From the Editor: An Overview
The present study touches on a whole series of points put forward in contemporary polemic between representatives of the Patriarchates of Constantinople and Moscow regarding the creation of a new autocephalous church body on the canonical territory of the Russian Church. The author of this paper is Mikhail Valerʹianovich Zyzykin, a junior colleague of another Russian émigré canonist, Sergei Viktorovich Troitskii. Mikhail Valerʹianovich was born in 1880 on his family estate at Iurkino in the governate of Tverʹ. On graduating from Moscow Imperial University, he remained there to teach as a private-docent. In 1921, Prof. Zyzykin emigrated with his wife Varvara Ivanovna and their two children, and taught at the University of Sofia until 1929. The Bulgarian Church was in schism with the Patriarchate of Constantinople during this period, and while in Sofia, Prof. Zyzykin became acquainted first-hand with attitudes towards the proclamation of autocephaly within the Bulgarian Church. His best-known work dates from his time in Warsaw from 1929 until the beginning of the Second World War, where he taught canon law at the Faculty of Orthodox Theology of Warsaw University. Among his colleagues were the future Hieromartyr Georgii Peradze and Prof. N. Arsenʹev. In 1922, the Polish government raised the issue of the autocephaly of dioceses of the Russian Church on the territory of the newly created Polish state. Prof. Zyzykin’s time in Poland deepened his understanding that the question of autocephaly cannot be considered without reference to the Orthodox teaching on conciliarity. The results of his research were published in issues 25 to 51 for 1931 of the Warsaw journal Voskresnoe Chtenie [Resurrection Reading]. The present article is based on the text “Autocephaly and Principles of its Application,” published in the yearbook Pravoslavnyi Putʹ [The Orthodox Way] from 2003–2005, during the tenure of the late Metropolitan Laurus, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad (†2008), as editor of that publication. The subheadings were inserted by the ROCOR Studies Editorial Team.
Although the Russian Church Abroad took a neutral position on Polish autocephaly, permitting concelebration of clergy, the Polish authorities still regarded it with suspicion, considering it an imperial church. Nonetheless, as a monarchist, Prof. Zyzykin was closest of all to the ROCOR in his views.Zyzykin’s work Tsarskaia vlastʹ i zakon o prestolonasledii v Rossii [Imperial Power and the Law of Succession in Russia] was valued highly by Metropolitan Antonii Khrapovitskii in a letter to … Continue reading It was the latter that he joined upon ending up in Germany, after his evacuation from Poland. In 1948, Prof. Zyzykin applied to represent the ROCOR at the first assembly of the newly founded World Council of Churches in Amsterdam. In 1949, he arrived in Argentina, where he continued his activity as a church historian, becoming involved in the Solonevichi brothers’ newspaper Nasha Strana [Our Country]. Prof. Zyzykin died in 1960; he is buried in the British cemetery in Buenos Aires. Through the efforts of Archbishop Laurus, M.V. Zyzykin’s monumental work Patriarkh Nikon was published in 1988. Part of his library is preserved in the collection of the library of the Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville.
Protodeacon Andrei Psarev
Note from the Author
The author decided to approach the topic in question out of a desire to make a statement on the issue of the autocephaly of the Polish Orthodox Church. While studying this question, the author had come to the conclusion that the process of its creation took place under historical circumstances that justified it, and also that these circumstances were so extraordinary that those norms of common church custom that had defined the creation of previous autocephalous churches were insufficient to explain the specific characteristics of this process. Life, which always precedes law, broadened these norms, and by their recognition of Polish autocephaly before the Mother Church – which was captive to the atheist authorities – had done so, the ecclesiastical legal consciousness of the Local Churches bore witness to the correspondence of this broadening of spirit to church-wide canonical structure.
It is the present author’s assumption that it is not necessary to resurrect the old theory, long-since rejected in Orthodox literature, of eastern Papism as applied to the Patriarch of Constantinople, in order to provide a foundation for autocephaly, nor to create a new – highly strange from the point of view of jurisprudence – theory of the allegedly de jure continuing canonical jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople over the regions constituting the renascent Polish State that had once been ecclesiastically dependent on the Metropolis of Kiev. A more scholarly approach, seeking to explain and substantiate phenomena of life and legal consciousness on the basis of ideas of an orthodox ecclesiastical structure, appears to us to provide a more solid foundation for Polish autocephaly itself, without basing it on shaky and obsolete theories, and leaving it defenceless against attempts to make an existing legitimate canonical phenomenon non-existent.
Warsaw, December 12, 1930
The Theological Concept of Autocephaly
The notion of autocephaly gives rise to a whole series of questions To what type of law does it belong: to that of the national state; to the statutes of an individual Local Church, or to the common church law that lies at the root of all the Local Churches? If we reach the conclusion that this phenomenon forms part of common church law, then a further question arises: is the law of autocephaly regulated by divine or apostolic law, or by the canon law established by the Ecumenical Councils, or even by general church custom? In this connection, one more question comes to the fore: which church body is competent to proclaim autocephaly, and what are the objective preconditions for its legitimate emergence? These questions are answered by a common church consciousness manifested over a number of centuries on the basis of a certain belief. This belief is contained: in the Creed, “…in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church”, or v Edinuiu, Sviatuiu, Kafolicheskuiu i Apostolʹskuiu Tserkovʹ, as the ancient Slavonic translation of the 9th clause of the Creed reads (the Russian translation of the Kniga Pravil or “Book of Rules” explicitly restored the word kafolicheskuiu ‘Catholic’ instead of sobornuiu ‘Conciliar’); and in the official epistles of the Patriarchs who had primacy in cases of the establishment of individual autocephalous churches.
In order to approach these questions, we should remember the basic truth that the notion of law can by no means be equated to that of the law of a nation-state, that other groupings of people can be a source of law, and that in our case the Church itself constitutes such a creator of law. The first three centuries of the Christian era present to us in particularly clear relief the administration of a Church led only by bishops who were the successors of the Apostles. The Church bore witness to this freedom and independence of legislature and administration in its own sphere in its councils, above all in the historical era of the Ecumenical Councils, but also in periods when there were no Ecumenical Councils. During these periods, its legislative consciousness was expressed in other forms: in the form of canonical communion between Local Churches; in reports on the most important events in church life; in appeals for aid, collaboration, advice in difficult circumstances, and so on. The independence of the Church’s legal consciousness from state authority is very clearly highlighted in Patristic literature. Let us recall statements by St. Josiah of Cordoba, St. Theodore the Studite and St. Maximus the Confessor. St. Theodore the Studite wrote to the Emperor Leo: “Do not arrogate to yourself, Sire, authority over the Church; take care of the state administration and the soldiers entrusted to you, and leave the Church in peace.” St. John Damascene noted particularly vividly the lack of competency of state authorities in deciding purely ecclesiastical matters: “The Savior established in the Church Apostles, prophets, teachers, but not emperors.” Memorable instances of the Church judging emperors have left their traces in the Church’s consciousness: Ambrose of Milan forbidding the emperor entrance into church until he repented, and the public repentance in church of an emperor who had blinded his predecessor, are clear testimonies to the existence and manifestation of a special law distinct from that of the state. We should also not be confused by the participation of emperors in the Ecumenical Councils, by their convocation of, discussions during, or presiding over the latter, or their confirmation of their decrees. After the extensive and exhaustive research of Professors Zaozerskii, Lapin, Berdnikov, and Bishop Ioann of Smolensk, the legal nature of these phenomena has been fully established. The emperors acted in the capacity of a cooperating authority at the invitation of the Church. At the Councils, they presided in the person of their commissars only in an outward fashion; they only had the right to pose questions at the Councils, while their resolution was a matter entirely for the bishops, that is for the Church authorities. The very confirmation of the councils’ decrees by imperial authority did not augment their power within the structure of the church, but only afforded them protection within that of the state. The Councils regarded their legislation as an interpretation of Divine Law according to the Grace of the Holy Spirit given to them. The consciousness that the Church has its own sphere of law has never left it, and even in the worst eras of caesaropapism, the Church has expressed its legal consciousness in the forms of protests made by its bishops against incursions into its own sphere. There cannot be the slightest doubt of the existence of a special church law following the demonstration, first and foremost in German legal literature, of legal phenomena whose source is independent from the state.
The notion of autocephaly leads us to a definition of the relationships between the bishops of the one Orthodox Church. The ninth clause of the Creed enjoins us to believe that the Church is one for the whole universe, that all the local Orthodox churches are only part of the one indivisible Church, and for this reason are obliged to maintain canonical communion in their faith and church discipline. The scholarly author of the article “What is conciliarity?” published in issue No. 2 of Tserkovnye Vedomosti [Church Bulletin] for 1906, especially recommended by the editorship for the rigor of its research, studied the Slavonic translations of the ninth clause of the Creed and proved that the word sobornyi ‘conciliar’ is a flawed translation of the Greek word καθολικός, as it should have expressed the concept of universality. Until the fourteenth century, this was indeed translated by the word kafolicheskii. The word vselenskii ‘ecumenical, universal’ was avoided, because the ‘universe’ in essence signified only the Byzantine Empire. For instance, the title of Vselenskii Patriarkh (‘Ecumenical/Universal Patriarch’) signifies that the Patriarch of Constantinople was the Patriarch of Byzantium, rather than of the whole Church. The Creed was meant to express the concept of boundlessness in the sense of universality. In this regard, the “Epistle of the Patriarchs of the Eastern-Catholic Church on the Orthodox Faith,” an emblematic document in the Orthodox Church, approved by the Council of Jerusalem in 1672 and sent to the Russian Synod in 1723 as a model of a correct statement of the faith, did indeed confess a belief in One, Holy, Universal (Catholic), and Apostolic Church, which unites everybody everywhere, no matter who they are. Metropolitan Philaret’s Catechesis, when elucidating the word sobornyi “conciliar,” interprets this word as follows: “The Church is called sobornyi ‘conciliar’, or – which amounts to the same thing – catholic or universal, because it is not limited by any period of time, or people, but contains within itself true believers from all places, times, and peoples.” The scholarly author of said article himself gives a still more detailed explanation of the meaning of the word kafolicheskii that existed in Slavonic translations of the Creed until the fourteenth century and better expressed the meaning of the Greek καθολικός (than the word sobornyi ‘conciliar’). He writes: “They (by this word) are pointed to the unification of that which is disparate and dispersed. Here there is clearly suggested a breadth that is indisputable in universality, but more and stronger than anything else the element of unification is evoked as that which prevails and rules. For this reason, the Church confesses in this way that it must direct itself not towards an automatic individualization of its parts, but to a centralizing definition of these in the whole universe. Even less is a Republican parliamentary ‘electoralism’ [vybornostʹ] preordained and sanctioned by sobornostʹ [‘conciliarity’]. The former necessarily refers to an individual equality of those elected, while sobornostʹ postulates a unification that is above any sort of fragmentation, is independent of it and of itself imparts significance to it. This is the unity by grace in Jesus Christ through the apostles and their successors in the matter of clerical ministry, Christian teaching, and church administration.”Appendix to Tserkovnye Vedomosti, No. 2/1906, pp. 53–54. Based on this dogmatic teaching on the unity of the Church, extending not only to a commonality of teaching, but to commonality of bases of administration, Professor Berdnikov proposed a draft for a pre-conciliar assembly on the composition of a local council to be submitted for approval to all the Orthodox Churches. In essence, this was a call to remember the truth that in a Local Church, there are fundamental questions of ecclesiastical structure and administration that should be established in common universal legislation, even if they concern a particular separate Local Church at a certain time; if no such church-wide legislative body exists, because ecumenical councils are not gathering at the present time, then its activity should be replaced by the reception (approval, acceptance) by separate Local Churches of basic legislative acts performed in any Local Church. Later on, we will see that such reception, or conversely, condemnation, by different Local Churches was applied consistently. This truth has sometimes been forgotten in practice, but an awareness of it is unavoidable for every member of the Orthodox Church, and it derives from the very foundations of the structure of the Orthodox Church.
If we take a look at the Orthodox Church in its universal composition, we see that individual Local Churches govern themselves with different forms of local structures, but at the same time observe a unity of faith, spiritual union of the hierarchy, and unity and communication among themselves in matters of overall church governance. The Universal Church is run by a shared union of the Local Churches, by the combined authority of its archpastors on the basis of shared rules, Apostolic, conciliar, and Patristic. This management finds its expression through communication about governance among them and consensual action. An Ecumenical Council is a bodyized form of such communication, but it can manifest itself in less complete forms, as we see in analogous cases of legal life, for example in international communication. A whole series of the Holy Fathers made statements on the canonical unity of all bishops. The hieromartyr Ignatius the God-Bearer underlined the unity of the universal government of the Church, despite its being separated in terms of place and church administration: “There is one body of our Lord Jesus Christ: for this reason, in the world there is one Altar (Church), and one omnipresent Bishop.” St. Irenaeus writes: “The prelates of the Church, while observing the whole universe, firmly hold to Apostolic Tradition and show us that they all have one and the same faith, they all confess one and the same Father and recognize one and the same aim of the incarnation of the Son of God, one and the same spiritual gifts; they are guided by one and the same rules and one and the same law in ecclesiastical government and rank.” St. Cyprian wrote: “The apostles were all endowed with an equal measure of honor; all were pastors, shepherding the flock of Christ. We too must firmly guard and defend this unity, especially the bishops presiding in the Church; for the episcopate is also one, in which each of us has our part.” In another place, he writes: “Christ founded one Church, although it be separated in its parts throughout the whole space of the world; from here also the one Episcopate, composed of a single-minded host of bishops… The Catholic Church is single, indissoluble, and inseparable, and for this reason must be unified into one entity through the mutual union of its hierarchs.” These testimonies show that the Holy Fathers envisioned church government not as disunited, but as united; this unity, however, contrary to Roman Catholic teaching, which imagines unity in the form of the sole personal authority of the bishop of Rome, was understood as a unity of government on shared foundations. The shared and collective government of the Local Churches was expressed in different ways.
A) Active relations between Local Church administrations took place not only for outward show or to bestow mutual honor, but also to resolve church affairs with combined authority. This was the case not only in apostolic times, but also later; through this communication, rules and laws promulgated at individual councils extended to all the churches. This communication was manifested not only in questions of faith, but also in canonical or judicial questions, even in individual administrative acts when choosing or ordaining pastors. As a testimony to this unity of activity, newly appointed primates of Local Churches immediately communicated their appointments to all the other primates.
B) Canonical unity was also supported by the fact that the rights, statutes, and legal acts of each Local Church were inviolably recognized in their judicial effect by all the other churches. Those baptized in one church were considered baptized in another and were admitted to the sacraments; those excommunicated in one were also not received in the others (a whole series of the Apostolic Canons testify to this: 12, 13, 16, 32, among others).
C) Canonical unity was expressed in the fact that the rules and traditions transmitted from the Apostles and the ancient councils were kept by all the Local Churches. Any divergence by any Church from these common norms was immediately investigated and then either approved or corrected (for instance, in the question of the celebration of Pascha, the rebaptism of heretics and so on). Autocephaly does not mean disunity and does not disrupt communion.
D) The unity of the Church has been witnessed especially clearly by councils, which were of different types. A conciliar form of administration existed in all the Local Churches, where, according to the statutes, initially there were annual, then semiannual councils of all the district bishops; later on, this form changed significantly, as the councils sometimes became fixed institutions under the primates of the Local Churches, but with a composition that changed periodically. During the 4th–8th centuries, the conciliar form encompassed the whole Universal Church and was manifested in the Ecumenical Councils; at this point, questions of church-wide significance were resolved at the latter. Without going into their doctrinal activity, we should note that a whole series of canonical questions also came within their purview, and by this means those general canonical questions that in other eras were resolved by means of mutual relations and agreements, during the era of the Ecumenical Councils were resolved at these councils. We see that the Ecumenical Councils determined the mode of government of the Church overall and the government of the Local Churches, and to this end extended or limited their rights (I, 6,7; II, 2,3; III, 8; IV, 28; VI, 36,39), defined the order and rights of the church hierarchy (II, 4, 6; IV, 28), exercised supreme judgement over church primates, and even over whole Local Churches (for example, over the customs of the Armenian, African, and Roman Churches), and prescribed positive rules of piety.
From the enumeration of these questions, it is evident that in the consciousness of the Church, questions of autocephaly belonged to the legislative remit of the Universal Church, as autocephaly is a change of the borders of an individual Local Church, a change in the situation of individual parts of the body of the church within the composition of the Universal Church, a change of the hierarchical situation of some bishops with relation to others, a creation of new legislative and administrative bodies, a creation of legislation within the body of the Universal Church. For the notion of an autocephalous church is connected with the concept of an independent Local Church as a particular entity within the composition of the Universal Church, connected with the rest of its parts through a unity of faith and canonical foundations.
We draw attention to certain particularities of the law of the Orthodox Church; here there is no single body concentrating the entire authority of the Church within itself, as there is in the person of the Pope in the Catholic Church, but there is a common legislation and administration that in different eras have taken on different forms. Conversely, Protestant teaching does not know any particular clerical governing authority represented by a hierarchy, does not recognize the independence of Church law and for this reason combines its administration with local civil administration and even subjects it to the latter; in this case, only the areas of teaching and ministry remain within the purview of church law itself.
Bringing the question of autocephaly on the basis of church legal consciousness to the sphere of general church legislation, we should draw attention to precisely what source of church-wide legislation this question or different parts of it belongs: what belongs to apostolic law, and what to canon law proper, proceeding from the councils. The rules for Church governance were initially laid down by the apostles orally, and were then kept during the first centuries in the form of tradition; then they were written down and published under the title of the Apostolic Canons. The Church recognizes their divine provenance; only the time of their writing is not known. The mutual relations of bishops are set out in the 34th Apostolic Canon, and the mode of governance of Local Churches (governance by a council of bishops) by the 37th Apostolic Canon. As Apostolic Canons, these canons represented the guiding norm for the Church in all ages. The 34th Canon, which is of interest to us, reads: “It behoves the Bishops of every nation to know the one among them who is the premier or chief, and to recognise him as their head, and to refrain from doing anything superfluous without his advice and approval: but, instead, each of them should do only whatever is necessitated by his own parish and by the territories under him. But let not even such a one do anything without the advice and consent and approval of all. For thus will there be concord, and God will be glorified through the Lord in Holy Spirit, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” The Apostles established the hierarchical connection of bishops and their mutual interdependency, but the degree of this dependency was left to be determined by subsequent history, just as the borders of the independent Churches were not established once and for all: it was left to posterity, that is, to the Church itself, to determine these borders as a result of historical circumstances. The aforementioned legislation of the Ecumenical Councils bears witness to these changes both with regard to the decentralization of administration (I, 6; IV, 17; II, 2, 3, III, 8This notation is to be interpreted as “Canon 6 of the First Ecumenical Council”, “Canon 17 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council”, etc., where the Roman numerals represent the numbers of the … Continue reading), and to changes in borders (IV, 28). Especially noteworthy is IV, 17, which leaves it to the Church Herself to determine the relations and borders of church jurisdictions. It provides that, when allocating parishes, the bodies of ecclesiastical authority should comply with civil and territorial order. The canon states (at the end): “If, on the other hand, any city has been rebuilt by imperial authority, or has been built anew again, pursuant to civil and public formalities, let the order of the ecclesiastical parishes be followed.” The application of this canon may also be seen at the Ecumenical Councils, when the Second Ecumenical Council elevated the See of Constantinople in terms of honor due to its altered political situation: “The Bishop of Constantinople shall have primacy of honor equal to the Bishop of Rome, because this city is the new Rome.” So also did the Fourth Ecumenical Council, when subjecting the three dioceses of Thrace, Pontus, and Asia to the Patriarch of Constantinople, together with the foreign bishops depending on these dioceses who did not have their own metropolitans. In accordance with this principle, the Second Ecumenical Council took account of the new division of the empire into prefectures and dioceses. Five dioceses were formed out of the Eastern prefecture (the East with Antioch as its main city, Egypt with Alexandria as its main city, Asia with Ephesus as its main city, Pontus with Caesarea as its main city, and Thrace with Heraklion as its main city). This principle generally pervades all church legislation both in the era of the Ecumenical Councils and beyond. It is typical that that great connoisseur of the canons, Patriarch Photios, attributed decisive significance to this legislative definition when apportioning dioceses between different churches, along with the agreement of the parties and the canonical verdict of the whole Church. His opinion was expressed during the dispute with the Pope of Rome on the bishops of Illyria and Achaea. During the iconoclast struggle with Pope Gregory III, Emperor Leo Isaurus took these dioceses, which had been in the jurisdiction of the Pope of Rome, from the latter around the middle of the 8th century (in 732), and transferred them to the Patriarch of Constantinople. The rights of the Patriarch of Constantinople in the middle of the 9th century could be based on the fact that, at the end of the 8th century, the plague and invasions of the Slavs had wiped out the natives of the region. The population that had settled there submitted to Byzantium politically during the reign of the Empress Irene (797–802), and then accepted Christianity from the Byzantine patriarch. When Pope Nicholas I wanted to restore his previous authority over these provinces, making use of the confusion in the east in the form of the struggle between Patriarchs Photios and Ignatios, he demanded that Photios and Emperor Michael return these provinces to his ecclesiastical jurisdiction. To this, Photios replied: “The sees demanded by your Holiness coincide with the civil territory of the Eastern Empire. I would be prepared to return them, if the breadth of my love in the Lord were not constrained by imperial decrees, and if I were not hindered by some other canonical judgement. And, if I had unanimous hierarchical agreement, I would be happy to cede not only those dioceses that you say belonged to the Roman See, but also those that have never done so, – in as far as this is necessary for the maintenance of friendly relations, since you ask me to cede them.”Kurganov, Ustroistvo upravleniia v Tserkvi Korolevstva Grecheskogo, p. 34. Here Photios points to the impediments to his agreeing to this concession: 1) according to IV, 7, the allotment of church administration takes place in alignment with civil borders depending on worldly authorities; 2) the canonical verdict of the whole Church, including the bishops of Illyria themselves. This opinion of Photios shows that in the cession of dioceses by one Local Church to another, he considered necessary, apart from 1) the consent of the authorities of the Local Church receiving these dioceses and 2) the consent of the Local Church ceding them, in addition 3) correspondence to the civil borders established by the secular authorities, and therefore the agreement of the latter at the very least, 4) the consent of the bishops of the regions being ceded, and 5) a judgement from the whole Church. Later on we shall see that the Church has always considered it necessary for all these points to be present in the redistribution of regions among the various Local Churches. The legislation of an individual Local Church on its own cannot be competent to decide the question of the redistribution of the boundaries of the Churches. This already follows from the basic canon law of the Orthodox Church. The autonomy of the Local Churches is based on the fact that the apostles themselves, who acted collectively in governing the whole Church, acted separately and independently in the places where they preached. Peter administered the churches of the Jews, Paul those of the Gentiles, John the churches of Asia Minor; the individual churches were entrusted by the Apostles to individual disciples. In her canons, the Church suppressed the unlawful predominance of any one particular Church over another, or the mingling of different territories; each region was recognized as having its own rights, local customs (1, 6; II, 2): “Let not regional bishops extend their authority to a Church beyond their own region, and let them not mingle the churches.” The autonomy of the Local Churches is expressed in:
the order of their internal governance;
the independence of the hierarchy of one Local Church from another. III, 8, promulgated in response to the ecclesiastical disturbances on the island of Cyprus and connected with encroachments on the autocephaly of the Church of Cyprus by the patriarchs of Antioch, states: “The leaders of the Holy Churches of Cyprus shall have the liberty, without claims being made on them and without constraint, according to the canons of the Holy Fathers and by ancient tradition, to execute the decisions of the most pious bishops. The same shall also be the case in other regions everywhere”;
in the specifics of the local customs and rites of the church. Introduction to the Confession of the Faith of the Eastern Patriarchs states: “Where the different customs and rites of the Church and the performance of sacred rites are concerned, it is known from church historical books that certain customs and rites have been and are changed in various places and churches; but the unity of the faith and uniformity of doctrine remain unchanged”;
in the hierarchical rights and local privileges of certain Local Churches over others, I, 7 established the position with regard to the honor of the Patriarch of Jerusalem; II, 3 exalted the Patriarch of Constantinople; and IV, 9 made him not only supreme within the Eastern Roman empire, but also provided him with certain special privileges regarding his right to mediate between parties making an appeal to him. Concerning the rights of local legislation and of independent trial within its own borders, II, 2 states: “The affairs of every region shall be determined by the council of that region.”
But this autonomy of the Local Churches cannot extend beyond certain limits.
No one Local Church may compose arbitrary doctrines (VI, I).
No one Local Church may infringe in its governance on the basic rights and canons of the Universal Church (VI, 2): “No one shall be permitted to countermand or set aside the Canons previously laid down [by the Councils], or to recognize and accept any Canons, other than the ones herein specified”.
It is inadmissible to depart from the ancient traditions and customs of the Church without need, even should this not relate to the basic laws of the Catholic Church. The Sixth Council states in its exposition of the canons on the veneration of icons: “Let us without innovation conserve everything that church tradition has established for us, written or unwritten. Thus the teaching of our Holy Fathers, who accepted the Gospel, is confirmed, that is the tradition of the Catholic Church, from one end of the earth to the other”.
Each Local Church must mutually respect in its internal administration the local prerogatives of the other churches, their customs and laws (VI, 39), “It is fitting to observe the customs of every church” (III, 8): “Let not the canons of the Fathers be transgressed: let not the haughtiness of worldly authority creep in, under the guise of priestly action; and let us not lose little by little, imperceptibly, that freedom which our Lord Jesus Christ, the Liberator of all men, has given us by His blood. It therefore pleases the Holy and Ecumenical Council that every diocese should preserve, in purity and without hindrance, the rights and customs belonging to it since the beginning, and established from ancient times. These are the rights of the autocephalous Local Churches. As we see, these rights are restricted by general canon law, but each of the autocephalous churches is independent in the origin of its spiritual mandate and in its legislation from the hierarchical influence of any other individual Local Church; this is the difference between them and an autonomous church. An autonomous Church is bound not only by the basic canons, but also by an obligation: to receive at least in the person of its primate a mandate from the Mother Church, and not to exceed in its legislation, governance, and justice the rights granted to it by the Mother Church. The Church of Bosnia-Herzegovina, for example, was in the position of an autonomous church with relation to Constantinople following the 1880 convention between the patriarch and the Austro-Hungarian government, as was the Polish Church with relation to the Russian Church according to the resolution of the Moscow Synod of 14/27 September 1921. The trial of an autocephalous Church is a trial by all the Local Churches; an autonomous church is also subject to the legal jurisdiction of its Mother Church. It is absolutely clear that the modification of a church region into an autocephalous region alters the structure of the entire Church and therefore cannot be subject to the legislation of an individual Local Church. The canons do not contain specific guidelines as to the manner in which autocephaly should be created, but these rules can be deduced from the basic principles of canon law and from the legal consciousness of the Local Churches, which has been expressed in the history of ecclesiastical relations on a number of occasions. Therefore, before examining the legal situation resulting from the creation of the Polish Autocephalous Church, we must first examine this legal consciousness.
Historical Examples of the Creation of Autocephalous Churches
In order for a part of the Church to detach itself, the part that is breaking away must have a sufficient number of full, that is, ruling bishops, to be able to continue to elect and ordain bishops independently. There must be at least three such bishops according to (I, 4), which states: “It is most fitting that a Bishop should be installed by all those in his province. But if such a thing is difficult either because of the urgency of circumstances, or because of the distance to be travelled, at least three should meet together somewhere and by their votes combined with those of the ones absent and joining in the election by letter they should carry out the ordination thereafter.” In accordance with the first apostolic rule, two or three bishops are required for consecration. Obviously, a corresponding will to exist independently on the part of the episcopate of that section of the Church that is separating off is also necessary.
In order for a part of the Church to separate off, certain objective criteria are also necessary isolating that part in special circumstances that separate it from the other Churches. Such circumstances (IV, 17, and after it, VI, 38) are constituted by the civil division of a territory. “We too retain the Canon which was laid down by our Fathers and which reads as follows: If any city has been rebuilt by imperial authority, or has been built anew again, pursuant to civil and public formalities, let the order of the ecclesiastical parishes be followed.” A practical application of this principle in modern times is the creation of the autocephalous Church of Greece in 1850 after the political independence of Greece was restored in 1821, and that of the autocephalous Church of Romania in 1885 after the proclamation of Romanian independence in 1878, and also with regard to the Kingdom of Serbia. Conversely, with the loss of political independence, autocephaly has also been lost. For instance, Bulgarian autocephaly was abolished in the fourteenth century after the subbjugation of Bulgaria to Turkey; equally, following the unification of the Serbian lands into one state, the Serbian, Karlovci, Bosnian-Herzegovinia, and Montenegrin churches were united, and also, with the unification of the Romanians, the churches of Romanian, Cibin, and Bukovina were united.
Although there is no canon which might regulate the process of a part of any Church breaking off and becoming autocephalous, it can nonetheless be established that the consent of the Church from which the part is breaking away is required. This follows from the requirements of Apostolic Canon 34, according to which the most important affairs of a region must be decided by a council of bishops headed by the primate of that region, and where the secession of part of a region is a legislative act changing its boundaries. This is how the Russian Church obtained its autocephaly in 1591, the Church of Greece in 1850, the Romanian Church in 1885, and the Serbian Church in 1879, with the consent of those patriarchates of which they had hitherto been a part. The requirement of obedience to the Mother Church is sealed by an oath taken by bishops before their consecration to be faithful to the decrees of the higher Church authorities according to the Canon 15 of the First-and-Second Council (quoted below). We do indeed find in history both vigorous protests (with regard to the Romanian Church in 1864–1885), cessation of communion (for the Church of Greece 1833–1850), and even anathemas (for the Serbian Church in 1351–1371, and for the Bulgarian Church from 1872). The state of conflict was terminated by an agreement. Nevertheless, the consent of the Mother Church is not a matter of her arbitrary discretion; she herself is bound by basic canonical rules, and over her stands a supreme authority in the form of the universal legal consciousness and judgement of all the other Local Churches. It should not be forgotten that the oath of obedience to the higher Church authorities made by bishops before their consecration is given rebus sic stantibus, i.e., in the presence of a certain status quo of the church and state apparatus.
The Church canons, while requiring certain political conditions for autocephaly, exclude the influence of certain other factors, namely an arbitrary declaration of autocephaly, penalizing “the arrogance of worldly authority.” Canons 13, 14, and 15 of the First-and-Second Council prohibit arbitrary rejection of one’s hierarchical leadership, with relation to whom an administrative subordination exists for the hierarch in question or other hierarchs. Such rejection in itself constitutes a canonical crime, and the rules cited above protect the ecclesiastical order by canonical means from manifestations of arbitrariness in the church sphere, which is permeated by the principle of obedience and embassy from highest to lowest. Canon 15 of the First-and-Second Council states: “The rules laid down with reference to Presbyters and Bishops and Metropolitans are still more applicable to Patriarchs. So that in case any Presbyter or Bishop or Metropolitan dares to secede or apostatize from the communion of his own Patriarch, and fails to mention the latter’s name in accordance with custom duly fixed and ordained, in the divine Mystagogy, but, before a conciliar verdict has been pronounced and has passed judgment against him, creates a schism, the holy Council has decreed that this person shall be held an alien to every priestly function if only he be convicted of having committed this transgression of the law.” In accordance with this canon, the Bulgarian bishop Ilarion of Makariopolis, who in 1860 arbitrarily ceased to commemorate the Patriarch of Constantinople, under whose jurisdiction he was, was consecutively banned from priestly ministry, deprived of his holy orders, excommunicated, anathematized, and finally consigned to the fires of hell. So also the Serbian King Stefan Dušan was anathematized by the Patriarch of Constantinople for the unauthorized establishment of a patriarchate, which could not be within the competency of state authority.
