My Life’s Journey: the Memoirs of Metropolitan Evlogy. 2 vols. New York: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2014

John M Harwood

Hastings, UK July 20, 2014

The publication of this translation of Metropolitan Evlogy’s autobiographical notes, which were first written in Russian in the 1930s and published after his death in 1946, is a major achievement.

It will interest not only those whose speciality is the Russian emigration after the revolution and the subsequent Church “discords”, as they are called in this book, but a much wider readership, for the writer was born in 1868 and he was closely involved in pre-revolutionary Church and political affairs over a long period.

To give one example, he was an elected member of the Second and Third State Dumas from 1907 to 1912, where he represented the Orthodox population of the province of Kholm (now Chelm, in Poland). Here he championed the despised peasants against their Polish landlords and the Roman Catholic clergy.

He was then one of a circle of “reforming” hierarchs, lead by Archbishop (later Metropolitan) Anthony Khrapovitsky, though of course their notion of reform was completely contrary to that of the future Renovationists. It meant rather the restoration of the Patriarchate, the return of theological teaching to its patristic roots and the freeing of the hierarchy from the bureaucracy of the Holy Synod. Metropolitan Evlogy’s relationship with Metropolitan Anthony is a recurrent theme of this book and although there were obvious disagreements between them, Evlogy never attempts any personal attack on his old teacher. The author of the introduction might have learned something from this.

Nearly every section of this book is fascinating and even those who most strongly disagree with the path which Metropolitan Evlogy took in the Paris emigration will not fail to appreciate the historical value of his version of events. For example, the author many time emphasises the “temporary” nature of his submission to Constantinople – that it is until the Church in Russia is freed and so on. Quite different from the position of his successors at the “Rue Daru” who have turned necessity into a permanent virtue. In this section of the memoirs, by the way, the Metropolitan surveys the communities of his west European diocese and is astonishingly candid and critical of many of his clergy and monastics. The tone, one has to say, is somewhat patronising.

Finally, this book is important for quite another reason and herein lies its topicality. From 1903 to 1914, Evlogy was bishop in Kholm, Russian Poland; he was Archbishop of Volhynia, at Zhitomir, from 1914 to 1921 (though in exile after 1920) and during the period when the Russian armies were   successful against the Austrians, he administered the parishes which returned from the Unia to Orthodoxy in Galicia. In other words he was bishop in three different parts of what is now Ukraine and which are areas presently regarded as particularly nationalist in feeling.

Metropolitan Evlogy was extremely active in spreading Orthodoxy in former Uniate  regions and he was considered a national enemy by the Poles and Austrians. He was imprisoned for a time by both.

All this is described in great detail but although we told all about Orthodox-Catholic relations and  Russian-Polish cultural struggles, the Ukrainian population is practically never spoke of, at least under this name. The author is at one point captured by Petliura’s forces and later he describes the  attempts to establish an independent Ukrainian Church. Otherwise the Ukrainian movement is barely mentioned.

How things have changed in a century. Peoples who were mostly strongly pro-Russian (including many Uniates!) and pro-Orthodox are now adamant that they have no cultural, linguistic or religious connection with Russia at all.

How easy it is for political and cultural elites to create strong national feelings where once none existed.

8 Comments

  1. Hieromonk Alexis (Lisenko) says:

    Dear Fr. Andrei,
    I greatly enjoyed reading John Harwood’s review of My Life’s Journey, a book which I happen to have translated. He rightly points out the book’s importance and mentions some of the issues it brings up. However, there’s one issue that, I would expect, catch the eye of anyone from ROCOR, but which he doesn’t deal with, except in an oblique way when he says that some will disagree with the route taken by Evlogy. He makes some rather harsh statements about ROCOR, and its various decisions and actions with respect to him and his jurisdictions sound quite reprehensible. I bring this up because of your project of writing a history of ROCOR, and I’m wondering how you plan to deal with the various accusations he presents and which cannot be ignored. I hope you’ve read the book, or at least the parts dealing with ROCOR (mostly in the second volume), as the allegations are quite serious. And now that all Orthodox jursdictions are experiencing, to various degrees, a welcome rapprochement with ROCOR, it would be helpful to avoid a strictly defensive posture and to acknowledge that some regrettable actions were taken by those in the previous generation and to offer some amount contrition — something akin to what the Moscow Patriarchate was obliged to do (I don’t know to what extent) with respect to the longstanding accusations of “sergianism” which ROCOR leveled against it.
    I believe that such a stance would greatly enhance the ongoing rapprochement process. I don’t know how it’s doing in Europe, but here in the US it’s going full steam, and it was already developing before 2007, at least on a local level. This suggested course, I believe, will lead to resolution of misunderstandings and to a much desired “oneness of mind.”
    May God bless your project.

  2. John Harwood says:

    Dear Deacon Andrei,

    Please allow me to reply, as far as I can, to the remarks of Hieromonk Alexis about my review of the English version of Metropolitan Evlogy’s Memoirs.
    First of all I think there must be some errors in the transcription of Father Alexis’s comments. I have read the sentence “He makes some rather harsh statements about ROCOR and its various decisions and actions with respect to him and his jurisdictions sound quite reprehensible”.
    I have read this carefully and still don’t understand the English but the main point is clear, Father Alexis thinks the discords of the pre-War emigration should be judged from the standpoint of Metropolitan Evlogy. I do not, and I would argue using ME’s own words.
    ME is clear that in Yugoslavia in 1935, when there was a real chance of healing the Church divisions, he was the only one with doubts. Poor Metropolitan Theophilus (of America), who was anxious for a general reconciliation is dismissed as someone with the mentality of “a provincial cathedral priest” who “didn’t understand (and didn’t try very hard to understand) the complex conflict that had engendered our schism and simply joined the majority.” The Serbian canon law expert didn’t agree with ME either. Why are we supposed to assume one bishop (himself) was right and all the rest wrong.

    Father Alexis also seems to think that in the light of ME’s criticisms, modern ROCOR should offer some contrition; but to whom?
    Evidently not to Moscow where total reconciliation was effected in 2007 (I was present) and whatever was said about past disagreements was said in private.
    To whom else? To the Russian parishes in Europe under Constantinople? But what have they to do with Metropolitan Evlogy who makes it clear in his memoirs that going under Constantinople was a temporary and emergency measure until such time as the Church in Russia was restored? Of course as everybody knows he returned to the Moscow Patriarchate just before he died. He would certainly not have approved of the continuation of this body.

    But perhaps I have misunderstood Father Alexis. He must tell me if I have.

    John Harwood

  3. Hieromonk Alexis (Lisenko) says:

    Dear Deacon Andrei,
    Here is my response to John Harwood:
    Let me start by addressing your confusion over a sentence in my comment. All it needs is the insertion of a comma after ROCOR and the deletion of the final “s” in “jurisdictions.” As far a my wanting everyone to see the church discord from ME’s perspective is concerned, that’s not quite the case. My point is that reading the book, one can fully understand where he came from and what his primary considerations were. One can agree or disagree with these considerations, but there is no evidence of insincerity or lack of faithfulness to the Church. Just as he did in the Duma, he always followed the course he believed to be the correct one, regardless of how inconvenient it was or how much opposition he was faced with.
    This brings me to the 1935 conference you use as an example. First of all, I disagree that being in the minority, even a minority of one, automatically means that one is wrong. All it means is that things will go the way the majority decides they will. There are plenty of examples in history of decisions made by majority vote that were later deemed improper and were even repudiated. No, majority doesn’t equal correctness. And, depending on one’s viewpoint, someone going against the majority can be regarded either as a stubborn holdout or as a zealous defender of a principle. You seem to blame ME for being the only doubter of a resolution to the conflict, but where did this doubt come from? For over a decade he had experienced ROCOR’s manipulative and oppositional activity, so there was mistrust on his part already. And this was confirmed when he realized that all the terms of the agreement had already been predetermined, and that there was very little he could say or do. His acceptance of the short-lived agreement was due to his overwhelming desire for peace, which he wanted as much as anyone else, and what encouraged him the most was the public reaction to his concelebration with the other hierarchs. It’s perfectly understandable that he would be frustrated and disappointed with Metropolitan Theophilus, toward whom he may have been somewhat patronizing (but not hostile), and it is likely that his assessment of his fellow hierarch had a ring of truth about it, for he had, in fact, served for a long time as a parish priest (nothing wrong with that) and was consecrated as bishop after his matushka passed away, becoming metropolitan shortly before this conference (one of those widowed bishops whom Metropolitan Anthony railed against). And as much as he was gratified by the cessation of the discord as it was played out in North America, he was still metropolitan in 1946, when the final rupture came. No, the problem here wasn’t ME’s reluctance to join the other bishops, but their insistence that he give up his leadership role in Western Europe that Patriarch Tikhon had bestowed upon him.
    But why dwell so much on this conference, which can be easily regarded as a sequel to Bad Reichenhall, the Karlovci Councils of 1923 and 1924, and the following Hierarchical Council? None of these gatherings, with their political agenda as presented by ME, put ROCOR in a positive light, and then there was the ongoing activity of starting parallel parishes, sheep stealing, attacks upon the RCSM and the St. Sergius Institute, and the eventual collaboration with the Nazi Regime in Germany. These are some of the reprehensible actions that need to be addressed in any history of ROCOR.
    Turning now to the current situation, you make a big point of insisting that ME’s jurisdiction (I don’t know what to call it — the Paris Jurisdiction?) return to the fold of the Moscow Patriarchate. Its parishes seem to be quite satisfied with being under the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which a decade ago canonized a few members of that jurisdiction who were martyred during World War II, notably Mother Maria. This martyrdom in Nazi death camps was as much a martyrdom as that of the thousands who were martyred under the Soviets. I don’t know what rationale that jurisdiction has for remaining under Constantinople, but who really knows if ME would want them to return to the MP at this point? His own return was, after all, partial, since it was never approved by Constantinople, so he was actually in both jurisdictions at the end of his life. And he was already losing touch with reality, as we can see from his talk of returning to Russia with his flock. As T. Manukhin writes in her epilogue, “That summer he was almost constantly ill and could no longer make sense of the actual state of affairs.” This warrants much less confidence in what he was expressing in his final days than in Patriarch Tikhon’s decree appointing ME head of the Church in Europe, which ROCOR claimed was produced under duress and was thus invalid. He did, indeed, point out the temporary nature of this arrangement in his account of it (p.712), but followed that with what he saw as its advantages.
    As for the contrition that I allegedly advocated for ROCOR, I only intended that as a frank admission on the part of historians (such as Deacon Andrei) that wrong and harmful actions were perpetrated in the past by ROCOR. Obviously, there’s no one to apologize to, since those who were harmed by those actions are no longer among us. But there should be an awareness both within the present ROCOR and outside it that not everything in its past history is beyond reproach. And if any of the accusations that ME brings forth can be clarified, that should be done as well. Ignoring them will only strengthen their validity.
    I hope you won’t regard this as anti-ROCOR diatribe. ROCOR was part of my growing up, and my family was divided in its loyalties. I did cast my lot with the Metropolia, which became the OCA, but have much appreciation and love for its saintly aspects. Even the OCA monastery where I’ve been for the last seven years is dedicated to our local ROCOR saint, John of Shanghai and San Francisco, who is universally revered by all jurisdictions. It’s just that I detected a welcome degree of openness in Deacon Andrei’s postings and in your review as well. And I trust we can continue this in an irenic spirit.

