As the Church has overthrown the Royal power: historian, discovered the truth, afraid of blows from an axe

The Church played a key role in overthrowing the tsarist regime as the Institute, says the historian Mikhail Babkin. If not the position of the clergy, historical events in Russia would have taken a completely different trajectory.

This is almost not say the Russian Orthodox Church, “the Church and revolution” is extremely annoying. Have you heard, for example, that the money secretly taken to Tobolsk for the redemption of the Royal family, forbidden to pass the protection of Patriarch Tikhon?


Mikhail Babkin. photo: Alexander Zabrin

The Russian Orthodox Church is very magnificent and celebrated the centennial anniversary of the restoration of the Patriarchate in the Russian Orthodox Church. Recall that the decision was taken by the local Council, which met from August 1917 to September 1918. 18 November 1917 new style at the Council election of the Patriarch, the winner of which was the Metropolitan Tikhon (Belavin). 4 December 1917, was his enthronement. In the anniversary speeches of the Church hierarchy, much was said about casualties suffered by the Church in the years of the revolution.

But says nothing about the fact that a large share of responsibility for the catastrophe falls on the Church itself. Fills this gap in an interview with “MK” is the author of numerous scientific works on the history of the ROC the doctor of historical Sciences, Professor of Russian state Humanities University, Mikhail Babkin.

— Mikhail Anatolyevich, when meeting with the theme of the local Council of 1917-1918, a completely surreal feeling. Behind the high walls of the Church Assembly of the raging revolution, change of government and the historical era, and the participants all sit and sit, solving issues that, against this backdrop, it is difficult to call topical. The members of the Council were aware that few, so to speak, out of context?

In his memoirs, the Council, in particular Nestor (Anisimov) at that time the Bishop of Kamchatka and Petropavlovsk — write that they did not respond to the October revolution, believing that the Church should not interfere in politics. Suppose, say, “dogs fighting,” our business — Church.

— But during the events of the February revolution the Church held a very different position.

– I agree, the Church hierarchy took the then very active political position. The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church adopted a range of measures to remove c of the agenda the question of the monarchy.


photo: ru.wikipedia.org
Nicholas II with Tsarevich Alexei. Tobolsk, 1917.

As you know, March 2, 1917 (March 15, new style, here and below, dates are given according to the Julian calendar. — “MK”), Nicholas II abdicated the throne in favor of his brother Mikhail Alexandrovich. But Mikhail, contrary to popular belief, from the throne did not deny he gave the question of power for the consideration of the Constituent Assembly. In his “Act” of March 3, stated that he is ready to vosprijatie power only in the case, “if such is the will of our great people”. The remaining members of the Romanov dynasty, which had according to the law of succession 1796 right to the throne, he also did not refuse.

Accordingly, Russia was on March 3 at the historic crossroads: to be a monarchy in one form or another — well, it is clear that a more feasible option was a constitutional monarchy, or a Republic in one form or another.


photo: ru.wikipedia.org
The meeting of the local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church. The Moscow diocesan house, Cathedral of Commerce, 1917.

But already from March 4, despite the lack of a legal abdication of the Romanov dynasty, the Synod began to be sent to all diocese of the telegram with the order to cease to be mentioned in worship the names of the members of the “reigning house.” In the past tense! Instead, were instructed to pray for “right-believing Provisional government”. The word “Emperor”, “Empress”, “the heir to the throne” became a taboo. If someone of the priests continued to pray about the Romanovs, the Synod has used against the violator to disciplinary action: the clergy were banned from service or, if they served in the war Department, sent to the front in the army.

— But from March 3 — the appointment of a new chief Prosecutor, Vladimir of Lviv — the Synod was already part of the new government. How could he act differently?

In the early days of the revolution, the Synod acted absolutely independently. Negotiations between the Church hierarchy and the revolutionary government — I installed it according to archival records is started before the abdication of Nicholas II, March 1-2.

Yes, the relationship between the Interim government and the Synod, not called a relationship of superiors and subordinates. At the first meeting of the new Procurator with the members of the Synod held on 4 March, was reached a mutual agreement. The Synod promised to legitimize the Provisional government to lead the people to the oath of allegiance to him, to issue a series of acts necessary in the opinion of the new government, to calm the minds. Instead, the Provisional government, by the mouth of the new Procurator of the Holy Synod of Lviv Vladimir promised to provide the Church with the freedom of self-government and samostroya. In General, you — we, we — you. And in the matter of the relationship of the monarchy to the Synod even surpassed by the radical Provisional government.

