Articles Clergy and Monastics Lives of Bishops Slesarev, Alexander V.

A New Testimony to the Status of the Hierarchs of the Metropolitante of Belarus in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, 1948

Bishop Afanasii (marked) at the ROCOR Bishop Council in Munich in 1946 (the caption of 1947 is inaccurate)

About the difficulties that Belarussian bishops faced during their integration into the ROCOR and the existence of Soviet informants among the ROCOR clergy in W. Germany

This report by Archpriest Arkadii Zakidal’skii, a clergyman of the Berlin Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, was written up in 1948 and depicts the status of the émigré hierarchs from the Metropolis of Belarus after they had joined the ROCOR jurisdiction. The document was first published in the church-historical almanac ΧΡΟΝΟΣ (6/2018, pp. 214-224).

The author of the report notes both the agency of the Belarusian Orthodox Church as part of the Russian Church Abroad and the vacillations of the Belarusian episcopate due to public figures who sympathized with the People’s Republic of Belarus rejecting the policy of the church.

As a result of the developing active offensive operation of the Red Army in late June 1944, the episcopate and a significant portion of the clergy of the Metropolis of Belarus were evacuated from Minsk. Overall, 9 bishops, over 70 priests, and tens of thousands of Orthodox Belarusians left Belarus during the summer of 1944. After landing in Western Europe, many of them joined the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russi, often being assigned to parishes with a well-established church life. [1]“Belaruskiia pravaslaŭnyia s′viatary ŭ Niamechchyne 1944–1945 hh. Padrykhtoŭka da druku i pradmova Aliaksandra Adzintsa” [“Belarusian Orthodox Priests in Germany, 1944–45. Prepared for … Continue reading

Their departure from Belarus caused the episcopate of the Metropolis of Belarus to start searching for an opportunity to normalize their own canonical status by entering into canonical communion with other Local Churches. Furthermore, particular members of the episcopate were displeased with the forcible transition to autonomous status under pressure from the occupying powers and Belarusian collaborators. On January 14, 1946, the hierarchs of the Metropolis of Belarus sent an appeal to the ROCOR Synod of Bishops asking to transfer to the jurisdiction of the Russian Church Abroad. After considering this appeal, the ROCOR Synod of Bishops granted the Belarusian hierarchs’ request on February 23, 1946. What is more, Bishop Stefan (Sevbo) of Smolensk and Briansk was made a member of the ROCOR Synod of Bishops as a representative of the Metropolis of Belarus. According to the principles of church governance then in force in the Russian Church Abroad, the Synod’s decision had to be approved finally by a Council of Bishops of the ROCOR. Fearing possible resistance by influential Belarusian social and political forces, the hierarchs of the Metropolis of Belarus attempted to conceal their intentions concerning this change of jurisdiction until the matter had been resolved finally at a Council of Bishops of the ROCOR. The Synod’s decision to absorb the Metropolis of Belarus into the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad was confirmed at the ROCOR Council of Bishops in Munich on May 6, 1946. [2]Volatsich, Mikola. “Belaruskaia Pravaslaŭnaia Aŭtakefal′naia Tsarkva (Vybranyia chastki)” [“The Belarusian Orthodox Autocephalous Church (Selected Parts)”, in: Mikola Volatsich/Vatslaŭ … Continue reading

The status of the episcopate of the Metropolis of Belarus after being officially integrated into the Russian Church Abroad was portrayed in a 1948 report by Archpriest Arkadii Zakidal’skii, a clergyman of the ROCOR Berlin Diocese. At the present time, it is not possible to ascertain the precise circumstances under which the report was written and to whom it was addressed. All we know is that this document was quoted in correspondence between S. K. Belyshev, the Deputy Chair of the Council for the Affairs of the Russian Orthodox Church, and B. S. Men’kov, plenipotentiary representative of the Council for the Affairs of the Russian Orthodox Church in Belarus at the Council of Ministers of the USSR. It could be suggested that this report was written as a direct consequence of interactions between Archpriest Arkadii and representatives of the Soviet regime in postwar Germany. The title of the text in question (“Information from Archpriest Arkadii Zakidal’skii of the Diocese of Berlin”) may serve as indirect confirmation of this supposition. It is unlikely that a fragment of a private text would have a title like this. The information in the report is often of an unconfirmed nature, which is the result of him setting down in writing rumors that had been spreading at the time. The characteristics noted here allow us to suggest that the report was written to inform interested representatives of Soviet organizations about events in church life and attitudes within the church.

