Articles Seide, Gernot

History of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia from Its Beginning to the Present. Part I. Chapter 3. From the Karlovtsy Council in 1921 until the Schism of the Church Emigration in 1926

1921 Pan-Diaspora Council. Sremsky Karlovtsy, Serbia

To some extent, the 1921 Pan-Diaspora Council paved the road for the division following the 1926 council.

Part I, Chapter 3

From the Karlovtsy Council in 1921 until the Schism of the Church Emigration in 1926

Early in February of 1921, Metropolitan Anthony received an invitation from the Patriarch of Serbia to relocate to the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats & Slovenes (after 1929 known as the Kingdom of Yugoslavia). Five other Russian hierarchs were already residing there: Archbishops Eulogius and George (of Minsk), and Bishops Metrophanes, Gabriel, and Apollinarius. Before the autumn of the same year, Archbishop Theophanes and Bishops Michael, Benjamin, Theophanes, Sergius, and Hermogenes also settled in that country. Until 1934, Archbishop Anastasius, who lived in Jerusalem, visited Karlovtsy annually and took part in the sessions of the Synod of Bishops. Other visitors were Bishops Seraphim and Damian, who came from Bulgaria; Archbishop Seraphim from Finland (who was later to rule the Western European Diocese); Apollinarius, Platon, Theophilus, and Tikhon from North America; and Metropolitan Meletius, Archbishop Nestor, and Bishop Demetrius from China and Manchuria, only to name a few. 1

Certain bishops were appointed and consecrated by the Church Abroad in Yugoslavia: Archimandrite Arsenius (Chagovtsev) as Bishop of Winnipeg; Nicholas (Karpov) as Bishop of London; Tikhon (Troitsky) as Bishop of San Francisco; Ioasaph (Skorodumov) as Bishop of Montreal; Theodosius (Samojlovich) as Bishop of Detroit; John (Shleman) as Bishop of Urmia;

Victor (Sviatin) as Bishop of Shanghai; Vitalius (Maximenko) as Bishop of Detroit; John (Maximovich) as Bishop of Shanghai; Gregory (Ostroumov) as Bishop of Cannes; and Basil (Pavlovsky) as Bishop of Vienna. 2

The list of bishops alone demonstrates the importance of Yugoslavia for the Russian church emigration in the period between the wars. The Serbian Patriarch had given Metropolitan Anthony a home in his summer residence in Karlovtsy, and here the latter made his permanent residence. After the resettlement of the Supreme Ecclesiastical Administration Abroad, the administrative center of the Church Abroad was located there. Subsequently, when the Synod of Bishops was formed, all-important sessions of the Synod took place in Karlovtsy, where two Pan-Diaspora Councils (1921 and 1938) were also held. The Synod of Bishops of the Church Abroad has been called the “Karlovtsy Synod” by its opponents in a derogatory manner. The designation “Karlovtsy Synod” is correct inasmuch as two First Hierarchs of the Church Abroad – Metropolitan Anthony until 1936, Metropolitan Anastasius until 1944 – had their residence in Karlovtsy, as did the Synod of Bishops, which held its meetings in Karlovtsy. After World War II, the location was no longer viable. The designation “Jordanville Jurisdiction,” which is often used today, has never been valid, in that Jordanville has never been the seat of the First Hierarch. Jordanville, in upstate New York, has certainly been the spiritual center of the Church Abroad, since the location maintains a monastery and seminary, and has hosted various Councils of Bishops,]and the Third All-Diaspora Council in 1974. However, at no time has Jordanville been the official see of the First Hierarch, headquarters of the Synod, or of the central administration. Several places have served as administrative headquarters of the Synod since the departure from Karlovtsy: Munich (1945-1950), the New Kursk Hermitage (Mahopac, N.Y. 1950-1959), and, finally, New York City (since 1959). However, for the period between the wars, the designation “Karlovtsy Synod” is accurate. In the immediate vicinity of Karlovtsy are the Frushka Mountains, a wooded region with fourteen monasteries. The Serbian Orthodox faithful call this region the “Serbian Athos.” Numerous Russian emigre bishops lived in the monasteries of “Frushka Gora.” In addition to these, the Russian Convent of the Lesna Icon and the Russian Milkovo Monastery were also close to Karlovtsy. 3

The reasons for the transfer of the Supreme Ecclesiastical Administration Abroad from Constantinople were apparent: in addition to material help, the Serbian Patriarch vouchsafed the Russian hierarchs full autonomy to organize the church life of the Russian emigration. 4

The need to convene an ecclesiastical assembly that, in addition to the émigré bishops, would also include the lesser clergy and laity, had become apparent since the evacuation from Russia. The small number of Russian churches that existed outside Soviet Russia was insufficient to care for the many refugees: In Europe, there were fifty-five churches outside the Russian borders. The majority of these were in buildings that had been attached to imperial embassies and consulates and were closed since there were no diplomatic ties with Soviet Russia. In addition to these, there were a number of churches near health resorts and spas, which had been frequented by the Russian nobility before the Revolution.

Before the Revolution, these churches had been under the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan of Saint Petersburg. Ultimately, contact with this hierarch having become impossible, the local priests and communities were in doubt over who their legitimate ecclesiastical authority was. For example, the Russian communities in Paris and Berlin questioned the legitimacy of the appointment of Archbishop Eulogius as the administrator of the Western European parishes. The Supreme Ecclesiastical Administration Abroad was also confronted with the question of whether to create new dioceses for the many communities that were being newly constituted everywhere or simply to appoint a bishop for a given area.

