Archbishop ANTHONY of Geneva and Western Europe

Our Church in the Modern World

(Report for the III Pan-Diaspora Council of 1974)

"For I Desired Mercy, not Sacrifice"

I wish today to clarify that main particularities of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, which exists independently for over a half a century, in order to: 1) understand all its significance for the modern world; 2) to understand the importance of this Council; 3) to understand the responsibility laid upon each of us, its participants; 4) to reach a conclusion on what our belonging to our Church obliges us to do.

At the beginning of our century, the Church of Christ awaited terrible persecutions and blows, foreseen by many saints and sages, including St. John of Kronstadt. But before then, God allowed the devil to incur his hatred upon the children of the Church, the Lord led a part of the Russian Church out of Russia, which was embraced by the madness of atheism. This Russian Church outside of the borders of its homeland became an unusual ecclesiastical Body, but the exceptional situation of the moment demanded exceptional measures. This time, the devil, gathering all his powers for the destruction of the Church, led an attack against Her in two ways concurrently: through merciless persecutions on the part of open atheists and deceit, clothed in the garb of modernism--the manipulation of Church life--the kingdom of the Holy Spirit, the kingdom not of this world--to the life of the sinful world, on the basis of the human mind fallen into sin.

The energy of deceit and atheism, long accumulating in the world, like the terrifying explosion of a bomb, shook the foundations of the Church. Streams of martyric blood flowed, the devil reaped a rich harvest--they fell like ripe ears of wheat in the fields, martyrs and confessors of Christ, a million churches were destroyed, Christian relics desecrated. Judases were found within the Church Herself, who served the devil, beginning to corrupt Her from within, shocking Her with blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, through apostasy, foreign innovations, etc.

The power of the explosion of the Russian revolution was maximal, and its horrible detonation was heard throughout the world. From the assault of evil forces, both inside and out, the few bishops in Russia compromised with the devil, and in the free world many were seized by weakness of spirit, modernism, the readiness to serve the powerful of this world. The devil operated not only through the atheists of the Soviet State. He found helpers in other governments as well, who were if not open strugglers against God, then at least secret enemies of the Church. For each local Orthodox Church is connectd with the government of its country, with the territory of its people. This is why the persecutors and enemies of the Church, through their leaders, were able to oppress the children of the Church. One need not look far for an example of this. Before our very eyes in Greece, the government removed, without so much as a discussion, the true Orthodox Archbishop Chrysostom, the head of the Greek Church, and replaced him with Archbishop Ieronimos. The latter, to appease the leaders, immediately embarked on the path of ecumenism. Now he was removed as well...now the head is Archbishop Seraphimos...but for how long? And what of the Church? The Church is silent and obedient! If this is so in a country where the leaders consider themselves Orthodox, what does this say of Communist countries?

This is why in our difficult time, the Lord, we believe, required a special ecclesiastical Body--our Russian Church abroad, not bound with the territory of the Russian people and the atheist Soviet State in control. In other words, the words "Church Abroad." On such a Church can be free in our evil times. She covered all the countries of the free world with a network of Her churches, with the works of its pastors, including even the territories of the local autocephalous Churches.

Finding Herself on the territories of many governments, the Russian Church, outside of Her fatherland, became as though impervious to the powers of evil! For, if we cannot be guaranteed against anything, if in any given country where we happen to be the local authorities pressured the representatives of our dioceses and parishes, using force, to take up activities or declarations not in accordance with the teachings of the Church, then in other countries our bishops remain free to witness the Truth. Our First Hierarchs if necessary can freely change their places of residence, not bound by territory or city; for example, Sremskije Karlovtsy in Yugoslavia, Munich in Germany, and now New York have all been residences of our metropolitans.

In this way, the fundamental particularity of our Church is Her freedom, her imperviousness to Her enemies (relatively speaking of course, like all other relative things in our world).

In this regard She stands at the head of all Orthodox Churches of our time. Our Church can freely and openly speak about that which the bishops of other Orthodox Churches are silent, for fear of the Jews. Here is an example: recently Patriarch Nicholas of Alexandria, in an interview with a journalist, expressed the Orthodox viewpoint of ecumenism, dotting all the i’s in this matter. What were the results? Firstly, the journal of the Constantinople Patriarchate published in Geneva reacted negatively, where, to the shame of us Orthodox Christians, it was written that it was unlikely that Patriarch Nicholas would refuse to participate in the ecumenical movement in light of the fact that he received 12,000 dollars from the Ecumenical Council for the establishment of a printshop in Alexandria. That was the result. The declaration of some professor was published who, in the name of the Patriarch, retracted what the latter had said. This professor made the retraction, and the name of the Patriarch was no longer heard. Why not? What did this mean? What does the Patriarch think? Obviously, there are forces able to silence him. Is this not sad? This has not yet happened with our First Hierarchs. God grant that it doesn’t!
We are given more, more is expected of us. Thanks to our God-given freedom, we are placed upon a candle stand, to declare the truth. What a terrifying responsibility lies upon each one of us!

