San Francisco: May 8, 2006

The Spiritual-Historical Heritage of the Russian Church Abroad


Christ is Risen!

Your Eminence, Most Reverend Archpastors, Reverend Fathers and brothers,
I thank you for entrusting me with the preparation for this Council of a paper on such an important topic: the spiritual-historical heritage of the Russian Church Abroad. I was asked to address certain issues in the context of this topic. These are used as sub-headings of the relevant sections of the paper.

At the last All-Diaspora Council, in 1974, the late Archbishop Anthony of Geneva delivered a paper entitled Our Church in the Contemporary World. Today, in speaking of the heritage of the Russian Church Abroad we are essentially addressing the same question: who are we the Church Abroad? To evaluate what has remained unchanged and what has altered in our self-perception it will be necessary to refer to Archbishop Anthonys paper. However, the present topic also presupposes historical coverage from 1920.
In the 1980s, Metropolitan Vitaly used to say that while the communist camp opposed the capitalist camp our life was simple, but if they came to an agreement, it would then become difficult for us. What he had in mind, probably, was the spiritual freedom and invulnerability[1] of the Church Abroad. In a greater measure, however, this concerns the changes in our identity, in our perception of what the Russian Church Abroad is and what is its role with regard to Russia and the rest of the world.

It is not the first time that the Russian Church Abroad encounters significant difficulties in its path. The vision of our spiritual leaders has remained unchanged with respect to what has been termed protectionism.[2] But three or four generations were born and grew up cut off from the spiritual and cultural homeland and this could not but have an impact on our attitude toward Russia and on our sense of identity. The current chapter in the history of the Russian Church Abroad calls us to a serious, creative and above all else a spiritual solution to lifes challenges.

The vision of the spiritual leaders of the Russian Church Abroad regarding its sigificance

The last salvos of the Civil War thundered and fell silent. In 1921 in Serbia the first All-Diaspora Council of hierarchs, clergy and laymen took place. From this moment on for long decades of emigre existence the vision of our spiritual leaders concerning the significance of the Russian Church Abroad was defined by their constant gaze toward Russia. As our current First Hierarch, the His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus said: All diaspora hierarchs in exile always lived with the hope of returning to Russia, to the Motherland[3] The Epistle of the 1921 Russian Diaspora Council proclaimed: We believe that Rus will rise in its glory and also: And in exile we all came to understand what Russia was.[4] Not without Metropolitan Anthonys influence the Council of 1921 passed a resolution calling for the restoration of the monarchy, of the Romanov dynasty.[5] At the time this elicited censure as politics and Metropolitan Anthony had to use the press to explain the spiritual meaning of this act.[6] Our archpastors and spiritual writers continually reiterated the theme of the renunciation of the Tsar by the Russian people.

The Church Abroad saw itself as bulwark of the spiritual revival of Russia. The revolutions of 1917 were understood eschatologically. The Church had been deprived of the protection of the Restraining one (2 Thessol. 2:7) but found spiritual freedom in the desert,[7] the lands of the heterodox. After 1927 the hierarchs of the Russian Church Abroad see themselves more and more resolutely as the heads of the sole valid successor of the pre-revolutionary Church,[8] untainted by compromise with the spirit of the world.

Everyone understood what they had lost in the Russian land. Few realised why this had happened. The majority spent a long time searching for a reason outside themselves. Both adults and children blamed the Bolsheviks for everything.[9] St John (then Bishop of Shanghai) in his report to the Second All-Diaspora Council of 1938 spoke of the spiritual crisis[10] that had brought a large part of the Diaspora into the Church. But the crisis did not subside. Arrogance of the intellect and other passions caused schisms and a weakening of the Church Abroad which earlier, under Metropolitan Anthony, had been able to facilitate the freeing of Patriarch Tikhon from prison. The flock dwindled, but a realisation intensified that, within the Russian Church, the Russian Church Abroad manifested the royal path between two extremes: the boundless freedom of Paris and Moscows lack of freedom.[11] During the decades of Babylonian captivity of the Church in Russia, the Church Abroad clearly understood its duty and responsibility to be the conscience and the voice of the whole Russian Church. In 1974 Archbishop Anthony enumerated what we needed to do for Russia. Let us leave to the end of the current paper the question of how successful we have been in this regard.

