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  • byakimov@csc.com.au
    THE EPISTLES OF METROPOLITAN CYRIL This excerpt is from Ivan Andreyev s Russia s Catacomb Saints (Platina, CA: St. Herman of Alaska Press, 1982), 242-59. I
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 8, 2003

      This excerpt is from Ivan Andreyev's Russia's Catacomb Saints (Platina, CA:
      St. Herman of Alaska Press, 1982), 242-59. I encourage everyone to find a
      copy of this out-of-print, 600+ page masterpiece. It is powerful reading
      and extremely important for our day. Read the Introduction to this book . .

      THE MOST EMINENT of the hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church after the
      death of Patriarch Tikhon was, without doubt Metropolitan Cyril of Kazan.
      Chosen by Patriarch Tikhon as the first of the three Locum Tenens who would
      take his place in case of his death or incapacity, he was also chosen by
      the vast majority (72) of free bishops in 1926 in an unsuccessful attempt
      to elect a new Patriarch by a secret election. Being in exile in the years
      after 1925, he was unable to assume the position of Locum Tenens which
      therefore fell to the second candidate of Patriarch Tikhon, Metropolitan
      Peter of Krutitsa, but his voice was still the most authoritative in the
      whole Russian Church at that time.

      After the Declaration of Metropolitan Sergius in 1927, therefore, the
      opinion of Metropolitan Cyril on this document and on Metropolitan Sergius'
      "new course" of church action was eagerly awaited. This opinion finally
      came after about two years, from Metropolitan Cyril's exile in Tunikhan in
      the far north. In this letter, to his friend Bishop Damascene, and even
      more in his subsequent correspondence with Metropolitan Sergius and other
      bishops up to the year 1934, Metropolitan Cyril sets forth, perhaps more
      clearly than any of the other hierarchs of the time, the ecclesiological
      nature of the error of Metropolitan Sergius. His observations on the nature
      of the Church's unity and oneness of mind, on the necessity to reject
      canonical legalism in the Church, on the question of breaking communion and
      on the presence or absence of grace in the Moscow Patriarchate and those
      who have separated from it, remain very relevant for our own day.

      EPISTLE NO. 1: June 6/19, 1929

      (Addressed to Bishop Damascene Cedrick, who like him had been in exile in
      Turukhan, but had then been freed and was temporarily in Starodoub.
      Translated, with omissions, from the complete Russian text in E.
      Lopeshanskaya, Bishop-Confessors, San Francisco, 1971, pp. 27-35 There is a
      partial Russian text in Lev Regelson, The Tragedy of the Russian Church,
      Paris, YMCA Press, 1977, pp. 166-168, 466-467. Regelson gives the date as
      May 2/15 and the addressee as the Kazan vicar-bishop Athanasius Malinin;
      this is an earlier letter whose content is mostly repeated in the longer
      letter to Bishop Damascene.)

      Christ is in our midst! Beloved brother in the Lord, dear Vladika, Most
      Eminent Bishop!

      Your letter, weighty in content, of March 1 I received on the Apodosis of
      Paschal In truth Christ is risen! What you have written to Father John I
      have read, thanks to the kind attention towards me of my neighbor. Both
      what you have said to Father John and your letter of March have consoled
      me?not by their grievous content, but by the oneness of soul and mind of us
      both which have been revealed there concerning the opinion of the church
      scandal which is now occurring. . .

      Perplexity with regard to Metropolitan Sergius and the church headed by him
      could have arisen only because the believers have felt in the
      administrative-ecclesiastical activity of Metropolitan Sergius an exceeding
      of the authority which was given him by the title of Substitute of the
      Locum Tenens of the Patriarchal Throne. For me personally there is no doubt
      that no substitute can be equal in his rights to the one whom he replaces,
      nor can he take his place. A substitute is assigned for disposing of
      current affairs, the order of deciding which is precisely defined by the
      rules in force, by preceding practice, and by the personal directives of
      the one whom he replaces. No so-to-speak "rights of establishing," as a
      kind of reform of the existing institutions, the opening of posts, and so
      forth, can be given without first asking the agreement and directives of
      the one being replaced. And a fundamental change of the very system of
      church administration, which Metropolitan Sergius has ventured on, exceed
      the authority even of the Locum Tenen himself. . .

      (There follows a technical discussion of the institution of Locum Tenens
      under Patriarch Tikhon, in order to show how Metropolitan Sergius has
      exceeded his authority.)

