Met. Anthony Khrapovitsky on the Old Calendar Schism

On October 11, 1934 Geroge Paraschos and Basil Stamatoulis, the President and Secretary General respectively of the Community of Genuine Orthodox Christians, appealed to ROCOR President Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky to consecrate bishops for them and accept them under his omophorion. But nothing came of their appeal. However, it may be doubted whether Metropolitan Anthony was really so favourable – as we have seen, in 1926 he was against breaking all ties with the new calendarists until they had been condemned at an Ecumenical Council. (Vladimir Moss, New Zion in Babylon III, p. 108)

Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky 1863-1936

You know the 13th, 14th and 15th canons of the First-and-Second Council, which speaks about separating oneself from a Bishop or Patriarch after his conciliar condemnation. And there is the canon (the 15th), which says that the clergyman is worthy, not of condemnation, but of praise, who breaks links with him [the heretic] for the sake of the heresy condemned by the holy council or the fathers…, and besides ‘when he (that is, the first hierarch) preaches heresy publicly and teaches it openly in the Church’. But this, glory to God, neither P[atriarch] Basil [III of Constantinople] nor [Archbishop] Chrysostom [of Athens] have done yet. On the contrary, they insist on keeping the former Paschalion, for only it, and not the Julian Calendar itself was covered by the curse of the councils. True, P[atriarch] Jeremiah in the 15th [correct: 16th] century and his successor in the 18th anathematized the calendar itself, but this curse: 1) touches only his contemporaries and 2)does not extend to those frightened to break communion with him, to which are subjected only those who transgress the canonical Paschalion. Moreover (this needs to be noted in any case), the main idea behind the day of Pascha is that it should be celebrated by all Christians (that is, the Orthodox) on one and the same day throughout the inhabited world. True, I myself and my brothers do not all sympathize with the new calendar and modernism, but we beseech the Athonite fathers not to be hasty in composing letters (Romans 14). Do not grieve about our readiness to go to the [Constantinople] Council. Of course, there will be no council, but if there is, and if we go, as St. Flavian went to the Robber Council, then, of course, we will keep the faith and deliver the apostates to anathema. But as long as the last word has not been spoken, as long as the whole Church has not repeated the curses of Patriarch Jeremiah at an Ecumenical Council, we must retain communion, so that we ourselves should not be deprived of salvation, and, in aiming at a gnat, swallow a camel… (The Russian Church and the New Calendar by Vladimir Moss)

On 17 February 1925, Metropolitan Anthony sent a “sorrowful message” to the Constantinos, [Constantine IV] Patriarch of Constantinople, calling upon him to renounce the decisions of the Pan-Orthodox Conference of 1923 on issues associated with the calendar and second marriages for clerics, and to stop infringing on the former territories of the Russian empire that were being ministered to by the Russian Church. In sending this message, however, Metropolitan Anthony did not abrogate church relations with the Patriarchate of Constantinople. In a letter to Hieroschemamonk Feodosii on Mount Athos, he wrote, “for now while they [the modernizers] have not had the last word, and while the Church as a whole at an Ecumenical Council has not repeated the imprecation of Patriarch Jeremaiah [who in 1583 anathematized those among the Orthodox who adopted the Gregorian calendar], we must continue to maintain relationships lest we deprive ourselves of our own salvation, and swallow the camel while straining out the gnat.”  (The Development of Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia’s Attitude Toward Other Local Orthodox Churches and Non-Orthodox Christians by Reader Andrei Psarev)

“Keep always in your mind’s eye… Metropolitan Anthony, who was like the ancient hierarchs, and in difficult times ask yourself how he would have acted in each case” said St John of Shanghai. It was precisely at the time that the Primate of ROCOR was Metropolitan Anthony that the Ecumenical Patriarch and the other Churches adopted the new calendar. The Patriarch Basil III mentioned below was not only a modernist but an ecumenist:

In the beginning of his letter to the Athos Hieroschemamonk Theodosius, Metropolitan Anthony posed the main question: “We must always think of this: what will my proposed step do for the Holy Church and for our souls?” Further he writes: “In the resolution of a question on continuing or breaking communion, one must, in accordance with Divine will, revealed through Tradition, the Canons and the lives of the Saints, employ condescension,” and in fact, ” “in certain circumstances, the breaking of communion with the guilty is mandatory only for bishops.” From the point of view of Holy Canons, the Hierarch, in his letter to Hieromonk Ilarion, clarifies: “Continue to commemorate Patriarch Basil as before… To separate from ones Patriarch is permitted by the 15 Canon of the Double Council only when he is condemned by the Council for clear heresy, and until then one can only refrain from fulfilling his unlawful demands. St Tarasius, Patriarch of Constantinople, teaches us by example how we are to treasure ecclesiastical peace. Let Fr. Theophan calmly continue to serve as a priest and pray for the good order of the holy Divine Churches.” In another letter to Hieroschemamonk Theodosius, Vladyka Anthony explains: ” “I grieve that you were persuading the brethren not to pray for Patriarch Basil… For the monks of Athos will be divided, not like the seamless garment of Christ. Pray that the Lord enlighten the old madman [the Patriarch]…” It is interesting to note that the Metropolitan thought first of the unity of the Athos monastics, which was more important than some sort of “true Orthodoxy,” for the great Hierarch knew in his inherent foresight what can happen: ” By this [that is, by breaking communion with the Patriarch] you approach the bezpopovtsi [priestless Old Believers] and at the very least, the schismatics.” In another letter he repeats: “In hastening towards division, [the zealots] can find themselves in the same abyss that the bezpopovtsi threw themselves.” One must note that the Metropolitan did not say that they must simply commemorate the Patriarch, but must pray for him, that the Lord “enlighten” him. In this way, healing untruth in the Church, the Metropolitan thought, was achieved not by schism, but by prayer. In conclusion, the Metropolitan writes to the zealots beyond reason: “Your zeal is worthy of praise, but hardly worthy of praise is rebellion and your judgment upon bishops!” (True Orthodoxy or Arrogation by Bernard Le Caro Member of the IV All-Diaspora Council Geneva, May 2/15, 2007)

It is interesting that in this question, Metropolitan Anastassy acted in the same way as Metropolitan Anthony, to whom the Greek Old Calendarists appealed, and were refused, in 1934. How carefully Metropolitan Anthony approached the observance of church unity is particularly clear in his letters to the Mt. Athos monk Fr. Theodosius. The latter, considering breaking with his archbishop for accepting New Calendar Greeks and writing to Metropolitan Anthony about this, received the following response: ‘Of course, I do not agree with your conclusion at all. The question remains that while recognizing holy tradition and witnessing their violation, in this case by the Greeks, one must still pose the following question: does such violation justify ecclesiastical separation or only reproof? You, Father, are one step away from falling into prelest’ [spiritual delusion]. May the Mother of God preserve you from the next step. I write to you as a benevolent friend: do not destroy your 40-year podvig [spiritual struggle] by a judgment of the Church on the basis of your relative formalism—relative and also arbitrary. The new calendar is no less distasteful to me than it is to you, but even worse is a break from Orthodoxy and its hierarchy by self-loving monks’. (Synodal Archives, Letters of Metropolitan Anthony, Letter No 17, April 18, 1930 excerpted from Nun Vassa [Larin] The Ecclesiastical Principle of Oikonomia and the ROCOR Under Metropolitan Anastassy)


  1. Behold! The patristic royal path!

  2. I cannot explain why Archbishop Anthony did not separate from the New Calendarists or for the other canonical discrepencies of his correspondants. I can only think that he was giving them time to repent or that he feared open separation of them would shatter what was left of Orthodox unity. I would have to read more. But my first appeal is to the Fathers and the Canons. I will not maintain ecclesial relations with those who negate, twist, reinterpret them in order to accomodate the spirit of the times.