The typewritten text of Archpriest Arkadii Zakidal’skii’s report is kept in the collections of the Plenipotentiary Representative of the Council for the Affairs of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Soviet Socialist Republic of Belarus, National Archives of Belarus (Fonds 951, Survey 2, File 4. Reports, Information, and Correspondence about the Activities of the Plenipotentiary Representative of the Council for the Affairs of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Soviet Socialist Republic of Belarus, 1948).

Before publishing the text, we consider it expedient to conduct an examination of some of the most noteworthy fragments of it.

The text of Archpriest Arkadii Zakidal’skii’s report begins by considering the structure of the Russian Church Abroad: “The Karlovtsy Synod comprises the churches of: Russia, Germany, the Ukraine (autonomous), and Belarus. […] The Belarusian Church is represented at the Synod by Archbishop Panteleimon (Rozhnovskii).” [3] National Archive of the Republic of Belarus (NARB), Fonds 951, Survey 2, File 14, f. 205. Report by Archpriest Arkadii Zakidal’skii of the Church in Berlin. September 2, 1948. It is highly noteworthy that in the text cited, the Orthodox Church of Belarus is presented as having its own independent agency, despite its being part of the ROCOR. This fact enables us to conclude that the Metropolis of Belarus had maintained its autonomous status two years after it was incorporated into the Russian Church Abroad.

When the Belarusian hierarchs ultimately joined the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, there was a strong negative reaction on the part of the leadership of the People Republic of Belarus (PRB), a political entity that had been proclaimed in 1918 and had been active in the emigration since 1920. Aiming to recreate the structure of the Belarusian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (BAOC), the leadership of the PRB undertook a series of actions, the first of which was holding a Church Council in Constance, Germany, on June 5, 1948, in the French occupation zone. Since there were no Belarusian Orthodox clergy in the region willing to support the recreation of the BAOC, clergymen from the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church led by Bishop Sergii (Okhotenko) of Melitopolis were invited to this council. The council in Constance adopted a resolution to begin the process of recreating the Belarusian Autocephalous Orthodox Church with Bishop Sergii (Okhotenko) as its primate. [4]Resolutions of the Council of Orthodox Belarusians in Germany in Constance, on the Day of Saint Euphrosyne (May 23 / June 5, 1948). Collection of Documents of the Holy Belarusian Autocephalous … Continue reading It is quite obvious that the decisions of the council in Constance provoked a church schism within the Belarusian diaspora by providing an alternative jurisdiction for those who were opposed to joining the ROCOR. The Belarusian bishops who had joined the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad reacted very negatively to the BOAC’s holding a council. On July 8, 1948, Metropolitan Panteleimon (Rozhnovskii) published an archpastoral appeal to the clergy and faithful of the Belarusian Orthodox Church justifying his actions and those of the bishops under him and criticizing those who supported the church policy of the Rada [legislative body —trans.] of the PRB. [5]Collections of the Belarusian Institute of Science and Art. Paslan′ne Mitrapalita Pantsialeimana da dukhavenstva i vernykh dziatsei Pravaslaŭnai Belaruskai Tsarkvy [Encyclical of Metropolitan … Continue reading

