Some excerpts from Father Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works -
By this time(after Archbishop Averky's repose), the fathers had concluded that, if no one else was going to take up where Archbishop Averky had left off, they would have to do it themselves. For the first time in the pages of their magazine, they would dare to confront directly the problem of super-correct zealotry--and face whatever consequences this incurred. In a prefaceto an article by the current chief hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, Metropolitan Philaret, Fr. Seraphim wrote: "There are those who wish to make everything absolutely 'simple' and 'black and white.' They would wish [Metropolitan Philaret] and his synod to declare invalid the Mysteries of New Calendarists or Communist-dominated Churches, not realizing that it is not the business of the Snod to make decrees on such a sensitive and complex question."
With his basically nonpartisan approach, Fr. Seraphim was not to be spared, in 1981, one final run-in with the super correct, super partisan ecclesiology. This time even the chief hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, Metropolitan Philaret, unwittingly got involved. On September 22, 1980, he had written to the Brotherhood:
Dear Fr. Herman,
I am sending you material for printing...about the last elder of the Glinsk Hermitage, Archimandrite Tavrion. According to the information which I have, this wise and pious elder belonged at first to the Catacomb Church; but seeing how the believing people were scattered like sheep without a shepher, he joined the official church, but in his activity he stood absolutely apart from it, giving all his strength to the spiritual guidance of believing souls... May God help you. Peace be to you and the brethren.
The book continues:
Far from warding off disturbances, however, the Metropolitan's letter raised a cry of indignation from those on the far right, who could harldly believe that their own Metropolitan could call someone in the Moscow Patriarchate a "wise and pious elder." This time the super-correct party started a whole campaign, with petitions sent out for everyone to sign, and an official delegation sent to protest at the Metropolitan's residence in New York. The petition stated that the photograph of and article on Archimandrite Tavrion which the Metropolitan had sent "serve as Soviet propaganda to mitigate our attitude toward Soviet clergy and the Soviet Church by showing us that there are in fact 'wise and pious elders' who are part of the Soviet Church...Our bishops must come together and make a public statement with regard to this grave matter. The editors of The Orthodox Word need to rectify the damage done by retracting their statements and printing a statement of our Synod of Bishops on this most important matter."
One of the super-correct priests, Fr. Seraphim noted, "is trying to force our old Russian parishioners to write letters of protest to the Metropolitan, and to the poor old ladies don't understand what it's all about! What a narrow straitjacket of logic they want to force us into, and how little it suits the real needs of the Orthodox mission today...They are just not 'where it's at'--they're fighting windmills with their jesuitical logic and justifying their own 'purity', while what is needed is loving and aware hearts to help the suffering and searching and bring them to Christ." In another letter Fr. Seraphim called this kind of Christianity "Alice-in-Wonderland Orthodoxy."
As he had before, Fr. Seraphim voiced his concerns over the dangers that the super-correct ecclesiology posed for the Russian Church Abroad: "Our Russian Church Outside of Russia can continue to be a beacon-light to the other Orthodox Churches--but it will not be so if we become a sect such as the super-correct faction would make us out to be- and a sect which would only be warring with other small "sects" in Greece.
Also, from several letters regarding the super-correct faction in ROCOR.
June 15, 1976: "The 'right wing' of Orthodoxy will probably be divided into many small 'jurisdictions' in future, most of them anathematizing and fighting with the others...We must keep up the living contact with the older Russian clergy, even if some of them may seem to us a little too 'liberal'--otherwise we will be lost in the 'zealot' jungle which is growing up around us!"
July 8, 1980: "We ourselves have felt for some time that Fr._____ and others who share his attitude are heading straight for a schism, which now seems almost inevitable if he does not change his direction. Such a schism nobody needs; there are so many groups of 'correct' Orthodoxy in Greece now(none in communion with the others) that a new group will only prove the devil's power to divide Orthodox Christians.
October 27,1980: "I look with pain and sadness at this whole situation;...but I am powerless to do anything about it...The inevitable schism which they are now preparing(if they don't change soon) will be the last step in a process which only they can change.
December 8, 1981: "How tragic that some are now leading their flocks(albeit still very small flocks) out of communion with the only people who can still teach them what Orthodoxy is and help them to wake up from their fantasies of a 'super-correct' Orthodoxy that exists nowhere in the world."
Not long after Fr. Seraphim's repose, his prediction unfortunately came true just as he had written.
"All this will pass, like some horrible nightmare," Fr. Seraphim remarked in a letter. Looking back at his support of the super-correct group in previous years, he wrote: "We feel ourselves badly betrayed...All these years we trusted that they were of one mind and soul with us, giving everything they had for the cause of the English speaking mission. But really, it seems that all this time they were only building for their own glory, cruelly abusing the trust of our simple Russian bishops, priests, and laymen.... We fear that all our aricticles about 'zealotry' in the past years have helped to produce a monster!"
Also regarding the super-correct types-
"They have built a church career for themselves on a false but attractive premise: that the chief danger to the Church today is lack of strictness. No--the chief danger is something much deeper--the loss of the savor of Orthodoxy, a movement in which they themselves are participating , even in thier 'strictness.'... 'Strictness will not save us if we don't have any more the feeling and taste of Orthodoxy."
In relation to the MP:
"Our Church has no communion with Moscow. But our Church recognizes this as a temporary situation, which will end when the communist regime comes to an end."
This was written in the early 1980's, at a time when the Church situation(i.e. just what types of bishops make up the hierarchy) was fully known.
Also, after communing lay people from "World Orthodox" jurisdictions Fr. Seraphim said to Fr. Alexey Young: "I know this would be frowned upon, but these people come and they are hungry for spiritual guidance and nourishment and...what can we do? Turn them away?"
When asked if he wasn't afraid of being 'denounced' by the ultra-zealots in the Synod he replied: "You don't know me very will if you think I'd be worried about that. Whether I get in trouble or not, I KNOW that this is the right thing to do!"
Some of Fr. Seraphim's thoughts of ecumenism:
"Some would-be zealots of Orthodoxy use the term 'ecumenism' in entirely too imprecise a fashion, as though the very use of the term or contact with an 'ecumenical' organization is itself a 'heresy.' Such views are clearly exaggerations. 'Ecumenism' is a heresy only if it actually involves the denial that Orthodoxy is the true Church of Christ. A few of the Orthodox leaders of the ecumenical movement have gone this far, but most Orthodox participants in the ecumenical movement have not said this much; and a few (such as the late Fr. Georges Florovsky) have only irritated the Protestants in the ecumenical movement by frequently stating at ecumenical gatherings that Orthodoxy is the Church of Christ. One must certainly criticize the participation of even these latter persons in the ecumenical movement, which at its best is misleading and vague about the nature of Christ's Church; but one cannot call such people 'heretics', nor can one affirm that any but a few Orthodox representatives have actually taught ecumenism as a heresy. The battle for true Orthodoxy in our times is not aided by such exaggerations."
In another place Fr. Seraphim said: "The excessive reaction against the ecumenical movement has the same worldly spirit that is present in the ecumenical movement itself."
I suppose I'll stop for now. There are many more quotes from letters and conversations that I could provide from the book; so if anyone is interested maybe I'll type those out too if I get the time. I believe these quotes should give at least a decent indication of Fr. Seraphim's thoughts of 'zeal not according to knowledge', the position of ROCOR to the Moscow Patriarchate, and the
fruits of 'super correctness'.