Bishop Ieronim Lives of Bishops Moscow Patriarchate Parishes and Monasteries

The Current State of the Russian Church Abroad

1946 Bishop Council in Munich

This account covers poorly documented period following the World War Two.

From the editor:

Due to the fact that most of its parishes ended up in territory controlled by Nazi Germany and the empire of Japan, 1945 was a year of deep disorganization for the Russian Church Abroad. Metropolitan Anastasy (Gribanovsky, +1964) was residing within the territory of occupied Germany and was not able to establish contact with all the dioceses of the Russian Church Abroad. Simultaneously, in Moscow, at the Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), which took place from January 30-February 2, 1945, Alexis (Simansky, +1970) was elected as Patriarch. The ROC received a license to conduct international activities. In 1946, it began to consolidate the Russian churches Abroad. Early in the year, Metropolitan Anastasy arrived in neutral Geneva. On March 10, together with Bishop Ieronim (Chernov; †1957) of Detroit and Cleveland, who had traveled there from America, he consecrated Archimandrite Nathaniel (Lvov; †1986) Bishop of Brussels and Western Europe and Archimandrite Seraphim (Ivanov; †1987) as Bishop of Santiago and Chile. Thus, when, in May 1946, the Council of Bishops of the ROCOR met in Munich with nearly all the bishops of the Autonomous Church of Belarus and an array of bishops of the Autonomous Church of Ukraine attending, the ROCOR already had four bishops from its refugee milieu (counting Metropolitan Seraphim [Lade; †1950] of Berlin and Germany).

In May 1946, the Council of Bishops of the North American Metropolitan District appointed Bishop Ieronima as representative of the American Metropolia at the ROCOR Synod of Bishops. This report was read at the Seventh All-American Sobor in Clevland, OH in November 1946, when the American Metropolia left the jurisdiction of the ROCOR’s Council of Bishops. I discovered the original version of the notice in the form of an offprint from a non-identified publication (or an independent brochure) in the library of Saint Vladimir’s Seminary in Yonkers, New York. Archbishop Vitaly as the head of the commission preparing the council printed various materials to convince delegates to maintain the union with ROCOR. This offprint must have been part of this packet. 1

Deacon Andrei Psarev,
Jordanville, August 20, 2019

1. The Russian Orthodox Church and the Second World War

After the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad had been unified on the basis of the Temporary Directive, formulated at the Consultation involving representatives from four of its districts and presided over by Patriarch Varnava of Serbia in October 1935, it presented, in terms of its size, a fairly imposing unit.[1]

Allowing itself to be guided by the common canons of the Church and the Temporary Directive, under close collaboration of all its parts, the Russian Church Abroad would have been able to develop, expand, flourish, and have an authoritative voice in defending the Russian emigration, which in many cases was left without rights. Unfortunately, the Second World War and the circumstances that accompanied it interrupted the peaceful course of church life. 2

Above all, owing to the war, which saw the participation of nearly all European states, and later also that of certain states on other continents, communications between the Synod of Bishops and other parts of the Church Abroad were interrupted. The Synod was cut off from all dioceses except for that of Germany, and thought it could obtain information from these regions through Metropolitan Seraphim of Berlin, any attempts to establish direct communications between all the parts of the Church Abroad proved impossible, among other things due to the opposition of the German authorities, which opposition only grew stronger after the Germans occupied Serbia.

The Germans were very suspicious of Metropolitan Anastasy, suspecting him of being an Anglo-Saxon sympathizer. On more than one occasion they conducted searches of the Synod and the Metropolitan’s personal quarters with the aim of confirming their suspicions, but when they did not find anything, they left him in peace.

The enemies of the Synod – both on the inside and outside – took advantage of its isolation and began to spread propagandistic rumors that the Synod no longer existed, that it had broken up, that all its members had been dispersed. Among others, Patriarch Alexis spoke in this manner in his address to the flock of the church abroad, exhorting it to submit itself to him. Concerning the Metropolitan himself, they spread rumors that he had collaborated with the Germans and had even blessed Russian people to fight alongside the Germans against the Russians. Such rumors could be heard here in America, too. I have received letters from Jerusalem to the effect that the Bolsheviks were spreading rumors there that Metropolitan Anastasy had been seized, condemned and executed.