Hierarchs and religious writers of the Russian Church Abroad have always treasured the freedom that our Church had found in the Diaspora. Apart from a few unremarkable episodes of pressure from civil authorities[12] it enjoyed spiritual freedom. Our hierarchs always kept in mind the unfortunate experience of financial dependence of Metropolitan Evlogy and his Theological Institute from sources outside the Church. Archbishop Averky frequently cautioned the post-war generation not to be enticed by outside offers of generous aid. In recent times our former circumspection in this regard has been dulled by the spirit of mamon. We now welcome outside sponsorship in organising important church events. And yet, the Russian Church Abroad still remains the free voice of the Russian Church. And I am certain that believers in Russia are deeply interested in our Council. Some may retort: Please, what are you talking about? The fact is that the Church in Russia which now possesses external freedom vis-a-vis the State must yet overcome its inner fetters. This phenomenon of paralysis by fear is lucidly explained by the historian Kliuchevsky in the context of Russian history of the 13th and 14th centuries.[13]

From 1927 on, the Moscow Patriarchate gradually lost ground to the atheistic State and, as a result, retreated very far from the principles of the All-Russian Church Council of 1917-18 in regard to the structure of church life.[14] On the question of this evolution of the constitutions of the Moscow Patriarchate I recommend the book by Fr Pavel Adelgeim.[15] Is it possible that Kharchev, the Soviet Chairman of the Council for Religious Affairs, was right when he boasted that we have succeeded in bringing up a new type of clergyman?[16] If indeed the Episcopate itself departs from the norms of Conciliar Orthodoxy and concentrates power in its hands does one even need the Soviets?

St. John Chrysostom said that he fears no one but bishops, knowing that bishops are the most vulnerable link in the Church. Satan and his human cohorts have always desired that a bishop would think: I am the Church. This explains why the Bolsheviks promoted the centralization of the Church: at first, it is easier to control, and then corruption sets in of its own accord.

Voices can be heard in Russia that it is time to convene a Local Church Council. Such Councils according to the image and likeness of the Council of 1917-18 have now been convened four times in the Diaspora. The trouble is that according to the existing constitution of the Moscow Patriarchate there is simply no mechanism for conducting the election of delegates in the Dioceses.[17]

The post-war advances of communism in the world, the renewal of ecumenical and modernist movements and the creation of the World Council of Churches and the gradual entry into it of the National Orthodox Churches brought the finest people of the Russian Orthodox Diaspora to meditate on eschatology. From the ranks of ROCOR clergy came outstanding strugglers against the spirit of the times. Archbishop Averky (Taushev) proclaimed: We shall not march in step with the times![18] Archbishop Averky did not only denounce modernism but was one of the first to teach that ecumenism is the way which leads to perdition.[19]

Archimandrite Constantine (Zaitzev) saw the salvation of the world in counterposing the spirit of apostasy with the idea of Holy Russia as a spiritual kingdom that restrains the coming of the false messiah. Over a period of a quarter century he developed these ideas in Orthodox Russia and other periodical editions of Holy Trinity Monastery. In 1963 Fr. Constantine published a lengthy article[20] in which he expounded an amazingly perceptive, if not to say prophetic, vision of historiosophy. In coming decades he saw two possible developments. Either the process of apostasy, the departure from Christ, would not leave any place for the Spirit of God in the world as before the Flood and then God would select the last Christians before the end; or the Russian people would find the strength to repent and a salvific catastrophe would ensue, prolonging the life of the world. A spiritually gifted Orthodox American writer, hieromonk Seraphim Rose (+1982) detected in modern phenomena the beastly face of the religion of the future[21] and warned pilgrims: Its later than you think. This consciousness of the threat to the world over the last half century was not only the private opinion of the above-named clergy but it reflected the views of our hierarchy.[22]

The vision of the special mission of the Russian Church Abroad is expressed not only in the statements of its First Hierarchs, archpastors and religious writers but also in a host of resolutions and epistles of Bishops and All-Diaspora Councils: the Russian Church Abroad carries the idea of Holy Russia, is free from atheists, servants of antichrist and from any dependence; it is the sole legal heir of the pre-revolutionary Russian Church; it has not bent its knee before the Baal of ecumenism.

From 1920 the Church Abroad has seen itself as the vanguard of the rebirth of the Russian Church. If we are to be true to the testaments of our spiritual teachers we cannot simply forget the past, not having come to an understanding of it. Both the Russian Church and we are in need of a transformation of church life through the conscience and repentance. In retaining the status quo we will be no better off than before, not having restored the life of the Church of the New Martyrs, the Council of 1917-18 and Holy Russia. The evidence of the success of this All-Diaspora Council should be the revival of the entire Russian Church. Our fathers always saw this as the sacred mission of the Church Abroad. A superficial union without spiritual changes would leave the ship of the Church stranded in the shallows of church politics and petty worldly ambitions.

Changes in the vision

In 1925 Patriarch Tikhon is known to have repeatedly said: We ought to live about three more years.[23] Few people thought that the Bolsheviks would remain in power for long. The best of the emigres at first saw their exile as Gods punishment for their sins. After the Second World War, however, we see a different perception. Thanksgiving to God for deliverance from the communist hell changes to a sense of chosenness:[24] we were saved because we have a special mission. By the second half of the 1960s and further this caused the leadership of the Russian Church Abroad to decide on a change of direction.

