June 14

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This Day in the Life of the Church

June 14, 2024

The Father for Both "Red" and "White" Russians


Patriarch Tikhon's 1923 statement in the magazine Krasnaia Derevnia denouncing his previous anti-Soviet statements. Photo: pravmir.ru

On this day in 1923 Soviet authorities decided to change their tactics against Patriarch Tikhon.

There are three phases in Patriarch Tikhon’s attitude toward the Soviet authorities, which can be conventionally called: anti-Soviet, apolitical, and pro-Soviet. After Patriarch Tikhon’s arrest on May 5, 1922, the Bolsheviks were debating whether it would be worthwhile to execute him. The unprecedented campaign of the protest stage in Britain by Canon John Douglas ("the minister of Foreign Affairs of the Anglican Church") prevented them from implementing this plan. Patriarch Tikhon understood that the Soviet regime was not going to die soon. In this “Pro-Soviet” course he recognized the regime as the official government of his country and condemned any attempts to overthrow it (this rationale explains the condemnation of the ROCOR’s First Pan Diaspora Council statements about the arm support to the Russian anticommunists and the restoration of the House of the Romanovs). At the same time, unlike Metropolitan Sergii (Stragorodskii), Patriarch Tikhon did not follow through on this measures against the ROCOR and maintain a conciliar course. The respect to Patriarch Tikhon remained enormous. And Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitskii), the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, joyfully received news about his release from prison, writing the article “Do Not be Scandalized!” about the Patriarch’s pro-Soviet statement discussed in the document below:


On the same day Emel’ian M. Yaroslavsky (the head of the Anti-Religious Committee of the Central Committee) wrote another memo about the conditions for the release of Patriarch Tikhon:

A brief motivation for the proposal about Tikhon.

  1. Some step is needed that would justify our postponing the Tikhon case, otherwise it would seem that we were afraid of the threats of the White Guardsmen [Anti-Bolsheviks – P.A];
  2. From conversations with Tikhon it became clear that with some pressure and some promises he would agree to these proposals;
  3. If he agrees, statements on his part will also have enormous political significance: they will completely confuse the cards of the entire emigrant community; they will be a blow to all those organizations that were oriented towards Tikhon; Tikhon will be a guarantee against the strengthening of the influence of the Temporary Church Council [Renovationist schismatics- P.A.]; his personal influence will be compromised by his connection with the GPU [the Soviet Secret police – P.A.] and his confessions; Tikhon's speeches against the bishop of Canterbury, Meletius [Metaxakis -P.A.], Anthony [Khrapovitskii – P.A.], and the pope will be a slap in the face, first of all, to the English government and will deprive England of any significance in the eyes of European circles of England's speeches in defense of Tikhon; finally, his agreement with at least some reform (he agrees to the recognition of the new Gregorian calendar) makes him a “heretic” - an innovator in the eyes of the true Orthodox.
  4. At the same time, the Temporary Church Council will retain its previous position with a significant decrease in influence.” (“Archives of the Kremlin Politburo and the Church 1922-1925.” case No. 25-32.)

On June 14, at a meeting of the Politburo: “It was decided: 9. Accept Comrade Yaroslavsky’s proposal.”

Monk Benjamin (Gomarteli), Letopis’ tserkovnykh sobytii nachinaia s 1917 goda” [Timeline of Church Events Beginning with 1917] Part I: 1917-1927

Relevant Resource:

A. Psarev,‘The Soul and Heart of A Faithful Englishman is not Limited by Utilitarian Goals and Plans’: the Relations of Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitskii with the Anglican Church." Historical Studies of the Russian Church Abroad


This project has been supported by the Fund for Assistance to the Russian Church Abroad


Copyright 2023 Andrei Psarev.

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