Polit Buro and the Church

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  Politburo And The Church, Kremlin Archives

N. Petrovsky, S.G. Petrov

On confiscation of church valuables

Appeal of Patriarch Tikhon to the clergy and believers of the Russian Orthodox Church regarding the seizure of church values.

15/28 February 1922

No. 23-1



In the midst of severe trials and calamities, having brought down our land for our iniquities, the greatest and most terrible famine is the famine that has taken over a vast area with a population of many millions.

Back in August 1921, when rumors of this terrible calamity began to reach us, we, considering it our duty to come to the aid of our suffering spiritual children, sent messages to the heads of individual Christian churches (Orthodox Patriarchs, Pope, Archbishop of Canterbury and Bishop New York [to] sky) with an appeal, in the name of Christian love, to collect money and food and send them to the population of the Volga region dying of hunger.

At the same time, We founded the All-Russian Church Committee for Aid to the Famine, and in all churches and among certain groups of believers began collecting money intended to help the starving. But such an ecclesiastical organization was recognized by the Soviet Government as unnecessary, and all the sums of money collected by the church were demanded for surrender (and surrendered) to the Government Committee. However, in December, the Government suggested that we do, through the bodies of church administration (the Holy Synod, the Supreme [his] Church [ovny] Council, the Diocesan Council, the Dean relief to the hungry 1 .

Wishing to increase the possible assistance to the population of the

Volga region dying of hunger, We found it possible to allow parish councils and communities to donate precious church decorations and items that do not have liturgical use for the needs of the starving people, about which we notified the Orthodox population on February 6/19 of this year. a special appeal, which was authorized by the Government for printing and distribution among the population 2 .

But after this, after sharp attacks in government newspapers, in relation to the spiritual leaders of the Church, on February 13/26 V.Ts.I.K. sacred vessels and so on. liturgical church items 3 .

From the point of view of the Church, such an act is an act of sacrilege, and we considered it our sacred duty to clarify the Church's view of this act, and also to notify our faithful spiritual children of this.

We allowed, in view of extremely difficult circumstances, the possibility of donating church items that were not consecrated and did not have liturgical use. We call upon the believing children of the Church even now to such donations, only one wishing that these donations would be a response of a loving heart to the needs of their neighbors, if only they would really provide real help to our suffering brothers. But we cannot approve of the removal from churches, even through a voluntary donation, of sacred objects, the use of which is not for liturgical purposes is prohibited by the canons of the Ecumenical Church and is punished by It as sacrilege, a layman by excommunication from Her, a clergyman by eruption from dignity (apostle [Olskoe] rule 73, Two-time Ecumenical

Council [,] right [or] 10).

Given in Moscow

February 15, 1922.


-          L. 7-rev. A typewritten copy of that time, made between 1 and 8 March 1922 in the Secret Department of the Moscow City Department of the GPU and certified by its secretary A. N.

Pryanikov. Above L. 7 handwritten litter: “v. Molotov ". There is  also a stamp about the document's belonging to the office work of the Politburo meeting, minutes No. 111, paragraph 33 of March 13, 1922 (No. 23-5).

-          RCKHIDNI, f. 5, op. 2, d.48, l. 6 - rev. Another certified copy of the same typewritten bookmark with the same certification signature. Above L. 6 handwritten litter: “v. Lenin "

-          Here is the stamp "Comrade Lenin's Archive" with a handwritten entry number.

-TSA FSB. Special archive, d. 1780, v. 2, fol. 60 - rev. Certified typewritten copy of the time.

-          Published: Bulletin of the Russian student Christian movement. 1970. No. 98. S. 61-63; Acts of His Holiness Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, later documents and correspondence on the canonical succession of the highest ecclesiastical authority. 19171943. M., 1994.S. 188, 190; Archpriest V. Tsypin. History of the Russian Orthodox Church. 1917-1990. M., 1994.S. 231, 232.

Notes and Comments:

The file contains a cover letter on the letterhead of the GPU, sent on March 8, 1922, on behalf of I.S.Unshlikht, to V.M. The letter has a stamp on the document's belonging to the office work of the Politburo meeting, minutes No. 111, paragraph 33 of March 13, 1922 (No. 23-5). (L. 6).

The copy of the RCKHIDNI contains a cover letter of the same content with the same date and signature, sent to VI Lenin. The letter bears the stamp "Comrade Lenin's Archive" with the handwritten date "15 / III" and the entry number. (L. 5).

1In his testimony on May 5, 1922 at the Polytechnic Museum at the trial of "Moscow churchmen", Patriarch Tikhon outlined the history of these negotiations and the appearance of patriarchal appeals dated February 6 and 28, 1922. 1921, Pomgol's positive answer came only in December of this year. “I was sent to Pomgol, as an expert in this matter, Archpriest Tsvetkov, he worked in this area more than once in 1911-1912. In Pomgol, they negotiated with Comrade Vinokurov, who is in charge of this business. Comrade Vinokurov expressed the wish that our Church would go to help the hungry and donate from her values. Archpriest Tsvetkov said that there are things in the Church that we cannot sacrifice according to our canons. Comrade Vinokurov said to this that we do not demand this, but it is good if you donate pendants, stones, then jewelry. Tsvetkov informed me of this. I then agreed to it; since I knew that proclamations should be issued with the knowledge of the authorities, I submitted to Pomgol a draft of my proclamation on what should be sacrificed, what should be donated. At the same time, I meant that the church property itself was transferred to the community of believers, and I expressed myself in such a way that, for my part, I allow donating such and such things, this appeal was later approved by Pomgol [...]. Then an instruction was drawn up on how to carry out this business, by the way, such a clause was included in the instruction - that all these church donations are voluntary. Then a few days later, when the appeal was published — five days later — the Central Committee issued a decree to take everything away. It seemed strange to us: on the one hand, an agreement is underway with us, on the other hand, a decree is issued behind the back to take everything away, and there is no talk of any agreements. Comrade Vinokurov himself threw out from the instruction the point that he himself had emphasized earlier, namely, that these donations are voluntary. " The patriarch reported further that he had sent a letter to M. I. Kalinin in which he protested against this drastic change in the position of the authorities on the question of the voluntariness of church donations. "I asked in a letter from Mikhail Ivanovich that this point be restored, that it was a voluntary consent, and what else we would have to inform the population, so to speak, and there was no answer." In response to inquiries from the laity and the clergy about the beginning of withdrawals, the patriarch “issued a letter [...] and expressed the view of the church canons, but, of course,

