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100 years ago: Patriarchal courage

20 May 2022

May 19th, 1922.

A FEW days ago Mr Chicherin declared at Genoa to the correspondent of an English paper that in Russia complete liberty is permitted to all religions. The statement was absolutely false. At the moment when the lie was uttered Mr Chicherin, and probably the correspondent also, knew that the Russian Church not only has been, but actually is, the subject of persecution. The goods of the Church are requisitioned by the Soviets. The Church refuses to cede them, not because she would not yield even the ornaments of the Church to relieve famine, as the Church in other ages has done, but because she knows that the sacrifice would be made in vain, and that the destitute would not be relieved. For fidelity to their trust Russian priests have been put to death. Le Temps — the French papers have in this matter been more fully informed than the English — reports that the Patriarch Tikhon, summoned as a witness in a case in which the Archbishop of Moscow and others of the clergy were charged with resisting the law of confiscation, has himself been transformed into a defendant. The president of the tribunal, addressing the Patriarch as Citizen Yasili Ivanovitch Beliavine, told him that the treasures of the Church were the property of the State, and that he was pretending to administer a property which was not really his. To which the Patriarch replied that the treasure was God’s. The Patriarch is a very courageous prelate, who for years has faced the possibility of martyrdom. Through what seemed to be the direst days of persecution he was preserved to the Church, but he may yet win the martyr’s crown.

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