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On Bishops and Catascops by St. Andrew of Ufa in 1928

Updated: Jun 16, 2022

Excerpt: "What is Christianity? What is Church life? Christianity is an ardent love toward Christ our Saviour; Christianity is not an abstract idea but an unceasing ardency of spirit, prayer, joy, enthusiasm, sacrificial Eucharistic striving toward Christ. It was in this spirit that the first Bishops of the Church, the Holy Apostles and their great successors, the enlighteners and holy Martyrs, who formed religious communes of brotherhoods around themselves; in these communes the flame of grace-filled faith and brotherly love was always alive. The whole meaning of life to these communes was in Christ: every Christian could say of himself that for him, Christ was his life, while death was an acquisition… And everyone that accepted baptism was consciously preparing himself for suffering in Christ’s name. Thus, the ardent faith of the Bishops drew the pure of heart to them and the Holy Church."

There is much value in this article. Here, a saint explains the reality towards which all Christians of every generation must be watchful: some bishops are faithful and some are not. In some you will find truth and salvation, in some you will not. St. Andrew opens his argument saying this isn't an invention of our day who have political differences with our bishops. No. This phenomenon can be found in the Church by the time of St. Athanasios of Alexandria. Those who watched the Russia's New Martyrs course will see in this article how today's Church faces very similar temptations. Bishops (sometimes most bishops) collaborate with godless civil leaders to do damage to the Church. St. Andrew gives us example, writes that even Russian Councils that have long-standing, nevertheless, did damage to the Russian Church. Those who are "wary" or (to use another common translation of the Scriptural and ascetical command) "watchful" will see the relevance in how the lay people relate to bishops in our age, and in any age in the Church's past, present, and future.

-From the Editor

Caveant Christiani! Be wary Christians

A suspicious reader, having read this title, may think that we, taking advantage of revolutionary freedom, abuse it and introduce into use the hitherto unheard of word "catascop"[*], completely unnecessarily and superfluously. Incidentally, this word had been introduced into Church language very long ago and not by us, but by Saint Athanasius of Alexandria who had to suffer much from false bishops throughout his long-suffering episcopal life - these did not give him rest even in exile. It is these prevaricating and false Bishops that the Saint Athanasius called “catascops”. The exact translation of this Greek word into Russian will be made further on: in the meantime, we remind the reader that the word “Bishop” means overseer - overseer of the sanctity and purity of Ecclesiastical life. One might assume, therefore, that the word "catascop," in the terminology of St. Athanasius, is the opposite of a bishop.

From the treacherous activity of these catascops, we shall see that this is so: a catascop is a creature who promotes himself as a replacement for a true Church Bishop when such a true people’s Bishop becomes uncomfortable to the sinful land. Catascops are people that wear the costume of a Bishop, but in reality are anti-Bishops such as Caiaphas, who was identified as the High Priest by his vestments, but whose soul belonged to the crowd which the Church song labels: “who are murderers of the righteous”. Unfortunately, it’s a great pity that Ecclesiastical history reveals a mass of persecutions against the righteous Saints by the unlawful catascops. Dear reader, open “The Lives of the Saints” and you will literally find narrations about the activities of the catascops from the very first pages.

Here is the “Lives of the Saints” for January: the lives of Saints Basil the Great, Athanasius of Alexandria, Maximus the Confessor, and the Russian Saint Phillip of Moscow. The Global-bearers of the contemporary darkness have always feared the light and always strive to extinguish every source of Christian light. They drove out the true Bishops and replaced them with substitutes, with those who were ready to bow down to any darkness for the sake of personal benefit. And in the life of the Holy Church, there were terrible times when hundreds of Bishops and dioceses fell away from the true Faith, and She only survived in the wilderness among the persecuted laity.

