The Truth About The Russian Church Abroad (The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Of Russia), by M. Rodzianko
-first printing 1954 in Russian-
Translated from the Russian by Michael P. Hilko
St. Job of Pochaev 1975
The author of the pamphlet 'The Truth About The Russian Church Abroad', Michael P. Rodzianko, was an Orthodox Christian deeply dedicated to the Church. He was remarkable for his modesty. He was not a true writer, but in view of the extensive propaganda of the falsehood which lies at the basis of the schism from the Church, he was inspired with zeal for the defence of the truth. Then he began to study the causes of the schism in the free part of the Russian Church abroad and wrote this excellently documented pamphlet on the topic.
Although Mr. Rodziank's pamphlet was printed in 1954, twenty years ago, it is not outdated, for the reasons for the existence of the Russian Church Outside of Russia have remained unchanged from the very beginning. The difference now (1975) is that in the last few years the influence of the Moscow Patriarchate in the West has grown, and the American Metropolia has accepted autocephaly from it.
The significance of Mr. Rodzianko's work lies in the documented rebuttal of a series of polemical arguments used against the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russian by her enemies in the West and in the USSR.
--Protopresbyter George Grabbe
In approaching the present task, I have pursued the aim of conveying the actual situation of the Synodal Church, and of shedding light on the origin of church separations. I presume to do this since, having taken part in Church life from my childhood, I assimilated that church spirit which was present in pre-revolutionary Russia. This is the spirit of true Orthodoxy, which is preserved in the bosom of the Russian people, that people which guilelessly believes like a child, following the words of Christ. This spirit is especially felt in village churches. In passing the greater part of my youth in these churches in the provinces of Novgorod, Moscow and Ekaterinoslav, always assisting at church services and in the choir, eventually becoming a church warden and directing the choir, assimilated the spirit of Russian Orthodoxy, which became very dear to me. All philosophizing, based on the abstract and dry letter of the law, in my understanding, becomes that which deadens the live spirit of Orthodoxy. Being close to church life and interested in all its events, I suceeded in gathering the necessary documents. After the emigration I actively participated in overcoming the church discord and was personally acquainted with the Serbian Patriarch Varnava, the Metropolitans Antony, Evlogy, Theophilus and Anastasy. I want to relate from my personal recollections what may be unknown to many. While residing in St. Petersburg for a considerable time, and meeting many people within Petersburg society as well as government circles, much became known to me.
I remember the words of St. John Chrysostom, which I cite below, and I regard it my duty to relate what I know, for I do not have the right to stand aloof from the life of the Church, and not oppose corrupting and destructive church divisions.
"Nothing is so offensive to God as divisions in the Church. although we may have performed a thousand good deeds, we are subject to censure no less than those who have tortured His Body, if we rend the body of the Church. That is the reason we say all this, and remind you of all this, so that you would not be able to say at that last day: 'nobody told us, nobody explained, we did not know this, and certainly did not regard it as a sin.' And so I say as a witness, that to produce divisions in the church is no less an evil than to fall into heresy. Since everyone of you is mature and will answer for his deeds, I ask that you, placing all the blame on us, do not count yourselves blameless, and in such fashion deluding yourselves, harm yourselves in vain." (St. John Chrysostom) Bless, O, Lord.
THEOLOGICAL MODERNISM IN PRE-REVOLUTIONARY RUSSIA
It is a thousand years since the Russian people became Christian, and Christianity was received by them with such zeal that in the understanding of the people Russia became known as Holy Russia. The Russian could not conceive of life without the Church or outside the Church, and the whole tenor of life of the Russian was imbued with an ecclesiastical awareness. This was decidedly so in all strata of society up until the time of Peter the Great. After Peter this condition remained true only among the simple people, but in the intellectual strata it changed quite considerably and this became evident especially at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries. Infected with all kinds of liberal teaching, the intelligentsia also brought liberal thinking to bear in ecclesiastical questions. Furthermore, among the intelligentsia, especially of St. Petersburg, all kinds of groups began to organize, often infected by sectarianism. Simultaneously the enthusiasm for the teaching of Redstock,*
>*Redstock: a 19th century English preacher, under whose influence the "Pashkovite" sect arose in Russia
the passion for theosophy, occultism, spiritism and other teachings condemned by the Church was considerable. During the period after 1901, the society of the "Argonauts" was formed, which met at the home of Andrew Bely, an author of that period. This is how he describes those times:
"Among the 'unseeing', 'seers' appeared, who recognized each other; they were drawn to share incomprehensible knowledge with each other; their interest in everything appeared new to them, encompassed with rays of cosmic and historical importance. The 'seers' differed in their conjectures: one was an atheist, another a theophist, one was drawn to piety, another was pulled away from it, but all agreed one with the other as to the imminence of a dawning: 'something is shining forth', and from this 'something' the future will unfold its destinies." (Epopee.vol1, pp. 136-137)
This dawn was disclosed as the goddess Sophia and this in fact became the beginning, the "disclosure" by the Russian progressive society of the object of its worship, tearing it away from Orthodoxy, i.e. from the Church, in order to begin a "philosophical combat with it. Numbered among the "Argonauts" we meet the following widely known people: the poet Balmont, Valery Bryusov, Baltrushaytis, S.I. Tanayev, N.A. Berdyaev, S.N. Bulgakov, later a priest, D.V. Filosofov, Prof. Kadlukov, D.N. Merezhkovsky, Igor Kisyakovsky, Z.N. Hippius, A.V. Kartashev, Theodore Sologub and others (Epopee, vols. 1,2,3; pp.179,191,181,144).
The Russian intelligentsia of that time, knowingly or not was undermining the age-old foundation of the Russian Orthodox church. The guiding center was the "Religious-Philosophical Society", created during this period. In this society were: V. Ivanov, D.V. Filosofov, S.Kablukov, Merezhkovsky, Rozanov, Kartashev, Bulgakov, Berdyaev and others (Epopee, Vol. 4; pp. 61, 130, 156). This society held closed, as well as open meetings, having as its goal the wide propaganda of the spirit of revolution, reformation and sophianism. About these meetings Andrew Bely writes:
"At times there were as many as two hundred present, among them priests, social-revolutionaries, sectarians, aesthetes, Marxists, lecturers and Nietzcheites..." (Epopee vol. 2; pp. 237-8). Among the intelligentsia of that time, signs of the church liberalism were appearing. For instance, the priest of the "Elevation of the Cross" community of nurses introduced an original method of serving at the Liturgy: he read aloud the secret prayers during which the choir singing was barely audible. This effect was liked by many. His name was Father Vasiliev. The priest Gregory Petrov also became famous for innovative tendencies. For instance, he recited some petitions during the Liturgy in Russian, even though there was no canonical translation of the Liturgy into the Russian language. Through many lectures and the introduction of innovations, he acquired such great popularity that he was even invited to teach religion at military schools. After several years he was defrocked. These innovating and reformatory tendencies, of course, undermined the age-old foundations of Orthodoxy, but they did not succeed because they were suppressed at the fountainhead by the Holy Synod.
Archbishop Antony of Volynia, later Metropolitan of Kiev, was especially firm and zealous with regard to the purity of Orthodoxy and the exact fulfillment of the canons. Progressive society regarded him with prejudice and very negatively, and when in 1911 he was appointed a member of the Holy Synod, many expressed their indignation concerning this. Regretfully, some members of the government, although basically conservatives, in church questions manifested a harmful liberalism, and did not regard Metropolitan Antony as they should have. Count V.N. Kokovstev, the chairman of the Council of Ministers, was definitely adverse to His Eminence; this he proved many years later during the emigration.
Several years before the beginning of the First World War, the Holy Synod was conducting preparatory work for the calling of a Local Council of the Russian Church, and a pre-council committee was formed for this purpose. In this committee His Eminence forcefully insisted on the re-establishment of the Patriarchate.
In August of 1917, during the time of the Provisional Government, the All-Russian Church Council met. The re-establishment of the Patriarchate should be regarded as a result of the efforts of this Council. How the Council, in other worlds the whole Russian Church, regarded Metropolitan Antony, cannot be passed over in silence. Notwithstanding, the negative attitude toward him of the whole progressive intelligentsia, the Council nominated him as the first candidate for the Patriarch of All Russia. However, the lot fell upon Metropolitan Tikhon of Moscow, who became Patriarch. It was ordained that His Holiness the Patriarch would endure many sufferings: a terrible persecution of the Church was begun by the bolsheviks, and the Patriarch was forced to endure much, but he never rendered to Caesar the things of God, no matter what the difficulties. Seeing that the persecutions were intensifying, and that the time could come when the central church authority would find itself separated from local church administrations, the Patriarch, together with the Holy Synod and the Higher Church Council, issued the ukase (#362) of November 20, 1920. This ukase reads:
"In the event that a diocese finds communications with the Higher Church Authority broken, or the Higher Church Authority headed by the Patriarch, for some reason ceases its activity, the diocesan bishop shall immediately contact the bishops of neighboring dioceses with the object of organizing a higher unit of church authority...in the event of this being impossible, the diocesan bishop must take upon himself the fullness of power."
Point 3 of this ukase states that this higher unit of church authority must be headed by the senior of the Hierarchs.
This ukase was issued by the lawful church authority freely, without any kind of pressure from any side. We will yet need to return to this ukase later.
At the end of 1917 the civil war began. In southern Russia and at other points fronts were formed, and all communication with Moscow was broken off. The bishops of southern Russia, deprived of communication with the Patriarch, gathered a council in the city of Stavropol. At this Council the Higher Church Authority of Southern Russia was established. By that time Metropolitan Antony of Kiev and Archbishop Evlogy of Volynia had both arrived from prison. They were taken by the followers of Petlura and incarcerated in a Unitate monastery. Also in prison with them was Archimandrite Vitaly, future Archbishop of North America.
The Higher Church Authority was headed by Metropolitan Antony, as the senior bishop. This Higher Church Authority left for Simferopol when the north Caucus was lost, and after the evacuation of General Wrangel's army it moved to Constantinople, where the Church Authority was at first established. For their stay there,the consent of the pariarchate of Constantinople was given by an official act dated Dec. 29, 1920. The acting head of the Patriarchal throne, Metropolitan Dorotheos, told Metropolitan Antony:
"Under your guidance the Patriarchate authorizes every undertaking, for the Patriarchate knows that Your Eminance will not commit any uncanonical act."
Soon thereafter the Higher Church Authority moved to Yugoslavia at the invitation of the Serbian Patriarch, Dimitrije, and settled in Sremski Karlovtsy. While the Higher Church authority was in Simferopol, Archbishop Evlogy was appointed by it to head the Western European churches, which were controlled by the Metropolitan of Petrograd. This appointment was made at the request of Archbishop Evlogy himself, transmitted to the Authority by Archbishop Dimitri of Tavrida. The dean of the Paris church, Archpriest I. Smirnov, desired a confirmation of this appointment from the central Russian church authority, which he received through Archbishop Seraphim of Finland. The Patriarchal Synod on March 2, 1921 recognized as lawful the actions of the Higher Church Authority in exile in the following expressions:
"in view of the decree issued by the Higher Church Authority in exile, to regard the Russian churches in Western Europe temporarily under the rule of Archbishop Evlogy..."
Thirty-four Bishops were united within the Higher Church Authority, from all places and sides, which were beyond the reach of the bolsheviks: from the Far East, Europe and America. In April of 1921 the Higher Church Authority decided to organize a conference of representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church in exile to unify, regularize and enliven Church activity. This council took place in Sremski Karlovtsy, from the 8th to 20th of November 1921. Among the hierarchs participating, besides Metropolitan Antony, were Metropolitan Platon, Archbishop Evlogy, Archbishop Anastasy, and many others. Among the decisions made by this Council, the letter to the Genoa World Conference should be noted. This letter indicated the danger of communism on a worldwide scale.
