Category Archives: Moldova

Reflections on the New Offer to Join the Moscow Patriarchate

On Saturday 11 November 2023 we were asked by a bishop of the Moscow Patriarchate if our group of six parishes and 5,000 parishioners would like to transfer from the Patriarchate of Romania to the Moscow Patriarchate. He has told us that this can be arranged, apparently following new instructions from the now besieged Moscow, backtracking from the past. Here is our answer, reprinted and updated from 20 February 2022:


Even if I look at the situation as an outsider, just objectively, it will seem absurd, unthinkable and outrageous. There is a very small ROCOR diocese covering a sizeable part of Europe. Its bishop created a schism, causing a lot of damage and pain to many faithful and clergy, including to some widely-known priests. And its American Synod is paralysed due to Metr. Hilarion’s illness (dementia and cancer). And there is the Moscow Patriarchate, the main centre, which can take steps and heal the schism any time, and punish its instigator, any time it wishes. But, instead, it coldly and calmly observes the situation, pretending to ignore it, and in effect taking the perpetrator’s side, without protecting the suffering faithful and clergy. How does it look after that? As if the main centre is afraid of the instigator. Even if you look at this as a pure outsider, its behaviour appears absurd and far from Christian.

From a Correspondent in Moscow, February 2022


Many untruths, slander, vilification and much misinformation have been posted about us on the internet over the last thirty months. It is the same vilification as led to the unjust suspension of the great St John of Shanghai in his time, sixty years ago. These postings have clearly been centrally organised. Other lies, or simply misunderstandings, will follow.

This whole affair has been a story of bullying and then betrayal. Throughout the several months of this affair, a certain young, inexperienced and non-seminary trained neophyte bishop, formerly a tutor in a Roman Catholic college in the City of Oxford, has consistently portrayed our departure from the Russian Church as a ‘personal rebellion’. He did this in order to portray himself in a good light and to minimise the gravity of the situation, in which he has lost over half his diocese in the British Isles.

On 23 August 2021 16 clergy left ROCOR in the British Isles in all. True, three of them were Western rite and they are not involved in our group, now that we have been forced into leaving the Russian Church. The annual throughput of our six parishes (excluding the Western rite ones) is about 5,000 Orthodox.

This was never a ‘personal rebellion’, but the collective decision to reject the ROCOR schism from the MP Archdiocese of Western Europe on the issue of rebaptism, which began over a year ago in Cardiff and has now spread throughout both ROCOR dioceses in Western Europe.

ROCOR’s excessive reactions were caused by what really lies behind his attitude: the determination to seize our properties and extract more money from us by bullying over the last four years. We resisted this, but never dreamed of leaving his jurisdiction for reasons of disputes about property ownership, or his bullying, negativity and spectacular rudeness. We consider that you can only canonically leave a jurisdiction in cases of episcopal heresy, episcopal schism or episcopal attempts to force people into acts of gross immorality.

That very young and untrained bishop managed to offend everyone in our multinational group.

He offended our Russian core by writing the most untruthful and unChristian personal attacks against the popular Fr Andrew Phillips on the internet over the last thirty months. As one of our parishioners said: ‘Everyone who knows Fr Andrew and the other 25 members of his family knows all that to be lies. He is a well-known figure internationally, tireless worker for Russian Church unity over the decades, writer, hagiographer, European cultural historian, author of the Services to All the Saints of the Isles (of the North Atlantic) and to All the Saints of the Western\ Lands, and the greatest Russophile you can find in England, who has been faithful to the Russian Church despite continual persecution for nearly fifty years. Unlike his bishop, he speaks and writes fluent Russian and he does not tell Russians to ‘learn English’, so they can speak to him. If the Russian Church rejects him, it will have no friends left in Western Europe. What an appalling way to treat people who have sacrificed their whole lives for the Russian Church’.

The young neophyte bishop then offended the Romanians, telling them to their face that he did not like them and then offended  the Moldovans that he only half-liked them and then forbade them from kneeling on Sundays, something that Orthodox in Moldova have been doing for centuries.

He offended the Greeks by telling them publicly that they must not venerate the icon of St Sophrony, whom Fr Andrew knew well and who was also forced to leave the Moscow Patriarchate because of persecution, and that their Greek Patriarch is ‘possessed’.

He offended the French, with whom he communicates by Google translator, by excommunicating members of their family and friends of 50 years standing who live in France and have always belonged to the Western European Archdiocese of the Moscow Patriarchate. For decades Fr Andrew had battled for this Archdiocese to rejoin the Russian Church and he with others had been successful in this.

He offended the English in an act of swaggering American imperialism and crass cultural insensitivity by insisting that they speak American English, instead of their own native English, which they had been using in the Orthodox context for long before he had been born.

He insisted that we left ROCOR without letters of canonical leave. At any point he could have written those letters in a matter of 15 minutes. Although these letters were politely requested on several occasions by Metr Jean and then by Metr Joseph, he refused to write them. However, in reality no letters of canonical leave were ever necessary, since clergy do not need letters of canonical leave in order to quit a bishop who is in schism (Canon XV of the First and Second Council held under St Photius the Great).

After Metr Jean of the Moscow Patriarchal Archdiocese of Western Europe was forced, stabbed in the back by a certain MP Metropolitan (even younger than nearly all our children), to abandon us on 10 February 2022, with the words ‘I could not care less about them’, We discussed what to do. Tired of the utter divisiveness and sectarianism of the Russian Church, whose bishops are out of communion even with each other, we as a group considered offers from various Local Churches to join them.

We decided for the following reasons to join the Romanian Orthodox Church:

The Romanian Church is in communion with everyone. They are not involved in the Russian-Greek dispute, which began in the Ukraine and has already spread to Africa and elsewhere, isolating the Russian Church.

Over 60% of all Orthodox in England are Moldovans or Romanians. They have an Autonomous Synod of seven Bishops for Western and Southern Europe, nearly 700 parishes, a large number of parishes and two monasteries. No Local Church will ever be formed in the British Isles and Ireland without this majority.

Among our 13 clergy are two Moldovan priests, one Romanian priest, one Moldovan deacon, one Moldovan reader and one Romanian reader. Thus, nearly half our clergy are Romanian-speaking.

The majority of our people are Moldovans or Romanians. As we have so many Moldovans, Ukrainians and Russians, we remain on the old calendar and all our liturgical customs, with the full blessing of Metr Joseph. Nothing changes. Effectively we are a Diaspora part of the Metropolia of Bessarabia, which is under the Patriarchate of Romania.

There are 30,000 Moldovans in Essex and East London who have been pastorally neglected. We have a pastoral duty towards them.

All our six parishes and twelve clergy were received into the Patriarchate of Romania in just four hours on 16 February 2022, with the help of the leading Professor of Canon Law of the Patriarchate of Romania.

We believe that the four very aggressive clerical personalities in the Russian Church who are entirely responsible for the divisions and who have either created or else supported sectarian division inside it will in time be removed.

