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“Russian” icons were torn and thrown away to a priest in Tanzania, – cleric of the ROC

On the topic of today’s historic decision of the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church. I would like to tell you about Father Ambrose Chawala from Tanzania.

He was one of those who, in November 2019, signed the Open Letter from the Priests of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, where he expressed very mildly his disagreement with the decision of Patriarch Theodore to recognize schismatics from the OCU. Moreover, at that time for Fr. Ambrose did not even talk about the transition to the Russian Orthodox Church. They hoped that the Alexandrian patriarch would listen to the voice of his clergy, and to many other voices calling him to reverse that fateful decision.

What happened after the letter had been published? The Greek bishop Agathonikos summoned Fr. Ambrose and demanded to sign a paper supporting the decision of Patriarch Theodore. He refused. Then Bp. Agathonikos reduced his salary in half. Fr. Ambrose did not change his mind. In August 2020, his temple was robbed, in particular, the Chalice and the Gospel were stolen from the altar. When Fr. Ambrose reported the incident to his ruling bishop, he replied: “You probably stole it yourself! If you want to go to the Russians, you have hidden it!” Moreover, Agathonikos blessed his assistant to apply to the police on Fr. Ambrose. The police arrested him, but then released him, convinced of his innocence.

At the beginning of 2021, our missionary community of St. Serapion printed a prayer book in Swahili, as well as icons of Christ and the Virgin. Fr. Andrey Novikov kindly agreed to take them to Tanzania. At my request, some of the icons were given to Fr. Ambrose. December 10 Bishop Agathonikos fired Fr. Ambrose from the post of abbot of the temple and ordered him to move out of the temple room with his family as soon as possible. And the next day, at the direction of the Greek bishop, some people tore down all the “Russian” icons in the church and threw them under the door of Fr. Ambrose. This incident shocked many Orthodox priests in Tanzania, who said that even pagans did not dare to do this. I confess that it struck me unpleasantly. I can purely psychologically understand the displeasure and indignation of Agathonikos addressed to the disobedient priest, but what are the icons to blame?

In general, after all that has been said, I hope you will understand the relief and joy with which the African clergy, who were admitted to the Russian Orthodox Church, received today’s decision of our Synod. Fr. Ambrose is one of 102. The Greeks will now write with indignation about the “ungrateful Africans” and “insidious Russians”, not wanting to admit the bitter truth that what happened was exclusively their fault, the Greek bishops from the Alexandrian Patriarchate. They have no one to blame but themselves.

And the decision of the Synod is historic and I hope that it will become a salvation for African Orthodoxy, breathe new life into it. Orthodox Africans deserve better.

Father Georgy Maksimov, Telegram

Earlier it was reported that the hierarch of the OCU, Alexander Drabinko, published on his Facebook the personal passport data of the clergy of the Alexandria Patriarchate, who contacted the Russian Orthodox Church.

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