The decision to appeal to the Genow conference evoked the indignation of the Soviet government. It understood that a united Church in Exile could become a powerful moral opposing force, and that it was necessary to render it innocuous. Considerable pressure was exerted on the patriarch, combined with threats to execute large numbers of priests, and he was finally forced to issue an order disbanding the Higher Church authority in Exile. The bolsheviks expected that with their center disbanded, the Church in Exile would come to an end. The order was issued to Metropolitan Evlogy, and he was commissioned temporarily to head the parishes in exile, with the suggestion that he present his thoughts about the method of governing them.
This ukase is dated May 5, 1922. It should be noted here that the Authority had decided to appeal to the Genoa Conference in November of 1921, but this decision was acted upon only in the spring of 1922, when Metropolitan Antony turned to the Genoa Conference with his appeal. It is clear that the ukase of May 5, 1922, was issued especially as an answer to this appeal. The other decisions of the Council evidently did not worry the Soviets, or else they would have reacted immediately. One's attention should be turned to the fact that in the ukase of May 5th no accusations were stated as violations of canons, and therefore it follows that this ukase was of a purely political character and was issued under the pressure of the soviet power.
Receiving this ukase, Metropolitan Evlogy was completely confused. In a letter to Metropolitan Antony of 3/16 July 1922, he writes:
"This ukase surprised me with its unexpectedness and is simply shocking in view of the terrible confusion it can bring into our church life. Undoubtedly it was issued under pressure from the bolsheviks. In this document I do not recognize any authoritative power, even though it was in fact written and signed by the Patriarch. This document has a political, not a religious character. Outside the borders of the Soviet state it has no meaning or authority for anybody anywhere."
However, as a result of this ukase, Metropolitan Evlogy on August 8, 1922 presented a memorandum to the Council of Bishops as follows:
"I suggest that the foregoing authority be disbanded now, and for all exiled bishops gathered here to begin the organization of a new central Higher Church Authority in exile or to re-establish the old authority in force before the Council of Karlovtsy."
The Council met on August 31, 1922 and decided:
"In fulfillment of the ukase of the Patriarch, his Synod and council, the church authority is abolished. However, on the basis of the decree by the Patriarch and the same governing bodies acting with him, dated Nov. 20, 1920, bearing the number 362, a Temporary Holy Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad is to be established."
In this way the Higher Church Authority composed of bishops, priests and laymen, was replaced by a synod, now composed soley of bishops. The notification of the formation of the synod, circulated to all church organizations in exile, was signed for the chairman by Metropolitan Evlogy. In his communication to the Bishops' Synod of May 18/31, 1923, Metropolitan Evlogy writes:
"All exile dioceses shall be united through and have their higher court in the annual Council of bishops, in which is manifested in all its purity our ancient Eastern Orthodox principle of synodal action. Heading the Council of bishops will be the eldest in rank among the bishops, who even in Russia had special privileges above those of other bishops -- the Most Eminent Metropolitan Antony of Kiev, and this will comply with point 3 of the Patriarchal ukase of 1920, numbered 362."
This decision of the Council did not provoke any objections from the Patrriarch, and was followed neither by the abolition of the synod, nor by an interdiction.
Recapping, we should point out that Patriarch Tikhon, in a talk with Colton, an American representative of the Y.M.C.A., in the presence of V. Rev. Theodore Pashkovsky, later Metropolitan Theophilus, on his request to appoint Metropolitan Platon to America, said that he would give a recommendation of appointment to America, which Colton would convey to the Council of exile bishops beyond the borders, who govern the foreign affairs of the church. This conversation took place on May 3, 1922, i.e. two days before the ukase of May 5, 1922 was issued. It is clear that the ukase was not the true expression of the will of the patriarch. If the ukase conformed to the will of the Patriarch, then the conversation with Colton and V. Rev. Pashovsky would have been of a completely different character.
Four years later Metropolitan Sergei replied to the exile bishops in answer to their request that he adjudicate in the question of Metropolitan Evlogy's leaving the synod. this is what he writes:
"My dear Bishops, you ask me to be a judge in a case of which I know nothing. I do not know who composes your synod and council nor what is their authority. Neither do I know the differences between Metropolitan Evlogy and the Synod. It is clear that I cannot be the judge between you. Your letter gives me a clear reason to ask a general question: can the Moscow Patriarchate in general manage the church life of Orthodox emigrants, when in fact there are no relations between us? I think that the good of church affairs themselves demand that you, in general agreement, create for yourselves a central organ of church government, with sufficient authority to decide on all misunderstandings and differences, and having the power to suppress all misunderstanding and all insubordination without having recourse to our support. Reasons will always be found to suspect the authenticity of our decisions or to explain them by our lack of information: some will recognize them, others not; for example, Metropolitan Evlogy, as you write, cites the ukase of His Holiness the Patriarch of 1922, and you the ukase of 1920, etc."
This letter is dated Sept. 12, 1926, that is, before the time that Metropolitan Sergei fell wholly under the power of the bolsheviks, and when he could still act freely.
From the above, one can definitely draw the following conclusion: that the central church authority regarded as indispensable the preservation of the Synod Abroad, and that it let this be understood very unambiguously, that its own acts could not always be free and might even contradict the actual expression of its own will, as a result of which all communication with it should be avoided.
It can be seen from the above that there are in fact two ukases of the Patriarch and his Higher Authority, in which one contradicts the other. However, the second ukase does not replace the first. If this ukase was in fact as expression of the will of the Patriarch, then he would, first of all, have cancelled the 1920 ukase, and the second ukase would have begun with the words, "Countermanding the ukase of Nov.20, 1920, numbered 362" etc.
However, this did not happen, and by this the Patriarch stressed the fact that, issuing the ukase about disbanding the Higher Church Authority in exile, he presents the exiled bishops with an opportunity to organize a Church Authority in Exile.
When a new law is put into practice, then the person or the establishment which will use it, must first of all comprehend the spirit of this law and try to ascertain what the lawmaker had in mind, and what aim he was pursuing in issuing this law. Approaching this question from all sides, and taking into consideration all circumstances and political conditions, the consequence of that the chief aim of the Patriarch was to preserve that part of the Russian Church which found itself beyond the reach of the bolsheviks, to place it on a legal basis, and, by so doing, remove every possible appearance of self-rule.
The ukase of Nov. 20 can be explained solely from this point of view. And this is how the Bishpo's Council understood it. The other ukase of 1922 had a completely different character: it was forced action. It was issued by the Patriarch under the threat of stronger persecutions, and, as forced, it loses all juridicial power. It does not express the will of the Patriarch, for it was issued against his will. This was definitely expressed by Metropolitan Evlogy in his letter to Metropolitan Antony. But the 1920 ukase was given without any pressure and expressed the authentic will of the Patriarch.
I repeat, the Council of Bishops in August 1922 very correctly understood the complete juridical aspects of both ukases, and acted as the Mother Church prescribed, namely: to organize a central organ of church authority for all parts of the Russian Church, dispersed all over the world; this center must unite all and by so doing avert all division and scattering. Such a situation should continue till such a time as the possibility of normal communication with the Patriarch is re-established, and when this provisional authority will give an accounting of its activity. It is self-evident that the Patriarch could not indicate the moment for the possibility of normal communication. This moment can be determined only by one who does not find himself under bolshevik oppression. It will come only when a freely elected Council of the Russian Church meets, when there are no more confessors and martyrs suffering in camps and prisons, when the Russian Church can say who must head it. This will happen when it pleases God that the Soviet power should fall.
THE ST. SOPHIA BROTHERHOOD AND THE SCHISM OF METROPOLITAN EVLOGY
Previously it was mentioned that a religious-philosophic society existed in St. Petersburg and Moscow. When the bolshevik upheaval occurred, this society appeared again, composed of the same people, but under the name of ""Free Academy of Spiritual Culture". This academy existed in safety till 1922, i.e. five years. None of the members of this academy found his way into a concentration camp, but in 1922 these people together with a group of professors were sent out of the country. According to information given in the book: "Documents and Thoughts about Exiling Scholars from Soviet Russia in 1922" (Dr. W. Liebenov, Berlin), these people were granted financial assistance from the Soviet government. Money was sent out every month from the former consul Poliakoff in Koenigsberg, and later from U.Z.A. (assistance to exiled scholars), which remained in Russia.
In No. 603 of the newspaper "Rul", edited in Berlin, Nov. 21, 1922, it said that:
"Several weeks before exiling Zinovieff*,
>*Zinovieff: Alias Gregory Y. Apfelbaum (1883-1936), associate of Lenin, expelled from Party in 1927; shot after a 1936 show trial.
speaking at one of the workers' meetings, made a slip of the tongue in announcing that the Soviet government is ready to render financial assistance to the exiles. Based on this announcement they succeeded in obtaining from the government political agency an assignment in payment of ship passage."
On arrival in Berlin, the members of the "Free Academy of Spiritual Culture" opened the "Religious Philosophical Academy", which after a short period of time moved to Paris, where it formed the Brotherhood of St. Sophia. The constitution of this brotherhood was presented for approval to Metropolitan Evlogy, who approved it on Dec. 11, 1923. Among the members of the brotherhood were the same people: Bulgakov, Kartashev, Zander, Berdyaev, and others. Shortly thereafter, they set about organizing a Theological Institute as part of the St. Sergius Podvorije in Paris, with the professorial staff composed of members who served the "Free Academy of Spiritual Culture" during the bolshevik period. The personnel of this institute solidly encircled Metropolitan Evlogy. Also among this circle were the former President of the council of Ministers and minister of finance, Count V.N. Kokovtsev, and the members of the governmental Duma, E.P. Kovalevsky and I.P.Demidov.
The synod, learning of the intention to open the Theological Institute in Paris, demanded the program of proposed studies. The same kind of demand was made of a similar institute, opening in Harbin, China. The program was sent from Harbin, but not from Paris. Again the liberal church intelligentsia came into collision with Metropolitan Antony. It saw that he would not permit it to carry out its modernization of Orthodoxy, and decided to be rid of his influence. The old dislike of Count Kokovtsevfor Metropolitan Antony was manifested again.
The entourage of Metropolitan Evlogy began striving be every means to rid themselves of the oversight of the Synod, and finally achieved the breaking of ties between Metropolitan Evlogy and the Synod Council of Bishops. This occurred in 1926. It should be noted that the Council did not regard the Y.M.C.A. favorably and demanded that Metropolitan Evlogy steer clear of it, which he could not do, since the creation of the Theological Institute was, to a large degree financed by this institution.
