The relations between Church and State grew up differently in the Orthodox East and the Catholic West. The Byzantine empire retained "symphony" up to the end and handed it on as a model to the Slavonic and Caucasian peoples. The Church of Rome, however, encountered a variety of pagan peoples who had no common state, forcing it to assume certain unifying functions characteristic of imperial power. Without identifying itself with any concrete nation or state, the Church of Rome became a national and supra-state association with its own language (Latin) and its own independent administration, fully in charge of the secular aspects of church
life and taking part in political international affairs as a state with full rights.
In Byzantium too, however, the hierarchical division of the Church did not coincide fully with the administrative and national structure of the Empire. Thus, alongside the Great Church of Constantinople, there were three other independent (autocephalous) Churches within the Empire, each with its own Patriarchal cathedra: the Churches of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem, The desire to interpret the nature of the Church theologically as the human nature of Jesus Christ led to the emergence of the theory of the "pentarchy": the five Patriarchates (Rome included) were seen as the organic division of the Body of Christ and their existence was connected with the five sense organs characteristic of Christ as man. This theory did not become established (if only for the fact that new autocephalous churches arose), but this very tendency in Byzantine thought is most indicative.
With the Slavonic and Caucasian peoples the Church was mostly connected with the national element. In the case of these peoples the Church served the aims of national unification and the creation of an independent state. By addressing the people in their native language and helping them to carry out their national tasks, the Church became a "popular sanctuary", and Christian elements penetrated the very foundations of the popular consciousness. The close alliance of the Church with the nation was historically beneficial for these peoples, but at the same time created the danger of a violation of correct relations between the "old" and the "new" man. Whereas in Byzantium the Church was threatened by excessive involvement in national imperial policy, in the case of the Slavonic and Caucasian peoples the Church was often subordinated to national interests. This subordination was regarded by the theologians of Constantinople as a special heresy, which they called philetism ("ethnophilism").
By virtue of the general sinfulness of the "old" man, the national element demanded moral control and pastoral guidance from a spiritually independent Church, Wherever the national was placed above the ecclesiastical, tins weakened the saving and transfiguring influence of the Church on popular and state life. The worst thing happened when the "old" man began to subject the "new" man to himself within the Church itself (we again recall its diune human nature). This is precisely what happened in the Russian Church after its hierarchical separation from the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the victory of the "Josephians" over the "Non-Possessors" at the beginning of the 16th century. The perversion of the inner structure of the Church led to a catastrophic weakening of it, as a result of which "symphony" on the Byzantine model was not achieved either in the state
of Moscow Kingdom or in the Russian Empire.
The profound changes in the life of peoples and states in the 20th century led to the emergence of new forms of relations between the Church and the world, and also the "old" and "new" human elements inside the Church itself. In breaking away from the Church, modern states gave it the role of a private association, the real extent of whose rights and authority is determined by the moral condition and spiritual premises of the peoples and states themselves. In particular, as a result of emigration there arose an extensive Orthodox diaspora, made up of believers who lived outside the borders of their national states.
The Russian diaspora created four forms of church organization: those parishes which remained true to the state principle of division of the Church stayed in hierarchical subordination to the Moscow Patriarchate; the Orthodox Church in America united on the territorial principle and received autocephalous status; the Russian Church in Exile (also known as the "Karlovtzy" or the "Synod") united on the national principle and set up an independent church administration; the Archdiocese of France and Western Europe turned for hierarchical leadership to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, proceeding from its "ecumenical", i.e. universal, all-Orthodox, and national character. The sharp conflicts and continuing theological arguments concerning these canonical decisions boil down essentially to the definition of the concrete form of interaction of two elements: the "old" and the "new" man. The variety of these forms proved to be inevitable due to the variety of forms of the life and spiritual strivings of the "old" man. The question of which form of "symphony" of the "old" and "new" man is the truest and fullest remains an open one for Christian consciousness.
