The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
This article was written under the auspices of the First
Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia,
Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky) (+1985)
The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, headed now
by Metropolitan Philaret, and earlier by Metropolitan Anthony
and Metropolitan Anastassy, bears witness to itself as an
indissoluble part of the historical Russian Church, which
nourished and educated the Russian people and created her
The Church Abroad views with attention, love and devotion
every movement of the life of the Church in our Homeland,
rejoices at her successes, and grieves at her errors. She
bows down before the spiritual feats [podvigi] of those martyrs
and witnesses who fearlessly followed the name of Christ to
indescribable sufferings in concentration camps.
The representatives of our Church untiringly recount these
podvigi of the Russian people in international and inter-confessional
circles, where the latter often close their ears and refuse
to hear of these sufferings, yet their half-slumbering consciences
are still troubled.
The Church Abroad carefully preserves the Divinely-inspired
ecclesiastical legacy received from her thousand years of
Orthodox Christian life in Russia, and does not succumb to
those winds of modernism and reformation which buffet from
all sides. The Church Abroad with all her might struggles
for the purity of the faith and for her independence from
the forces of evil reigning in the world.
The Church Abroad does not recognize as lawful the hierarchical
leadership of the contemporary official Russian Church, headed
now by Patriarch Pimen, and before him by Patriarchs Sergius
and Alexii, considering them enslaved by the God-battling
forces and entering into impermissible agreements and compromises
with the forces of evil.
The Church Abroad has for a long time paid dearly for her
uncompromising stance and the purity of her position in the
depraved world. Some would like to force her either to submit
to the Moscow Patriarchate or join the ranks of the existing
But the Church Abroad does not retreat from her positions,
highly valuing her complete independence from anyone, as well
as her profound unity with the children of the martyred Church
of Russia, with those archpastors, pastors and laypersons
who witness their faith in Christ amidst persecutions, not
compromising in any way with evil.
Those faithful Russian people in the emigration who submitted
to the church authorities of Moscow who are enslaved call
us renegades and schismatics. Those Russians who left the
Russian Church and joined the Church of Constantinople or
declared themselves autocephalous call our position uncanonical.
But we hold to this position with love, firmly and unwaveringly.
We are an indissoluble part of the Russian Church, which does
not recognize her uncanonical official leadership, and we
are the only ones in the entire world who are completely independent
representatives and spokesmen for the Russian Church.
How did the Church Abroad come into existence? In November
1920, the remains of the defeated, but unsubmitting White
Army left Russia. They departed into exile on Russian and
foreign ships, hundreds of thousands of Russians, officers
and soldiers, Cossacks, peasants, landowners, workers, tradesmen.
Clergymen left for foreign lands with their flocks. But the
clergy did not emigrate in disorganization. While still on
Russian territory, on the open expanses formerly under White
control, a Supreme Church Authority of the South of Russia
was formed, with the blessing of Patriarch Tikhon.
But finding themselves outside the borders of Russia, what
were the representatives of the Russian Church to do?
Were they to submit to the Patriarch of Constantinople? Were
they to join the existing Local Churches? These Local Churches
lived their own lives, they had their own concerns, their
own interests. The pains and problems of Russian church life,
which gripped the hearts of Russians, were not felt by them,
for them they were not immediate, they were not of the utmost
importance, as they were for the hearts of the Russian people.
There were not only emigre bishops in the exiled part of the
Russian Church, but those parts of the Russian Church that
remained outside of the borders of Soviet Russia; many parishes
in Western Europe, the diocese in America, two dioceses in
the Far East (Vladivostok and Peking)--incidentally, from
the Vladivostok diocese, which until November 1922 was under
White control, a third diocese was carved out--that of Harbin,
Manchuria. The Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Palestine
and a parish in Teheran also joined the Church Abroad.
The hierarchy of the Church Abroad appointed Archbishop Eulogius
of Volhyn as the ruling bishop of the Russian churches in
Western Europe, and Metropolitan Platon of Odessa as the Metropolitan
of North America. These appointments by the Church Administration
Abroad were confirmed by His Holiness Patriarch Tikhon in
his Act of 26 March 1921.
The Russian Church Abroad was then strong in her unity, and
her voice was resounding.