For example, the Council of Rimini (in the year 359), which had 400 Bishops, and the Council of Seleucia of the same year, which had 150 Bishops, simultaneously betrayed the Orthodox Faith by carrying out the will of unlawful Emperor Constantius and his heretical courtiers. Having betrayed the Faith, these 550 catascops expelled such a righteous figure as Saint Athanasius, who at the time remained the only illuminator of the Faith in the whole of the Orthodox East. At this same time, Saint Hilary of Poitiers raised his voice in the West against these unlawful Bishops. He wrote in horror to these apostates: “A servant – I am not saying a good servant but a decent one – cannot tolerate the insult inflicted on his master. A soldier protects his king, even at the risk of his own life – shielding him with his own body. A watchdog barks at the slightest sound and throws itself at the first suspicious figure. While you, Bishops, listen quietly when you are told that Christ is not the true God! Your silence is a sign of agreement with this blasphemy – and you stay silent! But what am I saying! You even protest against those who are defending the truth! You are joining your voice with the stranglers of truth!”.

Such can be false catascop-Bishops who for the sake of their own welfare are ready to sell the truth and strangle their brothers. But let us read about the Lives of the above-mentioned holy fathers. When Saint Basil the Great carried out his Episcopal duties, his contemporary – the Emperor Valens (himself an Arian who considered Jesus Christ to be a simple Jew), continually interfered in Ecclesiastical affairs and expelled Orthodox Bishops. Those Bishops that were firm in their faith were driven out from their cathedras by Valens who replaced them with his own Arain-catascops; the feeble-hearted cowards were forced to betray Orthodoxy. Finally, Valens met Basil the Great, who expressed unshakeable valor in the confession of his faith. The enraged Emperor screamed at the Saint: “Nobody has ever dared to speak to me like that!” Saint Basil quietly responded with: “It’s only because you haven’t as yet met an actual Bishop of the Church."

The entire life of Saint Athanasius of Alexandria was a continuous struggle primarily with the unworthy catascop-Bishops who used the civil authorities to achieve their dark goals. Even the Equal-to-the-Apostles Constantine was among the persecutors of Saint Athanasius, after the entire Council of Bishops, headed by the unworthy Eusebius of Nikodim, demanded the removal of this great Saint. But the most severe persecution of Athanasius was the fourth and last one. At the time, the ruler was Magnentius – the murderer of Emperor Constans. This Magnentius instigated a cruel persecution against Saint Athanasius and all of his adherents who acknowledged him as their lawful Patriarch; bound Bishops were led away by soldiers, the houses of widows and orphans were plundered, Christian maidens were locked in yokes, and pure pillaging occurred in the townships. And all of this was done before the eyes of the Bishops, who at the same time were conducting their own dirty works. In the end, they achieved the exiling of the Orthodox Bishops Ammonius, Moynus, Gaius, Adelphius, Athenodorus and many others who were then replaced by Arians subservient to the murderer Magnentius.

Meanwhile, the Orthodox population of Alexandria deeply resented the iniquity of these rapist bishops; believers rushed to their temples to protect them. But the lawless Bishops didn’t stop at anything: savage clashes occurred (massacres), followed by murders and the vandalism of the seized temples. Such were the most striking strokes, in the life of Saint Athanasius, in his struggles with the Bishop-apostates. The life of Maximus the Confessor presents itself as an entire history of his struggle with the Monothelite Emperor and his hench-Patriarchal helpers – Sergius, Pyrrhus, and Paul. Saint Maximus declared: “When I will see the Church of Constantinople as She was previously, then I will enter into communion with Her. As long as there are heretical temptations and heretic bishops, no word or deed will convince me to ever enter into communion with them."

When the false Bishop Theodosius (the royal catascop) tried to convince Saint Maximus to fulfil the will of the Emperor, Saint Maximus asked Theodosius if he remembered those sworn promises that he gave before the Holy Gospel. Theodosius replied: “What can I do when the pious Emperor wants the complete opposite?” Then, Saint Maximus sternly censured him: “Why did you and those with you give your promise before the Holy Gospel if you didn’t have a firm intention of fulfilling your promise? Truly, all of the heavenly powers will not convince me to do what you propose. For what answer will I give - not I say – to God, but to my conscience, if, because of the empty glory and opinion of man, I reject the right Faith that saves those who love it?"

