861.404/1–645: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Harriman)

85. ReEmbs 70, January 6, 10 a.m.44 Department has issued reentry permit to Metropolitan Benjamin45 and according to press reports he is already en route to Moscow via Alaska.46

A representative of the branch of the Orthodox Church in the United States headed by Metropolitan Theophilos47 has also been invited to attend the Sobor scheduled to be held in Moscow on January 31.48 Representatives of this branch of the church have been in touch with the Department, Metropolitan Benjamin and the Soviet Embassy and are also considering sending a delegation to the Sobor.

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Information reaching the Department indicates that there is considerable movement toward unity among some factions of the Orthodox Church in this country. In view of the wide representation which it is apparently planned to have at the Moscow Sobor, it is possible that courts in this country will give considerable weight to its decisions with respect to the control or ownership of church property in the United States.

  1. Not printed.
  2. On November 22, 1933, the Metropolitan of Moscow and Kolomna, Sergey, who was then the locum tenens of the patriarchal throne, appointed Archbishop Benjamin (Venyamin), who had been sent from the Soviet Union, to administer the North American parishes which had remained faithful to the Mother Church, with the title of Archbishop of the Aleutians and North America, Exarch of the Moscow Patriarchate in America. Later he became Metropolitan.
  3. Metropolitan Benjamin arrived in Moscow on January 24.
  4. Archbishop of San Francisco, elected Metropolitan of All America and Canada succeeding Metropolitan Platon, deceased, at a church council in Cleveland in 1934. Since 1924, this branch of the Orthodox Church in America maintained independence from control of the church leadership at Moscow and declared itself to be temporarily self-governing and managed its own property. At a council in New York in 1937, it was legally incorporated under the name of the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of North America.
  5. A local church council of the Russian Orthodox Church had been called to assemble for the purpose of electing a Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia to succeed the Patriarch Sergey, who had died on May 15, 1944. See Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. iv, pp. 12121213 and 1223.