In April 1924, Patriarch Gregory of Constantinople, in the
heat of the struggle of His Holiness Patriarch Tikhon with
the Living Church, appealed to our Patriarch with the request
that he "immediately depart from leading the Church,"
that he dissolve the Patriarchate and hand over the fullness
of Church authority to the Living Church. In July of that
same year, the Metropolitan of Athens went even further, requesting
that the Russian clergy in Greece recognize the "synod"
of the Living Church, threatening otherwise to suspend all
of them from their priestly functions.
Both the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Metropolitan
of Athens, taking up the side of the Living Church in their
battle against the True Church, were guided by official government
directives from Russia. We see in this example how valuable
it is to understand church matters as they arose in Russia
to have personal experience and a vital organic connection
of the Russian people with the Church which is subjected to
This example also shows clearly how far-sighted, how wise
was the directive of His Holiness Patriarch Tikhon, who commanded
the Russian Church abroad to preserve her independence from
the Local Churches and her vital bond with the persecuted
Church of Russia.
Preserving her independence, and boldly expressing the defense
of truth and the denunciation of lies, the Russian Church
Abroad convinced the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Metropolitan
of Athens of the correctness of Patriarch Tikhon and the deceit
of the Living Church.
The power of the witness of the Church Abroad grew also in
that she was headed by Metropolitan Anthony, who was a renowned,
respected and authoritiative throughout the Orthodox world.
He raised his voice several times against the attempts of
the Patriarch of Constantinople to introduce non-ecclesiastical
reforms to the Church. As a result, in 1936, Patriarch Varnava
of Serbia said of the importance of Metropolitan Anthony:
"When at the beginning of the post-war period, a wave
of modernism washed over almost all the Churches of the East,
it broke upon the cliff of Metropolitan Anthony."
Yet the main strength of the Church Abroad was in her unity.
Alas, this unity did not last long.
In 1926, a division occurred between the Synod of Bishops
and Metropolitan Eulogius as a result of the necessity to
exclude the Russian parishes in Germany from the Western European
Diocese. The decision of the Synod of Bishops was appealed
by Metropolitan Eulogius to Metropolitan Sergius, who headed
the Russian Church in Moscow at the time, following the death
of Patriarch Tikhon and the arrest of Metropolitan Peter.
During this initial period of his leadership of the Russian
Church, Metropolitan Sergius still firmly stood on strict
canonical positions, and responded to Metropolitan Eulogius'
complaint with an epistle in the spirit of the Ukase of Patriarch
Tikhon, touching in its earnestness: "In light of the
absence of actual contacts between the Orthodox emigration
and the Moscow Patriarchate, the bishops abroad should in
general consent create for themselves a Central organ of ecclesiastical
administration..." Further, Metropolitan Sergius says
that the Moscow Patriarchate has enough of its own burdens,
and could not assume the responsibility of problems abroad.
Then Metropolitan Eulogius, and the head of the Russian Church
in America, Metropolitan Platon, with whom he found solidarity,
left the Russian Church Abroad.
The Synod of Bishops corresponded with the schismatic metropolitans
for a few months, encouraging them to making peace and submission.
Finally, on 13/26 January, 1927 (Metropolitan Eulogius) and
18/31 March of the same year (Metropolitan Platon), the Synod
came to decisive measures, replacing them in the cathedras
they occupied and suspending them from their priestly functions.
It was at this time that Metropolitan Sergius, who had been
arrested in November, was released from prison, having given
a promise to closely cooperate with the atheistic state.
If he had a few months earlier declined to make decisions
on church disagreements in the emigration, here he decisively
took the side of Metropolitan Eulogius in the latter's dispute
with the Synod of Bishops.
At the same time, Metropolitan Sergius requests of all the
clergy of the Moscow Patriarchate, and that of the emigration,
signed oaths of loyalty to the Soviet government.
In his infamous declaration of 16/29 July 1927, Metropolitan
Sergius writes: "We requested of the clergy abroad that
they give their written obligation in total loyalty to the
Soviet state in the entire scope of their social activity.
Is it not time for them to review the matter of their relationship
to the Soviet state, so as not to break from their native
Church and Homeland?"
Metropolitan Eulogius signed this oath of loyalty to the Soviet
state on his own behalf on on that of all his clergymen. The
Synod of Bishop decreed (27 August/9 September 1927): "To
decisively reject the proposal of Metropolitan Sergius and
his Synod to give a signed oath of loyalty to the Soviet state,
as uncanonical and very dangerous for the Holy Church."
And so the Church Abroad found itself divided into two parts.