The three world powers about which we spoke earlier on, which are fighting with one another to prevail in "old mankind", define their relationship to the nation in different ways. The Universalist tendencies, proceeding from the fact of the unity of the human race, lead naturally to attempt to "overcome" the national element, to an assessment of this element as a negative one which divides and destroys human unity. At best this clement is tolerated as a secondary source of cultural variety. This negative altitude to the national principle of dividing mankind is also shared with socialist utopianism by spiritual trends based on experience of the mystic-spiritual unity of the cosmos, mankind included. In pro-revolutionary Russia the "new religious consciousness" rooted in the mystical insights of Vladimir Soloviev was full of ideas of "all-unity". The communist revolution in Russia was also of the same Universalist, supra-national nature, although on completely different
Bourgeois-humanist civilization regards the nation as one particular (although fundamental) form of human association. Each nation has its own interests, the struggle for the realization of which is limited by the norms of state and international law: the same legitimate competition, or rivalry, takes place between nations as between individuals. The law defends in particular the rights of small nations, protecting them from coercive pressure or forcible absorption by larger and more powerful nations. These principles were also advanced by the February revolution. One of the first resolutions (dated 20 March, 1917) of the Provisional Government abolished all confessional and national privileges and restrictions. In those conditions this meant, first and foremost, protecting the interests of small nations and non-Orthodox religious communities.
The "infernal" element in the human race, which is very powerful but not able to proclaim its aims publicly, is quick to make use of ideals and principles no matter where they come from.
The criterion for the choice of slogans is simply practical success in attaining real, but not directly stated aims. Depending on the concrete situation, such slogans may include both coercive universalism or totalitarianism, the unlimited rights of the individual, national exclusiveness, racial superiority and religious fanaticism. For the aims of the "inferno" one thing only is important: to take some natural or artificial divisions and differences in the human race and give them an aggressive, uncompromising, lethal nature. The action of the inferno reveals itself not in the actual choice of ideas and slogans, but only in the spirit of hatred and strife winch is aroused with the help of these ideas and slogans. It is precisely this attitude to ideology that is characteristic of Stalin.
* * *
All students of Stalin's activity are struck by his extreme lack of principle, his readiness to change one ideological position for the exact opposite, if this was dictated by the circumstances of the struggle for personal power. At the same time a constant leitmotif of his policy was to arouse in the people a spirit of hatred, setting some strata of the population against others and implanting a picture of the world in which everything was full of perfidious conspiracies and ruthless cruelty. In fact Stalin encouraged
the people to believe that the whole world was an "inferno", where everything was based on the merciless struggle of all against all, on cynical egoism which had no inner limitations: the egoism of individuals, parties, classes, nations, corporations, blocks and camps.
Thus, one can say that the essence of Stalinism is war.
The strongest is always right, but "strength" includes total freedom from convictions, principles, duties and moral restrictions. Herein lies Stalin's enormous "strength", the root of his "victories and achievements". None of his adversaries or rivals possessed such total inner "freedom", freedom for evil.
Strength is the idol with which the inferno tempts man, and the human soul, which is ravaged by sin and knows not the Power of God, is slavishly drawn after this temptation, destroying itself and sowing destruction all around. Within the framework of this chimerical consciousness it seemed perfectly natural that egoism (personal, national, etc.), assumed and justified by the general picture of the world, should be extolled openly and freely as the noble pursuance of ideals: psychology which is most characteristic of criminal associations.
A. Avtorkhanov generalizes his studies of the phenomenon of Stalinism as follows:
"He decided to take the place of the officially expelled Christian God, so that the whole country would now pray to him alone. Only believers go to church, but everyone went to Stalin's church and no one believed in any sort of communism, first and foremost, the head of this church himself. This is why the "prayers" of the flock were "hyperbolic in formulae, pompous in tone and false all the way through." Zagadka smerti Stalina. Frankfurt/Main. 1976, p. 280.
Stalin's attitude to the Russian people and Church shows the same features of criminal egoism as his attitude to all other aspects of life. The false nationalistic demagogy propagated by Stalin did great moral harm to the healthy and natural manifestation of Russian (and not only Russian) national consciousness and feeling. A real return to popular roots took place during the great tribulations of the Patriotic war. Stalin's mythology led to a renewal of the process of national decline, a loss of national identity and vital originality of popular spirit. And the stylization of life by Stalin after the war in the guise of "Russism" or even "Byzantinism" only promoted the deep inner devastation of the popular soul.
What role in his plans did Stalin allot to the Russian Orthodox Church?