The proclamation of autocephaly as a consequence of national aspirations is forbidden. For this reason, the Council of Constantinople of September 16, 1872, condemned the division of churches according to nationalities, calling this heresy phyletism. The Council’s decree stated: “Take heed of yourselves and the whole flock, in whom the Holy One has set bishops to shepherd the Church of the Lord and God, which he hath purchased with his blood – commands us the vessel of the elect, forewarning us that ravenous wolves will emerge within the Church of God who have no care for the flock, and people preaching corruption in order to lure disciples away after them – and therefore commanding us ourselves to be vigilant. With horror and fear in our heart, we have noticed that in recent times even within the bosom of the Ecumenical Throne, from among the pious Bulgarian people, there have risen such people who have dared to introduce into the Church a certain new teaching from worldly life – phyletism – and in contempt of the divine holy canons have even dared to conduct a phyletistic illegal assembly. Therefore, having girded ourselves, as we should, with zeal for the Lord, and desirous to stop, according to the demands of justice, the spread of evil among this people, we have gathered here in the name of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. Having called with contrition of soul upon the grace from above of the Father of lights, and basing ourselves upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in which are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, we have examined phyletism before the tribunal of the teaching of the Gospel and the consistent practice of the Church, and found it not only to be foreign, but to be directly opposed to the Gospel and the practice of the Church; those very iniquities that have consistently been repeated since the establishment of their phyletist assembly have been clearly found to deserve canonical condemnation. Together with our holy and God-bearing fathers, accepting with delight the divine canons laid down by the trumpets of the All-Praised Apostles, the seven Holy Ecumenical Councils, the Local and holy fathers, – for all of them, being enlightened by the same Spirit, have established that which is useful, – we decree the following:
1. We reject and condemn phyletism, that is, tribal differences, national disputes, rivalries, and strife in the Church of Christ, recognizing it to be contrary to the spirit of the Gospel and the canons of our blessed fathers…
2. In accordance with the Holy Canons, we excommunicate the proponents of phyletism, who have dared to found their assemblies on such principles, from the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, and hold them to be schismatics.”Kurganov, Istoricheskii ocherk greko-bol-garskogo rasprostranenie Pravoslavnogo Sobora, 1881. 3. p. 374
This decree was made long before the declaration of the independence of Bulgaria. It is well-known that, after the latter declaration was made, the Patriarch of Constantinople was prepared to recognize the autocephaly of the Bulgarian Church within the borders of the Bulgarian state.Zankow, Die Verfassung der Bulgarischen Ortodoxen Kirche, p. 78. This is a new recognition of the principle of the division of Local Churches on political grounds, rather than on national ones.
A proclamation of autocephaly by the state is insufficient, because the concept of autocephaly is a canonical concept that determines the position of a particular Church within the Universal Church, and not its position within a state. (It requires an ecclesiastical release from the oath of obedience towards the Church from which they are separating that the bishops had taken before their consecration.) This principle has been proclaimed a number of times, among others during the proclamation of Greek autocephaly and when Romanian autocephaly was introduced. Here, we see examples of the introduction of autocephaly by secular authorities and protests against the theories underlying such declarations of autocephaly by the patriarch from whose jurisdiction the churches were separating. Take first the proclamation of autocephaly in Greece. Where this was concerned, the Greek government expressed a theory that lay at the root not only of their own actions, but also of those of the Romanian and Hungarian governments. We will cite it here alongside its brilliant refutation in the Acts of the Council of Constantinople. These events transpired in the year 1833, when, under the terms of the London Convention of May 7, 1832, Prince Otto of Bavaria, though still a minor, became monarch of the Kingdom of Greece. His regency recognized that one of the most urgent priorities of the new state was the reorganization of the Church of Greece, which it decided to detach from the Patriarch of Constantinople. It is a fact that, while the secular government was headed by the Orthodox Count Kapodistrias, who respected the rights of the Orthodox Church, church affairs were directed by the Greek bishops, and there was still no question of separation from the Patriarch of Constantinople, whom the Greeks regarded, in the words of Ekonomos, as the focal point and reviver of the Greek people during the period of its long and burdensome Turkish captivity and general decay. The government that arrived from Bavaria took a different view (the regency consisted of the Bavarian Counts Armansperg and von Maurer, and General Heydeck). It based this view on the idea that the whole ecclesiastical system should be transformed by the secular government itself, and with the aim of reforming it in a Protestant spirit set up a seven-member commission made up of two non-canonical bishops, four laymen, and the priest-monk Theoklitos (Pharmakides). The latter was the soul of the whole enterprise; he was a great patriot, burning with hatred for the abuses of the Constantinopolitan episcopate in Greece, but he was so full of the Protestant ideas he had imbibed at the Protestant faculty in Göttingen that under Kapodistrias he was imprisoned for disseminating them. It was he who suggested the idea of declaring autocephaly without any agreement with the Patriarch of Constantinople. The commission proceeded from the conviction that the present system of independent churches was the fruit of the ambition and lust for power of the bishops, with whom the Byzantine emperors had joined and collaborated out of the same motivation. The civil authorities, on becoming Christian, legalized episcopal abuses that were established and had become customary in the Church, and subsequently began to regulate the mutual relations of the bishops, creating patriarchates out of worldly and political considerations. In the eyes of the Protestants, who deny the governmental authority of the hierarchy in the Church, the Christian emperors had acted in the Church in the same way as Roman high priests, and exercised authority of the same nature as their pagan predecessors had done over the society of their time.
In the eyes of Protestant scholars, secular authority was thus understood as the power behind ecclesiastical authority. Its influence was especially reflected in the elevation of the Patriarch of Constantinople; in this they were correct, but they were wrong in qualifying the legal establishment of the patriarchate itself as a product of imperial will, for the Church has its own legislative power, and at that time this law-making power was expressed in the form of the Ecumenical Councils. The Protestant scholars understood the position of the emperors in the Ecumenical Councils not as the power of an external order giving force to the decree of the councils in the sphere of the state, but as the source of the binding force of their decrees in the ecclesiastical sphere. Through this, all canonical legislation, the reasons underlying the canons determining the mutual relations of the hierarchs and local churches among themselves, acquired a different judicial nature, and important practical consequences flowed from this. Since the Church of Constantinople had been made independent, elevated to the status of a patriarchate, and so many churches had been subordinated to it, for the sole reason that the emperor so ordained, and the council only obeyed him, and because Constantinople had obtained the honor of being the city of the emperor and the Synkletos, then a great nation that had obtained freedom and independence could make its own laws independently and organize the church within its own borders according to its own laws. The civil laws of one state cannot, after all, bind another independent people. It was on the basis of such an understanding that the seven-member commission proposed that the government declare the autocephaly of the Greek Church in the name of the secular authorities, since the right to organize the structure of the Church belongs to the people themselves; not only was this foundational act attributed to the competency of the secular authorities, but also the whole organization of the Church, the creation of bodies of church authority, the mutual relations among them, the status of the king in the Church, laws on marriage, etc. “We consider it reasonable, wrote the commission, to submit our opinion of the supremacy of royal power over the Church, because we, in our opinion and for sound reasons, consider the independence of the Church from secular authority to be a situation thoroughly harmful and dangerous to society.” However, in order to avoid total confusion, the commission decided to show in what matters the church authorities should depend on civil authority and recognize the primacy of royal authority, and in what matters it could act freely. The commission divided care for the church into internal and external care, but divided it in such a way that, contrary to the teaching of the Orthodox Church on Hierarchy, the external activity of the state included not only functions of supervision and control, but also the very organization and government of the Church. Internal affairs included questions relating exclusively to religion, disputes about the doctrine of the Church and their resolution, the manner in which services should be conducted, and so on. Since a king does not belong to the clergy, is not invested with episcopal dignity, and therefore cannot combine both royal and episcopal dignities within him own person, he therefore must not be involved in anything that directly concerns religion itself, such as dogma, disputes on the latter and their resolution, sacred rites, etc. These matters are subject to the action of ecclesiastical authority alone… but “the king participates in the outward aspect of the Church,” namely, in everything that pertains to ecclesiastical administration and organization, as well as to persons serving in the church. The administrative aspect of the church is a matter for the civil authorities, because, according to this external aspect of the church, it is only by the latter that a civil ruler of the people can also be called its head. But a special ecclesiastical authority is also considered necessary for the government of the church, managing and organizing the affairs of the church: externally in the name of the king, because he is regarded as its head; and internally, in an independent manner. In the event that anything particularly important should happen, the civil governor of the people, at the request and suggestion of the church authorities, convenes local councils. In spite of the bishops’ protests, this concept was laid down as the basis of the structure of the Greek Church. The King was declared the supreme ruler of the church in its governmental aspect. The Church was declared autocephalous, preserving only dogmatic unity with the other Orthodox Churches; at the head of the church administration, a Synod of members periodically appointed by the king was established “after the example of the Russian Church.” In essence, this principle of the seven-member commission threatened to relegate the Orthodox Christian religion to the status of a national/state religion. It generalized in a tendentious manner the fact of abuses of power by the Byzantine emperors, took their interference in internal church affairs to be a norm, elevated facts to the status of law, and, following the example of the Byzantine state authorities, ascribed this supposed status in law to any other state authorities. The Commission generally confused the civil right of secular authorities to look after the peace and security of the state with the right to exclusive dominion in ecclesiastical government, and even based the latter on the former. This was a confusion of two concepts of a different legal nature. Concern for the tranquillity of the state derives from the sovereignty of the state in secular affairs, while supreme jurisdiction in ecclesiastical government belongs to the universal episcopate as a whole, and the ecclesiastical structure in each Local Church requires its recognition. As a result of this legislation in the Greek Church, for many years the Patriarch of Constantinople refused not only to have canonical communion with the Greek Church, but returned the appeals of its Synod unopened, stating that he knew nothing, canonically speaking, of the existence of such an institution. It was only when, in 1850, the Greek Synod appealed through a special embassy to the Patriarch of Constantinople for his blessing, that the whole matter of autocephaly was given an entirely different foundational principle, corresponding to the canon law of the Orthodox Church. This act, which is remarkable in its clarity, pointed to the source of providence on matters in the Church, including autocephaly: not in secular power, but in the divine authority of the episcopate; it pointed to the body of ecclesiastical authority represented by the Ecumenical Councils, which can realign the borders of the local Churches, and also stated that the unity of the Orthodox Churches, according to Orthodox teaching, is not only dogmatic, but also canonical.
Let us cite some excerpts from the Council’s decree with reference to the dogmatic teaching on the unity of the Church and interpretation thereof that it contains. In its decree, the Council pointed to the basis of ecclesiastical unity as being the teaching of Christ himself: “Our Teacher has explained to us that He is the true vine, in which all of us are commanded to abide: ‘Abide in Me.’ Henceforth, in the Christian Orthodox Church, this unity, praised and fervently desired by the Divine Apostles and the venerable Ecumenical Councils, is fervently requested in the daily prayers of the faithful: ‘Abide in Me.’ For there is one Lord Whom we serve, one faith we have received, and one baptism into which we have been baptized. These are the pledges of the one true flock of Christ the Chief Shepherd, that is, the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, nurtured by His many servants, watchful and vigilant in the night of this inconstant life, for one hope, to which also we have all been called. But the wisdom of God, as it maintains all of creation in marvellous harmony and order, so also has willed to construct His Holy Church in the same harmony. And the Holy Spirit, who appointed some as apostles, some as prophets, some as shepherds and teachers, as through the laying on of hands of the divine apostles he made some to be bishops, others presbyters, others deacons, for the service of faith: so the same Spirit, in the building of unity, also through the utterances of the Ecumenical Councils, made some to be patriarchs, others metropolitans and archbishops, others archpriests and archdeacons, and so on. But all of them (both equal in fraternal relationship, and subordinate to one another as ‘primates,’ each according to the ministry he has received, having the same spirit of faith and the same apostolic ordination according to the canons of the Church), while forming as in ranks of office the one Body of Christ, wherever they may be, constitute one holy temple, and, united by the union of love, though they may seem to be separated by the needs of social life, as well as by the circumstances of the state, remain inseparably united in the unity of the Church. On this basis, the Church of Christ, that is, the venerable councils, have temporarily, according to the needs of state order, divided or joined together dioceses, subordinating them to others, or have recognized them as independent; unity in the faith and in the canonical order of the Church has remained inviolable. So now … by the power of the Almighty and Omniscient Spirit we ordain by this catholic decree, that the Orthodox Church in the Kingdom of Greece, which has as its Head and Supreme Ruler, as does the whole Catholic Church, our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, should from now on be lawfully independent …”Kurganov, ibid., pp. 212–213. This council decree was indeed the canonical beginning of Greek autocephaly; up until this point, from the moment when Greek autocephaly was declared by the government, in 1833, until 1850, the Church of Greece had found itself outside canonical communion with the other Churches. Something similar happened in the Romanian Church. It was only natural that when Romania gained its political independence in 1859, the Romanian Church wished to separate from the Patriarch of Constantinople. Hence, political independence was followed by ecclesiastical independence. However, instead of seeking the blessing of the patriarch for this separation, the representatives of the secular authorities, without the participation even of the local hierarchy, unilaterally proclaimed the independence of the Romanian Church in 1864 and set up a general synod, whose decisions were subject to the approval of the parliament and the prince. Furthermore, Prince Cuza drafted three new ecclesiastical laws, in which the independence of the Romanian Church was established, and a synod was founded that in its composition and activity was created as an institution subordinate to the government. The very appointment of bishops was a matter for the prince on the proposal of the minister of confessions. What is more, all prior ecclesiastical laws that were inconsistent with the new laws were to be repealed. In essence, this overturned the force of all the ancient decrees of the Ecumenical Councils that formed the basis of the bodyization and government of the Orthodox Church. Patriarch Sophronios sent an official letter to the Metropolitan of Wallachia accusing him of starting a schism, while remaining silent on the reforms themselves. The letter contains the following words: “We appeal to Your Holiness and collectively we entrust you with the task of explaining this matter to His Highness on behalf of the Church with the audacity to instruct him and introduce him, in a fatherly and saintly fashion, into a comprehension of his Christian and princely duties (according to rumor, His Highness is in fact the most important perpetrator of this violent perversion of the Church order)… Your Holiness is obliged, on behalf of the Church, to prevent and prohibit His Highness from performing any coercive act of political interference that might have as its aim even the slightest change in the traditions of the fathers, the Divine dogmas and sacraments, the sacred Creed and in all other religious and spiritual subjects that are nonetheless subject to the legal and canonical jurisdiction of ecclesiastical authority…” To the ruler of the united principalities, the Patriarch wrote a fatherly admonition (the prince was Orthodox) regarding his laws: “…In our unspeakable grief and confusion, we were placed between two difficult choices: either to remain silent and, together with others, to fall under condemnation because of this official violation of the apostolic and conciliar decrees, or, since the former would be harmful and not in accord with our sacred duties, and would give our enemies weapons to use against us, to publicly denounce this national crime.” The Patriarch writes that he had decided to convene a council of patriarchs and metropolitans to investigate the laws, and many of the decrees had been found to be non-canonical. They had all decided to make an admonition and send a general resolution to resolve misunderstandings, clarify doubts, and confirm the mentally unsteady in their understanding of the Church and church government…
The dogmas by which principalities flourish form the nucleus, the framework, the foundation, while practice and administration are the flesh and building: “Show me faith from your works.” Faith, then, is not a matter of mere human invention, which can be changed by anyone as they please, but the Gospel echo of the All-Holy Spirit, who instructed the blessed apostles and the Ecumenical Councils in the great truth and for the good of the whole Church, from ancient times and now and unto the ages. The Council that censured Prince Cuza wrote that he was “worthy of condemnation because he arbitrarily accords to the Romanian canonical councils a right of judgment, and ascribes to them the power of legislation and independence.” “The arbitrary proclamation of an independent Dacian (now Romanian) Church, which had always been under the authority of the Patriarch of Constantinople, is contrary both to the spirit of the Gospel and to history and the council canons.”Kolokolʹtsev, “Rumynskaia Tserkovʹ”, Pravoslavnyi Sobesednik, I/1897, pp. 468–469 The resolution of the issue of Romanian autocephaly had to wait another 20 years, until after the full independence of the Romanian Duchy had been proclaimed in 1878. It was only when Metropolitan Kallinik of Ugro-Wallachia, on behalf of the Council of Hierarchs of Romania, with the assent of the Romanian king and government, applied for a blessing for autocephaly to his Patriarch, that there followed its recognition in the form of special patriarchal tomos, read out in Bucharest on May 13, 1885. The same thing happened in the case of the Bulgarian Church. During their disputes with the Greeks, the Bulgarians asked the Turkish Sultan to use his power to restore the independence of the Bulgarian Church, in the same way as his ancestor, having destroyed the political independence of Bulgaria in the fourteenth century, had subjected the Church of Bulgaria to the Patriarch of Constantinople. The Sultan agreed to this, issuing a firman on February 28, 1870, restoring this independence. Nevertheless, this restoration did not in itself restore canonical autonomy, but only created the conditions for the exercise of canonical autonomy. The legal nature of this act is always such that it cannot create internal law, and even the Bulgarian professor Zankow, as we shall see below, does not deny the necessity, despite the existence of this firman, of obtaining the consent and recognition of independence from all the Orthodox Local Churches.Zankow, ibid., p. 78.
The initial structure of the church separating off must be verified from a canonical point of view by the Mother Church and may be verified by all the other Local Churches, in the name of the principle of unity of government stated in the decrees of the 1850 council on the recognition of Greek autocephaly. For instance, the decrees state: “…We have resolved that the highest ecclesiastical government (of the Church of Greece) should be a permanent Synod composed of hierarchs mainly chosen by seniority of ordination and presided over by the Most Reverend Metropolitan of Athens, which shall conduct the affairs of the church according to the divine and sacred canons free and unhindered by any worldly interference… In ecclesiastical matters requiring joint consideration and mutual assistance for the better order and strengthening of the Orthodox Church, it is appropriate that the Holy Synod of Greece should refer to the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Holy Synod under his jurisdiction. In this case, the Ecumenical Patriarch, together with his own Holy Synod, shall willingly give his assistance in imparting that which is necessary to the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece. But matters pertaining to internal church governance, such as [… examples are enumerated – M.Z.], all these and similar matters must be decided by the Holy Synod by synodal resolution, without in any way transgressing the sacred canons of the Holy and Sacred Councils and the customs and regulations of the Orthodox Church handed down to us by the fathers. On these foundations, the great Church of Christ, collectively and in the Holy Spirit, recognizes and proclaims the Church of Greece to be independent, and its Synod to be its co-brother in Spirit and that of every other Local Orthodox Church.” The Greek Synod itself wrote to the Patriarch of Constantinople in 1850 that “the Hellenic government will ask the great Church of Christ, and through it the blessed patriarchs of Antioch, Jerusalem, and Alexandria, for a review of its canonical position and its holy prayers and blessings upon the Christ-like people of the Hellenic state, that thereby a spiritual union might be preserved, strengthened, by which the Church of Christ might remain, according to the words of the Apostle, a pillar and bulwark of truth.” In the case of the Romanian Church too, we have seen the protests of the patriarch against the ecclesiastical laws of Prince Cuza; protests were also made by Metropolitan Philaret on behalf of the Russian Synod and were sent by the Holy Synod to the prince. The protests of the patriarch and the Russian Holy Synod had an effect. The canonical admonitions of the Russian Synod subsequently had a great influence on further reforms of the Romanian Church. These admonitions effectively showed the Romanian authorities that arbitrary proclamations of independence by one church or another were against the Church’s canons. They set the Romanian authorities on the right path towards obtaining autocephaly: that of seeking the consent of their patriarch and the other Orthodox Churches. Subsequently, the law of 1872 softened the harshness of previous ecclesiastical legislation. The extent to which such assistance from the Russian Synod was pleasing to the Patriarch of Constantinople may be seen from a letter of Patriarch Sophronios to the Holy Synod: “The Russian Church, so they say, knows our history better than we do; the arguments set forth in the note of your Synod are much stronger and more consoling than those that were given by the Great Church in proving the necessity of our duty to preserve the inviolability of the unity of the Eastern Church. This remarkable document is destined to mark an epoch in the history of the Church; it casts a shining light on the dispute between the patriarchate and the sovereign, whose sophisms have been triumphantly refuted.”
The above-mentioned interventions of other Churches are not unwelcome interference in others’ affairs, as would be the case in relations between states, but a natural manifestation of a principle expressed by the priest-martyr St. Ignatius the Theologian: “There is one body of our Lord Jesus Christ: therefore there is one altar (church) in the world, and one universal Bishop.” This principle of unity requires that the new autocephalous Church be brought into canonical communion and unity with all the other Local Churches. This unity is broken by an arbitrary declaration of autocephaly and requires restoration so that the separated part may become part of the whole Orthodox Church. The memorable council decrees of the Council of Constantinople of 1850 speak of this once more: “So also now that some of those who were under the ecclesiastical authority of the patriarchal, apostolic Ecumenical Throne, the most holy metropolitanates, archdioceses and bishoprics, now constituting the God-preserved and God-protected Kingdom of Greece, by force of circumstances have temporarily separated (although by the grace of God they have retained the unity of the faith) from their ecclesial and canonical unity with their Orthodox mother, the Great Church of Constantinople, upon which they were dependent, and together with all the other Orthodox Churches, we, by the grace of the Most Holy Spirit, having come together in full assembly to restore the canonical unity of the Church of Greece with the other Orthodox Churches, perceiving from the official missive of the pious ministers of the God-preserved Greek state the request of the whole Orthodox clergy and the desire of the whole Orthodox Greek people, our beloved children in the Holy Spirit, and also recognizing that this newly constituted state is in need of unity in the administration of the affairs of the faith, and being zealous for the indestructibility of our holy faith and the inviolability of the canons of the divine fathers, so that we may all remain always in unity of faith, as well as in unity of government, as inseparable branches of the Divine Vine, we resolve by the power of the Most Holy and Omnipotent Spirit by this catholic decree: that the Orthodox Church in the Kingdom of Greece, which has as its Originator and Head, as does the whole Catholic Orthodox Church, our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, may henceforth be lawfully independent…” From this ruling follows the recognition of the obligation of every Church to be in union with all the Orthodox Churches. It also follows from this that entry into such union is an obligation for a part that has broken away, for a part that has separated from the Church without the blessing of the Mother Church has severed its communion with the whole Church, in violation of the principle of obedience. She is called upon to prove before the whole Church that this violation has occurred for a good reason. The Mother Church is called upon to give these blessings, if the violation occurred for a good reason. If there is a dispute between them as to whether the separation occurred for a good reason, in view of the principle of unity of governance in the Catholic Orthodox Church, the dispute must be resolved by a tribunal of all the autocephalous Local Churches as those units which constitute the whole Church. If not all of the Local Churches take part in this tribunal, an absence of protest against the decision on their part shows that they accept, welcome the decision. Usually, an active role in such a trial is played by the Patriarchal Churches, for by virtue of ecclesiastical custom, the Patriarch is bound by his position not only to preside over his local Church, but also to speak out on important questions affecting the entire Church. The Patriarch of Moscow was incidentally reminded of this duty in the late seventeenth century by Patriarch Dositheos of Jerusalem, a highly learned man who composed the famous Confession of the Faith of the Eastern Patriarchs, which was adopted at the Council of Jerusalem in 1672 and has become a renowned book in the Orthodox Church.
We see in history an undeniable witness to the fact that the matter of the separation of a part of the Church into an independent region was considered a matter for the whole Church and was not left to the unilateral discretion of the Mother Church. The Mother Church is, of course, the most important party, for formally speaking, it is her rights that have been violated, since her consent has not yet been given; she is the best informed on all the facts accompanying the separation, and she must always be listened to, but her rights are part of the law of last resort. This awareness has always been alive in the Church, for the structure of the Church, as outlined in the basic canons, has a connection with her dogmatic teaching. One should not make too much of the fact that the ecclesiastical structure of individual local churches is influenced by the political and social situation of the state in which the particular Local Church is located. These are transient historical phenomena, not the essence of ecclesiastical administration as established in the canons. That not only the Orthodox canons, but also those of the other Christian Churches are based on dogmatic teaching, is clear: if, for the Catholics, the source of grace is the Pope, then their entire system of canon law is in harmonious accord with this; the Protestants, proceeding from the historical principle of the justification of man by faith alone as a result of the direct union of the believer’s soul with Christ, have rejected any sort of hierarchy, and in so doing have lost the concept of an independent church law, separate from the law of the state. Moreover, although the question of the relation of governance to the dogmas of faith can hardly be regarded as having been clarified by scholarship, it cannot be denied that the central point for the bodyization of the Orthodox Church is the teaching expressed by the martyr Ignatius the God-Bearer: there is one universal Bishop.
Thus in days of old, when the Bulgarian Church received its autocephaly in the thirteenth century (1234) during the reign of Tsar Asen, the act of recognition of the independence of the Bulgarian Church was attested not only by the Patriarch of Constantinople, but also by the other Eastern patriarchs.Kurganov, ibid., p. 41. In the thirteenth century, Saint Sava of Serbia obtained autocephaly according to a charter from Patriarch Germanos II of Constantinople, in which he is recognized as the “Archbishop of All Serbia and the Lands of Pomorie.” The charter states that he has received the right of autocephaly “according to the image” of the Patriarch over all cities and lands, over metropolitans and bishops, priests and deacons by the divine canons; most importantly, he requests and receives “the blessing of the Patriarch and the entire Ecumenical council for future Serbian archbishops not to appear personally before the Patriarch for consecration, but to receive this at home from the Council of Serbian Bishops.”Palʹmov. “Istoricheskii vzgliad na nachalo avtokefalii Serbskoi Tserkvi i uchrezhdenie Patriarshestva v drevnei Serbii”, Khristianskoe Chtenie, 1/1891, p. 356. Not only recognition of independence, but also refusal of such recognition came not from just one church, but from all the churches. For instance, in 1346, without any prior communication with the head of his own church, the Serbian King Stefan Dušan summoned a council of all the Serbian Bishops and the Bulgarian patriarch, which proclaimed autocephaly. Then “King Andronik the Younger, together with the four universal patriarchs and the entire council of the synod and the Synkletos, put Stefan Dušan under a ban for the assumption of the title of emperor and for the appointment of a new patriarch and metropolitans and excommunicated him along with the entire clergy and laity.”Kurganov. ibid., p. 42 The matter was corrected by Stefan’s successor Lazar, who appealed for a blessing to the Patriarch of Constantinople, after which a council of the Eastern patriarchs gathered once again, which removed the anathema and decreed: “To the Slavic Serbian people, their archbishop will have complete authority, like the other patriarchs, and let him use the title of patriarch, which is possessed by no other.” In a similar way in 1591, the council of the Eastern patriarchs recognized the autocephaly of the Russian Church and bestowed the title of patriarch on the metropolitan of Moscow, and a similar council in 1593 accorded the Patriarch of Moscow the place of fifth in rank among the patriarchs. We have seen that, in 1850, the Greek Synod asked for the blessing of all the Eastern patriarchs, and from the writings of Metropolitan Philaret, we have learned that the Greek Synod also asked for the consent of the Russian Synod for autocephaly.Sobranie mnenii, V/2, p. 835. In the modern era, we find that, when in the Bulgarians and the Greeks were not able to come to an agreement about the secession of the Bulgarian sections of the Church of Constantinople, the Patriarch of Constantinople not only entered into a similar correspondence with the other patriarchs and the Russian Holy Synod, but also convened a meeting of the most influential churches (the Russian Holy Synod declined to support the Bulgarians out of reluctance to quarrel with the Patriarch of Constantinople). The Council of the Eastern Patriarchs of September 16, 1872 declared the Bulgarians to be schismatics and phyletists (though it is true that there was no unanimous decision: the Patriarch of Jerusalem left and did not sign the council’s resolution, and the council was, in terms of its composition, a council of the Greek Churches). The situation caused by this schism turned out to be rather complicated from the point of view of the unity of the Church. Professor Zankow subtly distinguishes between two issues in this case: the question of schism, and the question of the recognition of autocephaly. Concerning the Bulgarian bishops, the Council of September 16 decreed: “those who have separated themselves from the Orthodox Church, who have erected for themselves special altars, who have set up for their own phyletistic assemblies, former metropolitans who had been deposed and excommunicated, together with all the clergy and laity who, having communion with them, share their convictions and consider their blasphemous blessings and priestly acts valid and canonical…, all these we do declare to be schismatics and alien to the Orthodox Church of Christ.”Pravoslavnyi Sobesednik, 3/1873, p. 375. In actual fact, this decision turned out to be insignificant, for a number of churches maintained prayerful communion with the Bulgarian Church: Russian clerics belonging to the Russian Church and Bulgarian clerics concelebrated both in Russian and Bulgarian churches, and not only clerics, but also bishops (Bishop Seraphim, Metropolitan Platon); and Bishop Seraphim even participated with the Bulgarian bishops in the consecration of one of the Bulgarian bishops. Also, Arabs of the Antiochian and Jerusalem patriarchates performed joint worship with Bulgarian and even Greek metropolitans of the Constantinople Patriarchate during the war in 1912–1913.Zankow, ibid., p. 76
However, there was no legal recognition of independence; there was only actual recognition. Canonical acts of the Bulgarian Church relating to matters of its own internal governance were recognized (acts of consecration, degradation, marriage and divorce etc.), but there were no official written communications with the Bulgarian Church: neither communications, nor questions, nor exchanges of opinions.
In order to obtain the recognition of the other churches and to transform the state of de facto independence into one of canonical independence, the blessing of the Church was needed from which the Bulgarian Exarchate and then of all the other Churches had split off. After the proclamation of the independence of the Bulgarian Church in 1908, a basic precondition for such recognition existed, but an appeal by the Bulgarian Church to the Patriarch of Constantinople for such recognition and agreement on the territorial boundaries of the Exarchate was also essential. Only then would the proclamation of the independence of the Bulgarian Church by the Bulgarian Exarch Anfim on May 11, 1872 be legalized. This was the point at which the actual break in relations between the Exarchate and the Patriarchate had taken place, and the independent existence of the Bulgarian Church had begun. Nobody doubted that this provision would eventually be formally recognized and that the Bulgarian Church would enter into canonical unity with all the other Local Churches.
In the Romanian Church, the proclamation of autocephaly on March 13, 1885 was accompanied by an immediate official notification of this event to all the Orthodox Churches, including the Russian Holy Synod, which replied that “it received this notification with joy and sincere good wishes to His Grace.” By this reply, it declared its formal recognition.Pravoslavnyi Sobesedenik, 1/1897, p. 581.
