Back Issue: December 1998
METROPOLITAN VITALY'S CHRISTMAS EPISTLECHRIST IS BORN! GLORIFY HIM!
I greet you, all the children of our Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, in the diaspora and throughout the vast expanses of our native land, with the Great Festival of the Birth of Christ. Each of the great feasts always becomes deeply entrenched in our way of life, enlivening it and sanctifying it. Even the gathering of children round the Christmas tree and our greetings and exchanges of gifts transform us with a festive spirit. The Nativity fast ends with the strictest day of all. On Christmas Eve nobody eats anything until the first star appears and then only strict lenten food, including the traditional boiled wheat with honey. After that everyone prepares to go to church in their best festive clothes.
Now I would like to direct your spiritual gaze to the very mystery of this feast. He who is born among us is unlike any other. He is holy, the holiest of all that is holy, Our Lord Jesus Christ, the God-Man; one of mankind, just as we all are, but also the sinless one, and God, in order to draw all of us after Him into the Kingdom of God, and to make us gods, as King David said, addressing us: "I have said, you are gods..." This is the spiritual substance of this feast - its mystery. All of our saints understood this inner meaning of it very well and dedicated their whole lives to coming close in every aspect of their humanity to the image of Jesus Christ from Nazareth. Sts. Anthony the Great, Macarius the Great and our Russian saints, St. Sergius of Radonezh, St. Seraphim of Sarov, St. John of Kronstadt and the countless multitude of righteous ones, both those known to us and those unknown, themselves became holy people, righteous ones and miracle workers.
May the Lord help us to set out on this path of drawing near to the God-Man, to Christ the Saviour, as each of us can, and as much as he is able. We do not need to walk on water, to make bread out of stones and fish out of serpents; what we all need is that the grace of God the Holy Spirit should guide our minds, our hearts and our wills. This is the great gift that I wish to you all, for I know of no other gift that is greater. Amen.
(Vertograd-Inform, New York)
On November 25, walking down a street near the ROCA Bishopric Synodal building in New York, Right Reverend Metropolitan VITALY fell on a slippery sidewalk and injured himself. His Eminence, the First Hierarch of ROCOR was rushed to a hospital and operated on that same day. His Eminence VITALY checked out of the hospital shortly after the operation, and is currently based in the Synodal building. Metropolitan VITALY's health is getting back to normal, and he is gradually returning to his regular duties. On December 1, His Eminence the Metropolitan chaired a meeting of the Synod of Bishops.
On October 23, the Cathedral of the Protection of the Virgin in Chaldovar, Panfilovsk Municipality, Chu Region, Kirgizia, owned by the community of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, was forcefully occupied by Moscow Patriarchate priests. Four priests of the Moscow Patriarchate, accompanied by member of a governmental commission Natalia Shadrova, broke into the church and made an inventory of all church property while a local police detachment headed by Captain Manabekov watched without taking any active part in the raid. All the documentation, evidence of the ROCA community's title to the property and funds located inside the church, were seized. The Rector of the parish of the Protection of the Virgin, Reverend Vladimir Klippenstein filed a lawsuit against the raiders.
In his reply to a request filed by Keston News Service, chairman of a government commission, Emilbek Kartagayev said that ROCA had no right to use the church building because the latter was erected 125 years ago. Emilbek Kartagayev also noted that, although the ROCA community was initially registered on February 6, 1993, in November, 1996, the Kirgiz President issued a decree ordering all religious organizations to re-register. From that time until September, 1998, when the activity of the ROCA community was banned completely, the community had been denied registration repeatedly. Emilbek Kartagayev acknowledged the fact that the ROCA community was the only religious organization to be denied registration. Not a single sectarian organization (sic!) has ever encountered such a problem. Apparently, the presidential decree was specifically targeted to outlaw our Church in Kirgizia.
On October 22, the day before the cathedral raid, Reverend Vladimir Klippenstein was invited to meet with Chaldovar police chiefs. During the meeting which was attended by head of the local municipal government Almaz Zaparaliev and his deputy Vladimir Zakharchenko, three police officers tried to force Reverend Vladimir to hand over the title documents, but failed. Their attempt was probably designed to prevent submission of the documents to the court. The raid of the Cathedral of the Protection of the Virgin was preceded by a veritable propaganda campaign conducted by local MP clergy. In their sermons and via the mass media MP priests declared that the rites of baptism and wedding were invalid if administered by the Russian Church Abroad. Reverend Vladimir Klippenstein has been a priest at the Cathedral of the Protection of the Virgin since February, 1991, when the local authorities transferred the ruins of this church to his community. The parish of the Cathedral of the Protection of the Virgin joined the Russian Church, which is canonically subordinate to the Synod of ROCO Bishops, early in the 1992. Back then, Reverend Vladimir was welcomed to ROCA by Right Reverend MARC, Archbishop of Berlin and Germany, who instructed Rev. Vladimir to carry out missionary work among citizens of German origin residing in Kirgizia. Shortly after the community joined our Church, an MP envoy attending a local rural community meeting urged local residents to return the church to the MP; however, the people preferred to remain true to the True Church. In mid-1994, the church's domes and bell tower were fully restored.
