Two Letters by the New Confessor, Saint Philaret, Metropolitan of New York

(Commemorating the Fourth Anniversary of the Uncovering of His Incorrupt Relics)

1) A Letter[1] From Saint Philaret to Fr. George Grabbe:[2]

12/25 July 1975

Most Reverend Batiushka, Fr. George,

For quite some time now I have been intending to write to you, but somehow I just “haven’t had the chance”. But now, here I have seated myself at the typewriter and am typing.

You, of course, know that I was intending to curtail somewhat the proposed length of my stay in Europe; therefore we attempted to transfer the date of our departure from the scheduled August 7 to July 26 (tomorrow). But as it was, we did not manage to obtain tickets for that steamship (we tried in Paris, we also tried right there in London, where we were finally irately informed that even should we have succeeded in receiving a ticket, we would have had to forfeit our discount, which would have meant that the trip would cost $800 more. Such a sum is too significant a difference to disregard.)

And now we have just had some news. I have been compelled to postpone my depar­ture to an even later voyage — in mid-August. I was not intending to travel again to England. But circumstances arose such that I have to go there again, at the beginning of August. If I could more easily bear a lengthy flight by airplane, it would be possible to travel by air rather than by sea… But I can’t resolve to do it; lengthy flights are too hard on me (and my doctors have advised me to avoid them). Therefore, instead of a curtail­ment, there has resulted a new delay, and thus I shall only “set out” for home during the Dormition Fast.

Vladyka Antony [of Geneva], according to the account given by him to his entourage, was “satisfied” with our meeting. But it left me with the most painful memories — I saw how truly alone I am among our hierarchs with my views on matters of principle (al­though on a “personal level” I am on good terms with everyone). And I am in earnest when I say that I am considering retiring. Of course, I won’t leave “all of a sudden”, un­expectedly. But at the next Sobor I intend to point out that too many things that are taking place in our church life do not sit well with me. And if the majority of the episcopacy agrees with me – then I will not raise the matter of retiring. But if I see that I am alone – or see myself in the minority – then I will announce that I am retiring. For I cannot head, nor, therefore, bear the responsibility for that with which I am not in agreement in princi­ple.

In particular, I do not agree with our practice of halfway relations with the American and Parisian schismatics.[3] The Holy Fathers insistently state that long and obdurately continuing schism is close to being heresy, and obdurate schismatics should be treated like heretics, not allowing any communion with them whatsoever (How Vladyka An­thony’s hair would stand on end at such a pronouncement! But I remain unyielding). Nor do I agree concerning the Romanians (the “problem” of Fr. Boldean). There are very many other matters too, in particular – about Solzhenitsyn, concerning whom I continue to remain more than just cautious, and I have no desire whatsoever to meet with him. It still seems to me that the affair with him could prove to be a big farce, with a tragicomi­cal (or maybe just tragic) ending …

If he was truly such a formidable opponent of Communism, and if they truly consid­ered him to be such – they would have “taken him out of circulation” long ago. When Solonevich published his famous work “Russia in the Concentration Camp”, the affair ended with his being murdered by a bomb. Kutepov, and Miller were liquidated.[4] The Communists do not fear anyone. For more than half a century already they have regarded the so-called “public opinion of the Free World” with “utter contempt”… And they con­fidently stride towards their goal, by no means concealing what it is, and all the while at­taining victory, first at one point, then at another. And the “Free World” is clearly and horribly decaying… And the stench of that decay is no less foul than the stench of Com­munism!


But enough for now… God grant that — although with a slight delay, yet soon — we shall converse face to face. May the Lord and His All-pure Mother preserve you. Peace to you, and the blessing of God.


In the love of the Lord,

+    Metropolitan Philaret






2) An Excerpt from a Letter of Saint Philaret to Archbishop Anthony of Geneva:[5]


November 16/29, 1977


…I consider it my duty to point out to you, Vladyka, that your assertion that we must thank the Serbian Church for her treatment of us, I fully accept, but only as regards her past — the glorious past of the Serbian Church. Yes, of course, we must hold the names of their Holinesses Patriarchs Demetrius and Barnabas in grateful memory for their pre­cious support of the Church Abroad at that time when she “had no place to lay her head”…

There is no denying that a certain honor is due the Serbian Church for her refusing to condemn our Church Abroad at the parasynagogue in Moscow in 1971, and also on later occasions when Moscow again raised the matter. But then, on the other hand, she did participate in the aforementioned parasynagogue, when it elected Pimen, and the Serbian hierarchs did not protest against this absolutely anti-canonical “election”, when he who had already been chosen and appointed by the God-hating regime was elected. Our Sobor of 1971 did not, and could not, recognize Pimen, whereas the Serbian Patriarchate recog­nized and does recognize him, addressing him as Patriarch, and is in full communion with him. And thus she opposes us directly, for we attempt at all times to explain to the “Free World” that the Soviet Patriarchate is not the genuine repre­sentative and head of the much-suffering Russian Church. But the Serbian Church recog­nizes her as such, and by so doing commits a grave sin against the Russian Church and the Russian Orthodox people…

How can there be any talk here of a special gratitude to her? Oh, if the Serbian Church would, while recognizing our righteousness, likewise directly and openly, boldly recognize the unrighteousness of the Soviets! Well — then there would truly be some­thing for us to thank her for! But now — as it is, while extending one hand to us, she ex­tends her other hand to our opponents and the enemies of God and the Church. If it pleases you — having shut your eyes to this sad reality — to thank the Serbs for such “podvigs” of theirs, then that is your affair, but I am not a participant in this expression of gratitude.

How dangerous are compromises in matters of principle! They render people power­less in defense of the Truth. Why is it that the Serbian Patriarchate cannot resolve to se­vere communion with the Soviet hierarchy? Because she herself is travelling along the same gloomy and dangerous path of compromise with the God-hating Communists. True, she has not progressed along that path to the extent that the Soviet hierarchy has, and she attempts to preach and defend the faith, but if the shades and nuances here are quite dif­ferent, yet, in principle, the matter stands on one and the same level…”


+ Metropolitan Philaret


[1] Vertograd-Inform, No. 11/68, November 2000, pp. 52–53.

[2] Subsequently, Bishop Gregory of Washington and Florida.

[3] I.e., the Evlogians in Paris, and the Metropolia-OCA in America.

[4] White Russian generals kidnapped on the streets of Paris by the NKVD and forcibly returned to the USSR where they were executed.

[5] Vertograd, News Bulletin No. 65, May 16, 2001.