Groupings of old calendarist Greeks came into our fold and these reinforced the spirit of self-sufficiency and isolationism that had appeared. Demands were expressed calling for a solemn declaration concerning the gracelessness of new calendarists and Orthodox participants of the World Council of Churches. Yet the Church Abroad continued to accept the ordination of clergy from other Local Churches, including the Moscow Patriarchate, even though the extreme pronouncements of those who left us after 2000 had become more frequent.

The loss of the spirit of repentance of the first decades led to a loss of clarity in self-assessment. Hence we began to perceive ourselves as not only intercessors for the Church of Russia but as having the right to teach others and meddle in the affairs of other Local Churches and to think that perhaps we even constitute the One Catholic Church: we have everything and have no need of anything from without we are unique.[25]

St.John, in 1938, saw in our dispersion great potential for missionary work. Archbishop Averky, however, spoke of the need, first of all, of internal missionary work.[26] The inevitable process of assimilation in language and the culture of thought of our Diaspora parishioners has had a dual effect. Firstly, gone was the fervency and readiness to sacrifice for Russia. When the opportunity came to go there and freely work for the benefit of the Church and the people, precious few chose to do so. A thousand times more people emigrated from Russia to the West. Secondly, readiness to talk with Western people about our faith in their language brought some of them to us and now we have no right to forget about them. The presence of non-Russian parishioners in our parishes and the existence of whole parishes and communities of this nature have naturally brought about changes in the vision of our hierarchs about the Church Abroad. If all goes well, in the future this tendency should increase and become the contribution of the Russian Church to the preaching of the Gospel in the whole world. For such preaching to be successful, the Diaspora needs to have healthy relations with the Mother Church. This should raise the prestige of the Russian Church in the Christian world and restore to it the place that it had before 1917. The restoration of proper relations is unthinkable without mutual respect and an understanding that our life and life in Russia are profoundly different. An eloquent illustration of this reality is the difficulty that the leadership of the Moscow Patriarchate has had in pacifying the life of its London parish since the death of Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh. It is desirable neither for us nor for the Church of Russia to multiply such cases.

What have we been entrusted to keep

After the death of the evermemorable Metropolitan Philaret (+21/11/1985), a spiritual testament headed with the words of the Apocalypse Hold what you have (Rev. 3:11) was found in his typewriter. Metropolitan Philaret writes of those spiritual riches which belong to the Church and which its children ought to cherish: the true faith embodied in the examples of the lives of saints, participation in the divine service, in the life of grace, and unity in love.[27] In the reference to the book of Revelation we feel that spirit of the expectation of the Second Coming which was characteristic of the ancient Christians of the persecuted Church. The Church Abroad had for decades prayed for the persecuted Church in which it included itself. Such an eschatological mood, instilled by the cataclysm of the revolutions and subsequent great tribulations (Rev. 7:14), could not but bring sobriety and get rid of unnecessary chaff from church life. The best hierarchs and priests struggled to bring the social life of Orthodox people into harmony with church principles.

Our leaders valued the God-given opportunity to eradicate those characteristics of pre-revolutionary church life of the Synodal period that could not but present a sorry and ludicrous sight from the vantage point of emigre conditions. All pomp in liturgical ritual and in the relations of clergy and laity with their archpastors had to be laid aside. The strict tone of the Diaspora monasteries, especially the Holy Trinity Monastery and seminary under Archbishop Vitaly (Maksimenko),[28] was echoed in the character of parish life through the work of young pastors.

When our leaders spoke of keeping the faith and the Orthodox way of life they were referring to a mode of church culture that was molded by the repentant consciousness of those who mourned, by the waters of Babylon, the loss of their spiritual homeland. We have the testimony of many Orthodox faithful and Russian clergy that our bishops are much more accessible than their Russian counterparts and that our Diocesan and parish life approaches the concept of catholicity (sobornost) much more than it does in Russia. This is so because the Church Abroad, despite various temptations and errors, has not ceased to be guided by the All-Russian Council of 1917-18 and its prescriptions regarding the organization of church life. For example, on the 29th of October 2003, the Pastoral Meeting of the Australian and new Zealand Diocese passed a resolution which talks of the necessity for the whole Russian Church to return to the canonical norms of church life expressed by the All-Russian Council of 1917-18 (points 2 and 3).[29]

We keep our constitutions not just for the sake of the letter of the law, but we endeavour to live by them. As secretary of the Diocesan Council of the Australian and New Zealand Diocese I was privileged to take part, from 1992, in the process of bringing into order our property registration through an Act of Parliament. It all began with great tensions within the Diocese. It can be said without exaggeration that the whole Diocese participated in the preparatory process for the new legislation. This was expressed not only in the participation of parish delegates at Diocesan Conferences. Each parishioner had the opportunity to receive a copy of the proposal, study it and send in written suggestions regarding all points of the draft. All comments were taken into account. Not surprisingly, when a Diocesan Meeting was convened at the end of that process, the delegates noted a sense of unity in grace under the leadership of our Archpastor.

