Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Window on Eurasia: Bishop Diomid Raises the Stakes in Orthodox Church Dispute

Paul Goble

Vienna, July 30 – Embattled Bishop Diomid has again raised the stakes in his dispute with the Moscow Patriarchate, repeating that he will not repent but adding that he has no intention of leaving the Church or obeying orders from its current hierarchy, many of whose members, he says, are behaving more like communists than like Christians.
Even as it celebrates what most observers consider only a short-term tactical victory in Kyiv by slowing the formation of a single autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church (, the Moscow Patriarchate faces a new challenge from Bishop Diomid in the form of a telephone interview he gave “Dukh Khristianina.”
(That interview is available in full at and in summary form on a variety of other Russian church sites. And along with other recent news about Diomid’s dispute with the Patriarchate, it can be found on the site his supporters have launched and maintain:
In his interview, which was conducted by the magazine over the phone with Diomid who remains on Cape Shmidt because of bad weather, the bishop said that he is “not a splitter and will not separate himself from the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.” Instead, he said, the Patriarchate had separated itself from the faithful.
“One need not leave the Church,” the Bishop continued, but at the same time, “one must not subordinate himself to heretics and to the heretical hierarchy [whose members] are leading us all to hell and to apostasy.”
Noting that many in the hierarchy regularly “curse the communists,” Diomid noted that these same people absorbed many communist ideas, including an aversion to democratic methods and the rule of law. As a result, he said, they are violating canon law and will not convene a church council because “they are absolutely indifferent to the opinion of the people.
Archbishop Mark and his team, Diomid continued, have seized churches, burned icons, and even attempted without success to get the civil authorities to move against the bishop’s supporters – for details on that, see in addition – thus showing their contempt for civil law as well as canon.
In an indication that he continues to have widespread support among the clergy in his see, Diomid said that Archbishop Mark’s declaration that any priest who does not subordinate himself to Mark and the Patriarchate has no basis in law. Indeed, he said, Mark’s actions are only driving more people toward Diomid and his supporters.
Diomid said that the archbishop was seeking a criminal indictment against him, supposedly for corruptly using 8 to 10 million rubles (320,000 to 400,000 US dollars) a year in church funds, a charge that the bishop said was absurd on its face given the size of his eparchate and its obvious poverty.
When he arrived in Anadyr in 2000, Diomid said, he had “all of ten packets of candles” and his see’s largest town had no more than 12,000 residents. How could he possibly be making eight million rubles a year? the bishop asked rhetorically. Apparently, Mark has failed to understand the difference between a city see like Khabarovsk and a rural one like Chukotka.
Metropolitan Kirill, the second most powerful member of the Moscow Patriarchate and someone often thought to be in line to succeed Aleksii II, said this week that time is running out for Diomid to repent. But Diomid insisted that “the time is coming when the Lord will put everything in its proper place,” one very differently arranged than the way Kirill hopes for.

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