Besides our Church, the following also courageously joined in the battle with the enemy of our salvation: the Catacomb church in the Soviet Union, the part of the Russian Church—the true Orthodox Church and a part of the Greek Church—the Greek Old-Style Church. But they do not possess what we do, that is, freedom. We bow with reverence before the courage of these martyrs and confessors, oppressed and persecuted by the government, and in the Soviet Union physically destroyed. We know that the Grace of God abides in them, but there is less responsibility placed upon them than upon us, who enjoy freedom and live in this other world. That is why we will not speak of them here.

For only our Church speaks before the world on the modern martyrs and confessors of the truth of Christ, only our Church speaks in the name of those persecuted for Christ and witnesses our unity with them. Only our Church, among the autocephalous Orthodox Churches did not become members of the Ecumenical Council, which could so easily be done. Only our Church witnesses throughout the world that the Moscow Patriarchate of our day, imprisoned by atheists, is not the voice of the Russian Church. Only She, while official representatives of the local Churches remain silent, or fall into temptation. Does not this fact place our Church as the cornerstone of the Church of Christ?

This is the second special characteristic of our Church—She is a fearless witness of the truth of God in the modern world, thanks to Her freedom. Our First Hierarchs have always fulfilled this obligation, as far as they were able.
The children of every local Church are usually the offspring of a single people, living on the territory of one government. The part of the Russian Church scattered throughout the world, immediately began to attract people of other nations, of other religions, to the Orthodox faith. Filling our ranks, these newly-converted Orthodox are sometimes more zealous than we are ourselves. They treasure our Church’s strong stance in the truth, Her uncompromising path, which lay the foundation of our Church, established by Her leader—an Orthodox bishop with universal recognition and authority—Metropolitan Anthony of Kiev and Galicia of blessed memory. The aura of this universal bishop, his many facets, his many languages devoted to the praise of the Creator gave our Church, lest any think this borne of pride, a special character, a virtual “universal Church.”

This is the third special trait of our Church—Her universal missionary significance. She was recognized as such from the beginning by all the local Churches.

Even on their own territories, the patriarchs and heads of Churches allowed the existence of dioceses, parishes, churches and parishioners of the Russian Church. The Serbian Church did more than any other, accepting with brotherly love Metropolitan Anthony and the Synod of Bishops of our Church, and granting in this manner the possibility for Russian bishops to lead their Russian flock throughout the world. Councils of our bishops convened on the territory of the Serbian Church, two historical Councils were held here along with the clergy and laity, in 1921 and 1938. The Russian Church and Russian people will always be grateful to the brotherly Serbian Church and Serbian people for its heartfelt hospitality. United in spirit with the Serbian Church were at first all the local Churches, trying with all their might to support and aid the survival of the free Russian Church in her new surroundings.

Born in the terrible crucible of tribulations, suffering the bloody drama of Her people, the horrors of the godless revolution, our Church brought out of Russia an experience that the representatives of other Churches understood poorly, still living well in a world free of Communism and still possessing its advantages. The spirit of martyrdom, the image of refugees, miraculously preserving their lives, losing everything in their homeland, understanding the futility of the things of this world, this is what the Russian Church brought to the Orthodox world. We were welcomed into the family of the Orthodox Churches like brother-martyrs, refugees for the Truth, persecuted and tortured at the hands of overt atheists. In this regard, the Russian refugees stood above their brethren in the free world.

This image of our Church, and the universal authority of Her establisher and head, Metropolitan Anthony, being the most Orthodox, the most pious, the most revered and eminent bishop of our time, created and confirmed the authority of our Church in the Orthodox world.

The fourth particularity of our Church is that She was often the moral underpinning and authority for the children of other Churches.

The whole Orthodox world was already partly shaken by the explosion that occurred in Russia. The Judases, the betrayers in the USSR were creating a so-called “living church,” by request and under pressure of the Soviet state, for the destruction of the Church from within. Almost concurrently, Patriarch Meletii IV of Constantinople, in the free world, takes action. He convenes on the Holy Mountain of Athos a meeting of all the local Churches in 1923. Only five Churches responded to his call. The meeting turned out to be a so-called congress, at which Patriarch Meletii proposed to introduce a whole series of reforms into the life of the Church, for example: a married bishopry, second marriage for widowed priests, the abbreviation of services and fasts, the simplification of priestly vestments, the new calendar, etc. This congress left a fatal mark on the life of some Churches, and is the origin of modernism in Orthodoxy.

Who protested against these tendencies? Metropolitan Anthony—his representative in Constantinople, Archbishop (later Metropolitan) Anastassy objected to the proposed reforms before the Patriarch, and, in the name of the Russian Church, pointed out their threat and danger. Still, they did not heed his voice in the capital of former Byzantium.

In this way, the Russian Church abroad, from the moment of its origin, raised the spiritual sword against militant atheism, and on the other hand, against blatant, unabashed modernism. It was necessary to fight on two fronts, to determine what weapons to employ, so as not to emulate the apostles who wished to bring down fire from the heavens, to burn and destroy the enemies of Christ, whom the Savior rebuked: Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of! But the head of our Church, Metropolitan Anthony, knew what manner of spirit he was of, and like a true pastor of the Church of Christ, and not like the Scribes and Pharisees of our time, directed our Church towards a middle, royal path, arming himself on this road with the sword of truth and the fire of love and mercy. This path, upon which the free Russian Church travels, is for a half a century now, is its very essence, making Her so necessary for the various sides of the Orthodox world veering in different directions. By the mercy of God our Church has never strayed from this path, and God keep us from losing it, so that we are not weakened, like the salt the loses its power, so that we do not change that to which we are called!

The fifth special quality of our Church is Her straight path, the path of Truth and mercy. We repeat: the qualities of the free Russian Church, which place Her morally and spiritually at the cornerstone of the Orthodox world, are: 1) the God-given freedom, imperviousness from Her enemies; 2) the fearlessness and witness to the Truth which come from freedom; 3) Her universal missionary character; 4) Her obligation to be a moral foundation and authority for the Orthodox children of the Church and 5) Her firm and uncompromising path of truth and mercy.

The Attitude of Our Church to the Deceit of the Soviet State

Following the failed attempts of the “living church,” unrecognized by the people and the free world supporting the Russian Church, the Soviet state enslaves the will of Metropolitan Sergius and creates a modern “Moscow Patriarchate,” needed in its battle with the Church, for deception, like a screen of its true intentions, that is, the complete liquidation of the Church. For such a deception of the free world, it was necessary for the Soviet authorities that all recognize the “Moscow Patriarchate” as the true Russian Church.

Metropolitan Anthony continued his spiritual bond with the Russian Church in the homeland, sensing himself the head of only a part of Her. Despite the fact that His Beatitude Patriarch Tikhon was in red Moscow, that between the part of her enveloped in the flames of atheistic madness in Russia and the part finding itself abroad, an iron curtain descended, we prayed for Patriarch Tikhon until his very death in 1925. Then we prayed for his deputy, the locum tenens of the Patriarchal throne, Metropolitan Peter, until his death.
Metropolitan Anthony broke with the Moscow Patriarchate only after the well-known declaration of Metropolitan Sergius, since from this moment on, the Moscow Patriarchate ceased to represent the Russian Church. Having split from the apparition of the Church created by the Soviet state, he wisely undercut the Communist deception and warned the heads of all the local Churches. The deception was not completely successful.

Vladyka Metropolitan Philaret wisely foresaw another deception of that government: the granting of autocephaly by the alleged Russian Church to the American Metropoliate, separating from our Church after the last war. The sword of the servant of God was not idle, and in his epistle to the bishops and flock of the Metropoliate, Metropolitan Philaret exposed the new deception, saying that the autocephaly will be given not from the Church, but from the godless state and in the latter’s interests. And so it happened, which everyone can see. But the autocephaly was already accepted, after which the bishops of our Church at the Council of 1971 cease prayerful communion with the representatives of the so-called autocephaly. It is not recognized, not only by our Church, but by all the local Churches of the free world.

But the enemy does not sleep. The Soviets invent another deception. Several times it has appealed through its imprisoned bishops, in their name, to the children of our Church, with the call to return to the bosom of the “Mother Church,” allegedly guaranteeing the canonicity of our situation abroad, promising other worldly goods as well. Patriarch Pimen even now appealed to the pastors and flock of our Church with this epistle. Behind the screen of such brotherly appeals are the true intentions of the godless state, to wit: to deprive our Church of freedom, the subject Her to an imprisoned patriarch, to force Her to be silent, to betray the Truth, to give up the mission placed upon Her by the Lord.

Metropolitan Philaret responded to this last epistle with honor and great clarity, saying that our Church, as the free part of the Russian Church, firmly stands on canonical ground…and does not intend to lose Her freedom. Using this freedom, we are obligated to speak loudly to the whole world about the persecution of religion in the USSR. Unlikely that anyone would fall for this deception by the Soviet state! Our Church—the free part of the Russian Church--stands in the way of every trick of the Soviets.