      Therefore, until Metropolitan Sergius abolishes the Synod which he has
      established, I cannot acknowledge as obligatory for me to fulfill a single
      one of his administrative-ecclesiastical decrees given with the
      participation of tile so-called Temporary Patriarchal Synod. Such a
      relationship to Metropolitan Sergius and his Synod I do not understand as a
      separation from the part of the Orthodox Church administered by
      Metropolitan Sergius since the personal sin of Metropolitan Sergius
      concerning church administration does not do harm to the Orthodox dogmatic
      teaching observed by this part of the Church also but I am profoundly
      grieved that among those bishops who are of one mind with Metropolitan
      Sergius, in violation of brotherly love, the nickname of "splinter-group"
      and "schismatics" is already being applied in relation to those who are not
      in agreement with him and who accuse his wrongness.

      I am not separating from anything holy, from anything that authentically
      belongs to the Church. I fear only to approach and cling to that which I
      recognize as sinful in its origin, and therefore I refrain from brotherly
      communion with Metropolitan Sergius and the Archpastors who are one in mind
      with him, since I have no other means of accusing a sinning brother. The
      many attempts known to me of personal written brotherly exhortations
      addressed to Metropolitan Sergius by the reposed Metropolitan Agathangelus,
      by Metroplitan tan Joseph and his two vicars, by Archbishop Seraphim of
      Uglich and Bishop Victor of Vyatka, have not been able to return
      Metropolitan Sergius to his proper place and to a fitting manner of action.
      To repeat this attempt of convincing by words would be useless. Therefore,
      I acknowledge it as a fulfillment of our archpastoral duty for those
      Archpastors and all who consider the establishment of the so-called
      "Temporary Patriarchal Synod" as wrong, to refrain from communion with
      Metropolitan Sergius and those Archpastors who are of one mind with him. By
      thus refraining, for my part, I am not in the least affirming or suspecting
      any lack of grace in the sacred actions and Mysteries performed by
      Sergianists (may the Lord God preserve us all from such a thought!), but I
      only underline my unwillingness and refusal to participate in the sins of

      Therefore, I will not liturgize with Metropolitan Sergius and the
      Archpastors of one mind with him. But in case of mortal danger, with a
      peaceful conscience I will receive Unction and the final prayers from a
      priest appointed by Sergius or who submits to the Synod established by him,
      if there is not present a priest who shares my relation to Metropolitan
      Sergius and the so-called "Temporary Patriarchal Synod." Similarly, if I
      find myself in a locality where all the churches are under the "Temporary
      Patriarchal Synod," I will not enter them to pray at public Divine
      services, but I acknowledge it as possible, without a preparatory
      sanctification of the church, to serve Liturgy in one of them either alone
      or with the participation of clergy and believing laymen one in mind with
      me if such ones happen to be there. In my opinion, every clergyman who
      shares m; attitude to Metropolitan Sergius and the Synod established by him
      can act in the same way.

      As for laymen, in all conscience they should not participate actively in
      the church-parish life of parishes which commemorate the name of
      Metropolitan Sergius at Divine services as the chief Archpastor. But in
      itself such a commemoration of the name of Metropolitan Sergius cannot be
      made the responsibility of laymen and should not serve for them as an
      obstacle to attending the Divine services and receiving the Holy Gifts in
      churches which submit to Metropolitan Sergius, if in the given locality
      there is no Orthodox church which preserves unharmed its canonical relation
      to the Locum Tenens of the Patriarchal Throne. And to pray for Metropolitan
      Sergius, together with other Archpastors and Orthodox Christians in general
      (on lists for commemoration at the Proskomedia, molebens, and so forth) is
      not a sin. This is the duty of all Orthodox Christians, until a general
      church excommunication shall declare the abuse made by Metropolitan Sergius
      of the church authority entrusted to him to be a sin unto death. (Matt.
      18:15-17; I John 5:16). . .

      At the present time Metropolitan Sergius no longer conceals the insincerity
      of his declaration that the Synod exists with him and falls with him. In a
      conversation with you he directly declared: "My future successors will be
      compelled to take into account the situation which I have established in
      the Church." But in this declaration there is much more human
      self-assurance than a God-enlightened understanding of his and the Church's
      situation. It is comprehensible after this that obedience to Metropolitan
      Sergius, which holds up only on moral authority, has automatically ceased
      on the part of all sincere Orthodox people. All such ones have said both in
      their conscience and in the hearing of others that they preserve communion
      with the Universal Church through the Locum Tenens of the Patriarchal
      Throne, but not through his private delegate.