A further problem resulted from the religious environment in the diaspora: Only in southeastern Europe were there national Orthodox Churches; in Western Europe, North Africa, the Americas, and Asia the refugees were confronted not only with the existence of other Christian confessions but with non-Christian religious groups. The bishops were concerned not only about the influence of Protestant sects – such as the Baptists, Adventists, and Pentecostals, among others – but also of Roman Catholicism, the Reformed churches, and Communism; moreover, they were worried about the dangers of Freemasonry and occult and Theosophist societies. 5 The Council devoted much time to the consideration of the theological education of the refugees and to the mission. 6 In that there is an extensive treatment of the Council in Chapter III.1, only those questions which are important for the consolidation of church life will be considered here: the development of a central administration, the administrative division into regions and districts, and general decisions regarding the organization of church life. The development of the individual dioceses will be considered in separate chapters. The Council lasted from 21 November/3 December to 3/16 December 1921 and recorded in its official list of participants 155 people, of whom, however, only 103 were present, the rest participating through correspondence. 7 The official list registered sixteen bishops, thirty-three priests, and 106 laymen; actually, present were thirteen bishops, twenty-three priests, and sixty-seven laymen. 8 The selection of delegates was made in accordance with the decisions of the Pan-Russian Council of 1917/18. Metropolitan Anthony presided; Patriarch Demetrius of Serbia was an honorary president.

All the Serbian bishops were also invited, of whom two took part in person – Metropolitan Hilarion and Bishop Maximillian – and another eight sent messages of greeting. Representatives of other national Orthodox Churches were not invited. Only Metropolitan Stephen of Sofia personally greeted the Council in the name of the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and took part in the session on 22 November/4 December. 9 In addition to these guests, a number of honorary members were invited to the Council, but were not permitted to speak or to vote. These were various deputies and representatives of the old Russian Empire – the Supreme Commanders of the White Army, imperial ambassadors and consuls, high officials, and other dignitaries. The voting participants of the Council represented fifteen districts (okrugi) and sixteen regions (rayoni). Each was supposed to be represented by seven people (one bishop, two clergymen – a priest or deacon – and four laymen). A bishop could allow a clergyman to represent him. The districts represented were: North America, Japan, China, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany, France, Italy, Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, and the Far East. The regions represented were: Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, England, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Austria, Switzerland, Romania, Palestine, Alexandria, Greece, Africa, and Tunisia. 10

Many of the districts – North America, Japan, China, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland – represented pre-Revolutionary Russian dioceses or parts of dioceses. From these districts either no participants came to the Council, or only a few people came who did not officially represent the region. It is significant, however, that the Supreme Ecclesiastical Administration Abroad, in its capacity as the representative of the Russian emigration and the pre-existing communities and missions (such as the missions in Palestine, China, Persia, Korea, and Japan) took these regional divisions into consideration. Besides this, they claimed the former Russian dioceses in the Baltic States, Poland, and Finland. The new anti-Russian governments of these areas hindered the respective bishops from having any contact with the Karlovtsy Synod and promoted the establishment of their own national Orthodox Churches (Lithuania with its small Orthodox minority was a notable exception). 11 Otherwise, the Karlovtsy Synod was able to affirm its authority in the following year and placed under its jurisdiction all the existing Russian Orthodox communities outside Russia.

Originally, the Council was convened as an “ecclesiastical assembly” for the Russian emigration. The assembly did not at first claim to be a Council. The resolution of July spoke definitely of a “convocation of an ecclesiastical assembly abroad.” The participants, who included Archbishop Eulogius, spoke as much of a “religious assembly” as of a “Council.” The Serbian Patriarch Demetrius and King Alexander called the assembly a “Council” in their messages of greeting. A group of participants moved that the assembly be considered a Council; 12 this motion was passed. This renaming was justified on the grounds that the assembly complied with the regulations for the convocation of a Council as defined by the All-Russian Council of 1917/18. This also applied to the decision-making process: Decisions of the General Assembly became valid if they were approved by the Episcopal Assembly. This right of the bishops to veto – as at the Council of 1917/18 – was required.

Under the presidency of Metropolitan Anthony, the “Committee for the Workings of the Supreme Ecclesiastical Administration” was formed; its task was to define the Supreme Russian Ecclesiastical Administration Abroad’s tasks and powers. The final version of the ratified text adheres very closely to the definitions of ecclesiastical administration set forth by the Pan-Russian Council of 1917-18. 13 In this document, it was confirmed that the leadership of the Supreme Russian Ecclesiastical Administration Abroad is subordinate to the Patriarch and the Holy Synod. The First Hierarch of the Church Administration is the Deputy of the Patriarch and is answerable to the Patriarch as well as to the Council of the Church Abroad. At his side is a Synod and a chancery, which is presided over by the Deputy (i.e., the First Hierarch) and, in case of his illness or incapacity, by the most senior hierarch of the Synod. The following excerpt diverges from the Pan-Russian Council and relates exclusively to the situation of the Church Abroad:

“4: The Russian Synod Abroad is recognized by the Ecumenical Patriarch, the Patriarch of Russia, and the Patriarch of Serbia; the Synod consists of the Deputy to the Patriarch, as President, and bishops, whose number and selection has to be confirmed by the Patriarch”. 14

The Deputy of the Patriarch exercises his office jointly with a chancery over which he presides and which consists of a further five members: a bishop of the Synod Abroad, two clergymen, and two laymen.

These decisions on ecclesiastical administration and leadership were accepted by all participants of the Council, including Metropolitan Platon and Archbishop Eulogius. This “ecclesiastical constitution” clearly expressed that the Council desired to order its affairs autonomously and considered itself answerable only to the Patriarch and Holy Synod in Moscow. Thereby, the church leadership was to exercise, in effect, the same authority for the Russian communities outside Russia as the Patriarch did in Russia.

In addition to the chancery, there were seven other working committees, which were concerned with matters concerning the administration of the communities, of business, financial and legal questions, of pastoral care, and of the mission. Yet another committee, which was chaired by Archbishop Anastasius was concerned with “the spiritual rebirth of Russia.” This committee was to discuss the future form of government in Russia.

After detailed discussions, this committee on rebirth issued an appeal to the “Children of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Diaspora and in Exile,” in which it was stated that being mindful of the great founders of Russia, the Council supports the re-establishment of the monarchy in Russia. This decision was agreed upon by all members of the committee; in its wake, however, came furious discussion on the question of dynastic succession.

Two factions formed over this issue: the minority faction, which included, among others, Archbishops Eulogius and Anastasius, and Bishops Apollinarius, Benjamin, and Sergius, which did not want to endorse a particular dynasty; and the majority faction, led by Metropolitan Anthony and six other bishops, who championed the Romanov dynasty. The majority of the clergy was inclined to side with the minority faction; whereas the laity tended to side with the majority faction. The latter felt bound by loyalty to the last Tsar and desired to assert the continued right of the Romanov dynasty to the Russian throne. The discussion centered around the political nature of the question of a future dynasty. While both sides agreed that the idea of an Orthodox monarchy, headed by an anointed sovereign, was a question that directly concerned the Church, the minority faction rejected the discussion of dynastic succession on the grounds that it was a political matter, not an ecclesiastical one. 15 Finally, over the protest of the minority faction, an epistle was approved, which called for the restoration of the monarchy with “a lawful Orthodox Tsar of the house of Romanov.” 16

This decision has been held fast by the Church Abroad to the present day, as it recognizes the monarchy as the only possible form of government in a post-Bolshevik Russia. Since the death of the Grand Duke Cyril Vladimirovich, a nephew of Tsar Alexander II, in 1938, his son, Vladimir Kirillovich, born in 1917 and married to Leonida Georgievna, Princess Bagration-Muchransky, has been viewed as the heir apparent to the throne. The Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna is the only issue of this marriage.

The Council’s resolution on the restoration of the monarchy with a candidate from the House of Romanov must be viewed today as a decision colored by the circumstances of the year 1921. Understandably, it was made in view of the political situation in the Soviet Union at that time: the new regime was not diplomatically recognized by any government; Communist experiments in Central and Western Europe (Hungary and the Socialist Republic of Bavaria) collapsed after a few weeks. Russia itself was in a state of total anarchy: industry was disrupted; the country was in the throes of a famine, during which millions perished. Thus, monarchy appeared to many émigrés as the best solution for a future form of government after the short-lived civil republic had proved too weak to withstand the Bolshevik dictatorship. The decision was urged by a majority of the Council’s laity – representatives of the old government – and a strong monarchist faction among the clergy.

On the question of the form of government, all participants were of one mind. But the question of dynastic succession resulted in discussions and disputes. While the monarchy as a form of government with a divinely-anointed sovereign takes on a theological dimension, and today is still supported by many in the Church Abroad, the dynastic question has lost much of its political significance. Those among the older clergy and, in particular, the bishops, who in the past had close relations with the House of Romanov, were ultimately unable to evolve from a pre-Revolutionary frame of mind. In the emigration, their stance was strengthened by the influential monarchist circles in the Balkans: close ties between the monarchy and the Church were preserved by the Orthodox Churches of Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Romania. Today it is important to consider that the murder of Tsar Nicholas and his family was memorialized with a memorial service in all Russian churches abroad; this commemoration is not to be seen as proof of the monarchist character of the Church Abroad because the Church Abroad similarly commemorates all the dead laity of the Orthodox Church. The formation of monarchist ideas in the ranks of the Orthodox Church appears, for example, in the question of the canonization of the last Tsar’s family: during the 1930s there were numerous attempts to canonize only the Imperial Family, supported by several Serbian circles – whereas more recently the view has changed to the idea of canonizing all victims of the Bolsheviks (see II.3).

The decision of the Council was neither confirmed nor revised by any later assemblies. The pros and cons of the discussion of the form of government and the dynasty is first and foremost a matter of personal belief among the faithful. Among the clergy, the question of the monarchy as a form of government should be determined by theological thought; the dynastic question is hardly ever discussed.

With its resolution on the reestablishment of the monarchy in Russia, the Council, and, in turn, the Supreme Russian Ecclesiastical Administration Abroad, necessarily placed itself in sharp opposition to the Soviet regime. In a further resolution, which was passed on 18 November/1 December, the Council expressed its condemnation of socialism and Communism. In the resolution, it was stated that socialism and Communism are incompatible with Christianity because the materialistic world-view of the former negates any form of religion, Christianity in particular. 17 Christianity and socialism are at opposite poles, and their relationship can only be adversarial. This basic political stance – the total rejection of socialism and Communism – has been maintained by the Church Abroad until the present day. Not only has it refused to compromise in any way with socialism – such as in a dialogue between Christianity and Marxism – but it has consistently warned of the dangers which atheistic ideology poses for government, society, and the family.

