Return to Home Page

Metropolitan Eulogius Calls the Paris Jurisdiction
To Repentance and Back to Russian Church Unity

The vestments of the Ever-Memorable Metropolitan Philaret, the Russian hierarch who in 1981 glorified the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia outside Russia because the Church inside Russia was not free to do so, are now in Russia. They have been given to His Holiness Patriarch Alexis II, who in 2000 canonized the New Martyrs and Confessors inside Russia.

Thus, the wish that Metropolitan Philaret expressed in his will has been respected. For, with the fall of Communism and the coming of freedom, the old errors of Sergianism and the ecumenist branch theory have been expressly rejected by the Patriarchal Church. Thus, it was able to canonize its New Martyrs and Confessors and it can now enter into full eucharistic communion with the Church Outside Russia. Indeed, it is now only a matter of weeks or months before the two parts of the Russian Church will concelebrate and the prophecy of St John regarding this will be realized.

True, until recently there were a few voices officially within the Patriarchate of Moscow’s Sourozh Diocese, which rejected Patriarchal communion with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR). Last May they virtually all left the Patriarchal Church, going into ‘schism’, in the words of Patriarch Alexis. True, there are still a few lonely, isolated and mainly elderly individuals who remain on the fringes of (ROCOR) and oppose full eucharistic unity with the Patriarchate.

They fail to recognize the repentance of those few in the Patriarchate still alive, who in the past compromised themselves with the old Soviet Communist system. These individuals remain trapped in a time warp of the past. In the words of a priest who represents their mentality, Fr Nikita Grigoriev, they actually seem to be condemning the rest of the Orthodox Church worldwide. For these extremists the Church is ‘Satan’s Church’, ‘the Church of Antichrist’. If these individuals do not open their hearts, their future, sadly, can only end in the withered branch of a sect.

Despite the general optimism, as the Patriarchate and ROCOR come together and Russian Church forces unite to stand up to the real enemy of Christ, Western secularism, (of which Soviet Communism was merely a satanic but local, passing and now archaic offshoot), there remains one dark cloud on the horizon. This is the refusal of the Paris Jurisdiction, the smallest fraction of the remnants of the old post-1917 Russian emigration to come out of their self-imposed schism and join the rest of the Russian Orthodox people in their triumph. Set up in the first decade of the Russian emigration, the Paris Jurisdiction rejected successfully both the discipline of ROCOR and also of the Patriarchate.

Theirs is the shocking rejection not only of the human patriotism of those who love Russia, but also of the spiritual patriotism of those who love Orthodoxy. Theirs is the shocking rejection of the restoration of an uncompromised, multinational and multilingual Russian Orthodox Church and Faith. Theirs is also the rejection of the basis of the contemporary Orthodox Church. According to statistics, 80% of the 143 million population of contemporary Russia is now baptized Orthodoxy and there are tens of millions of others in the Ukraine, Belarus and elsewhere. Although most of these are only baptized and nominally Orthodox, nevertheless the 150 million Orthodox here represent the overwhelming majority of Orthodox worldwide. This cannot be compared to the one million flock of the tiny though historic Patriarch of Constantinople and the few thousand of the flock of the Paris Jurisdiction, who are at present under the uncanonical jurisdiction of that very Patriarchate. Thus, the visit of Pope Benedict to Istanbul is not a visit to the contemporary reality of the Orthodox Church, but only to its historic past.

The resistance of the Paris Jurisdiction to Russian Church discipline dates back to its foundation in 1925, when it quit the jurisdiction of the Patriarchally-founded Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) and then, in 1930, also rejected the jurisdiction of the Patriarchal Church inside Russia, leaving it uncanonically for the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Many blame its politically-minded Metropolitan, Eulogius, for this.

In fairness, however, poor Metropolitan Eulogius was a prisoner or hostage of mainly masonic intellectuals, some of whom erred into heresy, and half-churched St Petersburg aristocrats, who dominated the post-1917 Russian emigration in Paris (hence its name). Metropolitan Eulogius’ heart was always with the Russian Church, sadly his head was often manipulated by political interests. Thus, in the 1930s he returned briefly to the ROCOR jurisdiction. Unsupported by the lay leaders of his flock, he was destined to renounce unity with it again. Similarly, in 1945, he personally returned to the Patriarchal Church and died in isolation as its Exarch in Paris sixty years ago in 1946. His flock, however, did not follow him.

Metropolitan Eulogius was succeeded as leader of the Paris Jurisdiction by Metropolitan Vladimir, a most pious monk. Unfortunately, like his predecessor he was not strong enough to resist the laymen, who really controlled his Exarchate and chose weak bishops to head it.

He was followed by Archbishop George (Tarasov), whom I personally knew and who blessed and attended my wedding. A former pilot who had flown on the Western Front in the First World War, he was a widowed priest. A charming and most gentle man, who especially loved children, as matushka who grew up under him can affirm, he was too kind for those who manipulated him. He had been chosen as a weak individual, and we can remember him openly being booed and mocked during services by the laypeople of the Fraternite Orthodoxe, who at that time had organized themselves into their ‘Brotherhood’ to take full control of the Paris Jurisdiction. These were mainly the children and grandchildren of the original St Petersburg aristocrats and liberal intellectuals who had forced Meropolitan Eulogius into schism in 1925. Poor Archbishop George reposed in 1981, without a penny to his name, in miserable conditions.