The principle of the unity of the Church and its governance has evoked another phenomenon in ecclesiastical life that should be noted. Requesting a blessing for autocephaly from the Mother Church is not always possible, and we see that in these cases the part that has split off is forced to make an appeal to another member of the Universal Church, i.e. to another Local Church, not in order to settle scores with the Mother Church (as we will see, the gaps between the initial separation and the reception of a blessing from the Mother Church can be very long – up to almost 150 years), but in order to postpone this reception until such a time when the blessing of the Mother Church may have canonical significance. At this point, the position of this other church acquires a position temporarily replacing that of the Mother Church, similar to negotiorum gestio in civil law. While this does not settle the case definitively, it may, in fact, pre-decide it, for it is evidence for there being a valid reason for separation. It is an act of assistance in a matter concerning the whole Church, and it is also evidence of an intention on the part off the church that has split off to testify publicly to the existence of such a valid reason. Obviously, this recognition requires the subsequent approval of the Mother Church, which itself is bound by canonical principles and is not free to refuse that recognition in the face of reasons deemed valid. In refusing, she would herself come up for judgement before the tribunal of all the Churches. Cases do exist of such an appeal being made to another church, for example, in the history of the Russian Church, when, in the fifteenth century, the Patriarch of Constantinople converted to union with the Roman Church. Under Metropolitan Jonah of Moscow (d. 1461), negotiations with the Patriarch of Constantinople over the question of the formal recognition of the independence of the Russian Metropolis were not successful. This can be seen from the fact that, after Jonah’s death, his successor was elected by non-canonical means, namely by means of a special statute from the metropolitan himself. Likewise, writes Professor Pavlov,Pravoslavnoe Obozrenie [Orthodox Review], Dec. 1879, p. 763 it would not have been necessary at the time of the election of a new metropolitan to write a special apologia for the autocephalous Russian Church under the title: “A Selection of Passages from Holy Scripture, against the Latins, and a Narration on the Composition of the False Latin (Florentine) Eighth Council, and on the Institution of Metropolitans in the Land of Rusʹ.” Here, the right of the Russian bishops to elect and consecrate a metropolitan without reference to the Patriarch of Constantinople is based solely on the fact of the Union of Florence… Indeed, active relations between the Russian Church and the East – namely, with the Patriarch of Jerusalem – had already recommenced under Metropolitan Theodosius. The events surrounding the story of these relations are quite remarkable. In 1462 or 1463, the aged Patriarch Joachim of Jerusalem undertook a journey to Russia to collect alms, but on the way, he fell ill, and in his place he sent his Protosynkellus, Joseph, with letters to the Grand Duke, the metropolitan and the whole Orthodox Russian people. Incidentally, the metropolitan was charged by the patriarch to ordain the said Joseph as Metropolitan of Caesarea Philippi: an unprecedented event in the history of the Russian Church, which was certainly permitted not only with the aim of encouraging the Russians to be more generous, but also to express, in the most official way possible, the recognition on the part of one of the foremost hierarchs of the East of the canonical legality of the new order of church affairs in Rusʹ. Even more unusual is the content of Joachim’s letters to the Grand Duke and to the whole Russian people. The patriarch not only “forgives” and remits the sins of the Grand Duke and the whole Russian people in general, but also releases them from any sort of “ecclesiastical bondage” or “ban”. The epistle states: “We have blessed you from God and forgiven you as you deserve, and what is more, your humble servant has forgiven and released your nobility from bondage by the authority and grace of the Most Holy and Life-Giving Spirit…, your humble servant has released your Highness from any ecclesiastical prohibition; you were shepherded with boldness and transgressed the commandments of the fathers.”A.I. 1, No. 72 This communication with the Patriarch of Jerusalem could have been caused by the break with Constantinople. Patriarch Joachim’s epistles could also have given rise, according to Professor Pavlov, to the subsequent history of the Eastern Patriarchs sending a special epistle acknowledging the autocephaly of the Russian metropolitanate. Nikon’s version of a later event, namely the establishment of the patriarchate in Russia, mentions the sending of this letter: “For that reason (i.e. due to the conquest of Constantinople by the Turks), the Russian metropolitans received authority from the Palestinian patriarchs for Russian metropolitans not to have to come to Constantinople for consecration, but to be able to elect metropolitans from among their own bishops.” So, in the period from the middle of the fifteenth century up to the establishment of the patriarchate at the Council of the Eastern Patriarchs in Constantinople in 1591, the Russian Church was effectively autocephalous, but it did not yet have the full recognition of all the Local Churches: it lacked that of the most important of them – Constantinople – since it was part of its jurisdiction. This opinion that the recognition of the autocephaly of the Russian Church took place only in 1591 was held by the best researchers on the history of the introduction of the patriarchate in Russia: the historian Professor Nikolaevskii and the canonist Professor Suvorov.Kurs tserk[ovnogo] pr[ava], 1, p. 136.
In the Moldavian Church, for example, we encounter a request for help from another Church besides the Mother Church. A 1711 history of Prince Cantemir, which I cite here according to Metropolitan Philaret’s collected works,Sobranie mnenii, V/2, p. 836 says: “From the establishment of this see until the time of the Council of Florence, the consecration of the Moldavian metropolitans took place at the hand of the Patriarch of Constantinople. And since the metropolitan at the time was self-willed and ignorant of Holy Scripture, he signed all the false and deceptive conclusions of the Council for the promised honor of the seventh seat and other honors that the Pope offered him, contrary to the wish of the envoy who had been sent with him from Prince Alexander the Good of Moldavia, and would not dare to return to Moldavia upon departing from the Council. Then Bishop Mark of Ephesus gave to Moldavia his archdeacon, a Bulgarian by birth and a very glorious man due to his humility and right faith, and when the Patriarch of Constantinople took the opposing side, ordered him to receive confirmation for this from the Patriarch of Ohrid.” From that time until the beginning of the seventeenth century, the Moldavian metropolitans had to be consecrated by the Patriarch of Ohrid. Metropolitan Philaret adds that: “In that way, after the Union of Florence, the Moldavian metropolitan did not receive consecration not due to the right of his independence but because of need, since the patriarch was not Orthodox, and Mark of Ephesus did not recognize the Moldavian metropolitan as independent and made him dependent on the Patriarch of Ohrid because of need.” Later, Patriarch Parthenios of Constantinople gave a reminder of the right of his throne, and Prince Vasile, out of respect for such writing by the Patriarch and the Council, specified that from then on, the Metropolitan of Moldavia would not be consecrated by anyone besides the Patriarch of Constantinople, and this determination was soon confirmed at the Local Council which was gathered under this Prince in Jassy against iconoclasts and other heretics of the day through the agreement and signature of all patriarchs, including the Patriarch of Ohrid.”
The choice of the Church to which another Church turns in cases of need is determined not by any canonical considerations regarding the rights of any Local Church, but simply by definite reliance upon actual help and influence on the part of a specific Church, since the Orthodox Church does not have a center that is found in a specific Local Church which would concentrate in itself any special rights of authority. The Patriarch of Constantinople, as we will see below, likewise has no special jurisdictional rights over other local churches, besides the right of honor to be titled first among others and of chairmanship at Councils. Thus, we know of the occasion when Serbian hierarchs of nine dioceses of the destroyed Patriarchate of Peć, through Metropolitan Sava Petrović of Montenegro, protested to Metropolitan Platon of Moscow at the end of the eighteenth century against the destruction of this Patriarchate in 1766 by Patriarch Samuel of Constantinople. These Churches wished to have the higher jurisdiction of the Russian Holy Synod over them under only the immediate rule of their “Archbishop”.Palʹmov, op. cit., p. 374. A request for help may extend to various matters. Thus, the Patriarch of Constantinople requested assistance from the Russian Holy Synod in influencing the Romanian ruler Cuza to repeal anticanonical legislation in 1865. He wrote the following on this subject to the Russian Holy Synod: “We are convinced that in this matter, which demands spiritual unity and unanimity in Christ from all Orthodox Churches, your honorable love, too… will accept for discussion and consideration everything that will be beneficial toward this end, and, with sufficient care and within the limits of the rights provided by the canons, will not fail to take other salvific measures, as well, in order to render vain those efforts against which Christ’s Great Church has fought until now in the spirit of meekness. For this we expect of you not only expressions of serious outlook and judgment of your pious wisdom, but also brotherly cooperation and spiritual help from your zeal for God toward the cessation of such a dangerous state of affairs.”Kolokolʹtsev, Rumynskaia Tserkovʹ. 1/1897, p. 468.
And when autocephaly is proclaimed there has to be free expression not only on the part of the portion that is separating but on the part of the Mother Church as well. Any act taking place in conditions allowing the least possibility of coercion in the expression of will is canonically worthless.
A basic condition of the validity of any legal act is physical freedom in the expression of will, so that the signature following this expression expresses the actual will. This legal principle has particularly stringent application in internal church matters, which in certain instances rely directly upon the illumination of the Holy Spirit. The least suspicion that a signature of a person does not correspond to his inner volition discredits the act. This is why entire Councils were denied any canonical significance by the Church, if the freedom of volition was suspect. This is what happened with the Robbers’ Council of 449, in spite of the participation of several hundred bishops. And when autocephaly is proclaimed there has to be free expression not only on the part of the portion that is separating but on the part of the Mother Church as well. Any act taking place in conditions allowing the least possibility of coercion in the expression of will is canonically worthless. Thus, from this point of view, it is totally irrelevant whether or not Metropolitan Sergii of Nizhny Novgorod, who is in captivity to a theomachist regime, recognizes Polish autocephaly. He cannot be regarded as expressing the actual mindset of the Russian Church.
The rights of a Local Church cannot be infringed upon by the fact that it is currently in a situation in which its voice does not have canonical significance. Once such circumstances are gone, it can express its volition, as we see in the example of the Russian Church, which separated from the Church of Constantinople, but after many years regularized its relationship with her. The same happened with the Romanian Church, which separated in the same period. At some point, the Patriarch of Constantinople reasserted his rights, and relations were regularized. The position we are asserting is merely the application of the canonical principle which was expressed for another cause, namely in Canon 37 of the Sixth Ecumenical Council. “For the definition of economy shall not be restricted or limited by the circumstances of necessity or be circumscribed as touching its vigor.” It is true that the canon deals with a concrete manner of the exercise of ecclesiastical authority in a spatial sense, but it clearly contains the general principle that the Church’s rights cannot be infringed upon by the needs of the time.
Having examined the conditions for proclaiming autocephaly within the Church, we must address the aspect that is external to the Church, directed toward government. The contemporary nation has left behind the principle of unlimited sovereignty that has filled political teachings since the time of Bowden (sixteenth century) and adopted an understanding of sovereignty which gives a government just the highest legal authority in secular matters rather than unlimited authority. From this point of view, while granting the Church freedom in its internal matters, it retains the right to regulate the Church’s extralegal situation. It has the right to separate itself totally from the Church, subjecting it to the general right of associations; it can grant to the Church the status of a legal public corporation, cooperating with it on its part, and it can even give to the Church’s acts the same power that it gives to its own acts. Government is free in its sphere, and due to its sovereignty, it has the right to be concerned with its own peacefulness and security. This principle is valid regarding autocephaly as well. Its connection to the autocephaly issue can be seen in the phenomenon that political independence is always followed by ecclesiastical self-sufficiency. This has gained the status of a historical law. Apparently, there is inner reason for this, which is the fact that the issue of autocephaly is not a purely ecclesiastical matter, affecting only the Church, but an issue of a so-called mixed nature, affecting both Church and government. Church and government cannot be separated from each other. They always have overlapping spheres, or ones whose commonality is brought about by the fact that the same phenomena fall within the competence of both of them, with each viewing them through its own purview (distribution of parishes and dioceses, upbringing, marriage, schools), or the kind in which they expect mutual cooperation (national loyalty, protection of morality), or the kind that due to historical traditions were laid upon each other or dealt with together. The issue of autocephaly belongs to the first category. Although the encroachment of politicization into the Church is anticanonical, history has demonstrated that ecclesiastical communities are not actually free of it everywhere, and canonical principles of non-involvement in political and secular matters are sacrificed for national and political purposes. We can recall the fourteenth century church conflicts between the Serbs and Greeks, and those in the 1860s and ’70s between the Greeks and Bulgarians, the influence and interference by the Great Powers (France and England), and, as a counterbalance to them, by Russia, not only by the Holy Synod, which was natural, but by the Foreign Ministry as well (this last one had political aims, as was made clear by Prince Gregory Troubetskoy in his Russia and the Ecumenical Patriarchate after the Crimean War) while creating a new church statute in Turkey in 1860. And Russia’s influence in Polish affairs in the eighteenth century should also be mentioned here. All this suffices to understand the legality by any nation of protecting the ecclesiastical milieu from any political secular interference from outside. Therefore, each nation has the right to establish whether it will allow hierarchical subjection to a Church that is within another nation. It must be noted that the cooperation between autocephalous Churches in basic canonical issues cannot affect the political sphere at all. But it is another matter when one Church is subject to another hierarchically, for then the composition of one hierarchy is subject to another hierarchy, which influences that composition and, through this, the immediate governance taking place in totally different political circumstances. We saw that, back in the ninth century, Patriarch Photios refused to cede the Illyrian and Achaean Provinces to the Pope, since he doubted that the Byzantine Emperor would allow the Pope to exercise authority in provinces that were part of the Byzantine Empire. We are not touching upon the complex issue of distributing matters between Church and state. We are simply pointing out that this issue affects a nation’s order, and therefore cannot be resolved one way or another without its consent. A government has the right to control ecclesiastical matters as long as its interests are affected, without infringing upon the Church’s internal matters, but demanding that it be asked for its consent when it is called upon to make decisions from its point of view, based upon its sovereignty. The principle of the correspondence of the issue of autocephaly with the will of the nation in which the Local Church is located goes hand in hand with the ecclesiastical principle of the correspondence of church boundaries with national boundaries, which we have discussed earlier. A government has the right to remind a Local Church of this principle, since on the Church’s part, in this case, this is only rendering to Ceasar what is Ceasar’s. The issue of autocephaly does not affect the basic canons, but affects only their application, which not only does not contradict basic canon law, but even corresponds to the established principle in it regarding the establishment of ecclesiastical boundaries in correspondence with national ones.
The rights of a Local Church cannot be disfranchised by the fact that, at the present time, she is in a situation in which her voice has no canonical significance.
In the same way, a government has the right to demand from the Church that her bishops be naturalized citizens and totally loyal to it. This originates from the same theory of the symphony of authorities which was contained in the teaching of the Holy Fathers from the earliest times and the entire Orthodox hierarchy. This theory is developed in detail in our work on Patriarch Nikon and we will not repeat it. We will say only that for matters of a mixed nature, i.e. ones that equally affect both Church and government, they must act in agreement. As for bishops, when the system of relations between Church and government is one in which the government endows a body of the Church with special public and legal powers, there cannot, of course, be any possibility of assigning bishops without the wishes of the national authorities. This issue is, by the way, mentioned by Bishop John of Smolensk in his commentary on the Seventh Ecumenical Council: “The legitimate influence of the highest governmental authorities upon the selection of the Church’s pastors, especially for the most important sees, was always fully recognized by the Church, and consecrations were never performed without the consent and confirmation by these authorities.”Kurs…, II, p. 518. This norm regarding cooperation between Church and government in the matter of assigning bishops can be regarded as a custom, or a norm of usual ecclesiastical law. Sometimes this is specifically mentioned by church laws (for example, in the Bulgarian Church).Zankow, 11, p. 184.
The Rights of the Patriarch of Constantinople
It remains for us to touch upon the issue of the rights of the Patriarch of Constantinople over other churches. This issue has basic importance for the question of whether the Patriarch of Constantinople can personally grant autocephaly to individual Churches separating not from his patriarchate, but from other Churches. For such an act on his part to have legal power, it is necessary that it not lie outside his purview. If it does, he does not have the legal power to grant autocephaly. This does not mean that it loses all legal meaning, for it can have another meaning, such as the meaning of recognizing autocephaly, and to be accepted in this respect by legal recognition and to become an object of legal evaluation. To recognize the right of the Patriarch of Constantinople to grant autocephaly to a part of another Church, it must be recognized that he has
1. the right to violate the rights of another Church (in this case the one from whom a part is taken out) without her consent, i.e. to acknowledge that he has legal supremacy over other Churches, and likewise
2. the right to bind all other Churches by his sentence, without their own investigation of the matter and trial, and for this to be regarded as a final sentence. Such a sentence, however, may have another moral meaning, a testimonial assertion that the separating part did so not for the sake of the arrogance of worldly powers such as is forbidden by the canons. Evaluated in this way, the actual sentence can constitute a particularly important factor in a legal sense as well, since it can predetermine in a certain sense the separation of the Church before the judgment of all the other Local Churches. This does not mean that it can replace it with a level of legal force that would be obligatory for them.
The Patriarch of Constantinople can provide cooperation and assistance to the separating part of another Church by his authoritative witness that the separation had taken place for a cause worthy of a blessing and can give it psychological support, but he cannot aggressively deny the Mother Church the right to present her explanations and rights at a trial with all Local Churches, and he cannot invest his judgment with the force of a final sentence. However, he can have his significance in formulating this sentence. What legal significance does he have? Before answering this question, we need to determine the canonical position of the Patriarchate of Constantinople among the other Local Churches.
Since there is no codified law in the Orthodox Church, it has to be derived from a basic canon and supplemented by a general clarification of the legal consciousness. The outlook that concedes to the Patriarch of Constantinople the jurisdictional right over other Churches relies upon a series of canons, interpreting them arbitrarily in a direction for which there is no support in the law of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Let us first make a reminder of the word “title.” “Title” is not a description of personal rights, but is left as a historical memory of an event which at some point had great significance in an institution’s history. The title “ecumenical” speaks not of the entire Orthodox world, but of the Byzantine Roman Empire at the end of the sixth century, which was then called universal. Balsamon, the twelfth-century Byzantine canonist, in spite of the fact that he wished “The Patriarch of Constantinople to have all of the advantages granted him by divine laws” (among them he had imperial laws in mind, since the emperor was the divine Augustine [sic! read: “Augustus” – transl.]), held to the theory of the five senses as “taking the place of the head of the Holy Churches,” i.e. he allotted the supreme authority in the Church to the aggregate of the five patriarchs, expecting the return of the Roman Pope to unity with the other patriarchs.Suvorov, Vizantiiskii Papa, pp. 130–131.
Similar titles are encountered in the designations of national heads, but no one contemplates using them to make legal conclusions regarding rights. For instance, the Russian Emperor was called, among other things, an heir to Norway in his title, but no one with a historical memory of the rights of Peter III linked them to the rights of a Russian emperor of the nineteenth century. The same applies to the titles of the other patriarchs. The Patriarch of Alexandria is titled “His Divine Beatitude the Pope and Patriarch of the Great City of Alexandria, Libia, Pentapolis, Ethiopia, All Egypt and All Africa, Father of Fathers, Pastor of Pastors, Prelate of Prelates, the Thirteenth of the Apostles and Judge of the Universe.” The title of the Patriarch of Antioch proclaims: “The Most Blessed, Most Divine, and Most Holy Patriarch of the great Godly City of Antioch, Syria, Arabia, Cilicia, Iberia, Mesopotamia, and the entire East, Father of Fathers, Pastor of Pastors, the Thirteenth of the Apostles, Lord and Master.” Actually, these hierarchs of hierarchs were sometimes the only hierarchs in the named countries and the limits of their jurisdiction did not extend beyond their territory. The canonical position of the Patriarch of Constantinople is defined by canons II, 3, IV, 28, and VI, 36. The first of these knows only the Bishop of Constantinople as subjected to that of Heraclea in the Diocese of Thrace and assigns him just a place of honor (after Rome) due to the transfer of the capital to Constantinople. It proclaims the following: “Let the Bishop of Constantinople, however, be given primacy of honor after the Bishop of Rome, for this city is the New Rome.” This canon placed this bishop, who was subject to the Metropolitan of Heraclea, above the other patriarchs in honor – in first place after the Bishop of Rome. But his privileged position in the capital (after the emperor) led the Patriarch of Constantinople to subject to himself the nearby dioceses of Pontus, Asia, and Thrace, and the Fourth Ecumenical Council legalized this situation in its 28th canon, placing the Patriarch of Constantinople over the metropolitans of the named dioceses as well as over the bishops who were dependent upon the abovementioned metropolitans, who were outside the Byzantine Empire. Canon 28 proclaims: “…the one hundred and fifty most God-beloved Bishops have accorded the like priorities to the most holy throne of New Rome, with good reason deeming that the city which is the seat of an empire, and of a senate, and is equal to old imperial Rome in respect of other privileges and priorities, should be magnified also as she is in respect of ecclesiastical affairs, as coming next after her, or as being second to her. And it is arranged so that only the Metropolitans of the Pontic, Asian, and Thracian dioceses shall be ordained by the most holy throne of the most holy Church of Constantinople aforesaid, and likewise the Bishops of the aforesaid dioceses which are situated in barbarian lands; that is to say, that each of the Metropolitans of the aforesaid dioceses, together with the Bishops of the province, just as prescribed by the divine Canons. But the Metropolitans of the aforesaid dioceses, as has been said, are to be ordained by the Archbishop of Constantinople, after the elections have first been conducted in accordance with custom, and have been reported to him.” This canon, which was later confirmed and supplemented by the establishment of the patriarchs’ ranks (Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem) in Canon 36 of the Sixth Ecumenical Council, is the date at which the existence of the Patriarch of Constantinople begins and the independent existence of the Metropolitans of Pontus, Asia, and Thrace ceases, at their voluntary and written agreement at the Council. In his commentary on IV, 28, Bishop John of Smolensk writes: “The Council added to its canon that bishops of barbarian lands who are attached by the church administration to the aforesaid regions should also be ordained by the same Patriarch of Constantinople. These bishops are of those places and ethnicities which have adopted the teaching of faith and baptism from the Orthodox in Byzantium and received from them their first pastors. The episcopal sees of such countries were included in metropolitanates and episcopates that were subject to the Throne of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.”Opyt…, II, pp. 315–316.
The position of the Patriarch of Constantinople, which was created by the unambiguous Canon 28, brought about many efforts of extraordinarily wide interpretation in different historical eras in three directions, as follows:
1. in the sense of extending the rights of the Patriarch of Constantinople over other patriarchs by means of a special interpretation of the preposition “after.” Other proofs were added to this.
2. in the sense of the exclusive right of the Church of Constantinople alone to send bishops with a mission in partes infidelum, i.e. the exclusive jurisdictional right outside the borders of the empire and other autocephalous Churches.
3. in the ecclesiastical-political sense, I mean in relation to secular imperial power. All of these phenomena have created a current of thought known as ‘eastern papism’. Efforts toward their theoretical defense have been refuted in literature. The last two directions are of interest to us since they confirm and illustrate a general effort to measure up to the Pope of Rome and we can limit ourselves by simply mentioning them (much is said about them in the book by Professor Suvorov The Byzantine Pope, and in Professor Troitskii’s article “On the Jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarch”), while the first one affects us more immediately and therefore merits a more detailed examination.
A basis for this extension of power was searched for in the canons in an effort to transform primacy of honor into primacy of power. In Byzantium, the literal sense of II, 3, and IV, 28, was not sufficient, despite efforts to place the Bishop of Constantinople on an equal footing to that of Rome. Nonetheless, the Roman bishop retained the first rank, and Constantinople had the second one “after” him. An effort was made to interpret the preposition “after” in the sense of the succession of time rather than honor, i.e. the Bishop of Constantinople also has the first rank, but he got it later. This is how Aristines expressed it: “The preposition ‘after’ signifies not honor but time, which is like someone saying that after much time the Bishop of Constantinople received equal honor with the Bishop of Rome.” Zonaras and Balsamon refuted this understanding. They interpreted this “after” in a legal sense, which denotes a reduction or lowering before the Roman bishop in the advantages of honor. In our day, Professor Pavlov echoes their arguments (in his critique of Barsov’s book The Patriarch of Constantinople and His Authority Over the Russian Church). He notes that both patriarchs, despite their equality of rights, cannot be equal in honor, since one of them (the Roman one) must always take first place for the sake of order and consistency, and the other (invariably the Constantinople one) must always take second place. “Whichever of two individuals with equal rights is, always and in everything, a de jure step ahead, should be thought of having primacy of honor. The Eastern Church has always granted such primacy to the Roman bishop ahead of all the hierarchs of the Christian world. We have no need to dwell upon this worn out subject, for it suffices to note only, in clarification of the Chalcedon canon, that, along with recognizing the inequality of honor of the two named hierarchs, it made them completely equal in terms of authority, for it subjected three dioceses to the Bishop of Constantinople with the right to consecrate their metropolitans, call them to a Council, conduct their trials, and so on. In a word, he recognized him to be as much of a patriarch as was the Pope… According to the size of the territory with which the new patriarch was entrusted, he actually outdid all the other patriarchs of the East and was positioned closest to the Pope of Rome.”Pavlov, “Teoriia vostochnogo papizma”, Pravoslavnoe Obozrenie 1879, p. 492. Professor Barsov’s interpretation of Canon VI, 36, which established the patriarchs’ ranks, was that it established two centers of supreme individual church authority with hierarchs of the old and new Rome, and with totally equal rights. Professor Pavlov noted that Barsov bases his opinion upon the fact that the Trullo Council of 692 did not directly condemn the influence which the Patriarch of Constantinople acquired at the expense of the southern patriarchs in their patriarchates due to their being invaded by the Muslims, and concluded incorrectly that whatever is not expressly forbidden is legitimized.Pavlov, ibid., p. 493. Attributing such an interpretation to the Trullo Council is the more unacceptable because in its Canons 37 and 39, it established the principle of the unacceptability of limiting hierarchical rights as a consequence of sees coming under the domination of the faithless. Therefore VI, 36 actually not only did not destroy the equality of all the patriarchs, but it confirmed it and simply established the order of honor. However, the idea of Constantinople’s equality with Rome erupted with new force in the middle of the ninth century and was complicated by another idea. It was said in the period of the Ecumenical Councils that the Bishop of the New Rome immediately follows the Bishop of the Old Rome in terms of honor and has advantages equal to him, but no one said that the Bishop of the Old Rome had lost his advantages and that they were transferred to the Bishop of the New Rome. This last idea was expressed around the middle of the ninth century, when Old Rome separated out of the Eastern Empire and a breakup of the church nearly took place.Suvorov, Vizantiiskii Papa, p. 133. Now only the Patriarch of Constantinople was paired up with imperial authority, while nothing was said about the Roman one, and the other patriarchs were secondary and subject to the Patriarch of Constantinople. These ideas were expressed by Patriarch Photios in his Epanogogue. In it, the Patriarch of Constantinople differs from the other patriarchs by three privileges:
1, he is recognized as the first among them;
2. he has the right to receive appeals in any other patriarchal region;
3. “he gives stavropegias in regions of other thrones.”
As is known, the directives of the Epanogogue and the work itself remained as a draft, and simply reflected the inner strivings of Patriarch Photios, and Professor Pavlov writes quite justly that “Photios is accused not without basis of an exaggerated view regarding the importance of his see. Just this circumstance prompts us to treat with a certain amount of skepticism his attempt to present, on the basis of the Epanogogue, a legal image of the Patriarch of Constantinople as the senior prelate of the Christian Church.”Ibid., p. 736. In the twelfth century, Balsamon, despite all his strivings to increase the importance of the Patriarch of Constantinople, wrote a tract “On the Patriarchal Privileges,” and tried to prove that patriarchs enslaved by the faithless remain patriarchs just as those of Rome and Constantinople. The Pentarchy theory, about the supreme power of the five patriarchs, was based by him not just upon a comparison with a huma bodyism and its five senses, but upon positive definitions of canonical law and upon the recognition of the equal rights and mutual independence of the five patriarchal thrones (Canons 36 and 37 of Trullo), despite enslavement by the faithless. Thus, the primacy of the Patriarch of Constantinople does not give him the right to rule in other independent Churches. The idea of independence and equal rights of the patriarchal thrones is confirmed in Orthodox credal books (The Confession of Faith by the ktetor Hieromonk Metrophanes, later Patriarch of Alexandria), and the official codex of The Pedalion, in the Scholia on IV, 9.
To prove the supreme rights of the Patriarch of Constantinople canons 9 and 17 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council are cited, in which appeals are referred to either the diocesan exarch or to the throne of the imperial capital Constantinople. Here is IV, 9: “If any Clergyman has a dispute with another, let him not leave his own Bishop and resort to secular courts, but let him first submit his case to his own Bishop, or let it be tried by referees chosen by both parties and approved by the Bishop. Let anyone who acts contrary hereto be liable to Canonical penalties. If, on the other hand, a Clergyman has a dispute with his own Bishop, or with some other Bishop, let it be tried by the Synod of the province. But if any Bishop or Clergyman has a dispute with the Metropolitan of the same province, let him apply either to the Exarch of the diocese or to the throne of the imperial capital Constantinople, and let it be tried before him.”
And IV, 17: “As touching rural parishes, or country parishes, in any province, they shall remain in the possession of the bishops now holding them, and especially if they have held them in their possession and have managed them without coercion for thirty years or more. But if during a period of thirty years there has arisen or should arise some dispute concerning them, those claiming to have been unjustly treated shall be permitted to complain to the Synod of the province. But if anyone has been unjustly treated by his own Metropolitan, let him complain to the Exarch of the diocese, or let him have the case tried before the throne of Constantinople, according to the aforesaid [a reference to Canon 9]. If, on the other hand, any city has been rebuilt by imperial authority, or has been built anew again, pursuant to civil and public formalities, let the order of ecclesiastical parishes be followed.” This canon is sometimes interpreted as the right of the Patriarch of Constantinople to receive appeals to the decisions of the metropolitanate courts of another patriarchate, making him chief justice for the entire East. We must, however, note the nature of the matters that are affected by this canon. There is decisive agreement by all commentators (Aristines, Zonaras, Balsamon, Bishop John of Smolensk, and Nicodemus Milash) that this is not about church matters, nor about liturgical service, which in themselves are subject to the judgment of the church leadership, but about private matters between the clergy having to do with disputes, litigation, mutual dissatisfaction, and so on. The church leadership has always striven to keep such matters within the heart of the church community and to avoid secular courts, for the sake of maintaining the moral authority of the clergy, noting Apostle Paul’s exhortation not to choose judges from among the heathen. Even if we can see in canon 9 any sort of privilege for the Patriarch of Constantinople over other patriarchs, we still should not forget that for such matters those who turned to the Patriarch did so not out of duty but only at the wish of both disputing parties, for the trial in such cases was mediative. There was no predominance here of power in the person of the Patriarch of Constantinople. He could not have, based on this canon, brought the matter to his own trial on his own initiative or at the wish of one disputing party, for the consent of both parties was necessary. Thus, anyone wishing to make out of this an analogy for a trial regarding purely church matters would not receive any right of power over other Churches for the Patriarch of Constantinople. In the commentary on Canon 17 of the same Council, which establishes, in terms totally similar to those in Canon 9, the order of trial instances, but only in the matter of distributing parishes, Zonaras notes specifically that the Patriarch of Constantinople is made a judge only over individuals within his patriarchate. He writes: “But the Patriarch of Constantinople is made a judge not over everyone without exception, but only over those who are subject to him. For he cannot bring to his trial the Metropolitans of Syria or Palestine and Phoenicia, or of Egypt against their will, but the Metropolitans of Syria are liable to trial by the Patriarch of Antioch, while those of Palestine to the Patriarch of Jerusalem, and the Egyptian ones must be tried by the Patriarch of Alexandria, from whom they receive their consecration and under whose subjection they are.” We are not discussing the fact that certain commentators totally refuse to see any sort of advantage in this canon for the Patriarch of Constantinople, and the mention of the Bishop of Constantinople is explained by the fact that, when the ninth canon was written, he was not yet the exarch of the diocese and had no definite boundaries to his judicial activities. It was actually determined by the fact that, already long before the Fourth Council, appeals would come to him from three dioceses (Pontus, Asia, and Thrace) as to a more influential bishop who actually already had authority in these dioceses. Professor Pavlov writes,Pr[avoslavnoe] Ob[ozrenie], ibid., 739. “But then the same Council issues a supplementary ruling in which it formally subjects three dioceses as one ecclesiastical region – one diocese – to the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of the New Rome. What did this latest ruling have to do with the preceding canons of that same Council? Apparently, it transformed the previous privilege of the bishop of the capital into a usual right of an exarch and essentially cancelled it… Canons 9 and 17 came to mean that the right of a final decision in each diocese (patriarchate) belongs exclusively to the local patriarch. This interpretation was given to these canons by both 123 and Justinian’s Novella, which confirmed the presence of two instances of a church trial in the matters of bishops, a metropolitan, and a local patriarch. There had been cases of appeals to the Patriarch of Constantinople regarding matters that had been decided at regional councils by other patriarchs, and with the goal of finding non-canonical bases, they cited Canons 9 and 7 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council, sometimes designating the Patriarch of Constantinople as heir to the Roman throne (Aristines and Nilus Doxopatris). However, Zonaras and Balsamon, the most authoritative commentators, regarded each patriarch to be the final judge in his own diocese, and the canonical dogma of the equality of judicial rights of all patriarchs was recognized by the official scholiast of the Constantinople Pedalion, who decidedly rejects the right of the Patriarch of Constantinople to receive appeals from other patriarchal regions, and does so in spite of the fact that historical circumstances were favorable to the spread of the rights of the Patriarch of Constantinople to patriarchates that had been invaded by the Muslims.”
