Church and State in the Modern Age: A Documentary History

By J. F. MacLear | Go to book overview

mental to the relations between the government and the Church, have forced the late Patriarch, as is known, to depose the Synod abroad ( April 23/May 5, 1922). Nevertheless, the Synod has continued to exist hitherto, and has not changed its politics. Moreover, by its pretentions to rule, it has lately divided the ecclesiastical community abroad into two camps. In order to put an end to this state of affairs, we demanded from the clergy abroad a written promise of their complete loyalty to the Soviet government in all their public activities. Those who fail to make such a promise, or to observe it, shall be expelled from the ranks of the clergy subject to the Moscow patriarchate. We think that having set up such limits, we shall be secure against all unexpected happenings abroad. On the other hand, our demand may perhaps cause many to pause and consider whether the time has not come to revise their attitude toward the Soviet regime, so as not to be cut off from their native Church and land.

We deem it no less weighty a task to prepare and issue a call for the Second AllRussian Sobor which would choose no longer a temporary, but the permanent central Church administration and which would also deal with those "usurpers of power" in the Church who are tearing the robe of Christ asunder. The order and the time of the call, the subjects of discussion of the Sobor, and all other details will be worked out later. We shall at present only express our firm conviction that the future Sobor, having solved many of the most painful problems of the Church's inner life, will at the same time give its final approval, with one mind and voice, to the task undertaken by us in establishing regular relations between our Church and the Soviet regime.

Source: Matthew Spinka, The Church in Soviet Russia ( New York, 1956), pp. 161-165. Russian text in Patriarkh Sergii, i ego dukhovnoe nasledstvo ( Moscow, 1947), pp. 58-63.


SUGGESTIONS FOR BACKGROUND AND REFERENCE

References for Document 127.

Source for this document, pp. 51-100.


141
Law of April 8, 1929 (Extracts)

While the policy of Metropolitan Sergei saved the organization of the Patriarchal Church, it did not affect the campaign against religion. The League of the Militant Godless, founded in 1925, carried on energetic propaganda. With the launching of the first Five Year Plan in 1928 the Soviet government intensified efforts to drive out religious faith as a vestige of nonsocialist society. Persecution and severe restriction of religious activity were the rule until partial relaxation in the mid-1930s. The most important legislation in this campaign was this statute on the legal position of religious organizations. While making some concessions, such as permission for religious congresses, local and central

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