Part V, Chapter 3
The Relationship to Other Local Orthodox Churches
On 12 January 1981, Archbishop Philotheus, at that point still ruling bishop of the German Diocese of the ROCOR, was awarded the German Republic’s Merit Cross (Bundesverdienstkreuz) First Class by the President of the Republic. The reason this high honor was awarded was, among other things, “his intensive efforts on behalf of the cooperation among the Christian Churches.” 1 The representatives of Catholics and Protestants designated the Archbishop as the “ecumenical bridge-builder.” How does this designation reconcile with the contention often made that the Church Abroad is not recognized by other Orthodox Churches and has not taken part in the Christian community as a whole. In his appeal to the Third Pan-Diaspora Council, Patriarch Pimen writes, “The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church watches for the time to come when it may turn with love to you, who call yourselves members of the ROCOR, who find yourselves outside the borders of our homeland and consider it possible to build the foundations of your spiritual life while separated from your brothers in the Faith, alienated from ecclesiastical authority of the National Church in the homeland, which has preserved its succession and is recognized by all Orthodoxy. You have not joined any of the presently existing Orthodox Autocephalous Churches, who jointly form the ecclesiastical fullness of the Ecumenical Church.” 2 In response to this appeal, Metropolitan Philaret points out, inter alia, that “In vain does Moscow seek to frighten us by isolation within Orthodoxy, which too often does not understand what is happening in Russia. If several Patriarchs of the East even allowed themselves to be deceived by the Renovationists 3 in the 1920s, it is, therefore, for them today even easier to fall into error, because the plight of the faithful is hidden from them by the veil of outward wellbeing of the Moscow Patriarchate. From them, they hear no news about the suffering of the Russian people and especially of the faithful… Among these circumstances is the Church hierarchy, who are controlled by the enemies of the Church and who represent themselves as the legitimate Russian Church authority.” 4
The fact is that the Church Abroad maintained official relations with all other Orthodox Churches, as well as non-Orthodox Churches, until the 1940s. On Church feasts such as Pascha, Christmas and national holidays, the Church Abroad exchanged greetings with other Christian Churches, sent congratulatory messages and received the same. These relations were not limited solely to an exchange of niceties. The Synod was invited to the enthronement festivities of Orthodox Sister Churches, represented the Russian Church at joint Orthodox congresses, took an active part in theological dialogue, and celebrated joint services with Orthodox Sister Churches. The exchange of messages, invitations to participate in conferences, and church festivities are certainly to be evaluated as proof of the official recognition of the ROCOR as a Church.
However, one should draw no rash conclusions on a Church’s existence as a Church from these superficialities. The “recognition” of an Orthodox Church by other Orthodox Churches is not expressed alone in the exchange of delegations and greetings or through “official recognition” as an autocephalous or autonomous Church by all other Orthodox Sister Churches. The history of Orthodoxy is rich in examples that illustrate that individual Orthodox Churches over the centuries have at times not been “recognized” by other Orthodox Churches or a part of the Churches. If one takes only the developments of the last 100 years, then many examples can be found. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church was considered a “schismatic” Church by Constantinople from 1872-1945 because Constantinople did not want to recognize its independence. The autocephaly and autonomy of the Churches of Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Albania, China, Japan and North America were only recognized by a part of the Orthodox Churches for a time. In the Yearbook of Orthodoxy, the publisher lists 14 autocephalous Orthodox Churches and four “other Orthodox Churches,” including the Church Abroad. The 14 “official” Churches themselves do not rejoice in the recognition of their joint Orthodoxy. The Œcumenical Patriarch does not recognize the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Czechoslovakia and the OCA, as well as that of several other Orthodox churches. The Ecumenical Patriarch, for example, did not invite the OCA and the Orthodox Church of Japan to the Orthodox Conference on Patmos and did not even enter them in the list of participants as “Orthodox Churches.” The Moscow Patriarchate, which had made them both autocephalous Churches in 1970, protested against this behavior, but without success. 5 At the same time, both these Churches belong to the WCC and are “recognized” by several hundred Churches, which belong to this organization.
Metropolitan Theodosius, First Hierarch of the OCA, protested to the Œcumenical Patriarch about his reorganization of the Greek Exarchate of North America during which he elevated vicar bishops to the rank of ruling bishops and set up their residences in cities where bishops of the OCA resided. 6
The existence of the OCA, with almost one million faithful, is a fact, independent of the recognition of the Œcumenical Patriarchate. Presumably, time will work for these Churches the way it has for the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.
The fact that “official contacts” do not exist says nothing about the recognition of one Church by another. The Russian Patriarchal Church experienced this itself. From the 1920s onwards, they were unable in practice to maintain contact with other Christian Churches because the rulers of their country prevented them from doing so. They were totally isolated. Did other Churches refuse to recognize them for this reason? It was political circumstances alone which drove them into this isolation; their existence as a Church remained unchanged. Today, it is the Church Abroad that is largely isolated in the Christian world, if one uses “official relations” as the basis for assessment. The fact is that the Church Abroad today no longer participates in the joint Orthodox Conferences, is not represented in the WCC, and does not participate in many interconfessional meetings and ecumenical institutions. The fact is, however, that the Church Abroad rejects the ecumenical services on theological considerations. The Church Abroad considers an “ecumenical service” such as that which took place in the church in Wauwatosa (Wisconsin), in which representatives of all Christian Churches in the city participated, but which also included women clergy and a Jewish rabbi in clerical garb, no longer a divine service, but rather a “scandalous assembly.” 7
The understanding of the Church Abroad can be described as follows. It does not claim for itself an autocephalous status because it has always understood itself to be a part of the Church of Russia. It has never received special recognition of its independence from other Orthodox Churches but rather was accepted by them as an autonomously-administered part of the Church of Russia. It has held true to the Holy Traditions of the Russian Church and remains in agreement with the other Orthodox Churches in the joint witness to the message of the Gospel, the preservation of Orthodox Tradition and in common prayer. It is the unity in spirit and in the prayer which binds the Church Abroad to the other Orthodox Churches. Outwardly, this communion receives its confirmation through an atmosphere of sincerity and brotherly respect.