We have presented only a few examples (and only from the one January Volume of “The Lives of the Saints”) of how many great Bishops-Confessors endured tortures from their contemporary catascops. These sad examples can be multiplied to the extreme. But let us leave Greek history: and let us look at the history of the Russian Church. To our great sorrow, in the history of the Russian Church you can also find a sufficient number of catascops. But, of course, at different times there were different numbers. As is known, the history of the Russian Church falls into two parts, which are very different from each other as pertains to the character of the Church authorities. The first part was before the schism of the Old Believers and the second was after the notorious Council of 1667, which blessed and approved all of the violence of the Tsars against the religious conscience of the subjects. During the reign of Tsar Peter the Great, these violations and the torture of Christians was cynically savage.

Peter hated the appearance of any type of freedom or independence among his subjects, and being a firm atheist himself, he drove out faith in others with a fanatical cruelty. That’s why, before Tsar Peter, unworthy bishops were found only as a rare exception, and after his upbringing – on the contrary – genuine church bishops began to be found only on very rare occasions. As far as we know, before the Council of Bishops in 1667, there were only three cases of treason among the Bishops. The first was during the times of Ivan the Terrible and concerned the Martyred Metropolitan Phillip. This great Saint fearlessly denounced Ivan for his atrocities. This made the Tsar furious and he brought his spiritual father to trial, and demanded from the court the condemnation of the innocent sufferer.

The presiding judges with Archbishop Pimen of Novgorod as the head, judged Phillip as being guilty. The last words of the Saint were: “Tsar, do you think I am afraid of death? Having achieved old age, I am ready to commit my soul unto the Almighty – my Judge and your Judge. It’s better to die as an innocent martyr than to silently tolerate abominable lawlessness. I am leaving the staff and mantle to the Metropolitan. And to you, all of the enlighteners and servants of the altar, shepherd faithfully the flock of Christ; prepare to give an answer and fear the heavenly Tsar more than the earthly one." But the enlighteners and servants of the altar had long ago forgotten about Christ’s flock, as the will of the earthly Tsar was far more frightening than any Heavenly Judgment to them… Metropolitan Phillip, the faithful servant of the Holy Church and of Her people, was defrocked and killed.

The second major historical example of the betrayal of God’s truth and the Church to be voiced by a Bishop was the case of Metropolitan Gelasius of Krutitsk. Boris Godunov sent this Metropolitan to Uglich to investigate the death of the Tsarevich Dimitri. And this Metropolitan (truly a catascop) reported to his master that which he wanted to hear – that Dimitri's death was simply a random act of suicide. Such were the Metropolitans from Krutitsk! The next significant false Bishop in the history of the Russian Church was Archbishop Ignatius of Ryazan. At the time, the Impostor Dimitri was made very uncomfortable by the Patriarch Job who was beloved of the people. It was necessary to get rid of him – and get rid of him they did. He was incarcerated in the Staritsky monastery. Ignatius was then elevated to his position - naturally without any election. When Ignatius hypocritically asked for a blessing from the former Patriarch, Job responded: “A gang has a head, a flock has a pastor”. The new false Patriarch was agreeable to anything! He agreed to elevate the pseudo-Dimitri to the throne and to marry him to Marina Mnishek – a Papist whom he anointed with Holy Chrism before giving them Holy Communion... For these types of catascops – everything is possible!

We will not, here, innumerate the minor betrayals by the catascops in Russian Church history, because we are not in the least bit interested in describing betrayals by Bishops against the Holy Church. Our only aim is to prove to the reader that sometimes obedience to bishops is extremely destructive for everyone that comes into contact with them… Caveant christiani! Therefore, we will bypass even the frightening Council of 1667, when 2 Eastern Patriarchs accepted enormous bribes in order to carry out the will of the unhinged mind of Tsar Alexis Mikhailovich, and cursed the entire history of the Russian Church with all of the Saints of the Russian land... This was so deformed and unheard of that the best Russian people - immediately and decisively - moved away from all state-official church administration, and organized their own personal Church**, whose history is one of continuous suffering for the independence and freedom of Church life.

