Hieroconfessor Paul, Bishop Of Starobela

Hieroconfessor Paul, in the world Paul Fyodorovich Kratirov, was born in 1871 in the village of Pokrovskoye, Totemsky uyezd, Vologda province, theson of Bishop John of Saratov. After finishing his studies at the Vologda theological seminary, he entered the Kazan Theological Academy, from which he graduated in 1896 with the degree of candidate of theology. He was then appointed teacher in the Kharkov theological seminary. In 1921 he was consecrated bishop of Starobela, a vicariate of the Kharkov diocese. In May, 1922 he was living in Kharkov without the right to leave the city. In the

summer he was arrested and sentenced to three years' exile beyond the bounds of Kharkov diocese. From 1923 he was given the title of bishop of Yalta, a vicariate of the Tauris diocese. In 1925 he signed the act accepting Metropolitan Peter as patriarchal locum tenens, signing himself as bishopof Starobela.

Bishop Paul refused to recognize Metropolitan Sergius even before his notorious declaration of 1927, considering him to be a usurper of higher ecclesiastical power, which from 1926 should "by right" have belonged to Metropolitan Agathangelus. For this he was banned from serving by Metropolitan Michael (Yermakov), the Exarch of the Ukraine. When the declaration appeared, he fiercely criticized it; at the end of 1927 he sent a letter to Metropolitan Agathangelus, and was very satisfied by the answer, since the metropolitan called Sergius "a usurper of ecclesiastical power". In April, 1928 Bishop Paul wrote to Sergius officially declaring his separation from him. In the same month he was banned by Sergius' synod.

In February and May, 1928, he wrote two large anti-sergianist epistles. He wrote: "Metropolitan Sergiuss, not personally of himself, but in the name of the whole Orthodox Catholic Church, has worshipped the man-god, who speaks proudly and blasphemously Concerning the modernized church or concerning Sergian 'Orthodoxy', I, a sinner, believe that, as regards such church activists, we must call them not only heretics and schismatics, but as those who have departed from God. Metropolitan Sergius brings into the church service a heresy unheard of in the history of the Church, the heresy of modernized departure from God, - of which the natural consequence has been confusion and schism in the Church. Can one, after this, affirm that the declaration and activity of Metropolitan Sergius concerns only the external life of the Church, and do not touch in any way the essence of the Church's Orthodoxy? In no way can this be said. Metropolitan Sergius, by his self-wise and evil-worshipping declaration and the anti-Church work which followed it, has created a new renovationist schism or Sergian renovation, which while

preserving for the 'little ones' a fiction of Orthodoxy and canonicity is

even more criminal than the first two renovationisms of 1922 and 1925. And so Metropolitan Sergius has put under his feet not only the external, but the very inner essence of the Orthodoxy of the Church, since his 'hosanna' to

Christ and Antichrist, which is now being performed in Christian churches, touches the very essence of Christian Faith and presents by itself clear apostasy, the falling away from the Faith, and the departure from God... Church activists who share the error of Metropolitan Sergius have already

partly become aware that they are all sitting in the renovationist bog

"In the given church-historical situation every 'legal' Church inevitably becomes the whore of Babylonian apostasy from God. I cannot help being shocked and pained at the sight of the crimsonly adulterous Church,

because I myself, being adulterous and a great sinner, have great need ofthe Church that makes us chaste - the Virgin wearing the white clothes of chastity and the completely pure, immaculate Bride of Christ, who can save me, the great sinner Since the sergianist church has put on the crimson garments of the whore, through this she has become guilty and criminal in everything."

Bishop Paul is probably the author of a "first letter of a bishop" dated April 3/16, 1928 and addressed to an unknown sergianist bishop. The author says that it is not necessary to fear divisions in the Church, and on the

contrary welcomes protests against "the terrible work of Metropolitan Sergius". "The Church of Christ is nothing other than the Kingdom of God,and it is inside us, in the words of the Saviour. Can this Kingdom of God that is inside us be in need of this whole abominable system which Metropolitan Sergius admits in his relations with those outside? Is it possible, for the sake of preserving ecclesiastical-economic property (churches, buildings,

church vessels) and a chancellery and what goes with it, to betray Christand the Kingdom of God? The sergianist church, like the renovationist, is now raging, lording it, banning and exiling, and through this it shows itselfto be a caesaropapist organization in the most disgusting sense of the word.And for that reason I am going into the desert, in the hope that at the given time only the desert, down-trodden Church can show that true way to eternal salvation along which the Christian must go The legalization of the Church of Christ or the Kingdom of God in our conditions is equivalent to talk about a round rectangle or dark light or hot ice, etc. From all this it is evident that there is no way I can get out of the desert for the time being. Indeed, I am hastening thither, so as to hide there, until the wrath of God passes away. I sorrow only over the fact that amidst the archpastors of the Russian Church quite a fewer practical followers of Sergius' foul verbal adultery have been found. Forgive and pray for me, and repent, while it is not too late. Later you will not be able to jump out, you yourself know why."