Our Church’s Stance on the Temptations of Modernism

Finding himself outside the borders of his homeland, Metropolitan Anthony raised the sword of truth also against the modernization of the Church in the USSR—the creation of the so-called “living church” and that same modernism in the free world, expressed in the congress of 1923, of which I already spoke. For the proposed and accepted reforms were the same both there and here! The deception of modernism will not fully succeed and only a few Churches at first change to the new calendar rejected by the majority.

Decisively rejecting the new calendar for the Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Anthony did not swerve to the opposite extreme and his sword did not smite the sinners. He brings down upon their heads the fire of love and long-suffering. He does not cease prayerful communion with the Churches which accepted the new calendar, he does not anathematize anyone, which could have been done from the start, it would seem. By the testimony of our First Hierarch, and from what we ourselves heard from Metropolitan Anthony, he did not consider the new calendar a heresy, for him it was a serious violation of Church discipline. He accepts, for example, the invitation of the Rumanian Church and travels to Rumania after its Church changed to the new calendar.

The congress of 1923 left a fatal mark on the Serbian Church. Several widowed priests married a second time, clearly violating the canons of the Church. The most-Orthodox Metropolitan Anthony could not sympathize with such lawlessness. Still, he did not openly criticize anyone, he did not cease relations with the Serbian patriarch, but remains living there and with his personal example of piety and loyalty to Orthodoxy supports the Orthodox sensibilities in the Serbian Church, where second marriages among widowed priests did not continue.

A sword against sin and mercy for sinners, this is what our blessed bishop taught us. For it is easy to call one’s brother a heretic. For mankind it is easy, but in the eyes of God, one takes responsibility upon oneself of anticipating the judgment of the Church by accusing one’s neighbor of heresy.

Let us recall the monk who was called a thief, a debaucherer and liar, who humbly responded to all accusations that he was exactly all of those things. But when he was accused of heresy, he denied it. When asked why he agreed with other accusations but now he protests, the monk replied: “Although I am a debaucherer, a liar and a thief, I am within the Church and for me repentance and salvation are open…But if I am a heretic, then I am outside of the Church, deprived of salvation…”

To cast someone out of the Church, to declare someone a heretic, is something only the Church can do, through a lawful court of Her bishops. Who among us dares to anticipate the judgment of the Church? Every Orthodox Christian can say, with great caution, that this brother has un-Orthodox views, commits sin in matters of faith, etc. But to call someone a heretic in the full sense of the word, only because it seemed to me that way, that I find him to be such, is to fall into pride, unforgivable self-importance, to take upon my soul more that simply the sin of accusation.

Under Metropolitan Anastassy, until the most recent times, we prayed for the holy Orthodox patriarchs, though they were already ecumenists and observers of the new calendar. During his time a great and grievous event occurred in the Orthodox world: all the local Churches permanently joined the World Council of Churches. Metropolitan Anastassy did not waver. In the free world, only our Church rejected the ecumenical movement. What does this mean? It means that without unnecessary words and anathemas, the Free Russian Church condemned firmly and decisively ecumenism as an un-Orthodox movement! She chose Her own path in Orthodoxy, a special path, the only path. Metropolitan Anastassy was not afraid to remain alone on this road. Yet the courageous elder did not cease communion with anyone, did not declare anyone heretics, did not cast lightning and thunder, but invokes the fire of long-suffering upon those who fell into sin.

Two letters of the Synod of Bishops of our Church are of interest, addressed to the Greek old-style Church, copies of which were sent at the time to the Greek Archbishop of America and the Ecumenical Patriarch.
The first letter, No. 3/50/1296 of 27 September 1961:

“Our Church retains the old calendar and considers the introduction of the new calendar a great error. Still, Her tactics were always to preserve spiritual communion with the Orthodox Churches which accepted the new calendar, since they celebrate Pascha according to the decision of the First Ecumenical Council. Our Church never declared the Ecumenical Patriarchate or the Greek Archdiocese of North and South America schismatic and did not cease spiritual communion with them.”

Unclear is the second letter, exactly a week later, No. 3/50/1443 of 3 October 1961:

“Our Church retains the old calendar and considers the new calendar an error. Still, in accordance with the policy of Patriarch Tikhon of blessed memory, we never ceased spiritual communion with the canonical Churches in which the new calendar was introduced.”

