We have no king, because we feared not the Lord.

Hosea 10.3.


So then, brethren, stand firm and hold

to the traditions which you were taught by

us, either by word of mouth or by letter.

II Thessalonians 2.15.


The Abdication of the Tsar


     “Terrible and mysterious,” wrote Metropolitan Anastasy, second leader of the Russian Church Abroad, “is the dark visage of the revolution. Viewed from the vantage point of its inner essence, it is not contained within the framework of history and cannot be studied on the same level as other historical facts. In its deepest roots it transcends the boundaries of space and time, as was determined by Gustave le Bon, who considered it an irrational phenomenon in which certain mystical, supernatural powers were at work. But what before may have been considered dubious became completely obvious after the Russian Revolution. In it everyone sensed, as one contemporary writer expressed himself, the critical incarnation of absolute evil in the temper of man; in other words, the participation of the devil – that father of lies and ancient enemy of God, who tries to make man his obedient weapon against God – was clearly revealed.”[1]


     The event that triggered the revolution was the abdication of Tsar Nicholas. “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work,” says St. Paul; “only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way” (II Thess. 2.7). Since “he who restrains”, according to the interpretation of St. John Chrysostom and the Holy Fathers, is lawful monarchical power, the removal of that power must usher in “the mystery of lawlessness”, the revolution.


     On February 21, a 14-year-old Kievan novice, Olga Zosimovna Boiko, fell into a deep trance which lasted for exactly forty days and during which many mysteries were revealed to her. One of these was the coming abdication of the Tsar. And she saw the following: “In blinding light on an indescribably wonderful throne sat the Saviour, and next to Him on His right hand – our sovereign, surrounded by angels. His Majesty was in full royal regalia: a radiant white robe, a crown, with a sceptre in his hand. And I heard the martyrs talking amongst themselves, rejoicing that the last times had come and that their number would be increased.


     “They said that they would be tormented for the name of Christ and for refusing to accept the seal [of the Antichrist], and that the churches and monasteries would soon be destroyed, and those living in the monasteries would be driven out, and that not only the clergy and monastics would be tortured, but also all those who did not want to receive ‘the seal’ and would stand for the name of Christ, for the Faith and the Church.”[2]


     The abdication of Tsar Nicholas on March 2, 1917 (old style) was the single most important event in modern history; its consequences are still reverberating to the present day. And yet it remains in many ways shrouded in mystery. For there is no consensus on several critical questions raised by it, such as: Did the Tsar in fact abdicate? Did he have the right to abdicate? Was he right to abdicate?


     In the months leading up to the abdication, the Tsar was put under increasing pressure by the political and military leaders of Russia. They were convinced that his abdication in favour of a government “responsible to the people”, i.e. a constitutional monarchy or parliamentary democracy, would bring peace and prosperity to the country. But Nicholas, with his deeper knowledge of God’s ways and his country’s needs, was doubtful, repeatedly asking: "Are you confident that my abdication will save Russia from bloodshed?"


     They reassured him that it would. But the Tsar knew the quality of the men who were advising him. As he sadly wrote in his diary on the day of his abdication: "All around me I see cowardice, baseness and treason."[3] And again, on the same day, while holding a bundle of telegrams from the Corps of Generals and even from his own uncle, he said: "What is left for me to do when everyone has betrayed me?"


     And indeed, there was very little he could do. He could probably continue to defy the will of the social and political élite, as he had done more than once in the past. But could he defy the will of his generals?[4] Perhaps he could count on the support of some military units. But the result would undoubtedly be a civil war, whose outcome was doubtful, but whose effect on the war with Germany could not be doubted: it would undoubtedly give the Germans a decisive advantage at a critical moment when Russia was just preparing for a spring offensive.


     It was probably this last factor that was decisive in the Tsar’s decision: he would not contemplate undermining the war effort for any reason. For the first duty of an Orthodox Tsar after the defence of the Orthodox faith is the defence of the country against external enemies – and in the case of the war with Germany the two duties coincided. And so, after an entire night spent in prayer, he laid aside the crown for his country’s sake. For, as he wrote: "I am ready to give up both throne and life if I should become a hindrance to the happiness of the homeland." And again: "There is no sacrifice that I would not make for the real benefit of Russia and for her salvation."


     What has been called “the Abdication Manifesto” was in fact a telegram to the Chief of Staff of the Army, General Alexeev: “During the days of the great struggle against the external foe which, in the space of almost three years, has been striving to enslave our Native Land, it has pleased the Lord God to send down upon Russia a new and difficult trial. The national disturbances that have begun within the country threaten to reflect disastrously upon the further conduct of the stubborn war. The fate of Russia, the honour of our heroic army, the well-being of the people, the entire future of our precious Fatherland demand that the war be carried out to a victorious conclusion, come what may. The cruel foe is exerting what remains of his strength, and nor far distant is the hour when our valiant army with our glorious allies will be able to break the foe completely. In these decisive days in the life of Russia, We have considered it a duty of conscience to make it easy for Our people to bring about a tight-knit union and cohesion of all our national strength, in order that victory might be the more quickly attained, and, in agreement with the State Duma We have concluded that it would be a good thing to abdicate the Throne of the Russian State and to remove Supreme Power from Ourselves. Not desiring to be separated from Our beloved Son, We transfer Our legacy to Our Brother Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich, and bless Him to ascend the Throne of the Russian State. We command Our Brother to conduct State affairs fully and in inviolable unity with the representatives of those men who hold legislative office, upon those principles which they shall establish, swearing an inviolable oath to that effect. In the name of our ardently beloved Native Land We call upon all faithful sons of the Fatherland to fulfil their sacred duty before it, by submitting to the Tsar during the difficult moment of universal trials, and, aiding Him, together with the representatives of he people, to lead the Russian State out upon the path of victory, well-being and glory. May the Lord God help Russia. Pskov. 2 March, 15.00 hours. 1917. Nicholas.” [5]


     It has been argued that the telegram was not an abdication, but a final coded appeal to the army to support him. But such a supposition cannot be reconciled with the plain meaning of the text. And since all agree on the crystal-clear sincerity of Nicholas’ character, there is no reason not to believe the plain meaning of the text. In any case, Grand Duke Michael’s refusal to take up the burden placed on him by his brother meant the effective end of the dynasty…


     It has also been argued that the “abdication”, if that is what it was, had no legal force because there was no provision for abdication in the Fundamental Laws. Thus, as Michael Nazarov points out, the Basic Laws of the Russian Empire, which had been drawn up by Tsar Paul I and which all members of the Royal Family swore to uphold, “do not foresee the abdication of a reigning Emperor (‘from a religious… point of view the abdication of the Monarch, the Anointed of God, is contrary to the act of His Sacred Coronation and Anointing; it would be possible only by means of monastic tonsure’ [N. Korevo]). Still less did his Majesty have the right to abdicate for his son in favour of his brother; while his brother Michael Alexandrovich had the right neither to ascend the Throne during the lifetime of the adolescent Tsarevich Alexis, nor to be crowned, since he was married to a divorced woman, nor to transfer power to the Provisional government, or refer the resolution of the question of the fate of the monarchy to the future Constituent Assembly.


     “Even if the monarch had been installed by the will of such an Assembly, ‘this would have been the abolition of the Orthodox legitimating principle of the Basic Laws’, so that these acts would have been ‘juridically non-existent’, says Zyzykin (in this Korevo agrees with him). ‘Great Prince Michael Alexandrovich… performed only an act in which he expressed his personal opinions and abdication, which had an obligatory force for nobody. Thereby he estranged himself from the succession in accordance with the Basic Laws, which juridically in his eyes did not exist, in spite of the fact that he had earlier, in his capacity as Great Prince on the day of his coming of age, sworn allegiance to the decrees of the Basic Laws on the inheritance of the Throne and the order of the Family Institution’.


     “It goes without saying that his Majesty did not expect such a step from his brother, a step which placed the very monarchical order under question…”[6]


     On the other hand, Archpriest John Vostorgov considered the transfer of power lawful, in spite of its incompatibility with the Basic Laws of the Empire: “Our former Emperor, who has abdicated from the throne, transferred power in a lawful manner to his brother. In his turn the brother of the Emperor, having abdicated from power until the final decision of the Constituent Assembly, in the same lawful manner transferred power to the Provisional Government, and to that permanent government that which be given to Russia by the Constituent Assembly. And so we now have a completely lawful Provisional Government which is the powers that be, as the Word of God calls it. To this power, which is now the One Supreme and All-Russian power, we are obliged to submit in accordance with the duty of religious conscience; we are obliged to pray for it; we are obliged also to obey the local authorities established by it. In this obedience, after the abdication of the former Emperor and his brother, and after their indications that the Provisional Government is lawful, there can be no betrayal of the former oath, but in it consists our direct duty.”[7]


     And yet confusion and searching of consciences continued, as can be seen in a letter of some Orthodox Christians to the Holy Synod dated July 24, 1917: “We Orthodox Christians most ardently beseech you to explain to us in the newspaper Russkoe Slovo [Russian Word] what... the oath given to us to be faithful to the Tsar, Nicholas Alexandrovich, means. People are saying in our area that if this oath is worth nothing, then the new oath to the new Tsar [the Provisional Government?] will be worth nothing. Which oath must be more pleasing to God. The first or the second? Because the Tsar is not dead, but is alive and in prison…”[8]


     M.A. Babkin points out that Great Prince Michael’s statement contained the sentences: “I made the firm decision to accept supreme power only if that would be the will of our great people, to whom it belongs in the Constituent Assembly to establish the form of government and the new basic laws of the Russian State. Therefore I ask all citizens of the Russian Realm to submit to the Provisional Government until the Constituent Assembly by its decision on the form of government shall express the will of the people”. “We can see,” writes Babkin, “that the talk was not about the Great Prince’s abdication from the throne, but about the impossibility of his occupying the royal throne without the clearly expressed acceptance of this by the whole people of Russia. Michael Alexandrovich presented the choice of the form of State government (in the first place – between people power and the monarchy) to the Constituent Assembly. Until the convening of the Constituent Assembly he entrusted the administration of the country to the Provisional Government ‘which arose on the initiative of the State Duma’.”[9]


     Since Great Prince Michael had presented the choice of the form of State government to the Constituent Assembly, many firm opponents of the revolution – for example, Hieromartyr Andronicus, Archbishop of Perm – were prepared to accept the Provisional Government on the grounds that it was just that – provisional. They were not to know that the Constituent Assembly would hardly be convened before it would be dissolved by the Bolsheviks, and therefore that the monarchical order had come to an end. So the results of the Tsar’s abdication for Russia were different from what he had hoped and believed. Instead of an orderly transfer of power from one member of the royal family to another, Great-Prince Michael also abdicated, the Constituent Assembly was not convened, and the whole dynasty and autocratic order collapsed. And instead of preventing civil war for the sake of victory in the world war, the abdication was followed by defeat in the world war and the bloodiest civil war in history, followed by unprecedented sufferings and persecutions of the faith for generations. Indeed, in retrospect we can see that this act brought to an end the 1600-year period of the Orthodox Christian Empire that began with the coming to power of St. Constantine the Great. “He who restrains” the coming of the Antichrist, the Orthodox Christian Emperor, “was removed from the midst” (II Thessalonians 2.7) – and very soon “the collective Antichrist”, Soviet power, began its savage torture of the Body of Holy Russia. St. John of Kronstadt had said that Russia without the Tsar would no longer even bear the name of Russia, and would be “a stinking corpse”. And so it proved to be…


     So was the Tsar right to abdicate, if there was no provision for such an act in law and if the results of his decision were so catastrophic for Russia?


     The saints were ambiguous in their utterances. The great eldress Paraskeva (Pasha) of Sarov (+1915), who had foretold his destiny at the glorification of St. Seraphim of Sarov in 1903, is reported to have said: “Your Majesty, descend from the throne yourself”.[10] But Blessed Duniushka of Ussuruisk, who was martyred in 1918, said: “The Tsar will leave the nation, which shouldn’t be, but this has been foretold to him from Above. This is his destiny. There is no way that he can evade it.”[11] And another great eldress, Blessed Matrona of Moscow (+1952), said: ”In vain did Emperor Nicholas renounce the throne, he shouldn’t have done that. They forced him to do it. He was sorry for the people, and paid the price himself, knowing his path beforehand.”[12]


     “He shouldn’t have done it”? Or was it “his destiny” in the sense that it was the will of God, which he neither could nor should have avoided?


     One might have expected the Church authorities to throw light on this question by coming out for or against the abdication. However, the Synod showed itself to be at a loss at this critical moment. At its session of February 26 (old style), it refused the request of the Assistant Procurator, Prince N.D. Zhevakhov, that the creators of disturbances should be threatened with ecclesiastical punishments.[13] Then, on February 27, it refused the request of the Over-Procurator, N.P. Raev, that it publicly support the monarchy. Ironically, therefore, that much-criticised creation of Peter the Great, the office of Over-Procurator, proved more faithful to the Anointed of God at this critical moment than the Church leadership itself…


     “On March 2,” writes M.A. Babkin, “the Synodal hierarchs gathered in the residence of the Metropolitan of Moscow. They listened to a report given by Metropolitan Pitirim of St. Petersburg asking that he be retired (this request was agreed to on March 6 – M.B.). The administration of the capital’s diocese was temporarily laid upon Bishop Benjamin of Gdov. But then the members of the Synod recognized that it was necessary immediately to enter into relations with the Executive committee of the State Duma. On the basis of which we can assert that the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church recognized the Provisional Government even before the abdication of Nicholas II from the throne. (The next meeting of the members of the Synod took place on March 3 in the residence of the Metropolitan of Kiev. On that same day the new government was told of the resolutions of the Synod.)


     “The first triumphantly official session of the Holy Synod after the coup d’état took place on March 4. Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev presided and the new Synodal over-procurator, V.N. Lvov, who had been appointed by the Provisional government the previous day, was present. Metropolitan Vladimir and the members of the Synod (with the exception of Metropolitan Pitirim, who was absent – M.B.) expressed their sincere joy at the coming of a new era in the life of the Orthodox Church. And then at the initiative of the over-procurator the royal chair… was removed into the archives… One of the Church hierarchs helped him. It was decided to put the chair into a museum.


     “The next day, March 5, the Synod ordered that in all the churches of the Petrograd diocese the Many Years to the Royal House ‘should no longer be proclaimed’. In our opinion, these actions of the Synod had a symbolical character and witnessed to the desire of its members ‘to put into a museum’ not only the chair of the Tsar, but also ‘to despatch to the archives’ of history royal power itself.


     “The Synod reacted neutrally to the ‘Act on the abdication of Nicholas II from the Throne of the State of Russia for himself and his son in favour of Great Prince Michael Alexandrovich’ of March 2, 1917 and to the ‘Act on the refusal of Great Prince Michael Alexandrovich to accept supreme power’ of March 3. On March 6 it resolved to accept these acts ‘for information and execution’, and that in all the churches of the empire molebens should be served with a Many Years ‘to the God-preserved Russian Realm and the Right-believing Provisional Government’.”[14]


     But was the new government, whose leading members were Masons[15], really “right-believing”? The foreign minister of the new government, Paul Milyukov, when asked who had elected his government, had replied: “The Russian revolution elected us”.[16] But the revolution cannot be lawful, being the incarnation of lawlessness. How, then, could the Church allow her members to vote for Masonic or social-democratic delegates to the Constituent Assembly? After all, that Assembly would determine the future form of government of the Russian land. Why had the Church so quickly renounced Tsarism, which had formed one of the pillars of Russian identity for nearly 1000 years?


     The hierarch who took perhaps the most uncompromising stand on this question was the future Hieromartyr, Archbishop Andronicus of Perm. On March 4, in an address “To All Russian Orthodox Christians”, he called the present situation an “interregnum”. Calling on all to obey the Provisional Government, he said: “We shall beseech the All-Generous One that He Himself establish authority and peace on our land, that He not abandon us for long without a Tsar, as children without a mother. May He help us, as three hundred years ago He helped our ancestors, that we may unanimously and with inspiration receive a native Tsar from His All-Good Providence.”


     The new over-procurator wrote to Andronicus demanding an explanation for his actions in support of the old regime, which “aimed at the setting up of the clergy against the new order”. The correspondence between them culminated on April 16 with a detailed letter from Archbishop Andronicus, in which he said: “The act on the refusal of Michael Alexandrovich which legitimises the Provisional Government declared that after the Constituent Assembly we could have a monarchical government, or any other, depending on how the Constituent Assembly will pronounce on this. I have submitted to the Provisional Government, I will also submit to a republic if it will be established by the Constituent Assembly. But until then not one citizen is deprived of the freedom of expressing himself on the form of government for Russia; otherwise a Constituent Assembly would be superfluous if someone could irrevocably predetermine the question on the form of government in Russia. As I have already said many times, I have submitted to the Provisional Government, I submit now and I call on all to submit. I am perplexed on what basis you find it necessary to accuse me ‘of inciting the people not only against the Provisional Government, but also against the spiritual authorities generally’”.[17]


     A similar position was taken by Archbishop Anthony (Khrapovitsky) of Kharkov, who on March 5, at the end of the liturgy, declared: “When we received news of the abdication from the throne of His Most Pious Emperor Nicholas Alexandrovich, we prepared, in accordance with his instructions, to commemorate His Most Pious Emperor Michael Alexandrovich. But now he too has abdicated, and commanded that we should obey the Provisional Government, and for that reason, and only for that reason, we are commemorating the Provisional Government. Otherwise no power could force us to cease the commemoration of the Tsar and the Royal Family…


     “… We must do this, first, in fulfilment of the oath given by us to His Majesty Nicholas II, who handed over power to Prince Michael Alexandrovich, who handed this power over to the Provisional Government until the Constituent Assembly. Secondly, we must do this so as to avoid complete anarchy, larceny, fighting and sacrilege against the holy things. Only in one must we listen to nobody, neither now nor in the past, neither tsars nor rulers nor the mob: if they demand that we renounce the faith, or defile the holy things, or in general carry out clearly lawless and sinful acts.”[18]


     However, with the exception of a very few such as these, the Church could not be said to have been on the Tsar’s side. Thus on March 7 the “conservative” Archbishop Seraphim (Chichagov) of Tver and Kashin appeared to welcome the change of regime: “By the mercy of God, the popular uprising against the old, wretched order in the State, which led Russia to the edge of destruction in the harsh years of world war, has taken place without many victims, and Russia has easily passed to the new State order, thanks to the firm decision of the State Duma, which formed the Provisional Government, and the Soviet of workers’ deputies. The Russian revolution has turned out to be almost the shortest and most bloodless of all revolutions that history has known…”[19]


     On March 9, the Holy Synod addressed all the children of the Orthodox Russian Church, beginning with the fateful words: “The will of God has been accomplished. Russia has entered on the path of a new State life. May God bless our great Homeland with happiness and glory on its new path. Trust the Provisional Government. All together and everyone individually, apply all your efforts to the end that by your labours, exploits, prayer and obedience you may help it in its great work of introducing new principles of State life…”


     Now it is understandable that the Synod would not want to risk a civil war by displaying opposition to the new government. But was it true that “the will of God has been accomplished”? Was it not rather that God had allowed the will of Satan to be accomplished, as a punishment for the sins of the Russian people? And if so, how could the path be called a “great work”?


     Babkin writes: “This epistle was characterised by B.V. Titlinov, professor of the Petrograd Theological Academy, as ‘an epistle blessing a new and free Russia’, and by General A.I. Denikin as ‘sanctioning the coup d’état that has taken place’. To the epistle were affixed the signatures of the bishops of the ‘tsarist’ composition of the Synod, even those who had the reputation of being monarchists and ‘black hundredists’, for example, Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev and Metropolitan Macarius of Moscow. This witnessed to the ‘loyal’ feelings of the Synodal hierarchs…”[20]


     Other hierarchs echoed the words of the Address in still more revolutionary tones. Thus Bishop Andrew of Ufa wrote: “The abdication from the throne of Nicholas II frees his former subjects from their oath to him. But besides this, every Orthodox Christian must remember the words of one Church song, that ‘if thou hast sworn, but not for the good, it is better for thee to break thine oath’ than to do evil (from the service on the day of the Beheading of John the Forerunner). I wrote about this in Thoughts on February 9, 1916, when I pointed to the great church-civil exploit of Metropolitan Philip of Moscow, who found in his conscience support for his rebuking the iniquities of the Terrible one. And so the question of the oath for those who have been disturbed and are weak in conscience completely falls away.


     “… The Autocracy of the Russian tsars degenerated first into absolutism [samovlastie] and then into despotism [svoevlastie] exceeding all probability… And lo! their power has collapsed – the power that turned away from the Church. The will of God has been accomplished… The Catholic Church of Christ has been delivered from the oppression of the State.”[21]


     The Council of the Petrograd religious-philosophical society went still further, demanding the removal not only of the Tsar, but also of the very concept of Sacred Monarchy. Thus in its sessions of March 11 and 12, the Council resolved that the Synod’s acceptance of the Tsar’s abdication “does not correspond to the enormous religious importance of the act, by which the Church recognized the Tsar in the rite of the coronation of the anointed of God. It is necessary, for the liberation of the people’s conscience and to avoid the possibility of a restoration, that a corresponding act be issued in the name of the Church hierarchy abolishing the power of the Sacrament of Royal Anointing, by analogy with the church acts abolishing the power of the Sacraments of Marriage and the Priesthood.”[22]


     If the Church hierarchy, traditionally the main support of the Autocracy, faltered, it is not surprising that the people as a whole faltered, too… The Tsar was alone. And since the leadership of a Christian State must be dual – through a partnership or “symphony” of Church and State – he could not continue to rule as an Orthodox Christian tsar. Just as it takes two to make a marriage, so it takes two powers to make a Christian state. The bridegroom in this case was willing and worthy, but the bride was not. In Deuteronomy 17.14 the Lord had laid it down as one of the conditions of the creation of a God-pleasing monarchy that the people should want a God-pleasing king.[23] The Russian people did not want their pious Tsar. And so the Scripture was fulfilled: “We have no king, because we feared not the Lord” (Hosea 10.3).


     As P.S. Lopukhin wrote: “At the moment of his abdication his Majesty felt himself to be profoundly alone, and around him was ‘cowardice, baseness and treason’. And to the question how he could have abdicated from his tsarist service, it is necessary to reply: he did this because we abdicated from his tsarist service, from his sacred and sanctified authority…”[24]


     And yet in a real sense the Tsar saved the monarchy for the future by his abdication. For in abdicating he resisted the temptation to apply force and start a civil war in a cause that was just from a purely juridical point of view, but which could not be justified from a deeper, eschatological point of view. (Compare the words of the Prophet Shemaiah to King Rehoboam and the house of Judah as they prepared to face the house of Israel: “Thus saith the Lord, Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren, the children of Israel. Return every man to his house…” (I Kings 12.24)).


     The Tsar-Martyr resisted the temptation to act like a Western absolutist ruler, thereby refuting those in both East and West who looked on his rule as just that – a form of absolutism. He showed that the Orthodox Autocracy was not a form of absolutism, but something completely sui generis – the external aspect of the self-government of the Orthodox Church and people on earth. He refused to treat his power as if it were independent of the Church and people, but showed that it was a form of service to the Church and the people from within the Church and the people, in accordance with the word: “I have raised up one chosen out of My people… with My holy oil have I anointed him” (Psalm 88.18,19). So not “government by the people and for the people” in a democratic sense, but “government by one chosen out of the people of God for the people of God and responsible to God alone”.


     In demonstrating this in the whole manner of his self-sacrificial life, the Tsar actually preserved the ideal of the Orthodox Autocracy, handing it over “for safe-keeping”, as it were, to God and His Most Holy Mother. For on that very day the Mother of God appeared to the peasant woman Eudocia Adrianovna and said to her: “Go to the village of Kolomenskoe; there you will find a big, black icon. Take it and make it beautiful, and let people pray in front of it.” Eudocia found the icon at 3 o’clock, the precise hour of the abdication. Miraculously it renewed itself, and showed itself to be the “Reigning” icon of the Mother of God, the same that had led the Russian armies into war with Napoleon. On it she was depicted bearing the orb and sceptre of the Orthodox Tsars, as if to show that the sceptre of rule of the Russian land had passed from earthly rulers to the Queen of Heaven…[25]


The New Synod


     After the Tsar’s abdication, writes Bishop Gregory Grabbe, “everything happened amazingly quickly. The Synod could meet only when everything was already over, and almost immediately its membership was changed, while V.N. Lvov, a not completely normal fantasist, was appointed over-procurator. There were few who understood the whole significance of what had happened at that moment. Events were evaluated in society only from a political point of view and proceeded from a condemnation of everything that was old. The religio-moral side of what had happened could not be presented in a single organ of the press. Unlimited freedom was presented only for the criticism and condemnation of everything connected with the Church. There were few who understood at that moment that, in accepting this coup, the Russian people had committed the sin of oath-breaking, had rejected the Tsar, the Anointed of God, and had gone along the path of the prodigal son of the Gospel parable, subjecting themselves to the same destructive consequences as he experienced on abandoning his father.”[26]


     The Holy Synod was soon to learn what that new government really represented. Instead of the separation between Church and State that the government promised and so many Church leaders longed for, Lvov immediately began to act like a new dictator worse than any of the over-procurators of the Tsarist period. During his first appearance at the Synod on March 4, he removed the Royal Throne (it was placed in a museum). Two days later he secured the forced retirement of the Metropolitan of Petrograd, Pitirim (Oknov), on the grounds that he had been placed in his see by Rasputin.


     On March 7 the Holy Synod declared: “On March 7 the over-procurator explained to us that the Provisional Government considers itself endowed with all the prerogatives of the Tsar’s power in Church matters. It is not that he, the over-procurator, remains de facto the master and boss, as under the previous regime: for an indefinite time until the convening of a Council he also turns out to be the absolute controller of Church matters. In view of such a radical change in the relations of the State power to the Church, the signatories do not consider it possible for them to remain in the Holy Synod, although, of course, they retain a filial obedience to it and in due submission to the Provisional Government.” However, within a few hours the authors of he declaration had changed their decision about their presence in the Synod. In the following days they continued to discuss the situation and pointed out to the government “the uncanonical and unlawful” manner of acting of the new over-procurator. This was the end of the conflict between the Holy Synod and the Provisional Government. And although on March 10 at a session of the government Lvov suggested that it was desirable to renew the composition of the members of the Synod, it was decided to accomplish the changes gradually…[27]


     The next hierarch to go was the highly-respected Metropolitan of Moscow, Macarius, Apostle of the Altai. But it required a personal visit to Moscow by Lvov to stir up opposition to the metropolitan among his priests and laity. He was retired by the Synod see on March 20, together with Metropolitan Pitirim, Archbishop Barnabas of Tobolsk and Archbishop Ambrose of Sarapul.[28]


     The government went still further. On April 7, it ordered the house arrest of Metropolitan Macarius in the Holy Trinity – St. Sergius monastery. He prepared for publication an appeal to the hierarchs requesting that they recognize his retirement as invalid and again restore him to the see of Moscow. On the eve of Pascha he went from the Holy Trinity – St. Sergius monastery to Moscow with a letter to be handed in to one of the secretaries of the Moscow Consistory. In his letter he declared that in view of the cessation of the commemoration of his name by the majority of the clergy of the Moscow diocese, he was declaring all those clergy to be banned from serving from April 10 (Russkoe Slovo [The Russian Word], April 8.21, 1917)… Soon Metropolitan Macarius was removed beyond the bounds of the Moscow diocese to the Nikolo-Ugreshsky monastery. But instead of this he turned up in the Holy Trinity – St. Sergius monastery.[29]


     Metropolitan Macarius was never reconciled with his forced and uncanonical retirement. As he later wrote: “They [the government] corrupted the army with their speeches. They opened the prisons. They released onto the peaceful population convicts, thieves and robbers. They abolished the police and administration, placing the life and property of citizens at the disposal of every armed rogue… They destroyed trade and industry, imposing taxes that swallowed up the profits of enterprises… They squandered the resources of the exchequer in a crazy manner. They radically undermined all the sources of life in the country. They established elections to the Constituent Assembly on bases that are incomprehensible to Russia. They defiled the Russian language, distorting it for the amusement of half-illiterates and sluggards. They did not even guard their own honour, violating the promise they had given to the abdicated Tsar to allow him and his family free departure, by which they prepared for him inevitable death…


     “Who started the persecution on the Orthodox Church and handed her head over to crucifixion? Who demanded the execution of the Patriarch? Was it those whom the Duma decried as ‘servants of the dark forces’, labelled as enemies of the freedom of the Church?... No, it was not those, but he whom the Duma opposed to them as a true defender of the Church, whom it intended for, and promoted to, the rank of over-procurator of the Most Holy Synod – a member of the Provisional Government, now servant of the Sovnarkom – Vladimir Lvov.”[30]


     Already on March 7, with the support of the liberal Archbishop Sergius (Stragorodsky) of Finland, whom we have already met as one of the most prominent of the “proto-renovationists”, Lvov had transferred the Synod’s official organ, Tserkovno-Obshchestvennij Vestnik (Church and Society Messenger), into the hands of the “All-Russian Union of Democratic Orthodox Clergy and Laity”, a left-wing grouping founded in Petrograd on the same day of March 7 and led by Titlinov, a professor at the Petrograd Academy of which Sergius was the rector.[31] Archbishop (later Patriarch) Tikhon protested against this transfer, and the small number of signatures for the transfer made it illegal. However, in his zeal to hand this important Church organ into the hands of the liberals, Lvov completely ignored the illegality of the act and handed the press over to Titlinov, who promptly began to use it to preach his Gospel of “Socialist Christianity”, declaring that “Christianity is on the side of labour, not on the side of violence and exploitation”.[32]


     On April 14, a stormy meeting took place between Lvov and the Synod during which Lvov’s actions were recognised to be “uncanonical and illegal”. At this session Archbishop Sergius apparently changed course and agreed with the other bishops in condemning the unlawful transfer. However, Lvov understood that this was only a tactical protest. So he did not include Sergius among the bishops whom he planned to purge from the Synod. He thought – rightly - that Sergius would continue to be his tool in the revolution that he was introducing in the Church.


     The next day Lvov marched into the Synod at the head of a detachment of soldiers and read an order for the cessation of the winter session of the Synod and the retirement of all its members with the single exception of Archbishop Sergius (Stragorodsky) of Finland.[33] The Synodal members removed were: Metropolitan Vladimir (Bogoyavlensky) of Kiev, Archbishops Tikhon (Belavin) of Lithuania, Arsenius (Stadnitsky) of Novgorod, Michael (Ermakov) of Grodno, Joachim (Levitsky) of Nizhni-Novgorod and Basil (Bogoyavlensky) of Chernigov, and Protopresbyters Alexander Dernov and George Shavelsky. In their place for the summer session were appointed Archbishop Platon (Rozhdestvensky), exarch of Georgia, Archbishop Agathangelus (Preobrazhensky) of Yaroslavl, Bishop Andrew (Ukhtomsky) of Ufa, Bishop Michael (Bogdanov) of Samara, Protopresbyter Nicholas Liubimov, rector of the Dormition cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin, Professor-Protopriests Alexander Smirnov and Alexander Rozhdestvensky and Protopriest Theodore Filonenko.[34] Thus in little more than a month since the coup, the Church had been effectively placed in the hands of a lay dictator, who had single-handedly dismissed her most senior bishops in the name of the “freedom of the Church”.


     On April 29, the new Synod headed by Archbishop Sergius accepted an Address to the Church concerning the establishment of the principle of the election of the episcopate, and the preparation for a Council and the establishment of a Preconciliar Council. This Address triggered a revolution in the Church. The revolution consisted in the fact that all over the country the elective principle with the participation of laymen replaced the system of “episcopal autocracy” which had prevailed thereto. In almost all dioceses Diocesan Congresses elected special “diocesan councils” or committees composed of clergy and laity that restricted the power of the bishops. The application of the elective principle to almost all ecclesiastical posts, from parish offices to episcopal sees, resulted in the removal of several bishops from their sees and the election of new ones in their stead. Thus Archbishops Basil (Bogoyavlensky) of Chernigov, Tikhon (Nikanorov) of Kaluga and Anthony (Khrapovitsky) of Kharkov were removed. Archbishop Joachim (Levitsky) of Nizhni-Novgorod was even arrested and imprisoned for a time. The retirement of Archbishop Alexis (Dorodnitsyn) of Vladimir was justified by his earlier closeness to Rasputin. The others were accused of being devoted to the Autocracy.[35]


     Although the spirit behind this revolutionary wave was undoubtedly anti-ecclesiastical in essence, by the Providence of God it resulted in some changes that were beneficial for the Church. Thus the staunchly monarchist Archbishop Anthony, after being forced to retire, was later reinstated at the demand of the people. Again, Archbishop Tikhon (Bellavin) of Lithuania was elected metropolitan of Moscow (the lawful occupant of that see, Metropolitan Macarius, was later reconciled with him), and Archbishop Benjamin (Kazansky) was made metropolitan of Petrograd. However, there were also harmful changes, such as the replacement of Archbishop Alexis of Vladimir by – Archbishop Sergius.[36]


     The turmoil in both Church and State in Russia gave the opportunity to the Georgian Church to reassert its autocephalous status, which it had voluntarily given up over a century before. On March 12, without the agreement of the Holy Synod of the Russian Church, and in spite of the protests of the exarch of Georgia, Archbishop Platon, a group of Georgian bishops proclaimed the autocephaly of their Church and appointed Bishop Leonid (Okropiridze) of Mingrelia as locum tenens of the Catholicos with a Temporary Administration composed of clergy and laity.[37] The Russian Synod sent Bishop Theophylact to look after the non-Georgian parishes in Georgia. But he was removed from Georgia. And the new exarch, Metropolitan Cyril (Smirnov), was not allowed into the capital. The result was a break in communion between the two Churches.[38]


     In the same month of March the Russian government ceased subsidising the American diocese. The ruling Archbishop Eudocimus (Mescheriakov) went to the All-Russian Council in August, leaving his vicar, Bishop Alexander (Nemolovsky) of Canada, as his deputy. But then Protopriest John Kedrovsky with a group of renovationist priests tried to remove Bishop Alexander from administering the diocese and take power into their own hands “with submitting to imperial power or hierarchical decrees”.[39]


     On June 20, the Provisional Government transferred 37,000 church-parish schools into the administration of the Ministry of Enlightenment.


     From June 1 to 10 an All-Russian Congress of clergy and laity took place in Moscow consisting of 800 delegates from all the dioceses. As Shkarovskii writes, it “welcomed the revolution, but expressed the wish that the Church continue to receive the legal and material support of the state, that divinity continue to be an obligatory subject in school, and that the Orthodox Church retain its schools. Consequently, a conflict soon broke out with the government. The Synod protested against the law of 20 June which transferred the [37,000] parish church schools to the Ministry of Education. A similar clash occurred over the intention to exclude divinity from the list of compulsory subjects.”[40]


     The transfer of the church schools to the state system was disastrous for the Church because the state’s schools were infected with atheism. It would be one of the first decrees that the coming Council of the Russian Orthodox Church would seek (unsuccessfully) to have repealed…


     In general, the June Congress carried forward the renovationist wave; and although the June 14 “On Freedom of Conscience” was welcome, the government still retained de jure control over the Church. Even when the government allowed the Church to convene its own All-Russian Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church in August, it retained the right of veto over any new form of self-administration that Council might come up with. Moreover, the Preconciliar Council convened to prepare for the forthcoming Council was to be chaired by the Church’s leading liberal, Archbishop Sergius. Thus it looked as if the All-Russian Council would finally seal the break with the pre-revolutionary past and bring the Russian Church into the mainstream of twentieth-century ecclesiastical life, by which the liberals meant, in effect, her Protestantization. However, by the Providence of God, it was not to be…


Two Cretans


     What Kerensky was for Russia, the Cretan nationalist and Freemason Eleutherius Venizelos was for Greece, coming to power in Athens in 1917 through a military coup d’etat, forcing King Constantine to resign in favour of his son Alexander and turning the allegiance of the Greek government away from the Central Powers and towards the Allied Powers of France, Britain and Russia. The Apostle Paul said that “the Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, idle gluttons” (Titus 1.12). This text is particularly apt in relation to Venizelos, who lied to the Greek people, raised their hopes of conquest and glory – his aim was a Greece “on two continents, washed by five seas” - and then dashed them to the ground in a pitiless manner.


     “At the end of the century,” writes Macmillan, “as Crete freed itself from Turkish rule and then joined Greece, Venizelos was prominent in the struggle. By 1910 he was prime minister. In the Balkan wars of 1912 and 1913 he manoeuvred on the international stage with such success that Greece emerged with a large swathe of territory in the north, from Epirus in the west to Macedonia and part of Thrace in the east. The new territories more than doubled its size. As soon as Venizelos signed the 1913 Treaty of Bucharest, which confirmed Greece’s gains, he said, ‘And now let us turn our eyes to the East’.


     “The East meant Ottoman Turkey. So much of the Greek past lay there: Troy and the great city states along the coast of Asia MinorPergamum, Ephesus, Halicarnassus. Herodotus, the father of history, was born there, and so was Hippocrates, the father of medicine. On Lesbos, Sappho had written her poetry and at Samos, Pythagoras had invented geometry… The Byzantine empire and Christianity added another layer of memories and another basis for claims; for a thousand years since Constantine became the first Christian emperor, his successors had sat in his city of Constantinople (today Istanbul), speaking Greek and keeping alive the great traditions. The Greek Orthodox patriarch still lived there, not in Athens. Santa Sophia, now a mosque, was the church built by the great Justinian in the sixth century. Centuries-old prophecies foretold that the city would be redeemed from the heathen Turks; generations of Greeks had longed for this.


     “Venizelos wrote to the powers in Paris that Greece did not want Constantinople. Perhaps an American mandate might be desirable. Privately, he assured his intimates that Greece would soon achieve its dream; once the city was out of Turkish hands, the Greeks, with their natural industry and dynamism, would rapidly dominate it. ‘The Turks’, he told [the British Prime Minister] Lloyd George, ‘were incapable of administering properly such a great city and port.’ During the Peace Conference Venizelos lost no opportunity to emphasize how very Greek the city was.


     “For all that Greece, and Greek society, bore the imprint of its Ottoman past, Venizelos spoke for many Greeks when he insisted that his people were part of the modern, Western world. The Greeks would naturally civilize the backward Turks, just as the British or French were civilizing Africans and Asians. Why, he argued, one had only to look at the Greek birth rate (especially in Crete); the fact that it was the highest in the world demonstrated clearly the virility of the Greek nation. In 1919, he claimed, there were about 2 million Greeks living under Turkish rule.


     “The correct figure was probably closer to one and a half million. Not all of that number, however, despite what Venizelos claimed, thought of themselves as part of a greater Greece. All through Ottoman Turkey there were Greek colonies, some, like those in Pontus around Trebizond on the south shore of the Black Sea, had been founded so long ago that their inhabitants spoke a barely recognizable Greek. In the interior there was little [external] difference between Greek and Turk. Perhaps as many as 400,000… Greeks were distinguished from their Turkish neighbours solely by their religion and by the fact that they used Greek characters to write Turkish words. It was mainly in the great ports, Smyrna (today’s Izmir) and Constantinople, that Greek nationalism meant something.


     “In the decades before 1914 thousands of Greeks migrated to Turkey looking for work and opportunity. They brought with them the hopes of their countrymen that the Turkish Greeks could be redeemed, for Greek culture, perhaps for a greater Greece. Changes in Turkey itself stimulated Greek nationalism. When the Young Turks seized power in 1908 the old easy tolerance the Ottomans had shown to minorities was doomed and in 1912 and 1913, when Muslim refugees fled from the Balkans back to Turkey, reprisals started there against Christian minorities. Even so, before the Great War Venizelos was cautious about talk of protecting the Turkish Greeks or of bringing them into union with Greece; his country had to recover from the Balkan wars and absorb its conquests. Indeed in 1914 Venizelos was prepared to negotiate a peaceful exchange of populations, Greeks from Thrace and Asia Minor for Turks from Greece. The exchange, eight years later, was neither negotiated nor peaceful.


     “The First World War changed the picture completely. The Ottomans chose the losing side, Venizelos and Greece the winning one. By 1919 even Ottoman Turkey seemed fated to disappear. The extent of the victory and the power of Greece’s friends were intoxicating; Greek newspapers talked of the ‘the realization of our dreams’. Only Constantinople was not mentioned because the censors forbade it. In reality, Turkey was defeated but far from finished; Greece’s friends were neither as powerful nor as steadfast as Venizelos assumed; and Greece itself was deeply divided between supporters and enemies of Venizelos.


     “The divisions were a legacy of Greece’s entry into the war. Although Venizelos had been outspokenly pro-Ally from the start, King Constantine, who was married to the German emperor’s sister and, more importantly, was a realist, wanted to keep Greece neutral. The king and his supporters were also immune to the heady vision of a greater country; ‘a small but honourable Greece’ was their preference. A prolonged political crisis between 1915 and 1917 saw Venizelos driven from office; in 1916 he set up a provisional government in defiance of the king, which brought half of Greece into the war; and in 1917 Constantine in turn was forced to leave Greece. A reunited Greece entered the war on the Allied side, but the unity was as thin as the excuses that Venizelos now used to round up his opponents. Government, judiciary, civil service, army, even the Orthodox Church, were all purged, leaving a deep rift in Greek society that endured for a generation.


     “In the Allied camp these actions, if they were noticed at all, did little damage to Venizelos’ reputation. He had bravely allowed British and French troops to land at Salonika (today Thessaloniki) when Greece was still neutral; he had spent millions that Greece could not afford on the military; and Greek troops had not only fought in the war but had gone off to help Allied anti-Bolshevik forces in Russia. He was a loyal ally, completely in sympathy with the West and its values, and opposed to German militarism. Venizelos, wisely, quoted Wilsonian principles whenever possible; he became an enthusiastic supporter of the League of Nations.


     “He was one of the stars of the Peace Conference [in Paris], the ‘biggest man he met’, said Wilson with unwonted enthusiasm. He held dinner tables spellbound with stories of life in the Cretan mountains as a guerrilla, of how he had taught himself English by reading The Times with a rifle resting on his knees. And always the conversation included references to the glorious past and great future of Greece. ‘The whole,’ reported Nicolson, the young British diplomat, ‘gives us a strange medley of charm, brigandage, welt-politik, patriotism, courage, literature – and above all this large muscular smiling man, with his eyes glinting through spectacles, and on his head a square skull-cap of black silk’.


     “On 3 February 1919 Venizelos got his chance to present Greece’s case to the Supreme Council. He came with his notes, his statistics, even photograph albums, showing happy Greek fishermen on the islands he wanted. That morning and the following day he was so reasonable, so persuasive. History, language, religion and of course, with a nod to the Americans, self-determination – he used them all. It was quite simple, he argued; in Europe Greece must have the southern part of Albania (North Epirus as he preferred to call it) and, further east, between the Aegean and the Black Sea, Thrace (at the very least the western part), a few islands and a huge piece of Asia Minor stretching from a point halfway along the south shore of the Sea of Marmara almost 400 miles down to the southern coast of Asia Minor to Smyrna. He pointed out that Greece was not asking for Constantinople. He complimented the Italians and made flattering references to the work of American teachers in his part of the world. It was a masterly performance – such amazing strength & tactfulness of argument combined’, in the opinion of a junior British diplomat. It was also dangerous – to Greece, to the Greeks and to the future peace of the Middle East. In that moment of triumph at the Peace Conference Venizelos lit a fuse that led to the catastrophic destruction of ancient Greek communities in Turkey and an enduring hostility that still exists today between Greece and Turkey…”[41]


     Venizelos’ destructive work in the State was complemented in the Church by his fellow Cretan and nephew Emmanuel Metaxakis, later Patriarch Meletius IV. “He was born on September 21, 1871 in the village of Parsas on the island of Crete. He entered the Seminary of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem in 1889. He was tonsured with the name Meletius and ordained a hierodeacon in 1892. He completed the theological courses at Holy Cross and was assigned as secretary to the Holy Synod in Jerusalem by Patriarch Damian in 1900. In 1908 Meletius was evicted from the Holy Land by Patriarch Damian, along with the then administrator Chrysostom, later Archbishop of Athens, for ‘activity against the Holy Sepulchre’. Meletius Metaxakis was then elected Metropolitan of Kition [in Cyprus] in 1910.”[42]


     Metaxakis had become a Freemason at the beginning of 1909…[43]


      This election is surprising in view of the fact that the Cypriots only elect fellow Cypriots to the sees of their Church. It is explained by the fact that the Archbishop of Cyprus at that time, Cyril, who later introduced the new calendar into his Church, was also a Mason, and probably helped the advancement of his fellow-Mason.


     Bishop Photius continues: “In the years before the war Metropolitan Meletius began successful talks in New York with representatives of the Episcopal Church of America, with the intention of ‘expanding mutual relations between the two Churches’.[44] After the death of Patriarch Joachim III on June 13, 1912, Meletius was nominated as a candidate for the Patriarchal Throne in Constantinople. However, the Holy Synod decided that Meletius could not canonically be registered as a candidate.”[45]


     On November 10/23, 1916 a Greek Minister, Andrew Mikhalakopoulos, wrote to President Venizelos, arguing for the necessity of a radical reform of the Greek Church that would bring her closer to the West. And he suggested that Meletius, a fervent Venizelist, would be a suitable agent of this reform. His letter amounted to nothing less than a proposed wholesale reformation of the Orthodox Church in a Protestant direction:


     “Mr. President, I told you a long time ago in the Council of Ministers that after we had brought to a successful conclusion the national struggle that you have undertaken, it would be necessary, for the good of the country, for you to take care of another, equally important, struggle, that of modernizing our religious affairs… To head this truly revolutionary reform, you will need a far-seeing Hierarch, one almost like you in politics. You have one: We are talking of the Hierarch from Cyprus [Meletius Metaxakis]. Under your guidance, he will become the Venizelos of the Church of Greece.


     “What are the elements that will require reform (once the political revolution has removed Archbishop Procopius of Athens and those like him) in intellectual and monastic circles, when there will have been put in place an ecclesiastical Hierarchy and a universal Synod, or perhaps only a Greek Synod…?


     “1) Abolition of the Fasts, which today are a simple formality. Nobody keeps the Fasts, except one who has nothing to eat. The English and the Germans, and even the northern Italians, who have been liberated from religious fanaticism, eat well, and by eating well they are working well and building a good race. Nourishment brings the necessary strength to work, work brings profit, and profit brings good nourishment. I do not think that the Italians of the north are worse than those of the south, whom the momentous propaganda of the Dante Alighieri Society has not succeeded in snatching from the claws of religious prejudice.


     “2) Modernization of the different ceremonies and Liturgies. Less presence of the Priest, the Psaltes, and the Deacon, and increased presence of the expository preacher. What can people who attend religious ceremonies really understand… from these hours that they spend and from standing upright? Nothing. If the Priest were obligated to recite two or three hymns… and to teach during a half-hour period, the listeners would derive much more benefit from this in a very short time, from the social, moral, and patriotic point of view.


     “3)… The Priests, by being educated at special schools, will have learned, not the meaning of [a certain phrase from the Liturgy, which Michalakopoulos is not familiar with either, since he misquotes it]…, but how to speak to the people in an intelligible way about sobriety, savings…, love of one’s country, even about the political duties of their listeners, etc., etc.


     “4) We will abolish the different Feasts of Saint Athanasios, Saint Andrew, and so on and so forth, which are nothing but an excuse for idleness. A holiday on Sunday and two or three holidays per year will be quite satisfactory for the sluggards. In the villages, holidays are more numerous than workdays… Hence, idleness and its harmful consequences: drunkenness, gambling, and crime, during the time that remains free in the day after the Liturgy. Obviously, it is not possible (unfortunately) to make the idea of holiness disappear… Once there fell into my hands a French book, which my taste for reading made me read, the title of which was Preacher’s Panorama; a large tome… We will publish a book of this type, fruit of the collaboration of good Church and lay writers. And the word ‘holy’ will disappear…


     “5) The monasteries, the source of all corruption and of all the abuses of fortune and morals, will be abolished. Their lands will pass into the hands of the peasants…


     “Of course, all the foregoing is just a very small part of the program. Many other things will need to be reformed… They will tell you, Mr. President, that putting such an undertaking into effect is an arduous thing; that the people will rise up against the new Iconoclasts; that a revolution will rise up against the impious. Nothing of the kind will happen, from the moment that your own prestige increases… If we succeed on the national level, then the other purge, the interior purge, will follow, and no one will be capable of provoking any troubles… The ecclesiastical Hierarchy that we will train to prepare the reform will have to respond to the need for regulating our religious affairs, following the abolition of the Turkish state and the reduction of the area in which the Oecumenical Patriarchate exercises its jurisdiction… The struggle which was recently waged in France was no less that the one we foresee here.”[46]


The Moscow Council of 1917-18


     On August 15, the Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church convened. It held three sessions between August 15 and September 20. Then it was brought to a close by the Bolsheviks before it could finish its business.


     The Council, assembled in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow was composed of 564 delegates, including 299 laymen. On the one hand, it included among the delegates such open Freemasons as Lvov, and on the other, it excluded such pious hierarchs as Metropolitan Macarius of Moscow because of his monarchist views. However, in spite of this and other flaws, it was the first Council in the history of the Russian Church since 1666, and was to prove to be a critical point of repose, refreshment and regrouping for the Church before the terrible trials that awaited her.


     At the beginning there was little sign that more than a minority of the delegates understood the full apocalyptic significance of the events they were living through. On August 24, and again on October 20, the Council issued statements condemning the increasing violence, theft and sacrilege against churches, monasteries and priests that had been increasing ever since February.[47] In general, however, revolutionary sentiment was dominant.


     On October 21, during Vespers in the Dormition cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin, two people dressed in soldiers’ uniforms went up to the shrine and relics of St. Hermogen, Patriarch of Moscow, threw off the covers and began to remove the vestments. When taken to the commissariat, they told the police that “now there is freedom and everyone can do anything he wants”. Three days later a penitential moleben was carried out in front of the shrine with the holy relics. The next day, the October revolution took place. St. Hermogen, who been canonized by the Church only a few years before, was notable for his refusal to recognize the government of the False Demetrius, and for his call to the nation to rise up in arms against it. For those with eyes to see, the incident at his shrine just before the coming to power of the Bolsheviks was a sign that the time had come to act in his spirit, against another false or anti-government.


     The Council seemed to understand this, for after the Bolsheviks came to power on October 25, a new spirit of defiance began to prevail in it, a spirit that became still stronger after the Bolsheviks dispersed the Constituent Assembly in January. One of the delegates, Metropolitan Eulogius of Paris and Western Europe, described the change thus: “Russian life in those days was like a sea tossed by the storm of revolution. Church life had fallen into a state of disorganization. The external appearance of the Council, because of the diversity of its composition, its irreconcilability and the mutual hostility of its different tendencies and states of mind, was at first matter for anxiety and sadness and even seemed to constitute a cause for apprehension… Some members of the Council had already been carried away by the wave of revolution. The intelligentsia, peasants, workers and professors all tended irresistibly to the left. Among the clergy there were also different elements. Some of them proved to be ‘leftist’ participants of the previous revolutionary Moscow Diocesan Congress, who stood for a thorough and many-sided reform of church life. Disunion, disorder, dissatisfaction, even mutual distrust… – such was the state of the Council at first. But – O miracle of God! – everything began gradually to change… The disorderly assembly, moved by the revolution and in contact with its sombre elements, began to change into something like a harmonious whole, showing external order and internal solidarity. People became peaceable and serious in their tasks and began to feel differently and to look on things in a different way. This process of prayerful regeneration was evident to every observant eye and perceptible to every participant in the Council. A spirit of peace, renewal and unanimity inspired us all…”[48]


     The Council coincided with the most momentous events in Russian history: the war with Germany, the fall of the Provisional Government and the Bolshevik coup, the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly and the beginning of the Civil War. On all these events it was able to make declarations that expressed the opinion of Believing Russia. In a real sense, in the absence of any other representative assembly, it was the voice of Russia – or, at any rate, of that large proportion of the population which had not been engulfed by the revolutionary frenzy. As for the Bolsheviks, whose decrees with regard to the Church were either ignored or outrightly defied by the Council, they made no serious attempt to impede its work…


     Some of the most important decisions of the Council were the following:-


1. The Restoration of the Patriarchate


     The pre-conciliar council in June had expressed itself strongly against the restoration of the patriarchate. Moreover, on September 1, the Provisional government, not waiting for the verdict of the Constituent Assembly, had declared that Russia was a republic. And so when the proposal was introduced on October 11 by the future Hieromartyr Bishop Metrophanes of Astrakhan, it met with considerable opposition on the grounds that it was a reactionary, monarchist measure. However, the Bolshevik revolution in October coincided, paradoxically, with a rise in support for the idea, largely owing to the energetic support by Archbishop Anthony (Khrapovitsky) and Archimandrite Hilarion (Troitsky). On October 28 the motion was carried, and on October 30 the first ballot to elect a Patriarch produced the following result: for Archbishop Anthony – 101 votes; for Archbishop Cyril of Tambov (the future hieromartyr and first-hierarch of the Catacomb Church) - 27; for the new Metropolitan of Moscow Tikhon – 23; for Metropolitan Platon – 22; for Archbishop Arseny of Novgorod – 14; from Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev, Archbishop Anastasy of Kishinev and Protopresbyter George Shavelsky – 13; for Archbishop Sergius of Vladimir – 5; for Archbishop James of Kazan, Archimandrite Hilarion and A.D. Samarin, a former over-procurator – 3. Other hierarchs received one or two votes. At the second ballot on November 1 three candidates were elected: Archbishop Anthony (159), Metropolitan Arsenius of Novgorod (199) and Metropolitan Tikhon of Moscow (162).


     On November 5, lots were drawn. Metropolitan Eulogius writes: “Everybody shivered in expectation of whom the Lord would call… At the end of the moleben Metropolitan Vladimir went up to the analoy, took the casket, blessed the people with it, broke the cord with which the casket was bound and removed the seal. The venerable elder, Hieroschemamonk Alexis, the hermit of Zosima desert (not far from the Trinity-St. Sergius monastery), came out of the altar; he had been taking part in the Council for the sake of ecclesiastical obedience. He crossed himself three times and, without looking, took the piece of paper from the casket. Metropolitan Vladimir read it carefully: ‘Tikhon, Metropolitan of Moscow’. It was as if an electric spark had run through the worshippers… The refrain of the metropolitan rang out: ‘Axios!’, which was drowned in the unanimous ‘Axios!!… Axios!…’ of the clergy and people.  The choir together with the worshippers began to chant: ‘We praise Thee, O Lord…’”[49]


     Thus was the wish of one of the peasant delegates fulfilled: “We have a tsar no more; no father whom we love. It is impossible to love a synod; and therefore we, the peasants, want a Patriarch.” Archbishop Hilarion said in triumph: “The eagle of Petrine autocracy, shaped in imitation of the West, tore asunder the Patriarchate, that sacred heart of Russian Orthodoxy. The sacrilegious hand of the impious Peter pulled down the senior hierarch of the Russian Church from his traditional seat in the Dormition Cathedral. The Council, by the authority given it by God, has once more placed the patriarch of Moscow in the chair, which belongs to him by inalienable right.”[50]


     Metropolitan Tikhon was duly enthroned on November 21 in the Kremlin cathedral of the Dormition to the sound of rifle fire from the battle for Moscow outside. With the enthronement of the patriarch, as Sergius Firsov writes, “an historical event took place – the Orthodox Church received its canonical head, whose voice had not been heard for a whole 217 years. Not only formally, but effectively this was the closing of the last page in the history of the Synodal period.”[51]


     According to the new constitution of the Russian Church agreed at the Council, the Church’s supreme organ was the Sacred All-Russian Council, composed of bishops, clergy and laity, which was to be periodically convoked by the Patriarch but to which the Patriarch himself was responsible. Between Councils, the Patriarch administered the Church with the aid of two permanent bodies: the Synod of Bishops, and the Higher Church Council, on which parish clergy and laity could sit. Questions relating to theology, religious discipline and ecclesiastical administration were to be the prerogative of the Synod of Bishops, while secular-juridical, charity and other church-related social questions were to be the prerogative of the Higher Church Council.


     On January 25, the Council heard that Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev had been murdered by the Bolsheviks. These events concentrated minds on the danger the Patriarch was in; and on the same day the Council immediately passed a resolution entrusting him with the drawing up of the names of three men who could serve as locum tenentes of the Patriarch in the event of his death and before the election of a new Patriarch. These names were to be kept secret - on February 3/16 Prince Trubestkoj said that there had been “a closed session of the Council” to discuss this question, and that “it was decreed that the whole fullness of the rights of the Patriarch should pass to the locum tenens”, and that “it is not fitting to speak about all the motivation behind the decision taken in an open session”.[52]


     The Patriarch’s will was revised by him towards the end of 1924, and was published only after his death in 1925. It was read out in the presence of sixty hierarchs and declared: “In the event of our death our patriarchal rights and obligations, until the canonical election of a new Patriarch, we grant temporarily to his Eminence Metropolitan Cyril (Smirnov). In the event of the impossibility, by reason of whatever circumstances, of his entering upon the exercise of the indicated rights and obligations, they will pass to his Eminence Metropolitan Agathangelus (Preobrazhensky). If this metropolitan, too, does not succeed in accomplishing this, then our patriarchal rights and obligations will pass to his Eminence Peter (Polyansky), Metropolitan of Krutitsa.” Since both Metropolitans Cyril and Agathangelus were in exile at the time of the Patriarch’s death, Metropolitan Peter became the patriarchal locum tenens.


     Patriarch Tikhon’s choice turned out to be inspired, although Metropolitan Peter was not well known at the time of the Council. As Regelson comments: “That the first-hierarchical authority in the Russian Church after the death of Patriarch Tikhon was able to be preserved was thanks only to the fact that one of the patriarchal locum tenentes Patriarch Tikhon chose in 1918 was Metropolitan Peter, who at the moment of the choice was only a servant of the Synod! Many hierarchs were amazed and disturbed by his subsequent swift ‘career’, which changed him in the course of six years into the metropolitan of Krutitsa and Kolomna… But it was precisely thanks to the extraordinary nature of his destiny that he turned out to be the only one chosen by the Patriarch (in actual fact, chosen by the Council, as entrusted to the Patriarch) who was left in freedom at the moment of the death of Patriarch Tikhon. It is difficult even to conjecture how complicated and, besides, tragic would have been the destiny of the Russian Church if the wise thought of the Council and the Patriarch had not been realized in life.”[53]


2. The Attitude towards Soviet power


     The Council refused to recognize the legitimacy of Soviet power. Thus when, on the day after the coup, October 26, Lenin nationalized all land, making the Church’s and parish priests’ property illegal, the Council addressed a letter to the faithful on November 11, calling the revolution “descended from the Antichrist and possessed by atheism”: “Open combat is fought against the Christian Faith, in opposition to all that is sacred, arrogantly abasing all that bears the name of God (II Thessalonians 2.4)… But no earthly kingdom founded on ungodliness can ever survive: it will perish from internal strife and party dissension. Thus, because of its frenzy of atheism, the State of Russia will fall… For those who use the sole foundation of their power in the coercion of the whole people by one class, no motherland or holy place exists. They have become traitors to the motherland and instigated an appalling betrayal of Russia and her true allies. But, to our grief, as yet no government has arisen which is sufficiently one with the people to deserve the blessing of the Orthodox Church. And such will not appear on Russian soil until we turn with agonizing prayer and tears of repentance to Him, without Whom we labour in vain to lay foundations…”[54]


     The Council’s decree of December 2, “On the Legal Status of the Russian Orthodox Church”, ruled, on the one hand, that the State could issue no law relating to the Church without prior consultation with and approval by her, and on the other hand, that any decree and by-laws issued by the Orthodox Church that did not directly contradict state laws were to be systematically recognized by the State as legally binding. Church holidays were to remain state holidays, blasphemy and attempts to lure members of the Church away from her were to remain illegal, and schools of all levels organized and run by the Church were to be recognised by the State on a par with the secular schools. It is clear from this decree that the Church was determined to go Her own way in complete defiance of the so-called “authorities”.


     On December 11 Lenin decreed that all Church schools be transferred to the Council of People’s Commissars. As a result, the Church was deprived of all its academies, seminaries, schools and all the property linked with them. Then, on December 18, ecclesiastical marriage was deprived of its legal status and civil marriage introduced in its place. On January 13, Alexandra Kollontai, the People’s Commissar of Social Welfare (and Lenin’s mistress), sent a detachment of sailors to occupy the Alexander Nevsky monastery and turn it into a sanctuary for war invalids. They were met by an angry crowd of worshippers and in the struggle which followed one priest, Fr. Peter Skipetrov, was shot dead.[55]


     According to Orlando Figes[56], Lenin was not yet ready for a confrontation with the Church; but Kollontai’s actions had forced his hand, and on January 20 the “Decree on the Separation of the Church from the State and of the School from the State” was passed (it was published three days later in Izvestia).


     This was the Bolsheviks’ fiercest attack yet on the Church. It forbade religious bodies from owning property (all property of religious organizations was declared to be the heritage of the people), from levying dues, from organizing into hierarchical organizations, and from teaching religion to persons under 18 years of age. Ecclesiastical and religious societies did not have the rights of a juridical person. The registering of marriages was to be done exclusively by the civil authorities. Thus, far from being a blow struck for freedom of conscience, it was, as the Council put it, a decree on freedom from conscience, and an excuse for large-scale pillaging of churches and murders, often in the most bestial manner.[57]


     On January 19, Patriarch Tikhon, anticipating the decree, issued his famous anathema against the Bolsheviks: “By the power given to Us by God, we forbid you to approach the Mysteries of Christ, we anathematise you, if only you bear Christian names and although by birth you belong to the Orthodox Church. We also adjure all of you, faithful children of the Orthodox Church of Christ, not to enter into any communion with such outcasts of the human race: ‘Remove the evil one from among you’ (I Corinthians 5.13).”


     The significance of this anathema lies not so much in its casting out of the Bolsheviks themselves, as in the command to the faithful to have no communion with them. In other words, the government were to be regarded, not only as apostates from Christ (that was obvious), but also as having no moral authority, no claim to obedience whatsoever – an attitude taken by the Church to no other government in the whole of Her history. The decree ended with an appeal to defend the Church, if necessary, to the death. For “the gates of hell shall not prevail against Her” (Matthew 16.18).[58]


     It has been argued that the Patriarch’s decree did not anathematise Soviet power as such, but only those who were committing acts of violence and sacrilege against the Church. However, this argument fails to take into account several facts. First, the patriarch himself, in his declarations of June 16 and July 1, 1923, repented precisely of his “anathematisation of Soviet power”.[59] Secondly, even if the decree did not formally anathematise Soviet power as such, since Soviet power sanctioned and initiated the acts of violence, the faithful were in effect being exhorted to having nothing to do with it. And thirdly, in his Epistle to the Council of People’s Commissars on the first anniversary of the revolution, November 7, 1918, the Patriarch obliquely but clearly confirmed his non-recognition of Soviet power, saying: “It is not our business to make judgments about earthly authorities. Every power allowed by God would attract to itself Our blessing if it were truly ‘the servant of God’, for the good of those subject to it, and were ‘terrible not for good works, but for evil’ (Romans 13.3,4). But now to you, who have used authority for the persecution of the innocent, We extend this Our word of exhortation… “[60]


     Most important of all, when the Patriarch’s anathema came to be read out to the Council on January 28, it was enthusiastically endorsed by it in terms which make it clear that the Council understood the Patriarch to have anathematised precisely Soviet power: “The Sacred Council of the Orthodox Russian Church welcomes with love the epistle of his Holiness Patriarch Tikhon, which punishes the evil-doers and rebukes the enemies of the Church of Christ. From the height of the patriarchal throne there has thundered the word of excommunication [preschenia] and a spiritual sword has been raised against those who continually mock the faith and conscience of the people. The Sacred Council witnesses that it remains in the fullest union with the father and intercessor of the Russian Church, pays heed to his appeal and is ready in a sacrificial spirit to confess the Faith of Christ against her blasphemers. The Sacred Council calls on the whole of the Russian Church headed by her archpastors and pastors to unite now around the Patriarch, so as not to allow the mocking of our holy faith.”[61]


     The decree elicited strong reactions from individual members of the Council. Thus one exclaimed: “We overthrew the tsar and subjected ourselves to the Jews!” And another said: “The sole means of salvation for the Russian nation is a wise Orthodox Russian tsar!”[62]


     The section of the Council appointed to report on the decree made the following recommendations: “The individuals wielding the governmental authority audaciously attempt to destroy the very existence of the Orthodox Church. In order to realize this satanic design, the Soviet of People’s Commissars published the decree concerning the separation of the Church from the State, which legalized an open persecution not only of the Orthodox Church, but of all other religious communions, Christian or non-Christian. Not despising deceit, the enemies of Christ fraudulently put on the appearance of granting by it religious liberty.


     “Welcoming all real extension of liberty of conscience, the Council at the same time points out that by the provisions of the said decree, the freedom of the Orthodox Church, as well as of all other religious organizations and communions in general, is rendered void. Under the pretence of  ‘the separation of the Church from the State’, the Soviet of People’s Commissars attempts to render impossible the very existence of the churches, the ecclesiastical institutions, and the clergy.


     “Under the guise of taking over the ecclesiastical property, the said decree aims to destroy the very possibility of Divine worship and ministration. It declares that ‘no ecclesiastical or religious association has the right to possess property’, and ‘all property of the existing ecclesiastical and religious associations in Russia is declared to be national wealth.’ Thereby the Orthodox churches and monasteries, those resting-places of the relics of the saints revered by all Orthodox people, become the common property of all citizens irrespective of their credal differences – of Christians, Jews, Muslims and pagans, and the holy objects designated for the Divine service, i.e. the holy Cross, the holy Gospel, the sacred vessels, the holy miracle-working icons are at the disposal of the governmental authorities, which may either permit or not (as they wish) their use by the parishes.


     “Let the Russian people understand that they (the authorities) wish to deprive them of God’s churches with their sacred objects! As soon as all property of the Church is taken away, it is not possible to offer any aid to it, for in accordance with the intention of the decree everything donated shall be taken away. The support of monasteries, churches and the clergy alike becomes impossible.


     “But that is not all: in consequence of the confiscation of the printing establishments, it is impossible for the Church independently to publish the holy Gospel as well as other sacred and liturgical books in their wonted purity and authenticity.


     “In the same manner, the decree affects the pastors of the Church. Declaring that ‘no one may refuse to perform his civil duties on account of his religious views’, it thereby constrains them to fulfil military obligations forbidden them by the 83rd canon of the holy Apostles. At the same time, ministers of the altar are removed from educating the people. The very teaching of the law of God, not only in governmental, but even in private schools, is not permitted; likewise all theological institutions are doomed to be closed. The Church is thus excluded from the possibility of educating her own pastors.


     “Declaring that ‘the governmental functions or those of other public-juridical institutions shall not be accompanied by any religious rites or ceremonies,’ the decree thereby sacrilegiously sunders all connections of the government with the sanctities of the faith.


     “On the basis of all these considerations, the holy Council decrees:


     “1. The decree published by the Soviet of People’s Commissars regarding the separation of the Church from the State represents in itself, under the guise of a law declaring liberty of conscience, an inimical attempt upon the life of the Orthodox Church, and is an act of open persecution.


     “2. All participation, either in the publication of the law so injurious to the Church, or in attempts to put it into practice, is not reconcilable with membership of the Orthodox Church, and subjects all transgressors belonging to the Orthodox communion to the heaviest penalties, to the extent of excommunicating them from the Church (in accordance with the 73rd canon of the holy Apostles, and the 13th canon of the Seventh Ecumenical Council).”


     These recommendations were then adopted by the Council as its official reply to the decree (February 7). In the same spirit, on April 15 the Council decreed: “Clergymen serving in anti-ecclesiastical institutions, as well as those who put into effect the decrees on freedom of conscience which are inimical to the Church and similar acts, are subject to being banned from serving and, in the case of impenitence, are deprived of their rank.”[63]


     Although, as we have said, it was unprecedented for a Local Church to anathematise a government, there have been occasions in the history of the Church when individual hierarchs have not only refused to obey or pray for a political leader, but have actually prayed against him. Thus in the fourth century St. Basil the Great prayed for the defeat of Julian the Apostate, and it was through his prayers that the apostate was killed, as was revealed by God to the holy hermit Julian of Mesopotamia. Neither St. Basil nor his friend, St. Gregory the Theologian, recognised the rule of Julian the Apostate to be legitimate.[64] This and other examples show that, while the principle of authority as such is from God (Romans. 13.1), individual authorities or rulers are sometimes not from God, but are only allowed by Him, in which case the Church must offer resistance to them out of loyalty to God Himself.[65]


     There were some who took the anathema very seriously and fulfilled it to the letter. Thus in 1918, the clairvoyant Elder Nicholas (Parthenov), later Hieromartyr Bishop of Aktar, “following the anathema contained in the Epistle of his Holiness Patriarch Tikhon, and not wishing to enter into relations with ‘the outcasts of the human race’, went into reclusion…”[66]


     The Council had exhorted the faithful to protect church property, and soon there were reports of people mobbing the officials and soldiers detailed to carry out the decree. Several hundred thousand people marched through Petrograd in protest. Shkarovskii writes: “Numerous religious processions, some of which were fired upon, took place in the towns; services in defence of the patriarchate were held in public places and petitions were sent to the government. There followed a mass religious upsurge in Russia. From 1918, thousands of new converts, including some prominent intellectuals, joined the now persecuted Orthodox Church. And ‘All-Russian Union of United Orthodox Parishes’ was also formed.


     “The Sovnarkom had expected its decree to be implemented quickly and relatively painlessly, but this was prevented first and foremost by the opposition of millions of peasants, who supported the expropriation of church and monastic property but were against making births, marriages and deaths a purely civil affair, depriving parishes of their property rights, and dropping divinity from the school curriculum. Peasants thus resisted Bolshevik efforts to break the ‘unshakable traditions’ of ‘a life of faith’ in the Russian countryside. The implementation of the law was also hindered by the lack of suitable officials to carry it out, and by the inconsistence of the local authorities’ understanding of the law.”


     A Barmenkov wrote: “Some school workers began to interpret [the principle of Church-School separation] as a transition to secular education, in which both religious and anti-religious propaganda in school would be excluded. They supposed that the school had to remain neutral in relation to religion and the Church. A.V. Lunacharsky and N.K. Krupskaia spoke against this incorrect interpretation…, emphasising that in the Soviet state the concept of the people’s enlightenment had unfailingly to include ‘a striving to cast out of the people’s head religious trash and replace it with the light of science.’”[67]


     “On March 14/27,” writes Peter Sokolov, “still hoping that the existence of the Church could be preserved under the communist regime and with the aim of establishing direct relations with the higher state authorities, a Church deputation set out in the name of the Council to the Council of People’s Commissars in Moscow. They wanted to meet Lenin personally, and personally present him with their ideas about the conditions acceptable to the Church for her existence in the state of the new type.”[68]


     This initiative hardly accorded with the anathema against the Bolsheviks, which forbade the faithful from having any relations with them. It was therefore unsuccessful. “The deputation was not received by Lenin. The commissars (of insurance and justice) that conversed with it did not satisfy its requests. A second address to the authorities in the name of the Council that followed soon after the first unsuccessful audience was also unsuccessful…”[69]


     The Council made two other decisions relating to Soviet power and its institutions. On April 15 it decreed: “Clergymen serving in anti-ecclesiastical institutions… are subject to being banned from serving and, in the case of impenitence, are deprived of their rank”? On the assumption that “anti-ecclesiastical institutions” included all Soviet institutions, this would seem to have been a clearly anti-Soviet measure.


     However, on August 15, 1918, the Council appeared to take a step in the opposite direction, declaring invalid all defrockings based on political considerations, applying this particularly to Metropolitan Arsenius (Matsevich) of Rostov and Priest Gregory Petrov. Metropolitan Arsenius had indeed been unjustly defrocked in the reign of Catherine II for his righteous opposition to her anti-Church measures. However, Fr. Gregory Petrov had been one of the leaders of the Cadet party in the Duma in 1905 and was an enemy of the monarchical order. How could his defrocking be said to have been unjust in view of the fact that the Church had officially prayed for the Orthodox Autocracy, and Petrov had worked directly against the fulfilment of the Church’s prayers?


     However, too many people, including several hierarchs, had welcomed the fall of the Tsarist regime… If the Church was not to divide along political lines, a general amnesty was considered necessary.


     And yet, as Bishop Dionysius (Alferov) writes, the Council could be criticised for its “weakening of Church discipline, its legitimisation of complete freedom of political orientation and activity, and, besides, its rehabilitation of the Church revolutionaries like Gregory Petrov. By all this it doomed the Russian Church to collapse, presenting to her enemies the best conditions for her cutting up and annihilation piece by piece.


     “That this Council… did not express the voice of the complete fullness of the Russian Church is proved by the decisions of two other Councils of the time: that of Karlovtsy in 1921, and that of Vladivostok in 1922.


     “At the Karlovtsy Council remembrance was finally made of the St. Sergius’ blessing of the Christian Sovereign Demetrius Donskoj for his battle with the enemies of the Church and the fatherland, and of the struggle for the Orthodox Kingdom of the holy Hierarch Hermogenes of Moscow. The question was raised of the ‘sin of February’, but because some of the prominent activists of the Council had participated in this, the question was left without detailed review. The decisions of this Council did not receive further official development in Church life because of the schisms that began both in the Church Abroad and in the monarchist movement. But the question of the re-establishment of the Orthodox Kingdom in Russia had been raised, and thinkers abroad worked out this thought in detail in the works, first of Prince N.D. Zhevakhov and Protopriest V. Vostokov, and then, more profoundly, in the works of Archbishop Seraphim (Sobolev), Professor M.V. Zyzykin, Archimandrite Constantine Zaitsev, V.N. Voejkov and N.P. Kusakov.


     “The Church-land Council in Vladivostok, which is now almost forgotten, expressed itself more definitely, recognizing the Orthodox autocracy to be the only lawful authority in Russia.”[70]


     On April 18 / May 1, in a decree entitled “On Measures Elicited by the Ongoing Persecution of the Orthodox Church”, the Council resolved:


     “1. To establish the raising in church during Divine services of special petitions for those who are now being persecuted for the Orthodox Faith and Church and those who have completed their lives as confessors and martyrs…


     “3. To establish throughout Russia a yearly prayerful commemoration on January 25 [the day of the martyrdom of Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev], or on the Sunday following (in the evening), of all the confessors and martyrs who have fallen asleep in the present year’s savage persecutions.


     “4. To organize on the Monday of the second week of Pascha, in all parishes where confessors and martyrs for the Faith and the Church finished their lives, cross processions to the places of their burial, where triumphant pannikhidas are to be celebrated with the specific verbal glorification of their sacred memory…”[71]


     Points 3 and 4 of this decree remained a dead letter for most of the Soviet period. However, in November, 1981 the Russian Church Abroad canonized the new martyrs, and since then devotion to the new martyrs and observance of their feasts steadily increased inside Russia, leading, as some have thought, to the fall of communism in 1991. Thus the glorification of the new martyrs, which began in April, 1918, may be said to have been the earnest of, and first step towards, the resurrection of Russia. It implicitly condemns the attitude of the Sovietised Moscow Patriarchate, which for most of the twentieth century declared that the new martyrs and confessors were “political criminals” worthy of derision rather than praise. 


3. The New Calendar


     On January 19, 1918, the Soviet State introduced the new calendar into Russia. Thinking “to change times and laws” (Daniel 7.25), a Decree of the Council of People’s Commissars dated January 24, 1918 ordered that the day after January 31, 1918 would be February 14 – not February 1. By a remarkable coincidence, on the same day Patriarch Tikhon anathematised the Bolshevik State, calling on the faithful Orthodox to have no communion with “these outcasts of humanity” in any way whatsoever. A few days later the Patriarch’s anathema was confirmed by the Church Council then in session in Moscow. In view of this rejection of the legitimacy of the State, it is not surprising that the Church also rejected the State’s change of calendar.


     Protopriest Alexander Lebedev writes: “The Sobor [Council] addressed the issue three days after the Decree was signed, at its 71st Session on January 27, 1918. The need for a prompt decision by the Church on how to relate to the civil calendar change was clear – the change was to take place four days later.


     “It was decided to send the issue to a Joint Session of two separate Sections of the Sobor – the Section on Divine Services and the Section on the Relationship of the Church to the State.


     “This Joint Session of the two Sections met two days later, on January 29, 1918 and heard two major reports, one by Professor S.S. Glagolev, entitled ‘A Comparative Evaluation of the Julian and Gregorian Styles’, and one by Prof. I.I. Sokolov, entitled, ‘The Attitude of the Orthodox East to the Question of the Reform of the Calendar’.


     “Neither of these presentations in any way supported the introduction into Church life of the Gregorian Calendar – quite the contrary. Prof. Glagolev concluded, ‘The Gregorian Calendar, in addition to being historically harmful, is astronomically useless’… Professor Sokolov concluded: ‘Therefore, the controlling voice of the Orthodox East, both Greek and Slavic, is expressed as being not only against the Gregorian calendar, as a creature of the inimical to it [the Orthodox East] Catholic West, but also against a neutral or corrected calendar, because such a reform would deleteriously affect the ecclesiastical life of the Orthodox peoples.’


     “Finally, the Joint Session of the two Sections prepared a Resolution on the issue of calendar reform.


     “It decreed that the Church must stay with the Julian calendar, basing its decision on the following:


     “1) There is no reason for the Church not to have a separate ecclesiastical calendar different from the civil calendar.


     “2) The Church not only is able to preserve the Old Calendar, - at the present time it would be impossible for it to move to the new calendar.


     “3) The introduction of the new calendar by the Russian Church would cause it to break unity with all of the other Orthodox Churches. Any change in the calendar can only be done by mutual agreement of all the Orthodox Churches.


     “4) It is impossible to correlate the Orthodox Paschalion with the Gregorian Calendar without causing grave disruption to the Typicon.


     “5) It is recognised that the Julian Calendar is astronomically inaccurate. This was noted already at the Council of Constantinople in 1583. However, it is incorrect to believe that the Gregorian Calendar is better suited for ecclesiastical use.


     “In conclusion, the Joint Session resolved to maintain the Julian Calendar.


     “The Council, in full session, approved this Resolution of the Joint Session.”[72]


4. Ecumenism


     O August 16, 1918 a declaration was made regarding the opening of a department for the reunification of the Christian Churches: “The Sacred Council of the Orthodox Russian Church, which has been gathered and is working in conditions that are so exceptionally difficult for the whole Christian Church, when the waves of unbelief and atheism threaten the very existence of the Christian Church, would take upon itself a great responsibility before history if it did not raise the question of the unification of the Christian Churches and did not give this question a fitting direction at the moment when not only one Christian confession, but the whole of Christianity is threatened by huge dangers on the part of unbelief and atheism.


     “The task of the department is to prepare material for a decision of the present Council on this question and on the further development of the matter in the inter-Council period…”[73]


     On September 20, the last, 170th session of the Council, the project for a commission on the reunification of the Churches was reviewed and confirmed by the Council. The president of the department on the unification of the Churches, Archbishop Eudocimus (Meschersky) of the Aleut Islands, said: “I am very sad that the report has come at such a difficult time, when the hours of our sacred union in this chamber are coming to an end, and when at the end of work my thoughts are becoming confused and I cannot report to you everything that I could tell you. From our point of view, the Council should have directed its attention at this question long ago. If the Church is alive, then we can remain in the narrow limits she has existed in up to now. If we have no courage to preach beyond the bounds of our fatherland, then we must hear the voice coming from there to us. I have in mind the voice of the Anglo-American Episcopalian Churches, who sincerely and insistently seek union or rapprochement, and do not find any insurmountable obstacles on the path to the indicated end. Considering the union of the Christian Churches to be especially desirable in the period of intense struggle with unbelief, crude materialism and moral barbarism that we are experiencing now, the department suggests to the Sacred Council that it adopt the following resolution:


     ‘1. The Sacred Council of the Orthodox Russian Church, joyfully beholding the sincere strivings of the Old Catholics and Anglicans for union with the Orthodox Church on the basis of the teaching and traditions of the Ancient-Catholic Church, blesses the labours and endeavours of the people who work to find paths towards union with the named friendly Churches.


     ‘2. The Council directs the Holy Synod to organize a permanent Commission attached to the Holy Synod with branches in Russia and abroad for the further study of the Old Catholic and Anglican questions, to explicate by means of relations with the Old Catholics and Anglicans the difficulties that lie on the path to union, and possible aids to the speedy attainment of the final end.’”


     The decisions of the Council of a theological or dogmatic significance were subject to confirmation by a special assembly of bishops. At the last such assembly, on September 22, 1918, the decision was not reviewed. It is possible that for that reason the “Resolution regarding the unification of the Churches” did not enter the official “Collection of the Decrees and Resolutions of the Sacred Council of the Orthodox Russian Church of 1917-1918”.[74] There may have been a deeper, providential reason: that this Resolution was not pleasing to God, in that it threatened to open the doors of the Russian Church to the heresy of ecumenism, of which the Anglicans were the leaders, at precisely the moment of her greatest weakness…


The Murder of the Tsar


     On July 17, 1918, Tsar Nicholas II was shot in Ekaterinburg together with the Tsarina Alexandra, the Tsarevich Alexis, the Tsarevnas Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia, and several family servants. The next day, Alapaevsk, Grand Duchess Elizabeth, the sister of the Tsarina, was killed together with her faithful companion, the Nun Barbara, Great Prince Sergius Mikhailovich, the Princes Igor Constantinovich, Constantine Constantinovich the younger, Ioann Constantinovich and Count Vladimir Pavlovich Paley.


     According to the teaching of the True Russian Church, the murder of the Tsar and his family was not the responsibility of the Bolsheviks only, but of the whole people who, directly or indirectly, connived at it. As St. John Maximovich explained: “All the regicides in Russia’s history were committed by some clique, not by the people. When Paul I was murdered, the people were not even aware of it, and when they found out, they brought their condolences and prayers to his grave for many years afterward. Alexander II’s murder unleashed a storm of indignation in Russia, which helped strengthen the moral fibre of the people, as became evident during the reign of Alexander III. The people were innocent of the Tsar-Liberator’s blood. But here the people, the entire Russian nation, is guilty of the spilled blood of their Tsar. Some partook in the murder, others, just as blameworthy, approved of it, while still others did nothing to interfere. All are guilty, and truly we must say: ‘His blood be on us, and on our children’ (Matthew 27.25)…”[75]


     On hearing the news, Patriarch Tikhon immediately condemned the murder. He had already angered the government by sending the Tsar his blessing in prison; and he now celebrated a pannikhida for him, blessing the archpastors and pastors to do the same. Then, on July 21, he announced in the Kazan cathedral: “We, in obedience to the teaching of the Word of God, must condemn this deed, otherwise the blood of the shot man will fall also on us, and not only on those who committed the crime…”[76] But the people as a whole did not condemn the evil deed…


     Shortly after the murder, some members of the Council suggested to the Patriarch that he take refuge abroad, so that he not share in the fate of the Tsar. “The flight of the Patriarch,” replied his Holiness, “would play into the hands of the enemies of the Church. Let them do with me what they want.”


     On August 8, 1918, in an address “to all the faithful children of the Russian Orthodox Church”, the Patriarch said: “Sin has fanned everywhere the flame of the passions, enmity and wrath; brother has risen up against brother; the prisons are filled with captives; the earth is soaked in innocent blood, shed by a brother’s hand; it is defiled by violence, pillaging, fornication and every uncleanness. From this same poisonous source of sin has issued the great deception of material earthly goods, by which our people is enticed, forgetting the one thing necessary. We have not rejected this temptation, as the Saviour Christ rejected it in the wilderness. We have wanted to create a paradise on earth, but without God and His holy commandments. God is not mocked. And so we hunger and thirst and are naked upon the earth, blessed with an abundance of nature’s gifts, and the seal of the curse has fallen on the very work of the people and on all the undertakings of our hands. Sin, heavy and unrepented of, has summoned Satan from the abyss, and he is now bellowing his slander against the Lord and against His Christ, and is raising an open persecution against the Church.”[77]


     This address characterized Socialism in similar terms to those used by Dostoyevsky’s Grand Inquisitor, as the temptation to create bread out of stones which Christ rejected in the wilderness. Rather than seeking paradise in heaven and with God through the fulfilment of His commandments, the Socialists “have wanted to create a paradise on earth, but without God and His holy commandments”. The result has been hell in this life and (to quote from the anathema) “the fire of Gehenna in the life to come”.


     This partially met the criticisms levelled against the Patriarch and the Council by Count Olsuphyev and Protopriest Vladimir Vostokov, that the essence of Socialism as an antichristian heresy had been hardly touched upon. As Fr. Vladimir said: “From this platform, before the enlightener of Russia, the holy Prince Vladimir, I witness to my priestly conscience that the Russian people is being deceived, and that up to this time no one has told them the whole truth. So much has been said here about the terrors brought upon the country by Bolshevism. But what is Bolshevism? – the natural and logical development of Socialism. And Socialism is – that antichristian movement which in the final analysis produces Bolshevism as its highest development and which engenders those phenomena completely contrary to the principles of Christian asceticism that we are living through now.


     “Unfortunately, many of our professors and writers have arrayed Socialism in beautiful clothes, calling it similar to Christianity, and thereby they together with the agitators of revolution have led the uneducated people into error. Fathers and brothers! What fruits did we expect of Socialism, when we not only did not fight against it, but also defended it at times, or almost always were shyly silent before its contagion? We must serve the Church by faith, and save the country from destructive tendencies, and for that it is necessary to speak the truth to the people without delay, telling them what Socialism consists of and what it leads to.


     “We all, beginning with Your Holiness and ending with myself, the last member of the Council, must bow the knee before God, and beseech Him to forgive us for allowing the growth in the country of evil teachings and violence. Only after sincere repentance by the whole people will the country be pacified and regenerated. And God will bestow upon us His mercy and grace. But if we continue only to anathematize without repenting, without declaring the truth to the people, then they will with just cause say to us: You, too, are guilty that the country has been reduced to this crime, for which the anathema now sounds out; you by your pusillanimity have allowed the development of evil and have been slow to call the facts and phenomena of state life by their real names!


     “We all must unite into one Christian family under the banner of the Holy and Life-Creating Cross and under the leadership of his Holiness the Patriarch, to say that Socialism, which calls people as if to brotherhood, is an openly antichristian and evil phenomenon…”[78]


      The incompatibility between Socialism and Christianity was never doubted by the apostles of Socialism. Religion was to Marx “opium for the people”, and to Lenin – “spiritual vodka”. Lenin wrote that “every religious idea, every idea of a god, even flirting with the idea of God is unutterable vileness of the most dangerous kind”.[79] And in 1918 he said to Krasin: “Electricity will take the place of God. Let the peasant pray to electricity; he’s going to feel the power of the central authorities more than that of heaven.”[80]


     As for morality, in his address to the Third All-Russian congress of the Union of Russian Youth in October, 1920, Lenin wrote: "In what sense do we reject morality and ethics? In the sense in which it is preached by the bourgeoisie, which has derived this morality from the commandments of God. Of course, as regards God, we say that we do not believe in Him, and we very well know that it was in the name of God that the clergy used to speak, that the landowners spoke, that the bourgeoisie spoke, so as to promote their exploitative interests. Or… they derived morality from idealistic or semi-idealistic phrases, which always came down to something very similar to the commandments of God. All such morality which is taken from extra-human, extra-class conceptions, we reject. We say that it is a deception, that it is a swindle, that it is oppression of the minds of the workers and peasants in the interests of the landowners and capitalists. We say that our morality is entirely subject to the interests of the class struggle of the proletariat. Our morality derives from the interests of the class struggle of the proletariat."[81]


     Thus, as Alexander Solzhenitsyn says: “Within the philosophical system of Marx and Lenin, and at the heart of their psychology, hatred of God is the principal driving force, more fundamental than all their political and economic pretensions. Militant atheism is not merely incidental or marginal to Communist policy. It is not a side-effect, but the central pivot…”[82]


     That militant atheism was the central pivot of Marxism-Leninism was to become abundantly evident in the next seventy years. However, it was already clearly manifest in the murder of the Tsar and his family. By his abdication in favour of himself and his son, the Tsar had already renounced all claims to power, so his murder could have had no political advantage in view, but was an act of pure malice. It was a trampling on the symbol of the old theocracy by the representatives of the new satanocracy, and an important signal from the new authorities to the people – a signal that there was no turning back. As Trotsky wrote: “In essence this decision was inevitable. The execution of the tsar and his family was necessary, not simply to scare, horrify and deprive the enemy of hope, but also to shake up our own ranks, show them that there was no going back.”[83]


     And just as the whole tragedy of the Russian people in the years that lay ahead consisted in the fact that they had paved the way for this satanic act, the destruction of the Russian autocracy, and cooperated with it, so the only real hope of their regeneration now lies in their repentance of it… 


     Thus the Council was not altogether consistent in its attitude to the Bolsheviks. Moreover, it did not openly declare its loyalty to the monarchical order, and even removed the anathema against those who denied the mystical basis of the power of the Orthodox rulers from the service of the Triumph of Orthodoxy. And so in 1922 Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) wrote: “If the Council was at fault in anything, it was perhaps in failing to express with sufficient force its condemnation of the revolution and the overthrow of his Majesty. Who will be able to deny that the February revolution was as God-hating as it was anti-monarchist? Who can condemn the Bolshevik revolution and at the same time approve of the Provisional government?”[84]


The Church in Georgia


     The fall of the Russian Autocracy, and the sufferings of the Russian Church, as well as the general political turmoil created by the world war, gave the opportunity to several ecclesiastical separatist movements in the Russian borderlands to break free from the authority of the Russian Church.