Such rumors doubtless confounded the faithful, who, in the absence of any information from the center, began to think that there was nothing left for them to do except to submit themselves to the church authorities in Moscow, even through its stance vis-à-vis the godless regime troubled their conscience. Thus, for instance, Bishop John of Shanghai long hesitated and for some time even attempted to persuade his flock to submit to Moscow, and only when he received a message from the Synod of Bishops did he keep himself and his flock away from this jurisdiction, staying under the leadership of the Synod of Bishops, whereas the parishes in London, Switzerland, and some in France placed themselves under the leadership of the American bishops.

2. Metropolitan Anastasy in Switzerland

In view of what has been said, Metropolitan Anastasy’s first thought was to establish communications with all parts of the diaspora at the earliest opportunity. Retreating together with the Germans before Tito’s Bolsheviks together with the ROCOR Synod (consisting of Metropolitan Seraphim, Bishop Basil, Bishop Alexander, the Head of the Chancellery Priest George Grabbe, and Treasurer Orogodnikov), Vladyka Anastasy travelled via Vienna, Karlsbad, and Munich (where а Synod was established), and eventually arrived in the small town of Füssen not far from the Swiss border, where he negotiated with the authorities to obtain a Swiss visa and temporary settled down in Geneva, where at last he was able to establish communications with the entire diaspora.

It was there that he published an encyclical in response to Patriarch Alexis’ address, mentioned above, in which he laid out the reasons why the Church Abroad at the present time could not submit to Moscow. Meanwhile, the American occupying powers handed over a large, 14-room house to the Synod, which had stayed behind in Munich, and provided funds for transport, food, and so on. In this way, one of the consequences of the world war was neutralized: communications were established between the various parts of the diaspora and the unity of the Church was preserved.

To what has already been said, it must be added that Vladyka Anastasy’s arrival in Geneva caused a great stir among the local communists. This is an indication of how far the tendrils of the Soviet octopus have penetrated. A mad campaign of defamation against the metropolitan was begun in the Communist and Socialist press. Petitions were made to the police headquarters and the Parliament itself asking why enemies of the USSR were being allowed to remain in Swiss territory, demanding that their nest in Geneva, headed by the “mad Nazi, leader of the Vlasovtsy, and head of the black reactionaries, Metropolitan Anastasy, together with his whole band of monastics who have organized a secret sect in Geneva, organize fanatical gatherings at night, and live off the valuables that they have stolen from the churches of the Ukraine”, be destroyed. But what came out of this petition? After a careful investigation and report by the minister for policing himself, the Parliament acquitted Metropolitan Anastasy by an overwhelming majority (excluding the communists, of course), and this decision was accompanied by unanimous applause in his honor. In the newspapers of Geneva, meanwhile, warmhearted pieces were published about the monastic brotherhood and its humble, prayerful, and hard-working way of life.

What is more, when a part of this “band of sectarians and German collaborators” moved to Munich, the occupying powers gave them a house to live in, consisting of four large rooms and a large hall to be used as a church, and without even being asked, they themselves delivered a Russian print-shop to the house with seventy cases of fonts of various kinds, a typing machine, two presses, and a full set of equipment. Thus, it seems, as the Apostle said, that all the reproaches were to cease (1 Timothy 3:7).

3. Which parts of the ROCOR have broken away since the war?

Continuing on: the war between Germany and the Soviet Union and the latter’s alignment with the allies (at first against Germany, and then later against Japan, as well), altered the borders of the USSR, broadened the sphere of Bolshevik influence, and caused the Bolsheviks to alter their stance on the Russian Orthodox Church for political reasons, giving it a certain semblance of freedom (up to the point of electing a patriarch), while also turning it into a compliant instrument for its struggle to subject the anti-Bolshevik Church Abroad to its own influence, which the Moscow Patriarchate is eagerly conducting, albeit without much success. The retreat of the Germans from Russia and the Bolshevik occupation of territories to the west of the USSR all the way to Berlin has, of course, taken away a certain part of the Church Abroad which has been transferred into the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate (9 parishes that had ended up in the Bolshevik-controlled zone), but despite that, on the one hand, the mass of refugees moving out of Russia away from the Bolsheviks together with the retreating Germans, and on the other, the hundreds of thousands of Russians, often prisoners of war, who had previously been transported out of Russia as workers and did not want to return to their homeland, have numerically swelled the ranks of the Church Abroad. For such reasons as have been outlined above, the Balkans and the Far-Eastern District together with the Peking Mission have broken away from the Church Abroad, with the exception of the Diocese of Shanghai, which consists of 20 parishes and is situated within the zone of American influence.