Following the conclusion of the Council, the Supreme Russian Ecclesiastical Administration Abroad began the reorganization of church life in the emigration. The regularization of contacts with Archbishop Innocent of Peking was of particular importance. 18

He requested that the Supreme Russian Ecclesiastical Administration Abroad nominate Archimandrite Simon as vicar to the Bishop of Peking and China. On 4/17 January 1922, the nomination took place, as well as the establishment of the Vicariate of Shanghai. 19 This was the first time that there was official contact between the Supreme Russian Ecclesiastical Administration Abroad and the hierarchs in the Far East. Until the Communist takeover in China and Manchuria and the expulsion of the Church Abroad from those countries, these hierarchs were one of the mainstays of the Church Abroad. They turned to the Synod of Bishops with various proposals in the following year, such as suggesting that the Church Abroad declare itself autocephalous, or that Metropolitan Anthony be called upon to be head of the entire Russian Church. 20 These efforts were not new: At the Karlovtsy Council, a proposal had been submitted, suggesting that Metropolitan Anthony should allow himself to be proclaimed locum tenens (substitute) of the Patriarch. Among other grounds for this proposal was the fact that at the election of the Patriarch, Metropolitan Anthony had been the candidate with the most votes. Metropolitan Anthony himself, however, rejected this proposal by pointing out that the Patriarch’s approval was required. 21

Regarding the district in the Far East, a few other basic decisions were made, which demonstrate the far-reaching and full authority of the Supreme Russian Ecclesiastical Administration Abroad: In March 1922, the Diocese of Harbin (which had formerly been a vicariate of Peking and China) was created. The new diocese included the territory along the eastern Chinese railroad in Manchuria, which before the Revolution had belonged to the diocese of Vladivostok. Indeed, Bishop Michael of Vladivostok contested this step, but the resolution was not altered. 22 This creation of a new diocese essentially continued the measures taken by the Stavropol Church Authority. Archbishop Methodius of Orenburg was to assume the administration of the new diocese with the title of Archbishop of Harbin and Chichikar. In June 1921, a second vicariate was created for the Diocese of Peking and China: Archimandrite (Saint) Jonah was consecrated Bishop of Tientsin. 23 In the summer of 1922, the ecclesiastical district of the Far East was organized into “a separate administrative body under the jurisdiction of the Synod. 24

In March of 1922, new regulations were passed for the administration of church divorces. The competence to dissolve church marriages was divided among the hierarchs of the Church Abroad: Metropolitan Anthony for Yugoslavia; Archbishop Eulogius for Western Europe; Bishop Seraphim for Bulgaria; Archbishop Alexander for North America; Bishop Anthony for the Aleutians and Alaska; Archbishop Innocent for China; and Archbishop Methodius for Manchuria. All other areas – Greece, Cyprus, Jerusalem, Egypt, and South America – were directly subject to the Supreme Russian Ecclesiastical Administration Abroad. 25 Archpriest P. Krachmalev was appointed administrator of the Russian communities in Greece and Bishop Apollinarius of Belgorod was appointed to take over the administration of the Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem. 26

For Constantinople, Greece, Bulgaria, and Serbia, the administration of the Russian communities was entrusted to a bishop. Because the Orthodox canons recognize only the local national Church in Orthodox countries, no independent Russian dioceses were created in these countries. In the meantime, the Russian bishops, however, set up a diocesan council; thus, de facto Russian dioceses did exist in these countries. This is seen clearly in the example of Greece: At the request of the Supreme Russian Ecclesiastical Administration Abroad, the Archbishop of Athens agreed that the Russian communities in Greece could be put under the supervision of a Russian bishop. The Archbishop recognized the right of a self-ruled diocese for the Russian communities. Bishop Hermogenes assumed the rule of the diocese, which included the communities in Cyprus and Egypt, with the exception of military communities. 27 Similar arrangements of de facto Russian dioceses existed as well in Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and, later, in Constantinople.

The creation of new dioceses was often accomplished with the consent of Patriarch Tikhon, though also at times independently of him, by the Supreme Russian Ecclesiastical Administration Abroad alone. From the spring of 1922 onwards, ecclesiastical developments in Russia required far-reaching, independent decision making outside Russia, in that hardly any contact between the Supreme Russian Ecclesiastical Administration Abroad and the Patriarchate remained possible.

In practice, the authority of the Supreme Russian Ecclesiastical Administration Abroad was recognized by all bishops outside territorial Russia. Before 1923, a total of thirty-four bishops directly collaborated on the Supreme Ecclesiastical Administration’s decisions or otherwise accepted the jurisdictional validity of the Karlovtsy Synod: Metropolitans Anthony (Khrapovitsky), Platon (Rozhdestvensky), Eulogius (Georgievsky); Archbishops Anastasius (Gribanovsky), Alexander (Nemolovsky), Eleutherius (Bogoyavlensky), Innocent (Figurovsky), Methodius (Gerasimov), Panteleimon (Rozhnovsky), Seraphim (Lukianov), Sergius (Tikhomirov), Theophanes (Bystrov), John (Pommer); and Bishops Anthony (Dashkevich), Adam (Philippovsky), Apollanarius (Koshevoi), Vladimir (Tikhonitsky), Benjamin (Fedchenko), Gabriel (Chepur), Hermogenes ((Maximov), Damian (Govorov), Euthymius (Ofiesh), Mar Elijah (Gerargisov), Jonah (Pokrovsky), Michael (Bogdanov), Nestor (Anisimov), Seraphim (Sobolev), Sergius (Petrov), Sergius (Korolev), Stephen (Dzhubai), Simon (Vinogradov), and Theophanes (Gavrilov). 28

Archbishop Sergius (Tichomirov) of Japan was not directly subject to the jurisdiction but turned to the Synod in Karlovtsy at various times during the 1920’s for financial aid. Bishops Eleutherius of Lithuania, Panteleimon of Poland, and John (Pommer) of Riga 29 recognized the validity of the Synod for the Russian emigration, but were able to maintain only a very tenuous relationship with the Synod, as the governments of their respective countries made official contact difficult. Bishop Stephen rejoined the Unia; from 1923, he was a member of the Uniate Church in the USA.