The deductions based on the Epanogogue that have the Patriarch of Constantinople having the right to establish stavropegias in other patriarchates are refuted by the fact that it was not a recognized law, and Balsamon, who was a defender of the prerogatives of the Patriarch of Constantinople, refers to the right of stavropegias as an advantage that was common to all patriarchs, and not to each in his own patriarchate. We should remember, however, that the worldview of the Epanogogue was not canonized, nor was it accepted by Orthodox legal consciousness, and was not even entered into the so-called Nomocanon of Photios, which contained all the canons of the Orthodox Church. In the best case, its structure remained merely the dream of the great patriarch, influencing the views of certain ecclesiastical and political figures. Having clarified the legal position of the Patriarch of Constantinople in terms of denying him any rights of supremacy over other Local Churches, we are far from denying his importance as head of the Local Church that is first in honor.
We cannot, however, fail to mention here a certain special complex of rights which belong to the Patriarch of Constantinople as first in honor among all the prelates of Local Churches, as well as those that belonged to him from 1453 until the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne as the ethnarch for Turkey’s Christian citizens. Aiding other churches in urgent need at their invitation or even at his own initiative, as well as acting as a mediator between Churches in dispute at their invitation is an act of helping, and, in a sense, it is a duty of the prelate of a Local Church who is first in honor. This is how certain Patriarchs of Constantinople conceived of their duty. Samuel I expressed this in a 1766 synodal act: “According to the ancient pronomia, the Most Holy Apostolic Patriarchal Throne has been accustomed to extend the hand of assistance with all concern and patronal attention, caring and providing necessary help, to dioceses and regions found everywhere, in a timely fashion.” These words do not specify the role of the Patriarch of Constantinople, or the nature of his help, with sufficient precision, whether this help is characterized by power, advice and material assistance, or mediation at the invitation by both parties, but, judging by the tone of the expressions, they do not demonstrate a pretension to an obligatory right for other jurisdictions, and we cannot discern in such help a manifestation of the idea of eastern papism. What is expressed more clearly is the idea of mediations for the sake of preserving the existing right in a request for help in a 1687 letter from Patriarch Iakovos regarding the effort by the Sinai Archepiscopate to establish a self-willed autocephaly, despite opposition by its hierarchical leadership in the person of the Patriarch of Jerusalem. The Patriarch of Jerusalem and his Synod, having found it impossible to bring the Archbishop of Sinai to obedience, turned to the Patriarch of Constantinople with a request that he, in accordance with divine laws and the holy canons, would apply his just punishment with respect to those who have lost their way and prefer their own wishes to the holy condition of the Church. The Patriarch of Constantinople then announced as invalid all of the innovations by the Archbishop of Sinai and his title the Most Blessed with the goal of attaining autocephaly and breaking away from canonical dependence upon the Patriarch of Jerusalem. The letterI. I. Sokolov. “O sovremennom upravlenii Konstantinopolʹskoi Tserkvi”, appendix to Tserkovnye Vedomosti, No. 8/1906, p. 360. states that the Patriarch and Synod of the Church of Constantinople, in condemning and rejecting the innovations of Archbishop Ananias of Sinai, wish to preserve as unshakeable all the pronomias of the holy Churches everywhere as they are defined by the apostolic rules, and patristic and conciliar rulings, while they motivate their interference in the matters of another Church by the established practice of discussing issues presented to the Ecumenical Patriarch as mediator in settling disputes, eliminating disorders arising within others of God’s Churches, and expediently correcting deviations that may occur. Since this is based upon the idea of mediation, in which the parties turn to the Patriarch of Constantinople for arbitration, this seems to eliminate the element of power as a personal right. In another instance, the principle that the Patriarch of Constantinople cannot take away anyone’s rights was emphasized. Specifically, the 1792 synodal definition by Patriarch Neophytos regarding the return of the Aleppo Metropolitanate to the authority of the Patriarch of Antioch states: “Cooperation with and, if possible, help in need for the rest of the Most Holy Patriarchal and Apostolic Thrones has been the absolute obligation of the Patriarchal Ecumenical Throne from the earliest times. Taking rights away from them and harming them for personal profit was not only never done but has never been heard of.”Ibid., p. 362 These words demonstrate at least the awareness that violating the rights of another is unacceptable. The concern expressed here originates from the principle of assistance by the Patriarchs of the New Rome as the first among equals. Such assistance is fully natural from any other Local Church as well and is most appropriate in the first place on the part of the first prelate. However, this right belongs to any other Church as a function of the Church’s unity. We have seen that such help was provided by the Patriarchs of Jerusalem and Ohrid and by the Russian Synod. In theory, there has been interference of a different nature, condemning the striving of the power hungry toward headship of the whole Church. Eastern Orthodox canon law cannot justify and base such strivings of the Patriarchs of Constantinople, which do emerge from time to time. Our conclusion is the position that the Patriarch of Constantinople has the right and even the duty to assist other Churches as long as he is asked to do this. He can act on his own initiative for the sake of defending the existing right, but he has no right to violate anyone’s rights. This was the thinking of the best Patriarchs of Constantinople, and this is how the matter stands in view of the absence of authority by the Patriarch of Constantinople to exercise power in other Local Churches as a function of his own rights. In certain cases, namely when it is not possible for a Church to do so, he can intercede for another Church as a negotiorum gestor. In civil law, negotiorum gesto is the conduct of cases without authorization by the litigant, who cannot exercise this authority for one reason or another (for instance, absence to an unknown location), but then the one who has taken on this matter is responsible to act in the interests of the missing party, but he cannot weaken the rights of the Church that he is defending or appropriate them, for her rights are not disfranchised by the impossibility of realizing them due to the basic principle expressed in Canon 37 of the Sixth Ecumenical Council: “For the definition of economy shall not be restricted or limited by the circumstances of necessity or be circumscribed as touching its vigor.” Alongside the position that the Patriarch of Constantinople had in the church sphere, due to his rank as prelate of the Church that was first in honor, there was a whole area in which he had very extensive rights which were not derived from his ecclesiastical authority but granted him by government authorities. Although these rights have no connection with his ecclesiastical rights, they contributed to the increase of his general authority and could indirectly affect his general position in the Orthodox world. I have in mind his extensive jurisdiction in purely civil matters which the sultan gave him immediately upon taking Constantinople, because Muslim law could not in any way be applied to a Christian population. This way the Patriarch of Constantinople became not only the ruler of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, but also a full civil ruler of all Orthodox subjects of the extensive Turkish Empire. The very presence of such civil power made Constantinople a symbol uniting the Greeks suffering under the Turkish yoke. The Ekonomos correctly expressed the feelings of the Hellenes toward Constantinople when he wrote: “This throne (the Ecumenical Throne of Constantinople), whose name we recall so readily, this insuperable and indestructible throne is the gatherer and restorer the nation of the Hellenes during its hard captivity and general decline. This throne gave birth to and strengthened spiritual pastors and teachers who saved the Church from so many invading barbarians and atheists and impious destroyers. It repeatedly restored destroyed altars and preserved the freedom of holy rites amidst the impious domination, having been placed like a shining regional beacon between the Egyptian camp and the sons of Israel.” However, from the idea of this center of national unification, saving Hellenic culture and faith amidst the Muslim sea, the line of thinking unnoticeably crossed over to the idea of a center of church unification for all, and the rights of the Bishop of Constantinople started being mentally carried over into the entire Church Universal. The idea of church unity under the leadership of the Patriarch of Constantinople was aided by a whole series of political factors, including the political significance of Constantinople for the Greeks, the isolated situation of the Patriarch of Constantinople amidst a foreign regime of a different faith, and the civil rights of administration and the judiciary granted to him by the sultan. All this markedly increased the Patriarch’s importance in the Greeks’ civil and religious life, and they connected this temporary importance of the Patriarch of Constantinople with the Church Universal out of nationalist feeling and shifted his national leadership to leadership in the Church Universal.
We cannot find, however, rights of individual jurisdiction by the Patriarch of Constantinople over other independent Churches in any of the canons. On the contrary, for him, too, the norm regarding not mixing church boundaries is mandatory. Canon 2 of the Second Ecumenical Council reads: “Bishops must not leave their diocese and go over to churches beyond their boundaries.”
It stands to reason that this is not an obstacle for the Patriarchate of Constantinople, as the first Church in honor, to use the inner worthiness of its acts to increase its prestige among other Local Churches and become the focus of its inner unity. The President of the Polish Republic spoke of its moral and historical importance in December of 1930 at his reception of a representative of the Patriarch of Constantinople.
We will add also that in refusing to grant the final word to the voice of the Patriarch of Constantinople in the issue of autocephaly, as we refuse to recognize it in the voice of the Mother Church as well, and in granting, based on the theoretical and historical analysis of the issue, the last word to general legal thought as found in all the Local Churches, we must agree that the voice of the Church of Constantinople, as the first in honor, can have the importance of an influential example for the other Local Churches. In this respect, it can be an important factor in the process of legal development by contributing to autocephaly’s general recognition, its reception, which leads a newly developed Church as a member with equal rights into interchurch relations. Such an initiative, moreover, can come from another Local Church.
The Autocephaly of the Polish Church in Light of the History of the Western Russian Church
A peace treaty was concluded between Soviet Russia and Poland on March 18, 1921, at which a whole group of provinces with a large Orthodox population were ceded to Poland. The life of the Orthodox Church here was in a chaotic state due to its isolation from its center, and on September 14/27, 1921, Patriarch Tikhon granted wide-ranging autonomy to the Orthodox Church in Poland, headed by a Council of Bishops and an exarch with the rights of a regional metropolitan (Holy Synod Decree of September 15/28, 1921). On January 17/20, 1922, a decree of the Moscow Synod elevated the exarch to the rank of metropolitan. On January 14/27, the “Resolution” on governing the Orthodox Church in Poland was adopted by Patriarch Tikhon, the Holy Synod, and the Supreme Church Council of the Russian Orthodox Church. This “Resolution” was sent to Metropolitan Georgii with an accompanying letter announcing that it is to be enacted only upon the receipt of the consent to this by the Polish government, through which Metropolitan Georgii received this “Resolution.” The Polish government stated in a message of March 1, 1922, that it cannot consent to this. It had accepted the Resolution that had been drawn up at the first Council of Polish Bishops on January 13/26, 1922 with certain additions from the “Resolution” that had been sent from Moscow entered at the insistence of Metropolitan Georgii. On January 30, 1922, the government issued “Temporary Rules” regarding the relationship of the government to the Orthodox Church in Poland. These were not accepted by Bishop Panteleimon, but were accepted by Metropolitan Georgii, Bishop Dionisii, and Bishop Vladimir. All of these acts laid the foundation of the church administration in Poland. Patriarch Tikhon was arrested in Moscow in the middle of May 1922, and a Council of Bishops was held in Poland at the end of May, which decided unanimously not to accept any directives from the Moscow Church Committee, in view of the forcible removal of canonical authority, and ruled that all matters would be decided in place by the Council of Bishops. This fully corresponded to the ruling issued on November 1, 1920, by the Patriarch of Moscow, the Synod, and the Council in case normal relations with Moscow Church authorities were to be interrupted. It was this ruling that left the development of a supreme church authority to the Council of Bishops at the initiative of the senior one, and the rights of this administration were in place until the development of new dioceses and their replacement. The decree had in mind even separate groups of dioceses without rights of autocephaly, especially since such rights belonged to autonomous regions. The Third Council of Bishops was held in Warsaw in the middle of June 1922 with five bishops already participating (since Bishop Aleksandr of Lublin, who had recently been consecrated as bishop, joined the previous four: Metropolitan Georgii, Archbishop Elevferii, Bishop Dionisii, and Bishop Vladimir). At this Council, Prime Minister Grabski conveyed the wish of the government for the necessity of a hierarchical structure of the Orthodox Church in Poland and the immediate acceptance, due to the removal of the canonical authority of the Orthodox Church in Moscow, of a decision on the independence of the Orthodox Church in Poland in the form of autocephaly. On June 14, 1922, the Council issued the following rulings:
1. Because of the cessation of the operation of the legitimate Supreme Church Authority in Moscow, all matters concerning the Orthodox Church in Poland are to be decided locally by the Council of Orthodox Hierarchs, and the usual current matters are to be decided by the Council of Hierarchs or by the Synod of the Orthodox Church in Poland.
2. The Council has ruled that no directives from the non-canonical church authority that has developed in Moscow are to be accepted.
3. The Council of Orthodox Hierarchs, due to the ecclesiastical disturbance and destruction in Russia, has nothing against the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church in Poland and is ready to work in Poland toward the formation of autocephaly, confident of kind cooperation with the Polish government on constitutional grounds. This is under the condition that the Polish government obtain a blessing for autocephaly from the Patriarch of Constantinople and other patriarchs, as well as from the autocephalous Greek, Bulgarian, and Romanian Churches, and also from the Patriarch of Moscow, if he returns to power and if the patriarchate in Russia will not be banned.
June 15, 1922, marked the confirmation of the Resolution on the Synod composed of the three ruling hierarchs: Metropolitan Georgii, Bishop Dionisii of Kremenets, and Bishop Aleksandr of Lublin. Archbishops Elevfevrii and Vladimir were absent due to illness. After that, in conformity with the aforesaid rulings of the Supreme Church Authority from Moscow of November 1, 1920, and the recognized extensive autonomy of the Polish Church, the Synod governed the Church, assigned bishops, transferred hierarchs, redistributed diocesan boundaries, and even removed hierarchs, prompted by the necessity to create an administration in new political circumstances, which was guided by Patriarch Tikhon’s appointee, Metropolitan Georgii.On September 3, 1922 Archimandrite Aleksii, chosen by the Synod, was consecrated Bishop of Lutsk as Vicar; on September 4, 1922, Bishop Dionisii was appointed to the See of Volhynia-Kremenets, … Continue reading
Metropolitan Georgii was murdered on February 8, 1923, and on February 10, Metropolitan Dionisii assumed the duties of Metropolitan and Chairman of the Synod based on Paragraph 8 of the Resolution on the Council of the Orthodox Exarchate in Poland, as senior in rank and consecration, with the government’s consent. On February 27, the Council of Four Bishops elected Archbishop Dionisii to replace the murdered Metropolitan Georgii, and the Council requested confirmation of this along with the conferment of rights and advantages which the Patriarch of Moscow had bestowed upon Metropolitan Georgii from Patriarch Meletios IV of Constantinople, which he provided on March 13. With this act, the Polish Church considered itself accepted into the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople with the rights of an autonomous metropolitanate.
On February 14/27, 1923, the Council of Bishops issued the following rulings:Somewhat later, the number of bishops increased. Namely, the structure of episcopate was augmented by Archbishop Feodosii, appointed on April 21, 1923, who had arrived from Soviet Russia, to the See … Continue reading
1.The Preeminent Dionisii, Archbishop of Volhynia and Kremenets, is recognized at First Bishop of the region with the honor of Metropolitan of the Orthodox Metropolitanate in Poland.
2. The government is to be informed of this with the object of expressing its consent to enact this ruling, and also that the government may request, based on the Canon 28 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council and due to the absence of the Patriarch of Moscow, the blessing of the Holy Patriarch of Constantinople for Archbishop Dionisii to be Metropolitan of Warsaw and Volhynia and the Entire Orthodox Church in Poland, and the conferring of all external honors upon him that were conferred to the Metropolitan of Warsaw and All Poland by His Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow and by the Resolution on Governing the Orthodox Church in Poland of January 14/27, 1923.
This request by the Polish Synod to another Church for a blessing has an analogy in the request by the Metropolitan of Moscow in the fifteenth century for a blessing from the Patriarch of Jerusalem instead of that of Constantinople, who had joined the Unia. It is a witness to the canonical correctness of the Polish Synod.
Patriarch Meletios IV telegraphed the following message to the newly elected metropolitan: “Based on the resolution of our Holy Synod we, along with our blessing, are sending to you all honors that had at one time been bestowed by our brother in Christ Patriarch Tikhon to your predecessor, as Metropolitan of Warsaw and All Poland. May the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, our Atoner, strengthen Your Eminence in fulfilling your new duties.”Vestnik Pravoslavnoi Mitropolii v Polʹshe, No. 5–6, 1923.
Metropolitan Dionisii replied to this with a letter of March 19/April 1, 1923, in which, as an aside, he wrote: “I kiss your primatial right hand from which I am now receiving the Orthodox Metropolitanate in Poland.”
Meanwhile, on July 15, 1923, Patriarch Tikhon, who had recently been released from his imprisonment, which had lasted for over a year, sent a message about his release to all dioceses of the Moscow Patriarchate, including the Polish Metropolitanate. He was starting to perform his duties and described the outrages committed by the Living Church, which had through deception taken over the Church’s supreme authority as if received from the Patriarch.
On September 12, 1923, the Council of Polish Bishops resolved to express to His Holiness the Patriarch, at the first opportunity of contacting him, the joy of the Bishops of the Orthodox Church in Poland “regarding his release from bonds and the commencement of performing his primatial responsibilities; also at the first opportunity to familiarize His Holiness with the situation of the life and events that had taken place in the Orthodox Church in Poland from the moment of the removal of His Holiness from the governance of the Russian Church; and to publish the Patriarch’s message in the synodal organ, and to lay the enactment of the acts of the Council upon Metropolitan Dionisii.” Metropolitan Dionisii sent this letter to Patriarch Tikhon on November 5/18, who received it in May of 1924. Upon receiving it, he immediately replied to Metropolitan Dionisii on May 23. This was followed by a reply from the Council of Polish Bishops on August 16, 1924, with a detailed description of the entire history of the Church’s governance from the time of receiving autonomy from Patriarch Tikhon and of the necessity of autocephaly. Thus, a double correspondence began for the Metropolis of Warsaw with the Patriarchs of Constantinople and Moscow, called for by both the wish of the Polish government after Patriarch Tikhon’s arrest for the Orthodox Church within Poland to be independent, and by the strictly ecclesiastical need not to depend upon a church authority that had turned out to be captive to a theomachist regime. We should now delve into the threefold cycle of the relationship of the Metropolis of Warsaw with these three factors: 1. The Polish government, 2. the Constantinople Patriarchate, and 3. the Moscow Patriarchate.
We saw that the Prime Minister stated at the 1922 Council that he would like the Polish Orthodox Church to create an independent church authority. Such a wish was more than natural, since any government not desiring the penetration of Soviet influence had to be concerned about closing the channels through which it could travel. One of these channels was the Soviet government’s pressure upon the Polish Orthodox hierarchy. The latest experience of the Soviet regime’s pressure upon Metropolitan Sergii by demanding its recognition, prayers for it, and a cessation of struggling against its ideology perfectly illustrates the correctness of the understanding of those who, not only in Poland, but also in the Russian emigration, understood immediately upon Patriarch Tikhon’s arrest that it was necessary to immediately cut short the canonically administrative subjection to a regime that denied the freedom to realize its ecclesiastical ministry. If such a thought arose among the Russian émigré hierarchy and prompted it to cease hierarchical subjection to the Moscow Patriarchate for the entire undetermined period of its captivity, it was all the more necessary for a hierarchy that had become part of another nation. And another cycle of ideas had to be added to this for the Polish government. It recognized the Soviet regime de jure (along with most of the European nations). The act of recognition contains an acknowledgment of the legal finitude of its existence. In this respect, the legal consciousness of the Polish government must be totally different than in the Russian emigration, which rejects the recognition of the Soviet regime and therefore regards its dominion as the actual dominion of a band of thieves. The Polish government, out of the principle of the unacceptability of interference in its internal affairs, had to demand the independence of its Orthodox hierarchy from any foreign regime, especially from a regime that rejected contemporary culture. And it must be agreed that it realized its right of sovereignty by demanding autocephaly. We have already stated that the issue of autocephaly is of a mixed nature. It is partly an ecclesiastical issue, since it deals with the redistribution of church boundaries and changes in the spatial reach of neighboring church authorities. But at the same time, it is a governmental and political issue, since a government cannot be indifferent to whom a significant portion of its citizens is subject in a known rather wide circle of relationships (ecclesiastical ones). And in this, the Polish government acted in concert with its historical traditions, whose basis has been recognized by Russian historical and canonical science.
Prior to the fifteenth century, when the separation of the two metropolitanates occurred for a long period (until 1686), both metropolitanates reunited under the rule of one metropolitan for All Russia.
In the days of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, a special Metropolitan Roman was consecrated with the title “of Kiev” in Constantinople for the Western Russian dioceses at the wish of Grand Prince Olgierd, and Cyprian was consecrated later. Even later, Gregory Tsamblak was consecrated without any contact with Constantinople. King Casimir IV, upon taking over Galician Rus, received for his subjects what the Galician princes were not able to receive — a special metropolitanate, but not for long (1371–1381). Both the Lithuanian princes and the Polish kings strove systematically to have a special metropolitanate for their subjects. The final attempt to liberate the Orthodox Church in Poland from Muscovite influence and make it independent of the Russian Synod was planned in 1791 by the Pinsk Congregation, which was composed of representatives of Orthodox clergy and brotherhoods. It worked out a project of governing the Church, but the attempt was not realized due to the subsequent partitions of Poland. These attempts, as Professor Suvorov admits, flowed from the wish of the princes and kings to prevent the subjection of their subjects to a metropolitan living in a foreign territory under the influence of another powerful prince. But prior to the fifteenth century, when the separation of the two metropolitanates occurred for a long period (until 1686), both metropolitanates reunited under the rule of one metropolitan for All Russia. Thus, after Roman, Alexis, and, after his death and many adventures, Cyprian, and after Gregory Tsamblak’s death, Photios, united in their hands the governance over both metropolitanates. But the separation under Jonah was final for almost two and a half centuries. Since the Metropolitan of All Russia, whose see was initially in Kiev, as Suvorov writes, and after Kiev was destroyed in the Tatar invasion, was first transferred for a while to Vladimir, after Moscow’s rise, relocated there under the protection of the powerful Moscow prince – for the Lithuanian princes and Polish kings, the subjection of their Orthodox subjects to a metropolitan residing in Moscow could not have been a matter of no concern. Especially “when the election and the assignment of the Russian metropolitan started being conducted in Russia and mainly at the will of the Russian ruler, and when the Russian metropolitan not only resided permanently in Moscow, but was also invariably a citizen of the Russian nation, it was impossible to expect the Lithuanian rulers not to take care to pull away their Lithuanian Orthodox dioceses permanently from the Russian Metropolitanate and to subject them to their own particular Lithuanian metropolitan.”Surorov, op. cit., p. 1,140. In the current era, the influence of the Soviet regime upon the assignment and orientation of the Patriarchate’s activity is even stronger. After Patriarch Tikhon died, his Locum Tenens Metropolitan Peter ended up in prison for not recognizing the Soviet regime, and a whole series of replacements — Metropolitan Sergii of Nizhny Novgorod, Metropolitan Iosif of Petersburg, Metropolitan Agafangel of Yaroslavl, and Archbishop Serafim of Uglich — all suffered punishments and exile until, finally, the aforesaid Metropolitan Sergii issued a manifesto recognizing the Soviet regime de jure and calling to unity with it in joys and sorrows. And only a hierarchy that recognizes Metropolitan Sergii can hope for freedom from executions and exile. The hierarchy that is not recognized by most of the episcopate in Russia exists by the power of the Soviet regime and is not recognized by the great majority of Russian hierarchs outside Russia. The Polish state regime, demanding a break with it, has been essentially guarding the Orthodox Church from the disease of associating with that kind of hierarchical leadership, which is forced not only to refuse in principle to struggle against evil, but to pray for a theomachist regime, which is a refusal of its calling and appointment. One can hardly find a nation that accepts Christian culture and would allow a Church within its borders become subject to another Church within a nation that has as its purpose not only certain other tasks at a level of culture more or less of equal quality, but simply rejecting the very foundations of its culture and conducting a furious struggle against it. If Professor Suvorov recognizes the unacceptability of a common metropolitanate for the fifteenth century Lithuanian princes, what can we say about the possibility of subjection to a common leadership in our era? Metropolitan Makarii writes about the division of two metropolitanates:Vol. 5, p. 45 “The Grand Prince of Lithuania and together with him the King of Poland could not regard without worry the subjection of his citizens to a prelate in another land, acting under the influence of his grand prince who was frequently hostile to Lithuania and Poland. He could not fail to wish to be exactly just as independent in his realm, even in church matters, as was the Russian ruler, and not to depend on Moscow.” We have already said that such striving toward granting independence to Local Churches fully corresponds to canonical norms about adjusting ecclesiastical boundaries to correspond with political ones. Ternovskii writes in the same vein:Izsledovanie o podchinenii Kievskoi Mitropolii Moskovskomu Patriarkhu, p. 2 “Kiev and the entire southwestern Rusʹ was at that time (in the fifteenth century) politically under the leadership of Lithuanian princes. The ecclesiastical dependence of regions under their subjection upon metropolitans living in Moscow, who were very ardently concerned about the expanding nation of Moscow, could not have been to their liking, and so Prince Vitautas of Lithuania, who was most farsighted in political matters, took extreme care to put a stop to this dependence. Vitautas demanded that the southwest Russian bishops refuse to render obedience to a metropolitan living in Moscow and elect a new metropolitan for themselves.” The history of autocephalies indicates that the initiative for autocephaly usually came from governmental authorities, but its actual fulfillment, as an act producing basic reform in church structure and governance, is subject to ecclesiastical authority in tune with its basic canons. We know of instances when the civilian government conducted autocephaly, for instance, in 1833 in Greece and in 1864 in Romania, but this led to much confusion until the matter was settled by competent ecclesiastical bodies. In Greece, this required some troublesome 17 years, and in Romania, it took 20 years. The introduction of autocephaly in Poland is profitably distinguished by the fact that it was left to the Church to carry it out. The government contacted the local Council of Bishops, held negotiations with the Patriarchs of Moscow and Constantinople, but did not make decisions on autocephaly without the Church’s participation. Without touching upon the question of for what and to what extent the participation of the Patriarch of Constantinople was needed, it must be noted that the fact alone that the Council of Polish Bishops and the patriarchs were contacted was a witness to the respect toward ecclesiastical principles on the part of the government, although it did exercise its initiative in this matter. The Polish Orthodox hierarchy repeatedly bears witness in its acts to the fact that the initiative in introducing autocephaly belonged to the government. This is mentioned in an excerpt from the Journal of the Holy Synod of September 6, 1922, no. 10. The actual ruling of the Council in this matter says that autocephaly has not been introduced, and that the bishops are simply agreeing to it if canonical conditions are met. And the minutes of the Council meeting on June 14, 1922, say: “The Council of Orthodox Hierarchs, due to the ecclesiastical disturbance and destruction in Russia, has nothing against the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church in Poland and is ready to work in Poland toward the formation of autocephaly, confident of kind cooperation with the Polish government on constitutional grounds. This is under the condition that the Polish government obtain a blessing for the autocephaly from the Patriarch of Constantinople and other patriarchs, as well as from the autocephalous Greek, Bulgarian, and Romanian Churches, and also from the Patriarch of Moscow, if he returns to power and if the patriarchate in Russia will not be banned.” The last addition is conditioned by the fact that the ecclesiastical hierarchy is prepared to ask for a blessing from the Mother Church, but only from a canonical authority, which was not present on June 14, 1922, since Patriarch Tikhon had been imprisoned and there was no certainty that a normal canonical authority would exist under the Soviet government. Now, in 1931, on the contrary, there is absolute certainty that it cannot exist there. Speaking theoretically, by demanding autocephaly, the government speaks of it in its interests from its own point of view, which is political. Further issues regarding its execution, the presence of the fullness of church life for independence, judgment regarding the canonicity of the structure, titles for the Head of the Church, the presence of recognition on the part of other Churches are purely ecclesiastical issues, which may interest the government, but their actual decisions must come from Local Churches, which constitute parts of the one Orthodox Church. In fulfilling the government’s demand that it realize its autocephaly, the Church renders unto Caesar only that which is Caesar’s, and there is no inappropriate interference here in its internal affairs. From the very beginning of the Christian era, the structure of the Christian Church aligned with political and historical circumstances. The Apostles left the determination of church boundaries up to the Church herself and did not tie them forever to established limits.
The second cycle of relationships arose between the Metropolis of Warsaw and the Patriarch of Constantinople ever since the Patriarch blessed Metropolitan Dionisii of Warsaw to enjoy all honors given to his predecessor by the Patriarch of Moscow, and in return Metropolitan Dionisii announced the acceptance of his Metropolitanate from the Patriarch of Constantinople in a letter of April 1, 1923. This act by the Patriarch of Constantinople was accepted by the Polish hierarchy as a confirmation of Archbishop Dionisii as metropolitan, which is witnessed by an August 16, 1924, letter from the Council of Polish Hierarchs to Patriarch Tikhon: “A Council of four Orthodox Bishops of Poland elected Archbishop Dionisii of Volhynia to replace the murdered Metropolitan Georgii on February 27, 1923. His candidacy was approved by the government, and, due to the absence of Your Holiness, based on Canon 28 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council, he was confirmed in his position with the conferment by His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Meletios IV of all rights and privileges given by Your Holiness to the reposed Metropolitan Georgii, presenting the candidate who had been elected metropolitan for confirmation to His Holiness the Patriarch, and so on.” In the actual acts of the February 14/27, 1923, Council of Bishops, in the point regarding the resolution to contact the Patriarch of Constantinople, this idea about confirmation is worded somewhat differently. It says: “This ruling (the election) is to be brought to the government’s knowledge with the object that it would express agreement to implement this ruling, and also with the object of asking the government, on the basis of Canon 28 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council, and in view of the absence from active duty of His Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow, to obtain the blessing of His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople for Archbishop Dionisii to be Metropolitan of Warsaw and Volhynia and the entire Orthodox Church in Poland, along with the conferment upon him of all external honors granted to the Metropolitan of Warsaw and All Poland by His Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow and “The Resolution on Governing the Orthodox Church in Poland of January 14/27, 1922.” Thus, there is no specific mention of “rights and privileges,” perhaps because it was not clear how the Patriarch of Constantinople would regard his own competence, whether he would consider himself in a position to give rights and privileges to another Local Church, i.e. to act as a legislative organ for the entire Church. In February of 1923 the position of the Patriarch of Constantinople had not been fully clarified. Asking for a blessing to be a metropolitan was easier, for this was an appeal to the Patriarch of Constantinople not for the granting of rights, but for assistance, in view of the absence of His Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow from active duty. The Patriarch of Constantinople could interpret this as an appeal to him as negotiorum gestor, who, as the senior prelate in the Church, could take upon himself the realization of rights for the Prelate of another Church in view of its lamentable state (Patriarch Tikhon was in prison, and there was no generally recognized canonical governance of the Church). The extremely cautious telegram from Patriarch Meletios IV calls for attention. We will cite it in full: “To His Eminence Metropolitan Dionisii, Warsaw. We are shaken to the depths of our heart by the news of the tragic death of Metropolitan Georgii. We have now learned with pleasure from the official message of the Synod of Bishops that you, Your Eminence, have been elected as successor to the departed. Based on a resolution of our Holy Synod, we, together with our blessing, are sending to you all honors that were conferred in good time by our brother in Christ Patriarch Tikhon to your predecessor as Metropolitan of Warsaw and All Poland. May the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, our Atoner, strengthen Your Eminence in fulfilling your new duties. Meletios IV, Patriarch.” There is no mention here of Canon 28 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council, perhaps because Patriarch Meletios of Constantinople, along with the commonly accepted interpretation in canonical science, did not see in this canon any rights of the Patriarch of Constantinople outside the boundaries of his Patriarchate. The given ruling in the canon regarding the ordination of bishops “of the aforesaid dioceses which are situated in barbarian lands” (Asia, Pontus, and Thrace) regulated just in detail the conversion of the designated dioceses from an autocephalous state to a state of subjection to the Patriarch of Constantinople, and it therefore established that it was the Bishop of Constantinople who had to ordain these bishops rather than the metropolitans of Pontus, Asia, and Thrace. Likewise, there is no evidence from Patriarch Meletios’ telegram that he was accepting the Metropolis of Warsaw into his jurisdiction.
Asking for a blessing to be a metropolitan was easier, for this was an appeal to the Patriarch of Constantinople not for the granting of rights, but for assistance, in view of the absence of His Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow from active duty.
If he had been carrying out such an act at that time, he would have issued a solemn act of a constituent nature citing the canon and historical events. In this way, he would have caused a portion of another patriarchate to break away and therefore he would have announced such a change in the composition of the Universal Church to all the other Local Churches. None of this happened. Somewhat in passing, he mentioned only his blessing and the conferment of honors but not of rights. He could have bestowed rights only if he had regarded himself as legislator for the Universal Church or the Polish Church as having transferred to his jurisdiction, at least as a result of the Polish hierarchs appealing to him. Evaluating this telegram legally, we are prepared to recognize that this was an act of assistance to another Local Church in need which did not violate anyone’s rights. But Meletios IV was overthrown in December of 1923 and Patriarch Gregory VII (who died on November 17, 1924) took his place. For the brief period that he was Patriarch, the tone of the patriarchal acts increased in volume toward expanding the rights of the Patriarch of Constantinople in relation to the Polish Church. At first, in a letter on July 7, 1924, replying to a greeting congratulating him on his ascent to the throne, Patriarch Gregory VII spoke only of love and a readiness to help: “We assure Your Eminence that our Throne, and We ourselves as well, will not fail to bestow upon you Church, which is young in years but great in acts of patience and gratitude, as you say, our fatherly love and all assistance as she may need, to guarantee her happy life and development.” No element of power is felt in this telegram, just a readiness to offer help, which can always be requested. But the letters of June 12 and July 7 sound somewhat different. In the first one, he announces that, on March 6, a letter was sent regarding the introduction of the new calendar starting on March 10, 1924, replacing the old one in everything relating to fixed feasts. This is followed by: “Desiring to know what has been done in this regard in your Church, and what is in general the current practice regarding the calendar, we consider it necessary to ask this of Your Eminence since we are much interested in the situation of all the other news relating to the general situation of ecclesiastical events within your jurisdiction.” Here, the tone seems to be coming from a power that has the right to be independently informed about current matters (ones that are not matters of principle) and to supervise. And there is no indication on what basis this is being done, whether it is according to the right of the direct supervisor in his patriarchate or due to some special rights that other Local Churches do not have. The next letter of July 7, 1924, mentions the accomplishment of the calendar reform in Poland as though it were the fulfillment of a supervisor’s command coming from a supreme administrative authority. It says: “Your letter of July 4 informed us and Our Holy Synod of the introduction of the new calendar in Your Holy Church, beginning in June of this year, according to the decision adopted in this matter and the instructions that were simultaneously communicated to Your Eminence in our Patriarchal and Synodal message.” We can note that the Patriarch of Constantinople does not refer to IV, 28, in the new letter, as well, and does not indicate the legal nature of his acts at all. The message of the Council of Polish Bishops to Patriarch Tikhon on August 16, 1924, interprets this as a manifestation of the normal jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople, who has taken the Metropolis of Warsaw under his subjection. “… The Ecumenical Patriarch, in accordance with the Canon 28 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council, has taken a lively interest in the future of the Orthodox Church in Poland and expressed his readiness to render her all kinds of assistance in difficult circumstances and ardent fatherly love (Attachments 8, 9, and 10).” These are the same attachments that we have just cited as a manifestation of the power of the Patriarch of Constantinople over the Metropolis of Warsaw.Vestnik Pravoslavnoi Mitrpolii v Polʹshe, No. 39–40, 1924, p. 5. The message of the Polish Bishops goes on to say, “The act confirming the Metropolitan of All Poland by the Ecumenical Patriarch, the correspondence regarding the introduction of the new style [i.e. calendar –transl.], and the difficulty of having relations with Your Holiness have placed our Orthodox Church into a double canonical dependence: upon Your Holiness and upon His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch, and the issue of the independent existence of the Orthodox Church in Poland can be decided by the blessing of Your Holiness and the Ecumenical Patriarch.”Vestnik Pravoslavnoi Mitrpolii v Polʹshe, No. 39–40, 1924, p. 3. Note that the reference to IV, 28, always comes only from the Polish Orthodox hierarchy, which is prepared to recognize the independent rights of the Patriarch of Constantinople over the Metropolis of Warsaw, due to her submission to his authority and IV, 28. It is our conviction that this kind of canonical construct is unacceptable for a number of reasons:
1. IV, 28, does not apply here at all, since it has a different meaning.
2. The Metropolis of Warsaw could ask the Patriarch of Constantinople for help, appealing to him as to a negotiorum gestor due to Patriarch Tikhon’s arrest and the absence of a canonical supreme authority in Moscow from May 1922 to July 1923, or rather until the receipt of the message from Patriarch Tikhon that he was resuming his duties. After that, it could have either recognized Patriarch Tikhon’s rights and regularized relations with him in view of new acts, or it could have recognized that he continues, in spite of being freed from prison, to be in the Bolsheviks’ captivity (as was actually the case), and therefore considering the necessity of dealing with the Patriarch of Constantinople, due to the absence of possible normal relations with the Moscow Patriarchate, as with a temporary negotiorum gestor, who can in such a case conduct matters for another Church, without, of course, completely appropriating her rights for himself.
3. A double canonical dependence upon two patriarchs is forbidden by the canons, for this is a mixing of Churches, which is expressly prohibited by Canon 2 of the Second Ecumenical Council (“Regional bishops shall not extend their authority to Churches outside their region and shall not combine Churches”). If an appeal to the Patriarch of Constantinople has taken place with a statement of subjection to him, a canonical dilemma arises. There is either dependence upon the Patriarch of Moscow de jure with appeals to the Patriarch of Constantinople for principally temporary assistance with temporary subjection to him as to a negotiorum gestor, or subjection to the Patriarch of Constantinople de jure with a canonical break from the Moscow Patriarchate. Since the second possibility did not happen, the first one remains.
4. An act of subjection to another patriarch without being released by the first one is legally invalid, since a part of a Church cannot manage itself as an independent legal entity in interchurch relations prior to its recognition as such on the part of other Local Churches.
5. We will mention later how we conceive of the legal situation, while we will now pause to discuss the act of the Patriarch of Constantinople when he presented an explanation of his rights. And again, he did not refer to IV, 28, but presented an independent legal construct of the situation that had transpired, which requires canonical analysis.
The Patriarchal and Synodal Tomos of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, dated November 13, 1924, regarding the recognition of the Orthodox Church in Poland as an Autocephalous Church
Gregory, by the mercy of God, Archbishop of Constantinople, the New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch.
The Holy Orthodox Church in the God-protected Polish Nation, which has been provided with an autonomous ecclesiastical structure and governance, and which has proven its steadfastness in faith and zeal in ecclesiastical matters, has asked our Most Holy Apostolic and Ecumenical Throne to bless and confirm her autocephalous structure, assuming that with new conditions of political life, this structure alone can satisfy and guarantee her needs.
Having examined this request with love and keeping in mind the prescriptions of the holy canons, which have established that the structure of church affairs must follow political and social forms (Canon 17 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council and Canon 38 of the Sixth Ecumenical Council), as well as the apothegma of Photios: “It is customary that rights having to do with church matters, and especially with parish matters, must conform to political and administrative changes,” and on the other hand complying with the persistent voice of canonical duty, which has laid upon Our Most Holy Ecumenical Throne concern for Orthodox Churches in need, and equally examining the fact, with which history agrees (for it is written that the first separation from Our Throne by the Metropolis of Kiev and the Orthodox Metropolitanates of Lithuania and Poland that were dependent upon it, as well as their annexation to the Holy Church of Moscow, took place not according to the prescriptions of canonical rules, and likewise, everything that had been agreed upon regarding the full ecclesiastical autonomy of the Kievan Metropolitan, who bore the title of Exarch of the Ecumenical Throne, was not observed), Our Moderation and the Most Holy Metropolitans, our beloved brothers and concelebrants in the Holy Spirit, have considered it their duty to heed to the request that the Holy Orthodox Church in Poland made to us, and to give Our blessing and confirmation for her autocephalous and independent structure.
In consequence of this and with a conciliar determination, at the prompting of the Holy Spirit, We resolve: that we recognize the autocephalous structure of the Orthodox Church in Poland, and we give Our blessing that she be governed from now on as a spiritual sister and would decide her matters independently and in an autocephalous manner, in correspondence with the order and unlimited rights of other Holy Autocephalous Orthodox Churches, acknowledging as her Supreme Church Authority the Holy Synod composed of Orthodox canonical bishops in Poland, having each time as Chairman His Eminence the Metropolitan of Warsaw and All Poland, in order to preserve and prove canonical unity with Our Holy Apostolic and Ecumenical Patriarchal Throne, as well as with all autocephalous Orthodox Churches. We call to mind here the duty which each Metropolitan of Warsaw and All Poland will have to inform, according to the order of the Holy Orthodox Church, both our Great Church of Christ and all Autocephalous Orthodox Sister Churches regarding his election and enthronement, and he will have to preserve everything as regards the maintenance of faith and Orthodox piety, and also everything prescribed by the holy canons and the order of the Orthodox Church, to commemorate also according to the typicon in the dyptics the name of the Ecumenical Patriarch and other patriarchs as well as of the prelates of the other Holy and Autocephalous Churches. Besides this, We rule that the Autocephalous Orthodox Sister Church in Poland will have to receive Holy Myrrh from Our Great Church of Christ. We recommend at the same time that in questions of church order and in ones of a general nature that the transcend boundaries of the jurisdiction of each Autocephalous Church taken individually, His Eminence the Metropolitan of Warsaw and All Poland should turn to Our Holy Ecumenical Patriarchal Throne, which supports interaction with every Orthodox Church, “rightly dividing the word of truth,” while also asking the authoritative opinion and cooperation of the Sister Churches.
After we had carefully examined and discussed all of this at the canonical meetings of the Holy Synod on November 6 and 11, 1924, We have handed, upon synodal confirmation, this Synodal and Patriarchal Tomos, in a precise and unchangeable copy, as it has been entered and signed in the Codex of Our Great Church of Christ, to His Eminence Dionisii, Our beloved brother and concelebrant in Christ, Metropolitan of Warsaw and All Poland, and Chairman of the Holy Synod of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church in Poland.
May Our Lord God strengthen for ages, through the mercy and merits of the First Great and Supreme Pastor Christ, Our God, the Autocephalous Sister Church in Poland, which is so happily structured, and will move and strengthen everything in Her to the glory of His Holy Name, for the benefit of her pious flock and for the joy of all Autocephalous Orthodox Sister Churches. In the year of Our Lord 1924, in month of November, on the thirteenth day.
(confirmed by) Patriarch Gregory of Constantinople
Metropolitan Kallinikos of Cyzicus
Metropolitan Vasilios of Nicaea
Metropolitan Ioachim of Chalcedon
Metropolitan Konstantinos of Derkos
Metropolitan Nikodimos of Brussa
Metropolitan Agathangelos of the Prince Islands
Metropolitan Amvrosios of Neocaesarea
Metropolitan Germanos of Sardis and Pisidia
Metropolitan Photios of Philadelphia
Metropolitan Evgenios of Siliria
Metropolitan Kyrillos of Rhodopolos
Metropolitan Thomas of Aneia
For the correctness of the French translation with the Greek original
The Ecumenical Patriarchate, November 13, 1924
Chancellor: Metropolitan Germanos of Sardis
The Tomos begins with a recognition of the already existing autonomous structure of the Orthodox Church in Poland (which was received on September 14/27, 1921, from the Moscow Patriarchate) and points out that now this Church is asking for a blessing and confirmation of its autocephalous structure. The Tomos recognizes that objective conditions exist for autocephaly, since the Church has demonstrated steadfastness in faith and zeal in church matters, already has the fulness of church structure (autonomous), while the canon prescribes the alignment of church matters with political ones, and with societal forms and changes. Further on the Patriarch dwells on his rights to confirm an autocephalous and independent structure. He adduces the following to form a basis for his rights:
1. his canonical duty, imposed upon the Most Holy Ecumenical Throne, of caring for Orthodox Church in need;
2. the fact of non-compliance with canonical rules at the annexation of the Metropolis of Kiev and the Metropolitanates of Lithuania and Poland to the Patriarchate of Moscow; and
3. the failure to maintain the full ecclesiastical autonomy of the Metropolis of Kiev when it was part of the Moscow Patriarchate.
We cannot fail to emphasize again the position that we developed earlier, that care for Churches in need cannot extend to the appropriation of the rights of a third Church and that the act of granting autocephaly is a legislative act changing the boundaries of a Local Church and the sphere of her authority. Thus, it could originate not from the Church of Constantinople alone, but from the legislative authority of all Local Churches (expressed at least by the main patriarchal Churches), as it had happened with the granting of autocephaly to the Balkan nations in the fourteenth century, to the Russian Church in 1589, and to other Local Churches in the nineteenth century. And the Tomos was not signed by other patriarchs or the prelates of other Local Churches. The Patriarch of Constantinople with his Synod lay claim to legislative rights beyond the sphere of his Patriarchate by legislating in matters of another Patriarchate and giving their acts a final form. The final nature is suggested by the particularly solemn form of its issuance and entry into the Codex of the Great Church, out of which it is extricated as a copy. This is the ‘Eastern Papism’ which is so severely criticized by the canonists Pavlov, Suvorov, and many others. Nothing is said about the actual rights of the Moscow Patriarchate, which are mentioned only in passing, in a subordinate clause, and the incorrect canonical forms at the annexation to the Moscow Patriarchate is mentioned in parentheses (due to the impossibility of referring to IV, 28), and, in case the theory of Eastern Papism is insufficient, a new theory is presented for the first time about the apparent canonical invalidity of the annexation of the Metropolis of Kiev to Moscow. However, this theory is weaker than the first two (we have in mind the interpretations of IV, 28, and the theory of Eastern Papism). We will not speak about the fact that such a theory totally weakens all canonical acts, since if we were to accept it, it would be sufficient to find, after hundreds of years, that some form had not been observed, causing an act to be deemed worthless. The legal institution of acquiescencelit.: ‘[passage of] time’ [–ed.]. was indeed established for the durability of legal structure, which, of course, cannot overrule privileges, but can affect rights not connected to dogmatic teaching and that are based on the creativeness of church elements. As we have already mentioned, the Holy Apostles did not establish Local Church boundaries and left changes in them to subsequent historical development. It is IV, 17 that speaks about this institution of acquiescence, and the Patriarch of Constantinople refers to its second half. But it is the first half that speaks about the thirty year length of time in church relations upon the establishment of church boundaries: “As touching rural parishes, or country parishes, in any province, they shall remain in the possession of the bishops now holding them, and especially if they have held them in their possession and have managed them without coercion for thirty years or more. But if during a period of thirty years there has arisen or should arise some dispute concerning them, those claiming to have been unjustly treated shall be permitted to complain to the Synod of the province. But if anyone has been unjustly treated by his own Metropolitan, let him complain to the Exarch of the diocese or let him have his case tried before the Throne of Constantinople, according as he may choose. If, on the other hand, any city has been rebuilt by imperial authority, or has been built anew again, pursuant to civil and public formalities let the order of the ecclesiastical parishes be followed.”
An interruption in time should have been followed by a timely solemn protest by the Patriarch of Constantinople, due to the “violation of rights that took place” on the part of another Local Church in front of all the other Local Churches, and, first of all, in front of its violator, the Moscow Patriarchate.
It is difficult to acknowledge an interruption of time in the possession of the Metropolis of Kiev by the Moscow Patriarchate. Such an interruption should have been followed by a timely solemn protest by the Patriarch of Constantinople, due to the “violation of rights that took place” on the part of another Local Church in the face of all the other Local Churches, and first of all, in the face of its violator, the Moscow Patriarchate. The mention after 240 years in parentheses in a subordinate clause about its incorrectness in a letter directed to a third party, which in this case was an autonomous and actually totally separate part of the Moscow Patriarchate, cannot be considered a protest. Such a protest was not made by the Patriarch of Constantinople, even though there were those who were unhappy about the separation of the Kievan Metroplitanate out of it. Even Meletios IV, Gregory’s predecessor on the Throne, recognized the subjection of the Metropolis of Warsaw to the Patriarch of Moscow. In his telegram to Metropolitan Dionisii in March 1923, he recognized “all honors that were conferred in good time by our brother in Christ Patriarch Tikhon,” i.e., he recognizes his rights over the Metropolis of Warsaw. We are not speaking about that mass of mutual correspondence between the predecessor of the Patriarch of Moscow, the Russian Holy Synod and the Patriarchs Joachim and Adrian, on one hand, and the Patriarch of Constantinople on the other, where both sides recognized each other in their corresponding boundaries, and the Metropolis of Kiev was regarded within the Russian Church as its inseparable portion. On the part of the Russian Church, there was the longevity of its undisputed possession in an appropriate form and a clear consciousness of the realization of its right to the Metropolis of Kiev as its own and no one else’s. In other words, all of the prerequisites for legal acquiescence were present, if it would have been necessary to speak of it at all.
The Tomos delves into the depth of history and mentions the first separation of the Lithuanian Metropolitanates, having in mind, probably, the independent consecration by Orthodox bishops under Grand Prince Vitautas, and at his orders, of a metropolitan with the title “of Kiev” without dealing with the Patriarch of Constantinople. However, the Western Russian (Kievan) Metropolitanate remained under the authority of the Patriarch of Constantinople formally until 1686, and at the 1590 Council she solemnly confirmed the recognition of the Patriarch of Constantinople as her head. Thus, this event in itself has lost any actual legal interest at this time, since no one challenges the jurisdiction of the Constantinople Patriarchate over the Metropolis of Kiev before 1686.
As for the transfer in 1686 without observing canonical forms, irregularities did take place and received their canonical resolution in time. Being unaware of the nature of these irregularities, let us recreate the moments of this transfer which have canonical significance. Right-bank Ukraine was securely attached to Moscow according to the 1667 Truce of Andrusovo with Poland, but in an ecclesiastical sense it remained subject to the Patriarch of Constantinople. Tsar Alexis wanted it to be subjugated ecclesiastically without relations with the Patriarch of Constantinople immediately upon the annexation of the Ukraine in 1653, but Patriarch Nikon refused to do so without dealing with the Patriarch of Constantinople. There is evidence to believe that this was one of the reasons for the conflict between the Patriarch and the Tsar. The issue of church annexation was set aside and was taken up again in the 1680s under Hetman Samoilovich, with considerable involvement on his part. Correspondence between him and Patriarch Joachim began in 1683; the latter was was anxious to promote his candidate for Metropolitan of Kiev before the Polish government could present its own. Samoilovich recommended Prince Gideon Chetvertinsky, who had recently arrived from Poland, to the Moscow government through his envoy, the scribe Ukraintsev. At the Council which had been called, there were many representatives of the Hetman, and few representatives of the clergy who did not want Gideon. Bishop Gideon of Lutsk and Ostrog was elected unanimously. He accepted the election and announced that he would like to be appointed by the Patriarch of Moscow. After this, a Council was held in June in Kiev, at which a protest against electing Gideon was drawn up and sent to Hetman Samoilovich. Leaving aside the general reasons making subjection to the Patriarch of Moscow undesirable for a certain portion of the clergy (the great centralization of ecclesiastical authority in the Moscow Patriarchate, the fear there of erudition, especially Southern Russian erudition, and so on), one point directly related to the issue of self-willed breaking away draws attention in this protest. “Without a doubt, we will immediately break away from the Patriarch of Constantinople, our immemorial father,” they would say, “when we will see with our own eyes and hear with our ears that the Patriarch of Constantinople has agreed to yield his rights to the Patriarch of Moscow. But as long as this concession is not yet made, we are afraid of stepping away from our immemorial father, the Patriarch of Constantinople, so as not to fall under a curse, for is it a decent matter for children to deny their father?” In a letter to the Tsar and the Patriarch, the Hetman asked in his own name and in the name of the clergy that there be an embassy sent from Moscow to the Patriarch of Constantinople with a large gift and a request that he would send his consent for the Kiev Metropolitanate to be subject to the Patriarch of Moscow. He also asked that when metropolitans of Moscow are appointed, that the rights and privileges of the Kievan metropolitan would be observed (the right to wear primatial vestments, a miter with a cross, carrying the cross in front, the right to elect the metropolitan by free votes, and the preservation of the title “Exarch of the Kievan Throne,” so that the Orthodox from Lithuania and Poland would obey him). The Hetman was so concerned about the rights of the metropolitan, but said nothing about the rights of the lower Kievan clergy. Patriarch Joachim received the news of Chetvertinsky’s election with joy, but did not wish to contact the Patriarch of Constantinople. As Ternovskii writes, “This path was not chosen for some reason, perhaps because political relations between Moscow and Turkey did not admit the possibility of sending an ambassador from Moscow to Constantinople. Perhaps so, but it is likelier that they were afraid that correspondence with the Patriarch of Constantinople would take up a great deal of time and would greatly delay the matter of subjection, and meanwhile conditions in Ukraine and the frame of thought could change in such a way that this matter would become impossible. And, finally, perhaps they were not certain that they would receive a positive response from the Patriarch of Constantinople. Whatever the case, Joachim decided to conclude this matter without dealing with the Patriarch of Constantinople. Instead of corresponding with him, Patriarch Joachim, to present as legitimate his right to subject the Metropolis of Kiev to his authority, decided to look for justifications for this in Russian church history. With this in mind, an intentional excerpt was made from the chronicles listing the metropolitans all of Russia, where they had been, and also how and when a special Kievan Metropolitan came into existence. This excerpt from the chronicles described how the Kievan Metropolitans had moved their residences first to Vladimir, and then to Moscow, and, while living in Moscow, had possessed Kiev and All Russia, and would send their deputies to Kiev. There was a notice that a special metropolitan was elected in Kiev not according to the canons, but at the order of the Lithuanian Prince Vitautas, and that the first metropolitans of Kiev were leaning toward the Unia, or that Uniates were appointed. Based upon this excerpt from the chronicles, Patriarch Joachim replied to Samoilovich that he consented to elevate the elected bishop to the See of Kiev and to bless the confirmation of his rights because, from the time that the Christian faith started spreading throughout Russia, there was one metropolitanate, and everywhere Russians were obedient to the Throne of All Russia. In the second place, he consented because not long before that, when the Patriarchal Throne was set up by the Council of all the Most Holy Patriarchs of the Eastern Church, all of the hierarchs of the Russian thrones were ordered by the Council to obey the Moscow Patriarchal Throne. In a letter to Chetvertinsky, Joachim invited him to Moscow for installation. But not a single word appears in the Patriarch’s letters regarding the requested preservation of the privileges of the Kievan Metropolitan. Apparently, this request was very unpleasant for him, and therefore he kept this silence. Particularly unpleasant for the Patriarch was the request that the Kievan Metropolitan would, as before, be called the Exarch of the Patriarch of Constantinople.”p. 118 We have cited this lengthy excerpt from Ternovsky’s work, which was confirmed through documentary evidence Arkh[iv] Iugo-Zap[adnoi] Ros[sii], Vol. 1, Pt. 5, Acts XX, XIX, XVIII. that he presented to show how Patriarch Joachim kept silence regarding the canonical side of the issue and suppressed it using a special, intentionally created historical conception, apparently not out of a feeling of his own correctness. In our day, Patriarch Gregory VII of Constantinople is doing exactly the same in his Tomos, referring to history due to the insufficiency of a canonical foundation for taking away the rights of another patriarchate. Historical references cannot in general provide a canonical foundation in themselves, since in history, it is possible to find examples of anything in general, and a fact in itself does not create any rights, if it is not accompanied by a legal substantiation of the same. They give only psychological explanations of acts.
As far as the tsars were concerned, they promised in the letter to the hetman that all the privileges that the hetman asked for would be given, but they did not agree to have the Kievan Metropolitan called Exarch of the Constantinople Throne. Gideon Chetvertinsky was elevated to the rank of Metropolitan of Kiev on November 8, 1685, and made a sworn promise to obey Patriarch Joachim of Moscow, his successors, and the Holy Council of Russian Bishops in everything. “If I transgress what I have promised here or become disobedient or disagreeable to my father His Holiness Kyr Joachim, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Northern Lands, or to the future Holy Patriarchs of Moscow and All Russia and the whole Holy Council, or if I will wish to step away by myself and from the diocese that had been handed to me, and if I do anything disobedient in any way against my father the Holy Patriarch and the whole Council, then I will be denied my rank and authority, without any feeling or word.”Ibid., pp. 103–104. But earlier, while being consecrated as Bishop of Lutsk, Chetvertinsky gave the usual hierarchical oath to remain obedient to his leadership, and that was the Patriarch of Constantinople, who was the only one who could absolve him from perjury, for he had received the ecclesiastical oath of loyalty. Therefore, both the Hetman and Gideon took pains to ask the Moscow government immediately after Gideon’s elevation to obtain the consent of the Patriarch of Constantinople for the subjection of the Metropolis of Kiev to the Moscow Patriarchate. They were aware of this necessity, even though Gideon already had letters confirming the Metropolitanate from the tsars and from the Patriarch of Moscow. What is notable is that the Tsar’s letter confirms all of the previously promised privileges for the Kievan Metropolitan, while the Patriarch in his urgent letter explained by what rights he had elevated Gideon, but was silent about the privilege of not being subject to the judgment of the Moscow Patriarch.Ibid., pp. 20, 95–101. He calls the metropolitan Metropolitan of Kiev and Galicia and Little Russia, leaving out the previous title “of All Russia,” and orders the wearing of a white klobuk, uniting him to other Russian metropolitans. His privileges that are mentioned include the wearing of a miter with a cross and bearing the cross in front. It turned out that in the matter of upcoming decisions by the church authorities, the Moscow church authorities did not give promises regarding the granting of privileges. Only the secular authorities gave them, and this promise on the part of the secular authorities could apply only to a promise to obtain the granting of such privileges from the church authorities, but in no way can this be regarded as the granting of the privileges in itself from a canonical point of view.
Returning to the negotiations with the Patriarch of Constantinople in December of 1685, we must note the legal awareness which the Patriarchs of Constantinople demonstrated when the negotiations began on the issue of the transfer of the Metropolis of Kiev, in regard to who had the right to make this concession. Metsevitis recounts that when Zachary Sophir was in Constantinople on this matter with a church document in December of 1684, he asked the Patriarch of Constantinople on his behalf to do this. “The Patriarch said to me, ‘I cannot do this without the advice from the other patriarchs and without calling together the metropolitans of my diocese, since I am afraid of the vizier. If I start gathering the metropolitans and the vizier finds out about this and asks what is going on, how can I not announce it? And if I decide this matter on my own, my release will have no force, and the vizier, if he finds out about this, will order my beheading, so I will not undertake this matter without the vizier’s order.’” In our day, Patriarch Tikhon also refers in one of his letters to the Metropolitan of Warsaw to the fact that he does not have the power to do this without a council. A year later, in December of 1685, a new envoy came from Moscow for negotiations with the Patriarch after Gideon was made metropolitan. Patriarch Joachim asked the Patriarch of Constantinople to subject the Metropolis of Kiev to him in view of the circumstances of the time, while the tsars wrote in the letter about sending gifts as well. The envoy had to speak first with the vizier, since the Turkish government was afraid that the concession of the Metropolis of Kiev could elicit a similar wish to separate from the Patriarch of Constantinople on the part of other Orthodox Turkish subjects. The vizier gave his permission, since Porta wanted friendship with Russia at a time when Turkey was at war with Poland, Venice, and Austria. After this, both Patriarch Dionysius of Constantinople and Patriarch Dositheus of Jerusalem, who had come out earlier against setting up a Metropolis of Kiev, gave their consent. For their consent, they received gifts (200 gold coins and 120 sable furs, and 200 gold coins, respectively). The matter was thus regularized. Patriarch Dositheus gave a letter to the hetman with an admonition to assist Metropolitan Gideon, and a letter to all the Orthodox in Poland with an admonition to recognize Gideon as a true metropolitan. The Patriarch of Constantinople sent letters announcing the release at the Council of 19 bishops of the Metropolis of Kiev over to the authority of Moscow, two to the tsars, one to Patriarch Joachim, and one to the hetman. Then Patriarch Dionysius sent two more letters, one to Gideon and another to Patriarch Joachim, releasing him from canonical violations which had been committed against the Patriarch of Constantinople. The one to Gideon forgave him for going to another patriarch in violation of his oath, and the one to Joachim forgave him for installing Gideon as Kievan Metropolitan without the right to do so in another diocese. The letter to Joachim was signed by 21 metropolitans. These were followed by two letters from Patriarch Dionysius to all members of the South Russian Church announcing the concession of the Metropolis of Kiev to the Patriarch of Moscow and ordering that henceforth all who are chosen for consecration be sent to Moscow. The letter releasing Gideon from Patriarch Dionysius says this about his assignment: “… And he was sent to the Most Blessed Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kyr Joachim, and His Beatitude made him Metropolitan of Kiev. If the matter is against the divine rules and the assignment was into another diocese, but for the sake of the aforesaid frequent occasions and prohibitions, that Satan may not remain to drive away from Orthodoxy many of the Christians newly brought into this Metropolis of Kiev for the sake of the letter to us from His Beatitude the Patriarch of Moscow, we will ask forgiveness to be granted with great piety and humility. For this sake, our moderation, disregarding the placing into another diocese, for this was not out of disdain or dishonor, but watchfully and indulgently, so that something inappropriate might not follow, is writing in general council in a conciliar manner, together with the metropolitans who were with us, along with the Eminent and Most Honorable concelebrants in the Holy Spirit, our brothers in the Holy Spirit, and in the Holy Spirit is ordering that His Eminence the Metropolitan of Kiev, Exarch of All Russia, beloved in the Holy Spirit brother and concelebrant, Kyr Gideon, will be forgiven and blessed from the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Holy Trinity, and released from any obligation due to anything which may have befallen him due to the circumstances of the time, and be innocent in this matter, doing and acting freely as befits a hierarch, as before with a pure conscience, not contradicting anyone.”Act No. 11/4, pp. 185–186. In this way, the conciliar judgment of the Patriarch of Constantinople freed Metropolitan Gideon from the oath that he had once given him in obedience. It was established that he was acting due not to a disregard for the rights of the Patriarch of Constantinople but to (political) obligations. Another conciliar letter signed by 21 metropolitans forgave Patriarch Joachim. In the matter of subjection, there were, besides the aforementioned letters, ones from the Eastern Patriarchs. We see a message about them in a letter of Patriarch Dositheus of Jerusalem to the Orthodox living in Poland. “And in this way, the divine, most serene autocrats… having installed a true metropolitan for the Holy Metropolis of Kiev, His Eminence Kyr Gideon, our beloved brother and concelebrant, whom they consecrated for the Holy Patriarch of Moscow, and the Hierarchical Holy Council with him, according to the will and thought of the most blessed and holy patriarchs, the Ecumenical Patriarch and the other three great hierarchs of the east, who are under the yoke of slavery and are not able to successfully conduct a visitation to your metropolitanate, which they love and wish to visit, and all of you who are under the Orthodox holy tsars of great Moscow. We pray that all of you may take the aforesaid and true Kyr Gideon and the legitimate Metropolitan of Kiev, as this has been shown from all the Eastern Churches.”Ibid. No. 37, p. 163. The letters of the eastern patriarchs were sent from Moscow to the hetman, and he replied that he had sent out an encyclical regarding the subjection of the Metropolis of Kiev to the Patriarch of Moscow to all the churches of the Metropolitanate.Ternovskii, p. 147. Such was the conclusion of the subjection of the Metropolis of Kiev to the Patriarch of Moscow, with a release from all canonical improprieties that were committed. In this way, all canonical improprieties were corrected, and the 1924 Tomos cannot cite them and try to prove that the Metropolis of Kiev continued to remain canonically under the Patriarch of Constantinople. On the contrary, the absence of a formal protest in front of all the Churches by the Patriarch of Constantinople is evidence of his confirmation. It would not help to claim that this protest would have been impossible due to pressure from Porta. Soon after the annexation of the Metropolis of Kiev, Porta was at war with Moscow and, of course, would not have interfered with this protest. A letter of Patriarch Dionysius to the tsars in May of 1686 announced that the Metropolis of Kiev was being transferred to the Patriarch of Moscow along with his privileges. It says, “…May the Most Blessed Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia have the will to consecrate him when the time comes, according to the tradition and order of the Church, and to install him as the sincere and correct and legitimate Metropolitan of Kiev with all his privileges…” It says further that this matter was examined in a conciliar fashion. About him. patriarchal letters were put together and Codices were written in the Great Church of Christ…” So the matter was concluded by entering it into the Codex of the Great Church. A few words are necessary about privileges. The letter of Patriarch Dionysius to Patriarch Joachim makes clear what these privileges were. They assumed that the Kievan Metropolitan would be elected by the clergy of the Diocese of Kiev. It says, “And from now on, that Metropolis of Kiev will be subject to the Holy Patriarchal Throne of Moscow, and if a need arises to install someone who wishes to be in that diocese, let him be installed in the God-protected great city of Moscow, and he will be elected by God-loving bishops, most honorable archimandrites, venerable abbots of honorable and holy monasteries, pious, holy, and venerable monks, and others in supervisory positions, according to local custom, by the command of the great hetman if he is there.” Since the custom of elections was not preserved in the Metropolis of Kiev after it entered the Moscow Patriarchate, a doubt arises, following the thought of the 1924 Tomos, whether the subjection of the Metropolis of Kiev to the Moscow Patriarchate was canonical. Did the Patriarch of Moscow lose his rights to it in favor of its previous possessor? And in this case doubts are impossible. If the Constantinople Patriarchate had regarded the preservation of privileges as a condition for leaving it as part of the Moscow Patriarchate, he would have mentioned it as a condition, with an indication of consequences of not observing it, or at the very least he would have made a protest to the Moscow Patriarchate with an indication of consequences. However, this did not happen, which indicates that the Patriarch of Constantinople himself in 1686 did not regard the preservation of custom as a condition. How could we regard this proviso in the act of the Patriarch of Constantinople? In legal theory, a condition implies an act or event whose approach causes a connection or a cessation, or the start of some kind of legal relationship. In the first case, a condition is resolutive; in the second, suspensive. When a proviso is made while imposing any kinds of obligations without indicating the consequences of not fulfilling them, there is no “condition” present, but only a “modus,” whose observance or nonobservance has no legal impact on the fate of some basic legal relationship or another. In this case, such a modus was imposed upon the Patriarch of Moscow regarding the preservation of the privileges of the Metropolis of Kiev. Even if it had been presented as a definite condition, due to its long standing and its not being protested in a timely manner and in an appropriate form, it would no longer have any force. What is being indicated is that the Constantinople Patriarchate did not approve of the actions of Patriarch Dionysius in taking out the Metropolis of Kiev, and that Patriarch Dionysius was deposed because of this. Even if that were the case, this would not be followed by the repeal of his actions. For the deposition of a patriarch is an internal ecclesiastical matter of a Local Church which does not invalidate the legal force of the acts he performed. Moreover, the matter of taking out a part of a Church’s holdings was a matter for all the metropolitans of the Church of Constantinople and the Eastern Patriarchs. One patriarch did not count, just as one is not considered competent to change the boundaries of his patriarchate. Furthermore, the reason for Patriarch Dionysius’ deposition is far from clear, whether it was for taking out the metropolitanate or for something else. True, after being deposed, he explained the matter in a letter to Patriarch Joachim in the former sense, for he wished to receive gifts from the Moscow government, and, to encourage that, wrote that he was in a difficult situation precisely because he had done him a favor. But other facts indicate that he was removed by dissatisfied Greek bishops not through a church trial, but through the Turkish government, which had received a report on his secret relations with Moscow, which had just gone to war with Turkey. Let us not forget that in December of 1684, Metsevitis had pointed out to the Russian ambassador that he could not discuss separating out the Metropolis of Kiev with the patriarchs without the grand vizier. Metropolitans had to be called to a Council, and some of them were friends of the patriarch, but others were not, and if the patriarch were to do this without the vizier’s decree and some metropolitan reported to the vizier the patriarch’s correspondence with Moscow, the patriarch would have been executed right away. And, in addition, a peace treaty was signed in the fall of 1686 between Moscow and the Polish King Jan Sobieski, and a campaign was announced against Turkey. When there were still only rumors of military preparations, Metropolitan Dionysius begged them to stop, but to no avail. And the letter from Metropolitan Dionysius with his complaints was from 1688. The citation in the Tomos about improprieties committed in 1686 presents an instructive reference as to how these improprieties were corrected. Moreover, they resemble too much those that were committed in our day by the Patriarch of Constantinople.
Polish Autocephaly: A Forced Act of Decentralizatio
While refusing to recognize the right of the Patriarch of Constantinople to grant autocephaly to a part of a Church not subject to him, and assessing his act legally as a legislative act in the sense of a supreme demarcation of Churches that are not subject to him canonically due to his absence of jurisdiction for this, we do not deny that his act had any legal significance at all – it did, but just not the kind that he imagined. Any legal act is subject to scholarly interpretation, and it is necessary to distinguish its normative content from the underlying legal theory. Even when interpreting a legislative act, a lawyer is bound neither by an underlying legal theory, nor by the construct which that the legal relationship lends to the actual legislative act. As a negotiorum gestor, he could, at the request of the Metropolis of Warsaw, have recognized that the Metropolis of Warsaw, due to known historical circumstances and for a commendable reason, and not due to the “arrogance of power” which is forbidden by the canons, had actually become autocephalous, and could have entered into a relationship with her as such or helped her by a recognizing her prelate in the role that had already been intended for him by Patriarch Tikhon, as did Patriarch Meletios. It bears notice that other Local Churches did not recognize the Tomos at all as a legislative act that had to be considered as an obligatory decision. This is evident from the speeches by their prelates to Metropolitan Dionisii during his trip in 1927. Not to mention the Serbian and Bulgarian Churches, this stands out quite prominently in the speech by the Patriarch of Antioch, who said that he had not yet conducted an independent study of the issue of Polish autocephaly, although before that he mentioned the Tomos. The Patriarchs of Alexandria and Jerusalem made no mention of the Tomos at all as a basis for their attitude toward the prelate of the Polish Church.The “Visitation” of Archimandrite Aleksii. The Patriarch of Constantinople had no right to grant autocephaly through his authority, since acting in place of the Patriarch of Moscow (the Polish bishops had appealed to him due to the forced inactivity of the Patriarch of Moscow) did not give him the right to willfully take away his rights, i.e. the Patriarch of Moscow is not denied his rights by this act. This is despite the fact that the rights of the Moscow Patriarchate are nudum jus, due to the absolutely legitimate request for autocephaly on the part of the Polish government, the recognition by other Churches of a new element of interchurch relations in the Polish Orthodox Church, as well as the impossibility of calling a free Church Council, the only church organ in the Moscow Church with the competence to recognize this separation. Nonetheless, the final legal accomplishment of autocephaly is possible according to the existing ecclesiastical custom only after all the Local Churches will be in a position to make statements after examining the entire matter based on arguments of both parties. In the meantime, the Patriarch of Constantinople, carried away by the theory of eastern papism, announced on January 13, 1925, to all Local Churches, that the Polish Church had been granted autocephaly. On September 7, 1925, a solemn delegation of the Patriarch of Constantinople handed Metropolitan Dionisii and the entire Polish hierarchy a Tomos dated November 13, 1924, in Warsaw, in the presence of a Romanian delegation, symbolizing its recognition of the autocephaly by its participation in these festivities. And on April 7, 1927, he used a special act of his authority to elevate the title of the Metropolis of Warsaw in attention to the fact that “[t]he Polish Orthodox Church has risen to the status of autocephalous churches. She has not only organized and worthily put her matters in order, but that she has already brought forth plentiful fruit in the Lord.” In April of 1929, the Patriarch of Constantinople sent Bishop Zotos as his apokrisiarios, but his role is only informative with respect to the Patriarch. Time will tell whether the Patriarch of Constantinople will attempt to exercise power over the Polish Church, but he has no rights to do this, since she is one of the Sister Churches that is independent among all other Autocephalous Churches. From the viewpoint of the Polish Orthodox Church, the Patriarch of Constantinople helped her to be strengthened in her independence and can help her at her call in the future, as any other Local Church can do this for her when she is contacted. The Polish hierarchy turned first to the Patriarch of Constantinople as a negotiorum gestor while the Patriarch of Moscow was absent from his duties. However, it was Patriarch Gregory VII who issued the Tomos, citing his own right to do so. From the point of view of our construct, he could have acted as a negotiorum gestor with responsibility afterwards before the one for whom he had acted, in this case before the Patriarch of Moscow, or, as the Church senior in honor, by coming to help in adverse situations and giving her recognition on her own behalf alone. Since he was acting definitively, referring to his own right, a legal expert would have to choose the second alternative of qualifying his act as one of recognition. He could not have regarded his act (the Tomos) as obligatory for the other Churches. Realization of autocephaly required either a letter of release from the Patriarch of Moscow, accepted by all the other Churches, or a general judgment by all Local Churches, which was expressed somewhat later by various Churches and different times and in different ways. This is indicated by existing documents, including the speeches by the prelates of Local Churches when Metropolitan Dionisii was visiting them in 1927, and the letter of Metropolitan Dionisii to the Acting Locum Tenens of the Patriarchal Throne, Metropolitan Sergii, dated November 19, 1927: “The Polish Orthodox hierarchy was forced by actual circumstances, first of all by the denial of the Moscow Patriarch’s freedom of action and by the absence of the Patriarchate’s head, to turn to the Ecumenical Patriarch with a request to recognize, for sake of the existence of the Polish Orthodox Church in new circumstances and for the interests of Orthodoxy, the necessity of an autocephalous structure for the Orthodox Church in the Polish Nation… We always remember our duty toward our former beloved Mother Church of All Russia, and at the first opportunity, when at her head there will be a first hierarch recognized by all Orthodox Churches and all Russian Orthodox people, we will zealously ask him that, for the goodness and peace of the Church, he would on his part bless the autocephalous existence of the [Polish] Orthodox Church, which is already recognized and confirmed by all autocephalous Orthodox Churches.”Voskr[esnoe] Chtenie, No. 52, 1927.
The documented speeches by the primates of the Local Churches have been preserved in a book that has great historical and legal value in the matter of both the actual structure of the Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church and in the matter of her history. I have in mind Archbishop Alexis’ book The Visit of His Beatitude Dionisii to the Holy Orthodox Autocephalous Eastern Churches. In it, the necessity of autocephaly, elicited by the historical circumstances of the era and openly announced to the entire world, is made very obvious, and the act of accepting the Polish Orthodox Church as a particular subject in interchurch relations is brought to light. It is characteristic that the speeches of all the church primates show an awareness of this necessity and her de facto or de jure recognition. These speeches can be divided into four categories:
1. The first one should contain those who recognized the autocephaly de jure independently of the question of whether it has final legal force of de jure recognition without hearing one of the interested parties who is voicing a protest, and, consequently, without a many-sided examination of the matter.
2. The second one should contain those Churches that without giving an independent blessing for an independent existence in special letters, essentially accepted the Polish Church into their communion in the person of their prelates, preparing to recognize her de jure, but keeping silent regarding whether their recognition was a final de jure recognition.
4. The fourth category contains those Churches which indirectly or directly have made it known that not all of the factors are present for legal recognition.
The first category comprises the Church of Constantinople, and then the Church of Romania, which sent a delegation to the celebration of the proclaimed autocephaly on September 17, 1925, which conveyed the blessing of the Patriarch of Romania for the independent existence of the Polish Church.Voskresnoe Chtenie, No. 41/1925, p. 647.
The Church of Athens belongs in the second category. Its prelate, in his greeting at Metropolitan Dionisii’s reception in Athens in April of 1927, finds his basis in the acts proclaiming the autocephaly by the Patriarch of Constantinople. He said, “When we heard that the Ecumenical Patriarch proclaimed the Polish Orthodox Church to be autocephalous, we recalled the great Saints and Equals to the Apostles Cyril and Methodius, whom the Patriarchate had sent to the West.” The legal force of such a recognition depends entirely upon Constantinople’s legal force. The Church of Antioch took the same position toward the Polish autocephaly. The speech by Patriarch Gregory IV made it clear that he made a distinction between two issues, the actual recognition and an independent blessing for the de jure existence of autocephaly. He said, “I thank God that He left me in my final years with still one eye, so that I could see my beloved son, the First Hierarch of the newborn Holy Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Poland. When I found out from the Ecumenical Patriarch about the proclamation of this Church as autocephalous, my heart rejoiced, and I blessed your autocephaly from afar… Officially, our Antiochian Church has not yet decided on the question of the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church in Poland, but this has happened not out of a negative attitude toward this question, but out of the absolute impossibility for us to call a Council of your brothers and hierarchs in our difficult circumstances.”Ibid., p. 104.
We will place the Patriarchs of Alexandria and Jerusalem in the third category. During visits by Metropolitan Dionisii, their prelates recognized the primate of a special Polish Church, but they said nothing about proclaiming her as autocephalous by the Patriarch of Constantinople nor about independently studying this issue.Ibid., pp. 40 & 60.
The Serbian and Bulgarian Churches belong in the fourth category. At the first greeting, the Serbian Patriarch engaged in relations, without touching upon canonical issues, but in his farewell speech, he hinted that the matter of autocephaly was not finished. “It will be a great joy for the Serbian Church when the Russian Church as well, having become aware of the historical and godly destinies of her former daughter, the Polish Church, will kiss her beloved Sister in the Lord together with the other Churches of God.”Ibid., p. 117. But this moment of necessity for the legal firming up of autocephaly through the Mother Church’s blessing and, consequently, the refusal to see in the proclamation of autocephaly by the Patriarch of Constantinople an act of legal significance was demonstrated by the letter from the Bulgarian Synod which was read by Metropolitan Stephan from the ambo of St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in May of 1927 in the presence of Metropolitan Dionisii. It said the following: “Merciful Archpastor, highly honored and beloved brother in the Lord! The Mother Church of Moscow, due to the presence in her life of particular events and the confluence of special circumstances, has not yet managed to give her beloved daughter a blessing for its self-reliant and independent existence. But all the other Orthodox Churches have without exception expressed their agreement with this and have had the opportunity to greet the Polish Church as such, i.e. independent and self-reliant, witnessing their spiritual joy and love toward their beloved Sister Church. And yet one more wise step remains for her, which is the reception of a blessing for her independent existence from the Mother Church of Russia.” While greeting Metropolitan Dionisii as a highly honored archpastor, and offering prayers for the brotherly Polish people, the synodal letter said, “We have full faith and hope that the Lord will send down His grace upon the exhausted human race, that He will give His peace and tranquility to great fraternal Russia and will pacify His badly storm-tossed Holy Orthodox Church, which will definitely call together a Church Council. And then our beloved Sister, the Polish Orthodox Church, will receive from her what she could not receive now in view of present circumstances. And then our joy and mutual love between all Orthodox Slavic brothers will be even greater, more unlimited; it will be eternal.” We must note here that the Slavic Churches turned out to be more punctilious regarding the rights of the Sister Church of Russia and have so clearly specified their wish to hear the voice of her canonical prelate amidst the choir of the other voices. However, all the Churches alike, even the Slavic ones, recognized the historical necessity of Polish autocephaly and regarded its future recognition by the Mother Church as a question of time, as an inevitable phenomenon which could fail to follow the liberation of the Mother Church from her captivity by the Soviet anti-Church. The Mother Church herself is bound by the Church’s general rules.
Many of the distinctions we have noted in the nature and strength of the recognition by other autocephalous Churches in 1927 had just academic significance at the time. With the unfolding of events, the Local Orthodox Churches entered into formal canonical relations with the Metropolis of Warsaw, titling her Metropolitan as His Beatitude (these included the Patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Serbia, and the Metropolitan of Athens).Voskresnoe Chtenie, 11/1929. In this way, the de jure recognition took place gradually, and the Polish Autocephalous Church as such entered into canonical unity with other autocephalous Churches that had pronounced their verdict without awaiting the voice of the Patriarch of Moscow, perhaps in view of the impossibility of predicting when a canonical patriarch would appear there who could call together a canonical Council. One can deny even in general the legal possibility that such a Council could appear, since the Soviet theomachist regime is recognized de jure by the leading European nations as a nation having the right to an eternal existence. We can be sorrowful about such a downfall of political morality, but the Church must take account of circumstances she did not create. This recognition on the part of a multitude of other Churches is actually a support and confirmation of the autocephalous situation of the Polish Church. We must note the fact that when a separation is a consequence of a principle that is not recognized by general church law, as, for example, was the case with the Bulgarian Church before the independence of the Kingdom of Bulgaria, which defended its separateness according to the principle of nationalism, and the other Local Churches did not recognize this separation Professor Zankow writes: “Bei keiner interkirchlichen Gelegenheit und überhaupt bei keinem Anlass ist seit der Gründung des Exarchates bis zur Gegenwart eine orthodoxen Kirche mit der Bulgarischen in offizielle schriftliche Beziehungen getreten: keine Mitteilungen, keine Anfragen, keine Meinungswechsel.”Die Verfassung der orth. Bulgar. Kirche, p. 75. We could have added yet a fifth category for Churches that formally protested the method by which the Polish Church obtained its autocephaly, which would be the Russian Church, if the examination of this issue did not demand special treatment.
The Moscow Church in the person of Patriarch Tikhon protested against Polish autocephaly in a message sent on May 23, 1924, limiting itself to the granting of autonomy. This protest was repeated later by the Locum Tenens Metropolitan Peter and several times by the Acting Locum Tenens Metropolitan Sergii. Sergius sent an inquiry to Metropolitan Dionisii about autocephaly on September 24, 1927, and registered protests on January 4, 1928, October 22, 1928, and June 26, 1930. There followed replies from the Polish Church. The Council of Polish Bishops sent a letter on September 16, 1924, describing in detail all the events of church life from the beginning of autocephaly in response to Patriarch Tikhon’s protest of May 23, 1924, and this was followed by: 1) a letter from Metropolitan Dionisii to Metropolitan Peter, dated November 25, 1925, which was not delivered to the addressee and again included with the letter of March 26, 1928; 2) a letter from Metropolitan Dionisii to Metropolitan Sergii on March 26, 1928, in reply to his letter of January 4, 1928. The final letters from Metropolitan Sergii of October 22, 1928, and June 29, 1930, remained unanswered, and the Synod issued a ruling on April 15, 1929, regarding relations with the Patriarch of Moscow based on the “unshakable nature of the autocephalous canonically established structure of the Holy Orthodox Church in Poland in view of the corresponding guiding instructions on the part of the Constantinopolitan Throne.”
We need to delve into the bases that were presented on one hand by the Moscow Patriarchate in chronological order against the autocephaly of the Polish Church and into the degree of these protests, and on the other hand into the explanations and the formulation of the issue which was made by the Polish hierarchy. But first we will mention the legal bases of the governance of the Polish Church from the beginning of her isolated existence. This isolation has a double justification that was received from the Moscow Patriarchate. First of all, a ruling was made by the Patriarch, the Holy Synod, and the Supreme Church Council of the Russian Orthodox Church on November 20, 1920, in which the second point reads: “In the event that a diocese, due to a movement of the front, a change in national borders, etc., finds itself outside any contact with the Supreme Church Authority, or if the Supreme Church Authority itself with the Holy Patriarch at its head ceases functioning for any reason, the diocesan hierarch is to establish contacts immediately with the hierarchs of neighboring dioceses with the object of organizing a Supreme Instance of Ecclesiastical Authority for several dioceses that are found to be in similar circumstances” (whether as a temporary Supreme Church Authority, or as a Metropolitan District, or another way). The next point indicated who was to take the initiative in creating such an authority. The third point stated, “Care for organizing the Supreme Church Authority for a whole group of dioceses that finds itself in the situation indicated in the second point is the absolute duty of the hierarch who is senior in rank within the designated group.” There is no doubt that the Polish group of hierarchs, which is united by finding in the common national boundaries of reborn Poland and has under its archpastoral authority many Russians with Polish citizenship, belonged under this definition. In the same manner, the entire Russian emigration, due to this decree, found itself under canonical subjection to the newly developed Supreme Church Authority Abroad, first convened in Constantinople and then moved to Sremski Karlovci. This Supreme Church Authority was reorganized in 1922 and has existed since then as the Council and Synod of Bishops of the Church Abroad. These establishments were recognized from the very beginning by the entire episcopate (more than thirty in number), and only in 1926 did Metropolitans Evlogii and Platon cease their subjection and developed their own administration, referring to their appointments by Patriarch Tikhon, which they saw in the Patriarch’s testament. The reference to these appointments cannot be valid because the principle of inheritance in appointments to church positions is positively forbidden in church law by a basic canon, while on the other hand, the decree of November 20, 1920, clearly indicated that the Council of Bishops must be at the head with the senior bishop in charge. In the Russian emigration, this was Metropolitan Antonii [Khrapovitskii]. It was he who was recognized as head by most Local Churches that entered into an official canonical relationship with him. He was recognized by the Patriarchs of Jerusalem, Antioch, Serbia, Romania, the Bulgarian Synod, and the Archbishops of Sinai and Cyprus (only the Patriarchs of Constantinople and Alexandria and the Synod of Athens recognized Metropolitan Evlogii [Georgievskii]). This decree found its final application at the moment when around the middle of May of 1922 Patriarch Tikhon was arrested, and in that way the Russian Church lost her canonical head, and then any free expression of the Church’s will in general, thanks to which the acts of the Moscow Central Church Administration lost their canonical significance. The principle of subjection to it could not be fully realized even by those hierarchs who recognized the will of the captive Patriarch of Moscow as the basis of their governance. We know that when the Acting Locum Tenens Metropolitan Sergii dismissed Metropolitan Evlogii, Evlogii did not heed this command, thus confirming his initial point of view (a general one for the vast majority of bishops that was expressed at the Karlovci Council) when he, along with all the Russian bishops, recognized the Synod and Council of Bishops as the instance over him, which is witnessed by the formulation of divorce proceedings with appeals to the Synod and appointments into his diocese, even if at his instigation. It is true that, in giving something like full independence to his dioceses that lacked the possibility of proper contact with Moscow according the decree of November 20, 1920, he added that this independence was temporary and that their activity is accountable in case the Central Church Authority was restored. As the tenth point of the decree stated, “All measures taken locally according to the present instructions should, in the event of the restoration of Central Church Authority, be submitted to it for confirmation.” For the Polish Church, the situation was made even more concrete on September 14/27, 1921, by a decree of the Holy Synod under Patriarch Tikhon. This decree appointed Metropolitan Georgii as Patriarchal Exarch of the Orthodox Church in Poland with the position of regional metropolitan, i.e. as a metropolitan with supreme administrative powers in relation to the entire Metropolitanate and in relation to all individual bishops. The Synod’s letter at the same time conveys the Patriarch’s request to the Polish government to confirm Metropolitan Georgii, who is asked to assume his duties once he had been confirmed by the government. This confirmation ensued, and on January 17/30, 1922, the Patriarch elevated Metropolitan Georgii to the rank of metropolitan. A confirmation followed on January 14/27, 1922, by the Patriarch, his Synod, and the Supreme Church Authority, in a Resolution on the Governance of the Orthodox Church in the Polish Nation. An accompanying letter indicated that the Polish government needed to be asked to approve this Resolution. The government approved only individual points of this Resolution, in agreement with the Resolution on the Exarchate that had been formulated at the Council of Polish Bishops in January of 1922. Yet another instance of participation by Patriarch Tikhon in governing the Polish Church must be noted, which is the development within Polish Volhynia of the Volhynia-Kremenets Diocese with a vicariate in Lutsk, as per Patriarch Tikhon’s letter of October 7/20, 1921. This period of joint peaceful cooperation between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Polish government lasted up until Patriarch Tikhon’s arrest in May of 1922, when not only was the head of the church administration forcefully removed by the Soviet regime, but for the first time, an attempt was made to plant its church regime as the ‘Living Church, as was repeated after Patriarch Tikhon’s death in connection with the arrest of Metropolitan Peter, Locum Tenens of the Patriarchal Throne, in December of 1925, when a self-appointed group of bishops headed by Archbishop Gregory of Ekaterinburg wished to take over the governance of the Church with the Soviet regime’s support. This change in Moscow could not fail to elicit a corresponding reaction in the parts of the Russian Church outside the Soviet Union. It brought about a profound change in the attitude toward the Moscow central church authority both in Sremski Karlovci and in Poland, laying down the beginning of the departure from administrative subjection to it. Even though those in Sremski Karlovci did not submit to Patriarch Tikhon’s decree regarding administrative reorganization, which was issued before his arrest, a principled deduction was not immediately made there [in Poland] from the unfree situation in which the Moscow church authority found itself. It was made later, when Metropolitan Sergii issued the decree on submission, not out of fear, but for the conscience of the theomachist regime. But at the Council of Bishops in Poland in July of 1922, Prime Minister Ponikowski made these deductions right away, and they correspond totally to the principles of canonical law regarding the absence of a canonical authority in Moscow.
Indeed, if a church authority is created under pressure from a theomachist regime and is in a position when each of its acts can be challenged as to whether it was signed in accordance with the actual will of the signatory, it is difficult to regard such a situation to be canonically binding for anyone at all, especially for those living outside the terror of a theomachist regime.
This is how Prime Minister Ponikowski understood the matter. The letter of the Polish bishops of August 16, 1924 says “The Council (in mid-June of 1922) opened with a speech by the Prime Minister of Poland, who expressed the wish of the government regarding the necessity of a hierarchical structure for the Orthodox Church in Poland and the immediate adoption, in view of the removal of canonical authority of the Orthodox Church in Moscow, of a decision regarding the independence of the Orthodox Church in Poland on the basis of autocephaly. The Council then issued three resolutions:
1. Due to the cessation of the activity in Moscow by the legitimate Supreme Church Authority, all matters dealing with the Orthodox Church are to be decided locally by the Council of Orthodox Hierarchs or by the Synod of the Orthodox Church in Poland.
2. The Council of Orthodox Hierarchs rules that no directives from the non-canonical church authority are to be accepted.
3. The Council of Orthodox Hierarchs, due to the ecclesiastical disorder and destruction in Russia, has nothing against the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church in Poland, and is ready to work in Poland based on autocephaly, certain of the kind cooperation with the Polish government based on the Constitution. However, this is conditional on the Polish government obtaining the blessing of the Patriarch of Constantinople and other patriarchs, as well as of the heads of the autocephalous Churches of Greece, Bulgaria, and Romania, and also of the Patriarch of Moscow, should he return to power, and if the Patriarchate is not banned in Russia.
