To His Eminence Eleutherios of Lithuania and Vilnius
Ireceived your letter of August 11 with the enclosed copy of Metropolitan Sergius’ decree no. 944 of July 22 addressed to you, and to avoid misunderstandings I am hastening to inform you that I can in no way recognize any validity to this act for the following reasons:
- I consider it necessary to protest against calling me a former Metropolitan of Kiev and Galicia. Both the holy canons and the position on diocesan administration that had been worked out by the All-Russian Council definitely state that a hierarch can be dismissed from his see only by court order. According to the position only a transfer to another see for the Church’s benefit can take place without a trial, but I have not received any decrees of that kind from the legitimate All-Russian Church Authority. My actual absence from the Kievan Metropolitanate could not serve as grounds for my dismissal, since persecution of the Church is raging in Russia. And in any case, if my absence from Kiev could have incriminated me a church trial would be required for me to become the former Metropolitan of Kiev, but I have never been aware of any such situation. It is generally impossible in Russia due to living conditions, since there is no one who could call a Council together, and I would not be able come to it due to the Bolsheviks’ persecution of the Holy Church in Russia. But at the moment that these persecutions cease and the church gets back all of the rights that belong to it according to divine and human laws, I would immediately consider it my archpastoral duty to return to the see that belongs to me, for at that moment any basis for the existence of the autonomous Russian Church Abroad would disappear. This is just as illegitimate as Metropolitan Sergius calling me and other archpastors forced to abandon their dioceses “former.” Such appellation is particularly harmful when it is applied to Archbishops Anastassy and Seraphim, since that could lead to agreement with their illegitimate banishment from their dioceses and their forced tearing away from the Russian Church.
- A temporary metropolitan region, which I head, has long been developed abroad, based on the decree of November 7/20, 1920. This decree is still in force and cannot be repealed by the legitimate organ of the Supreme Church Authority in Russia, which currently does not exist, and which can be restored only with the appearance of normal conditions. Therefore, until normal conditions of the Russian Church’s existence appear, and this region can be done away with, I am under the authority of only the Bishops’ Council according to the decree above. Its rulings are subject to confirmation or repeal only by a major, i. e. an All-Russian, Council, and not at all individually by Metropolitan Sergius or a Synod appointed by him, whose powers are more than questionable. For the same reason other bishops outside Russia are not under the authority of Metropolitan Sergius and the Synod appointed by him.
- Metropolitan Sergius, in his subjection to the Bolsheviks, falls into a strange contradiction. On one hand he regards us, bishops outside Russia, as not belonging to the hierarchy of the Russian Church within his jurisdiction, since he does not invite us to participate in resolving issues about which he seeks the opinions of other Russian hierarchs, while on the other hand he regards us as being under his authority when he imposes penalties upon us for disloyalty toward the Communist regime. If we are under his authority, then he must not do anything without our input, according to Apostolic Canon 34. But he has never asked our opinion about anything, and he especially did not ask it when he conducted a union with the godless, established his uncanonical Synod, whose rights I absolutely do not recognize, and when he proclaimed himself to be Metropolitan of Moscow during the life of the Metropolitan of Krutitsa, under whose jurisdiction the Moscow Diocese was before the election of a new patriarch. This is an usurpation of rights. With such a situation, and because we had no part in resolving the issue of organizing the actual authority of Metropolitan Sergius and his Synod. Its authority cannot have any significance for us, since it relies upon Apostolic Canon 34.
- Since, based on the aforesaid, I do not recognize any validity to the rulings of Sergius’ Synod, I cannot avoid noting that he cannot even frame his decisions outwardly as required by the holy canons, i. e. by announcing the suspension of many bishops all at once, he, contrary to Apostolic Canon 74, did not first send a single bishop to any one of them for admonition and a subsequent summons to trial. Apparently, he is perfectly aware that the Bolsheviks will not allow a single bishop out of the country, and that inviting us to a trial would doom us to certain death prior to a church trial, which is itself impossible due to the situation of the Orthodox Church in Russia and its relationship with the Communist regime.
- None of the rules cited in the “decree” apply to the given situation, since neither I nor other hierarchs outside Russia are in a relationship to Metropolitan Sergius that they envisaged in Apostolic Canon 34, as I indicated above. Regarding Metropolitan Sergius as “the first bishop” can be turned against him, since he has never sought our opinion, while the fifteenth rule of the Quinisext Council not only does not condemn us but, on the contrary, “glorifies” us, since we have refused associating with Metropolitan Sergius for no other reason than because he publicly and openly preaches and teaches about the possibility of a union between the Church and unbelievers, contrary to the words of the Apostle Paul (1 Cor. 7:15).
- Essentially, independent of the canonical errors of the ruling under discussion, its fulfillment would result in the liquidation of the Russian Church Abroad, which serves the needs of the million-strong Orthodox emigration and would leave it to the mercy of fate, something which could be desirable for only the enemies of the Church. Therefore, while I reject any validity to the rulings of Metropolitan Sergius and his Synod, I am deeply sorrowful that my former pupil and friend finds himself in not only physical captivity by the godless, but in moral captivity as well. I consider his actions to be criminal and subject to the judgment of the future free All-Russian Council. If neither he nor I will live to see that, the Chief Shepherd, Our Lord, to whom I send up a prayer to grant mercy to Metropolitan Sergius, will pass judgment upon us. But I am amazed at you that, being free, you are taking part in acts that are destructive to the Church on an equal footing with captive hierarchs, for whom their captivity in itself serves as a certain excuse.