An article from the March, 1990 issue of the Catholic magazine </em>30 Days

The Vatican and Russia

by Deacon Herman Ivanov-Treenadzaty

This lecture was given in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia at the 24th Russian Youth Congress in the Jubilee Year of the Millennium of the Baptism of Rus'. The lecture is about the Vatican, its ideology and aggressive politics, and not about rank-and-file Catholics. It appears to us that Roman Catholicism is a great danger, threatening both present and future Russia, more dangerous than communism, which is already on the decline.

As Dostoyevsky points out in his novel The Idiot, "Roman Catholicism is more dangerous than atheism, since it presents to us a profane and desecrated Christ usurping the earthly throne," the Pope took the sword and added, "lies, intrigue, deception, fanaticism, and villainy." Such is the depth of understanding that proceeds from the talented pen of Dostoyevsky. Catholicism is dangerous precisely because it offers a counterfeit Christ.

During our stay in Australia, we learned that for the first time in seventy years, the papal Christmas mass was broadcast on Soviet television. There was also an exchange of delegations. The offence against Orthodoxy and the Russian people continues at a faster tempo.

—Deacon Herman Ivanov-Treenadszaty,
St. Nicholas Parish, Lyons, France.

The Vatican and Russia

We have studied the topic of the endeavors of Rome (the Vatican), which stretches over centuries, to subordinate the Russian Church by force, deception, or craftiness and to seduce the Russian people from the True Path. This is not only a deeply interesting and edifying topic for a church historian, but it is a current theme which obliges every hierarch, priest, Orthodox Christian, and all those, for whom the understanding of "Russia" and "Orthodox" are synonymous, to follow attentively the recurrent, contemporary overtures by the Vatican towards Moscow and Orthodoxy.

The theme in question is far from abstract or purely scientific. For this reason we will try, using the experience of the past, to properly explain why it is one of the most important phenomena for the future of Russia, the Third Rome. We must keep in mind that in accordance with Orthodox teaching there is no concept of taught and teacher [i.e. the Pope and the people as in Roman theology]. The responsibility for the purity of the Faith and the preservation of the Church lies on the conscience of every Orthodox Christian.

The current jubilee year of the Millennium of Holy Russia shows us a vivid illustration of the attempts by the Vatican to intrude on this greatest of Russian church events. We imagine that during the past two years, most Orthodox have been following with agitation and alarm the efforts of the Vatican curia and of the Pope himself, so that the "Vicar of Christ" would be invited to the ceremonies [in Russia] and in all likelihood, be the center of attention. [1]

It is very interesting to observe all the dispairing disinformation, circulated with regard to this event. More than once so-called "well informed circles" released, through various channels of the mass media, false or wishful rumors, to the effect that an agreement [inviting the pope] was being reached, or would be soon, perhaps placing Moscow in a difficult position, so that, in light of these facts, it would make it difficult for them to refuse.

Let us remember that until the very last minute the Pope postponed the publication of his two "apostolic messages"—one an appeal to Orthodox Russians, the other addressed to uniate Ukrainians. This left all of the Pope's options open to change their contents in case at the last minute, against all the evidence to the contrary, there was a change in position by the Moscow Patriarchate. [2] All the same, these hopes were not realized and on March 22, 1988 John Paul II published his encyclical on the occasion of the Baptism of Rus: Euntes In Mundus (Go Out to All the World). Reliable sources say that it had been edited at the end of 1987 and was signed on the 15th of January. In other words it was lying in the "out box" for a whole three months. The message expounded in part, with strained reserve, on that which has been said, written, and repeated many times, i.e. the reason why the Roman Church cannot stay on the sidelines during this great event. The Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Great Prince Vladimir baptized the Russian nation in the streams of the Dnieper in 988. This happened, the Pope assures us, and those of like mind with him, before the division of the Churches, that is before the failing away of the West from the Church in 1054.

On the one hand one might question whom the Vatican hopes to deceive with such trickery, but on the other one can observe here the [ultimate] limits of western formalistic reasoning. Even if we allow Nestor, the chronicler of the Russian land, some poetic license in his embellishments when describing the choosing of a religion by the emissaries of St Vladimir, who can seriously deny that the Russian pagans, through the personage of their prince, chose Byzantine Christianity although they had the possibility of choosing any of the existing religions including any one of the various paths within Christianity. Thus, they in principle deliberately rejected Roman Christianity. The Roman Church had fallen away from ancient Christianity, preserved in Orthodoxy, long before 1054, a date which is simply used for convenience but is in fact actually insignificant. John Paul II was already repeating the point he had stretched in his encyclical of July 2, 1985, Slavorum Apostoli (Apostles to the Slavs), that the apostolic mission of the Brother-Saints Cyril and Methodius was allegedly conducted under the omophorion of both Constantinople and Rome. From this, the Pope draws the direct conclusion that all Slavs, and among them Russians, remain indebted to the Roman Church. This is why the head of the Roman Church considers it his sacred duty to be a benefactor to Russians and other Slavs!

