Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Patriarch Tikhon

The Feast of the Annunciation is likewise the anniversary of the repose of the Holy Hieromartyr Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.
Here, for historical interest, is the full text of an article appearing in Time magazine on May 12, 1923:
Patriarch Tikon was unfrocked by the All Russian Church Council [of the "Living Church"]. Thus the ex-Patriarch, in the words of the Church Council resolution, " is henceforth a simple citizen—André Bélavin."

According to reports from Moscow, where the Church Council was held, Tikon was judged without a hearing, in fact was not even present at the proceedings. The Council charged Tikon with counter-revolutionary acts of which the principal one was the decree of excommunication he laid on the Soviet Government.

The attitude of the Russian Church toward the Soviet Government is not without a parallel in modern history. When the French revolution broke out against the privileged classes, one of the first things that happened was the confiscation of church property, which was only part of the general outburst against the clergy and the Roman Catholic religion. It was the same way in Russia. The church was communized despite the indignant voice and obstructive tactics of the priests. As in France, so in Russia the clergy were the first dissentients to recognize a revolutionary Government as a fait accompli. The All Russian Church Council identifies Bolshevism with itself in its resolution, which starts: " Inasmuch as the Soviet Government is the only one in the whole world fighting capitalism, which is one of the seven deadly sins; therefore its struggle is a sacred struggle."

In the meantime the ex-Patriarch Tikon languishes in a Moscow prison awaiting a civil trial on the charge of opposing the Bolshevik regime. The date of the trial is not yet known. A meeting of the people's commisars took place, however, and vainly tried to settle both the date of the trial and the extent of the sentence. Most of the commisars were in favor of the death sentence, but Georges Tchitcherin, Soviet Foreign Minister, protested vigorously. He argued that such a sentence would result in aggravating the boycott against Russia; he suggested that the death sentence might be passed and then followed by a reprieve. The commisars were, however, unable to reach an agreement.

It is possible that the Soviet Government, bearing in mind that Tikon is now nothing more than André Bélavin, may not feel any undue alarm at sentencing an ordinary "comrade" to death. Tikon's position is indeed precarious.

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