Summing up what we have been entrusted to keep, i.e. how to live, I think I can do no better than to list the points made by Archbishop Anthony of Geneva in 1974:

1. To preserve the purity of Orthodoxy, cutting off all temptations of Godlessness and modernism. In other words, to continue bravely along the path which is inscribed on the tablets of our Church.

2. To be a courageous, free voice of the Church of Christ, to speak the truth without compromise, as our First Hierarchs have done to this day.

3. While enjoying freedom, to be condescending to the lack of freedom of others, endeavouring not to judge them lightly, but to understand them, give support and show brotherly love.

4. To safeguard and treasure Church unity, perceiving ourselves to be part of the living universal Church of Christ and to carry worthily within it the banner of the Russian Church.

5. To avoid, whenever possible, self-isolation, for the spirit of the Church is uniting not dividing. Not to look for heretics where they may not exist, fearing any exaggeration in this regard.

6. To call to unification those Russian Orthodox people and pastors who have separated from us. To call them not in a punitive tone, but with brotherly love in the name of the tormented Russian Church and the much suffering homeland.

7. To turn our faces to Russia, which is beginning to revive, and to offer it a helping hand whenever possible.[30]

It can be confidently said that Metropolitan Anthony, Metropolitan Anastasy, Metropolitan Philaret and all of our best teachers could sign this declaration.

Standing up to difficult challenges: the principles and the spirit of our leaders

The Church Abroad from 1920 repeatedly faced difficulties that occasionally threatened its very existence. There are not a few people in our midst who remember the year 1945, when it seemed that it may disappear, being swallowed up by the Sergianist Church.[31] A lesser known event was the attempt of the enemies of the Church to destroy the Russian Church Abroad in 1933 by the hand of Metropolitan Sergius himself. He was forced to write to his former pupil whom he had tonsured,the Serbian Patriarch Barnabas. Metropolitan Sergius demanded the dissolution of the Karlovtsi Synod and Council of Bishops. Patriarch Barnabas did not reply to that letter. He understood perfectly the position of the Russian Church. Not having received a reply, Metropolitan Sergius published his above-mentioned letter in Orthodoxy, the Paris-based journal of the Moscow Patriarchate. The situation was quite serious. The aging Metropolitan Anthony entrusted Archbishop Anastasy with the task of preparing a detailed document, essentially a canonical defence of the Church Abroad. The completed text was offered to the ROCOR Council of Bishops of 1933 as a proposed Circular Epistle. Having listened to a reading of this text all the bishops stood up and enthusiastically sang many years to Archbishop Anastasy. Archbishop Nikon (Rklitsky), the author of a biography of the Most Blessed Metropolitan Anthony, writes: This Epistle is a kind of declaration of the Russian Church Abroad, explaining its existence, the causes and circumstances of its origin, its aims and aspirations, its attitude to the atheistic government and to its Mother Church. It is a document of primary importance.[32]

A careful reading of the 1933 Circular Epistle of the Council of Bishops of the Church Abroad [33] shows clearly that its author, as well as the archpastors who had accepted its draft unanimously, dealt with problems by applying the triune formula of the Holy Fathers: the canons, the Gospel and love. The Epistle does not forget about the difficulties that Metropolitan Sergius experienced; he is not criticised for his attempt to enter into negotiations with the government in order to provide a legal existence for the Church in the Soviet state. While showing compassion to him personally, the Epistle unequivocally condemns the untruth of actions made under duress; actions that deprive the Church of the precious gift of Christs freedom. The Epistle is written without casuistry, without condescending haughtiness and exudes compassionate love. Usually, this cannot be said about contemporary criticism of Sergianism.

The longest volume of Metropolitan Anthonys biography (Vol. VII, 424 pp.) is dedicated to the discord within the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad in the 1920s-30s. The emigre community was not homogeneous. It reflected, on a smaller scale, everything that had existed in the life of pre-revolutionary Russia. Hence, we have the origins of this saddest chapter in the history of the Russian Church. While I am not able to give due attention to this topic in the body of this paper, I will mention that within its context our First Hierarchs, Metropolitans Anthony and Anastasy, stand tall as giants of humility and love.[34] The implementation of the Temporary Condition of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad in 1935[35] ensured the continuity of spiritual communion between all parts of the Russian Church outside Russia during the difficult war years.

