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The Response to Elder Tavrion

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  • byakimov@csc.com.au
    The Response to Elder Tavrion The Orthodox Word, May-June 1981 (98), 123-136 THE LIFE of Archimandrite Tavrion published in The Orthodox Word, no. 96, evoked
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 8, 2003
      The Response to Elder Tavrion
      The Orthodox Word, May-June 1981 (98), 123-136

      THE LIFE of Archimandrite Tavrion published in The Orthodox Word, no. 96,
      evoked for the most part a positive response: readers on the whole, judging
      from their comments to the editors, accepted it in the way it was intended
      to be read?as an inspiring example of genuine Orthodox courage and
      spiritual life in the almost impossible conditions of Soviet life. The
      accompanying articles, "What Does the Catacomb Church Think?" and
      especially the "Catacomb Epistle of 1962," set forth a position of
      uncompromising non-acceptance of the betrayal of the Moscow Patriarchate
      and refusal to have communion with it, while at the same time showing
      pastoral concern for the priests and faithful who try their best to be
      Orthodox even in the Moscow Patriarchate, where they find themselves by
      force of circumstances.

      Some readers, however, noting that Elder Tavrion was a priest of the Moscow
      Patriarchate, interpreted the publication of his life as a betrayal of the
      Catacomb Church and as a total reversal of our stand with regard to the
      Moscow Patriarchate; and because the life of Elder Tavrion was sent for
      publication by Metropolitan Philaret, together with the Metropolitan's note
      explaining Fr. Tavrion's attempt to stand apart from the betraying policies
      of the Moscow Patriarchate, some of these readers did not hesitate to
      express their criticism of the Metropolitan himself, as if this indicated
      that he and even the whole Russian Church Outside of Russia had radically
      changed their opinion with regard to the Russian Church situation. The
      disturbance created by this criticism reached the Synod of Bishops and
      resulted in the "Decision" on this controversy which is printed below in
      this issue, which reaffirms the unchanging position of the Church Outside
      of Russia and admonishes those who are too quick in their criticism even of
      their own Metropolitan.

      This disturbance (which one may hope is now a thing of the past, after the
      authoritative statement of the Synod) has served to remind us all that the
      position of the Church Outside of Russia within the Russian Church as a
      whole is by no means correctly understood by everyone. The problem is not
      that this position is really very difficult to understand, but that it is
      all too easy to oversimplify it and to state, at one extreme, that the
      betrayal of Sergianism (the compromising position of the Moscow
      Patriarchate, which has become a slavish tool of Communist purposes) is
      something unimportant towards which our attitude can change with time; or,
      at the other extreme, that the Moscow Patriarchate is entirely fallen away
      from Orthodoxy and is without grace and its fate is of no more interest to
      us than that of any sect in Russia.

      Since the cause of this disturbance was the mistaken belief that the
      Metropolitan, The Orthodox Word,and presumably a large part of the Church
      Outside of Russia had "reversed their attitude" towards the Catacomb Church
      and the Moscow Patriarchate, let us examine here some of the main aspects
      of our Church's attitude to the Russian Church situation, comparing
      statements from the new "Decision" of the Synod of Bishops with other
      authoritative statements, both within the Catacomb Church and the Church
      Outside of Russia, and comments made in The Orthodox Word over the years
      from 1965 to the present.

      1. The new "Decision" of the Synod states: "The condemnation by our
      hierarchy of the agreement with the atheists promulgated by the Moscow
      Patriarchate at the time of Metropolitan Sergius certainly remains in
      effect and cannot be changed except by the repentance of the Moscow
      Patriarchate. This policy, which seeks to serve both Christ and Belial, is
      unquestionably a betrayal of Orthodoxy. Therefore, we can have no
      liturgical communion with any bishop or cleric of the Moscow
      Patriarchate.... We can fully approve only that part of the Church in
      Russia which is celled the Catacomb Church, and only with her can we have
      full communion."

      The Orthodox Word has set forth this fundamental position of the Church
      Outside of Russia (which is identical to the position of the Catacomb
      Church) year after year. The latest expression of it, the "Catacomb Epistle
      of 1962," states it in the language of a Catacomb Church representative,
      and this expression is certainly no less strong in tone than the Catacomb
      document of ten years ago, "Russia and the Church Today" (The Orthodox
      Word, 1972, no.44). The Orthodox Word in its recent article defending Fr.
      Dimitry Dudko repeated this position once again: "the very principle of
      'Sergianism' is a betrayal of Orthodoxy, as Fr. Dimitry has said; this is
      why the free Russian Church Outside of Russia can have no communion with
      this jurisdiction.... We have no communion with his hierarchs and even with
      him (until he becomes free of them)"(no. 92, pp. 122, 137).

