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A Negation Instead of a Confirmation. Regarding Archbishop John Shakhovskoy’s Brochure “The Establishment of a Local Church”

A title that does not reflect the contents

Any human undertaking has one or another meaning, depending upon that truth, or at least some portion of it, that serves as its basis. We, of course, sometimes find it difficult to envision this portion in those who disagree with us.  However, I always try to find this portion in their writings and a key to their error. There is a wish to have faith in human sincerity, that they are not with us not because of spite, but because of ignorance, or maybe because we were not sufficiently clear or complete in expressing our views and making our points. I would like to delve more deeply into the line of their thought and to understand it.

When I learned from newspapers about the publication of the new brochure by Archbishop John Shakhovskoi, entitled “The Establishment of a Local Church (Clarifications and Elaborations),” I thought that it would provide me with more positive information about the American Metropolia following a year of its “autocephalous” existence. Has it shown signs of vitality, and, if so, what are they? From that point of view the brochure’s title seemed to promise much. It sounded like something that would be followed by positive content. I was not expecting that I could agree with it, since there are too many differences in principle between my views and those of the author. But I still expected to find something interesting, disclosing at least a spiritual approach to life by the American Metropolia over the past year.

“Local Church,” according to Archbishop John, is the American Metropolia. But it turns out that the author has the least amount to say about it. His whole attention is focused not upon the “establishment” of the truth of the Metropolia, but, on the contrary, on expressing his negative attitude toward the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. This could have been regarded as legitimate as well if the title of his brochure would not have been deceptive.  No one is obliged to agree with him. Discussion is always possible and morally allowable. However, there is a certain level one would expect of a person with the rank of archbishop. First of all, we would expect honesty from him in his argumentation. Unfortunately, Archbishop John not only does not maintain this level, but even, apparently, gives no thought to it. For this reason, he makes many unproven and false assertions.

Denial of a Fact

The clearly false assertions already begin on the third page. There the author writes that the American Metropolia “cannot be and has never been a part of that Russian Church Abroad, which came into being 125 years after its establishment in America.”

This declaration contradicts a commonly known fact in the same way as someone saying that America never belonged to England. What kind of ignorant reader is Archbishop John counting on by making such a statement?

I will have to cite a rather lengthy quotation from the Archpastoral Address by the Hierarchical Council of the Russian Orthodox Church in America on the resolution of The Pittsburgh Council regarding the acceptance of the Temporary Position in 1936.

Informing the flock that “We have all unanimously accepted the Temporary Position regarding the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad,” nine hierarchs, with Metropolitan Theophilus at the head, wrote:

I have underlined certain words which most clearly point out Archbishop John’s falsity. Whether Archbishop John likes it or not, his unsubstantiated declaration cannot refute a fact attested by the signature of nine hierarchs. In the words of an old Russian proverb, “You cannot cut down with an ax what has been written by a pen.”

Almost ten years after these lines were written, when Communists attacked Metropolitan Anastassy, the First Hierarch of the Church Abroad in Switzerland, Metropolitan Theophilus sent a telegram in his defense to the president of the Swiss Republic. In it he witnessed anew that Metropolitan Anastassy is head of the Church for America as well: “Please accept my testimony in defense of Metropolitan Anastassy, who is presently in Geneva, who as head of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad is conducting beneficial work among Russian refugees and war prisoners in Europe. Metropolitan Anastassy, who is ruling our Church outside Russia in the best way, is a person of the highest church principles and a commendable life, without being involved in politics. The current campaign against him by the Communist press is very regrettable and should be ignored. Therefore, I respectfully ask Your Excellency to allow him to remain in Switzerland for the benefit of the Russian Church and people in Europe. Respectfully, Metropolitan Theophilus, Archbishop of America and Canada. The telegram is dated January 21, 1945.

The key words here are “who is ruling our Church.

How could the head of the American Metropolia refer to Metropolitan Anastassy in this way if he and his region were not part of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad?

In dealing with the Los Angeles and Sea Cliff cases we submitted a countless number of documents proving that before the 1946 Cleveland Council the American Metropolia considered itself to be part of the Russian Church Abroad. In fact, Archbishop John admits on page 3 that the Temporary Position “became active in practice for a few years.”

If it was active, this means that the American District was part of the Church Abroad. So how can the same author write on page 3 that the American Metropolia  cannot be and has never been a part of that Russian Church Abroad?

Imprecision is combined with insinuations

Switching to the history of the Church Abroad on page 2 and the following pages, Archbishop John  combines imprecision with unproven insinuations. I will not pause at such an insignificant fact as the issue of the Synod’s residence. Sremski Karlovce served that function until 1938. Metropolitan Anastassy moved to Belgrade soon after becoming chairman of the Synod.