      For me personally ever, thing set forth here is a sufficient feeling-out of
      a canonical foundation under my feet, and an appeal to Metropolitan Sergius
      with a cumbersome epistle, it seems to me, would be an unnecessary
      exaggeration of the church significance of Metropolitan Sergius and a
      pouring of oil upon the fire of self-esteem which is already burning poor
      Vladika. There has been no lack of brotherly exhortations with regard to
      him for these two years but Metropolitan Sergius is deaf to them. He will
      not listen to a new one, either even though it might be the call of one

      Therefore it is sufficient, it seems to me, for the personal representative
      of the Locum Tenens, if everyone who is not in agreement with his church
      activity should personally bring to his awareness that this activity does
      not affect us, and we can give no encouragement by our agreement and
      obedience. One can frankly ask that as long as the so-called "Temporary
      Patriarchal Synod" exists, Metropolitan Sergius should not trouble to send
      us his directives, since for them, in our archpastoral conscience, we
      cannot acknowledge any obligatory significance.

      May the Holy Spirit, Who is always in the Church, conduct us through the
      furnace of the present difficult trials to the greater manifestation of His
      Truth, lest we in any way decrease in the smallest part of our hope, or
      become dissolved in thought in this world's evil which surrounds us.

      Another epistle of about the same time, which circulated among the
      episcopate, contains important thoughts on the question of church

      FROM EPISTLE NO. 2: 1929

      (Russian text in Regelson, p. 168)

      I will not and do not condemn anyone, but I cannot call anyone to
      participate in the sins of others, just as I cannot condemn those hierarchs
      headed by Metropolitan Joseph (Petrovikh) who have confessed their
      unwillingness to participate in that which their conscience acknowledges as
      sinful. This confession is reckoned for them as a violation by them of
      church discipline. But church discipline is capable of preserving its
      efficacy only as long as it is an actual reflection of the hierarchal
      conscience of the Catholic Church; and discipline can never itself replace
      this conscience. As soon as it produces its demands not by force of the
      indications of this conscience, but by impulses foreign to the Church and
      insincere, the individual hierarchal conscience unfailingly will stand on
      the side of the Catholic-hierarchal principle of the Church's existence,
      which is not at all one and the same thing as outward unity at any cost.
      Then the instability of church discipline becomes inevitable, as a
      consequence of sin. And there can be only one way out of sin?repentance and
      fruits worthy of it. And it seems to me, from my far-away place, that this
      repentance is equally to be expected from those of Leningrad (i.e.,
      Metropolitan Joseph and those with him) and those of Tashkent (i.e.,
      Sergianist hierarchs) who condemn them. . .

      A copy of the first of these letters was sent to Metropolitan Sergius and
      provoked from him the following reply of September 5/18, 1929 (text in
      Regelson, p. 469):

      ". . . Without acknowledging us as either schismatics or as without grace,
      and consequently having no permissible grounds for a schism, you
      nonetheless break off communion with us. Can one then agree with you that
      you are not causing a schism and remain at peace with the Holy Church?

      "You have broken off eucharistic communion with us and at the same time do
      not consider either that you have caused a schism or that we stand outside
      the Church. Such a theory is entirely unacceptable for church thinking?it
      is an attempt to keep ice on a hot grill. Of all the visible bonds of the
      church body, eucharistic communion is the most essential, inasmuch as in
      its absence the remaining bonds of unity do not hold."

      Even before this letter, on July 24/August 6, Metropolitan Sergius and his
      "Synod" had declared the Mysteries of the bishops who had separated from
      him to be without grace, comparing their "schisms" to the Renovationists.
      "The Mysteries performed in separation from church unity. . . by the
      followers of former Metropolitan of Leningrad Joseph (Petrovikh), former
      Bishop of Gdov Dimitry (Lyubimov), former Bishop of Urazova Alexis (Bui),
      as also being in a state of interdiction, are likewise invalid, and those
      who return from these schisms, if they were baptized in schism, are to be
      received through the Mystery of Holy Chrismation; marriages concluded in
      schism likewise are to be completed by the church blessing and the reading
      of the final prayer in the rite of marriage, 'Father, Son and Holy Spirit.'
      Those who die in Renovationism and in the indicated schisms may not be
      given a funeral, even at the great entreaty of relatives, and no memorial
      Liturgy may be served for them" (Regelson, pp. 168-9). This action,
      together with Metropolitan Sergius' letter, evoked a new epistle of
      Metropolitan Cyril addressed this time directly to Metropolitan Sergius
      wherein he treats specifically the "blasphemies" of denying grace in the
      Mysteries either of Sergianists or non-Sergianists.

