Metropolitan Philaret: On the Separation of the ROCOR and the Paris Archdiocese
First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad
Russian Orthodox archpastors, pastors, parishes and Russian Orthodox people in Western Europe and in all countries of dispersion.
“So, I, a prisoner in the Lord, I implore you to act worthy of the title to which you are called, with all humble wisdom and meekness, and patience, condescending to one another’s love, trying to maintain unity of spirit in the union of the world” (Ephesians 4.1-3).
The ordeals sent to the Russian people since the revolution have manifested themselves in a number of temptations in the field of church life. While our brothers in the homeland faced the difficult task of preserving the Faith and the Church in conditions of cruel persecution, then we, living in freedom, have a duty not only to keep our Faith intact in exile, but also to observe the fidelity of our persecuted Mother Church, despite the fact that we cannot have fellowship with her current official leadership, which chose the way of mixing light with darkness and simultaneously serving Christ and Veliar (2 Cor. 6.15).
The blessed deceased leaders of the Russian Church Abroad, Metropolitan Anthony and Anastasius, were the banner of such fidelity to the Russian Church and the guardians of its heritage abroad until the day when, by the grace of God, freedom of Faith and the rebirth of the Church would not have come to Russia. As a kind of precious guarantee of hers, they cherished the unity of its foreign part and fervently called for those who separated from it. Church separation in Western Europe and America was the cause of great suffering for their loving archpastoral hearts, as well as for all those who cherish our Russian Church.
Which of us also does not suffer from this separation? How many of us can remain indifferent when we see the sad fruits of separation, sometimes penetrating the very families of believers and provoking mutual hostility even among close relatives? How many of us do not hear the sighs of contrition at the sight of the temptation that it is for youth, often pushing it away from the Church in general?
Finally, separation weakens our voice of protest against the persecution of the Church in the USSR.
In the light of these thoughts and the canonical truth so important for healthy church building, we come to the question of the position of our Church in Western Europe, to our deep sorrow that has been woefully divided since 1926.
When we learned that the Patriarch of Constantinople rejected the Western European Exarchate, established by his predecessor in 1931, and proposed that he submit to Moscow, we rejoiced that His Eminence Archbishop George and his clergy refused to fulfill such an unworthy offer. This pleased us because the rejection of the Moscow temptation, it seemed, could bring them closer to us and tell them that they should seek unity with those of their brothers who invariably expose the lies preached by the so-called Moscow Patriarchate. And this is all the more so since division has already largely eliminated in the hearts of the flock, in which we notice a great thirst for the restoration of unity.
Alas, it was a great disappointment for us to report that instead of unification, the leaders of the former Exarchate take the path of consolidating their separation not only from us but also from the Russian Church in general.
With great anxiety, sorrow and perplexity, we inquired about the organization in Paris of an “Independent and Independent Archbishopric of the Orthodox Church of France and Western Europe”, formed, according to newspapers, by His Grace Archbishop George of the former Russian exarchate of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
The creation of this new “independent” Archdiocese, in its very name even having lost all indications of belonging to the Russian Church, is not only a sad and unjustifiable act, but also completely uncanonical.
The blessed Church of Christ is not the organization of any group of people who can dispose of at their discretion, repeatedly changing their hierarchy under the influence of the conditions of the moment. It is a divine institution, originating from Christ the Savior and the Holy Apostles, affirming its existence on the firm foundation of the holy canons and preserving its apostolic succession until the second and glorious coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and to the foundation of the eternal Kingdom of Heaven. Unity with the Ecumenical Church is carried out through the Local Churches and their dioceses and parishes. During the earthly existence of the Church of Christ, certain groups that did not stand on the true path fall away from it, and we consider it our duty to publicly warn that if, in fact, an “Independent and Independent Archdiocese of the Orthodox Church of France and Western Europe” is formed, then this, she will be on the dangerous path of church-canonical autocracy, which in the end result can lead her to fall away from the unity of the Church of Christ, because neither is holy. the canons, nor the history of the Church of Christ in all the centuries of its existence, do not know such unauthorized formations. External belonging to a church organization with the name of Orthodoxy does not at all give confidence in the actual participation in the Kingdom of God according to the Savior: “Not everyone who speaks to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but fulfilling the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me that day: Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and didn’t they cast out demons in your name? and didn’t you perform many miracles in your name? And then I will declare to them: I never knew you; depart from Me, doing iniquity” (Mt 7.21-23).
For the sake of clarity of our warning, we should briefly recall the path that the long-suffering Russian Church follows. Our Homeland-Russia received the Christian Faith from the Greeks at St. [equal to the apostles] Grand Duke Vladimir, to this day, preserves the Holy Orthodox Faith intact, despite all the great tribulations and persecutions that she has undergone over the past 50 years. As you know, at first the Russian Orthodox Church in the Kiev period was in the canonical jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople, then in the Moscow period it acquired canonical independence under the leadership of the Moscow Metropolitans and Patriarchs, for 217 years it was then canonically beheaded, losing its Patriarch and being under the authority of the All-Russian Holy ruling Synod, until in 1917 at the All-Russian Church Council it again received its Head in the person of the ever-memorable His Holiness Patriarch Tikhon, to keep the purity of Orthodoxy and fearlessly protects it from erected at her persecution by the godless Communist government.
