Saturday, June 13, 2015

Patriarch Kirill Wants ‘Stalinism without Atheism,’ Kurayev Says

Paul Goble


            Staunton, June 13 – Judging from his own words and those of Vsevolod Chaplin, his spokesman, Moscow Patriarch Kirill believes that the best social-political system is “Stalinism without atheism,” but with “an Orthodox GULAG and theocratic collective farms,” according to Deacon Andrey Kurayev.


            Moreover, the outspoken Orthodox activist says, Patriarch Kirill, who teaches that “the church can have only one opinion – the official one,” is speaking not just for himself but for the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate altogether, a position at odds with the truth and one certain to alienate many Christians (


From Chaplin, we learn, Kurayev says, “that for him the ideal form of state construction is Stalinism without atheism;” and “from Patriarch Kirill, we even earlier have heard that for him, the quintessence of the Soviet system is expressed in the word ‘justice’” and the concept of “’solidarity.’”


“However,” as the dissident deacon points out, “Soviet power began with revolutionary terror; and for half of its historical life, it affirmed that with the advance toward communism, the class struggle will only intensify. This was not simply the practice but the philosophy and ideology of the Soviet way of life.”


“I have not been given to understand,” Kurayev continues, “how it is possible to assert after this that the Soviet period is expressed by the terms ‘justice’ and ‘solidarity.’”  

            “The essence of the Marxist-Leninist model of social governance is hardly an assertion of justice and equality,” he writes. Those ideas, of course, are very much “pre-Marxist.”  What Marx contributed was the notion that in the pursuit of those goals, all means are permissible, including terror.


In Kurayev’s words, “Christians from antiquity wanted equality out of love not out of class hatred. Their principle was what is mine will become yours. The Bolsheviks taught and acted otherwise: what was yours will become mine, with the help of the dictatorship of the proletarian and the apparatus of force.”

Perhaps that difference might have been ignored “before the Soviet experiment,” Kurayev says. “But not afterwards.”


Moreover, “the slogan ‘for Stalinism without atheism’ is strange: Stalinism and socialism without atheism the history of the 20th century did not know,” he continues. “From the point of view of Christian ethics, it would be simpler to throw out the slogan ‘for capitalism without the imposition of homosexualism.’ In fact, that was what the world, including the Russian Empire, was until recently.”


The current patriarch came up with these ideas not on his own. Instead, he took them from his mentor, Metropolitan Nikodim, who was known in the 1960s for his “’red theology.’” Some confused his words with those of “the theology of revolution” in Latin America, but there was a difference: his theology was not about protest but “a form of political servility.”


Today, Deacon Kurayev says, this same rhetoric has been trotted out again – and again “in unison with the state project of the Soviet renaissance. When the authorities order it,” the Russian Orthodox of Kirill’s type all become “revolutionaries” of a particular type. But of course, there is one modification in Nikodim’s approach.


“Now about the ideals of justice, solidarity, and socialism have begun to speak people who in other circumstances deify the directly opposing ideas of hierarchy and radical property differentiation,” the latter in the belief that “hierarchs of the church should live in luxury,” Kurayev points out.


Patriarch Kirill is one of the worst offenders in that regard. This week, for example, Ecological Watch on the North Caucasus reports that Kirill is being allowed to run roughshod over the law in order to expand the land around his residence in Divnomorsk in much the same way any United Russian hierarch would (



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