The daughter of "Patriarch" Philaret has written an open letter, describing abuse received at the hands of her father, and cruel ways in which he renounced his own children and grandchildren. This is the same Philaret who Patriarch Bartholomew has presumed to receive into the Church, ignoring severe accusations and charges from numerous Orthodox bishops.
The Patriarch of Constantinople has entered into communion with Philaret Denisenko, a defrocked bishop who — according to his daughter — renounced his own children and grandchildren. Shortly afterwards, Philaret went into a Ukrainian cathedral and blessed the use of a sacrilegious icon depicting St. George slaying a double-headed eagle, bordered by symbols which are popular with neo-nazi groups.
In response to this outrageous behavior, the Russian Orthodox Church has completely broken ties with the Patriarch of Constantinople.
The following biographical excerpt is possibly the saddest part of Philaret’s story. It was made public by his own children, who had a miserable childhood.
In her “Open letter and confession” to the editors of independent newspapers and magazines, Vera Medved (born Rodionova) wrote:
I want to address the editors of newspapers and magazines with a request from myself and in the name of my grandmother, Xenia Mitrophanovna Rodionova…
I want to do this so that people would know the whole bitter truth about the former Vladyka Philaret—my natural father, who renounced his children, my grandmother, and his grandchildren in order to save his position and spiritual monastic vocation.
I am twenty-seven years old. I lived the first fifteen of these years with my father and mother, Evgenia Petrovna Rodionova.
I remember when I was very little, Vladyka Philaret (that is what they taught us to call him in front of other people) carried me and my brother Andrusha and sister Liuba in his arms. Whenever he returned from abroad he always brought us presents. We children never felt any want. Mama often brought us to papa at the Exarchate on 36 Pushkinskaya Street, where we were seen by priests and co-workers. But to them we were not their Metropolitan’s natural children, but only the children of his “sister”, Evgenia Petrovna Rodionova, all adopted from a children’s home. If anyone doubted my mother had documents at the ready showing that we (Liuba, Andrei, and I) were taken from different children’s homes.
Despite our material comfort at home, our childhood was very joyless and hard. Mother often beat us mercilessly with a rubber cord. Sometimes she would ask Vladyka Philaret for help in this, and one day he beat Andrusha so badly that the bathtub was filled with blood. That is how our parents beat obedience and humility into us.
Grandmother defended us as much as she could. She felt sorry for us. One day our teacher in Kiev School No. 4 (in the Zheleznodorozhny region) Tamara Ivanovna saw bruises on Andrei’s arms and torso. She could no longer bear it and called my mother into the school, saying that she would be deprived of parental rights for her cruel treatment of her children. However, as a result the teacher had to leave the school, because my mother knew whom to use in order to do this.
Papa and mama always also tried to keep other more serious affairs shrouded in darkness and silence. Thus, in 1982 my sister Liuba brought some mercury to school and spread it out so that the school would be closed and the children released for a vacation. Where that mercury came from, we didn’t know. Mama said that Vladyka had brought it home from abroad. It was kept in our home in a special flask with a red mark. The school had to be closed on quarantine. Vladyka Philaret had to pay a lot of money for its repairs. He was very worried that there would be a lawsuit, and did everything he could to prevent it. Later some students told me that someone got seriously sick from the mercury fumes. There is now a technical school in that building.
Mama was friends with Rada Shcherbitskaya, the wife of the First Secretary of the Ukrainian Communist Party, who would often come to visit us at home and at the dacha. Now she is friends with the wives of Fokin and Kravchuk. Vladyka uses mama to build bridges with the authorities toward his own aims. Mama talks openly about her friends in high places, and likes to be photographed with them, so that people would be afraid of her and papa.
At first our dacha was located in Novoselki. Papa bought a home there in the name of my grandmother Xenia Mitrophanovna and rebuilt it (without any permission from the authorities or my grandmother) into an enormous two-story house. At that time a new building was being built at the Exarchate, and all the building materials were brought straight from Pushkinskaya Street to Novoselki without any documentation, and so the house was built in three months.
In this house lived my grandmother. There Vladyka would spend the night after work and services, along with my mother.
We children guessed that it could be bad for papa if others knew about this, and therefore we kept quiet about our relationship to Vladyka Philaret. Once I heard mama asking papa: “Misha (Philaret’s secular name), aren’t you afraid? People might find out that we live together?” But Vladyka answered, “I’m not afraid, because for the faithful I am a monk, but for the KGB I’m married.”
When mama’s personal doctor, Y-i Ni-ch told papa that he should repent of his sin, because he has proof that we are Evgenia Petrovna’s natural children, papa silently heard him out, then fired him. And in general, he harshly watched after and persecuted anyone who in anyway touched upon his personal life. That is why everyone kept quiet, although many saw this and understood. This is the atmosphere of secrecy, fear, and lies that we were raised in.
When I got older, I of course began to see that the relationship between my mama and Vladyka went beyond that of a sister and her monk-brother. I began to notice my resemblance to Vladyka and realized that I am not from a children’s home, as my parents told me, but the natural daughter of Vladyka Philaret and Evgenia Petrovna. (Later I made an inquiry in the city of Sverdlovsk, where I had supposedly been in a children’s home. I received a certificate that such a person [me] is not listed anywhere.)
