Anthony (Vadkovsky), Metropolitan of St. Petersburg
Archbisop Hilarion (Troitsky)
Mitropolitan Eulogy (Georgievsky)
Schemamonk Alexis
Chapter II. The patriarchschip and sobornost.

The joint influence and profound unity of the Church and the state were the main pivot of the Constantinian age of Christian history. In particular, whereas the whole sacramental-liturgical structure of the Church was determined before the beginning of this age, concentrating round the Hierarch charisma, round simple formula "where the Bishop is, there is the Church", its organization as a whole, expressed in the formation of Metropolitanates and Local Churches took place under the strong influence of Roman statehood.

The collapse of the main centers of this statehood, the West-Roman, the Byzantine and, finally, the Russian centers, confronted the Church each time with the need to explain and reinforce those principles of church organization which proceeded from the very nature of the Church and had to be preserved no matter what changes took place in the life of human society. And each time this was a truly creative, if not prophetic task. The collapse of the Orthodox monarchy compelled the  soborny mind of the Russian Church to apply immense spiritual efforts to solve this task, which had unexpectedly acquired a practical importance of the first order.

And this task is still being tackled today as well. Today we are called upon to reap the fruits of the exceptionally profound and rich experience which the Russian Church acquired in its struggle to clarify and develop the canonical principles of its being as a spiritual-corporal organism. Acquaintance with this insufficiently interpreted experience may help us to find a way of restoring the now lost unity of the Orthodox Russian Church. What is more, the author dares to suggest that this experience is essential not only for the future fate of Russia, but also as a valuable contribution to the     questings  and efforts of the Ecumenical Church which is striving to realize and establish its ontological structure in accordance with Divine Providence.
                                                                         *     *     *

The basis of the Orthodox Church as a single whole is formed by the Episcopate. In accordance with ancient Orthodox canons, the Bishop possesses the full range of instructive, administrative and sacramental power within his diocese. The presbyter (priest) is delegated tins power, and not to a full extent, by the Bishop only. Only the Bishop retains the absolute and decisive right of "reproducing" the hierarchical structure of the Church. He can ordain not only priests, but also other Bishops. Finally, only a Council of Bishops is empowered to take decisions concerning the fate of the Local Church as a whole.

It was precisely this decisive role of the Episcopate in the Church which led Peter I and his heirs to take the most energetic measures to deprive the Russian Bishop of all independence and turn him into a revered, but powerless state official. According to the writer Leskov, who describes church life of the last century so well, the Bishop was a kind of "living icon", a purely symbolical figure respected by the people, hut deprived of any real connection with them. There was a deep division between the Episcopate (and the higher "educated monasticism" close to it), on one hand, and the ordinary clergy and monks who lived in close contact with the mass of ordinary believers, on the other. To put it figuratively, circulation of blood between the head and the body of the Russian Church was greatly hampered for several centuries.

The process of restoring normal church life, begun by the workings of Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow, proceeded very slowly, meeting powerful resistance from court circles. Only Nicholas II dared to take a real step towards the restoration of Russian church life. The activity during Ins reign of the church group of Anthony Vadkovsky (Metropolitan of St. Petersburg) and then of the Pre-Council Committee prepared church consciousness for the forthcoming profound reforms. One reflection of this preparatory work was, inter alia, the program of the last "prerevolutionary" metropolitan of Moscow, Pitirim (Oknov).