This unity finds its expression in the personal relations of the bishops and clergy of the Church Abroad with the representatives of the other Orthodox and non-Orthodox Churches: a communion of prayer, an exchange of congratulatory messages, discussions, and information on common questions, and joint church feasts as mutual support. In the past, these expressions of oneness were openly displayed. The Churches of Eastern Europe, which earlier were free, had been able to independently and freely conduct their relations with the Church Abroad. Today they must, like a part of the Churches in the West, hold themselves aloof on account of the Moscow Patriarchate. This has resulted in official contacts becoming increasingly rare, though they still exist as before. In earlier contacts, the Church Abroad’s participation in Orthodox Conferences was equivalent to a recognition of the Church Abroad. Recognition as an independent Church, in the sense of an autocephalous or autonomous local Church, was never expressed because the Church Abroad never strove for this, though it may have had proponents of this in its own ranks. Thus, the Church Abroad was until 1945 recognized by most Orthodox Churches as an Orthodox Sister Church and considered to be part of the Orthodox world. Today, this still seems to be the case because at no point in time has the whole of Orthodoxy driven them out. This would also be quite difficult to do because the Church Abroad preserves and follows Orthodox Tradition and Faith untainted. The situation could probably be summed up by saying that many Orthodox and non-Orthodox Churches have reduced their relations with the Church Abroad to a minimum in order not to come into conflict with the Russian Patriarchal Church. These “frozen” relations can again be resumed at any time, because the Church Abroad has not to tread a heretical path, and one can again take up where one left off in the 1940s.
In the relations between the Church Abroad and the other Orthodox Churches, there are two separate periods. During the first period, the Church Abroad maintained relations with all of those Orthodox Churches, which they recognized as independent Orthodox Local Churches.
These were the ancient Patriarchates of Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria and Constantinople and the Orthodox Churches of Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Cyprus, and Sinai. Problematic for it were its relationship to the Orthodox Churches of Finland, Estonia, Latvia, and Poland, for, like the Russian Patriarchal Church, it challenged their right to exist In the case of the Church of Poland, a modus vivendi was arrived at which made the relationship possible without recognizing the autocephaly of the Polish Church as final. The Orthodox Churches of the émigré Ukrainians were rejected as schismatic because, according to the Russian understanding, they were and remained a part of the Church of Russia.
Especially problematic were its relations toward the Œcumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. Here, the old conflict between the Church of Russian= and the Church of the Patriarchate of Constantinople over ecclesial-political influence in the Orthodox World came into play. The Church Abroad alone represented the stand of the Russian Mother Church against Constantinople until 1945, then jointly with the Patriarchate of Moscow. The relationship between the two Churches was characterized by Constantinople’s attempt to use the weakness of the Church of Russia in the years 1920-45 in order to extend its influence. Because the Œcumenical Patriarchate represented the point of view that it has competence over all Orthodox faithful who are not living on the territory of an Orthodox Local Church, this Patriarchate saw itself as heir to those Orthodox groups that lived in Finland, the Baltics, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Western Europe, North America, and, indeed, even in Japan and China, which had formerly been subject to the Church of Russia. In contrast, the Church Abroad and the Patriarchal Church represented the standpoint that these regions and their faithful were still subject to the Church of Russia, to which, until 1917/18, they either directly belonged or of which they were missionary territories. The individual measures which Constantinople took during the time between the Wars were as follows:
(1) Recognition of the national Orthodox strivings upon the foundation of their own national Churches in Eastern Europe and the granting of autonomy and autocephaly to these Churches, which thereby bound them closely to the Œcumenical Patriarchate.
(2) Establishment of exarchates in Western Europe, North and South America and other territories for the Orthodox of these countries.
(3) Claim to the jurisdictional competence over all Orthodox émigrés, regardless of nationality.
(4) The singular claim to Athos, which Constantinople declared as its exclusive possession, closing to non-Greek monks.
The difficulties encountered when forming independent Orthodox Churches have already been discussed in Part IV, Chapter 1. Therefore it would be superfluous to go into it again. Each time, the Church Abroad, in the name of the Church of Russia, strongly protested to Constantinople against this granting of autonomy and autocephaly to these Churches and declared these acts to be uncanonical. 8 The bishops consecrated by Constantinople were not recognized by the Church Abroad, which maintained that the Russian bishops of these lands remained as ruling bishops still, even if they had been forced to emigrate. For example, this was the case with Archbishop Seraphim (Lukianov) of Finland. 9
The creation of Constantinople’s own exarchates in Western Europe and North America sharpened the conflict after 1922 because since then Constantinople has rejected the right of Metropolitans Eulogius and Platon to administer these Russian communities. 10 The Œcumenical Patriarchate denied the right of the Russian Church to care for Orthodox communities outside of their national territory. This claim was intensified in 1928 when Patriarch Basil III declared that all Orthodox émigrés were subject to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. 11 This claim took on a practical form when Metropolitan Eulogius’s communities joined Constantinople in 1931. In 1937, Constantinople consecrated a bishop (Bishop Bogdan) for the Orthodox Ukrainians in North America, and he subordinated the Carpatho-Russian communities in North America to himself. Both groups have their own dioceses even today: The Ukrainian Orthodox Diocese of America, ruled by Bishop Andrew (Kushchak) and the Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of America with two bishops, presided over by Bishop Orestes (Chornok). The Church Abroad likewise protested the subordination of these communities, accusing Constantinople of interference in the internal affairs of the Church of Russia. The closure of Athos to Slavic monks met with less protest from the Church Abroad because there were hardly any monks among the émigrés who wanted to join the Athonite monasteries. The Church Abroad, however, recognized the dangers that threatened their converts by this decree: after a monastery no longer had any more monks, its entire property fell to the Greek Church. This ecclesiastical and political conflict overshadowed relations between both Churches, which had begun at least outwardly harmoniously after the SEA’s flight to Constantinople.
With Decree No. 9084, dated 22 December 1920, the Ecumenical Patriarch gave the Russian communities and bishops in the territory of Constantinople full authority of self-administration, which (in turn) led to the creation of a practically independent Russian Diocese under the rule of Archbishop Anastasius. Metropolitan Anthony had made this concession; it was said of him that he never did anything that was “not in full accord with the Canons.” 12 After Metropolitan Anthony resettled in Serbia, in the spring of 1921, the SEA remained in Constantinople at first, and the administration was in the hands of Archbishop Anastasius, who also was in charge of the refugee communities in the area.