Several articles on our Church's Chaldovar community have been carried by the Russian Pastor (#13, 1992) and Orthodox Russia (#13, 1992; #20, 1994) journals.
The community of the Protection of the Virgin from Zhabory village in the Pskov Region joined ROCA last October in accordance with the last will and testament of its departed rector, Father Seraphim (Shankov). It was painful for Father Seraphim, a devout Orthodox zealot, to observe the process of sweeping and unanimous reconciliation with the heresy of ecumenism and other latter-day anti-ecclesiastical developments. When he talked to his spiritual children, he always mentioned the Russian Church Abroad as the only custodian of True Orthodoxy. Father Seraphim acquired this conviction as a result of many years of ecclesiastical experience. Late last summer, Father Seraphim and his parish decided to join ROCA. Father Seraphim would never see this reunion formalized. On August 31 (September 13) he died of a heart attack. His orphaned and grieving flock proceeded to join the True Church and went under the provisional jurisdiction of Hieromonk Sophrony (Musienko), Rector of the Cathedral of St. Michael the Archangel, in Vyshegorod. The larger community, including a few monastics (Hieromonk Alexander, two nuns and a monk), was followed by many spiritual children of Father Seraphim from Moscow, St. Petersburg, Mid-Russia and the Urals, who also joined ROCA. The community further decided to give up the church they had spent years of hard and selfless work restoring, and to worship in an annex. On Sunday, November 15, a local MP Hierarch, Archbishop Yevsevy, came to Zhabory to look into certain property matters. The Hierarch demanded and received the keys to the church. An MP priest accompanying the Archbishop tried to intimidate the community, saying the diocese could contract the services of bandits to deal with the local parishioners. The Hierarch himself said, literally, the following:
I will do my very best to have this community fade away like smoke from the land of Pskov. The Hierarch's case against ROCA boiled down to repetitive statements that our Church is American. Archbishop Yevsevy would make only one comment about himself: suffice it to say that I am not an ecumenist".
INCORRUPT RELICS OF METROPOLITAN PHILARET (VOZNESENSKY), THE THIRD ROCA HIERARCH, RECOVEREDOn Tuesday, November 10, in the burial vault under the alter of the graveyard Church of the Assumption - a part of the Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville - Right Reverend Archbishop of Syracuse and Trinity LAURUS and local priests served a panakhida service at the tomb of the ever memorable Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky), former First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. Thereafter, the tomb was opened as it had been decided to transfer the relics of Metropolitan Philaret to a new crypt behind the Monastery's Cathedral. The transfer was scheduled for November 21, the Day of the Archangelt Michael and All Angels. To the singing of Holy God.. the coffin was placed in the middle of the vault and opened by Archbishop LAURUS. Metropolitan Philaret's raiment, his New Testament, both panagias, the cross and the paten covering his face were intact. His wrists were white in color. No smell was noted. Having made the sign of the cross, His Grace LAURUS lifted the paten veiling the face. The remains of His Eminence the Metropolitan were found in perfect integrity; his beard and skin were completely incorrupt. According to an eyewitness, the remains looked very much like the relics of the Miracle-Worker, Archbishop John of Shanghai and San Francisco.
Archpriest Konstantin Fyodorov: It happened on Tuesday, November 10. His Eminence Laurus, Archbishop of Syracuse and Trinity, decided to serve a panikhida in the church vault of the Holy Trinity Monastery's cemetery. After the service, in the presence of Archimandrite Lucas, Archimandrite Peter, Archpriest Grigory Naumenko and lay brother Peter, His Eminence proceeded to open the coffin to prepare it for relocation to the Holy Trinity Cathedral (where there is a special sanctuary behind the alter where Their Eminences Metropolitan Anastasius, Archbishop Averky and Archbishop Tikhon are buried). Upon opening the coffin, all those present greatly rejoiced, as the relics were found completely untouched by decomposition. According to Father Grigory, these relics looked just like the relics of St John of Shanghai and San Francisco. Evidently, the same phenomenon was at work in the case of Metropolitan Philaret.
Vertograd-Inform: Father Konstantin, where are the relics now? how are they being worshipped? do they work any miracles?
Archpriest Konstantin Fyodorov: Since I have received an invitation to attend the transference ceremony, I assume that the relics are still in the churchyard vault. They could have been taken out and placed inside the cathedral. I don't really know.
Vertograd-Inform: When do you think the official glorification of His Eminence Philaret could take place?
Archpriest Konstantin Fyodorov: At first, evidence of miracles will probably be collected. Miracles are, indeed, already happening. I would like to share with you an account of a minor miracle which was not, however, that small for my dear mother. Before coming here, we traveled around France extensively. Once we had a seven-hour drive ahead of us. After two hours of driving our car's engine died. I thought we had run out of gasoline. I kept retrying the pedal but it didn't work. We were in the middle of nowhere, and my mother started to panic. I told her: Don't worry, I'm wearing His Eminence Metropolitan Philaret's epitrachelion. Moreover, I have the Life-Giving Cross on me. Why don't you pray instead. Two seconds later she burst out, from the depth of her heart: Your Grace, Father Metropolitan, please help us. Your child is sitting here. Don't mind me, I'm unworthy, do it for his sake. Send us on our way!. I turned the key, and the car started as if nothing had happened. My mother was overjoyed.
As to the glorification of His Eminence Metropolitan Philaret, a relevant decision of the Synodl is to be expected. The fact that the relics are untouched by decay is probably insufficient grounds for glorification, so evidence of miracles will have to be collected. But I am certain that the glorification ceremony will be held very soon.
Vertograd-Inform: Father Konstantin, how do the laity, clergy and hierarchs of our Church feel about this event?
Archpriest Konstantin Fyodorov: Everyone I know is certainly experiencing paschal joy right now. We are all jubilant: the priests, the hierarchs, and laymen. We are rejoicing both in Russia and abroad.
Indeed, why would someone with such a strong record of opposition to ecumenism as His Eminence Averky's, rather than some other hierarch with proven liberal views, condone a Coptic service in his church? Why would His Eminence Averky, of all hierarchs, attempt to justify himself by citing the fact that no one observes the canons anymore? He realized perfectly well that the Copts, as members of the Oriental Church, were heretics, and that it was against the canons to let heretics worship in an Orthodox sanctuary, and especially, to join them in their prayers. It is quite obvious that if Catholics rather than Copts had been involved, no heretical liturgy would have been served in Jordanville.
How did the differences between the two Hierarchs - Archbishop Averky and Metropolitan Philaret - who were both known for their particularly pious adherence to the Teachings of the Holy Fathers, manifest themselves in this case?
It appears that the reason lies in the different perception of what being true to the Tradition of the Church really means. For His Eminence Philaret, it meant adherence to the unadulterated teachings of the Holy Fathers as handed down by them in their writings, in examples taken from their lives, and in the religious commandments they left behind. As for His Eminence Averky, although guided by the same principles, his actions were, to an extent, aligned with relatively recent day-to-day practices of the church, especially from the time preceding the Russian Bolshevik Revolution when, incidentally, the life of the Russian Orthodox Church was in many ways very far removed from the teachings of the Holy Fathers. For instance, Russia was traditionally opposed to the Latin (Catholic) Church, and so was His Eminence Averky. However, in the habitual negation of Catholicism, aversion to the heresy per se was blended with rejection of an alien culture posing a very real threat to the Russian culture. When a heresy unusual and unknown to a Russian entered the scene, to which only the dogmas and canons could serve as guidance, His Eminence Averky's anti-ecumenism crashed down around him. Not only did he let the Copts worship in Jordanville with theological college students praying during their liturgy; in response to those rebuking him he actually claimed that no one observed the canons anymore. His Eminence Averky was the person we would have least expected to come up with this kind of argument.
Metropolitan Philaret's stance was both ecclesiastically correct in the true sense of the word hallowed by the Holy Fathers' Teachings, and full of wise foresight.
In contrast to the apostatic official, or secularized, Orthodoxy, His Eminence Philaret was always concerned with creating true Orthodox churches upholding the Orthodox Teachings of the Holy Fathers and having no ecclesiastical relations with apostates. In addition to the Russian Church Abroad which harbored exponents of many an ecumenical denomination, this concern of His Eminence Philaret extended to other true Orthodox Churches, especially the Greek Old Calendarists. In this light, the incident of Coptic service in Jordanville was particularly offensive to him. He voiced his fear lest our Church should lose its new children.
Today, almost 30 years later, the choice between the dogmatic and canonical purity of Orthodoxy, on one hand, and routine ecclesiastical life, on the other hand, has only become more of a problem for our Church. As all earthly things, the conventional lifestyle of the church will always occasionally come into conflict with our Christian duty. At the moment, external manifestations of church life on either side of the borderline separating MP and ROCA are becoming increasingly similar. Partly due to MP's successful restoration of its ecclesiastical activities, and partly due to the naturally waning numbers of keepers of old traditions within ROCA, MP has been, not unsuccessfully, gaining on the Russian Church Abroad in upholding the Russian Orthodox traditions from before the Bolshevik Revolution. This alone - and it's not the only reason - could give a powerful impetus to the process of mutual recognition by MP and ROCA as two parts of the same Russian Church. If there is anything that's capable of saying a firm no to such recognition it's the dogmas and canons.
If we regard dogmas and canons as theory, and golden domes and fascinating stories by Ivan Shmelyov as life, we need to normalize our relations with MP as soon as possible and secure ourselves some kind of environmental niche in World Orthodoxy. If we regard an Orthodox idyll according to Ivan Shmelyov as no more than a passing weather condition or last year's snowfall, while dogmas and canons, along with other commandments of the Holy Fathers, are words of life, of life eternal, perhaps, there is still hope that we will follow in the footsteps of the eternally memorable Metropolitan Philaret.
