Archbishop Meletius (in the world – Michael Policarpovich Kartushin), cousin of the archbishop of Moscow, John (Kartushin), was born on the Popkov farm of the Ostrovskaya village in the Don Host Oblast in 1859. In 1886, he was ordained as a priest to the church of his native parish. In 1895, he became widowed. He was ordained as a bishop to the Saratov and Astrakhan cathedras on December 7, 1908 by archbishop John of Moscow and bishop Alexander of Ryazan and Yegoryevsk.
Accepting the cathedra, bishop Meletius, over the course of a year, strived to travel around the entire diocese and visit each parish. Based on the impressions he received, he determined the main directions of his archpastoral activity for many years to come. One of them was the fight against drunkenness. Bishop Meletius wrote and distributed dozens of appeals, epistles, letters and leaflets against drunkenness. In one of the appeals to the clergy and laity, he wrote:
“Drunkenness pours over the vast expanse of Mother Rus’ in a broad murky wave, carrying away thousands of unfortunate victims in its bloody flow. It also captures the Old Belief, which I had to personally witness from my own observation.”
Bishop Meletius believed that the clergy were obliged to play a major role in saving the people from drunkenness:
“Fathers, let us not be the idle spectators of national grief, of national tears and suffering.”
The actions of bishop Meletius as a warrior for sobriety brought him all-Russian renown. In 1911, according to a decision of the Holy Council, he headed a deputation of Old-believers to be presented to the Lord Emperor with a heartfelt request for measures to be taken in order to combat drunkenness.
In 1914, bishop Meletius participated in a tour of Old-believer bishops and apologists in the Balkans, North Africa and the Holy Land. This tour is described in detail in S.I. Bystrov’s book, ‘Travels of the Old-believer bishops in the East’.
On August 26, 1915, at the Consecrated Council, bishop Meletius was chosen to be the archbishop of Moscow and All Rus’. He was ordained by metropolitan Makariy of Belokrinitsa. The Council also decided to put up bishop Meletius as a metropolitan, however, the ongoing world war and then a series of revolutions unfortunately prevented the ordainment, since it was appropriate that it should take place in peacetime.
In the 1920s, with the onset of godless persecution of religion, archbishop Meletius took many steps to heal the existing schisms and divisions. He met with prominent representatives of the Belokrinitsky hierarchy, sent delegations to the council of the Beglopopovtsy and entered into negotiations with representatives of the former Synodal Church. In the same period, archbishop Meletius was the permanent chairman of the Consecrated Councils, the last of which took place in 1928.
Archbishop Meletius of Moscow and All Rus’ passed away on May 22 (old style calendar), 1934.