Metropolitan Anastassy for the first time allows the new calendar in our Church for those who converted from other faiths. So did the late Archbishop John, revered by many as a man of God and a struggler for the faith of our time, accepted into the Western European Diocese a group of Orthodox Dutch, who, using the new calendar, existed for 22 years in our Church—not a brief period of time. At the same time, new calendarists appeared in our Church—the Rumanians. Archbishop John, not without the consent of Metropolitan Anastassy, ordained together with a Rumanian metropolitan, a refugee in Paris, Bishop Theophilus, a new calendarist, with which he gave rise to the existence in our Church of new calendar Rumanian parishes. These parishes even now are subject directly to our First Hierarch, who, every year, while in Europe, serves in the Rumanian church in Paris, which happened this year on Sunday 28 July (15 July old style). Moreover, the question of consecrating into the bishopry of a Rumanian protopriest from Paris was raised, with the awareness on our part that Rumanians will not abandon the new calendar. For the Rumanian Church has existed for over 50 years with according to the new calendar. Two generations have come not knowing the old calendar.
Under Metropolitan Anastassy, a group of Orthodox French was accepted into the Western European Diocese, led by Protopriest E. Kovalevsky—a new calendarist. Metropolian Anastassy himself looked positively upon the elevation of Protopriest Kovalevsky into the episcopacy, even without the changing of the calendar.

Archbishop John together with the new calendarist Bishop Theophilus ordained Kovalevsky to Bishop of San Denis. It was not our Church that cast out the new calendarist Bishop John (the monastic name of Protopriest E. Kovalevsky). He himself left the Church that had given him the grace of Episcopal service, for which he was convicted and defrocked.

A part of the flock of this unworthy bishop remained true to our Church and exists now on the territory of the Western European Diocese as a separate deanery, headed by Archimandrite Amvrosii, a Frenchman who voluntarily and gradually changed his parishes to the old calendar, which was the result of our patience and condescension towards them.

Metropolitan Anastassy, rejecting the ecumenical movement, willingly sends observers to their conference to witness the truth. Without pondering the question, he sent observers from our Church to the Vatican Council. In this way, with dignity, he took part in the lives of Catholics and Protestants, without fear, yet never mixing truth and deceit, not placing himself on even ground with the heterodox. He tried to cast into this movement the seeds of truth. Although ecumenism in his time already assumed great participation in the Orthodox world, the Metropolitan did not take any decisive measures against the latter.

This was done by our Council of Bishops in 1971 with Metropolitan Philaret, which declared ecumenism a heretical teaching from the point of view of the Orthodox Church. But the Council was far from considering as heretics the representatives of all the local Churches that joined the Ecumenical Council. Metropolitan Philaret sent two sorrowful epistles to the bishops of the Church of Christ in which he points out the danger of the infiltration of ecumenical ideas into the Orthodox mindset, showing the faulty ideas and expressions of Patriarch Athenagoras, without calling anyone a heretic! “Your Holiness” is how he addresses the Patriarch of Constantinople.

Our Church’s Position on the Temptations of Schism

When Metropolitan Evlogii did not submit to the decision of the Synod of Bishops in matters of his diocese, he thereby took a terrible sin upon his soul—the sin of an ecclesiastical schism.

These were nightmarish years in church life in Western Europe. Many could not discern the complicated church situation, trusting Metropolitan Evlogii and following him. Brother rose against brother, divisions in the Church spread to divisions within families, giving rise to mutual accusations, reaching the point of hatred. It was necessary to put an end to this confusion which brought spiritual harm to the children of the Church, so Metropolitan Anthony read a prayer of release over the the apparently repentant sinner, and returns the grace of the priesthood to him. The heart of the preacher of God’s sympathetic love for the sinner knew no bounds. Yet this love, saving the flock of Metropolitan Evlogii from doom, did not touch the latter’s heart, and he remains separated from the Synod of Bishops, continuing to submit to the Patriarch of Constantinople.
The lawlessness of this submission was understood by Metropolitans Anthony and Anastassy, but they made peace with the Russian Exarch of the Constantinople Patriarchage in Western Europe and, after lifting the suspension from Metropolitan Evlogii, they never ceased prayerful communion with the one who left us for the Greeks, even to this day. The responsibility was placed on those who left us, and waited patiently.

By this time, after the last war, Metropolitan Evlogii left Constantinople and joined Moscow, but after his death, his flock, now headed by Metropolitan Vladimir, leaves to return to Constantinople. Upon their return, we concelebrate with them, which can be shown through numerous examples. We will limit ourselves to a few: with the blessing of Archbishop John, as his vicar bishop, I consecrated a new church with Bishops Mefodii and Sylvester at the old-age home in San Rafael (France). At the time of the Vatican Council in Rome, almost every Sunday, Bishop Cassian, the Rector of the Theological Institute in Paris, served with me in our church. It did not even occur to anyone that this was inadmissible. Metropolitan Anastassy expressed his pleasure when he learned that I, in the absence of the ruling Archbishop John, decided the matter myself and, having been invited, took part in the funeral of Metropolitan Vladimir. Our concelebration with representatives of the Greek Exarchate in France, approved by Archbishop John, was conducted without objections on our part.

