Polit Buro and the Church

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  Politburo And The Church, Kremlin Archives

N. Petrovsky, S.G. Petrov

Letter from L. D. Trotsky to the Politburo of the Central Committee of the RCP (b) with proposals on policy towards the church, adopted by the Politburo. May 24, 1922

No. 23-48

C. secret


The internal struggle in the church became widespread. After the removal of Tikhon, a group of elements of the "center"

(Anthony) 42 and the left (several young priests) became the head of the church .

The movement is proceeding mainly under the banner of the church council [.] The new church government can be defined in three directions:

1)                   the preservation of the patriarchate and the election of a loyal patriarch.

2)                   the destruction of the patriarchate and the creation of a collegium (loyal synod).

3)                   complete decentralization, the absence of any central government (the church, as an "ideal" set of communities of 1 * believers).

I believe that there is no need for us to engage in any of these directions (even unofficially). It is much more profitable if a serious struggle flares up between these three orientations. For this purpose, it is better to delay the convocation of a church council. Make the final choice later, if you need to make a choice at all.

A centralized church under a loyal and virtually powerless patriarch has certain advantages. Full decentralization can be accompanied by a deeper penetration of the church into the masses by adapting to local conditions. Finally, it is possible, and even quite probable, such a combination, when a part of the church retains a loyal patriarch, who is not recognized by the other part of the church, organizing under the banner of a synod or full autonomy of communities. In the end, such a combination would be perhaps the most beneficial. Are there any objections:

a)  against delaying the Council for two months or more;

b) against a wait-and-see policy in relation to the indicated orientations in the church?


May 24, 1922

-  L. 71-72. Certified typewritten copy.

-  APRF, f. 3, op. 1, d.277, l. 19. Draft minutes of the Politburo meeting. Typewritten original, signature - facsimile. On the last line of text, the originally typed "orientations" were handwritten to "orientations". Instead of the typewritten line "APPENDIX TO PROTOCOL No. 8 TO ITEM 11", written in pencil "Appendix,] 11". At the top is the stamp of the Bureau of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the RCP (b) with the handwritten date "27 / V 1922" and the incoming number. Below is a stamp about the document's belonging to the office work of the Politburo meeting, minutes No. 8, item 11 of May 26, 1922 (No. 23-49). Here is the stamp of the Secret Archives of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (b.).

Notes and Comments:

1 * Fixed in general document .

42 This refers to Bishop Antonin Granovsky.