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The Establishment of a Local Church (Reflections and Elaborations)

This polemical defense of the Orthodox Church in America’s autocephaly, given by the Russian Church in 1970, contains important facts and personal recollections.

The Fourteenth All-American Council, which took place on October 20, 21, and 22, 1970 at St. Tikhon’s Monastery became the first Council of the Local Orthodox Church in America. It is fair to term it historical, since it opened a new page in the country’s Orthodoxy.

The historical independence of the American Church was proclaimed on April 10, 1970, by the Russian Church, after the agreement regarding this was ratified by both Churches that had become sisters and was signed by their episcopate. The First All-American Council of clergy and laity “received” it ceremoniously at St. Tikhon’s Monastery on October 20 in a grace-filled and momentous setting.

The large procession of clergy and lay Council delegates came out of the large building of St. Tikhon’s Seminary to the sound of monastery bells and headed for the monastery church. Eleven Orthodox bishops of America mounted the choirs with their Primate, His Beatitude, Iriney, Metropolitan of All America and Canada. Clergy and lay delegates filled up the church. The Tomos, the document granting autocephaly to the Church of America, the Fifteenth Church of Universal Orthodoxy, was read from the ambo. And the Address of the bishops of the new Local Church was read out. His Beatitude Iriney served a thanksgiving moleben along with a host of priests, with the entire church singing. Following the moleben the Council delegates returned in procession to the seminary building.

As they came out of the church, the delegates saw five or six young ladies and men standing at the side of the road with pitiful stony faces. They were holding a brochure in English by the American sectarian Baptist McIntire. Its pages were peppered with various cliché photographs reprinted from newspapers, showing Metropolitan Nikodim with the Pope, members of the World Council of Churches, and so on. The brochure was outspokenly against the Pope and the Catholics, as well as against the Protestants in the World Council of Churches receiving church visitors from the Soviet Union. Such was this demonstration “against the autocephaly,” a naive and childish attempt to influence the members of the Church Council.

As a possible consequence of a certain plan a delegation of the Hierarchical Russian Synod Outside Russia came to the monastery at that time and asked to be received. The Primate instructed me, His Eminence Dimitri, and Protopresbyter A. Schmemann to receive this delegation and to find out its wishes. It consisted of His Eminence Laurus, Protopresbyter George Grabbe, and one other priest. We, the bishops, exchanged brotherly kisses with His Eminence Laurus, and Father A. Schmemann took his hierarchical blessing. But the clergy of the Church Abroad did not choose to greet us ecclesiastically. That is an unimportant detail, but it is characteristic for the definition of that spirit and mood with which the delegation came to us.  And it brought along this special Address of Metropolitan Philaret to the All-American Council, expressing the wish to read it at the Council. Naturally, we had to explain to the delegation that the Church Council is strictly an internal matter of our Church and does not provide for presentations by outsiders, especially by those who do not show respect for the Council. [1] This was addressed to “The meeting of bishops, clergy, and laity at St. Tikhon’s Monastery.”

Following a brief conversation, we parted ways. (I also added from myself that isn’t it time for the Hierarchical Synod Abroad to reexamine its position toward the Orthodox Church in America?)

What can be said about this Address?  First of all, it is full of arguments whose groundlessness has already been demonstrated many times. The Orthodox American Mission of the Russian Church, which started in 1794 and in the nineteenth century became the Aleutian Diocese and later the American Metropolia, and which has now been proclaimed to be an autocephalous Church of the country, cannot be, of course, and has never been a part of that Russian Church Abroad, which came into being 125 years after its establishment in America. Everyone knows that the hierarchy of the “Russian Church Abroad” was organized in 1920 in Constantinople and soon after that, with the blessing of the Serbian Church, moved to its territory, and the church quarters in Sremski Karlovci became its headquarters. The direct and natural purpose of this hierarchy’s organization was the ministry to Russian refugees after their evacuation from the last Russian territory. But such a natural task of this church administration, thanks to having been influenced by extreme political groups in the emigration of that time, advanced into a political orientation. The administration in Karlovci started regarding itself not only as the spiritual but also as the patriotic leader of the Russians abroad. Having adopted such a seemingly patriotic position, the hierarchs in Sremski Karlovci, alas, attempted to take over the pre-revolutionary local diocese in America, Japan, and the former Petersburg vicariate in Western Europe, which the Russian Church had transformed into a metropolitanate.  And they did this in a totally unchristian and demagogic manner, falsely accusing those disagreeing with them of political disfavor.  They wished to precisely obtain power over the entire Russian emigration. Naturally, this was opposed by other hierarchs and pastors, and then “parallel” hierarchs and pastors started being sent out of Yugoslavia. This caused much disturbance both in the Western European and American Churches in the mid-twenties, and later in the Church of Japan as well. All this was justified, of course, by the necessity of waging the struggle against the Bolsheviks and of restoring the Imperial House of the Romanovs in Russia. (As resolved at the First Karlovci Council)

When Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich proclaimed himself “Emperor of All Russia” in the small French town of Saint-Briac, the Chairman of the Hierarchical Synod in Sremski Karlovci, Metropolitan Anthony, as well as all the members of the of the Synod Abroad (except for Metropolitan Anastassy, to his credit, it must be said), immediately recognized him as “emperor” and started serving molebens for him as czar in Belgrade (half of the people went out of the church at that point). Whenever I served with Metropolitan Anthony I would unvest, being unable to participate in this opposition to God and His will. In this way I brought on the first accusations of me in masonry (which I have never approached even by an inch). Nikolai Pavlovich Rklitsky, currently Archbishop Nikon, the Vice Chairman of Hierarchical Synod Abroad, became the editor of Tsarskii Vestnik, the official publication of the monarchists in Serbia.  All this, of course, divided the émigrés and distracted them from a purely religious expression of life, destroying a peaceful and pure entrance into the Orthodox Church and into the life of the people of the Russian dispersion, who were in such need of deepening their faith. Conflict and politization of the Church were justified by (as they are today) as “struggle with the Bolsheviks,” “irreconcibility,” and so on. But there was no political struggle, only noise and burdensome demagogic intrigues by secular untalented leaders and church leaders who followed them, dividing people who were close to the Church. There was also a profanation of the Orthodox faith (as well as of the idea of an Orthodox monarchy). And all this is still continuing.

To overcome the church conflict that had arisen in the emigration a great friend of Russians and a graduate of a Russian theological academy, Patriarch Varnava, became a mediator in the creation in 1935 of a Temporary Coordination Center in Sremski Karlovci on the basis of the “Temporary Position” for all the former parts of the Russian Church that had lost contact with Moscow. In 1937 Metropolitan Theophilus reported to the Sixth All-American Council in New York that he had signed the “Temporary Position” in Karlovci. This agreement, while formally adopted by this American Council, was not approved by the majority of its delegates, since 122 delegates abstained from voting on this issue and only 105 approved (with 9 voting against) with significant limitations. [2]See the valuable investigation of the paths of the American Metropolitanate and the Autocephaly by the professor of canon law A. A. Bogolepov, in Alexander A. Bogolepov, Toward an American Orthodox … Continue reading Through the efforts of the hierarchs this Position became active in practice for a few years, smoothing over the antagonism a bit, but it did not overcome the essence of the dispute and the differing understanding of the Church in America.

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. And in 1946 the American Metropolia once again demonstrated its faith in the locality principle of the Church in America and stated that it was impossible for it to be either a part of the Moscow Patriarchate, or a part of the temporary Church “abroad.”

The documents regarding the official 1947 negotiations in New York with Metropolitan Gregory (Chukov), [3]Commentary inconsistent with historical and spiritual reality regarding the autocephaly appeared in numbers 100 and 101 of Novyi Zhurnal  magazine. It is regrettable that a church issue lacked a … Continue reading who had arrived from The USSR at the behest of the Patriarch of Moscow to grant wide autonomy to the American Metropolia will be published someday. Metropolitan Theophilus charged me to conduct negotiations with him, which did not result in anything positive. We considered it possible to accept from the Russian Church only an autonomy of an autocephalous nature, eliminating any control over the election of a metropolitan from abroad. Moscow did not agree to this. This was followed by the Great Hierarchical Council in San Francisco and the suspension of us, its hierarchs, by the Moscow Patriarchate. One can have various opinions, but historical veracity must be the basis of all our human judgments, particularly those regarding the Church.