4. Current Structure of the Russian Church Abroad

What does the structure of the Russian Church Abroad, with the Munich Synod at its center, look like now?

The current political situation has caused a new alignment of ecclesiastical districts:

1) The Western European District, which had been under the administration of Metropolitan Seraphim (Lukianov), with parishes in France, England, Belgium, Italy, and Switzerland, underwent significant changes after the war. Metropolitan Seraphim himself switched to the Moscow jurisdiction, but only two or three parishes went with him, with as many as 30 remaining under the Synod. For the time being, an administrator, Archimandrite Zosima, has been appointed for them. Metropolitan Seraphim’s transfer to Moscow was motivated by the promise of an award (the right to be preceded by a cross in processions), and he was appointed Exarch of the Patriarchal Russian Church in Europe after the death of Metropolitan Evlogii. But Archbishop Vladimir, who had been leading the Evologian parishes after the death of Metropolitan Evlogii, refused along with his parishes to accept Metropolitan Seraphim’s authority and announced that he was remaining under the Patriarchate of Constantinople, in which he is supported by most of his flock.

This tragedy will lead to a significant rapprochement, if not to a final reunion of the Evlogians with the Church Abroad.

2) The Central European District has been formed again. It encompasses parishes in Germany and Austria. In light of the fact that part of eastern Germany is in the zone of influence of the Bolsheviks, the 9 parishes that are there have come under Moscow. Despite that, in the rest of Germany, which is under the Americans and the English, over 100 parishes have been formed, comprising refugees, prisoners of war, and people who were transported by the Germans as workers and who do not wish to return to their home country. This group included about 15 bishops and up to 200 priests. Most of them are living in so-called “displaced persons” camps.

In mid-July, Vladyka Anastasy visited these parishes. He was received everywhere warmly and wholeheartedly, and with such outward ceremonial pomp that the foreigners there were amazed to observe such unheard-of enthusiasm from the Orthodox who were honoring and welcoming their spiritual father and leader. The metropolitan celebrated solemn services there, and at one service in Hamburg he personally gave communion to over 800 people, including a great many young people and children of various ages.

In certain camps, apart from the churches being organized everywhere, which serve as focal points for the spiritual life of the refugees, there is a whole range of well-organized cultural institutions: gymnasia, middle and lower schools, kindergartens, clubs, various workshops, courses, a school of church music (in Fischbeck), an infirmary and so on. The newly-ordained Bishop Nathaniel is in charge of all these camps and has been receiving all manner of assistance from the American and English authorities until a time when the displaced persons will be transported in groups to the countries that have promised to give them a more or less permanent residence, such as, for example, South America. Officially, however, the Synod of Munich appointed Nathaniel as Bishop of Western Europe in place of the late Metropolitan Seraphim.

3) The Far-Eastern District has been reduced in size. The bishops in Manchuria, headed by the now-deceased Metropolitan Meletius, had submitted to Moscow, having not refrained from sending greetings to Stalin in “unacceptable terms”. Archbishop Viktor of Peking had wavered for some time and taken up contact with Metropolitan Anastasy, before ultimately transferring to Moscow. The diocese of Bishop (now Archbishop) John of Shanghai has been transformed into an independent diocese, and his flock of 20 parishes cordially supports their Archpastor’s wish to be reunified with the Synod. In the Australian parishes (in Manila, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney) both the rectors and the parishioners have sided entirely with the Synod.

4) A special report will be presented on the North American District.

5) Of the missions and parishes that are under the immediate jurisdiction of the Synod:

The Jerusalem Mission, led by Archimandrite Antony (Senkevich), has sided firmly with the Synod of the Church Abroad. Thanks to the firm resolve of the Archimandrite, none of the members of the Mission met with Patriarch Alexis during his visit to the Patriarch of Jerusalem. While he entered two churches on the Mount of Olives during a regular weekday service, the sisters pretended not even to notice him, which made quite a strong impression. Only a small number of the sisters of Gorny Convent, with the support of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, submitted to Moscow, with the patriarchal deputy Archbishop Athenagoras ordaining an abbess for them, for which reason Archimandrite Antony had to keep the Gorny church locked (since then Athenagoras has been removed from his deputy’s duties). The Soviets are seeking to entice the sisters with cash gifts: I have received letters saying that, recently, one Soviet institution sent 100 English pounds to the rebels, which, on the one hand, lured a couple more sisters over to them, but, on the other hand, while dividing up the money, they got into a fight amongst themselves. The archimandrite himself was promised that he would be made a metropolitan  if he transferred to Moscow, but he was not enticed.

