Posts tagged Arseny Chagovtsov
This past weekend, the Canonization Commission of the OCA issued a statement at OCA.org. According to Commission secretary (and OCA archivist) Alexis Liberovsky, the Commission will begin detailed studies of the lives of both Metropolitan Leonty Turkevich and Archbishop Arseny Chagovtsov, to determine whether the OCA should canonize them. Canonization obviously has a strongly historical element to it — after all, these are historical figures — so the potential canonization of an American saint is of special interest to historians of American Orthodoxy.
Here at OrthodoxHistory.org, we haven’t yet done a whole lot of work on Metropolitan Leonty, but he is a giant of an historical figure. The OCA statement provides a brief outline of his life:
Metropolitan Leonty [1876-1965] came to America as a young priest in 1906 to assume duties as rector of the seminary in Minneapolis, MN, which had been established by Saint Tikhon, at the time Archbishop of the Aleutians and North America. As a delegate from the North American Diocese to the All-Russian Church Council of 1917-18 in Moscow, he had experienced first-hand the horrors of the Russian Revolution. Upon returning to America, he sought to incarnate the conciliar spirit and groundbreaking decisions of the Moscow Council into the life of the Church in America in his every action. After the death of his wife, he became Bishop of Chicago in 1933. In 1950, he was elected Metropolitan of All America and Canada by a nearly unanimous vote. Many who knew him remember his personal holiness.
My favorite Leonty anecdote comes from Fr. Alexander Schmemann:
Great Lent, 1964. The special solemn service for all those persecuted for the Orthodox faith just ended at New York’s Greek Cathedral. At the end of the service Metropolitan Leonty approaches Archbishop Iakovos to thank him on behalf of the Metropolia. Something extraordinary takes place: the Greek Hierarch, in all his majesty, bows before the Elder in white, kisses his hand and says, You have a great soul.
Anyway, the statement goes on to outline Abp Arseny’s life as well. If you’ve been following our website recently, you know that we’ve devoted a good deal of attention to Arseny, particularly the 1909 rape allegations against him, and the subsequent criminal libel trial. In response to this, Liberovsky said, “The Canonization Commission has been aware for some time of the controversy surrounding Archbishop Arseny arising from allegations of serious moral transgression and unethical behavior, which has recently been publicized on the internet. These allegations, which Archbishop Arseny challenged in the courts a century ago, and attendant issues require further study and verification.”
It’s important to understand that there are actually two committees looking into the canonization of Abp Arseny. There is the main OCA Commission, of which Liberovsky is the secretary, and there is also a separate Canadian committee. Liberovsky explains, “[S]everal years ago His Eminence, Archbishop Seraphim of Ottawa and Canada established an Archdiocesan Canonization Committee in Canada, which conducted extensive research.”
Both the Timeline and Life of Arseny were produced by the Canadian committee, not the main OCA Commission. Having recently spoken with Alex Liberovsky, I am confident that the OCA Commission will exercise due diligence in its investigations into both Leonty and Arseny.
If anyone has information or source materials that might help the Commission’s work on either Leonty or Arseny, they can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org; write to PO Box 675, Syosset, NY 11791; or call 516-922-0550 extension 121.
[This article was written by Matthew Namee.]
Last week, Fr. Oliver Herbel wrote a series of articles on the 1909 criminal libel trial involving Archimandrite (later Archbishop) Arseny Chagovtsov, who is currently being considered for canonization by the OCA. Fr. Oliver’s summary may be found at the following links:
- Part 1 – Introduction
- Part 2 – the Prosecution
- Part 3 – the Defense begins
- Part 4 – the Defense concludes
- Part 5 – Addendum
Keep in mind, Arseny was not the one on trial. The defendants were in charge of Svoboda, a Uniate (Greek Catholic) journal which had accused Arseny of rape. The trial focused on whether the defendants had committed criminal libel. As with most libel suits, this led to a serious scrutiny of Arseny himself, since, if he was guilty of rape, the defendants could not be guilty of libel. But, to keep things straight, remember that the prosecutor is pro-Arseny, and the defense is pro-Svoboda.