In these first years of their relations, there were initially no unbridgeable conflicts, if differences of opinion did exist. Later, after 1922, Constantinople sought to extend its jurisdictional power. In general, Constantinople supported the appeals of the Church Abroad over religious persecution in Russia and sided repeatedly with Patriarch Tikhon. 13 After Constantinople had allowed itself to be deceived by the “Council” of Renovators and had recognized these schismatics as the legitimate Church of Russia, Patriarch Meletius assured the Church Abroad that he only recognized Patriarch Tikhon as canonical head of the Russian Church. 14 The heads of the other Orthodox Churches also did this through the intermediation of the Church Abroad, turning directly to Metropolitan Anthony. 15 A worsening of relations between the two Churches started at the Pan-Orthodox Congress of 1923. Patriarch Meletius IV (1923-24) had convened this. Archbishop Anastasius participated in the Congress as the representative of the Russian Church and was the spokesman of the opposition to the Œcumenical Patriarch’s proposals for reform. The most important of these was the introduction of the Gregorian Calendar (also called the New Style or Revised Calendar) in place of the Julian (also called the Old Style), 16 second marriages for priests, permitting married priests to become consecrated to the episcopate, the abridgment of the divine services, changes in clerical dress, and the abolition of fasting periods. Metropolitan Anthony rejected all of these reforms because they were irreconcilable with the traditions of the Orthodox Church. This opposition ruined most of the reform proposals. The greatest difference of opinion came over the introduction of the New Calendar, which effected a change in the celebration of Christmas. 17 At the end of the Congress, the Patriarchates of Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria and Serbia, under the influence of Metropolitan Anthony, decided to reject the calendar reform and remained on the Old Style. 18
This led to a schism within Orthodoxy, because now one group of Churches follows the New Calendar and the other follows the Old. In this regard, Metropolitan Anthony appealed in an epistle to all National Orthodox Churches who had introduced the New Style, imploring them to allow the Russian émigré communities and Russian communities, which through the new drawing of borders lay on their territories, to continue to follow the Old Calendar. 19 This desire was only in part fulfilled. The Romanian Church rejected any special status for the Russian communities there; this led to the severing of relations between the Romanian Church and the Church Abroad. After the Congress, the relations between the Church Abroad and the Œcumenical Patriarchate worsened further. Patriarch Meletius recognized the Renovationists in Soviet Russia as the legitimate Church of Russia. The decision was probably facilitated by the fact that this schismatic group was prepared to accept all his reforms. This recognition was quickly withdrawn, though it had already put additional strain on the relationship between the two Churches. Around the same time (in the summer of 1923), Patriarch Meletius granted autonomy to the Finnish and Estonian communities under his jurisdiction. He demanded that both Archbishops Anastasius and Alexander (Nemolovsky), who were both living in Constantinople, recognize the Œcumenical Patriarch as their jurisdictional head in the future and commemorate him instead of Patriarch Tikhon during the divine services. Also, both hierarchs were supposed to sever relations with the Synod in Karlovtsy and “any other Russian power.” He also required that in the future they not take any anti-Bolshevik stand or touch on any political themes in their sermons. 20
The consequence of these unacceptable demands was that both bishops left the country. Archbishop Anastasius went to Jerusalem and lived at the Jerusalem Ecclesiastical Mission and Archbishop Alexander retired to Athos, where he lived in the Russian St. Andrew’s Skete until 1927. Patriarch Meletius was forced to resign from his office as Œcumenical Patriarch in 1924 and was elected to the Patriarchal throne of Alexandria. Under both his successors, Patriarchs Gregory VII (1924-25) and Constantine VI (1925-29), there was a certain easing [of tensions], because both Patriarchs no longer continued the innovative course [of their predecesor].
Metropolitan Anthony addressed to Patriarch Constantine an epistle, dated 4/17 February 1925 (“A Sorrowful Epistle”), 21 imploring him to revoke the decisions of the Pan-Orthodox Congress, to repudiate the New Style, to force the Finnish communities to celebrate Pascha according to the Eastern calculations, and to take measures for the reestablishment of Church peace. The Patriarch could not decide to fulfill all these wishes; the calendar reform remained untouched, yet he met Metropolitan Anthony halfway, in that he agreed that the change of ecclesiastical jurisdiction in Finland and Poland should not be finalized without considering the Church of Russia. 22
After Metropolitan Eulogius joined the jurisdiction of Constantinople, the Church Abroad condemned this step by the Œcumenical Patriarchate as interference in the affairs of the Church of Russia, and also rejected Constantinople’s right to jurisdictional competence. In the first two decades, this jurisdictional claim of Constantinople was a constant cause of protests, as is more recently the claim of the Œcumenical Patriarch to be the “mouthpiece of all of Orthodoxy,” which aroused the protest of the Church Abroad as well as of other Orthodox Churches. Before 1945, the Church Abroad no longer took part in Orthodox conferences, because a conference would only be accepted if the whole Church of Russia, including the Catacomb Church, were to be represented. The Moscow Patriarchate did not have the right, the Church Abroad contested, to speak for the whole Church of Russia. The Church Abroad received invitations but sent no delegates. Thus, for example, Archbishop Anthony of Geneva & Western Europe was invited to the Prosynodal Conference in Geneva (Chambesy) in 1976, but the hierarch refused, indicating that the time for such a conference was “not yet ripe,” and the “situation of Orthodox Churches in totalitarian lands” was not on the agenda. In the end, the Church Abroad was only represented at the conference, by correspondents, such as the priest Alexander Trubnikov.
The Church Abroad views with alarm the rapprochement between the Œcumenical Patriarchate and the Roman Catholic Church. They condemn and reject it as a unilateral step by the Œcumenical Patriarchate because this rapprochement is being accomplished without the consent of the whole of Orthodoxy. In 1965, Metropolitan Philaret protested against the lifting of the anathema of 1054 by Patriarch Athenagoras and Pope Paul VI. He condemned this step to be an individual act by the Œcumenical Patriarchate, which thereby distances itself from the whole of Orthodoxy. The Archbishop of Athens and the Moscow Patriarchate also protested.
Metropolitan Philaret also warned the Œcumenical Patriarch to renounce the “dialogue” with Rome because it is really a “monologue,” since Rome was striving for the reunification of Churches under the supremacy of the pope. 23 In his epistles to the heads of other Orthodox Churches, Metropolitan Philaret has, since the mid-1960s, indicated that individual Orthodox Churches could not speak for Orthodoxy. Basic questions, such as dialogue with Rome, could only be handled by a council of all Churches. The convening of such a council would, however, only be justified if the Orthodox Churches of Eastern Europe were able to decide freely. 24 The relationship of the Church Abroad to the Œcumenical Patriarchate has almost always since the establishment of the Church Abroad, with the exception of the first years, been fraught. Despite this, however, it has been properly maintained even to the present, e.g., the invitation to the Prosynodal Conference in 1976, which was extended at the initiative of Constantinople.
Common divine services could take place on a regional level with the participation of clergy of lower ranks because the Moscow Patriarchate is ever watchful that the Œcumenical Patriarchate has no communion with the Church Abroad. If such divine services come to their attention, Moscow protests against them each time, especially if bishops have taken part, such as in 1965, when Archbishop Anthony and Metropolitan Emilian concelebrated a service.
Constantinople does not reject the Church Abroad’s apostolic succession and canonical basis. Thus, the Patriarchate allows the bishops of the Church Abroad to celebrate on Athos and to celebrate the monasteries’ feasts with the Russian monks there. 25
With the Patriarchates of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch, there have been good and sincere relations from the beginning. This is large because there were no jurisdictional problems with these Patriarchates, as there were with the Œcumenical Patriarchate. The relationship to the Patriarchate of Jerusalem was and is to the present day especially close. The good relations with this Patriarchate can be traced to the time when Archbishop Anastasius first spent time in Jerusalem to inform himself on the situation of the Jerusalem Ecclesiastical Mission. During his stay in Jerusalem in the spring of 1921, there was a meeting with Patriarch Damian, who was well-acquainted personally with Metropolitan Anthony. The Patriarch of Jerusalem was at this time in a most difficult situation. His election was contested by some of his episcopate, who refused to collaborate with their First Hierarch. Above all else, these bishops refused to assist in the consecration of new bishops. Archbishop Anastasius declared his readiness to consecrate new bishops together with the Patriarch, whereupon the opposing bishops abandoned their position and declared themselves ready to collaborate. The Patriarch, by and large, attributed the reëstablishment of Church peace to Archbishop Anastasius’ intervention and he remained closely bound to him for the rest of his life. 26 From 1924, Archbishop Anastasius lived for almost a decade at the Mission in Jerusalem and strengthened relations with the Patriarchate, which took part in all church feasts of the Mission and maintained close contacts with the Synod in Karlovtsy. On church holidays, both Churches exchanged regular greetings. In 1932, Archbishop Anastasius concelebrated during the consecration of Archimandrite Timothy to the episcopate. In 1935, the latter was enthroned as Patriarch.
Until 1945, the Jerusalem Patriarchate maintained relations only with the Church Abroad, since then it has resumed relations with the Russian Patriarchal Church, though the relations with Moscow have not been free from divisions. 27 The causes of these divisions lie in Moscow’s interference in the ecclesial affairs of the Patriarchate. After the division of Palestine, some 25% of the faithful of the Jerusalem Patriarchate lived in Israel. The Patriarchate thereby suffered an enormously high financial loss, because the church tithes paid by the faithful living in Israel were deposited in Israeli banks and not in the Jordanian part of Palestine, where the Patriarch resided and would be paid. Because the higher-ranking Greek clergy had fled from Israel and only the lower-ranking Arab clergy had remained behind, Moscow now felt it was the protector of these faithful in Israel. In the following year, the Moscow Patriarchate attempted, by means of massive financial aid, to “assist” the faithful in the Israeli section, which was to be accompanied by a gradual alienation of the faithful from their Patriarchate. When, in 1952, a “Congress of Orthodox Communities in Israel” was organized, which not only pursued the aim of an autonomous administration but also proposed the election of its own metropolitan and its separation from the Jerusalem jurisdiction, Patriarch Timothy recognized the dangers that this “brotherly help” from Moscow occasioned. In order to ease relations with Moscow, Patriarch Timothy had to bow to the demands of Moscow, including finally breaking off communion with the clergy of the Church Abroad and forbidding them to serve in the holy places. In his note of 29 October 1952 to Patriarch Alexis, Patriarch Timothy promised to stop any communion with the Church Abroad. 28 As a result of this declaration, Moscow gave up its policy of division and pursued a flexible policy. Moreover, since then, the financial situation has forced the Jerusalem Patriarchate to take a yearly “donation” from Moscow, ranging from $100,000 to $150,000. How long these donations continued to be provided by Moscow is unknown. 29
Nevertheless, the Jerusalem Patriarchate seems not to have taken its declaration about breaking off communion particularly seriously, because, in May of 1954, Patriarch Timothy visited the Church Abroad’s Mount of Olives Convent, where Bishop Leontius (Bartosevich) and a group of pilgrims were staying and celebrated a liturgy there together with the bishop and the pilgrims. In his sermon, he depicted himself as the “friend of Metropolitan Anastasius.” 30 Metropolitan Anastasius also seemed not to have placed any particular importance on the declaration. After having received the news of the Patriarch’s death, he held a memorial service for the deceased at the cathedral in New York and praised the good and friendly relations that bind both the Churches even to the present. 31
This good relationship did not change under Patriarch Benedict. In 1964, he received Archbishop Nikon of Washington; in 1966, he bestowed upon Abbess Mary of the Bethany-Gethsemane Convent the Gold Jerusalem Sepulchre Cross, the highest award that the Patriarchate has to bestow. In 1971, he received Metropolitan Philaret, Bishop Paul, Archpriest George Grabbe, and Deacon N. Chakirov in a “warm atmosphere. Particular honor was shown in that the Church Abroad’s representatives were received in the throne room of the Patriarchate.
