Nikolai Pokrovsky’s translation of the paper presented at the Fourth Pan-Diaspora Council; San-Francisco (2006). Republished from the Official Site of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. The author wishes to thank Protopriest Nikolai Artemov, Monk Veniamin Gomaerteli and Inokina Vassa Larina for valuable remarks on the contents of this report. The work was carried out with the support of the Russian Orthodox Theological Fund.
Part I. Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia with Orthodox Churches
Metropolitan Anthony, the leading advocate for the restoration of the patriarchate within the Russian Orthodox Church, had deep respect for the patriarchs – the principal leaders of the sees – of the Orthodox East. He, in turn, was held in high respect by the eastern patriarchates. This apparently facilitated the ability of the exiled bishops to receive permission from the Patriarchate of Constantinople to carry out their activities.
Nonetheless, the bishops who found themselves in Constantinople continued to consider themselves to be members of the Higher Church Administration of the South of Russia; in other words, they considered themselves members of the Russian Church and not the Constantinople Church. On 19 November 1920,Here and hereafter, all dates are rendered in the contemporary style. an administrative gathering was organized aboard a ship in Constantinople. There, the discussions centered on the premise that the administration was obligated to minister to the needs of Russian exiles because of the inability of the higher church administration of Patriarch TikhonThroughout this paper all Russian proper names have been transliterated, with a few exceptions, according to the Library of Congress system. to minister to them. The administration of Patriarch Tikhon could also not minister to General Wrangel’s army. The site of this Higher Church Administration was identified as Constantinople.Archive of the Synod of Bishops of ROCOR in New York (hereinafter referred to as the Synod Archive). File references are noted where available.
On 2 December 1920, the local ranking representative of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, Metropolitan Dorotheos of Prussa, informed Metropolitan Anthony of the fact that by edict of the Holy Synod (No. 9084), Russian bishops were permitted to establish a temporary church administration under the oversight of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. This administration was permitted to manage and minister to Russian church communities in Orthodox countries, and to assign priests there.Documenty k delu o Vsezagranichnom Vyshem Russkom Tserkovnom Upravlenii: Sledstvie po delu o Vsezagranichnom Russkom Tserkovnom Upravlenii (Constantinople, 1924), 5-7.
The situation for Russian exiles in Constantinople was very tenuous and uncertain. The mass of Russian exiles and commanders and the ranks of the army were moving toward Serbia. In spring 1921, Metropolitan Anthony left Constantinople. A decision was made at a meeting of the Higher Church Administration on 21 April 1921 to move to Serbia. The next meeting was convened already in Serbia on 22 July 1921.Zhizneopisanie Blazheneishego Antoniia Mitropolita Kievskogo i Galistskago, Archbishop Nikon Rklitskii, ed. 5 (New York, 1959), 23-24.
It is noteworthy that the Higher Church Administration did not find it necessary to request a blessing for the move; they simply notified the Patriarchate of Constantinople.Synod Archive. Protocol No. 23 dated 12 May 1921. The patriarchate, however, judging by the aforementioned edict, saw the situation differently: they believed that Russian church exiles had been accepted in canonical subordination. It follows that in order to move to another Orthodox Church, the Russian exiles needed to ask for a canonical release from their new supreme authority. It is my belief that besides the political frictions noted here, these events lay the foundation for the canonical conflict between the Patriarchate of Constantinople and ROCOR. The latter believed herself in subordination to His Holiness Patriarch Tikhon, and had no plans to renounce this. Despite the fact that the Higher Church Administration had moved to a site outside the bounds of the canonical territory of Patriarch Tikhon, he nonetheless blessed the activities of this administration within the bounds of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.Akty Sviateishego Tikhona, patriarkha Moskovskogo i vseia Rossii, pozdneishie doumenty i perepiska o kanonicheskom preemstve vyshei tserkovnoi vlasti 1917-1943, compiles by M.E. Gubonin (Moscow, … Continue reading
We must consider that after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, as a result of the First World War, the Patriarchate of Constantinople, having found itself in new circumstances, began interpreting more widely the 28th Rule of the Fourth Ecumenical Council: it took the position that all other Orthodox Churches did not have the right to operate in the so-called diaspora.S.V. Troitskii. “Iurisdiktsiia tsargradskogo patriarkha v oblasti diaspory,” Tserkovnye Vedomosti 11-12 (1923): 7; Nos. 17-18 (1923): 8-12.
Moreover, the Patriarchate of Constantinople, in allowing ministering to the Russian diaspora, was in a way exercising its authority over the territory of other Orthodox Churches. In furtherance of this line of thinking, in 1922 the Patriarchate of Constantinople established for England the Thyatira Metropolia as well as an Exarchate for Western and Central Europe. In 1923 and 1924, the Patriarchate of Constantinople twice declared that it was uncanonical for Metropolitan Evlogii to manage the affairs of Russian Churches in Western Europe.Protopriest Mikhail Pol’skii, Kanonicheskoe polozhenie vyshei tserkovnoi vlasti v SSSR i zagranitsei (Jordanville, 1948), 128.
On 30 April 1924, the Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople adopted a decision: they suspended Russian Archbishops Anastasy and Alexander, who were in ConstantinopleThe prohibition from serving was a “pre-trial” measure imposed during the time that an investigation was initiated into whether the activities of these bishops were canonical. and directed that all Russian clerics serving in Turkey were to consider themselves directly subordinate to the Patriarchate of Constantinople; and they informed the Serbian Patriarch that the Russian bishops located within Serbian canonical territory did not have the right to minister to Russian exiles.Dokumenty, 28-29.
The Serbian Orthodox Church, however, had a different outlook on the plight of Russian bishops. In the reply from the Council of Bishops of the Serbian Church to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, dated 9 December 1924, they stated:
The Holy Council of Bishops, as the supreme authority of the autocephalous united Serbian Church, gave its assent to a request from His Eminence Anthony, Metropolitan of Kiev and Galich, during a council session held on 18/31 August 1921 (…), which authorized the creation of a higher church authority of [Russian] bishops to manage church affairs for the Russian colony and exiles living on the territory of our [Serbian] jurisdiction. In doing so, the Serbian Council carried out its responsibilities in a spiritual manner that leaves us satisfied that we have fulfilled our apostolic responsibilities. Thus, we have accepted the Russian exiles, who because of circumstances have ended up in our spiritual realm, under our patronage, with the permission of state authorities. We have also willed that they be ministered to by their own priests and bishops who know best their spiritual needs and blessed church traditions. Thus, on the basis of canon law, they have the right to organize an autocephalous church authority by their own free will.S.V. Troitskii, Pravovoe polozhenie Russkoi Tserkvi v Iugoslavii (Belgrade, 1940), 104-105.
As a result of divisions that occurred in the Russian Church, the Serbian Church did not take the direct viewpoint of ROCOR. For example, in 1934 in Belgrade, after Metropolitans Anthony and Evlogii settled their differences, zealous enforcers of ROCOR church policies refused to allow Metropolitan Evlogii, who had been defrocked by ROCOR, to serve at the Russian Trinity Church in Belgrade. As a result, Patriarch Varnava appeared at a meeting of the ROCOR council of bishops being held at the time and stated that if all suspensions imposed by ROCOR were not lifted immediately, King Alexander would not longer extend his hospitality to Russian bishops.The prohibitions were lifted. From the recollections of Bishop Vasiliy Rodzianko. V.I. Kosik, Russkaia Tserkov’ v Iugoslavii (Moscow, 2000), 214. As a facilitator between the bishops of ROCOR and Metropolitan Sergii (Stragorodskii), Patriarch Varnava, while protecting the interests of the former, still maintained cordial correspondence with Metropolitan Elevferii, Sergei’s representative in Europe. As a matter of fact, in the official calendar of the Serbian Church for 1936, a photograph of Metropolitan Sergei was included with his full title and signature: “He who sorrows with the Church in Russia”.Rev. Vladimir Rodzianko. “The Serbian Church and the Russian Diaspora,” Christian East 2:7-8 (1953-1954): 196. I propose that the position of Patriarch Varnava has almost a mirror image in the pastoral practice of Saint John of Shanghai. While in London in June 1953, he was asked, “How can one be in communion with the Serbian Patriarch when there is no difference between his attitude to the Communists and that of the Patriarch of Moscow?” Saint John replied, “There is a great difference between them. The Serbs already have the sad example of the Russians before their eyes, and therefore neither at home nor abroad do they wish to destroy their unity.”Ibid. 198.