Having been left in complete solitude, the Chairman of the Synod of the Church Abroad, Metropolitan Anastassy, along with the Manager of the Synodal Chancery, left Serbian territory (which canonically ratified the Hierarchical Agreement of 1935) and evacuated to Germany.  Nothing remained,in fact, of the Russian Synod Abroad by the end of the war except for its chairman and chancellor. It must yet be said that while ignoring the very existence of the American Metropolia the Chairman of the Hierarchical Synod performed actions and made statements during the war in Germany (as well as before it) in which the American Metropolia took no part and for which it bears no responsibility.

Metropolitan Philaret’s Address does not mention this.  He is also silent about such a characteristic and essential fact that most of the hierarchs of the Church Abroad at the end of and after the war recognized the Moscow Patriarchate and were received into the Russian Church by offering repentance.  In the Far East the hierarchs associated with the Synod Abroad sent a solemn letter of gratitude and paeans of praise to Stalin. Among the signatories of this text was Metropolitan Philaret’s  father, the respected hierarch His Eminence Dimitri (Voznesensky) of Hailar, as well as two other respected hierarchs. Archbishop Dimitri, along with other hierarchs abroad, left for the USSR, where he served the Church and reposed.

Reading this letter from hierarchs abroad we cannot help recalling articles by certain individuals belittling Moscow hierarchs, considering them unworthy of granting independence (even from themselves!) to the Orthodox Church in America because they “congratulated” Stalin in the USSR, wishing him well. Is it good to express moral indignation against Soviet citizens, hierarchs of the Moscow Patriarchate, for their “congratulations to Stalin” and to shut their eyes to the words of hierarchs of the Church Abroad who found themselves in a situation that was not even Soviet but like a Soviet one.  Historical facts do not allow us to contrast the Russian Church to the Church Abroad, extolling the latter as having preserved purity and absence of compromise. We cannot help recalling the Apostle’s words, “There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Rom. 3:10)

Document 1:


Moscow. The Kremlin


Dear Iosif Vissarionovich,

The new brilliant victories of the valiant Red Army brought forth a joyful echo in the hearts of the believing Russian people in faraway Manchuria and elicit feelings of delight at the feats of our warrior heroes under your wise guidance.

The bountiful feelings of gratitude of the believers and clergy of Harbin are experiencing the joy of victory and our liberation from the Japanese aggressors by the valiant troops of the Red Army and are asking to accept twenty thousand rubles for the fund aiding the children and families of our native Red Army.

MELETIOS, Metropolitan of Harbin and Manchuria
DIMITRI, Archbishop of Hailar
JUVENAL, Bishop of Tsitsikar



I ask you to convey to the Orthodox clergy and believers of Harbin my greetings and gratitude for their concern for the children and families of the Red Army.

I. Stalin

Let us be introduced to Document 2: [4] Both documents are available as photocopies.  Document 1 was printed typographically as an appeal sheet.


of Moscow and All Russia

To His Eminence VICTOR, Archbishop of China and Peking


regarding the situation of church matters in the Chinese Spiritual Mission, according to reports received from His Eminence Archbishop VICTOR of China and His Eminence Metropolitan NESTOR of Harbin.