Then will have to begin the work of re-establishing canonical, and not political, principles of action. The present situation leaves the Russian Church in Western Europe in a state of three jurisdictions, divided and feeling betrayed. It has created great scandal among the people who can only see warring, aggressive and bullying bishops. This is all because of the lack of conciliarity between the three Russian jurisdictions. They ask: ‘Are those bishops even Christians?’

This whole intra-Russian situation reflects the wider and scandalous divisions between the Local Orthodox Churches, which can only be overcome through a return to canonical, and not political, practices, to be re-established by a Council of the whole Orthodox Church.

20 February 2022

This very cruel rejection and betrayal by the Russian Church of its greatest Non-Russian friends in the United Kingdom, ourselves, after nearly fifty years of faithfulness, has led to a spiral of departures from it caused by further astounding acts of Russian nationalism, resulting in November 2023 in its now disastrous situation in the Ukraine, Latvia and Moldova. In the last case, senior priests are now pleading with their Metropolitan to lead the remains of his Church and follow the 30% who have already left it into the Patriarchate of Romania (See the article below, Metropolitan Vladimir….). This is exactly what we did first, over twenty months ago on 16 February 2022, fleeing schism, sectarianism, cultishness, phariseeism, censoriousness, bigotry, greed, sheer lack of love and lack of pastoral care. We fled a very young, inexperienced neophyte bishop who knew very little about the realities of Orthodoxy, only bookish theories, and did not understand even the language of his Russian clergy and people. As by far the senior and most experienced priest in his diocese and financially and morally independent, I had the responsibility and duty of leading the exodus across the Red Sea of his old calendarist schism. What began then has now developed into the heresy (I do not use that word lightly) of the rebaptism of Orthodox who wish to join ROCOR. As the proverb says: ‘Those who sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind’.

City of Colchester

13 November 2023


Metropolitan Vladimir convenes a meeting with all the deacons, after receiving the letter from the priests from Botanica

On Thursday, at the Metropolia of Chisinau and All Moldavia, a meeting is to be held with all the archpriests and abbots of monasteries subordinate to Metropolitan Vladimir, at which the proposal of some priests regarding the in corpore accession of this Church structure to the Patriarchate will most likely be discussed in Romanian.

According to the priest Pavel Borsevschi, the Metropolitan convened the meeting, after receiving today the letter from the clerics of the Botanica Deanery of Chisinau, which urges him to switch to the Romanian Orthodox Church.

A single priest from the II Deanery of the Archdiocese of Chisinau spoke out against the accession of the Metropolia of Moldova to the Romanian Patriarchate. The Dean of Botanica, priest Pavel Borșevschi, said this for We mention that 30 churches from the Botanica Deanery, but also from the villages of Sângera, Revaca, Băcioi, Străsiteni and Brăila are part of the II Deanery of the Archdiocese of Chisinau.

“The letter is signed by most of the priests in the diocese. We do not propose to join the Metropolia of Bessarabia, but we demand that the entire Metropolia, as a canonical structure, led by Metropolitan Vladimir, renounce the Russian Church and Patriarch Kyrill and come under the jurisdiction of the Romanian Patriarchate. We cannot be in a church where the Patriarch blesses his priests to pray for the victory of the Russian army over Ukraine, which is our suffering sister. We have just had a war in Transnistria, with the blessing of Patriarch Alexiy II. In such cases, when we say “victory”, we are talking about humiliation. It is something that cannot be explained from a Christian point of view.

When he received the letter, the Metropolitan did not tell us either yes or no, but decided to summon all the deacons and abbots of the monasteries on Thursday to discuss this issue. I don’t think he has any reason to disagree with us, based on his letter to Patriarch Kyrill and considering that this opinion is not only ours, the priests’, but also that of the religious community, which we shepherd” . priest Pavel Borševschi reported.

We remind you that, on September 5 Metropolitan Vladimir addressed a letter to Patriarch Kyrill, in which he informs him that he cannot do anything to stop the rise of the Metropolia of Bessarabia in the Republic of Moldova and that the Russian Church is perceived in society as an outpost of the Kremlin and a supporter of the Russian intervention in Ukraine. The letter also states that “the people of Moldova have Latin roots and it is perfectly normal to aspire to remain in this civilizational space, after centuries of artificial division”.

In Memoriam: The Russian Emigration Church

Those of us who became part of the Russian Emigration Church half-way through its life, back in the 1970s, have been betrayed by the direction of the post-Soviet Russian Orthodox Church. We knew quite well such figures as Metr Antony Bloom (I was tonsured reader by him in January 1981), Archbishop Basil Krivoshein, Archbishop George Tarasov, Archbishop Antony of Geneva, Archbishop Seraphim of Brussels. Whatever their ‘jurisdiction’, their spirit was the same – that of piety, that of non-possession, that of pastoral care, that of faithfulness to St Sergius of Radonezh, St Seraphim of Sarov, St John of Kronstadt, to the New Martyrs and Confessors. And their spirit was a missionary spirit, a multinational spirit, not a narrow nationalist spirit. Today all those bishops are spinning in their graves, as they see the spirit of materialist possession, nationalism and narcissism that has taken over the Russian Church administration and even filters down among priests. Of them there are two sorts: those who are hireling priests for career and ‘awards’ and those, like us, who cannot be supressed, because we are priests by destiny.

The Russian Orthodox administration, called the Moscow Patriarchate, will inevitably now lose all its churches outside Russia. We were the first to leave. The strangest thing is that the Patriarchate’s strongest ally outside Russia is ROCOR. What was in its first three generations the most spiritually independent, and could still be so, has now become the most loyal servant of compromise with the world. With its history, it should have been the first to ask the serious questions. It refuses and so the task has been left to us.

How sad that a few years after the Russian Church administration had been freed of atheist persecution, it began to behave towards its faithful children not as a mother, but as a stepmother, and began to persecute us. As a result of its political compromises and nationalism, the Moscow Patriarchate has lost all authority and influence with us in the Emigration and in general outside the Russian Federation. It can no longer be the Patriarchate of Orthodox in the Emigration in Western Europe, in the Ukraine, in the Baltic States, in Central Asia, in Moldova, in Belarus. As a result, it will lose all the once Russian Orthodox Churches, Metropolias and Dioceses outside the Russian Federation. The following article confirms exactly what we began to observe since 2016, forcing us in 2022 to leave the Russian Orthodox Church after nearly fifty years of loyalty to it. It had been disloyal to us and had abandoned us. We were left with no other choice. We thank God that we were well-known to many bishops who were happy to help us and ignore the uncanonical and absurd sanctions later taken against us after we had left.


Another 13 parishes leave the Metropolia of Moldova and move to the Metropolia of Bessarabia. Another 50 will follow in the coming weeks

Next week, 13 churches from different districts will officially pass to the Metropolia of Bessarabia, sources close to these parishes told Radio Free Europe. Since the beginning of the Russian invasion in Ukraine, more than 60 priests from the Republic of Moldova have moved from the Metropolia of Moldova to that of Bessarabia.

Two weeks ago six priests were excommunicated by the Synod of the Orthodox Church of Moldova (canonically subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchate), because they Had joined the Metropolis of Bessarabia (part of the Romanian Patriarchate), in a few days another 13 parishes will leave the Metropolia of Moldova. Next week, these churches are to receive the re-registration documents from the Public Services Agency.

One of the parishes that has already changed its metropolitan in documents is the church of the Holy Archangels Mihail and Gavril from Malcoci village, Ialoveni district. Its parish priest, priest Andrei Oistric, was until recently Dean of the Faculty of Pastoral Theology at the Academy of Orthodox Theology, part of the Metropolia of Moldova.

“I studied in Suceava and Bucharest and I was always closer to the Metropolia of Bessarabia. I have dedicated more than half of my life to theological education: for 13 years I was a teacher, spiritual priest and deputy director at the “Regina Maria” girls’ high school theological seminary and for another 12 years I worked at the Academy of Theology, of which 10 years I was Dean. My feelings for Romanian Orthodoxy were not a secret. All my colleagues and students knew this,” priest Andrei Oistric told Radio Free Europe.

How does the transition from one Metropolia to another take place?

The parish priest from Malcoci says that he wanted to move to the Metropolia of Bessarabia 15 years ago, when he came to the village, but the people in the community were not ready. “Since the war started, I have had more and more requests from the parishioners: “Father, look at how the war is supported, it is not good like that!”. I was also affected by this war, and so was my family. I have relatives on both sides. I showed this desire at the end of February-beginning of March, and in August the parish of Malcoci village officially passed from the Metropolia of Moldova to that of Bessarabia”, explained the priest.

The transition from one Metropolia to another is done through a legal procedure. Parishes are re-registered with the Public Services Agency. “At our place, in the village of Malcoci, a meeting was held with the parishioners and minutes were drawn up. I submitted it to the Metropolia of Bessarabia, the Ministry of Justice and the Public Services Agency. The agency gave us a new tax code, the right to have a stamp, so all the legal rights”, states the parish priest from Malcoci.

“The Russian Church was not like a mother to us, but like a stepmother”

In practical terms, however, nothing changes in the parish, not even the calendar. The priest says that he will still keep all the holidays on the old calendar. Even before officially leaving the Metropolia of Moldova, he left the Academy of Theology. His resignation was approved at the same Synod on October 25 and he was replaced by Hieromonk Macarie Crudu.

“I retired from the academy. I tried to be as fair as possible in everything. Let someone come with new forces, with new ideas. Like it or not, our roots are Latin, we don’t have Slavic roots. The Russian Church was not like a mother to us, but like a stepmother. Nevertheless, it would have been nice to say now: «Return to your natural mother, we allow you». We want to remain on friendly terms with the Russian Church, as it has been throughout the centuries”, adds the parish priest from Malcoci.

This week, the founder and vice-rector of the Academy of Theology, Viacheslav Cazacu, also declared that he had left the Metropolia of Moldova and joined the Metropolia of Bessarabia. More such announcements are expected in the coming weeks.

“The parishes that want to join the Metropolia of Bessarabia are of an impressive number, but let’s see how they take the steps. About 50 have already applied. I cannot give you the names, because that was the deal, so as not to cause confusion. Certain parishes are now in the transition process, at the documentation stage,” said the representative of the Metropolia of Bessarabia, priest Ion Marian, to Radio Free Europe.

Two weeks ago, the Metropolia of Moldova defrocked six priests who had transferred to the Metropolia of Bessarabia. On the other hand, the Metropolia of Bessarabia considers that the decision to defrock the six priests is not valid, because it has no justification “from a theological and canonical perspective”. In a press release, the Metropolia of Bessarabia urged all clerics and monks who “feel constrained by the Russian dioceses to have the courage to get out of this slavery and return to the tradition and communion of the Romanian Orthodox Church”.

In a letter sent to Russian Patriarch Kyrill in September, Metropolitan Vladimir of Moldova complained that the Metropolia of Moldova is losing ground to the Republic of Moldova due to the war in the Ukraine and that more and more priests are moving to the Metropolia of Bessarabia.

The two Orthodox churches operating on the territory of the Republic of Moldova – subordinated to the Patriarchate of Moscow and the Romanian Patriarchate, respectively – have disputed their canonical status since 2002, when the Metropolia of Bessarabia was registered, following a decision of the European Court of Human Rights.



The End of a World


Catastrophic predictions and apocalyptic undertones are here. Even the name of a place in the Holy Land, Armageddon, is on some people’s lips. The US elite is threatening to invade Chinese Taiwan ‘in order to protect it from China’. In the US-backed ‘democratic’ Ukraine, that ‘bastion of Western ‘Civilisation’’ the most corrupt country in the world, which is now banning Christianity, 20,000 untrained and poorly-equipped Ukrainian conscripts are dying every month for the sake of dependence on the US, thousands more are shot in the back by the Ukrainian secret police for retreating, or else are deserting or surrendering. The Ukrainian birthrate has plummeted to 0.7 per woman and the population is now under 20 million, whereas just over thirty years ago it was 52 million.

Then there is the Holy Land, where Israeli colonists, 100% backed by US and Western European financial, and therefore political and media elites, but not by their peoples, are planning to genocide two million native Palestinians. Men, women and children are being murdered or dismembered by US bombs, dropped by US aircraft with Israeli insignia. The whole once disunited and warring Muslim world, from Morocco to Pakistan, from Iran to Turkey, from Saudi Arabia to Egypt, from Yemen to Syria, is united against the Israeli military machine and its Western sponsors. Mass demonstrations in support of the genocided Palestinians, largely unreported by Western State media, are taking place all over the world, including in Western countries. The US is isolated, faced down by the Global Majority, from Brazil to South Africa. Heads of countries even refuse to speak to the senile President Biden. It has sent aircraft carriers, but China has sent warships, as Russia also. Iran is threatening isolated Israel and its corrupt political leaders with destruction, if Israel invades Gaza. In Syria, part of which is illegally occupied by the US Army, which is pumping out stolen oil, Russian forces, present at the invitation of the Syrian government, are threatened by the US. They will react.

The problem is ‘Gentile Zionism’. This is the Non-Jewish, Western fantasy that all political decisions taken by Western countries are infallibly correct and that the superior Western ‘liberal’ world, as ‘an exceptional civilisation’ with ‘a manifest destiny’, must rule the planet as the unique model for all. All Non-Westerners are as nothing, just folklore to look at in a Disneyland zoo. The Global Majority, seven billion out of eight billion, do not agree with this Nazism and is at this moment preparing to intervene in the Holy Land to bring about a ceasefire. There has only ever been one way out of this, ‘the two-state solution’: one homeland for Jews and one homeland for Palestinians, as was agreed by Resolution 181 of the UN in 1947, but which has ever since been vetoed by the US.