Archbishop Anthony (Marchenko) who returned after the war from emigration was given the possibility (or rather the direct task) of publishing the following program statement, for example:
"Our native church life... fulfils not only its inner,
ideological mission concerning the religious-moral education of our people, but also, which is most important, reveals its world-historical vocation, uniting the whole Orthodox world and all Slavonic peoples under the single common church-national slogan of Cyril and Methodius' great and undying idea. 'Moscow - the third Rome' remains as before the symbol of the universal collective idea, contraposed to the Papacy with its striving for spiritual autocracy, its episcopal aristocratism and its maniacal dreams of ruling the earth. The visit to Moscow by the Eastern Patriarchs, the visit to the Holy Land by His Holiness Patriarch Alexis, the coming to Moscow of a delegation from the Orthodox Czech Church and, as a result, the appointing of a Russian Orthodox Exarch there testify to an exceptional revival in the Orthodox Ecumenical Catholic Church under the actual leadership of Russian Orthodoxy: 'Moscow is the third Rome, and a fourth there will not be' as our forefather said in the days of Ivan III …” Zhurnal Moskovskoy Patriarkhii. 1946. No. 9, pp. 54-57.
We now quote a generalizing conclusion by that eminent foreign historian of the Russian Church Johann Chrysostomus concerning the All-Orthodox Conference in Moscow in July 1948:
"The Moscow Conference of the Orthodox Churches was to demonstrate the leading role of Moscow in world Orthodoxy. On this question the wishes of the Patriarchate and the Soviet government coincided, and both sides attached exceptional importance to the holding of tins conference. Although the conference addressed a letter to Christians throughout the world, the attention of the conference organizers was centered on world Orthodoxy. It was to show itself as the moral force on which the Eastern bloc rested, contrary to other churches in the countries of the free world" Kirchengeschichte Russland dor heusten Zeit. Munich-Salzburg. 1965-68, vol. 3, p. 119).
In the Patriarchal letter concerning the celebrations of the 800th anniversary of Moscow in 1947 the following statement holds a central place:
"Moscow, as the embodiment and concentration of true Orthodoxy, has become the center of that Orthodoxy...
And we believe that the same blessing which first dwelt in it still rests over our Moscow of today".
Zhurnal Moskovskoy Patriarkhii. 1947. No. 10, p.1.
So this is what the "overman" sitting in the Kremlin and preparing campaign of conquest into Europe and Asia was striving for!
The "ancient blessing" over Stalin's Moscow, which clearly means over him, Stalin, as well. And the Patriarch himself testifies "we believe" in this before the whole world...
We now quote another testimony, that of the distinguished Russian emigre Y.P. Denike, who is trying express the essence of Stalin's plan:
"Today the specter of communism is the specter of a totalitarian
dictatorship and its army. And, what is most terrible, it is far from being a specter... What I call the 'new ideological policy' is subordinated, in the first place, to preparing a new war... Yet at the same time it is a link in the implementation of a grandiose plan, inspired by the spirit of the Great Inquisitor: to make a whole huge nation believe that it is living in a completely different world from what it thinks; to create and install an imaginary history, and imaginary picture of life beyond the confines of the Soviet Union and an imaginary picture of Soviet reality itself...""Noviy Zhurnal". New York. 1948, pp. 164-179.
ln the creation of this fantastic picture of the world the leadership of the Moscow Patriarch was allotted a key role. One might say, that the most extreme decline in consciousness and conscience in modern history was achieved when Stalin's global plans to extend the sphere of his dominion with the help of wars, large and small (see "Dates and documents", 1946-1952) received ideological substantiation in peace-loving demagogy on an unprecedented scale. Stalin's "struggle for peace" has a true ring of apocalyptic terror about it. But the fact remains, that the Moscow Patriarchate supported the cult of a person like that with the full force of its spiritual authority! There can be no doubt that this was the ultimate aim for which Stalin elevated the Church from social oblivion (into which he himself had cast it) to the heights of public recognition and material well-being.
Of the many actions by church hierarchs who deliberately and with growing pathos created the religious cult of Stalin, we shall quote the following, for example:
"Blessed peace, secure well-being and true serenity for labor can only be achieved along the path of truth; the affairs of the truth of nations are linked invisibly but effectively with the affairs of the Truth of God... and the desire of peace-loving people today to live in peace and justice is also linked with the Truth of God.