Before this he was rector of the St. Petersburg Seminary, then Exarch of the Georgian Church, where he conducted services in Georgian, Mingrelian, Ossetian and Abkhazian and criticized the policy of the russification of the Caucasus. The following are some of the points in the program: to abolish the division of dioceses into "rich" and "poor"; to stop the moving round of bishops; to increase the number of dioceses and bishops greatly and to make them equal territorially and materially; to bring the bishop closer to his flock; to restore the metropolitanate districts for convenience of administration: to hold local councils of bishops twice a year in accordance with the Apostolic Rules; to set up episcopal sees in the capitals of Western Europe; to translate liturgical and patristic books into European languages; and to compete with the Catholic missionary movement. The tendency towards the enhancement of the role of Bishop, the reinforcement of the sobornost principle and the liberation of the Church from state interference is clear in this program. But the important thing is that in this connection Metropolitan Pitirim categorically opposed the establishment of the Patriarchate! Not only he, but many other church reformers of that day feared that the Patriarchate would only strengthen the bureaucratic centralization of the Church and hinder the development of independent parishes and dioceses. And without such independence there could be no question of real sobornost!

In the revolutionary atmosphere created after the Emperor's abdication these reformatory moods naturally grew much stronger.

Thus, in its communication to the Church of 29 April, 1917 the Holy Synod announced the establishment of the principle "of the election of a bishop by free voting of clergy and laymen". The setting up of a Pre-Council Committee and the convocation of a Local Council as soon as possible were also announced in this communication. On 20 June the Synod passed the "Temporary Statute on the Orthodox parish" which emphasized the independence of the parish as a special church community in contact with the Ecumenical Church through its Bishop.

There can be no doubt that the composition of the Holy Synod and its decisions at that time were largely determined by pressure from the Provisional Government through the Ober-Procuror  V.N.Lvov. The socialists and cadets who feared the Church as a single organization which united the overwhelming majority of the people sought to turn it into a collection of disconnected small communities on the Protestant model. On the same day, 20 June, the Provisional Government passed a resolution undermining the role of the Church in public education: 37,000 church parish schools were transferred to the charge of the Ministry of Public Education. Even the most "left-wing" church reformers protested against this resolution. Thus, in the troubled revolutionary period the age-old hopes of church and people for sobornost   became   intertwined   with   political   demands   for "democratization". Without sufficient historical experience it was impossible to understand this tangle of ideas and aspirations.

The question of the structure of church administration was also raised at the Local Council which opened on 15 August, the day of the Assumption of the Most Holy Mother of God, in the Assumption Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin.

"The most pressing question arose,  -  Metropolitan Eulogy recalls, -  of how to administer the Church -  to support the old Synodal structure or the Patriarchate? The "left", that is, the secular professors of the Theological Academics and the liberal priests, were against the Patriarchate. Again, as in the Pre-Council Committee, there was talk about the odiose monarchic element, about autocracy from which the revolution had freed the people never to return to this principle again. This was the same old liberalism of the intelligentsia, devotion to abstract ideas which ignored the facts of historical reality".

However, as has often happened at decisive moments of church history, the very atmosphere, the very spirit of sobornost engendered a new consciousness. Member of the Council, Professor - Protopriest  S.N.Bulgakov, referring to the  "living  soborny consciousness, which for a long time suffered the pangs   and go  through illness of this new birth" testifies that the new birth of the patriarchate in the Russian Church was something more than the simple restoration of the normal canonical system.

"When the members of the All-Russian Church Council assembled Moscow," wrote S.N. Bulgakov in his article-speech prepared for delivery at the Council, "only a few of them had a definite opinion on the question of the patriarchate, and others did not expect that they would soon become ardent champions of its restoration. Something has undoubtedly happened here in this soborny atmosphere; a new spiritual birth has taken place, in the midst of this church sobornost the  patriarchate has been born...
The Russian Church could, of course, still stay with the Synodal structure now. There is no need for the restoration of the patriarchate here, and it can only be a question of the tatter's possibility, which becomes reality only in the creative act of church soborny consciousness. The patriarchate being restored is not only a restoration, but a completely new act of the Russian Church, although, of course, here too it is acting in accordance with old tradition".
Deyan. Sob. Council Acts. Book 3. Appendix 31. Petrograd 1918.