The largest nominal religion in the world, though still covering only a minority of the world, is Christianity. Two forms of it used to predominate in the Western world. The first, Roman Catholicism, invented a thousand years ago, has been undermined by unending scandals involving papal and episcopal corruption, clerical pedophilia and crime, misogyny and racism. Few Roman Catholic laypeople actually believe in or observe its controversial ideology. The second form, Protestantism, invented 500 years ago after dissatisfaction with Roman Catholicism, has nearly completely dissolved into the anti-Christian Secularism which both spawned. Protestant leaders widely predict that their own religion will die out by 2050. Who believes in the Western form of Protestantism any more? Most Protestant churches in the Western world are empty and many have been sold or are for sale.

As for the Non-Western, Orthodox Church, some of its main leaders are only politicians and not pastors, whose only concern seems to be power and money. Thus, the Greek Patriarch, out of communion with the Russian Church, set up an uncanonical Church in the Ukraine for a $25 million bribe from the US and his Patriarchate has been undermined by incessant sexual and financial scandals. Meanwhile, the Russian Patriarch, out of communion with the Greek Patriarch, thanks St Seraphim of Sarov for nuclear weapons! (1). His once multinational and united Church, undermined by centralisation and Russian nationalism, is utterly divided. It suffers from constant moral and financial scandals with bishops, divisions or schisms everywhere outside Russia, in Estonia, the Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania and Moldova (2). Tomorrow divisions may well begin in Belarus and Kazakhstan. Moreover, the Russian Church’s small, sectarian American branch has been in schism from its even smaller French branch for nearly three years. Nothing has been done about this schism except to encourage it, despite the appeals of its clergy to its now wealthy bishops to return from schism, the consequent collapse of the American branch in one country and the open persecution of theologically-educated and conscientious Orthodox. One of the American bishops scandalously and openly rebaptises, not just Non-Orthodox, but even other Orthodox (!). This is a sect, not part of the Church. Yet, apparently, the leaders of the Russian Church find this arrogant Americanisation and ‘One True Church’ sectarianisation normal.

We have seen it all before. Those who have not seen it all before can read about it in the history books. Although all may become a lot worse, we do not believe the apocalyptic hype. In the Holy Land the Global Majority (miscalled by some the ‘Global South’), Russia, China, India, Africa, Latin America, can still make peace between the two warring sides in the Holy Land. If US dollars were to be withdrawn from troubled places, Taiwan would peacefully return to China, the Ukraine would peacefully return to Russia, and the south and west of Israel would peacefully return to Palestine. There are solutions.

As for Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, these were only ever temporary, politically-shaped Western deviations of Christianity, with some very strange traits. Having served their time, they can now disappear and be replaced, perhaps even by historic Christianity and the historic Church. Their roots from the first millennium are still present. As for the Orthodox Church, we have also seen all the polarised divisions and sectarianism before (3). Leaders come and go. The head of the Church is Christ, not men. When men refuse to deal with the problems they have created, Christ will step in. All racism, schisms and sects can be overcome and dissolved by new, Christ-appointed leaders. We do not believe that this is the end of the world. However, it is the end of a world. We are surely present at the remaking of the world, at its reconfiguration, not at its end.



  1. In French:
  2. Summarised in Romanian in:

The full version of the still unanswered letter from 5 September, which is in fact an urgent appeal for autocephaly, with its clear emphasis on continuing Russian racism towards Moldovans, is available in Romanian-style Russian (Metr Vladimir’s native language is Romanian) on Facebook. If the Russian Patriarch ignores the appeal, the whole Moldovan Church may well join the Romanian Church. The absurd and uncanonical ‘defrockings’ of Moldovan (and other) priests who have already joined the Romanian Church will be rescinded – as they always are when they are purely political.

  1. For example, there was the scandal of the rebaptism of Orthodox by the selfsame Americanised branch of Russian Orthodoxy of neophytes in Guildford, England in 1976. The remnants of that Guildford group of pseudo-Orthodox are still rebaptising Orthodox today. Just another story of primitive neophytism, openly encouraged by its bishops, of whom some are themselves neophytes, despite the canons against the consecration of neophyte bishops. But the heretical rebaptism of Orthodox is itself only a repeat of the age-old phariseeism of the sectarian heresy of Donatism from the fourth, fifth and sixth centuries. There is nothing new under the sun. What is disgraceful that the leadership of the once theologically respectable Russian Church countenances such a heresy in its midst and the persecution and slandering of those who oppose it. Those who start receiving Non-Orthodox Christians by baptism end up receiving Orthodox by baptism too!

The Moldovan Church Saga Continues

Moldova’s population is now only about 2.5 million after the immigration of some 1.2 million Moldovans to Western Europe began after the fall of the USSR, especially since Romania joined the EU. (Most Moldovans have Romanian passports; some 15 years ago they could be bought quite simply for only $10).

The Orthodox Church in 95% + Orthodox Moldova is divided into two. Firstly, since the Soviet Occupation that began in 1941 there has been the Moldovan Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, with seven bishops and some 1200 parishes. Secondly, since the fall of the USSR there has been a second Church, the Metropolia of Bessarabia. This reconstitutes the Church as it was before 1941 as part of the Patriarchate of Romania (over 80% of the Moldovan population is Romanian). Over the last thirty years that part has gradually built up, though even now only about 250 parishes belong to it. However, that number has increased particularly over the last eighteen months, since the conflict in the Ukraine entered its latest phase.

Metropolitan Vladimir (Cantarean), the leader of the Moscow part of the Church, is losing on 2 fronts; at home and abroad. At home priests and parishes are leaving for the Metropolia of Bessarabia, which is supported both by the Romanian government and by the pro-Western Moldovan government. His ‘competition’, the Metropolia of Bessarabia, is fully canonical. This is despite the usual absurd Russian propaganda from the extremists, who ridiculously claim that those in the Romanian Church are ‘schismatics’ or ‘have no grace’!

Abroad, Metr Vladimir is also losing: young people and clergy are leaving corrupt and impoverished Moldova for a better life and so churches back home have less income and few children. Abroad, the hundreds of Moldovan parishes, especially in Italy, Spain and Portugal, have to be under the Patriarchate of Moscow, which funnels money to Moscow – not to Metropolitan Vladimir.

What can Metr Vladimir do?

He could adopt the Latvian scenario, which is to get the Moldovan State to grant him ‘autocephaly’ (independence) and stop commemorating the Russian Patriarch, as Metropolitan Alexander, the leader of Russian Orthodox in Latvia, did. Now everybody, even in the first year of seminary, knows that this is uncanonical. Only a Mother-Church can grant autocephaly. Indeed, Metr Alexander’s policy in Latvia has proved to be disastrous.