  3. Fr. Michael,

    I agree that quotes cannot fully give one the entire view of a situation but I contend that Met. Anthony was not as rigorous as Old Calendarists were and are, and that is why he, nor ROCOR, ever anathematized the New Calendar. Met. Anthony’s successor, Met. Anastassy, walked the same Royal Path, he made these statements:

    “The words of Maximus the Confessor are often cited: ‘if the whole universe were to communicate, I alone would not.’ But he said: ‘if’. And when the Prophet Elijah thought that he alone kept the faith, the Lord revealed to him that there were still 7000 others…” (New Zion in Babylon IV pg. 143 by Vladimir Moss)

    “They say that Patriarch Alexy sinned more than his predecessor. Whether he sinned more or less, we cannot deny his ordination. Much is said of their apostasy. But we must be cautious. We can hardly make an outright accusation of apostasy. In no place do they affirm atheism. In their published sermons they attempt to hold to the Orthodox line. They took and continue to take very strict measures with regard to the obnovlentsy, and did not tear their ties with Patriarch Tikhon. The false policy belongs to the church authority and the responsibility for it falls on its leaders. Only heresy adopted by the whole Church tarnishes the whole Church. In this case, the people are not responsible for the behavior of the leaders, and the Church, as such, remains unblemished.”(Synodal Archives, Council of Bishops 1953, Protocol No 5, 3/16 October, p. 16 excerpted from Nun Vassa [Larin] The Ecclesiastical Principle of Oikonomia and the ROCOR Under Metropolitan Anastassy)

    While the first GOC bishops were anathematizing the New Calendar in 1935, what was ROCOR doing?

    St. John Maximovitch: “In 1935 there was celebrated the 50th anniversary jubilee in sacred orders of the head of the Russian Church Abroad, Metropolitan Anthony. The celebration of this jubilee assumed the character of a great triumph of the Orthodox Church. An active part was taken in it not only by the Serbian Church, within whose boundaries it took place, but there came also to Belgrade representatives of various other Churches. From the Church of Antioch there came Metropolitan Elias of Lebanon. Other representatives came from all corners of the earth.” (History of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad)

    You’ve already responded negatively to ROCOR’s Synodal statements about the New Calendar proclaimed under the presidencies of Mets. Anastassy and Philaret. Their successor, Met. Vitaly, was no different and his view is not that of an Old Calendarist either:

    “At the present time, most other Orthodox Churches have been shaken to the core of their being by two successive blows: the new ecclesiastical calendar and ecumenism. Despite their impoverished state, however, we do not declare and may the Lord save us from ever having to declare them as having lost God’s grace.” (1986 Nativity Epistle Pravoslavnaia Rus’ 1 (1987): 1)

    In his monumental multi-volume history of Orthodoxy in the 20th century “New Zion in Babylon”, Vladimir Moss claims that these views stem from the liberal views of the pre-Revolutionary Russian Church. He states:

    ‘the official service-books of the Russian Church reveal an unclear, ambiguous attitude towards the sacraments of the heretics and schismatics. Thus in the Trebnik, or Book of Needs, we read: “Know this also, that a schismatic baptism, and a heretical one, by those who believe in the Holy Indivisible Trinity, in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Holy Orthodox-Catholic Church determines to be ultimately acceptable in every way.” (New Zion in Babylon I, The Russiain Church and Proto-Ecumenism pg. 60)

    “Metropolitan Anastasy’s extremely liberal attitude towards the reception of Catholics, Anglicans and Armenians is perhaps excusable in that it reflects the extremely liberal attitude of the Russian Church as a whole just before the revolution.” (New Zion in Babylon IV, ROCOR at the Crossroads, pg. 147)

    The view espoused in the Russian service books was pretty problematic and full-blown ecumenical. Would you say that the Russian Church at that time was graceless? Lastly, Fr., my first appeal is to the Fathers as well and that is the very purpose of this site, to familiarize my brethren with Orthodoxy in it’s patristic fullness and not the pop teaching that calls itself Orthodoxy.

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