If you haven’t done so already, I would strongly encourage you to read Fr. Oliver’s summary articles before digging into the whole trial transcript. Also, please note Fr. Oliver’s words from his fourth article: “ The transcript itself ends with an adjournment due to the illness of juror number six. The court adjourns for a week and then there is nothing.” This is very strange, and we continue to investigate the whole affair. But, in the interests of transparency and to allow the public to come to its own conclusions, we are making the source documents available to all, immediately.
The transcript is very large, and we have broken it into six parts to make for more convenient downloading. Click on the following links to download the transcript:
And finally, to give credit where it is due, Fr. Oliver is the one who tracked down the transcript. He sent a hard copy to my office, where we had it digitized and then sent to Fr. Andrew Damick, who uploaded it to OrthodoxHistory.org. It was a team effort, but in the end, it was Fr. Oliver’s research that got this thing done.
[This article was written by Matthew Namee.]
As an addendum, I would like to make a couple notes.
First, I should state that there are aspects of the case and testimonies that I have not highlighted that may deserve further scrutiny and there are some details I have examined and/or questioned about which I could be wrong. When trying to see one’s way through such a convoluted situation as this case presents, that is natural.
My second note, here, is precisely along those lines. I had stated that it is my conclusion that then-Archimandrite Arseny perjured himself. I have since learned (through a lawyer-friend) that lying under oath and perjury are a little like squares and rectangles. Just as all squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares, so all perjuries are lies under oath but not all lies under oath are perjuries. To perjure oneself, one has to make a statement that can be proven false and that can be shown known to be false by the person under oath. Further, that lie has to be material to the case at hand. The first criterion is fulfilled in this case. Fr. Arseny knew he had a son and lied about it. The second criterion does not seem fulfilled since the question would have to be material to the alleged libel published in Svoboda. Svoboda published an article on the alleged rape, not on Arseny’s prior life in Russia. At the very least, it would take some proof and arguing to show how the questions concerning +Arseny’s life in Russia prior to coming to America were material to the alleged rape.
In light of this legal clarification, I must state that it seems to me that Archbishop Arseny likely did not perjure himself even though he did lie under oath.
The clarification doesn’t make me feel a whole lot better about +Arseny’s testimony, as he still lied, but I think this is an important clarification to note.
Anyhow, as I have already noted, there is more work to do and the evidence concerning +Arseny’s rape of Mary Krinitsky is inconclusive. May the OCA in Canada address all of this with due diligence and prudence.
Fr. Oliver Herbel, Executive Director
[This entry has been posted at http://frontierorthodoxy.wordpress.com]
The court transcript includes some mildly humorous lines. Obviously, they’re more humorous to those who are reading along through the entire transcript, but they’re good enough that I thought maybe after all I’ve posted, a few lines to lighten things a bit might be acceptable.
The first is a zinger from Arseny’s lawyer, Edward A. Delaney.
Smitkin: Now, you were instrumental in causing the arrests of these defendants, weren’t you?
Court/Judge: Well, that is a statement. Put a question.
Smitkin: Were you instrumental in causing the arrest of these defendants?
Delaney: I think they were instrumental in it.
The Second is an Exchange between the judge and Smitkin
Court: but you have no right to repeat and waste time. that is a waste of time. He says he knew her. Now, go on.
Smitkin: I am going to go on in the proper way.
Court: You will go on as the Court directs you. We have a thousand cases to try in these courts, and you must no consume time by your theatrical pose here.
Smitkin: I never thought I was gifted with that, your honor.
Court: Well, you are. You waste more time than any attorney in these courts.
Judge Mulqueen was obviously tiring of the case and later, on p. 122, he says, “I would like to get this case finished.” I have to say, by page 122, I could relate to a small degree. This is one long transcript!