      2. We have no hope that the church situation in Russia will change in any
      fundamental way as long as Communism is in power. This admittedly is a
      private opinion rather than an official position, but it is an opinion
      widely shared among the clergy and laymen of the Russian Church Outside of
      Russia, and over sixty years of experience with the Communist regime has
      only confirmed it. In particular, every "liberalization" in the regime's
      attitude towards the Church has only been a tactical device within the
      larger purpose of the total liquidation of the Church.

      The Orthodox Word in 1966 stated:"The rescue of the Soviet Church... cannot
      come from within itself, and most definitely not under Soviet
      conditions.... Nothing is to be hoped for from any 'changes' within the
      USSR; the necessary precondition for the healing of the infected organism
      is the total overthrow of the Communist system. Only then can there be even
      talk of a return to normal religious life in Russia" (no. 10, p. 148).

      The same thin" was repeated in 1981: "The Moscow Patriarchate has not
      changed and undoubtedly will not change until Communism itself falls in
      Russia; there is no hope whatever that a return to normal Orthodox church
      life will occur through the official church"(no. 96, p.22).

      3. The "Decision" of the Synod of Bishops states: "The situation of the
      Church in Russia is without precedent, and no norms can be prescribed by
      any one of us separately."Despite the uncompromisingness of our stand
      against the betrayal of "Sergianism," we make no "definitions" about it; in
      particular, our bishops have refused to make any statement that the Moscow
      Patriarchate is "without grace" and "fallen away" from Orthodoxy. This
      position has been set forth many times in The Orthodox Word in an
      uncompromisingly anti-Sergianist article in 1974 (no. 59, pp. 240-1).

      This position is very difficult to understand for those who would like the
      church situation to be "simple"and"black or white." For such people it is
      incomprehensible how a Catacomb Church zealot like the author of the
      "Catacomb Epistle of 1962" could recommend that his spiritual children
      receive communion in a Sergianist church if they can find no Catacomb
      church, or how a Catacomb priest like Archimandrite Tavrion could join the
      official church. Not all members of the Catacomb Church, to be sure, would
      approve such actions: but those who do approve and practice them have in
      mind only the benefit of their flocks, who might otherwise be deprived
      entirely of church communion and fall into despair. Such practical
      questions, in Soviet conditions, cannot always be given categorical
      answers. The "Decision" of the Synod of Bishops notes positively that "we
      see some efforts to remain outside the apostate policies of the
      Patriarchate's leaders in an attempt to attain salvation even in the
      territory of Antichrist's kingdom."

      That at least a part of the Moscow Patriarchate is still regarded by the
      free Russian Church as not entirely having lost its Orthodoxy may be seen
      in the 1976 Epistle of the Sobor of Bishops of the Russian Church Outside
      of Russia, "To the Russian People in the Homeland, "where the bishops
      address the courageous priests both of the Catacomb Church and of the
      Moscow Patriarchate as genuine priests (The Orthodox Word, 1976, no. 70, p.
      164). Expressing the same view, Bishop Gregory of Manhattan has written:
      "Those in Russia who are holding fast to Orthodoxy and preaching the truth,
      not submitting to the influence of outside powers,, are not merely our
      allies, but our brethren in one end the same Church" (Orthodox Life, 1979,
      no. 6, p. 40). Ten years ago The Orthodox Word remarked: "As John Dunlop
      has noted, on the popular level the boundary between the 'official' and the
      'catacomb' Church is somewhat fluid. The writings of Boris Talantov testify
      to the presence of a deep division today within the Moscow Patriarchate
      between the 'Sergianist' hierarchy with its 'Communist Christianity' and
      the truly Orthodox faithful who reject this impious 'adaptation to
      atheism"' (1971, no. 36, p. 38).

      Perhaps the best statement on this whole question comes from a leading
      Catacomb hierarch of the 1920's and '30's, now to be canonized as a New
      Martyr, Metropolitan Cyril of Kazan. In answer to the ecclesiastical
      legalism of Metropolitan Sergius, he wrote to him in 1929: "It 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 there 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" (The
      Orthodox Word, 1977, no. 75, p. 183-4).

      4. In accordance with the famous "Testament" of Metropolitan Anastassy,
      Chief Hierarch of the Russian Church Outside of Russia from 1936 to 1964, a
      final judgment of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian church situation
      cannot be made now, but must wait for a free Church Council, which can
      obviously be assembled only after the fall of Communism. The last paragraph
      of this "Testament" states: "As for the Moscow Patriarchate and her
      hierarchs, inasmuch as they are in an intimate, active, and well-wishing
      union with the Soviet power which openly confesses its complete godlessness
      and strives to implant atheism in the entire Russian people, with them the
      Church Abroad, preserving its purity, must not have any communion whatever,
      whether canonically, in prayer, or even in ordinary everyday contact, at
      the same time giving each of them over to the final judgment of the Sobor
      (Council) of the future free Russian Church" (The Orthodox Word, 1970, no.
      33-34, p. 239).

      (Some have quoted this passage to indicate the impossibility of our having
      any contact whatever with priests of the Moscow Patriarchate. It should
      therefore be noted that Metropolitan Anastassy here points only to the
      "hierarchs" who are in a "well-wishing union with the Soviet power. " The
      priests and laymen who are bravely protesting against the "Sergianism" of
      the Patriarchate are clearly in a different category.)

      The subject of this future free Council is one that has occupied the
      thoughts both of the Catacomb Church and the Church Outside of Russia ever
      since the Sergian Declaration of 1927. In that year Metropolitan Joseph of
      Petrograd, the first real head of the Catacomb Church, wrote: "In
      separating from Metropolitan Sergius and his acts, we do not separate from
      our lawful Chief Hierarch, Metropolitan Peter, nor from the Council, which
      will meet at some time in the future, of those Orthodox hierarchs who have
      remained faithful. May this Council, our sole competent judge, not then
      hold us guilty for our boldness" (The Orthodox Word, 1971, no. 36, p. 26).

      Similarly, in 1934 Metropolitan Cyril of Kazan wrote: " 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 (of Patriarch Tikhon),
      and will conduct it to a lawful Council" (The Orthodox Word, 1977, no . 75,
      p. 189).

      In 1962 the anonymous author of the "Catacomb Epistle" wrote: "We believe
      that if human life is to continue on earth, then some time there will
      gather a council which will justify our boldness and will justly evaluate
      the 'wise policy' of Metropolitan Sergius and his followers who wished to
      'save the Church' at the price of her immaculateness and truth" (The
      Orthodox Word, 1981, no. 96, p. 31).

      In 1970 the Catacomb authors of "Russia and the Church Today" stated: "We
      believe that if the world does not perish, sooner or later in liberated
      Russia there will be a Local Council of our Church, to which the fruits of
      their labors and exploits for the long period without a Council. . . will
      be brought forth by the Moscow Patriarchate and by the persecuted Russian
      'Catacomb' Church, to which the authors of this article belong" (The
      Orthodox Word, 1972, no. 44. p. 132).

      And in 1971 The Orthodox Word, commenting on the writings of Boris Talantov
      , nosed that they "will doubtless be used as testimony at that longed-for
      Council of the entire free Russian Church, including the Churches of the
      Catacombs and of the Diaspora, that will finally judge the situation
      created by the Communist Yoke and Sergianism" (no. 36, p. 38).

      5. The "Decision" of the Synod of Bishops states: "Any departure from
      atheism and 'Sergianism' must be seen as a positive step towards pure
      Orthodoxy even though it not yet be the opening of the way to
      ecclesiastical union with us... Our interest in all aspects of religious
      life in Russia cannot ignore any positive event we see against the
      background of total apostasy. We should not focus our attention exclusively
      on those facts which merit unconditional condemnation."

      And in fact, the interest and sympathy which the Church Outside of Russia
      as a whole has shown to such priests as Fr. Dimitry Dudko and Archimandrite
      Tavrion is by no means a thing of the past few years. This interest and
      sympathy has been reflected in the pages of The Orthodox Word from the very
      first year of its existence.

      The third issue of The Orthodox Word in l965 published an "Appeal" from
      believers of the Moscow Patriarchate in Pochaev. A number of suffering
      clergy of the Patriarchate are mentioned, with a special description of
      "Abbot Joseph... a great man of prayer and our spiritual and bodily
      physician" (p. 109). This same "Appeal" states that "the Orthodox Church is
      in great danger. . . Only the Pochaev monks and a small number of the
      clergy stand firmly for the apostolic traditions and don't give in an inch
      to the Antichrist" (pp. 110-111). The editorial comment at the end of this
      "Appeal" stated: "One must choose: to support, in any way, the puppets of
      Communism, who serve the ultimate aim of the complete liquidation of
      religion; or to stand with the persecuted believers" (here, specifically of
      the Moscow Patriarchate) "who have dared to tell the world what is really
      happening today behind the Iron Curtain" (p. 114).

      The next issue of The Orthodox Word in 1965 contained a favorable
      description of a "Brotherhood of Orthodox Youth" composed of "sons and
      daughters of the Orthodox Church" which acts because the clergy is not
      free, but "without making any attempt against the canonical authority of
      the hierarchs" (no . 4, p . 159) .

      In 1971 a large part of two issues of The Orthodox Word was devoted to the
      life and writings of Boris Talantov, a layman of the Moscow Patriarchate
      who mercilessly exposed the betrayal of Sergianism even while believing
      that the Catacomb Church, while fully Orthodox, was a "sect. " In the title
      of one article about him he is called an "Orthodox confessor," and in the
      article he is presented as "an inspiring example of Christian courage
      against overwhelming obstacles" and "a fearless confessor of the holy
      Orthodox faith" (1971, no. 36, p. 35). Like Fr. Dimitry Dudko, Talantov
      believed that "because of the corruption end betrayal of the bishops the
      believers should not disperse to their homes and organize separate sects,
      but rather preserving unity, they should begin the accusation by the whole
      people of the corrupt false pastors and cleanse the Church of them" (1971,
      no. 41, p. 292).

      In these years, despite such support shown for courageous members of the
      Moscow Patriarchate, there were no Protests at all against these articles
      in The Orthodox Word. The articles in recent years on Fr. Dimitry Dudko and
      Archimandrite Tavrion, and remarks on other courageous priests of the
      Moscow Patriarchate, are only a continuation of these earlier articles.

      Perhaps the most eloquent expression of the sympathy of the free Russian
      Church for the struggling priests within the Moscow Patriarchate who have
      spoken out against Sergianism is the statement addressed to them by the
      Sobor of Bishops of the whole Russian Church Outside of Russia in 1976, in
      their Epistle "To the Russian People in the Homeland": "We kiss the Cross
      which you also have taken upon yourself, O pastors who have found the
      courage and the power of spirit to be open accusers of the faint
      heartedness of your hierarchs who have capitulated to the atheists, to be
      fearless gatherers and instructors of those who seek spiritual food?first
      of all young people. We know of your exploit, we read about you, we read
      what you have written, we pray for you and ask your prayers for our flock
      in the Diaspora. Christ is in our midst! He is and shall be!

      "The life of the Church continues even under the pressure of atheism, often
      taking, thanks to the pressure and violence, forms unusual in peaceful
      circumstances, breaking out through the bonds and chains into the freedom
      of spirit and the victory of the children of God! With love we follow this
      process in our Homeland and rejoice over it" (The Orthodox Word, 1976, no .
      70, p . 164).

      The "Decision" of the Synod of Bishops notes that the criticism evoked by
      the "Elder Tavrion" Article involved "especially those who are not very
      familiar with the conditions of church life in the USSR." Such critics have
      failed to notice, as the "Decision" also says, that "the situation of the
      Church in Russia is without precedent, and no norms can be prescribed by
      any one of us separately." The attempt to fit the Russian church situation
      into some standard canonical "norm" that will enable one to dismiss the
      Moscow Patriarchate entirely as a formal "schism" or even "heresy"?is a

      The "Decision" of the Synod of Bishops is a welcome correction of this
      mistake and is a clear sign to us that in these perilous days our Orthodoxy
      must not become something narrow, negative, and critical. We must temper
      the overlogicalness of our Western mentality (which has formed all of us in
      the modern world, whether we realize it or not) with a loving, pastoral
      concern for all those who still wish to be Orthodox, despite the terrible
      conditions of our times and even the outright betrayal of many hierarchs.

      A young priest of the Greek Archdiocese in America, before his tragic death
      several years ago, once called The Orthodox Word a "conscience of
      Orthodoxy" today. This is precisely what the Russian Church Outside of
      Russia could and should be for the Orthodox world today. This church body
      has maintained its existence now for sixty years in a Russian church
      situation that is entirely abnormal and in some respects unprecedented in
      church history. It has done so by means of a kind of church "instinct"
      which has not betrayed it, end which allows it to maintain its separateness
      from the betrayal of a large part of the Orthodox Church leadership today
      without losing contact with the still living conscience of the sound part
      of the Orthodox clergy and faithful in many jurisdictions.

      This church instinct is by no means blind, but is quite capable of
      discerning mistaken attitudes even in the suffering faithful for whom our
      Church is at pains to show such support. Thus, in en open letter to Father
      Gleb Yakunin, a courageous and self-sacrificing priest now suffering
      ecclesiastical suspension and cruel imprisonment in Russia for his defense
      of believers' rights, Metropolitan Philaret not long ago found it necessary
      to point out this priest's mistaken support for the Roman Catholic
      religious literature being sent into Russia, poisoned as it is by false
      teaching and heresy (Orthodox Russia, June 28, 1979, pp. 1-2). Likewise,
      The Orthodox Word in 1966 criticized the false "ecumenical" and
      "Berdyaevan" views of the famous open letters of the two Moscow priests
      (no. 10, pp. 145-148). Such criticism, it is true, must be charitable and
      take into account the poverty of the Orthodox literature available in
      Russia; one very conservative emigre, Eugene Vagin, has pointed out that
      often pseudo-Orthodox writings like those of Berdyaev are almost all that
      is available to a sincere Orthodox searcher, and the mistakes such a
      searcher might make under their influence can be corrected later on by
      exposure to sounder Orthodox texts. In our freedom, we are able to help
      with this process of correction, but we must do so with patience and love,
      especially bearing in mind that we in the West are exposed to the ravages
      of a different spiritual infirmity?the Western passion for over-logicalness
      and "super-correctness" which makes us want to "define" church matters more
      precisely than our abnormal conditions will allow.

      In such conditions we should keep more often in mind the prophetic words of
      the last testament of Metropolitan Benjamin of Petrograd (martyred in
      1922): "Now we must put off our learning and self-opinion and give way to
      grace." It is this grace, and not our calculations and definitions of it,
      that has preserved the Russian Church in this frightful century of its
      worst trial, and it is nothing else that will yet preserve it until the
      calling of the free Council that one day, as we all hope, will at last
      bring peace and order to church life.

      The Decision of the Synod of Bishops

      The following document is printed at the request of the Synod of Bishops
      and Archbishop Anthony of San Francisco. The editors of The Orthodox Word
      are entirely in agreement with it and pray that it will cause an end to
      discord in the Church.

      On 12/25 August, 1981, the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church
      Outside of Russia heard the report of the President of the Synod of Bishops
      on the following matter: the appearance of an article about Archimandrite
      Tavrion published in issue number 96 of The Orthodox Word has caused great
      consternation among some readers, especially those who are not very
      familiar with the conditions of church life in the USSR. In my covering
      letter to the editor of the magazine (which was not intended to be
      published with the article), they saw what they believed to be a kind of
      approval of the dual position taken by the late archimandrite rather than
      the simple forwarding of some interesting, informative material.
      Archimandrite Tavrion, after long years of imprisonment as a member of the
      Catacomb Church, somehow came to join the Moscow Patriarchate while never
      sharing its policies. None of us has ever had any relations with him. We
      only know that he advised those of his spiritual children leaving the USSR
      and going West to join the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. It is
      also known that when talking to his spiritual children, he condemned the
      political subservience of the Patriarchate to the atheistic authorities.
      His pastoral and spiritual methods were rather unusual. In the favorable
      description of his life written by his spiritual daughter, some readers
      found not only the fact that he brought people into the Church, but they
      also suspected us of approving his compromising attitude toward the Church
      This is not true.

      The condemnation by our hierarchy of the agreement with the atheists
      promulgated by the Moscow Patriarchate at the time of Metropolitan Sergius
      certainly remains in effect and cannot be changed except by the repentance
      of the Moscow Patriarchate. This policy. which seeks to serve both Christ
      and Belial, is unquestionably a betrayal of Orthodoxy. Therefore, we can
      have no liturgical communion with any bishop or cleric of the Moscow
      Patriarchate. But this does not prevent us from studying with love and
      sorrow the religious life in Russia. In some cases we see a complete
      collapse while in others we see some efforts to remain outside the apostate
      policies of the Patriarchate's leaders in an attempt to attain salvation
      even in the territory of Antichrist's kingdom (as in the case mentioned in
      Canon II of St. Athanasius), and bearing in mind the words of our Saviour
      that by a hasty judgment one might root up the wheat along with the tares
      (Matt. 13:29). Under varying circumstances. the venom of sinful compromise
      poisons the soul in varying degrees.

      As the free part of the Russian Church, we can fully approve only that part
      of the Church in Russia which is called the Catacomb Church, and only with
      her can we have full communion. Yet any departure from atheism and
      "Sergianism" must be seen as a positive step towards pure Orthodoxy even
      though it not yet be the opening of the way to ecclesiastical union with
      us. Beyond this, our present evaluation and judgment cannot proceed, due to
      lack of information. However, our interest in all aspects of religious life
      in Russia cannot ignore any positive event we see against the background of
      total apostasy. We should not focus our attention exclusively on those
      facts which merit unconditional condemnation.

      In light of this, the life and activity of the late Archimandrite Tavrion
      was an interesting phenomenon. And for this reason, I found his biography
      worthy of attention and publication while certainly disapproving his
      membership in the Sergian church organization. This was apparently
      misunderstood by some readers: I was not offering his example as worthy of

      RESOLVED: To take into consideration the report of the President of the
      Synod of Bishops and, sharing his opinion, to publish his account in the
      religious press. At the same time, the Synod of Bishops deems it necessary
      to remind its flock that first of all, we must strongly uphold our own
      faith and exercise our zeal in the authentic life of the Church under the
      conditions in which God has placed each one of us, striving towards the
      salvation of our souls. Due to insufficient information, deliberations
      about the significance and quality of various events in Russia do not at
      present provide adequate guidance for the faithful. Indeed, in the majority
      of cases these deliberations cannot serve as instruction but must rather be
      regarded as personal opinions.

      The Synod of Bishops is grieved by the reaction to the article about
      Archimandrite Tavrion and the hasty conclusions which some zealous
      believers, and even some clergymen, have drawn. Mutual love and concern for
      Church unity, which is especially necessary in times of heresy and schism,
      require from each of us great caution in what we say. If no one is supposed
      to condemn his neighbor in haste, even more care is demanded where our own
      primate is concerned. Rash implications about his allegedly unorthodox
      preaching as well as open criticism in sermons reveal a tendency towards
      condemnation and division which is unseemly in Christians. The Apostle
      said, "Who art thou that judgest another man's servant?" How much more
      appropriate might it be to say. "Who art thou that judgest thy
      metropolitan?" Such an attitude, which can easily develop into schism, is
      strongly censured by the canons of the Church, for it shows willful
      appropriation by clerics of the "Judgment belonging to metropolitans"
      (Canon XIII of the First-and-Second Council). Everyone must be very careful
      in his criticism, particularly when expressing it publicly, remembering
      that "Judgment and justice take hold on thee" (Job 36:17). If, contrary to
      the apostolic teaching about hierarchical distribution of duties and
      responsibilities all the clerics and laymen were to supervise their
      hierarchs (I Cor. 12:28-30), then instead of being a hierarchical Body of
      Christ, our Church would turn into a kind of democratic anarchy where the
      sheep assume the function of the shepherd. A special grace is bestowed upon
      bishops to help them in their work. Those who seek to control their bishop
      should be reminded of Canon LXIV of the Sixth Ecumenical Council which
      quotes the words of St. Gregory the Theologian:

      Learning in docility and abounding in cheerfulness, and ministering with
      alacrity, we shall not all be the tongue which is the more active member,
      not all of us apostles, not all prophets, nor shall we all interpret.

      And again:

      Why cost thou make thyself a shepherd when thou art a sheep? Why become a
      head when thou art a foot? Why cost thou try to be a commander when thou
      art enrolled in the number of the soldiers?

      The canon ends with the following words:

      But if anyone be found weakening the present canon, he is to be cut off for
      forty days.

      The situation of the Church in Russia is without precedent, and no norms
      can be prescribed by any one of us separately. If the position of the
      Catacomb Church would change relative to its position in past years, any
      change in our attitude would have to be reviewed not by individual
      clergymen or laymen but only by the Council of Bishops, to which all
      pertinent matters should be submitted.

      The above decision must be published and a copy of it forwarded to the
      Secretariat of the Council while the diocesan bishops should give
      instructions, each in his own diocese, to the clerics who have too hastily
      voiced their opinion.

      Related Excerpt from "The Catacomb Tikhonite Church, 1974: First Public
      Information in the West Concerning", by Metropolitan Theodosius, Chief
      Hierarch of the True-Orthodox Church of Russia (The Orthodox Word, Nov.
      -Dec., 1974, 240-241).

      Let us here make clear several points, because the proponents of a
      "liberal" Orthodox theology and ecclesiology have so clouded the issue with
      their emotional arguments that it has become very difficult to see things
      clearly and calmly as they actually are.

      Let it be said first of all that those, whether in Russia or outside, who
      accuse the hierarchs of the Moscow Patriarchate not of any personal sins,
      but of apostasy, do not in the least "curse" or condemn the simple people
      who go to the open churches in the Soviet Union, nor the conscientious
      priests who serve as well as they can under the inhuman pressures exerted
      by the Communist Government, nor even the betraying hierarchs themselves;
      people who say this are, purely and simply, slandering the position of the
      True-Orthodox Christians. While considering the clergy and faithful of the
      Moscow Patriarchate as participants in apostasy and schism, True-Orthodox
      Christians view them with sympathy and love, but also speak the truth about
      them and refuse to participate in their deeds or have communion in prayer
      and sacraments with them, leaving their judgment to the future free
      All-Russian Council, when and if God should grant that it might be
      convened. In previous Councils like this in the history of the Church,
      those most guilty for schism have been punished, while the innocent
      followers of schism have been forgiven and restored to communion with the
      Church (as indicated in the Epistle of St. Athanasius the Great to

      Secondly, True-Orthodox Christians do not at all regard the Moscow
      Patriarchate simply as "fallen" and its followers as equal to heretics or
      pagans. There are degrees of schism and apostasy, and the fresher is the
      break with the true Church of Christ, and the more it has been caused by
      outward rather than inward causes?the greater is the possibility for the
      eventual restoration of the fallen-away body to the Church. True-Orthodox
      Christians, for the sake of the purity of Christ's Church, must remain
      separate from the schismatic body and thereby show it the way of return to
      the True Church of Christ.

      Solzhenitsyn speaks, not with the voice of Christian truth, but only with
      the voice of human common sense, when he writes in his Letter: "The
      majority of people are not saints, but ordinary men. Both faith and the
      Divine services are called to accompany their usual life, and not to demand
      every time a super-heroic act." Yes, it is true: True-Orthodox Christians
      today are the heroes of Orthodoxy in Russia, and the whole history of
      Christ's Church is the history of the triumph of Christ's heroes.
      "Ordinary" people follow the heroes, not vice versa. The standard is
      heroism, not "ordinary life." The confession of the True-Orthodox Church is
      absolutely indispensable for the "ordinary" Orthodox Christians of Russia
      today, if they hope to remain Orthodox and not go further on the path of

      Finally, the True-Orthodox Church of Russia, as far as we know, has made no
      official proclamation as to the Grace, or lack of it, of the Sacraments of
      the Moscow Patriarchate. Individual hierarchs of the Catacomb Church in the
      past have expressed different opinions on this subject, some actually
      allowing the reception of Holy Communion from a Sergianist priest when in
      danger of death, and others insisting on the new Baptism of those baptized
      by Sergianist clergy. This question could be decided only by a Council of
      Bishops. If the schism of the Moscow Patriarchate is only temporary, and if
      it will eventually be restored to communion with the True-Orthodox Church
      in a free Russia, then this question may never need to be officially
      decided at all. Individual cases of True-Orthodox Christians in Russia
      receiving or not receiving Holy Communion in Sergianist churches do not, of
      course, establish any general rule or decide the question. The strict rule
      of the Russian Church Outside of Russia forbidding her members from
      receiving Sacraments from clergy of the Moscow Patriarchate is not founded
      on any statement that these Sacraments lack Grace, but rather on the sacred
      testament of Metropolitan Anastassy and other great hierarchs of the
      Diaspora forbidding any kind of communion with the Patriarchate as long as
      its leaders betray the Faith and are in submission to atheists.
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