Skip to comments.Thousands of priests killed by former Soviet regime: Cleric
Posted on 04/29/2006 7:09:45 PM PDT by Coleus
Doha: An official of the Russian church says there is no count of the clergymen persecuted by the former Soviet regime. "The number of the priests killed runs into thousands over more than 70 years since the 1917 Revolution nobody has an estimate," says Dr Serhiy Hovaran, from the Russian Orthodox Church. In remarks to The Peninsula on the sidelines of Fourth Doha Dialogue on Religions that ended here on Thursday, Dr Hovaran said, this is aside from the "millions" of church followers who were executed.
The oppression of the church began right after 1917 when the Christians challenged the Communist ideology. Adoration of Vladimir Lenin like a God was what angered the church and its followers the most, he said. "The Communists saw the church as an obstacle to their design and so, began hunting them down." The churches in the West tried to help but with little success. Asked if the USA's Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) tried to intervene and protect the Russian Orthodox Church and its followers in their own way, Dr Hovaran said: "The CIA was not active at all".
The Soviet Union had a large Muslim population and they were also persecuted. "Muslims were oppressed all over, including Central Asia and Russia," said Dr Hovaran. Russia has a fairly sizeable Muslim population. "We are now trying to have a dialogue with them. We have very cordial relations with Muslims and people of other faiths in Russia," he pointed out. There is an influx of American religious movements in Russia at present and some of them are backed by cash-rich social organizations. "Some of these movements are not friendly with Russians." The Russian Orthodox Church, established in 988 AD, is witnessing renaissance and is playing a more active role in the social arena.
The following of the church is not restricted to Russia but spreads across to Ukraine, Belarus and Baltic as well as Central Asian countries. "Our estimation is that we have a following of 140 million and the size is next only to those of the Catholics and Protestants the world over," Dr Hovaran said. The Russian Orthodox Church is different from the Catholic Church in the sense that it does not consider the Pope to be the supreme authority. Every Russian Orthodox church has its own jurisdiction and its members are accountable to it. Except the bishops and nuns, all other church officials are allowed to marry and have families.
Russia has a huge Armenian Diaspora and the Russian Orthodox Church has cordial relations with them. "However, this is not the case with the Greek Catholics who are mainly concentrated in Ukraine." Since the state protection has vanished, the church is increasingly involved in looking after the impoverished and the aged. There is poverty in the Russian villages, particularly in non-industrialized regions. Russia has an inter-religious council, which has members from all communities, including Muslims and Jews. "We try to find constructive ways to establish models of peaceful co-existence, and often take common positions on relevant events happening locally or internationally," said Dr Havaron.
"The Russian Orthodox Church, established in 988 AD, is witnessing renaissance and is playing a more active role in the social arena."
Stalin took this organization over in the 1930s, but I guess we can trust them now, especially with them coming clean and giving us this big news flash at all. That's probably the church Putin attends and I hear he's pretty devout.
"Saving Grace" is a good, but overlooked documentary.
It's a well-done look at the oppression the Soviets visited on
Catholics and Protestants via their proxies in Czechoslovakia.
One nice scene was a priest that attended an underground seminary;
he had the biggest smile when talking about how Reagan stood up to Moscow.
Among the multitude of books that deal with Bolshevik persecution of religion one by Martin Amis ("Koba the Dread: Laughter and the Twenty Million"), is particularly vivid and graphic. He quotes Lenin in 1922: "We must now give the most merciless and decisive battle to to the clergy and subdue its resistance with such brutality that they will not forget it for decades to come...The greatest number of the reactionary bourgeoisie and reactionary clergy that we will manage to execute in this affair,the better."
For that year alone, "Church records show that 2691 priests, 1962 monks and 3447 nuns were killed." One of the things people often are not aware of (because he died in 1924 and didn't live or rule long enough to spread terror on Stalin's scale) is that during his lifetime Lenin set the pattern for the vicious persecutions that were to follow - and he was as ruthless and implacable as Stalin, albeit on a smaller scope.
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