St. Justin Popovich on Orthodox Ecumenism

St. Justin Popovich 1894-1979

You have raised many questions and asked my opinion on various issues; whole books can be written on each of them; therefore, I have to be very brief, as brief as possible.

The attitude towards the non-orthodox Christian world, first and foremost, one must establish oneself in Orthodoxy with one’s mind and heart and life: in it’s Holy Mysteries and holy virtues; thereby catholicizing oneself, one’s mind and heart and life; living constantly with “all the saints” for this is only way to know divine-human depths and heights and breadth of everything belonging to Christ: to live “with all the saints” = to think “with all the saints” = to feel “with all the saints” = to pray “with all the saints” = to love “with all the saints”. Only in this way the holy and infallible criterion of Truth is provided = of the Church of Christ which invariably is the Hypostatic Truth of Christ the God-man, neither anyone or anything other than Him: “the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”

…”Ecumenisms” are in fashion. But, it seems to me, the most important thing therein is being overlooked: Ecumenism of the Theanthropic Truth is heart of Theanthropic Orthodox ecumenism, which invariably is the Hypostasis of the God-man Christ, in its cosmic, pan-cosmic, above-cosmic and all-embracing omneity as well as in its historical concreteness. On no account can man, or anything human, be a criterion, a symbol, or a concretum of ecumenism. Man, whoever he may be, can never be a criterion, for this but only and always the God-man. The entire tragedy of the West resides in its rejection of Christ’s God-manhood, both as modus vivendi and modus cognoscendi, through various kinds of hominisms and humanisms. (Letter Dec. 25, 1964)


  1. Is there any information on Justin Popovich in regards to the Old Calendarists? I tried looking up information on said topic and can’t really seem to find anything other what an old calendarist told me, which was that he seperated himself from communion with the Serbian church over ecumenism in the 70’s.

  2. Aaron,

    Good to hear from you again, brother. St. Justin never belonged to any other Church than the Serbian one, and he never joined any of the True Orthodox even if he did break with the Patriarch. I believed that story but now I doubt it. Do you know of any of the groups that try to claim him? St. Justin was a spiritual son of Met. Anthony Khrapovitsky and St. Nikolai of Zicha; he venerated both of them as Saints of the Church. You know how they dealt with the issue of Old Calendarism: admired the struggle yet rejected the disintegrative tendencies and zeal without knowledge.

    St. Justin on Met. Anthony of Kiev:
    Sts. Nikolai and Justin on Ecumenism:

    In his commentary to St. Justin’s small booklet titled “Notes on Ecumenism”, St. Justin’s spiritual son, the retired Bp. Athanasije Yevtich states this: “We were closely acquainted with the Blessed Father Justin and we know that he had never broke communion with any of the Orthodox Churches or a Bishop or a Patriarch, not even with the Serbian Patriarch Germanos (1958-1990)– as some zealots ‘shamelessly lie’ — not even when the Patriarch Germanos was one of the ‘presidents of the WCC’ (a formal and honorary title without any binding conditions or duties as indeed was the participation of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the WCC). As a free and responsible member of the Church of Christ, Justin prophetically reproved and, when necessary, criticized in written form (having written a couple of criticism letters to Patriarch Germanos and the Synod, inter alia, the letters pertaining to superficial western ecumenism). But on no account did he ever create a schism, but on the other contrary used to say: “Schisms are easily made but they are enormously difficult to heal” (therefore he opposed the unwisely made and increasingly deepening ‘American Schism’ just as he was against ‘the Macedonian Schism’). (St. Justin Popovich, Notes on Ecumenism, pp. 36-37)

  3. I’d also like to add this quote from St. Justin: “The decision on Inter-Communion with the Pope: made the entire Patriarchate of Moscow uniate; no kind of oikonomia when issues of faith are concerned.” (Notes on Ecumenism p. 21) He is referring to a 1970/1971 decision by the MP to allow for Roman Catholics to receive communion in certain contexts. ROCOR adopted the policy to baptize all converts in response to this decision. According to V. Moss, this is not the first time the Church of Russia did such thing (!): New Zion in Babylon I, p. 61 – ‘The “proto-ecumenism” of the Russian Church in this period came primarily from the tsars. Thus in 1847 Emperor Nicholas I concluded a concordat with Pope Gregory XVI which envisaged that the Russian Orthodox Church would carry out all the sacraments and needs for those who turned to her with such requests from the Catholics exiled for their participation in the Polish rebellions against Russia, if they were living in places where there were no Catholic churches or Catholic clergy.’

  4. Thank you for all of the information, it is much appreciated.

    I’m not too sure if any Old Calendarist groups tries to claim him officially. That being said, I’m only familiar with the Greek Old Calendarists, so perhaps they’re other groups who do. If I’m not mistaken I do believe there is actually a Serbian Old Calendarist group, which I suppose would be reasonable to assume they do clam him.

  5. Anytime. They don’t to my knowledge, but they are relatively new upon the scene as an autocephalous Serbian body.

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