The changing geopolitical climate in which the Orthodox faithful found themselves after the fall of the three empires, forced them to seek answers to questions dictated by a new set of realities. Reform of the church calendar, the right to enter into marriage after ordination, and the abbreviation of church services and periods of lent were rejected by ROCOR. On 17 February 1925, Metropolitan Anthony sent a “sorrowful message” to the Constantinos, Patriarch of Constantinople, calling upon him to renounce the decisions of the Pan-Orthodox Conference of 1923 on issues associated with the calendar and second marriages for clerics, and to stop infringing on the former territories of the Russian empire that were being ministered to by the Russian Church.Tserkvonyia Vedomosti, 11-12 (1925):1-4. In sending this message, however, Metropolitan Anthony did not abrogate church relations with the Patriarchate of Constantinople. In a letter to Hieroschemamonk Feodosii on Mount Athos, he wrote, “for now while they [the modernizers] have not had the last word, and while the Church as a whole at an Ecumenical Council has not repeated the imprecation of Patriarch Jeremaiah [who in 1583 anathematized those among the Orthodox who adopted the Gregorian calendar], we must continue to maintain relationships lest we deprive ourselves of our own salvation, and swallow the camel while straining out the gnat.”Letter dated 12 October 1926. Pis’ma Blazhenieshego Mitropolita Antoniia (Jordanville, 1988), 195. Even so, Metropolitan Anthony was known to consider it inappropriate to attend services in churches where the Alexandrian Paschalia is not used.Ibid. 168.
The introduction of the new calendar (1924) and the battle against those who supported conducting services in Church Slavonic were particularly severe in the Romanian Orthodox Church. Metropolitan Anthony was, at the invitation of the Romanian Church in 1925, at the installation of Patriarch Miron; however, this did not discourage the clergy of ROCOR in the early 1930s from appealing to the Serbian Church on behalf of Russian Orthodox Christians persecuted in Romania.Letter signed by Metropolitan Anthony and Archbishop Anastasii dated 6 June 1931. Archive of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Belgrade. File on ROCOR. Citation: Nikolaj Kostur, “The Relationship of the … Continue reading They went as far as to send Bishop Seraphim of Vienna to Bessarabia to minister to Russian Old Calendarists and to ordain priests there.Fr. Georg Seide, History of the Russian Church Abroad [unpublished manuscript]. Part 5. Chapter 3 “The Relationship to Other Local Orthodox Churches,” 39.
Thus, the position of ROCOR towards the disagreements that existed within the ranks of other local Orthodox Churches can be summarized with the words used to conclude the report of Saint John of Shanghai before the Second Pan-Diaspora Council, titled “The Circumstances of the Orthodox Church After the War”:
We must stand firmly on the basis of Church canons and not be with those who stray from them. In previous times, when non-compliance with canon law was identified among local Orthodox Churches, we simply abrogated canonical relations with them. ROCOR cannot, however, act in this way because our situation had not been well-established and solidified. Thus, our Church should not immediately go the path of breaking relations with other Churches if they do not take this step first. But even while maintaining such relationships, the Church must not remain silent about violations of Church truth.Deianiia Vtorogo Vsezarubezhnogo Sobora Russkoi Pravoslavnoi Tserkvi zagranitsei (Belgrade, 1939), 402.
The Second World War brought changes to the course of political events in the USSR regarding the Russian Orthodox Church, and redrew the political map of Europe. These events could not have failed to reflect on the relationships of ROCOR to other local Orthodox Churches. Other local Orthodox Churches recognized the Moscow Patriarchate, and this acknowledgement required them to attentively regard the persistent expectations from Moscow that they abrogate their relationship with ROCOR. While in Jerusalem in 1952, Bishop Seraphim of Mahopac met with Patriarch Timotheos, who explained that Bishop Seraphim had been denied the opportunity to serve at the Holy Sepulchre because the Church of Jerusalem had recognized the Moscow Patriarchate.Bishop Seraphim, Palomnichestvo iz N’iu Iorka v Sviatuiu Zemliu (New York), 77. The promise made to Moscow to no longer pray with “the Karlovites,”Vestnik Parizhskogo ekzarkhata, 14 (1953); Pravoslavnaia Rus’, 11 (1953): 16. Cited from: Seide, History, 34. however, did not prevent Patriarch Timotheos from serving liturgy in May 1954 at the Convent on the Mount of Olives with Bishop Leontii of Geneva.Pravoslavnaia Rus’, 13 (1954):13-14. Cited from: Seide, Ibid. Just as before, all heads of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission, as well as the abbesses of monasteries, were affirmed by official letters issued by the Jerusalem Patriarchate.Seide, Ibid.
Relations with the Patriarchate of Constantinople on the whole remained tense. In the best case, things went well at the local level, especially in North America, where the diocese was headed by Archbishop Michael Konstantinidas who graduated the theological academy in Russia. He had been acquainted with Metropolitan Anastasii from the days the latter lived in Constantinople in the 1920s.Pravoslavnaia Rus’, 14 (1958): 15. He had also been ordained a bishop in 1948 in a service in which Bishop Vitaly of Jersey City (ROCOR), participated.Bishop Hilarion of Manhattan, Deputy Secretary [of the Synod of Bishops]. “Answers to Questions Posed by the Faithful of the Orthodox Parish in Somerville, South Carolina.” 1992 (Synod Archive. … Continue reading With the participation of the same ROCOR bishop, in 1936 there was another episcopal consecration of Metropolitan Anthony Bashir of the Antioch Orthodox Church in North America.Ibid.
ROCOR was invited to participate in the Standing Conference of Orthodox Bishops of America (SCOBA) established in 1960 at the initiative of Archbishop Iakovos (Patriarchate of Constantinople). In his reply, however, Metropolitan Anastasii stated that ROCOR would participate in the conference only if representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate were excluded, which was unacceptable to Archbishop Iakovos.Archimandrite Seraphim, The Quest for Orthodox Church Unity in America: A History of the Orthodox Church in North America in the Twentieth Century (New York, 1973), 61-62. At times, an uncompromising stand in regard to the communist government was, within ROCOR, as significant an issue as protecting the true Orthodox faith; in other words, resistance to communism was perceived as an inseparable part of protecting the purity of the faith.
On the basis of his refusal to subordinate himself to the church authority in communist Romania in 1958, Bishop Teofil Ionescu was temporarily accepted into ROCOR along with his parishes. In 1972, because of his voluntary return to the bosom of the Romanian Patriarchate, he was defrocked by the Synod of Bishops of ROCOR.Synod Archive. Protocol of Meeting of the Synod of Bishops dated 25 August / 7 September 1972.
For those Bulgarian parishes that did not desire to subordinate themselves to the patriarchate in communist Sophia, in 1964 Archimandrite Kirill (Ionchev) was consecrated Bishop of Toledo, Ohio, and Toronto. Because Bishop Kirill did not switch his subordinate parishes to the Julian church calendar, he was removed from membership in the hierarchy of ROCOR by a decision of the Council of Bishops dated 27 October 1976.Ibid.
It is notable that there was yet another special set of considerations for a Church in a communist country: the Council of Bishops of ROCOR mandated “restraint from becoming involved in the internal affairs of the Serbian Orthodox Church,”Ibid. Decision dated 22 May / 4 June 1964. Citation based on the Protocol of Meeting of the Synod of Bishops on 30 July/ 12 August 1965. thus declining to support Bishop Dionisii who had disassociated himself with the patriarchate in Belgrade.
Metropolitan Anastasii followed the policies of Metropolitan Anthony regarding the issue of church calendar. Specifically, he wisely allowed those communities that were accepted into ROCOR to preserve their use of the so-called new style calendar. In a letter dated 27 September 1961 from the Synod of Bishops to the True Orthodox Church of Greece, a copy of which was sent to Archbishop Iakovos, it stated:
Our Church remains loyal to the use of the old calendar and considers the introduction of the new calendar to be an error. Nonetheless, its tactic was always to preserve spiritual unity with Orthodox Churches, even those who have adopted the new calendar, but only to the degree to which they celebrate Pascha in compliance with the decision of the First Ecumenical Council. Our Church has never labeled the Ecumenical Patriarchate or the Greek Archdiocese of North and South America as schismatic, and never abrogated spiritual union with them.Synod Archive. File: Sobor 2/74. Report to the council by Archbishop Anthony of Geneva “Nasha Tserkov’ v sovremennom mire,” 8-9.