A feeling of protest rose up in me against my mother’s lies, beatings, and abuse. My grandmother experienced the same thing. One day, she and Andrei, unable to endure the humiliation, ran to Moscow to Patriarch Pimen to tell him the whole truth about Vladyka Philaret and Evgenia Petrovna. Pimen did not receive them. They talked in the chancery with some bishop from Minsk.
When they returned to Kiev, mama accused Andrei of stealing her valuables (she had a huge safe at home with gold coins, diamonds, and dollars), and a little later Andrusha ended up in jail. Now he is in Angarsk—papa did everything he could to ensure that he would not live in Ukraine. “You are going to go from one prison to another,” he told Andrei.
Papa did nothing to help his son, as he was always afraid to lose his rank because we are his natural children. After all, according to Church canons a monk is not supposed to have a wife or children (including adopted children) under threat of anathema.
And through the courts Vladyka Philaret took my grandmother’s home away from her in Novoselki to be given over to the rural council. The Chief Justice of the Kiev-Sviatoshinsky Region, N. M. Tuboltseva, told me that she was under pressure from “the law of the telephone” to pronounce an illegal sentence forcing the eviction of my grandmother and the confiscation of her home. That is how my parents took revenge against Andrei and Xenia Mitrophanovna for going to Patriarch Pimen with a complaint.
Unfortunately, all of her [grandmother’s] efforts [to get her home back] were crushed against the “telephone law” of Vladyka and mama with the powerful of this world. And since grandmother with her complaints was becoming dangerous for them, mama sent an ambulance to take her to the psychiatric ward. Knowing that mama is capable of anything, I relocated my grandmother to Latvia, hoping that mama would not reach her there. Grandmother cried when she had to leave Ukraine, where she had spent her whole life.
Most astounding is that now the house in Novoselki has again become the personal property, not of my grandmother, but of her daughter, my mother… All of these years, with two of my own children and my grandmother on my hands, I have experienced such suffering, deprivation and insults from my mother that I can’t convey it in words. It was as if I were the hapless prey of a game hunter.
I look at my little children who like me are the spitting image of “grandma Zhenya” [Evgeny Rodionova] and grandpa Misha [Philaret Denisenko], and I think about the vice of insatiable greed that conquered my parents’ souls, about the animal fear for their earthly prosperity, and their low passions, for the sake of which they are ready to send their own mother, children and grandchildren to emotional and physical suffering.
I want to warn those who now blindly defend my father Philaret and mother. Look at me, at my grandmother, at my children and husband, at all those relatives who are being persecuted by Philaret... at the tears and sufferings of a whole assembly of bloodless martyrs—the victims of my mother’s and Vladyka’s terror—and you will understand, you must understand, what terrible people they are. My grandmother even said of her own daughter, Vladyka Philaret’s cohabitant: “I am guilty before God, for I gave birth… to a devil.”
Yes, my mother is a real devil; I have to repeat my grandmother’s words with shame. She falsifies any documents and gets any needed ones without the slightest pangs of conscience—after all, she is now Vladyka’s deputy and agent of what is now their “Kiev Patriarchate” and controls millions in undocumented money and church valuables. She documented us, Philaret’s children, in the name of her first husband without his permission. She also documented in his name my sister Liuba’s daughter… At Vladyka’s suggestion, Evgenia Petrovna disowned her own mother in order to become the “daughter” of his natural mother, and thus become “Philaret’s sister”.
These are only three examples of Evgenia Petrovna’s machinations, or rather the power of money in the hands of my mother. Vladyka Philaret knows about these scams but he is ruled by fear, because mama continually threatens him with possible exposure.
My grandmother and I wrote about this to the new Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Alexei II. Then Philaret went over to the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Kiev Patriarchate), where he became the successor of Patriarch Mstislav, and now mama has the command over a new church.
Now I see how the faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church are suffering from Philaret and my mother, how Vladyka travels around Ukraine seizing churches for himself; I again hear mama’s threats against the non-submissive bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to be carried out at the hands of the authorities, and therefore I simply cannot be silent. Let everyone know the terrible truth about my mother and father.
The “blood” of martyrdom of these and future victims knocks on my heart and cries out to Heaven.
I am ready to go to court to prove what I am saying, in order to show my blood relation to Vladyka Philaret by judicial process. Because I, Vera, am the natural daughter of Philaret according to all human laws.
I turn to you, my father and master: Reach out your hand to your grandchildren, daughter, and my grandmother, and return them their home. And people will forgive you your sin as only they can magnanimously forgive. I will nevertheless believe and hope that you will someday awaken from my mother’s spell and come to us. We will accept you, regardless of everything.
But meanwhile let all people read this confession. Perhaps among them someone can be found who will be able to influence you with goodness…
Vera, married name Medved, natural daughter
of the former exarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church,
This is the same Philaret who is now being welcomed by the Patriarch of Constantinople.