Regardless of all the political, psychological and diplomatic efforts, the Moscow Patriarchate held its ground and did not yield to seduction. If we often, fully justified, chide the official Church of Moscow on the grounds of its intolerable compromise with the godless powers and for its unfortunately ever-increasing involvement in the ecumenical movement, we should, nonetheless, rejoice when the captive Moscow hierarchy manages to resist the onslaught of Catholic influence. Even though in the present case the resistance was not so much out of a feeling of defense for Orthodoxy as one of hostility to Uniatism, which the present Pope openly and secretly supports as the best path for the rebuilding of Christian unity.

Today's ecumenical endeavors, we read in the letter of John Paul II (March 19, 1979) to the now deceased head of the Ukrainian Uniates, Cardinal Slipij, "cannot suppress nor diminish the meaning and benefits undertaken in the previous century for the rebuilding of the unity of the Church, which produced such blessed fruits. Your Church shows itself as a witness to this truth . Without question, the current ecumenical spirit should acknowledge and show special respect to your church."

After a half-century of silence by the Vatican concerning Uniatism, the unexpected twist of John Paul II to suddenly bring us back to the dark militant epoch of Pius XI, should make us recall the high flown words of Pope Urban VIII, uttered just under four centuries ago in the first years of the forced propagation of Uniatism. "Oh my Rusiny! Through you I hope to obtain the East." 3 One could not better express the essence and deep significance of the presence of Uniatism in the conspiracy against Russian Orthodoxy. There is no better explanation for the guiding force of Catholicism even if it is covered by the smiles and outstretched hands of a falsely loving mother, or comes out openly and unchanging, pursuing for centuries one and the same goal, the conquest of Orthodox souls. The aim remains the same, only the means to obtain it change.

Perhaps there are those who do not share our position as regards Roman Catholicism and do not understand fully why it seemed to us that the presence of the Pope in Russia at their nation-wide celebrations would have been intolerable. Not understanding this situation can only be the result of ignorance of the historical facts which expose the true intent and actions of Catholicism. The Vatican, to a great extent depends on this ignorance.

Within the scope of this short lecture, we naturally are not able to offer an exhaustive presentation of all the friction, aggression and unfriendly acts of the Vatican in relation to Russia. There is much evidence [in support of such a claim of hostility] in the following two works printed in Russian: The Eastern Rite, by K. N. Nikolaev [4] and The Church, Russia and Rome, by N. N. Voiekoff. [5] According to the expression of A. S. Khomyakov, one of the most eminent sons of Russia throughout her 1000 year history, the religious hatred of Catholicism in regard to Orthodoxy can be illustrated by four examples, taken from four separate historical periods:

1. The activity of Josaphat Kuntsevich in connection with the appearance of the Uniate Church.

2. The "eastern question" and the years of liberation in the XIXth century.

3. The so-called "Eastern Rite," as a new means of battle with Orthodoxy, resulting as a consequence of the overthrow of the Orthodox Tsarist Power.

4. The attempts at an agreement, in the past ten years, with the Soviet authorities on the ruins of the Russian Church.

Let us recall the massive forced conversions to Roman Catholicism in Poland during the period between the two world wars, as well as the genocide of 700,000 Orthodox Serbs between 1941 and 1945, [6] which took place in the militant Roman Catholic "Independent State." The Orthodox in Croatia were forced to wear the Cyrillic letter "P" for Provoslavets, or Orthodox, like the Jews who were forced to wear the Star of David during World War ??. This is unequivocal evidence that the Serbs were exterminated by militant, brutal Roman Catholic Croatians simply because they belonged to our Holy Orthodox Church. The Catholic Archbishop of Zagreb, Stepinac, showed complete indifference to this activity and was even elevated to the rank of Cardinal by Pius XII, who was totally silent concerning this matter.

The Uniate Question

There is a great deal of controversy over this question. We will first add, that the Soviet authorities must be censured for victimizing the Uniates as they should be censured for subjecting other confessions to similar victimization. Nevertheless, this does not mean that the Russian Orthodox people must have a guilt complex over this, something which is insistently being instilled in their hearts and souls by various means of public opinion. When similar pressure comes out of migr newspapers which have lost completely all feeling of nationality it is indeed a sad occurrence, but one which we are already accustomed to. What is even more sad and utterly unacceptable is when a pastor gives in to temptation, placing in the forefront of his thinking the notorious so-called "human rights" and the battle with the "personality cult" [which are empty catch phrases inapplicable here].

In connection with the Uniate question, the conditions and the setting within which the Unia of 1595-96 and the following years was imposed must be firmly brought to mind. Six hierarch-apostates, headed by Mikhail Ragoza, started a purely clerical movement, totally separated from the people, without any regard for tradition [and therefore illegal]. Let us also not forget the flagrant lawlessness and persecution which confessors from among the people, organized into the famous brotherhoods, were subjected to. We must also not lose sight of the fact that the "Greek Faith" [Orthodoxy], existing on the territory of the Polish Lithuanian State was not recognized as lawful, and judging by the facts, was outside the law. This gave the pany (Polish lords) the right to unlawfully dispose of Orthodox property, to give their churches and cathedrals to the Uniates or even to lease them to the Jews!

In other words, it should be clear that if the Uniates are now suffering, it is because of their guilt of four centuries ago, connected with the false council of 1595 and the "initiative group" of 1946. In the past it was the Catholic authorities and Polish lords who persecuted the Orthodox who did not recognize the Unia, and now the Soviet authorities persecute the Uniates who do not abide by the decisions of the Lvov Council of 1946. It is hot the Orthodox who persecute the Uniates but the Godless Communists. This should, however, not prevent us from rejoicing that a majority of the faithful, who were once pulled away from the fold, have now returned. Today for some reason, repentance is insistently demanded of Orthodox in conjunction with the liquidation of Uniatism in Soviet Russia. But we ask, when did any of the Roman popes express their regret concerning encroachment on the rights of the Orthodox, and all the crimes committed against them by Uniatism? None of the Popes ever expressed their regret, including the present John Paul II, who does not let an occasion pass in order to praise the monster Josaphat Kuntsevich, considered by the Vatican to be a hieromartyr.

The very memory of this most evil of personalities is inconceivably scandalous. To recall his last name is in itself a "casus belli.'' Just before his "martyr's end," which occurred on November 12, 1623 in Vitebsk, Kuntsevich ordered the disposal of dead Orthodox by having their corpses exhumed and thrown to dogs. In all of his Polotsky diocese, both in Mogilyov and in Orsha, he pillaged and terrorized the Orthodox, closing and burning churches. Eloquent complaints were sent to judges and to the Polish Sejm. The most convincing condemnation of Kuntsevich's character is found in a letter dated March 12, 1622, one and a half years before his death, from the Lithuanian chancellor Leo Sapiega, clearly a Roman Catholic, the representative of the Polish king himself: "By thoughtless violence you oppress the Russian people and urge them on to revolt. You are aware of the censure of the simple people, that it would be better to be in Turkish captivity than to endure such persecutions for faith and piety. You write that you freely drown the Orthodox, chop off their heads, and profane their churches. You seal their churches so the people, without piety and Christian rites, are buried like non-Christians. In place of joy, your cunning Uniatism has brought us only woe, unrest, and conflict. We would prefer to be without it. These are the fruits of your Uniatism." [7] Let us remember that these words are not the fantasies or the slanders of a fanatically-tempered Orthodox, but the contents of a historical letter from the head of a Roman Catholic state, the Chancellor of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, written on behalf of the Polish King to a turbulent Uniate bishop. In the very same letter and with much foresight Leo Sapiega writes, "It would have been better not to have given us nationwide strife and hatred, and instead to have preserved us from nationwide condemnation."

Arriving in Vitebsk on the 12th of November, 1623, with a band of his cohorts, Kuntsevich proceeded to knock down the tents where the Orthodox secretly held divine services. One of Kuntsevich's deacons attacked an Orthodox priest. The crowd, which had run out of patience, then turned on Kuntsevich, who was personally leading this pogrom, and with sticks and stones beat him to death. His maimed body was placed in a sack and tossed into the Diva River. Such was the inglorious end of the earthly life of this alleged "apostle of unity" as none other than Pope John Paul If shamelessly dares to call him. Before John Paul ??, Pius IX on June 29, 1867 already glorified Josaphat Kuntsevich as a saint. In 1923, on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of Kuntsevich's death, Pius XI published an encyclical Ecclesiam Dei (The Church of God) [8] in which Kuntsevich is named "hieromartyr," a "righteous person," and where it is said that such an example of "holy life" should aid in unifying all Christians.

On November 25, 1963, during the rule of Paul VI, Kuntsevich's remains were brought to Rome to the papal basilica of St. Peter, where they now "rest" under the altar of St. Basil the Great, near the relics of Sts. Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom. [9] Without any remorse and at the same time scorning historical truth in order to satisfy his petty interests in a struggle with Orthodoxy, John Paul ?? is not afraid to speak about the "noble personality" of Josaphat, "whose spilled blood has forever fortified the great work of the lines.'' In his message to his Ukrainian flock, Magnum Baptismi Donum (The Great Gift of Baptism), published on April 19, 1988 [10] not a single word rectifies the now established [false] representation of Uniatism and the actions of Kuntsevich.

At the same time, the Roman Catholic community continues to demand from the Orthodox certain acts of repentance and apologies for damages carried out against them, as well as for unfriendly and unchristian relations.

The Eastern Question

Concerning international relations, the entire XIXth century passed under the banner of the Eastern Question. The enemies of Russia, both past and present continue to brand and label the XIXth century efforts of Russia as nothing more than imperialism. While not totally excluding the possibility that Russia had political concerns in the Crimean War, we nonetheless are aware of the fact that for both Russians and their rulers the war with Turkey was fought to liberate captive Orthodox Christians. It was accepted as a duty of conscience, as a mission, given by Divine Providence to Russia, which at the time was the most powerful government. Noble deeds are rarely seen in international relations and are thus not readily understood. War with the infidel Turks was understood by Russia as a battle between, good and evil. Russia made sacrifices but also had successes during the battles to liberate the Slavs, who shared the same faith, and who had for five centuries languished under Turkish oppression. To this very day on the central square of the Bulgarian capital of Sofia rises the grand monument to the Tsar-Liberator Alexander II and all the valiant Russian warriors. The Russian fleet also took part in the engagement at Navarinsk in 1827, and the events that followed, which led to the liberation of Orthodox Greece in 1830. The most cherished dream, however, of liberating Constantinople was not realized. For this sad fact humanity is indebted, one might discern, to a great extent to the Vatican.

Until now, the Crimean war and the whole "Eastern Question" have been explained by historians in terms of human, political and intergovernmental considerations, without the role of the Vatican being mentioned. The latter was the instigating and compelling force behind the infamous fact that caused England and France to become allies of the infidel Turks against Orthodox Russia. Though the Vatican had no real army to speak of, it made up for it by an abundance of influential, secret advisors and agents, a whole army of clerics scattered throughout the world. To substantiate this, we quote the words of the Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal Sibor, which were pronounced at the start of the Crimean War, "It is a sacred deed, a God-pleasing deed, to ward off the Photian heresy [Orthodoxy], subjugate it and destroy it with a new crusade. This is the clear goal of today's crusade. Such was the goal of all the crusades, even if all their participants were not fully aware of it. The war which France is now preparing to wage against Russia is not a political war but a holy war. It is not a war between two governments or between two peoples, but is precisely a religious war, and other reasons presented are only pretexts." [11] The truth could not be more clearly stated. Khomyakov very perceptively notes that the ancestors of the Roman Catholics who had long ago committed "moral fratricide" by unilaterally changing the Creed inevitably would resort to "physical fratricide." [12]

Dostoyevsky illustrates that Cardinal Sibor was not the only warrior on the field when he writes so frankly about a Roman Catholic conspiracy. "Militant Roman Catholicism savagely takes the side of the Turks. At the moment, there are no more savage haters of Russia than these militant clerics. It was not some prelate but the Pope him. self, who loudly and with joy spoke of the 'victories of the Turks' and predicted a 'fateful future' for Russia at various Vatican meetings. This dying old man, the 'head of Christianity' was not ashamed to admit in public that every time he hears of a Russian defeat he experiences joy. [13]

These words of Dostoyevsky are in accord with the above quoted statements of Khomyakov, when he speaks of religious hatred of Orthodoxy. "In the western confessions, in the bottom of every soul rests a deep hostility for the Eastern Church." This statement can easily be backed by the example of the Crimean War where, "one camp consists of people confessing Orthodoxy and the other camp consists of Romans and Protestants united around Islam." [14]

The "Eastern Rite" and the Bolshevik Revolution

Unfriendly pronouncements by prominent Roman Catholic leaders concerning Russia are so numerous and patent, that no one can possibly deny them. The tsarist Orthodox power was the bulwark which crushed the Vatican's dream and pretensions to Roman catholicize Russian souls. Every turn and convulsion in Russian political and social life was followed in Rome with great interest. The repeal of serfdom in 1861, as well as the rise in anarchy and nihilism gave much hope [to the Vatican]. "Only a revolution will be able to help the Church," [15] was the opinion of the papal nuncio Meglius in 1868. No sooner had the "Imperial Manifesto of Tolerance" been declared on June 17, 1905, than Rome began to extract and make use of all the advantages which were contained in this manifesto which gave freedom of conscience to all Russian citizens.

Nonetheless, Pope Pius X (who was canonized in 1954) pronounced on the very eve of World War I, "Russia is the greatest enemy Of the [Roman] Church." [16] Therefore it is not surprising that the Roman Catholic world greeted the Bolshevik Revolution with joy. 'After the Jews the Catholics did probably more than anyone else to organize the overthrow of tsarist power. At least they did nothing to stop it." [17] Shamelessly and with great candidness they wrote in Rome as soon as the Bolshevik "victory" became evident: "there had been uncontainable pleasure over the fall of the tsarist government and that Rome did not waste and time in entering into negotiations with the Soviet Government." [18] When a leading Vatican dignitary was asked why the Vatican was against France during World War II [sic; should read World War I], he exclaimed, "The victory of the Entente allied with Russia would have been as great a catastrophe for the Roman Catholic Church as the Reformation was." [19] Pope Pius conveyed this feeling in his typically abrupt manner: "If Russia is victorious, then the schism is victorious." As we can see, World War II  [sic; should read World War I] was just another crusade for the Vatican.

Even though the Vatican had long prepared for it, the collapse of the Orthodox Russian empire caught it unaware. It very quickly came to its senses. The collapse of Russia did not yet mean that Russia could turn Roman Catholic. For this, a new plan of attack was needed. Realizing that it would be as difficult for an Englishman to proselytize in Ireland as for a Pole in Russia, the Vatican understood the necessity of finding a totally different method of battle with Orthodoxy, which would painlessly and without raising the slightest suspicion, ensnare and subordinate the Russian people to the Roman Pope. This Machiavellian scheme was the appearance of the so-called "Eastern Rite," which its defenders understood as "the bridge by which Rome will enter Russia," to quote an apt expression of K.N. Nikolayev. [20]

This treacherous plot, which can be likened to a ship sailing under a false flag, had very quick success in the first years after the establishment of Soviet power. This took place in blood-bathed Russia and abroad, where feverish activities were begun amongst the hapless migrs, such as finding them work, putting their immigration status in order, and opening Russian language schools for them and their children.

It cannot be denied that there were cases of unmercenary help, but in the overwhelming majority of cases, this charitable work had a thinly disguised confessional goal, to lure by various means the unfortunate refugees into what seemed at first glance, to be true Orthodox churches, but which at the same time commemorated the pope. Who can say what vestiges, what kind of indelible stamp, remained on the souls, the thoughts and the actions of those who at one time or another came into contact with this movement?

In Russia the experiment with the "Eastern Rite" lasted more than ten years. In the West, one can still occasionally come across one of the Roman Catholic "Eastern Centers." Among them, the Chevetogne Benedictine Monastery in Belgium remains the most viable. Their goals and possibilities are now no longer as lofty as they once were. They are now a sort of museum, an historical witness of the past. If one were to speak of their current influence it would be in the publishing field.

Regardless of the harmless face this movement seems to present today, seventy years ago it dreamt quite frankly of swallowing up Russian Orthodoxy. The heart and soul of the papal "Ostpolitik," its eastern politics, was a Jesuit, the French Bishop D'Erbigny, who was specially authorized by the pope to conduct negotiations with the Kremlin for a wide dissemination of Roman Catholicism in the Soviet Union and by the same token the supplantation of Orthodoxy in Russia and in Russian souls.

With this in mind, D'Erbigny traveled three times to the Soviet Union on a French diplomatic passport. He consecrated several Roman Catholic hierarchs with the aim of building up a group of Russian Catholic clergymen who would be acceptable to the Soviet authorities. Let us listen to the limits of open amorality that these clerics were capable of- "Bolshevism is liquidating priests, desecrating churches and holy sites, and destroying monasteries. Is this not where the religious mission of irreligious Bolshevism lies, in the disappearance of the carriers of schismatic thought, as it were setting a "clean table" tabula rasa) which gives us the possibility of spiritual recreation.'' [21] For those to whom it is not clear just what kind of spiritual reconstruction the Benedictine monk Chrysostom Bayer is referring to, his thoughts can be amplified by the official Viennese Catholic journal, Bayrisher Kunier: "Bolshevism is creating the possibility for the conversion of stagnant Russia to Catholicism." [22]

No one less than the exarch of the Russian Catholics, Leonid Feodorov, who, when tried in March of 1923 along with fourteen other clergymen and one layman, pathetically testified to the sincerity of his feelings in relation to the Soviet authorities, who, Feodorov thought later, did not fully understand what could be expected of Roman Catholicism. He explained, "From the time that I gave myself to the Roman Catholic Church, my cherished dream was to reconcile my homeland with this church, which for me is the only true one. But we were not understood by the government. All Latin Catholics heaved a sigh of relief when the October Revolution took place ... I myself greeted with enthusiasm the decree about the separation of Church and State ... Only under Soviet rule, when the Church and State were separated, could we breathe freely. As a religious believer, I saw in" [23] this liberation the hand of God. Let us not lose sight of the fact that all of these declarations by Roman Catholics, who were quite friendly with the Soviets, were pronounced in a nightmarish period when the Soviets were trying to eradicate the Orthodox Church. Keeping in mind that Vatican diplomacy adheres to the principle that the end justifies the means, which is illustrated throughout its many-centuried history, the game which the Vatican has been playing with Moscow should be clearly understood. The essence of the matter is that Russia has become a sacrifice to two principles hostile to it, Catholicism and godless communism, which are drawn together by a curious concurrence of interests. Moscow realizes that the eradication of faith from the Russian soul is a hopeless task. [24] As long as the Russian Church remained faithful to itself, uncompromising to the godless power, courageously witnessing to the fundamental incompatibility between Christian and communist principles, the Soviet leaders were ready for two reasons to graciously study the variant of Roman Catholicism offered to them. By this means, they hoped to manipulate the religiousness of the Russian soul.

The first reason is Rome's consistent, impeccable loyalty to the communist regime, both in the U.S.S.R. and outside of it. Secondly, it was advantageous to the Kremlin, or simply entertaining, that the religious needs of the Russians should be quenched by this centuries old enemy of Orthodoxy. For their part, the Catholics were ready to close their eyes to all the atrocities of Bolshevism, including the shooting of the Roman Catholic Bishop Butkevich in April of 1923 and the imprisonment of Bishops Tseplyak, Malyetsky, and Feodorov. Six weeks later, the Vatican expressed its sorrow over the assassination of the Soviet agent Vorovsky in Lausanne! The People's Commissar of Foreign Affairs told the German ambassador, "Pius XI was amiable to me in Genoa, expressing hope that we [the Bolsheviks] would break the monopoly of the Orthodox Church in Russia, thus clearing a path for him."

We have discovered information of the greatest importance in the archives of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A secret telegram No. 266 of February 6, 1925 from Berlin, stated that the Soviet ambassador, Krestinsky, told Cardinal Pacelli (the future Pius XII) that Moscow would not oppose the existence of Roman Catholic bishops and a metropolitan on Russian territory. Furthermore, the Roman clergy were offered the very best conditions. Six days later, secret telegram No. 284 spoke of permission being granted for the opening of a Roman Catholic seminary. Thus, while our holy New Martyrs were being annihilated with incredible cruelty, the Vatican was conducting secret negotiations with Moscow. In short, Rome attempted to gain permission to appoint the necessary bishops and even permission to open a seminary. Our evidence shows that this question was discussed once more in high circles in the autumn of 1926. In all likelihood, it had not been satisfactorily settled earlier. This might be viewed as the culmination of the unnaturally close relations between the Vatican and the Soviet government.

July 29, 1927, is considered to be one of the saddest and most fatal days in the history of the Russian Orthodox Church. On this day, Metropolitan Sergius (Statogorodsky), allegedly on behalf of the Church, wrote his pernicious declaration in favor of and according to the directives of the godless powers. He signed the declaration, although he was not authorized to do so, and came into direct conflict with and received overwhelming opposition from his brother bishops, and thus laid the basis for the so-called "Soviet Church." We will not discuss this amoral deed here, the consequences of which are still being felt some sixty years later. We will only say that its unexpected and indirect result was that Moscow put an end to the negotiations and the attention it was devoting to Vatican offers. All the same, this does not in any way lessen the immorality of the political line of Metropolitan Sergius. We can only say that neither he, nor his supporters, nor his opponents, ever brought this fact to light, either in defense or denunciation. We reiterate that this positive though absolutely accidental and secondary consequence of his censored actions cannot serve as a justification of an explanation of the politics of Metropolitan Sergius. Quite simply, neither he nor his successors thought of this. [26]

The restitution of the traditional [in appearance] Russian Orthodox Church, neutralized as it were, seemed more useful to the Soviet authorities than the Vatican. From then on, the Soviets lost interest in the Vatican. Only at the end of 1929 and the beginning of 1930 did the Vatican finally admit that it had suffered a political defeat and began to condemn vociferously the Bolshevik crimes. It had somehow not noticed them until 1930. Only in 1937 did Pope Pius XI release the encyclical Divini Redemptori (Divine Redeemer) which denounced communism.

In our introduction to this lecture, we said that this was not only a historical theme, but a timely one as well. In 1937, when the Vatican openly broke with Moscow, the Russian Church had already endured twenty years of Leninist terror, Stalinist terror and had several more decades before it, in which it would spill its blood in battle with the God-hating Soviet authorities. Until this very day, the Church continues to endure persecution and limitation of its fundamental rights. In the 1930's the only improvement was that the Russian Orthodox Church had only one enemy, but what an enemy! Since the enemy in fact was theomachistic communism, defense against the cunning pretensions of the Roman Catholics, trying to deceive the flock, could be but peripheral. Several weeks before his martyric end in July of 1922, St. Benjamin of Petrograd said to the Roman Catholic exarch, Leonid Feodorov, "You offer us unification.... and all the while your Latin priests, behind our backs, are sowing ruin amongst our flock. [27] Some of the better clergy fought to the end, confessing the purity of Orthodoxy and its incompatibility with communism. Others thought that by compromises and lies they could "save" the Church, as they put it. The rest simply sold the Church and her interests for a "pot of porridge."

With the arrival of Gorbachev to power and the much acclaimed introduction of "perestroika," we notice a change in the course of events in our wasted homeland. We will not go into a political analysis of all that is happening before our eyes. We will only say that thanks to, or more likely in spite of Gorbachev, something is happening, the ice is melting. We can not say what this process will lead to. We only note that this is all taking place in the Millennium Jubilee Year of Holy Russia, and without a doubt through the intercessions of the newly-glorified New Martyrs with the Royal Martyr Nicholas II.

We must also note that the Russian Orthodox are not the only ones that are following the events in Russia. The enemy also does not sleep. In spite of many attempts Pope John Paul II was not able to personally participate in our jubilee. One event did occur, which in our view may have long-term consequences. We have in mind the meeting between Gorbachev and Cardinal Cassaroli at the end of the Moscow festivities in July 1988. Cardinal Cassaroli is the Secretary of State of the Vatican and thus the second-in-command. Many Roman Catholics look upon him with suspicion. He was the spirit behind the Vatican's "Ostpolitic" under John XXIII and Paul VI. He was also a close friend of the late metropolitan of Leningrad, Nikodim (Rotov). Roman- Catholicism is famous for its unprincipled politics. Many people all the same naively wondered why in the papal message on the occasion of the Millennium, there was no judgement of the persecution to which believers in the U.S.S.R. are still being subjected. [28] We add this: despite the fact that Roman Catholics like to celebrate jubilees, the fiftieth anniversary in 1987 of the encyclical Divini Redemptoris, which denounced communism, passed unnoticed. The twentieth anniversary of the relatively new encyclical Populorum progresso (about the social doctrine of the Roman Church) however, was marked by much fanfare. [29]

In other words the groundwork is being laid and it pays to be cautious of the smallest word which might offend the current Soviet leadership. Returning to the agenda of Cardinal Casaroli, one can see that it carries a political message. Stating that the Vatican is following "Perestroika" with great interest, which has [in their opinion] a Christian basis, Casaroli triumphantly gave a secret message: to Gorbachev from John Paul II. Roman Catholicism, in general loves secrets. It is not difficult for us to guess the likely contents of the secret message; the assurance of full support by the Vatican for "Perestroika," legalization of the Uniate Church, which has since come to pass, and in general a reappraisal of the fate of Catholicism in the U.S.S.R.. Is this not a symbolic restoration of relations between Moscow and the Vatican, which were broken in 1927? In other words, not having gotten its way through the Church hierarchy, by direct means, the Vatican dreams of achieving its goal through the Soviet authorities, which "I not interfere in the continuation of its ecumenical relations with the Moscow Patriarchate. We will follow the speeches and the future trips of the pope. It is known that Gorbachev is planning a trip to Italy. In the given situation, Gorbachev will be offered an audience in the Vatican. Under such conditions can Gorbachev refuse a return visit to the person that will give him, before the whole world, a certificate of respectability?

To such an end the Vatican stretches out its lavish hand of help, protection and compassion towards the persecuted. Alas, many are ready to grab this hand. We wish that all Orthodox in the "Fatherland and scattered in the diaspora" would keep in mind these historical facts which we have brought forth, not for the sake of revenge, but for the sake of the future of Russia. A questionable friend can be far worse than an open enemy.

Let the declaration of Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) of blessed memory serve as an example to all. The founder of the Russian Church Abroad, Metropolitan Anthony was an eminent theologian and a real father of the Church in our time. In this declaration, which was written on June 10, 1922 in Sremski Karlovci, Serbia in connection with the arrest of Patriarch Tikhon, he decreed, "To turn with a special appeal, to raise our voice in protest against the violence used against His Holiness the Patriarch of all the Russians, to all the heads of other Orthodox and non-Orthodox Churches, except for the Pope of Rome, about whom we have precise evidence that he not only entered into negotiations with the Christ-betraying Bolsheviks, but attempted to use the persecution of the Russian Orthodox Church and her glory to the mercenary ends of militant Roman Catholicism." [30] Let these sober words of our venerable and unforgettable abba serve as an example for our behavior and our relations toward the help offered by the Vatican for the present and future Russia.


1) Joseph Vantris, the church reviewer of the influential Paris newspaper, "Le Figaro" wrote in an article on March 5, 1998 that the presence of the Latin pope at the millennium celebrations would darken the honor of the jubilee.

2) It became known that on the 18/19 March, two assistants of the pope's personal secretary set off for Moscow, where it was orally confirmed that an invitation to the pope was out of the question and that the Roman Catholic Church would be represented only by a Vatican delegation. One day later the pope's message was published. Being used to triumphant traveling about the whole world and having spent enormous energy on attempting to be invited, it is evident that John Paul II painfully experienced the unusual position of being an supplicant, thereby lowering his papal dignity. For this reason, in all likelihood, they spread (in the media) the pretentious conditions, allegedly determined by him for his trip to Moscow.

3) By "Rusiny," the Pope meant those from Galicia, who went under his omophorion. See Depreaux, E., "L'URSS et L'Eglise Catholique," "Le Monde Slave," e11-2, 1927, p. 447.

4) K N. Nikolayev, Vostochniy obrad (the eastern Rite), YMCA Press. Paris: 1950, p. 335.

5) N. N. Voiekoff, Tserkov', Rus i' Rim (The Church, Rus, and Rome), Jordanville: 1983, p. 512.

6) Of the general population of six million, the new government counted two million Serbs.

7) The text of this letter can be found in several publications in Russian, with several variations due to translation. It is also included in the appendix to the two-volume work of the Catholic scholar, Dom Alponse Guepin: Un apotre de l'union des Eglises au XViie siecle Saint Josaphat et l'Eglise Greco-Slave en Pologne et en Russe, Paris tom I: 1897, tom II, 1898.

8) It is interesting to note that Pius XI commissioned Bishop D'Erbigny to compose this encyclical about Josaphat Kuntsevich.

9) Let us remember that the translation of these "relics" took place during Vatican II, where there were several non-Roman Catholic observers. From the Russian Church Abroad, Archbishop Anthony of Geneva and Western Europe was representing the Synod, since he was the closest hierarch to Rome. Learning of the planned "festivities," Archbishop Anthony raised a loud protest and went to the Russian Church in Rome, where he served a triumphant prayer of intercession (Moleben) to the martyred victims of Kuntsevich. The famous Cardinal Willibrands unconvincingly tried to assure him that no one in the Vatican knew of the "pastoral actions" of Kuntsevich, that Rome had never thought of offending the Orthodox in the least, and on the contrary hoped by this act to honor the "Eastern Church." This incident was published in several newspapers with wide circulation.

10) This message was of a confidential nature to Ukrainian hierarchs on Feb. 14, 1968.

11) This message prompted Khomyakov to write a second polemical brochure, like all of his other theological essays in French: "A Few Words Of An Orthodox Christian About the Western Confessions." and "L'Eglise Latine et le Protestantisme au point de vue de I'Eglise d'Orient," Lausanne-Vevey, Benda, pp. 94-95.

12) ibid, p. 97.

13) F. M. Dostoyevesky, Diary of a Writer, September 1877, 1-3.

14) Op. Cit, Khomyakov, pp. 94 & 96.

15) Cited by Seraphim, Bishop of Potsdam, in the article, "Catholicism and Bolshevism" in the collection Acts of the Second All-Diaspora of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, Belgrad, p. 327.

16) J. Hajjar, Le Vatican et la Catholicisme Oriental, Beauchesne, Paris, 1979, p. 263.

17) E. Despreaux, "La Papaute et L'URSS" in Le Monde Slave, No. 10, October 1926, Paris, p.6.

18) C. Loiseau, "La politique de Strossmayer," in Le Monde Slave, No. 3, Mars 1927, Paris, p. 395.

19) G. Ferrero, "LA double illusion," in L'illustration 10/12/1927, #4423, Paris, p. 658.

20) Op. Cit., Nikolayev, p. 335.

21) Chrysostome Bayer, in "Bayrisher Kurier," 8/03/1930.

22) The Viennese Catholic organ, "Schonere Zukunft," 15/11/1931.

23) Op. Cit. Nikolayev, p. 60.

24) Lenin's speech at a session of the "Sovnarkom" in December 1922.

25) Floridi, Moscow et le Vatican, Paris, France, 1979, p. 34.

26) See the account of this thesis in our doctoral dissertation, pp. 328-335 and 348. Ivanov Trinadzaty, L'Eglise synodale russe—Son evolution et ses relation avec les confessions occidentales, Luon, 1983, 481 pp.

27) Malleux, Entre Rome et Moscou-L'exarque Leonide Feodoroff, Bruges, DDB, 1966, p. 119.

28) See the article of Henri Tek in the Paris newspaper Le Mond, March 23,1968.

29) Sollicitudo rei sociali is the seventh encyclical of the current pope.

30) Archbishop Nikon, editor, Zhizneopisanie blazenneyshago Antonia, Mitropilita Kievskago i Galitskago, New York, 10 volumes, see Vol. WI, p. 96.

From in Orthodox Life, Vol. XL, No. 2 [March-April 1990], pp. 8-24.