The Soviet government had not succeeded in destroying the Church Abroad by compelling the Patriarch to issue the ukase of 1922. Undoubtedly it was seeking the opportunity to weaken the moral force of the Church Abroad. The falling away of Metropolitan Evlogy with the larger part of his West-European Diocese from the Church Abroad, occurring in 1926, could not have been more pleasing to the Soviet government. This schism was necessary for them and nobody else. Concerning this question the Serbian Patriarch Varnava, in his sermon at the service in the Russian Church in Belgrade on June 22, 1930, said:
"You ought to know that the fanatics who persecute the Church not only torture it but are trying to split it, to divide it, and in many ways stretch out their criminal hands even toward you who are beyond the boundaries of your fatherland. You, the true sons of Russia, must remember that you are the only support of the Russian people. You are bound at any cost to preserve undamaged the national church traditions in all their purity. This is your duty before God, before your native country, and before the Christian world. The church dissensions sown by the enemies of your homeland must be halted at any cost. Among you there is a great hierarch, His Eminence Metropolitan Antony, who is the adornment of the Universal Orthodox Church. He is a lofty mind, equal to the first hierarchs of the Church of Christ at the beginning of Christianity. He is the repository of church truth, and those who have separated must return to him. All of you, not only those living in our Yugoslavia, but also those in America, in Asia, and in all countries of the world, must compose, with your great hierarch Metropolitan Antony at the head, a single, indestructible whole, which will not be susceptible to the attacks and provocations of the enemies of the Church. I, as the Serbian Patriarch, am like your brother, and I fervently pray God that He unite the Russian people in exile into a single unit, so that Russia may rise to that same stature which was hers when headed by the Orthodox ruler, the Tsar, and in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and all His Saints, I give you my Patriarchal blessing."
Having broken with the Council in 1926, Metropolitan Evlogy began to rule his diocese, basing his position on the Ukase of May 5, 1922, No. 348, about which in a letter to Metropolitan Antony of June 3/16, 1922, he wrote:
"...undoubtedly it was given as a result of pressure from the bolsheviks. In this document I do not recognize any obligatory force...outside the borders of the Soviet state it has no meaning or authority for anybody anywhere."
It appears that this ukase now had meaning and authority for him, and in his epistles he began to write what was diametrically opposed to that which he had written earlier. And so on June 24, 1924, in an epistle he wrote:
"Spiritual rulers indicate the use if a special consideration and brotherly regard for those bishops, who are deprived of their sees through no fault of their own, affording them participation in honor and service as a bishop (Canon 18, Antiochian Council). Canon 37 of the Trullo Council states that they may perform ordination into various ranks of clergy according to the canons, and have the right to sit according to their rank; and every activity they initiate shall be accepted as legal and sound."
However, on August 6/19, 1926, he writes:
"However. our councils in exile, especially the Synod, are composed of bishops only in title, already freed of their sees in Russia and replaced there by other legally ruling bishops. Only Metropolitan Platon and I have our administrative authority from the Patriarch. The reference by Metropolitan Antony to the 37th Canon of the Trullo Council is here irrelevant."
In the same epistle he writes:
"The attempt to discard from historical usage the clear Moscow ukase of 1922 which does not admit any gainsaying only because it is unpleasant for someone, is arbitrary and illegal."
Yet on the 3/16 of July, 1922, four years earlier, he had written to Metropolitan Antony, as was said above, that in this ukase he recognizes no obligatory force. In the same epistle of 6/19 August, he writes that:
"when preceeding councils discussed questions of Church government, they always regarded the ukase of May 5, 1922 as the basis which gave them the right to exist. Now they are deliberately keeping silent about it, and bringing forward the newly invented and invalid theory that both the exile Council and the synod were founded on the initiative of the senior Metropolitan Antony, on the basis of the Patriarchal ukase of November 20, 1920, No. 362, and that there is no need for this to be confirmed from above. The artificiality of this theory is obvious just from the fact that it was unknown hitherto and is here being brought forward for the first time."
On May 18/31, 1923, in a report to the Synod, he had written:
"The Council of Bishops will be headed by the archpastor who is senior in rank and even in Russia had special rights over and above the other bishops -- His Eminence Metropolitan Antony of Kiev. This will be in agreement with point 3 of the Patriarchal ukase of 1920, No. 362."
But now these bishops as well as Metropolitan Antony appear in his eyes to have no rights.
This was the reaction of the head of the Peking Mission, Metropolitan Innokenty, who addressed Metropolitan Evlogy, after the latter's break with Council, with a letter in which he writes:
"Why then did you lead us bishops astray, when you were forming the Synod of bishops and were sending us ukases in its name? Were you not a permanent member of the Synod, and at one time even its acting president? We believed you and obeyed your instructions, regarding them as lawful. What is the situation now? Did you knowing lead us into some sort of criminal delusion, and do we bishops, true to our duty, find ourselves deceived by you? But this is not so. You, Your Eminence, have simply betrayed yourself, and now have begun to destroy that which you earlier created. By this you show yourself, according to the Apostle Paul, as an offender (Galat. 2, 18). Personally, I could never admit that a bishop of such high rank could lead us, bishops of far-off countries, into deception. I believed, and do not cease to believe that the Synod was and is now the executive organ of the Council of all Russian bishops in exile. Therefore, I have not ceased to maintain toward it my deep regard, and remain in obedience to it, for I obey not the Synod, as such, but the Council of the whole episcopate in exile. I trust that you will not deny the well known fact that you displayed full obedience to the Council and Synod when doing so was advantageous for you."
METROPOLITAN EVLOGY SUBMITS TO MOSCOW (1927)
During the next several months the Synod attempted to settle the situation, and Metropolitan Evlogy seemed willing to comply, sending two of his vicar bishops for conferences in Sremski Karlovtsy. The talks were coming to a close, when unexpectedly the vicars were recalled. Then the Council placed Metropolitan Evlogy under interdiction. Metropolitan Evlogy did not recognize this interdiction. He began to rule his diocese on the basis of the ukase of May 5, 1922, and in 1927 entered into contact with Metropolitan Sergei, locum tenens of the Patriarchal throne, and completely submitted himself to him. At this time Metropolitan Sergei had already come to terms with the Soviet powers and issued his infamous declaration.
Metropolitan Sergei,under pressure from Soviet authority, by his ukase of May 27, 1927, No. 97, demanded that Metropolitan Evlogy, his vicars, and his subordinate clergy, give their personal signature of loyalty to the Soviet government. These signatures were given and all were sent to Moscow. A similar demand of loyalty to the Soviet power was presented to Metropolitan Antony and the Synod. Metropolitan Antony categorically refused this demand. In No. 2655 of the newspaper "Latest News" and in No. 1123 of the newspaper "Renaissance" of June 8, 1928, the ukase of Metropolitan Sergei appeared, which says:
"His Eminence, Metropolitan Evlogy, heading the Russian churches in Western Europe, Archbishop Vladimir of Belostok, Bishop Sergei, formerly of Belsk, Bishop Benjamin, formerly of Sebastopol, and other priests, having given the pledge demanded of them are to be regarded as before, within the administrative canonical province of the Moscow Patriarchate...Part VIII: Upon receipt from His Eminence Metropolitan Evlogy of a detailed report of what occurred, to hold a special trial of bishops and other priests of the Karlovtsy group, so that: a) those of them who accept the present order, giving also the pledge of loyalty to the Soviet power, shall be recognized as remaining in canonical obedience to the Moscow Patriarchate..."
Professor Kartashev, one of the group surrounding Metropolitan Evlogy, in the newspaper "Struggle for Russia" (No. 41 of Sept. 3, 1927) in a leading article, "The Church Question", praises the action of Metropolitan Evlogy in placing himself in submission to Moscow, and sharply criticizes the Synod's position. Signing the statement of loyalty to the Soviets, together with Metropolitan Evlogy, were his vicars, beginning with Archbkishop Vladimir, and most of the clergy. There were those who refused. For instance, the pastor of the church in Geneva, the V. Rev, Fr. Sergei Orlov. In answer to the request received about his answer to the circular letter of Metropolitan Evlogy, he wrote:
"The whole priesthood of the Church is obliged to struggle in strong, persevering, fervent prayer to God, for deliverance of our dear homeland and all the Russian Orthodox people from the 'godless Soviet power'. If I then pray for this daily and fervently, and call upon others to pray with me, I cannot be a hypocrite, and not say that I do not recognize the Soviets as lawful and good for my homeland, from which the Soviet rule has even torn away the name 'Russia'. which is so dear to me...The Church cannot be politically indifferent in regard to such power, and this power interprets the above-mentioned demand with the idea that we not only must be inactive against it, but we must be silent as to all of its governmental (i.e. political) activity, aimed at abusing and uprooting from life all the foundations of our holy Faith, unto the destruction even of our Church itself. Such are my beliefs and convictions of conscience, which do not allow me to give my signature or any written announcements, from which an inference could be drawn about any type of pledge in respect to the so-called Soviet power, which is -- bolshevik, internationalist and anti-God."
The head of the White Army, General Baron P. N. Wrangel, wrote the following to Count D. A. Olsufiev, a member of the All-Russian Church Council:
"Of course, the free exile Church, from the day of the captivity of the Church in Russia, must in its actions become independent and free; certainly it is wholly desirable that the Church Abroad would be ruled synodally. Regarding the answers of the Council in exile and Metropolitan Evlogy to the epistle of Metropolitan Sergei, it is evident that just as the answer of the Council is worthy and definitive, so equally the answer of Metropolitan Evlogy is evasive and ambiguous. I considered it my duty to send the Council's answer to all ranks of the army in exile, as an example of the firm and courageous voice of the Church Abroad, which does not desire to obey the godless power which is enslaving our unfortunate homeland."
Appraising the question of signing an oath of loyalty to the Soviet power from the juridicial standpoint, we can come to the conclusion that this act is nonsense. An assurance of loyalty to that power which persecuted a given person, and from which this person was forced to flee, is an absurdity.
During the period of his obedience to Metropolitan Sergei, Metropolitan Evlogy, in passing, addressed a request to Metropolitan Sergei to give him the right to autonomous rule. This he was refused, with the explanation that he was not even a diocesan archbishop, but simply fulfilling the duty as vicar of the Petrograd Diocese temporarily.
METROPOLITAN EVLOGY BREAKS WITH MOSCOW AND SUBMITS TO CONSTANTINOPLE (1930)
The demands from Moscow steadily increased, and reached such a stage that Metropolitan Evlogy could not fulfill them at all, since he was forced to take his flock into consideration. As a result, for disobeying bolshevik directives passed on by the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Evlogy was deprived of his right to rule, and on Dec. 24, 1930 he was suspended from exercising his priestly functions. And so, Metropolitan Evlogy found himself under a second interdiction. And in both cases he is interdicted by that body, which he at the time accepted as the only canonical one.
Metropolitan Evlogy did not obey this interdiction either, and he and his flock found themselves in a very difficult position. As a result, his diocesan meeting of June 29, 1930 resolved:
"An actual break of normal administrative communication with the higher Church Authority in Moscow has occurred, and the possibility of receiving free expressions from the latter is ended; therefore, the moment has come to obey the instructions of Nov. 20, 1920, while not cutting spiritual and canonical ties with the Mother Church of All Russia, in faith, prayer and love. Until normal relations are re-established, the ruling bishop Metropolitan Evlogy, is to take upon himself the fullness of power in the Diocese entrusted to him." ("Church Messenger", No. 8, 1930)
It was impossible to fulfill this decision, as Metropolitan Evlogy with his diocese was not isolated from other Russian diocese in exile. The only step that could have been taken, based on the ukase of Nov. 20, 1920, was to unite again with the Synod Church Abroad. This was opposed by his entourage, which did not desire to pass under the control of Metropolitan Antony. A way out was found in canonical submission to the Ecumenical Patriarch.
It is characteristic that only at this juncture was this "sole" canonical way invented. For the preservation of their freedom of thought and their internal independence, the persons who found this way out tore the West European diocese away from Russian hierarchal submission, and transferred to the Patriarch of Constantinople, from whence they met with no opposition of any kind to their activity.
By this act the whole West European diocese found itself shorn away from the Russian Church. This violated the will of Patriarch Tikhon and his administration concerning the formation of a single Synodal Church Abroad, which, under conditions of freedom, could morally oppose godless communism.