Despite the fact that ROCOR consistently declined to establish a hierarchy for the True Orthodox Church of Greece, Archbishop Leontii of Chile participated in May 1962 in the ordination of a bishop for the True Orthodox Church of Greece. Archbishop Leontii apparently believed that supporting the Old Calendarists could be equated to resisting the renovationist movement in the USSR. Saint John of Shanghai compared the participation of Archbishop Leontii in the internal affairs of the Greek Church to the help provided in the 19th Century to the Antioch Church from the Church of Constantinople, and the Cypriot Church from the Hellenic Church. In the debates over the issue regarding the consecrations of Old Calendarist bishops at the Synod of Bishops in 1962, from where I cite this information, Metropolitan Anastasii protested against comparing these elevations with the assistance he provided in 1927 to the Jerusalem Patriarch Damianos in the Holy Land, when there was riot by the bishops against the Patriarch. Metropolitan Anastasii stressed that the appeal for assistance came to him from the Patriarch, whom everyone recognized.Synod Archive. Protocol of the Council of Bishops dated 17/30 November. File 5/61: Sobor 1962.
In the mid-1960s, there were events in the Orthodox world in which ROCOR could not help but become involved. In 1964, Patriarch Athenagoros met with Pope Paul VI in Jerusalem, and at the end of the next year, there was a mutual removal of anathemas that had been imposed by both Rome and Constantinople in 1054. Metropolitan Philaret, elected in May 1964, having served as a bishop for only a few years, relied on Father George Grabbe in responding to these events. Father George, who shared the same ecclesiastical outlook as the Metropolitan, had been a disciple of Metropolitan Anthony and managed the administrative affairs of the Synod of Bishops for many years. Like Metropolitan Anthony previously, Metropolitan Philaret decided to appeal to the Patriarch in Constantinople with a Sorrowful Epistle (15 December 1965) on the subject of Constantinople’s unilateral decision to annul the declaration of anathema.
Based on this position within ROCOR, the Greek Holy Transfiguration Monastery of the Patriarchate of Constantinople near Boston reacted with a request to be accepted by ROCOR. By a decision of the Synod of Bishops dated 22 December 1965, this monastery was accepted into ROCOR.Synod Archive. This acceptance, as far as I know, did not generate any inquiries to the ROCOR Synod of Bishops from the Patriarchate of Constantinople. The denunciation, however, by Priest Nikitas Palassis of ecumenical activities within his hierarchy served as the basis for a telegram sent by Archbishop Iakovos to Metropolitan Philaret on 23 January 1968, in which he asked that unnecessary disharmony not be introduced into the relationship by way of accepting a defrocked cleric.Ibid. File 3/50: Greek Orthodox Church (USA). On 10 February 1968, Father Nikitas Palassis, on the basis of the 15th rule of the First-and-Second Council, was accepted into the ranks of ROCOR clerics by Metropolitan Philaret, and on February 17 of the same year, the decision was approved by the Synod of Bishops.Ibid. “Ukaze from the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia to His Eminence Anthony, Archbishop of Western America and San Francisco.” 18/31 March 1969.
On 31 December 1969, the ROCOR Synod of Bishops recognized the legitimacy of episcopal elevations performed by ROCOR bishops for the old calendar Greek Church.Monk Veniamin Gomarteli. Letopis’ tserkovnykh sobytii March 2006. Part 5 (1961-1971). In 1970, at the end of the same session of the Synod of Bishops, Metropolitan Philaret announced to the members of the Synod his opinion that because of the fact that Serbian Patriarch German was selected to serve as the Chairman of the World Council of Churches, ROCOR must avoid joint prayer and service with him, while at the same time not making a major demonstration of this.Synod Archive. Protocol of 1 January 1970. It should be noted that the Council of Bishops of 1967 determined to annul the resolution of the Council of Bishops of 1964 on the preservation of prayerful communion with the hierarchy of the Serbian Orthodox Church.Synod Archive.
A new era in relations with other Orthodox Churches began with the gathering, under the omophorion of ROCOR, of Russian and foreign advocates of the position that the grace of God ceases to have effect among all communities outside the canonical boundaries of the Orthodox Church. In his report to Metropolitan Philaret on 7 December of 1972, Archpriest George Grabbe, who then headed the Synod’s External Affairs Department, protested against Bishops Nikon and Laurus having united in prayer with Archbishop Iakovos during the visit of the relics of St. Nicholas to the Greek church in Flushing, NY. His protest was motivated on the basis of determinations of the ROCOR Councils of Bishops of 1967 and 1971 that its clergy must by all means avoid prayerful communion with hierarchs who were ecumenists, and even more so because ROCOR had accepted clerics who had left these other churches for “dogmatic reasons.”Bishop Grigorii Grabbe, Doklady Arkhiereiskomu Soboru, Sinodu i Pervoierarkham Russkoi Pravoslavnoi Tserkvi Zagranitsei (Moscow, 1999), 24-25.
Archimandrite Panteleimon, the elder of the Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Boston, who adopted within ROCOR the mentor’s role to those who had come over to the Orthodox faith, declared in his report to the Third Pan-Diaspora Council that the mission of ROCOR is to become a sort of unifying jurisdiction for true Orthodoxy.Synod Archive. “The Mission of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.” File: Sobor 2/74 (3rd). Following the Third Pan-Diaspora Council, the Council of Bishops made a decision that ROCOR considered the adoption of the new calendar style to be an error that eventually led to schism, and therefore, members of ROCOR would decline to serve with all new calendar Churches, without making any determinations about whether or not they were considered to possess grace.Ibid. Session of the Council of Bishops of 25 September 1974. File: 2/74: Sobor 1974. In his letter of 5 June 1976 to his sister, Protopriest George Grabbe, the leading specialist in ecclesiology in ROCOR during this period, wrote: “You write about ‘the Eastern Patriarchs.’ Alas, today there are nearly no Orthodox Patriarchs. Perhaps the Serbian and Jerusalem [Patriarchs] might formally be considered Orthodox, but they are already slipping. We have no one else to lean on (…) Any kind of isolation is always associated with difficulties, but our isolation is unavoidable.”Stanford University Library. Department of Special Collections, The Bishop Grigorii Papers [M0964] (Hereafter referred to as Stanford), Box 4, Folder 4: Igumeniia Magdelina, 1950-1977.
But not all bishops were ready to actively support this direction of transforming ROCOR into a jurisdiction of the true Orthodox in contrast to other Orthodox Churches. In his letter of 31 December, 1977, Bishop Laurus instructed Priest Nikitas Palassis on the necessity of battling against those stepping away from Orthodoxy, but to do it within the ranks of those Orthodox Churches and not behind the back of ROCOR, which had enough serious problems of its own.Synod Archive. File: Boston Schism. Fr. N. Palasis.
At the same time contacts continued with New Calendarists. The abbot of the Monastery of St. Cyprian and Justina in Greece, Archimandrite Cyprian, in his letter of 17 June of 1975, complained that Father Kallistos Ware, a clergyman of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, served from time to time in the Annunciation Convent in London (ROCOR).Stanford. Box 3, Folder 7: Grabbe to Various Addresses. This is probably a letter to Father George Grabbe. Archbishop Anthony of Geneva, in his letter to Metropolitan Philaret (Pascha 1976), asked permission for pastoral reasons to serve with Russian clerics of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in Europe.Synod Archive.
In 1986-1987, Archimandrite Panteleimon, Protopriest Nikitas Palassis, and a number of other clerics from North America and Europe left ROCOR because of the initiation of a church investigation into the affairs of Holy Transfiguration Monastery. As if in reply to their accusations that ROCOR had stepped away from Orthodox ecclesiastical teachings, the newly-elected Metropolitan Vitaly stated in his “Nativity Epistle” of 1986 that: “At the present time, most other Orthodox Churches have been shaken to the core of their being by two successive blows: the new ecclesiastical calendar and ecumenism. Despite their impoverished state, however, we do not declare and may the Lord save us from ever having to declare them as having lost God’s grace.”“Rozhdestvenskoe poslanie Pervoierarkha Russkoi Pravoslavnoi Zarubezhnoi Tserkvi,” Pravoslavnaia Rus’ 1 (1987): 1. At nearly the same time, on 19 February 1987, the Synod of Bishops notified ROCOR clergy that the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia is not in communion with either New Calendarists or ecumenists.Synod Archive.
Despite the absence of ecclesiastical communion, however, there were still isolated incidents of dialogue. On 22 May 1991, the Synod of Bishops decreed its approval to hold consultations with the clergy of the Antiochian Archdiocese on the premise that ROCOR would explain her position regarding contradictory issues of modernism.Ibid. In the 1990s, the concelebration of ROCOR bishops with bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church was restored – at the personal initiative of Archbishops Anthony of Western America and Mark of Berlin.
Developments in other Orthodox Churches in the latter part of Metropolitan Vitaly’s tenure drew widespread sympathy from the bishops of ROCOR. An example was the withdrawal of the Georgian Orthodox Church from the World Council of Churches in 1997. The issue of avoiding further involvement in the affairs of other Orthodox Churches was raised. Thus, for example, at the meeting of the Synod of Bishops on 27 October 2000, it was resolved to send a letter of admonition to Metropolitan Cyprian of Fili, of the Greek Synod in Resistance, asking that he not open parishes on the territory of the Georgian Orthodox Church, especially because the latter had condemned ecumenism and left the World Council of Churches.Ibid.
Under the current leadership of Metropolitan Laurus, relations with local churches have changed in the direction of mutual understanding. It is enough to mention the visit paid to the Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholemew by an official group of ROCOR clergy pilgrims at the end of 2005.
Part II. Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia with Non-Orthodox Christians
By the time of the Russian Revolution of 1917, Russian theological thought regarding non-Orthodox Christians paralleled the position of Blessed Augustine, which stated that a baptism performed by the non-Orthodox in the name of the Holy Trinity is legitimate, given that it comes from the Lord Himself; however, for as long as the sin of schism from the Orthodox Church is not overcome, this sacrament does not provide salvation for the non-Orthodox.Cf. “On Baptism, Against the Donatists,” The Nicene and Post/Nicene Fathers 1 ser. Ed. P. Schaff, 4 (Grand Rapids, MI:Eerdmans, 1979), 1.11.19, 419; 1.12.19, 420; 1.9.12, 417; 1.12.18, 419. This explanation, to the degree to which I am capable of judging, is in accordance with the internal logic of canons.See Psarev “The 19th Canonical Answer of Timothy of Alexandria: On the History of Sacramental Oikonomia.”
Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitskii considered this so-called scholastic ecclesiastical approach as inconsistent with the tradition of Orthodoxy, and shared the view of Saint Cyprian of Carthage that baptism performed outside the canonical boundaries of the Orthodox Church is not valid.Cf. Epp. 69.3.1; 70.3.1-3.3; 73.2.2, 7.2, Ancient Christian Writers, ed. Walter J. Burghard, tr. G.W. Clarke 47.4 (New York: Newman Press, 1989), 4, 34, 47-48, 55, 58. In order to reconcile this position with canonically prescribed degrees of reception, Metropolitan Anthony maintained that sacraments performed correctly by non-Orthodox are granted grace when the people are accepted into the Orthodox Church.“The Basis on which Economy may be used in the Reception of Converts,” Orthodox Life 9 (1980): 27-34. This position, however, is not reflected in the works of the fathers of canons, and the earliest traces of it can be seen only in the eleventh century.See “The 19th Canonical Answer (…).”
Of the more than 30 bishops (in 1921) who found themselves outside the borders of Soviet Russia, the majority had never had any relationship with the ecumenical witness of the Russian Church in the pre-Revolutionary period. These bishops were suddenly required to find answers to questions that arose along with the new circumstances in which they found themselves. While working in 1921 in Constantinople under the leadership of Bishop Veniamin of Sevastopol, a preparatory commission for the organization of the First Pan-Diaspora Council issued a compendium of materialsZagranichnoe Russkoe Tserkovnoe sobranie: materially podgotovitel’noi komissii 1 (Constantinople, 1921)., which included excerpts from a regional epistle from the Patriarch of Constantinople titled, “To the Churches of Christ, Existing Everywhere” (January 1920). It was signed by the same locum tenens of the patriarchal cathedra, Metropolitan Dorotheos of Prussa, who signed edict number 9084 on the rights of Russian refugee bishops. It is notable that in 1938 in his report titled, “The Ecumenical Movement” at the Second Pan-Diaspora Council, Bishop Seraphim of Potsdam uncritically cites this work, which is considered a landmark of a new ecumenical trend by local Orthodox Churches. He defines this encyclical letter as “extraordinarily important.”Deianiia Vtorogo Vsezarubezhnogo Sobora.
During his famous visit to England in 1925, in one of his speeches on the occasion of the 1600th anniversary of the First Ecumenical Council, Metropolitan Anthony noted that:
O Striving for unification [in faith] is the obligation of all those who have a zeal for the Word of God. Such unification should be expressed first of all in freeing our souls not only from all feelings of ill-will toward those not of a like mind, but also from efforts in our own minds to prove them wrong. On the contrary, he among us will be more pleasing to God who put forward an effort to clarify everything that unites us and that will strive not to reduce the number of such truths, but possibly to increase them, and especially in relation to those Christian bodies and confessions that come to meet our Church in friendship.Zhizneopisanie Blazheneishego Antoniia (…) 7 (New York, 1961), 85. It is difficult to explain these statements as being only a courtesy extended to the British hosts.
Regardless of this, in 1929 Metropolitan Anthony did not feel compelled to await the return of the Anglican Church to Orthodoxy, and consecrated the first – since the eleventh century – Orthodox bishop who held the title of a British see – Bishop Nikolai of London. Both before and after this event, all other Orthodox churches assigned their bishops to the sees in Great Britain with titles from the home canonical territories.
Archbishop Nestor of Kamchatka, while on a mission in 1938 in Ceylon, forwarded a request to Metropolitan Anastasii asking whether Anglican priests and laity could be accepted through the rite of confession, which would have made it significantly easier to accept thirteen new clerics to Orthodoxy. In reply, Archbishop Nestor received a decree from the Synod of Bishops dated 4 January 1939 in which it was stated that: “given that the issue of accepting Anglican clerics into our clergy in their existing rank has not been specifically decided upon by the entire Orthodox Church, and that the Church of Russia up til now has not made any decisions regarding this matter, giving you an answer in the affirmative is beyond the competence of the Synod of Bishops.”Metropolitan Nestor, Moi Vospominaniia (Moscow, 1995), 180-183. Thus, Anglicans could only be accepted in accordance with the existing practice – in other words, through ordination.
ROCOR was significantly less active in the ecumenical movement than in its relations with the Anglicans. At the Second Pan-Diaspora Council in 1938, there were two “camps” represented: those who syjmpathized with the idea of participating in the ecumenical movement in order to bear witness of Orthodoxy, and those who considered such participation unacceptable. The camp of “sympathizers” was represented, first and foremost, by Metropolitan Anastasii, Bishop Seraphim of Potsdam and Iu. P. Grabbe. The camp of “non-sympathizers” – by Archbishop Seraphim of Boguchar, N.F. Stepanov, N.P. Rklitskii, and others.
The Council of Bishops held in 1933 adopted the Statute of the Council of Bishops. According to the statute, managing affairs associated with the relationship of the Orthodox Church to non-Orthodox Christians came within the competence of the Council of Bishops. Hence, a resolution on the issue of ecumenism was adopted by the Council of Bishops which followed the Pan-Diaspora Council of 1938. This document can be summarized as follows: ROCOR forbids its members/people from participating in the ecumenism movement. However, for missionary reasons, and with the permission of Church authorities, representatives of ROCOR could be present at conferences to provide uncompromising explanations of the teachings of the Orthodox Church, but could not in any way stray from the Orthodox point of view.