Shortly after Metropolitan Panteleimon’s encyclical was published, the ROCOR Belarusian Metropolis published an article “On the Constance ‘Autocephaly’ of the Orthodox Church of Belarus (A Clarification from the Chancellery of the Metropolis of Belarus)” [“Ab kanstanckaj «aŭtakjefalii» Bjelaruskaj Pravaslaŭnaj Tsarkvy (Vyjasnjenni z kanceljaryi Bjelaruskaj Mitrapolii)”]. The brunt of the criticism in this “Clarification” was addressed to the political leaders of the People’s Republic of Belarus, who were accused of having Polish, Bolshevik, and Uniate sympathies. [6]“Ab kanstanckaj «aŭtakjefalii» Bjelaruskaj Pravaslaŭnaj Tsarkvy (Vyjasnjenni z kanceljaryi Bjelaruskaj Mitrapolii)” [“On the Constance ‘Autocephaly’ of the Orthodox Church of Belarus (A … Continue reading One indirect reaction to the acts of the “Sub-council” [Podsobor, a neologism coined by the participants in the council — trans.] of Constance was the publication of the brochure “Materials on the History of the Orthodox Church of Belarus” [“Materyjaly da gistoryi Pravaslaŭnaj Bjelaruskaj Tsarkvy”] demonstrating the canonicity and legitimacy of the Belarusian bishops’ move to the ROCOR jurisdiction. [7]Reprint: Martas, Afanasii, Archbp. Matėryialy da Historyi Pravaslaŭnai Belaruskai Tsarkvy. (Peryiad savetskai i niametskai akupatsyi Belarusi) [Materials on the History of the Belarusian Orthodox … Continue reading

After entering into a sharply polemical discussion with those who supported the recreation of the Belarusian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, the hierarchs from the ROCOR Belarusian Metropolis themselves hesitated for a while concerning how they ought to react to unfolding events. Remaining a part of the Russian Church Abroad would entail losing a significant portion of their Belarusian flock. Archpriest Arkadii Zakidal’skii’s report reflects typical concerns of the Belarusian bishops in mid-1948: “The Church of Belarus, headed by Archbishop (now Metropolitan) Panteleimon (Rozhnovskii), is the cause of many concerns for the Karlovtsy Synod. Metropolitan Panteleimon would like to split with the Karlovtsy Synod and to found an Autocephalous Church of Belarus. Unfortunately, as Metropolitan Seraphim has said, this idea has enjoyed a certain success. In his words, Metropolitan Panteleimon is backed by the Catholics. We can count on the Belarusian church splitting away from the Karlovtsy Synod. Metropolitan Panteleimon’s right-hand man is Archbishop Filofei (Narko), but the remainder of the Belarusian bishops support him. [ambiguous in the original — trans.] As Metropolitan Seraphim says, the main lure is the large amount of funds that Metropolitan Panteleimon controls, as well as the promise that all the members of this church will be taken away to overseas territories.” [8] National Archive of the Republic of Belarus (NARB), Fonds 951, Survey 2, File 14, f. 205. Report by Archpriest Arkadii Zakidal’skii of the Church in Berlin. September 2, 1948. Thus, in the opinion not only of Archpriest Arkadii, but also of Metropolitan Seraphim (Lade) of Berlin and Germany, a member of the ROCOR Synod of Bishops, the hierarchs of the Metropolis of Belarus has been considering the possibility of leaving the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad during the period following the Sub-council of Constance. His mention of Catholic “backing” for Metropolitan Panteleimon and of the prospect of “all the members of this church” leaving for “overseas territories” may attest to a continuing dialogue between the leaders of the PRB and the Belarusian hierarchs. It was characteristic for both the Belarusian bishops who joined the ROCOR and for supporters of the Belarusian Central Rada to accuse the supporters of the People’s Republic of Belarus of having Catholic sympathies and pro-Catholic policies. [9] Cf. the accusations of secret Catholicism, highly characteristic of the time, against the ‘non-conformists’: Kasiak, Z historyi Pravaslaŭnai Tsarkvy belaruskaha narodu, pp. 146-151, 153. Moreover, seceding from the Russian Church Abroad would mean that the hierarchs of the Metropolis of Belarus could count on the support of the Rada of the PRB in the matter of exiting Germany.