But then, unexpectedly, the Patriarch of Constantinople rejects his Russian Exarchate in Western Europe at the request of Moscow and directs his former flock to submit to the Moscow Patriarchate. The Parisians do not follow this directive, but make a no less risky and dangerous move—they declare themselves, no more, no less, an autocephalous Church of Western Europe. It is difficult to imagine greater ignorance in canonical law.
How does Metropolitan Philaret react? He appeals to them as the bishop of the Russian Church with a warning, pointing out the illegality of their actions, calling upon them to return to the free Russian Church—and Her alone.

Then the Parisians return, not to us, but to the Greeks, not as a Russian Exarchate of the Constantinople Patriarchate, but this time simply as a part of the Greek Exarchate of Western Europe, subjected to the Greek Exarch in Paris, Archbishop Meletius. The Council of Bishops of our Church in 1971 decrees as unlawful the joining of Russian parishes, flocks, churches and properties to the Greek Exarchate, but does not censure them and remains silent about prayerful communion.

Archbishop George, ruling the Russian parishes of the Greek Exarchate in Western Europe, takes measures of censure towards us, and, as far as we know, he forbids his clergy, through an ukase, from serving with us, referring to the will of the Patriarch of Constantinople. Still, there continue to be concelebrations even now: before the face of death, which makes peace with all, at youth and children’s summer camps, replacing each other for services of need, sometimes our clergy and “other” clergy concelebrate.

In our time of terrible persecutions of the Church and the unforeseen circumstances of church life, it is very difficult to call someone a one-hundred-percent schismatic, especially among the lower clergy and laity. For even the independent existence of the Russian Church was not foreseen fully by the canons. It is justified only by two facts: the unheard-of persecutions of the Church in Russia and the temporary nature of our independent existence. If the godless regime ends, if the persecutions of the faithful in the homeland cease, if religious freedom is restored, then the Russian Church abroad will cease to exist, uniting with the Mother Church.

The Attitude Towards Our Church on the Part of the Local Churches After the Last War

Until the end of the last World War, we freely concelebrated with the representatives of all the local Churches in the free world, even with those that moved to the new calendar and toyed with ecumenism. The change in the attitude of these Churches towards us began after the war, when the feeble Patriarch Alexy was sent by the Soviet government to visit the patriarchs and heads of the local Churches. The elder, a captive of the atheists, deceived his brothers, persuading them that everything had allegedly changed for the better in Russia now, that thousands of worshipers fill the churches, etc. The official representatives of the Churches could not resist the false witness of the elderly patriarch. They recognized Alexy as the legitimate, lawful Patriarch of All Russia. He, in turn, asked them to cease prayerful communion with our Church, as a schismatic one, not recognizing their lawful patriarch. How much was agreed to is unclear. We only know that concelebration did not cease immediately. And so the representative of the Constantinople Patriarchate, Metropolitan Emilian concelebrated liturgy with me in our church in Geneva, already after the visit of Patriarch Alexy. This was fully acceptable for us and for the Greeks.

It was not Metropolitan Anastassy that was displeased with this concelebration, not Archbishop John, Ruling Bishop of Western Europe, but the Patriarch of Moscow, issuing a thunderous letter to Patriarch Athenagoras, demanding the cessation of concelebration of the clergymen of the Constantinople Patriarchate with our clergy. Only after that, not, I repeat, by the decision of our Church, but through the ukase of Patriarch Athenagoras, were the Greeks forbidden from serving with us. From approximately this time, in fact, our concelebration with the official representatives of the local Churches ends. For all of these Churches, without exception, from the time of the Rhodes Conference, began to cooperate with the Patriarch of Moscow and his Synod, recognizing it as official, but not by conscience, as the head of the Russian Church.

We did not seek and do not seek concelebration with their official representatives. This split reflects our attitude towards them as well. But our prayerful communion with the Orthodox Churches was not fully interrupted. Firstly, there is no document accepted by all the Churches on our excommunication from universal unity! When Metropolitan of L-grad Nikodim demanded this document from the representatives of the autocephalous Churches at a pan-Orthodox conference in Geneva, he did not get one. His demand was met with silence and ignored by the official representatives of the Churches, which is testimony to the fact that among them we have not only enemies, but friends. As a result, the wishes of the atheists were not satisfied. For the majority of the representatives of the Churches, both official (who were silent “for fear of the Jews”) and unofficial, who sympathize with our Church, understand that the free bishops among them, and so genuine bishops among them, are we!

