ENGLISH VERSION: Oleg Filatchev. ON EVENTS IN YEKATERINBURG, BUT NOT ONLY ON THEM. There is a good time now to remind once again about the “Sergianistic” roots of the unfolding disaster
The conflict around several attempts to build a church in a park on the embankment near the Drama Theatre in Yekaterinburg under an excuse of restoring St. Catherine’s Church destroyed by the Bolsheviks in the 1930’s (the new “Church project” itself, actually, has nothing to do with the historical one) reminds us of the principles that the ROC MP (Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow patriarchate) hierarchy is guided in its policy today.
Events in Yekaterinburg are not unique in today's Russia. Unfortunately, absurdity of the policy of the ROC MP, which does not consider the opinion of local residents in the development of certain socially significant places, manifests itself throughout the country. We can remind ourselves about the situation in the park Torfyanka in Losinoostrovsky district of Moscow, which has not yet been finally settled, while an alternative site has already been allocated to the local community of the ROC MP. While occupying the site, activists of the ROC MP still do not intend to leave the park.
Attempts of the Church supporters in Yekaterinburg to appeal to the gruesome history of persecutions conducted by the Soviet regime against the Orthodox Church, declaring themselves persecuted, is not something new either. We can remember an another metropolitan conflict - in Beskudnikovo, Moscow, where as part of the church-construction program “Within walking distance”, a church was planned to be built in honour of st. Peter Krutitsky. One of the antagonists of the policy of founding today’s Sergiy (Stragorodsky) Moscow Patriarchate, the Locum Tenens of the Patriarchal Throne was shot by the Bolsheviks in 1937 for refusing to cooperate with the regime. Now, with his name, relying on the regime, the patriarchy is at war with the "dissenters."
In 1931, Metropolitan Peter rejected the proposal of chekist Yevgeny Tuchkov to cooperate with the authorities as an informant. After a conversation with Tuchkov, he was partially paralyzed, and sick with scurvy and asthma. On July 23rd, 1931 with the help of the OGPU he was sentenced to 5 years of imprisonment in a camp, but was left in prison in an internal isolation ward. Believers at the same time were in assurance that he continued to live in polar exile. Metropolitan Sergiy(Stragorodsky), who turned out to be at the helm of the Church, went to full-fledged cooperation with the Bolsheviks. In 1927, the Synod, which was controlled by the Soviets, issued a declaration, the key phrases of which are: “We want to be Orthodox and at the same time recognize the Soviet Union as our civil homeland, whose joys and successes are our joys and successes, and failures are our failures too. Any attack directed to the Union, be it a war, a boycott, any public disaster... is recognized by us as an attack directed at us. Remaining Orthodox, we remember our duty to be citizens of the Union “not only out of fear of punishment, but also according to conscience”, as the Apostle taught us (Rom. 13, 5)... The approval of Soviet power by many seemed to be a kind of misunderstanding, accidental and therefore short-lived. People forgot that there are no coincidences for a Christian, and that what has happened to us, as everywhere and always, has the same hand of God, steadily leading every nation to its intended purpose... Now, when our Patriarchy, fulfilling the will of the lost Patriarch, resolutely and irrevocably takes the path of loyalty, people of this [schismatic] spirit will either have to change themselves and, leaving their political sympathies at home, bring faith to Church and work with us only in the name of faith; or, if they cannot immediately change themselves, at least, not interfere with us, by temporarily avoiding any deeds”.
Two different approaches - Metropolitan Peter and Metropolitan Sergiy: one martyr, the other a compromise. Today, the ROC MP tries to erase the line between the two, without changing the essence of sergianism. The doctrine of “convenient Orthodoxy” is being implemented, where there is no place for words about love and spiritual work, but the main principle: “There is no authority not from God, your joys are our joys”. It was for the sake of this principle that the parishes which came out against the policy of Sergiy(Stragorodsky), were defeated in the initial period of sergianism. Today, followers of Sergiy are guided by his course: to recall the canons when it is profitable, go towards their goals at all costs, engaging representatives of radical organizations in conflicts with local residents of Russian cities which are against the ROC MP.
Those Orthodox believers who do not want to have anything in common with a similar approach are declared dissenters, and the few churches that were transferred to communities not subordinate to the ROC MP, in the period of relative freedom of the 90s of course have already been taken away.
Today the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church (ROAC) with its centre in Suzdal is subjected to persecutions on the territory of Russia. Recently, the Moscow Patriarchate, in conjunction with the authorities, has taken away the last pre-revolutionary church, in the city of Trubchevsk, Bryansk Oblast, in the ROAC community. A few years earlier, the ROAC lost several churches in Suzdal, most of which, being in the hands of the MP, became inactive and began to gradually collapse. These are their "christian" principles: even if there is flood, or ruins, the property should be in no way in the hands of "schismatics" who do not fit into the government’s vertical.
As in the initial stage of the Soviet system formation, today the Orthodoxy in Russia have only two paths to follow: the path of the political and, as a result, the spiritual compromise - and the path of preserving their own conscience and inner spiritual freedom. Today, each one of us has to make a choice…
Originally published: HERE
By Oleg Filatchev Translated by Alexander Klees