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250. January 19/6, 1978 Theophany

Dear Brother in Christ, Andrew,

Many thanks for your letter and the informative “jottings.” The situation indeed is not healthy, but if Vladimir and Olga are indeed going to go “off the deep end,” it might make others stop and think, especially Fr. Alexis. We certainly hope that the responsibility and the practical needs of his position will tone down his “zeal,” which certainly, in the cases you have mentioned, goes beyond anything necessary or proper. Our Church as a whole (and certainly almost all bishops and priests, apart from the Boston wing) does not believe Moscow and New Calendarists to be without grace. Those who wish to believe this as their personal opinion are not persecuted for it, but they certainly cannot make such an opinion obligatory on others. The two cases you mention would have cased no problem among any non-Boston clergy; our Church’s policy of non-communion with Moscow is certainly not threatened by an occasional death-bed communion of someone who is unaware of the jurisdictional differences, and no issue need be made over it. Unfortunately, the whole Boston approach to such questions seems to remain very “academic.”

However, I do hope our recent articles are not received as “broadsides.” We do feel it necessary to say some things clearly, so as to remove confusions for those who might think that “Boston” speaks for the whole Church; but we still do hope that Fr. Panteleimon (with whom we recently exchanged friendly letters) will come to see that there are valid viewpoints other than his own. We need to pray more for this, or the whole meaning of the witness of the Church Abroad is in danger of being submerged.

We rejoice in you being restored to communion, and heartily approve of Fr. Marks thinking on the subject. Truly, the letter of the law is to be respected, but the spirit is what is essential.

Please pray for us. In case I didn’t mention it before, we sent you 25 calendars about a week before Western Christmas.

With love in Christ,
Unworthy Priest-monk Seraphim

P.s. We’ve just received your new letter on the subject of Metr. Philaret’s ruling. Could you send us a copy of the English and Russian text, with signature of the Metropolitan? (If there is no such Russian text, I don’t see how the ruling can be believed; the Metropolitan does not understand English.)

We agree with your comments on the situation, and indeed all sound elements in the Church think that way. The policy of our bishops has always been to speak the truth loudly for all to hear, but to leave the question of interjurisdictional relations to take care of itself on the local level. Some of our clergy have no contact with other jurisdictions, but others do, and this has caused no problem until now.

In any case, any ruling directed to clergy need not concern laymen, who certainly should be able to continue praying with those in other jurisdictions and to visit their churches.

We are in contact with several Greek Old-Calendar clergy, who tell us of the disastrous effects of their bishops’ rulings made in the name of “strictness” which only produce discord, and we are as concerned as you about this. Please keep us informed.

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