Archbishop Anthony of Geneva was seriously perturbed by the appearance in our midst of a spirit foreign to the Gospel. He began his paper with an epigraph from Holy Scripture: For I will have mercy rather than sacrifice (Hos. 6:7). He cites examples of the love and condescension of the great hierarchs: Metropolitan Anthony, Metropolitan Anastasy and St. John (Maksimovich). In 1974 this was merely a reminder to the delegates of the Council of the practice that had existed not long before of the Russian Church Abroad co-serving with the new calendarist Churches, members of the WCC. Abba Justin (Popovich) gave a remarkable explanation that all the canons are contained in the Gospel and the whole Gospel is contained in one word: love. For that reason he, on one hand, sounded the alarm about the dangers of ecumenism, while on the other hand, he did not dare to cause a schism within the Serbian Church. Precisely that spirit of patience and condescension helped Metropolitan Anthony not only to retain the Russian Church Abroad on the track of Orthodoxy of the Holy Fathers, but also enabled him to use his moral authority to influence other Local Churches to slow down modernist tendencies within Orthodoxy after the Pan-Orthodox Congress in Constantinople in 1923. He considered the introduction of the new calendar to be a deplorable error, but not a heresy. Consequently, the Church Abroad continued to preserve eucharistic communion with the new calendarists and even allowed the existence of new-calendarist parishes within our jurisdiction.

Refugee then emigre life did away with the carriages drawn by three pairs of horses that so annoyed the critic of St. Philaret of Moscow. However, the new lifestyle created a new type of bishop, unknown to the affluent society of pre-revolutionary Russia. Two shining examples of such completed their apostolic travels on foot here, in San Francisco.

I will relate two incidents from the life of Archbishop Anthony (Medvedev), the successor of St. John, who was an Australian vicar bishop in Melbourne before coming to San Francisco. In 1962, at a general parish meeting of the Holy Protection Cathedral of Melbourne, the late Vladyka Anthony went down on his knees before the treasurer of the parish and asked him and a group within the parish Council to yield to the collective voice of the parish with regard to the desirability of having Fr. Dimitry Simonow as second priest. The parishioners, seeing Vladyka on his knees, started crying. The Archpastors success in conducting the meeting was complete.[36] Here was power to be the children of God (Jn. 1:12).

My late father-in-law, Archpriest Vladimir Vygovsky, told me another story. At the end of the 1980s, when he was a cleric at the Holy Ascension Cathedral (Moscow Patriarchate) in Novosibirsk, his ruling Archbishop (later Metropolitan) +Gideon told him about his visit to America. Archbishop Gideon was deeply touched by Vladyka Anthonys kindness. Having found out, while holding the cross, that the visitor who approached was a hierarch of the Russian Church, Vladyka Anthony literally beamed with delight and thrice kissed him with love. How little is needed to manifest mercy so dear to God.

While Bishop of Melbourne, Vladyka Anthony tried to remember his flocks namedays and to visit them on such occasions, sometimes late at night, walking from the tram or the train.[37]

In the 1980s I witnessed a touching scene when the Warden of Christchurch parish (New Zealand), N. M.Kruhlenko, kept addressing Metropolitan Vitaly as Father Vitaly, as he had when they had both been in a refugee camp. The Metropolitan turned to me later and said: How good and fitting! A bishop has to be a father more than a vladyka (i.e. master).

Faith in the rebirth of Russia and the restoration of Church unity

The life of the Russian emigres, especially before 1945, would have been unbearable had their archpastors and teachers not consoled them with their faith in the rebirth of Russia and the restoration of Church unity. The state of the Church outside Russia, and, from 1927, its condition in Russia was considered to be temporary, extraordinary and abnormal. One can quote a multitude of statements to this effect made by councils, hierarchs and religious writers. The Russian Church Abroad always considered the All-Russian Council of 1917-18 to be the common reference point for the whole Russian Church. In Russia itself, in the time before Metropolitan Sergius, archpastors lived in the hope of an imminent convening of such a council that would bring into order church life which had been shaken by the Renovationists and atheists. The Church Abroad was largely waiting for the opportunity to present its actions to the tribunal of a Local Council.[38] The vision of the Church Abroad was expressed in clear and strong terms by its First Hierarch, Metropolitan Anastasy in an epistle to the Russian people in 1945: We thank God without ceasing for His judgment that we ought to remain the free part of the Russian Church. It is our duty to preserve this freedom until such time as we can return to the Mother Church the treasure entrusted to us for safekeeping. A truly competent judge between the Diaspora bishops and the current head of the Russian Church could only be an All-Russian Church Council freely and validly convened and fully independent in its decisions.[39]