The mission brotherhood consists of 30 people. There is a large cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Jerusalem, churches on pieces of land in Jaffa, Hebron, Carmel; houses in Jerusalem, Jaffa, Hebron, Tiberias, Jericho, and on Mount Carmel; and an orchard of orange trees in Jaffa. The mission still has an extensive library, mostly of theological works. The better part of the building where the mission itself is located, with a house chapel dedicated to the Holy Martyr and Empress Alexandra, is rented as a government facility by the English. All the Mission’s income is controlled by the English. There are two convents in the Mission, on the Mount of Olives (Eleon) and in the village of Ein Karem (Gorny), as well as a recently founded monastery or, rather, community in Bethany under Abbess Maria, an English convert to Orthodoxy and missionary. This is where educational work takes place. Up to 40 Arab women are being trained in the school as teachers. There is a treatment center for the local Arab population. The Abbess, in general, doing a great deal of work for the Orthodox Mission.

In Beirut, Fr. Germogen, the rector of the parish, despite the insistence of the Patriarch of Antioch and the Metropolitan of Beirut that he take part in a meeting with Patriarch Alexis, refused to do so, and he was unanimously supported in this by his flock. He also refused to cease commemorating Vladyka Anastasy’s name at services. They did not, as it happens, insist on this any further. In addition, Fr. Germogen, who was previously a hieromonk, has been elevated to the rank of archimandrite by Vladyka Anastasy.

The parish in Alexandria is divided. Part of it, together with Hieromonk Alexis Dekhterev, has gone over to Moscow, whereas the remainder, headed by former Consul Petrov, has remained loyal to the Synod of the Church Abroad. What is more, the Patriarch of Alexandria has given them a hieromonk of his who sympathizes with their views, as well as a church in which to celebrate services. After Hegumen Seraphim died, Patriarch Alexis wanted to send one of his priests from Moscow, but the Patriarch of Alexandria refused and replied that they already have Hieromonk Aristocles from the Russian Mission in Jerusalem.

Constantinople is also loyal to the Synod of the Church Abroad. The rector there, Archimandrite Seraphim (Palaida) enjoys the favor of the Patriarchate, which, so it seems, is not especially sympathetic to the Patriarch of Moscow. Fr. Seraphim gave a congratulatory address to the new Patriarch upon his accession to the Patriarchal throne and spoke with him for a long time, and the Patriarch was very interested in the diaspora’s stance vis-à-vis Moscow.

South America is entirely on the side of the Synod of the Church Abroad. There were no vacillations there. His Eminence Feodosy, the administrator of the Churches in Brazil, and Protopresbyter K[onstantin] Izraztsov, administrator of the churches in Argentina, firmly favor remaining within our jurisdiction, and there has obviously been no pressure applied to them. Church life, thanks to Fr. Izraztsov, a long-time denizen of South America, is developing normally, but it is prevented from flourishing fully by a lack of clergy, and in Brazil, the work of the church is also paralyzed by a decree prohibiting the use of foreign languages in public, which impedes missionary work. Protopresbyter Shabashov has been sent to help Fr. Izraztsov, and Archimandrite Agapit and Hegumen Valentin from the Brotherhood of Saint Job have been sent to help Vladyka Feodosy. In addition, Bishop Leonty (formerly of Zhitomir) has been appointed as vicar to him, and an Argentinian visa has already been issued to him and to those accompanying him.

5. The Council of the Church Abroad in Munich

After contact had been established with all parts of the Diaspora and certain local matters had been addressed, there were no grounds for the Metropolitan to remain in Geneva, especially given the high cost of living there, and in March he travelled to Munich, where he convened a Synod of Bishops of the Church Abroad, with 26 bishops participating and 16 attending personally.

