"After my death our beloved Church abroad will break three ways .... first the Greeks will leave us as they were never a part of us ... then those who live for this world and its glory will go to Moscow ... what will remain will be those souls faithful to Christ and His Church." St. Philaret of NY 1985
To St. Tikhon's Monastery
ASSEMBLY AT ST. TIKHON’S MONASTERY
(October 20-21, 1970)
A year ago news of negotiations for recognition and autocephaly between the Moscow Patriarchate and the American Metropolia caused a strong emotional reaction. Animated by a spirit of brotherly love, we at that time warned the hierarchy of the Metropolia of the tragic dangers of any such agreement (Letter of Archbishop Nikon to Metropolitan Ireney dated December S/November 26, 1969). We also further explained the inevitable implications of such an agreement in resolutions adopted by our Synod of Bishops on December 31/18, 1969 and in the Message of same date, and also in various statements of the public press. The essence of our warnings can be concisely expressed by the following words of St. James’ Epistle (3 :12) : Can a fig tree, my brethren, yield olives, or a grape-wine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh.
It is impossible for the Moscow Patriarchate, under the complete control of the Soviet atheistic regime which has set for itself the goal of destroying all religion, to do anything which could be to the over-all benefit of the Church and it must be remembered that the Moscow Patriarchate cannot engage in foreign affairs without a direct order of the Soviet government.
Moreover, the idea of exchanging autocephaly to the American Metropolia for recognition of the Moscow Patriarchate originated from nobody else but Metropolitan Nikodim himself, a man whom the entire world knows for his close association with the Soviet government.
The testimony of numerous persons who have fled from the U.S.S.R. clearly establishes the strict control exercised by the Soviet government in all matters related in any way to foreign affairs..The Church is not exempt from this control. Despite this back-ground, the leaders of the Metropolia naively accepted the proposal of Metropolitan Nikodim as a great gift, as a glass of fresh and sweet water coming from a bitter salty fount of the enslaved Moscow Patriarchate.
It is not our intention to inflict upon you any hurt, but rather to give you again a brotherly warning of the danger now threatening you and of the fact that, from the proposed agreement, the benefit will accrue only to the Moscow Patriarchate.
The Synod of Bishops has not forgotten that until very recently you conceded that we and you were united in one Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. This unity was clearly expressed in the Temporary Statute of the Administration of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, which we all accepted. We grieved when this unity was disrupted when, under the influence of temporary political tendencies, the All-American Sobor in Cleveland in 1946 re-solved to attempt to terminate all subordination to the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. We never accepted the canonical validity of this unilateral decision which was accepted neither by the whole hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, nor even by a majority of the bishops of the North-American Metropolitan District. The late Metropolitan Leonty, who was then Archbishop of Chicago, wrote at that time to Metropolitan Anastasius that the decision taken by the Sobor of Cleveland had been provoked by the pro-Moscow sympathies which seized suddenly the majority of its members and you will remember that he himself did not share these sympathies. By its unapproved action, the Sobor in Cleveland introduced once again division into the Orthodox Church in America and left the Metro-polia again without any legitimate canonical foundation.
With respect to the proposed agreement with the Moscow Patriarchate, we would like to point out that such agreement could be reached only after the Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate lifted its interdict from the hierarchy of the American Metropolia stating that it had until then been regarded as a schismatic society. The Patriarchate removed its interdict first, on April 3, 1970, from the hierarchy of the Japanese Orthodox Church and only after that, on April 9, 1970, from the rest of the American hierarchy.
The leaders of the Metropolia, by recognizing the Moscow Patriarchate as the supreme authority of the Russian Church of which the Metropolia is a part, and by negotiating with said authority for autocephaly after the interdict has been removed, have raised a serious question as to the validity of all the actions of the Metropolia during the period of the interdict, that is from December 12, 1947 to April 9, 1970.
It is said that the Metropolia has stated that it did not recognize the validity of the interdict, considering it unjust, but the validity of an interdict depends upon the canonical capacity of the hierarchy by which the interdict was imposed, not upon its acceptance by the hierarchy that has been interdicted. Thus the Metropolis in recognizing the present Moscow Patriarchate as the supreme legal authority of the Russian Orthodox Church, has itself recognized the invalidity of its own hierarchical actions during 23 years. That is the logical consequence of the agreement now before you.
It appears that the leaders of the Metropolia have been lured by the MOSCOW Patriarchate’s promises of a prompt canonical recognition of your new “autocephalous” church and by a promised removal of at least its parallel jurisdiction, but we can now clearly see how naive it was to believe that such promises would be fulfilled.
For this is what we now see. Instead of the general recognition of the new autocephalous church, we have the Messages of the Ecumenical Patriarch from January 8 and June 24, 1970, proclaiming the act of the Moscow Patriarchate unilateral, anti-canonical and invalid. We know the unfavorable opinion of one of the Oriental Patriarchs, and the statement of the Serbian Bishops of February 10, 1970 calls it the “wrong road”. As early as February did they warn the Metropolia that it cannot expect a general recognition, calling the hope to obtain it “naive”.