Archbishop s another more significant error in specifying the position of the West European Metropolia. There was never any “Petersburg Vicariate” in Western Europe.There was no bishop there at all before the Revolution (except for the brief period of Vicar Vladimir Putiata, who, however, was vicar not for Western Europe but for the churches abroad in general). Metropolitan Evlogy, while still an archbishop, was appointed to rule the churches in Western Europe as a diocesan bishop by the Supreme Church Authority. This has been documented. On March 5, 1921, the Holy Synod in Moscow responded to an inquiry by Archpriest Yakov Smirnov, rector of the church in Paris. He was requesting instructions regarding “the ruling by the Supreme Church Administration Abroad regarding the appointment of His Eminence Evlogy of Volhynia to rule as diocesan hierarch over all the Russian churches abroad in Western Europe.” The motivation of the Moscow Synod’s ruling is important: “In view of the ruling by the Supreme Church Administration Abroad, the Russian Orthodox churches in Western Europe are to be regarded as being under the temporary rule of his Eminence Evlogy of Volhynia until correct and unhindered relations are reestablished between the aforementioned churches and Petrograd. His name should be commemorated in these churches in place of the name of His Eminence the Metropolitan of Petrograd.”

The imprecision in Archbishop John’s words is seemingly minor, but it is expressed in such a way as to create in an uninformed reader an unfavorable impression of the Church Abroad. When he calls the Diocese of Western Europe “the Petersburg Vicariate in Western Europe, transformed by the Russian Church into a metropolitanate, the silence regarding the way in which an organ of the Russian Church transformed a nonexistent vicariate creates an impression of some sort of doubtful claim on the part of the administration of the Church Abroad. And yet the cited decree shows that the decision of this administration was recognized as valid by the Moscow Synod, which, of course, based its assessment of this act upon the resolution of November 7/20, 1920.

Fulfillment of Duty is Called Lust for Power

Archbishop John is trying to present the administrative actions of Metropolitan Anthony in organizing the Church Abroad as an act of some kind of lust for power. “They wished,” he writes, “to precisely obtain power over the entire Russian emigration.” (page 2)

However, he is forgetting that Metropolitan Anthony was simply fulfilling his duty, which was clearly expressed in the Decree of November 7/20, 1920. It says that the unification of churches and dioceses that have been cut off from the Moscow center “is the absolute duty of the hierarch in the aforementioned group who is senior in rank.” Metropolitan Anthony of Kiev was such a hierarch senior in rank, and, in organizing the Church Abroad, was fulfilling his “absolute duty.” Why Archbishop John finds it “natural” that the fulfilling of this duty “was opposed by other hierarchs and pastors” remains unclear. This might appear “natural” only to a person who is full of a revolutionary spirit of opposition to legitimate power, as Archbishop John has presented himself in his church activity. He is trying to denigrate Metropolitan Anthony’s activity, accusing him of supposedly serving politics, but presents no evidence and cannot do so.

Metropolitan Anthony, the Legitimist Movement, and the Departure of Hieromonk John

Metropolitan Anthony was a Russian patriot, but his patriotism and monarchism always took second place, while church centeredness took first place. There is in my possession a letter to me from Metropolitan Anthony dated March 20, 1930 in which he wrote me, among other things, “Now I was suddenly encroached upon by Russians from Romania seeking after church autonomy and Slavonic services. I promised them nothing, since their concerns were nationalistically chauvinistic, not church centered. Few, in fact, are church centered nowadays, and thus I cherish those who have kept this church centeredness even more than I did before, when, in fact, I sympathized with them more than with anyone else.”

Archbishop John is likewise lying when he writes about Metropolitan Anthony’s and the Synod’s reaction to Grant Prince Kirill Vladimirovich’s acceptance of the title of emperor. An “immediate” recognition by Metropolitan Anthony and the Synod did not follow, and in general the Synod never made such a resolution.

Metropolitan Anthony was slow to recognize the new title for various reasons, including the disagreements in the royal family, which bothered him, and his wariness of bringing about complications in church life. He mentions this in letters to me in 1924. At that time, he sent a letter through me to Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich urging him to conduct negotiations with other members of the royal family. In the end Metropolitan Anthony did join those who recognized Sovereign Kiriill Vladimirovich as emperor, but he did so as a personal choice, without seeking such a decision on the part of the Synod or the Council. I do not recall exactly when this happened, but I believe that this was in 1929 or 1930. At any rate, there was no “immediate” decision. Again, there is historical imprecision here and tendentious distortion of facts by Archbishop John.

Archbishop John, who was a hieromonk at the time, was serving not in Belgrade but in Bela Crkva. A moleben for the tsar was served in Belgrade only once a year on the day of Saints Cyril and Methodios. I do not know if Hieromonk John was there on that day, but I can say that when he was leaving Metropolitan Anthony’s supervision he did not mention being bothered in any way by the issue of the legitimist movement.

