Stalin and the Orthodox Church

Statements of the Patriarchate of Moscow. September 12, 1943


Original Source: Zhurnal Moskovskoi Patriarkhii, No. 1 (12 September 1943), pp. 5, 6, 11, 16.

Stalin Receives Metropolitan Sergei

On September 4 the Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR, Comrade I. V. Stalin, held a reception, during which a conversation took place with the Acting Patriarch Metropolitan Sergei, Metropolitan Aleksei of Leningrad, and Metropolitan Nikolai of Kiev and Galicia, Exarch of the Ukraine.

During the conversation Metropolitan Sergei made it known to the Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars that in the governing circles of the Orthodox Church there is an intention in the near future to convene a Council of Bishops to elect a Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia and to form a Holy Synod under the Patriarch.

Head of government Comrade J. V Stalin responded sympathetically to this proposal and stated that on the part of the government there will be no obstacles to this.

Also present in the conversation was Deputy Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR Comrade V M. Molotov.

The Council of Bishops of the Orthodox Church

On 8 September in Moscow there was held the Council of Bishops of the Orthodox Church, convened to elect a Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and to form a Holy Synod under the Patriarch.

The Council of Bishops unanimously elected Metropolitan Sergei as Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

The Council furthermore adopted unanimously the statement addressed by Metropolitan Sergei to the Government of the USSR expressing thanks for its attention to the needs of the Russian Orthodox Church. Archbishop Grigorii of Saratov read a statement to the Christians of the whole world. This document, containing an appeal for the unification of all forces in the struggle against Hitlerism, was also adopted unanimously by the Council…

Statement of the Council of the Most Reverend Hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church to the Soviet Government (September 8, 1943)

Deeply moved by the sympathetic attitude of our national Leader and Head of the Soviet Government, I. V. STALIN, toward the needs of the Russian Orthodox Church and toward our modest works, we, his humble servants, express to the Government our council’s sincere gratitude and joyful conviction that, encouraged by this sympathy, we will redouble our share of work in the nationwide struggle for the salvation of the motherland.

Let the Heavenly Head of the Church bless the works of the Government with the Creator’s blessing and let him crown our struggle in a just cause with the victory we long for and the liberation of suffering humanity from the dark bondage of fascism.

(Signed by Sergei, Metropolitan of Moscow and Kolomna, and eighteen other metropolitans, archbishops and bishops.)

Condemnation of Traitors to the Faith and the Fatherland (September 8, 1943)

Alongside the gratifying manifestations of patriotic activity by the Orthodox clergy and laity it is all the sadder to see manifestations of a contrary character. Among the clergy and laity there are those who, forgetting their fear of God, dare to take advantage of the common misfortune: they meet the Germans like invited guests, make themselves available for service, and sometimes commit outright treason, for example betraying to the enemy their fellows among the partisans and others who are sacrificing themselves for the motherland. An obliging conscience, of course, is always ready to suggest justification even for such conduct. But the treachery of Judas will never cease to be the treachery of Judas. just as Judas destroyed his own soul and bodily bore an exceptional punishment even here on earth, so these traitors, preparing themselves to perish for eternity, do not avoid the fate of Cain on earth. The Fascists will suffer just retribution for their plunder, murder and other evil needs. Nor can mercy be expected by these stooges of the Fascists who do well for themselves at the expense of their brothers and behind their backs.

The Holy Orthodox Church, Russian and Eastern, has already pronounced its condemnation of traitors to the Christian cause and betrayers of the Church. And today, gathered in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, we affirm this condemnation and declare that anyone guilty of betraying the cause of the Church and going over to the side of Fascism is an enemy of Christ the Lord and is excommunicated, and if a bishop or cleric is removed from office. Amen.

(Signed by Metropolitan Sergei of Moscow and eighteen other metropolitans, archbishops and bishops.)

Source: Robert V. Daniels, ed., A Documentary History of Communism (Hanover: Published for the University of Vermont by University Press of New England, 1984), pp. 288-290.


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