Both letters are reprinted from photocopies of typewritten originals signed personally by his Eminence Philaret.
Your Eminence and Grace,
Early last week, one of the archpriests of our Church advised me that a Coptic (i.e. Monophysite, heretical) service had been administered at the lower church of the Holy Trinity Cloister.
Mindful that Your Eminence confirmed this information in your reply to my request made in connection therewith, in order to secure a safeguard against the possible temptation, please cause the following to be accomplished:
1. Consecrate the lower church with holy water and read an appropriate prayer suitable for reading in a church defiled by the presence of heretics (The Book of Prayer, Chapter 40 or 41).
2. Until the above is accomplished, all worship and praying in the lower church must be stopped forthwith.
Brother in Christ of Your Eminence
Your Eminence, Dear Hierarch,
Please, find attached my official memorandum to you. I would also like to comment on your letter to me which I have just received.
Let me start from the beginning. Last Monday or Tuesday I received a telephone call from one of our archpriests advising that a Coptic (i.e. Monophysite) service had been held at the lower church of the Holy Trinity Cloister.
These tidings were hard to believe, and I expressed my doubts. The caller assured me that his source was absolutely reliable and that he did not have the slightest doubt that this information was true. I promised that I would verify this, and proceeded to seek your information. Vladika. Laurus was going to teach classes at the seminary on Wednesday, so I asked him to try and find out about it, too. He agreed, but when he came back, he would not tell me anything. As he was obviously trying to avoid this matter, I never mentioned it again, waiting for a reply from Your Eminence.
I have received your reply today. In the days preceding it, I was advised of the Coptic service by different parties in all manner of ways. I have also heard various arguments in support of this fact, and they are going to be the subject of this letter.
First of all, I would like to bring to your attention something which you, as an enlightened hierarch and theologian, already know, but which to me is the decisive criterion for evaluating this incident. The word Mono-physite obviously means of one nature in literal translation. This meaning is in line with the heretical pseudo-teaching of
Monophysites who maintain that our Savior was of one nature only, the Divine nature, as his human nature had allegedly vanished or dispersed without a trace in His Divine nature like a tiny drop in an endless sea.
Given this state of things, is not a Coptic or Monophysite liturgy but a piece of non-representational nonsense without any real substance or meaning? Indeed, the subject-matter of the mystery of the Eucharist are the Divine Flesh and Blood of Christ - the Flesh that suffered for us, and the Blood that was shed for us. Yet the Flesh and the Blood are appurtenances of the human nature of our Savior: God can neither suffer nor die. If the Monophysites completely deny the human nature of our Savior, what meaning can their liturgy possibly have? Verily their Eucharist is of the kind that our Holy Fathers bluntly referred to as demons' food. Think what you may, Your Eminence, but I would never allow this blasphemous nonsense in the church or on any other premises.
Eyewitnesses have categorically testified that our theology students bowed (albeit not to the ground) to the Coptic elevation. We cannot deny that such bowing is a manifestation of religious reverence and that, therefore, there occurred a form of complicity in what was going on, namely, in the prayers of heretics. You know how merciless the holy canons are when it comes to participating in heretical services. The canons that deal with this are the strictest. Thus the Church resolutely safeguards itself against any form of communion with those outside its domain. That's where the Copts are, too. No matter what has been said about the recent rapprochement between us, we are still divided by the same chasm which they cannot cross except by complete negation of their false teaching and acceptance of the Orthodox teaching. The heat of ancient ecclesiastical debates has long since worn off. Moreover, the Copts are certainly closer to us than, say, the Catholics, in such aspects as fasting and other ascetic fundamentals. This was pointed out by the Holiest Metropolitan Anthony and his faithful disciple and adherent, His Eminence John. However, as long as their principal dogma persists, they will stay outside our domain.
Didn't the very fact that they were allowed to worship in an Orthodox cathedral signify a form of approval of their ritual? If some graceless Samosvyats or simply impostors wished to worship in an Orthodox church, wouldn't they be turned down? But not the Copts; these were allowed to serve as priests, like our own Orthodox clerics. Your Eminence, do you remember Rule 45 of the Holy Apostles?
It is true that we administer our divine services at Our Lord's Grave and at Our Lady's, and that the Copts and the Catholics do so, too, but can we put our routine sermons on an equal footing with the things that take place in the center of World Christianity? All things therein executed are anything but routine, and are inconceivable elsewhere. Moreover, if those sacred places were in our hands, no Copts or Catholics would be allowed to serve there. Meanwhile, by God's will, or through His negligence, we are no masters there.
You advised, Your Eminence, that the lower church had not been sanctified. To this I will reply that when I was in that church, prayed there, and received communion at the holy altar, the priest who was serving at that time from an appropriate place was praying for this temple and those who enter it with faith, veneration and awe of God... Do these words mean nothing?
Our prayer books contain prayers for reopening a temple after it has been defiled by heretics. These prayers are meant to purify from heretical filth a temple that was forcefully occupied by heretics. Before resuming Orthodox services in that temple, these prayers should have been read there. What can I say in this case? The temple was never forcefully occupied; its Orthodox clergy willfully allowed heretics to say their heretical prayers in it.
References are made to His Eminence John... I have only one thing to add to what has been said about him above. Two days ago, His Eminence John was the subject of a conversation I had with a person His Eminence had known as far back as Yugoslavia. When the war struck in the Forties, followed by post-war chaos, this man had to travel the world extensively to survive. When he met His Eminence again several years later, he proceeded to tell him about his vicissitudes. One of the things he said was: For three years, I had to live in a place without an Orthodox temple, so I went to the Copts. What? You went to a Coptic church? asked His Eminence John. Intimidated (so he says) by the strict tone of His Eminence's voice, the man replied: Yes, I did, but I never attended any of their liturgies. Did you attend their all-night services? Yes, I did, Your Eminence. Have you repented this? No, I haven't, but the thing is I never prayed during their all-night services; I only attended them. Here's what you must do: next time you go to confession, make sure you repent of having attended a heretical service, concluded His Eminence John.
As for violations of the canons which you, Your Eminence, are lamenting, you are right; the canons really are violated these days. However, I don't know if this regrettable fact may be used as a defensive argument. Wouldn't it sound very much like that story about a thief charged with thievery and unable to prove his innocence who tells the court in justification of his crime that all his neighbors also steal? This defense tactic didn't do much for the poor fellow.
Your Eminence, you wrote to me about economia. I do not doubt for a second that you were motivated by your pastoral desire to render charitable assistance to victims of a heresy denounced by the Universal Council. What I do doubt though is that the principle of economia can go quite that far. You were right in remarking: maybe I shouldn't have let them do that either. When it comes to saving souls from delusion, the Fathers accept and approve of economia. However, no matter how and in what form economia is applied, it must not deviate from its essential postulate whereby it must always be made clear to heretics that Christian Truth is something that only Orthodoxy can give them. Heretics know not the Truth, or else their Truth is mutilated and distorted. They may not partake of the Truth except through full rejection of their heresy and full acceptance of Orthodoxy, including its dogmas, its moral commandments, its divine rituals, canons, rules, etc.
Your Holy Eminence, in writing this, it is not my intention to bother you or argue with you out of my obstinacy. Wishing to be frank with you as a hierarch acting in good faith, I have to tell you that I consider this incident to be incomparably more dangerous than the once-sensational case of the impostor, the US $138,000 case, the Serb issue, and all the rest of them. Those cases were all due to someone's negligence, someone's errors, or discord of an ecclesiastical-political nature (the Serb issue), but no one could accuse us of stepping back from Orthodoxy; our faith and the dogmas remained inviolate. Look how many souls joined us after those events: they sought the Truth and they found it in our Church. What next? Word of the heretical services conducted at the Holy Trinity Cloister will travel fast. Every day fearfully I await questions from, say, the Old Calendarists or the Greeks, such as: is it true that heretics served at Jordanville? What shall I tell them? I cannot deny it, neither can I lie (lies would only exacerbate the situation; what if we lied and later the truth would come out). Shall I cite the principle of economia? They would probably note that the history of the Church has not known such economia that meets heretics halfway in their heretical commandments and rites. What will happen if our new children turn away from us?
It gives me no joy to hear what believers say they had heard from resident monks of Jordanville: Ecumenism is thriving here: heretics administer their services in out church; the Catholics receive Holy Communion without having to join our Church. (Your Eminence, whence all these rumors? What stands behind such utterings, which I have heard more than once before?) If we are living in an era when the poisonous filth of ecumenism is spreading around, is it not our duty to subordinate the principle of economia to the principle of meticulous and very special prudence in dogmatic matters so as not to lead these children into temptation by opening our arms too wide to the heterodox and the non-Orthodox?
Forgive me this unpleasant letter, Your Holy Eminence. Please pray for me.
With brotherly love in God,
A LETTER FROM METROPOLITAN PHILARET (VOZNESENSKY) TO A PRIEST OF THE CHURCH ABROAD CONCERNING FATHER DIMITRY DUDKO AND THE MOSCOW PATRIARCHATE
His Eminence Philaret's letter attached below was inspired by the story of Dimitry Dudko, a priest of the Moscow Patriarchate, or, more precisely, by the sentiment within the Russian Church Abroad that gave an aura of idolatry to those rare clergymen of the Soviet Orthodox Church who were courageous enough to stand up against the anti-religious authorities. In the 1970, Reverend Dimitry was perhaps the best-known of such clergymen. Even Reverend Seraphim Ruz has left a few relatively enthusiastic comments on Reverend Dimitry behind him. Reverend Dimitry was always in the midst of young people (one of the gravest forms of misdemeanor for a priest in the Soviet Union), and he had books published in the West. All of a sudden, following his brief arrest in 1980, Reverend Dimitry came up with a TV repentance - a televised interview during which he confessed that he had been involved in anti-Soviet politics under the guise of religious activity, begged the Soviet authorities' forgiveness, and promised to behave from then on. He was released shortly after his confession. This is the point in the life of Reverend Dudko to which Metropolitan Philaret's letter refers. We will not reproduce His Eminence's words here; it is our intent to dwell on certain later events which, to an extent, the letter anticipated.
When out of prison, Reverend Dimitry was once again assigned a parish near Moscow, and most of his former parishioners returned to him. Many of his parishioners pardoned Reverend Dimitry for his degradation. Many of them knew about KGB's then-raging campaign against dissident religious leaders: they were arrested and subjected to hard pressure in order to coerce them into such a TV confession (the term itself was coined in the early 1980s). Needless to say, there was no audience for a formal public confession. However, Rev. Dudko did not leave the Patriarchate at that point, nor at any time thereafter. He is still a respectable priest trying hard to hold his parishioners back from all manner of extremes of immoderate dogmatism. Dogmatism - in fact, the word is purity of Orthodox teachings - was far from being the principal message of Rev. Dudko's preaching even in the 1970s.
Did His Eminence Philaret's warning to ROCA clergy work? It is hard to give a definitive answer. Paradoxical as it may seem, some very important and highly classified transactions between ROCA hierarchs and Russian Catacomb communities went through Rev. Dudko in 1982, two years after his TV repentance. His Eminence Philaret was still alive at that time.
For a long time now I have been intending to write a few words to you, but somehow I haven't managed to get around to it. But at last I have collected myself, and so I write.
When I, while still in Australia, began to receive information from America already post factum that here [in New York City] there had been protests, demonstrations, and even molebens in front of the Soviet consulate, I became quite alarmed and regretted that I was not here, since I would have decisively opposed much of what took place. In particular, holding a moleben in such a place. Did they not sing the Lord's song in a strange land? What cause was there to display the holy things of the Church's services before the gaze of the frenzied servants of Antichrist? Was it really not possible to pray in church?
I must say frankly that I am always seized by dismay when I hear of protests, demonstrations, and the like. In the USSR, life is governed by him (the one with horns) who fears only Christ and His Cross; and who fears nothing else in the world. And he merely chortles over protests and demonstrations. Public opinion? Why, the antichrist regime has nothing but the uttermost contempt for it! They wanted to seize Czechoslovakia and they seized it, paying no heed to the commotion that was raised. They wanted to invade Afghanistan and they invaded it, again paying no attention to the protests and threats of the various Carters @ Co. All attempts to shape public opinion in the so-called Free World in favor of those suffering from Communism are powerless and fruitless, since the Free World stubbornly closes its eyes and imitates the ostrich, which hides its head under its wing and imagines that it cannot be seen...
In bewilderment did I read in the newspaper how one journalist approvingly cites your words: Father __ is correct when he writes: Russia is arising from the dead! We must believe in this; for we believe in Christ the Saviour Who arose the dead.
I cannot understand what is the connection between the one and the other? Personally, I believe in the Resurrection of Christ for me this is the most precious thing in the world. But I absolutely cannot see why must I believe that Russia is resurrecting? I hope that she truly will rise, then all-powerful nod for it will be given by God. But at present, not only do I not share your enthusiasm, but I am greatly alarmed for the Russian people. The falsehood and emptiness of atheism is obvious to them. But alas, it is not true Orthodoxy that is being disseminated there. There, under the guise of Orthodoxy, the Russian people are being offered Bulgakovism, Berdyaevism, and similar rubbish of the Evlogian schism. The sects are flourishing there: the Baptists etc. The official Church preaches cooperation with the God-hating regime, lauding it in every possible way. The true Orthodox Church has gone to the catacombs, hidden from the common masses ... Is that, then, the rebirth of Orthodoxy?.. And are you not perhaps taking a bit too much upon yourself, proclaiming to the whole world that Orthodoxy is being reborn in Russia? God grant that the Truth should overcome all errors and should triumph over them. But for the present it is too soon to speak of it, since the influence of the anti-Orthodox elements is still so very strong there; not to mention the fact that the antichrist Soviet regime, as long as it rules Russia, will never permit the triumph of Orthodoxy. It is not without cause that the true Orthodox Church concealed herself in the catacombs and is fiercely persecuted.
Now a few words on the tragedy of poor Father Dimitry Dudko.
From the very beginning of his activities, when his name was being mentioned more and more often as a pillar of Orthodoxy, and moreover, the members of the Synod, the hierarchs, were joining their voices to this; I, however, the author of these lines, immediately kept out of it and forewarned my fellow hierarchs that a disaster might happen here. How so? Because in the USSR, according to the premise of Archimandrite Constantine, there is now a satan-ocracy. There rules he whom the Saviour called a liar and the father of lies. This lie reigns there. Therefore one cannot trust anything that occurs there. Any seemingly spiritually encouraging fact may turn out to be a falsification, a forgery, a deception, or a provocation...
Why did this calamity befall Father Dimitry Dudko? Let's assume the best, not suspecting him of conscious collaboration with the KGB and betrayal of his convictions, but simply noting the sad fact that he did not endure, but was broken; he capitulated before the enemies of the Church. Why? It would seem that he did display courage and daring; and then suddenly, such an inglorious end. Why?!
Because his activity took place outside of the true Church...
What then is the Soviet church? Archimandrite Constantine has often and insistently stated that the most horrible thing that the God-hating regime has done in Russia is the creation of the Soviet Church, which the Bolsheviks presented to the people as the true Church, having driven the genuine Orthodox Church into the catacombs or into the concentration camps.
This pseudo-church has been twice anathematized. His Holiness Patriarch Tikhon and the All-Russian Church Sobor anathematized the Communists and all their collaborators. This dread anathema has not been lifted till this day and remains in force, since it can be lifted only by a similar All-Russian Church Sobor, as the canonical supreme ecclesiastical authority. And a terrifying thing happened in 1927, when the head of the Church, Metropolitan Sergius, by his infamous and apostate Declaration, subjected the Russian Church to the Bolsheviks and proclaimed collaboration with them. And thus in a most exact sense was fulfilled the expression in the prayer at the beginning of Confession: having fallen under their own anathema! For in 1918 the Church anathematized all the confederates of Communism, while in 1927 she herself joined the camp of these collaborators and began to laud the red, God-having regime to laud the red beast spoken of in the Apocalypse.
As if that is not enough. When Metropolitan Sergius promulgated his criminal Declaration, then the faithful children of the Church immediately separated themselves from the Soviet church, and thus the Catacomb Church was formed. And she, in her turn, has anathematized the official church for its betrayal of Christ.
And it was within this very church of evil-doers that the activities of Father Dimitry Dudko occurred, who has frankly declared in the press that he is not going to break with the Soviet church but will remain in her. Has his spiritual eyes been open, and had he seen the true nature of the official church, he might have found within himself the courage to say: I have hated the congregation of evil-doers, and with the ungodly will I not sit I am breaking off with the company of the enemies of God, and I am withdrawing from the Soviet church. Why, then for us he would have become one of our own his courage would have destroyed the barrier which irrevocably stands between us by virtue of the fact that the Sobor adopted as its guiding principle the Testament of Metropolitan Anastasy. For in this Testament it is ordered that we must not have any communion whatsoever with the Soviets, not only no communion in prayer, but not even ordinary contact in daily life. But as long as Father Dimitry would have refused to remain in the Soviet pseudo-church, and would have withdrawn from membership in her the barrier would no longer have applied to him.
I recall a marvellous case of the direct and miraculous aid of God to those who remained faithful to the end. They banished a group of nuns belonging to the Catacomb Church to Solovki. The Chekists told them: Get settled now, and tomorrow you will go to some sort of work. But they received an unexpected answer: We will not go and work.
What, have you gone out of your minds? Do you know what we will do with you? screamed the Chekists. There followed the calm reply of people who in their faithfulness feared nothing: What shall be, shall be but what is pleasing unto God shall be, and not what suits you executioners and criminals. You may do with us what you please: starve us, torture us, hang, shoot, or burn us with fire. But we give you notice once and for all: we do not recognize you, you servants of Antichrist, as the lawful authority, and we will not fulfill your orders in any way!..
In the morning the infuriated Chekists drove the nuns up onto the hill of death. Thus was called a high hill where in winter an icy wind always blew. In that wind a man would freeze to death within a quarter of an hour. The nuns, clad in their shabby rassas, are led up the hill by Red Army men in their sheepskin coats. The nuns go happily, joyously along, chanting psalms and prayers. The soldiers left them at the top of the hill and then descended. They hear how they continue their chanting. Half hour, an hour, two, yet more all the while the sound of chanting carries from above. Night fell. The guards approach the nuns they are alive, unharmed, and continue chanting their prayers. The amazed soldiers led them home to the camp. News of this spread immediately throughout the entire camp. And when on the following day the guards were changed and yet the same thing happened, the camp authorities were bewildered and they left the nuns in peace...
Is this not a victory? Behold what it means to be faithful unto death as the marvellous words of Apocalypse say: Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. In this instance it's an obvious miracle, as it was with the three youths in the Babylonian furnace, only there the death-bearing element was fire, but here a death-dealing and killing cold. Behold how God rewards faithfulness!
And hear my heartfelt conviction: if the entire mass of the many millions of Russians would evidence a like faithfulness as did those nuns, and would refuse to obey the bandits who have been oppressing the Russian nation, then Communism would collapse in a second. For the succor of God, which had saved in a miraculous manner the nuns while on their way to certain death, would come likewise to the Russian people. But as long as the nation recognizes the regime and obeys it, even if all the while cursing it in their hearts, that regime will remain in place.
Of course, the nuns were strengthened by the power of God, just as the ancient martyrs; without this aid they would not have endured. But their podvig [martyric exploit] was accomplished within the true Church, filled with grace and Truth. For the true Church, according to the apostolic teaching, is the Body of Christ the Lord abides in her and leads her as her Divine Head.
Will anyone dare to assert that the Lord and His grace abide in the Church of the evil-doers, which lauds His demonized enemies and collaborates with them, which because of this is found under a twofold anathema, as indicated above? Can a church which has united with the God-haters possess grace?! The answer is obvious!
The hierarch Theophan the Recluse in his own day warned that a terrible time was approaching when people would behold before their eyes all the appearance of church grandeur solemn services, church order, and such while on the inside there would be total betrayal of the Spirit of Christ. Is this not what we see in the Soviet church? Patriarchs, Metropolitans, all the priestly and monastic orders and at the very same time, an alliance with the God-haters, that is, a manifest betrayal of Christ.
To this company belongs also Father Dimitry Dudko. Of course, his sincere religious feelings compelled him to preach concerning God and not to condone many of the disgraceful happenings in the lives of Russian people. But for him, Pimen was, and likely still is, his spiritual head, the head of the Soviet hierarchy; while for us, it is not at all so. For our Sobor in 1971 passed a resolution: on the basis of such and such canons to consider the election of Pimen as unlawful and invalid, and to consider all his acts and decrees as having no force or significance.
How difficult is Father Dimitry Dudko's position now! What is he to do? Continue his pastoral work? And what can he say to the faithful? Say the same thing that he said before his repentance? But then, he has already renounced this! Say the opposite? Why, they believed him before when he preached that which won for him the trust and respect of the faithful and now, how will he look them in the face? One girl correctly said that there is one way out for him: make a genuine repentance in atonement for the one he just now made. But in order to do that he must depart from the church of the evil-doers for the true Church, and there make his repentance. However, in return, the red church will undoubtedly deal with him with particular malice and cruelty. Of course, by crossing over to the true Church, he will pass over into the realm of Divine grace and strength, which can fortify him just as it fortified those catacomb nuns. God grant that he find the true and saving path.
I should also like to note the following. The Catacomb Church in Russia relates to the Church Abroad with love and total confidence. However, one thing is incomprehensible to the Catacomb Christians: they can't understand why our Church, which realizes beyond a doubt that the Soviet hierarchy has betrayed Christ and is no longer a bearer of grace, nevertheless receives clergy of the Soviet church in their existing orders, not re-ordaining them, as ones already having grace. For the clergy and flock receive grace from the hierarchy, and if it [the hierarchy] has betrayed the Truth and deprived itself of grace, from where then does the clergy have grace? It is along these lines that the Catacomb Christians pose the question.
The answer to this is simple. The Church has the authority in certain cases to employ the principle of economia condescension. The hierarch Saint Basil the Great said that, in order not to drive many away from the Church, it is necessary sometimes to permit condescension and not apply the church canons in all their severity. When our Church accepted Roman Catholic clergy in their orders, without ordaining them, she acted according to this principle. And Metropolitan Anthony [Khrapovitsky], elucidating this issue, pointed out that the outward form successive ordination from Apostolic times that the Roman Catholics do have; whereas the grace, which the Roman Catholic church has lost, is received by those uniting [themselves to the Church] from the plenitude of grace present in the Orthodox Church, at the very moment of their joining. The form is filled with content, said Vladyka Anthony.
In precisely the same manner, in receiving the Soviet clergy, we apply the principle of economia. And we receive the clergymen from Moscow not as ones possessing grace, but as ones receiving it by the very act of union. But to recognize the church of the evil-doers as the bearer and repository of grace, that we cannot do, of course. For outside of Orthodoxy there is no grace; and the Soviet church has deprived itself of grace.
In concluding my lengthy letter, I should like to point several things out to you, Father. The Bishops' Sobor resolved to be guided by and to fulfill the Testament of Metropolitan Anastasy, in which the late First Hierarch bade us not to have any communion with the Soviet church whatsoever, not only no prayerful communion, but not even ordinary contact. On what basis then have you and other clergymen had direct relations with Father Dudko? And have written him letters, etc.? No matter how sincere a man you may have considered him to be, nevertheless, can your private opinion annul a ruling adopted by the Church? Now, had Father Dudko said: I am breaking with the official church and leaving her then you could have entered into lively contact with him. But in the absence of that, your actions constitute a violation of ecclesiastical discipline. Dudko wrote to me personally, but I did not answer him although I could have said much. By the way, on what basis did you, even before this, take into your head to commemorate an archbishop of the Soviet church during the Great Entrance? Who gave you the right to do that, which hierarch who, how, where, when?.. Be more careful, my dear, zealous, but, ah, too impetuous fellow minister!
Peace to you and the mercy of the Lord. To Matushka and the children too.