...We are happy that this truth is being realized by our people under the resolute leadership of our universally recognized Leader and inspirer of the peace-loving peoples Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin..."
From a speech by Patriarch Alexis at the Third All-Union conference of supporters of peace in Moscow in November 1951.
Thus, Stalin was already proclaimed the bearer of "the truth of nations" who was "effectively linked with the Truth of God". What could we have expected if, in keeping with the frequently expressed wishes of arch-hierarchs, he had lived "for a long, long time" and managed to establish his "truth" over all the earth? Incidentally,
this time the Truth of God decided otherwise...
And what can he said about "arts" such as these:
"You have strengthened the Gospel behests of brotherhood, unity and freedom in the hearts of working people the whole world over (this is about Stalin! - L.R.)...
Fully aware how hard it is to swim against the tide and that in the early period of Your second seventy-years the enemies of truth and justice will see the light, come to You and say; you are right, Joseph the Wise, and your judgement is just. Teach us how to live in the world with our brothers, long offended and humiliated by us.
'This will be, O Lord, this will be!' "Extract from a congratulatory telegram on Stalin's seventieth birthday from the Catholicos-Patriarch of All-Georgia. JMP. 1950. No. 1, p.5.
The constant appeals in God's Name to confirm the blatantly false testimony in the numerous speeches of that "chrysostomus of the Moscow Patriarchate”, Metropolitan Nicholas Yarushevich sound like heinous perjury witness. For example:
"Heavy leaden clouds continue to gather on the horizon, multiply and spread, covering more and more of the sky. A sinister black shadow is falling on the cities and valleys, on the peaceful fields and pastures. The air is close before the storm, and it is increasingly hard to breathe on earth. For the third time in the life of a single human generation the beast of war, even crueller and more savage than before, is ready to break loose (but who was cultivating this "beast" at that time, if not Stalin!" - L.R.).
I have come from a land were the sky is clear and free of these thunderclouds of war which are gathering over mankind. The land of my Country, which has healed its wounds by the peaceful labor of a great family of fraternal peoples (20 million slaves, more than half the population are serfs! - L.R.).
...With surprise and delight the peoples are realizing that the imperialist bacchanalia of preparing for war is not affecting either the tranquillity or the development of my country, where everything radiates faith in peaceful human living together and everything is directed towards affirming peace between peoples (the age of mass deportations, when the whole country was a military camp! - L.R.).
...In the titanic struggle of Good against evil, Light against darkness and Truth against falsehood there can be no question of which place to choose for the Christian Church: its place is predetermined by its very basis, meaning, task and aim.
...The truth is invincible (and who the "bearer of the truth" is has already been proclaimed - L.R.). And this means that we too, its confessors, servants and champions, are invincible. Let us close our ranks and march on with new courage!
The blessing of God will remain with us in this sacred struggle!..” From a speech at the Congress of
people in defence of peace held in Vienna in December 1952.
It may be objected that Metropolitan Nicholas did not know the truth? Perhaps it would be more precise to say that he did not want to know the truth? But he did so much want to be in the ranks of the "invincible servants of the truth"!
Perhaps he was consciously dissembling, regarding this as the "price" that must be paid so that people can pray in open churches?
Yet his speeches create an impression of almost fanatical conviction. It must be mentioned here, however, that the church memory has retained an image of Metropolitan Nicholas as a sincere man and a Christian.
This makes the tragedy of the Christian all the more terrible. How much has still to be reviewed and reinterpreted if a recurrence of this is to become impossible...
Following its idol and master and zealously executing his tasks in the "struggle for peace", the Moscow Patriarchate also carried out its own specific function, possibly with a greater degree of initiative and independence - the inculcating of a spirit of hatred and strife inside the Christian world.
The Pope was, of course, the recipient of the most savage abuse:
"Today the leader of the Catholic church, blinded by long hatred of Orthodoxy and of the Slavs, in particular, and among them to a large extent of Russian Soviet people, this old inveterate enemy of the Soviet Union has openly entered the somber camp of the torch-bearers of a new fire. The whole world knows him to be an agent of American imperialism.
