The Vatican against the Orthodox Church
© 1965 by Avro Manhattan
Excerpted from the book: Vatican Imperialism in the 20th Century
The Catholic Church, the greatest surviving giant in the world, is a colossus with no peer in antiquity, experience and above all, in her determination to dominate the human race. To reach such a goal, she will suffer no rivals, tolerate no competitors, put up with no enemies.
Giants who, like her, were found roaming in the deep valley of history, she fought with bloody claws and a ruthlessness to shame the Attillas, the Genghis Khans and all the other scourgers of civilization. Many she led to their destruction; others she subjugated for good; some were annihilated, but some resisted and escaped all her guiles. More than one survived, and even fought relentless battles that echoed with sanguinary echoes in the corridors of the centuries and that are still being fought as ferociously as in olden times, now, in the very midst of the twentieth century.
Vatican diplomacy is the oldest diplomacy in the world. Most of those it fought were either shrunk to nothing by time or blotted out by history, and to modern ears all its multifarious intrigues would sound as hollow and as unreal as they have become strangely unrelated to the ever-bewildering events of our day.
Yet not all the ancient foes of the Vatican have been reduced to mere landmarks of the past. Some have bridged bygone centuries to the present, and one of them, the most formidable of all, the Orthodox Church, a peer to Catholicism in antiquity, is as much a reality in our time as is the Vatican itself.
The antagonism of these two ancient colossi has produced the longest diplomatic war in the history of man, which is still being fought as fiercely, as ruthlessly and as unscrupulously as ever. Catholic intrigues against Orthodoxy, since its inception, are uncountable. They fill the annals of the first millennium; and from the beginning of the second, when in 1054 the Orthodox Patriarch, Michael Cerulanius, brought about the final breach between the Eastern and Western Churches, until the fall of Constantinople, they remained paramount in the history of medieval Europe.
The goal of this thousand-year war is simple: the destruction or subjugation of the Orthodox Church or its voluntary or forcible integration into the Catholic Church. The unscrupulousness of Vatican diplomacy to reach this objective, prior to and after the fall of Byzantium, is hardly matched by parallel exertions in history, its most blatant intrigues of the period being veritable masterpieces of diplomatic cunning and double-dealing. Councils, religious compromises, political bargaining, secret negotiations with Orthodox patriarchs, pacts with the Byzantine emperors - everything and every device was used at one time or another to put Orthodoxy in fetters. We can mention the pact struck with the last Orthodox emperor of Constantinople, who, to obtain a promise of help in the defense of the Orthodox capital against the gathering Mohammedan armies, pledged to the Vatican the mass conversion of the Orthodox Church.
From the smashing of the Orthodox Church's political pillar, the Byzantine empire, in 1453, to the crumbling of its political successor, the Russian Czarist Empire, in 1917, the Vatican-Orthodox relations were characterized by a period of comparative diplomatic lull. This was due to historical factors, the most outstanding of which was that, in the course of the centuries, the center of Orthodoxy had shifted en masse from the Near East to the West, where its former missionary lands became its new home - namely, to Holy Russia. There the Orthodox Church struck deep roots. More than that: as Rome had been the first Rome, Constantinople had been the "second Rome," so now Moscow became the "third Rome." Moscow, Philothey said in the fifteenth century, was the natural successor of Constantinople. Now that Constantinople had fallen, the only Orthodox empire left in the world was the Russian. The Russian nation alone, therefore, henceforward became the true repository of the Orthodox faith. The idea of an Orthodox empire became the Russian's paramount idea. Church and State were integrated, linked by a common messianic purpose. Having found such fertile soil, soon the Orthodox Church regained its old vigor and splendor. As of old, committing its ancient mistake, it identified itself as intimately with the Russian empire as it had previously done with the Byzantine. From about 1721, when Peter the Great, after his Spiritual Regulation, made the Orthodox Church a branch of Czarism, until the Bolshevik Revolution, Caesaro-popism made her invincible against the machinations of the Vatican and almost impregnable to its attack on the religious, diplomatic and political fronts. Her immense strength, however, was her fatal weakness, as the fall of Czarism would automatically entail the fall of the Orthodox Church - which, in fact, occurred in 1917.
From then onward the machinations of Vatican diplomacy were resumed with renewed vigor wherever Orthodoxy existed - in the Balkans, in Russia, in Northeast Europe, and, indeed, even in the Near East.
Catholic instruments used to hamper, undermine, boycott and subjugate the Orthodox Church have been extremely varied, ranging from converted White Russians to Turkish officers, beginning and ending with diplomatic or political intrigues of all kinds, as can easily be imagined.
A typical case occurred after the First World War, when the fortunes of war put the fate of Constantinople in the balance. Immediately following the outbreak of hostilities, Lloyd George, Zaharoff and Premier Venezelos of Greece, signed an agreement by which the Greeks were to get the former Orthodox capital, This provoked a storm of protest from various quarters. The strongest, however, did not come from any Western State, but from the Vatican. The British government, with whom the final decision rested, became the particular target of Papal displeasure. Constantinople should never be ceded to the Orthodox Church, was the Vatican's request. This was tactfully ignored. Thereupon, Catholic diplomacy having looked elsewhere for support, soon found an unexpected ally in an unexpected quarter, a Turkish officer by the name of Kemal, who in no time dispelled Rome's anxiety by a brilliant victory at Smyrna. Kemal's victory precluded any possibility of Greece getting the ancient Orthodox capital.
Kemal Ataturk was not slow to perceive that identification of the interests of the young Turkey and of the Vatican could be mutually beneficial, and a tacit but real alliance was unofficially agreed upon. The fruits that it bore were various. They ranged from the heavy punishment and even death of any Turkish soldier found harming Armenian Christians, to the granting of special privileges to the Catholic Church in Turkish territory. But in the eyes of Rome, its paramount result was that the Orthodox Church had been prevented from returning to its ancient seat.
As long as an independent Turkish nation existed, Constantinople, by remaining incorporated in it, would never pass to her, The new Turkish republic, therefore, must survive and prosper. Following this strategy, the curious spectacle of the Vatican supporting a Moslem nation ruled by an atheist dictator became a discreet feature of Catholic diplomacy. Kemal Pasha, in gratitude for the unofficial pressure exerted in his favor by Catholic diplomacy in many European quarters, maintained a tacit understanding with the Vatican throughout his tenure of office; an alliance, this, which, although almost unnoticed, yet more than once stultified various conflicting interests in the Middle East.
Kemal Ataturk, who had been the instrument of "a great victory for the Pope," as the Osservatore Romano triumphantly put it, commenting upon Kemal's military victory at Smyrna, a decade or so later became the instrument of a second, which symbolically was even more significant.
The center of the Orthodox Church since the foundation of the Byzantine Empire of Constantine the Great in A.D, 324 has been the great Church of St. Sophia, which for over a millennium had come to symbolize Orthodoxy perhaps even more than St. Peter's in Rome symbolizes the Mother Church of Catholicism, From St. Sophia the Orthodox Patriarchs ruled almost like Popes of the East, until the fall of Constantinople. After the fall, notwithstanding the shifting of the center of Orthodoxy, St. Sophia continued to be the greatest symbol of Orthodoxy: a link bridging her past with the present, and her present with a future when St. Sophia would become once more the Mother Church of all Orthodox the world over.
Such a dream, however, was soon to be shattered, at least for a comparatively short period, when in 1935 Kemal, in one of his boldest steps to modernize Turkey, converted St. Sophia into a museum of Romano-Byzantine-Christian and Ottoman-Muslim art. The humiliation of the center of Orthodoxy could not have been more bitter.
A thing worthy of notice is that, prior to Ataturk's decision, the Vatican was informally consulted about any possible objections to St. Sophia's transformation. The Vatican, which thunders so promptly whenever a nation threatens to secularize Catholic schools or churches, not only did not object, but actually tacitly approved and even encouraged Kemal in his scheme.
It was thus that, when finally the muezzin, having climbed the minarets of St. Sophia, called in echoing accents to the faithful for the last time and the great building became officially a museum, whereas in the East the Moslems exculpated themselves to Allah for the sacrilege and the Orthodox world heard of the change with a heavy heart, at the Vatican there were smiles. Enigmatic, it is true, but very clear to those who understood the secret code of diplomacy.
If the first upheaval created by the First World War had enabled the Vatican to score a significant victory against the Orthodox Church, that same world had unexpectedly opened up a tremendous vista of conquests for Catholic diplomacy by causing the simultaneous thunderous fall of two great empires which until then had partially dominated both the East and the West alike -i.e. the Turkish and the Russian empires. This meant not only the tumbling of two massive political units, but also - and for the Vatican this had an even more significant meaning - the tumbling of the caliphate as the supreme bead of Islam, and of the czar as the supreme head of the Orthodox Church.
The downfall of czarism, in addition to being a political event of the first magnitude, spelled the disintegration of the power of the Orthodox Church, centered in the person of the czar.
The centralization of political-religions power, by binding both, meant that the downfall of one would spell the downfall of the other. This is precisely what occurred. The Russian Revolution consequently, by sweeping away czarism, swept away also the established Orthodox Church. The latter fell, not only because of her ties with the civil power, but also owing to the intrinsic dead weight which she had grown within herself. The Orthodox Church, in fact, had become a formidable reactionary power in her own right, whose economic tentacles spread to every nook and cranny of Holy Russia, controlling with an iron grip the minds and bodies of its inhabitants. She had over 80,000 churches and chapels and an army of 120,000 priests, supplemented by thousands of monasteries and convents, inhabited by another 100,000 monks and nuns. She controlled enormous wealth in land and buildings, owning 20,000,000 acres of the richest land and, at the time of the outbreak of the revolution, a bank balance of eight billion rubles and an income of about 500,000,000 rubles a year.
Her influence was truly enormous and was at the service of the czar, whose absolutism was further advocated by priests who took to politics. Without mentioning the monk Rasputin, the clergy sent to Parliament were of the most reactionary kind. The Third Duma saw forty-five priests, none of whom belonged to the liberal party; the next Duma had forty-eight, forty of whom represented the most reactionary movements. Whenever there were elections, the Orthodox Church supported the czar and preached against any social or political reform.
The Bolshevik Revolution, when it came, swept away this formidable tool of reaction as ruthlessly as it did czarism. The immense church property was nationalized, schools were requisitioned, the clergy were brought to political impotence: in short, the separation of Church and State was made a reality, and the Orthodox Church, despoiled of her magnificence, was reduced overnight to the naked poverty of early Christendom.
All these portents were followed with sinister fascination by the Roman Curia. When, therefore, in 1917 the Bolsheviks took over, at the Vatican, incredible as it may seem, there was jubilation. If the Bolsheviks were a terrible menace, they were also a blessing in disguise. Had they not pulled down the Orthodox Church, Rome's seemingly immovable rival? Had they not become the instruments for her approaching total disintegration?
The Russian Revolution had thus opened for the Vatican an immense field for Catholic conquest. A bold policy might result in what Catholicism had attempted in vain for over one thousand years: the reunion of the Orthodox Church, via a mass conversion of the Russians, in addition to the spiritual incorporation of Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, the Polish Orthodox Ukrainians and all the other different Orthodox groups in Eastern Europe - in fact, practically the whole Orthodox world. Orthodox resistance against the soviets found no sympathy whatsoever in Rome. On the contrary, it was welcomed in the hope that, by defying the new atheistic government, the Church would be given a mortal blow and would be wiped out for good.
It was while waiting for the Orthodox Church to receive the last blow that would finally bury her, and while the whole of Europe kept repeating, "This Lenin cannot last" - and by Lenin was meant Bolshevik Russia - that the Vatican unobtrusively made the first moves directed at attaining simultaneously its two main goals: acceleration of the stab in the back for what it believed to be an already moribund Orthodox Church, and its grandiose scheme for the mass conversion to Catholicism of the Orthodox millions.
Count Sforza, a leading figure in the Italian Foreign Office was approached by Pope Benedict XV, via one of the Popes most intimate confidants, and, under the seal of secrecy, was asked whether he would facilitate the entry of a number of Catholic priests into Russia. "Seeing my surprise," Count Sforza afterward related:
On receiving a favorable reply, on the orders of Benedict XV, "young priests began desperately studying Russian and the history of the Orthodox Church."1 Catholics with Russian experience and Catholic Russians overnight became top counsellors, chief among these being a Russian diplomat who, besides having become converted to Catholicism, had been ordained a Catholic priest: Alexander Evreinow, who was often consulted by the leading figures of the Vatican Secretariat of State.
From Rome, Vatican activities spread toward Russia itself. Negotiations between Rome and Moscow continued with varying fortune, the Bolsheviks being seemingly bent on pursuing crafty tactics. Yet at the Vatican the hopes that its patient efforts would eventually be rewarded by the conversion of "a country of 90,000,000 people to the true religion" remained very bright. "The moment has arrived propitious for rapprochement" (between the Vatican and Moscow),
--wrote the Osservatore Romano, "inasmuch as the iron circle of Caesaro-popism, which hermetically closed Russian religious life to all Roman influences, has been broken."
At this point one question might come to the fore, in view of subsequent events. Surely Vatican diplomacy could not possibly trust the promises of the Bolsheviks? And, if so, why did it go on negotiating? The answer is simple, the transactions were useful as preparatory ground for the eventual grand-scale conversion of Russia after Bolshevik Russia had collapsed.
For the key to Vatican diplomacy, then as now, was just this. It must be remembered that at that period expeditionary forces were being dispatched by various Western countries to kill the revolution; indeed, that Catholic Poland had invaded Russian territory, and that anti-Bolshevik armies, encouraged, sponsored and supported by the West, were roaming inside and outside Bolshevik Russia, in attempts to bring about its early downfall. The Chancelleries of Europe were buzzing with plans and counter-plans of all kinds to bring nearer the blessed day.
The Vatican, consequently, based its moves on a possibility which at this period was practically a certainty for diplomatic Europe" Actual political conditions [inside Russia] form a grave obstacle; but this obstacle," pontificated again the Osservatore Romano, "has a temporary character."