If, as he writes, he brought on himself at that time an accusation of masonry, it was not apparently due to this but because he displayed closeness to the Paris activists connected with the YMCA. Hieromonk John decided to withdraw from Metropolitan Anthony’s supervision due to his sympathy with Metropolitan Evlogy’s general orientation. This is clear from the book Pochemu ia ushol iz iurizdiktsii Mitropolita Antoniia [Why I Left the Jurisdiction of Metropolitan Anthony] (Paris, 1931), which he withdrew from publication at some point. On April14, 1931 Metropolitan Anthony wrote me “And now we have trouble in Bela Crkva. The predictions in the press about John Shakhovskoy have proven to be true to their full extent.  All of a sudden, without any statement on my part, on the very eve of Christ’s Resurrection, he sent me a rude and defiant letter, reprimanding me for my circular message against Metropolitan Evlogy and declaring that he was leaving my jurisdiction and joining the other one.

It was as if a bomb had exploded underneath, since just a week earlier, at the beginning of the sixth week of Lent, he came to me on the way to Pancevo with his deacon and a suitcase full of books that he wished to show to the Pancevo patients.  He stayed there all evening until it was time for his train to depart, had something to eat, and took his leave in a friendly manner.”

Actually, the reason that the church leadership was unhappy with Fr. Shakhovskoy’s activity was the accusation that, using missionary activity as an excuse, he went to various parishes and performed treby there, bringing about complaints from rectors. In particular, there were instances of the tonsure of “white monks,” secret tonsures of individuals who remained living in the world and even in families. Besides, he apparently did not hide his sympathy with the evlogian separation. Complaints by other priests would lead diocesan authorities to call him to order, and he would take this as the extinguishing of the missionary spirit and would rudely accuse Metropolitan Anthony of having insufficient pastoral zeal and love.

In his next letter of May 28, 1931, Metropolitan Anthony wrote to me that “John Shakhovskoy has already shown himself and has forfeited his rank and monasticism.” However, in a letter dated June 9, 1931, having mentioned a certain unstable hierarch, Metropolitan Anthony wrote “We have such a type as well in the person of the boy Prince Shakhovskoy, who is currently the Hieromonk John. He also sent me a notice that he is transferring to the Patriarch of Constantinople, i. e. to Evlogy, but later, thanks to some exhortations by certain sensible individuals, came to me acknowledging that he was wrong, wept a lot, and threw himself to my feet. I believe that he has already gone to Paris, and the Lord be with him.

Due to Metropolitan Anthony’s kindness the ruling by the spiritual court was not brought to fulfillment.

Archbishop John saw at the time only “conflict and politization of the Church” around Metropolitan Anthony and his entourage. (page 3) But due to his prejudice he did not notice the church centeredness in which the Belgrade flock, in particular, was raised. We were able to give it full credit after the Second World War, when in all the camps and places of the new dispersion it was those from Belgrade who attracted attention with their initiative in setting up parishes and their love for church centeredness and obedience to rules. Spite clouds the eyes and impairs objective judgments.

Justification of Treason

But let us return to Archbishop John’s evaluation of the significance of the Temporary Position. On page 3 Archbishop John tries to find justification for the decision of the Cleveland Council in the fact that supposedly “The lingering shadow of this Temporary Position of 1935 was dispelled at the Seventh All-American Council in Cleveland in 1946. TheTemporary” came to an end. Another decision would have been impossible.  The Hierarchical Center Abroad disappeared in fact from the territory of the Serbian Church and disintegrated due to the war.” (page 3)

The wartime storm that blew over Europe could not, of course, have avoided affecting the Hierarchical Synod. During the many centuries of the Church’s history its administrative order was repeatedly disrupted due to wars and enemy invasions.  The Patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem dwelt for many years not on their territories under the Turks, and, living in Constantinople, but this did not abolish their patriarchates. The 37th Canon of the Sixth Ecumenical Council  indicates the principle that subjection to the infidels must not function at all “to the ruin of ecclesiastical rights.” The famous canonist, Bishop Nicodemos Milash, commenting on this canon, explains that one of its meanings “so that conditions and needs of the time, which may sometimes disrupt the correct application of ecclesiastical rights, would not affect the distribution of church provinces, and, as soon as conditions change and a normal state of affairs ensues, the previous canonical order might be reinstated.”

Archbishop John approaches this issue from a totally different perspective. From his point of view the weakening of the center because of the war should have been used to get rid of it.

Moreover, it must be noted that now Archbishop John in his brochure and the Metropolia lawyers in the court case in Mineola give a totally different reason for the Metropolia falling away from the Synod than the one that was given at the Cleveland Council. In this Council’s resolution there is not a word about the Hierarchs’ Council losing its authority due to its departure from Yugoslavia or an end to its existence.  On the contrary, the only motive for the refusal to be subject to the Hierarchs’ Synod that appears there is the incompatibility of such subjection with the wish to establish canonical relations with Moscow. The other explanation appeared only now, when it is expected that people have forgotten what actually transpired. That it was this that was the center of gravity was said very expressively in a letter that Archbishop Leonty of Chicago sent to Metropolitan Anastassy on January 22, 1947: “I am simply conscience-stricken that my former students at the seminary, who are now pastors of the Russian Orthodox Church, have leaned so strongly, following the masses, toward recognition of the Patriarch of Moscow, disregarding the clear indications of the true story of his more than subordinate position in the USSR… The resolution was voted on without being divided up, which gave a majority vote for submission to the Moscow church leadership in the person of the Patriarch, the recognition of the All-American Councils as the highest instance for self-rule, and a refusal of any administrative connection with the Synod Abroad.

Here the motivation of the Cleveland gathering is laid out correctly.

Actually, even at the eve of Cleveland, neither Metropolitan Theophilos nor his bishops were refusing their canonical relationship with the Synod because it had to leave Yugoslavia. Shortly before the Cleveland Council Metropolitan Theophilos, in a telegram dated January 19, 1946, asked Metropolitan Anastassy to confirm a resolution of the district council electing Archimadrite John (Zlobin) as bishop of Alaska and to perform his consecration in San Francisco on the Sunday of Orthodoxy. In the same period, he petitioned that Bishop Leonty, the future head of the American Metropolia be awarded the rank of archbishop and crosses on the klobuks of Archbishops Vitaly and Tikhon. Metropolitan Anastassy’s telegram about this award includes the following resolution by Metropolitan Theophilos: “The following distinction is to be welcomed and announced: Archbishops Vitaly and Tikhon to be awarded diamond crosses on their klobuks. Metropolitan Theophilos.”

At that time no one brought up the issue of the supposed loss of the Synod’s authority due to its evacuation to Germany.”

The Distortion of Facts

But Archbishop John is incorrect regarding other facts as well. The Synod left Belgrade not only made up of “Metropolitan Anastassy and the Manager of the Synodal Chancery” but also with two other Synod members, Archbishop Tikhon (formerly of Berlin) and Bishop Basil. Archbishop Theophan reposed just before the departure from Belgrade. In Germany Metropolitan Seraphim naturally joined the Synod as its member. He had become head of the Mid-European Metropolitan District in accordance with the spirit of the Temporary Position. This action was necessitated by the difficulty of even postal contact between Belgrade and Berlin during the occupation. Archbishop Tikhon reposed in Carlsbad in the winter of 1944, but three present members still remained in the Synod. Archbishop John is trying to reprimand the Synod that in that period it “ignored the very existence of the American Metropolia.” Indeed, this reprimand is not only absurd, but even laughable. We can ask, how could the Synod ignore or not ignore the American Metropolia while being with in in two countries that were at war with each other? Could Metropolitan Anastassy have requested Metropolitan Theophilus’ opinion through the military front? With this reprimand Archbishop John’s prejudice and hostile spirit have reached their highest point and, we could say, have been reduced to absurdity.

I have already shown that soon after the end of the war Metropolitan Anastassy renewed relations with Metropolitan Theophilos. However, the Synod was not able to function in a fully normal manner right away. In September of 1945 Metropolitan Anastassy managed to go to Geneva, and only then was he able to restart correspondence with the dioceses. But there were still difficulties. In Germany only American military personnel could conduct foreign correspondence. We had to collect foreign mail and send it to the Swiss border. There it was handed over for Metropolitan Anastassy, and at the same time mail from him was accepted.

Meanwhile, bishops from the Ukraine and Belarus turned up among the refugees. They fit into the Russian Church Abroad along with their flock, and, of course, had to receive representation in the Synod.

With all these difficulties the unity of the Church in Europe and America was still being maintained. As we have seen, Metropolitan Theophilos made presentations to the Synod, and he also sent Archbishop Jerome to Geneva to take part in the consecrations of Bishops Seraphim and Nathanael. Bishop Seraphim received from him the authority to represent the American Metropolia at the Council in Munich in 1946.

Of course, the end of the war coincided with a difficult period for the Synod. During the war itself, after Yugoslavia and America entered it, the Synod was temporarily cut off from all dioceses. Foreign correspondence even with Croatia could not be regular. Only with Germany was more or less normal communication possible, but personal encounters even with Metropolitan Seraphim were hampered. He was able to come to Berlin only once after the war started, and in 1943 we were able to attend a conference in Vienna. Once the war ended, we could not make ourselves known anywhere from Germany. The peace treaty found Metropolitan Anastassy in Fussen, in the south of Bavaria, while Metropolitan Seraphim, Bishop Basil, and me with the Chancery were in Austria. Only in July did we reunite in Munich, and in September the metropolitan was able to depart for Geneva.

