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An Encyclical Remembering the First Year Anniversary of the Suzdal Schism

By Archbishop Gregory of Denver and Colorado

Christ is Risen!

As we enter the Paschalion Period of this year, 2005, we regrettably bring to mind the first anniversary of the schism which Metropolitan Valentine caused in the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church, especially in America.

He had come to America very ill, and we at Dormition Skete fulfilled our Christian obligation to help save his life. He, in turn, showed the utmost ingratitude and lack of Christian behavior, and sought to smite the hand of those who helped him, by pilfering and stealing from those who saved him. In a way, this is similar to what happened to the Russian Emperor Peter I. As a young man, while his family was being slaughtered, he fled to a monastery to save his life. The monks opened the doors of the Trinity-St. Sergios Lavra and saved his life. When he grew up and became Emperor, he, the ungrateful one, persecuted all the monastics in the Russian Land and even the Church.

Regrettably, Metropolitan Valentine, by his uncanonical actions, has shown himself to be an “episcopal adulterer” and a thief by his covetousness and robbery of another bishop’s diocese. When he was caught, his malicious slander knew no bounds, and he foolishly told the world absurdities, such as my offering him money to become the bishop of China and other ridiculous statements. What has he gained by all of this profoundly destructive behavior? He was tempted and fell. He disregarded the canons of the Church and moral principles. He has willingly hurt multitudes of people in this country and in Haiti by his recklessness in receiving unworthy and slanderous clergy (such as Fathers Schneider, Melehov, Johnson, and Graves). He has destroyed any respect ROAC had gained by exhibiting his utter contempt toward Holy Baptism, etc. He has alienated many in Russia who had placed their trust in him and had defended him in the past. Now these voices have gone silent in embarrassment. He has disgraced the episcopal dignity by his attempted smuggling of American currency out of this country, the result of which has barred him from traveling to the United States again. Lastly, and most importantly, the cause of all of the above was Met. Valentine’s submission to and acceptance of the unorthodox mentality and behavior of the disobedient, power-hungry remnants of the Grabbe family.

This has all been a lesson for us to remain faithful to the decrees and traditions handed down to us by the Ecumenical Councils and the Holy Fathers. Let no one think that, because he is now in the Church, he is immune from falling away from Christ, because if we despise His words and His laws, and, thus blaspheme the Giver of those laws, the grace of God departs and we are left with nothing.

I call upon whatever bishops have remained faithful to Orthodoxy in the ROAC to bring Metropolitan Valentine to justice and to correct the ecclesiastical chaos that has ensnared you. Otherwise, the ROAC will remain in the abyss of schism and heresy.

Correct his understanding of the Mysteries of the Church and cease letting ROAC be led by unruly clergy and the spirit of innovation.

Correct his concealment of the addresses and phone numbers of the bishops of the Church which has made the ROAC worthy of ridicule.

Correct and indeed punish your Metropolitan Valentine who has become an uncontrollable tyrant, thinking that he can act like a pope in whatever personal decisions he wishes to impose on the Church, as recently exemplified by his uncanonical ordaining of the 6 month-old neophyte, the 23 year old George to the priesthood to serve only his mother. Because he refuses to attend the services of the other schismatic priests in Bulgaria, under Metropolitan Valentine, does this make him eligible for the priesthood?

You should consider the possibility that, since Metropolitan Valentine has self-destructed only after his multiple major heart operations with major infectious complications, his mental capacity may have been affected and deteriorated. In any case, why tolerate canonical violations which undoubtedly have affected your Orthodox confession of Faith?

Lastly, I wish to reiterate the fearful reality that we are responsible for rational souls for whom Christ our Savior died. Do not let these scandals or stumbling-blocks continue and so offend anyone of these and cause them to perish, because Christ our God will require them at your hand. Be sober, be mindful of the responsibilities you have before God and man.

As for us in America who have been abandoned by the Valentinians, those lovers of this present world, we will continue as we always have, confessing the pure Orthodox Faith which was handed down to us, and we will maintain this Faith until our last breath. We will never abandon the vows we made, when God placed upon us the responsibility of shepherding His rational flock.

Truly He is Risen!

+Archbishop Gregory of Denver and Colorado

Dormition Skete, May 1st, 2005


Archbishop Gregory
Dormition Skete
P.O. Box 3177
Buena Vista, CO 81211-3177
Contact: Archbishop Gregory
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