He was followed by a German academic, Archbishop George (Wagner), whom I knew very well. A most timid and intimidated man, he was so frightened of the Paris Russian intellectuals that he actually refused to go and live at the Rue Daru Cathedral in Paris and preferred a little chapel in the suburbs. Too weak to stand up to the Fraternite, in the end he alienated both them and the Orthodox elements in his Jurisdiction, who soon began to leave him. A tragic figure, completely under the control of masonic elements (though not a freemason himself, as he told me), he died prematurely, in his early sixties, in isolation.

He was succeeded by a widowed priest, the half-Russian, half-Flemish Archbishop Sergius (Konovalov). With his combative Flemish character, he was the first to try to resist the ‘Brotherhood’ and restore the Paris Jurisdiction to the Russian Orthodox Church. His premature death, in tragic circumstances, cut off the attempt to revert from Paris modernism to Orthodox canonicity.

Archbishop Sergius was succeeded by Archbishop Gabriel. Unfortunately, he is not an unwilling prisoner or hostage of the ‘Fraternite Orthodoxe’, but an all too willing prisoner of their renovationist ideology. He has already rejected the possibility of the Paris Jurisdiction taking part in the future Russian Orthodox Metropolia of Western Europe under the Russian Orthodox Church, the basis of a future Local Orthodox Church in Western Europe. Worse still, he has recently uncanonically chosen to steal under-churched members of the Sourozh Diocese of the Patriarchal Church into his jurisdiction, those who for decades had been causing ecclesiastical division and trouble in Great Britain. Sadly, this is condemning the Paris Jurisdiction to a future cut off from the vital forces of Orthodoxy, which are constructing a canonical future for Orthodox in Western Europe.

However, with the present Conference in Moscow on Metropolitan Sergius’ life and heritage (1 and 2 December 2006), we have a very timely reminder of the views of the first Metropolitan of the Paris Jurisdiction. These include not only the clear rejection of the absurd post-Russian Revolution pretensions of the Patriarchate of Constantinople to a papist domination of the Orthodox Church, but also the promise to return to Russian Church unity, once the obscene aberrations of the Soviet regime were over. His views were very, very different from those that have come to dominate the Paris Jurisdiction over the last fifty years. Let the members of the Paris Jurisdiction now read and listen and take to heart Metropolitan Eulogius’ call to return to unity and may his words resound within the walls of the St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral on Rue Daru in Paris:

‘The text of Canon 28 of the Fourth Oecumenical Council…grants (the Patriarchate of Constantinople) the authority to appoint bishops in the neighbouring provinces of Pontus, Asia and Thrace among non-Greeks, not in all provinces in general but only in the above provinces…My canonical authority comes from that of the Autocephalous Russian Patriarchal Church in Moscow’.

(Letter of Metropolitan Eulogius to Patriarch Gregory of Constantinople in 1924)

‘I am temporarily forced to take on myself all fullness of authority…until the restoration of correct, normal relations with the supreme authority of the Russian Church’.

(Metropolitan Eulogius’ letter to Metropolitan Sergius on 21 June 1930 on his reasons for breaking off communion with the Patriarchal Church).

‘When the generally recognized central authority of the Church and normal conditions of life of the Russian Orthodox Church are restored, then we shall once more return to our former situation. Entering onto this path, of course we are not cutting ourselves off, we are not splitting off from the Russian Mother Church. We…are not ceasing to be united with Her. This is only a temporary interruption of official administrative relations with Metropolitan Sergius, caused by the circumstances which we all know’.

(Metroplitan Eulogius to his flock at the beginning of 1931, justifying his switch to the Patriarchate of Constantinople).

At the opening of the Conference, Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk rightly noted that,

‘The course of action chosen by Metropolitan Eulogius contradicted the canons of the Holy Church’,

but also that:

‘Metropolitan Eulogius clearly understood that the uncanonical situation of his parishes, albeit forced on him - cut off from the Mother Church and in an ambivalent co-existence on the same territory as dioceses of the Patriarchate of Constantinople - could not go on for ever’.

Now the Paris Jurisdiction has the opportunity to return to canonicity and to take part in the great project of the creation of a canonical Local Orthodox Church in Western Europe, returning to the Mother Church. For decades it has shown an openness to receive Non-Russians into the Church. Unfortunately, it has often been unable to church them. On the other hand, ROCOR has all too often shown a reluctance to receive Non-Russians into its jurisdiction, but when it has done, it has done its best to church them. The best elements of ROCOR, the Ever-Memorable Metropolitans Antony and Anastasy and St John the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Western Europe, encouraged this. And it is on their heritage that a Local Church in Western Europe will be built.

If the Paris Jurisdiction does not soon turn from its errors, it will condemn itself to isolation and uncanonicity. Let it at last heed and act on the call to repentance in the words of Metropolitan Eulogius:

The real governance of the Western European parishes from Moscow will remain impossible until there is free communication between the USSR and the rest of the world…We are not wavering from our canonical unity with the Russian Mother Church and its legitimate authority. We await that moment when free mutual communion with our central authority is restored…

(Quoted by hieromonk Sabbas (Titunov) in his article The Paris Metropolia from 1920-1946 in today’s Russkaya Mysl).

Priest Andrew Phillips

18 November/1 December
Holy Martyr Plato of Ancyra

  to top of page