Four bishops took part in the Council: Metropolitan Georgii, Archbishop Elevferii, Bishop Vladimir, and Bishop Dionisii. Since Archbishop Elevferii was absent, claiming illness, three remained, and by a majority of two votes, with Bishop Vladimir abstaining, the above resolutions were adopted, becoming a basis for further development of the issue of autocephaly. At the previous Council, a majority of the same votes had accepted the consecration of Archimandrite Aleksandr as Bishop of Lublin, with an assignment to temporary rule over the Diocese of Pinsk and Novogrudok. By that time, Poland had already been recognized in its boundaries as an independent nation, its government could legitimately demand autocephaly, and most of the bishops voting at the Council assented to it. However, it was necessary to obtain recognition of this autocephaly from all other Churches, including the Mother Church, as well as the recognition that the new structure of the Polish Church was canonical. We see that, at that time (June of 1922), the blessing by the Patriarch of Moscow was taken by the Polish hierarchy itself as a condition of autocephaly. This awareness can be seen again, much later, in a letter from Metropolitan Dionisii to Metropolitan Sergii on November 29, 1927:Voskresnoe chtenie, No. 52/1927. “We always remember our duty toward our former beloved Mother Church of All Russia, and at the first opportunity, when a First Hierarch who is recognized by all Orthodox Churches and the entire people of Russia will stand at its head, we will zealously ask that he would bless on his part, for the good and peace of the Church, the autocephalous existence of the Orthodox Church, which has already been recognized and confirmed by all autocephalous Orthodox Churches.” Let us go back, however. In June of 1922, the Polish Council of Bishops had decided in favor of autocephaly. Patriarch Tikhon was in prison for over a year, and upon his release, on July 15, 1923, he issued a letterVest[nik] Prav[oslavnoi] Varsh[avskoi] Mitr[opolii], No. 19/1923. announcing his acceptance of the authority of the First Hierarch. Metropolitan Dionisii replied to this at the instruction of the Council of Polish Bishops on November 5/18, 1923, with a request to bless the autocephaly, which had already been blessed by the Patriarch of Constantinople. He wrote: “We are informing you that after the martyric death of Metropolitan Georgii of blessed memory. We have accepted the dignity of Metropolitan of Warsaw and All Poland by the election of the Council of the beloved bishops of the Orthodox Metropolitanate in Poland, with the agreement of the government of the Polish Republic, and upon the confirmation and blessing of Holy Meletios, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. We hope that Your Holiness has always prayed and will pray for our unworthiness and our pious flock, and will bless the independent existence of the Orthodox Church in the Polish Nation which has protected us and guarded our rights of the free manifestation and development of our Orthodox Church.” This was the first act of the Polish hierarchy asking the Mother Church for a blessing for independent existence. In a letter of April 23, 1924, Patriarch Tikhon put forth a number of considerations preventing him from giving this blessing at that moment. These considerations are quite important, for they have little in common with the subsequent philippics by Metropolitan Sergii, and, who knows, perhaps this contrast can be explained by the intensification of pressure by the Soviet regime. Patriarch Tikhon indicated that: 1) his negotiations with the Polish government about planning the resolution on the governance of the Polish Church had been interrupted by his arrest, and he needed a full report about the issues to be better informed; 2) according to the Statutes of the Moscow Church, a Local Council, not the Patriarch, has the competence to decide the issue of autocephaly; 3) the Patriarch of Constantinople has no right to extend his authority on a part of the Russian Patriarchate; 4) Patriarch Tikhon has heard of protests and the illegitimate denial of sees of Their Eminences Panteleimon, Sergii, Vladimir, and Elevferii. The Patriarch added: 5) “With such gaps and inconsistencies in the information we have received regarding what is taking place in the Orthodox Metropolis of Poland, we cannot bless the independent existence of the Orthodox Church in the Polish Nation until all of the circumstances and the canonical foundations for how she came to exist independently have been elucidated before a Council of the All-Russian Orthodox Church, whose convocation is a subject of our constant prayers and concerns.” This letter does not demonstrate a refusal in principle of autocephaly, but only that, for it to be recognized by the Patriarch of Moscow, there is a lack of: 1) sufficient information on the matter; 2) an body with competence to decide on the issue. On the contrary, still earlier, Patriarch Tikhon had said that the Exarchate is a temporary establishment, one that is part of a transition toward autocephaly,Communiqué of the Polish Foreign Ministry to the Ministry of Confessions of October 28, 1921. and that the issue of autocephaly was being delayed by the difficulties of calling a Council. According to the ambassador’s message to his foreign minister on December 12, 1921, Patriarch Tikhon had told the Polish ambassador as much. Patriarch Tikhon acted according to norms of the canon and church custom for bringing in autocephaly. The consent of the supreme body of the Mother Church, her Council (after it has been informed about the issues), is necessary for taking out part of a Church, for this entails a change in her boundaries. And the protest against the non-canonical interference by the Patriarch of Constantinople in the matters of another patriarch is in full accordance with the state of scholarship on canon law regarding the rights of the Patriarch of Constantinople. But he did not see in the activity of the Polish bishops that “arrogance of worldly powers” for which the hierarchy is penalized at the self-willed breaking away from its leading First Hierarch (Canon 15 of the Quintisext Council). If it had been otherwise, the reply of Patriarch Tikhon would have spoken not of competent bodies and the right of the Mother Church to investigate the separation of a part from her, but would simply threaten excommunication, as happened historically in similar situations. As for the “illegitimate” denial of the sees of the four bishops, based only on the information available regarding their ecclesiastical trial, we cannot judge if their infractions could have been penalized by their removal from their sees by church authorities. Perhaps Patriarch Tikhon was concerned whether there was a sufficient number of ruling bishops to try him, whether all rules of canonical jurisprudence were followed, whether there was a threefold summons for a trial in absentia, or whether it was possible for the accused to speak out freely regarding accusations presented in a timely manner, and so on. But this is not the crux of the matter for us. Hardly anyone will deny that a government has the full right to confirm bishops in their sees and to refuse to make this confirmation, as well as to require that bishops be or become its naturalized citizens. In this case Bishop Panteleimon, the only Polish citizen out of the four named bishops was denied the government’s placet in February of 1922 (before the June Council abou autocephaly and the circumstance that called for it, namely Patriarch Tikhon’s arrest). (Then-)Bishop Vladimir had neither a government placet nor a request by church authorities to administer the Diocese of Grodno. Bishop Elevferii joined the Polish Church in February of 1922, when his diocese was invaded by Poland, and he also did not have the government’s confirmation (placet). Bishop Sergii was appointed to his diocese not only without the government’s confirmation, but even, it seems, without its knowledge. So the government was right to not regard him as a bishop in its Church. The question thus arises as to the extent to which these foreign bishops were desirable for the Polish government. It had the right to express its viewpoint regarding whom it agreed to work with as the Polish Church was being developed. This right is not denied to the independent Catholic Church, either, in its concordats. In Poland, the Orthodox Church, according to the Constitution (articles 113 and 115), can have a public legal organization. Its clergy performs acts of governmental significance, specifically, keeping parish registers. The sacraments it performs are ascribed legal significance. Its members have advantages in military service. The government accounts for the needs of the Orthodox Church in its budget. Under such conditions, the government has the right to check over the entire composition of the hierarchy and clergy from its own point of view. It would have been another matter if church-state relations in Poland were structured on the principle of the separation of Church and State. Then the removal of bishops would have been a forceful act seen as interference of the government in an area that is not its own. In a system of such separation, the Church would be a private legal association. But, on the contrary, the interest of the Polish government toward the Church follows the system of attributing governmental significance to the Church. This is demonstrated by the President’s rescript of May 30, 1930, calling for the creation of a developed system of church institutions with the participation of the faithful. There is no room for government indifference toward the composition of the episcopate and clergy in this system of relationships, as foreseen by the Constitution itself. We can recall a historical precedent from the history of the establishment of the Serbian Patriarchate in the fourteenth century, which received well-known justification by a canonical critic who investigated this episode and was known at the same time for his strict canonical rigorism. As is known, King Stefan Dušan of Serbia wanted the Serbian Church, which had already been recognized as independent, to be elevated to the status of a patriarchate. He brought this about by attracting the Bulgarian Bishops of Ohrid, but without the Byzantine Patriarch, who was his supervisor, albeit by then only nominally. A victorious war with Byzantium gave him a few Greek dioceses, and he got rid of Greek bishops who were there in his way and replaced them with Serbian bishops. What Professor Pavlov has written about this is characteristic: “If the first reason, Dušan’s arbitrary establishment of a patriarchate, was subject to condemnation from a canonical point of view, the second, the removal of Greek hierarchs who were an obstacle to the reconciliation of hostile parties, was an aggravating fault for the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which, discarding the principle – established in church practice – of the concordance of church organization with political and civil division of nations and peoples, demanded the return of the Greek dioceses that were taken away and that had become part of Dušan’s kingdom. In this respect, the Patriarchate of Constantinople did not act as was suggested by previous church practice from the life of the Christian Church in Byzantium itself, and when it came out with this weapon of church history against the Bulgarians’ demands regarding their ecclesiastical independence, citing the canon and practice of the Orthodox Church (i.e. when entering with the Greeks inside a nation the Bulgarians should not demand an independent church administration). And then the fact that the Greek bishops were chased away was motivated by the local Serbian government as an extreme measure, necessary in the interests of tranquility and peace not only of the government, but of the Church as well, so that from the canonical point of view, it was perhaps difficult for the Patriarchate to object seriously to its necessity or, at least, to its expediency for governance.” Professor Palmov’s discussion shows through an individual example how one legal principle can clash with another and can yield to it. In this case, the principle of ecclesiastical unchangeability clashed with the principle of church peace in changing political circumstances. We see such a clash of principles in the introduction of autocephaly prior to receiving the blessing of the Mother Church. The practice of the Ecumenical Church has determined that as long as the separation of a part of the Church is a consequence of a change in a territory’s political fortune, it can be blessed, since it follows the natural course of events and therefore does not contradict the principle established by the canon. For the canon prosecutes and condemns such separations, since they are merely the consequence of pride and power hunger. The position of the local church authority regarding other church authorities depends therefore upon the condition of the nation in which it is found — they are parallel to each other. On the other hand, the Church requires the separation to take place with the blessing of the Mother Church. But there are definite principles of general church governance over the Mother Church herself which are mandatory for her, and the command contained in Canon 17 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council is directed not only to the Church that is separating, but also to the Church from which the separation is taking place. This is not just a principle for hierarchical individuals who find themselves in a position calling for their ecclesiastical independence, but also an obligation for the Mother Church to take the territory’s historical fate into account. Historical necessity can flow either from the situation of the part that is separating from the Mother Church, or from the situation in which the Mother Church finds herself. Patriarch Tikhon apparently felt the clear command of historical necessity when he spoke only of his duty to submit the entire matter of the separation of the Polish Church for decision by a Local Council. Since extraordinary historical circumstances are present, obliging the Church to recognize the autocephaly due to the actual church laws, the issue of obtaining the blessing of the Mother Church is a question of time, specifically a question of when her supreme body, a Local Council freely convoked by the Church Authorities and freely making decisions, will be in a position to investigate freely the whole history of the proclamation of Polish autocephaly. When two principles clash, the principle determining the boundaries of Local Churches should take precedence, rather than the principle of obtaining the blessing of the Mother Church, since this blessing is itself subject to certain conditions. It is mandatory for the Mother Church under certain conditions (IV, 17), and, whenever absent, it has historically been replaced with the blessing by other Churches headed by hierarch of a higher rank, i.e. by patriarchs. The Polish nation is restored, it is recognized in international relations, and this circumstance will be taken into account by an All-Russian Local Council. It must be noted that, if the hierarchs had not taken into account the legal right of the Polish nation to have a hierarchy that was independent of others, there could have been a repetition of the sad situation that took place at the beginning of the seventeenth century, when the Orthodox Church in Poland was left without any hierarchy. We are being faced with the proclamation of autocephaly, which was brought about by the restoration of the Polish nation, which is an event that has a number of precedents in church law, demonstrating that such actions have always received recognition from the Mother Church after a certain period, even in cases when it initially brought about excommunication on its part. Patriarch Tikhon not only did not do this, but did not even cease relations with the Polish Church. His May 23 letter only stated the difficulty of convoking a Local Council. We can see in all of this the usual history of any autocephaly. Historical circumstances altering political boundaries lead to the isolation of a part of the Church that finds itself in totally different conditions of political existence. After inevitable friction accompanying the replacement of one legal system with another, the government wants separation, creating new conditions of life. The Mother Church recognizes the necessity of separation, at least for the sake of the peace of the Church; she gives her blessing, and this concludes the transitional period. For the Polish Church, this period found its expression in autonomy, which hardly differs from autocephaly, as expressed by Patriarch Tikhon.
But then a factor appeared that was new to the creation of autocephaly, which requires more detailed examination. With Patriarch Tikhon’s death, the situation started to take a turn for the worse, and a new legal situation was created to a certain degree. The period following Patriarch Tikhon’s release from prison in July of 1923 until his death in March of 1925 can in no way be regarded as a period of free canonical expression of will. Patriarch Tikhon himself was forced to make a certain compromise, and, despite excommunicating the Soviet regime in 1918, he did something different on September 25, 1919, when he recognized the Soviet regime and called for submission to it. Having escaped from physical prison, he essentially did not receive freedom of governance, for the entire Soviet Union is a prison. Unwittingly, a doubt appears that his signature expressed his actual will, after he exposed himself to all of the horrors of the Soviet regime with his anathema. However, this was still a far cry from Metropolitan Sergii’s call to obey the Soviet regime, not out of fear but for conscience, and from his participation together with the Soviet regime in the persecution of all hierarchs who did not recognize his 1927 Declaration. Patriarchal authority lost its stability after Patriarch Tikhon’s death. The arrests of the hierarchs called to serve as Locum Tenentes, the Soviet regime’s support of various Living Church (Renovationist) movements, and the efforts to impose its leadership upon the Church, and the deception by the Soviet regime of the hierarchs who were denied mutual contact, created legal chaos, uncertainty, and ambiguity regarding the actual situation of the church administration, until the Soviet regime managed to create out of Metropolitan Sergii, after his three month imprisonment from December 1926 until March 1927, a weapon of its lordship over the Church and of the Church herself. A new legal situation was created. A representative of patriarchal authority became a weapon of the Soviet regime, which considers persecution and destruction of the Church to be its main task, the foundation of its satanocratic worldview. And this is not all, for the political world of Europe recognizes this regime de jure, i.e. as if recognizing its right to eternal existence. What is forgotten is that the actual Locum Tenens of the Patriarchal Throne is Metropolitan Peter, who was elected by the entire episcopate of the Russian Church, and was forcefully imprisoned for refusing to sign a declaration appeasing the Soviet regime (for refusing to exclude bishops who are undesirable to the regime from the hierarchy and for refusing to work with the Soviet regime in the person of Tuchkov in ruling the Church). Prior to his imprisonment, Metropolitan Peter made Metropolitan Sergii Locum Tenens. His canonical authority is conditional on, on the one hand, Metropolitan Peter’s being alive and his personal confidant, and on the other, by Metropolitan Peter’s approval of his actions. It should not be forgotten as well that Metropolitan Peter, despite repeated demands and threats by the Soviet regime, has not abandoned his position as Locum Tenens, and the guidance of the Church in basic guidance issues belongs to him and not to his deputy, whose very existence was called forth by the forceful removal of Metropolitan Peter. Before his incarceration on December 6, 1925, he obligated Metropolitan Sergii in his act of transfer to commemorate him at services.Voskresnoe Chtenie, No. 11a/1929. Metropolitan Peter has himself been denied any information about church matters independently and not been able to initiate anything in church governance, being in exile and confinement, while Metropolitan Sergii is being supported by the Soviet regime, in spite of numerous protests by the hierarchy against Metropolitan Sergii’s activity after his 1927 Declaration. This declaration called upon all hierarchs, clergy, and the people to recognize the Soviet regime not because of wrath, but for the sake of conscience, i.e. to recognize in it the kind of authority that the Apostles called to obey. He called for its sorrows to be regarded as their own sorrows and its joys as their own joys. With the theomachist nature of the Soviet regime so firmly tied to it, such a call is equivalent to a denial of the Church’s own mission and to a handing over of the hierarchy in service to a regime that regards the destruction of the Church as its goal, not only from the outside but from the inside, as well. In general, it is hard to imagine that a Christian hierarchy, called to act according to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, could establish such principles. This essentially discredits the canonical position of Metropolitan Sergii as a person expressing the view not of the Church, but of a theomachist regime that is persecuting the Church. Not only is his general canonical position discredited, but also the canonical significance of each of his acts. The free expression of will is a basic condition of the validity of a legal act even in secular law. This is more so in ecclesiastical law, there is an assumption of the breathing of the grace of the Holy Spirit behind a hierarch’s action, and in principle, there is no material compulsion of any kind.
The author indicated this principle in his lecture to one of the Russian Eminences outside Russia in 1922 regarding Patriarch Tikhon’s decree before his arrest, doing away with the Supreme Church Authority Outside Russia. The author was arguing that if there is the slightest suspicion that the Patriarch’s volition is under duress, it loses legal binding force. I then cited an example from the history of the French Church, from the era of the struggle between Napoleon I and Pope Pius VII. Napoleon confined the Pope to Fontainebleau Palace and surrounded him with spies and friends of the Pope who had sold out to Napoleon. Since the Pope could not have contact with the outside world, he knew about everything that was taking place only through Napoleon’s minions. Napoleon had to convince the French episcopate that the Pope was consenting to a certain agreement and, apparently, he managed to do this, since through all kinds of deceptions he obtained the Pope’s signature. The entire French episcopate, except for three bishops, agreed to recognize the Pope’s consent. However, the three bishops protested such a recognition, motivated by the fact that the Pope was not able to have independent free information regarding matters, and thus his signature is no evidence of his actual will. When the Russians and Germans came to Paris in 1814, the Pope was released, and he acknowledged that the viewpoint of the three bishops was entirely correct. This example, even if it comes from a heterodox Church, is a living witness to the presence of the legal principle that a person’s signature is not always evidence of his actual will. Unfortunately, the Russian Council Outside Russia, as we will see, took this path decisively and definitely only in 1927.
Therefore, Metropolitan Sergii’s July 1927 Declaration cannot have any legal significance. If it actually expresses his will, it is not mandatory, because it appears as a deviation from a norm that is recognized by the Church as mandatory in relation to apostates. If it was made under duress, it has no significance as a forced act. In the meantime, it is being forcefully implemented, and the Church’s consciousness, the last item accessible to the Soviet regime, was expressed in a massive protest against Metropolitan Sergii’s actions and his declaration on the part of the hierarchy. It is sufficient to point out certain episodes with the participation of hierarchs who were also called to the Locum Tenens position, and of the Locum Tenens himself. We have already seen that Metropolitan Peter refused to sign the declaration, preferring martyrdom, and is refusing to buy his freedom by resigning as Locum Tenens. This choice was offered to him back in January of 1927. Protests against Metropolitan Sergii followed both in Russia, which is equivalent to confessionalism, and from the Council of Russian Hierarchs Outside Russia, who had the opportunity to evaluate Metropolitan Sergii’s actions in detail.
When Metropolitan Sergii started sending out his declaration to dioceses for public proclamation, many of the hierarchs refused to publicize it, which caused many of them to be exiled (Bishop Veniamin of Rybinsk and others). A number of bishops refused to accept appointments from Metropolitan Sergii (Zinovii of Tambov, Serafim of Dmitrov, and others), preferring to remain in exile. Certain bishops sent the Declaration back to Metropolitan Sergii, for which he dismissed them. They did not submit to the illegitimate dismissal and separated themselves from him, which caused many to be exiled. Metropolitan Sergii wanted to take all of the bishops through the Synod that was created upon his release from prison, and he forcibly transferred bishops for this, and many hierarchs refused this appointment originating from the Soviet Synod, for instance Metropolitan Iosif. Bishop Dimitrii of Gdov went as head of a delegation from Petersburg to Moscow to find out what Metropolitan Sergii’s church policy would be. Upon receiving a reply that the declaration of July 16/29, 1927, would be implemented without fail, some of the bishops broke with the metropolitan (Bishop Dimitrii of Gdov and Bishop Sergii of Narva), while Bishop Grigorii merely did not commemorate Metropolitan Sergii and the authorities. When Metropolitan Sergii set about transferring Bishop Grigorii, his flock rose up in opposition and declared that it would not accept a bishop from him. Metropolitan Sergii would bring about the fulfillment of the decree by force, ordering the commemoration of the authorities by threatening them with suspension, which frequently was unsuccessful. The Yaroslavl Church Region completely split off from Metropolitan Sergii, and its bishops were exiled (Bishop Serafim of Uglich and others), and Metropolitan Agafangel declared that he would not fulfill Metropolitan Sergii’s directives that were against his conscience. When Bishop Serafim of Uglich was offered to choose between a white metropolitan’s klobuk and suspension, he said that he preferred to suffer for the Church. The Yaroslavl bishops declared: “We, the bishops of the Yaroslavl Ecclesiastical Region, aware of the responsibility we bear before God for our spiritual children who are entrusted to our guidance and considering it our duty to guard by all means the purity of the Holy Orthodox Faith, and the freedom of the structure of the inner life of the church in order to calm the anxious conscience of the faithful, due to the lack of any other escape from the existing situation that is fatal for the Church, we hereby secede from you and are refusing to recognize in you and in your ‘synod’ the right to rule the Church at the highest level.” They went on to declare their hierarchical subjection to Metropolitan Peter and the preservation of canonical unity with all the Eastern Churches. Over forty bishops, upon receiving assignments from Metropolitan Sergii, saw when they came to their sees that they would have to work in cooperation with the Soviet regime, and went into retirement. On January 24, 1928, Metropolitan Agafangel, Metropolitan Iosif, and Archbishop Serafim of Uglich made a brotherly presentation to Metropolitan Sergii regarding his violation of duties resulting from his situation. Only those bishops who approved of Metropolitan Sergii’s policies were allowed to serve in Moscow. The others could not live in Moscow for more than three consecutive days and could not serve there. In other places, his decree about commemorating the authorities was not being fulfilled at all or was fulfilled partly. Among the exiled bishops, a portion that recognized Metropolitan Sergii has gone to their own dioceses, another has condemned Metropolitan Sergii without breaking communion, and a third portion has totally broken relations. We have cited this information from a certain zealot of Orthodoxy from Russia, published under the title “A Brief Yearly History of the Russian Orthodox Church for 1927–1928.”Voskresnoe Chtenie, Nos. 5–6/1929. The general tragic condition of the hierarchy that is subject to Metropolitan Sergii and rejects him is felt in the resolution by Metropolitan Iosif of Petrograd in his vicars’ report of December 25, 1927: “Under present circumstances, we have no other means to discuss and render harmless the latest actions of Metropolitan Sergii than to break decisively with him and ignore his directives. May these directives be accepted by paper that endures all and the insensitive air that contains all. While disassociating from Metropolitan Sergii and his actions, we are not disassociating from our legitimate First Hierarch, Peter of Krutitsa, and the Council, which remains to gather at some point, of hierarchs who have remained faithful to the Holy Orthodox Church. And may this desired Council, our only competent judge, not reproach us then.”Voskresnoe Chtenie, No. 20/1928. This picture illustrates the massive condemnation of Metropolitan Sergii’s declaration by the Russian hierarchy, which would rather suffer and end its life in martyrdom than submit to Metropolitan Sergii. It is even more natural that the hierarchy outside Russia, which is outside the terror of the Soviet regime, has by a great majority broken off canonical relations with Metropolitan Sergii and issued a series of resolutions that were adopted by the Council of Bishops in 1927 and repeated in 1928. The resolution of the 1927 Council states: “The part of the All-Russian Church Abroad must henceforth cease administrative relations with the Moscow Church authority due to the impossibility of normal dealings with it and its enslavement to the godless Soviet regime, which denies it the freedom to express its will and canonically rule the Church.”Voskresnoe Chtenie, No. 42/1927. The latest rulings were the following:
1. Confirmation of the steadfastness of the determination by the 1927 Council of Bishops regarding the forced temporary administrative separation from the Moscow Church authority.
2. The directives of an ecclesiastical administrative nature originating from the current Moscow Church authority under the conditions that have transpired there are to be regarded as not having mandatory force for the Church Outside Russia and her hierarchy. This applies especially to those issued by Metropolitan Sergii, whose canonical position is not recognized in the Mother Church herself.
3. The Russian flock outside Russia is to be called to preserve peace in the Church, explaining that in the person of Metropolitan Sergii, the Church is similar to what they managed to do in Soviet Russia, and in that way to deny the emigration its spiritual guidance and, if not to destroy her completely, to weaken this stronghold of anti-Communism.
4. Archpastors, pastors, and laity who have split off the part of the Russian Orthodox Church that is outside Russia and undoubtedly are in spiritual unity with their suffering Mother Church (but not with the self-appointed synod of Metropolitan Sergii) should be addressed, indicating to them the danger, not only for the Russian Church, but for all of Orthodoxy, of the church tactics being conducted by Metropolitan Sergii and being dictated and supported by the Soviet regime.
5. Explanation should be given to the flock that no measures of forgiveness or punishment that might come from Metropolitan Sergii and his so-called ‘synod’, which was formed not in a canonical manner but was chosen by him at the Bolsheviks’ instructions and is not recognized in Russia, can have the force and significance of a legal act, in the first instance as coming from hierarchs and an establishment whose canonical position are subject to fundamental doubt in Russia herself. In the second instance, they came about based upon one-sided and unfair reports by Metropolitan Evlogii, without the other side having been heard. And in the third instance, they were directed toward church authorities who, based on the acts of the All-Russian Church Authorities, proclaimed themselves to be a self-sufficient part of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The eighth point notes with deep sadness that Metropolitan Evlogii, Archbishop Vladimir, and Bishops Sergius and Benjamin presented the obligation that Metropolitan Sergii demanded, according to witnessing about that by Metropolitan Sergii himself in a message to the entire Russian flock.
Metropolitan Antonii, the Chair of the Synod, accompanied the Synod’s determination with a message which says: “It must be acknowledged that this institution, which is illegally constituted and has joined forces with God’s enemies, and which Metropolitan Sergii calls an Orthodox synod, which the best Russian hierarchs, clergy, and laity have refused to recognize, should not be recognized at all by our Orthodox Churches, our Synod of Bishops, and by its flock outside Russia, while the founders of the Moscow synod should be recognized as the same kinds of apostates from the faith as were the ancient libellatici, Christians who, although refusing to abuse Christ and offer a sacrifice to the idols, received a false certificate from the pagan priests alleging that they were in full agreement with the followers of the pagan religion. May God preserve all you Orthodox Christians from being like the ancient libellatici, whom the Holy Church viewed as absolute apostates from the Christian faith.”Encyclical of June 22, 1928. Voskresnoe Chtenie, No. 35/1928. The aforesaid exhaustive clarification of the canonical situation of Metropolitan Sergii, coming from the free Council of Russian Bishops, which coincides with the attitude of the great mass of Russian hierarchs in Russia, who have chosen martyrdom over submission to Metropolitan Sergii, is an authoritative judgment for all Local Churches in the matter of determining their current relations with Metropolitan Sergii. What the situation amounts to is that the canonical authority of Metropolitan Peter cannot be effected, while the authority of Metropolitan Sergii in the essence of his activity is not acceptable to the Orthodox consciousness. The Soviet regime disorganized patriarchal authority, and we are facing an absence of canonical authority in the Russian Church, which Prime Minister Ponikowski communicated at the Council of Polish Hierarchs in June of 1922. At that time, this situation was first discovered in its embryonic form, and the possibilities were opening up of what we are currently witnessing. However, the fact that the attitudes of the Russian Church Abroad and the Polish Church are the same in principle, does not exclude different conclusions about the situation in which they have found themselves. In 1927, the Council of the Russian Church Abroad, having broken with Metropolitan Sergii, issued this ruling: “The part of the Russian Church Abroad considers herself to be an unbroken branch, one in spirit, of the Great Russian Church. She does not separate herself from her Mother and does not see herself as autocephalous. As before, she considers Patriarchal Locum Tenens Metropolitan Peter to be her head and commemorates him at services.” Such a ruling is totally natural for the Russian Church Abroad, which has to take account of the regrettable fact that a small portion of hierarchs recognizes the authority of Metropolitan Sergii, and in this way gives the opportunity for Metropolitan Sergii to conduct his policy, which is dictated by the Soviets, in the Church Abroad. The Russian Church Abroad does not have a territorial basis and the protection of secular authorities. She unwillingly must overcome the illness of adherence of a portion of her hierarchy to the ecclesiastical rule of Metropolitan Sergii. But is another nation obliged to endure and be struck down by the possibility of foreign influences, and at that the kind from which not only her faithful Orthodox citizens, but the nation itself, will suffer under the penetration of the ideas of Communist atheistic culture, which openly combats Christian culture itself and its structure? One cannot reply by pointing out that the Polish Church could have avoided breaking away now from the Mother Church, leaving the resolution of the issue of autocephaly to a time when canonical authority would be restored in Moscow. The remaining connection with the Moscow Patriarchate could have always kept open the possibility of a subjective judgment of individual hierarchs regarding the time when relations with him could be renewed, or even regarding the inevitability of association with it, as was done by Metropolitan Evlogii before his removal by Metropolitan Sergii or as Bishop Veniamin is now doing in Paris.
But then this would exactly be the means for interference by Soviet authorities into ecclesiastical matters, and thereby into the political affairs of a neighboring country. The interests of the Polish nation and the Polish Orthodox Church have coincided and have led to a separation, which is now approved by all Orthodox Churches, except for the Moscow Patriarchate. But a free Local Council cannot be gathered there, and the Polish Orthodox Church cannot even guess when it can, for in the system of Soviet authority, theomachism is an integral element that is indivisible and unchangeable, and this power is recognized de jure, so that struggle against it has ceased and it has joined other nations as a member with full rights. It is this de jure recognition on the part of the leading great nations of a regime which has overtaken the Church not only from the outside but from the inside as well, that does not allow the Polish Church to postpone the issue of autocephaly until a canonical authority has emerged within the Moscow Patriarchate. To the gaze of a lawyer looking at the Russian Church from the outside in her current situation, such an assumption is theoretically unacceptable. The recognized authority is subject to acceptance in the condition it presents itself. One can mourn over such a unique downfall of European political morality, which sinks to accepting as equal to itself a regime that denies the foundations of elementary morality and tolerance. We are, moreover, prepared to acknowledge that certain nations were obligated by political necessity to recognize the Soviet Union after it was recognized by the Great Powers bordering it, but other nations and other Local Churches should not be refused the right to guard themselves from influences of a Local Church which has been taken over by an alien theomachist element. For contact with the Mother Church makes sense when she can guide, instruct, and warn her Daughter Church, and can tell, having grown wiser by experience and tradition, whether her part has attained sufficient maturity for independent existence. In this lies the profound sense of the canonical requirement of receiving her blessing for independent existence. But when the Mother Church is brought to total devastation of her ruling apparatus, what sense is there in being dependent upon her? Currently she does not have, and cannot have, a body capable of providing this recognition. We are ready to believe that the Polish Orthodox Church will be able to turn to her with a request to enter into a relationship of the kind that she enjoys with all the other Local Churches, having explained her history, and that the Russian Church will examine this issue, bound by the basic canons regarding the fixing of administrative boundaries, the recognition of the Polish Church on the part of other Orthodox Churches, and an awareness that thanks to autocephaly, the Polish Church was able to avoid those unfortunate influences to which the Russian Church was unavoidably subjected and could build up church life under the protection of governmental laws. If we theoretically allow that she could refuse to recognize the autocephaly, she will be in dispute with the Polish Church, and this dispute will again be subject to the decision of all the other Local Churches, who have essentially expressed their judgment, and this decision can be supported by world famous political events. These events, which culminated in the political de jure recognition of the theomachist regime, along with the acceptance of the normality of the Church’s captivity, make up those new factors in the matter of the Polish Church’s autocephaly which have somehow modified the process of its realization, and have even hastened it in comparison with other historical instances of its conduct, which we have mentioned before. In this case, other Churches gave their blessing without waiting for what the Mother Church had to say. While completely rejecting any legal weight of Metropolitan Sergii’s acts due to the stated considerations, we nonetheless wish to examine the correspondence that was carried on between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Metropolis of Warsaw in order to clarify Metropolitan Sergii’s arguments independently of the fact that they currently originate from a body that is more than dubious from a canonical point of view. We saw that Patriarch Tikhon explained why he did not bless Polish autocephaly. An awareness of its inevitability was inherent to him, and he did not regard it as an ecclesiastical infraction, and thus he did not break off relations. Metropolitan Sergii himself sent a Paschal greeting to Metropolitan Dionisii (his letter was dated May 10/23, 1926, and was from Nizhnii Novgorod). Everything changed, however, after Metropolitan Sergii was released from prison in March of 1927. His claims on the Polish Church increased and the tone of his demands kept rising.
Back in August of 1924, the Polish hierarchy explained in a detailed report to Patriarch Tikhon the situation that had come about with an indication that: “It is not we but life which persistently demands the independent existence of the Orthodox Church in Poland, so that all our measures for the Church’s benefit would not be subject to the harmful effects of space, borders, and embittered personal conceits, and would lead God’s people to the primary goals of the existence of the Christian race.”Vestnik Pravoslavnoi Mitropolii v Polʹshe, No. 39–40/1924. If we recall that Metropolitan Dionisii’s letter of November 5/18, 1923, was received by Patriarch Tikhon (according to his statement) only in mid-May 1924, and that a little later Metropolitan Dionisii’s letter to Metropolitan Peter of December 24, 1925 (an official notification informing Metropolitan Peter about the introduction of autocephaly with an announcement of the events that necessitated it) was not delivered at all, as Metropolitan Anthony wrote to Metropolitan Dionisii on May 18/31, 1926, based on a message from the Foreign Ministry of one of the great nations, we get a picture of the captivity in which the prelates of the Russian Church in Moscow find themselves.