Doubtful Documents

Meanwhile, the Communists spread the news that the Synod no longer existed and that Metropolitan Anastassy was no longer alive. Along with this they were announcing a complete change in the Church’s situation in the USSR, the free election of a patriarch, and so on. The Bishops in the Far East new less than we did about the Church’s situation in the USSR. The patriarch’s envoy from Moscow painted the situation in the rosiest colors. How could the bishop not be believed?  Thus, it seemed to them that a situation ensued in Moscow similar to what happened in the Roman Empire after Constantine the Great’s Edict of Milan. For the residents of Harbin these rumors landed on especially fertile soil, since after the Soviet occupation there was growing anxiety due to the Japanese policy demanding general worship of the Goddess Ameritsu. Metropolitan Meletii, on his part, sent out an address warning against this, even at the price of martyrdom. In these tumultuous circumstances, and with the false information from the Moscow Patriarchate, Stalin could be viewed as a deliverer.

If the address to Stalin by three Harbin hierarchs thanking him for their “liberation,” which was printed by Archbishop John, actually took place, it must be evaluated in light of this situation of total ignorance of the actual circumstances.

However, I emphasize if. Indeed, how authentic is the document printed by Archbishop John? He does not indicate its date or source. Did he receive photocopies of his two documents from the Moscow Patriarchate, which in turn got them from Kuroyedov? Could this be a fruit of the cooperation between the autocephalous American Church with the Moscow Patriarchate? We will probably never see an honest answer to these questions, but the fact that Archbishop John, who has come out against us so many times all these years, has only now publicized these “documents,” inevitably evokes in us the question: why did they appear only after the agreement with Moscow on the autocephaly?

And by the way, the second document has no significance. It lists the clergymen living in Harbin who are recommended to serve in China at the request of Metropolitan Victor, but says nothing about their own reaction. We actually do not know if any of them went to China to fulfill this determination by the Moscow Synod.

As far as our current First Hierarch Metropolitan Philaret is concerned, he was being persecuted up to the time that he departed for Australia. In no. 103 of “Novyi Zhurnal,” which I have just received, there is an article by I. Ilyin, “Serving Soviet Intelligence in the Japanese Rear.” The author touches opon church matters as well. He writes the following about Archbishop Nestor, who had become Moscow’s representative (exharch): “Having become head of the diocese after the death of Meletii (who did not live long after his appeal not to worship the Goddess Amaterasa), Nestor immediately started cruelly persecuting Philaret, taking away his parish for signing the appeal. Philaret was very popular among the Orthodox population, and his persecution evoked strong condemnation of Nestor. (p. 179)

That is what a person outside the Church had to write.

And here is a what a person in the Church, who was with Vladyko Philaret under the Communists in Harbin, wrote:

“When the Reds came into Harbin, all the immigrants were “offered” Soviet passports. Many were certain that there would be a massive evacuation, and that those unwilling to go would be taken forcefully… I asked Fr. Philaret what I should do and received a clear and precise answer: If my native Russia would be reborn and I had no way to get there I would walk there along the railroad ties.  I am not giving a blessing to anyone to go to the Soviet Union, where a theomachist regime and Communism are in power, and am not going there myself. Stay here, and from now on it’s whatever God brings.”

Fr. Archimandrite Philaret categorically refused to take a Soviet passport and remained stateless till the end. He ignored all summons to the Soviet Consulate and never went there.

Who ventured to serve a panikhida for the royal martyrs on July 17, other than Fr. Philaret? No one. Fr. Philaret didn’t hold demonstrations but served a panikhida every year on that date, starting by commemorating the royal martyrs.

Very often Fr. Philaret would give such sermons and would fulminate so much against the theomachist Communist regime that people would be terrified for him, and it seemed that we would no longer see him. One would think that it was only through God’s will and the intercession of His Most Pure Mother that Fr. Pilaret remained free. At some point I asked Fr. Philaret not to speak so harshly about the regime and said that such sermons, being of a political nature, could cause him to be arrested at any time and that we would lose what we needed most of all. He gave this response: ‘This is not politics. I do not occupy myself with politics, but as a pastor of the Church I am obliged to speak and condemn. Everything will work out well.’

Fr. Philaret never met with, or rather avoided meeting, hierarchs who were visiting from the Soviet Union.” (Russkoe Slovo, July 3, 1971)

It is apparent from the above that, contrary to Archbishops John’s declaration, (p. 11) Metropolitan Philaret was never in good repute with the ecclesiastic or civil authorities in Kharbin. He conducted relations with them in roundabout ways.

If Archbishop John knew from those from Kharbin about Vladyka Philaret’s behavior in Kharbin, then what he has written is slander. If he did not know, we can be amazed by such an irresponsible judgment of the metropolitan without the appropriate information.