Metropolitan Evlogy turned to the judgment of the Constantinople Patriarch against Metropolitan Sergei basing his action on the 17th Canon of the Council of Chalcedon, which says:
"In every diocese the parishes in villages or near cities must invariably remain in submission to bishops heading them: and even more so, if they were within their province and submission incontestably during 30 years. If, however, before the term of 30 years there was or shall be some kind of dispute, then let it be permitted for those who feel themselves offended, to bring their cause before the Council of the diocese, or before the Throne of Constantinople, as is stated above. But if by the Emperor's ruling a city be rebuilt or built in the future, then the apportionment of church parishes shall follow the civil and rural order."
Additionally to the above, and in order that some should not think that the Patriarch of Constantinople has unconditional power over all metropolitans outside the borders of his Patriarchate, we cite the following from the commentary of the canonist Zonara on this rule:
"But the Constantinople Patriarch is not placed as judge over all metropolitans without exception, but only of those in submission to him, for he cannot prosecute the metropolitans of Syria, or Palestine and Phoenicia, or Egypt against their will. For Syrian metropolitans are within the judgment of the Antiochian Patriarch and the Palestinian -- that of the Jerusalem Patriarch. Egyptian ones must be tried by the Patriarch of Alexandria, from whom they accept their elevation and exactly so because it is to them that they are in submission."
From this 17th Canon it is clear that Metropolitan Evlogy could not turn for judgment to the Patriarch of Constantinople, since Metropolitan Sergei of Moscow was not within his jurisdiction.
It is interesting to note here that until the schism, Metropolitan Evlogy resisted in every possible way the encroachments of the Patriarch of Constantinople upon parts of the Russian Church in exile. This is evident from his letter to Metropolitan Dionysius of Warsaw of May 5/18, 1926:
"The appeal to the Patriarch of Constantinople and the latter's participation in the organization of the Orthodox Church in Poland, I recognize as incorrect even with all deep respect toward the high rank of this Orthodox hierarch, and I see this act of intervention into the internal affairs of the autocephalous Russian Church as canonically inexcusable."
In his letters in defense of the position of the Synod of Bishops, in answer to the pretensions of the Ecumenical Patriarch in 1923 and 1924, he wrote the following:
"All of these churches at the present time are becoming Russian holdings within the boundaries of the new Orthodox Church in Czechoslovakia, and their situation is identical with the situation of the Russian Spiritual Mission and its parishes in Palestine, and also with the present situation of Russian parishes in Constantinople, Serbia and other Orthodox countries."
The vicar bishops of Metroplitan Evlogy -- Archbishop Vladimir and Bishop Sergei -- had been banished to monasteries in Poland for their dissent from the intervention of the Patriarch of Constantinople into the affairs of the local church, which was in submission to the Moscow Patriarch.
METROPOLITAN PLATON AND THE NORTH AMERICAN SCHISM (1926)
At the same time as Metropolitan Evlogy, Metropolitan Platon in America severed his connection with the council of the Church Abroad. The situation in the American Diocese was as follows:
Metropolitan Platon was appointed diocesan head in America at the recommendation of Patriarch Tikhon, transmitted by an American by name of Colton and Father Pashkovsky, the latter presenting the report to Metropolitan Antony on August 22/Sept. 5, 1922. The Synod of Bishophs decreed:
"May it stand: in view of the expressed desire of His Holiness Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow and all Russia, that Metropolitan Platon of Kherson and Odessa accept the administration of the North American diocese, communicated by V. Rev. T. Pashkovsky who had arrived from Moscow in the report of July 1/14, 1922, No. 1, and in view of the consent of Archbishop Alexander to the temporary transfer of the administration of the diocese to Metropolitan Platon, Metropolitan Platon is considered temporary administrator of the North American Diocese."
Being already in America, Metropolitan Platon tried in every way to stress his genuine obedience to the Council and Synod. Thus he wrote in the "American Orthodox Messenger" (No. 6 of 1924):
"In the circumstances amid which the Russian Church in exile has begun to live, her one comfort and consolation is the possibility of calling Bishop's Councils, composed of the hierarchs who by the will of Providence find themselves outside the borders of Russia. A Council of Hierarchs is morally of such a magnitude, that before it even an energetic unit, accustomed to willfulness and stubbornness, must bow . . . We shall therefore expect that, even in America, they who say that they are authentic 'bishops' will carefully examine the essence of the discord in the church which they create, and will show their Orthodox disposition in the spirit indicated by the Bishop's Council in Karlovtsy."
Previously there was a meeting in Detroit, which was called a council, at which a decision, manifestly autocephalous in spirit, was passed. At the beginning of the council's activities, Metropolitan Platon himself remained in the shadows and the main role was fulfilled by V. Rev. Leonid Turkevich, the future Metropolitan Leonty. In 1924 Metropolitan Platon took part in the Council at Sremski Karlovtsy and was elected a member of the Synod and displayed complete submission to the Council. In 1926, he again arrived from America at the Council in Sremski Larlovtsy and presented a detailed report, recorded in the minutes of the Bishops' Council, No. 4, of June 14-27, 1926 s follows:
"The Sacred Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad took under consideration: the detailed report of His Eminence Metropolitan Platon, in which he acquainted the Council with the history of the upheaval and disturbances of the Russian Church in America, from the time of the departure form America of the former Archbishop Evdokim, until the present time. On the matter of the congress of laymen and priests in Detroit, he said this was permitted by him as a valve for the escape of autocephalic gases, which threaten the peace and unity of the Russian Church in America. Even if he approved the decisions of this congress, it was only because of the stated circumstances, but at the same time, he took steps to annul them in actuality by forming a commission to put them into effect, in which he purposely included himself, having received the right at the Congress, due to the support of the majority of the members not in sympathy with autocephaly; and he hoped in this way to prepare a formal annulment of it. On his part, he urgently witnessed that he was a decided enemy of autocephaly for the American Church and confirmed his complete canonical submission to Metropolitan Peter, Locum Tenens of the Patriarchal Throne, the Council of Bishops of the exiled part of the Russian Orthodox Church, and the Synod of Hierarchs elected by it. In view of everything mentioned above, he requests the Council of Bishops to give him, personally signed by all bishops at the Council, a letter of credentials prepared by his attorney, to all Patriarchs and to the Russian Church in America, which is necessary for him in a court case against the representative in America of the 'Living Church', the former priest Kedrovsky."
These minutes were signed by all attending bishops, except for Metropolitan Platon and Metropolitan Evlogy. For this reason the following decision was made at the Council of June 18/July 1, 1926:
"The Council of bishops took up the question of the refusal of His Eminence Metropolitan Platon to sign the minutes of the council meeting of June 14/27 about his relationship to the Patriarchal Locum Tenens, the Bishop's Council and the Synod. It was decreed:
1. The Council of Bishops witnesses: that in the minutes of June 14/27, 1926, No. 4, the circumstances of the oral report of Metropolitan Platon are quoted exactly, and finds groundless his statement that his signing of these minutes would be proof that he seemingly does not recognize the rule of the Patriarchal Locum Tenens.
2. The Council of Bishops witnesses that the previously mentioned minutes were also unsigned by Metropolitan Evlogy, even though at that reading he announced that they were correctly recorded.
3. To acknowledge as beyond all doubt that Metropolitan Platon, in spite of his oral and written announcements, aspires to the organization of an autocephalous authority for the North American Church.
4. To recognize as extremely dangerous, injurious to the interests of the Russian Church in America, and contradictory to the canons, the decree of the so-called Detroit council concerning the autocephaly of the North American Church, concerning which the decision of the Synod and Council was made in 1924.
5. To demand from Metropolitan Platon and his vicar bishops a statement that they do not recognize the decision of the so-called Detroit Council concerning the autocephaly of the North American Church, and until communications with a legal higher church authority in Russia are established, that they submit temporarily to the canonical judicial-administrative power of the Council in exile and Synod of Russian bishops, for this submission does not weaken the submission to the Locum Tenens of the Patriarchal All-Russian Throne, the overall authority of whom is recognized by the Council and the Synod.
6. If the Synod of bishops does not receive such a declaration within four months, the Synod shall be charged with sending Archbishop Anastay of Kishnev and Khotinsk to investigate the discord within the North American Diocese. If the Synod seems it necessary it will give him the right to take the temporary administration of the North American diocese upon himself.
7. To demand from Metropolitan Platon the decisions of the "council" which took place in New York in 1925 and an explanation of the proceedings of this "council".
8. Not to grant to Metropolitan Platon the credentials to all Patriarchs and the epistle to the American Church, in the form desired by him.
9. Until the statement pointed out in #5 is received, not to regard Metropolitan Platon a member of the Council of Bishops, in view of the fact that he showed his insubordintation to it.
At this point Metropolitan Platon, together with Metropolitan Evlogy, left the Council. In this way the Church Abroad was divided into three parts, and through this was weakened to a considerable degree. One may ask:
"To whom is this beneficial?"
There is but one answer:
"Only to the bolsheviks."
METROPOLITAN PLATON'S "AMERICAN ORTHODOX CHURCH"
At the beginning of the year 1926, Archimandrite Arseny arrived in Yugoslavia and visited his brother, employed as a veterinarian in the village of Beodra in Banat, where my family and I lived. He told us that he had previously served in America, and that his former parish, learning that he had safely arrived in Yugoslavia, was asking him to return to them, and that Metropolitan Platon was petiitioning the Synod for his elevation to bishop and assignment to Canada. The Synod responded favorably to this petition and the elevation was soon celebrated in the Trinity Church in Belgrade, during which the new bishop gave his hierarchial vow. In it he promised in the name of God to fulfill his archpastoral duty conscientiously according to the holy canons, and to obey the higher church authority, the Council of Bishops and its Synod. In his address to the Canadian flock he said,
"The love of the hierarchial head of the Orthodox Church in America and Canada, the Most Eminent Metropolitan Platon, through the Higher Authority of our Church Abroad, the Synod of Bishops, has called me to hierarchial service in the field of the Canadian Orthodox Church."
Some months later, the vicar bishops of Metropolitan Platon issued an "Epistle of the Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church in North America" (Sept. 10, 1926) in Answer to the Letter and Decree of the Russian Bishops in Karlovsky".
From the heading of this epistle it already becomes clear that the authors of this letter recognized neither the Council, nor the Synod. It is stated in the text that
"there are bishops in Larlovtsy, refugees, who have abandoned their flocks, thus tearing themselves away from the body of the Church, and then have willfully united in a so-called Synod and Council, which have no canonical meaning."
This epistle was signed among others, by Bishop Arseny, whose oath of loyalty to the Council and Synod is cited above. Only Bishop Apollinary categorically refused to sign it. This occurred previous to the return of Metropolitan Platon from Europe.
The latter then gathered all the bishops in New York , and on January 18/31, announced his epistle to the American flock, in which it is stated that the Synod of Bishops of Karlovtsky is not canonical; for that reason there should be no submission to it, and that from then on the American diocese would be regarded "a self-governing Church". All of the bishops approved this message except Bishop Apolllinary, who announced that he recognized the Synod of Bishops and regarded it as canonical in its origin, as well as in its present composition; that he had obeyed and did obey it as the judicial-administrative power; that he denied the rights of the American diocese to be a self-governing church."
In answer to such an announcement, Metropolitan Platon and his vicars dismissed him from ruling the diocese of San Francisco and from pastorship of the parish of the Holy Trinity Cathedral and stripped him of all rights to serve in American churches. The Synod, in answer to the illegal expulsion of Bishop Apollinary, by ukase of April 14/27, 1927 (No.464), decided:
"Since the foregoing decision of Metropolitan Plato and his vicars occurred in violation of church canons (9th canon of the Third Ecumenical Council, the 16th canon of the Twice-Assembled Council, the 3rd canon of the Seventh Ecumenical Council, the 19th and 23rd canons of the Antiochian Council, the 12th canon of the Laodicean Council, the 13th canon of the Carthagenian Council, and others), according to which bishops are dismissed and their sees given replacements by judgments by bishops of the whole church region at a Council of Bishops ... to regard the decision of Metropolitan Platon uncanonical and as such, invalid."
On March 18/31, 1927, the Synod of Bishops decided:
a) To dismiss His Eminence, Metropolitan Platon from the administration of the North American diocese, with an interdiction of celebration of services within the domain of the North American diocese;
b) henceforth, until the appointment of a new hierarch to entrust the temporary administration of the aforesaid diocese to His Grace, Apollinary, Bishop of San Francisco."
On February 2, 1927, Metropolitan Platon established "the Holy Synod", appointing as its chairman Bishop Aftimios of Brooklyn, a Syrian. On that same day this Synod commanded Bishop Aftimios to see to the good order of American Orthodoxy, of the Orthodox Catholic people born in America, and chiefly those using English, as well as other Americans and people of other language groups and nationalities, descent, who were not satisfactorily looked after by the canonical Orthodox...and further the "Synod" commanded this bishop of Brooklyn to setup, organize, found, head, lead, control and support a definitely independent and autonomous branch of the Orthodox Catholic Church, which was to be publicly known, legally founded and generally accepted, as the Holy Eastern Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church in North America.
A "charter" was prepared, in other words, a constitution, which was ratified by the Council of Bishops on Sept. 14, 1927 and registered in the state of Massachusetts, Dec. 1, 1927. Among other points it stated in the charter that it was to serve for all persons of the Orthodox Catholic faith, living in America or temporarily in America -- for this purpose an autocephalous, independent, free, self-governing church corporation in America was to be set up.
Notification of the organization in America of an independent Autocephalous American Church was sent to all heads of Local Churches, in the name of "The Most Holy Synod of the American Orthodox Catholic Church."
The Council of Bishops of the Church Abroad, becoming acquainted with the decisions of Metropolitan Plaon, decided an August 23/September 5, 1927 that "the so-called Synod of the Orthodox Catholic Church in North America, organized unilaterally and not according to church order, an uncanonical establishment, is not to be recognized, and its acts shall be regarded as invalid". The same Council, meeting on August 26/September 8, determined:
"To affirm the decision of the Bishop's Synod of March 18/31, 1927, about the dismissal of Metropolitan Platon from the administration of the North American Diocese; to suspend Metropolitan Platon, who has already been deprived of the right to serve Church services within the bounds of the North American diocese."
The canonical head of the diocese was now Bishop Apollinary.
The Greek archbishop, Alexander, informed of the Oecumenical Patriarch, Vasilios III, about the formation of this autocephalous American Church by Metropolitan Platon. In answer, the Patriarch sent the following order:
"To His Eminence, Alexander, Archbishop of North and South America, Most beloved brother and co-assistant in our acts -- the grace of the Lord be with Your Eminence. In view of your report, dated May 15,1928, No. 5972, with the information about the institution in America, during the month of December of the past year, of the so-called "Holy Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church", we herewith announce the decision of our Holy Synod, that the constitution of the afore-mentioned Church is wholly anticanonical. As a result, the Holy Mother Church rejects this new Russian Church and demands of Your Eminence that you have absolutely no contacts with it...The Grace of the Lord and His infinite mercy be with Your Eminence.
†Vasilios Archbishop of Constantinople,
Your beloved brother in Christ,
Dec. 1, 1928, No. 2499"
This Patriarchal epistle was officially announced by the Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church in America to the clergy and Orthodox people. This announcement of the Greek Synod was signed by Alexander, Archbishop of North and South America, Philaretos, Bishop of Chicago, Joachim, Bishop of Boston, and Kallistos, Bishop of San Francisco. This epistle of the Greek Synod states:
"The Syrian Archbishop, Aftimios of Brooklyn, has received from Metropolitan Platon, whom part of the Orthodox Russians recognize as their bishop, permission for the organization of some sort of new independent church, as so-called 'Holy Eastern Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church', otherwise known as the American Orthodox Church with a previously prepared plan to include within it all Orthodox people residing in America, without distinction as to nationality or language, and especially to include the offspring of immigrants. Having named himself president of the 'Holy Synod" for a term of seven years, Aftimios officially invited the hierarchy of the Greek Church here in America to unite with this movement. It is self-evident that this new unilaterally authcephalous Church is anticanonical and is alien to the canons and tradition of Eastern Orthodoxy. We have rejected the invitation of Aftimios and have officially informed the Oecumenical Patriarch of his schemes. The answer of His Holiness, the Oecumenical Patriarch, Vasilios III is cited above. Such is the answer-edict of the highest authority of the Orthodox world, which places the new church in the ranks of the schismatics. We regret this, but nonetheless we are certain that the faithful will not allow themselves to be fooled and entangled, indeed enticed, by such bad maneuvers and plans, and that our faithful sons of the Church will stand solidly behind their canonical leaders and will refuse all contact with this uncanonical church."
While instituting an autocephalous church in America, Metropolitan Platon in 1927 took up a correspondence with Metropolitan Sergei in Moscow. Only in 1933 did Metropolitan Sergei send an ukase to Metropolitan Platon, in which he cites parts of these letters. In his letter of March 7, 1927,Metropolitan Platon recognized the only higher church authority for the North American Diocese to be the Patriarch of the Church in Russia with his existing organs of higher church authority, but at that time, such higher church authority he recognized in the Locum Tenens of the Patriarchal Throne, Metropolitan Peter of Krutitsk and Metropolitan Sergei, his assistant, together with their existing organs of higher church authority. As a result of these letters, the ukase of Metropolitan Sergei of August 25, 1933, No. 837, was issued. In the section of the ukase about resolutions, it is stated that:
The church organization formed by Metropolitan Platon and his accomplices is pronounced a "schismatic society", and those remaining within this society are pronounced excommunicated from taking part in church prayers and mysteries. The diocesan or other administration which has been formed or which is being formed in this society is to be regarded as illegal, and all its instructions and actions, particularly the elevation of bishops and their appointments, as illegal and invalid. Metropolitan Platon, as the initiator and the main cause of perpetrating the schism, is to be brought to trial by bishops and prosecuted for breaking canons 31-34 of the Holy Apostles, 14-15 of the Twice-Called Council, 1 of Basil the Great and others analogous to them, and is to be prohibited from officiating at church services.
Thus he came under interdiction a second time and also from a power which he at the time acknowledged as legal. Metropolitan Platon did not obey this ukase, concerning which he, together with his vicars, drew up an act on Setptember 11, 1933.
THOSE WHO REMAINED FAITHFUL IN NORTH AMERICA
Not all the flock followed after Metropolitan Platon; many remained with the Church Abroad, obedient to Bishop Apollinary. An example among others can be shown in the decree passed by the Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Scranton, Pennsylvania, on Dec. 30, 1928. In this resolution, among other points it is stated:
"To regard Metropolitan Platon incompetent to rule the diocese, being under interdiction and dismissed from this duty, and acting despite the canons of the Orthodox Catholic Church, and not to have any prayerful communion with him until his repentance. Henceforth, until a legal, free higher church authority is established in Russia, and with it a free normal relationship, to recognize as the legal head of the Russian Orthodox Church the Locum Tenens of the Patriarchal All-Russian Throne, Metropolitan Peter, and as the legal church authority in exile -- the Council of Russian Orthodox Bishops Abroad, and in all necessities and for questions evoked by church life, to turn to the legally appointed head of the North American diocese, bishop Apollinary."
Elevated to the rank of Archbishop on May 1/14, 1929 Archbishop Apollinary did not rule his diocese long, for he reposed on June 19, 1933. At this time there were already 62 parishes in his diocese. By as edict of the Council of Bishops dated July 18/31, 1933, No. 3037, Bishop Tikhon was appointed as head of the North American and Canadian Diocese after the repose of Archbishop Apollinary.
By a decision of the Council of Bishops dated August 22/Sept. 4, 1934, His Grace Bishop Vitaly was appointed Archbishop of North America and Canada, and His Eminence Tikhon as Archbishop of Western America and San Francisco.
In one of his letters, Archbishop Apollinary left us his deep understanding of the substance of church discord. He writes:
"Patriarch Tikhon reposed and obedience ceased. But no considerable obedience was even demanded by the Synod of Bishops of these Metropolitans (Platon and Evlogy). And they were both members of the Synod, administering their diocese on autonomous principles, i.e. almost independently. From them was demanded, and is demanded apart from observation of the canons, only that which makes union unbearable for them; and together with union the possibility of the part of the Synod to look into the unfathomable labyrinths of ecclesiastical administration of the diocese of the two Metropolitans. This is where everyone must look if he desires to know the true reason for the unwillingness of Metropolitan Platon and Metroplotan Evlogy to submit to the supervision of the Synod of Bishops."
The circle surrounding Metropolitan Evlogy forced him not to permit the control of the Bishop's Synod over the Theological Institute in Paris, which was "renovating" Orthodoxy and the corrupting influences of whose creators and followers are to be reckoned with even in the United States, to which they have been transferred one by one.
On the other hand, the supervision of the higher church authority was completely unacceptable to Metropolitan Platon in view of the growing complications in his financial and administrative matters.
ATTEMPTS TO HEAL THE SCHISMS.
THE COUNCIL OF FIVE METROPOLITANS (1935)
Metropolitan Platon passed away in the spring of 1934. He was replaced by Metropolitan Theophilus. It would be appropriate now to mention several items. When the vicars of Metropolitan Platon sent their epistle to the Synod in very inappropriate wording, Bishop Theopholus perceived the wrongness of this step and wrote a letter to Metropolitan Antony, in which among other thoughts he writes:
"...having now reread our answer, I find that much of which was said in it should not have been, or should have been expressed otherwise";
"...together with this, I humbly apologize that this answer caused Your Eminence and the members of the Synod noticeable affront."
The above-cited letter characterizes the peace-loving disposition of Metropolitan Theophillus, and when he replaced Metropolitan Platon, it was hoped that the ruinous discord would be overcome. Metropolitan Antony addressed a letter on May 5/18, 1934 to the Russian people in North America and Canada, calling upon them to re-unite with the whole body of the Church Abroad. On July 13/26, Metropolitan Theophilus and Bishop Tikhon met to discuss the question of the re-establishment of church unity. This was recorded in No. 8 of "Church Life" for Aug. 1/14, 1934. It was mentioned in the same issue that the epistle of Metropolitan Antony to the North American faithful found many sympathizers, but there were also those not in sympathy with him, and Bishop Leonty, subsequently Metropolitan, expresssed himself in this spirit. In No. 15 of "Orthodox Carpatho-Russia" of August 1/14, 1934, a call to unity was issued; it was signed by 24 hierarchs, among them Metropolitan Dionysius and other Archbishops of the Church in Poland, and all of the hierarchs of the Far East. Joining in this call were still other hierarchs, such as Bishop Arseny, Archbishop Vladimir, Bishop (later, Metropolitan) Theophilus, and others. Metropolitan Evlogy, Bishop Leonty and Bishop Benjamin of Pittsburg did not respond.