The ecclesiastical disorder that occurring with regard to the replacement of the Patriarchal Throne with a Locum Tenens, and then with an acting Locum Tenens, halted the correspondence of the Moscow Patriarchate with the Metropolis of Warsaw. It was resumed in the spring of 1927, when Metropolitan Sergii appeared at the head of the church administration fully armed with his support from the Soviet regime, vested in its trust. On September 24, 1927, Metropolitan Sergii announced the formation of a Synod under him in May of 1927 (formed by him alone with the Soviet regime’s support). He inquired of Metropolitan Dionisii: 1) Is it a correct assumption that the Orthodox Church in Poland is considered autocephalous? If it is, then 2) does this autocephaly have the blessing of the legitimate head of the entire Russian Church (including those parts that went to Poland), the Holy Patriarch of Moscow or his Locum Tenens? If such a blessing is not present, 3) what canonical bases guided the hierarchs under Metropolitan Dionisii when they proclaimed autonomy? And, 4) did he not find it timely, with the restoration of relations with the Patriarchate of Moscow, to restore “Your canonical dependence upon it” (on the basis of autonomy)? From the standpoint of the basis we have elaborated, it was precisely in the fall of 1927 that it became especially patently obvious that it was impossible to create a canonical structure under the Soviet regime, and it was at that time that the Russian hierarchy protested Metropolitan Sergii’s behavior, which led to a break of relations with him. He is not a body, according to the Moscow Ecclesiastical Constitution, who is recognized to decide magisterial issues as acting Locum Tenens due to his personal assignment, and, due to the general legal principle that requires freedom for the expression of volition to be valid, he bore witness, exactly with his July 1927 declaration, to the internal captivity of the Moscow Patriarchate. It would be a natural conclusion if the Polish hierarchy would simply cease relations with Metropolitan Sergii as did the Karlovci Council of Bishops. For even if Metropolitan Sergii would give his blessing for Polish autocephaly, no legal consequences would follow from this, since Patriarch Tikhon himself did not consider himself competent to do this. And the Polish hierarchy did not have the right to return to subjection to the Patriarch of Moscow due to its new governmental situation, while in an ecclesiastical sense this would signify a voluntary submission to the captive Patriarchate, which has recognized the theomachist regime, and this would bring on the canonical accusation of supporting the libellatici. Metropolitan Dionisii’s reply on November 29, 1927, as we have already seen, announced that the Polish hierarchy would ask the Patriarch of Moscow to give his blessing for autocephaly “when a First Hierarch who is recognized by all Orthodox Churches and the entire people of Russia will stand at her head [of the Russian Church –ed.].” The letter announced that “[t]he Polish Orthodox hierarchy was forced to appeal to the Ecumenical Patriarch by current circumstances – first of all, the Moscow Patriarchate’s being deprived of freedom of action and lacking a recognized head – to recognize the autocephalous structure of the Orthodox Church in the Polish Nation, which is necessary for the existence of the Polish Orthodox Church in new circumstances and for the interests of Orthodoxy. The Russian hierarchy did something similar in the fifteenth century, when they saw it was not possible to deal with the Ecumenical Patriarch after Constantinople was taken by the Turks.” The letter stated that autocephaly had been confirmed by the Tomos of the Patriarch of Constantinople on November 13, 1924, that the Patriarch of Constantinople had informed all autocephalous Churches about this, and,that “[i]f the All-Russian Church did not receive this message, the reasons for that must be looked for in her disastrous state at the time.” There is an announcement that after the autocephaly was announced in Warsaw, it was recognized by all Eastern patriarchs and heads of the autocephalous Churches, and that when Metropolitan Dionisii and Archbishop Alexis visited the East, the Polish hierarchy initiated brotherly and prayerful relations of love and unity with them. There is some uncertainty in this letter regarding the understanding of the Tomos of the Patriarch of Constantinople, as to whether it is being regarded as an act of recognition or as an act of the granting of autocephaly. Some expressions point to the first possibility, but the correspondence with the Patriarch of Constantinople and later rulings by the Synod (especially that on April 16, 1929) display a certain duality and uncertainty, to the point of a readiness to see in the Tomos an act of legislation by the Patriarch of Constantinople, who granted autocephaly to the Polish Church in 1923, as being accepted into his jurisdiction. We do not share this legal construct, since dual subjection in canonical law is forbidden (by Canon 2 of the Second Ecumenical Council and by Canon 12 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council), and the Patriarch of Constantinople could neither accept the Polish Church into his jurisdiction, nor give her rights of autocephaly. He could only recognize her, as other Local Churches did after him. Here his right of caring for churches in a difficult situation came to light. Our point of view is that the basis of the Polish Church’s autocephaly is the resolution about this by the Polish hierarchy, which is recognized by all Churches, rather than the Tomos of the Patriarch of Constantinople. The wording of the Tomos is a typical manifestation of the theory of Eastern Papism, which we have already mentioned. From the legal point of view, it can be accepted only as a solemn act of recognition. From the moment of the June 14, 1922 Council, when it was resolved not to accept any directives from the non-canonical church authority that had been formed in Moscow, the autocephaly was being realized de facto and received its legal existence from the moment of its recognition by the other Churches. The Polish hierarchy had the right to independent existence due to Patriarch Tikhon’s decree of October 20, 1920. This decree bestowed the right to organize the Supreme Church Authority independently as an instance over the bishops. From this perspective, the issue of autocephaly becomes theoretical to a significant degree at this moment. Essentially, there was no willful breaking away from the Patriarch of Moscow here, but simply a discussion about an uncertain future time when a universally recognized patriarch would be on the Moscow throne, when he would convoke a free Local Russian Council, and would it be necessary then to present to him for confirmation everything that had or had not happened before his appearance (point 10 of the decree). There was none of the tragic element that accompanied the introduction of autocephaly in other instances, when a mechanical break with the Mother Church led to the impossibility even of further directives from bishops. But in this decree, there were definite powers from the Patriarch of Moscow. The disagreement with Metropolitan Sergii lies, first of all, in the fact that the period after Patriarch Tikhon’s July 1923 release from prison was a period of free canonical administration, despite the fact that Metropolitan Tikhon made a compromise with the Soviet regime contrary to his 1918 declaration, in which he anathematized the Soviet regime. In the same way, Metropolitan Sergii considered his release from prison and the restoration of postal communication with Poland as a release from the prison that is home to all of Russia. Thus, in his eyes, the moment had come to present a report to the Moscow Patriarchate. But on the contrary, in our eyes, something much worse came about upon his release from prison, which was his own transformation from a defender of the Church (in 1926) into a servant of the Soviet regime, starting from 1927, and through this there was a total absence of canonical administration in Moscow. This understanding of the matter by Metropolitan Sergii can be definitely detected in his letter of January 4, 1928, in which he writes that “autocephaly appeared in the Polish Church significantly more than a year after Holy Patriarch Tikhon had been at the head of the administration of the Moscow Patriarchate,” while elsewhere in that letter it says: “The duty of canonical obedience to the legitimate head of the Mother Church whom we hold in common cannot be considered to be relieved by Your Eminence, and, while administering the affairs of the Polish Church autonomously, you are canonically under obligation to commemorate at services the name of the Holy Patriarch of Moscow or of his Locum Tenens, to submit to his canonical trial in case of a complaint against your decisions and actions, and periodically to submit a report to the Patriarchate on the condition of the Orthodox Church in Poland.” The Polish hierarchy is free of all this, first due to the sane motives which caused the break in canonical relations by the Karlovci Council, expressed in the Council’s decision in 1927 cited above. The Polish hierarchy could have made this ruling independently, of course, announcing the cessation of relations with an authority that is not free and officially supports a satanocracy. But besides that, it is freed from this by the recognition of the autocephaly by all Orthodox Churches. True, in his letter dated January 4, 1928, Metropolitan Sergii wanted to deny the legal significance of this recognition by pointing out a formal defect in formulating the matter of the autocephaly. He wrote: “Let us allow that the voice of our Holy Patriarch had by that time (1924) had lost its decisive significance for you. At any rate, this voice must have been set aside one way or another in the very act of the establishment of your autocephaly, in order to be known to the other autocephalous Churches who were sent the announcement about the act. The failure to mention our Patriarch’s opinion in the act can be explained only by the fact that this opinion was not an item for consideration in the Constantinople Patriarchate and therefore remained unknown in autocephalous Churches as well. But this is such a defect in formulating this matter that it requires a cassation of the act itself and removes the canonical value from the expression of agreement on the part of the Autocephalous Churches.” These considerations might have significance for those who see in the Tomos an act establishing autocephaly for a portion of another Church. Then, of course, it must be asked by what right a patriarch of one Local Church assumes the right to legislate within another; is he doing this with the consent of a representative of it, and does this kind of act have legal significance? But these questions are not posed for those who see the Tomos simply as an act of personal recognition by the Patriarch of Constantinople that does not ascribe to him the significance which he claims. The Patriarch of Constantinople recognized the autocephaly for himself, while the other Churches decided this issue independently, and they could have been guided by the example of the Patriarch of Constantinople, as did the Romanian and Greek Churches, but they could have decided this according to other considerations, for instance, a change in national borders, regardless of what the Patriarch of Constantinople may think. That is what was done by most of the Churches. Metropolitan Sergii mentioned the possibility of a cassation of such a ruling by Local Churches, but even if we envisage this theoretically, what practical significance could this have for changing the sentence, pronounced after a total change of the political structure, when part of the Church preserved its structure within a cultured nation, while the other part lost the possibility to continue its canonical administrative structure? Even a repealed sentence would be simply reinstated due to canonical reasons for autocephaly and the differences in the political fates of the territories. Metropolitan Sergii claims that there was no practical necessity for autocephaly, since the Polish hierarchy had authority from the Patriarch of Moscow “to conduct all business that is usually handled by the Patriarch, with the proviso that it will then be presented to the Patriarch for confirmation. This decree gave the Polish Church a totally painless escape from various difficult situations, including the one in she found herself after Metropolitan Georgii’s murder. Then the senior of the archpastors of the Polish Orthodox Church who were present became her temporary prelate and had the authority to convoke a Council of all Polish hierarchs, which in turn had the authority to elect a hierarch for the widowed See of Warsaw and invest him with all the privileges that were granted to this see by our Patriarch (the title of metropolitan, the right to wear two panagias, and others). Upon the restoration of relations, the Holy Patriarch, of course, would not refuse to confirm canonically correct elections. Thus, there was no need to go to another Patriarch for confirmation of the Metropolitan in violation of the canons. Even without such a confirmation, the Polish Church would have had a legally elected First Hierarch.”
Metropolitan Sergii’s discussion of the privileges of the Polish hierarchy to get by without turning to another Church due to the privilege of the Patriarch of Moscow to grant temporary independence coincides with our idea that the Polish Church did not face the tragic issue of continuing its canonical structure through the creation of a hierarchy, which many other Churches had to face at the initial institution of autocephaly. The next question is: why is autocephaly needed under such conditions? First of all, because it was always introduced when political borders were changed, due to the Church’s obligation to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and in view of the impossibility of making a final judge out of the matter of a Moscow Patriarch living in totally different political conditions. The issue of autocephaly is first of all an issue of the boundaries of Churches amongst themselves. It is an issue that can be conclusively decided only through the judgment by all Local Churches, and in no way through the judgment of individual Churches, be it a Mother Church or a Church that is first in honor. Its proclamation before being blessed by the Mother Church had as its inducement the prevention of squabbles having to do with the Church and church politics, which are always possible when reference is made to the future accountability to the Patriarch of Moscow if a definite decision on autocephaly did not put an end to it in advance (this is illustrated by the canonical discord in the Russian Church Abroad). Metropolitan Sergii was not satisfied by Metropolitan Dionisii’s response of March 26, 1928, which said that necessities of life required autocephaly and that the circumstances that called for it were described in detail in the letters of August 16, 1924, and December 25, 1925, to the Moscow Patriarchate and were delivered in a timely manner by diplomatic representatives of other nations according to Soviet procedures. On October 28, 1928, Metropolitan Sergii again protested against the autocephaly in view of the proposed Council, pointing out not just the canonical right of the Patriarch of Moscow, but the “inalienable right of the self-determination of the Orthodox people of Poland, which, by the autocephaly projected onto it, is being forcefully torn away from union with its Russian Mother Church and with the unity of church life with its native Russian people.” This is already a political motive, not an ecclesiastical one, and not one that is called to attention in canonical law and is established by general church custom. We know that there are two Greek Churches, one of Constantinople and the other of Greece. There were two simultaneous Romanian Churches, of Sibiu and Bucharest, and there were a few Serbian ones, in the Kingdom of Serbia in Karlovci and in Bosnia and Hertsegovina. On April 15, 1929, the Polish Synod examined the correspondence with Metropolitan Sergii which had been sent for examination to the Patriarch of Constantinople and took under advisement his approval of the Polish hierarchy’s position and his instruction that “for the future, too, relations between the Polish Orthodox Church and the brotherly Russian Church must be in accordance with the legally established and canonically existing autocephalous structure of the Orthodox Church in Poland.” It is hard to agree with the motivation. The point is not in the Patriarch of Constantinople’s instruction but in the historical circumstances which gave a place to autocephaly according to the canons and the Churches’ awareness. Perhaps using the term “brotherly” for the relationship could have been postponed until the still-to-follow peaceful acceptance of autocephaly by a canonical Patriarch of Moscow, but now canonical relations with the Moscow Patriarchate simply ought to cease, given her current captivity. When we had already finished our work, we read in Voskresnoe Chtenie No. 49 (1930) that the Metropolis of Warsaw essentially did this through her synodal ruling on October 27, 1930, acknowledging that all letters from Metropolitan Sergii “are merely informative.” The basis for such a ruling is the fact that Metropolitan Sergii has been denied freedom, signs acts that are designed by enemies of any Church, and can in no case express, at least in small measure, the voice of the Mother Church. Metropolitan Sergii is regarded as representing the Moscow Patriarchate neither in the USSR, nor outside Russia, as this is regarded to be the case in the rulings by the Council of Bishops of the Russian Church in Karlovci. As Metropolitan Dionisii wrote to Metropolitan Sergii on November 29, 1927, “When at her head there will be a first hierarch recognized by all Orthodox Churches and all the Russian Orthodox people, we will zealously ask him that, for the goodness and peace of the Church, he would on his part bless the autocephalous existence of the [Polish] Orthodox Church, which is already recognized and confirmed by all autocephalous Orthodox Churches.” And until then there is no place for canonical relations while there is an absence of genuine canonical authority in the Russian Church. On June 26, 1930, Metropolitan Sergii renewed his protests against the autocephaly on the occasion of the start of the work on the preconciliar meeting in preparation for the Council and added a new argument to the previous ones: “The living example of the Bulgarian Church, it would seem, ought to precaution you. Having been carried away by their external rights, the Bulgarians took on autocephaly arbitrarily and have been experiencing the tedious state of schism for sixty years. The agonizing bifurcation of conscience from the awareness that while remaining faithful to his local Church, a Bulgarian draws away from the Ecumenical brotherhood of Orthodox Christians, must undoubtedly poison the joy of any aware Bulgarian churchman regarding the external successes of his Church. You are dooming the Orthodox population of Poland to the same kind of fate by insisting upon autocephaly.” However, upon closer examination, this analogy turns out to be inappropriate: 1) There, autocephaly was created by the sultan’s firman and was not recognized by the other Churches. The Polish autocephaly is recognized by all Local Churches, and the Polish government, desiring it legally, did not introduce it arbitrarily as did Cuza in Romania or Maurer in Greece in 1833, and turned regarding this matter to the Polish hierarchy itself, to Patriarch Tikhon, and to the Patriarch of Constantinople, and supported the journey of the Polish hierarchs to the prelates of the Eastern Churches to firm up interchurch relations. 2) The Patriarch of Constantinople excommunicated the Bulgarian hierarchy, but he did this with the support of the other patriarchs, fully realizing that in such a matter having to do with the foundations of church administration, he is not competent to make decisions. In the matter of Polish autocephaly, the other Local Churches, in recognizing her, have already expressed their judgment about the reasons for their judgment. 3) The Bulgarian autocephaly was condemned because of phyletism, which placed an exclusively nationalistic source into the basis of this independence. When Bulgaria became an independent nation, the Patriarch of Constantinople, too, expressed a readiness to recognize autocephaly within the borders of the Bulgarian nation. On the contrary, in the matter of creating Polish autocephaly, the reason was the principle of changing political borders, which was a reason already recognized as worthy of benediction in general church custom. This legal recognition gives the Metropolitan of Warsaw the right to commemorate the canonical Patriarch of Moscow at services, not primarily as a leader, but in the appropriate place in the canonically established order of the heads of Local Churches, which follows this pattern: the Patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Moscow, Belgrade, and Bucharest, and the Metropolitans of Cyprus, Athens, and Warsaw.
In the fall of 1927, the Russian Council Abroad announced that, as part of the Russian Church, it does not have the competence to recognize or not recognize for the whole Russian Church the separation of the Polish Church but ruled that there should be prayerful and brotherly relations with her.
In the fall of 1927, the Council of Bishops of the Church Abroad announced that, as part of the Russian Church, it does not have the competence to recognize or not to recognize, on behalf of the whole Russian Church, the separation of the Polish Church, but ruled that there should be prayerful and brotherly relations with her. Such a ruling amounts to saying, at least, that in this separation, the Council does not envision such a canonical violation of rights which would require a break in relations, i.e., it recognizes the presence of facts that make this separation able to be blessed, rather than the “arrogance of worldly power” which the canon penalizes.
Metropolitan Sergii concludes his letter this way: “Let your upcoming Council discuss both the issue of autocephaly and the desirability of its introduction, but let it solemnly and courageously refuse an illegitimate autocephaly and invite the Orthodox flock in Poland to remain in a canonical relationship with the Moscow Patriarchate, and to await from a legitimate source, a Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church, autocephaly that will then be legitimate and not self-willed, salvific and not destructive.”
It is precisely in the name of salvation that canonical relations with the Moscow Patriarchate need to be broken during her captivity and, having made firm our awareness of the necessity of autocephaly at the Polish Local Council, in the future, when the Moscow Patriarchate will have a generally recognized First Hierarch, we would “ask him for a blessing,” which has already been received from all other Orthodox Churches. This blessing does not depend upon the arbitrariness and consideration of the prelate of the Mother Church alone, but is determined by the canons and general church custom found in interchurch relations. What is more likely to be present here is a request for relations, rather than for forgiveness, for there is no objective blame on the part of the Polish hierarchy. It was not the one that created the historical necessity, and relations will have to be requested of the canonical First Hierarch of the Russian Church when the Polish Church will already be in a relationship with the others, while the Russian Church will be simply arising from a grave illness, the betrayal of the Church by one of her First Hierarchs, whose sin is likened to the sin of the libellatici, which calls for ceasing canonical relations with him. And the more the Polish Church will be in a canonical and prayerful relationship with the other Churches, the more obvious will the connectedness of judgment be even for the canonical Patriarch of Moscow. Canonically, this relationship annuls even genuine canonical defects. For instance, church rules require the presence of three bishops for an episcopal consecration (I, 4). However, the needs of the time have allowed for a consecration to be performed by a smaller number of bishops than three. For example, in the sixteenth century, Patriarch Meletios of Alexandria wrote to Patriarch John of Antioch regarding the consecration of Lavrentios as Bishop of Sinai, whose consecration lacked that number: “Seeing that the nominated Kyr Lavrentios and those with him have come to the awareness of their errors, and, confessing them before the Church, they asked for forgiveness, we have accepted their repentance with the promise of behaving in the future with caution and thoughtful abstinence from errors. And we accepted them not immediately, but confirmed from your commissars that you (i.e. we and the Patriarch of Jerusalem) have corrected the incorrectness of his consecration through concelebration.” Thus, the consecration of bishops who were consecrated by two bishops was deemed to be canonical, since the fact that other undoubtedly canonical bishops served with him made this insufficiency complete.
Let us again call to mind that the Mother Church, as it follows from the structure of the highest legislative authority in the Orthodox Church, cannot be the final instance on the issue of recognizing the autocephaly of a Daughter Church, since this issue has to do with the entire Orthodox Church and is regulated by her legislation and judiciary. If, in allowing it theoretically, the future canonical Patriarch of Moscow will protest against the autocephaly of the Polish Church, he will not be a judge in this argument, but an arguing party before the court, which is mandatory for him as well, as for all the Local Churches. And how could we imagine a protest against an act recognized by all Churches?
The novel factor that the introduction of Polish autocephaly lent to church law is its recognition by the other Churches ahead of the Mother Church. This seems to violate what has been the established order until now and seems to violate the principle of obedience, which runs through the entire structure of the Church. But we are faced for the first time in history with a separation from a church that is under the domination of a theomachist regime, which is recognized de jure and at the same time is conducting war with the Church to the point of that this is an integral part of the regime’s existence. The Church creates its norms for the sake of human salvation and in its cares for the peace and good of the Church. In its cares about this good and salvation, she has the right to change her norms or the means of their application. If the principle of obedience has basic meaning for the Church as such, then no less of a basic meaning is possessed by the principle of preserving the purity of ecclesiastical consciousness and the purity of church structure from being influenced by alien and anti-Church elements. The Soviet structure in Russia is not just a political form, but a particular system of life that is linked with a theomachist philosophy and element in an integral and indissoluble way. The separation of the Polish Church took place in unique circumstances. Until now, Churches separated from each other that at least in a de jure sense were in conditions allowing for a free canonical existence, but now one of them is internally enslaved by a regime which sees the destruction of the Church as its raison d’être. Under such conditions, the demand to be under her submission or to have a blessing from her for the separation would put the peace in another Church in danger and would sacrifice the very existence of the Church and the salvation of her faithful. In this case, the general church consciousness sacrificed one principle for the sake of another higher principle, and, without waiting for the sentence of the Mother Church, has expressed its judgment. It served as an example of economy as applied to the circumstances of sacrificing the rigorism of rules to the highest fundamental idea of the Church, the idea of love and salvation. Ecclesiastical economy did not destroy the principle of hierarchical obedience in the process, for it remains mandatory for the Church for all future time, but, condescending to the circumstance of the era, it showed dispensation in its application to the case at hand and led the Autocephalous Polish Church that it recognized to general canonical relations, having in mind the good of the entire Orthodox Church. It did not violate the rights of the Mother Church in the process, for she is obliged to follow the general church consciousness of the Local Churches in her judgment. This awareness of rights has already validated Polish autocephaly.
- Archpriest Nikolai Artemov, The Local Council of 1917-1918 as the Basis and Source for Decree No. 362 of November 7/20, 1920
- Jan Zamoiksi, The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad in the Records of the Polish Foreign Services (1928–1938)
- A. V. Gavrilin, On ROCOR and the Latvian Church
|↵1||Zyzykin’s work Tsarskaia vlastʹ i zakon o prestolonasledii v Rossii [Imperial Power and the Law of Succession in Russia] was valued highly by Metropolitan Antonii Khrapovitskii in a letter to Zyzykin dated September 4, 1924.|
|↵2||Appendix to Tserkovnye Vedomosti, No. 2/1906, pp. 53–54.|
|↵3||This notation is to be interpreted as “Canon 6 of the First Ecumenical Council”, “Canon 17 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council”, etc., where the Roman numerals represent the numbers of the Ecumenical Council and the Arabic numerals those of the canons. [–ed.]|
|↵4||Kurganov, Ustroistvo upravleniia v Tserkvi Korolevstva Grecheskogo, p. 34.|
|↵5||Kurganov, Istoricheskii ocherk greko-bol-garskogo rasprostranenie Pravoslavnogo Sobora, 1881. 3. p. 374|
|↵6||Zankow, Die Verfassung der Bulgarischen Ortodoxen Kirche, p. 78.|
|↵7||Kurganov, ibid., pp. 212–213.|
|↵8||Kolokolʹtsev, “Rumynskaia Tserkovʹ”, Pravoslavnyi Sobesednik, I/1897, pp. 468–469|
|↵9||Zankow, ibid., p. 78.|
|↵10||Kurganov, ibid., p. 41.|
|↵11||Palʹmov. “Istoricheskii vzgliad na nachalo avtokefalii Serbskoi Tserkvi i uchrezhdenie Patriarshestva v drevnei Serbii”, Khristianskoe Chtenie, 1/1891, p. 356.|
|↵12||Kurganov. ibid., p. 42|
|↵13||Sobranie mnenii, V/2, p. 835.|
|↵14||Pravoslavnyi Sobesednik, 3/1873, p. 375.|
|↵15||Zankow, ibid., p. 76|
|↵16||Pravoslavnyi Sobesedenik, 1/1897, p. 581.|
|↵17||Pravoslavnoe Obozrenie [Orthodox Review], Dec. 1879, p. 763|
|↵18||A.I. 1, No. 72|
|↵19||Kurs tserk[ovnogo] pr[ava], 1, p. 136.|
|↵20||Sobranie mnenii, V/2, p. 836|
|↵21||Palʹmov, op. cit., p. 374.|
|↵22||Kolokolʹtsev, Rumynskaia Tserkovʹ. 1/1897, p. 468.|
|↵23||Kurs…, II, p. 518.|
|↵24||Zankow, 11, p. 184.|
|↵25||Suvorov, Vizantiiskii Papa, pp. 130–131.|
|↵26||Opyt…, II, pp. 315–316.|
|↵27||Pavlov, “Teoriia vostochnogo papizma”, Pravoslavnoe Obozrenie 1879, p. 492.|
|↵28||Pavlov, ibid., p. 493.|
|↵29||Suvorov, Vizantiiskii Papa, p. 133.|
|↵30||Ibid., p. 736.|
|↵31||Pr[avoslavnoe] Ob[ozrenie], ibid., 739.|
|↵32||I. I. Sokolov. “O sovremennom upravlenii Konstantinopolʹskoi Tserkvi”, appendix to Tserkovnye Vedomosti, No. 8/1906, p. 360.|
|↵33||Ibid., p. 362|
|↵34||On September 3, 1922 Archimandrite Aleksii, chosen by the Synod, was consecrated Bishop of Lutsk as Vicar; on September 4, 1922, Bishop Dionisii was appointed to the See of Volhynia-Kremenets, created in January of 1922, in accordance with the decree of Patriarch Tikhon of October 20, 1921, and elevated to the rank of archbishop. There was a change in the personnel of the episcopate, in the sense that by the decision of the Synod of November 6, 1922, Archbishop Elevferii was dismissed from the government of the Diocese of Vilnius (the Synod consisted of: Metropolitan Georgii, Archbishop Dionisii, and Bishop Aleksandr of Lublin, temporary administrator of the Diocese of Pinsk and Novogrudok). On October 12, 1922, Archbishop Vladimir was dismissed from the Diocese of Hrodno and the Białystok Vicariate by the decision of the Synod; the members of the Synod were: Metropolitan Georgii; Bishop Aleksandr, Administrator of Pinsk Diocese; Bishop Aleksii of Lutsk, Vicar of the Diocese of Volhynia. On August 29, 1922, Bishop Panteleimon was dismissed from the Diocese of Pinsk-Novogrudok (the Synod was composed of Metropolitan Georgii; Dionissi, Bishop of Kremenets, administrator of the Diocese of Volhynia-Kremenets; Aleksandr, Bishop of Lublin, Administrator of the Diocese of Pinsk and Novogrudok). I do not mention Bishop Sergii, for he was consecrated without the consent of the government and was not allowed to govern at all, having been exiled abroad as a foreigner for political activities. Bishop Panteleimon, a Polish national, was dismissed on January 30, 1922, by the government, because of his unwillingness to accept the Provisional Rules of 1922 (this is how the letter of the Council of Bishops dated August 16, 1924 explains the case; cf. ‘Vestnik Pravoslavnoi Mitropolii’ v Polʹshe, 1924, No. 35, pp. 1–2). With respect to him, the trial of the Synod followed the government in time, but with respect to Archbishop Elevferii and Bishop Vladimir, it preceded it, for in the case file of their trial there is a decree to “bring the case to the attention of the government for appropriate dispositions.” Patriarch Tikhon later awarded Archbishop Elevferii a diamond cross on his cloak for his faithful service to the Church on October 4, 1924, and Bishop Panteleimon was elevated by him to the rank of archbishop in August 1924, and this was recognized by the Synod of the Polish Church as an act committed before the official proclamation of autocephaly on September 17, 1925. On February 1, 1923, Bishop Aleksii of Lutsk became a member of the Synod by virtue of a determination of the Synod.|
|↵35||Somewhat later, the number of bishops increased. Namely, the structure of episcopate was augmented by Archbishop Feodosii, appointed on April 21, 1923, who had arrived from Soviet Russia, to the See of Vilinius, and of Archimandrite Simon, who was appointed as Bishop of Kremenets, Vicar of the Diocese of Volhynia, on March 24, 1924, such that the encyclical to Patriarch Tikhon, dated August 16, 1924, was already signed by six bishops: Dionisii, Metropolitan of Warsaw and Volhynia and all of Poland; Feodosii, Archbishop of Vilnius and Lida; Aleksandr, Bishop of Polessia and Pinsk; Aleksii, Bishop of Grodno and Novogrudok; Anthony, Bishop of Lublin, Vicar to the Diocese of Warsaw and Chełm; Simon, Bishop of Kremenets, Vicar of the Diocese of Volhynia. There was also a change in the bodyization of the Synod.|
|↵36||Vestnik Pravoslavnoi Mitropolii v Polʹshe, No. 5–6, 1923.|
|↵37||Surorov, op. cit., p. 1,140.|
|↵38||Vol. 5, p. 45|
|↵39||Izsledovanie o podchinenii Kievskoi Mitropolii Moskovskomu Patriarkhu, p. 2|
|↵40||Vestnik Pravoslavnoi Mitrpolii v Polʹshe, No. 39–40, 1924, p. 5.|
|↵41||Vestnik Pravoslavnoi Mitrpolii v Polʹshe, No. 39–40, 1924, p. 3.|
|↵42||lit.: ‘[passage of] time’ [–ed.]|
|↵44||Arkh[iv] Iugo-Zap[adnoi] Ros[sii], Vol. 1, Pt. 5, Acts XX, XIX, XVIII.|
|↵45||Ibid., pp. 103–104.|
|↵46||Ibid., pp. 20, 95–101.|
|↵47||Act No. 11/4, pp. 185–186.|
|↵48||Ibid. No. 37, p. 163.|
|↵49||Ternovskii, p. 147.|
|↵50||The “Visitation” of Archimandrite Aleksii.|
|↵51||Voskr[esnoe] Chtenie, No. 52, 1927.|
|↵52||Voskresnoe Chtenie, No. 41/1925, p. 647.|
|↵53||Ibid., p. 104.|
|↵54||Ibid., pp. 40 & 60.|
|↵55||Ibid., p. 117.|
|↵56||Voskresnoe Chtenie, 11/1929.|
|↵57||Die Verfassung der orth. Bulgar. Kirche, p. 75.|
|↵58||Voskresnoe chtenie, No. 52/1927.|
|↵59||Vest[nik] Prav[oslavnoi] Varsh[avskoi] Mitr[opolii], No. 19/1923.|
|↵60||Communiqué of the Polish Foreign Ministry to the Ministry of Confessions of October 28, 1921.|
|↵61||Voskresnoe Chtenie, No. 11a/1929.|
|↵62||Voskresnoe Chtenie, Nos. 5–6/1929.|
|↵63||Voskresnoe Chtenie, No. 20/1928.|
|↵64||Voskresnoe Chtenie, No. 42/1927.|
|↵65||Encyclical of June 22, 1928. Voskresnoe Chtenie, No. 35/1928.|
|↵66||Vestnik Pravoslavnoi Mitropolii v Polʹshe, No. 39–40/1924.|