Metropolitan Anastasy and the hierarchs of the Church Abroad were handing over themselves and the whole Russian Church to the judgement of the confessors. (After the war it was still feasible). Should we depart from this principle, we would betray the testaments of our Fathers. The glorification of the New Martyrs by the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad in 1981 and their recent canonization by the Moscow Patriarchate if we do not accept their standing in the truth will become that same building of prophets tombs for which the Lord denounced the Pharisees. (Mtt. 23:29). The lives, the sayings and writings of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia this is what the Church Abroad holds up as guidance for church life to this day.[40] The preparation of a free, validly convened and independent Local Council will require serious, thorough and conscientious work. We already have a worthy beginning here in the work conducted by the Most Reverend Archbishop Mark before the creation of the Synodal commission. Any departure from that approach will lead to the distortions in church life becoming ingrained. Our teachers, from 1927 on, constantly taught us about the monstrosity of the Sergianist model of church life. Unfortunately, Sergianism was often understood superficially, especially by its apologists. At the bottom of this phenomenon stands the temptation by the power of man i.e. humanism, papism. Not only does it cause the Church to become a hostage of the world, but it also injures the catholicity (sobornost) of the Church organism, substituting obedience according to love and freedom by obedience to coercion and command.[41]

And yet our hierarchs and teachers always believed that notwithstanding the persecutions in the past and temptations in the present, the Russian Church hides a tremendous spiritual potential which could quickly manifest itself under the right conditions. The hardships of the people in Russia and countries of the former USSR favor this, while our affluence is an impediment to any meaningful move.

With proper guidance the Church in Russia should spread its wings and fly. We in the West will need great effort to overcome the heaviness of our flesh and to rise above the Earth.[42] The first generations of the Russian Church Abroad saw themselves as representatives of Holy Russia. Despite all of its sins that led to the revolutions, Russia as a society had something that had been long since buried in the dear cemetery of Europe.[43] The whole of pre-revolutionary Russian society believed in the existence of moral values beyond man as such, i.e. the law of conscience. Humanism and its values survival and personal gain had not yet penetrated deeply into the consciousness of the Russian people. This job to transform consciousness was taken up by the humanist atheists. The tragedy of Sergianism lay in the fact that the church leadership accepted as valid the principle of relativity, i.e. profit, survival. The finest people of Russia and the Diaspora were shaken when it happened. This is why the Church Abroad made a concerted effort to understand and preserve the principles of Holy Rus in order to share them with the Russia of the future as a cherished treasure. This treasure is a repository of spiritual and moral values, as well as a guiding light for the restoration of national life around Orthodoxy.


In the crisis year of 1933 Metropolitan Anthony wrote a detailed letter to the Acting Locum Tenens of the Patriarchal throne, Metropolitan Sergius.[44] At the end of the letter he reminded Metropolitan Sergius of his gift, a panagia with the following inscription: To my dear teacher and friend. Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out. Mtt. 25:8). Metropolitan Anthony, as teacher and friend, boldly wrote: We offer to you the saving oil of faith and faithfulness to the Holy Church.

Can we have the same boldness now in speaking with the successors of Metropolitan Sergius? I think there was an opportunity in 1990 to give the Church in Russia, smitten and wounded, some of our oil according to another parable, the parable of the Good Samaritan. At that time the Russian Church Abroad had enormous prestige in Russia. We had the strength at that time spiritual and even material to give of the oil of healing. It did not occur because of our sins. We did not know the time of our visitation (Lk. 19:44). In 1990 our Synod discussed for the first time the topic of opening parishes in Russia. After the meeting, Archbishop Anthony (of San Francisco) asked the head of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission (Archimandrite Alexis Rosentool) who was present at the meeting: What do you think about all this? The latter replied: I am troubled. Vladyka Anthony said: I think this way: we should not be opening any parishes. Its not right. If I were 20 years younger, Id pack a small suitcase and go to Russia, to work.[45] The evermemorable Metropolitan Philaret expressed similar thoughts in the early 1970s. Students of the Holy Trinity Seminary asked him what he would do if the Soviet power collapsed. I would go there (to Russia) on foot, replied Metropolitan Philaret.[46]

What are we to do now? We always considered ourselves to be the guardians of spirituality, correct church life. Perhaps, we can still be useful for Russia, if we find within ourselves the ability to speak with integrity, get off our pedestal and show some repentant spirit. Archbishop Nathanael tells us that according to Metropolitan Anthony, Orthodoxy is primarily a religion of repentance.[47] We, and the Church in Russia, need spiritual guides who can find a path to our insensitive conscience.