That the legitimacy of the Karlovtsy Synod was recognized by the aforementioned bishops, even in cases where they did not directly belong to the jurisdiction, is shown in the example of Archbishop Seraphim of Finland. He turned to the Supreme Russian Ecclesiastical Administration Abroad with an inquiry as to how to handle the case of Hieromonk Barsonuphius. After his studies at the Theological Seminary in Petersburg, the latter had been unable to take the final examination  and desired to complete it. The Supreme Russian Ecclesiastical Administration Abroad decreed that the candidate could sit for his test before Archbishop Seraphim and Professor Glubokovsky, who would, however, subsequently have to submit the test to the Synod before the final grade could be given. Archbishop Seraphim accepted this. 30 Another example is when Archbishop Sergius of Japan permitted the Synod to have jurisdiction over the Russian communities in Korea. 31 Yet another instance was when Bishop Damian of Tsaritsyn requested permission from the Synod to open a school for the education of priests; the Synod reserved the right of financial oversight. 32

In February of 1922, the Supreme Russian Ecclesiastical Administration Abroad issued a decree announcing the need to have an official journal. The first plans had been made as early as 1920 but were abandoned because the establishment of a church printing press had to be postponed due to the evacuation from the Crimea to Constantinople. The need for an official publication became more and more pressing as all sorts of rumors were circulating within the ecclesiastical emigration concerning the situation of the Church in the homeland, where the Renovationist schism was causing confusion and unrest. In the official part of the newspaper, important reports written by the Supreme Russian Ecclesiastical Administration Abroad and the Church’s First Hierarch were published. On the other, unofficial, part there were general notices about church life in the emigration and in the homeland. The first issue of the newspaper Church Register: A Publication of the Supreme Russian Ecclesiastical Administration Abroad (Tserkovnaya Vedomosti: Izdanie pri Vysshem Tserkovnom Upravlenii Zagranitsei) appeared on 15/28 March 1922. 33

The newspaper was from that time onwards a mirror of the emigration’s ecclesiastical development as well as of the Supreme Russian Ecclesiastical Administration Abroad’s self-understanding. All proclamations until the dissolution of the Supreme Russian Ecclesiastical Administration Abroad began with the words “with the blessing of Patriarch Tikhon…” From August of 1922, the newspaper no longer appeared as a publication of Supreme Russian Ecclesiastical Administration Abroad, but rather as “a publication of the Provisional Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad,” 34 and finally, after June 1923, as the official mouthpiece of “The Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.” 35

The Karlovtsy Council defined the position of the First Hierarch of the Supreme Russian Ecclesiastical Administration Abroad as the Deputy of the Patriarch. The plan to name Metropolitan Anthony locum tenens was again allowed to fall through, as Metropolitan Anthony considered himself the Patriarch’s “administrator” for the Russian Church emigration. This is apparent from the fact that all the Supreme Russian Ecclesiastical Administration Abroad’s decrees were published in the name of the Patriarch. The monarchist and anti-Communist position of the Karlovtsy Ecclesiastical Administration was clearly expressed in a series of declarations, among which was an appeal to the World Conference which opened in Genoa in April of 1922. In this appeal, the émigré bishops called for the participants to raise they’re in behalf of the Russian people in the homeland and to promise not to undertake anything that could lead to a strengthening of the position of the Soviet regime. For the Soviet representatives, who for the first time had been invited to an international conference, this appeal was all the more embarrassing in that it pointed out the atrocities committed against the clergy in Russia, the persecution of the Church, and the horrible famine. The appeal ended with a call for all people of Europe and the world to help the Russian people by giving them arms, in order “to drive Bolshevism – that cult of murder, rapine, and blasphemy against God – out of Russia and out of the entire world.” 36

The declaration by the Karlovtsy Council, as with other declarations of the Supreme Russian Ecclesiastical Administration Abroad, was taken by the Communists as a pretext to take measures against Patriarch Tikhon. For weeks there was a press campaign conducted against the Patriarch, accusing him of collaboration with the emigration. This accusation was supported by the fact that Metropolitan Anthony published his decrees and correspondence “in the name of the Patriarch.” These accusations against the Patriarch were most clearly expressed in an article in Izvestia on 28 March 1922, which, among other things, stated: “Who made the Karlovtsy Synod into a hotbed of bigoted monarchists? Who would, in the name of the Church, make Russia into the domain of the House of Romanov by reestablishing the might of the Tsar and the times of lawlessness? Tikhon’s administrator, the Black Hundreds activist Metropolitan Anthony, the Black Hundreds activist Archbishop Eulogius, and the rest of the pogrom-happy bishops.” 37

This article was followed in subsequent weeks in all the daily newspapers of the land by attempts to hold the Patriarch accountable and responsible for all the activities of the Supreme Russian Ecclesiastical Administration Abroad. Certainly, various decisions were made by the Administration with the consent of the Patriarch. Archbishop Eulogius was elevated to the rank of metropolitan in January of 1922 on the instructions of the Patriarch. 38 In early May of 1922, Mr. Colton, an American, and Father Theodore Pashkovsky (later Metropolitan Theophilus of North America) met with Patriarch Tikhon in Moscow to discuss the appointment of Metropolitan Platon as head of the North American Diocese. 39 It would have been absurd to hold the Patriarch responsible for the aforementioned declaration. The fact that this did indeed happen proved that the authorities in Moscow intended to defame the Church and its leader. 40