Kerensky decided to declare Russia a Republic only on 1 September 1917. And the Synod in the first days of March ordered the clergy and the congregation to forget not only about the former Emperor, but about monarchist alternative in General.

Especially clearly this difference in approach manifested itself in the texts of oaths. In the civil, secular, established by the Provisional government, it was about loyalty to the Provisional government “pending the establishment of government by the will of the people through the Constituent Assembly”. That is the question of the form of government was opened here.

According to the texts of the Church stavlenniku oaths taken at the dedication of the new San, the Church and the clergy were obliged “to be loyal subjects of the God-protected Russian state and all the law obedient to the Provisional government of her.” And to the point.

— However, the Church’s position is quite consistent with the then public sentiment. Maybe she was just going with the flow?

– No, the Church itself is largely shaped these attitudes. Its impact on the socio-political consciousness of the congregation was immense.

Take, for example, right-wing, monarchist party. Before the revolution they were the most numerous political associations in the country. In Soviet and post-Soviet historiography claimed that the tsarist regime is so rotten that the monarchy crumbled at the first push. And the proof just cited the fate of right-wing parties, which, they say, simply vanished after the revolution. They really disappeared from the political scene, but not because of his “progresista”. In all right-wing parties speak of the “obedience of the Holy Orthodox Church.” The same Holy Synod, with a ban on liturgical commemoration of king and the “reigning houses”, thus knocked from under the feet of the monarchists ideological ground.

As right-wing parties could campaign for the Royal power, if the Church has forbidden even the prayer of a king sound? Monarchists do was to go home. In short, the members of the Synod not trailed after the locomotive of the revolution, but rather was one of its locomotives.

The Church played a key role in the overthrow of the Imperial power as an institution. If not the position of the members of the Synod, which they occupied in the days of March, a historic event would go — it’s obviously on a different trajectory. By the way, seven of the 11 Church leaders, who were at that time members of the Synod (and this is including the future Patriarch Tikhon) canonized. Either the ROC or ROCOR, or both.


photo: ru.wikipedia.org
Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Tikhon.

— What the king did not please the clergy?

They saw him as a charismatic competitor: Royal power, as well as the power of the priesthood, and possessed of transcendental, charismatic nature. The Emperor as the anointed of God had enormous powers in the field of Church administration.

— As I understand it, according to the Act on succession to the throne of Paul I, who retained power until February, the king was the head of the Church?

— Not quite. In the act of Emperor Paul I, this is stated not directly but in passing, in the form of an explanation: the occupation of the throne was forbidden to the other person, not of the Orthodox faith, as “the essence of Russian monarchs head of the Church”. All. In fact, the place of the king in the hierarchy was not clearly defined.

There need to be clear that the power of the priesthood consists of three components. First — the power of sacrament, that is, the Commission of sacraments, Liturgy. Russian monarchs never claimed.

Second — the power of teaching, that is, the right to preach from the pulpit. Emperors had the power of teaching, but hardly used it.

The third component is Church government. And here the power of the Emperor was much more than any of the bishops. And even all the bishops together. The clergy that does not suit. They did not recognize the monarch of the priestly powers, considering him a layman, was unhappy with the interference of the king in Church Affairs. And waiting for an opportune moment, took his own Kingdom.

From a theological point of view, the revolutionary change of power was legitimised by the Church in the king James translation of Romans the Apostle Paul made in the mid-nineteenth century. The phrase “there is Bo power, but from God” was translated there as “there is no authority except from God.” Although it literally means “Not have the power, if not from God.” If all power is from God, then what happens? Change the form of government, the revolution also came from God.

— Why, in supporting the Interim government in March, the Church did not lift a finger to help him in the October days?

– The October crisis, in a sense, played into the hands of the local Cathedral, which is popularly called “Church of the constituent Assembly.”

The fact that, since the Church at that time was not separated from the state, all decisions of the Cathedral, including those discussed in the proposal for the restoration of the Patriarchate, had to be submitted for approval to the Interim government, which remained the highest authority in the country. And it could, in principle, not agree with them. Therefore, the October revolution, the Cathedral was reacted in the first place forcing, the acceleration of the introduction of the Patriarchate. In the ensuing power vacuum, the Church has seen for himself an additional chance: resolution of the Council with anyone now not have to negotiate. A decision on the restoration of the Patriarchate was adopted on 28 October — just two days after the seizure of power by the Bolsheviks. And yet a week later, on 5 November, was elected the new Patriarch. The rush was such that the decision defining the rights and obligations of the Patriarch, appeared after his enthronement.

In short, the higher clergy and in thoughts was not to support the Provisional government. Suppose, say, be any power, just not the king. No one then believed in the strength of the provisions of the Bolsheviks, and they themselves not thought of the Church the devil incarnate.

About a year after the October revolution Patriarch Tikhon said in one of his Epistles to the flock (pass close to the text): “We had high hopes for Soviet power, but they were not justified.” That is, as is clear from this document, certain calculations on finding a common language with the Bolsheviks was.

The Church was silent when they seized power, was silent when they began to persecute their political opponents, when dispersed the Constituent Assembly… the Voice against the Soviet power of the clergy began to lift only in response to “unfriendly” actions toward the Church — when she began to seize churches and of the earth when they started killing priests.

— Nevertheless, in January, 1918 the decree about the decree about branch of Church from the state Council directly called for disobedience to the new authorities. However, successfully continued the work. How does one explain the softness of the Bolsheviks? She was conscious, or they have just not reached then the Church hands?

– First hand really came not at once. The main goal of the Bolsheviks in the first weeks and months after the coup to retain power. All other issues were sidelined. Therefore, the “reactionary clergy” of Soviet power looked at first through his fingers.

In addition, the restoration of the Patriarchate the Bolshevik leadership, apparently, saw some benefits. With one person it is easier to negotiate, easier to press it in case of need to nail than a collective authority.

According to a famous apocryphal story, heard for the first time in a sermon of Metropolitan of the Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia Vitaly (Ustinov), Lenin, referring to those years, the clergy said, “You need Church, you need a Patriarch? Well, will you and the Church will have you and the Patriarch. But we will give you the Church, we will give you and Patriarch.” I was looking for confirmation of these words, but found none. But in practice, so in the end what happened.

The Cathedral has sat for over a year, last meeting was held in late September 1918, at the height of the red terror. However, it is considered as incomplete. According to the Patriarchate, “September 20, 1918, the work of the local Council was violently interrupted.” To what extent is this true?

– Well, what is considered violent? Sailors jeleznyaki not come back, no one broke up. Many questions indeed remain unsolved — was preparing for a whole range of projects Church transformation. But to implement them in view of new political realities has not been possible. Therefore, further discussion was pointless.

Arose purely a financial problem: ran out of money. The new government had not intended to Finance the Cathedral, and the former reserves have been exhausted. And expenses meanwhile were quite considerable. To ensure the activities of the Council, delegates accommodation — hotels, travel… Members eventually started to disperse to their homes — a quorum was gone. Mood was depressed remaining.

Read “acts” of the Cathedral, performances at recent meetings: “small”, “sit without money”, “power everywhere obstructed, selects the premises and property”… the Leitmotif was: “We’re not here to hatch it”. That is, they blossomed — to continue the work was not for no reason.

Patriarch Tikhon was elected Primate of the Church truly by chance: for both opponents who reached the second round of elections, drawing of lots, was given, as you know, more votes.

Happy this case given the tragic events of what happened soon with the country, the Church and the Patriarch, difficult to call, but how, in your opinion, the Church is lucky to Tikhon? As a good Patriarch, how adequate to the tasks and challenges that stood before the Church, was he?

– With the name of Tikhon connected a lot of myths. It is believed, for example, that he was anathematical Soviet power. We are talking about his message of January 19, 1918. In fact, this treatment was not addressed to anyone in particular, it was formulated in the most General terms.

Anathema indulged in seeking “to destroy the cause of Christ and Christian love is everywhere to sow the seeds of malice, hatred and fratricidal war.” Meanwhile in the Arsenal of the Church was quite a lot of effective ways of influence on the authorities. Including, for example, interdict, prohibition of religious services to the fulfilment of certain conditions. Relatively speaking, the priests were able to stop to communion, to bury, to baptize, to marry the population until, until overthrown by the godless regime. The Patriarch could impose the interdict, but did not. Even then, in the first years of Soviet power, Tikhon has been criticized for failing to rigidly resist the Bolsheviks. His name is transcribed as “Quiet it”.

— I confess, I was really impressed with the story narrated by you in one of your papers with reference to Tobolsk archivist Alexander Petrushin: the Church had a real opportunity to save the Royal family during the period of anarchy that followed the overthrow of the Provisional government, but Tikhon ordered to use collected for the redemption of the Romanov money for the Church. You are sure, by the way, its authenticity?

– It was first published in 2003, in the historical journal “Rodina”, which founders are the Administration of the Russian President and the Russian Government. And then I found this Petrushina. By education he is a historian, but he worked in KGB, then FSB. 10 years as retired.

According to him, in virtue of his official duties he was looking for in Siberia, Kolchak’s gold. Gold, of course not, but when researching local archives came across many other interesting things. Including this story.

In the 1930-ies of the NKVD was investigating some of the counter-revolutionary underground, which included Bishop Irinarkh (Sineokov-Andrievsky). He told him about it. The money in question was meant for the protection of the Royal family in Tobolsk, which consisted of three guards rifle companies — 330 soldiers and 7 officers. In August 1917 they were assigned to double pay, however, when the government changed, payments stopped.

Security was agreed to transfer the Royal family of any power, to anyone who will repay a debt. This became known monarchists of Petrograd and Moscow. The money was collected secretly delivered to Tobolsk and transferred to the local Bishop Hermogenes.

But by the time structure of the Church administration has changed — there was the Patriarch. And Hermogenes did not dare to act independently, asked for a blessing to Tikhon. Tikhon made the decision that you have said, — forbidden to use these values as originally intended. Where they go is unknown. Neither the NKVD nor the KGB could not find any traces. Well, the Romanovs in the end was bought by the Bolsheviks. In April 1918, in Tobolsk there has arrived a squad of soldiers, headed by the Commissioner of the CPC Yakovlev, brought the guards detained the salary. And took the Royal family in Ekaterinburg, on their Calvary.

Strictly speaking, the source Petrushina not completely reliable, but I’m inclined to trust, because his story did not contradict the large body of documented evidence about the negative attitude of the Church and of Patriarch Tikhon in particular to the monarchy and the last Russian Emperor.

Suffice it to say that for all time of its work, the local Council made no attempts to help Nicholas II and his family when they were imprisoned, never spoke out in their defense. About the forsaken Emperor remembered only once — when the news came of his death. And then long argued, or not to serve a memorial service. About one third of the members of the Council were against it.


photo: ru.wikipedia.org
The Church is actively formed in the society anti-monarchist sentiment, says Mikhail Babkin. “Down with the eagle!” — the picture of Ivan Vladimirov.

— Perhaps, afraid to stand up?

– I don’t think the point of fear. The repression against their fellow members of the Council responded very rapidly. That is, the mountain stood on their defence. And the Bolsheviks, these protests are even listened to.

For example, when he was arrested, Bishop Nestor (Anisimov), the issue was devoted to a separate meeting. The Cathedral has issued a statement expressing “profound outrage at cases of violence against Church,” the Bolsheviks had sent a delegation to the appropriate application, in Moscow churches prayed for the release of the Nestor… well, a whole range of measures. And the Bishop literally on the second day released from prison.

The same — with the arrest of a member of the Provisional government, Minister confessions Kartasheva, also a member of the Cathedral: a special meeting request and so on. And the same result — the Minister released. And at the prisoner of the anointed of God — the reaction is zero. I attribute this to the fact that the king they are not considered “his”, still perceived him as a charismatic competitor. The opposition of the priesthood and of the Kingdom continued.

— A separate issue — the activities of Tikhon in 1920-ies. There is a legend that many believe that he allegedly commented on a breakthrough sewage in the Mausoleum with the words: “According to the relics and the oil.” According to popular belief at the time Tikhon was the real spiritual leader of the anti-Bolshevik resistance. Does it correspond to reality?

— As to the remarks about the Mausoleum attributed to Tikhon, I think, is really nothing more than a bike. Don’t know where he said it, nor when it was said or who heard it. There are no sources. Exactly the same myth is the idea of Tikhon as a spiritual leader-Bolshevism. You can bring a lot of facts that stand out of this image. Actually Tikhon very little interest in what is happening outside of the Church. He sought to distance himself from politics.

— There are different opinions about the authenticity of the so-called probate Tikhon, published after his death proclamation in which he allegedly urged the clergy and laity of the “no fear to sin against the Holy faith to obey the Soviet authorities not out of fear but out of conscience”. What is your opinion on this subject you adhere to?

– I believe that “will” is genuine. Although Church historians try to prove the opposite. The fact that “will” fits into the logic of all previous statements and actions of Tikhon.

It is often argued that before the revolution he held right-wing views. As a confirmation of the fact that Tikhon was the honorary Chairman of the Yaroslavl branch of the Union of the Russian people. But then monarchists were outraged that their Archpastor strongly refuses to participate in the activities of the Union. On this basis, the Tikhon even had a conflict with the Yaroslavl Governor has achieved in the result of the translation of the Archbishop to Lithuania.

Another interesting story: Tikhon has a priority in the liturgical commemoration of the Soviet regime. When he was elected to the Patriarchate, it is under developed and approved by the local Council Protocol offered a prayer in which inter alia was attended by the phrase “of our civil authorities”. But the authorities at that time (November 5, 1917, old, 18 November, new style. — “MK”) for 10 days as the Bolsheviks were!

It is also known that Tikhon refused to bless the white army. In General, if you recall, and analyse how these, and many other facts of his biography, in his call to obey the Soviet government nothing strange.

Something that Tikhon was poisoned, that he was a victim of the Soviet secret services, also a myth?

— No, why. It could be poison.

— But for what? From the good, as the saying goes, the enemy of the good.

— Well, while Tikhon and cooperated with Soviet power, such zeal, as Sergius (Stragorodsky) (1925-1936 years Deputy of the Patriarchal Locum Tenens, then Locum Tenens, September 1943 — Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia. — “MK”), he still did not show. The General was a “specific” frame of the Cheka-GPU-NKVD and actually turned the Church into the structure of the Soviet state. Tikhon, speaking his own words, obeyed the Soviet government only out of fear. And Serge — not only for fear but for conscience.

As far as I can tell, the Church today does not like to think about their role in the revolutionary events. You have the same opinion?

– That’s an understatement! The theme of “Church and revolution” today, the ROC is simply forbidden. It lies on the surface, and the source base is huge, but to me this is, in fact, no one did. Yes, today, wanting, to put it mildly, a little. In Soviet times it was taboo some reason, in the post-Soviet other.

I often communicate with researchers in the field of Church history. Among them are many secular historians, but they are in most cases in some way connected with the ROC. People, for example, teaches at MSU, but at the same time heads the Department of the Orthodox St. Tikhon University. And he will not be able to work there, it is simply kicked out, if will write their works without regard to the materials bishops ‘ councils, as Tikhon, and a number of other bishops of that era to the saints.

Today the dominant version of the history of the Russian Orthodox Church is a purely ecclesiastical version. All Church and close to Church historians my work know I read, but reference to them is in fact zero. To refute me, they can’t agree with me, too. It remains to gloss over.

— The anathema you have not betrayed your research?

— No, but threats of physical violence from some, shall we say, members of the clergy to had. Three times.

— Is it really so serious?

Yes. For several years I, frankly, walked and thought: today gets the axe in the head or tomorrow? However, it’s been a while. While they were packing, I managed to publish everything I wanted, and the motive, I hope, has disappeared. But I still occasionally hear the question: “How, you still do not have banged?!”

— Anyway, we cannot say that the Church does not draw conclusions from the events of 100 years ago. Today it takes a very clear political position, does not hesitate in the question of whom to support-the government or the opposition. And the state pays a Church full reciprocity, almost restoring the privileges which had been lost a century ago…

The Church is in a much better position than before the February revolution. The bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church is experiencing today is not even gold, but diamond age, achieving in the end it is what fought: the status, privileges, grants, as with the king, but no king. And without any control from the state.

And don’t be distracted by conversations on the desirability of the monarchy, which occasionally can be heard in the Church or Church-related circles. The Patriarch never to anoint a Russian President, because it will automatically mean the provision anointed enormous internal powers, that is, a denial of the authority of the Patriarch. Not for the clergy was overthrown in 1917, the Imperial power to restore her 100 years later.

— However, judging by your statements, you are not one of those who believes that “the diamond age ROC” will last forever.

– Yes, sooner or later, I believe the pendulum will go in the opposite direction. This has already happened in our history. In Moscow Russia the Church is also swell, and swell, in the form of wealth and lands, and living a parallel life to the state. Then many also thought that it would last forever, but then sat on the throne, Peter I — and the process turned almost 180 degrees.

Something like that Church is going to experience in the coming decades. Don’t know whether it comes this time it’s before the abolition of the Patriarchate and Synod chief Procurator, or, as in Soviet times, the Council on religious Affairs, but control of the state over the Church, especially financial control, I am sure, will be introduced.

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