...In recent days the Pope has shown his face of Antichrist (! - L.R.) in all its spiritual monstrosity by his decree on the excommunication of communists and their sympathizers..." (From a speech by "Metropolitan Nicholas at the All-Union Conference of supporters of peace in August 1949.
The ecumenical movement, a union of mainly Protestant Churches, but with the participation also of a number of Orthodox Churches free from Stalin's influence (Constantinople, Alexandria, Jerusalem and Greece), was also declared to be the instrument of the "prince of darkness".
The Moscow Patriarchate's official "specialist" on ecumenism, Archpriest G. Razumovsky, stated in his report to the Conference of Orthodox Churches in Moscow in 1948:
"If the World Council of Churches has begun to exist now, this must be evaluated as a grave and menacing specter for the whole universe. The prince of darkness is preparing from the churchmen who have succumbed to his temptations a figure-head culprit for the destruction of the world...
...O! Death! Thou keepest thy sting! The followers of thy Victor-Christ, again, in the courts of the new Pilate, have twice renounced their Teacher! Renounced into oblivion God's commandment "Thou
shall not kill"... The ecumenical arch hierarchs and scribes are again ready to teach the people to shout once more "Crucify Him!"...
A menacing symptom! A terrible time of the decline of the West!"
Was the Moscow Patriarchate perhaps speaking here as the zealous defender of Orthodox tradition and doctrine and therefore showing such intolerance of Catholics and Protestants?
No, that is not the case.
All the actions of the Moscow Patriarchate were subordinated to the aims of Stalin's global strategy, as it developed during this period: pan-Slavism, all-Orthodox unity and a military-economic union of the socialist camp under the personal leadership of Stalin. The following were cast in the role of the main "enemies of mankind": American imperialism, Roman Catholicism, Jewish Zionism, ecumenism and freemasonry. The balance of the picture was radically upset by the fact that in the Orthodox world Moscow had a "rival" with far more grounds to be regarded as the spiritual center of Orthodoxy - the Ecumenical See of Constantinople. It is no accident that after his defeat in the diplomatic struggle for the "straits" (i.e. for Constantinople), Stalin tried to seize power by means of a communist coup, first and foremost, in Greece and Turkey (see "Dates and documents", 1947).
The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, traditionally "the first in honor" in Orthodoxy, the authority and influence of which has grown considerably in the 20th century, did not recognize the claim of the Moscow Patriarchate to effective leadership of world Orthodoxy. For five hundred years the Ecumenical Patriarchate, derived of the support of a state of its own, was in a most unfortunate position and suffered from constant harassment on the part of the Turkish authorities. The Ecumenical Patriarch based its right to the leading role in Orthodoxy on the strength of tradition, the preserving and development of patristic theology and the creative spiritual energy which allowed it to play an active part in the life of the modern world. Made wiser by its mistaken and bitter experience of supporting Soviet church Renovationism, the Ecumenical Patriarchate also found itself at the epicenter of world events because its hierarchical leaders took upon themselves several million Orthodox Christians of different nationalities who had been dispersed throughout the world by the wars and revolutions of the 20th century, The Moscow Patriarchate had one tiling only to set again all this - the political support of Stalin. But this proved to be enough to try and split the Orthodox world in two. This was demonstrated clearly during the All-Orthodox Conference in Moscow in 1948, when only the Greek-speaking Churches: Alexandria, Jerusalem, Greece and Cyprus - recognized the authority of the Ecumenical
Relaying on Stalin's support, the Moscow Patriarchate tried to subject the Orthodox world to itself by canonical and political force. A definite "tradition" began to manifest itself in this: just as Metropolitan Sergius has usurped power within the Russian Church during his time by identical methods, so the Moscow Patriarchate created by him now tried to usurp power in the whole of world Orthodoxy, thereby destroying the true tradition of Orthodox sobornost, which is the embodiment inside the church of the peace brought by Christ. Thus the seeds of future strife, schism and excommunication were sown. In the words of the Holy Scriptures:
"From the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely... saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace". Jer. 6: 13-14.
If it is true that Stalin is one of the closest prototypes of Antichrist, and his cult of personality serves as a warning to mankind of the possibility of an even more global moral decline, how unexpectedly and profoundly convincing the prophecy about one of the main signs of the apocalyptic age sounds:
"For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them"! 1 Thes. 5: 3.
