SOVIET RUSSIA. Brief history of the USSR
In the revolutionary era, the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) entered as a powerful organization. By 1914, the Russian Empire numbered 117 million Orthodox Christians living in 67 dioceses. 130 bishops and over 50 thousand priests and deacons conducted services in 48 thousand parish churches. The ROC was in charge of 35 thousand primary schools and 58 seminaries, as well as more than a thousand active monasteries and 95 thousand monastics. By the time of the revolution in Russia there were significant achievements in the field of Orthodox missionary work, especially in the territory of Alaska, Japan, Siberia and the Far East.
At the same time, the Church, not having a patriarch at the beginning of the revolution (the patriarchate was abolished by Peter I in 1700), could not ensure the close connection of the center with the periphery. The abdication of Nicholas II meant that the Russian Orthodox Church was not only severed, but also beheaded. The Provisional Government, having come to power, gave permission to convene the All-Russian Local Council, which opened in the Assumption Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin on August 15, 1917. The very next meeting of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior took place the next day, and the Metropolitan was elected chairman. Tikhon. In total, there were three sessions of the Council: 1st - from August 15 to December 9, 1917; 2nd - from January 20 to April 20, 1918 and 3rd - from July 2 to September 20, 1918
On October 28, the Council made a historic decision, in accordance with which the supreme legislative, administrative, judicial and supervising power in the ROC should belong to the Local Council. The patriarchate was restored, and the patriarch was subordinate to the Council. After four rounds of voting, the Council elected three candidates for the patriarchal throne. On November 5, 1917, the Metropolitan of Moscow Tikhon (in the world Vasily Ivanovich Bellavin) was elected the eleventh patriarch of Moscow and All Russia by the eleventh patriarch in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, which contained 12 thousand people. At the final meeting of the Council on September 20, 1918, it was decided that the next Local Council would convene in the spring of 1921. The meeting for more than a year, the Council did not exhaust all of its program. Nevertheless, this time was a period of self-determination of the ROC in the new historical conditions. The synodal system of church government, which had finally become obsolete, was abolished, and the patriarchate was restored.
The idea of a "secular state" in Russia was shared by many. Already the Provisional Government abolished the compulsory teaching of the Law of God and transferred the parochial schools to the Ministry of Public Education. The Local Council objected to these measures of the government, but could not persuade Kerensky to cancel the adopted laws. The Prime Minister said that the Provisional Government was determined to destroy those threads that prevent the new order from becoming extra-confederate.
After the events of October 1917, the Soviet government went even further - the struggle for an "atheistic state" was launched. The first government measures on the separation of church and state were held the day after the overthrow of the Provisional Government. By the Decree on the Land, adopted on the night of October 26-27, 1917, monasteries and churches lost their lands. This undermined the economic power of the ROC. Soon by the decision of the Council of People's Commissars of December 11, 1917, the schools of the ecclesiastical department were transferred to the jurisdiction of the People's Commissariat of Education. All church-parish (elementary, single-class, two-class) schools, teacher's seminaries, religious schools, academies and all other lower, secondary and higher schools and institutions of the ecclesiastical department were subject to transfer. Moreover, all their movable and immovable property (buildings, land, libraries, securities, etc.) was also transferred to the jurisdiction of the state.
The anxiety of the ministers of the Church was intensified by the fact that the revolutionary process was accompanied by a significant number of excesses, the victims of which were Orthodox churches, monasteries, and clergymen. In Petrograd, palace churches were closed, Synodal printing house was confiscated. A number of those in authority at this time talked about the impending removal from the temples of the sacred vessels, comparing communion with the "witch act." At the same time, slogans appear: "The priests are louses on the body of the people", "the priests are accomplices of marauders and landlords." The most influential representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church tried to draw the attention of the Bolshevik leadership to the situation around the clergy. On January 10, 1918, Metropolitan Petrogradsky Benjamin sent a letter to the Council of People's Commissars, in which he called the government "not to carry out the proposed project about the selection of church property".
With sharp denunciations of those who carried out attacks on the Church, Patriarch Tikhon delivered a speech in January 1918. He called on all believers to stand up in defense of the "our holy mother, who is now insulted and oppressed," to oppose to the enemies of the Church "the power of a powerful nationwide cry." The patriarch’s letter did not contain political judgments and there were no assessments of the new state system in terms of its political expediency. However, the words of Tikhon "ana-femstvuem you, if only you wear more Christian names and although by birth belong to the Orthodox Church" many contemporaries were understood as anathema to the Soviet system. The sharp tone of the statement of the patriarch was due to the erroneous conviction that the new power would fall very soon.
State pressure on the ROC continued to increase. On January 20, 1918, the Council of People's Commissars approved a decree on the separation of church from state and school from church. The draft decree, which was officially called “On Freedom of Conscience, Church and Religious Societies,” was prepared by a special commission, which included A. V. Lunacharsky, P. I. Stuchka, P. A. Krasikov, M. A. Reisner and M.V. Galkin. Signed by V. I. Lenin and a number of People's Commissars, the decree declared all property of church and religious societies as public property and deprived them of their right to benefits and subsidies from the state. The church lost the rights of the legal entity. All buildings and objects designed specifically for liturgical purposes were given, by special orders of the local or central authorities, for free use of the respective religious societies.
The decree eliminated any intervention of the clergy in school life. Teaching religious doctrines in educational institutions was forbidden. At the same time, the decree, developing the position of the Declaration of the Rights of the Peoples of Russia, which proclaimed freedom of religion, declared freedom of conscience: citizens could practice any religion or not practice any. It was forbidden to issue any local laws that would establish the advantages and privileges of one religion over another. The decree, however, indicated that the free exercise of religious rites was provided only “because they do not violate public order and are not accompanied by an encroachment on the rights of citizens and the Soviet Republic”. Local authorities were given the right to "take all necessary measures to ensure in these cases public order and security." Thus, the decree completed a series of state events on the issue of separation of church and state. It is not surprising that among the clergy he was greeted very negatively.
On the ground, the implementation of the decree also encountered significant difficulties. The peasantry spoke out against the violent "conciliation" of their traditional way of life, against breaking the unshakable, as it seemed to him, consecrated by Orthodox canons of principles.
In pursuance of the decree of January 20, 1918, churches and monasteries are being taken from the church. The expert of the People's Commissariat of Justice, M.V. Galkin, a former priest and one of the authors of the draft decree, having visited the Novoladozhsky district of the Petrograd province in late 1918, concluded that "monasteries flourish as before. For example, 28 monks in Zelenetsky monastery own 42 cow-mi. " Galkin’s conclusion was categorical: “It is necessary, without destroying a well-established dairy monastic farm, to evict monks from Zelenetsky Monastery and arrange a sanatorium for the children of the Petrograd proletariat, or for tuberculosis patients.”
In the ensuing civil war, the ROC remained in the position of political neutrality. Even before the Bolsheviks came to power, the Local Council decided not to participate in the momentary power struggle, refusing to send delegates to the Pre-Parliament. In November 1917, by the end of the Moscow junkers' uprising, the Council appealed to both sides not to take revenge, to stop the bloodshed and to show mercy to the vanquished. At the same time, it was decided to funeral the dead on both sides, and an appeal was made to the entire Russian people to repent of the sin of the brother-murder.
Patriarch Tikhon also sought to avoid involvement in political events. In the spring of 1918, before going south to Denikin, a well-known church leader, Prince G. I. Trubetskoy, visited him. T-hone made it clear that he refuses to bless the troops of the Volunteer Army just as it does to individual members of the white movement. In his message of October 8, 1919, the patriarch forbade the clergy to take the side of the whites and publicly support them. At that moment this circumstance greatly disturbed the leaders of the counter-revolution.
A serious shock to the Church was the widespread opening of the relics, which with particular force was re-established in 1919. A special decree on this matter was issued by the People's Commissariat of Justice in February 1919. Opening ups were carried out by special commissions in the presence of clergy. Protocols were drawn up during the operation. If, as a result of the autopsy, it was found that the relics were not preserved in an integral form, this circumstance was used for atheistic propaganda and was issued as a deliberate deception and forgery. Until the autumn of 1920, 63 public autopsies were conducted. These actions continued in subsequent years.
Attempts of believers and the clergy to resist the authorities ended, as a rule, with arrests, trials and deportations. The total number of "those who perished for the Church" during the civil war years was about 12 thousand laymen, several thousand parish clergy and monastics, and also 28 bishops (the highest clergy in the Russian Orthodox Church).
History of the Soviet Union and Russia in the 20th Century