What meaning did the Local Council attach to the idea of the Patriarchate? Let us listen to the soborny polyphony of witnesses and opinions. Here is the national-historical aspect expressed by Archimandrite Hilarion (Troitsky):

  "There is the 'Wailing Wall' in Jerusalem. Old orthodox Jews come up to it and weep, shedding tears for their lost national freedom and former national glory. In the Assumption Cathedral in Moscow there is also a Russian wailing wall - the empty patriarchal throne. For two hundred years Russian Orthodox believers have been coming here and weeping bitter tears over the church's freedom destroyed by Peter and the church's former glory. How sad it will be, if this our Russian wailing wall is to remain forever! May this not be so!
Moscow is called the heart of Russia. But where does Russia's heart beat in Moscow. At the stock exchange? On Blacksmith's Bridge? It beats in the Kremlin, of course. But where in the Kremlin? In the district court? Or in the army barracks? No, in the Assumption Cathedral. It is there, by the front righthand pillar that the Russian Orthodox heart should beat. The Petrine eagle of the autocracy cut to the Western  model peeked out this Russian Orthodox heart. The impious Peter's sacrilegious hand cast down the Russian First Hierarch from his age-old seat in the Assumption Cathedral. The Local Council of the Russian Church with the power given to it by God will again place the Moscow Patriarch on his lawful inalienable throne. And when to the sound of the Moscow bells His Holiness the Patriarch goes to his historical sacred see in the Assumption Cathedral, there will be great rejoicing on earth and in heaven".  Deyan. Sob. Appendix 31.

Council member A.V.Vasiliev sees the Patriarchate as an inalienable element of church sobornost, as the free focus of individual principles, and as authority voluntarily accepted and making it possible to overcome the contradictions of individual strivings. This position is undoubtedly a development of the Slavophile ideal:

"The main task of the Holy Synod is to lay the foundations for the restoration in the life of our Church and our Homeland of the principle of sobornost confessed by us in the 9th clause of the Creed, but scorned and repressed in life. If we confess the Church as Catholic and Apostolic, and the Apostle defines it as the body of Christ, as a living organism in which all the members are inter-connected and coordinated with one another, this means that such a co-ordination is not alien to the principle of sobornost and sobornost is not the full equality of identical members or particles, but contains within it the recognition of the personal and hierarchical elements... Sobornost does not deny authority, but demands from it the predisposition to voluntary obedience to it. Thus, authority, which defines itself as service, according to the word of Jesus Christ "the first of you shall be the servant to all" - and those subject to it, who voluntarily obey the authority recognized by them, concord, like-mindedness and unanimity, at the basis of which lie mutual trust and love - this is sobornost. And only with sobornost is it possible to have true Christian liberty and equality and fraternity of people and nations... In sobornost the personal hierarchical and public elements arc in close harmony. The Orthodox interpretation of sobornos contains the concept of universality, but it is more profound and indicates inner self-discipline, integrity, both of the spiritual strength, will-power, intellect and feelings of the individual, and in society and the nation as a whole - on the concertedness of the organism-members which make it up…".             Appendix 31.

It would have been possible to agree with this fundamentally important argument, if the role and place of the "personal element" which, the author believes, lies at the basis of both the hierarchy and sobornost had been explained more clearly in it. One can only speak of the church-hierarchical structure if as a prerequisite there is an independent, free personal element capable of defending itself. Only  than  can  the  question  of  voluntary  obedience,  like-mindedness  and  love be  raised.

If  the  personal  element is  still  undeveloped,  weak  and  not free,  however,  the obedience  and  consent  become  compulsory  and  the church-hierarchial structure  is  replaced  by  a  patriarchal-family  structure. The  historical  reality  was such,  however, that  the  patriarchal-family  tradition  was  represented  very  strongly  in  he  Russian  tradition,  whereas  the  personal  element  was  relatively  weak.  Therefore  the  churchification,  inspiration  and  transformation  of patriarchality  demanded  great  creative  efforts - and  the  Church  was  impelled  to  make  these  efforts  most  of  all  by  the  incredibly severe  tribulation  which it  had  to  endure  in  the  forthcoming  years.

Another  aspect  of  the  Patriarchate  as  the  church  summit  through  which  contact  is  made  with  the  Ecumenical  Church  was  stressed  by  the  self-same S.N.Bulgakov,  who  detected  a  great  profetic    meaning,  the  pledge  of  the  universal  unification  on  Christianity,  in  the  restoration  of  the  Patriarchate:

“Most  important  of  all,  of  course,  is  the  question  of  the  basic  illness  of  the  hole  Christian  world, the  division  between  the  Eastern  and  Western  Church,  which  cannot fail  to  arouse  constant  pain  in  the  Christian  heart.  In  the  European  and  at  the  time  Russian  tragedy  which  is  unfolding   before our  eyes  was  not  the  seed  of  the  evil  taking  place  now  sown  a  thousand  years  ago,  in  those  had  days  when  the  final  strife  between the  Constantinopolitan  and  Roman  sees came  to  a  head?  And if  it  the  will  of  Providence that  the  historic  hour  should  come  at  last  when  the  proximity  of  a miracle  is  felt - the  miracle  of  a  new  world  for  the  whole  Ecumenical  Church, then  we  should  be  ready  with  our  loins  girded  and  our  lamps  lit.  Such  are  the  universal-historical  prospects  that  open  up  from the  heights  where  we  find  ourselves  today,  such  are  the  thoughts  that  the  day  of  the  official  enthronement  of  His  Holiness  the  Patriarch  of  All  Russia  inspires.  It  is  in  this  sense  that  we  accept  the  ceremony  taking  place”.

In  linking  his  hopes  for  the  reunification  of  the  Christian  Church  with  the  setting  up  of  the  Patriarchate,  father  Sergius  Bulgakov  proceeds  from the  fact  that  the  main  obstacle  to  this  unity is  the  question  of  the  power  of the Pope.  He  evidently  assumed  that  the  very  recognition  of  the  principle  of  a  First  Hierarch  opens  up  before  the  Russian  Church  the  possibility  of  recognizing  in  some  form  of  other  Papal  supremacy,  an  idea  which  was  vigorously  preached  by  Vladimir  Soloviev  in  his  time.

Indeed  the  primacy  of  the  Bishop  of  Rome  among  the    bishops  of  the  other  churches  was never  disputed  by  the Orthodox  Church - the  question was  only  about  the  extent  of  the  power  and  rights of  the  Pope  in  relation  to  the  other  Patriarchs.  But  does  the  deep  cause  of  the  division  of  Eastern and  Western  Christianity  lie  in  this?

We   believe  that  it  does  not:  the  main  cause    of  this  division  is  of  a  religious-anthropological  nature -   different  approaches  o  the  question  of  the  ways  of  development  of  the  human  personality  and  the  relationship  between  human Divine will. In  connection  with this  question of  the  ways  of  supremacy  of the  Pope   or  the  question  of  the  uniting  in  his  person  of  two  authority:  the  spiritual  and  the  secular - presents  far  fever  obstacles  to  unification than,  for  example the  rejection  by  Catholic  theology  of  Gregory  Palamas`  teaching  on  Divine  Energy.

Here  it  is a  matter not only  of  two  types  of theology,  but of the two  fundamentally  different  types  of  spiritual  practice  from  which  the  two  theologians  proceed.  For  the  Eastern  Orthodox  believer,  irrespective  of  whether  he is  familiar  with  theological doctrine  of  Palamism,  the  experience  of  Divine  Grace as  a  stream of  uncreated energy  is  an  integral  part  of  religious  experience.  For  the  Western  Christian,  however,  catholic or  protestant his  experience  is  for  he most  part alien,  for  all  the  riches of  subjective  spiritual-phsychological  sates.

Giving  such a  difference  the  very  aim of    religious life,  the  character  and  means  of  man`s  union with  God,  is  very  different for  Easter and  Western  Christians.  It  is in  this  sphere,  firs  and foremost, that  one  must  search  for mutual  understanding,  and  the  rest  will  follow -  at  least,  that  is  our  profound  hope.  We  would  reiterate  our  belief  that the  accelerated,  but  unharmonic  development  of  the  individual  in  the  Western  Christian  world  has  been  achieved  largely  at  the price of  partial emancipation  from  God;  in the  Eastern  Christian world, however,  the  individual  is  somewhat  backward  in development,  but  retains  the  will  and  potential  to  develop  together  with  God,  to  develop  synergetically.  These problems have  a  direct  bearing  on  the  fate of  the  Russian  Church  in  the  twentieth  century,  for  the  main  task  with  which  it  is confronted  in  our  day  is  obviously  the  resurrection  of the  age-old  tradition  of  synergism.

                                                             *     *     *
Witness  are  unanimous  in  stating  that  deciding  the  question  of  accepting  the  Patriarchate  was  accelerated  by  the  great  upheavals in  Russian  state  and spiritual  life,  which   took  place  during  the  holding  of  the  Local  Council.

   “At  the  beginning  of  October, -   Mitropolitan  Eulogy  recalls,  - news  began  to  arrive from  Petersburg,  each  item  more  terrible  and  disquieting  than  the  one  before The  Provisional  Government  was  living  out  is  last days.  A  constituent  assembly  seemed  to  be  a  way  out  of  the  impasse,  but  is  its  convocation  kept  being  postponed. Russian  life  was  collapsing  and  chaos  was  imminent…

    In these  terrible days  of  bloodshed  a  great  change  took  place  in  the  Council.  Petty  human  passions  subsides,  hostile  wrangling  ceased  and Estrangement: abated. The image of the Patriarch, the sorrower, intercessor and leader of the Russian church, began to fill the Council's consciousness. People began to look with hope at the future elect. The mood heightened. The Council, which at first resembled a parliament, began to be transformed into a true "Church Council": into an organic church whole united by a single purpose - the good of the Church. The spirit of God descended upon the meeting, consoling all, reconciling all..."

On 30 October the Council adopted a decision on the restoration of the Patriarchate and the procedure for the election of the Patriarch: by means of a ballot the three candidates who received the largest number of votes were to be elected and then one of them chosen as Patriarch by drawing lots. The voting which took place on the same day produced the following three candidates: Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky), Archbishop Cyril (Smirnov) and Metropolitan Tikhon (Belavin). However, in view of the absence of a quorum the voting was declared invalid. The next day the first three candidates were: Metropolitan Anthony - 159 votes, Archbishop Arseny (Stadnitsky) - 148; and Metropolitan Tikhon - 125.

Not only the decision to elect by drawing lots is surprising, but also the composition of the candidates from which Divine Providence was to indicate the most worthy. Anthony later because tile head of the "White Guard", anti-Bolshevik Church; Arseny constantly inclined towards excessive compromise with the "Reds"; and Tikhon became the Patriarch...

On 4 November the Council adopted the following general resolutions on the supreme government of the Orthodox Russian Church:

"1.In the Orthodox Russian Church supreme authority - legislative, administrative, judicial and controlling - shall be vested in the Local Council composed of bishops, clergy and laymen which is convened periodically at certain times,
2.The Patriarchate shall be restored and the church government shall be headed by the Patriarch.
3.The Patriarch shall be first bishop among equals.
4.The Patriarch together with the bodies of church government shall be answerable to the Council".