Archimandrite Anthony (Grabbe) was invited to the official reception of the newly-elected Patriarch [Diodorus] in February of 1981. After Fr. Anthony had conveyed the Church Abroad’s good wishes, the Patriarch wished the Church Abroad “success and greatness.” 32
The new Jerusalem Patriarch seems to take a clear stance towards the Church Abroad. In the spring of 1982, he visited the convents and Ecclesiastical Mission of the Church Abroad. His participation in the festivities connected with the relics of the two New Martyrs, the Grand Duchess Elizabeth and the nun Barbara, and the addresses held in conjunction with this (see Part II, Chap. 3) show that the Jerusalem Patriarchate recognizes the Church Abroad as an Orthodox Sister Church and its competence to act and speak for the whole Russian Church. Furthermore, the Patriarch assigned a commission to examine the question as to whether the ban on celebrating with the bishops of the Church Abroad, which his predecessor imposed in 1952, has any validity in general.
The relationship to the other two Eastern Patriarchates of Antioch and Alexandria is free from strife, though Moscow’s politics towards these were more successful. With these two Patriarchates, money played an even greater role than with the Jerusalem Patriarchate. Patriarch Alexander III [of Antioch] declared quite openly that the economic situation of the Patriarchate alone had forced him to again take up relations (1935-1966) with Moscow. Patriarch Christopher of Alexandria commented on the Moscow-propagated peace politics with the words: “The idea of peace recommended by the Patriarch of Moscow is not always the ideal of Christian peace. It relates to the establishment of a new ‘world order’, of a ‘new, better life’.” 33 This correct evaluation of the true interest of the Moscow Patriarchate was also the cause that, until the 1960s, the Patriarchate of Alexandria had relations with the Church Abroad. The Russian émigré communities in North Africa and Egypt received financial help from this Church despite the economically poor situation of the Patriarchate. Also, clergy from the Patriarchate took over the care of the Russian émigré communities for a time. 34
The Patriarchate of Antioch continued the good relations with the Church Abroad that it had maintained before 1917, after the severing of relations with the Moscow Patriarchate. It recognized the competence of the Church Abroad for the Russian diaspora, and also held fast to the competence of the Russian Church for North America. The different stance of this Patriarchate and the Œcumenical Patriarchate is best illustrated in the case of North America.
Archbishop Euhymus (Ofiesh) had been consecrated by the Russian Church in 1917 and was head of the Syro-Arabic Mission, which once was subject to the Patriarchate of Antioch; however, he transferred it to the spiritual supervision of the Russian bishops for North America and entrusted his communities directly to the Russian Church. Upon the desire of the Patriarch of Antioch, the Syrian Orthodox communities in 1923 received full self-administration from the Russian Church, but remained in full communion of prayer with the Church Abroad, to which they felt historically bound.
The status of self-administration was established with the national peculiarities of Syrian Christians. Almost at the same time, Constantinople set up an exarchate with four dioceses for the Greek communities in the U.S.A. Constantinople did not inform the Russian Church, the jurisdictionally competent “Mother Church” for the Orthodox there. 35 In 1936, the Synod of Bishops agreed that the Syro-Arabic Christians in the U.S.A. should be placed directly under the Patriarch of Antioch. In South America, where many Syrian diaspora communities were located, both Churches likewise worked closely together, each entrusting its faithful to the other Church if it did not have its own priests or churches.
The aforementioned Patriarchates can, at least in part, make decisions freely about whether or not they also wanted to maintain proper relations with the Church Abroad after 1945. The situation with the Orthodox Churches of Eastern Europe after 1945 was completely different because, through the Soviet influence in these lands, they simultaneously came under the influence of the Moscow Patriarchate. Before 1945, relations with the Serbian and Bulgarian Churches were particularly close. Both churches had granted full self-administration to the Russian émigré communities. The Serbian Patriarchate supported the Church Abroad, not only materially, but was also in complete harmony on all ecclesiastical questions. It was the Serbian Patriarch Barnabas who, in 1934, took the initiative to reconcile the Russian émigré churches with one another.
It is probably not an exaggeration to state that the Serbian Patriarchate recognized the Church Abroad as the canonically legitimate Church and refused this recognition to the Patriarchal Deputy Locum Tenens Sergius (Stragorodsky). When he appealed to Patriarch Barnabas, in March of 1933, to dissolve the Karlovtsy Synod, the First Hierarch of the Serbian Church did not take a step in that direction but rather defended the Church Abroad against the accusation that it is a political organ. 36
After the Communist seizure of power in Yugoslavia, the Serbian Patriarchate had to give its consent to subordinate the Russian émigré communities of Yugoslavia to the Moscow Patriarchate. Because of the break between Tito and Stalin, this did not come about. The communities still in existence were placed under the Church of Serbia, and the émigrés were granted exit visas to the West. By 1954, practically all émigrés had left the country, so that Moscow found it easy to entrust the “Russian Church property and Russian communities” to the Church of Serbia.
The Serbian Patriarchate had at no point in time distanced itself from its pre-1945 policies towards the Church Abroad. Now as before, the Church of Serbia maintains full official relations with the Church Abroad and allows its bishops to concelebrate with the bishops of the Church Abroad. The Serbian Church is probably the only Church to understand how to oppose the demands of the Moscow Patriarchate so that Moscow found itself prepared to acknowledge that this Orthodox National Church maintains full communion with both parts of the Russian Church. A sign of this maintenance of their relations to both parts of the Russian Church was, for example, is the invitation and participation of Russian bishops from the Church Abroad and the Moscow Patriarchate at the anniversary celebrations of the Serbian parishes in Munich in autumn 1981. 37 The relationship between the Church Abroad and the is perhaps also characterized by the fact that the Church Abroad does not serve any Serbian exile community, in contrast to the Bulgarian and Romanian communities. The Church Abroad officially considers the Serbian Church to be — like the other Eastern bloc Churches — a captive Church. They withhold direct criticism, however, in the case of the Church of Serbia because one must, of course, also consider that the Church of Serbia is essentially more independent in its relationship to the Russian Patriarchal Church.
The Russian communities in Bulgaria have had an independent status since 1920. Archbishop Seraphim [Sobolev] was at that time the representative of the Russian Church Abroad to the Synod of the Church of Bulgaria. The relations of both churches were good and sincere from the beginning. In 1921, Bulgarian Metropolitan Stephen had taken part in the opening session of the Pan-Diaspora Council in Karlovtsy, which, it is true, was somewhat problematic for the Church Abroad because Constantinople viewed the Church of Bulgaria as schismatic. During World War II, the Bulgarians supported the missionary work of the Church Abroad directed toward the Soviet Union and made it possible for the St. Job Brotherhood in Ladomirova to print divine service, liturgical and educational literature. Wherever Bulgarian faithful lived in the diaspora and Russian communities existed, these faithful were cared for by the Church Abroad.