     As we have seen, in March 12, 1917, an Assembly of the bishops, clergy and laity of Georgia proclaimed the re-establishment of the autocephaly of the Georgian Church, which, as the Georgians claimed, had never been lawfully abolished. This led to a break in communion with the Russian Church. In the summer, however, “the Georgian Church sent a special deputation to the Most Holy Russian Synod to inform the Most Holy Synod about the re-establishment of the autocephaly of the Georgian Church and greet it. The Russian Synod through the mouth of Archbishop Sergius of Finland confirmed ‘that Russian Church consciousness has never been foreign to the thought of the necessity of returning to the Georgian Church her former constitution… If this thought has not been realised up to now, for this there were special reasons’ not depending on Church actors, but ‘now, in the days of the general liberating spring, Russian Church consciousness is ready to welcome the fulfilment … of the long-time dream’ of the Orthodox Georgians, and the Russian hierarchs hope ‘that God will order all for the good, and that certain roughnesses in this matter will be smoothed over’ and that at the forthcoming Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church a fraternal meeting of representatives of the two Churches is bound to take place in order to find a path to mutual understanding’.”[85]


     In September, while the Local Council of the Russian Church was just getting under way, a General Council of the Georgian Church confirmed the Acts of the March Council, and on October 1 Bishop Kirion Sadzaguelachvili was enthroned as Catholicos-Patriarch in Tbilisi. The Provisional Government confirmed this election, and soon the Georgians proclaimed an independent socialist republic.[86]


     However, on December 29 / January 11, Patriarch Tikhon protested against the re-establishment of Georgian autocephaly, pointedly addressing Kirion as only a bishop. He wrote that Georgia had united with Russian more than a hundred years before, and from that time the highest ecclesiastical authority in Georgia had belonged to the Holy Synod. However, when, in 1905, an attempt to restore the autocephaly of the Georgian Church took place, the Holy Synod in 1906 decreed that this question should be handed over for discussion at the All-Russian Council, the decisions of which the Georgian hierarchs were obliged to wait for. “According to canon law, the agreement and permission of the Mother [kiriarkhal’noj] Church to the autocephaly of the other Local Church which before was subject to her jurisdiction is required. Usually the Church which is seeking independence addresses the Mother Church with her request, and, on the basis of data of a political and ecclesiastical character, seeks her agreement to the reception of autocephaly. The request is directed in the name of both the ecclesiastical and civil authorities of the country, and also of the people; it must be a clearly expressed declaration concerning the general and unanimous desire to receive ecclesiastical independence. That is how it was in Greece, in Serbia and in Romania, but it was not like that in Bulgaria, where the well-known schism arose. And it was also not like that, unfortunately, in the Transcaucasus in 1917… In pointing out your errors and mistakes, we suggest to you, Most Reverend Bishops, that you submit to the demand of the ecclesiastical canons and, following the canonical order, appear at the All-Russian Sacred Council, and, recognising your errors, convey your desire concerning the autocephaly of the Georgian Church to the court of the whole All-Russian Council, so that you may not be subjected to the judgement of the canons and not fall into the great and terrible sin of alienation from the Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church…”[87]


     When the Russian Civil War began, the Georgians refused to help the Whites. For a few months the British occupied the country. They were succeeded by the Mensheviks, with whom the Church was able to live in peace. On August 5, 1919 Catholicos Leonid again wrote to Patriarch Tikhon, pointing out that while Georgia had voluntarily joined Russia politically in 1800, there had never been a desire for such a union ecclesiastically, and that this had been recognised by the Russian Holy Synod at first. “The abolition of the autocephaly of the Georgian Church was an act of force carried out by the secular powers contrary to ecclesiastical laws. But the Russian Church, instead of protesting against these abuses of the secular rulers, accepted the lordship over the Autocephalous Georgian Church that had been handed to it by the secular authorities. After that every protest on the part either of hierarchs or of laymen against the arbitrary abolition of the independence of the Georgian Church and the russification of the Georgians was suppressed by the secular authorities. Since recently the Russian Synod did not support the hierarchs of Georgia when, in 1905, they submitted a request in relation the re-establishment of the autocephaly of their Church, they decided on their own initiative to proclaim the independence of their Church. But even after this act they were filled with the desire to be in unity of faith and love, which is why they consider the exarch of Georgia, Archbishop Plato, to be the hierarch-locum tenens of the Russian Church in the Caucasus in those dioceses that are beyond the boundaries of the Georgian Church… And we now hope, Most Holy Vladyko, ‘that God will order all for the good, and that certain roughnesses in this matter will be smoothed over’, and it is not our fault that we did not meet fraternally at the Local Council of the Russian Church – in spite of the promise of the over-procurator A.V. Kartashev, nobody ‘fraternally’ invited us to the Council, as the representatives of the Churches of Constantinople, Greece, Serbia, and other were invited… Your Holiness’ invitation to us to appear before the All-Russian Sacred Council and admit our supposed errors is inappropriate and pointlessL there is no error in our actions. And if beyond all expectation there would turn out to be such, then for their extirpation every Church has a means that is well-known to Your Holiness: the unfailing ‘grace of the Holy Spirit, through which rightneousness is rationally contemplated by the priests of Christ and firmly upheld….’ As regards those ‘roughnesses’ about which his Reverence Sergius, the first in rank in the Holy Synod spoke, and which truly took place between you and us, they have been elicited by the interference of worldly bosses into the affairs of the Church one hundred years ago… But, Your Beatitude, you know that all this ‘has taken place not according to Church rules, but according to other human motivations’, and for that reason, having restored canonical order in the Churches of Georgia and Russia, we shall take diligent care ‘that from now on nothing of the sort should take place’ (First Ecumenical Council, canon 21). And this is the more possible and necessary in that by the mercy of God the past has gone, and now everything is new (II Corinthians 5.17).”[88]


     This last remark somewhat spoiled the otherwise strong canonical case presented by the Georgians. At that time, the Russians were undergoing the most terrible persecution in history, so it was rather by the wrath of God that the relatively far better times of the past were gone. But the Georgians were soon to share in the sufferings of their brothers in the faith: in February, 1921, however, the Bolsheviks, at the initiative of the Georgians Stalin and Ordzhonikidze, invaded, and after a short war of three weeks took control of the country. Soon the Church was deprived of juridical status, and churches and monasteries began to be closed


     “On February 7, 1922,” writes Fr. Elijah Melia, “Catholicos Ambrose sent to the Interallied Conference at Genoa (the highest degree of international jurisdiction at that time) a letter of protest in which, recalling the moral obligations towards the nation of his charge, he protested in the name of the people of Georgia, deprived of their rights, against the foreign occupation and demanded the intervention of civilized humanity to oppose the iniquity committed against Georgia. He was arrested in February 1923 with Archbishop Nasaire and all the members of his Council. Their trial, which took place under conditions of semi-liberty, greatly stirred up the country.


     “There were three accusations: 1) the 1922 letter to the Genoa Conference, 2) the concealment of the historic treasures of the Church in order to preserve them from passing into the hands of the State and 3) the prohibition imposed [by the] Governmental Commission for Religion against the redemption of precious objects in favour of the starving. Archbishop Nasaire was assassinated during the trial, most probably in order to impress the others accused. All the members of his Council showed their solidarity with the Catholicos Ambrose, who conducted himself heroically, assuming the entire responsibility for his acts, which he declared to have been in conformity with his obligations and with the tradition of the Church of Georgia in similar cases. He was condemned to eight years imprisonment. Two members of his Council were given five and two years respectively. The Catholicos was liberated before the term of his imprisonment was over. He died on March 29, 1927.


     “In August 1924, a general insurrection broke out, organized by all the active forces of the nation – the higher ranks of the army, the political parties, the university, the ecclesiastics, the population as a whole. But the uprising was doomed to fail, for the plot had been betrayed. The repression created thousands of victims. Groups of partisans still operated for some time…”[89]


The Church in Bessarabia


     One of the consequences of the Russian revolution was that Russian Moldavia (Bessarabia), 60% of whose population was Romanian, was united to the Romanian State. Before the revolution, writes Jelavich, “Romanians as such did not face prejudice, and there were Romanian as well as Russian large landowners. The widespread discontent was economic and social more than national. The position of the peasants was regulated by the Russian emancipation laws of the 1860s and subsequent reform measures, but, as in other parts of Russia, these had not solved the basic agrarian problems. Since conditions were roughly the same in the Regat, independent Romania did not hold a great attraction for the peasant majority. The main demand of all peasants was a breakup of the large estates and a distribution of their lands…


     “Because of these conditions, the Russian revolutions in March and November 1917 were bound to have a great effect. They influenced not only the disaffected peasants, but also the many soldiers in the province who had deserted the rapidly disintegrating Russian army… As early as July 1917 the peasants began to seize the land; by the end of the year they had appropriated about two-thirds.


     “In October 1917 a provisional government for Bessarabia was organized, with its center at Kishinev… This government remained in control of the province from November 1917 to November 1918. In December 1917 it declared itself the Democratic Moldavian Republic and expressed the desire to join a Soviet federative republic…”[90]


     However, in view of the discussions that had begun between the Soviet and German governments, this decision disturbed the Allied Powers, and with the approval of France the Romanian army invaded the province. On March 27, the Moldavian parliament, surrounded by Romanian soldiers, voted for the union of Bessarabia with Romania. The Kishinev diocese was handed over by the new government to the Romanian Church.


     It was suggested to Archbishop Anastasy (Gribanovsky) of Kishinev that he join the Romanian Church; but he refused. In May he left the province, and the Kishinev archiepiscopate fell under the jurisdiction of the Romanian Church.[91]


     On June 14, the Holy Synod of the Romanian Church appointed Bishop Nicodemus (Muntianu) of Khush as deputy locum tenens of the see of Kishinev (he later became Patriarch of Romania). He began to “Romanize” the Bessarabian Church, introduced the Romanian language into the Kishinev seminary and in some monasteries replaced Russian and Ukrainian superiors with Romanian ones. 


     In October, 1918 Patriarch Tikhon wrote to Metropolitan Pimen of Moldavia and Suceava, the president of the Synod of the Romanian Church, protesting strongly at the anticanonical seizure of the Kishinev diocese by the Romanian Church, “which by her unilateral decision taken without the agreement of the Russian Church did not have the right to determine the destiny of the Kishinev diocese by submitting it to her power after Orthodox Bessarabia had constituted an indivisible part of the Russian ecclesiastical body for the last one hundred years. This way of acting on the part of the Romanian Holy Synod contradicts at the same time the spirit of Christian love, the age-old canonical decrees and the sacred customs of the Orthodox Church. Pointing to the supposed fact that political union always brings with it a union of the Churches cannot in the given case serve as a justification for the Romanian ecclesiastical authority, first, because it is not itself justified by history, and secondly, because such a point of view rests on a confusion of the nature of ecclesiastical and political life, which are different by their very essense… Moreover, the act of joining Bessarabia to the Romanian kingdom, as we said before, is far from generally recognised from the international point of view and can be subject to review at the final tally of the results of the world war.”


     The Patriarch’s Epistle ended with a warning: “If the Romanian Church, in spite of the objections we have raised, tries by force to strengthen the position in its favour, we will be forced to break all fraternal and canonical communion with the Romanian Synod and bring the present matter before the judgement of the other Orthodox Churches.”[92]


     The Romanians paid no attention to the Patriarch’s admonitions, and in 1919 placed on the see of Kishinev Archimandrite Gurias (Grossu), a Russian priest of Moldavian extraction, and a graduate of the Kiev Theological Academy.[93]


     Thus, as K.V. Glazkov writes, “with one hand mercilessly destroying the communist opposition (for example, mass punitive operation were undertaken against Bolsheviks in the army, and Romanian units took part in the suppression of the red revolution in 1918 in Hungary), with the other hand the Romanian authorities suppressed every kind of dissidence. A number of deputies of the Popular Assembly who were opponents of the union of Bessarabia and Romania were shot, after which the National Assembly itself was dissolved, while on the same day the pro-Romanian deputies triumphantly overthrew the monuments to Tsars Alexander I and Alexander II in the capital. In January, 1920, the White armies of General Bredov…, in whose carts were fugitives, women and children, were shot from Romanian machine-guns as they approached the Dniester. In this way the new authorities in Bessarabia spoiled for good their relations with the Russians.


     “We should note that from the very beginning the Russian hierarchy and clergy, as if foreseeing the possibility of church-political disturbances, adopted quite a cold attitude to the inclusion of Bessarabia into Romania. This act was even condemned by Archbishop Anastasius (Gribanovsky) of Kishinev and Khotyn (latter first-hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad). Hoping for the speedy victory of the White movement, the representatives of the Bessarabian Church together with the zemstvo took part in the creation of a Committee for the liberation of Bessarabia. Therefore the Romanian Synod began the canonical submission of the Bessarabian diocese by demanding that Vladykas Anastasius, Gabriel and Dionysius separate from the Russian Orthodox Church in spite of the protests of Patriarch Tikhon. When the hierarchs refused to do this, the Romanian military units arrested them and exiled them from the country. But the believers were told that the hierarchs had left their diocese voluntarily. In the place of Metropolitan Anastasius there arrived from Bucharest the Romanian Archbishop Nicodemus; he was met by the clergy and laity by no means in a friendly manner. The ecclesiastical authorites [of the Russian Church] Abroad did not recognise the lawfulness of the union of the Kishinev diocese to the Romanian Church. It was violence, deceit and transgression of the Church canons, and not at all the commandments of God, that were laid at the foundation of their actions on the territory of Bessarabia by the Romanian civil and ecclesiastical authorities. How could the coming events unfold except in conditions of further imposition of terror?


     “In the Kishinev spiritual seminary and spiritual schools the Romanian authorities removed the teaching of Russian and Church Slavonic languages, clearly intending to create a situation in which in Bessarabia as a whole there would remain no priests able to serve in Church Slavonic. Also, Church Slavonic service books were removed from the churches, and the priests were banned from delivering sermons in Russian. Direct physical persecution began against the zealots for the language of Saints Cyril and Methodius. In the village of Rechul the nuns of the local monastery were beaten with birch-rods by Romanian gendarmes for taking part in services in Church Slavonic, while an old priest of the village of Goreshte who was suspected of sympathising with the opposition was tortured with wet lashes until he lost consciousness, after which he went mad. It may be that the whole guilt of the priest consisted in the fact that he, like many true patriots, did not want to commemorate the Romanian king, his family and the Synod at the liturgy.


     “The majority of the zealots for Church Slavonic as the liturgical language were Russians, but many Moldavian priests and laypeople fought steadfastly against forcible Romanianization. ‘The Moldavians,’ reported the Romanian counter-intelligence of Beltsky uyezd, ‘are hostile to the Romanian administration, they avoid the Romanian clergy…, they threaten the priests when they commemorate the name of the king in church.’…


     “In July, 1922 there was formed in Kishinev a multi-national ‘Union of Orthodox Christians’. Soon Bessarabian patriots came to lead the Union. They were closely linked with the Russian communion in Kishinev. According to certain information, Russian monarchists led by General E. Leontovich took part in the organisation of the Union. In 1924 the re-registration of another organisation took place – the Orthodox Brotherhood of Alexander Nevsky, which was led by activists of Moldavian, Gagauz and Russian nationalities – Protopriest Michael Chakir, Priest Nicholas Lashku and K.K. Malanetsky, etc. All these were branded by the secret police as ‘ardent pan-Russists’, while the brotherhood was called the centre for the preservation and propaganda of Russian monarchist ideas…”[94]


The Church in Ukraine


     In the Ukraine, meanwhile, the Patriarchal Church was struggling not only against the renovationists, but also against the Ukrainian separatists. In mid-November, 1917, a committee in charge of convoking a council of the Ukrainian clergy and laity was organized in Kiev under the leadership of the retired Archbishop Alexis Dorodnitsyn. Although canonical in its origins, this committee soon turned its attention to the quite uncanonical goal of creating an autocephalous Church of the Ukraine and the removal of the canonical leader of the Church, Metropolitan Vladimir. These revolutionary demands were vigorously opposed by the metropolitan until his martyrdom at the hands of the Bolsheviks in January, 1918, the first hierarchical martyrdom in the long roll-call of the Russian new martyrs.[95]


     On December 17-18, after the retreat of the Germans and the capture of Kiev by Petlyura, Metropolitan Anthony of Kiev, Archbishop Eulogius of Volhynia, Bishop Nicodemus of Chigirinsk, Archimandrite Vitaly (Maximenk) and others were arrested and handed over to the Poles. In August, 1919, Kiev was liberated by the Whites, and with the help of pressure from the Western powers, the prisoners were released by the Poles. As the Red Army regained the upper hand, Metropolitan Anthony set off for the Kuban, where he became honorary president of the Higher Church Authority that had been formed there.


     In 1920 an “Independent Union of Ukrainian Orthodox Parishes” was formed, which convoked the first council of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Church in October, 1921. Metropolitan Michael (Ermakov) appeared at the Sophia cathedral and called on those present not to introduce a scandal into Church life, and pointed out that Patriarch Tikhon had “blessed Divine services in the Ukrainian language when that was desired by a majority of parishioners, including women, whom the Patriarch blessed to take part in Church work with full rights”. The metropolitan hoped that the delegates “will not transgress the Church canons or the will of his Holiness the Patriarch”. He did not give his blessing to the assembly, pointing out its anticanonicity, and suggested the participants to disperse to their homes.


     When the metropolitan had departed, on October 23 the participants proceeded to a so-called “conciliar consecration”. That is, since no bishops had joined them, they were forced to create bishops for themselves in a manner that no other Orthodox Church recognized as canonical, earning for themselves the title of the “Lypkovsky samosvyaty” after the first “bishop” to be thus consecrated, Basil Lypkovsky.  As Lypkovsky himself wrote: “30 priests and all the laymen – as many as could fit into the walls of the Sophia cathedral - took part in the consecration. At the moment of consecration a wave of enthusiasm ran through the crowd. The members of the council and all those present put their hands on each other’s shoulders until a chain of hands went up to the priests who surrounded me.” Then they took Lipkovsky to the relics of Great Martyr Metropolitan Mercurius and placed on his head the dead head of the saint. That is how Lypkovsky became a “bishop”. On October 24 and 30 several other bishops were consecrated. The Council also introduced a married episcopate and second marriages for priests.[96]


     Later in the 1920s a second autocephalist movement was initiated by Bishop Theophilus (Buldovsky) of Lubensk, who received consecration in the Patriarchal Church at a time when the Lypkovsky schism was declining, but who later separated from the Church on the same basis of Ukrainian nationalism and united the remnants of the Lypkovsky schism to his own.


     One of the most popular patriarchal priests in the Ukraine at this time was Fr. Basil (Zelentsov), a disciple of Archbishop Theophan of Poltava. It was largely through his influence that Buldovsky’s schism was rejected by the mass of the people. In 1922 Fr. Basil was put on trial on a political charge. In his speech at the end of the trial he said that he was loyal to Soviet power insofar as “it, like everything else, is sent to us from above… But where the matter touches the Faith of Christ, the churches of God and human souls, there I have fought, do now fight, and will continue to fight to my last breath with the representatives of this power. It would be shamefully sinful for me, as a warrior of Christ, who bear this cross on my breast, to defend myself personally at a time when the enemies have taken up arms and declared war against Christ Himself.”


     After his consecration to the episcopate in 1925, Bishop Basil continued to wage a spiritual war against the Bolsheviks, publicly calling them “apostates from God, violators, blasphemers of the Faith of Christ, murderers, a satanic power, blood-suckers, destroyers of freedom and justice, fiends from hell”. He constantly called on the people “to make them no allowances, to make no compromises with them, to fight and fight with the enemies of Christ, and not to fear tortures and death, for sufferings from Him are the highest happiness and joy”. In 1930 he suffered martyrdom in Moscow for his rejection of sergianist neo-renovationism.[97]


     Although the Ukrainian autocephalists were a clearly schismatic movement, they did not share the modernist ideology of the Muscovite renovationists, and entered into union with them only in the autumn of 1924, evidently with the aim of securing the recognition of their own autocephaly from Constantinople, with whom the renovationists were in communion. That is why it was not until January 5, 1924 that the patriarch extended his anti-renovationist anathema of 1923 to the autocephalists. Even then, the autocephalists showed little animosity towards the patriarch, and in the Second All-Ukrainian Council of 1925 the Synod issued an epistle calling for the review of Patriarch Tikhon’s defrocking by the renovationists.[98]


     Although the Ukrainian autocephalists were now largely controlled by Soviet agents, in January, 1930 the authorities convoked a council which dissolved all their whole Church organisation.[99]


The Russian Civil War


     The defiant spirit of the Moscow Council continued to manifest itself in the Patriarch’s statements. Thus on October 26, 1918 he wrote to the Sovnarkom: “’All those who take up the sword will perish by the sword’ (Matthew 26.52). This prophecy of the Saviour we apply to you, the present determiners of the destinies of our fatherland, who call yourselves ‘people’s commissars’. For a whole year you have held State power in your hands and you are already preparing to celebrate the anniversary of the October revolution, but the blood poured out in torrents of our brothers pitilessly slaughtered in accordance with your appeals, cries out to heaven and forces us to speak to you this bitter word of righteousness.


     “In truth you gave it a stone instead of bread and a serpent instead of a fish (Matthew 7.9, 10). You promised to give the people, worn out by bloody war, peace ‘without annexations and requisitions’. In seizing power and calling on the people to trust you, what promises did you give it and how did you carry out these promises? What conquests could you renounce when you had brought Russia to a shameful peace whose humiliating conditions you yourselves did not even decide to publish fully? Instead of annexations and requisitions our great homeland has been conquered, reduced and divided, and in payment of the tribute imposed on it you will secretly export to Germany the gold which was accumulated by others than you… You have divided the whole people into warring camps, and plunged them into a fratricide of unprecedented ferocity. You have openly exchanged the love of Christ for hatred, and instead of peace you have artificially inflamed class enmity. And there is no end in sight to the war you have started, since you are trying to use the workers and peasants to bring victory to the spectre of world revolution… It is not enough that you have drenched the hands of the Russian people in the blood of brothers, covering yourselves with contributions, requisitions and nationalisations under various names: you have incited the people to the most blatant and shameless looting. At your instigation there has been the looting or confiscation of lands, estates, factories, houses and cattle; money, objects, furniture and clothing are looted. At first you robbed the more wealthy and industrious peasants under the name of ‘bourgeois’, thereby multiplying the numbers of the poor, although you could not fail to realise that by devastating a great number of individual citizens the people’s wealth is being destroyed and the country itself ravaged.


     “Having seduced the dark and ignorant people with the opportunity of easy and unpunished profit, you darkened their consciences and drowned out in them the consciousness of sin. But with whatever names you cover your evil deeds – murder, violence and looting will always remain heavy sins and crimes that cry out to heaven for revenge.


     “You promised freedom. Rightly understood, as freedom from evil, that does not restrict others, and does not pass over into licence and self-will, freedom is a great good. But you have not given that kind of freedom: the freedom given by you consists in indulging in every way the base passions of the mob, and in not punishing murder and robbery. Every manifestation both of true civil and the higher spiritual freedom of mankind is mercilessly suppressed by you. Is it freedom when nobody can get food for himself, or rent a flat, or move from city to city without special permission? Is it freedom when families, and sometimes the populations of whole houses are resettled and their property thrown out into the street, and when citizens are artificially divided into categories, some of which are given over to hunger and pillaging? Is it freedom when nobody can openly express his opinion for fear of being accused of counter-revolution?


     “Where is freedom of the word and the press, where is the freedom of Church preaching? Many bold Church preachers have already paid with the blood of their martyrdom; the voice of social and state discussion and reproach is suppressed; the press, except for the narrowly Bolshevik press, has been completely smothered. The violation of freedom in matters of the faith is especially painful and cruel. There does not pass a day in which the most monstrous slanders against the Church of Christ and her servers, and malicious blasphemies and sacrilege, are not published in the organs of your press. You mock the servers of the altar, you force a bishop to dig ditches (Bishop Hermogen of Tobolsk), and you send priests to do dirty work. You have placed your hands on the heritage of the Church, which has been gathered by generations of believing people, and you have not hesitated to violate their last will. You have closed a series of monasteries and house churches without any reason or cause. You have cut off access to the Moscow Kremlin, that sacred heritage of the whole believing people… It is not our task to judge earthly powers; every power allowed by God would attract to itself Our blessing if it were in truth a servant of God subject to the good, and was ‘terrible not for good deeds, but for evil’ (Romans 13.3,4). Now we extend to you, who are using your power for the persecution of your neighbours and the destruction of the innocent, Our word of exhortation: celebrate the anniversary of your coming to power by liberating the imprisoned, by stopping the blood-letting, violence, destruction and restriction of the faith. Turn not to destruction, but to the establishment of order and legality. Give the people the rest from civil war that they desire and deserve. Otherwise ‘from you will be required all the righteous blood that you have shed’ (Luke 11.51), ‘and you yourselves who have taken up the sword will perish by the sword’.”[100] 


     However, this was only the beginning of sorrows… The Russian Civil War was dominated by the regime’s struggle for survival against White armies coming from the North, South, East and West. It was the bloodiest conflict in human history to that date, causing the deaths of up to twenty million people according to some estimates, eight or nine million according to others. The defeat of the Whites has been attributed to many factors – the Reds’ occupation of the centre, the Whites’ difficulties of communication, the fitful and self-centred intervention of the western powers, the betrayal of the Poles… But the sad and most fundamental fact was that, as Elder Aristocles of Moscow (+1918) said, “the spirit [among the Whites] was not right.” For many of the Whites were aiming, not at the restoration of Orthodoxy and the Romanov dynasty, but at the reconvening of the Constituent Assembly or the restoration of the landowners’ lands.


     Of course, if the White armies approaching Ekaterinburg from the East in July, 1918 had managed to rescue the Tsar and his family alive, the task of the Whites would have been easier – which is precisely why the Reds killed them. But even a living Tsar would probably have availed little in view of the fact that in their majority neither the White soldiers nor the populations whose interests they sought to represent were Tsarists. Thus, as Michael Nazarov points out, “there sat in the White governments at that time activists like, for example, the head of the Archangel government Tchaikovsky, who gave to the West as an explanation of the Bolshevik savageries the idea that ‘we put up with the destructive autocratic regime for too long,… our people were less educated politically than the other allied peoples’?”[101]


     Again, the leading White General A.I. Denikin said: “It is not given us to know what state structure Russia would have accepted in the event of the victory of the White armies in 1919-20. I am sure, however, that after an inevitable, but short-lived struggle of various political tendencies, a normal structure would have been established in Russia based on the principles of law, freedom and private property. And in any case – no less democratic than that which the reposed Marshal [Pisludsky] introduced in Poland…”[102]


     Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) comments with some bitterness on this: “Unfortunately, the most noble and pious leader of this [the White] army listened to those unfitting counsellors who were foreign to Russia and sat in his Special council and destroyed the undertaking. The Russian people, the real people, the believing and struggling people, did not need the bare formula: ‘a united and undivided Russia’. They needed neither ‘Christian Russia’, nor ‘Faithless Russia’, nor ‘Tsarist Russia’, nor ‘the Landowners’ Russia’ (by which they will always understand a republic). They needed the combination of the three dear words – ‘for the Faith, the Tsar and the Fatherland’. Most of all, they needed the first word, since faith rules the whole of the state’s life; the second word was necessary since the tsar guards and protects the first; and the third was needed since the people is the bearer of the first words.”[103]


     Not having firmly Orthodox and monarchical convictions, the Whites were bound to be disunited amongst themselves and weak in opposing the corrosive effects of Red propaganda in their rear. This was especially evident on the northern front, where Red propaganda was effective amongst both the White Russians and the British.[104] But it was hardly less true on the other fronts. In this failure, the Whites lost their own major card in the propaganda war. For as Trotsky said: “If the White Guardists had thought of unfurling the slogan of the kulaks’ Tsar, we would not have lasted for two weeks…”


     Paradoxically, the population was probably more anti-Bolshevik in the Red-occupied areas than elsewhere – because they had had direct experience of Bolshevik cruelty. As General A.A. von Lampe writes, “the border regions, which naturally attracted to themselves the attention of those Russians who did not want to submit to the dictatorship established in the centre, did not know Bolshevism, that is, they probably did not know the results of its practical application on the skin of the natives. They had not experienced the delights of the Soviet paradise and were not able to exert themselves fully to avoid the trials and torments that were coming upon them.


     “The population of these provinces, of course, knew the war that was exhausting the whole of Russia. The population also knew the revolution, which gave them the so-called ‘freedoms’!… The population, with the complicity of the soldiers, who had known on the front only the declaration of rights, but not the obligations of the soldier, knew only about their rights and did not at all represent to themselves that all these rights were bound up with certain obligations.


     “On the territory of this population a real war was being waged, a civil war with its gunfights that did not always hit only those who were fighting in the direct line of fire; with its repressions, not only in relation to people and their property, but also to the settlements themselves, which sometimes, in the course of a battle, were mercilessly and inexorably razed to the ground… The population had to be sacrifice their rights and their comforts. The White army was not that equipped and organized army that we are accustomed to imagine when we pronounce that word; immediately on coming into contact with the population it was forced to take from it fodder, horses, reserves of food and, finally, the people themselves!


     “War on a given territory always brings with it many deprivations and sufferings. War, and in particular civil war, feeds itself and supplements itself! And, of course, the population could not welcome this; it, as I have already said, thought not about its responsibilities, but only about its rights, and it expected from the Whites only the immediate restoration of order and normal conditions of life, not thinking on its side to offer it any help at all.


     “The whole sum of unpleasantnesses brought by the drawn-out war was very sharply experienced by the population; and at the same time it was being forcibly corrupted by the Red and socialist propaganda promising them deliverance from all these woes, promises of complete prosperity and complete dominion, promises which, as we know, have seduced not only Russia, but are disturbing no small part of the population of the whole world to this day…


     “All this came down to the fact that the inconveniences caused by the Whites ranged the population against them


     “The Reds threatened and threatened very unambiguously to take everything and in fact took a part – the population was deceived and… relieved. The Whites promised legality, and took only a little – and the population was embittered…


     “The Reds promised everything, the Whites only that which which was fitting according to the law…


     “The Reds had terror and machine-guns as arguments and measures of persuasion; the Whites threatened – with the law…


     “The Reds decisively rejected everything and raised arbitrariness into a law; the Whites, in rejecting the Reds, of course could not also reject the methods of arbitrariness and violence employed by the Reds…


     “The population demanded nothing from the Reds since the only thing they could wish for once they had fallen into their hands was peace, and they did not, of course, demand that! But from the Whites the population demanded… a miracle, they demanded that the Whites, with one wave of their white hands, should remove all the blood from Russia…”[105]


     However, a miracle was not forthcoming, because Russia was yet worthy of it, nor able to profit from it spiritually. Moreover, to bless the White armies would have been equivalent to a call to the population in the Red-occupied areas to rise up against their oppressors. And it is probably for these reasons that in mid-1918, in spite of the pleas of his close advisor, Prince G.I. Trubetskoy, the Patriarch refused to bless a White general in the south, saying that he was not engaging in politics.


     In the East, however, the White armies under Admiral A.V. Kolchak, the most monarchist of the White leaders and their formal head, fought explicitly for the sake of the Orthodox faith. In November, 1918, in view of the lack of communication with the Patriarch, an autonomous Temporary Higher Church Authority was formed under the leadership of Archbishop Sylvester of Omsk. Other leaders of the THCA were Bishop Andrew of Ufa, Archbishop Benjamin of Simbirsk and Professor P.A. Prokofiev. At the request of Admiral Kolchak, it moved to Omsk, and sent 2000 out of the 3500 clergy living on the territories occupied by Kolchak’s armies to serve in the armies as military chaplains.


     In April, 1919 a Council of the THCA took place in Omsk which anathematised the leaders of the Bolshevik party and ordered the commemoration of Kolchak during Divine services as the Supreme Ruler of Russia. In an address to the clergy the Council declared: “The pastors of the Church have the moral right to struggle against Bolshevism, and nobody must look on this struggle as unfitting to the Church, as the Church’s interference into political and social affairs of the State.”[106]


     Kolchak believed that the Orthodox Church combined with an authoritarian system of power based on theocratic principles would help him stabilize the situation in Siberia. “The spiritual power of the soldiers has weakened,” he said. “Political slogans and the ideas of the Constituent Assembly and of an undivided Russia no longer have any effect. Much more comprehensible is the struggle for the faith, and this only religion can do.”[107]


     Perhaps for this reason, in January, 1919 the Patriarch appeared to reverse his apolitical stance, at any rate in relation to the Siberian armies. For to Admiral Kolchak he sent a disguised priest with a tiny photograph of an icon of St. Nicholas the following message: “As is well known to all Russians and, of course, to your Excellency, before this Icon, revered by the whole of Russia, every day on December 6, the day of the Winter Nicholas feast, there was a prayer service, which ended with the whole people chanting: ‘Save, O Lord, Thy people…’ with all the worshippers on their knees. And then on December 6, 1917, after the October revolution, the people of Moscow, faithful to the faith and tradition, at the end of the prayer service, chanted on their knees: ‘Save, O Lord…’ Soldiers and police came up and drove away the worshippers, and fired at the Icon from rifles and weapons. The holy hierarch on this icon on the wall of the Kremlin was depicted with a cross in his left hand and a sword in his right. The bullets of the fanatics flew around the holy hierarch without touching the God-pleaser anywhere. However, fragments of shells from the explosions tore off the plaster on the left side of the Wonderworker, which destroyed almost the whole of the left side of the holy hierarch on the Icon with the hand in which was the cross.


     “On the same day, on the orders of the powers of the antichrist this Holy Icon was draped with a big red flag with a satanic emblem. It was firmly attached to the lower and side edges. On the wall of the Kremlin the inscription was made: ‘Death to the Faith – the Opium of the People’. On December 6 in the next year, many people gathered for the prayer service, which was coming to its end undisturbed by anyone! But when the people fell on their knees and began to chant: ‘Save, O Lord…’ the flag fell from the Icon of the Wonderworker. The atmosphere of prayerful ecstasy cannot be described! One had to see it, and he who saw it remembers it and feels it to this day. There was chanting, sobbing, cries and hands raised on high, rifle fire, many were wounded, many were killed… and… the place was cleared. The next day, early in the morning, with My Blessing, it was declared in front of the whole people what the Lord had shown through His God-pleaser to the Russian people in Moscow on December 6, 1918.


     “I am sending you a photographic copy of the Wonderworking Icon as my blessing to you, Your Excellency, in your struggle with the temporary atheist power over the suffering people of Russia… I ask you, honoured Alexander Vasilyevich, look how the Bolsheviks succeeded in striking out the left hand of the God-pleaser with the cross, which demonstrates as it were the temporary trampling of the Orthodox faith… But the punishing sword of the God-pleaser has remained as a help and blessing to your Excellency in your Christian struggle for the salvation of the Orthodox Church in Russia.”[108]


     Significant here is the Patriarch’s use of the phrase, “powers of the Antichrist” to refer to the Bolsheviks.


     However, this anti-Soviet stance was not maintained. On October 8, 1919, much to the sorrow of the White clergy in the south, he issued a decree entitled “On the non-interference of the clergy in the civil war”, in which he called on the clergy to “refrain from participation in political parties and demonstrations”, and to submit to the “orders” of the Soviet authorities.[109] This statement marks the beginning of a significant shift in the Church’s attitude from one of open enmity towards the Bolsheviks to qualified neutrality and civil obedience.


     This shift in attitude took place when Denikin’s Volunteer Army looked on the point of breaking through to Moscow. So we cannot excuse it on the grounds that the Patriarch thought that the Reds were going to win the war. More probably, the Patriarch realised that the Whites, though better than the Reds, were motivated, as we have seen, not so much by the positive ideal of Orthodoxy as by the negative ideal of anti-Bolshevism – and only that which is truly positive and spiritual can merit the blessing of God and His Church.


     Nevertheless, while we can explain and to some degree justify the Church’s neutrality in this way, it remains true that insofar as the more-than-political and essentially anti-Christian nature of Bolshevism was not spelled out by the leadership of the Church, a chink was left in her defences which Her enemies, both political and ecclesiastical, were quick to exploit. And so the Patriarch’s anti-Soviet statements were construed as dabbling in politics; while his refusal to bless the White armies was construed as the equivalent of a blessing on the Soviet State


     However, even if the Church did not expose the evil of Bolshevism with complete clarity, the Bolsheviks were providing their own proofs of their antichristianity by their behaviour. Thus Shkarovskii writes: “The spread of civil war was accompanied by a hardening of Bolshevik anti-religious policies. The RKP(b) anticipated that religious faith and the Church would soon die away completely, and that with a ‘purposeful education system’ and ‘revolutionary action’, including the use of force, they could be overcome fairly quickly. At a later stage Soviet atheist literature referred to this period as ‘Sturm und Drang’. In the programme adopted at the Eighth RKP(b) Congress in March 1919, the party proposed a total assault on religion, and talked of the coming ‘complete disappearance of religious prejudice’.


     “In order to attain this goal the authorities brought in ever-increasing restrictions. On 3 April 1919 the Commissariat of Justice decreed that voluntary monetary collections among the faithful were permissible ‘only for the needs of a particular church building’. At the beginning of 1919 a complete ban was introduced on religious instruction for anybody under the age of 18. Existing monasteries were only permitted to function if they turned themselves into labour communes or workshops. The closure of cloisters began at the end of 1918. By 1921, 722 monasteries had been nationalized, over half of those existing in Russia. From the summer of 1918 the authorities waged a campaign to destroy ‘holy relics’. This offended the faithful and was a crude intervention in the affairs of the Church, an attempt to regulate its way of life and worship. In the spring of 1919 these actions became widespread, and became a means of conducting anti-religious propaganda by deeds. On 14 March the Commissariat of Justice decreed that they should be welcomed. The authorities also looked upon the Church as a ready source of additional state funds. In 1919 they began a speculative trade in valuable artefacts, including items which they had seized from churches….


     “… Despite all the obstacles placed in its way, the Orthodox Church was able to conserve its structure during the civil war. Thousands of small churches which were supposed to have been closed down, even in the capitals, continued to function, as did religious schools. Charitable works continued, and religious processions took place, until the autumn of 1921 in Petrograd.


     “A very small number of priests served in the Red Army. The right-wing section of the clergy was active in its support of the White cause… Military chaplains served with the White armies – Kolchak had around 2,000, Deniking had more than 1,000, and Wrangel had over 500. All this provided further ammunition for the Bolsheviks’ anti-clerical campaign. During 1920 state bodies continued the tactic of excluding religion from all aspects of life. A circular issued by the People’s Commissariat of Justice on 18 May resulted in almost all the diocesan councils being liquidated in Russia. A further 58 holy relics were uncovered by the summer. On 29 July the Sovnarkom approved a proposal from the justice commissariat ‘On the Countrywide Liquidation of Relics’. However, the authority of the Church prevented this proposal from being carried out in full. Eight months late, on 1 April 1921, a secret circular issued by the commissariat admitted defeat on this score. By the autumn of 1920 the nationalization of church property had been completed. A report produced by the Eighth Department of the Commissariat of Justice stated that 7,150 million rubles, 828,000 desiatiny of church lands, and 1,112 building for rent had been expropriated by the state.”[110]


     But still more staggering than the material losses of the Church in this period were the losses in lives. Thus in 1918-19, according to Ermhardt, 28 bishops and 1,414 priests were killed[111]; according to Edward E. Roslof, estimates of numbers of clergy killed between 1918 and 1921 range from 1434 to 9000[112]; while by the end of 1922, according to Shumilin, 2233 clergy of all ranks and two million laymen had been executed.[113] These figures prove the truth of Vladimir Rusak’s assertion: “The Bolsheviks’ relationship to the Church was realized independently of legislation. Violence, bayonets and bullets – these were the instruments of the Bolsheviks’ ‘ideological’ struggle against the Church.”[114]


     The persecution against the Church was led by the Cheka, whose attitude to its work was described by Latsis on November 1, 1918: “In the investigation don’t search for materials and proofs that the accused acted in word or deed against Soviet power. The first question which you must put to him is: what is his origin, education, upbringing or profession. These are the questions that must decide the fate of the accused… If it is possible to accuse the Cheka of anything it is not in excessive zeal in executions, but in not applying the supreme penalty enough… We were always too soft and magnanimous towards the defeated foe!”[115]


     However, as Shkarovskii writes, “the first wave of attacks on religion had not brought the results which had been expected by such Bolshevik theorists as N.I. Bukharin. The majority of the population of Russia remained religious, for all the barbaric methods which had been tried to tear people away from the Church. The patriarchate also emerged from the civil war undefeated.”[116]


     Moreover, with the gradual suppression of all military and political opposition to the Bolsheviks after the war, the Church remained the only significant anti-communist force in the country. So the Bolsheviks were compelled to resort to warfare with a far higher ideological content – a content, moreover, of a much more sophisticated kind than had been produced before.


The Second Greek Revolution


     At the same time as the revolution in Russia, Greece was undergoing its own revolution. Though less bloody, its results were hardly less disastrous for the Greek people. For in the space of a few years they lost their monarchy, their army, their Church and a vast part of their ancestral lands in Asia Minor.


     The revolution began, as in Russia, with a military coup engineered by Venizelos in 1917. It was followed, in 1918, by the uncanonical defrocking of the traditionalist Metropolitan Theocletus of Athens “for having instigated the anathema against Eleutherius Venizelos”. Two years later, Theocletus was vindicated. But the damage was done. Meletius was recalled from America and enthroned as Archbishop of Athens in November, 1918.[117]


    Meletius immediately started commemorating Venizelos at the Liturgy instead of the King. This led to an ideological schism within the Synod between the Venizelists and the Royalists. The latter included St. Nectarius of Pentapolis and Metropolitan Germanus of Demetrias, the future leaders of the True Orthodox Church.


     Almost simultaneously, Patriarch Germanus V of Constantinople was forced into retirement as a result of the stormy protest of Orthodox Greeks against what they saw to be his compromising politics in relation to the Turkish authorities.[118]


     Now the Greek government wanted to introduce the western, Gregorian calendar into Greece. And so Meletius promptly, in January, 1919, raised this question in the Church. The only obstacle to the introduction of the new calendar, he declared, was the Apostolic Canon forbidding the celebration of Pascha at the same time as the Jewish Passover or before the spring equinox. But since, he went on, “the government feels the necessity of changing to the Gregorian calendar, let it do so without touching the ecclesiastical calendar.” And he set up a Commission to investigate the question.[119]


     The Commission was set up with Metropolitan Germanus of Demetrias, the future leader of the True Orthodox Church, as the representative of the hierarchy.


     In May 20, 1919, on the initiative of Meletius Metaxakis, the Synod raised the question of changing to the new calendar. Meletius told the Synod: “The situation in Russia has changed, and the possibility of becoming closer to the West has become more real. We consider it necessary to introduce a rapid calendar reform.”


     However, the Commission headed by Metropolitan Germanus was more cautious: “In the opinion of the Commission, the change of the Julian calendar provided it does not contradict canonical and dogmatic bases, could be realised on condition that all the other Orthodox Autocephalous Churches agree, and first of all, the Constantinopolitan Patriarchate, to which it would be necessary to present the initiative in any action in this sphere, so long as we do not change to the Gregorian calendar, but compose a new, more scientifically exact Gregorian calendar, which would be free from the inadequacies of both of the calendars – the Julian and the Gregorian – at present in use.”[120]


     When these conclusions had been read out, Meletius changed his tune somewhat: “We must not change to the Gregorian calendar at a time when a new and scientifically perfect calendar is being prepared. If the State feels that it cannot remain in the present calendar status quo, it is free to accept the Gregorian as the European calendar, while the Church keeps the Julian calendar until the new scientific calendar is ready.”[121]


     Two things are clear from these events of 1919. First, Meletius was very anxious to accommodate the government if he could. And yet he must have realized that blessing the introduction of the new calendar into the life of the State would inevitably generate pressure for its introduction into the Church as well. Secondly, while he did not feel strong enough to introduce the new calendar into the Church at that time, he was not in principle against it, because he either did not understand, or did not want to understand, the reasons for the Church’s devotion to the Julian calendar, which have nothing to do with scientific accuracy, and all to do with faithfulness to the Tradition and Canons of the Church and the maintenance of Her Unity.


     The new calendar was not the only innovation Meletius wanted to introduce: what he wanted, writes Bishop Ephraim, “was an Anglican Church with an eastern tint, and the faithful people in Greece knew it and distrusted everything he did. While in Athens, he even forbade the chanting of vigil services (!) because he considered them out of date and a source of embarrassment when heterodox – especially Anglicans – visited Athens. The people simply ignored him and continued to have vigils secretly.”[122]


     However, the heart of Greek Orthodoxy was not Athens, but Constantinople. It was necessary for Venizelos to get his own man on the throne of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. That man would eventually be Metaxakis; but in the meantime, until Metaxakis could be transferred, he needed someone else to stir up the kind of nationalist ferment he needed.


     Fortunately for Venizelos, the patriarchal locum tenens in 1919, Metropolitan Dorotheus of Prussa, was just the right man for the job. He introduced two important and closely related innovations in the conduct of the patriarchate towards the Ottoman empire, on the one hand, and the western heresies, on the other. Thus on January 21, 1919, protected by a Greek-Cretan regiment stationed in the city, Dorotheus proceeded to abolish the teaching of Turkish in Greek schools. Then, on March 16, a resolution for “Union with Greece” was passed in the Constantinopolitan churches, after which the patriarchate and the Greeks refused to communicate with the Sublime Porte. When the Greeks also refused to participate in the November elections, the break with the Turkish authorities was complete.


     The patriarchate had in effect carried out a political coup d’état against the Ottoman empire, thereby reversing a 466-year tradition of submission to the Mohammedans in the political sphere.[123]  Since such a daring coup required political and military support from outside, the patriarchate set about making friends with those to whom, from a religious point of view, it had always been inimical.


     Thus in January, 1919, a Greek-Armenian conference was held to coordinate the activities of the two groups in the city.[124] Then, in the summer, Metropolitan Nicholas of Caesarea in the name of the patriarchate accepted the invitation of the Joint Commission of the World Conference on Faith and Order, a forerunner of the World Council of Churches, to participate in its preliminary conference in Geneva the following year. He said that the patriarchate was “thereby stretching out a hand of help to those working in the same field and in the same vineyard of the Lord”. This statement, which in effect recognized that the western heretics belonged to the True Church, was probably the first statement from the Ecumenical Patriarchate explicitly endorsing the great heresy of ecumenism.


     “The ideologue of ecumenism,” writes Archbishop Averky, “which is the natural consequence of the nostalgia of the Protestant world for the Church that they have lost, was the German pastor Christopher Blumhardt, whom the Protestants call for that reason ‘the great prophet of the contemporary world’. He called all the Protestants to unity for ‘the construction of the Kingdom of God on earth’, but he died before the organization of the ecumenical movement, in 1919. His fundamental idea consisted of the proposition that ‘the old world has been destroyed, and a new one is rising on its ruins’. He placed three problems before Christianity: 1) the realization of the best social structure, 2) the overcoming of confessional disagreements and 3) the working together for the education of the whole world community of nations with the complete liquidation of war.


     “It was in these three points that the aims of ecumenism were formulated by the present general secretary of the Council of the ecumenical movement, Visser-t-Hooft, who saw the means for their realization in the Church’s pursuit of social aims. For this it is first of all necessary to overcome confessional differences and create one church. The renewed one church will have the possibility of preparing the way for the triumph of Socialism, which will lead to the creation of one world State as the Kingdom of God on earth…”[125]


     This project elicited the first public debate on the question of the nature of the unity of the Church and the ecumenical movement between leading representatives of the Western and Orthodox Churches. Participants in the debate were, on the one hand, Mr. Robert Gardiner, secretary of the Joint Commission, and, on the other hand, Archbishop Anthony (Khrapovitsky) of Kharkov and Archimandrite, later Archbishop Hilarion (Troitsky). In the course of this debate, Archimandrite Hilarion wrote:


     “I could ask you this question: Do you and I belong to the one Church of Christ? In answering it you undoubtedly would mention the insignificance of our dogmatic differences and the virtually negligible difference in rites. For me, however, the answer is determined not by considerations of dogmatic disagreements but by the fact on hand: there is no ecclesiastical unity in grace between us…


     “The principal truth of Christianity, its great mystery – the Incarnation of the Son of God – is acknowledged by all Christian creeds, yet this alone cannot fuse them into one Church. For, according to the Apostle James (2.19), the devils also believe; as attested by the Gospel, they confessed their faith like the Apostle Peter did (Matthew 16.16; 8.26; Mark 1.24; Luke 8.28). But do they belong to one Church of Christ? On the other hand, the Church community undoubtedly embraces people who do not know the dogmas of the Council of Chalcedon and who are unable to say much about their dogmatic convictions…


     “If the question of the belonging or non-belonging to the Church be formulated in terms of theological dogma, it will be seen that it even cannot be resolved in a definite way. Just how far should conformity to the Church’s ideas go in dogmatic matters? Just in what is it necessary to agree and what kind of disagreement ensues following a separation from the Church? How are we to answer this question? And who has so much authority as to make the decision stand? Perhaps you will point to the faith in the incarnate Son of God as the chief characteristic of belonging to the Church. Yet the German Protestants are going to argue against the necessity of even this feature, since in their religion there are to be found even such ministers who openly deny the Divinity of the Saviour.


     “Christ never wrote a course in dogmatic religion. Precise formulations of the principal dogmas of Christianity took place centuries after the earthly life of the Saviour. What, then, determined the belonging to the Church in those, the very first, times of the historical existence of Christianity? This is attested to in the book of the Acts of the Apostles: ‘Such as should be saved were added to the Church’ (2.45; 6.13-14). Membership of the Church is determined by the unity with the Church. It cannot be otherwise, if only because the Church is not a school of philosophy. She is a new mankind, a new grace-filled organism of love. She is the Body of Christ. Christ Himself compared the unity of His disciples with the organic unity of a tree and its branches. Two ‘bodies’ or two trees standing side by side cannot be organically related to each other. What the soul is to the body, the Holy Spirit is to the Church; the Church is not only one body but also One Spirit. The soul does not bring back to life a member which has been cut off, and likewise the vital sap of a tree does not flow into the detached branch. A separated member dies and rots away. A branch that has been cut off dries up. These similes must guide us in a discussion of the unity of the Church. If we apply these similes, these figures of a tree and a body, to the Church, any separation from the Church, any termination of the unity with the Church will turn out to be incompatible with membership of the Church. It is not the degree of the dogmatic dissent on the part of the separated member that is important; what is significant in the extreme is the fact of separation as such, the cessation itself of the unity with the Church. Be it a separation on the basis of but a rebellion against the Church, a disciplinary insubordination without any dogmatic difference in opinion, separation from the Church will for the one who has fallen away have every sad consequence.


     “Not only heretics but schismatics, too, separate themselves from the Church. The essence of the separation remains the same.”[126]


     The Ecumenical Patriarchate would have done well to listen to the reasoning of their Russian co-religionists. However, the time was past when Constantinople could be seriously influenced by the views of the Russian Church; the fall of the Russian empire and Constantinople’s temporary freedom from the Ottoman yoke encouraged the Phanar to take the lead in proclaiming the new heresy of Ecumenism. In any case, the Russians, already under extreme pressure from the Bolsheviks, were soon to become preoccupied with the modernist schism of the “Living Church” renovationists, which left the Greek renovationists free to pursue their own modernist designs without serious interference from the other Orthodox Churches…


    So in January, 1920, Metropolitan Dorotheus and his Synod issued what was in effect a charter for Ecumenism. This encyclical was the product of a conference of professor-hierarchs of the Theological School at Khalki, led by Metropolitan Germanus of Seleucia (later of Thyateira and Great Britain).


     It was addressed “to all the Churches of Christ everywhere”, and declared that “the first essential is to revive and strengthen the love between the Churches, not considering each other as strangers and foreigners, but as kith and kin in Christ and united co-heirs of the promise of God in Christ.”


     It went on: “This love and benevolent disposition towards each other can be expressed and proven especially, in our opinion, through:


     “(a) the reception of a single calendar for the simultaneous celebration of the great Christian feasts by all the Churches;


     “(b) the exchange of brotherly epistles on the great feasts of the single calendar..;


     “(c) close inter-relations between the representatives of the different Churches;


     “(d) intercourse between the Theological Schools and the representatives of Theological Science and the exchange of theological and ecclesiastical periodicals and writings published in each Church;


     “(e) the sending of young people to study from the schools of one to another Church;


     “(f) the convening of Pan-Christian conferences to examine questions of common interest to all the Churches;


     “(g) the objective and historical study of dogmatic differences..;


     “(h) mutual respect for the habits and customs prevailing in the different Churches;


     “(I) the mutual provision of prayer houses and cemeteries for the funeral and burial of members of other confessions dying abroad;


     “(j) the regulation of the question of mixed marriages between the different confessions;


     “(k) mutual support in the strengthening of religion and philanthropy.”[127]


     The unprecedented nature of the encyclical consists in the fact: (1) that it was addressed not, as was Patriarch Joachim’s encyclical, to the Orthodox Churches only, but to the Orthodox and heretics together, as if there were no important difference between them but all equally were “co-heirs of God in Christ”; (2) that the proposed rapprochement was seen as coming, not through the acceptance by the heretics of the Truth of Orthodoxy and their sincere repentance and rejection of their errors, but through other means; and (3) the proposal of a single universal calendar for concelebration of the feasts, in contravention of the canonical law of the Orthodox Church.


     There is no mention here of the only possible justification of Ecumenism from an Orthodox point of view – the opportunity it provides of conducting missionary work among the heretics. On the contrary, as we have seen, one of the first aims of the ecumenical movement was and is to prevent proselytism among the member-Churches.


     From this time the Ecumenical Patriarchate became an active participant in the ecumenical movement, sending representatives to its conferences in Geneva in 1920, in Lausanne in 1927 and in Edinburgh in 1937.[128]  The World Conference on Faith and Order was organized on the initiative of the American Episcopalian Church; and the purpose of the Joint Commission’s approaches to the Churches was that “all Christian Communions throughout the world which confess our Lord Jesus Christ as God and Savior” should be asked “to unite with us in arranging for and conducting such a conference”.[129]


     The real purpose of the 1920 encyclical was political, to gain the support of the Western “Churches”, and especially the Anglicans, in persuading their governments to endorse Dorotheus’ and Venizelos’ plans for a Greek Constantinople and the transfer of Smyrna and its hinterland to the Greeks.


     Thus on February 24, 1920, Dorotheus wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury: “We beseech you energetically to fortify the British government… in its attempts to drive out the Turks [from Constantinople]. By this complete and final expulsion, and by no other means, can the resurrection of Christianity in the Near East and the restoration of the church of Hagia Sophia be secured.”[130]


     The tragedy of the Greek position was that, in spite of the support of the Anglican Church for Dorotheus, and of Lloyd George for Venizelos, the Allies never committed themselves to supporting the creation of a Greek kingdom in Asia Minor. The reason for this was obvious: it would have meant full-scale war with Turkey – an unattractive prospect so soon after the terrible losses of the First World War, when British troops were still fighting in Soviet Russia and other theatres of war. From the Allied Powers’ point of view, their troops stationed in Constantinople were there, not as a permanent occupation force, but only in order to protect the Christian minority. Moreover, the Greek attitude antagonized the Turks and led to the creation of a powerful Turkish nationalist movement.


     It was not only the Greeks who were flirting with the Anglicans at this time. In 1920 Anglican emissaries promised large sums of money to the impoverished Patriarchate of Antioch in return for recognising the lawfulness of their priesthood. No promises were made, but from the U.S.A. a delegation led by Metropolitan Gerasimus (Messara) was sent to take part in a conference of Anglican bishops in Portland, Oregon, where this question was raised. Archdeacon Anthony Bashir, who accompanied Metropolitan Gerasimus and later became leader of the Antiochian Church in America, was promised a salary if he, on being ordained, would promise to work among the Orthodox for the rapprochement of the Churches. However, the hopes of the Anglicans were not realised at this time…[131]


The Russian Church in Exile


     Out of the chaos of the Russian Civil War there was formed one of the most important ecclesiastical formations of the twentieth century – the Russian Orthodox Church in Exile, later known as the Russian Church Abroad.


     A.F. Traskovsky writes: “The part of the Russian Orthodox Church which was abroad already had quite a long history before the formation of the ROCA [Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, more usually called Russian Church Outside Russia, or ROCOR, in this book]. In Western Europe Russian Orthodox churches had been built beginning from the eighteenth century at Russian embassies and holy places that were often visited by Russians on trips abroad. In the East, thanks to the missionary activities of the Russian Orthodox Church missions were founded in China and Japan that later became dioceses, as well as a mission in Jerusalem. The spread of Orthodoxy in Alaska and North America also led to the creation of a diocese. In the “Statute concerning the convening of an Emigration Assembly of the Russian Churches”, mention was made that in 1921 there were 15 emigration regions which had Russian bishops and 14 districts where there were Russian Orthodox parishes but no bishops. The regions included: North America, Japan, China, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany, France, Italy, Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey and the Far East. The districts included: Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, England, Switzerland, Czechia, Hungary, Austria, Romania, Palestine, Greece and the city of Bizert in Tunisia. All the emigration missions, parishes and dioceses were in canonical submission to the higher ecclesiastical authorities in Russia – the Holy Ruling Synod until the restoration of the patriarchate in 1917, and his Holiness the Patriarch after 1917. But then after the revolution there began the Civil War and anarchy. The Bolsheviks began to persecute the Church. The majority of emigration missions and dioceses found themselves either deprived of the possibility of normal relations with the higher ecclesiastical authorities of Russia, or such relations were exceptionally difficult. Moreover, in Russia itself many dioceses were cut off by the front from his Holiness Patriarch Tikhon (Bellavin)’s leadership. After the defeat of the White army, a huge flood of émigrés flooded abroad, amongst whom were not a few representatives of the clergy, including bishops and metropolitans. On the shoulders of the clerics who were abroad and the clergy who had emigrated lay the burden of care for the spiritual nourishment of the huge Russian diaspora. That was the situation in which the part of the Russian Church that was abroad found itself on the eve of the formation of the Church Abroad.


     “What was the prehistory of the Russian Church Abroad? Her beginnings went back to 1919, in Russia. In Stavropol in May, 1919 there took place the South Russian Church Council headed by the oldest hierarch in the South of Russia, Archbishop Agathodorus of Stavropol. There took part in the Council all the bishops who were on the territory of the Voluntary army, the members of the All-Russian Ecclesiastical Council and four people from each diocesan council. At the Council there was formed the Higher Church Administration of the South of Russia (HCA of the South of Russia), which consisted of: President – Archbishop Metrophanes of Novocherkassk, Assistant to the President – Archbishop Demetrius of Tauris, Protopresbyter G. Shavelsky, Protopriest A.P. Rozhdestvensky, Count V.V. Musin-Pushkin and Professor of theology P.V. Verkhovsky. In November, 1919 the Higher Church Administration was headed by Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) of Kiev and Galich, who had arrived from Kiev.


     “The aim of the creation of the HCA was the organization of the leadership of church life on the territory of the Volunteer army in view of the difficulties Patriarch Tikhon was experiencing in administering the dioceses on the other side of the front line. A little earlier, in November, 1918, an analogous Temporary Higher Church Administration had been created in Siberia headed by Archbishop Sylvester of Omsk. Later, a part of the clergy that submitted to this HCA emigrated after the defeat of Kolchak’s army and entered the composition of the Chinese dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church. The HCA of the South of Russia, like the Siberian HCA, was, in spite of its self-government, nevertheless in canonical submission to his Holiness Patriarch Tikhon, and in this way Church unity was maintained.


     “After the defeat of the armies of Denikin, in the spring of 1920 the head of the HCA of the South of Russia, Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky), was evacuated from Novorossiysk to Constantinople[132], and was then for a time in a monastery on Mount Athos. However, in September, 1920, at the invitation of General Wrangel, he returned to Russia, to the Crimea, where he continued his work. The final evacuation of the HCA of the South of Russia took place in November, 1920, together with the remains of Wrangel’s army. On the steamer “Alexander Mikhailovich” there set out from the Crimea to Constantinople the leaders of the HCA and a large number of simple priests.


     “On arriving in Constantinople, as Archbishop Nicon (Rklitsky) indicates in his Biography of Metropolitan Anthony, Metropolitan Anthony ‘first considered that from now on all the activities of the Russian Higher Church Administration should be brought to an end and all the care for the spiritual welfare of the Russian Orthodox people should be taken upon herself by the Church of Constantinople and the Local Orthodox Churches in whose bounds the Russian Orthodox people found themselves.’ However, as soon became clear, the realization of this variant became extremely problematic in view of the fact that huge masses of Russian refugees did not know the language and customs of those countries to which they had come, and the nourishment of such a large flock by priests speaking other languages (for example Greeks) presented very many problems. Moreover, the numerous émigré Russian clergy, who were fully able to deal with these problems, would not be involved. Therefore it was decided to continue the activities of the Higher Church Administration.


     “In order to work out a plan of further action, the first session of the HCA outside the borders of Russia took place on November 19, 1920…[133] Metropolitan Dorotheus [the locum tenens of the patriarchal throne of Constantinople] gave his agreement [to the HCA’s decisions] and the HCA of the South of Russia was transformed into the Higher Church Administration Abroad.


     “Literally the day after the above-mentioned session, on November 20, 1920, an event took place in Moscow that had an exceptional significance for the Russian Church Abroad – his Holiness Patriarch Tikhon passed decree 362 concerning the self-governance of church dioceses in the case of a break of communications between this or that diocese and his Holiness the Patriarch for external reasons over which they had no control (what they had in mind was war or repression by the authorities). This is the main content of this decree:


     “’1. With the blessing of his Holiness the Patriarch, the Holy Synod and the Higher Church Council, in a joint session, judged concerning the necessity of… giving the diocesan Hierarch… instructions in case of a disconnection with the higher church administration or the cessation of the activity of the latter…


     “’2. If dioceses, as a result of the movement of the front, changes of state boundaries, etc., find themselves unable to communicate with the higher church administration or the higher church administration itself together with his Holiness the Patriarch for some reason ceases its activity, the diocesan hierarch will immediately enter into relations with the hierarchs of neighbouring dioceses in order to organize a higher instance of church authority for several dioceses in the same conditions (in the form of a temporary higher church government or metropolitan region, or something similar).


     “’3. The care for the organization of the higher church authority for the whole group who are in the situation indicated in point 2 is the obligatory duty of the eldest ranked hierarch in the indicated group…’[134]


     “This wise decree of his Holiness Patriarch Tikhon, which was passed in conditions of anti-church terror, was given to the foreign bishops a year after its passing with the help of Bishop Meletius of Nerchenk. It served as the canonical basis for the formation of the Russian Church Abroad, since the émigré clergy were in the situation indicated in points 2 and 3.


     “Meanwhile the HCA in Constantinople continued to work out a plan for further action. At the sessions of April 19-21, 1921, it was decided to convene a ‘Congress of the representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad to unite, regulate and revive church activity abroad’, which was later renamed the ‘Russian Church Council Abroad’, also known in the literature as the Karlovtsy Council. Soon, at the invitation of Patriarch Demetrius of Serbia, the HCA led by Metropolitan Anthony moved to Sremskie Karlovtsy in Serbia – a fraternal country which in the course of many years proved to be a safe haven for the leadership of the Church Abroad.”[135]


     Meanwhile, at the end of 1920 200,000 Russian refugees with the retreating remnants of the White armies in Siberia crossed from Siberia into China. Among them were six bishops and many priests. This large colony of Russians, together with the Russian Spiritual Mission in Jerusalem, recognised the authority of the HCA in Serbia.[136]


     The canonical status of ROCOR was unique in the history of the Orthodox Church. ROCOR always called herself a part of the Local Russian Church, being that part of the Russian Church situated outside Russia and having jurisdiction exclusively outside Russia (point 1 of the Polozhenie or Statute of ROCOR). And yet she had dioceses and parishes on all six continents of Europe, North and South America, Asia, Africa and Australia, and was in canonical submission to none of the Local Orthodox Churches already existing in those places. Moreover, at the beginning of the 1990s, when she returned to Russia, she claimed jurisdiction in Russia as well! And so a world-wide jurisdiction claiming to have jurisdiction in every part of the globe, but which claimed to be only a part of one Local Church!


     This clearly anomalous situation was seen as being justified on a temporary basis, - until the fall of communism in Russia, according to the Polozhenie - not only by ROCOR herself, but also by what came to be called the Catacomb Church in Russia and, at least for a time, such established Local Churches as Serbia and Jerusalem. The situation was seen as justified on the grounds, first, of the extraordinarily difficult situation of the three million or so Russian Orthodox scattered around the world, whose spiritual and physical needs had to be met by Russian-speaking pastors. And secondly, on the grounds of the critical situation in the Orthodox Church as a whole, when even the leaders of Orthodoxy were falling into heresy.


     On October 13, 1921, in response to a request from ROCOR, the Russian Holy Synod and Higher Church Council under the presidency of Patriarch Tikhon issued resolution № 193, which declared: “(1) In view of the inappropriateness of submitting to the Higher Church Administrationy of the Russian Church Abroad all the Orthodox churches and communities of the Moscow Patriarchate beyond the borders of Soviet Russia, to leave this Administration with its former privileges, without spreading the sphere of his activities onto the Orthodox Churches in Poland, Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which preserve their presently existing form of Church administration, (2) also to turn down the petition for the creation of a post of deputy of his Holiness the Patriarch abroad, as being unnecessary, and (3) to accept the news of the proposed convening of a Council of the Russian Orthodox churches abroad on October 1 old style.”[137]


     The First All-Emigration Council opened in Sremskie Karlovtsy, Serbia on November 21, 1921. 11 Russian bishops and 2 Serbian bishops took part, and 24 Russian bishops who could not be at the Council sent telegrams indicating their recognition of its authority to organise the life of the Russian Church Abroad. Clergy, monastics and laity also took part in the Council – 163 people in all.


     Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) was the president of the Council, and Patriarch Demetrius of Serbia its honorary president. It was expected that the patriarch would visit the Council, but unexpectedly something happened to disrupt this. This was related to the schism between the Constantinopolitan and Bulgarian Churches. The Bulgarian Metropolitan Stefan of Sophia arrived, bringing a greeting from the Bulgarian Holy Synod. This upset the Patriarch of Serbia, whose relations with the Bulgarians were not good. So he gave excuses for not coming, while Metropolitan Stefan immediately returned to Bulgaria.


     Bishop Seraphim (Sobolev), who was in charge of the Russian communities in Bulgaria reported to the Council about the great difficulty of their position in Bulgaria because of the Bulgarian schism and the impossibility of concelebrating with the Bulgarian clergy. The hierarchs discussed this matter from all sides and declared that they would like to restore communion with the Bulgarian Church, but could not exceed their canonical prerogatives without the participation of the other Local Churches, and in particular of the Church of Constantinople. In spite of that, continuing the practice of the Russian Church and basing themselves on the canons (71, 81, 88 and 122 of Carthage), the delegates allowed the Russian priests and deacons to serve all kinds of Divine services and sacraments with the bishops and clergy of the Bulgarian Church, and they also allowed the Russian bishops to serve with the Bulgarian clergy. Between bishops only joint serving of molebens, pannikhidas, etc. was allowed, but “in no way the celebration of the Divine Liturgy and other holy sacraments of the Orthodox Church”.[138]


     The Council called on the Genoa conference to refuse recognition to the Bolshevik regime and help the Russian people to overthrow it. And it called on all to pray for the restoration of the Romanov dynasty. After a vote, the Council issued an Epistle to the Russian emigration, which declared: “May {the Lord God] return to the All-Russian throne his Anointed One, strong in the love of the people, a lawful tsar from the House of the Romanovs”. In connection with this there were disagreements among the delegates, with Archbishop Eulogius and Anastasy expressing their disagreement. The hierarchs were split in two, two-thirds of the clergy abstained from voting, and the Epistle was issued only thanks to the votes of the laity.


     Under pressure from the Bolsheviks, Patriarch Tikhon resolved: “To close the Council (it was already closed), and to recognise the resolutions of the Karlovtsy Council as having no canonical significance in view of its invasion into the political sphere which does not belong to it. To demand the materials of the Council abroad, so as to judge on the degree of guilt of the participants in the Council.” The Synod added: “To enter into discussion of the activity of those responsible for the Council, and to give them over to ecclesiastical trial after the establishment of the normal life of the Russian Synod.”[139]


     In defence of the Karlovtsy Council’s position, Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) said: “If by politics one understands all that touches upon the life of the people, beginning with the rightful position of the Church within the realm, then the ecclesiastical authorities and Church councils must participate in political life, and from this point of view definite demands are made upon it. Thus, the holy hierarch Hermogenes laid his life on the line by first demanding that the people be loyal to Tsar Basil Shuisky, and when the Poles imprisoned him he demanded the election of Tsar Michael Romanov. At the present time, the paths of the political life of the people are diverging in various directions in a far more definite way: some, in a positive sense, for the Faith and the Church, others in an inimical sense; some in support of the army and against socialism and communism, others exactly the opposite. Thus the Karlovtsy Council not only had the right, but was obliged to bless the army for the struggle against the Bolsheviks, and also, following the Great Council of Moscow of 1917-1918, to condemn socialism and communism.”[140]


The Asia Minor Catastrophe


     In May, 1919, the Italians, having withdrawn from the Paris Peace Conference, began to occupy parts of Turkey – Antalya in the south and Marmaris in the west. The other Great Powers were alarmed. This gave Venizelos his chance.


     Margaret Macmillan writes: “He had been working hard from the start of the Peace Conference to press Greek claims, with mixed success. Although he tried to argue that the coast of Asia Minor was indisputably Greek in character, and the Turks in a minority, his statistics were highly dubious. For the inland territory he was claiming, where even he had to admit that the Turks were in a majority, Venizelos called in economic arguments. The whole area (the Turkish provinces of Aidin and Brusa and the areas around the Dardanelles and Ismir) was a geographic unit that belonged to the Mediterranean; it was warm, well watered, fertile, opening out to the world, unlike the dry and Asiatic plateau of the hinterland. The Turks were good workers, honest, in their relations, and a good people as subjects’, he told the Supreme Council at his first appearance in February. ‘But as rulers they were insupportable and a disgrace to civilisation, as was proved by their having exterminated over a million Armenians and 300,000 Greeks during the last four years.’ To show how reasonable he was being, he renounced any claims to the ancient Greek settlements at Pontus on the eastern end of the Black Sea. He would not listen to petitions from the Pontine Greeks, he assured House’s assistant, Bonsal: ‘I have told them that I cannot claim the south shore of the Black Sea, as my hands are quite full with Thrace and Anatolia.’ There was a slight conflict with Italian claims, but he was confident the two countries could come to a friendly agreement. They had, in fact, already tried and it had been clear that neither was prepared to back down, especially on Smyrna.


     “The thriving port of Smyrna lay at the heart of Greek claims. It had been Greek in the great Hellenic past and in the nineteenth century had become predominantly Greek again as immigrants from the Greek mainland had flocked there to take advantage of the new railways which stretched into the hinterland and opportunities for trade and investment. The population was at least a quarter of a million before the war and more Greeks lived there than in Athens itself. They dominated the exports – from figs to opium to carpets – which coursed down from the Anatolian plateau in Asia Minor. Smyrna was a Greek city, a centre of Greek learning and nationalism – but it was also a crucial part of the Turkish economy.


     “When Venizelos reached out for Smyrna and its hinterland, he was going well beyond what could be justified in terms of self-determination. He was also putting Greece into a dangerous position. Taking the fertile valleys of western Asia Minor was perhaps necessary, as he argued, to protect the Greek colonies along the coast. From another perspective, though, it created a Greek province with a huge number of non-Greeks as well as a long line to defend against anyone who chose to attack from central Anatolia. His great rival General Metaxas, later dictator of Greece, warned of this repeatedly. ‘The Greek state is not today ready for the government and exploitation of so extensive a territory.’ Metaxas was right.”[141]


     The Italians and the Americans were against the Greek claims on Smyrna; but the British and the French were sympathetic. Eventually the Americans were won over, and the Italians, having already abandoned the Peace Conference, were presented with a fait accompli. “The whole thing,” wrote Henry Wilson, the British military expert, “is mad and bad”.[142]


     Lord Curzon, the soon-to-be British Foreign Minister, was also worried. He was far from being a Turkophile. As he said: “The presence of the Turks in Europe has been a source of unmitigated evil to everybody concerned. I am not aware of a single interest, Turkish or otherwise, that during nearly 500 years has benefited from that presence.”[143] “That the Turks should be deprived of Constantinople is, in my opinion, inevitable and desirable as the crowning evidence of their defeat in war, and I believe that it will be accepted with whatever wrathful reluctance by the Eastern world.” “But,” he went on, “when it is realized that the fugitives are to be kicked from pillar to post and that there is to be practically no Turkish Empire and probably no Caliphate at all, I believe that we shall be giving a most dangerous and most unnecessary stimulus to Moslem passions throughout the Eastern world and that sullen resentment may easily burst into savage frenzy”. And he called the landing in Smyrna “the greatest mistake that had been made in Paris”.[144]


     The landing took place on May 15, 1919. Unfortunately, it was handled badly, and some hundreds of Turkish civilians were killed. Although the Greeks arrested those responsible and did all they could to make amends, international opinion, stirred up by Turkish propaganda and the thoroughly pro-Turkish American representative in Constantinople, Admiral Bristol, began to turn against them, ignoring the mass slaughter of Greeks in Pontus and the Caucasus.


     On May 16, Ataturk, disgusted with the feebleness of the sultan’s response, slipped out of Constantinople on an Italian pass, and arrived in Samsun to organize the nationalist movement that eventually defeated the Greeks and created the modern state of Turkey. By the end of the year he had created a new Turkish capital in Ankara. Although, on May 20, the Allies had recognized the Sultan, and not Ataturk, as Turkey’s legitimate ruler, the Italians were already secretly negotiating with Ataturk, and the French were not slow to follow suit.


     On June 14, Venizelos asked the Supreme Council to allow the Greeks to extend their occupation zone. However, the western powers said no. They were exhausted from more than four years of war, had already been demobilizing their armies around the globe, and with the defeat of the Whites in Russia, this process accelerated. The last thing they wanted was another full-scale war with the Turks. Besides, the Americans were concerned that their Standard Oil Company should have large concessions in Mesopotamia, which they believed Ataturk could give them, and the French wanted an intact Turkey in order to pay back her pre-war loans. The British toyed with the idea of supporting an independent Kurdistan in Ataturk’s rear, but by the spring of 1920, when no single Kurd appeared to represent the whole of the nation, this plan was dropped. Soon they also abandoned their protectorates in Georgia and Baku.


     In April, 1920, the Sultan’s government appealed to the allies to help him fight Ataturk, but the allies refused. In fact, the French were already arming Ataturk by this time. In spite of this, in May, the terms of the Treaty of Sèvres, which were harsh on Turkey, were announced. They ceded Smyrna to the Greeks, founded a free Armenia, created a free Kurdistan, divided up the eastern part of Asia Minor into French, Italian and British occupation zones, ceded Mesopotamia and the Straits to Britain, Syria to France, maintained Constantinople as an international city, and reduced the Turkish army to a token force. But none of this was going to become reality… The Treaty also ignored the territorial concessions to Russia that had been agreed during the Great War. This incensed the Soviets, who now began to support Kemal…


     In June, Lloyd George and the Supreme Council, agreed to Venizelos’ plans to move inland from Smyrna to relieve the pressure exerted by Kemal on the British at Chanak in the Dardanelles. “The British high commissioner in Constantinople wrote angrily to Curzon: ‘The Supreme Council, thus, are prepared for a resumption of general warfare; they are prepared to do violence to their own declared principles; they are prepared to perpetuate bloodshed indefinitely in the Near East, and for what? To maintain M. Venizelos in power in Greece for what cannot in the nature of things be more than a few years at the outside.’ Curzon agreed completely: ‘Venizelos thinks his men will sweep the Turks into the mountains. I doubt it will be so.’”[145]


     In July, the Greeks defeated Ataturk at Chanak (present-day Canakkale) and seized Eastern Thrace. By August, 1920, 100,000 soldiers had penetrated 250 miles inland.


     But the alarmed Allies then sent token forces of their own to separate the Greeks from the Turks. Harold Nicolson wrote: “By turning their guns against the Greeks – their own allies – the Great Powers saved Kemal [Ataturk]’s panic-stricken newly-conscripted army at the eleventh hour from final destruction.”[146]


     The Greeks now found themselves in difficulties with supplies, while Ataturk was receiving supplies from the Italians, the French and the Soviets. On September 5, they were halted at the River Sakarya. Then, after suffering casualties of 4000 dead and 20,000 wounded, they began to retreat. However, no attempt was made to evacuate the troops. Meanwhile, Ataturk was regrouping in the centre of the country, and preparing for a counter-attack…


     In October, King Alexander of Greece died, and was succeeded by his father, the exiled King Constantine, while in November Venizelos and his liberal party suffered a stunning and quite unexpected defeat in the Greek elections. This made no difference to the war because the king felt honour-bound to try and finish what Venizelos had begun. Or rather, it made things worse, because the king then conducted a purge of pro-Venizelos officers which weakened the army at a critical time. Moreover, the Allies were enraged, because Constantine was the son-in-law of Kaiser Wilhelm and had shown sympathies for the Germans during the war.


     On March 25, 1921, on the one-hundredth anniversary of the Greek revolution, meetings took place in 500 Cypriot churches, and petitions were addressed to the English authorities that Cyprus should be reunited with Greece.


     In the same month, the Italians signed a Peace Agreement with Kemal, and in August the Supreme Council for Peace declared: “Greece is in a situation of war with Turkey exclusively on her own; the states of Britain, France, Italy and Japan will remain as non-participants and strictly neutral”. But they were not neutral: the French and Italians continued to supply Kemal, while Greece was not allowed to blockade the Turkish ports. In the same month of August, the Greeks won a hard-fought battle at Afion-Karachisar, and would have been well advised to withdraw from the war at that point. But they did not, and things went steadily downhill for them thereafter…


     In October, the French signed a treaty with Ataturk’s government, which enabled them to withdraw their troops from Cilicia, which freed more Turkish troops for the Greek front. Soon the Greek invasion of Turkey, which had begun well in 1921, collapsed through internal dissension and lack of financial and military backing from the western powers. “For approximately nine months,” wrote Sir Winston Churchill, “the Turks waited comfortably in the warmth while the Greeks suffered throughout the icy-cold of the severe winter”.[147]


     Finally, on August 26, 1922, the Turks began a general offensive. The Greek army was routed, and the Greek and Armenian population of Smyrna (including Metropolitan Chrysostom[148]) was slaughtered.[149]


     At this moment Lord Beaverbrook arrived in Constantinople on a special mission for the British. On learning the facts, he told the American Admiral Bristol: “Our behaviour to the Greeks was rotten! We have behaved to them with dirty duplicity! They were prompted and supported by us in beginning their campaign. But we abandoned them without support at their most critical moment so that the Turks could exterminate them and destroy them forever! Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister, supported them and prompted them himself to make the landing at Smyrna. He supported them with every means except for giving them money which his Treasury did not have to give. And now we are leaving them exposed to disaster!” Then he turned to Admiral Bristol: “And what are you doing in this matter?”[150]


     The truth is that the Allies were doing nothing: allied ships in Smyrna were ordered to observe strict “neutrality”, and the Greek government failed to send any of its own. Then the Greek government fell, the king resigned, and Colonels Nicholas Plastiras and Stylianus Gonatas took control. Prime Minister Gounaris was executed together with six leaders of the army.[151]


Metaxakis as Patriarch


     With the fall of Venizelos, his fellow Masonic Cretan Metaxakis also fell.


     In February, 1921, he returned to America, campaigning on behalf of Venizelos, and immediately returned into communion with the Anglicans. Thus the Greek ambassador in Washington reported to the prefect in Thessalonica that on December 17, 1921, “vested, he took part in a service in an Anglican church, knelt in prayer with the Anglicans before the holy table, which he venerated, gave a sermon, and blessed those present in the church” of the heretics.[152]


     Meletius won over the epitropos of the Greek Archdiocese, Rodostolos Alexandros, and the two of them first broke relations with the Church of Greece and then, at a clergy-laity conference in the church of the Holy Trinity, New York, declared the autonomy of the Greek Archdiocese from the Church of Greece, changing its name to the grandiloquent: “Greek Archbishopric of North and South America”. This was more than ironical, since it had been Metaxakis himself who had created the archdiocese as a diocese of the Church of Greece when he had been Archbishop of Athens in 1918!


     Metaxakis’ new diocese broke Church unity in another way, in that it was done without the blessing of the Russian Church, which until then had included all the Orthodox of all nationalities in America under its own jurisdiction. And once the Greeks had formed their own diocese, other nationalities followed suit. Thus on August 14, 1921 Patriarch Gregory of Antioch asked Patriarch Tikhon’s blessing to found a Syrian diocese in North America. Tikhon replied on January 17, 1922 that the Antiochian Patriarch would first have get the agreement of the Russian bishops in America[153]


     Meanwhile, the Patriarchate in Constantinople was still beating the nationalist drum. In December, 1920, it called for the resignation of the king for the sake of the Hellenic nation, and even considered excommunicating him! Then, in March, a patriarchal delegation headed by Metropolitan Dorotheus travelled to London, where they met Lord Curzon, the British foreign secretary, King George V and the archbishop of Canterbury – the first such trip to the West by the senior prelate of Orthodoxy since Patriarch Joseph’s fateful participation in the council of Florence in 1438. And there, like Joseph, Dorotheus had a heart attack and died, just as he was to receive the honorary vice-presidency of the World Congress for the friendship of the World through the Churches.[154]


     The terrible tragedy suffered by the Greek nation at this time must be attributed in no small part to the nationalist-ecumenist politics of Dorotheus and his Synod – a classic example of the destructive consequences of the intrusion of political passions and ambitions into the life of the Church.


     There followed a prolonged struggle for control of the patriarchate between the Royalist and Venizelist factions, which was ended by the election of Meletius Metaxakis as patriarch of Constantinople. He sailed into Constantinople under a Byzantine yellow flag and black eagle. How had this happened?


     Bishop Photius writes: “Political circles around Venizelos and the Anglican Church had been involved in Meletius’ election as Patriarch. Metropolitan Germanus (Karavangelis) of the Holy Synod of Constantinople wrote of these events, ‘My election in 1921 to the Ecumenical Throne was unquestioned. Of the seventeen votes cast, sixteen were in my favour. Then one of my lay friends offered me 10,000 lira if I would forfeit my election in favour of Meletius Metaxakis. Naturally I refused his offer, displeased and disgusted. At the same time, one night a delegation of three men unexpectedly visited me from the “National Defence League” and began to earnestly entreat me to forfeit my candidacy in favour of Meletius Metaxakis. The delegates said that Meletius could bring in $100,000 for the Patriarchate and, since he had very friendly relations with Protestant bishops in England and America, could be useful in international causes. Therefore, international interests demanded that Meletius Metaxakis be elected Patriarch. Such was also the will of Eleutherius Venizelos. I thought over this proposal all night. Economic chaos reigned at the Patriarchate. The government in Athens had stopped sending subsidies, and there were no other sources of income. Regular salaries had not been paid for nine months. The charitable organizations of the Patriarchate were in a critical economic state. For these reasons and for the good of the people [or so thought the deceived hierarch] I accepted the offer…’ Thus, to everyone’s amazement, the next day, November 25 [December 8], 1921, Meletius Metaxakis became the Patriarch of Constantinople.


     “The uncanonical nature of his election became evident when, two days before the election, November 23 [December 6, 1921], there was a proposal made by the Synod of Constantinople to postpone the election on canonical grounds. The majority of the members voted to accept this proposal. At the same time, on the very day of the election, the bishops who had voted to postpone the election were replaced by other bishops. This move allowed the election of Meletius as Patriarch. Consequently, the majority of bishops of the Patriarchate of Constantinople who had been circumvented met in Thessalonica. [This Council included seven out of the twelve members of the Constantinopolitan Holy Synod and about 60 patriarchal bishops from the New Regions of Greece under the presidency of Metropolitan Constantine of Cyzicus.] They announced that, ‘the election of Meletius Metaxakis was done in open violation of the holy canons,’ and proposed to undertake ‘a valid and canonical election for Patriarch of Constantinople.’ In spite of this, Meletius was confirmed on the Patriarchal Throne.”[155]


      Two members of the Synod then went to Athens to report to the council of ministers. On December 12, 1921 they declared the election null and void. One of the prominent hierarchs who refused to accept this election was Metropolitan Chrysostom (Kavourides) of Florina, the future leader of the True Orthodox Church, who also tried to warn the then Prime Minister Gounaris about the dangers posed by the election of Meletius. The Sublime Porte also refused to recognize the election, first because Meletius was not an Ottoman citizen and therefore not eligible for the patriarchate according to the Ottoman charter of 1856, and secondly because Meletius declared that he did not consider any such charters as binding insofar as they had been imposed by the Muslim conquerors.[156]


     On December 29, 1921, the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece under the presidency of Metropolitan Germanus of Demetrias deposed Metaxakis for a series of canonical transgressions and for creating a schism, declared both Metaxakis and Rodostolos Alexandros to be schismatics and threatened to declare all those who followed them to be similarly schismatic. However, in spite of this second condemnation, Meletius was enthroned as patriarch on January 22, 1922. And as a result of intense political pressure his deposition was uncanonically lifted on September 24, 1922![157] 


     Thus there arrived at the peak of power one of the men whom Metropolitan Chrysostom (Kavourides) called “these two Luthers of the Orthodox Church”. The other one, Archbishop Chrysostom (Papadopoulos) of Athens, would come to power very shortly… In this way the Masons through the power of money gained control of the senior patriarchate in Orthodoxy, guaranteeing its loyalty to the ecumenical movement.


     The insecurity of Meletius’ position did not prevent him from trying to execute his nationalist-ecumenist plans. His intentions were clear from his enthronement speech: “I give myself to the service of the Church, so as from her first throne to assist in the development, as far as this is possible, of closer friendly relations with the heterodox Christian Churches of the East and West, to push forward the work of unification between them and others.” Then, on August 3, his Synod recognised the validity of Anglican orders. In 1923 the Churches of Cyprus and Jerusalem followed suit, showing how quickly Ecumenism could spread once it had taken hold in Constantinople.[158]


     Within the next few years, Meletius and his successor, Gregory VII, undertook the wholesale annexation of vast territories belonging to the jurisdiction of the Serbian and Russian Patriarchates. Basing his actions on a false interpretation of the 28th canon of the Fourth Ecumenical Council, which supposedly gives all the “barbarian lands” into the jurisdiction of Constantinople, he and his successor created the following uncanonical autonomous and autocephalous Churches:-


     1. Western Europe. On April 5, 1922, Meletius named an exarch for the whole of Western and Central Europe, Metropolitan Germanus of Thyateira and Great Britain. In 1923 he suggested to Metropolitan Eulogius of Paris and his flock that he submit to Metropolitan Germanus. In a letter dated March 28, 1923, Metropolitan Eulogius decline.[159] By the time of Gregory VII’s death in November, 1924, there was an exarchate of Central Europe under Metropolitan Germanus of Berlin, an exarchate of Great Britain and Western Europe under Metropolitan Germanus of Thyateira, and a diocese of Bishop Gregory of Paris. In the late 1920s the Ecumenical Patriarch received into his jurisdiction the Russian Metropolitan Eulogius of Paris, who had created a schism in the Russian Church Abroad, and who sheltered a number of influential heretics, such as Nicholas Berdiaev and Fr. Sergius Bulgakov, in the theological institute of St. Sergius in Paris.[160]


    2. Finland. In February, 1921 Patriarch Tikhon granted the Finnish Church, led by Archbishop Seraphim (Lukyanov), autonomy within the Russian Church. In 1922, Meletius offered to Seraphim to ordain the renovationist priest Herman (Aava) as his vicar-bishop, and receive autocephaly from the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The excuse given here was that Patriarch Tikhon was no longer free, “therefore he could do as he pleased” (Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky)). Seraphim refused, declaring his loyalty to Patriarch Tikhon and the Russian Church Abroad. In spite of this, and under the strong pressure of the Finnish authorities, Herman was consecrated Bishop of Sortavala in Constantinople. This undermined the efforts of the Orthodox to maintain their position vis-à-vis the Lutherans. Then, for refusing to learn the Finnish language in three months, Archbishop Seraphim was imprisoned on the island of Konevets by the Finnish government, while Patriarch Gregory VII raised Bishop Herman to the rank of metropolitan. Despite the protests of Patriarch Tikhon, the new metropolitan, under pressure from the government, annulled the right of the monasteries to celebrate Pascha according to the Julian calendar. Then began the persecution of the confessors of the Old Calendar in the monastery of Valaam (see below).


     “Even more iniquitous and cruel,” writes Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky), “was the relationship of the late Patriarch Gregory and his synod towards the diocese and the person of the Archbishop of Finland. The Ecumenical Patriarch consecrated a vicar bishop for Finland, the priest Aava, who was not only not tonsured, but not even a rasophore. Moreover, this was done not only without the agreement of the Archbishop of Finland, but in spite of his protest. By these actions the late Patriarch of Constantinople violated a fundamental canon of the Church – the sixth canon of the First Ecumenical Council [and many others], which states, ‘If anyone is consecrated bishop without the consent of his metropolitan, the Great Council declares him not to be a bishop.’ According to the twenty-eighth canon of the Fourth Ecumenical Council, the patriarch cannot even place a bishop in his diocese without the approval of the local metropolitan. Based on precisely this same canon, the predecessors of Gregory vainly attempted to realize his pretensions and legalize their claims to control. This uncanonical ‘bishop’ Aava, once consecrated as bishop, placed a monastic klobuk on his own head, and thus costumed, he appeared in the foreign diocese of Finland. There he instigated the Lutheran government to persecute the canonical Archbishop of Finland, Seraphim, who was respected by the people. The Finnish government previously had requested the Ecumenical Patriarch to confirm the most illegal of laws, namely that the secular government of Finland would have the right to retire the Archbishop. The government in fact followed through with the retirement, falsely claiming that Archbishop Seraphim had not learned enough Finnish in the allotted time. Heaven and earth were horrified at this illegal, tyrannical act of a non-Orthodox government. Even more horrifying was that an Orthodox patriarch had consented to such chicanery. To the scandal of the Orthodox and the evil delight of the heterodox, the highly dubious Bishop Germanus (the former Fr. Aava) strolled the streets of Finland in secular clothes, clean-shaven and hair cut short, while the most worthy of bishops, Seraphim, crudely betrayed by his false brother, languished in exile for the remainder of his life in a tiny hut of a monastery on a stormy isle on Lake Ladoga.”[161]


     On November 14/27, 1923, Patriarch Tikhon and the Russian Holy Synod, after listening to a report by Archbishop Seraphim decreed that “since his Holiness Patriarch Tikhon has entered upon the administration of the Russian Orthodox Church, the reason for which the Patriarch of Constantinople considered it necessary temporarily to submit the Finnish Church to his jurisdiction has now fallen away, and the Finnish eparchy must return under the rule of the All-Russian Patriarch.”[162]


     However, the Finns did not return to the Russians, and the Finnish Church remains to this day the most modernist of all the Orthodox Churches, being the only Church that has adopted the Western paschalion.


     3. Estonia. In February, 1919, after the martyrdom of Bishop Plato of Revel, Bishop Alexander (Paulus) of Porkhov was transferred to his see and raised to the rank of archbishop. Patriarch Tikhon then granted a broad measure of autonomy to the parts of the former Pskov and Revel dioceses that entered into the boundaries of the newly formed Estonian state. On September 23, 1922, the Estonian Church under Archbishop Alexander petitioned to be received under the Ecumenical Patriarchate and to be granted autocephaly. On March 10, 1940, in a letter to Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky), Metropolitan Alexander wrote that this decision was taken under strong political pressure from the State authorities at a time when news was constantly coming from Soviet Russia about the very difficult position of Patriarch Tikhon and the Russian Church, and in reply to an appeal from Patriarch Meletius IV.[163]


     4. Latvia. In June, 1921 Patriarch Tikhon granted the Latvian Church autonomy under its Latvian archpastor, Archbishop John of Riga, who was burned to death by the communists in 1934. In March, 1936, the Ecumenical Patriarch accepted the Church of Latvia within his own jurisdiction. On March 29 Metropolitan Germanus of Thyateira and Great Britain headed the consecration of the garrison priest Augustine (Peterson) as Metropolitan of Riga and All Latvia.[164]


     5. Poland. In 1921 Patriarch Tikhon appointed Archbishop Seraphim (Chichagov) to the see of Warsaw, but the Poles, whose armies had defeated the Red Army in 1920, did not grant him entry into the country. So on September 27 the Patriarch was forced to accept the Poles’ candidate, Archbishop George (Yaroshevsky) of Minsk. However, he appointed him his exarch in Poland, not metropolitan of Warsaw, which title remained with Archbishop Seraphim. Moreover, he refused Archbishop George’s request for autocephaly on the grounds that very few members of the Polish Church were Poles and the Polish dioceses were historically indivisible parts of the Russian Church.[165] Instead, he granted the Polish Church autonomy within the Russian Church.[166]


     On January 24, 1922 Archbishop George convened a hierarchical Council in Warsaw, in which there also participated Archbishops Dionysius (Valedinsky) and Panteleimon (Rozhnovsky). Under pressure from the Polish authorities, Bishop Vladimir also joined them. The ministry of religious confessions was represented at the Council by Pekarsky. His efforts in negotiations with the Russian hierarchs were directed mainly to forcing them to sign the so-called “Temporary Rules”, which had been drawn up in the ministry and which envisaged far-reaching government control over the life of the Orthodox Church in Poland. On January 30 the “Temporary Rules” were signed by Archbishops George and Dionysius, but not by Archbishop Panteleimon and Bishop Vladimir.