      EPISTLE NO. 3: October 28-30/November 10-12, 1929

      (Russian text in Regelson, pp. 168-9, 469-71)

      Concerning these blasphemies I learn for the first time from you. As for my
      only possible attitude to them you can judge at least by the horror with
      which "I cast away from myself the idea of the absence of grace in the
      sacred actions and Mysteries performed by Sergianists." You yourself make
      note of my horror, and when after this you join me also to the number of
      such blasphemers, you are simply speaking an untruth. If such blasphemies
      are actually uttered by anyone, they are the fruit of the personal
      temperament of the speakers, the fruit?I shall say with your own words?of
      "the unillumined darkness of some and the loss of spiritual balance of
      others." And how bitter it is, Vladika, that you also, in an equal degree,
      reveal the loss of spiritual balance. For your Christian love, which,
      according to your awareness, has "a certain boldness to believe that the
      threatening utterance of the Lord (Matt. 12:31?Every sin and blasphemy
      shall be forgiven unto men but the blasphemy against the Spirit shall not
      be forgiven) wilt not be applied to these unfortunate ones with all
      strictness," you nonetheless do not dare to find a more loving means of
      acting on them than the decree of your Synod of July 24 (August 6) 1929, n.
      1864 which forbids, in spite of all entreaties, the serving of funerals for
      those who die alienated from your church administration. Not to mention the
      re-chrismation of the baptized who have been chrismated with the same Holy
      Chrism with which the priests obedient to you anoint, or the re-marriages
      of those already married. In April, in concern over the erring, you busy
      yourself with the removal of the anathemas of the Council of 1667 (i.e.,
      against the Old Believers), while in August you consolidate the church
      dispute which has been evoked by your activity and is not yet clear to all,
      making it an irreconcilable church animosity.

      Do not forget that you are creating animosity. . . chiefly against those
      who, during the existence of Renovationism of various degrees, by their
      Orthodox feeling, without knowing the written laws, faultlessly determined
      the authentic church truth and returned to it the shepherds themselves, who
      were about to waver in their church path as a result of a bookish
      application of the written canons. In the decree no. 1864 of your Synod I
      hear a sentence similar to that of the Jewish high priests: This people
      that knoweth not the law are accursed (John 7:49).

      This proceeds, of course, from the fact that you and the Synod understand a
      negative attitude to your activity in church administration to be a denial
      of the Church Herself, Her Mysteries and all Her holy things. This is why
      it so amazes you that, while refraining from celebrating Liturgy with you,
      I nonetheless do not consider either myself or you to be outside the
      Church. "For church thinking such a theory is completely unacceptable," you
      declare; "it is an attempt to keep ice on a hot grill." If in this case
      these is any attempt on my part, it is not to keep ice on a hot grill, but
      rather to melt away the ice of a dialectical-bookish application of the
      canons and to preserve the sacredness of their spirit. I refrain from
      liturgizing with you not because the Mystery of the Body and Blood of
      Christ would not be actualized at our joint celebration, but because the
      communion of the Chalice of the Lord would be to both of us for judgment
      and condemnation, since our inward attitude, disturbed by a different
      understanding of our church relation to each other, would take away from us
      the possibility of offering in complete calmness of spirit the mercy of
      peace, the sacrifice of praise.

      Therefore, the whole fullness of my refraining concerns only you and the
      hierarchs one in mind with you, but not the ordinary clergy, and even less
      laymen. Among the ordinary clergy there are very few conscious ideologues
      of your church activity. . .

      No matter how much you emphasize the strictness of the judgment of the
      canons to which you refer in accusing those disobedient to you, your
      interpretations produce little impression either on those who are
      disobedient or on the church community as a whole, which is entirely
      ceasing to trust the dialectical canonics which has developed among us to
      frightful proportions since the appearance of Renovationism. Remember how,
      on the basis of canonical literalism, the Renovationist constituent
      so-called council of 1923 condemned the Patriarch not only to deprivation
      of rank, but even of monasticism. Therefore, do not misuse the letter of
      the canonical norms, Vladika, lest we turn the holy canons into simple
      canons. Church life in the last years is composed and actualized not
      according to the literal meaning of the canons. The very transferal of the
      Patriarchal rights and obligations to Metropolitan Peter was done in a way
      unprecedented and unknown to the canons, but the church consciousness
      accepted this unprecedented way as a means of preserving the wholeness of
      the Patriarchal order considering the latter as the chief guarantee of our
      Orthodox way of life, especially in view of the Renovationist denial of the
      idea of the Patriarchate.