The climax of the Vatican-Bolshevik negotiations was reached in 1922, when the Conference of Genoa offered the most incredible spectacle of the Bolshevik Foreign Minister, Chicherin, and the Pope's representative, the Archbishop of Genoa, toasting one another in public. Vatican diplomacy thought it had scored a triumph, or, at least, was about to score one. Chicherin's "concessions," however, were but an amplification of the basic soviet rule that, as the separation of Church and State was an accomplished fact, there was the amplest scope for any Church zealous of proselytizing. The Vatican, whose scheme remained immense, interpreted this as favorable to itself, and plans for the "Catholicizing of Russia" were put forward. These, however, soon incurred great difficulties, owing to the delaying soviet tactics.
But what gave Vatican diplomacy a shock, and its understanding with the soviets a matter of urgency, was that the Bolsheviks, giving a literal interpretation to their constitution, had applied religious freedom with equal impartiality to various Protestant bodies, which had meanwhile made soundings for the Protestant evangelization of the Russians. This was not all. Atheistic and anti-religious organizations of all kinds were also flourishing everywhere, sponsored by the State itself. But, still worse, the moribund Orthodox Church, instead of resignedly giving up the ghost, was still alive - indeed, was giving alarming signs of recovering.
The incursion of the Protestants into what the Vatican had envisaged as its exclusive field, but, above all, the ominous recovery of the Orthodox Church, convinced it that time was pressing. Vagueness had to be replaced by concrete action, to force the hand of the soviets.
The Vatican changed its tactics. The phase of patient, secretive negotiations was over. That of the diplomatic mailed fist was initiated. This consisted of indirect pressure, via Catholic friendly or allied nations, upon whomsoever Vatican diplomacy decided to attack.
A Papal messenger arrived at the Genoa Conference. He bore a missive whose content was simple. It asked the powers not to sign any treaty whatsoever with Bolshevik Russia unless "freedom to practice any religion" was guaranteed. Freedom, the Vatican explained to the soviet representative at this juncture, meant complete freedom "for the Catholic Church." With regard to the other Christian denominations (Protestant and Orthodox), the Vatican would not object to any "restrictive" measures that the soviets might take against their exertions. Previous to this, the Vatican had made sure of the support of some of the countries participating in the Conference by discreetly "briefing" Catholic and anti-communist representatives assembled there.
The Vatican's efforts ended in nothing, the Genoa Conference having failed.
In 1927 the last semi-direct attempts at agreement between the Vatican and Moscow took place. The Vatican declared its dissatisfaction with "the soviet proposals," and relations with Moscow were broken off for good.
Something of paramount importance which, more than anything else, made the Vatican adopt another diplomatic policy had meanwhile occurred.
The Orthodox Church, although still stunned by the 1917 blow, had rapidly adapted herself to the changed situation. The separation of Church and State, which the Vatican had reckoned would kill her, had turned out to be a more invigorating factor than her former identification with the government which had caused her downfall. Orthodoxy, in fact, had begun to reorganize itself, and in the religious domain had already almost recovered its former strength.
In these conditions, the original grandiose scheme of the Vatican had become obsolete. The policy of conversion was therefore discarded and a new one adopted. This rested upon the forcible overthrow of soviet Russia via military attack.
The original plan, based upon the formula that the soviet regime was of a "temporary character," was re-adopted. The various Foreign Offices of the world were still conceiving different schemes for the overthrow of the Bolsheviks. Had these succeeded, the Catholic Church would have penetrated Russia in their wake.
It became increasingly evident, however, that to base a whole strategy upon this kind of "intervention" was to pursue an increasingly unrealistic policy. And within a few years, although the plan was once more discreetly dropped, it was nonetheless promptly replaced by another, no less grandiose: the total mobilization of the West against soviet Russia, to be carried out, no longer by direct military intervention, but by an ideological and emotional anti-Bolshevik crusade, preparatory to an eventual physical attack.
The scheme soon became a reality, thanks to the timely growth of a most sinister political portent: fascism, whose fundamental policy was war against communism. The Vatican, which had already concluded an alliance with its original founder, supported similar movements everywhere it could, with a view of converting the whole of Europe into a monolithic anti-Bolshevik bloc. Its ultimate objective: a military invasion of Russia.
By 1930-31 the West had already been "emotionally roused to war against godless Russia." Only three years afterward, Hitler, having gone into power, began to voice his ambition of acquiring the Ukraine; three more years, and the Anti-Comintem Pact was signed between Nazi Germany and Japan (1936). Russia was being swiftly enclosed in an iron ring, from the West and from the East. Two more years, and the first surrender of Europe to Hitler was made at Munich (1938), when the four powers - two fascist dictatorships, Nazi Germany and fascist Italy, on the one side, and two democracies, England and France, on the other - tried to settle the fate of Europe by sacrificing Czechoslovakia at the altar of appeasement. It was the Vatican which, during this crisis, specifically asked the British Premier, Chamberlain, to exclude Russia from the Conference. This at a time when Great Britain was seeking a pact with Russia, to strengthen her bargaining weight against Hitler. The exclusion proved fatal. Hitler emerged wholly victorious, and the Second World War was made inevitable.
In the following year Hitler occupied the whole of Czechoslovakia. During the Finnish War in 1939, Great Britain and France, with the Vatican in the background, instigated the expulsion of soviet Russia from the League of Nations, and, in close cooperation with the Vatican, mobilized world opinion against her, speaking of this campaign as a crusade.
Two years later the Vatican's grand strategy bore its fruit. Hitler, backed by the might of a nazified European continent, attacked soviet Russia. The grandiose vistas dreamed of at the fall of the czar were dreamed of once more, to the chanting of hallelujahs in St. Peter's. The Institute Pro Russia, in Rome, which had been languishing for so long, now pulsated with feverish activity,2 and Catholics were urged to renew their devotions to Our Lady of Fatima. Yes, the promise of the Virgin, so curiously in harmony with the Vatican's grand scheme, at long last was coming true.
Within a few months, the Nazi armies had reached the outskirts of Moscow, Leningrad and Stalingrad. Soviet Russia was about to be destroyed.
The Nazi armies and the Catholic legions fighting by their side, after their initial triumph, were hammered back. And ultimately, to the horror of the Vatican, it was the Russians who entered Berlin and not Hitler who entered Moscow.
Vatican diplomacy had received yet another resounding defeat. But even before this had been completed, with its typical suppleness it had already launched yet another anti-Bolshevik, anti-Orthodox grand scheme, in cooperation with a new partner, which was even more powerful than its former Nazi ally - i.e. the United States of America. The new campaign had been launched while the guns of the Second World War were still echoing in the battlefields of both
Europe and Asia, and the people of the world were looking forward with a prayer in their hearts to an era of tranquility and peace,
As, after the First World War, Vatican diplomacy operated simultaneously a many-branched anti-soviet strategy, so, after the Second, it launched another, no less formidable than the first.
The ultimate objective being the same, fundamentally its policy remained the same. In addition to its new main partners, playing the role of Nazi Germany vis-a-vis soviet Russia, new tactical moves directed at implementing it were carefully studied and carried out. These, although seemingly disconnected, in reality were closely knit into an inter-continental pattern embracing the whole world.
The principal tactical features of this new strategy took the form of: (a) mobilization of the Catholics of the Near East; (b) mobilization of the Orthodox Church outside Russia; (c) mobilization of Islam; and (d) general intensification and speeding up of the ideological and military mobilization of the West.
