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A Short History of the Autonomous Orthodox Metropolia and the Milan Synod

The historical origins of the Autonomous Orthodox Metropolia of North and South America and the British Isles can be traced to Roman Catholic and Protestant converts in Europe, including Old Catholics and Anglicans. In the early 1900’s there were some Russian missions in Western Europe that were growing. However, even after the subversion of the Russian Church through the Declaration of Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky) in 1927 and the apostasy of the Moscow Patriarchate resulting from its submission to the communists, these European converts remained with the fallen part of the Russian Church. In the 1930’s, some French theologians began to appeal to Moscow for recognition of their historic Catholic ritual, as well as the use of a reconstructed Gallican Liturgy. It appears that these communities did not convert to Orthodoxy with their whole soul, and some of them did not even consider themselves to have been outside the Church before, but only desired validation.

By the 1950’s, dozens of Western-rite (mostly in France) and mixed-use parishes had formed under Stalin’s Moscow Patriarchate in Europe and America, using a Roman ritual as envisioned by Joseph Overbeck, a Roman Catholic priest who converted to Orthodoxy.

In 1971, the future Bishop Evlogius (Klaus Augustin Hessler, 1935-2019) was ordained a deacon and priest by Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) in the Moscow Patriarchate.

In 1978, Joao Rocha, a Portuguese convert and priest of the Russian Church Abroad under Archbishop Anthony of Geneva, applied to join the Old Calendar Church of Greece under Archbishop Auxentios. He was received and baptized and reordained by Abp. Auxentios, who even had Joao consecrated with the name Gabriel as bishop for Lisbon, without the consent of the Greek synod, thus inaugurating the Lisbon Schism. Archbishop Auxentios is notorious for his arbitrary actions, poor discernment, and ordinations of unworthy candidates.

Then, to assist Archbishop Gabriel in the administration of the churches in Western Europe, in 1984, Auxentios and Gabriel consecrated another new bishop, Bp. Tiago (Iakovos) of Coimbra, as vicar for the Portuguese Archdiocese. In the same year, Archbishop Auxentios blessed the two illegitimate Portuguese bishops to make three more bishops: the Italian Evlogius for the see of Milan, the Portuguese Theodore of Evora (Portugal), and the Italian Gregorio (Bacolini) for the see of Turin. Gregorio of Aquileia was formerly a papist, then a Methodist, then a Benedictine monk and papist priest, then a member of the Moscow Patriarchate. The Lisbon Schism now had five uncanonical bishops, the worst of which was probably Evlogius (Evloghios), who had an Ecumenist mentality and never believed that the World Orthodox had lost the grace of God.

On September 27, 1984, Archbishop Auxentios gave the bishops of the so-called “Metropolia of Portugal, Spain, and Western Europe” a document that granted their church autonomy. This was thereafter treasured as something of importance by the uncanonically established church, although in reality, such a proclamation was completely invalid since it was formulated by only one bishop, without the participation of the entire Greek synod.

In July of 1985 took place the “Tsakos Affair.” A former new calendarist priest Dorotheos (Tsakos) (deposed by the new calendarists for homosexuality) was consecrated as “Metropolitan of Sparta and all the Peloponnese” after Pascha of 1985 by Met. Maximos of Kephallonia and Met. Gerasimos of Thebes, on the orders of Abp. Auxentios. When this was denied by the ordaining bishops, an investigating committee was formed to find the truth. Thereafter, on Oct. 22, 1985, the GOC of Greece deposed the offending bishops—Archbishop Auxentios, Metropolitans Gerasimos of Thebes and Maximos of Kephallonia, and two others—for consecrating Tsakos, lying to the synod, and causing a schism. This was the result of the hearings in the investigation which started July 6/19, 1985. The Florinite synod finally took action against its president and removed Auxentios, who had always been a scandal and reproach for the GOC of Greece.

In 1986, “Bishop” Evlogius of the Milan Synod (as their church came to be called) united with the heretical Cyprianites and helped Metropolitan Cyprian ordain Chrysostom (Gonzales) a bishop.

On October 31, 1987, the Autonomous Western European Metropolia (Milan Synod) consecrated Bishop Vigile to the see of Paris, France, giving their synod seven bishops by the end of 1987.

In 1989, the Milan Synod established communion with the illegitimate Ukrainian Orthodox Church in America under Metropolitan Mystylav. The Ukrainians in America had broken with Constantinople only during the reign of Patriarch Demetrius (1973-1991), but they never repented to the Orthodox Church after being in communion with World Orthodoxy for so many years. Communion between Milan and the Ukrainians fell apart in 1996.

Meanwhile, in 1990, citing the need to establish an independent Orthodox Church of Portugal, the three Portuguese bishops, including the “founding fathers” of the Milan Synod, Bishops Gabriel and Tiago, left their synod to join the apostate Polish Orthodox Church. The remaining bishops then elected Archbishop Evlogius of Milan to be their head, conferring upon him the rank of metropolitan.

Evlogius became infamous for ordaining absolutely anyone who approached him and would kiss his hand and recognize the validity of his uncanonical “Western Rite” church. He would ordain smokers, homosexuals, deposed clergy, etc. When the Balamand Union (1993) between the World Orthodox and the Roman Catholics was drawn up, declaring that the Orthodox and the Papists are “sister churches” that share “one faith, one priesthood, one baptism,” Evlogius fully supported this declaration. Also, like the Cyprianites, Evlogius would give “holy communion” to anyone, regardless of their faith. In just a few years, Evlogius ordained five more bishops for his synod.

In 1997, the two remaining bishops of the “Synod of Orthodox Bishops of the Western Rite,” “Archbishops” John (LoBue) and Hilarion (Williams) of New York, appealed to join Evlogius’ Autonomous Synod of Western Europe and the Americas and were, of course, received.

In 2010 Metropolitan Angelos of Avlona and Boetia, who had entered into communion with Metropolitan Evlogius the previous year, started his own church in Greece called the Synod of the True Orthodox Church of the Patristic Calendar (ερά Μητροπολιτική Σύνοδος Πατρώου Ἱ Ἑορτολογίου τῆς Ἐκκλησίας ΓΟΧ Ἑλλάδος). The illegitimate Avlona Synod would hereafter be a sister church of the Autonomous Orthodox Metropolia.

At some point, the Milan Synod also established ties with an old calendar Bulgarian group headed by Metropolitan Gervasius.

On March 22/April 4, 2011, the Western European Metropolia under Evlogius officially broke communion with its American, Greek, and Bulgarian sister synods. Evlogius and the Europeans wanted to join the Moscow Patriarchate, while the other Metropolia churches were unwilling to take this step, which is odd, given that most of them never denied the presence of the grace of God in the Soviet and World Orthodox churches. While the American Metropolia spoke out against the Moscow Patriarchate, the Europeans, in turn, blamed their former sister churches for uniting with the vagante Bishop Raphael (Prokopiev [or Motovilov])—a practicer of magic—and his “True Orthodox Church in Russia.”

On July 12, 2011, "Metropolitan of Moscow" Raphael (Prokopiev) entered into full communion with Metropolitan John (LoBue) of New York, head of the Autonomous Orthodox Metropolia of North and South America and the British Isles, and with Metropolitan Angelos of Avlona and his Greek synod. Communion was broken for a while with Raphael around 2015 when he showed himself to be an avid name-worshiper. Perhaps Raphael was misled because of the name of Metropolitan John’s monastery in New Jersey: the Abbey of the Holy Name.

In the spirit of Old Calendar Ecumenism, the Autonomous Orthodox Metropolia is zealous to establish communion with any apostate or uncanonical group that calls itself “True Orthodox” and is opposed to World Orthodoxy. In 2018, at a gathering of 20 bishops in Greece, they brought about a “union of churches” and called it “The International Union of Genuine Orthodox Churches.” This assembly comprises the American Metropolia, the Avlona Synod, the Raphaelites (TOC-R) under their Metropolitan Raphael (aka Seraphim) of Moscow, Ukrainians under Metropolitan Varsanuphy of Bukavina, and Georgians under Metropolitan Christopher of Tbilisi. Perhaps they were trying to compete with the recently formed (2014) super-church of Kallinikos of the GOC of Greece, who is also eager to get more numbers, even if it requires uniting with heretics or schismatics.

In summary, the originators of this sect, Archbishop Gabriel of Lisbon and Bishop Tiago of Coimbra, who later joined World Orthodoxy in 1990, were part of the Church for only a short time after they joined the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. They fell away from Christ starting in 1978, when they inaugurated a schism with the assistance of Archbishop Auxentios of the GOC of Greece. Ever since then, the Milan Synod, all of its sister synods, and all of their offspring have been outside the Church. Whatever claim the Autonomous Orthodox Metropolia of North and South America and the British Isles might have had to legitimacy through its association with the Greek old calendarists is utterly destroyed by their church’s subsequent communion with: 1) the notorious Freemason and Ecumenist Evlogius, 2) the Cyprianites, 3) World Orthodoxy via the Ukrainians in America, 4) the schismatic Avlona Synod, 5) Metropolitan Raphael and his vagante Russian synod, and 6) several other illegitimate “True Orthodox” synods that are too hard to keep track of.

Communion with heresy is spiritual death, as the holy fathers clearly teach. May God enlighten all those who have been deceived by the above-mentioned false clergy so that they may abandon this graceless sect and unite themselves to Christ’s “little flock.”

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