Through the journal definition by the Holy Synod of June 12, 1946, no. 15, it has been


  1. In accordance with the request of His Eminence Archbishop Victor to appoint Bishop Juvenal (formerly of Tsitsikar) to the authority of Archbishop Victor to fill the see of Bishop John of Shanghai, who has not accepted the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate.
  2. To propose that His Eminence Metropolitan Nestor transfer a required number of clergy from the West Asian Exarchate to Archbishop Victor’s authority, in accordance with his request, to replace those priests in Shanghai who have not recognized the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate, specifically, if they are in agreement, Archimandrites Philaret, [5]Some of the listed clergy recommended by the Moscow Patriarchate have reposed, while others are in Australia. Archimandrite Philaret, who is currently Metropolitan of the Church Abroad, is alive in … Continue reading Joseph, and Benjamin, Archpriests Rostislav Gan and Simeon Novosiltsev, and Deacon Gorelkin, about whom Metropolitan Nestor is interceding. Metropolitan Nestor, Archbishop Victor, and Bishop Juvenal are to be notified of this resolution.

June 13, 1946. No. 682

I consider it necessary to state that the publication of these documents is not aimed at condemning the hierarchs mentioned and the priests who found themselves in a difficult situation in the Far East. They should be sympathized and condoled with in a Christian manner and nor regarded as having fallen away from the faith and fallen into “apostasy.”

The purpose of these documents is to show that all are feeble, and no one has the right to regard his own vestments to be whiter than the vestments of his brothers, who in this case are legitimate Orthodox pastors who have maintained their faith in the Soviet Union as well, and to whom Our Lord has given a field more difficult than to us on our own field.

It is clear what happened to the “Karlovcian” hierarchs, their priests and flock as soon as they found themselves in a position similar to that of the citizens of the USSR. The same happened in the Balkans and even in Western Europe with the hierarchs of the same Russian Church Abroad.

In Bulgaria a most conservative (both ecclesiastically and politically) hierarch, Archbishop Seraphim (Sobolev), along with his flock, immediately transferred to the Moscow Patriarchate. The same was done by the pastors and flock of the Belgrade Cathedral of Metropolitan Anthony and Metropolitan Anastassy. And in Western Europe this was done by a pillar of politically conservative Church Abroad ideology, Metropolitan Seraphim (Lukianov) “of Western Europe” with his flock on rue d’Odessa in Paris. And he left for the USSR. This is what was done by the loud activists of the ecclesiastic-political monarchic anti-bolshevism abroad, involving the Church not only with politics, but also with the monarchic governing system and the House of Romanovs. His Eminence Metropolitan Philaret should not attack the Local Church of the country in which he has found refuge. He should politically suspect ecclesial actions without any basis. Having been carried away by criticism of the upbuilding of ecclesial locality in America based on the Church’s holy canons the respected bishop overlooked the fact of the complete hierarchical deterioration of his ecclesial conciliarity in the years of the faith’s trials.

And is he aware of what was taking place in the Far East in the thirties and forties? After the war new ecclesial conciliarity was started in Munich which the American Orthodox Church did not know and, of course, could not recognize as any kind of “center.” The Synod Abroad also lost its basis, having left the territory of the Serbian Church, whose blessing brought about its establishment. Metropolitan Anastassy and Fr. G. Grabbe installed new hierarchs into the new Synod in Munich and unfamiliar postwar refugees from the East in America. The decision of the 1946 Seventh All-American Council in Cleveland was very justified. It was the only possible one. It can be added that two hierarchs who had been consecrated in Moscow, their Eminences Archbishop Panteleimon (Rudyk) and Archbishop Benedict (Babkovsky), were installed into this new Synod “Abroad,” which demonstrates that Metropolitan Anastassy was precisely favoring the recognition of the canonical and ecclesial merit of the Moscow Patriarchate.

From the mid-thirties to the mid-forties Metropolitan Seraphim (Lade) of Berlin and Germany exercised tremendous influence in the Church Abroad. He was a Saxon German, a member of the Nationalist Socialist Party who maintained contact with the Gestapo (since he was a supervisor, an “ober-procuraor” of my German Deanery of the Western European Exarchate of the Ecumenical Patriarchate), My deanery was canonically subject to Metropolitan Evlogy in Paris, but in practice, due to the loss of contact with Paris at that period, to his vicar, Bishop Sergius in Prague. As much as he could, Metropolitan Seraphim helped us and alleviated the devastation of our deanery in Germany, when out of nine parishes of the Western European Exarchate the German authorities under Hitler took away six parishes with church property before the war, and we were left with three without property. But as the representative of the Synod Abroad in Karlovci he played an active role in this devastation (which was partly political). I have reason to believe him that he did not reach the extremes that this Synod wanted.  As soon as the Third Reich fell, he lost all significance for Metropolitan Anastassy and Fr. G. Grabbe (in 1948 he told me in Munich with sadness about the striking change in attitude towards him).