On the part of the civil tsarist authorities, the persecution of this church-communal freedom began, and the best and most firm in the faith of the Russian people began to starve in prisons, burn in log cabins, thousands were sent to hard labor and were beheaded... Meanwhile, the cathedra of Moscow Metropolitan-Martyr (Phillip) was occupied by the torturer-Patriarch Joachim, who was concerned not so much for the interests of the church laity as for his personal welfare. But now, Emperor Peter sat on the Russian throne – a complete agnostic and delinquent, blasphemer and debaucher - as it should be for an ungodly one. For him and his obduracy, the very existence of the Patriarch was unacceptable, because even in silence, the head of the faithful people was an accusation of the Tsar’s lawlessness. And Peter, without thinking, placed a “Locum tenens to the Patriarchal throne” in place of a Patriarch. The first “Locum tenens” was Stephan Yavorsk, whose Catholic name was Stanislaus... It is from here that, in Russia, began all types of Church forgeries and fabrications – all types of “Locum tenens”, replacements and others, etc...

Thus, Stephan was the first helper to the godless Peter. The second assistant was Theophan Prokopovich, who carried the name of Elias in the Catholic school: this was the second “Locum tenens” and a heavy drunkard. Under these “Locum tenens”, the Russian clergy were drawn into a system of police informants; they were obliged to inform the government authorities concerning those parishioners who were dissatisfied with the government. With this, the priest was obliged to inform even in those cases where he found out such information during confession...

It was the most treacherous system on the part of the government. And only St. Demetrius of Rostov objected to this system; the remaining bishops turned into formal catascop spies. It is from these catascops that a “holy governing Synod” was formed, which replaced the Patriarch.

The actual “Locum tenens” to the patriarchal throne became the prosecutor of the Synod, who chose as the members of the “holy Synod” those who held views compatible with his own. Among them were clandestine Masons, open atheists, kind officers and doctors-gynecologists. And each of these members chose as his helpers, Bishops (catascops) according to his own taste... One can only imagine what type of Church administration it was! The name of this department was given by one fatal Russian surname – it was one continuous rasputinism!

Catascopes and rasputinism are completely inseparable from each other both ideologically and in fact. But what is so especially frightening about Ecclesiastical catascops to the Holy Church? We will try to answer this question. This is our answer: before anything else, the catascops fully compromise Church life among the unbelievers, catascops disintegrate the inner life of the Church, and finally – the catascops with their total unscrupulousness defile whatever environment they have to mix into. We will now attempt to elucidate our three answers.

What is Christianity? What is Church life? Christianity is an ardent love toward Christ our Saviour; Christianity is not an abstract idea but an unceasing ardency of spirit, prayer, joy, enthusiasm, sacrificial Eucharistic striving toward Christ. It was in this spirit that the first Bishops of the Church, the Holy Apostles and their great successors, the enlighteners and holy Martyrs, who formed religious communes of brotherhoods around themselves; in these communes the flame of grace-filled faith and brotherly love was always alive. The whole meaning of life to these communes was in Christ: every Christian could say of himself that for him, Christ was his life, while death was an acquisition… And everyone that accepted baptism was consciously preparing himself for suffering in Christ’s name. Thus, the ardent faith of the Bishops drew the pure of heart to them and the Holy Church.

The catascops cannot be compared with Ecclesiastical Bishops in any shape or form. For catascopes, concerning the essence of the matter: the Church, as a mystical, God-established community - this doesn't exist to them, there is no community at all, but there is only a chancellery, and at best the "Office of the Orthodox Confession", established some time ago, and then formed, re-formed, registered etc. etc... In such an “Institution”, no burning of the heart is required at all! All that is required is the authority of the bishop, the prestige of the bishop's authority and universal silence with a sinking heart. That's the whole content of church life! This content is extremely similar to absolute emptiness: it has bred a huge mass of Russian sectarianism around the Russian Orthodox Church, for no living soul, of course, will agree to the voluntary fading of all its heartfelt abilities.