The testimony of Patriarch Tikhon that the publication of his appeal of February 6, 1922 was officially approved by the authorities (Pomgol's Central Committee) is fully documented. A copy printed in the state printing house (10th printing house of the Ministry of National Economy) in the form of a leaflet has survived, where, after the text of the appeal, a message is typed about the permission of the Pomgol Central Committee to print this appeal (see No. P-5).

Giving these testimonies, the patriarch, of course, could not know that in fact the approval of the text of the appeal took place at a much higher level than Pomgol - at the level of the Politburo. At a meeting on February 9, 1922, the Politburo decided "to allow the publication of a separate sheet" of Patriarch Tikhon's appeal for aid to the starving (see No. P-8). In the paperwork of this meeting (draft minutes), NV Tsvetkov's autograph of the announcement in newspapers about the participation of the Russian Orthodox Church in helping the hungry (see No. P-7) was preserved. For instructions on the procedure for collecting church donations, mentioned by the patriarch, see No. P-6. There is also approved by A. N. Vinokurov and N. V. Tsvetkov "Regulations on the participation of the Orthodox Russian Church in helping the starving" dated 01.02.1922 (see No. P-4).

In all these documents, church donations were viewed as purely voluntary, and the whole process of collecting these donations, their concentration and direction to the hungry had to take place under the constant supervision of not only Pomgol, but also the church organization at all its levels, from the church headman and priest to the bishop and patriarch. It was a real agreement between the state and the church on joint conflict-free work to raise church funds to help the hungry.

Since the Patriarch's appeal of February 6, 1922, which was part of this compromise, was textually approved at the highest government level in the country, it is legally very strange that the accusations of disseminating this message as a counterrevolutionary document, made during the trials against the clergy, look very strange. It was qualified as a crime that the patriarch blessed the donation of only those items that did not have liturgical significance. But it is clear that in working out the conditions for this compromise, emphasizing the voluntary nature of the agreement that developed the proposals of the patriarch in August 1921, the Church could not agree to anything else.

2                     See this appeal: No. P-5 with the date "February 6, 1922", and the Politburo resolution on its publication (minutes No. 94, item 36 of February 9, 1923) - No. P-8. The date of this appeal given in the text of document No. 23-1 "February 6/19" is also indicated in the "Acts of His Holiness Patriarch Tikhon ..." on p. 187, but how dubious: "06 (19) (?) 02.1922". In fact, the date "February 6, 1922", affixed with the signature of Patriarch Tikhon on the original copy of the appeal, written by the hand of Archpriest N. Tsvetkov and sent by him to the Central Committee of Pomgol with a cover letter dated February 7, is a date of the new, not the old style. This is evidenced by the date of discussion of the document at the Politburo - February 9, and the date of permission to publish the Central Committee of Pomgol - February 11 (see the leaflet with the text of the appeal - GARF, f. 353, op. 5, d. 254, p. 4).

3                     See No. P-9. Patriarch Tikhon indicates in document No. 23-1 the date of publication of the decree of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee. The date of the adoption of this decree of the Presidium of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee "on the confiscation of church valuables for sale to help the starving" is February 16, 1922. This date is often indicated when referring to the decree in the correspondence of various Soviet and party bodies. The date "February 23, 1922" was also often called. - the date placed when the decree was published in newspapers and the SU.

4The "Acts of His Holiness Patriarch Tikhon ..." published by the Orthodox St. Tikhon Theological Institute contains the text of the "Secret Instruction" of Patriarch Tikhon "on the attitude towards the confiscation of church valuables" (p. 191) with the date "02.1922". This instruction, in particular, said: “We angrily reject and punish by excommunication even a voluntary donation of sacred vestments and bowls: it is important not what to give, but to whom to give.

Reading the lines of Our Message, indicate about this flock of yours at the meetings where you can and must fight against the confiscation of values. We allow to give only scrap and pendants from images ... " : the source of publication in this edition by the late M.E. Gubonin (who also collected the apocrypha) indicated only the text of the indictment in the case of Patriarch Tikhon (Indictment in the case of citizens: Bellavin Vasily Ivanovich, Fenomenov Nikandr Grigorievich, Stadnitsky Arseny Georgievich and Guriev Petr Viktorovich according to 62 and 119 articles of the Criminal Code. M. , 1923) and two popular anti-religious publications dependent on him (no pages indicated). But in fact, there is no mention of this document in the Indictment, and they would certainly appear if he somehow became known in the Lubyanka. 1923) and two popular anti-religious publications dependent on him (no pages indicated). But in fact, there is no mention of this document in the Indictment, and they would certainly appear if he somehow became known in the Lubyanka. 1923) and two popular anti-religious publications dependent on him (no pages indicated). But in fact, there is no mention of this document in the Indictment, and they would certainly appear if he somehow became known in the Lubyanka.