Even allowing for the possibility that Metropolitan Panteleimon (Rozhnovskii) kept up contacts with the PRB Rada, he can hardly be suspected of having pro-autocephalite sympathies. He was twice suspended from episcopal ministry due to his principled position on upholding the unity of the Russian Church. In 1922, then-Bishop Panteleimon came out against the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church in Poland, after which he was dismissed from his position as ruling bishop of Pinsk Diocese and sent to live in a monastery. He returned to service as ruling bishop 17 years later, after the annexation of western Belarus by the Soviet Union and the resulting restoration of the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church in the western provinces of Belarus. Under the conditions of the German occupation beginning in 1941, Metropolitan Panteleimon did everything to thwart attempts to impose autocephaly on the Belarusian Orthodox Church. By decree of Generalkommissar Wilhelm Kube of Weissruthenien, the head of the Metropolis of Belarus was removed from participating in church governance and sent to Holy Annunication Monastery in Lyady. [10] Kasiak, Z historyi Pravaslaŭnai Tsarkvy belaruskaha narodu, pp. 93, 96, 98. It appears doubtful that Metropolitan Panteleimon, who had distinguished himself as a convicted opponent of the proclamation of autocephalacy by the Belarusian and Polish churches, would have nurtured secret plans to declare independence for the Church of Belarus after bringing a significant number of the adherents of the Metropolis of Belarus into the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

The final result of the standoff between the two ecclesiastical centers of the Belarusian diaspora was the formation of an independent hierarchy and a Holy Council of Bishops of the Belarusian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, which definitively cemented the schism that had been taking shape. [11]Vinitski, op. cit., ff. 98–111; Haroshka, M. Arkhiiapiskap Vasil′ [Archbishop Vasil′]. Belarus 1959 (1970), p. 1. Certificate of consecration of Archimandrite Vasily (Tomashchik) as Bishop of … Continue reading

Analysing the report by Archpriest Arkadii Zakidal’skii enables us to conclude that the Metropolis of Belarus did not dissolve into a new church structure immediately after becoming part of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, but rather continued to maintain its autonomous status for some time after that. The revival of the Belarusian Autocephalous Orthodox Church initiated by the leadership of the People’s Republic of Belarus caused the Belarusian bishops to waver about whether they had made the right decision. Their wavering was so evident that even Metropolitan Seraphim (Lade) of Berlin and Germany was convinced in 1948 that the Metropolis of Belarus would soon leave the ROCOR. The Belarusian bishops were made to doubt the expediency of remaining in the ROCOR not only by their fears of losing their flock— which sympathized with the idea of reviving the independence of the Belarusian Church—but also by the desire to make use of the PRB’s resources in order to leave Germany. The information contained in Archpriest Arkadii’s report thus sheds additional light not only on the status of the Belarusian bishops in the ROCOR, but also on the state of church affairs in the Belarusian diaspora in 1948. These facts allow us to deem the document under consideration an important source on the history of the Belarusian émigré church that ought to be made available to scholars.

Introduction and preparation for publication by A. V. Slesarev

REPORT on the Information

of Archpriest Arkadii Zakidal’skii of the Church in Berlin

The Karlovsty Synod comprises the churches of: Russia, Germany, the Ukraine (autonomous), and Belarus.

The Church of Germany is headed by Metropolitan Seraphim and his deputy, Bishop Alexander (Lovchii).

The Belarusian Church is represented at the Synod by Archbishop Panteleimon (Rozhnovskii). The Church of Belarus consists of the following bishops: Archbishop Venedikt (Bobkovskii), formerly of Grodno; Archbishop Filofei (Narko); Bishop Gregorii (Borishkevich); Archbishop Stefan (Sevbo), formerly of Smolensk, and Bishop Afanasii (Martas), who is resident in Hamburg.

The Ukrainian Autonomous Church consists of the following bishops: Archbishop Palladii (Vydybida-Rudenko); Bishop Evlogii, formerly of Vinnitsa; Bishop Feodor (Rafal’skii), Bishop Dimitrii (Magan), and one newly consecrated one whose name I cannot remember at present.

Until recently, the Ukrainian Autonomous Church had been represented at the Synod by Archbishop Panteleimon (Rudyk). After his departure to America no new deputy has been appointed.