    May God bless you,
    Hieromonk Alexis

  4. John Harwood says:

    Dear Deacon Andrei

    I’m afraid that I find myself in disagreement with Father Alexis on most points of significance.
    However, it would be immensely tedious to list my objections one by one so I prefer to return to more general principles which I hope we can agree on.
    First and foremost, all the Church conflicts of the Russian emigration stem from one source. This was the Bolsheviks’ determination to 1) destroy religion, and principally Orthodoxy, in Russia and 2) to stir up as much discord as possible in émigré church circles (to weaken sources of outside criticism).
    In the confused years of the 1920s and 30s this resulted in many mistakes being made by all church groupings. No-one I think would deny this but the fault didn’t lie with the bishops involved so much as with the anti-Christian forces ranged against them.
    Of course Church history should be written in such a way that these mistakes are not hidden, but this must be done in an even-handed manner.

    Father Alexis, I think unwisely, mentions “collaboration with the Nazi regime”. This has been written about many times and I don’t propose to repeat the polemics. Let me just tell you of an eyewitness whom I knew well and who was a Latvian priest and life-long member of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. He was twice imprisoned by the NKVD and was in Latvia during the entire war years. He found it amusing that ROCOR was accused of collaboration when in fact all Orthodox groups in Germany and in the occupied areas were equally “guilty” – of course they had little option if they wanted to maintain and extend Church life – Metropolitan Sergius (Voskressensky) of the Baltic (staunchly MP); the bishops in Poland and Latvia as well as Archimandrite John (Shahovskoy), later OCA bishop of San Francisco, and others in Germany (all Constantinopolitan) and many others are on record as making very embarrassing statements during this terrible period.

    Do we really want to rake this over again?
    And what of the recognition by the Ecumenical Throne of the Renovationists in Russia, including a repudiation of Patriarch Tikhon and concelebration by Greek representatives with the renovationist bishops at their council in Moscow in 1925? When Metropolitan Evlogy submitted to Constantinople, in 1932, the latter still recognised the schismatics, though with the strange difference that it now was in communion with Metropolitan Sergius of Moscow as well.
    So, lots of mistakes by lots of bishops. It was a terrible time, and even worse in Russia itself of course.

    John Harwood

  5. Hieromonk Alexis (Lisenko) says:

    Dear Deacon Andrei,
    I wholeheartedly agree with John Harwood’s latest response to my comments. Of course, the Soviets were behind the discords within the emigre community, and they knew what buttons to press to exacerbate the conflicts, especially those in the Church. And I do admit that using the term “collaboration” in mentioning ROCOR’S relationship with the Nazi regime was much too strong. Indeed, many who had to function under the Nazis during that period found themselves cooperating with them for purely honorable reasons–the Pskov Mission is a prime example (not to mention the Vlasov Movement, which paid an incredibly high price for its cooperation). I really shouldn’t have used a term that was used so much by the Soviets in the postwar era with respect to so many who had no love for Nazism, including those taken prisoner by the Germans. All I was referring to was Metropolitan Evlogy’s complaint that ROCOR used its favored status to take over his parishes in Germany, which was unfair not only to him but to those parishioners who wished to remain in his jurisdiction. But I guess we should be thankful to God that any Orthodox jurisdiction was given that status,
    Once again, I’m really looking forward to the publication of your historical work. Not being much of a church historian myself, I’m sure it will give me much more information on ROCOR’s development than what I’ve been aware of so far. Good luck with that!
    In Christ,
    Fr. Alexis

  6. Michael Woerl says:

    Thank you, Fr. Alexis, for the translation of Metropolitan Evlogy’s memoirs! Fascinating, for anyone interested in the prerevolutionary Russian Church, and the Church in the emigration. I have just finished the first volume, starting on the second. Seems that all the “disagreements” of those early days in the emigration are rather well known; it is interesting that we again read about Patriarch Tikhon’s “appointment” of Met. Evlogy to oversee the W. European parishes in Fr. Alexis’ comments … just having read the memoirs, I saw that Met. Evlogy himself recognized that the Higher Church Administration of SW Russia made that appointment, which was confirmed by ROCOR in Yugoslavia, and then confirmed (agreed to) by Patriarch Tikhon … of course, all parties have their own “perspectives.” And while “contritiion” is being mentioned, perhaps that request should refer also to the lamentable introduction by Fr Hopko. Reading those insulting, and totally uncalled for repetitions of the worst of the 1990s polemical garbage was disheartening. Hardly in the “irenic spirit.”