Pages 132-3 provide a nice exchange as well
Smitkin: I have a ight to press my question, whether she did not testify yesterday afternoon that she did have a conversation with these two men, and that all she said was what they told her to say.
Court: Well, she does not know what ‘conversation’ means. She said these men took her and she signed that affidavit on the promise of money.
Smitkin: Now, while nothing pleases me more than to have your honor correct me, it does seem to me that your honor–
Court: Well, where is the testimony of yesterday? [Smitkin was able to proceed from there.]
Finally, there is the judge’s theory of linguistic interpretation:
Court to interpreter: You are a mere phonogaph, that is all.
In other words, the language was to go in literally and come out literally. Translating is not always quite so easy.
There are other areas that are mildly humorous. On 221, for example, Garvan tells Smitkin to ask a question and not make a speech Overall, the trial transcript is long and a little convoluted, but the punctuated one liners do help with the reading. Thank God for wit!
First, by way of a quick preface, I want to note the name of Archbishop Arseny’s wife: Paraskevya [see the vita by Fr. John Hainsworth, also available in hard copy through Alexander Press]. I noticed I had not mentioned her name and she does have one. Paraskevya is not just “Arseny’s wife.”
Ok, now back to the defense’s case and Hrycko Chaly, the next witness in line to be mentioned. Chaly gave an account of the meeting with Mary that is consistent with what was just heard from Eugene Wasylenko (277-279). Chaly then admits to writing the article and sending it in along with the letter (280-281). Garvan then cross examines, highlighting an article from April 30th in Svoboda that Chaly wrote (an article critical of Metropolitan Platon). Garvan was attempting to discredit Chaly. He admitted, as well, that he had been Orthodox until August of 1908. So, he was Orthodox while writing the pieces critical of the Orthodox Church for a Greek Catholic paper. This is important inasmuch as it shows an important context to this entire situation–Carpatho-Rusyn distrust of the Russification of Carpatho-Rusyns that returned to the Orthodox Church. This would later be instrumental in developing the Carpatho-Rusyn jurisdiction under Constantinople here in America.
Garvan also asked Chaly to name people, especially priests, who were talking about the incident between Archimandrite Arseny and Mary Krinitsky. Chaly named three priests: Fr. Vladimir Znosko, Fr. Alexis Bogoslovsky, and Fr. Leonty Vladishevsky. All three were later called to the stand by Garvan and all three denied this. Garvan also recalled Chaly later and questioned Chaly about obtaining work from Greek Catholics and about a letter to Fr. Vladimir Znosko. The letter was signed with the last name Navrushenko, which he admits is his real last name. When Garvan presses him on why he gave the name Chaly, Chaly thought he was supposed to give the name which he used as a correspondent, or his “pen name,” if you will. Shortly thereafter a translation of the article against Metropolitan Platon and the Russians was introduced and is available in the text (386ff).
Before Garvan called the three priests and recalled Hrycko Chaly, however, the defendants themselves took the stand. Anthony Kurcowsky said he was the editor of the paper, noted that the article sent to him by Chaly included a letter testifying to its authenticity, and pointed out that the piece Chaly wrote was written while Chaly was Orthodox, before he went back over to the Greek Catholic Church. Konstantine Kirczow said he wrote to Chaly asking to meet Mary Krinitsky. He then described going to Mendelson’s store and meeting Mendelson. According to Kirczow, Mendelson stated he did business with Arseny and that was why he got the second affidavit from Mary Krinitsky. Mendelson was later recalled and said he only sold a cigar to Kirczow.
This basically brings us to the end. I have not covered everything or everyone in my analyses. I have, rather, tried to highlight some of the main points. Furthermore, there are a few exchanges and lines of questioning in the transcript that I’d like to have a few lawyers’ opinions on myself. Anyhow, the transcript itself will soon be online (on Monday).
