Today (23 December 2010) the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC) - Australia & New Zealand published an ill-intentioned, albeit somewhat justified, article criticizing the supposed canonization by the RTOC of Russian Archbishop Germogen (Maximov) from the Second World War who was bestially tortured and shot by the Yugoslavian Communists after the occupation of Zagreb. Archbishop Germogen, at the time of the so-called Independent State of Croatia, a genocidal state creation under the protection of Nazi Germany, was appointed head – “Metropolitan” – of a pseudo-church organization, the “Croatian Orthodox Church.” During the second half of the month of October of this present year, in the Ukrainian city of Odessa, the Synod of the Russian TOC held its customary synod session. Among others, at this Sobor was brought forward the decision to add to the canon of Russian new martyrs and confessors several clergy at the head of which was Archbishop Germogen, who was tortured and in the end killed by the Yugoslavian communists in 1945. [SEE LINK] The act of canonization itself has not yet been accomplished, rather only the resolution was brought forward which would of course precede the deed. When he read the news of this, Hieromonk Akakije immediately, without hesitation, sent out letters addressed to: the First Hierarch of the Russian TOC, His Eminence Archbishop Tikhon, the address of the hierarchical synod of the RTOC, and the address “catacomb.org.” After this letter, which is published below, a correspondence followed which resulted in the stopping of this entire case until the first possible official Synodal refutation and the annulment of the controversial Synodal decision by the Archiepiscopal RTOC.
The initiative associated with this canonization goes back several decades in the Russian Church Abroad, since certain Russian emigrant circles have asserted that Archbishop Germogen’s acceptance of the so-called COC was a great moral podvig and self-sacrifice for the Serbian people. According to them, Archbishop Germogen took on such a thankless and shameful role only to give genuine help to the Serbs who were on the brink of extinction, that is, to save their very lives, doing something similar to that of General Milan Nedich.* The effort of Archbishop Germogen, in their argument, bore fruit, as many Orthodox Serbs with the help of the so-called COC (which, in the eyes of the Croatians, was an Orthodox Church without any influence from Serbia) were saved from certain and inescapable death. To be sure, the hierarchy of the RTOC do not recognize the so-called COC, but rather view her only as a passing episode, a means by which the mission of saving the Serbian people from the pogrom of the Ustasche was carried out in the harsh times of war. The above paragraphs to some extent explain the reasons which inspired this controversial Synodal decision.
Of course, it was to be expected that the official SOC would use this occasion to attack the Serbian Orthodox believers from Australia who, fleeing from the ecumenism of the SOC, have temporarily found protection under the mantle of the RTOC. Along with this, the situation has also been used to attack those in our STOC. The entire matter indeed is scandalous, but the hierarchs of the RTOC in this movement were not in the least motivated by love for the Ustache (the extremely ill-intentioned title of the text published on the site of the SOC should be noted: “…glorifying the Ustache…”) or love for some “COC.” Far from it! Truly, imprudently and lacking understanding of the entire picture and the dubious moment of the entire situation, unaware that they would deeply hurt the national feelings of us Serbs, though they were well-intentioned, they made the decision for the canonization rashly. Honestly, we hope that this decision will be withdrawn as soon as possible and that the canonization will never occur. We think that this canonization, even if it is (before God), correct, would be of more harm than good to the Church, especially in question of the relationship between the Russian and Serbian TOC. In any case, one thing is sure, which is that the attitude of the STOC towards this issue will remain firm: the Serbian TOC will never recognize this canonization, that is, the official addition of Archbishop Germogen to the canon of Russian clergy-martyrs.
The editors of the STO blog wholeheartedly thank Father Akakije for his lightning-quick reaction and initiation of an emergency procedure for the retraction of this controversial canonization.
*Milan Nedic was a renowned general of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, who, for the salvation of the Serbian people, accepted to be the president of the “Government of National Salvation” during the time of the occupation of Serbia by Nazi Germany. His actions saved 100,000 Serbian lives, although everyone condemns him as a traitor and cooperator. In the time of war, thanks to him, the communists were completely banished from Serbia.
Below follows the text of Hieromonk Akakije’s letter to Archbishop Tikhon of the RTOC
October 17/30 2010, Holy Prophet Hosias
A HUMBLE VOICE OF PROTEST CONCERNING
A CONTROVERSIAL CANONIZATION
His Eminence Tikhon
Archbishop of Omsk and Siberia
First Hierarch of the Russian True Orthodox Church
Very Merciful Archpastor and Vladiko, Bless me a sinner,
I do not wish to disturb You, but I was compelled by my conscience to say that I was very unpleasantly surprised when I learned that the RTOC reckoned in the canon of the Saints – canonized – Archbishop Germogen (Maximov).
That is to say, on the internet site “Tserkovnia Vjedomosti” we read the announcement of the work and decisions of the regular session of the Archepiscopal Synod of the RTOC (October 2010) in which among others was the following bullet point: “The Archepiscopal Synod has numbered among the canon of new martyrs and confessors the Archbishop Germogen (Maximov), Protopriest Seraphim Kupachev, Protodeacon Alexei Borisov, and those who suffered with them, shot by the Yugoslavian Communists.”