Tumult in Europe

Archbishop John goes on to list the hierarchs who gave in Soviet intrigues and joined the Moscow Patriarchate.

Of course, human nature is weak, and falls are always possible. We know that Metropolitan Seraphim did not resist a direct threat by Metropolitan Nikolai of Krutitsa that if he did not submit, he would be subjected to persecution by the French authorities for his supposed closeness to the Germans. A few years later he left for the USSR as an old man who was sick and incapable of any activity, in a state of psychic imbalance. There was even less significance with Archbishop Hermogenes” who dropped out in Croatia and did not have his own flock. He was seduced not only by those who pleased his vainglory, but also by the promise that, having accepted the offer of the Croatian Government to head the new Church, he would save many priests and Orthodox from death. For in Croatia at that time there were massive murders of Orthodox Serbs. Archbishop Theophan, who was also in Croatia, declined to participate in this uncanonical matter and made his way out of Croatia to Belgrade.

The Hierarchical Synod is in no way responsible for this act. He was immediately forbidden to serve and placed under trial. The German authorities did not allow us to print this decision, but it was announced in our churches from the ambo despite the prohibition, and the Serbian Synod was informed about it. Thus, writing that this was a blow by the Synod to its benefactor, the Serbian Church serves to level yet another baseless slanderous accusation upon the Synod.

Archpriest Ono’s elevation to bishop can be the least incriminatory accusation against the Hierarchical Synod, which was denied checking on what was taking place in the Far East.  The hierarchs of Harbin then reported all together that Metropolitan Sergius was denied the possibility of directing the Japanese Church and that the only way to save it was to quickly ordain Fr. Ono, about whom they testified that he was canonically eligible. Under these conditions the Synod had no basis to stand in the way of his elevation.

In general, if Archbishop John is trying to kill us by listing those who have fallen, he should keep in mind that the strength of a church organism is not measured by those who do not withstand temptation but by those who overcome it. And so, despite all the wartime and postwar difficulties, and despite betrayals both in Paris and in America, the Church Abroad has not lost its vitality and, having overcome all obstacles, has not only maintained its existence, and has flourished significantly where Archbishop John and his sympathizers anticipated its destruction and disappearance.

Before turning to conclusions, I must say a few things about Metropolitan Seraphim (Liade). I don’t know on what basis he ascribes membership in the Nazi Party to him. We have never had such definite information. However, he, especially at the beginning, of course sympathized with the anti-Communism of that party, and hoped that the Second Great War would lead to the destruction of Communism. Many held this hope, including Archbishop John, without belonging to the party. Many recall the enthusiastic article he wrote about the German army. Of course, due to his position, Metropolitan Seraphim had to have dealings with the government and the Gestapo. He was a truly kind and gentle person, although impressionable and hot-tempered. His refusal to submit to the authorities’ demand that he not serve the “Osts” speaks of his independence, as well as his defense of Archbishop Alexander (Nemolovsky), whom he bailed out, and his refusal to publicly condemn Bishop Gorazd, who was executed for his supposed involvement in the plot against the Gauleiter in the Czech Republic. Archbishop John also notes his kindness. One of his weaknesses was that he was sometimes mistrustful. I, it is true, never had any difficulties in my relationship with him, but, of course, the Synod’s presence in his diocese and instances of the community bypassing the diocesan hierarch and contacting the Synod could sometimes provoke his irritation. However, he, of course, did not “lose all significance for Metropolitan Anastassy and Fr. G. Grabbe,” especially since he was deputy Synod chairman in Metropolitan Anastassy’s absence. His participation in business was inevitably limited by his worsening illness. Therefore, Archbishop John is very mistaken when he presents our relations as a sign of “the deterioration of the leadership of the Church Abroad.”

I ask the reader to forgive me for having to inevitably turn aside in order to respond to the petty barbs with which Archbishop John would like to wound the Russian Church Abroad, which he hates so much. To be truthful, is it of great significance for history and especially for the essence of the matter how tactful we were toward Metropolitan Seraphim? Such questions do not deal with matters of principle — they are simply foolish. But it is very characteristic that Archbishop John has taken the trouble to collect them to mark the anniversary of the American autocephaly. For his book is dated at the end: “April 10, 1971, the first anniversary of the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church in America.”

Unexpected “Peaceableness”

Thus, while marking the autocephaly’s anniversary, Archbishop John’s mind is directed not toward the positive accomplishments of the new autocephalous Church but exclusively toward arguing with us and defaming the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, its hierarchs, and the former manager of the Synodal Chancery. But having filled the entire brochure with defamations, he suddenly declares on page 8 that the Orthodox Church in America does not wish to be at enmity with anyone. “In truth, it could be possible to settle this in a brotherly manner,” he writes, and notes the kindness of this Church in the fact that “there have never been any discriminatory rulings regarding sanctions.”