Apart from the Ukrainian Autonomous Church, there is also an “Autocephalous” one. Its head is Metropolitan Polikarp (Sikorskii). He lives in Hannover, in the English zone. His representative in Munich is Bishop Khoroshii. The Ukrainian Autocephalous Church is financed by the English, who support it in every way they can. However, it has been without success. Most of the priests of this church have transferred to Metropolitan Seraphim’s jurisdiction, where they are received by re-ordination.

According to Metropolitan Seraphim, we can count on a swift end for the Ukrainian Autocephalous Church.

The Church of Belarus, headed by Archbishop (now Metropolitan) Panteleimon (Rozhnovskii), is the cause of many concerns for the Karlovtsy Synod.

Metropolitan Panteleimon would like to split with the Karlovtsy Synod and found an Autocephalous Belarusian Church. Unfortunately, as Metropolitan Seraphim has said, this idea has enjoyed a certain success. In his words, Metropolitan Panteleimon is backed by the Catholics. We can count on the Belarusian church splitting away from the Karlovtsy Synod. Metropolitan Panteleimon’s right-hand man is Archbishop Filofei (Narko), but the remainder of the Belarusian bishops support him.

As Metropolitan Seraphim says, the main lure is the large amount of funds that Metropolitan Panteleimon controls, as well as the promise that all the members of this church will be taken away to overseas territories.

National Archive of the Republic of Belarus, Fonds 951, Survey 2, File 14, f. 205. Reports, Information, and Correspondence on the Activities of the Plenipotentiary Representative of the Council for the Affairs of the Russian Orthodox Church in Belarus at the Council of Ministers of the USSR. 1948. Typescript.