In June, 1928 Bishop Paul tried to establish links with Archbishop Demetrius of Gdov. Vladyka Demetrius received him into communion and then suggested that he look after the True Orthodox communities in his vicinity. >From this time a lively correspondence began between the two hierarchs. For example, in the summer of 1928 Bishop Paul in one of his letters asked for explanations and instructions with regard to the following questions: howto regard the bans placed by Metropolitan Sergius; were there plans to form a new church administration and legalize it with the civil authorities? In the letter it was also emphasized: "Does not our pastoral service oblige us of the necessity of hindering the present authorities at every step in their work? Can we approve of the atheist education in contemporary schools? Is class warfare admissible, and the persecution of one class by another? Is it not more worthy of our lofty service to witness directly and openly to the authorities that our paths go in different directions, and that we can speak only about our desire to be loyal, but we cannot witness to our loyalty in our works? Can we approve of entry into the communist party?"

From Leningrad there came to Bishop Paul with epistles Igumen Claudius (Savinsky), Nun Antonia of the Razdobarovsky monastery and the son of the

superior of the cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ (the Saviour-on-the-blood), the engineer Elia Veryuzhsky, who worked in Kharkov in 1929-30. Besides this, Bishop Paul asked Vladyka Demetrius for holy chrism and antimins, and sent him several times representatives of his flock for

ordination - for example, in the spring of 1929 he sent Hierodeacons Agapetus and Sabbas.

From the summer of 1928 Bishop Paul began his activity as a ruling hierarch of the True Orthodox Church. It was completely legal. Vladyka was summoned to the OGPU and asked about his relationship to the declaration of Metropolitan Sergius, and, in spite of his negative reply, they allowed him to serve in churches which were united with him. The point was that the authorities up to a certain point tried to encourage, or at any rate not hinder, schisms and divisions that weakened the Russian Church.

But at the time that Bishop Paul was "legalized", Bishop Alexis (Buj) was already acting as exarch of the True Orthodox Church in the Ukraine. From March 18, 1928 he was looking after a group of parishes in Kharkov, Poltava, Kupyank, Isyum and Sumsk districts, which had been handed over to him by Bishop Barlaam of Maikop. Bishop Alexis was cautious in relation to Bishop Paul because the latter had left Metropolitan Sergius and had been banned

from serving long before the appearance of the True Orthodox Church. Vladyka Demetrius tried to regulate relations between them. It is characteristic that in September, 11928 Bishop Demetrius, in a conversation with the "Buyevtsy" representative, the priest Stepanov, categorically rejected the rumours that Bishop Paul was not Orthodox, and declared that he was "really Orthodox and a true" Josephite. Bishop Demetrius sent Bishop Alexis a letter advising him to hand over his parishes in Kharkov diocese to the new Josephite hierarch. Bishop Alexis agreed in principle, but on condition that the desires of the parishes themselves were taken into account (as a result of which only one parish, in Krasny Liman, went over). He sent three notes to Bishop Paul, and in January, 1929 he sent him a telegram asking him to come immediately to

Yeletz to meet and resolve certain "pressing" questions. Bishop Paul did not like the masterful tone of these letters; he had only just learned that Bishop Alexis was exarch, and he refused to go to Yeletz, insisting on representatives of the Voronezh diocese going to Kharkov. These fraught relations at times influenced the position of the "Buyevtsy" in the Ukraine, in particular those in Izyum district who were led by the dean, Protopriest Gregory Popov. And so, when the superior of the "Pavlovite" church in the

village of Petrovsky, Priest John Lisitsky, came for a feast to the village of Karpovka, they did not allow him to serve in the local "Buyevtsy" church.

In the summer of 1928 some 20 sergianist parishes joined Bishop Paul. The first of these was the parish of the church in the town of Dergachi, then the cathedral in Zolochev, the churches in Balakley, four villages in Bogodukhovsky region, two villages in Akhtyrsky region (Sumsk diocese), etc. Also, four village parishes in Ekaterinoslav (Dnepropetrovsk) diocese recognized him as their bishop. He demanded from all these communities a lawfully accepted decree concerning their union with him.