The war years, the isolation of the center of ROCOR in territories under the authority of the Nazi regime, which considered the ecumenical movement to be a Masonic undertaking, basically took the issue of ecumenism off the agenda. For the same reasons, the unification of the two ecumenical movements – Faith and Order and Life and Work – into the World Council of Churches – could take place only in 1948 in Amsterdam. In reply to a question from Professor M.V. Zyzykin on whether he could participate in the Amsterdam congress, the Synod of Bishops replied (21 February 1948) stating that he could not be designated as a representative of ROCOR because the Synod had not received an invitation from Amsterdam, and because “we do not participate in the Ecumenical Council.”Synod Archive. File 5/48: Ecumenical Movement 1946-1960.
The fact that the front lines of the Cold War divided the newly-created World Council of Churches is attested to by a letter dated 1 August 1948 from Metropolitan Nikolai of Krutitsy, which was received several days before the opening of the first assembly of the World Council of Churches in Amsterdam. The letter expressed appreciation for the invitation but declined participation by the Russian Orthodox Church in the ecumenical movement. It also expressed the hope that the World Council of Churches would not consider those Russian Orthodox believers under the omophorion of the Patriarch of Constantinople, as well as the “schismatics” from the groups under Metropolitan Feofil in America and Metropolitan Anastasii in Munich as representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church.“The Moscow Patriarchate and the First Assembly of the World Council of Churches,” The Ecumenical Review 12 (1949): 188-189.
The first Council of Bishops of ROCOR which met in the US in 1950 adopted a resolution on the issue of the ecumenical movement. It was composed by Archbishop John of Western Europe and Bishops Nafanail of Brussels and Nikon of Florida. This document forbade members of ROCOR any form of participation in the ecumenical movement, and relegated all contacts with non-Orthodox Christians to the sphere of cooperative social activities.“Opredeleniia,” Tserkovnaiia Zhizn’ 1 (1951): 2. One cannot fail to note the gratuitous material assistance provided by the World Council of Churches, which was received by displaced persons in ROCOR parishes from Brazil to Australia.
The resolution of the Council of Bishops of 1950 did not prevent Protopriest George Grabbe from accepting the invitation to attend the assembly of the World Council of Churches that was held in Evanston, Illinois in 1954. The presence of Father George at this conference gave those present an opportunity to learn “first hand” the position of ROCOR regarding membership in the World Council of Churches, as well as to receive more clear Orthodox commentary on eschatology, when compared to the other 15 or 20 replies that had been given.Report on Evanston by Protopriest G. Grabbe, Lzhe-Pravoslavie na pod’eme (Jordanville, 1959), 198-199. In his account of this event Father George Grabbe fairly notes those complications encountered by Orthodox persons attempting to bear witness to their faith before the World Council of Churches, which had been created to be a Protestant-like forum, making it highly antithetical to Orthodox ecclesiology.“Mirovoi sovet Tserkvei ego tseli i napravlenie deiatel’nosti s tochki zreniia Pravoslavnoi Tserkvi” Tserkov’ i eia uchenie v zhizni 2 (Montreal, 1970), 246-259.
Rare consensus was reached regarding the unfortunate misrepresentation of Orthodox ecclesiology by Nikos Nissiotis at the assembly of the World Council of Churches in New Delhi in 1961. This is attested to by correspondence, found in Synod archives,“Perepiska protopresvitera Georgiia Grabbe s protoiereiami Georgiem Florovskim i Aleksandrom Shmemanom,” Vestnik Russkogo Khristianskogo Dvizheniia 189 (2005): 210-218. between Protopresbyter George Grabbe with Protopriests George Florovsky and Alexander Schmemann. Florovsky and Schmemann agree with the person responsible for the Synod Department of External Relations that the position of NissiotisFor Nissiotis, all Christian denominations are local common churches. Subsequently, there are no schismatics, though there is a “state of schism.” “The Witness and the Service of Eastern … Continue reading does not correspond to Orthodox ecclesiology, and they share like perspectives on the damage done by this presentation to the witnessing of Orthodoxy in the ecumenical movement.
Unfortunately, the same level of likeminded consensus could not be found among the Orthodox regarding the sending of observers to the Second Vatican Council. At the time, because of the support provided by the Vatican to the Uniate Church, the Ecumenical Patriarchate refused, on behalf of all Orthodox Churches, to send observers.“Arkhipastyrskoe poslanie Arkhiereiskogo Sobora Russkoi Zarubezhnoi Tserkvi Pravoslavnym Russkim liudiam v raseianii sushchim” (1962). Synod Archive. The Moscow Patriarchate and ROCOR took a different position, deciding to send observers in response to the invitation from the Roman Catholic Church. This decision was a precursor to a lively discussion at the council session in 1962, where the so-called defensive point of view collided with the “missionary” point of view. An ardent advocate of the “defensive” point of view was Archbishop Averky of Syracuse and Holy Trinity Monastery, who saw the Second Vatican Council as a step in the direction of global apostasy.Council Protocol. Synod Archive.An opposite point of view was expressed by Bishop Savva of Edmonton, who saw declining the invitation as a loss of an opportunity to bear witness to the truth using a forum provided by the Vatican. Archbishop Vitaly of Montreal believed that the Vatican Council provided an opportunity to talk about Orthodoxy, the situation in the Orthodox world, and about the persecuted Russian Church.Ibid. The support given by Metropolitan Anastasii to the missionary point of view regarding the sending of representatives to the Vatican was the last major influence he had on relations between ROCOR and the non-Orthodox world during the period of his service as the first hierarch.
As was already noted in the first part of this paper, the newly-elected first hierarch of ROCOR Metropolitan Philaret had to react to unprecedented events in the Orthodox world such Patriarch of Constantinople Athenagorus lifting the anathema that had been pronounced by Patriarch Michael Cerularius on the deviations of the Roman Church. Copies of the Sorrowful Epistle from Metropolitan Philaret to Patriarch Athenagorus were sent to the heads of other Orthodox Churches. None of them replied to this letter. At the initiative of Archbishop Chrysostomos of Athens, however, the epistle received wide distribution among the members of the Hellenic Church.“Doklad predsedatelia Arkhiereiskogo Sinoda Arkhiereiskomu Soboru 1967 goda.” Synod Archive. File 1/66: Sobor 1967.
There was a notable dovetailing of positions of the North American Metropolia and ROCOR at the end of the 1960s. The All-American Council which convened in March 1969, with the participation of clergy and laity, appealed to the North American Metropolia with an epistle. It stated that, on the one hand, participation in the ecumenical movement was seen as conforming to the missionary nature of the Orthodox Church, but noted, on the other hand, the impermissibility both of religious relativism and any prayer with the heterodox in a liturgical context.“Encyclical Letter on the Ecumenical Movement Issued by the Great Council of the Russian Metropolia in America, March 1969,” Eastern Churches Review 2-4 (1969): 425-426. It is natural to surmise that this epistle, to a certain degree, appeared as a result of the private meetings held at the time between Metropolitans Philaret and Irinei, first hierarch of the North American Metropolia.“Doklad predsedatelia Arkhiereiskogo Sinoda Arkhiereiskomu Soboru 1967 goda.”
On 27 July 1969, Metropolitan Philaret appealed with a Sorrowful Epistle to all the bishops of the Orthodox Church, in which the first hierarch expressed his concern regarding the fact that Orthodox persons who participated in the work of the World Council of Churches stopped declaring the missionary nature of their efforts. When speaking of the assembly of the WCC held in Uppsalla in 1968, the Metropolitan expressed his regret that no one mentioned the millions of Christians suffering in the USSR.“The Protest of Metropolitan Filaret,” Eastern Churches Review 2-4 (1969): 423-424.
Hieromonk Afanasii Evtich, a cleric of the Serbian Orthodox Church and student of Archimandrite Justin Popovich, wrote to Metropolitan Philaret in reply to his letter: “(…) This confessional epistle from Your Eminence against the lies of ecumenism ranks with the epistles of the God-bearing fathers of our Church in faith – in boldness, in humility, in sorrow for the offense against God, in hope and love, in sorrowful sympathy with true Orthodoxy – and we younger followers greet, embrace and support you. We pray to the Lord that He may strengthen you and all confessors of Orthodoxy with His grace in these most difficult days, and that by your holy prayers, He may bestow grace upon us sinners.”Letter dated 5 November 1969. Stanford. Box 1, Folder 4: Letters of Metropolitan Philaret. 1963-1985.