     On the same day Patriarch Tikhon issued a decree transferring Archbishop George to the see of Warsaw and raising him to the rank of metropolitan, insofar as it had become evident that it would be impossible to obtain the Polish authorities’ permission for the entrance into Warsaw of Metropolitan Seraphim (Chichagov), who had the reputation of being an extreme rightist. However, the titular promotion of Archbishop George by no means signified that the patriarch supported his intentions, for in the decrees there is no mention of ecclesiastical autonomy, nor of exarchal rights. Consequently, as was confirmed by the patriarch in 1925, he was simply one of the diocesan bishops in Poland, and not metropolitan “of all Poland”.[167]


     Liudmilla Koeller writes: “The Polish authorities restricted the Orthodox Church, which numbered more than 3 million believers (mainly Ukrainians and Byelorussians).[168] In 1922 a council was convoked in Pochaev which was to have declared autocephaly, but as the result of a protest by Bishop Eleutherius [Bogoyavlensky, of Vilnius] and Bishop Vladimir (Tikhonitsky), this decision was not made. But at the next council of bishops, which gathered in Warsaw in June, 1922, the majority voted for autocephaly, with only Bishops Eleutherius and Vladimir voting against. A council convoked in September of the same year ‘deprived Bishops Eleutherius and Vladimir of their sees. In December, 1922, Bishop Eleutherius was arrested and imprisoned’.”[169] He was later exiled to Lithuania.


     Two other Russian bishops, Panteleimon (Rozhnovsky) and Sergius (Korolev), were also deprived of their sees. The three dissident bishops were then expelled from Poland. In November, 1923, Metropolitan George was killed by an opponent of his church politics, Archimandrite Smaragd (Laytshenko), and was succeeded by Metropolitan Dionysius “with the agreement of the Polish government and the confirmation and blessing of his Holiness Meletius IV [Metaxakis]”. Patriarch Tikhon rejected this act as uncanonical[170], but was unable to do anything about it.


     On November 13, 1924, three days before his death, Patriarch Gregory VII signed and confirmed a so-called “Patriarchal and Synodal-Canonical Tomos” of the Ecumenical Constantinopolitan Patriarchate… on the recognition of the Orthodox Church in Poland as autocephalous”. The Tomos significantly declared: “The first separation from our see of the Kievan Metropolia and from the Orthodox Metropolias of Latvia and Poland, which depended on it, and also their union to the holy Moscow Church, took place by no means in accordance with the prescription of the holy canons, nor was everything observed that had been established with regard to the complete ecclesiastical autonomy of the Kievan metropolitan who bears the title of exarch of the Ecumenical Throne”. Hereby the patriarch indirectly laid claim to Ukraine as his canonical territory, in spite of the fact that it had been under Russian rule for two-and-a-half centuries. And yet, in contradiction with that, he affirmed as the basis of his grant of autocephaly to the Polish Church the fact that “the order of ecclesiastical affairs must follow political and social forms”, basing this affirmation on the 17th Canon of the Fourth Ecumenical Council and the 38th canon of the Sixth Ecumenical Council.[171]


     5. Hungary and Czechoslovakia. According to the old Hungarian law of 1868, and confirmed by the government of the new Czechoslovak republic in 1918 and 1920, all Orthodox Christians living in the territory of the former Hungarian kingdom came within the jurisdiction of the Serbian Patriarchate. That meant that they were served by Bishops Gorazd of Moravia and Dositheus of Carpatho-Russia (Gorazd was consecrated on September 25, 1921 in Belgrade by Patriarch Demetrius of Serbia, Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) of Kiev and two Serbian bishops).[172]


     However, on September 3, 1921, the Orthodox parish in Prague elected Archimandrite Sabbatius to be their bishop. When the Serbian Synod refused to consecrate Sabbatius, he, without the knowledge of his community, set off for Constantinople, where on March 4, 1923, he was consecrated “archbishop” of the newly created Czechoslovakian branch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which included Carpatho-Russia. Then, on April 15, 1924, the Ecumenical Patriarch established a metropolia of Hungary and All Central Europe with its see in Budapest (although there was already a Serbian bishop there).


     “The scandal caused by this confusion,” writes Z.G. Ashkenazy, “is easy to imagine. Bishop Sabbatius insisted on his rights in Carpatho-Russia, enthusiastically recruiting sympathizers from the Carpatho-Russian clergy and ordaining candidates indiscriminately. His followers requested that the authorities take administrative measures against priests not agreeing to submit to him. Bishop Dositheus placed a rebellious monk under ban – Bishop Sabbatius elevated him to igumen; Bishop Dositheus gathered the clergy in Husta and organized an Ecclesiastical Consistory – Bishop Sabbatius enticed priests to Bushtin and formed an Episcopal Council. Chaos reigned in church affairs. Malice and hatred spread among the clergy, who organized into ‘Sabbatiites’ and ‘Dositheiites’.


     “A wonderful spiritual flowering which gave birth to so many martyrs for Orthodoxy degenerated into a shameful struggle for power, for a more lucrative parish and extra income. The Uniate press was gleeful, while bitterness settled in among the Orthodox people against their clergy, who were not able to maintain that high standard of Orthodoxy which had been initiated by inspired simple folk.”[173]


     6. Turkey. While creating uncanonical new Churches on the terroritory of other Local Orthodox Churches (he also invited the Russians in America to come under his omophorion, but they refused), Meletius contrived to support a schism on his own canonical territory. Thus in the autumn of 1922, Metropolitan Procopius of Konium, to whom all the churches of Anatolia were subject, with two titular bishops and two priests (one of whom, Papa Euthymius, became the driving force in the separatist movement) separated from the patriarchate and created his own Synod of the “Turkish Orthodox Church”.


     The new Church was strongly supported by the government of Ataturk. In view of this, Meletius considered it inappropriate to ban it. Instead, he suggested the creation of an autonomous Turkish Church subject to the patriarchate, in which he promised to introduce the Turkish language into the Divine services. [174]


     In 1938 Bishop John (Maximovich) of Shanghai reported to the All-Diaspora Council of the Russian Church Abroad: “Increasing without limit their desires to submit to themselves parts of Russia, the Patriarchs of Constantinople have even begun to declare the uncanonicity of the annexation of Kiev to the Moscow Patriarchate, and to declare that the previously existing southern Russian Metropolia of Kiev should be subject to the Throne of Constantinople. Such a point of view is not only clearly expressed in the Tomos of November 13, 1924, in connection with the separation of the Polish Church, but is also quite thoroughly promoted by the Patriarchs. Thus, the Vicar of Metropolitan Eulogius in Paris, who was consecrated with the permission of the Ecumenical Patriarch, has assumed the title of Chersonese; that is to say, Chersonese, which is now in the territory of Russia, is subject to the Ecumenical Patriarch. The next logical step for the Ecumenical Patriarchate would be to declare the whole of Russia as being under the jurisdiction of Constantinople…


     “In sum, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, in theory embracing almost the whole universe, and in fact extending its authority only over several dioceses, and in other places having only a superficial supervision and receiving certain revenues for this; persecuted by the government at home and not supported by any governmental authority abroad; having lost its significance as a pillar of truth and having itself become a source of division, and at the same time being possessed by an exorbitant love of power – represents a pitiful spectacle which recalls the worst periods in the history of the See of Constantinople.”[175]


Secret Agents in Cassocks


     The Bolsheviks believed that the roots of religion lay in poverty and ignorance, so that the elimination of these evils would naturally lead to the withering away of religion. This being the case, they could not believe that religious belief had any deeper roots in the nature of things. Therefore, writes Roslof, “the party explicitly rejected ‘God-building’, an attempt by its own members to develop a ‘socialist religion of humanity’. Led by A.V. Lunacharskii, Leonid Krasin, and Bogdanov (A.A. Malinovskii), Bolshevik God-builders maintained that the proletariat would create a non-transcendent, earth-centered religion to complement its formation of the ultimate human society. Only this group within the party ‘recognized that religion’s power lay in its response to people’s psychic needs and argued that a revolutionary movement could not afford to ignore these’.”[176]


     In May, 1921 Lenin supported a resolution calling for the replacement of the religious world-view by “a harmonious communist scientific system embracing and answering the questions to which the peasants’ and workers’ masses have hitherto sought answers in religion.” At the same time he said that the Bolsheviks must “definitely avoid offending religious sensibilities”. The result was the suspension of the “dilettantist” anti-religious commissions (Lenin’s phrase) that had existed thereto, and their replacement by a Commission on the Separation of Church and State attached to the Politburo which lasted until 1929 under the Jew Emelian Yaroslavsky and whose aim was clearly the extirpation of all religion. The importance of this Commission in the Bolsheviks’ eyes was clearly indicated by the extreme secrecy in which its protocols were shrouded and by the active participation in it, at one time or another, of all the top party leaders. The strategy of the Commission was directly defined, at the beginning by Lenin, and later – by Stalin.[177]


     An important aspect of the Commission’s strategy was “divide and rule”. For while physical methods continued to be applied, the Bolsheviks recognized that the Church could not be defeated by direct physical assault alone, and that they needed subtler methods including the recruitment of agents among the clergy and the creation of schisms among them. Thus already in December, 1920, T. Samsonov, head of a secret department of the Cheka, the forerunner of the KGB, wrote to Dzerzhinsky that “communism and religion are mutually exclusive… No machinery can destroy religion except that of the [Cheka]. In its plans to demoralize the church the Cheka has recently focussed its attention on the rank and file of the priesthood. Only through them, by long, intensive, and painstaking work, shall we succeed in destroying and dismantling the church completely.”[178]


     “According to archival data,” writes Fr. Victor Potapov, “the politics of enrolling the clergy began de facto already in the first years of Soviet power. This is what one of these Cheka documents, dated 1921, says about this:

     “’The question of having agents and informers among the clergy is the most difficult one in the Cheka both because of the difficulty of carrying out the work and because for the most part the Cheka has paid little attention to it up to now…


     “There is no doubt that we have to stir them up and shift them from their places. And to realise this aim more quickly and efficiently it is necessary at the beginning to take the following measures:


     “’1. Use the clergy themselves for our own ends, especially those who have an important position in Church life – hierarchs, metropolitans, etc., forcing them under threat of severe punishment to distribute among their clergy this or that instruction that could be useful to us, for example: the cessation of forbidden agitation with regard to [Soviet anti-ecclesiastical] decrees, the closure of monasteries, etc.


     “’2. Clarify the character of individual bishops and vicars, encouraging their desires and plans.


     “’3. It is proposed that informers be recruited among the clergy after some acquaintance has been gained with the clerical world and the character traits of each individual servant of the cult has been clarified. This material can be gained in various ways, but mainly through removing correspondence at searches and through personal acquaintance with the clerical environment.


     “’It is necessary to interest this or that informer among the clergy with material rewards, since only on this soil is it possible to come to an agreement with the popes. It is impossible to hope for their benevolent attitude to Soviet power, while subsidies in money and in kind will undoubtedly also bind them to us more in another respect – namely, in that he will an eternal slave of the Cheka, fearing that his activity will be unmasked.


     “’The recruitment of informers is carried out, and must be carried out, by frightening them with the threat of prison and the camps for insignificant reasons, for speculation, the violation of the rules and orders of the authorities, etc.


     “’True, a fairly unreliable method can be useful only if the object of recruitment is weak and spineless in character. Above all attention must be paid to the quality, and not to the quantity, of the informers. For only when those recruited are good informers and the recruitment has been carried out with care can we hope to draw from this or that environment the material that we need’ (TsA KGB f.1, op. 5, por. № 360, 1921, secret section, l. 6; signature: Assistant to the person authorized, So VChK).’”[179]


     “One revealing incident,” writes Roslof, “involved Lenin, Lunacharskii, Dzerzhinskii, and [the schismatic] Bishop [Vladimir] Putiata. On April 6, 1921, Lunacharskii wrote to Dzerzhinskii about Metropolitan Sergii Stragorodskii, who had been arrested and sat in Butyrkii Prison. Lunacharskii suggested that Sergii might be useful in Putiata’s ‘mission’ in Kazan, the details of which were not given. Dzerzhinskii forwarded this letter for comments from one of his subordinates, M.Ia. Latsis, who rejected Sergii’s suitability for the task. Dzerzhinskii then sent a note to Latsis asking him to write a report on Lunacharskii’s letter to Lenin, adding, ’In my opinion, the church is falling apart. We must help this process but by no means allow the church to regenerate itself and take some renewed form. Therefore, the Cheka and no one else should direct the government’s policy toward church disintegration. Official or unofficial relations between the party and priests are not permitted. Only the Cheka can manoeuver toward the unique goal of disintegration among the priests. Any connection whatever by other agencies with priests casts a shadow on the party. This is a most dangerous matter that only our specialists will be capable of handling.’[180]


     “This reply did not please Lunacharskii. In a telegram on May 9, 1921, he asked Lenin to meet briefly with Putiata. Lenin refused to receive the archbishop and asked Lunacharskii to give him a written report on the case. Lunacharskii responded quickly. He explained that Krasikov had started working with Putiata with the intention of exploring possible uses of the internal church feud begun by the archbishop. Lunacharskii became involved and communicated directly with Putiata at a time when Metropolitan Sergii was in prison.


     “Archbishop Vladimir explained that (Sergii) was ready to transfer to the side of the so-called ‘Soviet church’, i.e. of the clergy determinedly and emphatically supporting the present regime and leading the battle with the patriarch. Archbishop Vladimir insisted that if Sergii were freed, Vladimir would acquire an extremely strong assistant in the task of destroying the official church.


     “Lunacharskii at first did not want to interfere but was convinced by a colleague of Krasikov that Sergii would indeed join the ‘leftist’ clergy. After being released, Sergii took up the case for restoring Putiata to his former church position, from which he had been expelled for ‘ecclesiastical Bolshevism’. Tikhon derailed this move by Sergii by insisting on a vote by all Orthodox bishops on the question. Putiata then suggested a new strategy by which he would be installed as the head of a new Soviet Orthodox Church centered in Kazan. He claimed support for his views from many other bishops.”[181]


     The movement for a “Soviet Orthodox Church” was gathering pace… It was supported by Trotsky, who in a protocol of the secret section of the Cheka discussed recruiting clergy with money to report on themselves and others in the Church and to prevent anti-Bolshevik agitation concerning, for example, the closing of monasteries.[182]


The Requisitioning of Church Valuables


      But it was the Volga famine of 1921-22, in which about 25 million people were starving, and 15 million more were under threat, that provided the Bolsheviks with their first opportunity to create a major schism in the Church.


     Solzhenitsyn writes: “At the end of the civil war, and as its natural consequence, an unprecedented famine developed in the Volga area… V.G. Korolenko, in his Letters to Lunacharsky explains to us Russia’s total, epidemic descent into famine and destitution. It was the result of productivity having become reduced to zero (the working hands were all carrying guns) and the result, also, of the peasants’ utter lack of trust and hope that even the smallest part of the harvest might be left to them. Yes, and someday someone will also count up those many carloads of food supplies rolling on and on for many, many months to Imperial Germany, under the terms of the peace treaty of Brest-Litovsk – from a Russia which had been deprived of a protesting voice, from the very provinces where famine would strike – so that Germany could fight to the end in the West.


     “There was a direct, immediate chain of cause and effect. The Volga peasants had to eat their children because we were so impatient about putting up with the Constituent Assembly.


     “But political genius lies in extracting success even from the people’s ruin. A brilliant idea was born: after all, three billiard balls can be pocketed with one shot. So now let the priests feed the Volga region! They are Christians. They are generous!


     “1. If they refuse, we will blame the whole famine on them and destroy the Church.


     “2. If they agree, we will clean out the churches.


     “In either case, we will replenish our stocks of foreign exchange and precious metals.


     “Yes, and the action was probably inspired by the actions of the Church itself. As Patriarch Tikhon himself had testified, back in August, 1921, at the beginning of the famine, the Church had created diocesan and all-Russian committees for aid to the starving and had begun to collect funds. But to have permitted any direct help to go straight from the Church into the mouths of those who were starving would have undermined the dictatorship of the proletariat. The committees were banned, and the funds they had collected were confiscated and turned over to the state and to the treasury. The Patriarch had also appealed to the Pope in Rome and the Archbishop of Canterbury for assistance – but he was rebuked for this, too, on the grounds that only the Soviet authorities had the right to enter into discussions with foreigners. Yes, indeed. And what was there to be alarmed about? The newspapers wrote that the government itself had all the necessary means to cope with the famine.


     “Meanwhile, in the Volga region they were eating grass, the soles of shoes and gnawing at door jambs. And, finally, in December [27], 1921, Pomgol – the State Commission for Famine Relief – proposed that the churches help the starving by donating church valuables – not all, but those not required for liturgical rites. The Patriarch agreed. Pomgol issued a directive: all gifts must be strictly voluntary! On February 19, 1922, the Patriarch issued a pastoral letter permitting the parish councils to make gifts of objects that did not have liturgical and ritual significance.


     “And in this way matter could again have simply degenerated into a compromise that would have frustrated the will of the proletariat, just as it once had been by the Constituent Assembly, and still was in all the chatterbox European parliaments.


     “The thought came in a stroke of lightning! The thought came – and a decree followed! A decree of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee on February 26: all valuables were to be requisitioned from the churches – for the starving!”[183]


     This decree annihilated the voluntary character of the offerings, and put the clergy in the position of accessories to sacrilege. And so on February 28, in order to resolve the perplexities of the faithful, the Patriarch decreed: “… In view of the exceptionally difficult circumstances, we have admitted the possibility of offering church objects that have not been consecrated and are not used in Divine services. Now again we call on the faithful children of the Church to make such offerings, desiring only that these offerings should be the response of a loving heart to the needs of his neighbour, if only they can provide some real help to our suffering brothers. But we cannot approve of the requisitioning from the churches, even as a voluntary offering, of consecrated objects, whose use for purposes other than Divine services is forbidden by the canons of the Ecumenical Church and is punished by Her as sacrilege – laymen by excommunication from Her, and clergy by defrocking (Apostolic Canon 73; Canon 10 of the First-Second Council).”[184]


     This compromise decree represents the first major concession made by the Church to Soviet power. Thus no less an authority than the holy Elder Nectarius of Optina said: “You see now, the patriarch gave the order to give up all valuables from the churches, but they belonged to the Church!”[185]          


     At the beginning of March, with the approval of the whole Politburo (Lenin, Molotov, Kamenev and Stalin), Trotsky formed a “completely secret” commission to mastermind the requisitioning. On March 11 he wrote to the Politburo: “This commission must secretly prepare the political, organizational and technical aspects of the matter at the same time. The actual removal of the valuables must begin already in March and then be completed in the shortest possible time… I repeat: this commission is a complete secret. Formally, the requisitioning in Moscow will take place under the direct orders of the Central Committee of Pomgol… Our whole strategy at this time must be aimed at a schism in the clergy over the concrete question of the requisitioning of valuables from the churches. Since the question is a burning one, the schism on this basis can and must acquire a very burning character, and that part of the clergy which will support the requisitioning and aid it will no longer be able to return to Patriarch Tikhon’s clique. Therefore I suggest that a block consisting of this section of the priesthood should be temporarily admitted into Pomgol, especially since it is necessary to avert any suspicion and doubts with regard to whether the requisitioning of valuables from the churches will be spent on the needs of the starving.”[186]


     On March 13, the Politburo accepted Trotsky’s suggestion. “Moreover,” writes Gregory Ravich, “the commission was ordered ‘to act with maximal cruelty, not stopping at anything, including executions on the spot (that is, without trial and investigation), in cases of necessity summoning special (for which read: punitive) units of the Red Army, dispersing and firing on demonstrations, interrogations with the use of torture’ and so on. The commission’s members were, besides Trotsky, Sapronov, Unschlicht, Medved and Samoilov-Zemliachka. It literally rushed like a hurricane through Russia, sweeping away… everything in its path.”[187]


     Soon clashes with believers who resisted the confiscation of church valuables took place. 1414 such clashes were reported in the official press. The first took place in the town of Shue on March 15. Five Christians were killed and fifteen wounded, as a result of which two priests and a layman were condemned and executed. In 1921-23, 2,691 married priests, 1,962 monks, 3,447 nuns and an unknown number of laymen were killed on the pretext of resistance to the seizure of church valuables in the country as a whole.[188] According to another estimate, the anti-ecclesiastical campaign cost the lives of 28 bishops and 1,215 priests - over 8000 people altogether.[189] According to a third estimate, up to 10,000 believers were killed.[190]


     On March 19, Lenin sent a long letter to the Politburo marked “Top Secret. No Copies to be Made”: “It is precisely now and only now, when there is cannibalism in the famine-stricken areas and hundreds if not thousands of corpses are lying along the roads, that we can (and therefore must) carry out the confiscation of valuables with fanatical and merciless energy and not hesitate to suppress any form of resistance… It is precisely now and only now that the vast majority of the peasant masses will either support us or at least will be unable to give any decisive support to those… who might and would want to try to resist the Soviet decree. We must confiscate in the shortest possible time as much as possible to create for ourselves a fund of several hundred million roubles… Without this fund, government work.. and the defence of our positions in Genoa are absolutely unthinkable… Now our victory over the reactionary clergy is guaranteed… It is precisely now that we must wage a decisive and merciless war with the black-hundreds clergy and crush their opposition with such cruelty that they will not forget it for many decades… The more members of the reactionary bourgeoisie we manage to shoot the better.”[191]


     Concerning the Patriarch, however, Lenin said: “I think it is expedient for us not to touch Patriarch Tikhon himself, although he is undoubtedly heading this entire rebellion of slaveowners.”


     Lenin wanted Trotsky to be in charge of the campaign; “but he should at no time and under no circumstances speak out [on this matter] in the press or before the public in any other manner”. This was probably, as Richard Pipes suggests, “in order not to feed rumors that the campaign was a Jewish plot against Christianity,”[192] because Trotsky was a Jew, and the high proportion of Jews in the Bolshevik party had aroused the people’s wrath against them.


     In addition to being the head of the commission for the requisitioning of the valuables, Trotsky also headed the commission for their monetary realization. And in a submission to this commission he wrote on March 23: “For us it is more important to obtain 50 million in 1922-23 for a certain mass of valuables than to hope for 75 million in 1923-24. The advance of the proletarian revolution in just one of the large countries of Europe will put a stop to the market in valuables… Conclusion: we must proceed as fast as possible…”[193]


     If money for purely political purposes was the Bolsheviks’ primary motive in this matter, then they failed miserably – the sale of church valuables fetched only about $1.5 million, or between $4 and $10 million according to another estimate,[194] while Bukharin admitted to having spent nearly $14 million on propaganda during the famine.[195] In any case, the Bolsheviks already had in their possession Russian crown jewels worth one billion gold roubles and jewels from the Kremlin museum worth 300 million gold roubles – far more than the market price of the church valuables.[196]


     But if their primary motive was in fact to destroy the Church, then they also failed – the Church emerged even stronger spiritually from her fiery ordeal. The blood of the martyrs was already starting to bring forth fruit as thousands of previously lukewarm Christians returned to the Church.


The Renovationist Coup


     However, the crisis gave a golden opportunity to the internal enemies of the Church – the renovationist heretics. The roots of renovationism are to be found in the liberal-democratic ideas that came to prominence in Church circles at the beginning of the century. Philip Walters writes: “During the early 20th Century, in pre-revolutionary Russia, many groups of intellectuals, philosophers and churchmen began voicing their concern over the plight of the Orthodox Church in its enforced alliance with a reactionary State. It is possible to discover many lines of continuity between the democratic and socialist aims of these men and the aims of the men of the Living Church (also known as Renovationists). There is also a certain amount of personal continuity: for example, the so-called ‘Group of Thirty-Two’ reformist priests, who were active between 1905 and 1907, reappeared after the February Revolution of 1917 as the ‘League of Democratic Orthodox Clergy and Laymen’, a group which stood against the increasing conservatism of the Orthodox Church, and which included among its members one or two men who later became prominent in the Living Church.


     “B.V. Titlinov’s book, Novaia tserkov (The New Church), written in 1922, contains an apology for Renovationist ideology. Titlinov declares that the new movement is not a revolution or a reformation, which would imply a definite break with the historical Church, but a reform which remains true to the original spirit of Orthodoxy. The basic task of the Living Church is to ‘do away with those accretions which have been introduced into Orthodox worship during the period of union between the Church and the [Tsarist] State’. Titlinov calls for ‘priestly creativity’ in the liturgy and for its celebration as in the early Church amidst the congregation. There must be ethical and moral reform in society, involving opposition to capitalism. Bishops should be elected from the lower clergy and should be allowed to marry. The Living Church, he claims, accepts the October Revolution as consonant with the aims of Christian truth.


     “There are three basic ideological strands in Renovationism: a political strand, concerned with promoting loyalty to the Soviet regime; an organizational strand, concerned with the rights of the lower clergy and with the administration of the Church; and an ethical strand, concerned with making Church services more accessible to the masses and with moral and social reform. The first strand was characteristic of the Living Church movement as a whole…When the Living Church movement split into various factions, the second ideological strand was taken up chiefly by the followers of V.D. Krasnitsky, and the third by the groups which followed Bishop Antonin Granovsky and A.I. Vvedensky.”[197]


     The idea of splitting the official Church hierarchy by promoting the renovationists appears to have originated in 1921 with Lunacharsky, who since the early 1900s had been instrumental in developing a more subtle, less physically confrontational approach to the problem of eradicating religion.[198]


     That the Bolsheviks planned on using the internal enemies of the Church at the same time that they exerted external pressure through the confiscation of her valuables is clear from a project outlined by Trotsky to a session of the Politburo attended by Kamenev, Stalin and Molotov on April 2: “The agitation must not be linked with the struggle against religion and the Church, but must be wholly directed towards helping the starving” (point 5); “we must take a decisive initiative in creating a schism among the clergy”, taking the priests who speak in support of the measures undertaken by Soviet power “under the protection of state power” (point 6); “our agitation and the agitation of priests loyal to us must in no case be mixed up”, but the communists must refer to “the significant part of the clergy” which is speaking against the inhumanity and greed “of the princes of the Church” (point 7); spying is necessary “to guarantee complete knowledge of everything that is happening in various groups of clergy, believers, etc.” (point 8); the question must be formulated correctly: “it is best to begin with some church led by a loyal priest, and if such a church does not exist, then with the most significant church after careful preparation” (point 9); “representatives of the loyal clergy must be allowed to be registered in the provinces and in the centre, after the population is well informed that they will have every opportunity to check that not one article of the church heritage goes anywhere else than to help the starving” (point 13). In actual fact, according to a secret instruction all church valuables taken from “the enemies of Soviet power” were to be handed over, not to Pomgol or the starving, but to the Economic administration of the OGPU.[199]


     The Bolsheviks were counting on a modernist or “renovationist” faction in the Russian Church to provide them with their “loyal” clergy. Already in the revolutionary years of 1905 and 1917, the renovationists-to-be had reared their heads with a long list of demands for modernist reform of the Church. And in March, 1918, Professor Titlinov, who was later to become one of the main ideologists of renovationism, founded a newspaper in Petrograd which criticized the Patriarch’s anathematization of Soviet power.[200]


     But the plotters had to wait until the spring of 1922, when both Patriarch Tikhon and Metropolitan Benjamin of Petrograd were in prison in connection with the confiscation of church valuables, before they could seize power in the Church.


     The spiritual calibre of the renovationists, or the “Living Church”, as their main faction was called, can be gauged from the career of perhaps their most moderate leader, Bishop Antonin Granovsky. In 1905 he had been such a thorn in the side of the Church that the Holy Synod retired him. Thereafter he refused to mention the Tsar’s name in Divine services, and in 1907 he even declared that the Tsarist regime was satanic. In 1921 he was again retired by Patriarch Tikhon for introducing innovations on his own authority into the Divine services. In 1922 he accepted a Soviet invitation to be a member of Pomgol, and in the same year he appeared as a witness for the government in the trial of 54 Shue Christians who had resisted the confiscation of church valuables. And yet Granovsky himself characterized his fellow-plotters as “the sewer of the Orthodox Church”, the rebellion of power-hungry priests pursuing their class interests against the bishops and monks.[201]


     And indeed, this anti-monasticism was, with their socialism, one of the main characteristics of the renovationists – Fr. George Florovsky called it “Protestantism of the Eastern Rite”.[202] Thus Titlinov wrote that the major task of the “Living Church” was “to free church life from the influence of the monastic episcopate and transfer the administration of church affairs into the hands of the white [married] clergy.”[203]


     And so Soviet power may have been justified – in this respect, if in no other – in counting, in E. Lopeshanskaya’s words, “on the classically Marxist ‘inner contradictions’ and ‘class struggle’, which by its ideology was necessarily bound to arise everywhere – including the Church – between the black [monastic] and white [married] clergy, between the hierarchs and the priests, for the income of the Church.”[204]


     The first shots in the battle were fired in Petrograd, which was a stronghold of renovationism as it had been of the Bolshevik revolution. According to Levitin and Shavrov, the initiative here came from the Petrograd party chief, Zinoviev, who suggested to Archpriest Alexander Vvedensky that his group would be the appropriate one for an eventual concordat between the State and the Church.[205] Vvedensky then joined Archpriest Vladimir Krasnitsky and Bishop Antonin Granovsky in plotting to overthrow the Patriarch.


     The leader of the Patriarchal Church in Petrograd was Metropolitan Benjamin, who had actually come to an agreement with the local authorities concerning the voluntary handing over of church valuables. These authorities evidently did not yet understand that the real purpose of the Soviet decree was not to help the starving but to destroy the Church. Having conferred with the central authorities in Moscow, however, the Petrograd authorities reneged on their agreement with the metropolitan.[206]


     Then, on March 24, a letter signed by twelve people, including the future renovationist leaders Krasnitsky, Vvedensky, Belkov, Boyarsky and others, appeared in Petrogradskaia Pravda (it was reprinted five days later in Izvestia). The letter defended the measures undertaken by the Soviet government and distanced the authors from the rest of the clergy. The latter reacted strongly against this letter at a clergy meeting, during which Vvedensky gave a brazen and threatening speech.


     However, the metropolitan succeeded in calming passions sufficiently so that it was decided to enter into fresh negotiations with the authorities, the conduct of these negotiations being entrusted to Vvedensky and Boyarsky. They proceeded to win an agreement according to which other articles or money were allowed to be substituted for the church valuables…


     On March 22-23 Trotsky wrote: “The arrest of the Synod and the Patriarch is necessary, but not now, but in about 10-15 days… In the course of this week we must arrange a trial of priests for stealing church valuables (there are quite a few facts)… The press must adopted a frenzied tone, giving [evidence of] a heap of priestly attempts in Smolensk, Petrograd, etc. After this arrest the Synod…”[207]


     On April 1 the Patriarch was placed under house arrest. Then he was called as a witness for the defence in the trial of 54 Moscow Christians, which began on April 26. In an effort to save the accused, he took the whole responsibility upon himself. And in one of the exchanges the essence of the relationship between the Church and the State was expressed.


     The Presiding Judge: “Do you consider the state’s laws obligatory or not?”


     The Patriarch: “Yes, I recognize them, to the extent that they do not contradict the rules of piety.


     Solzhenitsyn comments: “Oh, if only everyone had answered just that way! Our whole history would have been different.”[208]


     And yet the Patriarch’s words constituted a distinct weakening of his position vis-à-vis Soviet power when compared with the absolutely irreconcilable position he and the Council had adopted in 1917-18; for they implied that Soviet power was legitimate, the power of Caesar rather than that of the Antichrist… This critical question has remained of fundamental importance in the Russian Church to this day, under the neo-Soviet regime of Putin.


     The first instinct of the Russian Church in the face of Soviet power, as manifested in the 1917-18 Council, has never been extinguished among Russian Christians. It continued to manifest itself both at home and abroad (for example, in the First All-Emigration Council of the Russian Church Abroad in 1921), both in the early and the later decades of Soviet power (for example, among the "passportless" Christians of the Catacomb Church). However, it was very soon tempered by the realisation that such outright rejection of Soviet power on a large scale could be sustained only by war - and after the defeat of the White Armies in the Civil War there were no armies left to carry on the fight against the Bolsheviks.


     Therefore from the early 1920s a new attitude towards Soviet power began to evolve among the Tikhonite Christians: loyalty towards it as a political institution ("for all power is from God"), and acceptance of such of its laws as could be interpreted in favour of the Church (for example, the law on the separation of Church and State), combined with rejection of its atheistic world-view (large parts of which the renovationists, by contrast, accepted). In essence, this new attitude involved accepting that the Soviet State was not Antichrist, as the Local Council of 1917-18 and the Russian Church Abroad had in effect declared, but Caesar, no worse in principle than the Caesars of Ancient Rome, to whom the things belonging to Caesar were due. This attitude involved the assertion that it was possible, in the Soviet Union as in Ancient Rome, to draw a clear line between politics and religion.


     But in practice, even more than in theory, this line proved very hard to draw. For to the early Bolsheviks, at any rate, there was no such dividing line; for them, everything was ideological, everything had to be in accordance with their ideology, there could be no room for disagreement, no private spheres into which the state and its ideology did not pry.


     Thus unlike most of the Roman emperors, who allowed the Christians to order their own lives so long as they showed loyalty to the state (which the Christians were very eager to do), the Bolsheviks insisted in imposing their own ways upon the Christians in every sphere: in family life (civil marriage only, divorce on demand, children spying on parents), in education (compulsory Marxism), in economics (dekulakization, collectivization), in military service (the oath of allegiance to Lenin), in science (Lysenkoism), in art (socialist realism), and in religion (the requisitioning of valuables, registration, commemoration of the authorities at the Liturgy, reporting of confessions by the priests). Resistance to any one of these demands was counted as "anti-Soviet behaviour", i.e. political disloyalty. Therefore it was no use protesting one's political loyalty to the regime if one refused to accept just one of these demands. According to the Soviet interpretation of the word: "Whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one has become guilty of all of it" (James 2.10), such a person was an enemy of the people.


     In view of this, it is not surprising that many Christians came to the conclusion that there was no gain, and from a moral point of view much to be lost, in accepting a regime that made such impossible demands, since the penalty would be the same whether one asserted one's loyalty to it or not. And if this meant living as an outlaw, so be it… Nevertheless, the path of total rejection of the Soviet state required enormous courage, strength and self-sacrifice, not only for oneself but also (which was more difficult) for one's family or flock. It is therefore not surprising that, already during the Civil War, the Church began to soften her anti-Soviet rhetoric and try once more to draw the line between politics and religion. This is what Patriarch Tikhon tried to do in the later years of his patriarchate - with, it must be said, only mixed results. Thus his decision to allow some, but not all of the Church's valuables to be requisitioned by the Bolsheviks in 1922 not only did not bring help to the starving of the Volga, as was the intention, but led to many clashes between believers and the authorities and many deaths of believers.


     The decision to negotiate and compromise with the Bolsheviks only brought confusion and division to the Church. Thus on the right wing of the Church there were those, like Archbishop Theodore of Volokolamsk, who thought that the patriarch had already gone too far; while on the left wing there were those, like Archbishop Hilarion of Verey, who wanted to go further. The basic problem was that the compromises were always one-sided; the Bolsheviks always took and never gave; their aim was not peaceful co-existence, but the complete conquest of the Church. And so, as a "Letter from Russia" put it many years later: "It's no use our manoeuvring: there's nothing for us to preserve except the things that are God's. For the things that are Caesar's (if one should really consider it to be Caesar and not Pharaoh) are always associated with the quenching of the Spirit..."[209]


     However, the Patriarchal Church remained Orthodox under Patriarch Tikhon and his successor, Metropolitan Peter, for two major reasons: first, because the leaders of the Church did not sacrifice the lives of their fellow Christians for the sake of their own security or the security of the Church organisation; and secondly, because, while the Soviet regime was recognised to be, in effect, Caesar rather than Pharaoh, no further concessions were made with regard to the communist ideology.


     On May 3, a secret midnight meeting of the presidium of the GPU – Comrades Ushinsky, Menzhinsky, Yagoda, Samsonov and Krasikov – took place, at which it was decided “to summon Tikhon and demand of him that he publish within 24 hours the expulsion from the Church, defrocking and removal from their posts of the above-mentioned clergy [the leaders of the Russian Church in Exile]. If Tikhon refuses to carry out the above-mentioned demands, he is to be immediately arrested and accused of all the crimes he has committed against Soviet power.”[210]


     “This proposal,” writes Rayfield, “went to Trotsky and Stalin, who had the Politburo resolve [on May 4] ‘1) to bring Tikhon to trial; 2) to apply the death penalty to the priests’.”[211]


     On May 5, the following dialogue took place when he appeared for the last time as a witness in the case of the 54 Moscow clergymen:


     President: “You ordered that your appeal calling on the people to disobey the authorities [this was the statement on church valuables] should be read out to the whole people.


      Patriarch: “The authorities well know that in my appeal there was no call [to the people] to resist the authorities, but only to preserve their holy things, and in the name of their preservation to ask the authorities to allow their value to be paid in money, and, by helping their starving brothers in this way, to preserve their holy things.”


     President: “Well, this call will cost the lives of your faithful servants.”


     At this point the patriarch pointed to those on trial and said: ‘I always said and continue to say… that I alone am guilty of everything, and this is only my Christian army, obediently following the commands of the head sent to her by God. But if a redemptive sacrifice is necessary, if the death of innocent sheep of the flock of Christ is necessary’ – at this point the voice of the Patriarch was raised and it became audible in all the corners of the huge hall, and he himself as it were grew tall as, addressing the accused, he raised his hands and blessed them, loudly and distinctly pronouncing the words – ‘I bless the faithful servants of the Lord Jesus Christ to go to torment and death for Him’. The accused fell on their knees. Both the judges and the prosecutors fell silent… The session did not continue that evening. In the morning the verdict was pronounced: 18 priests were to be shot. When they were being led out of the hall, they began to chant: “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and to those in the tombs bestowing life”.[212]


     The prosecutor also declared that the tribunal “establishes the illegality of the existence of the organization called the Orthodox hierarchy”. And so a juridical definition was issued placing the whole of the Russian Orthodox Church beyond the law.[213]


     That evening, the Patriarch was subjected to an interrogation at the GPU headquarters by T.P. Samsonov and V.R. Menzhinsky. They asked him to say clearly what punitive measures he was taking in relation to the clergy abroad, and in particular Metropolitans Anthony and Eulogius. Menzhinsky even suggested that the Patriarch invite the metropolitans to Moscow to demand “a personal explanation”, to which the Patriarch replied: “They will hardly come here.” At the same interrogation it was demanded of the Patriarch that he issue a directive to the clergy abroad that they hand over all the Church Abroad’s property to representatives of Soviet power.[214]


     It was therefore under extreme pressure that on the same day of May 5, Patriarch Tikhon convened a meeting of the Holy Synod and the Higher Church Council, at which he declared (decree 347) that “neither the epistle, nor the address of the Karlovtsy Synod [to the Genoa conference] express the voice of the Russian Church”. And he ordered the dissolution of the Church in Exile’s Higher Church Administration and the transfer of all power over the Russian refugees in Europe to Metropolitan Eulogius of Paris.[215]


     Decree 347 has been used by the Sovietized Moscow Patriarchate and its satellites to cast doubts on the canonicity of the Russian Church Abroad. However, the ukaz which the Church in Exile received did not have the Patriarch’s signature and was signed only by Archbishop Thaddeus of Astrakhan![216]


     As Igumen Luke points out: “If one reads the decree one will see that it contains nothing concerning violation of canons by the Higher Church Administration and nowhere declares it to be uncanonical. No one, not even Metropolitan Eulogius accepted the authority of the document. The Patriarch in assigning Metropolitan Eulogius to head the parishes in Western Europe ‘overlooked’ the fact that there were eight other dioceses in the Church Abroad and said nothing about their leadership. This and other confused aspects of the decree only support the universal opinion that it was issued under pressure from the Bolsheviks who desired by all means to weaken the anti-Communist voice from abroad. Upon receiving notification of his appointment as ruling bishop in Europe Metropolitan Eulogius wrote to Metropolitan Anthony: ‘This decree amazed me by it suddenness and simply shocks one by the possible confusion it could bring into church life’ (exactly what the communists wanted and continue to desire in order to eliminate any opposition to their control of the Church). ‘There is no doubt that the decree was issued under pressure by the Bolsheviks.’ Metropolitan Eulogius continues, ‘I do not recognize this document as having any authority even though it might have been written and signed by the Patriarch. This document is political and not ecclesiological…’”[217]


     In any case, the Patriarch did not actually anathematise the émigré bishops, and so the action which was designed to placate the Bolsheviks only served to anger them. The leaders of the Russian Church in Exile took the view – and in this they were at first supported, as we have seen, by Metropolitan Eulogius – that the patriarch had been acting under duress at the time. So they acted in order formally to obey the Patriarch’s decree, while in effect ignoring it. They dissolved the Higher Church Administration and created a Synod of Bishops presided over by Metropolitan Eulogius in its place. The Patriarch, as if in tacit acknowledgement of this, issued no further condemnation of the Synod Abroad and acted in future as if he fully recognised its authority.[218]


     The day after his interrogation, May 6, the Patriarch was placed under house arrest. According to the will of the Patriarch, the temporary administration of the Church should now have passed to Metropolitan Cyril of Kazan. But since he was in prison, the next hierarch according to the will, Metropolitan Agathangelus of Yaroslavl, should have taken over.


     On May 9 the Patriarch was again called to interrogation. He was told the verdict of the court on the Muscovite clergy (11 condemned to be shot) and then told that he himself was to be brought to trial. The interrogation again revolved around the Church Abroad. The Patriarch gave in and wrote: “I did not consider Anthony Khrapovitsky, Metropolitan of Kiev, to be an enemy of the workers-and-peasants’ power. But now, judging from his speeches in the foreign press – Novoe Vremia and others – I find that he, Anthony Khrapovitsky is an accursed enemy of the worker-peasant toiling masses of Russia. The anti-Soviet and interventionist speeches of Anthony Khrapovitsky became known to me only from March, 1922, perhaps from February.”[219]


     On May 12, accompanied by two chekists, the renovationist priests Vvedensky, Belkov and Kalinovsky (who, as the Patriarch pointed out, had but a short time before renounced holy orders), visited the Patriarch at the Troitsky podvorye, where he was confined, and told him that they had obtained permission for the convening of a Council, but on condition that he resigned from the patriarchal throne. The Patriarch replied that the patriarchy weighed on him like a cross. “I would joyfully accept it if the coming Council removed the patriarchy from me, but now I am handing power to one of the oldest hierarchs and will renounced the administration of the Church.” The Patriarch rejected the candidacies of some modernist bishops and appointed Metropolitan Agathangelus as his deputy.[220] 


     “However,” writes Krivova, “the authorities did not allow Metropolitan Agathangelus to leave for Moscow. Already on May 5, 1922 V.D. Krasnitsky had arrived at the Tolga monastery where the metropolitan was living, and demanded that he sign the appeal of the so-called ‘Initiative Group of Clergy’. The metropolitan refused to sign the appeal. Then, two days later, his signature declaring that he would not leave was taken from him, and a guard was placed outside his cell and a search was carried out.


     “After Agathangelus there remained in Moscow only three of the members of the Holy Synod and HCA, but they were not empowered to take any kind of decision that would be obligatory for the whole Church. Thus the path to the seizure of Church power by the renovationists was open. Using Tikhon’s temporary concession and the impossibility of Metropolitan Agathangelus’ taking the place of the Patriarch, the renovationists declared that Tikhon had been removed and in an arbitrary manner seized power. Arriving on May 15, 1922 at a reception with M.I. Kalinin, they understood that Metropolitan Agathangelus’ departure to Moscow was hardly possible. The next day the renovationists sent a letter to M.I. Kalinin, in which they declared that ‘in view of Patriarch Tikhon’s removal of himself from power, a Higher Church Administration is formed, which from May 2 (15) has taken upon itself the conducting of Church affairs in Russia.”[221]


     On May 17 the Pope proposed that he buy back all the requisitioned Church valuables, and that they then be handed over to the leader of the Catholics in Russia, Archbishop Ya. Tseplyak. Chicherin considered the proposal tempting, but noted that “the transfer of Church objects to the Catholics will elicit a storm in Russia”. The Pope’s proposal was rejected.[222]


     On May 18 the renovationists again presented the Patriarch with a written statement complaining that in consequence of the existing circumstances, Church business remained unattended to. They demanded that he entrust his chancery to them until Metropolitan Agathangelus’ arrival in Moscow, in order that they might properly classify the correspondence received. The Patriarch yielded, and inscribed their petition with the following resolution: “The undersigned persons are ordered to take over and transmit to the Right Reverend Metropolitan Agathangelus, upon his arrival in Moscow, all the Synodical business with the assistance of secretary Numerov.”[223]


     The next day, the Patriarch was transferred to the Donskoj monastery, the renovationists took over his residence in the Troitsky podvorye. On May 29 the “Living Church”, the largest renovationist grouping, was created.


     Two days earlier, on May 27, Trotsky had written to Lenin: “The separation of the Church from the State, which we have established once and for all, by no means signifies that the state is indifferent to what is happening in the Church”. He spoke about “loyal and progressive elements in the clergy” and set the task of “raising the spirit of the loyal clergy” in indirect ways – through the press. He complained that “the editors of Pravda and Izvestia are not taking sufficient account of the huge historical importance of what is happening in the Church and around her”. Trotsky fully understood the importance of this, “the most profound spiritual revolution in the Russian people”. Lenin commented: “True! A thousand times true!”[224]


     However, the renovationists and communists still had to neutralize the threat posed by Metropolitan Agathangelus. So Krasnitsky was sent to Yaroslavl to negotiate with him. He placed a number of conditions before the Patriarch’s lawful deputy which amounted to his placing himself in complete dependence on the renovationists. Naturally, the metropolitan rejected these conditions. So Krasnitsky returned to Moscow and the renovationists spread abroad the rumour that the metropolitan was occupied “with his own affairs” and “was not hurrying” to fulfil the Patriarch’s command.


     Levitin and Shavrov write: “… Metropolitan Agathangelus’ behaviour would indeed have appeared quite incomprehensible if it had not been for one detail: for a month now E.A. Tuchkov and Metropolitan Agathangelus had been conducting secret negotiations. E.A. Tuchkov, whom the Higher Church Administration considered their main support in negotiations with the metropolitan, expressed the desire to separate as quickly as possible from this unsolid institution [the HCA] and support Agathangelus. However, a series of concessions was expected from Agathangelus; he had to declare that he was renouncing Patriarch Tikhon’s political line. After a month’s negotiations, seeing that no progress was being made, Metropolitan Agathangelus unexpectedly addressed the Russian Church with an appeal [dated June 5/18, 1922, 214], which was printed by some underground printing-press and very quickly distributed in Moscow and the other cities…


     “E.A. Tuchkov was taken completely by surprise. The HCA was also shocked. Metropolitan Agathangelus was immediately arrested and sent into exile, to the Narymsk region. However, the appearance of this appeal showed that the unprincipled line of V.D. Krasnitsky was meeting with a sharp rejection in ecclesiastical circles…”[225]


     Metropolitan Agathangelus wrote that the renovationists “declared their intention to revise the dogmas and moral teaching of our Orthodox Faith, the sacred canons of the Holy Ecumenical Councils and the Orthodox Typicon of Divine services given by the great ascetics of Christian piety”, and gave the bishops the right to administer their dioceses independently until the restoration of a canonical Higher Church Authority.[226] He was immediately arrested…


Metropolitan Benjamin of Petrograd


     The focus now shifts back to Petrograd, where on May 25 Vvedensky appeared before Metropolitan Benjamin with a document signed by the renovationist Bishop Leonid, which said that he, “in accordance with the resolution of Patriarch Tikhon, is a member of the HCA and is sent to Petrograd and other cities on Church business”. The metropolitan, not seeing the signature of the Patriarch, refused to accept it. The next day, at the Sunday Liturgy, an Epistle from the metropolitan was read in all the churches of Petrograd, in which he anathematised the rebellious priest Alexander Vvedensky and Eugene Belkov and also those with them. “According to the teaching of the Church,” it said in the Epistle, “a diocese that is for some reason deprived of the possibility of receiving instructions from its Patriarch, is ruled by its bishops, who remains in spiritual union with the Patriarch… The bishop of Petrograd is the Metropolitan of Petrograd. By obeying him, you will be in union with him and will be in the Church.”


     The next day chekists arrived at the residence of the metropolitan and arrested him. Meanwhile, Vvedensky took over the chancellery. Without turning a hair, he went up to the hierarch for a blessing. “Fr. Alexander,” said the metropolitan peacefully, “you and I are not in the Garden of Gethsemane”. And without blessing the schismatic, he calmly listened to the statement about his arrest.[227]


     On May 29, the administration of the diocese passed to his vicar, Bishop Alexis (Simansky) of Yamburg, the future false-patriarch. On the same day, Metropolitan Benjamin was brought to trial together with 86 other people. They were accused of entering into negotations with Soviet power with the aim of annulling or softening the decree on the requisitioning of church valuables, and that they were “in a plot with the worldwide bourgeoisie and the Russian emigration”. He was given many chances to save himself in a dishonourable manner. Thus even before the trial Vvedensky and the Petrograd commandant Bakaiev had come to him and given him the choice: either revoke the anathema against Vvedensky or face trial. But the metropolitan refused to revoke the anathema. (His deputy, Bishop Alexis, having recognised the HCA to be lawful, did revoke the anathema, on June 4. According to A. Levitin and V. Shavrov, he did this because the chekists threatened him that if he disobeyed Metropolitan Benjamin would be shot.[228]) Again, during the trial, the judges hinted that he save himself by naming “the authors” of the proposition he had sent to Pomgol. The metropolitan again refused, saying: “I alone did it – I thought everything over; I formulated, wrote and sent the proposition myself. I did not allow anybody else to participate in deciding matters entrusted to me as archpastor.”


     The renovationists Krasnitsky and Vvedensky testified against Metropolitan Benjamin during the trial, which was staged in what had been the Club of the Nobility. Three witnesses came forward to defend the metropolitan. They were immediately arrested, so no-one else came forward.


     Once the prosecutor Krasikov prophetically remarked: "The whole of the Orthodox Church is a counter-revolutionary organization. It follows that the whole Church should be put in prison!" In the thirties this is precisely what happened, when the whole of the True Church was either imprisoned or driven underground.


     During the trial, Metropolitan Benjamin said: “I of course reject all the accusations made against me and once again triumphantly declare (you know, perhaps I am speaking for the last time in my life) that politics is completely alien to me. I have tried as far as I have been able to only a pastor of human souls. And now, standing before the court, I calmly await its sentence, whatever it may be, well remembering the words of the apostle: ‘Take care that you do not suffer as evil-doers, but if any of you suffer as a Christian, thank God for it’ (I Peter 4.15-16).


     The defence lawyer Y.S. Gurovich delivered an eloquent speech, in which he said: "If the metropolitan perishes for his faith, for his limitless devotion to the believing masses he will become more dangerous for Soviet power than now... The unfailing historical law warns us that faith grows, strengthens and increases on the blood of martyrs."[229]


     Gurovich’s speech was greeted by tumultuous applause. Then the final word was given to the defendants (there were sixteen in all). When the metropolitan rose to speak, he first expressed sorrow at being called an "enemy of the people". "I am a true son of my people," he said. "I love, and always have loved, the people. I have dedicated my whole life to them and I felt happy to see that they - I mean the common people - repaid me with the same love. It was the Russian people who raised me to the high position I have been occupying in our Russian Church."


     This was all that he had to say about himself. The rest of his speech dealt with the defence of the others. Referring to some written documents and other facts, he exhibited extraordinary memory, logic and calmness.


     A reverent silence followed the metropolitan's speech, which was broken by the presiding judge. He addressed the metropolitan in a gentler tone of voice than before, as if he also was affected by the spiritual strength of the defendant.


     "All this time," he said, "you have spoken about others; the tribunal would like to hear about yourself."


     The metropolitan, who had sat down, rose, looked at the presiding judge in a puzzled way, and asked in a low, clear voice:


     "About myself? But what else can I tell you about myself? One more thing perhaps: regardless of what my sentence will be, no matter what you decide, life or death, I will lift up my eyes reverently to God, cross myself and affirm: 'Glory to Thee, my Lord; glory to Thee for everything.'"


     On July 5, Metropolitan Benjamin was convicted of “organizing a counter-revolutionary group having set himself the aim of struggling with Soviet power”. Ten people were condemned to be shot; the others were given prison sentences of varying lengths.


     In a letter written from prison, the metropolitan expressed the essence of what was to become the position of the Catacomb Church a few years later: “The reasonings of some, perhaps outstanding pastors are strange… – ‘we must preserve the living forces’, that is, for their sake, we must abandon everything! Then what is Christ for? It is not the Platonovs, the Chuprins, the Benjamins and their like who save the Church, but Christ. That point on which they are trying to stand is destruction for the Church; it is not right to sacrifice the Church for oneself.”[230]


     The metropolitan was shot on the night of August 12 to 13, 1922.


The Renovationist Council of 1923


     In Russia the renovationist schismatics continued to gain ground throughout 1922. On June 16, three important hierarchs joined them, declaring: “We, Metropolitan Sergius [Stragorodsky] of Vladimir and Shuya, Archbishop Eudocimus of Nizhegorod and Arzamas and Archbishop Seraphim of Kostroma and Galich, having studied the platform of the Temporary Church Administration and the canonical lawfulness of its administration, consider it the only lawful, canonical, higher church authority, and all the instructions issuing from it we consider to be completely lawful and obligatory. We call on all true pastors and believing sons of the Church, both those entrusted to us and those belonging to other dioceses, to follow our example.”[231]


     Sergius’ vicar, Bishop Barnabas (Belyaev) turned for advice to the Diveyevo eldress Maria Dmitrievna. “Hold on to the Holy Church,” she said. Vladyka did, and remained faithful to the True Church until his death in 1963.


     Metropolitan John (Snychev) wrote: “We do not have the right to hide from history those sad and staggering apostasies from the unity of the Russian Church which took place on a mass scale after the publication in the journal ‘Living Church’ of the epistle-appeals of the three well-known hierarchs. Many of the hierarchs and clergy reasoned naively. Thus: ‘If the wise Sergius has recognized the possibility of submitting to the Higher Church Administration, then it is clear that we, too, must follow his example.’”[232]


     Meanwhile, the GPU gave valuable aid to the renovationists, arresting and sending into exile all the clergy who remained faithful to the Patriarch. Also, they handed over to them nearly two-thirds of the functioning churches in the Russian republic and Central Asia, as well as many thousands in the Ukraine, Belorussia and Siberia. However, these figures exaggerate the true strength of the renovationists, in that their churches were almost empty while the patriarchal churches were filled to overflowing.


     Meanwhile, the pressures on the Patriarch were mounting inexorably. In April, the government announced that he was about to go on trial on charges arising from the trials of the 54 in Moscow and of Metropolitan Benjamin in Petrograd the previous year. D. Volkogonov writes: “Tikhon, imprisoned in Donskoi monastery, was being subjected to the standard treatment: interrogation, threats, pressure and bribes. The interrogations went on even after Lenin had lost his faculties, as his instructions on Church affairs continued to be carried out to the letter.”[233]


     At about this time, international opinion began to make itself felt in support of Patriarch Tikhon. On April 10, 1923 G.V. Chicherin reported to Stalin that the Anglo-Saxons were as interested in Orthodoxy as they were in Catholicism, and that the execution of the Patriarch would be disadvantageous in all respects.[234] On April 21, Dzerzhinsky proposed to the Politburo that the Tikhon’s trial be postponed. The Politburo agreed and backed down.[235] The trial was postponed to June 17. On May 8, the British foreign minister Lord Curzon issued an ultimatum to the Soviets, demanding, among other things, a cessation of religious persecution and the liberation of Patriarch Tikhon, otherwise there would be a new intervention against the USSR. This was supported by an outcry in the British and American press. The conflict was resolved by the end of June, when the Soviets agreed to pay compensation for the shooting of two English citizens and the Patriarch was released from prison.[236]


     One of the reasons why the Soviets postponed the trial of the Patriarch was their desire that the renovationists condemn him first. They were not disappointed… At their second All-Russian council, which met in the cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow on April 29, 1923, the renovationists first heaped praises on the revolution, which they called a “Christian creation”, on the Soviet government, which they said was the first government in the world that strove to realize “the ideal of the Kingdom of God”. And they were no less generous to Lenin: “First of all, we must turn with words of deep gratitude to the government of our state, which, in spite of the slanders of foreign informers, does not persecute the Church… The word of gratitude and welcome must be expressed by us to the only state in the world which performs, without believing, that work of love which we, believers, do not fulfil, and also to the leader of Soviet Russia, V.I. Lenin, who must be dear also to church people…”


     Patriarch Tikhon was tried in absentia, and deprived not only of his clerical orders but also of his monasticism, being called thenceforth “layman Basil Bellavin”. Then the patriarchate itself was abolished, its restoration being called a counter-revolutionary act. Finally, some further resolutions were adopted allowing white clergy to become bishops and priests to remarry, and introducing the Gregorian calendar. When the decisions of the council were taken to the Patriarch for his signature, he calmly wrote: “Read. The council did not summon me, I do not know its competence and for that reason cannot consider its decision lawful.”[237]


     46 “bishops” (out of 73 who attended the council) signed the decree condemning the Patriarch. One of them, Joasaph (Shishkovsky), told Fr. Basil Vinogradov how this happened. “The leaders of the council Krasnitsky and Vvedensky gathered all those present at the ‘council’ of bishops for this meeting. When several direct and indirect objections to these leaders’ proposal to defrock the Patriarch began to be expressed, Krasnitsky quite openly declared to all present: ‘He who does not immediately sign this resolution will only leave this room straight for the prison.’ The terrorized bishops (including Joasaph himself) did not find the courage to resist in the face of the threat of a new prison sentence and forced labour in a concentration camp and… signed, although almost all were against the resolution. None of the church people had any doubt that the ‘council’s’ sentence was the direct work of Soviet power and that now a criminal trial and bloody reprisal against the Patriarch was to be expected at any time.”[238]


     The council also consecrated the married Protopriest John (Kedrovsky) as Metropolitan of the Aleutian Islands and North America. On returning to America, he conducted a stubborn struggle against Metropolitan Plato, drawing 115 churches to his side.[239]


     However, already at this 1923 council the renovationist movement was beginning to fall apart. The 560 deputies were divided into four groups: the supporters of Krasnitsky (the Living Church), of Vvedensky (the Ancient-Apostolic Church), of Antonin (Church Regeneration) and of Patriarch Tikhon. When Krasnitsky tried to take control of the council and reject any coalition between his group and the other renovationists, a schism amidst the schismatics was avoided only by strong behind-the-scenes pressure on his supporters from the communists, who succeeded in regrouping them under a “Holy Synod” led by Metropolitan Eudocimus.[240]


The Greek Churches and the New Calendar


     After the new revolutionary government took power in Greece, all the hierarchs who had condemned the election of Meletius Metaxakis changed their minds, and, as Stavros Karamitsos writes, “quickly hastened, one after the other, to recognize Meletius, except for two bishops, Sophronius of Eleutheropolis and our famous Chrysostom,… [who wrote in his Apology]: ‘I was then summoned, through the bishop of Kavala Chrysostom, to appear before the Minister, who urged me with threats to recognize Meletius. I took no account of his threats and refused to knuckle under. Then, to avoid a second exile to the Holy Mountain, I departed to Alexandria to see my relatives and to recover from my distress.


     “’While in Alexandria, I received a summons from the Ecumenical Patriarchate to appear before the Holy Synod and explain why I did not recognize the election of Meletius as Ecumenical Patriarch. But..., being unable to appear in person before the Synod, I sent a letter justifying my refusal to recognize Meletius as the canonical Patriarch on the basis of the divine and sacred Canons. And while he was preparing to condemn and defrock me in my absence, he was driven from his throne by the Turks for scandalously mixing his spiritual mission with anti-Turkish politics…’”[241]


     However, the mood in Constantinople had begun to turn against Meletius nearly a year before that, in the wake of the events of August-September, 1922, when the terrified Greeks began to leave at the rate of 3000 a day. One of those who left at this time was Hierodeacon Basil Apostolides. As Fr. Jerome of Aegina he was to become one of the great figures of the True Orthodox Church. He gave as reason for his departure to the Patriarch his fear that the Turks would force the clergy to take off their cassocks – a prophecy that was fulfilled twelve years later.[242]


     Indeed, the situation was so serious, and the position of the patriarchate so vulnerable, that during the Lausanne conference (1922-23), which decided on the massive exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey, the Turkish delegation officially demanded the removal of the patriarchate from Constantinople in view of its disloyalty to the Turkish government in the course of the past war. And the Italian president of the exchange of populations subcommission, G.M. Mantagna, even suggested that “the removal of the Patriarchate [from Constantinople] would not be too high a price to pay for the conclusion of an agreement.” However, the French delegation, supported by the Greeks, suggested that the patriarchate remain in Constantinople but be deprived of its former political power. And on January 10, 1923 the British Lord Curzon said that the removal of the patriarchate from Constantinople would be a shock to the whole civilised world.[243] Venizelos then came up with a compromise proposal that the patriarchate remain in Constantinople but that he would do all he could to remove his nephew Metaxakis from it, a proposal that the Turks reluctantly agreed to.[244] Meletius agreed to his resignation, but suggested its postponement until the conclusion of the peace negotiations, in June, 1923. He left the City on July 1 and retired on September 20. On December 6, a new patriarch, Gregory VII, was enthroned. On the very next day, the “Turkish Orthodox” priest Papa Efthim together with Metropolitan Cyril of Rodopolis and his supporters burst into the Phanar, drove out all the inhabitants and declared that he would not leave the Phanar until a “lawful” patriarch would be elected and as long as Patriarch Gregory did not renounce the throne. Two days later an order came from Ankara that he leave the Phanar. The Turkish police escorted them out, and the Phanar was returned to Patriarch Gregory.[245]


     The irony was patent. Only a few years earlier, the patriarchate had broken with the Turkish authorities on the grounds of Greek nationalism. Now the patriarchate owed its restoration from the hands of Turkish ecclesiastical nationalists to – the Turkish authorities… Lausanne and the events that followed spelled the end of Greek nationalist dreams, and the beginning of the end of Constantinople as a Greek city. “The second fall of Constantinople” took place for the same reason as the first fall in 1453 – the attempt of the Church to achieve union with the western heretics.


     The first concrete step towards that union was to be the adoption of the new, papist calendar… Already at the beginning of 1923, a Commission had been set up on the initiative of the government to see whether the Greek Church could accept the new calendar. The Commission reported: “Although the Church of Greece, like the other Autocephalous Orthodox Churches, is inherently independent, they are firmly united and bound to each other through the principle of the spiritual unity of the Church, composing one and one only Church, the Orthodox Church. Consequently none of them can separate itself from the others and accept the new calendar without becoming schismatic in relation to them.” On the basis of this report a royal mandate was issued decreeing, among other things, that “the Julian Calendar is to remain in force as regards the Church and religious feasts in general”, and that “the national festival of the 25th of March and all the holidays laid down by the laws are to be regulated according to the Julian Calendar.”[246]


     On February 3, Meletius Metaxakis wrote to the Church of Greece, arguing for the change of calendar at his forthcoming Pan-Orthodox Council “so as to further the cause, in this part of the Pan-Christian unity, of the celebration of the Nativity and Resurrection of Christ on the same day by all those who are called by the name of the Lord.”[247] The revolutionary government of Greece under Colonel Plastiras then removed Metropolitan Theocletus I of Athens from office. Shortly afterwards, on February 25, Archimandrite Chrysostom Papadopoulos, was elected Metropolitan of Athens by three out of a specially chosen Synod of only five hierarchs – another ecclesiastical coup d’état. During his enthronement speech, Chrysostom said that for collaboration with the heterodox “it is not necessary to have common ground or dogmatic union, for the union of Christian love is sufficient”.[248]


     As one of the members of the commission which had rejected the new calendar, Chrysostom might have been expected to resist Meletius’ call. But it seems that the two men had more in common than the fact that they had both been expelled from the Church of Jerusalem in their youth; for on March 6 Chrysostom and his Synod accepted Meletius’ proposal and agreed to send a representative to the forthcoming Council. Then, on April 16, he proposed to the Hierarchy that 13 days should be added to the calendar, “for reasons not only of convenience, but also of ecclesiastical, scientifically ratified accuracy”. This in spite of the fact that only three months before, in a report to the Department of Religions of Greece, he had said: “The Greek Church and other Autocephalous Churches, in spite of their independence, are closely linked to each other by the principle of the spiritual unity of the church, they all constitute one Orthodox Church and cannot separate from the rest and accept the new calendar without becoming schismatics in the eyes of the others…”


     5 out of the 32 hierarchs – the metropolitans of Syros, Patras, Demetrias, Khalkis and Thera – voted against this proposal. Two days later, however, at the second meeting of the Hierarchy, it was announced that Chrysostom’s proposal had been “unanimously” approved, but “with absolutely no change to the Paschalion and Calendar of the Orthodox Church”. Moreover, it was decided that the Greek Church would approve of any decision regarding the celebration of Pascha made by the forthcoming Pan-Orthodox Council, provided it was in accordance with the Canons…[249]


     It was therefore with the knowledge that the Greek Church would support his proposed reforms that Meletius convened a “Pan-Orthodox Council” in Constantinople from May 10 to June 8, 1923, whose renovationist resolutions concerned the “correction” of the Julian calendar, a fixed date for Pascha, the second marriage of clergy, and various relaxations with regard to the clothing of clergy, the keeping of monastic vows, impediments to marriage, the transfer of Saints’ feasts from the middle of the week, and fasting.


     However, hardly more than ten people, and no official representatives of the Patriarchates, turned up for the council, so discredited was its convener.[250] And even Archbishop Chrysostom (Papadopoulos) had to admit: “Unfortunately, the Eastern Patriarchs who refused to take part in the Congress rejected all of its resolutions in toto from the very outset. If the Congress had restricted itself only to the issue of the calendar, perhaps it would not have encountered the kind of reaction that it did.”[251]


     In his “Memorandum to the Holy Synod of the Hierarchy of Greece” (June 14, 1929), Metropolitan Irenaeus of Kassandreia wrote that the council was not “Pan-Orthodox” but “anti-Orthodox”: “It openly and impiously trampled on the 34th Apostolic Canon, which ordains: ‘It behoves the Bishops of every nation to know among them who is the first or chief, and to recognize him as their head, and to refrain from doing anything superfluous without his advice and approval… But let not even such a one do anything without the advice and consent and approval of all. For thus will there be concord, and God will be glorified through the Lord in the Holy Spirit: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit’. He replaced the Julian calendar with the Gregorian in spite of all the prohibitions relating to it; he decided to supersede the Paschalion which had been eternally ordained for the Orthodox Church by the decision of the First Ecumenical Council, turning to the creation of an astronomically more perfect one in the observatories of Bucharest, Belgrade and Athens; he allowed clerics’ hair to be cut and their venerable dress to be replaced by that of the Anglican Pastors; he introduced the anticanonical marriage and second marriage of priests; he entrusted the shortening of the days of the fast and the manner of their observance to the judgement of the local Churches, thereby destroying the order and unity that prevailed in the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches of the East. Acting in this way, he opened wide the gates to every innovation, abolishing the distinctive characteristic of the Eastern Orthodox Church, which is its preservation, perfectly and without innovation, of everything that was handed down by the Lord, the Apostles, the Fathers, and the Local and Ecumenical Councils.”[252]


     What made the council’s decisions still less acceptable was the reason it gave for its innovations, viz., that changing the Paschalion “would make a great moral impression on the whole civilized world by bringing the two Christian worlds of the East and West closer through the unforced initiative of this Orthodox Church…”[253]


     Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) called the calendar innovation “this senseless and pointless concession to Masonry and Papism”.[254] And Archbishop Nicon wrote: “The most important decrees of the Congress were the decisions to change to the new style [calendar] and to allow the clergy to marry a second time. The Alexandrian, Antiochian and Jerusalem Churches did not participate in the Congress, considering its convening untimely [and Meletius an uncanonical usurper]. But its decrees were rejected by them as being, according to the expression of the Alexandrian Patriarch, ‘contrary to the practice, tradition and teaching of our most Holy Mother Church and presented under the pretext of being slight modifications, which are probably elicited by the demands of the new dogma of “Modernism”’ (epistle to the Antiochian Patriarch, 23 June, 1923). The representatives of the Russian Church Abroad [Archbishops Anastasius and Alexander], and after them the Council of Bishops, reacted completely negatively to these reforms.”[255]


     On July 10, harassed by both Venizelos and the Turkish government, and challenged for his patriarchal seat by the newly formed “Turkish Orthodox Church” of Papa Euthymius, Meletius withdrew to Mount Athos, and in September, he resigned officially. However, his notorious career was not over yet. Platonov writes that after “hiding with his Masonic protectors in England” for a few years, in 1926, on the death of Patriarch Photius of Alexandria, “with the financial and organisational support of the secret world powers-that-be, Meletius was put forward as second candidate for the throne of Alexandria. The first claimant was Metropolitan Nicholas of Nubia. According to established practice, the first candidate should have been proclaimed patriarch. However, the Egyptian authorities under pressure from the English confirmed the ‘election’ of Meletius. Using his power, the new Alexandrian patriarch-mason introduced the Gregorian calendar [in 1926], causing a serious schism in the Alexandrian Church.”[256]


     After Meletius’ expulsion from the Ecumenical throne, it was Chrysostom Papadopoulos who took the lead in introducing the new calendar. He did so with great haste and an extraordinary display of power politics that suggested (in view of his recent opposition to the calendar change) that certain very powerful extra-ecclesiastical interests – the Greek government is the obvious candidate, but some have also discerned International Masonry and the Roman Papacy behind it – were exerting pressure on him. But the way in which he was able to sweep aside the resistance not only of his own hierarchy, but also of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, suggests that the pressure was not only on him but on almost all the Greek hierarchs at this time.


     The Council began with the decision by the revolutionary Greek government to suspend the old Constitutional Law in accordance with which the Greek Church had been administered for the previous 70 years. According to the new Law, passed on December 14, 1923, the Hierarchy would meet only once a year, and between sessions would be represented by the Archbishop of Athens alone. Moreover, metropolitans would have to retire at the age of 65, which conveniently neutralized the influence of the older and more conservative hierarchs.


     Invested now with almost dictatorial powers, Chrysostom convened a meeting of the Hierarchy, which, on December 24, voted to thank the government for emancipating it from the previous administrative system (!), and, on December 27, decided to introduce the new calendar with the agreement of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. There was no mention, this time, of the need to seek the other Orthodox Churches’ agreement.


     It is clear that the decision to change the calendar was imposed by the government. Thus at the meeting of December 24, Nicholas Plastiras, the President of the Council of the “Revolutionary Government”, said to the hierarchs: “The Revolution requests you, then, my respected Hierarchs, to leave all personal preference to one side and proceed to purge the Church… The Revolution hopes that a useful work for the new generation will result from your labours, and that it will reckon itself happy to see the rebirth of the Church being set in motion… Consequently, it wishes you not to limit yourselves to the ancestral Canons, but to proceed to radical measures.”[257]


     It is striking how similar were the programs of the renovationists in Greece and Russia at this time. Both were far from modest in their aim: a complete reformation of the Church. And both had the same power pushing them from behind – the Revolution…


     On January 4, 1924, Chrysostom wrote to the Ecumenical Patriarch asking, in a rather lordly tone, for his agreement to the calendar change. He said that it was “sad” that the other Orthodox Churches had not agreed to this, but did not suggest that this might be an impediment.


     The Patriarch replied on February 14 in a much more sycophantic tone, suggesting that the change should take place on March 10 (henceforth March 23), but asking that he be informed of the agreement of the other Orthodox Churches. Chrysostom immediately telegraphed his agreement to this date, and asked the Patriarch to inform his metropolitans in the New Territories about it.


     His haste was probably elicited by the Alexandrian Patriarch Photius’ message to the Ecumenical Patriarch on January 15: “Your announcement that, without any real cause or dogmatic or canonical reasons, the brotherly advice and entreaties of the four Apostolic Thrones has been rejected, and the ‘reform of the calendar’ has taken place, caused us great grief and surprise. You are in danger of alienating all the Orthodox peoples of the Church. Therefore I suggest the convening of a council to examine the question. Taking into consideration the letters from the Churches of Romania and Serbia, we abide in these things which have been dogmatized in former Synodal Congresses, and we reject every addition or any change of the calendar before the convocation of an Ecumenical Council, which alone is capable of discussing this question, concerning which Ecumenical Council we propose a speedy convocation.”


     On February 16 Chrysostom telegraphed Photius, saying that an Ecumenical Council could not be convened immediately, and that the calendar change was an urgent necessity “for the sake of millions of Orthodox people”. After asking him to change the calendar on March 10, he added, rather craftily, that there would be no change in the Paschalion, for such a change would have to be referred to an Ecumenical Council (as if the addition of 13 days to the calendar was a much less important change that did not require a conciliar decision). But Photius was not persuaded…


     The other patriarchs spoke out strongly against the calendar reforms. Thus Patriarch Damian of Jerusalem and his Synod wrote: “The most holy Mother of the Churches is unable to accept the change at present because of the disadvantageous position in which, as is well known, she finds herself in relation to the Latins in the holy places, and because of the dangers of proselytism.” And Patriarch Gregory of Antioch and his Synod wrote: “Political factors produced the change of the calendar even though the whole of the Eastern Church keeps to the Julian calendar. The tendency to change the canons represents a great danger in our eyes.” And Patriarch Demetrius of Serbia wrote: “We have indicated the necessity of postponing for the time being the council that has been convened in order that the question be examined before an Ecumenical Council so as to decide on a single calendar for all the Orthodox Churches.”[258]


     On March 3, Chrysostom wrote to all the Hierarchs of the Church of Greece that “in accordance with the decision of the Holy Synod the Church of Greece has accepted the correction of the Julian calendar defined by the Ecumenical Patriarch, according to which March 10 is to be considered and called March 23…”


     Finally, on March 4, he completed his coup, asking the Foreign Ministry to “send urgent telegrams to the Blessed Patriarchs of Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria and Serbia, and the Archbishops of Romania and Cyprus, informing them that the Church of Greece has accepted the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate concerning the convergence of the ecclesiastical and political calendar, calling March 10 March 23, and to inform the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople that the Church of Greece had put his decision into effect.”[259]


     As we have seen, the Ecumenical Patriarch accepted the change, albeit with the proviso that it should be with the agreement of all the Orthodox Churches. This acquiescence is largely explained by the very weak position of the patriarchate in the wake of the Asia Minor catastrophe; it was economically dependent on the Greek Church and could not afford to disagree.


     In fact, Patriarch Gregory VII was personally opposed to the change. But he accepted it because, as he told the Holy Synod: “Unfortunately, the change in the calendar was imposed by the Greek government.”[260] For as the tomos of November 13, 1924 declared: “The conduct of Church affairs must be compatible with the political and social forms”!…


     On March 10, 1924 (March 23, according to the new calendar) the State Church of Greece and the Patriarchate of Constantinople adopted the new calendar. On that day, which was a Sunday, the future hierarch-confessor of the True Orthodox Church, Archimandrite Germanus (Varykopoulos) was serving the Divine Liturgy in his church of St. Alexander in Palaion Faliron. Having come to the end of the Liturgy, he commemorated “the holy 13 days whose memory we celebrate!”[261]


     On March 25, 1924, two important events took place simultaneously in Athens. The great feast of the Annunciation was celebrated according to the new calendar by Archbishop Chrysostom (Papadopoulos). And the Greek monarchy was abrogated (without a vote) by the revolutionary government. As the journalist Nicholas Kraniotakis wrote: “Under strict orders, and to the sound of trumpets, the soldiers detached the Crown from the Cross and threw it to the ground! And Greek democracy was born!...”[262]


     This is another indication of the close spiritual link between events in Greece and in Russia in those years. In both, anti-monarchism in politics was joined to renovationism in religion. In Greece since 1917 the anti-monarchists and renovationists had been led by Venizelos in the State and Metaxakis in the Church.[263]


     Moreover, Meletius had been helped by the fact that in Russia the so-called “Living Church” had come to power in 1922 with a very similar programme of modernistic reforms to his own. And on the occasion of his election as Patriarch of Alexandria, the synod of the “Living Church” wrote to him: “The Holy Synod recalls with sincere best wishes the moral support which Your Beatitude showed us while you were yet Patriarch of Constantinople by entering into communion with us as the only rightfully ruling organ of the Russian Orthodox Church.”[264]


     On April 6, 1924, the eve of the true feast of the Annunciation, a vast crowd gathered in the courtyard outside the Annunciation cathedral. The next day the newspaper Vradini (Evening News) reported: “The priests have been forbidden, under pain of defrocking, to liturgise or chant the troparia of the Annunciation today. Also forbidden is the ringing of the bells of the Russian cathedral (in Phillelinon Street), and today’s celebration of the Liturgy at the metochion of the Holy Sepulchre, although the Patriarchate of Jerusalem has not accepted the new calendar.


     “In spite of all the measures that had been taken, multitudes of the faithful inundated the metropolitan cathedral from the afternoon to late at night, and at their persistent entreaty one priest was found who chanted a paraklesis, being ‘obedient,’ as he said, ‘to the threats of the people’. The wardens wanted to close the church, but in view of the fanaticism of the worshippers the cathedral remained open into the night. Three miracles took place at the metropolitan cathedral… Seven-year-old Stasinopoulos, a deaf-mute and paralytic since birth, was brought by his mother to the icon of the Mother of God, convulsed by spasms. A little while later he arose amidst general compunction, pronounced the words “mama-granny-papa” and began to walk.


     “A little later a seventeen-year-old paralytic was healed, and… a hard-working deaf-mute. The latter spoke yesterday for the first time in thirty years, declaring that he would not go to work today. Although the cathedral wardens know the names of these two, they refuse to publish them, affirming that no miracle has taken place, although the contrary is confessed by the whole congregation.”[265]


     Another newspaper, Skrip, reported on the same day: “Movement inside the cathedral was impossible. The faithful listened to the vespers, and after the dismissal anxiously discussed the change in the worshipping calendar and the transfer of the feast of the Annunciation.


     “Two thousand pious Christians, together with women and children, unanimously proclaimed their adherence to the holy dogmas of religion, which the democrats have come to change, and one voice was heard: ‘We will not become Franks! We are Orthodox Christians, and we will remain Orthodox Christians!’”[266]


     Similar scenes, and similar miracles, took place in other regional centres, such as Nauplion, Tripolis, Thessalonica and Corinth. The secular authorities everywhere supported the new ecclesiastical regime. But the faithful Christians, obeying the teachings of the holy Fathers and imitating the Christians of old who in similar situations broke communion with the innovators, themselves broke off all ecclesiastical communion with the innovating Church of Greece. They prayed at home or in country chapels, served by a very small number of priests who were continually persecuted by the police at the instigation of Chrysostom Papadopoulos.


     From the beginning the Lord showed by many signs and wonders that He was with the adherents of the Orthodox Calendar. Thus a miracle took place on January 6, 1925 – that is, the eve of the feast of the Nativity of Christ according to the Orthodox Calendar and the feast of the Theophany according to the new. The parishioners of the new calendar church of the Holy Apostles in Acropolis were following the Divine Liturgy. Suddenly they saw that tears were flowing from the eyes of the icon of the Mother of God, and blood from the heads of the Apostles. The amazed parishioners were not slow to see in this a sign of God’s anger at “the change in religion”, that they were baptizing Christ when He had not yet been born. The church authorities sent an archimandrite to convince the people that it was no sign from God but “an effluence from the wood, which is fir and is acted upon by excessive heat or also by… cold”! The archimandrite was laughed off the ambon. Finally, the authorities closed the church, preventing worshippers from entering. Today the church is denuded of icons and visited only by… tourists![267]


The Significance of the Calendar Change


     The adoption of the new calendar by the Church of Greece in 1924 came at a very vulnerable time for the Orthodox Church as a whole. The outward position of the Church had changed radically in the previous ten years. The Russian empire was gone, and the Ecumenical and the Moscow patriarchates, to which the vast majority of Orthodox Christians belonged, were fighting both external foes (the Bolsheviks and the Turks) and internal schism (“the Living Church” and “the Turkish Orthodox Church”). Neither the remaining Eastern patriarchates, on the one hand, nor the Serbian patriarchate and the Russian Church Abroad, on the other, could take the place occupied by the Russian empire and the Ecumenical patriarchate in the preceding centuries.


     It followed that if, as was (temporarily) the case, none of the hierarchs of the Greek Church would reject the calendar change and break communion with the Archbishop of Athens, there was only one force remaining that could take up the banner of truth – the people.


     The position of the laity in the Orthodox Church has often been misunderstood. In Orthodoxy, the laypeople are neither the inert, impotent, blindly obedient mass of the Roman Catholics, nor the all-powerful, revolutionary horde of the Protestants. There are two vital functions which can only be performed by canonically consecrated clergy: the administration of the sacraments, including the ordination of bishops and priests, and the definition of the faith, including the position of the Church in relation to heretics and schismatics. But while the laity cannot take the leading role in these two functions, they do have an important confirmatory role in them. Thus strictly speaking a bishop or priest cannot celebrate the Divine Liturgy without the presence of at least one layman. Likewise a bishop cannot ordain a priest without the consent of the people (expressed by shouting “axios!” or “he is worthy!”). And a definition of the faith that is rejected by the people will remain a dead letter.


     Thus we read: “I shall judge the bishop and the layperson. The sheep are rational and not irrational, so that no layman may ever say: ‘I am a sheep, and not a shepherd, and I give no account of myself, but the shepherd shall see to it, and he alone shall pay the penalty for me.’ For even as the sheep that follows not the good shepherd shall fall to the wolves unto its own destruction, so too it is evident that the sheep that follows the evil shepherd shall acquire death; for he shall utterly devour it. Therefore it is required that we flee from destructive shepherds.”[268]


     In the long, over 1000-year struggle with the western heresies, the Orthodox people had never found themselves so bereft of clerical leadership as in 1924. The signing of the uniate council of Lyons in 1274 and the deposition of the true patriarch Arsenius the next year had been largely the work of the emperor and his stooge, John Beccus; and there were many clergy who resisted the Unia, which in any case lasted only eight years (to 1282). The position after the council of Florence was more serious: St. Mark of Ephesus was the only Greek hierarch who refused to sign the Unia. And it lasted for a longer period of time (1438-80).


     There followed a long period in which, although there were some latinizing (and protestantizing) patriarchs, the Church as a whole remained united against the western peril. Thus when the new calendar was introduced by the Pope in 1582 in order to create divisions among the Orthodox, it was synodically condemned no less than eight times: in 1583, 1587, 1593, 1722, 1827, 1848, 1895 and 1904. Towards the end of this period ecumenist tendencies, as we have seen, began to increase in the Orthodox Churches, but opposition to the new calendar remained strong. However, already in their encyclical of 1848, the Eastern Patriarchs had hinted at the role the people would have to play independently of the clergy: “With us neither Patriarchs nor Councils could ever introduce anything new, because the defender of religion is the very body of the Church, or the people itself, who wanted their religion to remain forever unchanged and in accord with the religion of their Fathers.”


     The question that arose in 1924 was: did the people (and a handful of clergy) have the right to separate themselves from all the bishops and, in the absence of any hierarchs to support them in their struggle against innovation, declare themselves to be the truly Orthodox Church? The answer supplied by the Holy Tradition of the Church was a clear: yes. While certain functions that can only be performed by bishops, such as the ordination of priests, are temporarily suspended in such a situation, the Church does not cease to exist, and remains there, and only there, where the True Faith is confessed. For “where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them”, said the Bishop of bishops, the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 18.20). And the 15th canon of the First-and-Second Council of Constantinople praises those who break with a heretical bishop even before his synodical condemnation. Indeed, there are several cases in the Church’s history of holy men either breaking immediately in this way with heretical bishops – St. Hypatius in the fifth century, for example; or dying out of communion with all the bishops of the Church and yet being praised and glorified by succeeding generations – St. Maximus the Confessor in the seventh century, for example, and St. Arsenius of Paros in the nineteenth.


     Since the Churches of Constantinople, Greece, Romania, Finland, the Baltic States and Poland adopted the new calendar in 1924[269], there was no way the laity in these Churches could remain in communion with the other Churches keeping the old calendar unless they broke communion with their innovating hierarchs.


     “But why such a fuss,” say the new calendarists, “over a mere ‘thirteen days’ difference?” Because, reply the Orthodox, the Apostle Paul said: "Hold the traditions" (II Thessalonians 2.15), and the tradition of the "old" Orthodox calendar was sealed by the fathers of the First Ecumenical Council and sanctified by many centuries of usage. To change the calendar, therefore, would be to break communion, not only with our brethren who keep the old calendar on earth, but also with all the saints who worship together with us in heaven. And this would be a great crime; for, as St. John Chrysostom says, "exactness in the keeping of times is not as important as the crime of division and schism".[270] For unity in heaven and on earth, in time and in eternity, is the supreme aim of our life in Christ - as the Lord said, "that they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us" (John 17.21); and anything which disrupts that unity is anathema to us. According to the Holy Fathers, schism is no less abhorrent and deadly a sin than heresy. Even martyrdom, writes St. Cyprian of Carthage, followed by St. John Chrysostom[271], cannot wipe out the sin of him who divides the Body of Christ. For as Christ is one, so is His Church one; indeed, the one Christ cannot be separated from the one Church in that “the full and perfect Christ”, in St. Augustine’s phrase, “is Head and Body” together.[272]


     “Since the Church,” writes Fr. Justin Popovich, “is catholically one and a unique theanthropic organism for all worlds, she cannot be divided. Any division would signify her death… According to the united position of the Fathers and the Councils, the Church is not only one but unique, because the one unique God-man, her Head, cannot have many bodies. The Church is one and unique because she is the body of the one unique Christ. A division in the Church is ontologically impossible, for which reason there has never been a division in the Church, only a division from the Church. According to the word of the Lord, the Vine is not divided; but only those branches which voluntarily refuse to bring forth fruit fall away from the ever-living Vine and are dried up (John 15.1-6). At various times heretics and schismatics have been separated and cut off from the one undivided Church of Christ; they have subsequently ceased to be members of the Church and united with her theanthropic body. Such were, first of all, the Gnostics, then the Arians and Spirit-fighters, then the Monophysites and Iconoclasts, and finally the Roman Catholics and Protestants and Uniates and all the rest of the heretical and schismatic legion.”[273]


     The Athonite Elder Augustine writes: “It is a dogma of the Faith that the Church is not only Holy, Catholic and Apostolic, but also One, so that even though the Churches are seen to be many, one and one only is the Church composed of the many that are seen in different places. This is the teaching of the Holy Creed, this is the message of the Divine Scriptures, the Apostolic Tradition, the Sacred councils and the God-bearing Fathers. From this we conclude that the union of the Church is a most important dogma of the Faith.


     “We have seen… that St. Constantine and the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council re-established both the inner and the outer unity of the Church, which is why the joyful autocrat cried out: ‘I have reaped a double victory, I have both re-established inner peace through the common confession of the Faith and brought the separation which existed before into the unity of the Church through the common celebration of Pascha.’


     “This, then, is unity, as we are assured by the Acts of the First Council, an inner unity and an outer unity, and neither can the first be a true unity without the second, nor can the second exist without the first. The relationship between them is like that of faith to works and works to faith. The one without the other is dead. Thus inner unity without outer unity is dead, and outer unity without inner unity is dead. And the first is defined by the common confession of the Faith, and the second by the visible harmony in accordance with the laws and institutions of the Church, both constituting the one and only true unity, the essential unity of the Church.”[274]


     In 1968 Abbot Philotheus Zervakos of Paros wrote to the new calendar bishop Augustine of Florina in 1968: “Since the old calendar is a written tradition, and since the new one is an innovation of papist and masonic origin, whoever despises the old calendar and follows the new is subject to anathema. Every excuse and justification is unjustified and ‘excuses in sins’…


     “Last Sunday I had to go to the peak of All Saints and the Prophet Elijah… and as I was kneeling in front of their venerable icon I tearfully besought them to reveal to me which calendar I the wretched one should follow together with my brethren, my spiritual children and all the Orthodox Christians. Before I had finished my humble and pitiful petition, I heard a voice inside me saying: ‘you must follow the old calendar which the God-bearing Fathers who brought together the seven holy Ecumenical Councils and supported the Orthodox Faith handed down to you, and not the new calendar of the popes of the West, who have divided the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and despised the Apostolic and patristic traditions’!!!


     “At that moment I felt such emotion, such joy, such hope, such courage and greatness of soul as I have hardly ever felt in the hour of prayer in the whole of my life…


     “Do not suppose that following the papist calendar is a small thing. It [The Orthodox Julian calendar] is a tradition and as such we must guard it or we shall be subject to anathema. ‘If anyone violates any tradition, written or unwritten, let him be anathema’, declares the Seventh Ecumenical Council… This is not the time to continue to be silent… don’t delay, hurry.”[275]


     And Fr. Philotheus described another sign in his letter. He wrote that Chrysostom Papadopoulos told him during a meeting they had: “If only I hadn’t gone through with it, if only I hadn’t gone through with it. This perverse Metaxakis has got me by the throat”![276]


     On August 7, 1930 Metaxakis headed a delegation of representatives of the Churches of Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Greece, Cyprus and Poland to the Lambeth conference of Anglican bishops. There the delegation officially, on the basis of a report by the Anglicans recognising the priesthood to be a sacrament, declared that the Anglicans had Apostolic Succession.[277] In 1934 two Ugandan Anglicans applied to Metaxakis to receive them into Orthodoxy. However, he replied that the union of the Churches was not far off, so it would be better for them to stay where they were![278]


     But Metaxakis did not escape retribution. In 1935, on the death of Patriarch Damian of Jerusalem, he tried to acquire that see, too, but failed.[279] It is said that he then went out of his mind, and six days later, grinding his teeth and wringing his hands, he died, groaning: “Alas, I have divided the Church, I have destroyed Orthodoxy.”[280] He lied to the end; for he destroyed only himself, while the True Church will prevail over the gates of hell…


     In 1998 the True Orthodox Church of Greece under Archbishop Chrysostom II of Athens resolved to include anathemas against Meletius Metaxakis and Chrysostom Papadopoulos in the anathema against ecumenism proclaimed on the Sunday of Orthodoxy.


The Release of Patriarch Tikhon


     On June 11, 1923 Yaroslavsky, president of the Antireligious Commission, wrote to the Politburo and Stalin: “It is necessary immediately to pass the following resolution on the case of Tikhon: 1) the investigation of Tikhon’s case must be continued without a time limit; 2) Tikhon must be informed that the penalty meted out to him may be commuted if: (a) he makes a special declaration that he repents of the crimes he has committed against Soviet power and the working and peasant masses and that he now has a loyal attitude to Soviet power; (b) he admits the justice of his being made to answer in court for these crimes; (c) he walls himself openly and firmly from all counter-revolutionary organisations, especially White Guard and Monarchist organisations, both civil and religious; (d) he expresses his sharply negative attitude to the new Karlovtsy Synod and its participants; (e) he expresses his negative attitude to the attacks by Catholic clergy (in the person of the Pope, also the Bishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Constantinople Meletius); (f) he expresses his agreement with some reforms in the ecclesiastical sphere (for example, the new style). If he agrees, we should release him and transfer him to the Valaam podvorye, without forbidding him ecclesiastical activity.”


     On the same day, Yaroslavsky wrote: “A short motivation for the proposal regarding Tikhon. 1) It is necessary that there should be some sort of step that would justify our putting of Tikhon’s case, otherwise the impression will be created that we were have been frightened by the threats of Whiteguardism. 2) From conversations with Tikhon it has become clear that with some pressure and some promises he will go along with these proposals. 3) If he agrees, these statements of his will have enormous political significance: they will completely confuse the plans of all the émigré gangs; they will strike a blow against all those organisations that were oriented on Tikhon; Tikhon will become a guarantee against an increase in the influence of the HCA [the renovationists]; his personal influence will be compromised by his ties with the GPU and his admissions; his statements against the Bishop of Canterbury, Meletius, Anthony and the Pope will be a slap in the face first of all to the English government and will deprive England’s declarations in defence of Tikhon of all significance in European circles; and finally, his agreement with even one of these reforms (he has agreed to recognise the new, Gregorian calendar) will make him a ‘heretic’ – an innovator in the eyes of the True Orthodox. The HCA will thereby preserve its former position together with a significant diminution in its influence.”[281]


     At the beginning of June, the Patriarch fell ill, and was transferred from the Donskoy monastery to the Taganka prison. There he was able to receive only official Soviet newspaper accounts of the Church struggle, which greatly exaggerated the successes of the renovationists. Feeling that his presence at the helm of the Church was absolutely necessary, and that of his two enemies, the renovationists and the communists, the renovationists were the more  dangerous, the Patriarch decided to make concessions to the government in order to be released. Thus on June 16 and again on July 1 he issued his famous “confession”, in which he repented of all his anti-Soviet acts (including the anathema against the Bolsheviks), and “finally and decisively” set himself apart “from both the foreign and the internal monarchist White-guard counter-revolutionaries”.[282]


     As a result, according to Fr. Gleb Yakunin, “all the hitherto righteous and courageous words of the patriarch censuring the moral and spiritual fall of the people, the terrible bloody excesses and murders of innocent people, the wild outbursts of satanic spite and hatred, the profanation of religious and national holy things – all these words of the patriarch calling men to heed their consciences and full of righteous indignation against the evils committed were declared ‘antisoviet politics’ by the patriarch himself. In spite of the greatness of the personality and exploit of Patriarch Tikhon, we must with great sorrow admit that the principle of the use of lies and false witness for the sake of ‘the salvation of the Church’ was applied in the Moscow Patriarchate for the first time by him.


     “In its time Patriarch Tikhon’s ‘repentance’ did not elicit wide protests: believers understood the extraordinary difficulty of the situation and hope that the grievous compromise would nevertheless work for the benefit of the Church. Besides, joy at the liberation of Patriarch Tikhon drowned all feelings of alarm. The absence of protests was also elicited by the huge authority that the patriarch enjoyed, and the unquestioning trust people had in all his actions.”[283]


     However, Archbishop Nicon (Rklitsky) takes a less severe attitude towards Tikhon’s declaration, pointing out that: “1) it did not annul the anathema in the name of the Russian Orthodox Church on Soviet power, 2) he did not declare himself a friend of Soviet power and its co-worker, 3) it did not invoke God’s blessing on it, 4) it did not call on the Russian people to obey this power as God-established, 5) it did not condemn the movement for the re-establishment of the monarchy in Russia, and 6) it did not condemn the Whites’ struggle to overthrow Soviet power. By his declaration Patriarch Tikhon only pointed to the way of acting which he had chosen for the further defence and preservation of the Russian Orthodox Church. How expedient this way of acting was is another question,… but in any case Patriarch Tikhon did not cross that boundary which had to separate him, as head of the Russian Orthodox Church, from the godless power.”[284]


     Moreover, the Patriarch managed to write to Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky), as it were replying to the perplexities elicited by his words on “walling himself off” from the “counter-revolution” of the Church Abroad: “I wrote this for the authorities, but you sit and work”.[285] In other words, the Church was not to take his words seriously…


     Tikhon was released on June 27, 1923, and his appearance in public – he had aged terribly in prison – was enough to send the Living Church into a sharp and irreversible decline.[286] They remained dangerous as long as they retained the favour of the authorities; but by 1926 the authorities were already turning to others (the Gregorians, then Metropolitan Sergius) as better suited for the task of destroying the Church. And by the end of the Second World War the last remaining renovationists had been absorbed into the neo-renovationist Soviet Moscow Patriarchate.


     On the next day the Patriarch wrote: “I am, of course, not such a venerator of Soviet power as the Church renovationists, headed by the Higher Church Council, declare themselves to be, but on the other hand I am not such an enemy of it as people present me to be. If in the first year of the existence of Soviet power I sometimes permitted sharp attacks against it, I did this in consequence of my education and the orientation that prevailed in the Council at that time. But with time much began to change and become clear, and now, for example, it is necessary to ask Soviet power to intercede in the defence of the offended Russian Orthodox in Poland and in Grodno region, where the Poles have closed Orthodox churches. However, already at the beginning of 1919 I tried to wall the Church off from Tsarism and intervention, and in September of the same year I appealed to the archpastors and pastors not to intervene in politics…”[287]


     In spite of the Patriarch’s “repentance”, the Bolsheviks continued to back the renovationists, and on December 8, 1923 forbade the commemoration of the “former” Patriarch in that such an act would be seen “as having the character of a clearly political demonstration against the Worker-Peasants’ authorities.”[288] Moreover, the Patriarch was still seen, as Protopriest Lev Lebedev writes, “as a criminal whose accusation had not been removed…For violating this ban, according to the circular of Narkomiust 254 of December 8, 1923, those guilty (that is, those who would continue to consider the Patriarch the head of the Church and commemorate him during the Divine services) were subjected to the punishment appointed for criminals – three years in the camps! But in spite of everything the people, the priests and deacons continued to commemorate him!”[289]


     On July 15, the Patriarch anathematised the Living Church, declaring: “They have separated themselves from the body of the Ecumenical Church and deprived themselves of God’s favour, which resides only in the Church of Christ. Consequently, all arrangements made during our absence by those ruling the Church, since they had neither legal right nor canonical authority, are non-valid and void, and all actions and sacraments performed by bishops and clergymen who have forsaken the Church are devoid of God’s grace and power; the faithful taking part in such prayers and sacraments shall receive no sanctification thereby, and are subject to condemnation for participating in their sin…”[290]


     This was the signal for a decline in the strength of the renovationists.     Large numbers of parishes, especially in such important urban centres as Petrograd[291] and Voronezh[292], now renounced renovationism, and influential renovationist hierarchs such as Metropolitan Sergius hastened (and yet not very quickly, as Hieromartyr Bishop Damascene of Glukhov pointed out[293]) to make public confessions to the Patriarch.


     The Patriarch received Sergius in the following way. He explained that it was his Christian duty to forgive him, but that since his guilt was great before the people also, he had to repent before them, too. Then he would receive him with joy and love. And so he stood throughout the liturgy in simple monastic garments without his Episcopal mantia, klobuk, panagia, and cross. At the end of the liturgy he was led by the Patriarch out onto the amvon where he bowed to the people three times, after which the Patriarch restored to him them his panagia with cross, white klobuk, mantia, and staff.[294]


     Some sergianists have tried to show that Sergius did not really share the renovationist position.[295] However, Sergius’ published statements, especially his epistle of June 16, 1922 contradict this view. Moreover, the renowned Elder Nectarius of Optina said that, even after his repentance, the poison of renovationism was in him still.[296]


     “Honour and glory to the late patriarch,” wrote Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) in 1925, “that, with all his good-natured condescension towards people, with all his yearning for peace, he never gave an inch of ground to this barren ‘living church’, but received penitents from her according to the rite for the reception of heretics and schismatics, and re-consecrated churches which were returned from them to their lawful pastors as churches ‘defiled by heretics’.”[297]


     The decline of the renovationists after the Patriarch’s coming out of prison have led some to suppose that the price of that release, his “repentance” for his anti-Sovietism, was a price worth paying. However, the Patriarch bitterly repented of his “repentance”; he said that if he had known how weak the Living Church really was, he would not have signed the “confession” and would have stayed in prison.[298] And when he was asked why he had said that he was no longer an enemy of the Soviet government, he replied: “But I did not say that I was its friend...”[299]


     While we can make excuses for the Patriarch, whose position was extraordinarily difficult, there is no doubt that his “repentance” was a blow to the Church and a victory for the communists. Thus in a report dated December 12, 1923 to his superior, T.D. Deribas, Tuchkov wrote: “The second significant moment in the work of the Section was the accomplishment of the ‘repentance of Tikhon’, which as you are probably aware, made an extremely unfavourable impression on the Russian monarchists and the right-leaning elements in general, who had seen in Tikhon, up to this time, an adamant anti-Soviet figure.”[300]


     We see a striking parallel between the destinies and decisions of Patriarch Tikhon and Tsar Nicholas here. Both were peacemakers, ready to lay down their own lives for the sake of their flock. Both, in the interests of saving lives, made fateful decisions which they came bitterly to regret – the Tsar his decision to abdicate the throne, and the Patriarch his decision to “repent” of his anti-Soviet behaviour. But in spite of these mistakes, both were granted the crown of life from the Lord, Who looks on the heart and intentions of men, forgiving them their unintended consequences…


     Some have seen a less flattering parallel between Patriarch Tikhon and his successor, Metropolitan Sergius. We shall discuss Sergius in detail later. Suffice it to say at this point that, whatever compromises Patriarch Tikhon made, he never did it to spare himself, but only others, and he never betrayed his colleagues to death by calling them “counter-revolutionaries”…


The Russian Church and the New Calendar


     On June 11, 1923, Yaroslavsky wrote to the Politburo and Stalin: “Tikhon must be informed that the penalty meted out to him may be commuted if… he expresses his agreement with some reforms in the ecclesiastical sphere (for example, the new style).” On September 18 the Antireligious Commission decreed: “To recognize as appropriate that Tikhon and co. should in the first instance bring forward the new style into the church, disband the parish councils and introduce the second marriages of the clergy…”[301]


     Why was the new calendar and the other reforms important to the Bolsheviks? Because, as Yaroslavsky explained: “his agreement with even one of these reforms (he has agreed to recognise the new, Gregorian calendar) will make him a ‘heretic’ – an innovator in the eyes of the True Orthodox.”[302]


     On September 24 Patriarch Tikhon convened a Council of bishops which took the decision to introduce the new calendar on October 2/15. The Patriarch explained his decision to adopt the new calendar as follows: “This demand was repeated many times, and was reinforced by the promise of a more benevolent attitude on the part of the Government towards the Orthodox Church and Her institutions in the case of our agreement and the threat of a deterioration in these relations in the case of our refusal”.[303] He also pointed to considerations of unity with the other Orthodox Churches; for he had been falsely informed by Tuchkov that all the other Churches had adopted the new style, whereas in fact all the Churches except Constantinople, Greece and Romania had objected to the change. Also, in a letter to Abbot Paulinus of Valaam dated October 6 he justified the introduction of the new style on the grounds that it introduced no innovation in faith, and the Orthodox Paschalion remained in force.[304]


     The Patriarch’s epistle explaining the change was read out in the Moscow Pokrov monastery on October 14. However, the decree on the introduction of the new style was sent out only to the deans of Moscow, while the diocesan bishops did not receive it, since Archbishop Hilarion had obtained permission from Tuchkov not to send it to the provinces as long as the patriarchal epistle explaining the change had not been printed. So the new style was only introduced in Moscow[305] and, as we shall see, in Valaam.


     However, on November 8, when the Patriarch learned from Archbishop Anastasy in Constantinople that the patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem and Serbia, as well as ROCOR, were against the change, and when he saw that the Russian people were also strongly opposed to his decree, he reversed his decision “temporarily”, making use of the fact that his epistle on the calendar change had not been published.[306] In spite of this, agents of the government posted up notices of the now annulled decree on the introduction of the new calendar. But the people saw in this the clear interference of the State, and so no attention was paid to the decree.[307]


     After the Patriarch recovered from his mistake, he and the Russian Church as a whole set themselves firmly against the new calendar. In 1924 Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) of Kiev, the second hierarch in rank after the Patriarch and President of the Synod of Bishops of ROCOR, set off on a seven-month trip to the East to muster support against the renovationist reforms among his friends from before the revolution – Patriarchs Photius of Alexandria, Gregory of Antioch and Damian of Jerusalem. He also visited Mount Athos. The three Eastern patriarchs, together with Patriarch Demetrius of Serbia, spoke out strongly against the new calendar and the other reforms introduced by their colleague in Constantinople, and Metropolitan Anthony entertained hopes that even the patriarch of Constantinople would reverse course. Thus in a letter to Gregory VII’s successor, Constantine VI, dated February 4/17, 1925, he both defended Patriarch Tikhon and compared Meletius and Gregory to the heretical patriarchs of Constantinople condemned by the Seven Ecumenical Councils: “The history of the Church in general and of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in particular has hardly ever before know such crude violations by the patriarchs of the universal canons and rules of general human justice… It is on this same path of disobedience to the Holy Church and the canons that the two last predecessors of your Holiness descended.”[308]


     ROCOR condemned the new calendar, and, as we have seen, ROCOR’s Archbishop Anastasy of Kishinev concelebrated with the leading Romanian Old Calendarist, Hieromonk Glycerius. However, Metropolitan Anthony did not take the decisive and canonically correct course adopted by the Greek and Romanian Old Calendarists of breaking communion with the renovationists. In 1925 he even took part, with the patriarch of Constantinople, in the enthronement of the new calendarist Freemason Miron as patriarch of Romania. So it is not surprising that his actions were ultimately unsuccessful: the patriarch of Constantinople never abandoned the new calendar, and the Churches of Alexandria and Antioch both, in time, accepted it.


     In 1926, writing to the Russian Athonite Hieroschemamonk Theodosius of Karoulia[309], Metropolitan Anthony explained his refusal to break communion with the new calendarists as follows: “You know the 13th, 14th and 15th canons of the First-and-Second Council, which speaks about separating oneself from a Bishop or Patriarch after his conciliar condemnation. And then there is the canon (the 15th), which says that that clergyman is worthy, not of condemnation, but of praise, who breaks with links with him [the heretic] for the sake of a heresy condemned by the holy councils or fathers…, and besides ‘when he (that is, the first-hierarch) preaches heresy publicly and teaches it openly in the Church’. But this, glory to God, neither P[atriarch] Basil [III of Constantinople] nor [Archbishop] Chrysostom [of Athens] have done yet. On the contrary, they insist on keeping the former Paschalion, for only it, and not the Julian calendar itself was covered by the curse of the councils. True, P[atriarch]  Jeremiah in the 15th [correct: 16th] century and his successor in the 18th anathematised the calendar itself, but this curse: 1) touches only his contemporaries and 2) does not extend to those who are frightened to break communion with him, to which are subjected only those who transgress the canonical Paschalion. Moreover (this needs to be noted in any case), the main idea behind the day of Pascha is that it should be celebrated by all the Christians (that is, the Orthodox) on one and the same day throughout the inhabited world. True, I myself and my brothers do not at all sympathise with the new calendar and modernism, but we beseech the Athonite fathers not to be hasty in composing letters (Romans 14). – Do not grieve about our readiness to go to the C[onstantinople] Council. Of course, there will be no council, but if there is, and if we go, as St. Flavian went to the robber cou[ncil], then, of course, we will keep the faith and deliver the apostates to anathema. But as long as the last word has not been spoken, as long as the whole Church has not repeated the curses of Patriarch Jeremiah at an ecumenical council, we must retain communion, so that we ourselves should not be deprived of salvation, and, in aiming at a gnat, swallow a camel…”[310]


     In another letter he admitted that akriveia was on Fr. Theodosius’ side, but argued in favour of oikonomia: “It is in vain that you torment your conscience with doubts about continuing to be in communion with the Constantinopolitan Patriarchate. Present this matter to the judgement of the hierarchs, and until it has taken place remain in communion…”[311]


     However, the wording of the 16th century Councils that anathematised the new calendar does not support the metropolitan’s interpretation: “Whoever does not follow the customs of the Church,… but wishes to follow the Gregorian Paschalion and Menaion,… let him be anathema.” Moreover, there is no word about the anathema applying only to the generation of the anathematisers. In general, anathemas, as expressing the unchanging decision of God with regard to something that is eternally false, are necessarily applicable, if valid and canonical, in all places and at all times.


     One ROCOR bishop who did not agree with Metropolitan Anthony’s relatively liberal attitude towards the new calendarists was Archbishop Theophanes of Poltava. He wrote:


     Question. Have the pastors of the Orthodox Church not made special judgements concerning the calendar?


     Answer. They have, many times – with regard to the introduction of the new Roman calendar – both in private assemblies and in councils.


     “A proof of this is the following. First of all, the Ecumenical Patriarch Jeremiah II, who lived at the same time as the Roman calendar reform, immediately, in 1582, together with his Synod condemned the new Roman system of chronology as being not in agreement with the Tradition of the Church. In the next year (1583), with the participation of Patriarchs Sylvester of Alexandria and Sophronius VI of Jerusalem, he convened a Church Council. This Council recognised the Gregorian calendar to be not in agreement with the canons of the Universal Church and with the decree of the First Ecumenical Council on the method of calculating the day of Holy Pascha.


     “Through the labours of this Council there appeared: a Conciliar tome, which denounced the wrongness and unacceptability for the Orthodox Church of the Roman calendar, and a canonical conciliar Decree – the Sigillion of November 20, 1583. In this Sigillion all three of the above-mentioned Patriarchs with their Synods called on the Orthodox firmly and unbendingly, even to the shedding of their blood, to hold the Orthodox Menaion and Julian Paschalion, threatening the transgressors of this with anathema, cutting them off from the Church of Christ and the gathering of the faithful…


     “In the course of the following three centuries: the 17th, 18th and 19th, a whole series of Ecumenical Patriarchs decisively expressed themselves against the Gregorian calendar and, evaluating it in the spirit of the conciliar decree of Patriarch Jeremiah II, counselled the Orthodox to avoid it…


     Question. Is the introduction of the new calendar important or of little importance?


     Answer. Very important, especially in connection with the Paschalion, and it is an extreme disorder and ecclesiastical schism, which draws people away from communion and unity with the whole Church of Christ, deprives them of the grace of the Holy Spirit, shakes the dogma of the unity of the Church, and, like Arius, tears the seamless robe of Christ, that is, everywhere divides the Orthodox, depriving them of oneness of mind; breaks the bond with Ecclesiastical Holy Tradition and makes them fall under conciliar condemnation for despising Tradition…


     Question. How must the Orthodox relate to the new calendarist schismatics, according to the canons?


     Answer. They must have no communion in prayer with them, even before their conciliar condemnation…


     Question. What punishment is fitting, according to the Church canons, for those who pray with the new calendarist schismatics?


     Answer. The same condemnation with them…” [312]


The Romanian Church and the New Calendar


     On December 17, 1923 the head of the Romanian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Miron (Cristea), a former uniate, wrote to the Patriarch of Constantinople that the Romanian Church accept the decision of the “Pan-Orthodox Council” on the change of calendar, and that it would be applied in 1924.[313] And so in Romania, the new calendar was introduced in the same year as in Greece, October 1, 1924 becoming October 14. In reward for this, on February 4, 1925, the Romanian Church was proclaimed a patriarchate by Constantinople, and on November 1 Metropolitan Miron was enthroned as new calendar patriarch of Romania. Miron even changed the date of Pascha in 1926 and 1929 to bring it into conformity with the western Paschalion. In 1936 he accepted the validity of Anglican orders…


     Resistance to the reform was particularly strong in Bessarabia, where, as we have seen, there had already been strong resistance to the union of Bessarabia with Romania and the removal of Church Slavonic from the churches. “The patriotically minded Bessarabian population,” writes Glazkov, “who took a very cautious attitude to any attempt by the Bessarabian authorities to liquidate the national particularities of the Moldavian people, met the reform with protests. ‘The Union of Orthodox Christians’ immediately condemned Metropolitan Gurias, who carried out the decision of the Synod, and began an active campaign against the new calendar style by publishing apologetic literature and conducting popular meetings and processions. Some of the Bessarabian priests who considered the reform of the calendar to be uncanonical supported the protests of the laity and rejected the Gregorian calendar. Around the churches where the Church Slavonic language and the Julian calendar were preserved (for example, the church of the Alexander Nevsky brotherhood), there gathered priests and laity. Thus in April, 1926 thousands of believers gathered at the church of St. Panteleimon in Kishinev for a pannikhida for Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II. Some priests openly celebrated all the feasts according to the old style in front of a large number of believers, which was defined by the authorities as rebellion, for many lay Old Calendarists were subjected to direct humiliations by the new style clergy. There was an attempt to build, in Kishinev, a church in direct submission to the Patriarch of Jerusalem, who had remained faithful to the old style. According to the police, the majority of the population resisted the ecclesiastical reform, only individual parishes passed over to the Gregorian calendar. It is noteworthy that if, at the beginning, the civil authorities were quite conciliatory towards the Old Calendarists, allowing them to celebrate Pascha and other Church feasts according to the old and new styles, the official Romanian Church authorities took upon themselves police-fiscal functions in exposing and repressing them…”[314]


     In Bessarabia, the leadership of the movement against the new style had been taken up by the white clergy and the city intelligentsia. In inner Moldavia, however, the leaders were the monks. Out of the 14,000 parish priests, almost none stood up against the calendar reform. The only exception to this, as Metropolitan Blaise, the present chief-hierarch of the True Orthodox Church of Romania, writes, was “Archimandrite Galaction (Cordun), who at that time was serving as parish priest in the metropolitan cathedral in Bucharest and who used to preach there when there was no bishop.


     “… Fr. Galaction, who later became our first metropolitan, fought against the reform, but was unable to do anything, since he was only an archimandrite. He was very capable, and had studied in Petersburg with the future Patriarchs Alexis of Moscow and Cyril of Bulgaria, graduating with the degree of doctor of theology. Later, in 1935, he was consecrated to the episcopate – they thought he had changed his views. Three bishops who had been consecrated before the change of calendar participated in the consecration, so [apostolic] succession was not broken…


     “This is what happened, for example, in Neamţ monastery, where St. Paisius Velichkovsky was once the abbot. When the reform took place there were about 200 monks in the monastery, 80 of whom were clergy. This was the biggest monastery in Romania. It was here that the strongest movement against the new style arose. Two months before the reform the abbot warned the brotherhood: be careful, reforms are coming, do not accept them. This was as it were a prophecy. But out of the 80 hieromonks only 30 (not counting the monks) were against the reform; and of these 30 only 6 stood out openly in opposition – the rest did not separate for material reasons. By a decree of the metropolitan of Moldavia all the clergy who did not accept the new style were threatened with deposition, exile from the monastery and confiscation of their property – the man would be outlawed. Then a small group of monks with the most devoted and zealous priests left the monastery, and it is from this group that our Church begins its history. Neamţ monastery as a whole accepted the new style, later they also renounced St. Paisius’ rule, for the keeping of which the monastery was renowned. Our monastery of Slatioara, which is not far from Neamţ, inherited this rule and tradition.


     “Here are the names of the (clerical) inhabitants of the monastery who resisted all their lives: Hieromonk Fr. Glycerius (later metropolitan), Hierodeacon David (the first abbot of the monastery at Slatioara), Hieromonk Pambo, Fr. Baruch, Fr. Gimnasius, Fr. Zosima, Fr. Gamaliel, Fr. Damascene, who died in the woods near the monastery. We also know the names of other monks of Neamţ who resisted the new style. There were also nuns: Mother Macaria, who was the helper of the abbess of the biggest women’s monastery in the country, Agapia, which became new calendarist (it now has 450 nuns), and who with her nuns founded the first women’s monastery in our Church.


     “The small groups of clergy and monastics of these men’s and women’s monasteries – the purest, who had God in their hearts and not their property, rejected the reforms and were driven out of the monasteries – had to live in the world. The pious laity who supported them became like bees constructing hives, the churches, while these clerics were like queen-bees. That was how our Church came into being.”[315]


     “Two months before the calendar change,” writes Metropolitan Blaise, “something very momentous happened in the great Church of the Neamţ Monastery. It was on the Eve of the Dormition of the Mother of God. The Ecclesiarch went to the Church to prepare all that was needed and to light the candles and kandelia for the Midnight Service. The weather was calm, with clear skies and numerous stars; no cloud was in sight. Suddenly, a great bolt of lightning came down from the heavens and, passing through a window in the dome of the Church, struck in front of the Miracle-working Icon of the Mother of God. It hit the stone floor, and a section of stone collapsed; from the impact, the candlestand that was affixed to this slab in front of the Icon was knocked over. [Cf. the words of the Lord in Revelation (2.5): “Repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place”]. When the Fathers and Brothers came to Church, the Priest who was serving told them what had happened; seeing the damage done by the lightning strike, they all concluded that it was a Divine sign.


     “Here is another incident. When Father Glycherie reached the Coroi Ravine, a spiritual uneasiness overcame him. One night, after lengthy prayer, he was beset by heavy thoughts. ‘How is it possible,’ he said, ‘that in our country many Priests with advanced theological training, together with a large number of intellectuals, are leaving the Old Calendar, as it was bequeathed to the people by the Holy Fathers of the Orthodox Church, who have honoured it from times of old? Should I not abandon the Old Calendar and be one of these? Am I making a mistake before God by not changing?’ Late in the night, he had a beautiful vision: from the West, a dark cloud appeared; it tried to cover the whole world and was moving furiously towards the East, howling like a monster. In front of the cloud, a powerful storm formed, adorned with a chain as black as tar, on which black Crosses appeared. Everyone was frightened. But looking towards the East, he saw a snow-white cloud, glittering like gold; before it was a chain of gold, from which there were hanging Crosses of gold.


     “A choir of Hierarchs also appeared – all with golden vestments, - walking towards the black cloud. In a designated place, the two clouds collided and the dark cloud fell; and in its place, a sea of water appeared, engulfing the earth…”[316]


     Metropolitan Cyprian writes: “The Romanian Patriarchate, both in 1926 and 1929, celebrated Pascha with the Latins, constituting an infringement of the Orthodox tradition of centuries. Indeed, on the second occasion that this was done, Patriarch Miron, having the undivided support of the Uniate (Greek-Catholic) prime minister, Julius Maniu, and several others among the clergy, compelled all of the Romanian Metropolises to proceed with the common celebration of Pascha with the Papists, a fact which evoked great commotion in the ranks of the Romanian Church. Metropolitan Gurias of Bessarabia openly criticized Miron and, ignoring the Patriarchal decree, ordered his churches to celebrate with the other autocephalous Orthodox Churches (i.e. with the entire Orthodox world, with the exception of the innovative Church of Finland). Patriarch Miron’s action also scandalized these other Orthodox Churches, many of which reacted in protest. As well, the White Russian clergy of Bucharest took a particularly strong position during those trying days, ignoring the Patriarchal order and celebrating Pascha in accordance with the traditional canonical decrees.


     “The uncanonical and un-Orthodox celebration of Pascha with the Latins deeply grieved the reverent Romanians, many of whom returned to the Old Calendar. Among them were three Hieromonks, as well as two Romanian Priest-monks who had returned to Romania from Mt. Athos. Hieromonk Glycerius, who had taken a leading position in the Old Calendar movement from the beginning, began to build churches in the vicinity of Neamţ Monastery. The first was established in the village of Vanatori. By 1936 he had built about forty large churches, the majority of them in Moldavia.”[317]


     The Romanian monks on Mount Athos fully supported their co-religionists in the homeland. Thus in 1930, “there arrived in the Moldavian skete [of the Forerunner] from Romania one of the skete’s hieromonks, Simeon, a fifty-year-old who had been sent by Patriarch Miron to propagandise the new style on Athos. He brought with him a lot of money… from Romania. He also brought with him from Romania a lawyer, who was armed with an agreement obtained in Athens to conduct negotiations over the return of the metochion on the island of Thasos. The skete-dwellers received him with honour. They promised to gather the brotherhood and speak to them in the church about accepting the new style. But they prepared a trap for him. They summoned him to the hall, cut off his beard and pigtail, took the money sent for propaganda, put a jacket and hat on him and drove him out… He appealed to the police in Karyes for help, but they replied that this did not come within the compass of their responsibilities. This was the end of the propaganda for the new style on Athos. This was already the Romanians’ second piece of trickery. The first time they had received a letter from the patriarch suggesting that they change to the new style. The skete-dwellers, on receiving this letter, served a triumphant all-night vigil, and, on the next day, a liturgy with a moleben, after which they pronounced an anathema on the patriarch, composing an official document which they sent on to him.”[318]


The Fall of Renovationism


     During this period, the Patriarch, as well as being under the most extreme pressure from the GPU, was in essence not in control of the Church. On September 30, 1924 he wrote to the government: “Orthodox bishops appointed by me either are not allowed into their dioceses, or are thrown out from them at their first appearance there, or are subjected to arrest and even their chancellery and archive is sealed and made inaccessible.”[319]


     And yet the Church, while lacking a central rudder on earth, remained governed by her Head in heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ. Moreover, even if the Patriarch could not effectively administer the Church, the very fact of his existence at the head of her administrative structure was of great importance in holding the Church together. For the commemoration of the Patriarch in the Divine Liturgy was the outward and visible sign of faithfulness to Orthodoxy and freedom from the dark forces of the revolution.


     In addition to the introduction of the new calendar, the GPU agent Tuchkov placed several demands before the Patriarch after his release from prison. The first was that he should commemorate the Soviet authorities during the Divine services. The following form of commemoration was established in January, 1924: “For the Russian land and its authorities”.[320] Fr. Basil Vinogradov, who was entrusted with the distribution of the order round the parishes, said that Tikhon issued it under pressure from Bishop Hilarion (Troitsky).[321] However, in the parishes, instead of the word “authorities” (vlastyekh) the similar-sounding word “regions” (oblastyekh) was substituted. Soon the whole phrase was dropped.[322] Although the Patriarch had yielded on the question of commemoration, he adamantly refused, according to Rusak, “to recognize the principle which was imposed on him of registering clergy and church communities and of agreeing with the authorities about appointing bishops, and in general he rejected any measures which meant the interference of the State in the inner affairs of the Church,” in which refusal he was strongly supported by Bishop Hilarion.[323]


     Tuchkov also demanded that the Patriarch enter into communion with the renovationists - a difficult demand to resist because, apart from external pressures, some of the Patriarch’s closest assistants, such as Bishop Hilarion (Troitsky), were in favour of concessions for the sake of church unity.  But at this point the former rector of the Moscow Theological Academy and superior of the Danilov monastery in Moscow, Archbishop Theodore (Pozdeyevsky) of Volokolamsk, came to the rescue of the beleaguered Patriarch.


     The future Archbishop Leontius of Chile, who was staying in Danilov monastery during this period, recalls: “The whole Orthodox episcopate and people venerated him [Vladyka Theodore] for his principled, uncompromising and straight position in relation to Soviet power. He considered that until the Orthodox Church received the right to a truly free existence, there could be no negotiations with the Bolsheviks. The authorities were only deceiving them, they would fulfil none of their promises, but would, on the contrary, turn everything to the harm of the Church. Therefore it would be better for his Holiness Patriarch Tikhon to sit in prison and die there, than to conduct negotiations with the Bolsheviks, because concessions could lead, eventually, to the gradual liquidation of the Orthodox Church and would disturb everyone, both in Russia and, especially, abroad. [He said this] at a time when his Holiness the Patriarch had been released from prison. Archbishop Theodore honoured and pitied his Holiness, but was in opposition to him. In spite of the persistent request of his Holiness that he take part in the administration of the patriarchate, he refused.


     “He did not receive those bishops who had discredited themselves in relation to the ‘Living Church’. He had little faith in their repentance. Only firm bishops were received in the Danilov monastery, and lived there often. Sometimes there were as many as ten or more. All those who had been released from prison or were returning from exile found refuge there. The brotherhood consisted of principled and highly cultured people. Not a few of them became confessor-bishops. The strict spiritual school of Vladyka Theodore left a special imprint on the monastery. With the exception of two novices the whole brotherhood of the Danilov monastery carried their confessing cross in a staunch and worthy manner. In those years the monastery churches of the Danilov, Donskoy and Simonov monasteries were always full of people. As were the parish churches. But one could already feel that this situation was coming to an end… And when his Holiness came out of prison the arrests of bishops did not cease.”[324]


     On being released from prison, in the summer of 1923, the Patriarch convened a Council of Bishops in the St. Michael’s church of the Donskoy monastery. Gubonin writes: “’The Little Council’ took place in connection with some bishops’ raising the question of the expediency of the patriarch’s administering the Church after his release from prison, since he was due to appear as a defendant in the civil courts. Reasons were produced in favour of his being kept away from the administration until the trial.”[325] Moreover, one of the bishops claimed that his Holiness had compromised himself as head of the Church by showing himself incapable of averting in a timely manner the appearance of the renovationist rebellion and by allowing the catastrophic disintegration of the Russian Church.


     However, several of the “Danilovite” hierarchs at the Council expressed themselves clearly and forcefully in defence of the patriarch, declaring that his activity had been blameless and without spot. As a result, the rebellion against the patriarch was suppressed, and the Council officially declared its filial obedience and gratitude to his Holiness for the burdens he had undertaken for the Church. Moreover, he was asked not to abandon his post, but to continue bearing the cross of leadership. Later the patriarch sent a letter to Archbishop Theodore thanking him for the line the “Danilovite” bishops had taken at the Council.


     Another confrontation between the “left wing” of the Patriarchal Church, represented by Bishop Hilarion and Archbishop Seraphim (Alexandrov), and the “right wing” represented by Archbishop Theodore, looked likely. The confrontation duly took place when the patriarch convened a meeting to discuss a renovationist proposal for the re-establishment of unity. The price the heretics were demanding was the patriarch’s voluntary abdication from his patriarchal rank…


     “In spite of the insulting tone of the [renovationists’] epistle,” writes Protopriest Vladislav Tsypkin, “the patriarch was ready to enter into negotiations with the renovationists for the sake of the salvation of those who had gone astray and church peace. In this he was supported by the Temporary Patriarchal Synod. Archbishops Seraphim (Alexandrov), Tikhon (Obolensky) and Hilarion (Troitsky) opened negotiations with the pseudo-metropolitan Eudocimus concerning conditions for the restoration of church unity. [But] the former rector of the Moscow Theological Academy and superior of the Danilov monastery, Archbishop Theodore of Volokolamsk, was decisively opposed to such negotiations…


     “At the end of September, 1923, 27 Orthodox bishops met in the Donskoy monastery to discuss the results of the negotiations with the pseudo-metropolitan Eudocimus concerning the dissolution of the schism. Archbishop Theodore did not appear at the meeting, but many of his supporters who believed as he did participated in it…”[326]


     Bishop Gervasius of Kursk wrote about this Council: “At the end of his short report, Archbishop Seraphim (Alexandrov) remarked that it would be very desirable to have the presence of Archbishop Theodore (Pozdeyevsky) at the meeting, since he was a learned bishop who was popular in Moscow. An official invitation was given to the archbishop, but he did not reply and did not appear himself at the assembly. But if Archbishop Theodore was not there, his fervent supporters and admirers were. Thus Bishop Ambrose, formerly of Vinnitsa, a vicariate of Podolsk [and in 1923 bishop of Podolsk and Bratslav], who admired and held the same views as Archbishop Theodore, gave a speech which touched on the essence of Archbishop Seraphim’s report. He began his speech approximately as follows: ‘I am surprised why you, your Eminence, should call Eudocimus a metropolitan. Do you recognize him to be a lawful hierarch?’ A secret ballot was taken on the project for reconciliation and union with the renovationists, and by a majority of votes the project was defeated and the assembly was dissolved.


     “Archbishop Theodore lived at that time, as was well known, in the Danilov monastery, which was the residence of several extremely conservative and staunch bishops of the school of Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky), Bishop Pachomius and others. Constant visitors at the monastery included Archbishop Seraphim (Samoilovich) of Uglich [the future hieromartyr], Archbishop Gurias (Stepanov) and Metropolitan Seraphim (Chichagov)… Archbishop Theodore severely criticized Bishop Hilarion and told me that he would destroy Patriarch Tikhon and the Church, and that in the patriarch was all salvation. If there were no Patriarch Tikhon, then the authorities would abolish the patriarchate completely, and without the patriarchate there would be disaster for the Church…”[327]


     Although the Patriarch jokingly called the “Danilovites” “the clandestine Synod”, he continued to express his warm appreciation for their stand. Thus in October, 1923, he offered Vladyka Theodore the see of Petrograd with promotion to the rank of archbishop. Vladyka Theodore declined the offer.


     “In November, 1923,” writes Vladimir Rusak, “[Tuchkov] summoned Patriarch Tikhon (until then all negotiations had been conducted through Bishop Hilarion) and in a peremptory manner suggested that he accept the head of the renovationist-‘synodalists’, Metropolitan Eudocimus (Meschersky) and work out with him a joint declaration on reconciliation (of the Orthodox and the renovationists). The Patriarch’s refusal, declared Tuchkov, would be seen as a counter-revolutionary assault, and he would again be arrested…’


     “Patriarch Tikhon, of course, categorically rejected this demand and declared that nobody in the world would force him to acts which his conscience rejected…”[328]


     But in February, 1924 the antireligious commission resumed the offensive by declaring that the Patriarchal Synod could be legalized on condition that it allowed into its ranks a series of persons “well known to the OGPU”. In March, the commission entrusted Tuchkov with the task of persuading Tikhon to allow the president of the “Central Committee” of the “Living Church”, the priest Krasnitsky, into the Synod. Tuchkov promised the Patriarch that if he agreed to this, the Synod would be registered. We now know from recently published archival data that Krasnitsky was indeed “well known to the OGPU”, and even suggested to it a whole programme for the annihilation of Patriarch Tikhon and his supporters.[329] The aim of the OGPU was to create a union between the two Churches that would allow the communists to have ultimate control.


     On April 9, the Patriarch succeeded in obtaining an audience with Kalinin and Rykov, who had taken Lenin’s place as President of the Sovnarkom. Rykov promised to lessen the pressure on religious organizations, reduce the taxes on churches and the clergy and even free some hierarchs from prison. It looked for a short time as if the new head of the Soviet government might be introducing a “thaw” in Church-State relations.[330]


     However, on May 19, the Patriarch, “for the sake of peace and the good of the Church, as an expression of patriarchal mercy”, agreed to admit Krasnitsky into communion, and on May 21, he was officially included, together with several other renovationists, in the Higher Church Council.[331] Also appointed to the Synod on this day, immediately after the Patriarch himself, was Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky)…


     But Krasnitsky soon showed his true face by moving into the Patriarch’s residence in the Donskoy monastery without asking him, and by demanding that he retain the title “Protopresbyter of All Russia” accorded him by the renovationist council of 1923.[332] Then Metropolitan Cyril of Kazan, on returning from exile, persuaded the Patriarch to exclude Krasnitsky from the Higher Church Council, after which Tuchkov dropped his demand.[333]


     Meanwhile, on April 18 the renovationists tried a new tack: they voted to ease the difficult situation of the Ecumenical Patriarch in Ataturk’s Turkey by offering him to settle freely in one of the cities of Russia in exchange for his accepting all the decrees of their 1923 council. On May 6, Patriarch Gregory duly obliged, “removed” Patriarch Tikhon from administering the Russian Church, called on him to retire,[334] and decided to send a delegation to Moscow to investigate and “to bring peace and end the present anomaly”.


     He also demanded “that the Russian Metropolitan Anthony and Archbishop Anastasius, who were residing Constantinople at the time, cease their activities against the Soviet regime and stop commemorating Patriarch Tikhon. Receiving no compliance from them, Patriarch Gregory organized an investigation and suspended the two bishops from serving. He asked Patriarch Demetrius [of Serbia] to close down the Russian Council of Bishops in Sremsky-Karlovtsy, but Demetrius refused…”[335]


     “The initiative of Constantinople with regard to this question,” writes Gubonin, “had been elicited by the provocative and lying ‘information’ from the renovationist Synod concerning a supposed ‘Tikhonite schism’ in the Russian Orthodox Church (that is, among them – the renovationists) and the supposedly universal desire among the clerical leaders (that is, of the renovationist-synodalists) to bring peace into the difficult situation that had been created with the cooperation of the lofty authority of the Ecumenical Vladyka (since, they said, all means had already been exhausted and they had no other hope!).


     “Taking into account the complete isolation of the Russian Church from communion with the external world at that time, the falsely informed Patriarch Gregory VII fell into this renovationist trap, but was stopped in time by the sobering epistle of his Holiness Patriarch Tikhon.”[336]


     The Patriarch wrote to Gregory: “Attached to the letter of your Holiness’ representative in Russia, Archimandrite Basil Dimopoulo, of June 6, 1924, № 226, I received the protocols of four sessions of the Holy Constantinopolitan Synod of January 1, April 17, April 30 and May 6 of this year, from which it is evident that your Holiness, wishing to provide help from the Mother Great Church of Christ of Constantinople, and ‘having exactly studied the course of Russian Church life and the differences and divisions that have taken place – in order to bring peace and end the present anomalies’, … ‘having taken into consideration the exceptional circumstances and examples from the past’, have decided ‘to send us a special Commission, which is authorized to study and act on the spot on the basis and within the bounds of definite orders which are in agreement with the spirit and tradition of the Church’.


     “In your Holiness’ instructions to the members of the Mission one of the main points is your desire that I, as the All-Russian Patriarch, ‘for the sake of the unification of those who have cut themselves off and for the sake of the flock, should sacrifice myself and immediately resign from the administration of the Church, as befits a true and love-filled pastor who cares for the salvation of many, and that at the same time the Patriarchate should be abolished, albeit temporarily, because it came into being in completely abnormal circumstances at the beginning of the civil war and because it is considered a major obstacle to the reestablishment of peace and unity’. Definite instructions are also given to the Commission regarding which tendencies [factions] they should rely on in their work.


    “On reading the indicated protocols, we were in no small measure disturbed and surprised that the Representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the head of the Constantinopolitan Church, should without prior contact with us, as the lawful representative and head of the whole of the Russian Orthodox Church, interfere in the inner life and affairs of the Autocephalous Russian Church. The Holy Councils... have always recognized the primacy in honour, but not in power, of the Bishop of Constantinople over the other Autocephalous Churches. Let us also remember the canon that ‘without being invited, bishops must not pass beyond the boundaries of their own jurisdiction for the sake of ordination or any other ecclesiastical affair.’ For that reason any attempt by any Commission without consulting me, the only lawful and Orthodox First-Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, and without my knowledge, is unlawful and will not be accepted by the Russian Orthodox peoples, and will bring, not pacification, but still more disturbance and schism into the life of the Russian Orthodox Church, which has suffered much even without this. This will be to the advantage only of our schismatics – the renovationists, whose leaders now stand at the head of the so-called (self-called) Holy Synod, like the former archbishop of Nizhegorod Eudocimus and others, who have been defrocked by me and have been declared outside the communion of the Orthodox Church for causing disturbance, schism and unlawful seizure of ecclesiastical power.


     “I, together with the whole mass of Russian Orthodox believers, and with all my flock, very much doubt that your Holiness has, as you declare, ‘studied exactly the course of Russian church life’. I doubt it because You have not once turned to me for documentary explanations of who is the true and real cause of disturbance and schism.


     “The whole Russian Orthodox people long ago pronounced its righteous word concerning both the impious meeting which dared to call itself a Council in 1923, and the unhappy leaders of the renovationist schism… The people is not with the schismatics, but with their lawful Orthodox Patriarch. Allow me also to be sceptical about the measure your Holiness suggests for pacifying the Church – that is, my resignation from the administration of the Church and the abolition, albeit temporary, of the Patriarchate in Rus’. This would not pacify the Church, but cause a new disturbance and bring new sorrows to our faithful Archpastors and pastors who have suffered much even without this. It is not love of honour or power which has forced me to take up the cross of the patriarchy again, but the consciousness of my duty, submission to the will of God and the voice of the episcopate which is faithful to Orthodoxy and the Church. The latter, on receiving permission to assemble, in July last year, synodically condemned the renovationists as schismatics and asked me again to become head and rudder of the Russian Church until it pleases the Lord God to give peace to the Church by the voice of an All-Russian Local Council…. The brother in Christ of your beloved Holiness, Patriarch Tikhon”[337]


     Gregory abandoned his plans to send a mission to Russia, but relations between the two Churches continued to be frosty. His successor, Patriarch Basil III broke communion with the Living Church in 1929 – but then entered into communion with Metropolitan Sergius! Nor did the reception into the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Metropolitan Eulogius of Paris, a rebel from ROCOR and a supporter of the heresy of sophianism, improve matters. However, there was no formal, de jure as opposed to de facto, break of communion between ROCOR and Constantinople. When Metropolitan Peter came to power in Russia in April, 1925, he was presented a letter from Patriarch Basil III which called on the “Old Churchmen” to unite with the renovationists. His comment was: “We still have to check whether this Patriarch is Orthodox…” Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky) was also sceptical; he reacted to Constantinople’s recognition of the renovationists as follows: “Let them recognize them; the renovationists have not become Orthodox from this, only the Patriarchs have become renovationists!”[338]


     It should be pointed out that not all the Greek-speaking Churches acted with such treachery towards the Russian Church. In February, 1924 a delegation of the Jerusalem Patriarchate visited Russia. Its members evaluated the situation objectively, and the head of the delegation, Constantine Grigoriades, expressed his support for Patriarch Tikhon and condemned the renovationists…[339] However, on July 10, 1927, Patriarch Damian of Jerusalem wrote to the renovationist synod recognizing it as “the only lawful bearer of Higher Ecclesiastical Authority on the territory of the USSR”.[340]


     If the Moscow Council of 1917-18 established the basic position of the Church vis-à-vis the State, the renovationist council of 1923 revealed the basic modes of attack employed by the State against the Church, and thus provided the Church with valuable experience for the still fiercer struggles ahead. These basic modes of attack were:-


     1. Control of the Central Church Administration. Like the State, the Church in Her post-revolutionary structure was a highly centralized organism. The astonishing success of the Living Church in its early stages was partly the result of its usurpation of the central administration and the confusion this engendered in the faithful. The Patriarch was in prison, and some reports said that he had resigned, others – that he had been killed. Although the patriarchal locum tenens, Metropolitan Agathangelus, circulated a secret order directing the bishops to rule their dioceses independently in accordance with the Patriarch’s ukaz no. 362 of November 7/20, 1920, the habit of looking to the centre for all major directives was difficult to break. This habit was broken, for some, only after the still greater shock of the events of 1927, when another unscrupulous hierarch, Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky), took control of the central administration of the Church.


     2. The Façade of Canonical Orthodoxy. At first the renovationists put on a mask of canonical Orthodoxy, claiming to have received power by legal transfer from the Patriarch. But soon they – mistakenly - threw off this mask; and, as we have seen, the crudity of their attacks on the Faith and monasticism repelled the people. In future, the GPU would take care that their candidate for the leadership of the Russian Church would have at least the appearance of canonical and dogmatic Orthodoxy.


     3. The Lure of State Legalization. In spite of the Patriarch’s “confession”, the Patriarchal Church never received legalization by the State during his lifetime. This meant that the Church was always as it were in the wilderness, without the favour and security enjoyed by the renovationists. The depths to which the renovationists were prepared to go in order to win this security is illustrated by the pannikhida they celebrated for Lenin after his death, in which they described his soul as “essentially Christian”! In the same vein was Vvedensky’s speech to the 1923 council, in which he said: “We must turn to the government with words of deeply felt gratitude. The Church is not persecuted, whatever the calumnies of the foreign propagandists may say. Everyone in Russia can voice his conviction. We must direct this message of thanks to the only Government in the world, which, though it does not believe in God, yet acts in accordance with love, which is more than we, who believe, can claim for ourselves.”[341]


     Ironically, therefore, as Fr. Aidan Nichols writes, the renovationists came “to resemble the pre-Revolutionary establishment in their spirit of subordination to the State.”[342] The Patriarchal Church, however, gained in spiritual authority. For, already in the early 1920s, the view was current that the faithful were living, in the Patriarch’s words, “in the years of the triumph of Satan and of the power of the Antichrist”. So the “Living Church”, in coming to terms with Soviet power, was, as the Patriarch said, “an institution of the Antichrist”.[343] The Patriarchal Church, on the other hand, was like the woman fleeing into the wilderness from the red dragon (Revelation 12); and it was still to her that the faithful children of the Church clung.


     Fr. Basil Redechkin writes that the renovationists “united the leaders of various rationalist tendencies. Therefore various voices were heard: some denied the Holy Icons, others – the sign of the Cross, others – the Holy Relics, others denied all the sacraments except baptism, while yet others tried to overthrow the veneration of our Most Holy Lady the Mother of God and even the Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said about the All-holy Virgin Mary: ‘She is a simple woman, just like all women, and her son was, of course, only a man, and not God!’ And the ‘livers’ created a completely atheist ‘symbol of faith’ to please the God-fighting, antichristian authorities. It was published in the journal Zhivaia Tserkov’ in 1925, and was composed of thirty articles. This ‘symbol’ began with the words: ‘1. I believe in one power that created the world, the heavens and the earth, the visible and invisible worlds. 2. In one catholic humanity and in it (in the man) Jesus Christ.’


     “And it is completely understandable that after this they should declare that the Canonical rules by which the Holy Church has been guided for two thousand years: the rules of the Holy Apostles, of the Ecumenical and Local Councils and of the Holy Fathers – ‘have become infinitely outdated’ and have ’repealed’ themselves… So the ‘liver-renovationists’, wanting to walk ‘in step with the times’,… introduced a married episcopate, allowed widowed priests to marry a second and even a third time, and took other liberties.”[344]


     However, as one Catacomb bishop wrote: “In the 1920s the renovationists, while promoting their reformist teaching, were only carrying out an experiment… These open demands and programmes proclaimed by renovationism were in the simple form too sharp for the majority of simple believers to accept. And so the mass of the Orthodox people moved away from them… Through these ‘experimenters’ [the atheists] were able to convince themselves that this method was bad. What the renovationists were not able to do immediately, the Moscow Patriarchate was able to do at the beginning of the 1930s – gradually, beginning with the actions of Metropolitan Sergius Stragorodsky. That which the renovationists and livingchurchmen tried to do openly, the Moscow Patriarchate was able to accomplish secretly, quietly and at first glance without being noticed. In this way they introduced a complete renovation into the life of the Church…”[345]


[1] Metropolitan Anastasius, Besedy so svoim sobstvennym serdtsem (Conversations with my own Heart), Jordanville, 1948, p. 123 ®; translated in Living Orthodoxy, № 101, vol. XVII, September-October, 1996, p. 9.

[2] Letter of Sergius Nilus to Hierodeacon Zosimas, 6 August, 1917; in Vladimir Gubanov, Tsar’ Nikolai II-ij i Novie Mucheniki (Tsar Nicholas II and the New Martyrs), St. Petersburg, 2000, p. 121 ®.

[3] “My abdication is necessary. Ruzsky transmitted this conversation [with Rodzianko] to the Staff HQ, and Alexeev to all the com­manders-in-chief of the fronts. The replies from all arrived at 2:05. The essence is that that for the sake of the salvation of Russia and keeping the army at the front quiet, I must resolve on this step. I agreed. From the Staff HQ they sent the draft of a manifesto. In the evening from Petrograd Guchkov and Shulgin ar­rived, with whom I discussed and transmitted to them the signed and edited manifesto. At one in the morning I left from Pskov greatly affected by all that had come to pass. All around me I see treason, cow­ardice, and deceit.” (Dnevniki Imperatora Nikolaia II (The Diaries of Emperor Nicholas II), Moscow, 1992, p. 625)

[4] E.E. Alferev writes: “Factually speaking, in view of the position taken by [Generals] Ruzsky and Alexeev, the possibility of resistance was excluded. Being cut off from the external world, the Sovereign was as it were in captivity. His orders were not carried out, the telegrams of those who remained faithful to their oath of allegiance were not communicated to him. The Empress, who had never trusted Ruzsky, on learning that the Tsar’s train had been help up at Pskov, immediately understood the danger. On March 2 she wrote to his Majesty: ‘But you are alone, you don’t have the army with you, you are caught like a mouse in a trap. What can you do?’ (Imperator Nikolaj II kak chelovek sil’noj voli (Emperor Nicholas II as a Man of Strong Will), Jordanville, N.Y.: Holy Trinity Monastery, 1983, 2004, p. 121 ®).

[5] All dates are given according to the Old, Julian calendar then in use in Russia. Dates will be given in the new, Grigorian calendar after the introduction of that calendar by the Bolsheviks in January, 1918.

[6] Nazarov, Kto naslednik rossijskogo prestola? (Who is the Heir of the Russian Throne?), Moscow: “Russkaia Idea”, 1996, p. 68 (in Russian)). In defence of Great Prince Michael, it should be pointed out that he, too, acted under duress. As Nazarov points out, “Great Prince Mikhail Alexandrovich also acted under duress, under the pressure of the plotters who came to his house. Kerensky admitted that this had been their aim: ‘We decided to surround the act of abdication of Mikhail Alexandrovich with every guarantee, but in such a way as to give the abdication a voluntary character’” (p. 69).

[7] Quoted in Tamara Groyan, Metropolitan Macarius of Moscow, Tsariu Nebesnomu i Zemnomu Vernij (Faithful to the Heavenly and Earthly Tsar), Moscow: Palomnik, 1996, p. 128 ®.

[8] In Groyan, op. cit., pp. 122, 123.

[9] Babkin, “Sviatejshij Sinod Pravoslavnoj Rossijskoj Tserkvi i Revoliutsionnie Sobytia Fevralia-Marta 1917 g.” (“The Most Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Revolutionary Events of February-March, 1917”),, p. 3 ®.

[10] Gubanov, op. cit., p. 70.

[12] In Gubanov, op. cit., p. 62.

[13] A.D. Stepanov, “Mezhdu mirom i monastyrem” (“Between the World and the Monastery”), in Tajna Bezzakonia (The Mystery of Iniquity), St. Petersburg, 2002, p. 491 ®.

[14] Babkin, op. cit., pp. 2, 3.

[15] Tsuyoshi Hasegawa writes: “Five members, Kerensky, N.V. Nekrasov, A.I. Konovalov, M.I. Tereshchenko and I.N. Efremov are known to have belonged to the secret political Masonic organization” (“The February Revolution”, in Edward Acton, Vladimir Cherniaev, William Rosenberg (eds.), Critical Companion to the Russian Revolution 1914-1921, Bloomington and Indianopolis: Indiana University Press, 1997, p.59).

[16] Quoted in G.M. Katkov, Fevral’skaia Revoliutsia (The February Revolution), Paris: YMCA Press, 1984, p. 370 ®.

[17] Babkin, op. cit., p. 8.

[18] Archbishop Anthony, Pastyr’ i Pastva (Pastor and Flock), 1917, № 10, pp. 280-281; Pis’ma Blazhenneishago Mitropolita Antonia (Khrapovitskago) (The Letters of his Beatitude Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky), Jordanville, 1988, p. 57; Monk Benjamin (Gomareteli), Letopis’ tserkovnykh sobytij Pravoslavnoj Tserkvi nachinaia s 1917 goda (Chronicle of Church Events, beginning from 1917),, pp. 2-3 ®. Cf. Victor Antonov, “1917 god: Arkhiepiskop Antonij i Fevralisty” (1917: Archbishop Anthony and the Februarists), Vozvrashchenie (Return), № 2 (6), 1994, p. 25 ®.

[19] Archbishop Seraphim, Tverskie Eparkhial’nie Vedomosti (Tver Diocesan Gazette), 1917, № 9-10, pp. 75-76; in Monk Benjamin, op. cit., p. 4.

[20] Babkin, op. cit., pp. 3-4. The epistle also said: (quoted by Oleg Lebedev, “Mezhdu Fevraliem i Oktiabrem” (“Between February and October), Nezavisimaia Gazeta (The Independent Newspaper), 13 November, 1996, p. 5 (in Russian)).

[21] Archbishop Andrew, Ufimskie Vedomosti (Ufa Gazette), 1917, № 5-6, pp. 138-139; Monk Benjamin, op. cit., pp. 6-7 ®.

[22] Groyan, op. cit., p. 142. Italics mine (V.M.).

[23] As Lev Tikhomirov writes: "Without establishing a kingdom, Moses foresaw it and pointed it out in advance to Israel... It was precisely Moses who pointed out in advance the two conditions for the emergence of monarchical power: it was necessary, first, that the people itself should recognize its necessity, and secondly, that the people itself should not elect the king over itself, but should present this to the Lord. Moreover, Moses indicated a leadership for the king himself: 'when he shall sit upon the throne of his kingdom, he must… fulfil all the words of this law'." (Monarkhicheskaia Gosudarstvennost (Monarchical Statehood), Buenos Aires, 1968, pp. 127-129 ®).

[24] Lopukhin, “Tsar’ i Patriarkh” (Tsar and Patriarch), Pravoslavnij Put’ (The Orthodox Way), 1951, pp. 103-104 ®.

[25] It is said that during the siege of the Moscow Kremlin in October, 1917, the Mother of God ordered the “Reigning” icon to be taken in procession seven times round the Kremlin, and then it would be saved. However, it was taken round only once… (Monk Epiphany (Chernov), Tserkov’ Katakombnaia na Zemle Rossijskoj (The Catacomb Church in the Russian Land), MS, Old Woking, 1980 ®.

[26] Grabbe, Russkaia Tserkov’ pered litsom gospodstvuiushchego zla (The Russian Church in the Face of Dominant Evil), Jordanville, 1991, p. 4 ®.

[27] Babkin, op. cit.; Monk Benjamin, op. cit., p. 3.

[28] Tserkovnie Vedomosti (Church Gazette), 1917, № 9-15, pp. 69-70; Monk Benjamin, op. cit., p. 6.

[29] Groyan, op. cit., pp. CXCV-CXCVI; Monk Benjamin, op. cit., p. 7.

[30] Quoted in Groyan, op. cit., pp. 183-184.

[31] As Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) testified, “already in 1917 he [Sergius] was dreaming of combining Orthodox Church life with the subjection of the Russian land to Soviet power…” (“Preemstvennost’ Grekha” (The Heritage of Sin), Tsaritsyn, p. 7 ®).

[32] See Mikhail V. Shkarovskii, “The Russian Orthodox Church”, in Edward Acton, Vladimir Cherniaev, William Rosenberg (eds.), op. cit., p. 417; “K 80-letiu Izbrania Sv. Patriarkha Tikhona na Sviashchennom sobore Rossijskoj Tserkvi 1917-18gg.” (Towards the Election of his Holiness Patriarch Tikhon at the Sacred Council of the Russian Church, 1917-18), Suzdal’skie Eparkhial’nie Vedomosti (Suzdal Diocesan News), № 2, November, 1997, p. 19 ®.

[33] Bishop Gregory (Grabbe) wrote: “I can remember the opinions of those who knew him and who considered him to be a careerist and the complaints of hierarchs that he promised to retire with other members of the Synod in protest against Lvov, then he changed his mind and became head of the Synod” (Letter of April 23 / May 6, 1992 to Nicholas Churilov, Church News, April, 2003, p. 9).

[34] Monk Benjamin, op. cit., pp. 7-8.

[35] Monk Benjamin, op. cit., p. 8.

[36] The electors in Vladimir rejected beforehand all candidates who had displayed monarchist or “reactionary” tendencies before the revolution. The liberal Sergius was therefore a natural choice. See Paryaev, op. cit.

[37] V. Egorov, K istorii provozglashenia gruzinami avtokefalii svoej Tserkvi v 1917 godu (Towards a History of the Proclamation by the Georgians of the Autocephaly of their Church in 1917), Moscow, 1917, p. 9; in Monk Benjamin, op cit., p. 6.

[38] Monk Benjamin, op cit., pp. 8-9.

[39] Monk Benjamin, op. cit., p. 7. In May, Archbishop Eudocimus, Bishop Alexander and Bishop Alexander (Dzyubai) consecrated Archimandrite Aftimius (Ofiesha) as Bishop of Brooklyn in the place of the reposed head of the Syro-Arabian mission, Bishop Raphael (p. 8).

[40] Shkarovskii, op. cit., p. 418.

[41] Margaret Macmillan, Peacemakers, London: John Murray, 2003, pp. 358-362. Needless to say, the hostility between the Greeks and Turks goes back many centuries before Venizelos!

[42] Bishop Photius of Triaditsa, "The 70th Anniversary of the Pan-Orthodox Congress in Constantinople", Orthodox Life, 1, 1994, p. 40.

[43] In 1967 a eulogy of the Mason Meletius was published in the official bulletin of the Great Masonic Lodge of Greece by Alexander Zervudakis. It read: "The first time that he passed through Istanbul (in 1906), he made the acquaintance of Freemasons... These people... proposed to him, during his second stay in Istanbul, that he become a Freemason (1908)... He asked his colleagues, whom he esteemed, to give him some information on Freemasonry, so that he might decide… to follow the example of so many English and other foreign bishops, to get to know and to initiate himself into the mysteries hidden within Freemasonry. He was put into contact with the Harmony Lodge, Number 44, of Istanbul... and so Meletius received Masonic illumination, at the beginning of 1909... There are very few who, like Brother Meletius, have made Freemasonry the object of their life all their days." ("Meletius Metaxakis," Tektonikon Deltion: Organon tes Megales Stoas tes Hellados, 71, January-February, 1967 (G); translated in Dimitri Kitsikis, The Old Calendarists and the Rise of Religious Conservatism in Greece, Etna, Ca.: Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, 1995, p. 17). See also “Oecumenical Patriarch Meletios (Metaxakis)”, Orthodox Tradition, vol. XVII, №№. 2 & 3, 2000, pp. 2-8. However, according to the Masonic journal Pythagoras-Gnomon, Meletius joined the Harmony lodge in Constantinople on March 15, 1910, later reaching the highest (thirty-third) degree (Monk Paul, op. cit., pp. 49-59).

[44] Also after the war, on October 26, 1918, an unofficial conference between Meletius, Archimandrite Chrysostom Papadopoulos and Khamilka Alizivatos took place with Anglican bishops and theologians. Chrysostom, who later introduced the new calendar into the Church of Greece, accepted the validity of Anglican Orders (Report of an Unofficial Conference on Unity Between Members of the Episcopal Church in America and His Grace, Meletios Metaxakis, Metropolitan of Athens, and his Advisers, New York: Department of Missions, 1920; Monk Benjamin, op. cit., pp 26-28). (V.M.)

[45] Bishop Photius, op. cit., p. 40.

[46] D. Gatopoulos, Andreas Michalakopoulos, 1875-1938, Athens, Elevtheroudakis, 1947, pp. 90-93 (G); translated in Kitsikis, op. cit., pp. 9-11.

[47] Metropolitan Tikhon said: “Look! Her unfortunate, maddened children are tormenting our dear mother, your native Rus’, they are trying to tear her to pieces, they wish to take away her hallowed treasure – the Orthodox Faith. They defame your Father-Tsar, they destroy His portraits, they disparage his Imperial decrees, and mock him. Can your heart be calm before this, O Russian man? Again ask of your conscience. It will remind you of your truly loyal oath. It will say to you – be a loving son of your native land” (in Archimandrite Luke, “Nationalism, Russia, and the Restoration of the Patriarchate”, Orthodox Life, vol. 51, № 6, November-December, 2001, pp. 30-31).

[48] Translated in Nicholas Zernov, "The 1917 Council of the Russian Orthodox Church", Religion in Communist Lands, vol. 6, № 1, 1978, p. 21.

[49] L. Regelson, Tragedia Russkoj Tserkvi, 1917-1945 (The Tragedy of the Russian Church, 1917-1945), Moscow: Krutitskoe Patriarshee Podvorie, 1996, p. 217 ®.

[50] Hilarion, quoted in John Shelton, Church and State in Russia: The Last Years of the Empire 1900-1917, New York: Octagon Books, 1965, p. 260. Archimandrite Luke writes: “The idea that a Patriarch would replace the Tsar (especially after his execution) was not absent from the delegates’ understanding. ‘The proponents for the scheme to re-establish the Patriarchate emphasized the fact that “the state desired to be non-confessional, openly severing its alliance with the church”, and consequently the Church “must become militant and have its own spiritual leader”’. ‘Somehow the thought of Patriarch became associate with that of Tsar, while those opposed to the reestablishment of the Patriarchate brought forward democratic and republican principles.’” (“Nationalism, Russia and the Restoration of the Patriarchate”, Orthodox Life, November-December, 2001, p. 32)

[51] Firsov, Russkaia Tserkov’ nakanune Peremen (konets 1890-x – 1918 gg.) (The Russian Church on the eve of the Changes (end of the 1890s to 1918), Moscow, 2002, p. 542 ®.

[52] Monk Benjamin, op. cit., p. 15.

[53] Regelson, op. cit., p. 67.

[54] On the same day, however, the Council decreed that those killed on both sides in the conflict should be given Christian burials.

[55] Pipes, Russia under the Bolshevik Regime, 1919-1924, London: Fontana, 1995, p. 343. According to Regelson (op. cit., p. 226), this took place on January 19.

[56] Figes, A People’s Tragedy, London: Pimlico, 1997, p. 528; Archpriest Michael Polsky, The New Martyrs of Russia, new edition with additions, Wildwood, Alberta: Monastery Press, 2000, pp. 91-92.

[57] Professor Ivan Andreyev, "The Catacomb Church in the Soviet Union", Orthodox Life, March-April, 1951. For details of the destruction wrought against the Church in these years, see Vladimir Rusak, Pir Satany (Satan’s Feast), London, Canada: Zarya, 1991 ®.

[58] Russian text in M.E. Gubonin, Akty Svyateishego Patriarkha Tikhona (The Acts of His Holiness Patriarch Tikhon), Moscow: St. Tikhon's Theological Institute, 1994, pp. 82-85 ®.

[59] Gubonin, op. cit., pp. 280, 296.

[60] Gubonin, op. cit., p. 151.

[61] Deiania Sobora (The Acts of the Council). Another source quotes the following response of the Council to the patriarch’s anathema: “The Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia in his epistle to the beloved in the Lord archpastors, pastors and all faithful children of the Orthodox Church of Christ has drawn the spiritual sword against the outcasts of the human race – the Bolsheviks, and anathematised them. The head of the Russian Orthodox Church adjures all her faithful children not to enter into any communion with these outcasts. For their satanic deeds they are cursed in this life and in the life to come. Orthodox! His Holiness the Patriarch has been given the right to bind and to loose according to the word of the Saviour… Do not destroy your souls, cease communion with the servants of Satan – the Bolsheviks. Parents, if your children are Bolsheviks, demand authoritatively that they renounce their errors, that they bring forth repentance for their eternal sin, and if they do not obey you, renounce them. Wives, if your husbands are Bolsheviks and stubbornly continue to serve Satan, leave your husbands, save yourselves and your children from the soul-destroying infection. An Orthodox Christian cannot have communion with the servants of the devil… Repent, and with burning prayer call for help from the Lord of Hosts and thrust away from yourselves ‘the hand of strangers’ – the age-old enemies of the Christian faith, who have declared themselves in self-appointed fashion ‘the people’s power’… If you do not obey the Church, you will not be her sons, but participants in the cruel and satanic deeds wrought by the open and secret enemies of Christian truth… Dare! Do not delay! Do not destroy your soul and hand it over to the devil and his stooges.” ("Iz sobrania Tsentral'nogo gosudarstvennogo arkhiva Oktyabr'skoj revoliutsii: listovka bez vykhodnykh dannykh, pod № 1011" (From the collection of the Central State Archive of the October Revolution: pamphlet without dates, under № 1011), Nauka i Religia (Science and Religion), 1989, № 4 ®; partly translated in Arfed Gustavson, The Catacomb Church, Jordanville, N.Y.: Holy Trinity Monastery, 1960, p. 9). One member of the Council said: “If the father, mother, brothers and sisters did not receive the returning evil-doer, but expelled him, saying: ‘You are a scoundrel, your hands are covered in blood, you are not our son, nor our brother,’ the disorders would cease.” (Deiania Sobora (The Acts of the Council), vol. 6, p. 40 ®).

[62] Deiania Sobora (The Acts of the Council), p. 159 ®. In reply to this remark, Protopriest Elijah Gromoglasov said: “Our only hope is not that we may have an earthly tsar or president… but that there should be a heavenly Tsar, Christ”.

[63] Bogoslovskij Vestnik (The Theological Herald), 1, 1993, p. 217 ®.

[64] V.A. Konovalov, Otnoshenie khristianstva k sovyetskoj vlasti (The Relationship of Christianity to Soviet Power), Montreal, 1936, p. 35 ®. As Bishop Gregory (Grabbe), the foremost canonist of the Russian Church Abroad, wrote: “With regard to the question of the commemoration of authorities, we must bear in mind that now we are having dealings not simply with a pagan government like Nero’s, but with the apostasy of the last times. Not with a so far unenlightened authority, but with apostasy. The Holy Fathers did not relate to Julian the Apostate in the same way as they did to the other pagan Emperors. And we cannot relate to the antichristian authorities in the same way as to any other, for its nature is purely satanic.” (Pis’ma (Letters), Moscow, 1998, p. 85 ®)

[65] Konovalov, op. cit., p. 35.

[66] Alexis Rufimsky, “Biografia sviaschennomuchenika Nikolaia (Parfenova), episkopa Atkarskago, radi Khrista yurodivago ‘malenkago batiushki’” (A Biography of Hieromartyr Nicholas (Parthenov), Bishop of Aktar, fool for Christ, ‘the little batyushka’), Pravoslavnaia Rus’, № 17 (1782), September 1/14, 2005, p. 5 ®.

[67] Barmenkov, in Alexander Mikhalchenkov, “Tserkov’ v ogne” (The Church in the Fire), Pravoslavnij Vestnik (The Orthodox Herald)  (Canada), June-July, 1989, p. 9 ®.

[68] Sokolov, “Put’ Russkoj Pravoslavnoj Tserkvi v Rossii-SSSR (1916-1961)” (The Path of the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia and the USSR (1916-1961), in Russkaia Pravoslavnaia Tserkov’ v SSSR: Sbornik (The Russian Orthodox Church in the USSR: a Collection), Munich, 1962, p. 15 ®.

[69] Sokolov, op. cit., p. 15.

[70] Alferov, op. cit., pp. 16-17. For more on the Vladivostok Congress of the Land, see Demetrius Anakshin, “Poslednij zemskij sobor”, Pravoslavnaia Rus’, 21 (1594), November 1/14, 1997, pp. 10-11,15 ®, and M.B. Danilushkin, Istoria Russkoj Pravoslavnoj Tserkvi (A History of the Russian Orthodox Church), vol. I, St. Petersburg, 1997, chapter 6. The first decree of this Congress stated: “The Congress recognizes that the only path to the regeneration of a great, powerful and free Russia is the restoration in it of the monarchy, headed by a lawful Autocrat from the House of the Romanovs, in accordance with the Basic laws of the Russian Empire”).

[71] Regelson, op. cit., pp. 236-237.

[72] Lebedev, “St. Patriarch Tikhon and the Calendar Question Part 1”, orthodox@LISTSERV.INDIANA.EDU, 10 July, 2002.

[73] Monk Benjamin, op. cit., p. 21.

[74] Sviataia Rus’ (Holy Rus’), 2003; Monk Benjamin, op. cit., pp. 23-24.

[75] Cited in Orthodoxy America, June, 1987, pp. 10-11.

[76] Gubonin, op. cit., p. 143.

[77] Regelson, op. cit., p. 52; Gubonin, op. cit., p. 146.

[78] Cited in Anonymous, V Obiatiakh Semiglavago Zmia (In the Embraces of the Seven-Headed Serpent), Montreal, 1984, pp. 22-23 ®.

[79] Lenin, Letter to Gorky (1913), Polnoe Sobranie Sochinenij (Collected Works) (second edition, 1926-1932), vol. 17, pp. 81-86 ®. Cf. S.G. Pushkarev, Lenin i Rossia (Lenin and Russia), Frankfurt: Possev-Verlag, 1986, introduction ®: R. Wurmbrand, Was Karl Marx a Satanist?, Diane books, 1978.

[80] Liberman, S.I. “Narodnij komisar Krasin” (The People’s Commissar Krasin), Novij zhurnal (The New Journal), 7, 1944, p. 309 ®; quoted in Volkogonov, D. Lenin, London: Harper Collins, 1994, p. 372. According to another version of this anecdote, Lenin said: “The peasants should pray to it; in any case they will feel its effects long before they feel any effect from on high” (S. Courtois et al., The Black Book of Communism, Cambridge, Mass., London, England: Harvard University Press, 1999, p. 124).

[81] Lenin, op. cit., vol. 41, p. 309.

[82] Solzhenitsyn, Acceptance Speech, Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, 1983; Russkaia Mysl' (Russian Thought), 3465, 19 May, 1983, p. 6 ®.

[83] Trotsky, in Edvard Radzinsky, The Last Tsar, London: Arrow Books, 1993, p. 297.

[84] Metropolitan Anthony, "Tserkovnost' ili politika?" (Churchness or Politics?), Pravoslavnaia Rus' (Orthodox Russia), 9 (1558), May 1/14, 1996, p. 4 ®.

[85] Epistle of Catholicos Leonid to Patriarch Tikhon, August 5, 1919; Monk Benjamin, op. cit., p. 9.

[86] K.D. Kafafov, “Vospominania o vnutrennykh delakh Rossijskoj imperii” (Reminiscences of the Internal Affairs of the Russian Empire), Voprosy Istorii (Historical Questions), № 7, 2005, p. 93 ®.

[87] Gubonin, op. cit., pp. 71-75; Monk Benjamin, op. cit., p. 14.

[88] K.E. Skurat, Istoria Pomestnykh Pravoslavnykh Tserkvej (A History of the Local Orthodox Churches), chapter 1; Monk Benjamin, op. cit., pp. 37-38.

[89] Melia, "The Orthodox Church of Georgia", A Sign of God: Orthodoxy 1964, Athens: Zoe, 1964, pp. 112-113. According to Slava Katamidze, the number of victims was “enormous”, but “the real figure has never been published” (Loyal Comrades, Ruthless Killers, Staplehurst: Spellmount, 2003, p. 39).

[90] Barbara Jelavich, History of the Balkans, Cambridge University Press, 1983, volume 2, pp. 158-159.

[91] Monk Benjamin, op. cit., pp. 17, 18.

[92] Gubonin, op. cit., p. 155; Monk Benjamin, op. cit., pp. 24-25.

[93] Monk Benjamin, op. cit., p. 41.

[94] Glazkov, “Istoricheskie prichiny niekotorykh sobitij v istorii Rumynskoj Pravoslavnoj Tserkvi do II Mirovoj vojny” (The Historical Reasons for some Events in the History of the Romanian Orthodox Church before the Second World War), Tserkovnaia Zhizn’ (Church Life), №№ 3-4, May-August, 2000, pp. 46-48 ®.

[95] A Wreath on the Grave of the New Hieromartyr Vladimir of Kiev, Liberty, TN: St. John of Kronstadt Press, 1987, chapter 2.

[96] Monk Benjamin, op. cit., p. 58. According to another version, Lipkovsky was “consecrated” by placing his hand on the head of St. Clement, Pope of Rome. See Archbishop Leontius (Filippovich), “Tserkovnie shovinizm in samosviatstvo na Ukraine. K Istorii vozniknovenia UAPTs v 20-e gody XX st.” (Church Chauvinism and self-consecration in Uktraine. Towards a history of the appearance of the UAOC in the 20s of the 20th century”, ®.

[97] Protopresbyter Michael Polsky, Novie Mucheniki Rossijskie (The New Martyrs of Russia), Jordanville, 1957, part 2, chapter IV ®; “Hieromartyr Basil, Bishop of Priluky”, Orthodox Life, vol. 48, 6, November-December, 1998, pp. 39-50.

[98] "Spravka o Priniatii v Obschenie Episkopa Seraphima (Lyade)" (Document on the Reception of Bishop Seraphim (Lyade) into Communion), Tserkovnaia Zhizn' (Church Life), № 12, 1937 ®.

[99] See Archbishop Leontius (Philippovich), "Ukrainskie shovinsity i samosvyaty" (Ukrainian Chauvinists and Self-Consecrators), Russkij Pastyr (Russian Pastor), II-III, 1995, pp. 154-187 ®; J.-F. Meyer, Religions et securite internationale (Religions and International Security), Berne: Office Centrale de la Defense, 1995, p. 29 (F).

[100] Vestnik Russkogo Khristianskogo Dvizhenia (Herald of the Russian Christian Movement), 1968, №№ 89-90, pp. 19-23 ®; Monk Benjamin, op. cit., pp. 25-26.

[101] Nazarov, Tajna Rossii (The Mystery of Russia), Moscow: “Russkaia Idea”, 1999, pp. 85-86 ®.

[102] Denikin, Kto spas Sovetskuiu vlast’ ot gibeli? (Who Saved Soviet Power from Destruction?), Paris, 1937, in A.I. Denikin and A.A. von Lampe, Tragedia Beloj Armii (The Tragedy of the White Army), Moscow, 1991, p. 8 ®. Denikin said during the war: “You think that I’m going to Moscow to restore the throne of the Romanovs? Never!”

[103] Khrapovitsky, op. cit., p. 4.

[104] Anthony Lockley, “Propaganda and the First Cold War in North Russia, 1918-1919”, History Today, vol. 53 (9), September, 2003, pp. 46-53.

[105] Von Lampe, “Prichiny neudachi vooruzhennogo vystuplenia belykh” (The Reasons for the Failure of the Whites’ Armed Intervention), Berlin, 1929, in Denikin and von Lampe, op. cit., pp. 28-30 ®.

[106] Monk Benjamin, op. cit., pp. 35-36.

[107] Monk Benjamin, op. cit., pp. 30-31.

[108] Kniazev, V.V. Zhizn’ za vsekh i smert’ za vsekh (Life for all and death for all), Jordanville: Holy Trinity Monastery, 1971, pp. 20-23; S. Volkov, Admiral Aleksandr Vasilievich Kolchak, Moscow, 1991, pp. 70-81; Fr. Stefan Krasovitsky, "Otvet apologetu kommunisticheskoj ideologii" (Reply to an Apologist of the Communist Ideology), Pravoslavnaia Rus' (Orthodox Russia), 1553, February 15/28, 1996, p. 15 ®. According to another source, the Patriarch sent Bishop Nestor with the icon of St. Nicholas to Kolchak in Omsk with the following instruction: “Tell the people that if they do not unite and take Moscow again by armed force, then we will perish and Holy Rus’ will perish with us” (Gubanov, op. cit., p. 131).

[109] Regelson, op. cit., p. 237; Sokolov, op. cit., p. 16; Shkarovskii, op. cit., p. 423; Monk Benjamin, op. cit., pp. 38-39.

[110] Shkarovskii, op. cit., pp. 422, 423.

[111] Russkaia pravoslavnaia tserkov’ i kommunisticheskoe gosudarstvo, 1917-1941 (The Russian Orthodox Church and the Communist State, 1917-1941), Moscow: Terra, 1996, p. 69 ®.

[112] Roslof, Red Priests, Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2002, p. 27.

[113] Gustavson, op. cit., p. 34. In Petrograd alone 550 clergy and monks of all ranks were shot in the period 1917-1922 (Anatoly Latyshev, "Provesti besposhadnij Massovij Terror Protiv Popov" (Undertake a Ruthless Mass Terror against the Priests), Argumenty i Fakty (Arguments and Facts), 26, 1996 ®).

[114] Rusak, op. cit. However, it should be remembered that this was exclusively an anti-Orthodox rather than an anti-religious struggle; for at the same time as he persecuted Orthodoxy, Lenin viewed Islam as an ally in spreading world revolution to the countries of the East, and he did not persecute the Catholics or Protestants (Latyshev, op. cit.).

[115] Latsis, Ezhenedel’nik ChK (Cheka Weekly), № 1; in Priest Vladimir Dmitriev, Simbirskaia Golgofa (Simbirsk’s Golgotha), Moscow, 1997, p. 4 ®.

[116] Shkarovskii, op. cit., pp. 423-424.

[117] "To imerologiakon skhisma apo istorikes kai kanonikes apopseos exetazomenon" (The Calendar Schism from an Historical and Canonical Point of View), Agios Agathangelos Esphigmenites (St. Agathangelos of Esphigmenou), 130, March-April, 1992, p. 16 (G).

[118] Monk Benjamin, op. cit., p. 29.

[119] Goutzidis, Ekklesiologika Themata (Ecclesiological Themes), Athens, 1980, pp. 67-68 (G).

[120] Monk Benjamin, op. cit., p. 37.

[121] Goutzidis, op. cit., p. 68.

[122] Monk (now Bishop) Ephraim, Letter on the Calendar Issue, Brookline, Mass.: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1968, second edition 1979, St. Nectarios Educational Series, 2.

[123] Alexis Alexandris, The Greek Minority of Istanbul and Greek-Turkish Relations, 1918-1974, Athens: Centre for Asia Minor Studies, 1983, pp. 54-57.

[124] Alexandris, op. cit., p. 58.

[125] Averky, "O polozhenii pravoslavnago khristianina v sovremennom mire" (On the Position of the Orthodox Christian in the Contemporary World), in Istinnoe Pravoslavie i Sovremennij Mir (True Orthodoxy and the Contemporary World), Jordanville, 1972 ®.

[126] Troitsky, The Unity of the Church and the World Conference of Christian Communities, Montreal: The Monastery Press, 1975, pp. 13-15.

[127] Vasilios Stavrides, Istoria tou Oikoumenikou Patriarkheiou (1453 – simeron) (A History of the Ecumenical Patriarchate (1453 to the present day), Thessalonica, 1987, pp. 248-249 (G).

[128] Stavrides, op. cit., pp. 260, 247.

[129] Fr. George Macris, The Orthodox Church and the Ecumenical Movement, Seattle: St. Nectarios Press, 1986, pp. 4-5.

[130] Alexandris, op. cit., p. 62.

[131] Paul Gerrard, in Monk Benjamin, op. cit., p. 51.

[132] Before being evacuated, while still in Ekaterinodar, Metropolitan Anthony came out of the cathedral, accompanied by all the clergy, and addressed the thousands of faithful, asking them – for one knows, he said, that “the voice of the people is the voice of God” - whether they should leave with the White Army or stay in Russia and suffer for the faith. The crowd replied that they should leave (Monk Anthony (Chernov), Archvêque Theopane de Poltava (Archbishop Theophanes of Poltava), Lavardac: Monastère de St. Michael, 1988, p. 73 (F)) (V.M.).

[133] On that day more than 125 Russian and foreign vessels full of Russian refugees, about 150,000 people, arrived in the Bosphorus. The session of the HCA took place on board the steamer Great Prince Alexander Mikhailovich. In it took part Metropolitan Anthony of Kiev, Metropolitan Plato of Odessa, Archbishop Theophan of Poltava and Bishop Benjamin of Sebastopol. It was decided to continue the prerogatives of the members of the HCA, discussing all aspects of the Church life of the refugees and soldiers in all states having relations with the Ecumenical Patriarch (Monk Benjamin, op. cit., pp. 47-48). (V.M.)

[134] Other points in this extremely important ukaz:

     “1) In the event that the Sacred Synod and the Higher Ecclesiastical Council for any reason whatever terminate their ecclesiastical administrative activity, the diocesan bishop, for instructions in directing his ministry and for the resolution of cases in accordance with rules which go back to the Higher Church Administration, turns directly to His Holiness the Patriarch or to that person or institution indicated by His Holiness the Patriarch.

     “4) In the case of the impossibility of establishing relations with bishops of neighbouring dioceses, and until the organization of a higher instance of ecclesiastical authority, the diocesan bishop takes upon himself all the fullness of authority granted him by the canons of the Church, taking all measures for the ordering of Church life and, if it seems necessary, for the organization of the diocesan administration, in conformity with the conditions which have arisen, deciding all cases granted by the canons to episcopal authority, with the cooperation of existing organs of diocesan administration (the diocesan assembly, the diocesan council, et al., or those that are newly organized); in case of the impossibility of constituting the above indicated institutions, he is under his own recognizance.

     “5) In case the state of things indicated in paragraphs 2 and 4 takes on a protracted or even a permanent character, in particular with the impossibility for the bishop to benefit from the cooperation of the organs of the diocesan administration, by the most expedient means (in the sense of the establishment of ecclesiastical order) it is left to him to divide the diocese into several local dioceses, for which the diocesan bishop:

     “a) grants his right reverend vicar bishops, who now, in accordance with the Instruction, enjoy the rights of semi-independent bishops, all the rights of diocesan bishops, with the organization by them of administration in conformity to local conditions and resources;  

     “b) institutes, by conciliar decision with the rest of the bishops of the diocese, as far as possible in all major cities of his own diocese, new episcopal Sees with the rights of semi-independent or independent bishops.

     “6) A diocese divided in the manner specified in paragraph 5 forms an ecclesiastical district headed by the bishop of the principle diocesan city, which commences the administration of local ecclesiastical affairs in accordance with the canons.

     “7). If, in the situation indicated in paragraphs 2 and 4, there is found a diocese lacking a bishop, then the Diocesan Council or, in its absence, the clergy and laity, turns to the diocesan bishop of the diocese nearest or most accessible to regards convenience or relations, and the aforesaid bishop either dispatches his vicar bishop to administer the widowed (i.e. vacant) diocese or undertakes its administration himself, acting in the cases indicated in paragraph 5 and in relation to that diocese in accordance with paragraphs 2 and 6, under which, given the corresponding facts, the widowed diocese can be organized into a special ecclesiastical district.

     “8) If for whatever reason an invitation from a widowed diocese is not forthcoming, the diocesan bishop indicated in paragraph 7 undertakes the care of its affairs on his own initiative.

     “9) In case of the extreme disorganization of ecclesiastical life, when certain persons and parishes cease to recognize the authority of the diocesan bishop, the latter, finding himself in the position indicated in paragraphs 2 and 6, does not relinquish his episcopal powers, but forms deaneries and a diocese; he permits, where necessary, that the divine services be celebrated even in private homes and other places suited to that purpose, and severs ecclesiastical communion with the disobedient.

     “10) All measures taken in places in accordance with the present instruction, afterwards, in the event of the restoration of the central ecclesiastical authority, must be subject to the confirmation of the latter.”

[135] Traskovsky, "Istoria Russkoj Zarubezhnoj Tserkvi, 1921-1939 gg." (A History of the Russian Church Abroad, 1921-1939), Pravoslavnij Put' (The Orthodox Way), Jordanville, N.Y.: Holy Trinity Monastery, 1995, pp. 20-24 ®. Sremskie Karlovtsy was a significant centre for the Russian Church in Exile because in 1691 37,000 Serbian families had fled there from Turkish-ruled Serbia with the blessing of Patriarch Arsenius III, forming an autonomous metropolitanate in 1712. Just as the Serbs fled west from the Turks, so the Russians now fled west from the Bolsheviks.

[136] Monk Benjamin, op. cit., p. 51.

[137] Gubonin, op. cit., p. 695; Monk Benjamin, op. cit., p. 57.

[138] Academic Ivan Snegarov, Otnosheniata mezhdu B’lgarskata ts’rkva i drugite pravoslavni ts’rkvi sled prov’zglasiavaneto na skhizmata (Relations between the Bulgarian Church and other Orthodox Churches following the declaration of the schism) (B); Monk Benjamin, op. cit., p. 61.

[139] Monk Benjamin, op. cit., pp. 60-61.

[140] Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Boston, A History of the Russian Church Abroad, Seattle: St. Nectarios Press, 1961, p. 24; Archbishop Nikon (Rklitsky), Zhizneopisanie Blazhennejshago Antonia, Mitropolita Kievskago i Galitskago (A Life of his Beatitude Anthony, Metropolitan of Kiev and Galich), New York, 1960, vol. VI, p. 36 ®. 

[141] Macmillan, Peacemakers, London: John Murray, 2003, pp. 440-441.

[142] Macmillan, op. cit., p. 443.

[143] Curzon, in Matthew Stewart, “Catastrophe at Smyrna”, History Today, vol. 54 (7), July, 2004, pp. 28-29.

[144] Macmillan, op. cit., p. 451.

[145] Macmillan, op. cit., p. 459.

[146] Nicolson, History, 1919-1925, 1934, p. 250; quoted in Jean de Murat, The Great Extirpation of Hellenism & Christianity in Asia Minor, Miami, 1999, p. 95.

[147] Churchill, Memoirs; in Murat, op. cit., p. 108.

[148] Murat writes, basing himself on the account by Edward Hale Bierstadt in The Great Betrayal: “Just after midday on Monday, 11 September 1922, the Turkish High Commander Noureddin sent men to arrest the Greek Archbishop Chrysostom and to bring him to his Residency Konak. The reverend priest arrived there separately from the Turkish escort, accompanied by a French naval attachment of 12 men. The old Archbishop ascended the stairs of the Residency with difficulty and, entering the General’s office, held out his hand to greet him. Noureddin, instead of taking it, spat at him in uncontrolled anger and, showing the venerable and eminent priest a file which was open on the table, said to him savagely: ‘Based on these sworn statements, the court in Ankara has already sentenced you to death. It is only remains for the people to carry out this judicial decision’. And shouting out with unsuppressed violence ‘Take yourself out of my sight!’, he made a sign at the same time to the guards, who pushed the Archbishop out.

     “The reverend priest descended the stairs of the mansion slowly and at the same time Noureddin went out onto the balcony, shouting to the crowd of fanatical Turks who were gathered there (from a French translation): ‘Give him what he deserves’. The savage brutality which followed is absolutely horrific. They fell upon him like hungry wolves. They put out his eyes, they cut out his tongue, his ears and his nose, they pulled out his hair and his beard in their frantic mania, they cut off his hands and did other unspeakable horrors. Then they put a chain around his butchered body, hung him on the back of a car and dragged him around the square and towards the Turkish quarters. The French marines who had escorted Chrysostom to the Residency and who were waiting for his return, went crazy when they saw this brutal savagery. Some of them hurled themselves instinctively forward to give human protection to the victim, but the leader of the detachment forbade them to proceed. They were an insignificant minority under the circumstances and they would doubtless have met the same fate as the unfortunate Archbishop from the maniacal crowd had they thoughtlessly proceeded to take action. The French leader of the detachment himself had his pistol ready in his hand, but he was trembling from head to foot from the outrageous spectacle. One of the French naval detachment testified later, saying bitterly: ‘That’s why we didn’t dare to use our own arms’. ‘They finished off Chrysostom in front of our very eyes’.” (op. cit., pp. 137-138)

[149] Fr. Raphael Moore (ORTHODOX@LISTSERV.INDIANA.EDU, January 17, 1999) calculates that the following numbers of Greeks were killed in Asia Minor: in 1914 – 400,000 in forced labour brigades; 1922 - 100,000 in Smyrna; 1916-22 – 350,000 Pontians during forced deportations; 1914-22 – 900,000 from maltreatment, starvation in all other areas.

[150] Murat, op. cit., p. 128.