  7. Priestmonk Alexis Lisenko says:

    This latest review of the book is, once again, very positive,and I do stand corrected on the technical issue of who first appointed Evlogy to head the Western European churches. But as we see later (on pp. 464-465) the patriarch abolished the Highest Church Authority and reiterated Evlogy’s appointment. And I don’t see anything insulting in Fr. Hopko’s “lamentable” introduction. I assume this refers to pp. 5-6, where he simply highlights some of ROCOR’s actions and accusations that Met. Evlogy documents in the book and adds nothing to them. Granted, he was selective in this presentation, but his aim wasn’t diplomacy or political correctness, but a desire to avoid sweeping such items under the rug. Of course, none of this should be brought up in casual encounters between the jurisdictions, in the interests of preserving and enhancing the peace, but as I said before, ignoring the unpleasant past does no one any good. And I must have missed whatever the critic remembers of the nineties, although I do know that passions did ride high in those years — after all, those were the years of Metropolitan Vitaly!

  8. Michael Woerl says:

    Father Alexis,
    Your translation is an extremely valuable contribution, in several areas: Russian history, Russian Church history, Russian Church in the Diaspora history, and history of Orthodox involvement in the ecumenical movement, for those who do not understand Russian. As I do not speak Russian, I do wish there were more skilled translators such as yourself who would, and would be able to translate, have published, more essential documents from the era of the 1920s to the 1940s. I highly commend you on your translation, having seen many that are somewhat lacking in putting Russian Church terminology into English.
    Regarding Patriarch Tikhon’s order abolishing the Higher Church Authority, it is more than evident from source materials that both Metropolitan Evlogy and Metropolitan Platon initially regarded that order as being solely of a political character, forced by the Bolsheviks, and, that it should be disregarded. They both participated in and were part of the “solution” that created the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. This series of events rather neatly illustrates the continuing modus operandi of both the Western European Exarchate under Metropolitan Evlogy, and the North American Metropolia/OCA. That is, the “reporting” of historical events by both were greatly “interpreted” by omission of “undesirable” events and facts.
    For example, Patriarch Tikhon’s Ukaz #362, instructing the Bishops who had no contact with the Patriarchate, or interrupted contact, stressed unity among them, under leadership of the eldest Bishop. Both have claimed Ukaz #362 for their own “solutions” of “independence.” It might be noted that Metropolitan Platon was also dismissed and recalled to Moscow by Patriarch Tikhon-which was ignored as forced by the Bolsheviks. The characterization of Archbishop Seraphim’s (Sobolev) works which resulted in the condemnation of Fr Bulgakov’s “Sophianism” as heresy as “unscholarly” by Met. Evlogy is interesting in that it questions the theological acumen of the entire Council of Bishops of the Church Abroad as “inferior” to the staff of the St Sergius Institue. Also, the concurrent condemnation of Fr Bulgakov’s “Sophianism” by the Moscow Patriarchate (also in 1935) is conveniently overlooked. A rather hefty volume could be compiled on this “history by omission.”
    While Fr Hopko may not have been driven by political correctness in the instance of his remarks about ROCOR in the introduction, the “pure, true Orthodox” remarks were unwarranted and never claimed by ROCOR in any official capacity, and was a characterization that seemingly originated in the OCA.
    Metropolitan Evlogy and Metropolitan Platon both helped create, wholly participated in, and used the Church Abroad when it was to their advantage; when it was not, they claimed other “avenues.”
    However, these are ancillary issues to the appearance of Metropolitan Evlogy’s Memoirs in English! I also agree that they should not be “everyday concerns” in contacts between clergy and laity of ROCOR, the Western European Diocese, and the OCA.
    Metroolitan Vitaly’s legacy, most unfortunately, seems to be influenced by the last few years of his life, which do not accurately reflect his contributions to ROCOR.
    In conclusion, I can only thank you again for your wonderful and much needed translation! Hopefully, you have plans for more!

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