Agafangel (Pashkovsky) of Odessa
Revision as of 10:16, June 11, 2013
Bishop Agafangel (Pashkovsky) was ruling bishop of Odessa and the Crimea, overseeing the parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia in the Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova. Following the signing of the Act of Canonical Communion between the ROCOR and the Moscow Patriarchate, Bishop Agafangel left the jurisdiction of the ROCOR and declared himself the head of a new jurisdiction called the Provisional Supreme Church Authority (PSCA). He was subsequently suspended by the ROCOR Synod for disobeying lawful authority and inciting schism.
Michael Ivanovich Pashkovsky was born November 22, 1956, in Odessa, Ukraine. There he graduated from Odessa Pedagogical Institute. On August 31, 1991, he was tonsured a monk receiving the name Agafangel. On September 1, 1991, he was ordained hierodeacon and on September 8 - hieromonk. The ordinations were carried out in Moscow, Russia, by Archbishop Lazar (Zhurbenko), a Russian catacomb bishop secretly ordained by the ROCOR Bishop Varnava of Cannes.
In 1992 he became rector of the Saint Natalia and Adrian (now Saint John of Kronstadt) church in Odessa, Ukraine.
On March 27, 1994, Agafangel was consecrated a bishop at the Holy Emperor Constantine Cathedral in Suzdal, Russia, by Archbishop Lazar (Zhurbenko), Bishop Valentine (Rusantsov), and Bishop Theodore (Gineyevsky). At that time these bishops had separated from the ROCOR and organized their own paraecclesiastic organization called the "Free Russian Orthodox Church". Neither the ROCOR Synod of Bishops, nor any of the local churches, recognized Agafangel's consecration as valid at the time.
However in February 1995 the bishops dissolved the "Free Russian Orthodox Church" and requested to be reaccepted into the ROCOR. Upon a trial period of one year, the ROCOR Synod, acting in the spirit of oikonomia, accepted Agafangel's ordination as valid. In 1996 he was appointing ruling bishop of Simferopol and the Crimea.
Following the retirement of ROCOR First-Hierarch Metropolitan Vitaly, Archbishop Lazar (Zhurbenko) followed the aged Metropolitan into his self-proclaimed Russian Orthodox Church in Exile. Initially, Bishop Agafangel supported Archbishop Lazar. However, at the 2001 Bishop's Council he supported the ROCOR Synod and voted for Metropolitan Laurus) as First Hierarch.
Since 2003, Bishop Agafangel was an active critic of the ROCOR's dialog with the Moscow Patriarchate. On the other hand, he signed the epistle of the 2006 Council of Bishops supporting the reconciliation process. Yet following the Synod's approval of the Act of Canonical Communion in 2006 he publicly stated that he "does not support the document approved by the Synod". On October 16, 2006, he clarified his position, stating that "we are not separating from the Synod led by Metropolitan Laurus ... however, as an extreme measure, we are suspending commemoration of the First Hierarch at services." A subsequent meeting of the Synod of Bishops ordered Bishop Agafangel to resume commemorating the First Hierarch or face suspension; Bishop Agafangel complied with the order. In the run-up to the signing of the Act, the Synod ordered Bishop Agafangel's transfer to the diocese of Buenos Aires and South America, which he accepted in principle but did not carry out in practice, citing visa difficulties and the health of his elderly mother.
Following the signing of the Act of Canonical Communion in Moscow, Russia, on May 17, 2007, Bishop Agafangel declared that he did not accepted the document and would "continue to abide by the previous Bylaws of the ROCOR, considering any actions of the Moscow Patriarchate to be unlawful." He accused the Moscow Patriarchate of "sins of sergianism and ecumenism." On May 22, 2007, Bishop Agafangel issued a statement that he and Bishop Daniel of Erie were organizing a Provisional Supreme Church Authority for those who "have remained in the ROCOR", citing authority of Ukase No. 362 of Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow, dated November 20, 1920. While Bishop Daniel had previously expressed reservations about the Act of Canonical Communion, there is no evidence that he ever intended to break with the ROCOR Synod; rather, the elderly vicar for the care of Old-Ritualists continued to remain in communion with Metropolitan Laurus. In practice, Agafangel found himself alone, supported by a handful of clergy and the majority of his parishes in Ukraine, which had refused to join the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
On May 20, 2007, the members of the ROCOR Synod, meeting in Moscow, suspended Bishop Agafangel for inciting schism, disobeying lawful authority, and refusing transfer to the Buenos Aires cathedra.
At an emergency meeting of the ROCOR Synod on June 28 and 29, 2007, issued a "final letter of warning" to Bishop Agafangel, calling on him to cease all schismatic activity. The Synod also approved the suspension of Abbot Andronik (Kotliaroff), head of the Russian Ecclesiastic Mission in Jerusalem, and other clerics that supported Agafangel. However on December 7, 2007, with the aid of bishops from the Holy Synod in Resistance, a faction of Old-Calendar Greeks, Agafangel carried out the consecration of Andronik (Kotrliaroff) as soi-disant Bishop of Richmond Hill and New York. Hieromonk Sofroniy (Musienko) was also consecrated soi-disant Bishop of Saint Petersburg and Northern Russia. These ordinations marked the final breach of the new organization, calling itself the Provisional Supreme Church Authority, with the ROCOR synod.
On November 19, 2008, the Provisional Supreme Church Authority elected Bishop Agafangel to the rank of Metropolitan.
Critics have accused Agafangel of political motives. In December 2006, Archimandrite Benjamin (Trepaliuk) accused Agafangel of a "pathological hatred of Russia, its authorities, and its people" and of collaborating with the American Central Intelligence Agency. Archimandrite Benjamin claimed that Agafangel believes the CIA to be "the most human organization in the world", which "cares for the good of all people." Others point to the suspended bishop's friendship with John Herbst, the former US ambassador to Ukraine, as "ties with the [US] State Department," as well as his active support of the administration of Ukrainian President Victor Yuschenko, seen by many Russians as a "CIA puppet."