Thus, the catascops are systematically humiliating and demeaning Church life among both the faithful and the unbelievers. We stated that Christian baptism, in the first period [of Church history], was a baptism into martyrdom, and as models of such a Confession were the bishops of the Church, who defended church dogmas. These are not the same times! We recently heard how after spending several months in prison in 1922, one sharp-witted Bishop told his parishioners that “now my main dogma is: don’t sit in prison”. You will agree, dear reader, that such a “main dogma” is incapable of inspiring anyone unto any [salvific] feat; on the contrary, such extreme unscrupulousness can alienate not only feeble souls from the Church, but even those that are honest and sincere.

That’s why instead of enthusiasm, instead of an Ecclesial crucifixion, we now see at every step only an oath, treason and a pathetic imitation of the modern traitors of the Holy Church – the catascopes. Only recently, such a scene played out in a Soviet institution. One elderly citizen went there and asked for a place for fifty rubles. As his merit before the Soviet government, he cited the following: "I am a former priest, I publicly renounced my rank and announced it in the newspaper."

- Why did you do that?

- In order to get a place in the civil department.

- And only for fifty rubles?

- Yes.

- So if you sell your faith for 50 rubles, then for how many kopecks will you sell us?

A typical conversation! And how often one hears of such conversations! Thus, the catascopes from the former "Office of the Orthodox Confession" are corrupting their flock with just their presence!

How do you distinguish a genuine Bishop from a genuine catascop? This is a very important question, because both the Bishops and catascops wear the same vestments: in church, they have the “same services”... Nearly everything is the “same” to the eyes of the short-sighted people, who are unfamiliar with Church life. In fact, there is a huge difference between a Bishop and a catascop - approximately the same as between a living creature and a stuffed animal or between a genuine priest and a hooligan, attired in church vestments.

It’s completely unthinkable for a genuine Bishop not to be among his Church flock - to be outside of his spiritual, Ecclesiastical family. He knows his flock by name, and the flock knows his voice. To him, his flock is the beloved brothers and sisters to whom he gives his soul, his salvation. To a Church Bishop, his flock is his family to which he is tied organically and inseverably. He cannot “rule” this family; this family cannot “subordinate” itself to its Bishop – because these are not “family” words. No! A Bishop “gives birth” to his blessed family – just as the Apostle Paul did - after lengthy “birth pangs”, and this family lives in his heart and is nourished by his heart-felt love. A genuine Bishop relies only on people and knows only their Ecclesiastical needs. For a catascop, there is no family. To him, it’s all sentimental nonsense.

To him, only the directives of the authorities exist - for this, it’s imperative for him to have a command “centre”. Without this “centre”, a catascop cannot live, cannot breathe. A “centre” is as essential to him as air - without the “centre”, it is as inconceivable as the “genuine Russian people” were without gendarmes and genuine Russian insults... A catascop by nature and without fail must control someone, “lord over” someone, register someone, report to someone, inform on someone, etc, etc... And with this and without fail, be a lackey to someone and cringe a little… Where is there brotherhood here?! Here, there is only the lord's [catascop's] cry unto the – silencing of the flock and the shearing, shearing, shearing…!

Yes-Yes! Between a Bishop and a catascop – there is a huge difference! Between them, a massive chasm has been confirmed! Although on the face of it there is a big similarity, and it would appear they seem to be the same. In conclusion, I have to apologize to the reader. At the beginning of the article, I promised to give you an exact translation of the word “catascop”. Unfortunately, despite my exhaustive search in various languages of the Middle East – including Greek, I was unable to find the translation. Therefore I can only surmise the meaning of this word and leave the rest to the reader.


* Catascopes (Greek: κατασκοπος - spies [or stool pigeons]) - a common name for military personnel who carried out observation, reconnaissance functions both in their own and in enemy territory with the subsequent transfer of this information to the military command; in Russian language, the word "spyatai" would most accurately correspond to this Greek term.

** These opinions of St. Andrew on the "Old Believer" schism are not entirely consistent with the consensus of the Saints.

The text above has been kindly translated by Seraphim Larin

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