32. THE AWAKENING OF CONSCIENCE IN The Moscow Patriarchate

Russia's Catacomb Saints

The Moscow Patriarchate

LL THE DIRE consequences that the early hierarchs of the Catacomb Church predicted would result from the Sergianist “Declaration” of 1927 did indeed come to pass. The Soviet government used the “Declaration” first of all as a means of persecuting the Catacomb Church in a “legal” way; but the “legalization” brought no benefit to the Sergianist hierarchs either: almost all of them were persecuted also, and by the end of the 1930’s the Russian Orthodox Church had been virtually liquidated as a visible body, only a very few churches remaining open. The reopening of churches during the Second World War was inspired not by Metropolitan Sergius, but by the invasion of Hitler, to combat which required an appeal to the religious and patriotic feelings of the Russian people.
After the Second World War the Moscow Patriarchate appeared on the international religious scene as just the kind of organization the Catacomb hierarchs had foreseen: as a propaganda mouthpiece for the Soviet government, not hesitating at the baldest lies to justify Soviet tyranny. Ac cording to representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate, repeating shame lessly right up to the present day, there is not now and never has been any persecution of religion under the Soviet government; any clergy who have suffered from the authorities are only “political criminals”; churches are closed only because the people desire this.
The Christian conscience, however, cannot for long accept such lies in the name of Christianity. And so it is that in the two decades, men o conscience within the Moscow Patriarchate itself (there being no other visible Orthodox church organization in Russia) have begun to speak out, at first in the form of protests against the new persecutions of the Khrushchev period (1959-64)—in which the Moscow hierarchs were at best passive spectators and at worst willing collaborators—and then in the form of profound criticisms of the whole Sergianist policy which the Patriarchate has followed since the time of the “Declaration” of 1927.
Here we present three of the critics of Sergianism from within the Patriarchate. These are not representatives of the Catacomb Church, and one may criticize their views as not offering the pure Catacomb position of separation from the Sergianist church organization. Still, their criticisms offer a remarkable confirmation of the truth of the Catacomb position, and they give us reason for hope that in the end—at least with the fall of the Soviet regime—the best part of the Moscow Patriarchate wil be restored to unity with the Catacomb Church precisely on the basis of uncompromising Christian principle.