These four types of political machination were carried out almost simultaneously, with a technique which was greatly different from that used after the First World War, when the Vatican, having failed to carry on its intrigues against the Orthodox Church inside Russia, had shifted its operations against her outside Russia - that is to say, in the Balkans.
After the Second World War the Vatican began to mobilize all Catholics in the Near and Middle East.
It was thus that, as the various Balkan countries became sealed to Catholic diplomacy, the Vatican became increasingly active outside the Balkans - e.g. with the Chaldean Catholics, mainly centered in Iraq; the Maronites in Lebanon; the Copt-Catholics in Egypt; the Melkites, or Greek Catholics, and others to be found in practically all these territories, as well as in Syria, Trans-Jordan and Palestine.
Simultaneously with this, it approached the Orthodox Church outside the communist world with a view to inducing it to side with the Vatican, or, at least, with the Vatican’s political allies in their anti-Russian, anti-communist wars.
Unofficial negotiations were initiated, but, owing mainly to Orthodoxy's deep-rooted suspicion of the Vatican, these yielded very little result. Indeed, it looked as though they would prevent any real rapprochement altogether.
Vatican diplomacy waited for a while and then resorted to a master move. It sent to the Middle East, no longer Catholic diplomats, but the envoy of the two most powerful men in the West: Mr. Myron Taylor, the representative of the President of the U.S.A., and simultaneously, on this particular mission, representative of the Pope vis-a-vis the Orthodox leaders whom he went to meet.
It was thus that, at the beginning of February, 1949, when the cold war against Russia was at its height Myron Taylor arrived in Istanbul, where, in his dual capacity, he met the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagorar.
Mr. Taylor put forward concrete plans for the cooperation of the Orthodox and Catholic Churches, in the face of the "communist threat to religion," at the same time trying to ascertain the "true" current status of the Orthodox churches in communist-dominated countries, and the ways in which communism might be using these churches to strengthen its position in Eastern Europe and in Near East areas. Having discussed such matters, both with the Orthodox leaders and with the Apostolic delegate in Turkey, Myron Taylor, to make his argument for Orthodox cooperation more convincing, stated in no doubtful terms that the "cooperation" of Orthodoxy was not only wished for by the Vatican but was "wanted" by the U.S.A. The whole point of the Vatican's choice of Myron Taylor, the representative of the American President, to meet the Eastern Orthodox leaders, was to lay emphasis precisely on this.
It was the trump card of Vatican diplomacy, so well screened behind the American envoy. For it must be remembered that Greece, where the Orthodox Church was at its strongest, had been saved by America from becoming a communist country only a short while before. Following the end of the Second World War, a bloody civil war between Right and Left devastated Greece for several years. Great Britain poured in troops to reinforce the anti-communist faction. The left, however, owing chiefly to the support of the population, was near to winning, and the U.S.A. had to intervene.
Military and financial aid was rushed to the country. The left was defeated. Extreme right-wing forces were installed in power. Throughout the civil war and the British and American intervention, the Orthodox Church played a paramount role. Indeed, at one time the Greek Orthodox Patriarch became head of the Greek government.
The Orthodox Church, having identified itself with the right and with the American interventionists, consequently had the support of the Greek government, sponsored by the U.S.A. Withdrawal of American protection would have meant the fall of the right-wing Greek government, in which case the fate of the Greek Orthodox Church would have been precisely a repetition in miniature of the fate of the Russian Orthodox Church on the fall of the czar.
The dispatch of the American envoy as the Vatican's representative, with his emphasis on the American desire to see the cooperation of the Orthodox Church, was political blackmail of the first order which the Vatican had accomplished by using political, non-Catholic pressure.
Precisely one year later the mission bore its first real fruit. In February, 1950, His Beatitude the Patriarch Cristoforos of Alexandria arrived in Athens to prepare with Archbishop Spiridon, head of the Orthodox Church in Greece, for an event of the greatest significance: the summoning of a Pan-Orthodox Synod.
The new Synod, once translated into less directly theological terms, meant a political council of the Orthodox churches to keep step with the anti-communist war of their protector, the U.S.A.
The Orthodox Church within the communist region countered soon afterward, when Patriarch Alexei of Moscow "extended" the Russian Church's jurisdiction to include Hungary (March, 1950).
This was followed by a counter-blow from the Russian Orthodox Church in the United States, which announced that it had officially broken all ties with the Orthodox Church of Moscow. Metropolitan Bishop Krimowicz, of Springfleld, Mass., was appointed Patriarch of the Orthodox Church in the United States, and Metropolitan Bishop Jaroshevich Patriarch of the Orthodox Church in foreign countries (October, 1950). In December, 1951, Metropolitan Leonty, the Orthodox Church's U.S. Primate, and the Bishops of Alaska and San Francisco, invested a one-time officer of the czarist army as the first Orthodox Bishop of Washington. 3
Moves and counter-moves followed one another in quick succession in the years that followed, until the bridges were totally burnt on either side.
The Orthodox Church had been split asunder, one part, the larger, in soviet Russia, the center of the communist world, the other in the U.S.A., the center of Western capitalism.
Division means weakness. The Vatican had maneuvered its opponent where it had planned to maneuver it, in readiness for reducing further its unity and thus bringing nearer its ultimate downfall.
Simultaneously with these moves, Vatican diplomacy was busy setting in motion one of the greatest religious-political forces in the world, Islam. Islam, the historic enemy of Christianity, had always loomed large in Vatican diplomacy's plans against the Orthodox Church.
Cautious unofficial exchanges between the Vatican and various Arab countries, particularly the most influential Islamic country in the Middle East, Egypt, were begun in the years that followed the Second World War. These bore exceptional results. In 1946 an Arab delegation, composed of Christians and Moslems, paid an official visit to the Pope, and in 1947 the Moslem East made its first official approach to the Vatican. Egypt exchanged representatives with the Pope, and sent to Rome a Minister Plenipotentiary. Other Moslem countries - e.g. Syria, Lebanon, Iran - followed Egypt's example, and soon even those Moslem lands which had not yet officially exchanged diplomats were unofficially in close touch with Rome.
The Vatican’s mobilization of the Islamic world culminated in 1950, when the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Salah ed Din, disclosed that Egypt and the Vatican had been conducting secret negotiations and had agreed upon the establishment of a "united Roman Catholic-Moslem front against communism." 4
The following year, Azzam Pasha, Secretary-General of the Arab League, went to Rome for a whole week, where he saw the Pope and other Vatican dignitaries: "The time has come for us to collaborate loyally, both as a nation and a religious entity, in the rebirth of a common patrimony," he declared, speaking on Radio Rome, "and in . . . the creation of a united front between Islam and Christianity against communism." 5
The foundations of a Catholic-Islamic partnership had been skillfully laid by Vatican diplomacy. From then onward, particularly during 1951-52, and in spite of many vicissitudes, it continued to be solidified, to the present day. Islam is a potentially formidable religious-political unit. Whoever succeeds in exerting even a partial influence upon it will wield a power capable of provoking political and social repercussions in many strategically important parts of the world. From Spanish and French Morocco to Egypt, Persia, Pakistan, Indonesia, indeed, to within the very soviet Union itself, housing 25,000,000 Moslems, as well as within communist China, housing another 50,000,000.
The potentialities of the Moslem world as a formidable anticommunist, anti-Russian, religious-political instrument, did not escape the attention of another anti-communist power, the U.S.A. The American mobilization of the Islamic countries had been initiated by Roosevelt himself, who, just before his death (1945), had envisaged meeting Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia, King Farouk of Egypt and others, for the amalgamation of the Near and Middle East into the framework of American global foreign policy.
Since then, Vatican-American interests ran ever closer, until, within a few brief years, they were transformed into a veritable Vatican American alliance. The material might of the U.S.A. and the spiritual power of the Catholic Church, by mobilizing the religious influence of Islam and the political energies of the Arab world, had encircled soviet Russia in a religious-political iron ring, the precursor of a military one.
It's objective: for the U.S.A., the destruction of a mighty ideological and economic.enemy; for the Catholic Church, the destruction, not only of communism, but of soviet Russia, the new protector of her religious rival, the Orthodox Church.
In bygone centuries the Vatican schemed stubbornly and tirelessly with the Turkish Empire, with the Austrian Empire, with Moslem, Buddhist and other potentates, to bring about the downfall of czarist Russia, so as to weaken the Orthodox Church.
In the twentieth century it schemed with equal pertinacity with the Europe which arose after the First World War, with fascism and nazism before and during the Second, in order, by causing the downfall of soviet Russia, to paralyze a regenerated Orthodoxy.
After the Second World War it continued in its relentless scheming with the U.S.A., with a "dollarized" Europe, with the Arab nations and other Asiatic countries, to annihilate the U.S.S.R., in order, once again, to subjugate its Orthodox rival.
Following the changed political world habitat, the Vatican renewed its attempts by wooing the Orthodox Church with plans of "Dialogues," initiated by Pope John XXIII - a policy of blandishment instead of the old one of intrigues. The new policy soon yielded unusual dividends. Relics were returned, e.g. the skull of St. Andrew,
which had rested in St. Peter's, Rome, since 1462, sent back in 1964 by Pope Paul VI, to its original place, Patras, following the request by the Orthodox Metropolitan of Patras to Pope John XXIII the previous year.
Cordial relations with the traditionally morose orthodoxy were established. With the result that even the world's largest orthodox body, the Patriarchate of Moscow, finally agreed to convoke a Pan Orthodox Conference to discuss "a dialogue" on equal terms with Rome.
This was preceded by an unique meeting: that of Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople with Pope Paul VI in Jerusalem (January 1964), followed in 1965 by the elevation of several Cardinals of the oriental churches in communion with Rome.
That same year the 14 orthodox churches participating in the Pan-Orthodox Conference at Rhodes sent a delegation to Rome, to establish the first formal contact with the Vatican since one of the last Union attempts in 1439.
The "dialogue" continued after the Second Vatican Council was over. And, although formal progress was made, the profound rivalry between the two Churches remained. The Orthodox Church's main basic fear of ultimate absorption by Rome being still the major obstacle bedeviling their relationship.
Catholic scheming, it should never be forgotten, has for its ultimate objective, not only the annihilation of an ideological enemy, represented by soviet Russia, but also the annihilation of a religious foe, which the Catholic Church is more determined than ever to reduce to total subjugation and, indeed, to wipe from the face of the earth: the ever-resurgent Orthodox Church, the millenarian enemy she has sworn either wholly to absorb or wholly to demolish and destroy.
1. See Count Sforza's Contemporary Italy, F. Mulker, 1940.
2. The Vatican had known of Hitler’s Russian invasion before the invasion took place. See Chief of intelligence, J. Colvin, 1951.
3. Third week of December, 1951 - the Very Reverend Archimandrite Jonah.
4. Cairo, January 31, 1950. Mohammed Taber al Omari Bey, the Egyptian Minister to the Vatican, confirmed this. The report was denied by the Osservatore Romano, which called it "fantastic" (April 28, 1950).
5. January 12, 1951. Universe.
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Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Monday, December 12, 2011
Luke Chapter 12
Christ warns us against hypocrisy, the fear of the world and covetousness. He admonishes all to watch.
12:1 And when great multitudes stood about him, so that they trod one upon another, he began to say to his disciples: Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.
Galatians Chapter 5
He exhorts them to stand to their Christian liberty. Of the fruits of the flesh and of the spirit.
5:1 Stand fast and be not held again under the yoke of bondage.
5:2 Behold, I Paul tell you, that if you be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.
5:3 And I testify again to every man circumcising himself that he is a debtor to do the whole law.
5:4 You are made void of Christ, you who are justified in the law: you are fallen from grace.
5:5 For we in spirit, by faith, wait for the hope of justice.
5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing nor uncircumcision: but faith that worketh by Charity.
5:7 You did run well. What hath hindered you, that you should not obey the truth?
5:8 This persuasion is not from him that calleth you.
5:9 A little leaven corrupteth the whole lump.
The same is true of all who say they seek the truth but they do lie against the truth for idolatry of mammon and ungodly gain.John Chapter 8
8:13 The Pharisees therefore said to him: Thou givest testimony of thyself. Thy testimony is not true.
8:14 Jesus answered and said to them: Although I give testimony of myself, my testimony is true: for I know whence I came and whither I go.
2 Timothy Chapter 3
The character of heretics of latter days. He exhorts Timothy to constancy. Of the great profit of the knowledge of the scriptures.
3:1 Know also this, that in the last days shall come dangerous times.
3:2 Men shall be lovers of themselves, covetous, haughty, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, wicked,
3:3 Without affection, without peace, slanderers, incontinent, unmerciful, without kindness,
3:4 Traitors, stubborn, puffed up, and lovers of pleasure more than of God:
3:5 Having an appearance indeed of godliness but denying the power thereof. Now these avoid.
3:6 For of these sort are they who creep into houses and lead captive silly women laden with sins, who are led away with divers desires:
3:7 Ever learning, and never attaining to the knowledge of the truth.
7:21 Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.
7:22 Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have not we prophesied in thy name, and cast out devils in thy name, and done many miracles in thy name?
7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.
See this I came not to call the just, but sinners to penance.
Sunday, December 11, 2011
The Justice of God: Tech_Journal: U.S.-NATO ABM Missile System “Covers” a Large Part of Russian Territory
MIKO'S TWITTER UPDATES
What is going on here? Think about it. Medium range, basically ground – low to middle atmosphere… radar along those lines… That has nothing at all to do with ICBMs. Hypersonic aircraft and satellite systems aren’t indicated by this as a threat to be dealt with. It would be more of something to look for mobile short-medium range missile units like the Chinese have. Of course the
With the “proper” setting it up ahead of time…
and then the “proper” sabotage of systems…
IsraHell, out of their madness to rule the world, could cause this final scene to happen…
God help us all that they don’t succeed.
In case anyone thinks its survivable, please see this –
That is Adlai Stevenson speaking – today it is
Blast radius is 33 miles - Tsar Bomb is twice that – all of it is suicidal insanity.
IT IS NOT SURVIVABLE
SPIEGEL Interview with Alexander Solzhenitsyn: 'I Am Not Afraid of Death' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International
SPIEGEL Interview with Alexander Solzhenitsyn
'I Am Not Afraid of Death'
SPIEGEL: Alexander Isayevich, when we came in we found you at work. It seems that even at the age of 88 you still feel this need to work, even though your health doesn’t allow you to walk around your home. What do you derive your strength from?
Solzhenitsyn: I have always had that inner drive, since my birth. And I have always devoted myself gladly to work -- to work and to the struggle.
SPIEGEL: There are four tables in this space alone. In your new book "My American Years," which will be published in Germany this fall, you recollect that you used to write even while walking in the forest.
Solzhenitsyn: When I was in the gulag I would sometimes even write on stone walls. I used to write on scraps of paper, then I memorized the contents and destroyed the scraps.
SPIEGEL: And your strength did not leave you even in moments of enormous desperation?
Solzhenitsyn: Yes. I would often think: Whatever the outcome is going to be, let it be. And then things would turn out all right. It looks like some good came out of it.
SPIEGEL: I am not sure you were of the same opinion when in February 1945 the military secret service arrested Captain Solzhenitsyn in Eastern Prussia. Because, in his letters from the front, Solzhenitsyn was unflattering about Josef Stalin, and the sentence for that was eight years in the prison camps.
Solzhenitsyn: It was south of Wormditt. We had just broken out of a German encirclement and were marching to Königsberg (now Kaliningrad) when I was arrested. I was always optimistic. And I held to and was guided by my views.
SPIEGEL: What views?
Solzhenitsyn: Of course, my views developed in the course of time. But I have always believed in what I did and never acted against my conscience.
SPIEGEL: Thirteen years ago when you returned from exile, you were disappointed to see the new Russia. You turned down a prize proposed by Gorbachev, and you also refused to accept an award Yeltsin wanted to give you. Yet now you have accepted the State Prize which was awarded to you by Putin, the former head of the FSB intelligence agency, whose predecessor the KGB persecuted and denounced you so cruelly. How does this all fit together?
In 1998, it was the county’s low point, with people in misery; this was the year when I published the book "Russia in Collapse." Yeltsin decreed I be honored the highest state order. I replied that I was unable to receive an award from a government that had led Russia into such dire straits.
The current State Prize is awarded not by the president personally, but by a community of top experts. The Council on Science that nominated me for the award and the Council on Culture that supported the idea include some of the most highly respected people of the country, all of them authorities in their respective disciplines. The president, as head of state, awards the laureates on the national holiday. In accepting the award I expressed the hope that the bitter Russian experience, which I have been studying and describing all my life, will be for us a lesson that keeps us from new disastrous breakdowns.
Vladimir Putin -- yes, he was an officer of the intelligence services, but he was not a KGB investigator, nor was he the head of a camp in the gulag. As for service in foreign intelligence, that is not a negative in any country -- sometimes it even draws praise. George Bush Sr. was not much criticized for being the ex-head of the CIA, for example.
SPIEGEL: All your life you have called on the authorities to repent for the millions of victims of the gulag and communist terror. Was this call really heard?
Solzhenitsyn: I have grown used to the fact that, throughout the world, public repentance is the most unacceptable option for the modern politician.
SPIEGEL: The current Russian president says the collapse of the Soviet Union was the largest geopolitical disaster of the 20th century. He says it is high time to stop this masochistic brooding over the past, especially since there are attempts "from outside," as he puts it, to provoke an unjustified remorse among Russians. Does this not just help those who want people to forget everything that took place during the county’s Soviet past?
Solzhenitsyn: Well, there is growing concern all over the world as to how the United States will handle its new role as the world’s only superpower, which it became as a result of geopolitical changes. As for “brooding over the past," alas, that conflation of "Soviet" and "Russian," against which I spoke so often in the 1970s, has not passed away either in the West, or in the ex-socialist countries, or in the former Soviet republics. The elder political generation in communist countries was not ready for repentance, while the new generation is only too happy to voice grievances and level accusations, with present-day Moscow a convenient target. They behave as if they heroically liberated themselves and lead a new life now, while Moscow has remained communist. Nevertheless, I dare hope that this unhealthy phase will soon be over, that all the peoples who have lived through communism will understand that communism is to blame for the bitter pages of their history.
SPIEGEL: Including the Russians.
Solzhenitsyn: If we could all take a sober look at our history, then we would no longer see this nostalgic attitude to the Soviet past that predominates now among the less affected part of our society. Nor would the Eastern European countries and former USSR republics feel the need to see in historical Russia the source of their misfortunes. One should not ascribe the evil deeds of individual leaders or political regimes to an innate fault of the Russian people and their country. One should not attribute this to the “sick psychology” of the Russians, as is often done in the West. All these regimes in Russia could only survive by imposing a bloody terror. We should clearly understand that only the voluntary and conscientious acceptance by a people of its guilt can ensure the healing of a nation. Unremitting reproaches from outside, on the other hand, are counterproductive.
Solzhenitsyn: It’s a complicated issue. There is no doubt, however, that a revolution in archives took place in Russia over the last 20 years. Thousands of files have been opened; the researchers now have access to hundreds and thousands of previously classified documents. Hundreds of monographs that make these documents public have already been published or are in preparation. Alongside the declassified documents of the 1990's, there were many others published which never went through the declassification process. Dmitri Volkogonov, the military historian, and Alexander Yakovlev, the ex-member of the Politburo -- these people had enough influence and authority to get access to any files, and society is grateful to them for their valuable publications.
As for the last few years, no one has been able to bypass the declassification procedure. Unfortunately, this procedure takes longer than one would like. Nevertheless the files of the country's most important archives, the National Archives of the Russian Federation (GARF), are as accessible now as in the 1990’s. The FSB sent 100,000 criminal- investigation materials to GARF in the late 1990s. These documents remain available for both citizens and researchers. In 2004-2005 GARF published the seven-volume “History of Stalin’s Gulag.” I cooperated with this publication and I can assure you that these volumes are as comprehensive and reliable as they can be. Researchers all over the world rely on this edition.
SPIEGEL: About 90 years ago, Russia was shaken first by the February Revolution and then by the October Revolution. These events run like a leitmotif through your works. A few months ago in a long article you reiterated your thesis once again: Communism was not the result of the previous Russian political regime; the Bolshevik Revolution was made possible only by Kerensky’s poor governance in 1917. If one follows this line of thinking, then Lenin was only an accidental person, who was only able to come to Russia and seize power here with German support. Have we understood you correctly?
Solzhenitsyn: No, you have not. Only an extraordinary person can turn opportunity into reality. Lenin and Trotsky were exceptionally nimble and vigorous politicians who managed in a short period of time to use the weakness of Kerensky’s government. But allow me to correct you: the "October Revolution" is a myth generated by the winners, the Bolsheviks, and swallowed whole by progressive circles in the West. On Oct. 25, 1917, a violent 24-hour coup d’etat took place in Petrograd. It was brilliantly and thoroughly planned by Leon Trotsky -- Lenin was still in hiding then to avoid being brought to justice for treason. What we call “the Russian Revolution of 1917” was actually the February Revolution.
The reasons driving this revolution do indeed have their source in Russia’s pre-revolutionary condition, and I have never stated otherwise. The February Revolution had deep roots -- I have shown that in "The Red Wheel." First among these was the long-term mutual distrust between those in power and the educated society, a bitter distrust that rendered impossible any compromise, any constructive solutions for the state. And the greatest responsibility, then, of course falls on the authorities: Who if not the captain is to blame for a shipwreck? So you may indeed say that the February Revolution in its causes was “the results of the previous Russian political regime.”
But this does not mean that Lenin was “an accidental person” by any means; or that the financial participation of Emperor Wilhelm was inconsequential. There was nothing natural for Russia in the October Revolution. Rather, the revolution broke Russia’s back. The Red Terror unleashed by its leaders, their willingness to drown Russia in blood, is the first and foremost proof of it.
SPIEGEL: Your recent two-volume work “200 Years Together” was an attempt to overcome a taboo against discussing the common history of Russians and Jews. These two volumes have provoked mainly perplexity in the West. You say the Jews are the leading force of global capital and they are among the foremost destroyers of the bourgeoisie. Are we to conclude from your rich array of sources that the Jews carry more responsibility than others for the failed Soviet experiment?
Solzhenitsyn: I avoid exactly that which your question implies: I do not call for any sort of scorekeeping or comparisons between the moral responsibility of one people or another; moreover, I completely exclude the notion of responsibility of one nation towards another. All I am calling for is self-reflection.
You can get the answer to your question from the book itself: "Every people must answer morally for all of its past -- including that past which is shameful. Answer by what means? By attempting to comprehend: How could such a thing have been allowed? Where in all this is our error? And could it happen again? It is in that spirit, specifically, that it would behoove the Jewish people to answer, both for the revolutionary cutthroats and the ranks willing to serve them. Not to answer before other peoples, but to oneself, to one’s consciousness, and before God. Just as we Russians must answer -- for the pogroms, for those merciless arsonist peasants, for those crazed revolutionary soldiers, for those savage sailors.”
SPIEGEL: In our opinion, out of all your works, "The Gulag Archipelago" provoked the greatest public resonance. In this book you showed the misanthropic nature of the Soviet dictatorship. Looking back today, can you say to what extent it has contributed to the defeat of communism in the world?
Solzhenitsyn: You should not address this question to me -- an author cannot give such evaluations.
SPIEGEL: To paraphrase something you once said, the dark history of the 20th century had to be endured by Russia for the sake of mankind. Have the Russians learned the lessons of the two revolutions and their consequences?
Solzhenitsyn: It seems they are starting to. A great number of publications and movies on the history of the 20th century -- albeit of uneven quality -- are evidence of a growing demand. Quite recently, the state-owned TV channel “Russia” aired a series based on Varlam Shalamov’s works, showing the terrible, cruel truth about Stalin’s camps. It was not watered down.
And, for instance, since last February I have been surprised and impressed by the large-scale, heated and long-lasting discussions that my previously written and now republished article on the February Revolution has provoked. I was pleased to see the wide range of opinions, including those opposed to mine, since they demonstrate the eagerness to understand the past, without which there can be no meaningful future.
Solzhenitsyn: Gorbachev’s administration was amazingly politically naïve, inexperienced and irresponsible towards the country. It was not governance but a thoughtless renunciation of power. The admiration of the West in return only strengthened his conviction that his approach was right. But let us be clear that it was Gorbachev, and not Yeltsin, as is now widely being claimed, who first gave freedom of speech and movement to the citizens of our country.
Yeltsin’s period was characterized by a no less irresponsible attitude to people’s lives, but in other ways. In his haste to have private rather than state ownership as quickly as possible, Yeltsin started a mass, multi-billion-dollar fire sale of the national patrimony. Wanting to gain the support of regional leaders, Yeltsin called directly for separatism and passed laws that encouraged and empowered the collapse of the Russian state. This, of course, deprived Russia of its historical role for which it had worked so hard, and lowered its standing in the international community. All this met with even more hearty Western applause.
Putin inherited a ransacked and bewildered country, with a poor and demoralized people. And he started to do what was possible -- a slow and gradual restoration. These efforts were not noticed, nor appreciated, immediately. In any case, one is hard pressed to find examples in history when steps by one country to restore its strength were met favorably by other governments.
SPIEGEL: It has gradually become clear to everyone that the stability of Russia is of benefit to the West. But there is one thing that surprises us in particular: When speaking about the right form of statehood for Russia, you were always in favor of civil self- government, and you contrasted this model with Western democracy. After seven years of Putin’s governance we can observe totally the opposite phenomenon: Power is concentrated in the hands of the president, everything is oriented toward him.
Solzhenitsyn: Yes, I have always insisted on the need for local self-government for Russia, but I never opposed this model to Western democracy. On the contrary, I have tried to convince my fellow citizens by citing the examples of highly effective local self-government systems in Switzerland and New England, both of which I saw first-hand.
In your question you confuse local self-government, which is possible on the most grassroots level only, when people know their elected officials personally, with the dominance of a few dozen regional governors, who during Yeltsin’s period were only too happy to join the federal government in suppressing any local self-government initiatives.
Today I continue to be extremely worried by the slow and inefficient development of local self-government. But it has finally started to take place. In Yeltsin’s time, local self-government was actually barred on the regulatory level, whereas the state's "vertical of power" (i.e. Putin's centralized and top-down administration) is delegating more and more decisions to the local population. Unfortunately, this process is still not systematic in character.
SPIEGEL: But there is hardy any opposition.
Solzhenitsyn: Of course, an opposition is necessary and desirable for the healthy development of any country. You can scarcely find anyone in opposition, except for the communists, just like in Yeltsin’s times. However, when you say “there is nearly no opposition,” you probably mean the democratic parties of the 1990s. But if you take an unbiased look at the situation: there was a rapid decline of living standards in the 1990s, which affected three quarters of Russian families, and all under the “democratic banner.” Small wonder, then, that the population does not rally to this banner anymore. And now the leaders of these parties cannot even agree on how to share portfolios in an illusory shadow government. It is regrettable that there is still no constructive, clear and large-scale opposition in Russia. The growth and development of an opposition, as well as the maturing of other democratic institutions, will take more time and experience.
SPIEGEL: During our last interview you criticized the election rules for State Duma deputies, because only half of them were directly elected in their constituencies, whereas the other half, representatives of the political parties, were dominant. After the election reform made by president Putin, there is no direct constituency at all. Is this not a step back?
Solzhenitsyn: Yes, I think it is a mistake. I am a convinced and consistent critic of “party-parliamentarism.” I am for non-partisan elections of true people’s representatives who are accountable to their regions and districts; and who in case of unsatisfactory work can be recalled. I do understand and respect the formation of groups on economical, cooperative, territorial, educational, professional and industrial principles, but I see nothing organic in political parties. Politically motivated ties can be unstable and quite often they have selfish ulterior motives. Leon Trotsky said it accurately during the October Revolution: “A party that does not strive for the seizure of power is worth nothing.” We are talking about seeking benefit for the party itself at the expense of the rest of the people. This can happen whether the takeover is peaceful or not. Voting for impersonal parties and their programs is a false substitute for the only true way to elect people’s representatives: voting by an actual person for an actual candidate. This is the whole point behind popular representation.
SPIEGEL: In spite of high revenues from oil and gas exports, in spite of the development of a middle class, there is a vast contrast between rich and poor in Russia. What can be done to improve the situation?
Solzhenitsyn: I think the gap between the rich and the poor is an extremely dangerous phenomenon in Russia and it needs the immediate attention of the state. Although many fortunes were amassed in Yeltsin’s times by ransacking, the only reasonable way to correct the situation today is not to go after big businesses -- the present owners are trying to run them as effectively as they can -- but to give breathing room to medium and small businesses. That means protecting citizens and small entrepreneurs from arbitrary rule and from corruption. It means investing the revenues from the national natural resources into the national infrastructure, education and health care. And we must learn to do so without shameful theft and embezzlement.
SPIEGEL: Does Russia need a national idea, and what might it look like?
Solzhenitsyn: The term “national idea” is an unclear one. One might think of it as a widely shared understanding among a people as to the desired way of life in their country, an idea that holds sway over the population. A unifying concept like that can be useful, but should never be created artificially or imposed top-down by the powers-that-be.
Over the latest historical periods these concepts have been developed in France, for example after the eighteenth century, in the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, Poland etc. When the whole discussion of “developing a national idea” hastily began in post-Soviet Russia, I tried to pour cold water on it with the objection that, after all the devastating losses we had experienced, it would be quite sufficient to have just one task: the preservation of a dying people.
SPIEGEL: But Russia often finds itself alone. Recently relations between Russia and the West have gotten somewhat colder, and this includes Russian-European relations. What is the reason? What are the West’s difficulties in understanding modern Russia?
Solzhenitsyn: I can name many reasons, but the most interesting ones are psychological, i.e. the clash of illusory hopes against reality. This happened both in Russia and in West. When I returned to Russia in 1994, the Western world and its states were practically being worshipped. Admittedly, this was caused not so much by real knowledge or a conscious choice, but by the natural disgust with the Bolshevik regime and its anti-Western propaganda.
This mood started changing with the cruel NATO bombings of Serbia. It’s fair to say that all layers of Russian society were deeply and indelibly shocked by those bombings. The situation then became worse when NATO started to spread its influence and draw the ex-Soviet republics into its structure. This was especially painful in the case of Ukraine, a country whose closeness to Russia is defined by literally millions of family ties among our peoples, relatives living on different sides of the national border. At one fell stroke, these families could be torn apart by a new dividing line, the border of a military bloc.
So, the perception of the West as mostly a "knight of democracy" has been replaced with the disappointed belief that pragmatism, often cynical and selfish, lies at the core of Western policies. For many Russians it was a grave disillusion, a crushing of ideals.
At the same time the West was enjoying its victory after the exhausting Cold War, and observing the 15-year-long anarchy under Gorbachev and Yeltsin. In this context it was easy to get accustomed to the idea that Russia had become almost a Third World country and would remain so forever. When Russia started to regain some of its strength as an economy and as a state, the West’s reaction -- perhaps a subconscious one, based on erstwhile fears -- was panic.
SPIEGEL: The West associated it with the ex-superpower, the Soviet Union.
Solzhenitsyn: Which is too bad. But even before that, the West deluded itself -- or maybe conveniently ignored the reality -- by regarding Russia as a young democracy, whereas in fact there was no democracy at all. Of course Russia is not a democratic country yet; it is just starting to build democracy. It is all too easy to take Russia to task with a long list of omissions, violations and mistakes.
But did not Russia clearly and unambiguously stretch its helping hand to the West after 9/11? Only a psychological shortcoming, or else a disastrous shortsightedness, can explain the West’s irrational refusal of this hand. No sooner did the USA accept Russia’s critically important aid in Afghanistan than it immediately started making newer and newer demands. As for Europe, its claims towards Russia are fairly transparently based on fears about energy, unjustified fears at that.
Isn’t it a luxury for the West to be pushing Russia aside now, especially in the face of new threats? In my last Western interview before I returned to Russia (forForbes magazine in April 1994) I said: "If we look far into the future, one can see a time in the 21st century when both Europe and the USA will be in dire need of Russia as an ally."
SPIEGEL: You have read Goethe, Schiller and Heine in the original German, and you have always hoped that Germany would be something of a bridge between Russia and the rest of the world. Do you believe Germans can still play this role?
Solzhenitsyn: I do. There is something predetermined in the mutual attraction between Germany and Russia. Otherwise, this attraction would not have survived two ghastly World Wars.
SPIEGEL: Which German poets, writers and philosophers have influenced you the most?
Solzhenitsyn: Schiller and Goethe were very much present in my childhood and adolescence. Later I was drawn by Schelling. I highly appreciate the great German musical tradition. I can't imagine my life without Bach, Beethoven and Schubert.
SPIEGEL: The West knows nearly nothing about modern Russian literature. What is, in your opinion, the situation in Russian literature today?
Solzhenitsyn: Periods of rapid and fundamental change were never favorable for literature. Significant works, not to mention great works, have nearly always and everywhere been created in periods of stability, be it a good or a bad stability. Modern Russian literature is no exception. The educated reader today is much more interested in non-fiction -- memoirs, biographies, and documentary prose. However, I do believe that justice and conscience will not be cast to the four winds, but will remain in the foundations of Russian literature, so that it may be of service in brightening our spirit and enhancing our comprehension.
SPIEGEL: The idea of the influence of Orthodox Christianity on the Russian world can be traced throughout your works. What is the moral qualification of the Russian church? We think it is turning into a state church today, just like it was centuries ago -- an institution that in practice legitimizes the head of Kremlin as the representative of God.
Solzhenitsyn: On the contrary, we should be surprised that our church has gained a somewhat independent position during the very few years since it was freed from total subjugation to the communist government. Do not forget what a horrible human toll the Russian Orthodox Church suffered throughout almost the entire 20th century. The Church is just rising from its knees. Our young post-Soviet state is just learning to respect the Church as an independent institution. The “Social Doctrine” of the Russian Orthodox Church, for example, goes much further than do government programs. Recently Metropolitan Kirill, a prominent expounder of the Church’s position, has made repeated calls for reforming the taxation system. His views are quite different from those of government, yet he airs them in public, on national television. As for "legitimizing the head of Kremlin," do you mean the funeral service for Yeltsin in the main cathedral and the decision not to hold a civil funeral ceremony?
SPIEGEL: That too.
Solzhenitsyn: Well, it was probably the only way to keep in check public anger, which has not fully subsided, and avoid possible manifestations of anger during the burial. But I see no reason to treat the ceremony as the new protocol for the funerals of all Russian presidents in the future. As far as the past is concerned, our Church holds round-the-clock prayers for the repose of the victims of communist massacres in Butovo near Moscow, on the Solovetsky Islands and other places of mass burials.
SPIEGEL: In 1987 in your interview with SPIEGEL founder Rudolf Augstein you said it was really hard for you to speak about religion in public. What does faith mean for you?
Solzhenitsyn: For me faith is the foundation and support of one’s life.
SPIEGEL: Are you afraid of death?
Solzhenitsyn: No, I am not afraid of death any more. When I was young the early death of my father cast a shadow over me -- he died at the age of 27 -- and I was afraid to die before all my literary plans came true. But between 30 and 40 years of age my attitude to death became quite calm and balanced. I feel it is a natural, but no means the final, milestone of one’s existence.
SPIEGEL: Anyhow, we wish you many years of creative life.
Solzhenitsyn: No, no. Don’t. It’s enough.
SPIEGEL: Alexander Isayevich, we thank you for this interview.
Interview conducted by Christian Neef and Matthias Schepp.