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The Public Ecumenist: Vassa Larin & The Subverting of Holy Orthodoxy

Updated: May 17, 2023

By Subdeacon Nektarios, M.A.
 
On April 26th, 2023, in Rome, the self-professed monastic, Dr Vassa Larin, publicly known as "Sister Vassa" committed yet another brazen act of heretical ecumenism, this time, in as a high profile fashion as almost anyone could get and that is with the heresiarch Pope Francis in Rome. In her self-posted photos and videos on Facebook, Instagram, and her other social media accounts, she can be seen speaking with the heresiarch Pope. While the audio is inaudible, she can nevertheless be viewed kissing his hand in open violation to the 32nd Canon of the Holy Council of Laodicea which states, "That one must not accept the blessings of heretics, which are misfortunes rather than blessings" [1]. Not only did she openly violate the canons in her monastic ryassa she essentially did so indirectly and de facto representing the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia which absolutely and synodically anathematized the heresy of ecumenism in 1983 under the leadership of the First-Hierarch of the Holy Synod of the Russian Church Abroad, Saint Philaret of New York.
Dr Larin Receiving the "Blessing' of the Arch-heresiarch Pope Francis.
Although the audio in Dr Larins' video was inaudible, in the description and comments section of her social media post she told us exactly what she discussed with Mr Francis Bergoglio. Dr Larin, according to her own testimony, said "I told him that we need him to speak up about the blasphemous attacks that are coming from our Patriarch [Kirill], and he said 'he knows, but we are all brothers,' but I said, 'I don't think you are really brothers,' and then he started flipping through my little book and saw the note I inserted into it; then he said he 'will read it and let's remember that Christ is Risen!' and he said it in Ukrainian." Dr Larin, also posted this video to her personal Instagram page @coffeewithsistervassa and gave a more detailed description of what exactly her interaction with the arch-heresiarch was. In this text description it reads, "This morning at the papal audience in Rome. The last few seconds of the Pope's kind chat with me. I told him we need him, to defend Western Christian values, from the attacks on them coming from our own Patriarch [Kirill]." The rest of the text read exactly as the previous one from her public Facebook comment. So here we have Dr Larin parading around in a Orthodox monastic ryassa as a member of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia accepting the blessing of the Chief "Hierarch" of the anathematized papists and slandering the Russian Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.
Comment from Dr Larin On Her Public Facebook Post Concerning the Incident
Let's be clear, for full disclosure, anyone who has read my writings or has come to know me personally knows that I am no cheerleader for the Moscow Patriarchate and that my views closely align with those of Synod of the Russian Church Abroad and of Saint Philaret of New York during the 1960's, 70's, 80's and 90's, when it comes to that particular topic. However, what is absolutely unacceptable and unconscionable is that a self-professed monastic of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia would run to an anathematized heretic who is outside of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, therefore outside the Body of Christ and Salvation to condemn an Orthodox Patriarch. Some of you are wondering who exactly is Sister Vassa Larin? Dr Vassa Larin is a ROCOR nun of the Diocese of Berlin and Germany, and a former University Assistant who taught Liturgical Studies at the University of Vienna in Austria. She is a founding member of the Society of Oriental Liturgy and has a medium size presence within the Orthodox Christian community online with her YouTube channel having around 18,000 subscribers, her Facebook around 4,000, Instagram around 3,000, and 400 hundred on Patreon. Dr Larin has been a lingering problem for ROCOR for some time, but most notably for her July 2017 incident on a Facebook post that is still public to date where she essentially encouraged a mother with a homosexual son to openly date other males. Larin is recorded saying:

I can't reply to your question officially, but will reply to it personally. Because my personal opinion is not in line with some official pronouncements of my Church [...] I must say, and cannot say otherwise, that actively living it out is a sin. It’s a no-no. But so are many other things, which we tolerate in ourselves as 'only human.' So I would say, let him “date” in the daylight, with your knowledge, so he’s not chased into some kind of underground of illicit hook-ups in certain kinds of pubs or bars. You aren’t “encouraging” him by saying, bring the guy here. Just like other parents, of heterosexual children, say, bring that girl (even the one of whom we disapprove) home, so we can meet her, aren’t saying, go ahead and do whatever you want. But what you are doing is bringing your child’s relationship into the daylight of your home, where your love, values, and mutual commitment, as family, can lend stability and light to your child’s behaviour in his/her relationships [2].