Although this site is not the official organ of the Synod of the RTOC, we reacted to the information on it with complete trust.
I must acquaint You with several very important facts in connection with the canonization, which I am convinced is unjust, and it is a matter of omission and surely accidental mistakes.
Archbishop Germogen, in the Independent State of Croatia, during the most terrible bloodletting pogroms of Orthodox Serbs and the Serbian Orthodox Church, participated in the making of an uncanonical church organization, the “Croatian Orthodox Church.” Furthermore, he accepted to become its first leader. Here we must mention that the Serbian Orthodox Church was the only canonical Church in the territory of the quisling Croatian State, which had been newly established by the occupators.
His sin was not only canonical, but moral, a sin against Christian love, against his Serbian brothers and his sister Serbian Church. The so-called “Croatian Orthodox Church” was the conception of the war criminal Pavelic as the instrument of the complete destruction of the Serbian Orthodox Church and Orthodox Serbs, as except for Serbs, no other Orthodox people existed in Croatia.
The German authorities who ramrodded this project with all their strength several times tried to influence the ever-memorable hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad Metropolitan Anastassy to recognize Bishop Germogen and to lift the ban on his serving, but the loyalty of the head of ROCOR towards the SOC was much stronger than the pressure of the occupational authorities. The Russian Church Abroad at that time characterized Archbishop Germogen’s work as a strike against the SPC, which had generously taken the Russian bishops of the “Karlovci” Synod under its shelter.
The RTOC numbered among the Saints a Russian hierarch who the ROCOR did not consider a canonical hierarch and who to the shame of the entire Russian Church took part in such a disgraceful deed as the creation of the “Croatian Orthodox Church.” Founding the “COC” was unquestionably an inimical act directed against the Serbian Church, which caused Her unimaginable harm during the Second World War, when Croatians, with the bloody hands of Pavelic’s Ustache, brutally killed nearly a million Orthodox Serbs.
Archbishop Germogen, despite the warnings and ban of the ROCOR Synod and the Serbian Patriarchate, lawlessly and ambitiously accepted the shameful role of head of a politicized pseudo-church creation with the title “Metropolitan of Zagreb and All Croatia,” publicly swearing loyalty to Pavelic and the genocidal Croatian state. With this act, he took away almost all the property of the Serbian Church in the territory of the Independent State of Croatia.
The “COC” was on the New Calendar and openly anti-Serbian. It daily glorified Pavelic and the genocidal Croatian state (“their joys are our joys” – and the greatest joy of the ISC was the extermination of Serbs), mocking Serbian “Svetosavlje” (the veneration of the Serbian Saint Sava) and criticizing the role of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the region of Croatia in the past as well as in the present time.
The self-styled Germogen, the canonically unrecognized head of the so-called “COC” -which came into being with the help of the bloodthirsty criminal Pavelic, who founded this church upon the torture and persecution of the Serbian Orthodox Church – was cut off from the Synod of ROCOR and banned from serving by the ever-memorable Metropolitan Anastassy on June 6, 1942.
His canonization by the RTOC is simply a great scandal to us Serbs.
How can this act be explained or justified? By the fact that he suffered a martyric death at the hands of the godless Yugoslavian communists? Are there not hundreds, if not thousands, of Sergianists who also suffered a martyred death under the Communist Soviets, yet still are not counted among the new martyrs and confessors of Russia? How could the hierarchical Synod of the RTOC unthinkingly and hastily, without detailed research and consultation, make such an unjust decision about the canonization of an extremely suspicious hierarch, who, we in the end find out, did not even belong to the hierarchy of ROCOR?
ROCOR’S hierarchical Synod, on March 7, 1956, by extreme oikonomia served a panikhida for Archbishop Germogen with the following statement: “Even if Archbishop Germogen committed a great sin towards the Church, falling out of the Russian Church and creating a non-canonical church organization, he still did not completely abandon Orthodoxy, and his sin was in part redeemed by a martyric death. Because of this we do not see an obstacle to serving a panikhida for Archbishop Germogen, but without great ceremony.”
How is it possible is that this hierarch, for whom a panikhida was barely allowed by oikonomia, has been raised to the rank of sainthood?
I know that all of this which I am saying is perhaps a bit unpleasant for You, but I beg You with bended knees, for the sake of a good relationship between our Churches, reverse, withdraw, and abolish this announced canonization.
With the hopes that this temptation can be overcome with brotherly love and understanding,
Humbly kissing Your right hand,
ANNOUNCEMENT FROM THE EDITORS OF BLOG serbiantrueorthodox.blogspot.com:
The Archepiscopal Synod of the Russian TOC has made the decision to annul the act of counting Archbishop Germogen and those who suffered with him in the rank of saints. (SEE LINK) The reason for this was the protest and rejection of this decision from our Serbian TOC, along with disagreement on the part of the Russian clergy and flock, and due to the complexity and insufficiently justified nature of the resolution to canonize.