Original Here: http://www.monasterypress.com/martyropinions.html
Various statements from the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia on the question as to whether the Moscow Patriarchate is a valid Church organization containing life-saving Mysteries.
The following is a partial list of all those who broke communion with Metropolitan Sergei… those who did not accept his declaration of July16/29, whereby the interests of the Soviet power where indentified as the interests of the Church of Christ, and who had broken prayerful communion with him… the New Martyr Hierarchs of the Russian Church.
Metrop. Joseph Petrovykh
Metrop. Agafangel Yaroslavsky
Archbp. Seraphim Uglich
Metrop. Peter Krutitsk
Metrop. Cyrill Kazan
Archbp. Theodore Posdeev
Archbp. Peter Zverev
Bp. Arseni Zhadanovsky
Bp. Seraphim Zvezkinsky
Archbp. Barlaam Reshentsev
Bp. Dimitry Gdov
Bp. Alexei Urazonsky
Bp. Victor Votkinsky
Bp. Maxim (Zhizhilenko)
Bp. Afanassy Skvirsky
Bp. Nectary Yaravsky
Bp. Hilarion Pochensky
Bp. Pavel Yaltynsky
Bp. Vasilly Kargopolsky
Bp. Sergei Buzuluksky
Bp. Joseph, formerly Birsky
Bp. Damascene Glukhovsky
Bp. Nectary Trezvinsky
Bp. Dimitry (Lokotko)
Bp. Evgeny (Kobranov)
Bp. Metrophan (Amonik)
Bp. Serge (Druzhinin)
Bp. Alexander Kharkovsky
Bp. Vasilly Prilutsky
Bp, Vasilly Kineshsky
Bp. Parfeny Ananievsky
Bp. Hilarion Smolensky
Bp. Ioasaph Chisiopolsky
Archbp. Andrei Ufimsky
Bp. Job Ufimsky
Bp. Benjamin Baikinsky
Bp. Amvrosy Viniukij
Bp. Mark Zabaikalsky
Bp. Pitirim. Nizhegorodsky
Bp. Gregory (Lebedev)
Bp. Pavel (Kratirov)
Elder Nektary of Optina
Priest Sergei Mechev
Priest Anatoly Zhurakovsky
Priest Sergei Tihomirov
Priest Nikolai Prozorov
And many, many other Bishops and Priests and thousands of laymen, Their names known only to the Lord… Who hast founded the Catacomb Church in Russia.
Following are the testamonies of the New-Martyrs and Confessors of Russia regarding grace in the mysteries of the “Sergians,” and also concerning the canonical situation of Metropolitan Sergius, and the Moscow Patriarchate formed by him.
“In August, 1936, the Bolsheviks spread the (false) information that Metropolitan Peter had died. Immediately Metropolitan Sergius quite illegally assumed to himself Peter’s title of Metropolitan of Krutitsa. From this time, a distinct hardening in Metropolitan Cyril’s position is noticeable. Thus in March, 1937, he wrote: ‘With regard to your perplexities concerning Sergianism, I can say that the very same questions in almost the same form were addressed to me from Kazan ten years ago, and then I replied affirmatively to them, because I considered everything that Metropolitan Sergius had done as a mistake which he himself was conscious of and wished to correct. Moreover, among our ordinary flock there were many people who had not investigated what had happened, and it was impossible to demand from them a decisive and active condemnation of the events. Since then much water has flowed under the bridge. The expectations that Metropolitan Sergius would correct himself have not been justified, but there has been enough time for the formerly ignorant members of the Church, enough incitement and enough opportunity to investigate what has happened; and very many have both investigated and understood that Metropolitan Sergius is departing from that Orthodox Church which the Holy Patriarch Tikhon entrusted to us to guard, and consequently there can be no part or lot with him for the Orthodox. The recent events have finally made clear the renovationist nature of Sergianism. We cannot know whether those believers who remain in Sergianism will be saved, because the work of eternal Salvation is a work of the mercy and grace of God. But for those who see and feel the unrighteousness of Sergianism (those are your questions) it would be unforgivable craftiness to close one’s eyes to this unrighteousness and seek there for the satisfaction of one’s spiritual needs when one’s conscience doubts in the possibility of receiving such satisfaction. Everything which is not of faith is sin…. I am in fraternal communion with Metropolitan Joseph, and I gratefully esteem the fact that it was precisely with his blessing, that there was undertaken from the Petrograd diocese the first protest expressed against Metropolitan Sergius from the Petrograd diocese…,’” (The New Martyrs of Russia, Monastery Press, 2000).
Bishop Dimitry Gdov called the Sergians as “those who had departed the faith of Christ (AP p. 620).
From a letter of Fr. Vsevolod: “They (the Josephites) declare Metropolitan Sergei to be without grace and a heretic; and all who are associated with him without grace; and demand immediate breaking of prayerful communion with him.” (AP, p. 635)
Bishop Alexei (Buy): “With his acts, Metropolitan Sergei ejected himself from unity with the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, and has lost his right to be the First Hierarch of the Russian Church. ” (AP, p. 635)
Bishop Barlaam (of Maikop) wrote a letter about Metropolitan Sergius’ declaration, which was found in the central archive of the KGB by a parliamentary commission: “Having received from the Bolsheviks a peaceful and quiet life, and having strengthened himself through their forces, Metropolitan Sergius and his Synod have concluded with the atheists a union of mutual solidarity, but not according to the spirit of the Orthodox Church, obliging themselves to make no speeches against the authorities (and even to punish such speeches in others), and to be silent even in view of the most obvious persecution against the Holy Church on the part of their God-fighting allies… So ‘a peaceful and quiet…’ means sitting quietly and keeping silent, not only not reproaching the Bolsheviks for their restrictions on the Church and annihilation of the whole work of Christ on the earth, but approving of and rejoicing in their successes in this their destructive attack on Christ, and approving of and rejoicing in, and even ‘praying for’, them in their churches during the offering of the Bloodless Sacrifice at the Holy Liturgy. In this way has the union of the antichrist with the church of the evil-doers been sealed. The God-fighters have given Metropolitan Sergius a place in their state, for which Metropolitan Sergius has given the God-fighters a place in the holy of holies, implanting the abomination of desolation in the holy place…
“Dark times have come for us, and the Holy Church and the Orthodox Faith have come face to face with the question: how are we to live? How are we to reconcile our relationship with the authorities with that hellish relationship that these authorities have towards Christ and His work on the earth? At the base of the actions of the Bolshevik authorities their lies the complete annihilation of Christianity, the denial of Christ and the destruction of His Body, the Church, and the liberation of their citizens from ‘religious drugs’, as they call the teaching of Christ. These are no longer those blind men who did not know Christ and have not heard of His teaching. No, on the contrary, these are very enlightened sons of this age, who are excellently informed about His teaching, having analysed the Gospel in great detail, subjected it to merciless criticism and, finally, having rejected it as being incompatible with their spirit and time, have under the influence of satan denied the very existence of God. These are the Sadducees ‘who say there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit’. And that’s not all. The sons of this age, in denying all that is supernatural, have raised the banner of persecution openly against all those who have still preserved faith in the Divinity in themselves…
“The Bolsheviks have destroyed churches, turned them into barracks, theatres and clubs, and deliberately mocked the holy things of the Christians. This and much more is well known to everyone.
“Metropolitan Sergius and his Synod sees this… But Metropolitan Sergius no longer has the right to grieve and express his dissatisfaction with this. He has triumphantly and firmly declared that his duty now is to rejoice in all the acts of the Bolsheviks and grieve over their successes.
“Churches and monasteries are destroyed, bishops and priests and monks and nuns are driven out, the holy relics and icons are defiled, young people are being thoroughly corrupted by atheism and materialism, the teaching of the law of God is forbidden. And all this taken together is making the house of God into a den of thieves and is represented as the joy and success of the Bolsheviks. And this joy and success of the enemies of God must be shared by the first-hierarch of the Church they are destroying. Lord, what have we come to? Where are the holy hierarchs of the Russian land Philip, Job and Hermogen? You saw the holy things tramped upon by the powers that be, but you did not shamefully keep silence but were a loud-sounding trumpet; you did not share the joys of the enemies of our Church and homeland, but sorrowed with her and it…
The commemoration in church of the (God-fighting) authorities outrages the feelings of believers. The Bolsheviks know this well and want to outrage the holy things and their venerators, evidently forcing Metropolitan Sergius himself to do the same, that is, to outrage the holiness of our Divine services… All those who have refused to obey this order have been accused of counter-revolution. V. Soloviev talks in his ‘Three Conversations’ of an ecumenical cathedral in which the Antichrist offers all the hierarchs his protection and privileges, for which obedience to himself is demanded. Almost all the representatives of the clergy agree to receive these privileges and recognise him as their head. This is very similar to the position of the present-day renovationists, and the sergianists welcome and pray for the antichrist, for his benefits and promises…”
During this visit Bishop Barlaam told Archbishop Demetrius that he “had been with Metropolitan Sergius and had had a quarrel with him… that now whoever does not recognize the declaration will be a counter-revolutionary…, that they will put the clergy and believers in prison”.
Bishop Victor Votkinsky and Archbishop Andrei Ufimsky called the Sergians in their epistles as those who had departed from God.
Bishop Maxim Sepukhov: “Soviet and catacomb churches are incompatible.” “The mystical desert-like catacomb Church has anathematized the Sergians and all that are with them.” Protopresbyter M. Polsky, New Martyrs of Russia, v. 2, p. 30.
From a sermon by Igumen Dorothei, before the Sergianist split: “Go, while it is still not too late, go to church while there are still churches in our midst that are Orthodox, because, later, the churches shall be such that there should be no reason to go there anymore.” Hieromonk Damascene, Martyrs, Confessors and Ascetics of Piety of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Twentieth Century, p. 183).
In an edict of Metropolitan Sergei, concerning Bishops Dimitry Gdov and Sergei Korporsky, it is written that Bp. Dimitry had called “those churches which commemorated Metropolitan Sergei as ‘innovative”‘ and those Orthodox priests as without grace; and moreover, that one of such churches, he publicly called “a temple of satan.”
Priest Dimitry Ivanov – “As regards the priest, Father Dimitry Ivanov, the latter had declared our Moscow Patriarchate church to be without grace, its mysteries invalid. And it was even forbidden to pray while passing by our churches. This strong view held by him was apparently based on the opinions on this very question by the Optina Elder, Father Nektary, who is now departed.” Two documents. (Orthodox Russia, no. 18, 1994).
Those in opposition to Sergei pursued their cause with great Vigour: “The leaders of the groupings and the oppositionists, spreading orally and in writing various slanders against the higher churchh government, persuaded believers to break prayer relations with Metropolitan Sergei and his Synod as alleged sinners against the purity of Orthodoxy and the freedom of the Church. Calling them traitors to Orthodoxy and murderers of church freedom, they persuaded the people that the temples of Sergei’s orientation were without grace, and, not considering themselves guilty of spreading confusion in the Church, openly required ‘the traitors of the Church to resign their positions and transfer the government administration into other hands, or tearfully repent of doing evil and lead the ship of the Church in the old channel.” (Glukov, I., ‘Patriarch Sergei and his activity’, Z.M.P., No. 3(march 1967), p. 66
Metropolitan Joseph of Petrograd wrote: “Those who defend Sergei say that the canons allow separation from a bishop only for heresy judged by a Sobor; it can be replied that the actions of metropolitan Sergei have led to just that state if one has in view such clear destruction of the freedom and dignity of the one Holy, Concilliar, and Apostolic Church… but beyond this thhere is much thhat the canons cannot foresee, and can one dispute the fact that it iis worse and more dangerous than any heresy when a knife is plunged into the very hheart of the Church— her freedom and dignity? Which is worse—- heresy or murder?” (Acts of Metropolitan Sergei, unpublished typescript (1930?) P. 120)
In a number of places parishoners physically attacked bishops and priest of patriarchal orientation. (Shabatin, I., ‘The Russian Orthodox Church, 1917-1967’), Z.M.P., No 10 (October 1967), p. 42
Still before the appearance of the declaration of Metropolitan Sergei that very summer of 1927, Elder Nektary of Optina, in a conversation with visiting Professors Kamarovich and Anichkov, called Metropolitan Sergei an innovator. And when it was objected that the latter had repented, the elder answered, “Yes, he repented, but the poison is still imbedded inside him.” To his spiritual children, the Elder Nektary used to say, “To the Red Church, do not go.” The first citation is taken from the book by I. M. Kontzevich, The Optina Desert and Its Time (p. 546).
From a letter by Protopresbyter Valentin Sventsitsky: “Both the ‘Living Church, ‘ which has seized the power of the Patriarch and Gregorianism which has seized the power of the locum tenens, and you who are abusing his faith in you, -you’re all doing the one and the same anti-church thing; besides, you have become the founders of its most dangerous form, since, while you are rejecting freedom for the Church, you are at the same time preserving the fiction of its canonicity and of its Orthodoxy. This is greater than the violation of individual canons.
From a missive from Archbishop Seraphim of Uglich: “They often ask me,” -these are the beginning words. Archbishop Seraphim accuses Metropolitan Sergei of the heavy sin of dragging our small spirited and our weaker brethren into “innovation.” (AP, p. 618)
From a Resolution of Metropolitan Sergei in one letter, we discover that Metropolitan Sergei was accused of treason to the Church, and of being unfaithful to Orthodoxy, and of secret infusion of innovations. (AP, p. 569).
Archbishop Andrei Ufimsky: “All followers of the lying Metropolitan Sergei, are themselves filled with lies and evil, and have fallen away from the truth of Christ they have fallen away from Christ’s Church. The Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church-is somewhere, in some other place, but not with Metropolitan Sergei, not with ‘his synod.’ …The holy Church will remember with horror the sins of Sergei and his fellow activists, having placed his name next to the names of ecumenical pseudo-Patriarchs Nestorius, Dioscorus, and other terrible traitors to Orthodoxy. (M. Zelenogorsky, Vie Life and Work of Archbishop Andrew,” p. 216)
From a missive of Bishop Paul (Kratirov): “Concerning the modernized church or concerning Sergian ‘Orthodoxy,’ I, a sinner, believe that, as regards such church activists, we must call them not only heretics and schismatics, but as those who have departed from God. Metropolitan Sergei brings into the Church service, a heresy unheard of in the history of the Church, the heresy of modernized departure from God, -of which the natural consequence became confusion and division in the Church. Can one, after this, affirm that the declaration and the activity of Metropolitan Sergei concerns only the external life of the Church, and do not touch in any way the essence of the Church’s Orthodoxy? In no way can this be said. Metropolitan Sergei, by his self-wise and evil-worshipping declaration and the anti-Church work which followed it, has created a new modernized schism or Sergian modernism, which while preserving for the ‘little ones’ a fiction of Orthodoxy and canonicity is even more criminal than the first two modernizations of 1922 and 1925. And so Metropolitan Sergei has put under his feet not only the external, but also the very inner essence of the Orthodoxy of the Church. Since his ‘hosanna’ to Christ and Antichrist, which is now being performed in Christian churches, touches the very essence of Christian Faith and presents by itself clear apostasy, the falling away from the Faith, and the departure from God.” (P. N. Ivanov, The New Martyr of the Russian Church Hierarch Paul (Kratirov), p. 24)
From a missive of the Most Holy Patriarch Tikhon regarding “the Living Church”: “With all this’, they, the modernists, had separated themselves from the unity of the body of the Ecumenical Church, and they have deprived themselves of the grace of God which abides only in the Church of Christ…. And all functions and mysteries, which are performed by those bishops and priests who have fallen away from the Church, are without grace; and the faithful who participate with them in prayer and in mysteries, not only do not receive any sanctification, but subject themselves to condemnation for participating in their sin (AP, p. 291). In the basis for the departure of the Josephites from Metropolitan Sergei, it is pointed out that Metropolitan Sergei is seen as having violated the dogmatic teaching concerning the Holy Church,…’I believe in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.”‘ (AP, p. 585).
Bishop Hilarion, formerly of Smolensk, was a most irreconcilable enemy of the declaration of Metropolitan Sergei of 1927; he denied the sacraments when performed by Sergites, and for a second time baptized infants and married those already married in a “Soviet Church.” (Protopresbyter M. Polsky, New Martyrs of Russia).
Archbishop Theodore Posdeev would not recognize in the Moscow Patriarchate validity of mysteries that were performed in its churches and until his very death (in 1950?) to his spiritual children, he would send the Holy Gifts. From an article, The Life of Hieromartyr Theodore Posdeev.
The Holy Patriarch Tikhon, released on the 23rd of July o.s., 1923, a missive concerning the invalidity of innovative religious acts. (AP, p. 292)
A LETTER OF BISHOP VICTOR
In his action of destruction against the Church in addition to his treason, Metropolitan Sergius has affected also a heavy blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which by the unlying word of Christ will never be forgiven him, neither in this life nor the one to come. “He who does not gather with Me,” say s the Lord, “scatters.” Either recognize the tree as good (the Church) and its fruit as good, or recognize the tree as bad and its fruit as bad [cf. Mt. 12:33]. “Therefore, I say unto you, every sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven unto men” [Mt. 12:31]. Fulfilling the measure of his sin, Metropolitan Sergius, in concert with his Synod by his ukase of 8/2″. October, 10.27, introduces also a new formula for commemorations.
Mixing together into one, in the great and most holy Mystery of the Eucharist, in opposition to the word of God, the “faithful” with the “unfaithful” [cf. 2 Cor. 6:14-18) or the Holy Church and the enemies who fight against Her to the death, the Metropolitan by this blasphemy of his destroys the devotional context of the meaning of the prayer of the great mystery and destroys its grace given significance for the eternal salvation of souls of Orthodox believers. This liturgy is not only without grace due to the gracelessness of the celebrant, but it becomes an abomination in the eyes of God; and, because of this, both he who performs it and he who participates in it subject themselves to severe condemnation.
Being in all his activities as an antichurch heretic, as one who turns the Holy Church from a house of grace for the salvation of the believing into a graceless worldly organization, deprived of the Spirit of life, Metropolitan Sergius, at the same time, due to his deliberate renunciation of truth and in his mindless treason to Christ, is an open departer from the God of truth.
He even without a formal internal court hearing of the Church, (which is impossible to effect over him), “is self-condemned” [Tit. 3:10, 11]; he ceased to be who he was, “the servant of truth.” Thus, according to the word, “Let his habitation be desolate, and let no one live in it; and His office let another take” [Acts 1:20].
A number of highly respected archpastors, fathers of godly wisdom and Orthodox men of the Church, in the course of many years, did not do any good, and did not bring Metropolitan Sergius to the realization of the sin he had committed, and could not awaken in his heart repentance.
And, for this reason, we, “by the grace given us from our Lord Jesus Christ” [1 Cor. 5:4], declare the former Metropolitan Sergius deprived of prayerful communion with us and with all faithful to Christ and to His Holy Orthodox Church, and deliver him up to God’s judgment: “‘Vengeance is Mine, I shall recompense,”‘ saith the Lord” [Heb. 19:30].
This present act, in addition to earlier declarations made by us in 1927 through 1928, we carry out in strict awareness of our archpastoral duty before our flock, all the faithful children of the Orthodox Church, in dutiful submission to the rules of the Ecumenical Councils and the Council of the Russian Church of 1917-1918, which is headed today by the Patriarchal locum tenens Peter, Metropolitan of Krutitsa and his vicar, Seraphim, Archbishop of Uglich.
“Do not fear small flock! For your Father had determined to give you the Kingdom!” [Lk. 12:32]
Humble Bishop Victor
[The Archives of the Orthodox St. Tikhon Theological Institute]
The ultimate weapon to which Sergei had recouurse was the ban and excommunication. In defence of this step Sergei wrote to Metropolitan Kyrill (of Kazan) in July 1929: “You are deeply grieved that we call them departed ones and schismatics. But they call our Church, led by me, ‘the kingdom of anti-Christ,’ our temples ‘the den of satan,’ us his servants, the Holy Eucharist ‘demon food,’ they spit on our Holy things, and the like.” (Acts of Metropolitan Sergei, unpublished typescript (1930?) ‘Supplement’.
“To those who maintain the mindless renovationist heresy of Sergianism; to those who teach that the earthly existence of the Church of God can be established by denying the truth of Christ; and to those who affirm that serving the God-fighting authorities and fulfilling their godless commands, which trample on the sacred canons, the patristic traditions and the Divine dogmas, and destroy the whole of Christianity, saves the Church of Christ; and to those who venerate the Antichrist and his servants and forerunners, and all his minions, as a lawful power established by God; and to all those who blaspheme against the new confessors and martyrs? – ANATHEMA!”
(S. Verin, Svidetelstvo russkikh katakomb, Pravoslavnaya Rus, N 14 (1563), July 1/14, 1996, pp. 11-12)
In July, 1927, Metropolitan Sergius issued his famous declaration submitting to Soviet power. In the middle of August Bishop Demetrius, Protopriest Alexander Sovetov and other clergy of the Leningrad diocese sent a letter to Metropolitan Joseph expressing their disagreement with the church position of Metropolitan Sergius. While continuing to serve in the Protection church, Bishop Demetrius now preferred to serve in the Alexander Nevsky Lavra, where they did not commemorate Metropolitan Sergius’ supporter, Bishop Nicholas (Yarushevich) of Peterhof, commemorating instead Metropolitan Joseph.
On December 12, 1927, Bishop Demetrius, Protopriest Basil Veryuzhsky, I.M. Andreyevsky and Professor S.S. Abramovich-Baranovsky were received in Moscow by Metropolitan Sergius and handed him the appeals of the Petrograd bishops and clergy (written by Protopriest Theodore Andreyev) and the church intelligentsia (written by Professor Abramovich-Baranovsky). After Sergius had read the letters, which called on him to abandon his present church policy, stop transferring bishops arbitrarily and return to the position adopted by Patriarch Tikhon, Bishop Demetrius – who was then 70 years old – fell to his knees before him and exclaimed:
“Vladyka! Listen to us, in the name of Christ!”
Metropolitan Sergius immediately raised him up from his knees, seated him in an armchair, and said in a firm and somewhat irritated voice:
“What is there to listen to? Everything you have written has been written by others earlier, and to all this I have already replied many times clearly and definitely. What remains unclear to you?”
“Vladyka!” began Bishop Demetrius in a trembling voice with copious tears. “At the time of my consecration you told me that I should be faithful to the Orthodox Church and, in case of necessity, that I should also be prepared to lay down my own life for Christ. And now such a time of confession has come and I wish to suffer for Christ. But you, by your Declaration, instead of a path to Golgotha propose that we stand on the path of collaboration with a God-fighting regime that persecutes and blasphemes Christ. You propose that we rejoice with its joys and sorrow with its sorrows… Our rulers strive to annihilate religion and the Church and rejoice at the successes of their anti-religious propaganda. This joy of theirs is the source of our sorrow. You propose that we thank the Soviet government for its attention to the needs of the Orthodox population. But how is this attention expressed? In the murder of hundreds of bishops, thousands of priests, and millions of faithful. In the defilement of holy things, the mockery of relics, in the destruction of an immense number of churches and the annihilation of all monasteries. Surely it would be better if they did not give us such ‘attention’!”
“Our government,” Metropolitan Sergius suddenly interrupted the bishop, “has persecuted the clergy only for political crimes.”
“That is a slander!” Bishop Demetrius cried out heatedly.
“We wish to obtain a reconciliation of the Orthodox Church with the governing regime,” Metropolitan Sergius continued with irritation, “while you are striving to underline the counter-revolutionary character of the Church. Consequently, you are counter-revolutionaries, whereas we are entirely loyal to the Soviet regime!”
“That is not true!” exclaimed Bishop Demetrius heatedly. “That is another slander against the confessors and martyrs, those who have been shot and those who are languishing in concentration camps and in banishment… What counter-revolutionary act did the executed Metropolitan Benjamin perform? What is ‘counter-revolutionary’ in the position of Metropolitan Peter of Krutitsa?”
“And the Sobor of Karlovtsy [of the Russian Church in exile], in your opinion, also did not have a political character?” Metropolitan Sergius interrupted him again.
“There was no Sobor of Karlovtsy in Russia,” Bishop Demetrius replied quietly, “and many martyrs in the concentration camps knew nothing of this Sobor.”
“I personally,” continued the bishop, “am a completely apolitical man, and if I myself had to accuse myself to the GPU, I couldn’t imagine anything of which I am guilty before the Soviet regime. I only sorrow and grieve, seeing the persecution against religion and the Church. We pastors are forbidden to speak of this, and we are silent. But to the question whether there is any persecution against religion and the Church in the USSR, I could not reply otherwise than affirmatively. When they proposed to you, Vladyka, that you write your Declaration, why did you not reply like Metropolitan Peter, that you can keep silence, but cannot say what is untrue?”
“And where is the untruth?” exclaimed Metropolitan Sergius.
“In the fact,” replied Bishop Demetrius, “that persecution against religion, the ‘opium of the people’ according to Marxist dogma, not only exists among us, but in its cruelty, cynicism and blasphemy has passed all limits!”
The two-hour interview failed to convince Metropolitan Sergius. And so, on December 26, in his flat at Kanonerskaya street 29, Bishop Demetrius told Bishop Nicholas (Yarushevich) and his supporters that he was breaking communion in prayer with Metropolitan Sergius until such time, as he wrote to the priests of the diocese on January 4/17, “as a complete Local Council of the Russian Church, at which will be represented the entire active episcopate – i.e. the present exile-confessors – shall justify by its conciliar authority our way of acting, or until such time as Metropolitan Sergius will come to himself and repent of his sins not only against the canonical order of the Church, but also dogmatically against her person (blaspheming against the sanctity of the exploit of the confessors by casting doubt on the purity of their Christian convictions, as if they were mixed up in politics), against her conciliarity (by his and his Synod’s acts of coercion), against her apostolicity (by subjecting the Church to worldly rules and by his inner break – while preserving a false unity – with Metropolitan Peter, who did not give Metropolitan Sergius authorization for his latest acts, beginning with the epistle (Declaration) of July 16/29, 1927). ‘Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions’ (II Thessalonians 2.15).”
On December 26, Bishop Demetrius was appointed archbishop by Metropolitan Joseph of Petrograd, and became the leader of the Catacomb Church in the Petrograd area. With the agreement of Metropolitan Joseph, whose advice he always sought, he also accepted many other parishes under his omophorion from as far afield as the Urals, Krasnoyarsk and Archangelsk. Indeed, until his arrest Archbishop Demetrius was the most active and authoritative of all the bishops of the Catacomb Church who were still in freedom.
On December 30, Sergius banned Bishop Demetrius from serving. Bishop Demetrius expressed his attitude to this ban in a letter to Fr. Alexander Sidorov, rector of the church of the Elevation of the Cross on Vozdvizhenka, Moscow, as follows: “Do not be disturbed by any restrictions that the apostates from the Christian Faith are preparing for you. No interdicts or ejections of you from your rank by Metropolitan Sergius, his Synod or his bishops are valid for you. As long as there remains just one firmly Orthodox bishop, have communion with him. If the Lord permits it, and you remain without a bishop, then may the Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit, be with you all, inspiring you to solve all the questions which you may encounter on your path in the spirit of True Orthodoxy.”
