Church and State in the Modern Age: A Documentary History

By J. F. MacLear | Go to book overview

no other choice. . . . You justly wrote about the abuses that have not existed during two thousand years of Christian history. But never, never before have our completely unique conditions of human existence been known.

This is the whole truth. The late Patriarch Alexi, unable to answer the accusations of the two priests in words, answered in deeds -- he forbade them to serve as priests and thereby he involuntarily confirmed the relative truth of their argument. . . . Our present Patriarch Pimen also has no opportunity of answering you in word. By what deed do you suppose he could answer you? Only by giving up his position. . . . One of the consequences of your accusatory letter will be a still greater discrediting of the Church hierarchy in the eyes of those who do not understand the whole truth. . . .

There must be no unwillingness for sacrifice and martyrdom in the Church of Christ. We have enough willing martyrs, both inside and outside the Church. . . . I would say that our duty today is to give due appreciation to their deeds, and ourselves each one to work as best we can in the opportunities open to us. In particular, there is now a problem of the Christian education of children in the scattered families of the emergent Christian intelligentsia. In general, we must make a healthy acknowledgment of reality: the Russian Church hierarchy in its present composition and in our present system cannot in any significant way affect the system. It is easy and safe . . . to accuse the bishops, but in fact the work of the Lord today is hard. The destiny of the Russian Church is inseparably linked to the fate of the people. If "there is a future," then there will also inevitably be a renaissance of Russian Christianity.

Source: A. Alexander Solzhenitsyn, A Lenten Letter to Pimen Patriarch of All Russia ( Minneapolis, 1972), pp. 6-8; B. Gerhard Simon, Church, State and Opposition in the U.S.S.R. ( London, 1974), pp. 206-208.


SUGGESTIONS FOR BACKGROUND AND REFERENCE

M. Bourdeaux (ed.), Religious Liberty in the Soviet Union ( 1976).

G. Buss, The Bear's Hug: Religious Belief and the Soviet State ( London, 1987).

J. Ellis, The Russian Orthodox Church ( Bloomington, Ind., 1986).

N. Eshliman and G. Yakunin, A Cry of Despair from Moscow Churchmen ( New York, 1966).

W. C. Fletcher, Soviet Believers: The Religious Sector of the Population ( Lawrence, Kans., 1981).

N. Nielsen, Solzhenitsyn's Religion ( Nashville, 1975).

D. Pospielovsky, The Russian Church under the Soviet Regime 1917-1982 ( New York, 1984).

M. Scammell, Solzhenitsyn: A Biography ( New York, 1984).

-464-

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