Frankly, I did not quite understand if this was said seriously. Does Archbishop John not know that after Cleveland the worsening of relations between the Metropolia and the Synod took place precisely due to his activity? Did he not conduct the incursion into Argentina, having rushed to accept MIchael Diky, a clergyman suspended by the Synod and under trial? Did he not rush to accept suspended clergymen in Caracas and Lima? In general, we knew all the time that it was enough for a clergyman to commit a canonical infraction and be suspended, and he would be accepted by the American Metropolia, especially if he was within reach of Archbishop John. As far as “sanctions” are concerned, how could he even think that there would be a possibility of sanctions of our episcopate, which is not subject to the Metropolia’s authority? Truly, this is a “fear” of which the Synod was afraid least of all. Even if this Metropolia was in some way a canonical district how could it impose sanctions upon bishops not under it? The Hierarchical Council of the Church Abroad would be more justified to impose sanctions upon a group of bishops who had split off from it, and to consider Archbishop John’s consecration as invalid. To present the nonperformance of this absurd action by the Metropolia toward the hierarchy of the Hierarchical Synod as an act of leniency is simply laughable.

A Warning is Not a Threat

Archbishop John is very offended at the address of Metropolitan Philaret to the meeting of clergy and laity at St. Tikhon’s Monastery. He calls it “full of pathetic political fears… These political fears were totally absent from Christ’s apostles.” (p. 9) But the current political situation was also absent. By the way, the Apostle Paul warned even then against combining service to God and Belial. (2 Cor. 6:15) However, Metropolitan Philaret wrote in his address not about politics, but about irreconcilability with evil and warned about the consequences of this act for the Metropolia.

Indeed, we were told that the autocephaly had unity as its goal, but it actually deepened church divisions even in those circles to which we do not wish to belong, but with whom the Metropolia was in unity. Thus, for instance, the Standing Conference of so-called Canonical Bishops fell apart. The warning to the Metropolia that most Churches do not recognize its autocephaly is not an act of hostility. On the contrary, hostility allows a sin or error to occur without warning, so that there would be a basis for condemnation, while love forewarns a neighbor of the erroneous nature of a step under consideration.

Forewarning and foreseeing consequences is not “fear mongering.” Moreover, our forewarning is already justified in practice. Even the Church of Romania, located in a Communist country, has refused to recognize the autocephaly. And none of the ancient Greek Eastern Churches recognize it.  We are aware that some of their delegates to the Moscow Council have been instructed not to participate there in liturgies if Metropolia delegates will be participating. Now the Greek Archdiocese in America received a directive from Constantinople regarding the cessation of liturgical communion with the Metropolia.

Meanwhile, Archbishop John writes on page 10 that the Greek Archdiocese has full liturgical communion with the Metropolia. Here another falsehood turns up.

Regarding Moscow Sanctions

The author of the brochure being examined is also very much mistaken in his evaluation of the significance of the Moscow sanctions against the hierarchs of the American Metropolia. He calls the act of lifting the suspension an “annulment.” As he writes: “If its archives contained the act of “imposing” sanctions in 1947, it naturally had to officially annul this act before proclaiming the autocephaly. The Moscow Patriarchate had to undergo this formality.”  (p. 10)

The words “If its archives contained the act of “imposing” sanctions” are interesting. Archbishop John knew full well that the archives really did contain that act, since it was precisely on the basis of this act that the author of the brochure itself was not allowed to serve with the bishops of the Patriarchate. This is a vain and awkward attempt to place under doubt an undisputed fact. Another ruse on the author’s part is his use of the term “annulment” instead of “lifting.” It stands to reason that Archbishop John is sufficiently educated to understand the difference between these two expressions. He understands, of course, that annulment means recognizing an act as invalid and therefore as if it had never occurred. Meanwhile, the Moscow Patriarchate did something different. It lifted the suspensions, first of the clergy of the Church of Japan, and then of the Metropolia. This means that before the new act it recognized the suspension as valid.

Archbishop John and his sympathizers, as has already been noted, approach the issue of sanctions in a strange manner. They feel that if the accused disagrees with the suspension, it does not exist. That is why they have always accepted suspended clergy.

Such an attitude by the Metropolia toward sanctions flows out of a cynical attitude toward jurisdiction in general. For Archbishop John and his sympathizers, rules exist as long as it is expedient to fulfill them. That is how the Metropolia acted toward the Synod, and that is how it acted toward the Moscow Patriarchate. Still earlier, Metropolitan Platon acted the same way, and at the Mineola trial we were able to demonstrate graphically the Metropolia’s jurisdictional positions from 1920 to this day in the form of zigzags. This is why the canonical jurisdiction of the Synod, having been confirmed by the Council and observed for several years in America, could be cast off by a one-sided act like a scrap of paper under the influence of the rebellious crowd that had gathered in Cleveland.

