This declaration clearly enunciates the ecclessiological position of the Church in Exile, rejecting the false self-proclaimed “patriarch” Sergius and proclaiming the sufferings of the Catacomb Church, here clearly identified as the “persecuted Russian Church” as opposed to the false official church, which is identified as the servant of Belial.
The Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, the only free part of the Russian Church, looks with sorrow on the suffering to which the faithful are subjected within the boundaries of the Soviet Union. To the open persecutions by the atheistic rulers, whose purpose is to destroy all religion, there are added temptations by false brethren.
In 1927, when the late Metropolitan of Nizhny Novgorod Sergius, who called himself Patriarch of Moscow, published his well-known declaration, the elder bishops of the Russian Church and among them those chosen by Patriarch Tikhon in his legacy for temporary leadership of the Russian Church, did not agree with him, seeing the peril for Orthodox souls in the new course along which he led the Church despite the orders of Metropolitan Peter of Krutitsa. The names of Metropolitans Peter, Cyril, Arsenius, Joseph, Archbishop Seraphim of Uglich and many other hierarchs, clerics and laymen will go down in the history of the Church on an equal par with the most famous confessors of Orthodoxy in the face of persecutions, villainy and heresies.
The free part of the Russian Church, located outside the boundaries of the USSR, is heart and soul with the confessors of the faith, whom the antireligious guidebook call “True Orthodox Christians” and who in common usage are often called “the Catacomb Church”, since they are obliged to hide themselves from the secular authorities in the same way the first centuries of Christianity. The Council of Bishops acknowledges its spiritual unity with them and the Russian Church Outside of Russia always prays for all those who in conditions of persecution manage to keep the true faith and “do not bend under a foreign yoke with the unbelievers”, recognizing that there is nothing in common between light and darkness and no agreement between Christ and Belial ((II Cor. 6, 14-15).
The free part of the Russian Church, besides praying, tries to help its brethren who suffer for the Faith in the Fatherland also by continually seeking to reveal to the world the true position of the Church in the Soviet Union, exposing the falsehood of her supposed well-being, which false pastors, travelling abroad, attempt to spread there, glorifying the persecutors and disparaging the persecuted. In the difficult circumstances which our brethren in the Soviet Union must experience, it is a consolation for us to look at the first centuries of Christianity, when the persecutors of Christ also attempted a physical humiliation of the Holy Church. But we remember the encouraging words of the Saviour, “Fear not, little flock” (Luke 12, 32). And we remember the Saviour’s words of encouragement for those whom the Lord has judged to be on this earth in the last days
of her existence: “then look up and lift your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21, 28).