Such activity finally alarmed the OGPU. The more so when it became known that one of the Starobela deans, Protopriest Antony Popov wanted to join him with all the parishes of his area. At the end of July and beginning of August Bishop Paul was serving in churches in Izyum district, but after a complaint from the sergianist Bishop Constantine, he was summoned to the local department of the OGPU and arrested for a short time. Then the Kharkov OGPU demanded that he cease commemorating the name of the patriarchal locum tenens, Metropolitan Peter. When he refused to do this, he was banned from travelling and receiving any more parishes. Finally Bishop Paul submitted, and, in a conversation with Protopriest Anthony, said that he would receive no more parishes. Fr. Anthony was now in a dangerous position, since he did not want to go to Bishop Alexis, while Metropolitan Agathangelus had again entered (temporarily) into communion with Metropolitan Sergius. Soon he was arrested and exiled to Biisk. And there were other similar repressions. Thus Protopriest Petropavlov from Ekaterinoslav diocese, after declaring to the sergianist Bishop Augustine (Verbitsky) that he was leaving him for Bishop Paul, was deprived of his church and found himself in prison.

At the end of September, 1928 Bishop Paul was again summoned to the OGPU and allowed to travel, but only with special permission. But in March, 1929 there followed a final ban. Bishop Paul stopped travelling to other cities to serve, although he continued to receive communities under his omophorion,and not only in Kharkov or Sumsk dioceses. Thus in 1930 there came over to him some Josephite parishes in Kiev, some former sergianist communities in Ananyev in Odessa diocese, Glukhov in Chernigov diocese, in Kursk, in Zasosnaya, Ostrogozhsky area, and the village of Nyeskuchny in Lipetsk area. In January, 1931 a community from the village of Melekino, Mantushky region, Marioupol area also joined him. After the arrest of Archbishop Demetrius (Lyubimov) Bishop Paul kept in contact with Bishop Sergius (Druzhinin) of

Narva. He wrote to him, and sent several people to Leningrad for ordination.

Bishop Paul's relationships with other Kharkov Josephites were varied. Since 1925 there lived in the city four exiled archimandrites from Kiev, of whom two recognized the declaration of Metropolitan Sergius and were allowed to return to Kiev, while the other two - the fomer superior of the Kiev-Caves Lavra Archimandrite Clement (Zheretienko) and his deputy Archimandrite Macarius (Velichko) - remained in Kharkov. Together with Igumen Eustratius they wrote to Metropolitan Sergius telling him of their departure from him, and were banned from serving. From the beginning of 1928 they were under Bishop Demetrius (Lyubimov), but in the autumn of that year, through the mediation of Igumen Claudius (Savinsky), they joined Bishop Paul. Their example was followed by a series of parishes in Kharkov diocese, which were served by exiled Kievan hieromonks in the villages of Gavrilovka, Gnilovka, etc.

In 1928, according to one (dubious) source, Vladyka Paul signed the decisions of the so-called "Nomadic Council" of the Catacomb Church through Bishop Barsonuphius.

Bishop Paul was an energetic man of average height with hazel hair. He had a unique gift of giving outstanding sermons, which moved people to tears.

On January 16, 1931 he was arrested as leader of the Kharkov branch of the True Orthodox Church and on January 2, 1932 was sentenced to ten years in the camps. At 11.15 on January 5, 1932 he died in the hospital of Kharkov prison from sarcoma of the lymph glands.

(Sources: P.N. Ivanov, Novomuchenik Rossijskoj Tserkvi Svyatitel' Pavel (Kratirov), Kazan, 1992; M.E. Gubonin, Akty Svyatejshego Tikhona, Patriarkha Moskovskogo i Vseya Rossii, Moscow: St. Tikhon's Theological Institute, 1994, p. 986; Protopresbyter Michael Polsky, Noviye Mucheniki Rossijskiye, Jordanville, 1957, vol. II, pp. 126, 158; Russkiye Pravoslavnye Ierarkhi,

Paris: YMCA Press, 1986, p. 57; The Orthodox Word, vol. 29, no. 2 (169), March-April, 1993, p. 88; Lev Regelson, Tragediya Russkoj Tserkvi, 1917-1945, Moscow: Krutitskoye patriarsheye podvorye, 1996, pp. 596-597; Lev Regelson, Tragediya Russkoj Tserkvi, 1917-1945, Paris: YMCA Press, 1977, pp. 528, 539, 549, 596-597; Bishop Ambrose (von Sievers), "Katakombnaya Tserkov': Kochuyushchij Sobor 1928 g.", Russkoye Pravoslaviye, N 3 (7), 1997, p. 20; "Episkopat Istinno-Pravoslavnoj Katakombnoj Tserkvi 1922-97gg.", Russkoye

Pravoslaviye, N 4(8), p. 4; I.I. Osipova, "Skvoz' Ogn' Muchenij i Vody Slyoz", Moscow: Serebryanniye Niti, 1998, p. 265; M.V. Shkarovsky, "Istinno-Pravoslavniye na Ukraine", Pravoslavnaya Zhizn', 48, N 9 (585), September, 1998, pp. 12-19)

We confidently recommend our web service provider, Orthodox Internet Services: excellent personal customer service, a fast and reliable server, excellent spam filtering, and an easy to use comprehensive control panel.

St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas