Fearless Champion Of True Orthodoxy

The Inner Life of Christian asceticism and virtue must needs, in God's own time, be put to outward test, both so that the genuineness of the ascetic's spirituaity may be proved, and so that the Orthodox faithful may be benefited. Such a test came to Archbishop John at the end of the Second World War. In 1944 and 1945 the tyrant Stalin, both in order to pacify his subjects at home and to destroy the free Russian Church abroad and thus subjugate the Russian exiles, commanded the election of a "Patriarch" of his puppet church, and then sent his emissaries throughout the world to gain recognition for him. Nowhere was his campaign more thorough than in the Far East. A film was shown of the election of the "Patriarch" Alexy; glorious tales were spread of the completely changed situation in the USSR, especially as regards religious freedom; Russian patriotism was fully played upon; and full advantage was taken of the remoteness of Metropolitan Anastassy and the Synod of Bishops Abroad [in Western Europe], with whom the Far East had had no contact during all the war years. And so it was that many thousands of ordinary Russians and, sad to say, five out of the six hierarchs of the Russian Church Abroad in the Far East, were caught on Stalin's hook: they submitted to the Moscow Patriarchate and applied for Soviet Passports; a great many [including four of the hierarchs] returned to the Soviet Union and few were ever heard of again.

Vladyka John, however, despite intense pressures, threats of violence, and attempts to poison him, alone refused to take any decisive step until he had heard from Metropolitan Anastassy. Late in 1945 he did hear from him, learned that the Synod of Bishops Abroad still existed, and saw for himself the film on the election of "Pariarch" Alexy. As a result, he announced his faithfulness to the Synod to which he had given his oath of loyalty as bishop, and declared the "election" as presented in the film to be clearly uncanonical. With this Vladyka's situation became even more tense, causing the Orthodox youth to form a special guard which secretly followed Vladyka everywhere and frustrated the known plans the Soviets to kidnap him and place him aboard a Soviet ship. Finally, in the spring of 1946, Vladyka's immediate superior, Archbishop Victor of Peking, "removed" him from the See of Shanghai and forbade him to serve. Undaunted, upon hearing of his "interdiction" Vladyka John went to the Shanghai Cathedral, mounted the ambo, and announced: "I will obey this ukase only in case I be shown by Holy Scripture and by the laws of any country, that oath-breaking is a virtue and faithfulness to one's oath is a terrible sin;" and he served the Divine Liturgy in defiance of the interdiction of the uncanonical authority. The faithful rallied behind him, and thus, proving by his confession the genuineness of his personal sanctity, he singlehandedly saved 6000 believers from Soviet concentration camps and from the subtle deceit and soul-destroying error of "Sergianism." Thus he earned the bitter hatred of the Moscow Patriarchate, whose "Journal" labelled his courageous stand for truth "the schism of vicar John Maximovitch" -- thus placing him in the glorious line of Metr. Joseph and the confessors of 127!

Blessed John
St. Herman Press
Chapter 7 pp. 76, 77

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