Our hierarchs saw the purpose of the Russian Church Abroad in preserving, in the conditions of freedom, of the spiritual, moral and national values of the Russian Church. The gradual changes in the historical conditions in the homeland and abroad could not but affect this vision in external details, while it remained unchanged in its essentials. Our hierarchs and teachers have entrusted us with keeping, i.e. preserving for the Church in Russia what we have, namely everything in the organization of church life that the Russian Church, crippled by its enemies, could not preserve. The Church Abroad itself could not escape troubles from enemies and from contact with the world. However, in all this our Church relied not on princes and the sons of men, was guided not by the spirit of the world, but the spirit of the Gospel. Hierarchs, clergy and the faithful flock of the Diaspora lived with the longing for the rebirth of Russia and the Russian Church, seeing in this a hope for the life of the world. As long as the Diaspora hierarchs thought of themselves as intercessors for the Church in Russia, the Lord kept our spirit intact. However, when we turned to exclusiveness and self-sufficiency we began to sin against the commandments of our Fathers. A repentant return to the earlier path could help not only us, but, with Gods help, the whole Russian Church to revert to the sober and healthy life of the Church of Holy Russia, the Church of the Local Council of 1917-18 and the Church of the Holy Martyrs.

We stand at the threshold of possible great events. The excitement and anxiety of this moment is aptly expressed in the words of the kontakion to the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia (tone 2):

O ye new passion-bearers of Russia, who have completed the course of earthly life in confession of faith, receiving boldness through your sufferings, BESEECH CHRIST, WHO STRENGTHENED YOU,THAT WE ALSO, WHEN THE HOUR OF TRIAL COMES UPON US, WILL RECEIVE GODS GIFT OF COURAGE. For you are an example to those who venerate your struggle, as neither tribulation nor distress nor death could separate you from the love of God.


[1] Expression of Archbishop Anthony of Geneva op.cit. p.2 www.russianorthodoxchurch.ws/STATII/vlanthonygenevachurch.htm

[2] () , , . 2004 . The term okhranitelstvo occurs in the works of Archimandrite Constantine (Zaitsev).

[3] . 16.03.2004, (), - No. 3, 2004, . 6.

[4] () , , .- , 1960 , VI, .14.

[5] (), op.cit., VI , 28. . 12:6.

[6] Ibid.. p. 34 (Tserkovnost ili politika?)

[7] Rev. 12:6

[8] (, 1975), I, . 263.

[9] . () , . , . 1997.

[10] (), , , , .- , -, 1991 , . 1988.

[11] See, for instance, () op.cit. .17-18.

[12] The attempt of the Japanese occupying forces in Manchuria to introduce the cult of worship of the goddess Amaterasu Oomikami met with resolute resistance from Metropolitan Melety of Harbin (from the reminiscences of former residents of Harbin); Nazi pressure on Metropolitan Anastasy in Yugoslavia at the beginning of the war did not succeed in forcing him to issue a propaganda epistle to the Russian people (see 50- , ; , 1956 , .19).

[13] .. . , , 1969 , . 44.

[14] If the normative decisions of the Local Council of 1917-18 are taken as a reference point, the tendency of eliminating the principles of catholicity (sobornost) becomes patently obvious when we are acquainted with the normative documents of the subsequent Local Councils and their implementation in diocesan practice. I do not consider this tendency to be preconceived, God forbid. It has entered into ecclesiastical consciousness as contraband and has to be debunked as an ecclesiological heresy (my translation from: Ierei Pavel Adelgeim Dogmat o Tserkvi v kanonakh i praktike, Pskov 2002, p.176.)

[15] Ibid., see above.

[16] . , , No 51, . 73.

[17] . , op.cit., . 126-131.

[18] , op.cit., II, . 452-459.

[19] Title of a book by L. Perepelkina, Saint Petersburg, 1992

[20] (), . , , 1963 , . 3-33.

[21] Fr. Seraphim Rose Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future, Second edition, 1979 and subsequent printings. This book and other works of Fr. Seraphim Rose are popular in Russia (in translation).

[22] e.g.: Signs have appeared which indicate that the arrival of the son of Perdition can be expected in the immediate future - says the Circular Epistle of the Council of Bishops 1984 (My translation from Church Life magazine No 1-2, 1984, p.15).

[23] Metropolitan Sergius quotes these words of Patriarch Tikhon in his declaration of 1927, but interprets them in a totally different sense, as if the Patriarch was hoping to come to an agreement with the Soviet government about the legalisation of the Church in that time frame. (see footnote on pp. 223-224 in Vol. VI of Metropolitan Anthonys biography, op.cit.).

[24] For that reason (according to Gospel commentators) the Lord forbade the people whom He healed to tell others about His miracles.

[25] Metropolitan Vitaly was known for such assertions. The epistles of the Bishops Councils in the 1980s and 1990s contain expression of this nature.

