On December 2, 1998, the great Elder Cleopa (Ilie) was relocated to Heaven. For the 20th anniversary of his repose, we offer our readers recollections from those who knew him, and firstly, from his spiritual child and co-struggler Elder Arsenie (Papacioc), also a famous Romanian elder.
Elder Arsenie Papacioc of Romania, blessed memory, was part of the great generation of confessors for Christ that had suffered much while imprisoned for their faith under the atheist [communist] regime of the east. His words, not academic but rather simple, down to earth, have great authority as they are spoken from an experience of suffering and with a burning love for everyone.
All passions can, let's say, be excused due to nature and bad life circumstances; but pride cannot be justified by anything! It has an unbearable insolence—it attaches itself to any virtue if it can, and it even hides behind humility, which serves as its shield. We see this very often, and to prove what I am saying, it is as one father said: "That proud one is so humble!"
So, whether he is worthy or unworthy, the priest’s work depends on Grace, not on anything else. So don’t rush to judge him, because you’re making an enormous mistake. And here I must get back to a previous question – you should not judge anyone, not even some terrible murderer – let alone a priest!