Info

organization, which freely orders its own affairs'. Earlier attempts to follow such a path had no success. Consequently, this one was cautiously labelled 'temporary', but it was to last for many decades.19 Another solution was tried by two of Evlogii's parishes - one in Paris and the other in Berlin - which proclaimed their loyalty to Moscow, but it involved only a few dozen people.

The role of the state

The starting point of the post-revolutionary diaspora was a common homeland, but access to its persecuted church was precluded in the pre-war years. Indeed, the Soviet authorities seemed minded to destroy not only its buildings, but also its structure and its personnel. Many of the faithful suffered detention, and some execution. Only at a distance could the diaspora seek to build reserves against the day when these might be of use to their compatriots in the Soviet Union. There was no one way in which the task was undertaken. Some worked towards the faithful conservation of the past, while the aspirations and achievements of a 'Holy Russia' in the years before the revolution continued to provide inspiration. There was therefore no call for any major renovation in church life. Such, largely, was the position of the Church Abroad. By contrast, Evlogii's exarchate tended to foster creative reconsideration of inherited positions. But this also involved concern for the Russia of the days to come. In the words which Mother Maria Skobtsova wrote in 1937:

Our Church [in western Europe] was never so free.

Such freedom that it makes your head spin. Our mission is to show that a free Church can work miracles. And if we bring back to Russia our new spirit -free, creative, daring - our mission will be accomplished. Ifnot, we shall perish ignominiously.20

Hitler's invasion of the USSR in 1941 prevented any such mission. In the prewar years Hitler had made some moves to unite the diaspora by diplomacy and diktat. When a Nazi civil servant talked to a leading figure in Evlogii's diocese in 1938, he insisted that 'we do not want to have two [emigre] churches, nor will we tolerate any such thing'. Recognition of the Church Abroad by Hitler's Germany was reckoned 'a fact beyond dispute' to the extent that the authorities considered taking 'police measures' against any competition.21 A

20 Konstantin Mochul'skii, 'Monakhinia Maria Skobtsova', Tretii Chas 1 (1946), 65.

21 Minutes of the meeting between W. Haugg and Fr Ioann Shakhovskoi, quoted in M. V Shkarovskii, Natsistskaia Germaniia i Pravoslavnaia Tserkov' (Moscow: Izdatel'stvo Kru-titskogo Patriarshego Podvor'ia, 2002), 99.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment