44. The True Orthodox Church and the Russian Church Abroad

Russia's Catacomb Saints

44

The True Orthodox Church
and the Russian Church Abroad
Resolution of the Sobor of Bishops of the
Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (Sept. 1/14, 1971)

THE SOBOR OF BISHOPS of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, the only free part of the Russian church looks with sorrow upon the sufferings to which believers are subjected within the boundaries of the Soviet Union. To the open persecutions of the atheistic regime, which sets as its aim the extermination of all religion, there are added temptations from false brethren.

In 1927, when the late Metropolitan of Nizhegorod Sergjus, who called himself Patriarch of Moscow, issued his well-known Declaration, the elder bishops of the Russian Church, and among them those chosen by Patriarch Tikhon in his testament for temporary leadership of the Russian Church, did not agree with him, seeing the ruinousness for Orthodox souls of the new course along which he was leading the Church, against the instructions of Metropolitan Peter of Krutitsk.  The names of Metropolitans Peter, Cyril, Arsenius, Joseph, Archbishop Seraphim of Uglich, and many other hierarchs clerics, and laymen will enter the history of the Church on an equal par with the most celebrated Confessors of Orthodoxy in the face of persecutions impiety, and heresies.

The free part of the Russian Church, which finds itself outside the boundaries of the USSR, is heart and soul with the confessors of the faith, whom the anti-religious guidebooks call “True Orthodox Christians,” and who in common usage are often called “the Catacomb Church”; for they are obliged to hide themselves from the civil authorities in the same way that believers hid in the catacombs in the first centuries of Christianity. The Sobor of Bishops acknowledges its spiritual unity with them, and the Russian Church Outside of Russia always prays for all those who under conditions of persecution manage to preserve the truth and are not unequally yoked with unbelievers, recognizing that there is nothing in common between light and darkness and no agreement between Christ and Belial (II Cor. 6.14-15).

The free part of the Russian Church, besides praying, strives to help its brethren who suffer for the Faith in the Homeland also by continually striving to reveal to the world the true situation of the Church in the Soviet Union, unmasking the lie of her supposed well-being, which false pastors, travelling abroad, attempt to spread there, glorifying the persecutors and disparaging the persecuted.

In the painful circumstances which our brethren in the Soviet Union must experience, we find a consolation in the example of the first centuries of Christianity, when the persecutors of Christ likewise attempted physically to exterminate the Holy Church. But we remember the encouraging words of the Saviour, "Fear not, little flock" (Luke 12:32). And we remember likewise the Saviour’s words of encouragement for those whom the Lord has judged to be on this earth in the last days of its existence: "Then look up and lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh" (Luke 21:28).