A great many churches in Latvia are now empty. The Orthodox people, nearly all of whom are Russians, are boycotting a Church where their Russian Patriarch is not commemorated. Some Orthodox are travelling to church in Lithuania and Estonia to go to church. There they do commemorate the Russian Patriarch. The income of the Church in Latvia has dropped dramatically. Of the three priests I know who continued to commemorate the Russian Patriarch despite the instructions of Metr Alexander, one has stopped commemorating under pressure, a second has been suspended and the third continues for the moment.

Therefore, in the meantime, Metr Vladimir in Moldova has written a letter to the Russian Patriarch Kyrill asking for autocephaly. On top of that he has recently been travelling to parishes abroad, notably to England and Ireland to try and get Moldovan support for an Autocephalous Moldovan Orthodox Church. If he gets autocephaly (highly unlikely, it seems), then he can claim the Moldovan parishes abroad, which are at present under the Moscow Patriarchate’s Exarchate, which is centred in Paris. This would virtually wipe out that largely Moldovan-dependent Russian Exarchate in southern Europe and pose many questions for it in Switzerland, France, England and elsewhere.

The situation has not been helped by the racism that Moldovans have experienced on the part of Russians in Western Europe and the years-long corruption involving sums of Moldovan money funnelled to Moscow. That has already quite naturally made for bad feeling on the part of Moldovans towards Russians (‘I don’t like Romanians and only half-like Moldovans’, as one young and particularly tactful (!) Russian bishop said three years ago to an audience mainly of Romanians and Moldovans!)

Most likely of all, centralist Moscow will either ignore Metr Vladimir’s letter requesting autocephaly or reject it. If so, then Metr Vladimir has an alternative which Metr Alexander in Latvia does not have; that is, to join wholesale the Patriarchate of Romania and to become an Autonomous Church within that Patriarchate, which could give him the right to autonomous parishes in Western Europe. But what happens then to relations between Bucharest and Moscow? Especially when Moscow desperately needs Romanian support against Constantinople in Church matters in the Ukraine.


The Church on Earth Belongs to the Faithful People, Not to the ‘Princes of the Church’

  1. Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be a bishop desires a noble task.Now the bishop is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkennessnot violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s Church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devilHe must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.

I Timothy 3, 1-7


The Church belongs to Christ, as all agree. Christ, and no other person or institution, however powerful, is the Head of the Church. However, as for the Church on earth, it is purposeless without the people. It exists to save souls. Nearly three years ago a certain very young foreign bishop, parachuted in from abroad, tried to impose his own alien culture and language on us, take away from us our church building, bought by the people and valued by the insurers at £2.35 million ($3 million), and all its contents, which he enumerated like an accountant in minute detail and for which he had composed an act to be inserted into the deeds of ownership. (For £340 our Church solicitor informed us that this act was illegal and amounted to theft). We warned the bishop and his superiors that if he continued, he would find himself with an empty building, quite expensive to run, no clergy, no choir and an empty bank account, as the people would categorically not follow him. As usual, he refused to listen to anyone, including to his own Patriarch.

The people had already obtained a very bad impression of the bishop from earlier visits, with his outbursts of rage, threatening demands for more money and bullying, basic theological and liturgical errors, as well as racist utterances against Romanians, Moldovans and English – half the parish! Sadly, as he was such an inexperienced neophyte, born after most of us, and had never taken or listened to any advice at all, he continued his threats which he published on his several de facto personal websites and on other sites where he had friends, issuing bits of paper about clergy having ‘no grace’ and discrediting himself among the whole Orthodox episcopate throughout Europe. By persecuting the faithful, he only managed to destroy his own cause and isolate himself from the Christian mainstream. It was suicidal on his part. Thus, he destroyed his own future clerical career.


We can see similar problems in many other parts of the Russian Church today. For example, in Latvia, the local Metropolitan, in connivance with the government, has declared his Church independent (‘autocephalous’) and banned the commemoration of the Russian Patriarch. The people, a smallish and predominantly Russian minority and with a strong nationalist twist, which comes from the anti-Russian persecution they have borne for over thirty years from the US puppet government in Latvia, are furious. They had already been suffering for years from the homosexual scandals there, which nothing had ever been done about in sleeping Moscow. Now, since they have no canonical alternative to the Russian Church (no other Orthodox jurisdiction is present here), the people are voting with their feet and staying at home or else crossing the borders to go to churches in Lithuania or Estonia, where they do commemorate the Russian Patriarch.

At the moment, as far as I know, only two Russian priests in Latvia are defying their Metropolitan and the government and are commemorating their Patriarch. We await further developments in EU Latvia. This could go all the way to the European Court of Human Rights, though that Court actually seems to encourage religious persecution against Russian Orthodox, as in the Ukraine. The boycott of churches in Latvia means a fatal lack of income for the Metropolitan and it is perhaps this factor that will be decisive. For the moment, the very elderly Metropolitan has consecrated a very ill priest to the episcopate without his Patriarch’s blessing in order to create four bishops, the minimum required in order to be an independent Church. This has created even further division. It is suicidal.


In Moldova the situation is very different. Here, Orthodox are not a small minority as in Latvia, but some 98% of the whole population. The mass of people, who are in fact Romanians, are divided between two Churches, the Russian and the Romanian. The former was the obligatory Church in the Soviet period after 1945 and is still the majority, perhaps some 80% or more.  However, the Romanian Church, whose territory this was before the Second World War, is gaining ground, quite rapidly since the conflict in the Ukraine stepped up in 2022 and since the Russian-appointed bishops in Moldova began intimidating and persecuting the clergy and the people who have left. This intimidation, by spoken and written word has, as in England nearly three years ago, had very negative consequences for the bishops who are speaking and writing thus.

Showing themselves not to be Christians by issuing threatening bits of paper about clergy who no longer ‘have grace’ is the worst thing they could do. What began as a slow movement towards the Romanian Church could easily snowball because of their actions, just as it did in England nearly three years ago. The people are urging their priests to leave the Romanian Church. Can the pastors desert their flock who want to return to the legitimate, pre-Soviet Church? No. Several of the Russian-appointed bishops in Moldova, where, as in Latvia, the set-up goes back to Soviet times, were already very compromised by videos and other leaked information, just as in England and Latvia. This is also suicidal and it is happening, exactly as in England, where there is a canonical alternative to the Russian Church and plenty of canonical Orthodox bishops who are happy to take persecuted Orthodox into their jurisdictions.

The Ukraine

Here the situation is better known, partly because it is so catastrophic. There is in the Ukraine only one canonical Church, which, living in an independent country with which Moscow is at war, has, quite reasonably, declared itself completely independent of Moscow, as indeed it used to be, though long ago. As a result, it has become the victim of persecution from centralist Moscow and also from the atheist State in Kiev. It is like Christ on the Cross, against Whom the two thieves railed, until one of them repented (Matt. 27, 44 and Mk. 15, 32). The atheist Kievan State has even set up its own rival State-run ‘Church’, given a veneer of ‘legitimacy’ by a piece of paper issued by the Patriarchate of Constantinople under US pressure, with the help of ‘a very large sum of money’ (rumoured to be $25 million). Since very few practising Orthodox in the Ukraine are interested in this fake Church with its fake clergy – they can see through it – the fake Church has been stealing church buildings from the canonical Church, which it then locks up and leaves empty, as there are no clergy and no people to fill them. It is Soviet-style persecution all over again.

This is similar to the situation in England, only in the Ukraine the gangsters have the backing of the atheist State; in England the State is simply contemptuous of religion, not actually hostile. You can try and take over churches through outbursts of rage, bullying demands for money, threats and intimidation, but you can only succeed in doing so by force, if the atheist State supports you. And even then you will only succeed in emptying them. Nobody goes to them, neither the authentic clergy, nor the people. We are reminded of the prophecy of St Seraphim of Vyritsa (+ 1949): ‘A time will come when not persecution, but money and the pleasures of this world will turn people away from God and far more souls will perish than during the times of open persecution. One the one hand they will raise up crosses and gild cupolas, but on the other hand the kingdom of lies and evil will come. It will be dreadful to live until those times’.

The People

The fact is that the Church on earth belongs to the believing people. There must be consent and agreement from the faithful people. When whole parishes, clergy, their multigenerational families and the people in solidarity, apart from a tiny number of naïve, misinformed or hoodwinked individuals or recent converts, fewer than 1%, leave their bishop, it is because the bishop is in the wrong. In these cases, in truth, ‘vox populi, vox Dei’, the voice of the people is the voice of God. And the saints confirm that by their miracles.

However much the bishop may offer in bribes to clergy to set up parallel churches in the same city, sends letters to denounce the clergy and the faithful to other bishops (which they ignore, as they only discredit the bishop in question) or tries to divide the families of clergy, attempting to set son against father, a bishop cannot succeed against the impregnable fortress of real Faith. At best he will win a Pyrrhic victory, but for the most part he will utterly humiliate himself and lose everything, as has happened and is happening in all the above and other cases.

Conclusion: The Corruption of Part of the Episcopate

I remember meeting the late Fr Alexander Schmemann in Paris in May 1980. I asked him for his impressions of the episcopate inside the then Soviet Russia. He answered me: ‘Half of them are saints, the other half are demons’. Indeed, in Russia there is a popular saying that when a priest is consecrated bishop, a demon tries to enter him: sometimes he succeeds, sometimes he fails. When the demon succeeds, the consequences are awful. Visiting Florida in the USA in October 1996, I spoke to a much older priest who explained to me the struggles of his three-thousand strong parish in Pennsylvania against the intrigues of what he called ‘the lavender mafia’, (homosexuals), who controlled his previous jurisdiction. Their demands were all about property and money. That type certainly love their comfort.

Roman Catholicism in Western countries is rapidly dying out, largely because of the enforcement of celibacy on its priesthood and all the associated homosexual and pedophile scandals. In the Orthodox Church, it is not the priesthood that is the problem, but the episcopate, which also is obligatorily celibate. Thus, the pool of candidates is very small, especially where monastic life is very weak. Our unsurprising conclusion is that to be a good bishop you must have a pure soul (see I Tim 3, 1-7 above). For bad bishops will consecrate others in their own image and even more unworthy than themselves (their homosexual boyfriends, as we have so often seen) and that is why there are so many woeful metropolitans and bishops in the Church: ‘But, when the Son of Man comes, shall He find faith on the Earth?’ (Lk 18, 8).




An Answer from the Patriarchate of Romania to the Moscow Patriarchate.

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:



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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.


On the Transfer of Clergy from One Local Church to Another Without Letters of Release and the Present Church Crisis in Moldova

All Local Churches have accepted clergy, even suspended or defrocked clergy, without letters of release throughout history. Indeed, it has been common practice among all the different parts of the Russian Church in the Diaspora for many decades, but also among many other Local Churches down the generations. There is nothing new in this practice for the simple reason that suspensions and defrockings are often carried out for purely political purposes or to attempt to seize properties or money. In one extreme case, in 2006 a bishop from the Diocese of Sourozh (Moscow Patriarchate) issued letters of release to his clergy addressed to himself, then joined the Patriarchate of Constantinople where he was named Bishop of Amphipolis, and received those selfsame clergy into his new Diocese with his previously written letters of release. Apparently, this was acceptable.

In recent years the Patriarchate of Constantinople has accepted many clergy from the Russian Church without letters of release and I am talking about suspended and even defrocked clergy, suspended or defrocked for political reasons, for example for praying for peace in the Ukraine. In turn, the Russian Church, especially zealously its American Synod, known as ROCOR, has recently accepted many clergy from the Patriarchate of Constantinople without letters of release, six in Western Europe alone. As for the Moscow Patriarchate itself, it has recently accepted over 200 clergy from the Patriarchate of Alexandria, also without letters of release.

The Romanian Orthodox Church has also accepted many clergy with large numbers of Romanian-speaking parishioners without letters of release. This situation is especially topical in Moldova, where even before the present phase of the conflict in the Ukraine erupted in February 2022, some 20% of the Church (720,000 people) had transferred from the Russian jurisdiction of Chisinau to the Romanian jurisdiction of Bessarabia. Since then, this tide has been turning into a flood, with the result that the once monopoly of the Moscow group of Chisinau is smaller and more impoverished and may soon become a minority. Below is the statement of the Metropolia of Bessarabia in Moldova issued by its Communication, Media and Public Relations Department on 29 June:

The Metropolia of Bessarabia receives into its jurisdiction all clerics and believers who want to be in the jurisdiction of the National Church

In the course of the last centuries, the Orthodox Church in Bessarabia went through trying times, caused by the Tsarist and the Soviet Communist occupation (1812, 1940 and 1944). Then the clergy and believers in this region were abusively included in the jurisdiction of the Russian Church, without canonical leave and without the Russian Church taking into account the provisions of Church legislation.

This imposed its authority contrary to the wish of the Bessarabians to remain under the jurisdiction of the Metropolia of Iași and its dioceses, which had spiritual and canonical responsibility on the left bank of the River Prut. Thus, they went against the will of the inhabitants of Bessarabia, they forgot about the religious freedom of the people to choose, a fact also recorded by the historians of the time. 

At present, when in a canonical, free and legal way, the clergy and the faithful want to return to the bosom of the Mother Church, the descendants of the former aggressors issue administrative acts of intimidation and stop nature and the natural process of things. In this sense, we must specify that the change of canonical jurisdiction is a legal act, guaranteed by the legislation of the Republic of Moldova, of which we cite only a few laws: 

“A religious community may join any religious cult or dissociate from it by the freely expressed will of its members, without additional approvals or hindrances from outside.” (LAW No. 125 of 11-05-2007, Art. 6, paragraph 3, regarding freedom of conscience, thought and religion). 