The Attitude of Our Church to the Representatives of the Local Churches

I think, I feel, I witness that we must rejoice at the expression of good will towards our Church in the Orthodox world. We must understand that many children of the local Churches place their hopes and reliance on our Church. We are obliged to maintain contact with them and rejoice over the opportunity to have prayerful communion with them, so rare today.

For the unity of the Church is not a hollow expression, futile words, it is Her essence and foundation. Following the example of our First Hierarchs, we must also carefully preserve the bare threads that bind us to the Orthodox world.

We must in no way isolate ourselves, seeing around us—often imagined—heretics and schismatics. By gradually isolating ourselves, we fall into the extreme which our Metropolitans wisely avoided, we will reject the middle, royal path by which our Church has so far traveled, we will find ourselves a shorn church branch, and not the Church, witnessing the Truth freely and fearlessly!

By isolating ourselves, we will embark on the path of sectarianism, fearful of all, in the grip of paranoia, we will lose the last friends in the Orthodox world! But to embark on such a path, we must first reject our Church’s past, and condemn it.

By the mercy of God we are far removed from such temptation, but such attitudes are sensed in our midst. Prudence is a basic Christian virtue. For in each local Church, except its official representatives, who are often bound and dependent on complicated daily and political circumstances, there exists the very BODY OF THE CHURCH—pious pastors and God-fearing laypersons, those who, for example, saved the Church of Constantinople where Her official representatives signed the Florentine Union with Rome. How many more such living forces exist in every local Church, thank God, Her faithful children, and how grievous it would be for us if we do not see and sense these forces, if we are prepared to cease prayerful communion with them, unity in Christ, for the sins of her possibly unworthy present official representatives.

In the Serbian Church, standing guard over the Orthodox forces, is at this time the most-Orthodox Archimandrite Justin (Popovich), renowned throughout the Orthodox world. He raised his voice long ago against the temptation of ecumenism, denounced this movement in his recently-published book “The Orthodox Church and Ecumenism.” He denounced even the Serbian bishops who were weak in their defense of Orthodoxy. And when Patriarch German of Serbia became one of the representatives of the Ecumenical Council, what did this defender of Orthodoxy do? He did the same as our Metropolitan Anthony and Anastassy, whom he revered, did, he did not cease prayerful communion with his patriarch, he called no one a heretic or schismatic, he continued to submit to the hierarchy of his Church and commemorate his patriarch at each service. Why? He could have created a schism in the Serbian Church. Archimandrite Justin educated a whole generation of loyal, learned monks, who follow him without question, whom a part of the flock would have followed. But Father Justin does not do this, since the “unity of the Church” for him are not idle words, since he understands that schism in the Church is a greater sin than hesitation and waywardness in the faith of even the bishops of the Church. We have no sinless bishops, but the unsure, the wayward, the weak in spirit still belong to the Church, for Christ came not to heal the healthy, but the ailing, which is why He endured to the end the presence of Judas among the apostles, and at the Last Supper did not cease prayerful communion with him, giving the unworthy one communion.

In our age of uncertainty and waywardness and all manner of violence, some, out of zealousness, fall into a dangerous extreme, foreign to the origins of our Church, as I tried to show in my report; there are those who are prepared to see in his neighbor, at first suspicion, a wicked heretic or dangerous schismatic, incurring in himself evil feelings towards the latter, instead of love and condescension, at the same time himself falling unwittingly into pride, no less dangerous than weakness in the faith for the human soul. A sad example of this we see in Geneva in the person of the fairly good Priest V. Sakkas, for whom even our Synod of Bishops in insufficiently Orthodox and for whom submission to the latter is unnecessary. This is not Orthodoxy anymore, but sectarianism!

What is important for us: the Church itself and the living forces in it or temporary, maybe unworthy official representatives? For the sake of the latter are we to tear away from the Church of Christ, in which the majority think like we do, in whom, despite our unworthiness, the Holy Spirit breathes? But whom do we punish in this way? Only ourselves!

So, if not for our Church in the modern world:

1) it would not have a single free Church, impervious to this day by the forces of evil;
2) it would not have a free ecclesiastical voice, able to speak fearlessly in the name of the Church;
3) there would be no reliable and quiet ecclesiastical asylum for the true sons of Orthodoxy;
4) there would not be a single Church which did not join the World Council of Churches;
5) there would not be a Church that would uncover Soviet deception, representing the contemporary Moscow Patriarchate as the Russian Church;
6) There would be no Church openly speaking of the martyrs of our time and openly glorifying them;
7) without our Church, it is possible that the Orthodox world would sink deeper into modernism;
8) without our Church, the free world would sooner succumb to the propaganda of Communism.

This is why our Church is so vitally to this world.