After the invasion of the Soviets and the Communist seizure of power in Bulgaria, the Church of Bulgaria came fully under the influence of the Russian Patriarchal Church. They had to sever their relations with the Church Abroad. Archbishop Seraphim, who was the first hierarch consecrated by the Church Abroad, remained leader of the Russian communities in Bulgaria, which were now under the jurisdiction of Moscow. In June of 1947, Bulgarian émigrés, who had left the country after World War II, founded, in Buffalo (New York), a “Supreme Administration of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church,” to which communities in the U.S.A., Canada, and Australia belong. The assembly declared that the Bulgarian émigré communities are an “inseparable part of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church,” but no longer wish to have any administrative unity with it. The émigré Bishop Andrew (Velitsky) took charge of the émigré communities. After the election of the first Bulgarian Patriarch, Cyril, and the declaration of the autocephaly of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Bishop Andrew and some of the parishes again joined the Mother Church. At a “national Church conference,” some of the parishes declared their autonomy. The communities were in close contact with the Russian Church Abroad. Since then, the leadership of the communities lay in the hands of Hieromonk Cyril (Iontsev), who was the rector at the Bulgarian Church of St. George the Great Martyr in Toledo, Ohio, where there was a large Bulgarian exile community. In 1959, Cyril was elevated to the rank of archimandrite. In 1964, he was consecrated by the Church Abroad at Holy Trinity Monastery as Bishop of Toledo & Toronto. Metropolitan Philaret, Archbishops Nikon, Abercius, Seraphim, and Anthony consecrated him. The Bulgarian communities received an autonomous status within the Church Abroad. There were large Bulgarian communities in Toledo, Detroit, Syracuse, and Toronto. Bishop Cyril’s communities remained under the jurisdiction of the Church Abroad until 1976. On account of many differences of opinion, including the calendar question — Bishop Cyril wanted to follow the New Style with his communities, which the Synod rejected — there was a break with the Synod.
Bishop Cyril joined the OCA with the majority of his parishes. The Bulgarian communities in Niagara Falls and Toronto remained with the Church Abroad, as did the Bulgarian Sts. Cyril and Methodius Parish in Rome, New York. 38
The relationship of the Church Abroad to the Romanian Church was strained and poor. At the end of World War I, Romania had annexed eastern Moldavia/Bessarabia. Until 1917, the whole territory had belonged to the Church of Russia. In October of 1918, Archbishop Anastasius, who had been Bishop of Kishinev since 1915, was assigned by Patriarch Tikhon to again take up his diocese, which, however, now belonged to Romania. The new rulers demanded that Archbishop Anastasius join and acknowledge the competence of the Church of Romania for the Diocese of Kishinev & Moldavia. Archbishop Anastasius refused. The main reason for the refusal was that the new ruler had begun a Romanianzation in all areas, including the Church, after annexing the territory. It was intended that Romanian replace Church Slavonic as the liturgical language; many Russian communities rejected this. Above all else, the numerous monasteries of the diocese — there were around 30 — took an inveterate stand against these attempts (at least their Russian inhabitants did). The nuns of the former Lesna Convent of the Mother of God were an example of this. They had found temporary refuge in the Ascension Convent in Zhabka. After the introduction and observance of the reforms were demanded of them, 62 nuns decided to emigrate to Yugoslavia, where they reestablished their convent in Hopovo.
Despite these differences, both Churches — the Church Abroad and the Church of Romania — were initially concerned to establish a modus vivendi in their relations. The Russian émigrés did not obtain their own church administration. This was rejected, probably in consideration of the large Russian minority in Bessarabia, because a numerically important minority Church would have come into existence. Only the Russian embassy church in Bucharest remained as a Russian parish church. However, this parish was subject to Metropolitan Eulogius and remained, after the schism with the Church Abroad, under the Paris Jurisdiction. 39
After the Pan-Orthodox Congress of 1923, the Romanian Church introduced the New Calendar. Many Russian communities rejected this because they felt more closely tied to the Church of Russia than to that of Romania. Many monks and nuns from Bessarabia, as well as many priests, left the country and joined the Church Abroad. Metropolitan Anthony’s appeal to the Church of Romania to permit the Russian émigré communities the possibility of following the Old Calendar was rejected. The Romanian Church persecuted the Old Calendarists as a “sect.”
Despite this tense situation, Metropolitan Anthony was invited to the enthronization of the Romanian Patriarch in 1925. Metropolitan Anthony spent a week in Bucharest. In his talk at the enthronization, he avoided bringing up the situation of the Russian parishes and exhorted the newly-enthroned Patriarch to observe and follow the dogmas and canons of all Orthodox peoples. 40 Whether the situation of the Russian communities was negotiated is not known. It could be assumed, however, that during his stay it was spoken of, although probably also without results because the situation did not change.
Since the end of the 1920s, the relations of both Churches have deteriorated rapidly. The Bucharest parish now belonged to the Paris Jurisdiction, so that the Church Abroad no longer required any representation here. Those Russian communities that followed the Old Style and kept using Church Slavonic met with strife. Because the priests of these communities became fewer and fewer on account of aging, Bishop Seraphim (Lade) decided to consecrate new priests for these parishes. In the mid-1930s, Bessarabia was put under martial law. There were trials against 29 Russian priests who continued to refuse to follow the reforms. Relations between the Church of Romania and the Church Abroad, which had been frozen at an absolutely minimal level already by the early 1930s, were now completely suspended. The usual greetings at Pascha, Christmas, and special church feasts were no longer exchanged. 41 Only after the Communist seizure of power did the Russian Patriarchal Church and the Church of Romania again take up relations, since Moldavia again belonged to the Soviet Union. On the situation of Romanian communities in this territory, almost nothing is known. It is, however, to be assumed that all Orthodox communities in the Republic of Moldavia now again follow the Old Style and use Church Slavonic as the common liturgical language, because the faithful belong to the Russian Patriarchal Church and the re-Russification certainly did not stop at the gates of the Church.
