Appendix II You Can't Vanquish the Church by Crucifying her Flock

by Zoya Krakhmalnikova


I finished compiling NADEZHDA in 1982, before my arrest. The project amounted to 10 books - 3,000 typewritten pages. This library of Christian readings was the result of my work of several years. It received the blessing of many hierarchs of the Orthodox Church (the Russian Church Abroad, the Church of Constantinople, the American Church). I compiled NADEZHDA in the years of the so-called "stagnation," when religious sermons and religious literature were considered to be criminal phenomena. The "criminal case" of NADEZHDA was entrusted to a KGB investigator of 'particular important cases.' He was assisted by a group of about 10 investigators from several cities who came to be trained in processing similar "cases of special importance.' After my release (from the five-year period of detention - I was freed in July 1987 without any preliminary conditions) I had no intentions to continue with my journal. My project was accomplished before my arrest: the texts which I had collected in the course of several years were offered to the reader. In order to continue this work today, certain specific conditions and assistance of the Church would be required. The journal NADEZHDA should be made 'legal.' The books of NADEZHDA were being barbarously destroyed by punitive organs and Christians themselves who were in fear of persecution and arrests...In the USSR, as you know, religious books were considered as dangerous as "pershings"; they were and still are regarded ""subversive material," endangering the security of our country. Assuming that the times are now changing, that the period of glastnost' and perestroika makes the legalization of NADEZHDA possible and necessary, I approach the Publications Department of the Moscow Patriarchate with the request to publish the 10 books of NADEZHDA. I reminded the Chairman of the Department, Metropolitan Pitrim, that NADEZHDA continued the traditions of edifying readings which were widely published in Russia, and that it is intended for our compatriots who are in great need of religious literature. I also reminded him that NADEZHDA was published abroad only because it could not be published in the USSR. Metropolitan Pitrim is well aware that during the Soviet regime the Moscow Patriarchate has not published a 'single book' of Christian readings. I suggested to Metropolitan Pitrim that he might take advantage of the experiment of the publication of NADEZHDA abroad, ie., to open subscriptions to NADEZHDA and to use the subscribers' money to pay for paper (the Moscow Patriarchate maintains that lack of paper prevents them from publishing religious literature) and printing NADEZHDA, which was financed with subscribers' money in the West, found its way into many countries. While in exile I received letters from Australia, Canada, Japan, U.S.A., France, Germany, England, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, etc. Only believers in the USSR do not have a chance to read NADEZHDA. Metropolitan Pitrim received my letter two months ago. He did not answer it. Obviously, he has not only declined my suggestion, but considers me to be unworthy of his reply...


As long as atheism remains the state religion, as long as all the means of mass information are in the hands of an atheistic regime, and as long as the Church remains silent, any essential changes are impossible. They can only amount to some insignificant formal and quantitative modifications. Let's say, a number of open churches, of registered religious communities will increase, a few monasteries will open - the is important, of course. We hope that in time the Kiev-Caves Lavra will also be returned to believers. However, in Christianity it is not so much the form and the quantity that are of importance, as the essence; not the letter, but the spirit. The Optina Pustyn' [Hermitage], the ruins of which have been returned to the Russian Orthodox Church, was the center of spiritual and cultural life in the 19th century. Optina served the world with sanctity: it published books and enlightened the world with the Truth of Christ. Optina offered salvation to that part of the Russian society which sought and found spiritual treasures of the Orthodox faith. Today, for instance, the famous Pskov-Caves Monastery may become a place of temptation not only for the world, but for Orthodox people as well. The unparalleled rudeness and cruelty of Gavriil, the Superior of this monastery, with which he treats both the monks of the monastery and the pilgrims, has become "the talk of the town." The only visitors welcome at the monastery, as far as he is concerned, are representatives of the Council of Religious Affairs. It is not enough to open monasteries and churches. Believers ought to have spiritual treasures of the Orthodox faith returned to them, i.e., not only Optina Monastery, but also its printing press. Only then can one hope that many years later, by the grace of God, the Church will have spiritual leaders similar to those inhabiting the Optina and other monasteries which spiritually enriched Russian society and culture in the course of a thousand-year history of Christianity...


Spiritual processes do not depend on civil liberties. Civil freedom is needed by all citizens of our country. According to our faith, the Church is the pillar and ground of Truth. She is 'spiritually' free and lives in accordance with the "laws" of grace, and does not pay tribute to anyone. But her members are only "all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him" (I Kings 19:18). Speaking of the church we like to recall Christ's words that "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." These words contain not only a firm promise: "shall not prevail against it," but also an indication that the "gates of hell" will be trying to prevail against it. And those members of the Chruch, of whatever standing they might be: patriarchs, bishops, priests or lay people, will be prevailed against by the "gates of hell" and vanquished by them, if they should bend their knees before the servants of hell. They will only be called the Church, have an appearance of the Church, but will be deprived of her power. The history of Christianity knows many such instances when the high-ranking patriarchs and bishops became heretics and apostates, and the decrees of the Councils and they themselves were anathematized. God invariably disgraces Satan, but He does this in His own time. The essence of the freedom of the Church is understood only through persecutions...

As long as there are people in concentration camps sentenced for their religious convictions, to speak of the end of persecutions means to distort the truth. Strictly speaking, true Christianity has not known, nor will it know such times in the history of mankind when it is not subject to persecution. This is God's intention with regard to His true disciples, and it is not to be revised. The world has always struggled and will always struggle against Christianity; but the methods and forms of this struggle, though stereotyoed in character, vary from one historical period to another.

