priests and deacons from the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine who leave the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Moscow, based on a series of Orthodox canons that allow clerics to separate themselves from an abusive and oppressive hierarchy, immoral, corrupt and simoniac, propagating the heresy of war and murder, as seen today in the case of the unjust war in Ukraine. In support of these priests comes Canon 15 (part II) of the I-II Council of Constantinople (861), which says: “those who separate themselves from communion with their superior for some heresy condemned by the holy Councils, or of the Fathers, naturally [of communion] with the one who preaches heresy in public, and teaches it in the Church with his head uncovered, some such as these will not only not submit to canonical argument, exposing themselves and communion with the one who is called a bishop [even] before synodal investigation, but they will also be worthy of the honour due to Orthodox. For they did not condemn bishops, but pseudo-bishops and pseudo-teachers, and they did not break the unity of the Church with schism, but they tried to free the Church from schisms and divisions”;
An additional argument that the priests, deacons and believers who leave the abusive jurisdiction of the local structure of the Moscow Patriarchate and return to the traditional canonical jurisdiction of the Metropolia of Bessarabia have in their support concerns ethnic reality or the nation. More than 82% of the citizens of the Republic of Moldova are ethnic Romanians and a good half of them have already regained their Romanian citizenship, so the Moscow Patriarchate’s claims to exercise its abusive jurisdiction over them are devoid of any real foundation. Aware of this and in an obvious identity crisis and incoherence, the hierarchs and clerics of the Moscow jurisdiction come to the holy places in Romania and imitate the Romanian spirit, and in Moldova they slander Romania and Romanians.
All the clerics who come out of Muscovite ecclesiastical oppression are canonical and blessed clerics, and the Metropolia of Bessarabia officially classifies them as employees of the Romanian Orthodox Church, benefiting from all the advantages, including financial support, according to the legislation in force applicable to all religious cults.
The Metropolia of Bessarabia is a Church of peace and unity and has endured persecution and slander from the Russian structure for decades, but we cannot remain indifferent when simple believers or priests are attacked and intimidated, in an attempt to perpetuate Soviet occupation, under their new form, in the Republic of Moldova. Today, when attempts to leave the Russian sphere are punished by wars, military occupations and tens of thousands of deaths, we are obliged to testify clearly and firmly to the truth, because if we remain silent, even the stones will cry out (cf. Luke 19, 40).
The Communications, Media and Public Relations Department of the Metropolia of Bessarabia and the Exarchate of Plaiurilor.