Our Church and Russia

The reason for our existence abroad was the preservation of Orthodoxy, the preservation of the succession of ordinations from the bishops of the Russian Church, the preservation and education of our youth in Orthodoxy as Russians. Only our Church has never under any circumstances rejected the name “Russian!” Never has our Church sought foreign omophors in order to allegedly gain greater lawfulness outside of Russia. We always were and remain the children of the free part of the Russian Church, or the Russian Church abroad. If we have not been recognized as such, if the lawfulness of our existence has not been recognized, this has not bother us. We were certain that under the present circumstances it is worse for those who do not recognize us. The late Bishop Mefodii of the Parisian Archbishopry, for example, traveled to the Holy Land and received from the patriarch the right to serve as a bishop of the Greek Church. We Russians were not allowed to serve, but we did not disguise ourselves, and remained Russian, bearing the cross of Russia.

And now we stand before the face of a Russian undergoing renewal. Gradually that which we had awaited for so long, for which we labored and lived is occurring. Russian is awakening. Better people have begun to speak in Russia. The Soviet government, grasping for straws, not daring to punish them at home, are expelling them abroad.

Great Russian writers have appeared in the free world. In what way are they remarkable? Not only with their talent, not only the courage they exhibited in the USSR, but mostly because they declared themselves first of all Orthodox Christians. For they were reared under the Soviets, graduated Soviet schools, and left the Soviet Union not only believing Christians, but convinced Orthodox Christians. How can we not agree with the poet who said that one can only believe in Russia. And the greatest of these, A.I. Sozhenitsyn, in a conversation with me, declared that the salvation of Russia is impossible without the Church, and that it can occur only with national repentance. We hear this from the mouth of a student of the Soviet schools, an officer of the Red Armny, a long-time prisoner of Soviet camps. Is this not a miracle? What impressed Solzhenitsyn most of all in the free world was our ecclesiastical division. Without accusing anyone, he started to understand, with difficulty, why we, in the free world, in the face of the Russian tragedy, have church division? For not only Solzhenitsyn will wonder. He is for us a spokesman for the best people in Russia. This is a voice from over there! And heeding his words, we must first of all, in the name of this Council, appeal with a brotherly call for unity, in the name of the much-suffering Russian Church and the Russian people, addressing the American Metropoliate and the Parish Archbishopry. If we are the Russian Church, we must do this, it is our duty! It may be that we will be misunderstood, let us be mocked again, we should not fear this. For they laughed at Christ! If we are of Christ, if we are Russian, we must fear nothing in this world. Our freest Church must speak the truth, She must call for unity, for serving Russia. In this way we will justify our Russian name, our existence abroad. We must not push people away, but draw them closer, without fear, we must stride forward, not rend asunder, but unite!

The entire time of our existence abroad we spoke of our desire to save Russia, that we work towards her salvation. And now, when there is a real chance for us to do something for Russia, for the salvation of our homeland from the cruel atheist nightmare, we are doing so little! WE must double, triple, increase our efforts tenfold to help our much-suffering people and faithful in the homeland. Even sending literature over there is now a real option. Sailors in every port in the world from arriving Russian ships snatch up books, ask for books by Solzhenisyn. We receive responses to letters from all over Russia. There is a living bond with the homeland, the iron curtain has fallen! And we stand here idle and see nothing beyond our personal matters. In regard to help to Russia we have individuals working, even groups, but that is a drop in the ocean. We must organize work everywhere, we must publish literature, we must join forces to seek ways to send them to the homeland. We have Orthodox Work in Europe working on this, please help!

For to help our homeland is living work, for which we can draw the interest of our youth. We can and we must! Otherwise, how can we rear our children in the Russian spirit? For work for Russia will make them Russian not in word, but in deed!

Our Duty Before the Church and the Homeland

1) To preserve the purity of Orthodoxy, casting off all temptations of atheism and modernism. In other words, courageously follow the path drawn on the tablet of our Church.
2) To be the bold and free voice of the Church of Christ, uncompromisingly speak the truth, which our First Hierarchs have so far done.
3) To use our freedom to condescend to the imprisonment of others, trying not to accuse them lightly, but to understand, support, and show brotherly love.
4) To preserve and treasure church unity, sensing ourselves as being a pat of the living universal Church of Christ and carry with dignity within it the banner of the Russian Church.
5) To avoid the self-imposed isolation wherever possible, for the spirit of the Church is one of union, not division. Not to seek heretics where they may not exist, fearing exaggeration in this regard.
6) To call Russian Orthodox people and clergy who left us to unity. To call them not with threats, but with brotherly love, in the name of the suffering Russian Church and the much-suffering homeland.
7) To turn and face Russia in her rebirth, offer a hand of assistance where possible!

Archbishop ANTHONY of Geneva and Western Europe
Jordanville, 1974

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