Declaration of Archbishop Amvrossy
This Declaration was published in the March 1972 issue of Orthodox Life. History repeats. We can relate to the struggle and the painful, but necessary, decision of this Archbishop. Nothing has changed. Only a few escape the lying temptations, and not without paying a price. May this declaration be for us a renewal of courage. -jh
Declaration of His Eminence Archbishop Amvrossy
-formerly of Pittsburgh and West Virginia
Duty requires that I address this word to the Russian Orthodox clergy and laity of North America. It is likely that many have surmised the reasons which compelled me to renounce my membership in the Episcopacy of the Orthodoxy Church of America [Metropolia] and my subsequent request that I be accepted in the ranks of the Hierarchy of The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
I arrived in America in 1923 from Russia, seized by godless power, after a bloody civil war, in which I took part with the White Army in the South of Russia. I have lived in America for fifty years, became an American citizen, and have grown to love this great Land.
From the date of my arrival here, I have dedicated myself to the service of God, first as a deacon to Archbishop Vitaly of blessed memory in his Cathedral in the Bronx, New York, and later as a priest, ordained and assigned by the late Metropolitan Theophilos during those blessed days of peace and growth when the North American Metropolitan District was a part of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
Within three years of my wife's death in 1950, I took monastic vows and, in 1955, was consecrated as a bishop and assigned to head the Alaskan Diocese of the Metropolia. After 15 years of service there, I was sent to Japan where I remained for seven months, retaining my designation as Head of the Alaskan Diocese. In 1967, I became Ruling Archbishop of the Pittsburgh and West Virginia Diocese, the largest diocese in the Metropolia.
During the fifty years of my life and service in America, I became acquainted with and grew to love many of the clergy and faithful who were able to preserve the priceless heritage of the Russian Orthodox Church with its magnificent traditions and holy rituals. Because of this affection to so many people, of late I accepted much , which under different circumstances I would not otherwise have tolerated.
But alas, two years ago, the leadership of the American Metropolia, in haste and intemperance, entered into agreement with the MP through its representative, Metropolitan Nikodim -- concerning the granting of autocephaly to the former.
We were tempted by the promise of complete freedom from Moscow and a union of all Orthodox Churches in America into an independent Church. With trepidations in my heart, I participated in these arrangements, not wishing to induce internal dissentions within the ranks of the Metropolia which could have been exploited to the detriment of the Church by her enemies. One hoped that all would end well. Unfortunately, to the contrary, all which we were cautioned against has come to pass. Receiving autocephaly from Moscow has created new ties between the Metropolia and Moscow with the result that Moscow's influence has deepened in Church-life here.
Not one other Church, free from the domination of Moscow, has recognized this "autocephaly" and, contrary to all our expectations, the MP has strengthened its power here through their 45 parishes in America, although, according to our original understandings these parishes were to be released to the Metropolia. Again, in violation of all understandings and agreements, Moscow has assigned a new bishop to this country -- Makary of Uman. Trips to Moscow, endless concelebrations, exchanges of gifts, all against the wishes of many of the bishops and clergy of the Metropolia, gradually led to a rapprochement with those Moscow hierarchs who we all know are subordinated to the enemies of the Church.
All of this has called forth great grief in me. With each passing day, I saw more clearly my duty before God and man. To these events has been added yet another grave danger -- the philosophy of "modernism" which has relentlessly been introduced into parish-life here.
Orthodox Christian life is based upon man's ability to cope with his passivity and the influences of a world of evil and temptation. Modernism, to the contrary, is based upon a lowering of spiritual standards in the name of accommodation to this world. Of late, in the Metropolia, there has been a particularly intensive attack upon the use of the Church Slavonic language during services; the shortening and diminuation of many of these services, the introduction of the Gregorian Calendar into Church life, the granting of mass confessions, and the giving of Communion without Confession.
When I spoke of these things at the last Council of Bishops' meeting that I attended, my observations brought forth such a violent reaction that it became clear that I could no longer endure and be responsible for this new direction in Church life. For these reasons, I was compelled to beseech His Eminence Metropolitan Philaret that he accept me as a member of the Hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, the true witness of the legacy of the martyred Patriarch Tikhon.
My decision has brought me no material gains; on the contrary -- I shall lose. Of course, this is not important when one realizes that I am again privileged to serve that Church which is the keeper of Orthodox purity and holy Russian Church order. I am eternally grateful to His Eminence Metropolitan Philaret and the Members of the Synod of Bishops for the love and understanding with which I was met.
I have written these lines in fulfillment of my priestly duty before God, my flock, this great Country and all the good it has brought me and before all-suffering Russia, where I received the great gift of life and the Holy Orthodox Church.
2 February/13 March 1972
New York, New York