On 9 May 1922, the Patriarch was charged, placed under house arrest, and then put in a GPU prison, where he remained for six weeks. Shortly before his incarceration, the Patriarch published Decree no. 348, dated 22 April/5May 1922; the recipients were Metropolitans Anthony and Eulogius. In this decree, the Patriarch declared that the epistles of the Karlovtsy Council to the emigration, in which the reestablishment of the House of Romanov was discussed, as well as the letter to the Conference in Genoa, were not of an ecclesiastical nature and had no canonical bearing, but were rather of a purely political nature. This being the case, the Supreme Russian Ecclesiastical Administration Abroad should be dissolved, as it was pursuing politics in the name of the Church. The administration of the Russian parishes in Western Europe, as well as the administration of the Russian church communities abroad, should be taken over by Metropolitan Eulogius. Furthermore, all bishops making political declarations should be brought before an ecclesiastical court. The inauthenticity of this decree was recognized by both Metropolitans. 41 Metropolitan Eulogius described this decree in a letter to Metropolitan Anthony as “undoubtedly composed under duress from the Bolsheviks” and believed as late as 1925 that it had been composed “by a third party, who had forced the Patriarch to sign it.” 42 Metropolitan Anthony shared this view.

The decree placed the Supreme Russian Ecclesiastical Administration in a quandary as to its continued existence. For this reason, a Council of Bishops was convened in Karlovtsy, in which ten bishops, in addition to Metropolitans Anthony and Eulogius, took part. The object of the deliberations was the reorganization of the Supreme Russian Ecclesiastical Administration Abroad. At the assembly it was unanimously decided:

  1. To dissolve the Supreme Russian Ecclesiastical Administration Abroad;
  2. To convene a General Council of the Russian Church Abroad;
  3. To transfer the administration to a provisional Synod of Bishops.

Therewith, the governing body of the “Supreme Russian Ecclesiastical Administration Abroad” was changed to the “Provisional Synod of the Russian Orthodox Bishops Abroad.” 43 This document was signed by Metropolitan Eulogius as the deputy of Metropolitan Anthony.

The members of the new Synod were: Metropolitans Anthony and Eulogius, Archbishop Theophanes, and Bishops Gabriel and Hermogenes. The provisional Synod of Bishops acted with the same authority as the Supreme Russian Ecclesiastical Administration Abroad had and exercised jurisdiction over the same territory. Among the first orders of business for the new Synod were the removal of Archbishop Alexander as head of the North American Diocese; the transformation of the Diocese of Kamchatka into an independent diocese, headed by Archbishop Nestor; the summoning of a diocesan assembly by hierarchs in the Far East under the condition that it would be convened in the name of the Synod of Bishops; the appointment of Bishop

Damian as superior of the Monastery of Saint Cyricus in Bulgaria. Besides these matters, it was decided to take up a collection in all Russian Churches for the Russian monasteries on Mount Athos. In December of 1922, the Synod, protested “in the name of the three million Russian émigré in America, Japan, China, and Finland, organized into fifteen Russian dioceses, the oppression of the Ecumenical Patriarch by the Kemal Turks.” 44 The Synod also turned to various Sister Orthodox Churches, which had been approached by the Renovationists, to recognize the Church headed by Patriarch Tikhon as the legitimate Church in Russia. 45

The fifteen dioceses mentioned were as follows: in Europe: Western Europe, Finland, Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece, and Turkey; in Asia: Peking, Harbin, Vladivostok, Tokyo, Transbaikal, and Kamchatka; in America: North America, Chicago, and the Aleutians. 46

In September of 1922, the Provisional Synod of Bishops invited all the bishops of the Russian Church in emigration and the Russian bishops from Poland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, to take part in a Council of Bishops. Twelve bishops took part in person, sixteen bishops as “corresponding members,” and four bishops did not participate. 47

The following questions were handled by the Council: the convocation of a Pan-Diaspora Council; the final organization of a Supreme Church Authority in exile; the transfer of full authority and jurisdiction of the Patriarchal governing body to this until the restoration of the Patriarch’s or his locum tenens’ freedom; the stance on ecclesiastical developments in Russia, e.g., schism, the False Council, 48 the judgment of this “Council” on the Patriarch and his deposition; the Bolshevik condemnation of the Patriarch; relations with the Syrian Church in America, 49 and other points. 50 After the Patriarch’s decree concerning the dissolution of the Supreme Russian Ecclesiastical Administration Abroad, a decision about the future form of ecclesiastical authority was of particular importance. The bishops present unanimously agreed that it was imperative to have a central ecclesiastical authority for the administration of the Church. The highest ecclesiastical authority should be the Council of Bishops – the assembly of all the bishops. All bishops should be invited to the Council of Bishops and a minimum of twelve bishops must attend. Although all bishops should make every effort to participate, they could, however, in case of illness or other hindrance, participate in writing, thereby exercising their influence on individual matters set before the Council. The Council of Bishops was to have jurisdiction over all general ecclesiastical questions, such as questions pertaining to the Faith, church discipline, wide-reaching administrative decisions, and so forth.

