How To Regard Piety Found In MP

With an example from our past, St. Philaret of NY shows us how we should consider it when Orthodox piety is found in the MP.

In the January-February 1981 issue of The Orthodox Word, there is an inspiring article about Archimandrite Tavrion [1978], the last Elder of the Glinsk Heritage, who left the Catacomb Church and joined the MP.
Met. Philaret had forwarded the article from Lesna to the Platina editors. Platina's publication of the article caused confusion among some of the faithful, because the elder had joined the MP. To address the confusion our Synod issued this document which was published in the May-June 1981 issue of The Orthodox Word:


THE DECISION OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And again:

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

The canon ends with the following words:

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

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

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



Part 3: A Report on the "Tavrion incident"
From Not Of This World, chapter "The Resurrection of Holy Russia" pp.865-867

...With his basically non-partisan approach, Fr. Seraphim was not to be spared, in the fall of 1981, one final run-in with the super-correct, super-partisan ecclesiology. This time even the chief hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, Metropolitan Philaret, unwittingly got involved. In September he had written to the Brotherhood:

September 9/22, 1980
Dear Father[s],

I am sending you material for printing which I have received from a novice of Lesna Convent, Maria Erastova. It is about the last elder of Glinsk Hermitage, Archimandrite Tavrion.

According to the information which I have, this wise and pious elder belonged at first to the Catacomb Church; but seeing how the believing people were scattered like sheep without a shepherd, he joined the official church, but in his activity he stood absolutely apart from it, giving all his strength to the spiritual guidance of believing souls. The Erastov family knew him well and made use of his spiritual guidance.

May God help you. Peace be to you and the brethren.

With love,
Metropolitan Philaret


As it turned out, what the Metropolitan had sent was a tremendously inspiring document, showing true Church life in Russia in the midst of almost impossible Soviet conditions, and a righteous, loving, clairvoyant Elder who was very much in the spirit of the Elders of Optina. Interestingly, Elder Tavrion, who had reposed only two years before, in 1978, had shown great love for Fr. Dimitry Dudko saying, "Fr. Dimitry has such a simple, childlike faith that God has chosen him to be a confessor. There is nothing to fear."

At this time there were several other such inspiring manuscripts about contemporary righteous ones being secretly writtten and circulated in Russia, but most of these -- save for what was published in samizdat by the confessor Zoya Krakhmalnikova* -- never made it to the West before Russia became free again.

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*see 
by Zoya Krakhmalnikova
http://bitterfruitsofasweetcaptivity.blogspot.com/
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On receiving such a rare, up-to-date document, therefore, the Platina fathers lost no time publishing it. And to quell any objections from the super-correct wing about their publishing the life of a catacomb priest who later served in the MP, they accompanied it with Metropolitan Philaret's cover letter, as well as two documents from the Catacomb Church.

Far from warding off disturbances, however, the Metropolitan's letter raised a cry of indignation from the far right, who could hardly believe that their own Metropolitan could call someone in the MP a "wise and pious elder." This time the super-correct party started a whole campaign with petitions sent out in protest for everyone to sign, and an official delegation sent to protest at the Metropolitan's residence in New York. The petition stated that the photograph of and article on Archimandrite Tavrion which the Metropolitan had sent "serve as Soviet propaganda to mitigate our attitude toward Soviet clergy and the Soviet Church by showing us that there are in fact 'wise and pious elders' who are part of the Soviet Church... Our bishops must come together and make a public statement with regard to this grave matter. The editors of The Orthodox Word need to rectify the damage done by retracting their statements and printing a statement of our Synod of Bishops on this most important matter."

One of the super-correct priests, Fr. Seraphim noted,"is trying to force our old Russian parishioners to write letters of protest to the Metropolitan, and the poor old ladies don't understand what it's all about! What a narrow straitjacket of logic they want to force us into, and how little of it suits the real needs of the Orthodox mission today... {They} are just not 'where it's at' -- they're fighting windmills with their jesuitical logic and justifying their own 'purity,' while what's needed is loving and aware hearts to help the suffering and searching and bring them to Christ." In another letter Fr. Seraphim called this kind of Christianity "Alice-in-Wonderland Orthodoxy."