At the Council, the Metropolitan reported on what he had done to unify the Church Abroad, and the Council approved his actions. In line with the shifts that had taken place in the Church Abroad, which were discussed above, the mechanism of Church governance outside of Russia was reorganized, the body of the Bishops’ Council was enlarged by delegations of Belorussian and Ukrainian bishops, and a series of decrees was issued, aimed at improving the discipline of the ROCOR clergy, normalizing and elevating the spiritual life of clergy and laity alike, and raising the level of spiritual education among the clergy by establishing institutions of theological education. Two gymnasia, a university, an infirmary, a school for caregivers, various courses, a refugee committee and much else besides were organized with Church sponsorship. A ruling was issued and signed by all members of the Synod stating that it was impossible under the current conditions of life in the Soviet Union for the Russian Church Abroad to come under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate.

6. The Purpose of My Trip to Europe

Here I cannot remain silent about certain details, without which, while they may not be directly related to the topic of my report, I would consider my report to be incomplete and unfinished. Before I flew to Geneva in March of this year, my fellow brother put to me several questions to which I was to obtain answers in Geneva. I will bring up some of them here: 1) does the Synod exist, and if so, 2) is there anything for it to administer? In what has come before, I have already given answers to these questions.

The third question was rather sensitive to be put to the Metropolitan, but I still put it to him and obtained an answer. This question is: what will happen to the Synod and who will head it after the death of Vladyka Anastasy?

It must be acknowledged that Vladyka Anastasy, much like the late Vladyka Antony, is a person of exceptional qualities, and it is as if these two were given by the Lord to the Church at this exceptional time when the Church is truly in need of people with a high degree of authority, a firm will, and a secure canonical foothold. Vladyka Anastasy, despite the slanderous accusations spread about him by his opponents, is not a person from whom, to use the words of the Apostle, you will hear anything [beyond] “yea, yea” or “nay, nay”. He is only capable of either yes or no. Once he has found what he considers to be the right way, he cannot be turned off this path by anything, not by any encouragements, nor flattery, nor threats. For example, I will reply here to accusations that he was a fascist or a German sympathizer. The facts are as follows: he spoke in a 1914 speech of his in Holm about “the judgment of God upon peoples, our neighbors, who have forgotten the commandments of Christ and maintain truth in unrighteousness”, about “the bloodthirsty and perfidious power under whose yoke so many of the Orthodox are suffering”. This was about the Germans. About 20 years later, when certain persons and societies were being lured away into fascism, he said that fascism is incompatible with Christianity, since it suppresses the personal spiritual freedom without which the Christian spiritual life is not possible. 10 years further on, he confirmed his stance on the Germans through his actions: when he was in occupied Belgrade, the Germans suggested that he appeal to the Russian people to cooperate with the German Army, which was to free Russia from the Bolsheviks. What is more, this “suggestion” was backed up by a threat of internment should he not carry it out. But the metropolitan was not afraid of threats and refused to do this, while explaining his refusal by saying that German policy was not clear to him as long as the Germans’ aims in invading Russia had not been fully elucidated for Russian patriots. His point of view over the last 30 years has not changed. What is dear to him is that which is good for his homeland and the welfare of the Church, and it is to this cause, to which he was already devoted, that he is dedicating the remainder of his life, all his strength, thought, and efforts.

7. The Future of the Russian Church in America

In response to my question about the future of the Church Abroad, he said that his answer to this question had been ready long before I even put it to him. He said that that it will most likely be necessary to relocate the central administration of the Church Abroad to America. The firm stance of the episcopate here, which has twice rejected Moscow’s offers to separate itself from the Synod and come over to Moscow, inspires hope that the matter of the administration of the Church Abroad here will end up in reliable hands in the future, too. He declared that the unity of the American Church with the Synod is a big source of support for them at the present, difficult time.

As it happens, all the other parts of the Church Abroad are glad about this firm stance of the American Metropolis with respect to the Moscow Patriarchate.

London has offered its thanks for the receipt of the “American Bulletin” [Russko-Amerikanskii Pravoslvanyi Vestnik/Russian-American Orthodox Messenger], through which it found out about the resolution of our synod, for they were frightened by rumors that America was reunifying with Moscow.