But this is what was written by Father Justin in 1977 about ROCOR after the call for a Great and Holy Council of the Orthodox Church: “Let us take, for example, the group of Russian exile bishops who, regardless of their own human weaknesses, bear the wounds of their Lord and the wounds of the Russian Church, who escaped “into the desert” from persecution, no weaker than that of Diocletian – who had been previously excluded from participating in the council by Moscow and Constantinople, and by doing so, were condemned to remain silent.”Letter from Archimandrite Justin dated 7 May 1977 to the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church regarding the call for a “Great Council of the Orthodox Church.” Vestnik Russkogo … Continue reading
In 1971 the Russian Church Abroad crossed a serious boundary between historical periods in its relations with the non-Orthodox Christians. On 28 September 1971, the ROCOR Council of Bishops convened in Montreal determined that non-Orthodox were to be accepted into the Church only by baptism. In this manner, the traditional Russian practice (except during the period of 1620 to 1667) which did not require Catholics and some Protestants to be baptized was set aside, and the practice confirmed by the Patriarchate of Constantinople in 1765 was adopted. The resolutionTserkovnaia Zhizn’ 7-12 (1971): 50-53. of the 1971 Council took the apocryphal nineteenth canon of Timothy of Alexandria, which is not in the canonical corpus of the Orthodox Church, as its example of the Fathers’ canonical logic in regards to the reception of the heterodox. Though the resolution included the possibility of accepting non-Orthodox Christians by means other than baptism, with the blessing of a bishop, as far I know such acceptances are very rare occurrences.
Apparently, this decision was facilitated by the following circumstances: sympathetic views of Metropolitan Philaret and Protopresbyter George Grabbe to the ecclesiology of Saint Cyprian of Carthage (that there is no saving grace beyond the canonical boundaries of the Orthodox Church); the Greeks who had joined ROCOR in the latter half of the 1960s already received Catholics only through baptism; Letter from Father Georgiy Grabbe to Archbishop Anthony of San Francisco dated 23 October 1969. Stanford. Box 1. Folder 7: Letters Grabbe to Metropolitans [sic.] Anthony of San Francisco. 1963-1993. excesses of Orthodox participation in the ecumenical movement, as well as the subsequently-withdrawn“Russian Orthodox Church Rescinds Decision on Roman Catholics,” The Journal of the Anglican and Eastern Churches Association 24 (1987): 25. decision of the Moscow Patriarchate Synod of 1969 on the administration of Orthodox sacraments to Catholics and Old Believers under extraordinary circumstances. Archimandrite Kallistos Ware, “Intercommunion: Where Does the Orthodox Church Stand Today?” Eastern Churches Newsletter 59-60 (Summer 1971): 14. It should be noted that, within the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, it was Bishop James of Manhattan, who led the American Orthodox Mission for a period of time, who first began the reception of Catholics by baptism, regarding which he informed the Council of Bishops in 1953.Protocol of 21 October. Synod Archive. File 39/53: Sobor 1953.
But not all of the bishops were pleased with the new practices. For example, Archbishop Afanasii of Buenos Aries, in his letter to Father George Grabbe in 1972, wrote: “Unfortunately, some of our younger bishops, as we discovered during the last Council of Bishops, have become infected with the spirit of the Old Believers and have gone so far as to ignore the rites established for the Russian Orthodox Church during the Russian Empire, (…) have renounced and established the practice of re-baptism in opposition to the dogma of ‘I acknowledge one baptism.’”28 January 19?72? (year is unclear). Stanford. Box. Folder 5: Letters Grabbe to Metropolitans [sic.] Afanasii. 1970-1981. As a result of the resolution of the 1971 Council, a long line of people who had been accepted by other Orthodox jurisdictions by means other than through baptism, and who, when joining ROCOR, had to make a decision about undergoing a “retroactive” baptism.
There was also unequal treatment of the so-called Boston jurisdiction within ROCOR. Father George Grabbe considered the ecclesiology of the Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Boston to be infused by the teachings about the Church of Metropolitan Anthony, and set it off against “old scholastics” reigning in Jordanville.Letter from Father George Grabbe to N.P. Churilov. Stanford. Box 9. Folder: Correspondence between Most Rev. Grabbe and Stefan K. [?] 1977-1986. In the latter view, Father George had in mind Archimandrite Konstantin Zaitsev who shared the position of Blessed Augustine toward societies separate from the Church.“Ekumenicheskoe Pravoslavie,” Pravoslavnaia Rus’ 14 (1959): 12. Archbishop Anthony of Geneva wrote to Father George Grabbe after the Third Pan-Diaspora Council:
To trail along behind the Greek Old Calendarists, taking Fr. Panteleimon for a prophet – this I cannot do. From my point, I am deeply convinced that this would be a betrayal of the Church. For you and me who used to have such universal teachers as Metropolitan Anthony and Archbishop Gavriil (…) Now even though we see the absurdities committed by the Greek Old Calendarists, we are still trying to accommodate and placate them, though we ourselves are slipping into a sect, cutting ourselves off from universal unity.Letter of Archbishop Anthony of Geneva to Protopriest Georgii Grabbe. Stanford. Box 1. Folder 6: Letters Grabbe to Metropolitan [sic.] Antonii of Geneva. 1961-1995 [sic.]
The position of ROCOR regarding ecumenism during the period of Metropolitan Philaret cannot be separated from the persona of the Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, protopresbyter–and from 1979 on, bishop–Grigorii Grabbe. It is enough to state that he wrote the sorrowful epistles issued by Metropolitan Philaret.Letter of A.G. Shatilov to Archbishop Anthony of Geneva dated 6 Jan 1987. Ibid. The ecumenical dialogue, which Bishop Grigorii by this time had come to consider as compromising, was countered by the monologue of Cyprian-style ecclesiology which stressed the absence of grace beyond the canonical boundary of the Orthodox Church. In his letter to Bishop Pavel of Rashko-Prizren, Serbian Orthodox Church, dated 25 February 1986, Bishop Grigorii wrote: “Near Boston we have a parish, about 200 families, that strictly maintains fasts and other Church rules. Among them, fewer than a dozen families are Orthodox by birth. Such parishes are growing in our Church, but no one is becoming Orthodox as a result of ecumenical encounters. All of them came to the Church out of an acknowledgement that they were living outside the true Church and its grace. In a word, we can see in practical terms that the unity of the Church is reached not by ecumenical agreement, but by conversion.”Synod Archive. File 3/50: Serbian Orthodox Church.
In the same resolution published by the Council of Bishops in 1971, ecumenism is defined as heresy.Tserkovnaia Zhizn’ 7-12 (1971): 53. Firstly, a terminology problem is evident: ecumenism within ROCOR was understood as the reaching of inter-denominational unity on the basis of a minimum of common core tenets of faith. On the other hand, most Orthodox participants in ecumenical encounters continued to see the aims of their efforts, regardless of the problems they encountered along this path, as bearing witness to Orthodoxy.The term ‘ecumenism’ is often understood as a search for truth; whereas the Orthodox Church possesses this truth in all its fullness, therefore the participation in the search for truth does not … Continue reading
Secondly, if ecumenism had now been judged to be heresy, then it fully justified to name as heretics persons who had shown themselves to be infected with this spiritual disease. This inconsistency was pointed out by Archbishop Anthony of Geneva in a letter to Metropolitan Philaret dated 23 February, 1974: “Do we, after all, having judged ecumenism as a heretical practice, now consider all of the bishops of Orthodox churches as heretics, given that these Churches are members of the Ecumenical Council? I think not! I do not believe that you are thinking in this way; otherwise, this would be a grave form of confusion and would bring us to fall into schism with Christ’s Church. If they are not all heretics, then which ones are and which ones are not? You yourself, Your Eminence, in your sorrowful epistles, address the father of Orthodox ecumenism and great heretic as “Your Holiness.” Is he a heretic or a Most Holy Father? It seems that while he is alive, he is Holy, but after his demise, one cannot even serve a private commemoration [panikhida] for him.”Tserkovnaia Zhizn’ 7-12 (1971): 53.
On the issue regarding the definition of ecumenism as heresy, the clergy that were accepted into the jurisdiction of ROCOR thought that ecumenists should be labeled as heretics and as having lost the grace of the Holy Spirit, and were required to be subjected to the canonical sanctions which apply to heretics and schismatics. A resolution to this effect was requested, on behalf of all “non-Russian monasteries, parishes, and laity of ROCOR,” by Priest Panagiotes Karras, in his appeal to the Synod of Bishops dated 24 August 1974.Synod Archive. File 1/74: Sobor 1974. The bishops of ROCOR, however, were ready to anathematize the phenomenon of ecumenism itself, but not specific people. Such a condemnation was formulated at Holy Transfiguration Monastery in BostonLetter from Hieromonk Harlambos to Bishop Grigorii dated 26 July 1983. Synod Archive. File 1/83: Sobor 1983. in the form of an anathema of ecumenism adopted on 13 August 1983 at a Council of Bishops.Circulated Edict from the Synod of Bishops of ROCOR to all Diocesan Eminences. 21 February 1984. Synod Archive. Anathema confirmed by the Council of Bishops of 1998. This anathema, subsequently having been explained by our First Hierarch Metropolitan Vitaly in 1986 as a warning to Orthodox people,“Rozhdestvenskoe poslanie Pervoierakha,” 1. in the literal sense seemed only to apply only to those Orthodox persons who participated in the ecumenical movement, and from whose ambiguous terminology associated with this issue, one might conclude that the Church had been divided into the branches, or that the Orthodox Church was no longer to be seen as Christ’s Church.Cf. Father Georges Florovsky, “The Quest for Christian Unity and the Orthodox Church,” Collected Works, 13 (Vaduz, 1989), 136-144. Because the anathema of 1983 was the last notable event regarding ecumenism, and because subsequent first hierarchs did not change the position toward non-Orthodox Christians, which came into existence under Metropolitan Philaret, this then concludes the second portion of my report.
The position of the Russian Church Abroad in relation to the local churches and heterodox Christians has taken two positions: 1) a missionary one, and 2) one of guardianship. The years associated with the former approach coincide with the period in which Metropolitans Anthony and Anastasii headed ROCOR (1920-1964). The second approach began with the times of Metropolitan Philaret and continued to this day, with a noted exception of the fact that after the election of Metropolitan Laurus, relations with other Orthodox Churches began to approach the state they were in during the first period.
Fundamentally, ROCOR relied not on the letter of Church canons, but on an intuitive understanding of their spirit, which was expressed by the holy Apostle Paul: “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Corinthians. 9, 22). Finding herself in such an undefined status, during the first period the Russian Church Abroad did not break communion with the other local churches, although it considered it a duty to lament that which it could not by conscience accept.
The second period was marked by the acceptance of clergy without a canonical release from the local churches on the foundation that “they condemned not Bishops, but false bishops and teachers, and did not divide the unity of the Church by schism, but worked to protect the Church from schisms and divisions” (15th canon of the First-and-Second Council). A consequence of this course was the anathema of the so-called ecumenical heresy, but without naming the “false hierarchs and false teachers.”
A heightened national identity, the support of the Russian anti-communist movement, and the factor of the Cold War all played a not-insignificant role in the questions we have considered. What conclusion can be drawn from all we have said? I am not calling us to renounce entirely our perspective in relation to the local churches and heterodox Christians, but I do call us to distinguish what in our perspective corresponds to the Tradition of the Universal Church, and what was brought in under the influence of external and internal circumstances, and call for a dialogue with our past and our present.
|↵1||Here and hereafter, all dates are rendered in the contemporary style.|
|↵2||Throughout this paper all Russian proper names have been transliterated, with a few exceptions, according to the Library of Congress system.|
|↵3||Archive of the Synod of Bishops of ROCOR in New York (hereinafter referred to as the Synod Archive). File references are noted where available.|
|↵4||Documenty k delu o Vsezagranichnom Vyshem Russkom Tserkovnom Upravlenii: Sledstvie po delu o Vsezagranichnom Russkom Tserkovnom Upravlenii (Constantinople, 1924), 5-7.|
|↵5||Zhizneopisanie Blazheneishego Antoniia Mitropolita Kievskogo i Galistskago, Archbishop Nikon Rklitskii, ed. 5 (New York, 1959), 23-24.|
|↵6||Synod Archive. Protocol No. 23 dated 12 May 1921.|
|↵7||Akty Sviateishego Tikhona, patriarkha Moskovskogo i vseia Rossii, pozdneishie doumenty i perepiska o kanonicheskom preemstve vyshei tserkovnoi vlasti 1917-1943, compiles by M.E. Gubonin (Moscow, 1994), 261.|
|↵8||S.V. Troitskii. “Iurisdiktsiia tsargradskogo patriarkha v oblasti diaspory,” Tserkovnye Vedomosti 11-12 (1923): 7; Nos. 17-18 (1923): 8-12.|
|↵9||Protopriest Mikhail Pol’skii, Kanonicheskoe polozhenie vyshei tserkovnoi vlasti v SSSR i zagranitsei (Jordanville, 1948), 128.|
|↵10||The prohibition from serving was a “pre-trial” measure imposed during the time that an investigation was initiated into whether the activities of these bishops were canonical.|
|↵12||S.V. Troitskii, Pravovoe polozhenie Russkoi Tserkvi v Iugoslavii (Belgrade, 1940), 104-105.|
|↵13||The prohibitions were lifted. From the recollections of Bishop Vasiliy Rodzianko. V.I. Kosik, Russkaia Tserkov’ v Iugoslavii (Moscow, 2000), 214.|
|↵14||Rev. Vladimir Rodzianko. “The Serbian Church and the Russian Diaspora,” Christian East 2:7-8 (1953-1954): 196.|
|↵16||Tserkvonyia Vedomosti, 11-12 (1925):1-4.|
|↵17||Letter dated 12 October 1926. Pis’ma Blazhenieshego Mitropolita Antoniia (Jordanville, 1988), 195.|
|↵19||Letter signed by Metropolitan Anthony and Archbishop Anastasii dated 6 June 1931. Archive of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Belgrade. File on ROCOR. Citation: Nikolaj Kostur, “The Relationship of the Serbian Orthodox Church to the Russian Orthodox Abroad: 1920-1940.” (B. Th. Thesis, Holy Trinity Seminary, 2005), 58-59.|
|↵20||Fr. Georg Seide, History of the Russian Church Abroad [unpublished manuscript]. Part 5. Chapter 3 “The Relationship to Other Local Orthodox Churches,” 39.|
|↵21||Deianiia Vtorogo Vsezarubezhnogo Sobora Russkoi Pravoslavnoi Tserkvi zagranitsei (Belgrade, 1939), 402.|
|↵22||Bishop Seraphim, Palomnichestvo iz N’iu Iorka v Sviatuiu Zemliu (New York), 77.|
|↵23||Vestnik Parizhskogo ekzarkhata, 14 (1953); Pravoslavnaia Rus’, 11 (1953): 16. Cited from: Seide, History, 34.|
|↵24||Pravoslavnaia Rus’, 13 (1954):13-14. Cited from: Seide, Ibid.|
|↵26||Pravoslavnaia Rus’, 14 (1958): 15.|
|↵27||Bishop Hilarion of Manhattan, Deputy Secretary [of the Synod of Bishops]. “Answers to Questions Posed by the Faithful of the Orthodox Parish in Somerville, South Carolina.” 1992 (Synod Archive. File: Ss Cyril and Methodius Orthodox Church).|