Before doing that, I want to note the way the transcript ends. The transcript itself ends with an adjournment due to the illness of juror number six. The court adjourns for a week and then there is nothing. To be sure, this is not ideal. There are several possibilities as to what this means. First, as Fr. John Hainsworth (a member of the canonization committee) has suggested, Metropolitan Herman may have the final pages. If this is true, then they were obtained well before they were lost prior to the microfilming of the transcript in 1984. This could be possible but if it is, it raises the question of whether the pages would become available. Second, it could be the pages were simply lost early on and no one has them. Third, the DA office might have dropped the charges. Fourth, there could have been a settlement. I cannot imagine a criminal case simply ending at an adjournment, but I’m open to legal experts to correct this belief of mine.
Even if we are unable to obtain the final pages, there are a few things that can be done. First, I hope to pursue the civil case. It was tried in April/May of 1909, so it is possible the criminal case is referenced in it. Also, it may yet be possible to find a recording of the decision, even if the transcript remains incomplete. One thing people may find intriguing is that both defendants remain in their positions at Svoboda subsequent to this trial. This need not mean the jury ruled in their favor, but it is worth noting.
So, what do I make of this trial? Well, there are a few points I take from this.
1) With regard to the charge of libel, I don’t think it was proven. The defendants could both point to a letter testifying to a sworn affidavit, which the notary public, Harry Needle verified.
2) With regard to Archbishop Arseny and whether he raped Mary Krinitsky back in 1906 while an archimandrite, I find things to be inconclusive. On the one hand, Arseny and Mary Krinitsky testify it didn’t happen and Mendelson says he did not discuss the situation with Kirczow and obtained an affidavit from Krinitsky giving a different name for the father. On the other hand, I find it plausible that Krinitsky felt threatened and so chose the side she felt was best for her own self-preservation. I also find the time line of Arseny’s movements to be suspicious and it intrigues me that Garvan never challenged the statement that no man with the name “Andrew Pretash” existed. Why was that not pursued? Did Mendelson make up the name? I could go on, but in the end, I find it all inconclusive. This troubles me because I am not comfortable canonizing someone who might have raped a lady. In many situations in life, having inconclusive evidence is just fine, and we give the person the benefit of the doubt and move on, but when considering someone for canonization? I think we should perform due diligence to a higher standard.
3) After thinking through scenarios in which one could try to get him off the hook, it seems an inescapable conclusion to me at this time that Archbishop Arseny perjured himself in this trial. What I don’t know is why. This is serious and needs to be considered when discussing whether to canonize the archbishop as a saint.
4) Libel trials often backfire. Instead of hurting Kirczow and Curkowskyz, this trial led to Archimandrite Arseny committing perjury and having his character questioned.
5) St. Alexis Toth once told Bishop Nicholas that Bishop Nicholas was wrong to have written in to Svoboda because it added fuel to the fire. It was better, St. Alexis held, to just ignore them. It would have been better for then-Archimandrite Arseny to have done the same. The fact that he did not suggests at least two possibilities to me: he had a temperament such that he was always looking for a fight or what Chaly wrote was something already being spread around as gossip and Fr. Arseny desperately felt he had little choice but to try to do something to put a stop to it and fight back.
I do hope people will take the time to read the transcript. I do not know how long it will take me to pursue the other angles relating to this case. I had no idea I was getting into such a hornets’ nest when I requested this microfilm. I do have many other things to do that need my attention. I will continue to pick away at this, though. As for other aspects of Archbishop Arseny’s life, I have no current commitments. Perhaps, some day, I shall turn to those as well, but for now, I beg for patience. Besides, why the rush to canonize him? Should we not show patience and balance? Why be in such a hurry to have institutions dedicated in his name and complete icons painted already? Why not proceed slowly, carefully, cautiously, and prayerfully?
Fr. Oliver Herbel, Executive Director
[This entry is cross posted at http://frontierorthodoxy.wordpress.com]