Two years later, the error of the position adopted by Metropolitan
Eulogius became clear. A wave of protests spread throughout
the world over the persecution of the faithful in Russia.
There were prayers organized for the persecuted Christians
in Russia, and the head of the Anglican Church invited Metropolitan
Eulogius to take part in these prayers. Metropolitan Eulogius
found himself in a difficult situation. To refuse to take
part in these prayers was shameful, but to participate meant
to violate the oath of loyalty to the Soviet state. Metropolitan
Eulogius joined the prayers, and was summoned to court in
Moscow. But instead of going to Moscow, he went to Constantinople,
and transferred himself and his diocese to the authority of
the Patriarch of Constantinople.
Still, a part of the clergy under Metropolitan Eulogius did
not follow him but remained under the Moscow Patriarchate.
So the Russian Church abroad found itself divided into three
Those parts that separated from the Church Abroad had to change
their main positions several times. The Church Abroad itself
over the entire 55 years of her existence remained unfailingly
true to the path she had chosen for herself once and for all.
The headquarters of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of
Russia was located at Sremskije Karlovtsy, Yugoslavia, until
World War II, under the fraternal, loving protection of the
Serbian Church, which Russians in the diaspora always remember
with a kind word.
Over the course of several years, the Church Abroad tried
its best to heal the wounds dealt to the work of the Church
by the schisms. In 1934-35, this goal seemed to be achieved.
In 1934, Metropolitan Anthony wrote a friendly letter to Metropolitan
Eulogius, calling upon him to make peace. Metropolitan Eulogius
came to Yugoslavia and made peace with Metropolitan Anthony,
the two reading prayers of absolution over one another. Thus
was prayerful communion reestablished between the Church Abroad
and Metropolitan Eulogius' group.
The following year, in Belgrade, under the chairmanship of
the loving friend of the Russian Church, Patriarch Varnava
of Serbia, a meeting was held of the representatives of the
Russian Church. Participating were: from the European group,
Metropolitan Eulogius; from the American group, the successor
to Metropolitan Platon, Metropolitan Theophilus; from the
dioceses of the Far East, Archbishop Dimitri (the father of
our present First Hierarch, Metropolitan Philaret); and from
the parishes of the Church Abroad in the Near East and in
Europe, Archbishop Anastassy, who had been elevated by Patriarch
Varnava to the rank of metropolitan, and becoming the successor
to Metropolitan Anthony after the latter's repose.
This meeting reestablished order in the Russian Church Abroad,
and all of the archpastors present signed the decrees of the
Conference, and it seemed that the unity of the Russian Church
abroad was restored.
His Holiness Patriarch Varnava said at the time: "Among
us are Metropolitan Anthony, this great hierarch, an adornment
of the Universal Orthodox Church. This great mind reminds
one of the first hierarchs of the Church of Christ in the
early days of Christianity. In his mind is ecclesiastical
truth. All of you, not only those living in our Yugoslavia,
but those in Europe, in America and in Asia and in all the
countries of the world, must form an indivisible whole, headed
by your archpastor, Metropolitan Anthony, and you must not
succumb to the assaults and provocations of the enemies of
the Church." Unfortunately, returning to Paris from Yugoslavia,
Metropolitan Eulogius rejected the unity that had been achieved.
Still, these efforts, though unsuccessful, were beneficial.
The American part of the Church remained within the Church
Abroad until 1946, and the lifted suspensions in Europe allowed
Russian clergymen to concelebrate during the war, and when
waves of Russian prisoners of war, and the so-called "Ostarbeiters"
(that is, those workers who were forcibly brought to Germany
from Russian and the Germany-occupied territories), washed
over Europe, the Russian Church was able to greet them as
one, and did not demonstrate for them division, which could
have led many astray.
In 1936, the founder of the Church Abroad, the great bishop
Metropolitan Anthony, died, and his place was taken by Metropolitan
Anastassy, the eldest of the bishops of the Russian Church,
who had been consecrated into the episcopacy in Moscow in
During the war, all the efforts of the Church Abroad were
devoted to the spiritual care of the many millions of Russians
who found themselves in territories seized by the Germans.
Some 5 million persons, "Ostarbeiters," were transported
from Russia to Germany for forced labor. Even more Russian
soldiers and officers suffered in prison. It was difficult
to penetrate both types of camps for representatives of the
Russian emigre clergy, since Germans categorically prohibited
contact between Russian emigres and those Russians who suddenly
found themselves abroad.
