Fr. Paul Adelheim
sent out by Archimandrite Alexis of St. Edwards
RocMP priest Fr. Paul Adelheim had been for years openly critical of the MP and against the RocorMP union. He suffered continual lifelong persecution by the MP, and was murdered August 5.
13 August 2013
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
When Paul was 4 years old, his father was arrested and later executed. His mother took the boy in her hands and went to the NKVD in order to place a complaint. There she was also arrested, and little Paul was sent to an orphanage, where he stayed for several years. After her term in gulag, his mother was exiled to Kazakhstan and was able to take her son with her. It was the post-war years.
In Kazakhstan at that time there were many exiled priests of a high spiritual level. Paul became a spiritual son of Fr Sebastian, the former room attendant of St Nectary of Optina. Fr Sebastian was himself a clairvoyant elder and he awakened in Paul a desire to serve the Church. This companionship formed in him a spiritual foundation for the rest of his life.
Paul entered the Kiev seminary, but was expelled after 3 years for the following reason: The rector of the seminary, archimandrite Philaret Denisenko (now patriarch of Kiev) organized a celebration of the Soviet feast, 1st of May, which fell on Great Friday that year. Student Paul protested and was expelled.
However he was accepted and ordained a deacon and a priest by Archbishop Hermogen of Tashkent, who was later exiled for his resistance to Khrushchev’s persecution of the Church.
The young priest was sent to his first parish in Uzbekistan. Soviet authorities didn’t allow the building of new churches, but gave permission to renovate the existing ones.
Fr Paul on the pretext of renovation actually built a new church. By this he caused the anger of the authorities. In 1969 there was a trial and Fr Paul was sentenced to 3 years of gulag for anti-Soviet propaganda.
The chief of the concentration camp disliked him, and orchestrated an attempt on his life in the guise of an accident. During the works on the rails suddenly a crane started to move towards him, Fr Paul managed to jump back, but his foot was cut off.
Then the chief of the camp forbade providing any medical aid for him until gangrene would set in and his leg would be amputated, so that Fr Paul would be unable to serve as a priest. It happened thus, and Fr Paul lost his leg up to the knee. Nevertheless he kept serving all his life with a prosthesis.
Having been released from the gulag, he soon moved to Pskov, where the KGB supervisors, as before, payed special attention to him. Finally Perestroika put an end to the persecution of the Church.
During the first years of freedom Fr Paul, despite his disability, was able to open 2 parishes, to build a church, to create an orphanage for disabled children and an orthodox college for choir- directors.
The favourable period of the Church revival was short; MP quickly began to shape the vertical of power, - the dictatorship of bishops acting as a corporation of bureaucracy.
Fr Paul was a talented man; he published books and articles. By his word and writings he resisted this process of the spiritual destruction of the Church from within, and as a result became an object of fierce persecution from the part of the hierarchy. Though many sympathized with him, he was alone in this struggle.
Fr Paul was just an honest and sincere priest, who acted and spoke according to his conscience, but the structure of MP is such that it rejects sincere faith.
Shortly before his death he wrote to his friend: “The fact is that church life in Russia is fading away. And no matter how much they might talk in the Patriarchate about golden domes; unfortunately, the golden domes express only the power of the Church authorities and growth of its wealth at the expense of government revenue, no more. And spiritual life is destroyed and eliminated, and it is destroyed, of course, deliberately by the MP. It destroys everything that can be destroyed in the Church. It creates its material well-being, but destroys spiritual life”.
Fr Paul constantly spoke and wrote that the Church is the Body of Christ and not a bureaucratic structure for the management of profits; that formal, army-like discipline is out of place in the Church; that obedience in the Church should be based on love, conscience and freedom, and not on fear, self-interest and brute force.
Such is the picture of MP depicted by Fr Paul in his blog:
“The MP goes contrary to the canons and traditions. Church Councils are abolished, parishes are converted to retail outlets, the people of God are deprived of participation in church life. The Patriarchate ignores legitimate protests, doesn’t respond to questions from the flock, banishes those who disagree. - Eat what you are offered or go away. The MP is based not on the Gospel and church canons and not on its own laws. It is based on the security forces of the Russian Government, crushing dissent, regardless of church canons. Under the name of "ecclesiastical court" an uncanonical institution was created to crack down on unwanted clergymen or parishes. There is no place to appeal.”
Knowing personally many priests and bishops of the ROCOR, Fr Paul had warned them openly against the union with MP, but his voice stayed unheard.
The last 20 years were for Fr Paul a time of constant attack from his bishop. Fr Paul was removed from his position as rector of the parishes, which he organized. His pastoral efforts were hindered and destroyed; the school created by him was closed. They didn’t defrock him simply to avoid scandal, since Fr Paul was a world-wide known figure. Other priests were afraid to communicate with him, for the fear of the bishop. An interesting detail: at his funeral there was only one local priest from Pskov, the one who was appointed by the bishop, others didn’t dare to come.
Fr Paul was a righteous man, who was a moral authority for many. All of his life he suffered for Christ, His truth and His Church. Now this life of a confessor was crowned with a martyr’s end.
from a 1973 News Report
Fr. Pavel Adelheim was released this spring. A priest of the Russian Orthodox Church, he had been arrested in December 1969 and sentenced in Tashkent (Uzbekistan) to three years for allegedly beating his wife and children, and two other girls. He was also accused of spreading 'anti-Soviet slander' (e.g. the writings of Anatoli Levitin). Lengthy documentation on this case was published by the Soviet civil rights leader Valery Chalidze (now in the West) in his unofficial journal Social Problems. A Western visitor who met Fr. Adelheim in 1968 described him as "gentle, kind, patient, tolerant" and said that he spoke of the authorities who persecuted him "not with hatred, but with sadness". He had been sent to Kagan, a small, poor town in Soviet Central Asia, because he was known to have independent views. The Chronicle of Current Events in April 1970 reported that "Adelheim was widely known in church circles. Thanks to his initiative and energy, the faithful of Kagan were successful in erecting a new place of worship built of stone in place of the shed which served as the local church. The young educated priest was a good preacher and was greatly loved and respected by his parishioners." While in labour camp, Fr. Adelheim was run over by a lorry (some say it was not an accident) and had to have one leg amputated. He is now said to be continuing pastoral work in the Fergana region of Uzbekistan (see Vestnik RSKhD No. 107, p. 169).