This statement was so egregious that the Holy Synod of Bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church was moved to release a statement saying:

The Holy Synod, having received the recent text of a publicly-posted e-mail exchange, dated 2nd July 2017, between the Nun Vassa (Larin) and a correspondent, entitled “EMAIL OF THE WEEK: (from a mother, on MY SON IS HOMOSEXUAL),” together with follow-up correspondence, also posted publicly on 8th July 2017, is compelled to confirm to its flock and to all Orthodox Christians that the counsel contained therein is in contradiction to the Church’s teaching on sexuality, repentance and family life. It does not represent an Orthodox understanding of anthropology or theology, and in the counsel it purports to offer presents a grave spiritual danger to those who might follow it, in terms of their own understanding of sexuality, as well as in the rearing of children [...]. We instruct therefore that the contents of these publicly-posted materials be disregarded by the faithful as contrary to the teachings of the Gospel and pastorally harmful; that they be withdrawn and removed from any web sites or publications that seek authentically to represent Orthodox theological and pastoral teaching; and that in the future such materials be treated with most extreme reticence and caution [3].

Unfortunately, this is only one of many instances where she has publicly gone against the canons, dogmatic teachings, and moral norms of the Holy Orthodox Church, however I digress. Going back to the original problematic issue of her receiving the "blessing" of the heresiarch of Rome is that because of her significant presence and influence on the internet and her position within the Orthodox Church as a monastic; people automatically assume that she is keeping in line with Orthodox theology, ecclesiology, and that whatever she does must be correct. This is where we run into problems. Dr Larin, in her public post on all social media accounts publicly flaunts her disregard for the Holy Canons especially when it comes to praying with those in heresy and attending the liturgical services of papists. As can be seen below, Dr Larin frequently attends the services of those anathematized heretics despite the many canonical prohibitions against this.
For example, 65th Canon of the Holy Apostles tells us that, "if any clergyman or layman, enter a synagogue of Jews, or of heretics [i.e., papists], to pray, let him be both deposed and excommunicated" [4]. Again, the Council of Laodicea's 33rd Canon states, "that one must not join in prayer with heretics or schismatics" [5]. Dr Larin's blatant disregard for these councils is also a blatant disregard of the 4th Ecumenical Council's 1st Canon which "confirms the canons of the local councils of Laodicea" [6]. This same attitude of Dr Larins can be seen in a public YouTube video where she is interviewing a papist named John Michael Talbot and equates Orthodox Ecclesiology with "identity politics" rather than the Orthodox doctrine of significant importance. Again, she is openly discarding the traditional teaching of the Holy Orthodox Church when it comes to the identity of the Orthodox Church and the doctrines of Orthodox ecclesiology. By saying what she has publicly in various articles, social media posts, and documenting her gross violations of the Holy Canons of the Orthodox Church, she is actively trying to subvert the teachings of the Holy Ecumenical Councils, Canons, and Church Fathers, and is seemingly doing so without consequence and what makes this even worse is the fact that Dr Larin is a highly educated doctoral graduate from the Orthodox Institute of the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and is very familiar with the teachings of the Church Fathers and the Canons of the Holy Church.

