ROCOR on the New Calendar

Synod of Russian Bishops Abroad 1961

Our Church remains loyal to the use of the Old Calendar and considers the introduction of the new calendar to be an error. Nonetheless, its tactic was always to preserve spiritual unity with Orthodox Churches, even those who have adopted the New Calendar, but only to the degree to which they celebrate Pascha in compliance with the decision of the First Ecumenical Council. Our Church has never labeled the Ecumenical Patriarchate or the Greek Archdiocese of North and South America as schismatic, and never abrogated spiritual union with them. (Letter dated 27 September 1961 from the Synod of Bishops to the True Orthodox Church of Greece)

Our Church keeps the Old Calendar and considers the introduction of the new calendar to be a mistake. Nevertheless, according to the policies of Patriarch Tikhon of blessed memory, we never broke spiritual communion with the canonical Churches in which the new calendar had been introduced. (Vladimir Moss, The Orthodox Church at the Crossroads , Ch. IV “The Lifting of the Anathemas [1955-1970]”, The Orthodox Foundation of St. Michael, Guildford [U.K.], 1992; p.119)

Synod of Russian Bishops Abroad 1974

Concerning the question of the presence or absence of grace among the new calendarists the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad does not consider herself or any other Local Church to have the right to make a conclusive decision, since a categorical evaluation in this question can be undertaken only by a properly convened, competent Ecumenical Council, with the obligatory participation of the free Church of Russia. (Thirty Years of Trial: The True Orthodox Christians of Greece, 1970-200 pg. 9 by Vladimir Moss)


  1. It is not for ROCOR to make such a decision. What says Tradition? An Orthodox Church follows its dictates. The invisible hand of nationalism explains her “reunion” with the ecumenist Moscow Patriarchate, not piety. ROCOR has placed herself in communion with the world of schism and heresy — her protestations notwithstanding. .Farewell ukaze of 1983. What was it that the Russian Orthodox Church in Exile once called the ecumenical movement — “the heresy of heresies.” ROCOR has the form of Orthodoxy not the substance of it. Only empty custom will keep beards on her priests.

  2. Fr. Michael,

    The point of this post is to demonstrate that ROCOR, although on the Orthodox Calendar, was never an Old Calendarist synod. These Synodal statements even came during the time of Met. Philaret. ROCOR never anathematized the New Calendar and was always in communion with some of the New Calendar churches (e.g. Serbia, Jerusalem). Met. Anthony Khrapovitsky, a holy Father of our times states:

    “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…”(excerpted from the Russian Church and the New Calendar by V. Moss)

    “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)

    The Synod also had New Calendar bishops and dioceses. As you likely know, one of the New Calendarist bishops of ROCOR, Theophil Ioanescu, even took part in ordaining Akakios the Elder for the Greek Old Calendarist Florinites.

    St. Justin Popovich called the type of ecumenism that embraces Protestant ecclesiology and relativism a “pan-heresy”; I agree with him wholeheartedly and I pray for patristic hierarchs and the recovery of the Church. If She can recover from the abuses and compromises made during the Turkokratia and the reforms of Peter the “Great” then she can recover from communism, ecumenism and modernism. The Church also still produced Saints even when the hierarchies of Russia and Greece were hopelessly compromised and westernized.

    You likely believe that I should separate myself and I have pondered it deeply but a solid priesthood and laity yet remains in the Church. The Old Calendar movement since it’s inception has consisted of multiple overlapping synods that have anathematized each other and for that reason I cannot join it. It’s the equal and opposite error of the ecumenists: one seeks to encompass everything, the other seeks to be too exclusive and rigid, therefore, not catholic. For instance, there are approximately four Matthewite synods in Greece, three Florinite synods in Greece, two Old Calendarist synods in Romania and three or more Russian True Orthodox groups (ROAC, ROCOR-A, and RTOC). There are also the American and Western European Old Calendar synods. Old Calendarists break the canons and traditional mores of Orthodox morality just as much as the modernists, and even worse, they break the bond of peace.

    Fr. Michael, I’m indebted to you for many of your writings and I wish we were in communion. However, until then I rely on these words from St. John Maximovitch:

    “when under Metropolitan Anastassy they began to speak about ‘the incorrect actions of the Church’, he used to stop them, pointing out that one must not ascribe the actions of the hierarchy to the Church, since the hierarchy is not the whole Church, even if it speaks in her name. On the see of Constantinople there were Paul the Confessor, Macedonius, Gregory the Theologian, John Chrysostom, Nestorius, Proclus, Flavian and Germanus. Some of them shone in sanctity and Orthodoxy, but others were the leaders of heresies. But the Church remained Orthodox. During iconoclasm after the expulsion of Severnin, Nicephorus and other, not only their sees, but also the majority of Episcopal sees were occupied by Iconoclasts. The other Churches did not even have communion with it [the see of Constantinople], according to the witness of St. Paul, who abandoned the heresy and his see, since they did not wish to have communion via the iconoclasts. Nevertheless, the Church of Constantinople remained Orthodox, although part of the people, and especially the guards and the bureaucrats, were drawn into iconoclasm. So now it is understandable when people who are not familiar with the language of the Church use the expression ‘Soviet church’, but it is not fitting for responsible and theological discussions. When the whole hierarchy of South-Western Rus’ passed into uniatism, the Church continued to exist in the person of the believing Orthodox people, which after many sufferings restored its hierarchy. (New Zion in Babylon IV pg. 144 by Vladimir Moss)

    Thank you for visiting and commenting.


  3. There is much truth in what you say; and I am sure that there are many “New Calendarists” who are loyal to Orthodoxy and who consider her the Una Sancta, the only Church while, at the same time, they remain under ecumenist bishops. Nevertheless, their identity with these bishops requires them to accept what they epouse. You are what your bishop is, because he is the head and you part of his body. Like it or not, if he is an ecumenist, you are an ecumenist.
    I am aware of the things that were said by pious bishops about the New Calendar, but I do not know the circumstances under which they said and what was their rationale for saying it. I know that ROCOR under St Anthony Khrapovitsky was in search of recognition by other Orthodox Churches, and I do not know whether their tolerance of New Calendar was part of their motivation. I wish I knew more about the history of ROCOR from the moment it was organized by the ukaze of Patriarch TIkhon until death of Anthony in 1936. I do know that it was having trouble with the professors at St Sergius Orthodox Institute of Paris; and I also know of ROCOR’s hostility toward’s Constantinople when it welcomed the Institute and its bishop into its jurisdiction. You should read what the former said about the latter’s uncanonical action. For one thing, Constatinople was under the New or Gregorian Calendar and ROCOR under the Nicean Calendar.
    In point of fact, I can not provide an exhaustive answer about this situation except to say that it was not an exemplar of Orthodox canonicity.

  4. Fr. Michael,

    Thanks again for commenting and offering your thoughts. However, if I was to use your logic then the Church would’ve disappeared from the earth centuries ago. For instance, were all the Christians in the East heretics during the Acacian schism? As you know, many hierarchs in the East in that time made too many concessions to the Monophysites but did the people lose Orthodoxy? How about all the Christians in the East during the time when the hierarchs officially endorsed Monothelitism? The Russian Church lost it’s patriarch and the hierarchy was placed under the authority of protestantized, freemasonic and even atheist oberprocurators, many of the post-Petrine Tsars were heretics as well. Did the whole Russian Church lose grace? The Church in Constantinople was led by a supposed freemason prior to Meletios Metaxakis, there is good evidence that Pat. Joachim III was one. The Church of Constantinople also transgressed in 1920 with the encyclical “To the Churches of God Everywhere”, again, did the Church lose grace then? All of these historical instances can be explained by St. Maximovitch’s quote above. Now by saying all this am I attempting to say that heretical hierarchs are a small matter? NO! But in times of great heresy things are not as black and white as you make them out to be…

    St. Theodore the Studite: “In times of heresy, owing to pressing needs, things do not always proceed flawlessly, in accordance with what has been prescribed in times of peace…” (Epistle II.215 To Methodios the Monk)

    This is why no exhaustive and stricly canonical answer can be found: These times are apocalyptically confusing and many unprecedented events in the history of the Church has occurred.

    Fr., your own synod attained a hierarchy from a New Calendar Romanian bishop, Theophil. This after they declared that the New Calendar was devoid of grace! Would you try to say that this is like when St. Meletios the Confessor was ordained by Arians or St. Anatolios was ordained at the Robber Synod?? By the way, Bishop Theophil ended up getting into trouble with ROCOR at the conference of the academic society Daco-Romania, on December 6, 1970 where he commemorated Pope Paul VI and the Romanian Uniate Bishop Basile Cristea, who attended the Liturgy, during the Great Entrance. On the Old Calendarist discussion lists they also speak about another ROCOR hierarch that took part in Greek GOC ordinations, Archbishop Leonty of Chile, of blessed memory. They claim that he thought that RCC sacraments were valid; here is an example:

    “The ROAC’s own website in America has Bishop Gregory Grabbe’s daughter saying that Abp Leonty of Chile believed the Papists have valid mysteries…I wrote to the ROAC bishop in America about this, Bishop Andrei, and he reponded breezily, not with a denial but with what struck me as worldly indifference: ‘Abp Leonty of Chile was not the only ROCOR hierarch who believed the Papists have valid mysteries.’ I was slack-jawed.”

    Fr. Michael, I thought these statements were mere internet slanders until I saw it in another source, Deacon Andrei Psarev’s “Relations Between ROCOR and the RCC”. This document states: “Igor’ Andruskiewitsch, secretary to Archbishop Leontii when he lived in Buenos Aires, recalled at a meeting with the author, that he once asked the archbishop if it would be permissible to call for a Catholic priest if he were in an accident. Archbishop Leontii replied:
    ‘I do not know how I would have answered you before Vatican II, but now, after Vatican II, I will not answer you. When the moment comes, our Lord and Savior will tell you what to do. You will be able to decide without me. Because after Vatican II, I have my doubts. They changed the canon of the Eucharistic liturgy again, which had been changed earlier. Therefore I do not know whether their Eucharist is valid.’

    Andruskiewitsch mentioned that Archbishop Leontii used to say that before Vatican II Roman Catholic Communion was of benefit to faithful Catholics.” (Andrei Psarev, “Relations Between ROCOR and the RCC”)

    Therefore, that is two ROCOR bishops that would likely fall under the GOC anathema if they were judged according to the “they’re ecumenists then so are you” strictness. Plus, they were in communion with World Orthodoxy because ROCOR was. That view is easy to take but reality requires more nuance. But how about the very first ROCOR bishop that helped to establish the GOC hierarchy? Bishop Seraphim of Chicago said this about the Greek Old Calenadarists and his involvement with them:

    “Initially when I took part in the ordination of the late bishop Akakios, I did it in good faith, sincerely thinking that I was helping my Greek brethren. The same can be said about the motivations of our blessed Archbishop Leonty. The confusion, the divisions, the actions, accusations that have since arisen, I had never even suspected back then. Now I have come to appreciate and comprehend the fact that your bishop Chrysostom reposed without leaving successors. The outcome of events indicates that he was a deep conversant of individuals and events, thus not desiring to be responsible for the present sorrowful predicament. I made a mistake ordaining the bishop Akakios the elder as regards to the fact that I did not know well the individuals or the real situation of events in the Greek Church.” (Letter to Abp. Auxentios, 1972)

    Sorry for the lengthy response Fr Michael but this subject requires one.

  5. Maxim, this is quite a confession. Too little exists to counteract the hyper-zealot propaganda in English. Thank you for all your work in this regard. As someone privy to the vast extent of your research, I am here publicly asking you, for the good of the Church, for the well-being of the souls of the little ones who can be led astray by what they find online– you must publish a treatise on this subject, demonstrating:

    1) ROCOR did not hold to old calendarist views;

    2) Erring opinions in hierarchs do not deprive whole Churches of grace; and

    3) The present day zealotry movement is schismatic and is not the canonical or righteous solution to the problem of ecumenism or modernism.

  6. Brother Isaac,

    Thank you. I would like to get this info out there. It would have to be air-tight because Old Calendarists immerse themselves in the Patristic sources. In reference to the Old Calendarists, I would like them to know that we aren’t all ecu-maniacal modernists. We’ve simply determined a different course in these struggles and we have saints and pious bishops to back us up. Some Old Calendarists are schismatics and some are heretics too, however, I would also contend that some are not, they’re just wrong. We all need each other and none of us can be too hasty, who knows how Church History of our times will play out. Perhaps we’ll all come out victorious like in the time of the pervasive Monothelite heresy.

    St. Gregory the Theologian: “I seek not to conquer, but win them to our side.”

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