[26] op.cit., II, . 132-133 .

[27] , , , No 23, 1994 . () op.cit., . 198-199.

[28] . () , , 1955, . 2006 .

[29] . - No 9, 2003 .

[30] My translation from: Archbishop Anthony of Geneva op,cit., p.14. For web address see note 1.

[31] see: Protopresbyter Valery Lukianov . . .. Lakewood, New Jersey, 2005. St. John acknowledged the canonicity of the Moscow Patriarchate only temporarily as a measure of necessity until the survival of the Diaspora Synod was confirmed. (p. 8, my translation).

[32] () op.cit., VI, . 263.

[33] The full text of the 1933 Epistle is published in ibid., pp. 269-299.

[34] Archbishop Vitaly (Maksimenko) conveys the words of Metropolitan Anthony when the former was leaving for America: Tell them that we are not seeking control, but unity of the Church. Let them live according to their internal ways, we are not intruding, but if they seek help in any matter, we are willing to help. op.cit., p.123.(my translation). see Metropolitan Anthonys biography, op.cit., Vol. VII, p. 336 for a description of the moving scene when Metropolitan Anthony said the prayer of absolution over Metropolitan Evlogy. Having done that, he asked forgiveness of the latter and requested the same prayer to be read over him. Here is an assessment of Metropolitan Anastasy given by Bishop Averky in 1956: Being very strict with himself and extraordinarily condescending with others, ready to make maximum compromises, which understandably elicits an anxiety in many zealots of our faith and Church, our Vladyka Metropolitan Anastasy is soft and yielding only to a certain limit upon reaching which he usually displays a great firmness in defending the ancient canonical traditions of the Church. (my translation from: Archbishop Averky, op.cit., Vol. I. P.179).

[35] For the text of Vremennoye Polozheniye 1935-36 see www.synod.com

[36] A reminiscence of Igor Vladimirovich Perekrestov, who was at that time the Secretary of the Parish Council of Holy Protection Cathedral, Melbourne.

[37] A reminiscence of Anastasia Ivanovna Pavloff, a parishioner of Melbourne Cathedral since 1949 (also other parishioners).

[38] , () op.cit., VI . 265-266.

[39] . , , No 6, 1976 , . 40.

[40] The Secretary of the Organizing Committee of the 4th All-Diaspora Council ROCOR Archpriest Peter Perekrestov completes his interview in Orthodox Russia magazine with the words of hieromartyr Benjamin of Petrograd that we must make room for the grace of God.( No 18, 2005 , p. 11).

[41] Priest Dionisiy Pozdniayev in his book Pravoslaviye v Kitaye (1900-1997), Moscow, 1998, writes: On 1st October 1945 a delegation consisting of Elevfery, Bishop of Rostov and Taganrog and Priest Grigory Razumovsky was given mandate No 1263 with the signature of the Patriarch with the instruction to visit Harbin and to restore schismatic bishops in Manchuria, (p.89, my translation). Here is a testimony of a witness to one scene during the visit of the delegation to Harbin: The ascetic-looking Bishop Elevfery was accompanied by a morose priest. Harbin churchgoers flocked to see them. The two were barraged with questions from the crowd about Church life in the Soviet Union. The priest frequently interrupted the bishop and answered on his behalf. An old woman asked if Easter was celebrated in the homeland. The priest answered readily: If Easter falls on a Sunday everyone celebrates. The old lady cried: Father, but Easter is always celebrated on Sunday! The priest went red, grabbed the bishop and dragged him to the waiting car. The scene left an unpleasant impression. A reminiscence of Zoya Gavrilovna Chemodakova (nee Luchinina, +1983, Sydney, Australia). This is, of course, an old illustration. But we have a multitude of contemporary examples, in the conditions of external freedom, of administrative arbitrariness of bishops, deans and rectors. It seems that as soon as they became free from the bullying of the state apparatchiks they themselves began to harass their subordinates. There is no dependence now from apparatchiks but rich sponsors have appeared who are introducing a lot of ugliness into church life in Russia.

[42] Archbishop Andrew (Rymarenko), a disciple of St. Nektary of Optina, in his article (in Russian) Bolshevism, humanism and our Diaspora writes: Our church life is conducted to a large extent externally, while inner life is being forgotten. No 34, . 51.

[43] This is how F. M. Dostoyevsky called Europe.

[44] . () op.cit., VI, . 269.

[45] A reminiscence of Archimandrite Alexis (Rosentool), now Abbot of Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Bombala Shire, New South Wales, Australia.

[46] A reminiscence of Fr Simeon Kichakov, Rector of the Church of the Joy of all who Sorrow, Geelong, Victoria.

[47] . . , 1991 , . 194.


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