A standing Synod of Bishops, having permanent members and administering the Church between meetings of the Council of Bishops, was to be subordinate and accountable to the Council. Important decisions of the Synod, e.g., the creation of new dioceses, required subsequent confirmation by the Council of Bishops. Above all else, the Synod was empowered with ecclesiastical jurisdiction as a court of appeals for the lower clergy and for Church-sanctioned divorces, which in special cases could be granted. 51 In addition to this, the Synod could maintain relations with other Local Orthodox Churches and with government agencies. This right was also given to Metropolitan Eulogius for his diocese. 52

Both organs – the Council of Bishops and the Synod of Bishops – represented episcopal authority in the Russian Church Abroad. Thus, from the middle of 1923, the central ecclesiastical administration for the Russian emigration was based on the agreement of twelve attending hierarchs, including Metropolitan Eulogius. Another sixteen hierarchs recognized this new central administration over the course of the following two weeks. The proposal, which came from the Far East, to make the Synod or the Council of Bishops the spokesman for the whole Russian Church and to endow it with the full authority of the Patriarch failed because

Metropolitan Eulogius resolutely rejected this plan. Metropolitan Eulogius’s alternative proposal to achieve decentralization by creating four ecclesiastical provinces – Western Europe, America, the Near East, and Eastern Europe – and allowing these provinces greater autonomy in ordering local affairs, was also rejected. 53

However, Metropolitan Eulogius did achieve a concession: his province – that of Western Europe – was granted the autonomous status of a metropolitan province. The Council defined the rights of the ruling bishop of a metropolitan province and the degree of autonomy in eight points. The fact that Metropolitan Eulogius was charged in this document with the rule of the diocese is important because, in the Patriarch’s decree of April 1921, he had only been appointed on a provisional basis. 54

The Council of Bishops met again in October of 1924. Three metropolitans took part – Anthony, Eulogius, and Platon – as well as two archbishops and nine bishops; another sixteen hierarchs participated as corresponding members. Several questions were proposed for debate: relations with the autocephalous Orthodox Churches; the stance towards the Russian Church in the homeland; problems of the diaspora as well as church developments in Russia. The Council heard Metropolitan Platon’s report on church developments in the United States, where the Renovationist movement, under the influence of “Metropolitan” John Kedrovsky, had begun taking over parishes. The Russian communities in Czechoslovakia were to be entrusted to Metropolitan Eulogius. The Council confirmed the appointment of Bishop Tikhon as a vicar bishop for Germany. An attempt to curtail Metropolitan Eulogius’s autonomy failed. 55

The Council of 1924 was the last assembly which united all the Russian bishops in the emigration. At the Council in June of 1926, Metropolitans Eulogius and Platon quit the episcopal sessions in protest. This boycott led to the fateful schism within the church emigration, which continues to the present day.

With the Council of 1926, the first phase of the history of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad came to an end. It had begun with the Stavropol Council in May of 1919 and the evacuation and flight of over one million Russians, who had to establish their own ecclesiastical administration outside the Soviet Union. After relations with all the refugee communities around the world were restored, the validation of a central ecclesiastical administration by the Council of 1923 facilitated the building up and consolidation of the émigré church life. With the schism of the Western European and North American dioceses, new difficulties, strife, and confusion arose in the communities. The Karlovtsy Synod’s claim to be the legitimate heir of the Russian Church to whom the emigration was entrusted was now challenged by Metropolitans Eulogius and Platon. This led to the formation of several concurrent “Russian Churches” in the emigration.