In 1943, German authorities requested of Metropolitan Seraphim
of Berlin (a German by birth) that he prohibit Ostarbeiters
from entering emigre churches. Vladyka Seraphim replied: "I
am an Orthodox bishop, and my obligation is to call upon all
Orthodox people to attend church. For this reason, I cannot
hinder anyone from participating in divine services. If you
feel that this is necessary, post your own guards to prevent
Ostarbeiters from entering our churches. I can do nothing
about that." But the German authorities could not bring
themselves to do so.
Knowing that such demands would be made of parish rectors,
and having no ability to issue directives to them not to obey
the authorities in this matter, Metropolitan Seraphim found
a way out by publishing a description of this exchange in
his diocesan bulletin, hoping that parish priests would reach
the correct conclusion. And so it happened.
Ostarbeiters were forced to wear insignias reading "Ost,"
meaning East. A priest gave a good sermon on this in Berlin
once: "You have been labeled with the word "Ost,"
with the hope that you would be humiliated. "Yet they
don't understand what a great honor they give you, for until
now, only One Person was referred to in this way "East
is His name."
The Monastery of St. Job, part of the Church Abroad and located
at the time in Slovakia, at the very border with Galicia,
printed a significant number of religious books. They printed
Gospel books, in several editions, reaching 100,000 copies,
60,000 prayers books. Various apologetic brochures were published,
each in an edition of 5-15,000.
The Germans strictly prohibited the sending of any sort of
literature to the territories they occupied. But thanks to
the fact that the Russian population paid a high price for
such books, many Slovak soldiers came to the Monastery of
St. Job before departing for the front and took religious
publications, passed them on to the population living in German-occupied
territories, and the Monastery received touching messags of
gratitude, even from as far as Stalingrad.
During the second World War, the ecclesiastical headquarters
of the Church Abroad remained in Serbia. The Serbian Church
during was persecuted by the Germans during this time. To
a lesser degree, they also pressured the Russian Church leadership,
which had strictly preserved a fraternal, loving relationship
with the leadership of the Serbian Church. Patriarch Gabriel
of Serbia spoke of this in London in 1945 during an interview
with British and Polish journalists:
Metropolitan Anastassy, with great wisdom and tact,
held on under the German occupation, he was always loyal to
the Serbs, for which he did not gain the trust of the Germans
and was subjected several times to humiliating searches.
At the end of the war, Metropolitan Eulogius, succumbing to
the enthusiasm of certain emigres for Soviet victories and
rumors of the complete change of ecclesiastical policy in
Russia, ended his subjugation to the Constantinople Patriarchate
and submitted to the Patriarch of Moscow. But after his death,
his successor, Metropolitan Vladimir, once again returned
At the same time, the Church in America once again broke apart.
One part, headed by Metropolitan Theophilus, broke with the
Church Abroad and attempted to submit to the Moscow Patriarch,
placing as a condition its complete practical independence.
When these attempts failed, this part of the Church, headed
by Metropolitan Theophilus successor, Metropolitan Leonty,
was left without any canonical authority over it.
Jumping ahead, we will say that in the 1960's, a similar fate
befell a part of the Church in Europe which submitted to the
Patriarch of Constantinople.
In response to a demand from the Moscow Patriarchate, the
Patriarch of Constantinople refused the Western European Russian
Exarchate and ordered Archbishop George, who headed it at
the time, to submit to the Patriarch of Moscow. Archbishop
George and his flock refused, remaining without any canonical
authority over it.
Chafing under this situation, the archbishopric of Vladyka
George more than once appealed to the Patriarch of Constantinople
with appeals to accept them once again under his authority.
Finally, the Constantinople Patriarch agreed and accepted
this part of the Russian Church, but not as a Russian exarchate,
but simply as a vicariate of the Greek Metropoliate in Europe.
The part of the Church in America separating from the Church
Abroad turned to the Moscow Patriarchate with an appeal to
grant them autocephaly. With the permission of the Soviets,
this appeal was granted, but almost none of the Local Church
recognized this autocephaly.
And so, at the present time, the American group of former
Russian dioceses considers itself an autocephalous Church,
the European Archbishopric is a part of the Greek Patriarchate
of Constantinople in the capacity of a vicariate, and only
the Church Abroad continues to witness itself as an inseparable
part of the much-suffering Russian Church.