In the same year, 1934, the same yearning for church peace also began to be noticed in Europe. Bishop Nestor arrived in Belgrade from the Fat East. He was preparing to travel to Paris to influence Metropolitan Evlogy with a view to ending the church schism. Arriving in Belgrade, he saw that this road would not be easy. He then invited my son, a student at the Theological School of Belgrade University, to take a short letter from Metroploitan Antony to Metropolitan Evlogy in Paris. My son agreed to this; Metropolitan Antony gave him the letter and my son departed. The letter was kindly, affectionate, and full of love. It stated that, if only Metropolitan Evlogy would turn to him, he would be received with love. Arriving in Paris on the Sunday of Fprgiveness and, learning that Metropolitan Evlogy was serving at the Church of St. Sergius in the Institute, he went there. At the end of the service, during the rite of forgiveness, my son approached the bishop, prostrated himself and said:
'His Eminence, Metropolitan Antony, sends you his greeting.'
These words astonished Metropolitan Evlogy, and learning from my son who he was, he asked him to come to his apartment on rue Daru immediately after vespers. Arriving at the apartment of the Metropolitan, my son gave him the letter. The Metropolitan read the letter in tears. The result of this was that on March 17/30, 1934, Metropolitan Evlogy wrote an answer to Metropolitan Antony, in which he said that he was ready to recognize that, in defense of his stand on 1926, possibly he should not have resorted to leaving the council, that he repented of this, and asked that he be forgiven and the interdiction upon himself and his clergy be lifted. I was given this letter, and I read it.
In May of the same year Metropolitan Evlogy arrived in Belgrade. He had traveled from Paris to Berlin and then to Belgrade. While in Berlin he was sent a telegram to refrain from the trip to Belgrade. This telegram was sent by Count V.N. Kokovtsev and received by Archimandrite John Shahovskoy (the present "Metropolia" Archbishop of San Francisco). The latter forwarded it to Belgrade, advising him not to obey the instructions of Kokovtsev.
On his arrival in Belgrade, Metropolitan Evlogy went straight from the station to Metropolitan Antony's apartment. In a touching scene both Bishops greeted each other, and each one read the prayers of forgiveness over the other, at first Metropolitan Antony covering Metropolitan Evlogy with his stole, and then at the request of Metropolitan Antony, Metropolitan Evlogy read the sames prayers over Meetropolitan Antony, covering the latter with his stole. The rejoicing of the people of the church defies description, and all expected the concelebration of a service by both Metroolitans; but this could not be done, in that by the church canons, Metropolitan Antony could not alone change the decision of a Council. Metropolitan Evlogy attended the church services and he was mentioned in the petitions of the litanies and at the Great Entrance.
In autumn of the same year the council lifted the interdiction upon Metropolitan Evlogy and his clergy. The same Council also lifted the interdiction upon the American bishops. In spite of this, complete unity was not yet achieved, and voices began to be raised against it in Europe and in America, where Bishop Leonty spoke out in a dissenting spirit. This situation began to agitate the faithful, and this was manifested in an address to the Serbian Patriarch, Varvana. A delegation, composed of Archpriest Vladislav Nekljudov, the warden of the Trinity Church in Belgrade, Sevrugov, a member of the parish Council of the trinity Church, N.I. Ivanov, and myself, was received by His Holiness at his residence in Sremski Karlovtsy. This most remarkable hierarch of the Serbian Church, a true friend of the Russians, was sick in soul because of the divisions of the Russian Church abroad, as he clearly stated in his sermon, cited above, which was delivered in the Belgrade Russian Church. He received the delegation cordially, and listened with great attention to the reports which were made to him. At their leave-taking, the Patriarch said that he would do everything possible to help the work of church unity.
In 1935, Patriarch Varnava invited Metropolitans Evlogy and Theophilus, together with the Far Eastern representative, Bishop Dimitry of Hailar (Manchuria) to visit him. The hierarchs mentioned answered the Patriarchal summons and arrived in Sremski Karlovtsy. At the meetings the Patriarch was chairman. The first of these sessions was on October 18/31. From the minutes one can see how Metropolitan Theophilus expressed the complete readiness on his part to meet half-way with the general desire to institute peace and unity on the basis set forth in the report, which he immediately read. After a thorough discussion, extending over several meetings, the "Temporary Situation of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad" appeared. This "Situation" was signed by Patriarch Varnava, Metropolitan Antony, Metropolitan Evlogy, Metropolitan Theophilus, Metropolitan Anastasy and bishop Dimitry. The main parts of this "Situation" are:
√ The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, composed of dioceses, spiritual missions and churches finding themselves outside the borders of Russia, is an inseparable part of the Russsian Orthodox Church, temporarily existing on autonomous principles.
√ The highest organ of legislation, trial and administration for the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad is the Council of Bishops, meeting annually, and its executive organ -- the Holy Synod of Bishops.
√ The exiled part of the Russian Church is composed of four provinces: Western Europe, Near East, North America and the Far East, in each of which metropolitan districts are formed.
Signed by Metropolitan Anastasy and Bishop Dimitry, a proclamation was issued on Nov. 16/29, 1935 to "the Russian Orthodox flock in dispersion". This epistle announced that the head of the Serbian Church, Patriarch Varnava, searching for ways to re-establish Russian unity abroad, invited four hierarchs of main provinces to a conference, which decided to create four metropolitan centers, solidly united at an overall center -- the Council of Russian hierarchs abroad, with the Holy synod as its executive organ.
"Seek peace and pursue it", the hierarchs announced to the universal joy of all.
Patriarch Varnava offered to mediate in talks with the Oecumenical Patriarch about the release of Metropolitan Evlogy from the Church of Constantinople. Metropolitan Evlogy accepted this proposal with thanks and expressed his readiness to unite with all parts of the Russian Church Abroad. The brotherly unity of the hierarchs attending the Conference, as well as others present in Belgrade at that time, was witness and strengthened by the concelebration of two Divine Liturgies. Heading the service in the Serbian Cathedral was His Holiness, Patriarch Varnava, and serving in the Russian Trinity Church were Metropolitan Evlogy, Metropolitan Theophilus, Metropolitan Anastasy, and Bishop Dimitry (Metropolitan Antony did not serve because of illness). In his sermon,given after the Liturgy, Metropolitan Evlogy recalled his meeting with Metropolitan Antony and said that he had felt the breath ofthe Holy Spirit when Metropolitan Antony placed his stole over him. Joy was widespread; people exulted.
THE ST. SERGIUS INSTITUTE PRESSURES METROPOLITAN EVLOGY INTO SCHISM AGAIN
Regrettably, this happiness proved to be premature. The intimate circle surrounding Metropolitan Evlogy rose up anew against church unity and when the diocesan council presented its report on this, Metropolitan Evlogy revoked his signature. Again the professors of the Theological Institute and their kind, who caused the schism in 1926, desired to further the development of their new teachings without being controlled. They knew that the Synod, with Metropolitan Antony at the head, would not have permitted this. They did not take into consideration the evil which they would bring upon the Church and to the Russian cause in general, and they did not consider that the continuation of the schism was harmful and was profitable only for the bolsheviks and the enemies of Orthodoxy.
When the defeat of Germany became evident, Metropolitan Evlogy, through the Soviet Consul on Paris, began to correspond with the Moscow Patriarch and announced his readiness to reunite. He was accepted and for about a year was simultaneously regarded as the exarch of the Patriarchs of Moscow and Constantinople.
Metropolitan Evlogy was the first Russian in Paris to take a Soviet passport.
After the death of Metropolitan Evlogy (1946), according to his will Archbishop Vladimir took over the administration of the exarchate of the Oecumenical Patriarch. At the same time an ukase from Moscow appointed Metropolitan Seraphim as exarch of the Moscow Patriarch. Shortly before this, under pressure from Metropolitan Nicholas of Krutitsk, Metropolitan Seraphim had recognized the Moscow Patriarch, breaking with the Church Abroad.
Metropolitan Vladimir, having received this ukase, answered that he had taken it under consideration, but could not accept it fully.
The flock was against reunion with Moscow.
There was hope that Metropolitan Vladimir would be inclined to reunion with the Church Abroad, but this did not follow. Again the intimate circle put forth the idea that the "only" canonical path was submission to the Oecumenical Patriarch.
The Oecumenical Patriarch decided on March 6, 1947 that the Russian Exarchate "maintains its direct dependence on him", and did not even with one word mention the temporary status of this situation.
Thus, the flock in submission to Metropolitan Vladimir is even to this day (1953) outside of the Russian Church.
REUNION OF THE NORTH AMERICAN METROPOLIA (1935-1946)
Metroplitan Theophilus wholeheartedly accepted the "Situation" of the Church Abroad and did not hide his joy in this respect. On his return from Europe, in a conversation with the correspondent of the newspaper "New Dawn", he said:
"The Situation of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad is strengthened with the unity and peace attained. Now we have a single center of church administration in the Council of Hierarchs Abroad in Sremski Karlovtsy in which the American metropolitan district will be represented by our own elected representative. Our church life is now put in order, and a firm canonical foundation is now placed under it."
In the first issue of resumed "Russian-American Orthodox Messanger", the lead-article says:
"Through the efforts of the Most Holy Patriarch Varnava of Serbia and the new head of our North American Metropolia, the Most Eminent Metropolitan Theophilus, at the end of the past year peace between the jurisdictions was finally accomplished, and it has touched our church life like a breath of blissful spring".
In May of 1936 a Council of Bishops met in Pittsburg at which the "Situation"of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad was accepted. The Council addressed an epistle to its flock, which said:
"With great happiness we inform our beloved, that our Council of Hierarchs meeting in the city of Pittsburg unanimously accepted the "Temporary Situation of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad", which was produced in November 1935 by our Hierarchs at a conference headed by the Most Holy Serbian Patriarch Kyr Varnava, and which preserves the existing autonomy."
This epistle ends with the words:
"In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ we pray that from now on there will be no divisions among us that we all will be united in one spirit and mind."
On October 5/18, 1937, the All-American Sobor, with the clergy and laity participating, accepted the "Temporary Situation" and the principles of the organization of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, according to the Patriarchal ukase of 1920, and professed itself as part of the Local Russian Church. On the decision of the All-American Sobor, an archpastoral epistle was published, in which the flock was informed of the acceptance by the Council (Sobor) of the "Temporary Situation for the Administration of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad", into the composition of which body "our Metropolitan District also enters." It says further that "such an arrangement of the Russian Church Abroad took place on the basis of a decision by our deceased Patriarch Tikhon, the Holy Synod and the Higher Church Authority, pubished on January 20, 1920" (Ukase No. 362). The Council of Bishops in Sremski Karlovtsy on January 3, 1938 welcomed and blessed the autonomy of the North American Metropolitan District to the extent determined by the "Temporary Situation".