In those terrible years of persecution with wise forethought, His Holiness Patriarch Tikhon ordered the Russian dioceses, which, due to the events of the Civil War and Revolution, had no communion with the Supreme Church Administration in Moscow, to unite together with their canonically grounded resolution of November 7/20, 1920 and form separate church administrations and thus preserve the fullness of church life. A year earlier, under the chairmanship of the oldest Russian hierarch, Metropolitan Anthony of Kiev and Galitsky, who was the first candidate to be elected to the Patriarchal throne, the Supreme Church Administration in the South of Russia was formed as the canonical supreme church authority for those Russian regions that were free from godless authorities. After the enslavement by her and the South of Russia, the Supreme Church Administration, together with many Russian Orthodox people, went abroad to Russia, and by the unanimous desire of all the bishops who were free, this Higher Church Administration was transformed into the Higher Church Administration Abroad, which was first with the blessing of the Ecumenical Patriarch acted in Constantinople, and then, at the invitation of the Serbian Patriarch, moved to Yugoslavia, spiritually nourishing Russian people scattered around the world.
April 22 / May 5, 1922 No. 348, at the request of the Soviet authorities, was followed by a decree of His Holiness Patriarch Tikhon on the closure of the Supreme Church Administration abroad for his actions against the Soviet government and in defense of the enslaved Russian people. On August 20 / September 2, 1922, at the unanimous request of all Russian bishops who were abroad, the Provisional Holy Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia was formed, which was soon renamed permanent.
In 1926, the head of the Western European Metropolitanate, Metropolitan Eulogius refused to obey the church-administrative orders of the Synod of Bishops. This caused a heavy church turmoil abroad. After some time of independent existence, he became subordinate to the then head of the Moscow Patriarchate after the death of Patriarch Tikhon, Metropolitan Sergius, who completely enslaved his well-known declaration of 1927 to the Soviet regime, recognizing its joys and successes with its joys and successes. Metropolitan Eulogius, who nurtured free Russian people in Western Europe, could not remain subordinate to the Moscow Church Administration for a long time. Having been persecuted from Moscow, on February 17, 1931, he took refuge in the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which took him into his canonical jurisdiction, in which the Western European Metropolis has remained to this day. In 1934, the Council of Bishops in Sremsky Karlovtsy, finding ways to restore church unity, lifted the ban on clergy from Metropolitan Eulogius and urged him to return to the fold of the Russian Church Abroad, but Metropolitan Eulogius did not heed this appeal and remained under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople. However, in 1935, he arrived at a meeting of Russian foreign bishops under the chairmanship of the Patriarch of Serbia Barnabas and took an active part in the elaboration of a regulation on the Church Abroad there, but did not reunite with it contrary to the example of the North American Metropolitan Theophilos.
Although the Synod of Bishops warned the Russian Western European Metropolis against the subordination of the Patriarchate of Constantinople due to the canonical foundations and the particularly difficult and dangerous circumstances of church life that we are now experiencing, this submission nevertheless created some semblance of the legal and canonical position for the Western European Exarchate in the sight of the ancient church and historical authority of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, it goes without saying, regardless of the actions of its modern leaders.
The formation at the present time from the Russian Orthodox parishes in Europe of the “independent independent Archdiocese of the Orthodox Church of France and Western Europe” not only has no grounds and no precedents in church history, but is also an act of renunciation in relation to the Russian Orthodox Church and to our long-suffering For the motherland, for it is a rejection of Russian nationality and a transfer of the material wealth of the Russian Orthodox Church to the new “independent and independent Archie iskopii France and Western Europe, the Orthodox Church. “
The name of the new Church as “independent” and “Archbishopric”, and not a diocese, without any indication of its connection with the Russian Church, goes much further than the temporary autonomy that Patriarch Tikhon’s decree of November 7/20, 1920 provides for individual parts of this Church. This is essentially a self-made declaration of autocephaly without the necessary canonical data and contrary to church need, which in fact in this case is the unification of Orthodox Russian people in Western Europe.
This new church education, which is unjustifiable and barely able to gain anyone’s recognition, like any non-canonical and unauthorized act, threatens the Western European flock only with further isolation and removal from the common Orthodox unity.
To the foregoing, we must add that all this must be equally attributed to the so-called American Metropolis, which also has no canonical grounds for its present position.
Representing the Russian Orthodox Church in the free world and standing guard over its spiritual and historical interests, we consider it our duty to declare the foregoing for the general public and fervently call on the Russian Western European Diocese, led by His Grace Archbishop George and His Grace Bishop Methodius, parishes and Orthodox belonging to them, to fulfill their duty, not to abandon their native Russian Church, but to return to the principles established by His Holiness Patriarch Tikhon, and reunite camping with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. They will not be cramped in the arms of our brotherly love.
If they do not wish to heed our fraternal appeal, then all who wish to remain faithful to the Church of Christ and save their souls for eternal life should seek spiritual nourishment from the lawful and blessed Archpriest Bishop Anthony, Archbishop of Western Europe and Geneva.
May the Lord inspire leaders b. Exarchate is the right path of love, unity and fidelity to the Russian Orthodox Church.
+ Metropolitan Philaret.
January 14, 1966