      To this letter Metropolitan Sergius replied with an epistle of December
      20/January 2, 1930, defending his "rights" as possessing all the authority
      of a Patriarch himself. Shortly after this letter Metropolitan Sergius and
      his obedient Synod announced that Metropolitan Cyril had been given over to
      a church trial and was relieved of the administration of his diocese;
      unlike Metropolitan Joseph and other more outspoken opponents of
      Metropolitan Sergius, however, he was not yet totally interdicted or
      declared to the outside the Church.

      Nothing more was done by either hierarch until 1933, when Metropolitan
      Cyril was given a brief period of freedom (in the city of Gzhatsk) from his
      exiles and imprisonments. On July 15/28 of that year he addressed a final
      letter to Metropolitan Sergius, summarizing his own position (Russian text
      in Regelson, pp. 175-9). It begins thus (referring to the 70th year of his
      life, which he had just reached):

      "Having reached the age which is, according to the word of the holy
      Psalmist, the beginning of the boundary of earthly human life (Ps. 89:10),
      standing, so to speak, at the entrance to the grave, I acknowledge my duty
      to explain to my brethren, the Archpastors, pastors, and believing people,
      why I consider you a usurper of church authority and refuse to submit to
      your administrative-ecclesiastical decree, as well as those of the Synod
      which you have established. However, I have no immediate opportunity' to
      bring my confession to the hearing of the Church, and therefore I am
      compelled to do this, addressing it to you who brazenly affirm yourself to
      be the Chief Bishop of the country, perhaps out of sincere error, and, in
      any case, with the tacit allowance of a part of the brother bishops, who
      are now guilty together with you of the violation of the canonical good
      order of the Orthodox Russian Church."

      The rest of this epistle details once again Metropolitan Cyril's reasons
      for refusing to accept the authority which Metropolitan Sergius was
      claiming for himself in the Church.

      During this time of freedom, Metropolitan Cyril actively entered into
      contact with?and himself encouraged and organized?''non-commemorators" of
      Metropolitan Sergius, those who commemorated only the name of Metropolitan
      Peter at Divine services and were now developing a separate church
      organization, later to be called the "Catacomb Church." In two epistles
      written before his next arrest in July, 1934, he gives the canonical
      foundation for his activity, which continues to be the canonical foundation
      to this day not only of the "non-commemorating" Catacomb Church in Russia,
      but also of the Russian Church Outside of Russia. The decree of Patriarch
      Tikhon of November 7/20, 1920, which Metropolitan Cyril cites as the
      specific canonical basis for church organization, states that those cut off
      from contact with the church center in Moscow should organize themselves as
      well as possible in their circumstances, choosing the eldest among them as
      their chief hierarch.

      EPISTLE NO. 4: January, 1934

      (Russian text in Regelson, pp. 179-181)

      Reply to the opinion of a certain one that it was indispensable for
      Metropolitan Cyril to declare himself Locum Tenens until the liberation of
      Metropolitan Peter.

      The disorder in the Russian Orthodox Church I view not as concerning the
      teaching which She holds, but as concerning administration. The
      preservation of a fitting order in church administration from the death of
      His Holiness Patriarch Tikhon until the calling of a lawful Church Council
      is secured by the Testament of His Holiness the Patriarch, which he gave by
      authority of a special right given only to him, and not to be transmitted
      to anyone else, to name a Substitute for himself. This Testament is the
      norm of the administration of the Russian Church until the content of this
      Testament shall be entirely exhausted. The Hierarch who bears the
      obligations of the Patriarchal Locum Tenens preserves his church authority
      until the election by a Council of a new Patriarch. If there is a delay in
      the election of a Patriarch, the Locum Tenens remains in his post until
      death, or his own voluntary renunciation of it, or his removal according to
      an ecclesiastical trial. He has no authority to assign for himself a
      Substitute with rights identical to his own rights as Locum Tenens. He can
      only have a temporary Substitute for current affairs who acts according to
      his instructions. It is in this point that the error of Metropolitan
      Sergius is to be found, since he has recognized himself, in the absence of
      Metropolitan Peter, to have all his rights as Locum Tenens. His sin is in
      exceeding his authority, and the Orthodox Episcopate should not have
      acknowledged such an authority, and once being convinced that Metropolitan
      Sergius is administering the Church without the guidance of Metropolitan
      Peter, it should have been administered by force of the Patriarchal Ukase
      of November 7/20, 1920, preparing to give an answer of its activity to
      Metropolitan Peter or to a Council. If the Locum Tenens should die before
      the calling of a Council, it is essential again to turn to the Patriarchal
      Testament and to acknowledge as having the rights of the Locum Tenens one
      of the still-living hierarchs indicated in the Patriarchal Testament If
      none of these is alive, then the effect of the Testament is ended, and the
      Church automatically goes over to administration according to the
      Patriarchal Ukase of November 7/20, 1920, and the common efforts of the
      Episcopate should bring into realization the calling of a Council for the
      election of a Patriarch.

