Staunton, June 22 – The Moscow Patriarchate promises that it will address in November the genuineness of the ostensible remains of the children of the last tsar who were murdered by the Bolsheviks, something many Russians once believed was essential to moving beyond communism but an issue that remains mired in politics, the editors of Nezavisimaya Gazeta say.
In the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union, many Russians believed that recognition that the Bolsheviks had murdered the Imperial Family and that the remains of its members had been found was a necessary and, for some, a sufficient condition for moving beyond communism, the editors say (ng.ru/editorial/2021-06-22/2_8179_editorial.html).
“But can we, without experi4ence of 30 years of post-Soviet experience agree that such acitons are sufficient for escaping from the totalitarian heritage?” Nezavismaya gazeta asks. The answer, its editor suggest is a clear “no” especially as the agency making decisions about the authenticity of the remains is the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church.
That Church, the editors continue, remains caught between what should be a simple moral choice of denouncing evil, something it often has chosen not to do because of its disdain for human rights, or going along with evil as it has often done even when that evil was directed against the church.
Instead, church leaders have punted for three decades, putting of the decision lest they offend the political masters on whom they depend for many of their benefits. Perhaps now, after so many years, the Church really can do the right thing. Indeed, in November, a final “point” in this debate may be reached.
But even if that should be the case, even if the dispute about the remains of the children of the last tsar is declared over, Nezavimaya gazeta says, that will not end the church’s problems in its relationships with the state, human rights, and history any more than a decision about the remains of other members of the Imperial Family transformed it in the past.
The Patriarchate has a far larger task, and it is one that its members appear committed to avoiding even if they do in November make a decision on this now less than all-embracing issue. That is clear from the fact that when the Church recognized as genuine the remains of other members of the Imperial Family, it did not change its stripes or those of the state it serves.