“The right of religious association of believers and their communities is defended by legal or administrative means.” (Art. 7, para. 1).

“The State guarantees religious communities the defence of their legitimate rights and interests.” (Art. 7, par. 3).

Because no child denies his parents, except when he is forced, as happened in Bessarabia during the more than 150 years of Russian occupation, it must be understood that the Metropolia of Bessarabia is the only Church structure canonically and historically entitled to shepherd and protect its believers in Bessarabia.

It operates within the Romanian Patriarchate, according to the decision of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church of 19 December 1992, when it was decided to make an act of reparation, and ‘all clerics and their pastors who are already, or will become, members of the Metropolia of Bessarabia under the Romanian Patriarchate are canonical clerics and blessed believers, and, as such, any ecclesiastical disciplinary sanction directed against them on the grounds of belonging to the Metropolia of Bessarabia is considered null and void’.

From the above, it is understood that the arguments of those who say that this is how things are known to them, that they were baptised in this Church, are not natural arguments, but show an ignorance of the suffering of our forefathers who were tortured, persecuted, exiled and killed for truth, faith, and the desire to express their God-given identity.

Considering all of this, we make it known to the believers and clerics of the Republic of Moldova that the decrees issued by the Metropolia of Chisinau (a religious structure of Russian affiliation) against the members of the Metropolia of Bessarabia have no value and are administrative acts that do not affect the spiritual state of those who come to the Mother Church, the Romanian Patriarchate.

In order to avoid the syndrome of the victim who sympathises or identifies with oppressors (Stockholm syndrome), believers must be correctly and honestly informed about the realities, in order to heal the wound and rectify the state of affairs in accordance with canonical, statutory and regulatory provisions and according to historical truth.

In this context, we make it clear that Archpriest Alexei Sîrbu, the parish priest of St Nicholas church in the village of Puhoi, Ialoveni district, a former cleric of the Chisinau Metropolia, at the community’s request has since 2022 been a cleric of the Metropolia of Bessarabia, specifically of the Diocese of South Bessarabia. All the measures taken against His Reverence are null and abusive, as he has a working priesthood and can celebrate without any restriction all the holy services.

In this sense, we urge all the spiritual sons and daughters in the parish to be with their priest and spiritual father to share in the grace of the Holy Spirit poured out through the intercession of Christ’s servants.

Knowing the decisions of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church regarding Church life in the Metropolia of Bessarabia, the clerics who wish to come under the jurisdiction of the Mother Church are welcomed with joy into the Romanian Patriarchate.

To this the Moscow-run Church of Chisinau replied very aggressively and polemically on the very next day:

The Opinion of the Orthodox Church of Moldova Regarding the Press Release Issued by the Metropolia of Bessarabia

The Metropolia of Chisinau and All Moldova regrets the fact that in the press release issued by the Metropolia of Bessarabia on 29 June 2023, there is talk of canonicity, but no canon of the Orthodox Church is cited that would justify the reception of clerics from the Metropolia of Chisinau. The Metropolia of Bessarabia considers that the transfer of the clergy and the faithful into their jurisdiction represents nature and the natural process of things. In the Church, the corruption of priests and believers cannot in any way be called nature and the natural process of things, but on the contrary a violation of the canons. Selling anyone, like Esau, for a plate of lentils (Exodus 25; 29-34), was and will remain an abomination before God. The representatives of the Metropolia of Bessarabia state that the change of canonical jurisdiction is a legal act, guaranteed by the legislation of the Republic of Moldova. But we ask ourselves: Is this act also justified by canon law? How can a Church entity put the Law of the Land above the Canons of the Church?

In this sense, we quote the canons of the Orthodox Church:

Apostolic Canon 11 (condemnation of communion with the Catholics)=

If someone, being a cleric, were to pray together with a cleric who had repented, let him also repent. (28 ap.; 4 Antioch.; 10 Carthage);

Apostolic Canon 12 (letters of release)

If any cleric or layman condemned, or (yet) not received (into communion), and goes to another city has been received without a letter of release, let both the one who received him and the one who is received him be damned; (So the Moscow Patriarchate damns itself?)

Apostolic Canon 15 (transfer of clergy)

If any priest or deacon or, in general, any of the clergy, leaving his parish, goes to another, moving altogether he will go to another parish, contrary to the judgment of his bishop, we command that he should no longer serve, especially if, after being called by his bishop to return, he did not obey, remaining in disorder, be nevertheless received there into communion as a layman; (And if he leaves because he is fleeing schism?)

Apostolic Canon 16 (transfer of clergy)

And if the bishop to whom (some like these) were to be found, disregarding the suspension decided against them, receives them as clerics, let him be damned, as a teacher of disorder. (15 ap.; 15 sin. I ec.; 17 Trul.; 3 Antioch). (And if the suspension was uncanonical, but carried out for reasons of personal hatred, jealousy and greed and for schismatic reasons?)

The Metropolia of Bessarabia, in order to argue its reactivation, talks about the decision of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church of 19 December 1992. However, we wonder to what extent this decision respects the canons of the Orthodox Church established by the Holy Fathers at the Universal and Local Councils. In this connection:

Canons 129 – 133 of the Council of Carthage

If someone (the Metropolia of Chisinau and All Moldavia) … has shepherded a territory for three years and no one has asked for this territory (the Romanian Patriarchate), then they will never ask for it again, especially if during this period there was a bishop to do it and did not do it; (This interpretation ignores the total lack of freedom under the USSR for Romanian bishops to do so and the support of the Soviet Establishment for the Russian Orthodox takeover of the region). 

Canon 17 of the Fourth Universal Council establishes a term of thirty years to litigate disputes concerning the property even of individual parishes; (See above). 

The parishes in each diocese…must remain unaltered under the authority of the bishops in charge of them—especially if for thirty years they have undoubtedly had the given parishes under their jurisdiction and management; (See above).

Canon 8 of the Third Universal Council

Let it be observed, in certain situations and everywhere in dioceses, that none of the bishops who love God should extend their jurisdiction over dioceses that do not belong to them… that the rules of the fathers should not be violated and that the arrogance of secular authorities should not be allowed to creep into the bosom of the Church and let us not gradually and unnoticed lose that freedom, which our Lord Jesus Christ, the One who freed all mankind, gave us by His Precious Blood. (See above).

The Metropolia of Bessarabia states: ‘Considering all this, we inform the believers and clerics of the Republic of Moldova that the decrees issued by the Metropolia of Chisinau (a religious structure of Russian affiliation) against the members of the Metropolia of Bessarabia have no value and are administrative acts that do not affect the religious status of those who come to the Mother Church, the Romanian Patriarchate’. We ask ourselves: how is it possible that the act of ordination, the decree of appointment as a parish priest, the acts of awarding distinctions by the hierarchies of the Metropolia of Chisinau and of All Moldova are truthful, recognised and have religious value, and the act of suspension issued by the same bishop loses its value, being considered null and void? We have the same question regarding the priest Alexei Sîrbu, stopped from serving the holy things. How is it possible that his ordination and its distinctions are valid, and the decision of His Holiness Vladimir to stop serving is not valid? (Perhaps because one act is canonically valid and not the other, because the latter is political?)