We also see that the new Church calling itself “autocephalous” does not possess even the principal characteristic of an autocephalous Church - a territory of its own considered as stable and undisputable and subordinated to its jurisdiction. And how can the Metropolia possess such a territory when the jurisdiction that granted the autocephaly did not, in spite of your hopes, even abolish its own organization in America, but on the contrary retained in the same territory a great quantity of parishes headed by their own bishops and possessing their own property, without obliging these parishes to pray for the hierarchy of the new so-called “autocephalous” church? The “Tomos” granted by Moscow even allows the number of these “patriarchal” parishes in Canada to increase. At the same time there also continue to exist parishes of the more numerous Greek Archdiocese as well as parishes belonging to the many other Orthodox churches.
If members of the Metropolia hope that the granting of autocephaly will protect its inner freedom, they are deeply mistaken, because freedom is more often lost by actual relationships than saved by clauses in a treaty. It is now proposed that you link yourselves with the Patriarchate by the strongest of bonds, for what will you do if the only Church which has recognized your autocephaly and promised to obtain for you such recognition from other Churches, will renounce you ? You will inevitably become more and more involved with the Patriarchate and there will be more and more infiltration into your life of the influence of Moscow, the influence not of the true Russian Church but of the powerful atheistic government for which it fronts. Everybody knows that the Moscow Patriarchate, in spite of the warning of the Apostle, has been mismated with unbelievers (II Cor. 6:14). The leaders of the Patriarchate, beginning with the Metropolitan, later Patriarch Sergius, in 1927 ignored this warning and have been trying by their policy to unite Light with Darkness, to serve God submitting themselves at the same time to Belial. Thus they have allowed their own hierarchy to become an instrument of the national and foreign policy of the atheistic communist party in spreading its influence in the religious life of all the world.
Even now your leaders are trying to hide the extent and closeness of their relations with the Moscow Patriarchate, but “there is nothing hid, except to be made manifest nor is anything secret, except to come to light (Mark 4:22). If they did not wish to make it known that Metropolitan Nikodim did go to Alaska as ‘an honoured guest of the Metropolia, if Metropolitan Ireney’s .Secretary who accompanied Nikodim to Alaska, has published in the Russian paper Novoye Russkoye Slovo an article describing his journey without even mentioning the name of the person whom he accompanied, nevertheless all became known to us. If the papers were not notified that the Resident in America of the Moscow Patriarchate, Bishop Makari, had been invited to the meeting of the Russian Orthodox Clubs, this became known from a letter published in the Novoye Russkoye Slovo by a witness revolted by the sermon pronounced there by the above-named bishop concerning the “peaceful” policy of the Soviet government.
Moscow well knows how to draw people into the sphere of its influence by means of carefully planned visits, threats and gifts. You will feel its influence now stronger and yet stronger as time goes on. The creeping domination may be largely unseen and many of you will not recognize it. You may merely wonder how you became collaborators of Moscow in its international church policy, and only few of you may ever understand why Metropolitan Nikodim so unexpectedly undertook to organize your canonical position and grant you autocephaly. But by the time these things become apparent, it will be too late to prevent them.
In your hearts you must all know that the Moscow Patriarchate in its present form is not the true representative of the Russian Orthodox Church. The voice of the Patriarchate cannot be the voice of the Russian Church once the Patriarehate is bound by its subordination to the godless Soviet authority. The actions of the Patriarchate cannot be binding upon the Russian Church in the future, when God will surely again grant its freedom. As you know, the true Russian Orthodox hierarchy today is not at the Patriarchate, but either in prisons or in the Catacomb Church, and it therefore cannot now make its voice heard, except as we speak for it. Thus, as the only portion of the Russian Church existing in freedom, it is incumbent upon us to protect the rights of the true Russian Church in Russia and throughout the world. It is in this capacity as representatives of the interests of the true Russian Church throughout the world that we recognize and declare that the autocephaly granted to you by Moscow is illegal and invalid ; and we call upon you to refuse this proposed agreement which is likewise not recognized as valid by any other responsible representative of Orthodox Christians.
Therefore we are addressing you all, Bishops, Pastors and Laity, for the last time. Let all other considerations fall. Think how important it is now to hear a free voice of the representatives of the true Russian Church. Return back to the unity of the free before it is too late !
Until now the responsibility for all that has been done with respect to autocephaly rested on the hierarchy of the American Metropolia. Now the day has arrived when the whole clergy and laity in casting their votes will have to take responsibility before God and before men for the establishment of the purported autocephaly and the rejection of the free representatives of the true Russian Church.
When we see our neighbor at the edge of a precipice, our duty of love forces us to call him and make an effort to stop him. We are now making our last attempt, praying God that He may enlighten your mind and strengthen your will, in order that you should reject the erroneous path of Moscow and decide to return to the road of Truth and of Good.
October 6/19, 1970
+ Metropolitan Philaret
President of the Synod of Bishops
of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad