June 6

Newsletter Archive

This Day in the Life of the Church

June 6, 2024

An Attempt to Play It Fair with the Godless


The Soviet anti religious poster shows one of the statues from Christ the Saviour cathedral

Metropolitan Sergii (Stragorodskii) wrote the following memo to the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions on this day in 1930.

On May 20, I wrote about the problematic Synod of Metropolitan Sergii (Stragorodskii). The problems with the canonization of Metropolitan Sergii were pointed out, which is highly likely to result in divisions abroad. However, I am far from seeing Metropolitan Sergii as a coward, weakling, or a power-hungry figure. He was a man of the church; however, besides his Synod, Metropolitan Sergii’s church policy was also problematic. It is enough to point to the unprecedented number of Metropolitans who were suspended: Anthony (Khrapovitskii), Evlogii (Georgievskii), Platon (Rozhdestvenskii), St. Kirill (Kazanskii), St. Joseph (Petrovykh). Apparently, these concrete acts against concrete people could be used as a proof of loyalty to the Soviet regime. This is something that Patriarch Tikhon never gave and something that the contemporary Ukrainian government may try to obtain from Metropolitan Onuphry. So, if somebody’s acts were disputable, it does not mean the person himself was bad. The following document addressed the Soviet authorities and showed that Metropolitan Sergii tried to defend the church people. The document says:

"Currently, members of our church choirs are rightly complaining about the negative attitude towards them from trade unions and are asking for petitions to change this attitude. Usually, such participants are expelled from trade unions, and the decree on expulsion is directly motivated: “for participation in church singing” and the like. Expulsion from the union entails the trade unionist not only the deprivation of those special rights that he enjoyed in the union. It gives him the opportunity to find a job and, with it, the means of subsistence.

To subject a trade unionist to such a fate just because he is a churchman would be sufficiently reminiscent of the medieval papal interdict - depriving the disobedient of fire and water would mean, instead of re-education and [non-readable], directly extorting by force a renunciation of faith, which is fundamentally contrary to the [Soviet] Constitution. Trade Union artists [to which church singers belonged] should not be an exception to the general rule. It should not expel its members simply because they are churchmen or because their work is in one way or another connected with the church. After all, participation in church singing for the vast majority of them is not even service to the cult but paid work. This is the use of one’s professional art to earn one’s livelihood or earn additional income, and the fact that this use, in this case, is associated with serving the church does not change the matter. After all, the church is served by professional singers and professional electricians, plumbers, postmen, etc. When the Union of Postal and Telegraph Employees tried (based on the same considerations as Rabbis) to prohibit its members from delivering correspondence to the clergy and church organizations, it was considered incorrect, and the boycott was terminated...” (GARF. F. 5263. On. 1. D. 6. L. 2-3.)



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Copyright 2023 Andrei Psarev.

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