We believe that the attempt of those from the Metropolia of Bessarabia to corrupt clergy and laity from the Metropolia of Chisinau and the whole of Moldova, defending themselves with certain decisions of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church, flagrantly violates the Canon Law of the Orthodox Church. The current mode of action on the part of this Church entity also leads to the violation of the teachings of Holy Scripture: Eager to evangelise where Christ was not called, so as not to build on a foreign foundation (Romans 15, 20). (But who evangelised this territory first? It was not the Russian Church). 

We urge all clerics who have left the Metropolia of Chisinau and All Moldova, within which they received the gift of priesthood, to remember the oath given at ordination and its violation, the slander they caused and continue to cause. Let us remember the words of the Saviour:

And whoever offends one of these little ones who believe in Me, it would be better for him to have a millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world, because of the fools! For folly must come, but woe to that man through whom folly comes. (Matthew 18, 6-7). To also take into account the canons of the Orthodox Church, which they must respect until death. (What if the bishops involved are offending the little ones and not obeying the canons? And surely this extract concerns pedophiles?)

Misleading the clergy and the faithful through their behaviour and personal life (Matthew 18: 7; First Universal Council, Canon 3, Sixth Universal Council, Canon 5): (And if the bishop is misleading through their behaviour, personal life, as the public photographs show?)

Violation of Oath (Apostolic Canon 25);

Public slander and blasphemy of the Metropolitan, the bishops (Second Universal Council, Canon 6). (What slander and blasphemy? Is this an attempt at censorship despite Christs’ words that ‘the truth will set you free’).

Celebrating the Divine services after ceasing to serve the holy ones (Apostolic Canon 28);

If someone has been suspended from liturgical communion and goes elsewhere to be received into liturgical communion, let him be deposed from the clergy. The canonical Epistle of the Council to Pope Celestine also tells us the same: “Those who are excommunicated in their diocese cannot be perceived as sanctified by your communion… Any misunderstandings that arise should end in their dioceses”. (Canons 116 – 118 of the Council of Carthage); (What if the original diocese is under a schismatic bishop?)

The Challenge of Schism in the Church

With regret, we note that the decisions taken by the Metropolia of Bessarabia in recent times have led to its unfavorable position in relation to the canons of the Church. Any admission of clerics from the Metropolia of Chisinau and the whole of Moldova without a letter of release is uncanonical and attracts all the canonical provisions against him who leaves, and the clerics who transferred should understand that the duty of His Eminence Vladimir is to gently rebuke those they stand against, that only God will give them repentance to the knowledge of the truth and they will escape from the race of the devil, by which they are caught, to do his will (II Timothy 2:25-26). And again the Apostle says: Rebuke those who sin in front of everyone, so that others may also fear (I Timothy 5:20). Like a loving Father, the Metropolitan waits for his prodigal sons to come home! (Where is the love of one who intimidates, threatens and damns others to hellfire because they are obeying the canons?) 

Synodal Department of Institutional Communications and Media Relations

Some of the Scriptural extracts and canons above seem very clear and very strict, but they are all quoted out of context and without any discernment. Moreover, they are quoted by a part of the Moscow Patriarchate, which organisation just in recent years has accepted hundreds of priests from other Churches, also without letters of release! Clearly, Church canons, often called ‘holy’ by those who infringe them (!) are being used politically, not spiritually. As one bishop screamed: ‘I don’t care what happens to you, what I want is the keys! (to the property). In other words, most of these problems are simply about property and the income that comes from it. They have nothing to do with canons and the spiritual, only about lucre and the material.

As we have commented in the text above (comments not in bold), these canons cannot be applied to many situations, especially that in Moldova/Bessarabia, a territory disputed for political and historical reasons between two countries, each having its own name for it, having been conquered by the Soviet Union and taken by military force from Romania. (Somewhat like the Church of Georgia, whose age-old independence was completely and uncanonically suppressed by the Russian Church for some 200 years; once the USSR fell, the Church was restored). Clearly, this is a political problem and these canons cannot be exploited to answer such a question.

Furthermore, the above canons presume that all bishops are Christians. What if they are not and are in fact corrupt and immoral, full of schismatic sectarianism, bullying and racist hatred, publicly declared against other nationalities, who form the vast majority of the parishioners and who therefore want to leave such oppression? The twisted interpretations of the above canons are also contradicted by other canons and by the practice of the Church. Letters of release are only necessary if priests and deacons are corrupt and others have to be warned not to accept them. As we have said, what if clergy, innocent victims of such bishops, are not corrupt, but rather the very bishops who refuse to issue the letters of release most certainly and obviously are?!!! Is there any consultation before such predators are made bishops?

To quote actual real cases in the Russian Church over the last forty years:

What if a bishop wants to sleep with the wife of a cleric or that of another man (as happened in the 1980s elsewhere and as has happened recently under a bishop precisely of the Metropolia of Chisinau?) What should that cleric do? Remain, or flee to another bishop without a letter of release? (There was no letter of release simply because the lustful bishop in question refused to issue it in order to preserve his power).

What if a bishop wants to sodomise a cleric (as happened recently under a bishop of the Metropolia of Chisinau in Moldova, and elsewhere in the Russian Church)? What should that cleric do? Remain, or flee to another bishop without a letter of release? (There was no letter of release simply because the homosexual bishop in question refused to issue it in order to preserve his power).

What if a bishop insists that a cleric become a freemason, what should that cleric do? Remain, or flee to another bishop without a letter of release? (There was no letter of release simply because the corrupt bishop in question refused to issue it in order to preserve his power).

What if a bishop creates a schism? What should that cleric do? Remain in schism against his conscience, or flee to another bishop without a letter of release? (There was no letter of release simply because the schismatic bishop in question refused to issue it in order to preserve his power).

In this latter case, Canon XV of the First and Second Council of the 318 Fathers in 861 does supply a clear-cut answer:

But as for this persons, on the other hand, who, on account of some heresy condemned by the Holy Councils or Fathers, withdrawing themselves from communion with their presiding bishop, who, that is to say, is preaching heresy publicly and teaching it bareheaded in church, such persons are not only not subject to any canonical penalty on account of them walling themselves off from any and all communion with the one called a bishop before any conciliar decision has been pronounced, on the contrary they shall be deemed worthy to enjoy the honour which befits them among Orthodox Christians. For they have defied not bishops, but pseudo-bishops and pseudo-teachers, and have not sundered the union of the Church with any schism but instead have been diligent to rescue the Church from schisms and divisions.

Beware, God is not mocked.