On 5/18 November the official ceremony of electing the Patriarch took place. One of the Council member, Prince  I.Vasilchikov, describes this event as follows:

"On the appointed day the huge Church of Christ the Redeemer was packed with people. It was open to all. The liturgy was conducted by Metropolitan Vladimir with many other hierarchs. The full choir of Synodal choristers sang, and sang beautifully. At the end of the liturgy tile metropolitan carried out of the sanctuary and placed on a small  table in  front  of the icon of Our Lady of Vladimir, to the left of the Royal Doors, a small shrine with the names of the candidates for Patriarch elected at the Church Council. Then he stood in. the Royal Doors facing the people and surrounded by the hierarchs. In front of him facing the sanctuary stood Archdeacon Rozov of the Assumption Cathedral. Then out of the sanctuary came the elder Father skhimnik Alexis in a black monk's robe, who went up to the icon of Our Lady and began to pray, with a low bows to the ground. There was total silence in the church, and you could feel the general nervous tension rising. The elder prayed for a long time. Then he knelt down, took a piece of paper out of the shrine and handed it to the metropolitan, who read it and passed it to the archdeacon. Then the archdeacon, in his powerful and velvety bass voice famous all over Moscow began slowly to intone the "Many years". The tension in the church was at its height. Whom would he name? "...Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow and Russia!" resounded all over the church, and the choir joined in the "Many years"! These moments were profoundly moving for all those who had the good fortune to be present. They are still vividly engrained in my memory, many years later".     "Novy  Journal". Book 102. 1971, p. 149.

When the Council deputation led by Metropolitan Veniamin appeared to His Eminence Tikhon at the Trinity Court (the candidates were not present at the election ceremony) to inform him of his election as Patriarch, he said in reply:
"...Your news of my election as Patriarch is for me the roll on which was written: "lamentations, and mourning, and woe" and which the prophet Ezekiel had to eat (2:10 and 3:1). So I shall have to swallow tears and utter groans in the Patriarchal service which awaits me, and particularly in the present time of tribulation! Like the ancient leader of the Jewish people Moses I too shall have to say to the Lord:
'Wherefore hast Thou afflicted thy servant? and wherefore have I not found favor in Thy sight, that  Thou layest the burden of all this people upon me? Have I conceived all this people? Have I begotten them that Thou shouldest say unto me: carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing fattier beareth the sucking child... I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me' ". (Num. 11: 10 -14).

There can be no doubt that the Patriarch was a focus for the patriarchal and monarchist sentiments of Russian church people. But in setting up the Patriarchate the Council could not limit itself to this motive, A profound historical and, most important, theological substantiation was essential. Historical tradition left no doubt as to what these dogmatic arguments were. The following tierce points were advanced in support of patriarchal authority:

1. The monarchy of the Father in the Council of the Holy Trinity. According to Orthodox dogma the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity are equal, and at the same time the Father, from Whom the Son is eternally generated and the Holy Spirit proceeds, is first in the Trinity Council. This was seen the beginning of all hierarchy in general.

2. Jesus Christ as the Head of the Church. According to an old church tradition, this prototype served as the basis for the authority of the Bishop. For the Bishop was seen as the image of Christ in the small Church, the community. Confusion arose here, of course, as to whether the First Hierarch of a Local Church could be regarded as its head in the same sense as the Bishop is head of the community or Christ is Head of the whole Church.

3. The Apostle Peter as head of the Apostolic Council. This argument is the most traditional one, in particularly, it is on this fact that the authority of the Bishop of Rome as the successor to Apostle Peter is based. But the question of the nature and extent of Peter's authority over the other apostles has been a subject of dispute for many centuries. For example, did he have the right to set up cathedras and appoint apostles to them? There can be no doubt, however, that he was granted a certain amount of administrative authority. For the Orthodox consciousness the main question is as follows: is the First Hierarch's administrative authority of a charismatic nature, i.e., is there a specific grace, charisma, or, which is the same thing, Divine Energy of First Hierarchship?

With respect to sacraments, the First Hierarch charisma has no advantages over any other Bishop; it is a question of whether the actual administrative, organizational activity of the First Hierarch should have a charismatic, lawfully synergetic nature. If First - Hierarchal charisma exists, then what are the conditions of its manifestation? How is it coordinated with church sobornost? The crucial importance of these question for the practice of church life was soon to become obvious...
                                                                              *    *    *