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A critical website on Vassula Ryden & True Life in God
Did the Patriarchate of Moscow endorse Vassula?
TLIG Pilgrimage to Russia 2017
The 2017 international pilgrimage of True Life in God (TLIG) took place in Russia from 2 to 10 September. During the pilgrimage, Vassula and members of the clergy participating in the pilgrimage attended a meeting at the Patriarchate of Moscow. This meeting is being cleverly presented as an endorsement and support given by the Russian Orthodox Church to Vassula and her group. But a letter from the Patriarchate denies it.
TLIG pilgrimage participants: no representative of the Russian Orthodox Church
The TLIG pilgrimage assembled 720 participants from 60 countries, including 120 members of clergy from different Christian denominations, as well as several Muslim and Buddhist representatives. The highest ranking clergy member was as usual the Catholic Cardinal Telesphore P. Toppo from Ranchi, India. The list of speakers can be consulted here: http://www.tlig.net/russia/talks.html. For pictures of the pilgrimage, see: http://www.vassula.org/russ2017D.htm
Although the pilgrimage's official title was "Honouring Russian Orthodoxy", no representative of the Russian Orthodox Church is mentioned.
Metropolitan Hilarion grants a meeting to an "ecumenical group from Lebanon"
Right after the pilgrimage, Vassula wrote a short report regarding a meeting at the Department of External Church Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow. You will find the complete text at the bottom of this page.
During preparations for the pilgrimage, Yolla Bechara, a very active promoter of Vassula of Lebanese origine, wrote to the Patriarchate of Moscow requesting an audience for the "Eastern Church clergy". The text of her letter has not been made public.
Her letter was answered by the Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations, Metropolitan Hilarion. This letter can be read on-line at http://www.tlig.net/russia/PatriarchateLetter.pdf .
Metropolitan Hilarion writes that he is granting the meeting to an "ecumenical group from Lebanon" because of the Russian Church's "brotherly feelings towards Christians of the Middle East", wishing to devote "special attention to them in their current difficult situation".
It does strike as odd that Metropolitan Hilarion's letter doesn't mention Vassula nor TLIG. He seems to believe that his Department will be meeting with a group of Middle Eastern Christians from Lebanon.
The meeting at the Patriarchate
On September 6 Vassula, the clergy participating in the TLIG pilgrimage and their cameraman meet Archimandrite Philaret, Vice-Chairman of the Department of External Church Relations. After presenting his Department, Archimandrite Philaret asked if there were questions. Cardinal Toppo then presented Vassula and TLIG. Archimandrite Philaret didn't seem particularly interested. At the end of the meeting, Vassula is filmed while she gives him copies of her books in Russian. The edited video of that meeting is now available here: http://www.tligpilgrimages.org/russiapatrvid.html
Vassula concludes her report by stating that it was "an honour for our TLIG pilgrimage to have had some contact with the Russian Church" and thanks "Metropolitan Hilarion for welcoming the TLIG group on behalf of Patriarch Kirill", although Metropolitan Hilarion did not participate in the meeting.
The Patriarchate clarifies that it isn't an endorsement of Vassula
Recently a letter signed by Archimandrite Philaret in answer to a query by Maria Laura Pio (for more details, read here) has been made public, in which he confirms that the meeting with the "ecumenical group from Lebanon" had as its main objective to "express solidarity with the suffering Christians of the Middle East" and that "no separate meeting with Mrs. Ryden" was planned. In this letter, as in Metropolitan Hilarion's, the True Life in God group is not mentioned.
The content of Metropolitan Hilarion's letter did raise some questions regarding his awareness of whom he was granting the meeting to. The description he gives of the group ("group from Lebanon") does not correspond to the description of the TLIG international pilgrimage group, which isn't even mentioned.
In fact, it did seem odd that meeting was requested by Mrs. Bechara and not Vassula, considering that she wrote in her report that she personally knew Metropolitan Hilarion. Vassula did in fact meet him during a previous trip to Moscow in 1999, that is before the Patriarchate of Constantinople's document accusing her of heresy. This might be the reason why Yolla Bechara and not Vassula requested the meeting: for fear of a refusal.
Moreover Metropolitan Hilarion was not in Moscow during the TLIG pilgrimage because he was touring the Eastern Mediterranean region, in an effort to strengthen relations with several Orthodox Patriarchs and Archbishops, including the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, as well as the Orthodox Church of Greece and the Orthodox Church of Cyprus, authors of documents denouncing Vassula and which Metropolitan Hilarion visited during his trip.
It was unlikely that Metropolitan Hilarion would have knowingly granted a meeting to a Greek-Orthodox seer who is in such a grave conflict with her Church authorities. He might not have recognized her, but it was risky.
However, even if Metropolitan Hilarion knew who Vassula was, as she asserts in her report, he was careful not to mention her in his letter. A similar precaution was taken by Archimandrite Philaret who avoided mentioning the name of the group. And this is a clear message. It is becoming increasingly difficult for Vassula to find support in Orthodox and Catholic settings. Certainly this explains the resort to stratagems in order to create good opportunities for photos and videos with ecclesiastic authorities, which are later presented as official endorsements.
Text of Archimandrita Philaret's letter to Maria Laura Pio regarding the meeting at the Patriarchate of Moscow with Vassula's group. (Source: https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/marialaurapio_eng/conversations/messages/73 - emphasis added)
December 17, 2017
Dear Ms. Pio,
On behalf of Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department for External Church Relations, I thank you for your letter in which you express concern over the visit to Russia this September of the ecumenical group from Lebanon.
It was a rather large group that consisted of some 40 people, among whom were the Orthodox and Catholic hierarchs. The major aim of the meeting, which causes your concern, with the members of that group at the Department of External Church Relations was to express solidarity with the suffering Christians of the Middle East. No separate meeting with Mrs. Ryden, whom you mention, was planned.
Please accept my wishes of good health and God's help in your work.
Department for External Church Relations
Short report of
the meeting in the Russian Department for External Church Relations, by
Vassula Rydén (September 2017)