The very essence of the inferno is war against everyone. "Peace" is the harmony and fullness of being which in the final analysis can be given only by God.
"My peace I give unto you," says Christ, "Not as the world giventh, give I unto you". Jn. 14: 27.
When the inferno speaks of the piece through Stalin's mouth, however, it becomes an extreme blasphemy against the truth.
"Great is the responsibility of those," wrote George Fedotov in 1948, "who by their very calling are appointed to guard truth and freedom, yet are forced to poison and corrupt the mind of the people. Great is the responsibility of the Russian writer, scholar or bishop. And the greatest sin of all is that of the Patriarch..."
Fedotov was speaking, of course, not about personal sin (which is a mystery between man and God), but of responsibility for the influence of the Patriarchal word. If we are to call a spade a spade, who after this would dare to throw stones at the late Patriarch for the blindness which he shared with everyone else? He can be judged only by the Head of the Church Himself, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Believers and non-believers, educated and semi-literate, bosses and subordinates, everyone except perhaps those who died in the camps was caught up in this terrible delusion. A great and terrible lesson...
"A common guilt and common sin," Fedotov continues. "Without recognition of them there can be no spiritual rebirth of Russia. Without repentance there can be no cleansing... But woe to the alien country which takes the act of retribution upon itself. Every nation has enough sins
of its own. The democracies are also on trial. Self-appointed judges become criminals themselves. If there is room for moral ideas in politics, at least tins does not include the idea of retribution...""Noviy zhurnal". NewYork. 1949. XXI, pp. 247-248.
The great Russian Christian philosopher Vladimir Soloviev, who overcame the temptation of "all-unity" in painful personal experience, sketched the image of the future Antichrist, drawing on patristic literature, in the work "Three Conversations" (1900) written just before his death and devoted mainly to the Christian attitude to war and peace. The "Tale of Antichrist", which is included in "Three Conversations" as a separate inset, has circulated widely, like the mediaeval apocalyptic apocryphas, among believers and clergy.
To our mind, Soloviev somewhat "idealizes" Antichrist, describing him as a spiritualist obsessed by the ideas of messianic utopianism. According to Soloviev, only proud envy of Jesus Christ makes him embark on a criminal path.
The example of Stalin teaches us that the "beast coming out of the abyss" is primordially criminal through a radical decision of his free will. The most instructive thing in the "Tale of Antichrist", however, is the scene in which Christians are tempted. Antichrist offers each "confession" what it values most in Christianity, whether this is holy images, hierarchical power, observance of tradition or freedom of studying the Scriptures. In return he asks only that he be worshipped as the Supreme Ruler of the world. Antichrist's propaganda is successful with most believers, until he is rebuffed by "John the elder", who says: "The most precious thing in Christianity for us is Jesus Christ Himself. We will readily honor you if you sincerely admit yourself to be His disciple and servant". In reply to this Antichrist cannot restrain his fury and, unable to keep up his role of "philanthropist", he commits open murder...
Knowing what a great temptation unlimited power is for weak and sinful man, the Church rendered great homage even to personally unworthy Christian emperors, tsars and princes. This homage was paid not to the man, bill to his name, not to a concrete person, but to the title of a Christian ruler. If the ruler was also personally devout, then the lawful homage was warmed by the sincere love of his subjects.
But what has this to do with Stalin?
Did he bear a Christian title?
Did he even once confess his belief in God?
Did h even once bow his criminal head before Jesus Christ?
Were not his "Byzantinism", "Russism", "Pan-Slavism" and favors towards the Church the self-same "presents" which Antichrist so lavishly bestows on those who are ready to worship, adore and extol him?
The cult of Stalin
is a prototype of the universal worship of Antichrist, including those Christians who have fallen into temptation. It is simply a prototype and a warning, therefore we must refrain from spiritual judgement of those who take part in this worship.
This tragic lesson is addressed not to them, but to us, who have the chance to find out the real truth about this age. But if we do not draw the right conclusions from this lesson even now, if we still try to justify the crimes against mankind and are tempted by the chimeras of Stalinism, tins means that deep down our soul is hoping for and waiting for Antichrist. And sooner or later he will answer this call...
- The End