After the end of World War II, the Russian Church Abroad also
underwent the temptation to submit to the Moscow Patriarchate.
In the final days of the war, the Germans, not wishing to
leave Metropolitan Anastassy in Soviet hands, yet still indifferent
to his fate, transported the Metropolitan from Karlovtsi to
Fussen, a small town in southern Bavaria, and left him with
an old man as his cell-attendant, who spoke German and could
not help the Metropolitan at all.
At first, Vladyka did not even have a roof over his head.
Only on the next day, due to the fortunate help of a believing
Russian youth in Fussen, who spoke German, Vladyka Metropolitan
was given an attic room at the local Catholic priests
home. Here, Vladyka Anastassy received a letter from Patriarch
Alexii of Moscow, addressed to Their Eminences the representatives
of the so-called Karlovtsy orientation, calling for
It would have been sufficient to make one conciliatory step
towards this offer, and the impoverished, post-war situation
of the Russian Church Abroad would have become glorious, for
the Western Allies were eager to please the Soviets. But such
a step would have lost for the Church Abroad her Divinely-granted
freedom, and she would have become a coconspirator with the
enslaved Moscow hierarchy.
Metropolitan Anastassy replied to the call of Patriarch Alexii
with the dignity suited to an archpastor, as worthy as that
of the archpastors of the ancient Church of Christ.
Vladyka Metropolitan wrote:
...Being always prepared to respond to thos asking what
our hopes are, and possessing zeal for the good not only before
the Lord, but before men, we feel that it is our duty first
of all to declare that bishops as well as clergymen and laypersons
under the jurisdiction of the Council and Synod of Bishops
Abroad never felt and do not feel that we are outside
of the fence of the Russian Orthodox Church, for we
never broke the canonical, prayerful and spiritual bond with
our Mother Church. The representatives of the Church Abroad
were obliged to break off communion only with the Supreme
Ecclesiastical Authority in Russia, since the latter began
to depart from the path of the truth of Christ and in this
way to tear away from the Orthodox episcopacy of the
Russian Church, for which we do not cease to raise our
prayers during each service and are together with the believing
people of Russia, from the days of old remaining the preservers
of piety in Rus. If most of the bishops, clergy and
laymen followed them, this does not yet give them the right
to be the true representatives and spokesmen of the spirit
and will of the Russian Church, for most of the hierarchs
there were selected for their unity of mind with them, and
the removal of undesirable firm and courageous bishops, with
threats and pressure upon the consciences of the weaker ones.
Clergymen followed their bishops in obedience, but the people,
or course, could not always discern the complicated situation
of the Church.
...Since the present leader of the Russian Church emulates
the example and legacy of his predecessor in his relationship
with the Soviet state and goes even further in accommodating
the spirit of the times, we do not deem it possible to enter
into canonical communion with him and submit to his authority.
We well know the price of ecclesiastical peace and unity and
least of all wish to hinder it in any way on our part, but
there are circumstances in the life of the Church when division
becomes morally necessary, and so it is our duty, on the basis
of the words of Her Founder and eternal Head: Think
not that I come to send peace on earth: I came not to send
peace, but a sword (Matth. 10:34).
In view of these divine words, St. Gregory the Theologian
says that there is evil peace and good discord...
...Only a free and lawfully-convened, independent All-Russian
Church Council can be the rightful judge between the bishops
Abroad and the present head of the Russian Church, a Council
that includes the participation, if possible, of all the bishops
abroad and especially of those now imprisoned in Russia, before
whom we are prepared to give an accounting at any moment of
all our acts during our time abroad. But such a Council is
of course impossible under the present circumstances...
...In the thunder and fury we survived and a part of
the continuing sufferings, we still hear the heavenly voice
addressing the whole world: Behold, I have refined thee,
but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of
afflication...O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments!
Then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness
as the waves of the sea (Is. 48:10, 18).
In these words we must seek the key to understanding
the fate of our Fatherland. Separated from direct communication
with our native land, Russian exiles have yet never betrayed
her and did not forget her heavy fate.
Even less could the Russian Orthodox archpastors and
clergymen remain indifferent to her fate. It was for this
that they left in voluntary exile, to remain faithful to the
holy legacy of our history, the building of which our Church
partook of with such life and fruitfulness...