      Therefore, only after the death of Metropolitan Peter or his lawful removal
      do I find it not only possible for myself, but even obligatory, to actively
      interfere in the general church administration of the Russian Church. Until
      then the hierarchs who acknowledge as their Chief Hierarch only
      Metropolitan Peter commemorating his name in proper order at the Divine
      services, and not recognizing the administration of Sergius as a lawful
      succession, can exist parallel to those who recognize Sergius, until a
      conciliar trial. Those banished from their dioceses should spiritually
      guide those few who acknowledge them as their Archpastors, and those who
      have not been banished should guide the spiritual life of the whole
      diocese, by every means sustaining ties with each other and church unity.

      For me personally it is impossible at the present time to step forth, since
      I am entirely unsure of the character of the attitudes of Metropolitan
      Peter, in order to be convinced of his actual views and to decide how to
      act. In any case, I cannot be the Substitute of Metropolitan Peter in
      correct order without his decree concerning this. But if Metropolitan Peter
      voluntarily renounces his post of Locum Tenens, then by authority of the
      Testament of His Holiness the Patriarch, and of the promise which I gave
      him, I will fulfill my duty and take up the weight of the post of Locum
      Tenens, even if Metropolitan Peter might have assigned another successor to
      himself, for he has no right to make such an assignment.

      EPISTLE NO. 5: February, 1934

      (Russian text in Regelson, pp. 181-184)

      To an unnamed Hierarch:

      Christ is in our midst! Your Eminence, Most Eminent Master beloved in the
      Lord, brother Archbishop!

      Your lines filled with condescension and trust towards me, a sinner, eve
      furnishes me profound consolation. May the Lord save you! You are
      distressed by my slowness and what seems to you excessive caution. Forgive
      me for thus distressing you, and be patient a little longer with me. It is
      not weariness from long wanderings that calls this forth in me, but an
      incomplete clarification of the conditions which surround me and all of us.
      I lack this clarity not for an evaluation of the conditions themselves, but
      for a fitting understanding of the further conclusions from them which turn
      out to be unavoidable for those who have made these conditions. The putting
      of these conclusions into practice will probably not be long in coming, and
      then the presence of facts will convince everyone of the necessity of
      definite actions according to the needs of the moment.

      But are there really so few such facts in existence? you may ask. Yes, they
      are not few, but the acceptance of them is refracted in the consciousness
      of the church community into such a variety of tints that they cannot by
      any means be pinned down to a single common stem. The necessity for a
      correcting antidote is acknowledged, but there is no common foundation for
      it, and Metropolitan Sergius well understands the benefit of such a
      situation and does not cease to take advantage of it. In one of two letters
      to me he, not without a certain right, indicates this difference of opinion
      among those who have addressed reproaches to him, and therefore, of course,
      he does not take them into consideration. The accusation of heresy, even
      the most decisive one, is capable only of causing a smile on his lips, as a
      pleasant pretext to console yet again, by means of his mastery of
      dialectical canonics, those who keep communion with him in assurance of his
      total irreproachability in relation to dogma.

      However, among them there are not a few who see the erroneousness of many
      of Metropolitan Sergius' measures, but since they understand in the came
      way he does the source and degree of the authority which he has
      appropriated, they condescendingly endure this erroneousness as merely a
      kind of enticement by power, and not as a criminal appropriation of it.
      Reproaching him with failing to oppose, and consequently of belonging to, a
      heresy, we risk depriving them of the psychological possibility of
      re-uniting with us and losing them forever for Orthodoxy. After all, to
      acknowledge belonging to a heresy is much more difficult than to
      acknowledge the incorrectness of one's understanding of the outward order
      of church life. It is necessary that for such ones of noble soul also, the
      authoritative utterances of Metropolitan Sergius should be explained as his
      personal invention, and not as a right that is based on the Testament of
      His Holiness the Patriarch. Everyone must realize that this Testament in no
      way applies to Metropolitan Sergius and those like him.