This continued until 1946. But already in 1945, after the war ended, pro-Soviet sympathies began to appear among the clergy and laity in America, and these were supported by Soviet agents with intensified propaganda. There was agitation in favour of the submission of the Metropolia to the Moscow Patriarchate. The Soviet government through the Moscow Patriarchate strove anew to weaken the Church Abroad by tearing away the American Metropolia from her. On September 16, 1945, the Patriarchal delegate, Archbishop Alexy arrived in America from Moscow. He brought much discord into church affairs, having immense support from the influential Russian press. And so he appeared at one of the conferences of the Council of American Bishops in December, 1945, where he presented the written conditions under which the interdiction imposed on the Metropolia by the Moscow Patriarchate could be lifted. The first condition set was the ending of prayerful and canonical communion with Metropolitan Anastasy (Metropolitan Antony's successor). The Council's answer to him was that it did not recognize the existence of the interdiction itself, and therefore refused to discuss the conditions of the lifting of the same. Even before the Council met, Metropolitan Theophilus sent a telegram to Metropolitan Anastasy, stating that recognition of Moscow was unavoidable in view of the possibility of losing parishes, and proposed that Metropolitan Anastasy lay down his authority and transfer to him all Russian parishes in Europe, Asia, Africa and America. To this Metropolitan Anastasy answered with the following telegram:
"The union with the Patriarchate which you propose has not only a spiritual, but also a canonical character, and obligates you with consequences: it is possible only after a careful discussion at a general Council. The preponderant majority of archbishops, clergy and faithful who have evacuated into Europe is decidedly against union with the Patriarchate, which is not free. The existence of the Synod is most necessary for supporting the unity of Russian Orthodox parishes abroad and to prevent anarchy. The administrators of the American Church cannot replace the synod of Bishops because of distance and the inadequate knowledge of life abroad. God's truth is the origin of our strength and our hope. God is not mocked."
Having received this telegram, Metropolitan Theophilus subscribed to the opinion set forth and announced it at the Council. At the same time, Metropolitan Theophilus raised the question of petitioning the Synod to elevate Bishop Leonty to the rank of Archbishop. The Synod satisfied this petition. Archbishop Leonty addressed Metropolitan Anastasy with a letter of gratitude, expressing in it the feelings of his respect and devotion. In May 1946 a Council of American bishops met, and informed Metropolitan Anastasy that the American district would continue to co-operate with the Synod Abroad in a brotherly manner.
THE SECOND NORTH AMERICAN SCHISM (1946)
In November of 1946 the All-American Sobor met in Cleveland with clergy and laity participating. Speakers sympathetic to Soviet propaganda vehemently proposed submission to Moscow and a break with the Synod. Propaganda was also carried by the press. Thus, in the newspaper "Novoye Russkoye Slovo" of October 27, 1946, an article stated that the Synod no longer had the blessing and protection of the Serbian Church, and therefore had lost its tie with the Universal Church. This can be countered in that the Synod of the Church Abroad enters into communion with the Universal Church, not through the Serbian or any other Patriarch, but through its own Russian Church, of which the Church Abroad is a part. The work of the "Soviet patriots" was conducted in order to tear the American Metropolia away from the Church Abroad and thus weaken the latter, which is the constant aim of the Soviet government. These agitators did not stop even at defamation, which they directed against Metropolitan Anastasy at the time of the Cleveland Council, accusing him of "Hitlerism". Notwithstanding the objections of Metropolitan Theophilus and Archbishop Leonty, who proved that the Metroplia had seen nothing but good from the Synod, the Soviet tendencies took the upper hand, and the Council decided to recognize the Moscow Patriarch as its "spiritual father", and to break from the Synod Abroad.
The Council decided to regard itself as the supreme power, and not to refer its decision to a Synod of Bishops. The latter decision was clearly illegal, going directly against paragraph 37 of the decree which states:
"On the basis of the word of God and the holy canons, all decisions of the general gathering of the Council are subject to the confirmation of a meeting of bishops, and become effective only after being signed by the latter."
Present at the Council were nine bishops of whom five were against recognition of the Patriarch as their "spiritual father", and more importantly against the breaking from the Synod Abroad. From this it is evident why the "sovietophile" majority at the Council were against referring their decision to the conference of bishops. The above-mentioned five bishops,considering such a decision illegal, did not submit and did not break away from the Synod. Some people say that these five bishops should not have "created" a separate diocese, but they forget that the Church Abroad existed in America from the day of it's organization until now, and that the Metropolia broke away from it illegally. Actually, the Cleveland Council was only a meeting of a metropolitan district, and for this reason, questions of such a nature were not within its scope. According to the determination of a professor of canon law, S.V. Troitsky, when a metropolitan district announces itself as a self-governing organ without sanctification of a higher authority, this is nothing other than church schism (Amer. Orth. Messenger, No. 3, of 1930). It must not be forgotten, too, that every bishop, at his consecration, takes a hierarchial oath, and each of the 5 above-mentioned hierarchs had given his oath of fidelity to the Hierarchal Council Abroad and the Synod. To accuse them of remaining faithful to their given oath is more than strange.
Metropolitan Gregory was sent from Moscow for discussions. Metropolitan Theophilus did everything possible to avoid a meeting with him, and the latter returned to Moscow having accomplished nothing. As a result, Moscow placed an interdiction on the American Metropolia.
Having broken away from the Church Abroad, the Metropolia found itself in the same position as during the time of Metropolitan Platon (1927 to 1935). Then she was condemned by the Council of Bishops Abroad, the Oecumenical Patriarch Basil the Third, Metropolitan Sergei of Moscow; and now she was under the interdiction of Patriarch Alexis.
It is interesting that the objective and, as far as church affairs are concerned,fully impartial American court of law repeatedly pronounced judgment in this matter. Thus in 1931, the Supreme Court of Appeals of the State of Connecticut gave an important opinion concerning the principles involved in the loss of a suit by Metropolitan Platon:
"The Synod of Karlovtsy endeavors to do the utmost in its power, in the face of discord in the Church, to support the central organization representing the traditional church authority, and this Synod appears to be the only institution which strives for this. Adherence to this institution of any parts of the Church contributes to the preservation of the unity of the whole Church, if this is possible during the present situation."
There is also the opinion of another American court, which was investigating an action about property in Los Angeles in 1948 regarding the case of the Transfiguration Parish. Receiving the matter in question, the court made a detailed study of the canonical rules of the Orthodox Church, of all the laws and many and various ukases of the Russian Church, and, based on these, it came to the following conclusion considering both the ecclesiastical canons and the civil law:
"The Court finds: that the Church Abroad never left the body of the Russian Orthodox Church, but continues to remain an inseparable part of the Russian Orthodox Church, and also that the North American district remains an inseparable part of the Russian Orthodox Church. The Court finds that the Church organization headed by Metropolitan Platon and Metropolitan Theophilus since the said Cleveland Council of 1946 was not, and is not part of the Russian Orthodox Church, but left its body, and was organized, existed and functioned illegally, as separate units or organizations, independently of the Russian Orthodox Church ... After the acceptance of the resolution of the Cleveland Council, Metropolitan Theophilus, all the bishops, clergy and laity, and also all of the parishes and congregations which were united with them, who have broken all ties with the Church Abroad and its administrative organs, and who refused to recognize the authority of the Church Abroad,became, and from that time always continued to be a schismatic and illegal faction or group."
This decision of the Court, since it was not repealed or appealed against, is legally valid and is binding for the civil authorities of the State of California and is a guiding principle for authorities of other states. It is obvious that a decision of a civil court cannot be considered as a canonical rule, but it is important to note here, that at an impartial and conscientious examination of this case, the Court came to the same finding, which was reached by the Council of bishops Abroad and the Oecumenical Patriarch, Basil III.
In 1950, after the demise of Metropolitan Theophilus, and All-American Council was again convened, but although it refused to submit to Moscow, it did not annul the illegal resolutions of the Cleveland Council, and for this reason the Metropolia continued to be a church organization bereft of that canonical foundation about which Metropolitan Theophilus had formerly spoken. The fore-mentioned Council was not even like the Cleveland one, a gathering of a metropolitan district, for as such the latter had ceased to exist after the new schism. Within its cognizance, therefore it was even less possible to place something that was not subject to the jurisdiction of the Cleveland Council, namely, the question of submission to the Moscow Patriarch, or the question about the independent existence of the Metropolia. Such questions are subject to the ruling of a higher church authority, which could only have been the Council of Hierarchs of the Church Abroad.
Having broken away from the Church Abroad, and by the same token from the Russian Church, the Metropolia, in this manner, lost all communion with the whole Universal Orthodox Church. Some consider that the Metropolia places ukase No. 362 of November 20, 1920, as the foundation of its canonical existence. It should not be forgotten that the Metropolia is not isolated from neighboring diocese and, therefore, its head has no right to take upon himself the fullness of power, but in agreement with this ukase he must enter into communion with the diocesan hierarchs of neighboring diocese. The Metropolia found itself in just such a communion when it was considered part of the body of the Church Abroad until 1926, and from 1935 until 1946. The American metropolitan district cannot, on its own, proclaim itself independent without the sanction of a higher church authority, for this is church schism, as was mentioned above. In the opinion of some of the clergy, the Metropolia was a "canonical American Church". It would have been as such, if it had received a blessing for this of the Mother Church and recognition from the rest of the autocephalous Churches; in other words, if it had moved towards this canonically and not by self will. Self will leads to division. It might be asked, for whom is this division necessary, and why are there people supporting this division not desiring to re-institute the situation existing in 1935? This question is a very difficult one.
A TRUE CHURCH FATHER WHO HEADS THE SYNOD ON THE PATH OF PATRISTIC ORTHODOXY
The abnormal situation in church life has continued until now (1953). According to the will of Patriarch Tikhon, the Russian Church Abroad should have been one, uniting all Orthodox Russians finding themselves beyond the reach of the bolsheviks. Through the intrigues of theologians, former members of the "Free Academy of Spiritual Culture", and all sorts of Soviet patriots, the Church found herself divided into three parts.
The Church, according to the idea of Pariarch Tikhon should have been a moral force in the struggle with atheism -- found herself weakened. The Church, which under conditions of freedom foretold the evil occurring in the homeland -- is foresaken. Who shall benefit by this? --the Soviet Government, the enemies of Orthodoxy and other evil powers. One can only wonder how those who are opposed to unity try with all sorts of artificial manipulations to prove that the Church Abroad is uncanonical, and that the other church organizations, having separated from her, stand on the correct path. Is it possible that they do not know that in this matter they make common cause with the Soviet power? Is it possible that they do not feel that they are transgressing a commandment of Christ so clearly stated in His High-priestly prayer: "that they may be one even as We are One" (John 17:22)? Is it possible that they do not know St. John Chrysostoms's precautionary word, that "to cause division in the Church is an evil of no less gravity than falling into heresy"? These words should provoke some thought, especially for ecclesiastics, adherents of separations and enemies of the Church Abroad.
The reason for the separation was pointed out above: the desire to preach unsound theological ideas unhindered. This lack of control led to a digression from the true Orthodox way, founded on the traditions of the Holy Fathers. The new theologians, propagating their teachings for 30 years in a radical fashion, changed the psychology of the youth studying with them. This psychology went far astray from the psychology of a faithful people who for a thousand years were able to preserve the purity of Orthodoxy with all its pious customs, notwithstanding even unheard of persecutions of the Church. These people have ceased to be Orthodox in spirit, and have remained Orthodox only in their own scholastic reasoning, not realizing the horror of their deeds.
Recently there has been an attempt by Moscow to establish contact with the Church Abroad and with the American Metropolia. How can this be explained? In answer we shall cite the words of professor S.V. Troitsky:
"Church reconciliation and the unification of the Russian emigration interferes with bolshevik plans -- the Soviet Government aspires to silence the Russian Church Abroad, and if this is impossible, at least to deprive it of all authority by way of dismemberment and its condemnation by the central church administration. And since the Soviet Government cannot use force abroad, it then attempts to utilize as broadly as possible that one weapon which remains in its hands -- canonical dependence of the exile part of the Russian Church on the central power of Moscow, personified by the Patriarch."
The writings of some people evoke complete perplexity. They simply cannot be reproached for sympathy to the Soviets, but, for example, Prof. S.S. Verhovskoy in the "Church Messenger" (no. 21, Oct-Nov. 1949), writes:
"In August 1922, Metropolitan Evlogy perpetrated a great canonical error, allowing the formation of a temporary Holy Synod of the Russian Church Abroad, which was contrary to the canons and to the will of the Patriarch."