...Our prayer is still as earnest, as is our love for
our homeland. It is expressed in the following words; God,
illumine, impart wisdom, pacify and unify us all with Thy
grace, and those who seek Thee not, do Thou reveal Thyself,
so that they would turn to Thee with all their hearts and
witnessed Thy power and strength and glory, which Thou showed
in the fate of our great Homeland.
The first years after the war, the main goal of the Russian
Church Abroad was to save Russians, whom the Western Allies,
the Americans, British and French, returned to face bloody
revenge to the Soviet Union.
The priests of the Russian Church Abroad took risks, which
they understood to be deadly, going to camps designated for
return to the East, achieving the revocation of such repatriations.
Sometimes, as in Hamburg, they were able to cancel the return
to the USSR even of those people who were in Soviet transit
During the betrayal of the Cossacks by the British in Lienz,
and of the Ostarbeiters by the Americans in Campton and Plattling,
priests stood with crosses in their hands before tanks headed
for the crowds.
British and American soldiers beat them with rifle buts and
rubber rods alongside other Russians who did not wish to be
turned over to the KGB for revenge.
When in Dachau, everyone, and in other camps, a part of the
Russians committed acts of mass suicide to avoid repatriation,
Metropolitan Anastassy gave his permission for funeral and
commemorative services, saying: Their actions are closer
to the podvig of St. Pelagia of Antioch (8 October), who threw
herself out of a tower to avoid defilement, than to the crime
At the same time, the Russian Church Abroad turned to the
leaders of the countries of the New World asking that they
accept Russian emigres. The government of Argentina responded
most positively, where the wife of the President, Eva Peron,
managed to obtain 25,000 visas for our Synod.
In the early 1950's, the USA, Canada and Australia opened
their doors to Russian immigration. In the late 1950's, Metropolitan
Anastassy and the Holy Synod followed the majority of the
emigres to the USA.
By the 1960's, the bulk of the Russian emigration had settled
in those countries that they had selected. Joining the emigres
from Europe in the end of the 1940's and 1950's were a multitude
of emigres from the Far East.
In the Far East, especially in Harbin and Shanghai, church
life blossomed between the wars. There were some 100,000 Russians
in Harbin, emigres, Soviet and Chinese citizens. There were
26 Russian Orthodox churches, some fifteen middle schools
and 6 institutions of higher learning. The Church greatly
developed charitable work. Parishes had cheap or free cafeterias
for the poor, there were 4 church orphanages, two church hospitals.
The Higher Pastoral Theological Program, later the Theological
Institute, graduated many young clergymen.
Church building and church charitable work also flowered in
Shanghai. Alongside the Russian Orthodox priests, Chinese
Orthodox priests labored in the Lords harvest fields,
in Harbin, but especially in Shanghai.
All this was destroyed, in Harbin in 1945, and in Shanghai
in 1949, with the coming to power of the Communists.
During the 1960's, the so-called Cultural Revolution, Chinese
Orthodox priests were subjected to cruel persecutions. They
were stripped naked, covered in tar, and dragged along the
streets, then burned alive.
Archbishop John (Maximovich) was able to obtain visas to the
USA for emigres in Shanghai, which was a real miracle, because
access to the USA for people from China was difficult to begin
with, moreso for those of Chinese origin, for whom immigration
was absolutely forbidden. Over the course of two years, with
untiring efforts of Vladyka John, several thousand Russians
from Shanghai came to await their fate on the Philippine Islands,
until they received their visas in 1951 to go to San Francisco.
The Harbin emigration happened slowly, from 1946 until 1962.
That wave generally went to Australia. Archimandrite Philaret,
now the head of the Church Abroad, joined this wave in 1962,
when he went to Brisbaine. He had gained the love and pious
respect of the people of Harbin through his courageous, fearless
standing for the truth of the Church both before the Soviets
and the Chinese Communists. He was then consecrated Bishop
In 1964, Metropolitan Anastassy, hobbled by his 90 years of
age, decided to pass on the leadership of the Russian Church
Abroad to a successor, whom the Council of Bishops was to
elect. The Council unanimously decided upon the youngest bishop
by consecration, His Grace Philaret, Bishop of Brisbaine.
One of the first acts of the new head of the Church Abroad
was the glorification of the great man of prayer and miracle-worker
of Russia, St. John of Kronstadt.