      Only those three persons mentioned in the Testament could accept the
      Patriarchal rights and obligations, and only to these three personally
      belongs the right to step forth as a temporary church center until the
      election of a new Patriarch. But they cannot entirely give over this right
      to anyone of their own choice, because the Patriarch's Testament is a
      document of quite exceptional origin, bound up by conciliar sanction only
      with the person of our first Patriarch. Therefore, with the death of all
      three candidates indicated in the Testament, the Testament of Patriarch
      Tikhon loses its validity, and church administration is to be established
      on the foundation of the Ukase of November 7/20 1920. One must also be
      guided by this Ukase in case of the temporary impossibility of having
      contact with the person who bears the dignity of the church center by power
      of the Testament. This is what should hold also at the historical moment
      which the Church is now going through.

      The different understanding of the Patriarchal Testament which is affirmed
      by Metropolitan Sergius has already led to the fact that the Testament
      which was left for securing the speedy election of a new Patriarch has
      become the foundation of the substitution for the person of a Patriarch in
      the church administration by some kind of collegial "Patriarchate." Whether
      the blessing of God rests on this undertaking of Metropolitan Sergius we do
      not dare to judge until a lawful Council by its sentence shall utter the
      judgment of the Holy Spirit concerning him. However, just as with
      everything akin to Renovationism, we cannot acknowledge the church
      administration which has been renovated by Metropolitan Sergius as our
      Orthodox administration coming by fight of succession from His Holiness,
      Patriarch Tikhon. And therefore, remaining in canonical unity with
      Metropolitan Peter, the Patriarchal Locum Tenens, under the present
      impossibility of contact with him, we acknowledge as the only legitimate
      thing the organization of the church administration on the foundation of
      the Patriarchal Ukase of November 7/20, 1920.

      I firmly believe that the Orthodox Episcopate, with brotherly union and
      mutual support, will preserve the Russian Church, with God's help, in
      age-old Orthodoxy all the time of the validity of the Patriarchal
      Testament, and will conduct it to a lawful Council. . .

      It seems to me that both you yourself and your correspondent do not
      distinguish those actions of Metropolitan Sergius and his partisans which
      are per formed by them in proper order by power of those grace given rights
      received through the mystery of the priesthood, from those other activities
      which are performed with an exceeding of their sacramental rights and
      according to human cunning, as a means of protecting and supporting their
      self-invented rights in the Church. Such are the actions of Bishop
      Zacharius and Priest Patapov of which you speak. These are sacramental acts
      only in form, while in essence they are a usurpation of sacramental
      activity, and therefore are blasphemous, without grace, non-ecclesiastical.
      But the Mysteries performed by Sergianists who are correctly ordained and
      not prohibited to serve as priests, are undoubtedly saving Mysteries for
      those who receive them with faith, in simplicity, without deliberations and
      doubts concerning their efficacy, and who do not even suspect anything
      incorrect in the Sergianist order of the Church. But at the same time they
      serve for judgment and condemnation for the very performers of them and for
      those who approach them well understanding the untruth that exists in
      Sergianism, and by their lack of opposition to it reveal a criminal
      indifference towards the mocking of the Church. This is why it is essential
      for an Orthodox Bishop or priest to refrain from communion with Sergianists
      in prayer. The same thing is essential for laymen who have a conscious
      attitude to all the details of church life.


      The epistles of Metropolitan Cyril that have come down to us all deal with
      one and the same question: the canonical position of Metropolitan Sergius
      in the Russian Orthodox Church. But their significance goes far beyond any
      mere question of canonical "correctness" or "incorrectness." The canons
      were made to bring order among Christians, not to force them into a
      strait-jacket of legalism, and thus the epistles of Metropolitan Cyril,
      which are full of this awareness, are a guide to us in the difficulties and
      often unprecedented canonical conditions of 20th-century Orthodoxy. The
      apostasy of our times, to a degree unique in Christian history, is
      proceeding not primarily by false teachings or canonical deviations, but
      rather by a false understanding of Orthodoxy on the part of those who may
      even be perfectly Orthodox in their dogmatic teaching and canonical
      situation. A correct "Orthodoxy" deprived of the Spirit of true
      Christianity?this is the meaning of Sergianism, and it cannot be fought by
      calling it a "heresy," which it is not, nor by detailing its canonical
      irregularities, which are only incidental to something much more important.

