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100 years ago: The Russian situation

11 August 2023

August 10th, 1923.

THE despatch from Russia which appeared in the Daily Telegraph of Wednesday, and in an abbreviated form in other journals, is of the highest importance, for it witnesses to an important change in the position of the Church in that country. The influence of the Patriarch Tikhon is now greater than ever before; the churches in which he officiates are far too small to contain the crowds of worshippers, and he is accompanied everywhere by numbers of his flock. He enjoins the Church not to meddle in politics, while he condemns the “Living Church” as the defender of Communism. The despatch agrees entirely with private information which comes to us from a sure source inside Russia. We gather that the ‘‘Living Church” may even now be dying: “Archbishop” Antonin has disappeared, and its other leaders are not likely to make good their revolt against the Patriarch. The persecution of religion is ceasing, Bolshevism has failed to kill the Church by force, and it has survived the desperate struggle for existence. It may even be that in a short time Holy Russia may emerge again, not necessarily to make any attempt to restore the monarchy, but to mould its own form of government. For Bolshevism is a political creed of the towns only, nor of all townsmen; and ninety-nine per cent of the Russians are peasants. There are anxious times ahead, for the depletion of the ranks of the priesthood must have its effect for many years to come, and the law is still in force which prohibits the teaching of religion to children. But over Russia there are faint lights in the sky which seem to betoken the dawn.

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