Brazil: “I received the reply of the Synod. Extremely happy. I concur entirely. Glory to God, who grants wisdom to His faithful servants.” (Archbishop Feodosy)

Geneva: “We only just received the news that the American Synod refused to enter into the fold of the Moscow Patriarchate. Glory to thee, O Lord, glory to thee.” (Bishop Seraphim)

Switzerland: “The minutes we received were an indescribable comfort to us. Thanks be to God for keeping the American hierarchs in one accord. 10 bishops is a force to be reckoned with.”

Similar letters are coming in to us from Palestine, and we heard the same thing in person during our stay in France, even among those who represent currents other than our own.

This all shows how interested those outside our District are in what is happening here, including in the verdicts that are being delivered here, in America, with respect to the Moscow Patriarchate.

“You are living through a critical moment in determining your stance vis-à-vis the patriarchate,” we read in letters from Europe. “Any resolution of this crisis one way or the other will doubtless be reflected in the structure of our ecclesiastical districts, whose eyes are now on America: it is in her that they see the firmest support for our Church Abroad, for her authority (military and political) is especially high in Europe right now (…) One would think that, in the current conditions, submitting to the church authorities in Moscow, even nominally, will not bestow any advantages upon you, but will only curtail the moral authority of your Church. Many people will accuse you of following the example of Metropolitan Benjamin [Fedchenkov], who only warned you in advance in going along this path, thereby showing his farsightedness and wisdom.”

In a letter from a different place: “When we received the American Bulletin’ of March [Russko-Amerikanskii Pravoslvanyi Vestnik/Russian-American Orthodox Messenger 1945], we were disturbed by reports of an upcoming reunion of the Church in America with the Muscovite jurisdiction. It is incomprehensible why the American Metropolitan District would seek to lose its independence and autonomy, and what benefits it would receive by submitting to the Church of Moscow, which itself, in turn, is dependent upon the godless regime.”

“Not one honest bishop from Russia,” wrote one priest who was imprisoned in Solovki and escaped from there to freedom, “not one of them would wish even anything approaching their lot upon us.” There, according to his testimony, everyone would like us to make full use of our freedom and not to place ourselves under the yoke from which they have been groaning for so many years.

Even non-Orthodox (Catholics) are perplexed at seeing the unnatural union of the Orthodox Church with the atheist Communism that rejects it, and they are astonished when they see the Russian first hierarchs and archpastors wearing on their chests, alongside crosses and panaghias, the orders of the Red Banner, Lenin, and others: symbols of good and evil, light and dark, Christ and Belial. “I do not and I cannot accept that the Patriarch would be displaying such concern for us who are outside Russia if he is being guided purely by the interests of the Church”, one believer said to us. “There are, according to common estimates, between 2 and 3 million of us outside of Russia. But there, in Russia, there are far more people who are in need of the care of the patriarch, than there are of us who, thank God, have not lost our faith, have upheld Orthodoxy and our loyalty to the Church, and have also not lost our spiritual connections with our native Russian Church. But there, you see, according to international observers, there are no fewer than 15-18 million people imprisoned in concentration camps for their faith and loyalty to the Church – bishops, clergy, and laity alike. They are the ones for whom the patriarch ought to be caring, for these martyrs, without clothing or shoes, hungry, cold, condemned to heavy, unbearable labor. It is they on whose behalf he ought to be petitioning the Soviet government, if it is so favorably disposed towards the church. Just think about it: one out of every ten people in Russia in a concentration camp… It is dreadful. And the Patriarchal Church remains silent. No, the Patriarch has just been given some political tasks or others, nothing more.”

And this is doubtless the case, “for if the conciliar resolution of the Chicago Council not to submit to the Moscow Patriarchate had an effect on public opinion in the American Church,” Metropolitan Anastasy wrote in his encyclical of September 1945, “then how much more of an impression must it have made in Russia, where our voice is valued far more highly than we might assume.” All the actions of the patriarchate reveal that the patriarchate has been entrusted with the task of liquidating the Church Abroad, which they despise, and that there are circles there that will not spare any means in this matter, and in fact do not spare them, using lies, enticements, threats, and rewards, and even cash gifts (shekels).”

8. The Stance of the Eastern Patriarchs

“But, you see,” some weak minds tell us, “the Patriarchate is threatening us with a universal trial and the involvement of the Eastern patriarchs”. Calm down, please. First, it does not have the right to put us on trial, as we do not belong to its jurisdiction, and second, let us see what the stance of the Eastern patriarchs vis-à-vis Moscow and the diaspora actually is.

The Patriarch of Constantinople, on the occasion of his accession to the Patriarchal Throne, made it clear in his letter to Metropolitan Evlogii that he continues to consider Metropolitan Evlogii his Exarch in Western Europe (contrary to the wishes of Moscow), and reminded him of the requirement to commemorate the name of the [Ecumenical] Patriarch at the divine services. From this one can see that the Patriarch of Constantinople does not consider the Patriarch of Moscow to be the lawful head of the Russian Church, at least outside of Russia. The late Patriarch refused to meet Patriarch Alexis when he was visiting the Eastern Patriarchs. Metropolitan Anastasy exchanged heartfelt letters of greeting with Patriarch Maximos upon the occasion of the later’s accession to the Patriarchal Throne, in which Metropolitan Anastasy was not called a schismatic, but rather, “my beloved fellow brother in Christ”. The very same patriarch has shown himself to be very disposed to the rector of our parish in Constantinople and is interested, besides, in finding out from him about the stance of the Church Abroad vis-à-vis Moscow.

The Patriarch of Antioch has not prevented the rector of the parish in Beirut from commemorating Vladyka Anastasy as the head of the Church Abroad and has not forced him to commemorate Patriarch Alexis, and Metropolitan Ilia of Beirut has readily carried out Vladyka Anastasy’s request to elevate this same rector to the rank of archimandrite.

The Patriarch of Alexandria, as we have seen from what has come before, is on the side of the people in the parish in Alexandria who have not accepted the Moscow Patriarchate, and he did not allow Moscow’s appointee to come to Cairo. Thus Moscow’s declaration that it has official recognition and that the Church Abroad could be condemned by all the eastern Patriarchs bears no relation to reality.

In like manner, the Patriarch of Serbia testified in a conversation with the rector of the church in London about the wisdom and tact with which Vladyka Anastasy behaved with respect to the Germans and did not object to the position taken by the Church Abroad with respect to the Patriarchate of Moscow.

Only the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, in the (doubtless futile) hope of gaining admirers in Soviet Russia, is encouraging the discord in the Jerusalem Mission and attempting to compel the Russian Mission to place itself under Moscow, albeit in vain.

Thus, having around us such a cloud of witnesses, let us cast off form ourselves the burden that has been placed upon us, and, until a more suitable moment comes along, let us continue to make our way across the proving ground that lies before us, not relenting, but guarding the freedom that we have been granted here in the free land of Washington and Lincoln, and we shall not subject ourselves to the yoke of slavery (as the Apostle says), because — so says another Apostle —, concerning those who now stretch out their hand in reconciliation with promises of temporal freedom, how can they promise such a thing when they themselves are slaves to a godless regime that defiles everything that is pure and destroys everything that is good and holy

9. Conclusion

“See then that ye walk circumspectly,” says the same Apostle, for now not only the days, but the people are evil. But we believe that the moment for which we long will come about: the day when the openly bright light of the Orthodox Church will shine out in a free Russia, and then, no longer by compulsion, threats and enticements, but freely, without even awaiting the call of the Mother Church, Her scattered children will come to Her from the West and the North and the East and beyond the seas,  in order to live a peaceful and quiet life there and bless Christ unto the ages, as we sing in one Easter hymn. Then truly it shall be like the Pascha of Christ, to use the words of Saint Seraphim of Sarov, when, in the midst of winter, that is, in the most inopportune time, which is known to God alone, that is, in the day of the resurrection of Holy Rus’, the Russian people, physically and morally worn down, will greet each other with joyful cries: “Christ is risen!” — “He is risen indeed!”

Now, however, O fathers and brethren, it is still the time for patience and of our trial by God.

Notes:

  1. A.A.Kostriukov, Russkaia Zarubezhnaia Tserkov’ v 1939-1964 gg. (Moscow, 2018): 184.
  2. It did not include: a) the parishes in Western Europe administered by Metropolitan Evlogii, who, despite signing the Temporary Directive, nonetheless subsequently did not wish to leave the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople; b) the churches of the frontier states that had been seized and brought under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople; c) two vicariates of the Greek Archdiocese in America (the Carpatho-Russian and Ukrainian ones); d) several independent parishes (self-proclaimed and other separatist movements); and lastly, e) a couple dozen parishes that had accepted the jurisdiction of Moscow.

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