Many people out of false piety and ignorance even among the clergy have been heard, concerning Dr Larin, that this is her "personal sin," that we should not even be bringing this up. However, this is absolutely false piety. Dr Larin is a recognized monastic by the Russian Church Abroad, as well as a self-professed Orthodox monastic, is addressed by what the general public knows to be an ecclesiastical title (nun/sister), is for the most part in a ryassa consistently and in public and is speaking, teaching, and doing things which are contrary to the teachings and ethos of an Orthodox Christian, and especially one that has a significant public reach among the faithful on the internet. Again, the Holy Synod of the Russian Church Abroad has said "in this instance the wide readership of the various resources published by this author, who is an Orthodox monastic, has the potential to lead readers astray" [7]. We understand that all Orthodox Christian clergy and laity alike are sinners, in need of repentance, will fall into sin, and that we should pray for the repentance, recovery, and quick return the royal path of all, and that we should "cover the sins" of those who have fallen. However, this is not about her personal failures as an Orthodox Christian but an examination of her very public social media activity (which she herself has published, of her own volition, to be seen by the Orthodox world) that can lead pious Orthodox Christians, catechumens and potential inquirers onto the dangerous path of heretical ecumenism. It is the responsibility of every Orthodox Christian clergyman regardless of rank (reader, subdeacon, deacon, priest, bishop) and laity alike to stand up and confess the faith of the Orthodox and to speak out when the purity of faith is being distorted or put in danger. It is not just the responsibility of the clergy to defend the Orthodox faith. We should always keep in the forefront of our minds that it was a single Holy Hierarch, Saint Mark of Ephesus, and the laity who rejected the heretical uniate bishops when they returned to Constantinople from the false Council of Florence in the 15th century. These public actions by Dr Larin, in light of the seemingly possible but yet probable false union being arranged by the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Vatican in 2025, become even more problematic because these seem to be leading to a betrayal of the Orthodox faithful by various individuals within the Patriarchates who are strongly pushing for this false re-unification.

The time for so-called blind obedience to clerics who are not "rightly dividing the word of truth" is over. There will be no defense at the dread judgment seat for going along with these heresies and using as an excuse that "I was just following what my priest said." Each individual Orthodox Christian must take personal responsibility for their own Orthodox Christianity and to learn the faith, practice their faith, and confess the faith so that when the time comes we will be ready to stand before Christ as his good and faithful servants (Matthew 25:21). Saint Philaret (Voznesensky) the First-Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, in his first sorrowful epistle speaks to us saying, "Should we say in this case that humility commands us to keep silent? [...] St. Gregory the Theologian once said that there are occasions 'when even by silence truth can be betrayed.' Should we not also be betraying the truth if, on noticing a deviation from pure Orthodoxy, we merely kept silence—always an easier and safer thing to do than speaking out? We observe, however, that nobody in a higher position than our own is raising his voice; and this fact constrains us to speak out, lest at the Last Judgment we should be reproached for having seen the danger of Ecumenism threaten the Church and yet not having warned her Bishops" [7].



 
References

[1]. Protopresbyter Anastasios K. Gotsopoulos, On Common Prayer with the Heterodox: According to the Canons of the Church (Florence: Uncut Mountain Press, 2022), 8-9.
[2]. Sister Vassa Larin, "EMAIL OF THE WEEK: (from a mother, on MY SON IS HOMOSEXUAL)," Facebook Post, July 8th, 2017, https://www.facebook.com/CoffeeWithSisterVassa/posts/email-of-the-week-from-a-cousin-of-mine-about-my-recent-correspondence-with-a-wo/767429780102527/
[3]. The Official Website of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, "Circular Communique from the Chancery of the Synod of Bishops," accessed April 27th, 2023, https://www.synod.com/synod/eng2017/20170719_encircularnotice.html

[4]. Protopresbyter Anastasios K. Gotsopoulos, On Common Prayer with the Heterodox: According to the Canons of the Church (Florence: Uncut Mountain Press, 2022), 8-9.

[5].Ibid., 8-9.
[6].Ibid.,8-9. [7]. Saint Philaret (Voznesensky) of New York, Metropolitan Philaret of New York: Zealous Confessor of the Faith, ed. Subdeacon Nektarios Harrison (Florence: Uncut Mountain Press, 2022), 103-117.

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