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041. April 26/May 9, 1970. St. Stephen of Perm

Dear Father in Christ, Neketas,
In truth Christ is Risen! Bless us Father!

Thank you for your welcome letters and the frank comments. Yes, I think you are right. Up to now we’ve emphasized the Metropolia’s Russian-ties because it should be at least reminded of its canonical and brotherly obligations. But it’s quite obvious that the Metropolia has totally “forgotten” these and is not even in the least embarrassed by them. But now that it considers itself the Orthodox Church in America, it’s time to open fire on the most general front: to show what kind of “Orthodoxy” it represents. This issue we have an excellent article criticizing Fr. Schmemann’s “liturgical theology,” by probably the leading Russian theologian today, Fr. Michael Pomazansky — now 80 years old and living in Jordanville. Frankly, up until recently I had more or less accepted Fr. Schmemann by his reputation, as an “Orthodox” scholar, somewhat open to criticism but probably not too dreadful after all. But after this article, with liberal quotations from his book, he appears as nothing less than an open Protestant. We hope before long to have an article on Archbp. John Shahovskoy also — do you know, by the way, if anything of his has appeared in English besides the Pastori I heard that Leaves of the Tree is being translated. If Fr. Schmemann is their “theologian,” he is their “spiritual” man — and what a twisted, self-deceived and deceiving “spirituality” he expounds! As far as Orthodoxy is concerned, we have all the weapons on our side, and all they can do is refer to their long-despised “canons” and make vague charges of “sectarianism,” etc. But the conscience of the more sensitive ones left there is not easy. We’re corresponding with Fr. David Black, who shows all the deficiencies of a St. Vladimir’s education — and be’s becoming hard-pressed to defend his Metropolia. He admits its spiritual impoverishment and the Synod’s spiritual wealth (but his idol, Fr. Florovsky, told him we are like Catharists, who were also “spiritual” — good heavens, what an upside-down notion of “spirituality”!); he admits the Soviet bishops may have compromised their episcopacy — but no council has condemned them, and some of Peter’s and Catherine’s bishops were also no good! He even prays that the Metropolia bishops haven’t “sold out Orthodoxy.” We mince few words with him, but he keeps writing back, so there is at least a seed planted there.

I hope you aren’t accusing yourself of getting Fr. Seraphim into trouble. He wants us not to reprint his letter, and sounds so apologetic now (after being suspended on Passion Monday) that we fear he might even give in to them, under the guise of obedience and humility, and renounce everything he said. But even if he didn’t want such publicity, I think it’s providential — a call of attack against their “strong” points, which are properly put in the same category as Athenagoras and Iakovos. I think Fr. Schmemann and others would like to present the Metropolia now as the “middle way” between the extremes of Iakovos (even Fr. David admits he’s not Orthodox) and Metr. Philaret on left and right. But under attack they can’t sustain this position, and for practical reasons anyway they will have to come to terms with the Greek Archdiocese. The weapons are all on our side, and it’s time we let loose with them — now is truly our “time of decision.”

By the way, can you give any more information of the 3 new parishes from the Metropolia — did the whole Smoky Lake parish come, etc? We hear from a friend in Vancouver that their parish will vote soon, and if the Metropolia wins a significant number will leave and come to us.

We’ve more or less concluded an arrangement to get a linotype, and we’re now building a floor for it. Pray for us. This will widen our possibilities considerably.

Vladiko Nektary just visited us for an hour or so on his way to S.F. and brought us a little Paschal joy.

With love in Christ our Lord,

P.s. Are you going to print Fr. George Grabbe’s reply to Fr. Meyendorff?

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