RS NEWS DIGEST SPECIAL
5 - 9 October 1996
10 - 11 October 1996
12 - 14 October 1996
Rev. Gleb Yakunin
The Church In Russia: Some History

Since 988 Orthodoxy became state religion in Russia. Together with christening, a Byzantine model of relations between the state and the Church - caesarepapism, which means actual subjection of the Church to the absolute king's, in this case - emperor's, power.

But along with this the Church lived according to its inner ancient rules: all the main religious questions were settled councilitly (together). Priests and bishops were elected by the faithful first, and than ordained by the priesthood hierarchy. The thrice-repeated "Axios" ("Deserves!"["worthy," PDS]) was pronounced by the people knowing the candidate to be hand-laid (ordained).

In 1721 emperor Peter the First has abolished the Church's councility, creating the Governing Synod subordinated to him. This unusual for the Church body consisted from a few men and was endowed with power greater than the Patriarch and the Land Council taken together had. This was a clear violation of the Church's canonical basis! Along this, all the members of highest orders of clergy have agreed with the prepared emperor's edict in written form. Significant is that the clergy was engaging to squeal to the police on the faithful's political disloyalty, even if it was marked at confession. The members of highest orders of clergy were swearing allegiance to the emperor as "the chairman and the last judge of the Governing Synod". The Synod members were fully leveled with the members of the Senate, receiving same regalia, privileges, enormous salary, serfs, gilted carriages, special medical services. The emperor returned big latifundia to them, on which their Eden existence - despite of obligatory for the members of highest orders of clergy taking of monastic vows - was provided by labor of thousands of peasants.

Forcible ceasing the Church's counciltity in the centuries of 18 - 19, first of all - the appointment by election on the principle of authority and merits of priests and bishops by themselves the faithful, converting the bishops into government appointed officials and slave holders, and the priests - into slave drivers, - all this brought to the deepest spiritual crisis in Russia, insuperable breakup between the educated elite and the people, and, at final count, to the catastrophe of 1917. The Church was losing authority, growing was the abyss between the faithful one and the priest, between average priesthood and the bishops. Any one who was opposing the state found himself also out of state connected, bueraucratisised Church. As the result, the majority of the population was found beyond the church's fence. As wrote Ivan Aksakov in the 19th century, "the Church in our land has turned into a resemblance of a German chancellery, applying (...) with inveritable lie the order of the German chancellerism to the rescue of Christ's herd".

Only in August 1917, first time after 1690, open was the Landing[ "Local" PDS] Council of Russian Orthodox Church. In the conditions of collapse of Orthodox royalty, Patriarchy was re-established, but in council form, not in single-sovereign one, because all the main questions of Church life again were decided by will of the faithful people. Same way were elected by the people the ruling main priests of Petrograd and Moscow. In 1918 the regulations of eparchies and congregations were adopted by the Council. The candidates to be a prior and a bishop were put forward by the people, usually - on alternative basis. Transferring a bishop to another chair, or a priest - to another temple were considered as a special exception with the rules. The Patriarch was to be determined in the Apostles' way - by lot from three candidates. Saint Patriarch Tikhon, who had the less number of votes in the three candidates voted by secret ballot, found in the list's top, became by God's will in the way of destiny the Patriarch of All Russia.

On the same Landing Council, the questions of canonical and service reforms were to be considered (Minea - the service book - was already translated into Russian), but in Autumn 1918 the Council's work was interrupted by the Bolsheviks.

In the conditions of terrible persecutions and repressions, metropolitan Sergiy (Starogorodsky) in 1927 has used the arrest of the placevisor of the Patriarch's throne Saint Martyr metropolitan Petr and declared himself, contrary to the canons and regulations of the Church, "Patriarch's deputy placevisor", although he wasn't in the list of legal candidates on this post. The impostor has created an anticanonical "temporal synod" around himself, which was astonishingly soon admit by the Soviet power and the main faithful's oppressor - the GPU (future KGB). Himself Sergiy is known for the fact that he was the member of the Synod appointed yet by Grigory Rasputin. In 1922 Sergiy has supported the renewals' dissent, which declared of the arrested Patriarch Tikhon's dethronement.

Being an experienced dissenter, metropolian Sergiy (Starogorodsky) has with the help of GPU misappropriated the administrative power over the Church, practically abolishing the recently reborn councility. This way metropolian Sergiy began prohibitions in service and even excommunication of other bishops, including only for that only that they were refusing to swear allegiance to I. Stalin. Canonical right to prohibit or excommunicate members of highest orders of priesthood have the Archieries ["bishops" PDS]or Landing Councils only. All the proxies of metropolian Sergiy were resulted from his imposture and registration of his "synod" by the punitive body of the God-struggling regime, the ChK-GPU. Thus, the canonical continuity of Orthodox Russian Church in 1927 was interrupted.

In 1990 on the Russian Orthodox Church Landing Council ["Local Sobor" PDS]as the Patriarch of "All Russia" by secret ballot elected was Alexey Mikhailovich Ridiger, while again the canonical order established on the Landing Council 1917-1918 was violated. The bishops has itself elected its chief without any lot from two strugglers against "outdated and hostile opinions" (i. e. the religion): metropolians Alexey (Ridiger) and Vladimir (Sabodan), who have educated not a single generation of Soviet pastors in the spirit of Leninist morale and socialist relation to property. Metropolian Alexy, who has more orders, honorary signs and diplomas, has won an appropriate victory.

For four and a half years of full, even controlless freedom the Moscow Patriarchy, synodal departments, the Synod members are being co-founders, governing bodies members or shareholders of dubious banks, enterprises on selling precious metals, oil and others, by that not depositing a ruble or deposition a clear symbolical fee. Tax advantages for religious associations, and also lobbied private advantages, special licenses on exporting oil and other raw materials - this is the share quota of the Moscow Patriarchy in the shady business. But the profit gained at the expense of this quota disappears utterly, when talk begins about financing spiritual education, enlightenment, charity, social service, TV casting. The Patriarchy doesn't have money for this. But metropolian of Smolensk Kirill, chief of the Department of Outer Church relations, which before the disintegration of the USSR was on of the main bearing bases of the KGB in the Church, in one of the documentaries was appealing "to help the poor", sitting in his new "Gran Cherokee" jeep.

Patriarch Alexy the Second has two armored government "ZILs", President's bodyguards, Kremlin special communication. Even by the sides of his Patriarch's platform in the temple two "men in civilian" stand, having no visible signs of religiosity. The leaders of the Moscow Patriarchy don't recognize and don't deny their long-term working for the KGB, thinking, that there is nobody who can make them speak. Of the Church hierarches only Lithuanian archbishop Khrizostom has found courage to confirm his agent's past under an alias of "Restaurateur". Reconstruction of the Orthodox Church in Russia, as it must be by dignity, is impossible without deep inner reforms and returning to the democratic principles of the Landing Council of 1917-1918, on the base of which necessary is to reconstruct the governing system of Russian Orthodox Church. Completing this is impossible without a lustration of the highest governing body of the Patriarchy: persons provided on the highest Church posts by instruction of the special services must answer before the faithful ones for their being accomplices to the godless regime.

"Novy Vzglyad / Moskovskaya Pravda".

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