The Metropolitan and other bishops felt called upon to put an end to the disturbance by issuing a "Decision," which stated that we cannot ignore any positive events in Russia, including those occurring within the MP. This was published in The Orthodox Word along with an article by Fr. Seraphim, "The Response to Elder Tavrion," [see below] which demonstrated that The Orthodox Word had not changed its position regarding the Church situation in Russia. The articles on Fr. Dimitry Dudko and Elder Tavrion, Fr. Seraphim pointed out, were only a continuation of earlier articles --beginning with the third issue -- on positive events occurring within the MP, in spite of the compromises of its bishops.

Father Seraphim's quick and thorough defense of Fr. Dimitry and Elder Tavrion may seem surprising, coming as it did from one who, as we have seen, preferred to avoid church disputes. Even his own novice Gregory, who had arrived at the St. Herman Monastery during the "Tavrion incident," recalls being at first scandalized by Fr. Seraphim's seeming obsession with such issues. "We're Americans,' Gregory thought. "Why does he have to get so caught up in something that only concerns Russia?!"

Later Br. Gregory understood: The defense of Elder Tavrion was a defense of the true spirit of Christianity against the mere letter. But there was more involved. The phenomenon of Elder Tavrion and others like him testified that Holy Russia had not disappeared, that it would resurrect. And the resurrection of Russia, as Fr. Seraphim stated many times, would not affect Russia alone: upon it depends the fate of the whole world...

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The Response to Elder Tavrion
From The Orthodox Word, May-June 1981 (98), 123-136.

The life of Archimandrite Tavrion published in The Orthodox Word, no. 96, evoked for the most part a positive response: readers on the whole, judging from their comments to the editors, accepted it in the way it was intended to be read—as an inspiring example of genuine Orthodox courage and spiritual life in the almost impossible conditions of Soviet life. The accompanying articles, "What Does the Catacomb Church Think?" and especially the Catacomb Epistle of 1962 
http://russiascatacombsaints.blogspot.com/2010/12/37-catacomb-epistle-of-1962.html
set forth a position of uncompromising non-acceptance of the betrayal of the Moscow Patriarchate and refusal to have communion with it, while at the same time showing pastoral concern for the priests and faithful who try their best to be Orthodox even in the Moscow Patriarchate, where they find themselves by force of circumstances.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Perhaps the best statement on this whole question comes from a leading Catacomb hierarch of the 1920's and '30's, now to be canonized as a New Martyr, Metropolitan Cyril of Kazan. In answer to the ecclesiastical legalism of Metropolitan Sergius, he wrote to him in 1929: "It amazes you that, while refraining from celebrating Liturgy with you, I nonetheless do not consider either myself or you to be outside the Church. 'For church thinking such a theory is completely unacceptable, ' you declare; 'it is an attempt to keep ice on a hot grill.' If in this case there is any attempt on my part, it is not to keep ice on a hot grill, but rather to melt away the ice of a dialectical bookish application of the canons and to preserve the sacredness of their spirit. I refrain from liturgizing with you not because the Mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ would not be actualized at our joint celebration, but because the communion of the Chalice of the Lord would be to both of us for judgment and condemnation, since our inward attitude, disturbed by a different understanding of our church relation to each other, would take away from us the possibility of offering in complete calmness of spirit the mercy of peace, the sacrifice of praise. Therefore, the whole fullness of my refraining concerns only you and the hierarchs one in mind with you, but not the ordinary clergy, and even less laymen" (The Orthodox Word, 1977, no. 75, p. 183-4).

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

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

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

Similarly, in 1934 Metropolitan Cyril of Kazan wrote: " I firmly believe that the Orthodox Episcopate, with brotherly union and mutual support, will preserve the Russian Church, with God's help, in age-old Orthodoxy all the time of the validity of the Patriarchal Testament (of Patriarch Tikhon), and will conduct it to a lawful Council" (The Orthodox Word, 1977, no . 75, p. 189).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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