Archbishop Arseny Post 4: The Defense Completes its Case

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]

2 Replies to “Archbishop Arseny Post 4: The Defense Completes its Case”

  1. Christ is Risen!
    Father, bless.

    >So, he was Orthodox while writing the pieces critical of the Orthodox Church for a Greek Catholic paper.

    As you probably realize, Svoboda was the official publication of the Little Russian National Union, which in 1914 became the Ukrainian National Association. The LRNU was founded as a *secular* organization to which any “Rusyn” (as Ukrainians were then called, and inclusive of Carpatho-Rusyns) could belong. While the vast majority of its membership was Greek Catholic by faith, there was no religious test for membership and Svoboda was not, per se, a Greek Catholic religious paper. It was not until the LRNU’s 1908 convention (mid-July) that a resolution was passed to require that members were by faith Greek Catholics in union with Rome or Latin Catholics, and made Bishop Soter Ortyns’kyi the patron of the organization. By 1911 Ortyns’kyi had moved on to a new, specifically Catholic fraternal (Provydinnia), and by 1914 Svoboda was denouncing Ortyns’kyi’s rule. In 1914, the LRNU was renamed Ukrainian National Association and no longer had any religious test for membership. (Incidentally, even St. Alexis Toth was affiliated with the LRNU at one time, having been a member at its 1894 founding, when he was already Orthodox and pastor in Wilkes-Barre.)

    Svoboda, for virtually all of its history, was a secular newspaper published by a secular organization. In my opinion, characterizing it here as a Greek Catholic paper is problematic (even if, computing the exact date of the articles in question vs. the exact date of changing of the bylaws of its owners, it may have been officially so at the time). Its position was pro-Ukrainian and I would say that its attacks on Russian Orthodox clergy would be primarily on an ethnonational basis to defend against the large numbers of Rusyns who were becoming *Russian* Orthodox and their clergy who were ostensibly antagonistic to the Ukrainian national idea the paper and its owner were propagating.

  2. Thank you, Rich. It is always a joy to encounter someone so informed. Your points are all well taken. I was simply trying to present things in a nutshell and keep things streamlined. So it seemed easy to just call it a Greek Catholic paper in 1909, but you are correct to note the ethnic tensions that were very very much at play here. My sincere apologies for not properly accounting for this. Thank you, again, for reading and responding.

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