In the 20's and 30's, our land became stained with the blood of martyrs and confessors of Christ. These were the years of triumph of the faith. After centuries of alleged well-being, the Orthodox Church, spiritually exhausted as the result of the awful fratricidal split, had to defend her faith of the Cross. 'You can't vanquish the Church by sending her flock to the Cross', because her belief is in the Resurrection. We are told by the Saints that "the fallen spirit, the spirit of malice and animosity towards God, replaces cruel temptations by weak, though refined and very effective ones". Mankind has entered the 'age of great spiritual persecutions of Christians'. This is a worldwide process, and it is inherent in all the Christian churches of today. This is the fatal warfare between Christianity and the godless consciousness between God and Satan. Atheism brings eternal death to mankind. Christianity brings faith in the Resurrection. Essentially this is precisely the struggle for the survival of mankind. The aim of spiritual persecutions is to enfeeble the Church by way of compromises, to create a "new Christianity," Christianity without Christ, and hence spiritually weak, comfortable and safe. The period of blood-spilling persecutions of the 20's and 30's has now been replaced by the struggle for turning the Orthodox faith in our country into renovationism, ritualism, paganism on Christian grounds, idolatry, sectarianism.


Perhaps one of the strongest temptations of today is ritualism, because of the "magic" of rites. It suits the militant atheism quite well. First of all because ritualism limits man in his service to God and to his fellow-men; secondly because it is the subject of easy criticism in the atheist propaganda; and thirdly, it lacks spiritual power, since it believes in the rite, in a Patriarch, in bishops and priests, rather than in God. It believes in a form, trying in vain to acquire sanctity through the letter.

Ritualism forms the basis of another branch of the "neo-Christianity" or renovationism - i.e. 'a political Christianity'. Almost all ruling archbishops of the Russian Orthodox Church are active in state politics, they are political personae, constituting a certain institution which is sanctioned by the state and through which the atheistic regime manages the religious life of believers...

Some of our Christians and those in the West think that the truth about the politicking of our Church hierarchs may become a temptation. However, in Christianity, truth can never become a temptation. Only a lie may tempt, as the Gospels categorically reveal to us...

Political Christianity blossomed in our country during the time of Patriarch Sergius (Starogorodsky) and has become known as "Sergianism". It has marked the beginning of the dreadful times prophesied by our Saints when, according to St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, "the increased number of apostates who outwardly call themselves 'Christians' would begin to use violence and slander". That time was marked by terrible division: some bishops occupied their bishops' sees, others - the plank beds in concentration camps. Precisely in those terrible years was created the anti-Christian, anti-Church myth about salvation of the Church by political compromise. I think that the myth has always been popular with the Council of Religious Affairs and amongst our bishops. From that time on the Church sank into silence. Politicized "religious leaders" have enfeebled the Church spiritually by becoming the comrades of persecutors, and they refused to be one with the confessors and martyrs for the sake of an imaginary "salvation" of the Church, repeating after the militant atheists that the canonization of martyrs and confessors was a political act. Persecutors of Christ at all times would call His disciples political criminals, and Christ Himself, as is well known, was accused of "seducing people" and being "an enemy of Caesar" (John 7:6; 19:12). Political interpretation of the persecution of Christians is as old as the world. The devil is monotonous. As to the myth about the "salvation of the Church', it is well known that people are not required to save the Church. Christ alone saves it, by sending fiery temptation and suffering unto death. Ritualism, idolatry, sectarianism is the price for the compromise, and the result of spiritual split with the Orthodox faith.


Being men of politics, the "religious leaders" introduce "party norms" into the life of the Church. They speak of some "balanced" attitude of the Church towards religious freedom (Archbishop Kirill of Smolensk and Vyazma) and consider it possible for themselves as 'the leaders' speaking on behalf of the entire Church, to solve essential problems within their narrow party environment without bringing them out for discussion by the Church Council. 'Everyone' should be 'heard out' within the Church. Everyone who wants to be heard out. Apostle Paul (I Cor. 11:19) teaches: "For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you." The Church is not a party and it lives by different laws; "party discipline" is foreign to her: reprimands for criticism are impossible there, she is not a comfort-seeking society, and the fate of one sinner may be more precious to Christ and to His Church than the fates of 99 righteous men. The state authorities gladly offer a platform to those who they declare to be "religious leaders": the latter, unfortunately disregarding the Gospel ideals of democracy, rebuff the "disobedient ones" as "spiritually lost", while thinking themselves to be infallible. When defending themselves they do not shrink from informing on their brothers in faith. Thus, in the Communique of the pre-Council conference (March-April '88), while accusing the Christians who wrote to the archbishops expressing their opinions of the Church life, they accused them of pride, nihilism, of spiritual heresies, as well as of their intentions to make the Church confront (!) the State. How could our smooth-spoken peace lovers include this political denunciation in the Communique?! Alas, all this demonstrates the hopelessly obsolete political thinking which may please only the opponents of moral rebirth in our country...

The Gospels command us to speak the truth to one another and to disclose the fruitless deeds of darkness. Disclosure of lawlessness and condemnation are different things. The judgement, however, does not belong to us.+

-Excerpted from the interview of Zoya Krakhmalnikova given to the journal 'GLASNOST': APRIL 1988.
Translated by "ORTHODOX ACTION" in Australia.