Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Church and State in Late Imperial Russia. Critics of the Synodal System of Church Government (1861-1914)

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Church and State in Late Imperial Russia. Critics of the Synodal System of Church Government (1861-1914)

Article excerpt

Church and State in Late Imperial Russia. Critics of the Synodal System of Church Government (1861-1914). [Minnesota Mediterranean and East European Monographs, No. 13.] (Minneapolis: Modern Greek Studies, University of Minnesota. 2005. Pp. xii, 214. $40.00 paperback.)

This monograph examines contemporary discussion of Church-state relations from the mid-nineteenth century to the outbreak of World War !.The focus is not the actual interaction, but the discourse about these relationsprimarily from the perspective of ecclesiastical, bureaucratic, and secular elites. The goal is to consider how these different groups regarded the existing system and what kind of changes they deemed essential. Behind this discourse was of course an escalation in church-state tensions, driven partly by clerical fears of dechristianization, by high officials seeking to mollify the nonOrthodox, and by the attempt of emperors (especially Nicholas II) who sought to resacralize and thereby relegitimize autocracy. This study provides a competent overview and reliable compendium of ecclesiastical, official, and intellectual views.

This monograph, while reviewing well-known territory (e.g., the views of Metropolitan Filaret and Konstantin Pobedonostsev) and making only nominal use of archival materials, does make some useful contributions. Certainly the most valuable is the exegesis of publications by canon lawyers, who confronted-and debated-the canonicity and legitimacy of the Synodal system and its subsequent evolution. Historians often cite this literature (on such issues as marriage and divorce); it is important to know how the writers' views on specific questions-which were extremely controversial and widely discussed at the time-fit into the larger discourse on canon law and the Church. The author is also careful to disaggregate "groups," such as bishops, and to show how they in fact differed substantially in their diagnoses of crucial problems and their prescriptions for reform. …

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