Proceeding from such a cynical attitude toward all acts by the Church, the American Metropolia regards the act granting it autocephaly, which it finds desirable, to be valid, while regarding the act issued by the same patriarchate suspending its hierarchs as invalid.

However, for people with logic, a conscience, and awareness of responsibility, it is totally clear that from the moment that the Metropolia accepted the conditions of the Decree of November 20, 1920 as no longer existing for the separate existence of the Church outside Russia, due to the correct organization of the Patriarchate that had supposedly ensued, subjection to it became mandatory. If the Patriarchate was itself sufficiently free and legitimate to push aside Church Abroad, which was established by the 1920 Decree, and if it can be recognized by the Supreme Church Authority, as was done by those who gathered in Cleveland in 1946, the Metropolia is obliged to be obedient to it until it is freed from it in a legitimate manner. According to the same logic, if the Patriarchate’s sanctions are invalid, then its other acts, including the autocephaly, are invalid, since this means that it does not have the rights of a supreme church authority.

The Church Abroad looks at matters this way and acts logically, not recognizing in relation to itself any canonical force in the resolutions by the Patriarchate, which it does not recognize as a supreme church authority. But on the part of the American Metropolia such discrimination toward acts by the Moscow Patriarchate was self-willed and revolutionary. If the Moscow Patriarchate had the right to grant autonomy and autocephaly, it had the right to impose sanctions.

Testing Loyalty to the USA

Archbishop John tries very hard to prove that the reception of autocephaly from Moscow in no way ties it politically.

However, the political coloring of the Moscow Patriarchate makes up its essence. It is allowed by the Soviets for the sake of the political role which it plays. It is no surprise that foreign reporters have noticed that at the Council when Patriarch Pimen was elected and enthroned everything was done to broadcast descriptions and scenes of the ceremony overseas, while local newspapers were silent about this. For the Soviets, the Moscow Patriarchate is “material for export.”

Since the Moscow Patriarchate is an organ of Soviet propaganda, and ties with it (exchanging visits, gifts, etc.) enables it, and the American Metropolia is now obliged to take part in it. If the Metropolia figures had a strongly developed sense of loyalty to their country, they would have been able to have felt it.

For instance, must not have the American church delegates in Moscow felt at least some discomfort when the Circular Message of the Moscow Council to Christians of the Entire World was read, with a call “to fight for an end to American armed intervention into the internal matters of the peoples of Southeast Asia”? American politics is clearly called there “reactionary, human-hating, conducted by imperialism, streaming toward world domination.” Patriarch Pimen spoke in the same fashion in his speech at the festive reception following his enthronement.

If the American Metropolia had been fully independent of Moscow the delegates would have walked out of these meetings and in this way would have declared their loyalty to the United States. But the Metropolia cannot allow itself open conflict with the Moscow Patriarchate as the main, if not the only power standing behind its “autocephaly.” It can quarrel with Greeks, Syrians, and Serbs, but only not with Moscow.

The Metropolia and the Greeks

Archbishop John is surprised that we point out the position of Patriarch Athenagoras, who does not recognize the American autocephaly. Of course, we are doing this not because we agree with him about everything. On the contrary, our difference with him is much deeper than the Metropolia’s, since it is based upon dogmatics and not just upon safeguarding one’s jurisdiction.

By the way, contrary to what Archbishop John writes, (p. 10) our Church did not take any parishes from the Greeks.  Those Greek parishes that we have were developed in a special way. It is amazing that Archbishop John accuses us of the same thing that is the source of the dispute between the Metropolia and Constantinople. It broke sacramental communion with the Metropolia for accepting two of its parishes, since it does not recognize it as the favored jurisdiction on America’s territory. This position of the Greeks and other Churches reduces the Metropolia’s autocephaly to zero. It can only determine relations between it and Moscow. As long as the Metropolita will keep insisting on some sorts of autocephalous rights in America it will be inevitably drawn into conflicts with other Churches. This is absolutely inevitable.

Thus, the big words about the autocephaly being the first step toward church unity in America turned out to be empty, and our warnings are being justified.


Archbishop John complains that Metropolitan Philaret’s Adress to the meeting at St. Tikhon’s Monastery is characterized by “moral and ecclesial negativity.”  It is hard to figure out what he means by this. Any indication of sin and error can be regarded as having a “negative character.” Christians ought to have ‘negativity” toward sin. Since the American autocephaly originates out of the Cleveland attitudes, it suffers from an absence of love, self-adulation, and disdain for the canons. That is why it leads to a deepening of divisions, since only love unites people. And it is characteristic that Archbisho0 John marks the autocephaly’s anniversary not by some kind of positive work but by his brochure filled with undisguised anger. Can anything besides “negativity” be found in it? Distorting events and digging in rumors, Archbishop John has not expressed in his brochure anything constructive. Can good fruit be grown out of such a tree filled with invective?

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