Orthodox America

The Cry of the New Martyrs – A Deacon Petitions the World (Deacon Fr. Vladimir Rusak)  

“I agree with the Russian religious writer A. Krasnov-Levitin, that there is no need for the Church to board any ship when she can walk upon the waters” Fr. Deacon Vladimir Rusak

     A once-in-eight years assembly of the World Council of Churches, held this summer in Vancouver, B.C., was addressed by an ordinary deacon of the Russian Orthodox Church behind the iron Curtain in hopes of bringing world-wide attention to the tragic, even desperate, situation of believers suffering under the communist yoke. Fr. Vladimir Rusak was dismissed from the priesthood when he refused to destroy his work on a post-revolutionary history of the Russian Orthodox Church. He addressed the WCC "with the firm conviction that the cardinal theological and sociological problems on its agenda will not overshadow the problem of an ordinary believer and servant of the Church."

    It is well known, however, that the NCC has purposely avoided such issues, going so far as to justify its financial and moral support of Marxists as a God-given duty to "show Solidarity with oppressed people." It is not surprising, therefore, that Fr. Rusak's appeal was turned down, although it circulated unofficially among delegates. We print excerpts of his appeal below in hopes that it will fall upon more sympathetic ears. 

    “I was brought up on a firm foundation of faith. From the age of 5 I participated in the church services, I have devoted my whole life to serving God, and now I find myself removed from the altar and without any hope of ever serving in the Church again.

    "This is my tragedy. I dare not to believe however, that all of you who are at this gathering, have remained indifferent to my fate because it is not only my personal tragedy, it is the tragedy of the whole of the Russian Church. My personal fate can bring about a series of questions which might be discussed at this high gathering…

    "One may talk about our hopes, too. We hope that one day the WCC will finally cease to identify the Soviet delegation with the entire body of the Russian Orthodox Church at international gatherings.

    "We hope that international church conferences one day will discern behind the exterior splendor of Soviet delegation the tears and sufferings of our believers.

    "We hope that the WCC will cease one day to evaluate the contribution of the Soviet Church to the programs of the WCC for its considerable donations, but will apply in its evaluation the scale worthier of a church organization, and that it will see the paucity of our spiritual life and absence of initiative behind the exterior magnificence of our hierarchs...

    "We hope that the WCC will stop one day treating the propagandistic claims of our official delegates as the only source of information on the situation of the Churches in the Soviet Union...

    "One may and should talk about all this. One should speak about it aloud. We are still nurturing our hope that our voice will be heard.

    'I appeal to you in the conviction that the fate of any ordinary lay-believer and any churchman is inextricably bound with the future of the Fulfilled Church.

    "I believe in God, I love the Church. I am painfully concerned about its future and I wish to serve it--but not by paying the price of time-serving and compromise of conscience, the terrible price paid by our church leadership and which I am being urged to pay."

    No punishment, be it a prison, a concentration camp, a psychiatric hospital, or a forced confession and renunciation of one’s religious convictions and activities, or even a slow martyr's death within the walls of the KGB camps--can silence the voice of God's Truth. May we remember in our prayers those suffering for Christ, and may the Lord preserve His faithful servant Fr. Vladimir through the intercession of the New Martyrs of Russia!