Orthodox America

Freedom - for the Sake of Truth

Mark, Archbishop of Berlin and Germany

The disquieting events which shook Russia, and with her the whole world, on the day of our Lord's Transfiguration, 1991, once again cause us to reflect on the fate of the much-suffering Russian land and the fate of our Church. What lies ahead? Where is Russia headed now?

Freedom is given not From something, but for something. Freedom is a gift of God. One must know how to accept it, and one must know how to utilize it,

Freedom is given to us by God in order that we might use it to His glory, in accordance with His design. It is not only church people who must understand this, not only believing Orthodox Christians, hut all people without exception. Contemporary thinkers, leaders, rulers are not necessarily obliged to believe in God or to become members of the Church, but it is essential for them to recognize that He cannot be overlooked or dismissed. They must acknowledge that God exists and that He is both the beginning and end of all things. In their personal lives they don't have to draw all the necessary conclusions from this truth, but they musn't deny its meaning for the life of the country, for its calling in history.

Here we see the principal – spiritual - for new ideas and solutions. After all, the majority of today's politicians were one way or another raised by a system which has outlived itself, a partocracy. For many of them the very word "democracy" is merely an abstract concept; even more so is acceptance of God, against which only yesterday they were still fighting, declaring religion to be the "opium of the people." Those involved here are not only former active proponents of atheism and Marxist-Leninism, but likewise those who accepted these as an "unavoidable" evil. It is impossible for all these people to simply "reconstruct" themselves. They have to fundamentally rethink their attitude towards the spiritual meaning of life, in the same way as they have to rethink their ideas about material realities. Their lives, and not only theirs but all of ours, must underrgo a profound, all encompassing change.

...We here abroad are not first-generation emigres; few of us have even seen Russia. But all these years we have offered repentance, and we continue to do so. The power of repentance, preached by the Church Abroad as the free portion of the entire Russian Church, has been so great that even non-Russians, who have joined our Church and who have no personal ties with Russia, have readily accepted this aspect of our life. Not only monastics, but also white clergy of our Church, irrespective of their nationality, to this day wear only black cassocks-as an external sign of our repentance and sorrow over Russia's spiritual enslavement...

...Some people maintain that we insist on repentance before ourselves, personally. This is absurd. Such an assertion can arise only out of ignorance of church life, i.e., of the very mystery of repentance and its spirit. Repentance is brought before God. True, the depth of the mystery lies also in the fact that the Church--as a conciliar, theanthropic organism--is the Body of Christ. For this reason, a publicly stated truth--is a service to God among His people, while a falsehood before the people, under pretext of secret "repentance before God", is alienation from the holy things of the Church. /.../ If we consider that repentance is necessary not only for those who actively supported the Soviet regime, but for all those who even by their silence passively cooperated with it, then we by no means forget that this includes us as well. Among us, likewise, not always and not everyone has lived with a spirit of repentance. We, too, must bring repentance before the Holy Church, before the Holy New Martyrs of Russia. Indeed, we ourselves have frequently grown lax, discouraged by the lack of understanding and manifest indifference of the West towards Russia's wounds. We sometimes came out not decisively enough in defense of those persecuted for their faith, those imprisoned in concentration camps, particularly when false witnesses categorically and deviously denied any persecution of the Church in the Soviet Union.

The mighty power of thousand-year-old Rus lies in the spirit of repentance in face of the Truth. Here is all our hope. Now it must be said clearly that Russia's repentance cannot be limited to clergy or groups of believers. It must include everyone both in Russia and abroad. Only on such a foundation can one hope that the Lord will show us all how to overcome those problems which today cannot find any solution. Repentance will lead us to true freedom, to freedom from all that is sinful. The cornerstone of our life is Jesus Christ, and a building on any other foundation stands on sand. In this newly acquired freedom, with God's help our entire Russian Orthodox Church will find its unity on the unshakeable rock of Truth, which is Jesus Christ. Amen.

Munich, August 1991