References

References
1 “Belaruskiia pravaslaŭnyia s′viatary ŭ Niamechchyne 1944–1945 hh. Padrykhtoŭka da druku i pradmova Aliaksandra Adzintsa” [“Belarusian Orthodox Priests in Germany, 1944–45. Prepared for Publication and Preface by Aliaksandr Adzinets”] = Zapisy. Belaruski Instytut Navuki i Mastatstva [Transactions of the Belarusian Institute of Science and Art] 30 (2006), pp. 247–249; Kasiak, Ivan. Z historyi Pravaslaŭnai Tsarkvy belaruskaha narodu [On the History of the Orthodox Church of the Belarusian People], New York, 1956, p. 141; Bird, Thomas E. Orthodoxy in Byelorussia: 1917–1980; Zapisy. Belaruski Instytut Navuki i Mastatstva [Transactions of the Belarusian Institute of Science and Art] 17 (1983), p. 167.
2 Volatsich, Mikola. “Belaruskaia Pravaslaŭnaia Aŭtakefal′naia Tsarkva (Vybranyia chastki)” [“The Belarusian Orthodox Autocephalous Church (Selected Parts)”, in: Mikola Volatsich/Vatslaŭ Panutsėvich. Zapisy. Belaruski Instytut Navuki i Mastatstva [Transactions of the Belarusian Institute of Science and Art] 27 (2004), p. 212; Kasiak, Z historyi Pravaslaŭnai Tsarkvy belaruskaha narodu, pp. 142, 145; Kostriukov, А. А. Russkaia zarubezhnaia tserkovʹ v 1939–1964 gg. Administrativnoe ustroistvo i otnosheniia s Tserkovʹiu v Otechestve. Moscow: Saint Tikhon’s University Press, 2015, pp. 120–121, 173–174; Pan′koŭ, Mikola. Khronika belaruskaha Zhyts′tsia na chuzhyne (1945–1984 hh.) [Chronicles of the Belarusian Church Abroad], Minsk, 2001, p. 22; Shkarovskii, M. V. “Arkhiereiskii Sinod RPTsZ i tserkovnaia emigratsiia v Iugoslavii v 1945–1950 gg.” [“The ROCOR Synod of Bishops and the Émigré Church in Yugoslavia, 1945–1950”], in: Khristianskoe chtenie [“Christian Reading”] 6 (2016), p. 230; Thomas, Bird E. Orthodoxy in Byelorussia: 1917–1980. p. 168.
3, 8 National Archive of the Republic of Belarus (NARB), Fonds 951, Survey 2, File 14, f. 205. Report by Archpriest Arkadii Zakidal’skii of the Church in Berlin. September 2, 1948.
4 Resolutions of the Council of Orthodox Belarusians in Germany in Constance, on the Day of Saint Euphrosyne (May 23 / June 5, 1948). Collection of Documents of the Holy Belarusian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (in exile), authorized by Metropolitan Andrew. Compiled by the Consistor of Belarussian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. 1983, p. 8.
5 Collections of the Belarusian Institute of Science and Art. Paslan′ne Mitrapalita Pantsialeimana da dukhavenstva i vernykh dziatsei Pravaslaŭnai Belaruskai Tsarkvy [Encyclical of Metropolitan Panteleimon to the Clergy and Faithful Children of the Belarusian Orthodox Church]. Zirsheim. 08.07.1948. f. 1-1v.
6 “Ab kanstanckaj «aŭtakjefalii» Bjelaruskaj Pravaslaŭnaj Tsarkvy (Vyjasnjenni z kanceljaryi Bjelaruskaj Mitrapolii)” [“On the Constance ‘Autocephaly’ of the Orthodox Church of Belarus (A Clarification from the Chancellery of the Metropolis of Belarus)”], in: Vinitski, А. Matėr’ialy da historyi belaruskai ėmihratsyi ŭ Niamechchyne ŭ 1939–1951 hadokh. Ch. II:  Rėlihiinyia spravy [Materials on the History of the Belarusian Diaspora in Germany, 1939–1951. Pt. 2: Religious Affairs]. Los Angeles, 1968 (typescript), pp. 75-78.
7 Reprint: Martas, Afanasii, Archbp. Matėryialy da Historyi Pravaslaŭnai Belaruskai Tsarkvy. (Peryiad savetskai i niametskai akupatsyi Belarusi) [Materials on the History of the Belarusian Orthodox Church. (Period of Soviet and German occupation of Belarus)], Zhyrovitsy, 2004, 133 pp.
9 Cf. the accusations of secret Catholicism, highly characteristic of the time, against the ‘non-conformists’: Kasiak, Z historyi Pravaslaŭnai Tsarkvy belaruskaha narodu, pp. 146-151, 153.
10 Kasiak, Z historyi Pravaslaŭnai Tsarkvy belaruskaha narodu, pp. 93, 96, 98.
11 Vinitski, op. cit., ff. 98–111; Haroshka, M. Arkhiiapiskap Vasil′ [Archbishop Vasil′]. Belarus 1959 (1970), p. 1. Certificate of consecration of Archimandrite Vasily (Tomashchik) as Bishop of Vilna. Rosenheim, December 20, 1949. 1f. Manuscript. Photocopy. Private archive of author; Letter from Aŭhen Kakhnoŭski to M. Abramchyk, President of the PRB, dated December 26, 1949, in: Hardzienka, N./Iurėvich, L. Rada BNR (1947–1970): Padzei. Dakumenty. Asoby [The Rada of the PRB (1947–1970): Events. Documents. Persons]. Minsk: Knigazbor, 2013. pp. 484–485; Navitski, I. Vialikiia dni BAPTS [“The Great Days of the BAOC”], in: Bats′kaŭshchyna [Fatherland] 1/61 (1950), p. 1; “Pershaia Sėsiia S′viashchėnnaha Saboru iapiskapaŭ Belaruskae Aŭtakefal′nae Pravaslaŭnae Tsarkvy” [“The First Session of the Holy Council of Bishops of the Belarusian Autocephalous Orthodox Church”], in: Bats′kaŭshchyna 1/61 (1950), p. 1. “Sabornae arkhipastyrskae paslan′ne” [“Conciliar Archpastoral Encyclical”], in: Bats′kaŭshchyna 1/61 (1950), p. 2. Bird, Thomas E., op. cit., p. 169.

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