The desire for his glorification was felt long ago in the
Russian Diaspora, but the question remained: how would the
Church in Russia respond to this act, not the official leadership,
but the real Church in the persons of the bishops, clergymen
and laymen faithful to God. Even before the Second World War,
we began to receive information that the believers in Russia
revere Fr. John of Kronstadt as a saint, and that this veneration
was not fading away with the years, but strengthening and
broadening in scope. Just before the war, a service written
for St. John of Kronstadt the Miracle-worker was smuggled
out of the country, prepared by witnesses of the faith in
Then, expressing the will not only of the Church Abroad, but
of the all of the faithful in Russia, the Council of Bishops
of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, on 5/18
June 1964, decreed to conduct a solemn glorification of St.
John of Kronstadt, which was scheduled for the day of St.
John of Rila, whose name Fr. John of Kronstadt bore.
During the celebration, Metropolitan Philaret said that this
celebration is one not only for the Church Abroad, but for
all children of the Russian Church, of all the Russian Orthodox
Since that time, the Church Abroad ceaselessly prays to the
great pleaser of God, asking that he intercede through his
all-powerful prayers before the throne of God for the much-suffering
Russian people and their holy Church.
Unfortunately, both the American Church and the European Archbishopry
refused to recognize as a saint the righteous Father John
of Kronstadt. The Russian Church Abroad also, as in the matter
of the glorification of St. John of Kronstadt, reverently
heeds the voices coming from Russia to learn what the attitude
there is to the possibility of the glorification of the great
righteous woman of Russia, Blessed Kseniya of St. Petersburg,
A new area of activity opened for the Church Abroad in the
early 1960's. Correspondence with people in Russia increased,
since the Soviet government, in its aim of strenghtening ties
with the West, began to allow such communication. The fact
of ones corresponding with someone in the West was no
longer a crime, but of some benefit.
Thanks to this, it has become possible to send letters of
a religious nature, enclosing some religious brochures and
leaflets. Alas, a great portion of these disappears, since
these letters are sent to incidental addresses, while people
in Russia, having grown accustomed over the preceding years
to the notion that all contact with foreign countries was
a crime, receiving an unexpected letter from France, Germany,
America or Australia, would rush to the nearest KGB office
and turn over the envelope. But still, one cannot say that
these missives are completely lost, because those whose hands
they fall into read them first, and this could have a sobering,
inspiring effect on them.
The reaction of the faithful to our sending of letters is
cherished and touching. From very many letters we receive
over the years, we selected one to share:
A believer apparently unfamiliar with the Church Abroad writes:
Our region is basically under assault by Baptist literature.
But now we are receiving yoursan Orthodox brotherhood.
This has elated us Orthodox Christians. You should know that
it is impossible to get anything here. Fro this reason, your
booklets and leaflets are copies and distributed as much as
possible. The Orthodox now know that they are not alone. Who
are you? Frenchmen or Germans who have adopted Orthodoxy,
or Russians living abroad? Judging from your letters, you
have a Russian church and Russian clergyment there. Have your
pastors write to our Patriarch, so that he has Gospels and
other Church literature printed, which we dont have.
And for the youth, they should write like you do, that all
intelligent people should believe in God, that atheism is
a lie, and ignorant. Where is Solzhenitsyn now? Is he with
you or not? Where does he live? Your letters bring us great
joy and hope. We will send you addresses of people to whom
you should also send your booklets. We read them all together,
and one of us explains them.
Speaking of these letters, the person most involved in sending
religious literature to the East writes: I am filled
with joy from such letters, and there are many of them now.
The time has come when we must use all our powers to increase
our packages to the Homeland. The ice has broken, all our
gazes must be turned there. A great deal depends on us. We
must, to the end, fulfill our duty before the Church and the
Fatherland. We need good and pure religious and apologetical
literature. We ned people who would assume the obedience to
send letters with this literature. There is no other path
for us now. Later, we believe, the Lord will show other ways...
The matter of sending religious literature to Russia is conducted
mostly by the brotherhood Orthodox Work, founded
by the great righteous man and podvizhnik, Archbishop John
(Maximovich), and is now headed by his successor, Archbishop
Anthony of Geneva. This organization was created to attract
laymen to Church work to aid our priests.
Its work is concentrated mostly in two areas: the sending
of religious literature to the East and the support of the
Orthodox Palestine Society.
This is the life and work, and prayer, of the Russian Orthodox
From the book Conversations on Holy Scripture and Faith,
vol. V, Russian Orthodox Youth Committee, New York, 1995.