How are we to understand these words? On the one hand, the censure of Metropolitan Evlogy and obliquely, the censure of the whole Council of bishops and its president Metropolitan Antony. This breeds not only perplexity, but great bewilderment, for such words benefit only those who want to create disunity and discord.
How authoritative is the opinion of Prof. Verhovsky and the representatives of the new school of theological thought which has arisen within the walls of the Paris Theological Institute? First of all we must reckon with the opinions and outlook of such theologians as Metropolitan Antony, a Doctor of Theology, a religious author, a tutor of many generations, one schooled in monasticism, and famous amid the whole universal Church. Of this saintly man Patriarch Varnava said:
"Among you there is a great hierarch who is an embellishment of the Orthodox Church. A lofty mind, similar to the first heirarchs of the Church of Christ at the dawn of Christianity. And in him all Church truth is evident."
The representative of the Constantinople Church, Metropolitan Dorotheos, told Metropolitan Antony:
"Under your guidance, the Patriarchate will permit any undertaking, for it is known to the Patriarchate that Your Eminence will not do anything uncanonical."
Metropolitan Antony was held in high esteem by other autocephalous churches: thus he was invited to head the enthronement of the Romanian Patriarch Myron and also to head the enthronement of Patriarch Varnava; he stepped forward in the defence of the Oecumenical Patriarch, when Kemal Pasha wanted to evict him from Constantinople, and was invited by Patriarchs Gregory IV of Antioch and Photius of Alexandria for discussions of the question of the "reforms" of Orthodoxy, which Patriarch Meletius IV of Constantinople was preparing to introduce. We must also take into account the opinion of other hierarchs who recognized the Synod of Bishops as canonical, as for instance, Metropolitan Innokenty of Peking, and also the opinion of the Serbian Church, which on Dec. 6, proclaimed:
"According to the canons of the Holy Orthodox Church, when an Orthodox hierarchy with its flock transfers abroad to the territory of another Church because of persecutions, it has the right to an independent organization and administration; as a result of this, it is necessary to recognize such a right for the Russian Church hierarchy within the territory of the Serbian Church."
In regarding the Synod of the Church Abroad anti-canonical, Prof. Verhovskoy must also refuse to recognize the canonicity of the decision of the Serbian Church Council; this is a fully logical deduction. A graduate of the Kiev Theological Academy, G.A. Znamensky, a representative of a time-honored theological school founded on the traditions of the Holy Fathers, says the following:
"And no matter how they condemn our higher Church Authority; whatever reproaches of seemingly illegal 'pretentions' and 'solicitations' are published by canonical commissions of those who think differently; whatever names they use for out Higher Church Authority, lowering it to a level of the Karlovtsy-Munich-New York Synod: for us the Council of Bishops with its permanent Synod for more than 30 years, was, and still is, the Higher Church Authority, according to the precise meaning of the ukase of the Most Holy Patriarch Tikhon and his administration, who wisely foresaw the destinies of Russian diocese outside the state boundaries of Russia. And our whole Synod Church Abroad, having received this blessing for a temporary separated existence from the imprisoned Church, which has not surrendered to Antichrist, was, and is now, the bearer of the true image of a Local Russian Church."
All of the above-mentioned authorities adhered and do still adhere to a purely Orthodox theology, founded on the traditions of the Holy Fathers and, certainly, they should not be placed on the same plane as the representatives of the theological studies of the Paris Theological Institute. These are two quantities no to be compared. Of course, the only road to be followed is the one indicated by Metropolitan Antony, based on the rules o the Apostles and the decisions of the Oecumenical Councils.
THE THEOLOGICAL ERRORS OF THE SCHISMATICS AND THEIR SLANDERS AGAINST THE SYNOD
Representatives of Parisian theology science have now appeared in America and have entered the American Metropolia, even though according to their teaching, the only canonical path is to be in submission to the Oecumenical Patriarch who has an Exarch in America. Here too they propagate teachings which are not compatible with the teachings of the Holy Fathers. They put into practice their teachings about the "soul of the world", of the "logoi of the world", of the "origin of man", of the "expansion of the dogmatic idea of the Chalcedon Council", etc. By their teaching on the origin of man they border on arianism from another angle; this teaching of theirs is explained by a learned theologian, Archpriest Fr. Michael Pomazansky. All of these doctrines are analyzed by him in his report made at a diocesan meeting of the Eastern American and Canadian Diocese in the spring of 1954 and published in No. 11 of "Orthodox Russia" of June 14 of that year. I shall here cite the concluding words of this report:
"The new movement, with all of its widely spread activity, nevertheless remains the work of the intelligentsia group of "theologians" who live a merely intellectual life. In substance, arming themselves against the old, supposedly "school" theology, the new theology itself becomes, in the fullest sense of the word, "school", since in its very principles it feeds on the roots of metaphysics and personal creative imagination. Desiring to be the revelation of the new epoch, in actuality it reveals in itself the scholasticism of the Middle Ages. But the latter developed surrounded by the warm atmosphere of the live religious faith and feeling of the Middle Ages, and the former is being cultivated in the coolness of contemporary skepticism and religious indifference. The Russian Church has experienced and, apparently has finally overcome the renovationism that concerns largely the external aspects of church life. Neo-theology strikes at the very heart, the religious doctrine of the Church. This should rouse every member of the Church who desires to be true to Her, to be especially careful of the proposed new revelations and new points of view, to examine them by the "tradition of faith" and to test the spirits whether they are from God."
The Orthodox Church does not forbid anyone from discussing and stating his thoughts, but all these quests must be verified and examined by the Church in the person of a Council of its Bishops. Only with the acknowledgment of their correctness and their confirmation that they do not diverge from the teaching of the Church can they be preached to the world. In the given case, the thoughts and teachings expressed by the professors of the Paris Theological Institute, while as yet unverified by the Church, cannot be accepted as immutable truths. The teaching concerning Holy Wisdom of Archpriest S. Bulgakov, a professor of the Paris Theological Institute, was condemned by the Council of Bishops.
Prof. Verhovskoy's declaration that the "Synod is contrary to the canons and the will of the Patriarch"is based on the denial of the fact, that the Ukase of 1922 was given under pressure from the bolsheviks. However, the interdiction of the American Metropolia by the Moscow Patriarchate is regarded as having been placed under pressure from the soviet government, and is evidently not recognized. Nonetheless, the given interdiction is obligatory for the Oecumenical Patriarch, who is at present in prayerful communion with the Moscow Patriarch, and, consequently obligatory for his exarchs. Considering this logically, his Paris exarch should not have given leave of absence for priests in submission to him, to enter the interdicted American Metropolia, but in order for there leaves to be possible, the interdiction must be recognized as forced, and therefore uncanonical. And so in some cases the pressure of the Soviet government is recognized, but not in others.
Groundless is the opinion that the Russian Church Abroad seems to "have a penchant for arranging church life with a primarily nationalistic token" (Prof. S.S.Verhovskoy, "Church Messanger" No. 21, 1949). And again, this opinion is part of the doctrine of the Paris Theological Institute. This can be seen from the epistle released by the diocesan gathering in the jurisdiciton of Metropolitan Vladimir in Paris, where among other statements, it says:
"God Himself expected one of the hierarchs to be pre-eminent in all the Catholic Church, and that in every district or city the authority be vested in one bishop, the vicar of His Son on earth, in common with his subordinate clergy and with the unanimous agreement of all the Orthodox people, even though they are composed of various nationalities and languages."
How can such a position agree with the 34th Apostolic Canon which says:
"It is seemly for bishops of all peoples to know the first of them and to recognize him as the head and to do nothing exceeding their authority without his consideration, but the first also shall do nothing without the consideration of all, for thus will harmony of thought prevail and the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, will be glorified."
If we are to regard on of the hierarchs as the head of the Universal Church, then what will the difference be between us and the Roman Catholics with their teaching on the Pope of Rome? The Apostolic Canon states: "Bishops of all peoples", in other words, nations; how then can one, contrary to this, heap reproaches on the Church Abroad, that she "has a penchant for arranging church life first of all with a nationalistic token?"
This nationalistic token is to be found also in other Churches. Let us take for example the Serbian Church: it is called "Serbian", and not "Yugoslavian", although it is in all the territory of Yugoslavia. It is named thus because it is composed only of Serbs, while the other two nationalities that comprise Yugoslavia -- the Croations and the Slovenes -- are Roman Catholics. Of the 25 diocese of the Serbian Church, three are found outside the borders of Yugoslavia, namely: Temeshvar in Romania, which has its own Orthodox Church, Bud in Hungary, centered in Budapest, and Mukachev-Prjashev in Czechoslovakia. In this respect there have been no misunderstandings between the Serbian Church and any other. Many such examples can be cited.
All of this proves that, in connection with the 34th Apostolic Canon, there has also appeared a kind of innovation on a par with others, of which we spoke earlier. I can be censured for concealing the call to unity on the part of the Paris diocesan meeting, and for speaking only of their unwillingness to unite. Actually, they have called for unity, and this was in the following expressions:
"Let us all unite into one Orthodox Church in the lands to which God led us and our Orthodox brethren ... we will overcome the very cause of dissension -- our separation into various jurisdictions ... we call to unity all who live with us in the same countries and, as sons, we ask the Most Holy Oecumenical Patriarch to bless our efforts."
This was said in the same year --1949-- at the same time that Prof. Verhovskoy, one of the energetic participants of this meeting wrote that the Synodal Church Abroad was "anti-canonical." And so, this unification would have been accomplished at the cost of the destruction of the Church Abroad, with its submission to the Oecumenical Patriarch. If this had occurred, it would have destroyed the Russian Church which, through the wisdom of Patriarch Tikhon, was created as the custodian of the legacies and traditions of ancient Russian Orthodoxy under conditions of freedom. The one stronghold for the struggle with atheism would also have been destroyed; the only one, because Metropolitan Vladimir, the exarch of the Oecumenical Patriarch, announced in 1947: "we are not looking for strife." That moral force would have been destroyed, which since 1922, they have aspired to destroy on every front. Of course, not one hierarch of the Church Abroad could approach such a "unit".
In his epistle to Russian Orthodox people in 1945, Metropolitan Anastasy wrote:
"Those who are in submission to the jurisdicition of the council of Bishops and Synod Abroad never regarded nor do they regard themselves as being outside the fold of the Russian Orthodox Church, for they never broke canonical, prayerful and spiritual unity with the Mother Church... We never cease to thank God that He destined us to remain as the free aprt of the Russian Church. It is our duty to guard this freedom until such a time when we shall return to the Mother Church that precious pledge entrusted to us by her. A wholly competent judge between the bishops abroad and the present head of the Russian Church could be only a freely and legally called All-Russian Church Council, fully independent in its decisions with the participation of all exiled bishops and especially of those incarcerated in russia, before whom we are ready to give an account of all our activities during the time of our sojourn abroad"."
The Church Abroad is always ready to appear before the tribunal of a free Council of the Mother Church. She has used only the straight path at all times, preserving all the spiritual treasures of Orthodoxy. She did not cast herself to all sides like other jurisdictions, changing her orientation, but has stood firmly on her path.
The Moscow Patriarchate will be standing before the same tribunal too, and those formations which broke away from the Church Abroad will also have to appear.
We should send up our prayers to the Lord God, that He will enlighten, pacify and unify all, in order that even before the coming judgment all would unite around the one chalice of Christ with the words:
"Christ is in or midst. -- He is and ever shall be." †