Author Church People Clergy and Monastics Deacon Andrei Psarev Lives of Bishops

Metropolitan Mark (Dr. Arndt)

I took this photo of Vladyka at his desk in his office during a visit to St. Job of Pochaev Monastery in Munich last December

An Academic Who Became an Ascetic

Metropolitan Mark (Dr. Arndt) of Berlin and Germany was born on this day in 1941.

When I came to study at Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary (HTOS) in Jordanville, NY, in 1990, all of the faculty, except for the present Archbishop Peter of Chicago and Mid-America, had theological degrees from HTOS only. The perception of complex matters was sometimes simple. Or, as I used to say, it may be simple, but we’re getting the “real McCoy” here, whereas the St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary “product” might be diluted.

This triumphalist mindset corresponded to a drop in theological standards through the tenure of the ROCOR Metropolitans Philaret and Vitaly. Understandably, in the conditions of the Russian diaspora, it was impossible to maintain the theological standards of imperial Russia. While growing up abroad, both Metropolitans only had limited access to theological education: the pastoral school in Harbin (Metropolitan Philaret) and Ladomirová (Metropolitan Vitaly).

In this sense, I agree with what Archbishop Nathanael (Lʹvov) of Vienna wrote to Bishop Gregory (Grabbe) about the newly consecrated Bishop Mark of Stuttgart and Southern Germany:

“He is a brilliant find for our Church, for we have almost no bishops with higher education. Metropolitan [Philaret] and I formally did not graduate from the Higher Theological Courses. You also did not graduate from Belgrade University. The younger Vladyka Vitaly [the future Metropolitante] is almost illiterate […] But here we have full theological scholarship.” (Letter from April 3/16, 1981. Department of Special Collections. Stanford U. Libraries. Grabbe Collection. M. 964.)

Similarly to Archbishop Peter, Metropolitan Mark studied and completed his formal theological education at the theological faculty of Belgrade University. Dr. Gernot Seide wrote:

“From 1962 to 1964, instructor of German for Yugoslav students at the University of Heidelburg. From 1963 he studied the Slavic and English languages in Frankfurt and Heidelberg. He received his Ph.D. in 1969; his dissertation was on the theme The Biographical Literature of the Principality of Tver’ from the 14th to the 16th Centuries. From 1964 to 1969 he was an instructor of Russian and German at the University of Maryland, American Division. From 1972 to 1975, he taught at the Slavic Institute in the University of Erlangen as Assistant Professor of Church Slavonic and Old Russian Literature” (History of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia from Its Beginning to the Present [English tr.]. Part VI. Comprehensive Index of the Bishops of the Church Abroad with Short Biographies, Historical)

Metropolitan Mark was born in Chemnitz in Saxony into a Protestant family, which was not Nazi-indoctrinated, based on the fact that his sponsor at baptism was of Hebrew extraction. After the partition of Germany, his family fled to the West. There, having run from the Russians, Michael Arndt became a bishop of the Russian Church.

Vladyka Mark, the last ROCOR hierarch consecrated during Metropolitan Philaret’s tenure (in 1980), has seen World War II, the Cold War, the opening of Russia and is outspoken about this period we are all living through. Anything called “history” requires an analytical, historical perspective, and we hardly have the one to reflect upon this time. I wish him many more blessed returns of this day! Eis polla eti despota, Kyrie filate!

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