At this time Bishop Demetrius was supported, in his words, by Bishop Sergius (Druzhinin) of Kopor, Bishop Basil (Dokhturov) of Kargopol and Bishop Barsonuphius (Vikhvelin) of Nikolsk. To these should be added the former Petrograd vicar, Archbishop Gabriel (Voyevodin) of Yamburg, who was living in retirement in Vitebsk. In exile at that time were other bishops who thought like him: Bishop Victor (Ostrovidov) of Glazov and Bishop Maximus (Zhizhilenko) of Serpukhov, and in freedom still – Bishop Ioasaph (Prince Zhevakov) of Dmitriev, who was living in Yekaterinoslav (then Dnepropetrovsk). He was also in contact with the canonical head of the Russian Church, Metropolitan Peter (Polyansky) of Krutitsa, who was in exile in Siberia at the time and who wrote to Metropolitan Joseph: “We bishops must ourselves reject Metropolitan Sergius”.
Vladyka Demetrius was also supported by forty-two churches in the Petrograd diocese (including monasteries and monastic podvoryes), and in the Novgorod diocese – by the parish of the Spassky church in Novgorod, the churches in the villages of Velebitsy and Makovishchi, and the men’s Theophany Perekomsky monastery on Ilmen lake.
Hieromartyr Paul, Bishop of Starobela: Bishop Paul refused to recognize Metropolitan Sergius even before his notorious declaration of 1927, considering him to be a usurper of higher ecclesiastical power, which from 1926 should “by right” have belonged to Metropolitan Agathangelus. For this he was banned from serving by Metropolitan Michael (Yermakov), the Exarch of the Ukraine. When the declaration appeared, he fiercely criticized it; at the end of 1927 he sent a letter to Metropolitan Agathangelus, and was very satisfied by the answer, since the metropolitan called Sergius “a usurper of ecclesiastical power”. In April, 1928 Bishop Paul wrote to Sergius officially declaring his separation from him. In the same month he was banned by Sergius’ synod.
In February and May, 1928, he wrote two large epistles entitled: “Our critical remarks with regard to the second epistle of Metropolitan Sergius” and “On the modernization of the Church, or on Soviet Orthodoxy”. He wrote: “Metropolitan Sergiuss, not personally of himself, but in the name of the whole Orthodox Catholic Church, has worshipped the man-god, who speaks proudly and blasphemously… Concerning the modernized church or concerning Sergian ‘Orthodoxy’, I, a sinner, believe that, as regards such church activists, we must call them not only heretics and schismatics, but as those who have apostasised from God. After all, Metropolitan Sergius brings into the church service a heresy unheard of in the history of the Church, the heresy of modernized apostasye from God, – of which the natural consequence has been confusion and schism in the Church. Can one, after this, affirm that the declaration and activity of Metropolitan Sergius concerns only the external life of the Church, and do not touch in any way the essence of the Church’s Orthodoxy? In no way can this be said. Metropolitan Sergius, by his self-wise and evil-worshipping declaration and the anti-Church work which followed it, has created a new renovationist schism or Sergian renovation, which while preserving for the ‘little ones’ a fiction of Orthodoxy and canonicity is even more criminal than the first two renovationisms of 1922 and 1925. And so Metropolitan Sergius has trampled on not only the external, but the very inner essence of the Orthodoxy of the Church, since his ‘hosanna’ to Christ and Antichrist, which is now being performed in Christian churches, touches the very essence of Christian Faith and presents by itself clear apostasy, falling away from the Faith, and departure from God… Church activists who share the error of Metropolitan Sergius have already partly become aware that they are all sitting in the renovationist bog…
“In the given church-historical situation every ‘legal’ Church inevitably becomes the whore of Babylonian apostasy from God. I cannot help being shocked and pained at the sight of the crimsonly adulterous Church, because I myself, being adulterous and a great sinner, have great need of the Church that makes us chaste – the Virgin wearing the white clothes of chastity and the completely pure, immaculate Bride of Christ, who can save me, the great sinner… Since the sergianist church has put on the crimson garments of the whore, through this she has become guilty and criminal in everything.”