  1. Nikon, Zhizneopisanie, 5:28.
  2. Ibid. p. 271; cf. the biographies in Part VI.
  3. Manuchina, Evlogii, pp. 366-368. The history of both Russian convents in Part IV, Chapter 2.
  4. Nikon, Zhizneopisanie, 5, p. 24.
  5. Deyaniya Karlovtsakh pp. 44-46. This book is extremely rare and is hard to find even in libraries. The Synod in New York and the Ostkirchliches Institut in Würzburg each have one copy. The Council is discussed in detail in Nikon, Zhizneopisanie, 6:9-45 and in D’Herbigny/Deubner, Evêques Russes, pp.19-43. The essay “The First Council” by Nicholas Zernov is of interest because the author, who was a participant, depicts his personal impressions and describes several of the participants.
  6. Deyania Karlovtsakh, pp. 44-46, 72-80.
  7. List of the participants of the Council: ibid., pp. 8-15.
  8. D’Herbigny/Deubner, Evêques Russes, p. 30.
  9. The participation of the Bulgarian Metropolitan was an extremely delicate matter for the Russian bishops because the Bulgarian Church had been excommunicated by the Ecumenical Patriarch in 1872. Before the Revolution, the Russian Orthodox Church had maintained friendly relations with the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. However, the Russian bishops could not afford a confrontation with Constantinople at this point, Nikon, Zhizneopisanie, 6:11-12.
  10. Deyania Karlovtsakh, p. 6; The Russian Orthodox Church, 1:28. In the official count of 16 church provinces, only fifteen are named. Bizerta was not listed separately but was included with Africa. A large part of the Russian Navy was under French command in Bizerta.
  11. Concerning the development and situation of Orthodoxy in Finland and the Baltics, compare the essays by Bogoyavlensky, Eleutherius “Moi otvet”, Glubokovsky, Yanin, Kahle, Klement, Laatsi, Sudoroff, and Vello.
  12. Deyaniya Karlovtsakh…, p. 59.
  13. Ibid., p. 38. Both texts are contrasted by D’Herbigny/Deubner, in Evêques Russes, pp. 34-35.
  14. Tserk. ved. (1922) 2, p. 7.
  15. Deyaniya Karlovtsakh, pp. 47-53; Nikon, Zhizneopisanie, 6:24-38.
  16. On the political question of the monarchy in the emigration compare Volkmann p. 84ff.: In the discussion about the succession to the throne, the Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich (d. 1929, childless), nephew of Tsar Nicholas I and uncle of Tsar Nicholas II, laid claim to the throne, as did the Grand Duke Demetrius Pavlovich, and the Grand Duke Cyril Vladimirovich, who in 1924 declared himself and his son born in 1917 successor to the throne. The mother of the Tsar, who lived in exile in Copenhagen, refused to recognize any of them because she did not want to believe that her sons, Tsar Nicholas II and the Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich were dead as long as no official report of their death had been released.
  17. Compare Volkmann “Genealogical Tables I-III” in the Appendix on the matter of the succession to the throne after 1917.
  18. Deyaniya Karlovtsakh…, pp. 84-86.
  19. For his biography, see Part VI.
  20. Tserk. Ved. (1922) 3, pp. 7-8. On the history of the Dioceses of Peking and China compare Seide “The Russian Orthodox Church” and Part IV: Chapters 1.3.
  21. Tserk. Ved. (1925) 15-16, p. 3.
  22. Nikon, Zhizneopisanie, 6: pp. 38-39.
  23. Tserk. Ved. (1922) 10-11, p.15.
  24. Ibid. (1922) 10-11, pp. 12-13.
  25. Ibid. (1922) 16-17, p. 3.
  26. Ibid. (1922) 4, pp.10-11.
  27. Seide, Jerusalem.
  28. Tserk. Ved. (1922) 11-12, p. 12.
  29. Andreev, Kratky obzor, pp. 91-92.
  30. Eleutherius supported Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky) from 1927 and in 1939 traveled to Moscow, after which he opposed the Karlovtsy Synod. Panteleimon, Archbishop of Pinsk and Novgorod, lived in Poland and, therefore, could not have official contacts with the Synod because the Polish Orthodox had submitted to the Ecumenical Patriarch. John, from 1917 Archbishop of Riga and Latvia, felt closely tied to the Synod until his murder in 1934 and remained opposed to the question of autonomy and calendar reform for the Estonian and Latvian Orthodox. His martyrdom for the Faith is honored by the Church Abroad, cf. Prav. Rus’ (1954) 29, p. 9; (1974) 22, p. 9.
  31. Tserk. Ved. (1922) 10-11, p.14; 14-15, pp. 3-4.
  32. D’Herbigny/Deubner, Evêques Russes, p. 61.
  33. Cf. Part IV, 4.
  34. On the further development of the periodical as well as general printing and publishing in the Church Abroad compare Seide “Druckerei und Verlagswesen” and Part IV, 3.
  35. Tserk. Ved. (1922) 11-12 from 1/14 Aug. 1922 was the last publication by the SEA; the next issue appeared as the publication by the Synod of Bishops.
  36. Tserk. Ved. (1923) 11-12.
  37. Nikon, Zhizneopisanie, 6: pp. 17-24.
  38. Quoted from Chrysostomus, Kirchengeschichte, 1: pp. 78-79.
  39. Manuchina, Evlogy, p. 401.
  40. Severnoi Amerike, p. 7.
  41. Nikon, Zhizneopisanie, 6: pp. 47-204. Chrysostomus, Kirchengeschichte, 1: 186-195.
  42. Tserk. Ved. (1922) 2, p. 4; Nikon, 7, pp. 7-32.
  43. D’Herbigny/Deubner, Evêques Russes, pp. 54-55.
  44. Tserk. Ved. (1922) 12-13, pp. 3-4.
  45. D’Herbigny/Deubner, Evêques Russes, pp. 61-62.
  46. On the ecclesiastical schism of the 1920s cf. Levitan-Krasnov/Shafrov Ocherki po istorii russkoi tserkovnoi smuty.
  47. Tserk. Ved. (1926) 15-16, pp.16-17.
  48. Ibid. (1923) 11-12, pp. 9-10; 13-14, pp.1-2.
  49. The Renovationists’ Council of 1923 was declared to be a pseudo-council, which, among other things, had decided that the Patriarch ought to be deposed, cf. “Pomestniy sobor.” The Renovationist Movement had been most severely condemned by the Patriarchate for years. Compare the works (in the Bibliography) by Goudal, D’Herbigny, “L’Eglise ‘vivante’”; Krasnov, “Obnovlentchestva”; Maklakov N.N., “Deux conciles”; Shishkin; Stratonov; Stupperich, “Zhivaya tserkov’”; Titilinov; Troitsky, “Zhivaya tserkov”; Sergius (Larin).
  50. North America was a Russian Diocese. According to Orthodox canon law, the Russian diocesan bishop had jurisdiction over all the Orthodox. From 1904, the Syrian-Arab Christians had a diocese of Brooklyn. Bishop Rafael was Bishop Tikhon’s (Bellavin) vicar bishop. In 1917 the patriarch of Antioch addressed the Russian Bishop Alexander, imploring him to consecrate a new bishop. This was Bishop Aftimos, who, from 1917, was under the authority of the Russian diocesan Bishop, cf. Severnoi Ameriki, p. 32ff.
  51. Nikon, Zhizneopisanie, 7: pp. 33-40, here p. 34.
  52. Those marriages dissolved by the Synod were regularly announced in its main publication Tserk. Ved.
  53. Nikon, Zhizneopisanie, 7: pp. 35-37.
  54. D’Herbigny/Deubner, Evêques Russes, pp. 66-67.
  55. Nikon, Zhizneopisanie, 7: pp. 37-40.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.