The émigré Orthodox Romanians in the West joined three different jurisdictions: the Patriarchate of Bucharest, the Œcumenical Patriarchate and an autonomous group under Metropolitan Vissarion. The latter cared for more than eight communities in North America and a few in South America and Western Europe. After Metropolitan Vissarion retired, he recommended to the head of this group, Bishop Theophilus (Ionescu), that he join either the Greek Church or the Russian Church Abroad. In 1962, Bishop Theophilus decided to join the Church Abroad, which granted him an autonomous status. In 1972, he joined the Romanian Patriarchate. Three parishes (in Montréal, Buenos Aires and Paris, which all had their own priests and churches) remained under the jurisdiction of the Church Abroad. Since then, they have been subject directly to the Synod of Bishops. 42
With the Orthodox Church of Poland, relations have been strained since the early 1920s, because the Church of Russia did not meet the wishes of the Polish Orthodox for autonomy or autocephaly. In that country, there were about 5 to 6 million Orthodox faithful, including only about half a million Orthodox Poles. Patriarch Tikhon appointed Archbishop George of Minsk as head of the Warsaw Metropolia in 1920. After the government authorities made it impossible for him to have normal relations with Patriarch Tikhon, Metropolitan George strove to establish a Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church. These strivings met with total rejection by the Church of Russian — the Patriarchal Church and the Church Abroad. Also, the Russian bishops living there — Archbishop Panteleimon (Rozhnovsky), Sergius (Korolev), and Vladimir (Tikhonitsky) — were resolute opponents of Polish autocephaly. Bishops Sergius and Vladimir were exiled by the Polish authorities, while Archbishop Panteleimon withdrew to the Zhirovitsa Dormition Monastery, where he lived in retirement from that time. Under Metropolitan George’s successor, the Œcumenical Patriarch declared the Church of Poland autocephalous. Patriarch Tikhon protested the autocephaly because it was accomplished without the consent of the Church of Russia. Only a Russian local council would be able to make a valid decision on this question. 43
Metropolitan George terminated communion in prayer with the Church Abroad because it had opposed autocephaly. During the enthronization of the Romanian Patriarch, there was a meeting in Bucharest between Metropolitan Anthony and Metropolitan Dionysius of Warsaw. 44 After Metropolitan Dionysius had expressed his regret over the occurrences in Poland and the treatment of the Russian hierarchs, both metropolitans decided to reestablish the communion in prayer and official relations between both Churches. This first meeting was followed by an exchange of letters between the Synod and the Metropolitan of Warsaw, which, in 1927, led to the following union: both Churches confirmed the re-establishment of the communion in prayer. The granting of autocephaly to the Church of Poland falls to the competence of the Russian Mother Church, to which a final decision must remain reserved. 45 Since then, normal relations again existed between the two Churches. At the Pan-Orthodox Conference on Athos, at which the Russian Church was not represented, Metropolitan Dionysius declared that Metropolitan Anthony, as a spokesman for the whole Russian Church, should have been invited. The Russian Patriarchal Church recognized the autocephaly of the Polish Orthodox Church in 1948. The Church Abroad, however, refused to recognize the autocephaly because the final recognition must be reserved to a Pan-Russia Council that includes the Patriarchal Church, the Catacomb Church, and the Church Abroad.
With Baltic Orthodoxy, there are no official relations, because the Church Abroad rejected the national church movements in these countries. There were friendly and close contacts only with Bishop John (Pommer) of Riga & Latvia because he was also a resolute opponent of these strivings. An advocate of autonomy for the Latvian Church, Archbishop Augustine (Augustine Peterson) became the successor to the martyred Archbishop John in 1936 and was appointed Metropolitan in the same year. After his emigration to the West, Metropolitan Augustine established full community of prayer with the Church Abroad. Shortly before his death, he bade Archbishop Alexander (Lovtsy) care for his small flock of Latvian Orthodox, whom he urged to join the Church Abroad. 46
With the Orthodox Churches of Greece, Cyprus, and Sinai, there were “general church relations.” Behind this general description, the fact was hidden that with these Churches there were in practice no special problems, and the relations were limited to the exchange of congratulatory messages and greetings. Such messages were, for example, exchanged on Metropolitan Anthony’s 50th anniversary of his ordination in 1935 or at Pascha in 1936, when the heads of the Churches of Jerusalem, Alexandria, Antioch, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, Cyprus, Sinai and Poland sent congratulatory wishes. 47 The Greek Archbishop of Athens had permitted the Russian communities their own administration. The Russian Diocese established there existed officially until 1929, after which only smaller Russian parishes existed in Athens and Piraeus. Relations with the Church of Greece were overshadowed in part by the fact that the proponents of the Old Style, the Old Calendarists, who were viewed by the Greek Church as schismatics, felt closely bound to the Church Abroad. Thus, the Church Abroad today has a few Greek parishes, which rejected the calendar reform. For example, in 1972, together with the Abbot of the Greek Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Boston, Bishop Callistus of Corinth, who likewise rejected the calendar reform, visited Holy Trinity Monastery. 48 In general, the Church Abroad has maintained a restrained stance towards the Old Calendarists in order not to burden its relationship with the Greek Church further by involvement with this group.
To summarize the existing relations of the Church Abroad to the Orthodox Sister Churches, it can be established that the Church Abroad was officially recognized by the Orthodox Local Churches before World War II, and normal Church relations were maintained, which were, in part, overshadowed by historically conditioned tensions, which resulted from the struggle for jurisdictional competence in the diaspora. The most obvious of these was with the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Through the reemergence of the Moscow Patriarchate after the end of World War II, normal relations were restored with this Patriarchate, and the Churches in the West broke off their official relations with the Church Abroad, but only after massive intervention on the part of Moscow: or, more accurately speaking, relations were frozen. This, however, did not prevent these Churches from taking part in jubilees of the Church Abroad and on a regional level, far from “big church politics,” from working together with it. Official condemnation of the Church Abroad as a “schismatic” Church has not at any time been proclaimed by all of Orthodoxy.