      Unfortunately, few seem to be able to understand this in our day of
      deceptive over-simplifications. Metropolitan Sergius himself, despite his
      theological reputation, could make no sense of Metropolitan Cyril's
      position, which is nothing but the balanced "royal path" of Orthodox
      moderation, between the extremes of Renovationism and Sergianist legalism
      on the one hand, and a too hasty accusation of Sergianist heresy or lack of
      grace on the other. Metropolitan Cyril's position is all the more important
      in that the situation in the 20th. century Greek Church has been very
      similar to that of the Russian Church: the Calendar reform also was not a
      question either of heresy or (primarily) of canonical transgressions, and
      the denial of grace in the Mysteries either of new-calendarists or
      old-calendarists has only served to increase the spirit of factionalism and
      to hinder any possible reconciliation of those who stand in the tradition
      and those who have followed the reformers thus far against their will
      Metropolitan Cyril took up the organization of a separate church
      organization only with great reluctance, and he did so not because he
      believed that he and his followers alone constituted the true Church, but
      solely in order to avoid dependence on those whose confession of Orthodoxy
      had been compromised, even though they were still part of the same Church.
      The position today of the Russian Church Outside of Russia with regard to
      the other Russian jurisdictions is identical to that of Metropolitan Cyril
      with regard to the Sergianist Synod and her relation to the other Orthodox
      Churches of the free world is heading in the same direction, although
      communion with them has not yet been formally broken. Metropolitan Cyril's
      message of moderation is thus still very applicable in our own day.

      Metropolitan Cyril's important distinction between the true Mysteries of
      Sergianist clergy, and the "usurpation of sacramental activity" manifested
      in such acts as Metropolitan Sergius' interdictions and excommunications of
      those who disagreed with his "new church policy," is likewise a fundamental
      one for our time. The "bookish" application of the canons, which
      Metropolitan Cyril so severely condemns, cannot understand this
      distinction, and thus some people can find themselves in a position which
      may be "legally correct" but is at the same time profoundly un-Christian?as
      if the Christian conscience is compelled to obey any command of the church
      authorities, as long as these authorities are properly "canonical." This
      blind concept of obedience for its own sake is one of the chief causes for
      the success of Sergianism in our century?both within and outside the Moscow
      Patriarchate. Of course the Christian conscience does not accept the
      excommunications of a church authority made under political or other
      non-ecclesiastical pressure (whether from the Turkish Sultan upon the
      Patriarchate of Constantinople in the 19th century, or the Communist
      authorities upon the Moscow Patriarchate in our own century), but it is a
      kind of ecclesiastical legalism to draw from this the conclusion that all
      the Mysteries of such a church authority are thereby without grace.

      The epistles of Metropolitan Cyril present, perhaps as clearly as it can be
      stated, the truth that the law and teaching of the Church of Christ can
      never be a matter of merely soulless "obedience." The Catacomb Church
      inside Russia to this day (to the best of our knowledge), together with the
      free Russian Church Outside of Russia have not denied the Mysteries of the
      Moscow Patriarchate, but they hold no communion with it; thus they have no
      part in the un-Christian acts performed in the name of "Orthodoxy" by the
      Moscow leadership under Communist pressure, but they are also not deprived
      of solidarity with a confessor within the Moscow Patriarchate such as
      Father Dimtri Dudko, with whom full canonical communion is impossible only
      because of his politically-dominated leadership.

      Finally, Metropolitan Cyril's emphasis on the oneness of mind of those
      traveling the path of true Orthodoxy shows us our own path today. The
      leaders of "world Orthodoxy" are pursuing a ruinous policy of renovationism
      and apostasy, but it is a hazardous and self-defeating thing to attempt to
      define the precise point beyond which they, and especially their unwitting
      followers, will have left Orthodoxy without hope of return. This judgment
      is not ours to make. But to us is given to stand firm in the true tradition
      of Orthodoxy handed down to us by our Fathers, to refrain from communion
      with those who participate in the apostasy from true Christianity, and to
      seek out those of like mind who are resolved to be faithful to Orthodoxy to
      the death. On such a foundation the Catacomb Church remains firm to this
      day in Soviet Russia, awaiting the day when it can freely and openly give
      its testimony of faithfulness to Christ.
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