The deterioration of the “Church Abroad” leadership was substantial. During the war the senior, after Metropolitan Anastassy, member of the Synod Abroad, Archbishop Hermogenes, proclaimed the Croatian Autocephaly, and himself to be patriarch of the autocephalous church (!). This action was a blow to the Serbian Church, which had suffered during the war and had been a protector and benefactor of the Hierarchs’ Council in Karlovci.  The autocephaly of the Croatian Church by a hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad took place over the bones of the Serbs, who were martyrs of Orthodoxy in those days (having been tortured and killed by the Ustasha and Catholic fanatics. Metropolitan Philaret’s Address also bypasses the purely political and quite sinful sabotage by the Karlovcians against the righteous Metropolitan Sergius of Japan, which caused great harm to the Church of Japan. I know this from the Japanese and from documents. This was an attempt from Karlovcito bring to Tokyo, to replace the legitimate Metropolitan Sergius, who was greatly revered by all Japan, Archpriest Ono, who had been hastily divorced and consecrated to the episcopate in Manchuria specifically for this purpose (he later repented of this crime himself).

The Orthodox Church in America does not wish to be at enmity with anyone, and this goes for the Synod Abroad, temporarily existing on American territory. In truth, it could be possible to settle this in a brotherly manner — with one Church being temporary, “Abroad” in its convictions, and the other being local in America, destined to remain here forever. A clear indication of this possibility is the fact that there have never been any discriminatory rulings regarding sanctions toward these hierarchs. [6] “We will make room,” Metropolitan Leonty said meekly when he heard that Metropolitan Anastassy was moving to the USA from Munich along with his Synod Chancery. The true Church of Christ in America does not wish to build its life and bear the apostolic Gospel to its country upon the cutting edge of human passions, animosity, and especially pathetic political fears which pepper Metropolitan Philaret’s Address. These political fears were totally absent from Christ’s apostles. Political fearmongering is a weak method of increasing faith and love in people.

The Orthodox Church in America honors the faith of the Russian people and their Orthodox hierarchs as having been banished from their sees as well as those in their sees in Russia, valiantly ministering among their people.  We are not ashamed or afraid of seeing them as pastors laboring for their flock to the best of their abilities.

While not being in agreement with all their actions and words by the Moscow Patriarchate (especially with their 1947 ban of us Metropolia hierarchs we never regarded it expedient to be in administrative dependence upon the Moscow Church administration outside Russia. Of course, just as those in Moscow cannot pass judgment upon our matters, we cannot pass judgment upon the Russian archpastors and pastors. Especially, we should not torture them with our lightweight criticism (which is so safe for us and lacks heroism).  They are not to blame for living in the USSR and have not been tortured to death by persecutors of religion. Bound by anti-religious government ideology these pastors serve the Lord and call upon His Holy Name among their own people. This alone is a great activity (which cannot be compared with our activities). The Orthodox Church in Russia, through God’s mercy, is alive, both in its “lower” catacombs, invisible to the eye, and in its “upper” catacombs, the visible churches that are still open to the public. But we also honor all the valiant pastors and laypeople who speak out with danger to themselves, criticizing their Church situation and the disadvantages of Church life in the USSR. For us they are all our brothers, and there is one Russian Church. We are not judges from here but their helpers (and I am comforted that I help all of them through my word about God’s Truth.

This is the only correct purpose for us.

We received our autocephaly, the only form of the final canonical arrangement of the Orthodox Church in America, with legitimacy and grace, not from one or another individual hierarch, but from the entire body of Christ’s Church in Russia, its entire episcopate.

The locality of the Church on the American continent has been established, and this is how it shall remain forever. And sooner or later all branches of the Church in America will take to this stem of locality. There is no other path.

Metropolitan Philaret’s Address tries to allude to the “non-recognition” of our autocephaly at the present time by Patriarch Athenagoras. But it must be well known to him that Orthodoxy was not established by Greeks in America, and that they were not the ones who had to become the first to establish autocephaly. The path of joining us, of inclusion into autocephalous conciliarity, is now open to them. And young Greek priests and laypeople in America are already talking about this (cf. Logos magazine). The Syrian Antiochian Church of America feels that it is treading the same path.

It is not difficult to explain Patriarch Athenagoras’ opinion on this matter. He does not wish to simply “release” American Greeks who are subject to him and support him in his difficult situation. But it is strange that Metropolitan Philaret alludes to him while not recognizing the authority of this Greek primate, and even takes parishes from him (three have been taken). How can allusions be made to the Patriarch of Constantinople in view of this?

Patriarch Athenagoras has not yet found in himself the strength to recognize the legitimacy of autocephalous priority of the Russian Church in America. Prior to the twenties of the twentieth century the Constantinople Patriarchate recognized the ecclesial-historical fundamentality and uniqueness, in this respect, of the American Metropolia. Now he wishes, naturally, to support the “legitimacy” on American territory of the Greek flock subject to him which supports him in his difficult circumstances and is not autocephalous (and not even autonomous). Our Church respects the Greek Archdiocese in America and has full liturgical communion with it.

The Greek Archdiocese in America was, as is well known, founded in the early twenties of the twentieth century. Before that all Orthodox Greeks, Syrians, and Serbs were included in the American Diocese of the Russian Church, and Constantinople recognized the legitimate uniqueness of its jurisdiction on the new continent. We have no claim upon the ecclesial existence of our Greek brothers and demand nothing of them. We respect them and remain in liturgical communion with them, as with all other Orthodox Churches.

The grace-filled inception of the autocephaly has already brought forth its good fruit. Orthodox Americans, priests and laypeople, are ceasing to regard the Orthodox Church as a “foreign colony” and to feel like foreigners in their own Church. American people deserve to have their own Orthodox Church and to receive the fulness of Christ’s truth from its lips. In two decades, we will be marking two hundred years of its existence.

His Preeminence Metropolitan Philaret cannot fail to realize all this. He likewise cannot fail to know that the Metropolia hierarchs offered no repentance to the Moscow Patriarchate to receive autocephaly. None of us have ever doubted the truth of our church sacraments. And that “lifting of sanctions” (which the Address wishes to “use” against the Metropolia) was a natural, purely internal matter for the Moscow Patriarchate. 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. The Metropolia hierarchs were sufficiently delicate to be fully satisfied by one positive act, the acknowledgment by the Moscow Patriarchate of their grace-filled historical and canonical existence in America.

The Russian Church acknowledged this existence in the very fact of conducting negotiations regarding autocephaly with the Metropolia. And the truth here has no need of corresponding purely casuistic declarations, searches, and discussions that we were supposedly “obliged to regard the sanctions that Moscow had imposed upon us as valid” and so on. None of that happened. We never acknowledged any sanctions. But we also did not demand an apology for its previous disruption of our life. We covered its error with love. And Moscow did not bring up any disloyalties toward it on our part. This was a brotherly dialogue, a very responsible one ecclesiastically.

Persisting in the preservation in America “forever and ever” of Russian, Syrian, Serbian, or Greek “abroadness” (i. e. to endlessly preserve Christ’s Church in the form of a ghetto in America is a total misunderstanding of the apostolic nature of the Church and its ways in the world.

But there is also a secular “societal,” question. Can there be, as a consequence of a Church’s autocephaly, any kind of political infiltration from the USSR into America? Demagoguery is particularly zealous on this point. Autocephaly is what protects America to a great degree. And this is so for many reasons, which will be obvious to anyone who thinks about this with an open mind. Life itself already demonstrates this. As an example, I will quote a declaration by our Church made at a recent session of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This text was broadcast on the Voice of America: The All-American Orthodox Council greatly regrets the orientation prevailing in the executive ecumenical organs, the identification of searches for Christian unity with involvement in political matters. The Council protests especially the moral and material support granted by certain of these organs to destructive revolutionary groups, while keeping silence regarding the oppression of Christian faith and human freedom in Communist countries.”

We remain independent, just as we have been. But of course, no canonical ecclesial condition can become on its own, eo ipso, a barrier against various types of political sabotage. And such sabotage does not depend upon canonical structure, and Metropolitan Philaret, along with his flock, is not shielded against them at all. Even the noisiest political anti-Bolshevik activism and garrulity do not shield anyone from Bolshevik sabotage (perhaps the opposite takes place).

But let us consider that if, while living two decades under the Communist regime and being a clergyman of the Moscow Patriarchate, and even being there in good repute, Metropolitan Philaret did not suffer any “infiltration,” then why does he not believe that this is possible for other hierarchs and priests in the USSR, and for those in free America, even more so? If even under the Soviet regime he held on to his faith and did no harm to his Orthodoxy, why is he afraid that we will suddenly, like little children, submit to involuntary “infiltration”? This logic is not convincing. We will keep our hearts and minds open only to the infiltration of the Holy Spirit from the confessors of the Russian people and their Church.

Metropolitan Philaret cannot (precisely due to his lengthy experience being fenced in the Moscow Patriarchate) declare that none of the 76 hierarchs of the Russian Church, who have affixed their signature to the American autocephaly, possess the canonical qualifications needed for this. The Church is established not upon the sanctity of pastors. The Orthodox Church stands unharmed for two thousand years amidst all the world’s storms through God’s grace, according to the faith of the people, in the immutable promise of Our Lord Jesus Christ, to preserve it form “the gates of hell.” The Church stands behind this promise of Christ, with as much power in Russia as it does in America.

Political infiltrations, possible always and in all situations, must be defended against. The life of the much-laboring Russian emigration demonstrates this with sufficient clarity and warns us about it. The “infiltration” by demons has been aimed toward the disintegration of the Russian emigration for fifty years by stirring up hostility and demagoguery. And it came not just from one side.

Metropolitan Philaret’s Address is generally characterized by his moral and ecclesial negativity. He does not draw his ideas from Christ’s Orthodox Universal Church and its historical paths in America. His Address does not reveal to souls what Americans call “the power of positive thinking.” It criticizes, suspects, and condemns, and frightens in a worldly manner.

Pastors are proclaimers of divine power and truth, and not propagandizers of “leftist” or “rightist” viewpoints. Politicians have always wanted, and still want to this day, to use Christ’s Church for their own purposes. And our Lord was crucified because he did not help to build human kingdoms. True pastors abide by His Spirit. For His Spirit is His Kingdom and the power and the glory.


1 This was addressed to “The meeting of bishops, clergy, and laity at St. Tikhon’s Monastery.”
2 See the valuable investigation of the paths of the American Metropolitanate and the Autocephaly by the professor of canon law A. A. Bogolepov, in Alexander A. Bogolepov, Toward an American Orthodox Church (New York: Morehouse-Barlow, 1963).
3 Commentary inconsistent with historical and spiritual reality regarding the autocephaly appeared in numbers 100 and 101 of Novyi Zhurnal  magazine. It is regrettable that a church issue lacked a religious dimension in such a serious periodical.
4 Both documents are available as photocopies.  Document 1 was printed typographically as an appeal sheet.
5 Some of the listed clergy recommended by the Moscow Patriarchate have reposed, while others are in Australia. Archimandrite Philaret, who is currently Metropolitan of the Church Abroad, is alive in the USA.
6 “We will make room,” Metropolitan Leonty said meekly when he heard that Metropolitan Anastassy was moving to the USA from Munich along with his Synod Chancery.

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