|↵28, ↵31, ↵50, ↵51, ↵70||Ibid.|
|↵29||Archimandrite Seraphim, The Quest for Orthodox Church Unity in America: A History of the Orthodox Church in North America in the Twentieth Century (New York, 1973), 61-62.|
|↵30||Synod Archive. Protocol of Meeting of the Synod of Bishops dated 25 August / 7 September 1972.|
|↵32||Ibid. Decision dated 22 May / 4 June 1964. Citation based on the Protocol of Meeting of the Synod of Bishops on 30 July/ 12 August 1965.|
|↵33||Synod Archive. File: Sobor 2/74. Report to the council by Archbishop Anthony of Geneva “Nasha Tserkov’ v sovremennom mire,” 8-9.|
|↵34||Synod Archive. Protocol of the Council of Bishops dated 17/30 November. File 5/61: Sobor 1962.|
|↵35, ↵40, ↵47, ↵49||Synod Archive.|
|↵36||Ibid. File 3/50: Greek Orthodox Church (USA).|
|↵37||Ibid. “Ukaze from the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia to His Eminence Anthony, Archbishop of Western America and San Francisco.” 18/31 March 1969.|
|↵38||Monk Veniamin Gomarteli. Letopis’ tserkovnykh sobytii March 2006. Part 5 (1961-1971).|
|↵39||Synod Archive. Protocol of 1 January 1970.|
|↵41||Bishop Grigorii Grabbe, Doklady Arkhiereiskomu Soboru, Sinodu i Pervoierarkham Russkoi Pravoslavnoi Tserkvi Zagranitsei (Moscow, 1999), 24-25.|
|↵42||Synod Archive. “The Mission of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.” File: Sobor 2/74 (3rd).|
|↵43||Ibid. Session of the Council of Bishops of 25 September 1974. File: 2/74: Sobor 1974.|
|↵44||Stanford University Library. Department of Special Collections, The Bishop Grigorii Papers [M0964] (Hereafter referred to as Stanford), Box 4, Folder 4: Igumeniia Magdelina, 1950-1977.|
|↵45||Synod Archive. File: Boston Schism. Fr. N. Palasis.|
|↵46||Stanford. Box 3, Folder 7: Grabbe to Various Addresses. This is probably a letter to Father George Grabbe.|
|↵48||“Rozhdestvenskoe poslanie Pervoierarkha Russkoi Pravoslavnoi Zarubezhnoi Tserkvi,” Pravoslavnaia Rus’ 1 (1987): 1.|
|↵52||Cf. “On Baptism, Against the Donatists,” The Nicene and Post/Nicene Fathers 1 ser. Ed. P. Schaff, 4 (Grand Rapids, MI:Eerdmans, 1979), 1.11.19, 419; 1.12.19, 420; 1.9.12, 417; 1.12.18, 419.|
|↵53||See Psarev “The 19th Canonical Answer of Timothy of Alexandria: On the History of Sacramental Oikonomia.”|
|↵54||Cf. Epp. 69.3.1; 70.3.1-3.3; 73.2.2, 7.2, Ancient Christian Writers, ed. Walter J. Burghard, tr. G.W. Clarke 47.4 (New York: Newman Press, 1989), 4, 34, 47-48, 55, 58.|
|↵55||“The Basis on which Economy may be used in the Reception of Converts,” Orthodox Life 9 (1980): 27-34.|
|↵56||See “The 19th Canonical Answer (…).”|
|↵57||Zagranichnoe Russkoe Tserkovnoe sobranie: materially podgotovitel’noi komissii 1 (Constantinople, 1921).|
|↵58||Deianiia Vtorogo Vsezarubezhnogo Sobora.|
|↵59||Zhizneopisanie Blazheneishego Antoniia (…) 7 (New York, 1961), 85.|
|↵60||Metropolitan Nestor, Moi Vospominaniia (Moscow, 1995), 180-183.|
|↵61||Synod Archive. File 5/48: Ecumenical Movement 1946-1960.|
|↵62||“The Moscow Patriarchate and the First Assembly of the World Council of Churches,” The Ecumenical Review 12 (1949): 188-189.|
|↵63||“Opredeleniia,” Tserkovnaiia Zhizn’ 1 (1951): 2.|
|↵64||Report on Evanston by Protopriest G. Grabbe, Lzhe-Pravoslavie na pod’eme (Jordanville, 1959), 198-199.|
|↵65||“Mirovoi sovet Tserkvei ego tseli i napravlenie deiatel’nosti s tochki zreniia Pravoslavnoi Tserkvi” Tserkov’ i eia uchenie v zhizni 2 (Montreal, 1970), 246-259.|
|↵66||“Perepiska protopresvitera Georgiia Grabbe s protoiereiami Georgiem Florovskim i Aleksandrom Shmemanom,” Vestnik Russkogo Khristianskogo Dvizheniia 189 (2005): 210-218.|
|↵67||For Nissiotis, all Christian denominations are local common churches. Subsequently, there are no schismatics, though there is a “state of schism.” “The Witness and the Service of Eastern Orthodoxy to the One Undivided Church.” (Press Release of the World Council of Churches in Synod Archive. File 5/48: Ecumenical Movement 1961-1973).|
|↵68||“Arkhipastyrskoe poslanie Arkhiereiskogo Sobora Russkoi Zarubezhnoi Tserkvi Pravoslavnym Russkim liudiam v raseianii sushchim” (1962). Synod Archive.|
|↵69||Council Protocol. Synod Archive.|
|↵71||“Doklad predsedatelia Arkhiereiskogo Sinoda Arkhiereiskomu Soboru 1967 goda.” Synod Archive. File 1/66: Sobor 1967.|
|↵72||“Encyclical Letter on the Ecumenical Movement Issued by the Great Council of the Russian Metropolia in America, March 1969,” Eastern Churches Review 2-4 (1969): 425-426.|
|↵73||“Doklad predsedatelia Arkhiereiskogo Sinoda Arkhiereiskomu Soboru 1967 goda.”|
|↵74||“The Protest of Metropolitan Filaret,” Eastern Churches Review 2-4 (1969): 423-424.|
|↵75||Letter dated 5 November 1969. Stanford. Box 1, Folder 4: Letters of Metropolitan Philaret. 1963-1985.|
|↵76||Letter from Archimandrite Justin dated 7 May 1977 to the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church regarding the call for a “Great Council of the Orthodox Church.” Vestnik Russkogo Khristianskogo Dvizhenia 122 (1977): 27|
|↵77||Tserkovnaia Zhizn’ 7-12 (1971): 50-53.|
|↵78||Letter from Father Georgiy Grabbe to Archbishop Anthony of San Francisco dated 23 October 1969. Stanford. Box 1. Folder 7: Letters Grabbe to Metropolitans [sic.] Anthony of San Francisco. 1963-1993.|
|↵79||“Russian Orthodox Church Rescinds Decision on Roman Catholics,” The Journal of the Anglican and Eastern Churches Association 24 (1987): 25.|
|↵80||Archimandrite Kallistos Ware, “Intercommunion: Where Does the Orthodox Church Stand Today?” Eastern Churches Newsletter 59-60 (Summer 1971): 14.|
|↵81||Protocol of 21 October. Synod Archive. File 39/53: Sobor 1953.|
|↵82||28 January 19?72? (year is unclear). Stanford. Box. Folder 5: Letters Grabbe to Metropolitans [sic.] Afanasii. 1970-1981.|
|↵83||Letter from Father George Grabbe to N.P. Churilov. Stanford. Box 9. Folder: Correspondence between Most Rev. Grabbe and Stefan K. [?] 1977-1986.|
|↵84||“Ekumenicheskoe Pravoslavie,” Pravoslavnaia Rus’ 14 (1959): 12.|
|↵85||Letter of Archbishop Anthony of Geneva to Protopriest Georgii Grabbe. Stanford. Box 1. Folder 6: Letters Grabbe to Metropolitan [sic.] Antonii of Geneva. 1961-1995 [sic.]|
|↵86||Letter of A.G. Shatilov to Archbishop Anthony of Geneva dated 6 Jan 1987. Ibid.|
|↵87||Synod Archive. File 3/50: Serbian Orthodox Church.|
|↵88, ↵90||Tserkovnaia Zhizn’ 7-12 (1971): 53.|
|↵89||The term ‘ecumenism’ is often understood as a search for truth; whereas the Orthodox Church possesses this truth in all its fullness, therefore the participation in the search for truth does not make any sense for her. However, due to her salvific vocation, the Orthodox Church has to assist those who search for truth by revealing the teaching about herself as the one and only salvific Church.|
|↵91||Synod Archive. File 1/74: Sobor 1974.|
|↵92||Letter from Hieromonk Harlambos to Bishop Grigorii dated 26 July 1983. Synod Archive. File 1/83: Sobor 1983.|
|↵93||Circulated Edict from the Synod of Bishops of ROCOR to all Diocesan Eminences. 21 February 1984. Synod Archive. Anathema confirmed by the Council of Bishops of 1998.|
|↵94||“Rozhdestvenskoe poslanie Pervoierakha,” 1.|
|↵95||Cf. Father Georges Florovsky, “The Quest for Christian Unity and the Orthodox Church,” Collected Works, 13 (Vaduz, 1989), 136-144.|