In the last two decades or so, forced by the entry of the Orthodox Churches into the Ecumenical Movement and the start of the dialogue with Rome, the Church Abroad considers itself more and more to be a protector of “true Orthodoxy.” Its conservatism in this area has brought it many new members, including Greek faithful from the jurisdiction of the Œcumenical Patriarch and faithful from the Orthodox Church in America. For example, after the O.C.A. had introduced the New Style (Gregorian Calendar) in September of 1982, four O.C.A. parishes or significant parts of parishes from Pennsylvania (Mayfield, Simpson, Wilkes-Barre and Old Forge) joined the Church Abroad because they rejected the calendar reform. Shortly thereafter, Fr. N. Liberis of the Greek Archdiocese of North America, together with a part of his parish in Glendora, California, likewise joined the Church Abroad, because he rejected the progressive modernism of the Greek Church of North America. 49 The conservative stance of the Church Abroad is essentially closer to those stances of the Church of Greece, of the Jerusalem Patriarchates and of Athonite monasticism than to the innovationist Churches of Constantinople and the Eastern bloc.
With these conservative Churches, the Church Abroad is bound in a close spiritual family, which finds its expression, among other things, in the fact that these Churches are just as reserved towards the “modernist movement” in Orthodoxy as the Church Abroad, and view dialogue with the non-Orthodox Churches with mistrust. Idiosyncratic paths, such as that which the Œcumenical Patriarchate treads in its rapprochement with Rome, elicit the regular protests of these Churches, which demand greater unity for the whole of Orthodoxy and careful voting by the whole of Orthodoxy on the measures taken by individual Churches.
- Orthodoxe Rundschau (1981) 1, p. 15. ↩
- III Gesamtkonzil, p. 62. ↩
- A part of the clergy that collaborated with the regime had joined the “Living Church” and the “Renovationist Church.” After the Patriarch’s arrest, this group succeeded in taking possession of the Patriarchal Chancery, whereupon they claimed to be the “legitimate” vestige of the Russian Church and found recognition as such. By this deception, they were able to get bishops of the Patriarchal Church to join them. They also succeeded in gaining the recognition of a few Orthodox Sister Churches. The Church Abroad addressed its Sister Churches in epistles and eventually clarified the situation. Thereupon these churches withdrew their recognition and affirmed that they would only recognize Patriarch Tikhon as the legitimate Primate. Cf. Nikon, Zhizneopisanie 6, pp. 119-145. ↩
- III Gesamtkonzil, pp. 67-68. ↩
- Prav. Rus’ (1980) 23, pp. 12-13. ↩
- Newsletter (March-April 1980) 29, p. 5. ↩
- Ibid. (Nov.-Dec. 1979) 27, p. 2. ↩
- Polsky, Kanonicheskoe polozhenie. ↩
- Grabbe, Tserkov’ i uchenie 1, p. 197. ↩
- Ibid., p. 196; Polsky, Kanonicheskoe polozhenie, p. 128. ↩
- Kanonicheskoe polozhenie, p. 130. ↩
- Ibid., p. 126. ↩
- Nikon, Zhizneopisanie 6, p. 138. ↩
- Ibid., pp. 140-142. ↩
- Ibid., pp. 133-146. ↩
- There is a 13-day difference between the two calendars. Thus, the adherents of the Old Calendar celebrate Christmas Eve on January 6th, which corresponds to Dec. 24th on the Old Calendar. ↩
- Anastasius, Sbornik, pp. 12-13. ↩
- Nikon, Zhizneopisanie 10, pp. 39-40. ↩
- Tserk. Ved. (1924) 19-20, p. 5. ↩
- Nikon, Zhizneopisanie 10, pp. 39-40. ↩
- Ibid., 6, pp. 164-165. ↩
- Polsky, Kanonicheskoe polozhenie, p. 129. ↩
- Prav. Rus’ (1965) 24, p. 11; (1966) 3, pp. 3-4; Patock, “Aufhebung.” ↩
- Ostroumoff, “Appendix” The History of the Council of Florence, pp. 193-235. On these pages, there are numerous letters by Metropolitan Philaret on questions concerning Pan Orthodoxy. ↩
- Prav. Rus’ (1965) 11, pp. 14-15; (1982) 19, pp. 4-7. ↩
- Nikon, Zhizneopisanie 5, p. 18. ↩
- Seide, Jerusalem, pp. 163-170. ↩
- Vestnik patriarshego ekzaarchata [Paris] (1953) 14, (not paginated); Prav. Rus’ (1953) 11, p. 16. ↩
- Seide, Jerusalem, p. 168. ↩
- Prav. Rus’ (1954) 13, pp. 13-14. ↩
- Ibid. (1956) 1, p. 15. ↩
- Ibid. (1964) 8, p. 11; (1966) 21, p. 12; “Messager” (1971/1972) 64 ; Newsletter (Jan.-Mar. 1981) 36, pp. 1-2. ↩
- Seide, Jerusalem, p. 169. ↩
- Grabbe, Tserkov’ i uchenie 1, p. 186. ↩
- Tserk. Ved. (1923) 19-20, p. 16. ↩
- Echos d’Orient (1934) 173, pp. 107-108; (1935) 178, pp. 220-223. ↩
- Süddeutsche Zeitung (1981) 14.9, p. 12. ↩
- Prav. Rus’ (1954) 11, pp. 2-4; (1963) 24, pp. 9-10; (1964) 1, pp. 10-11; 13, p. 11;15, pp. 3-5, 9-10; 16, p. 5; (1977) 5, p. 15. ↩
- Manuchina, Evlogy, p. 437. ↩
- Nikon, Zhizneopisanie 7, pp. 103-106; “Echos d’Orient” (1926) 141, pp. 99-100. ↩
- Grabbe, Tserkov’ i uchenie 1, pp. 190-191. ↩
- Spisok (1980) p. 27; Prav. Rus’ (1962) 9, p.12; Pravoslavny vestnik v Kanade (1962) 5, p. 12; Messager (1972) 66, pp. 27-30. ↩
- Grabbe, Tserkov’ i uchenie 1, pp. 201; Nikon, Zhizneopisanie 7, p. 34. ↩
- Ibid., p. 104. ↩
- Grabbe, Tserkov’ i uchenie 1, p. 202. ↩
- Prav. Rus’ (1955) 21, p.12; Tserk. Zhizn´ (1956) 1-6, p. 3. ↩
- Tserk Zhizn´ (1935) 9-10, pp. 137-140; (1966) 4-5, pp. 52-56. ↩
- Prav.Rus’ (1972) 20, p. 15. ↩
- Newsletter (Oct.-Nov. 1982) 42, pp. 1-2. ↩