Christianity, first of all, is love. Love heals any
situation. Why do we now suffer terrible calamities? Because of a lack of love.
Fr. Dimitri Dudko
An Appeal for Mercy
Priest Dimitri Dudko, author of the following appeal, was one of Russia' s most outspoken and popular pastors, well-known in the West for his book Our' Hope. In January 1980 came the inevitable arrest. Some months later he appeared on Soviet television and offered a formal "recantation" of his activities, in return for which he was released and later given a parish outside Moscow. Although it is known that recantations are seldom obtained without extreme psychological pressure (often victimizing the family), Fr, Dimitri's action was viewed by many as an inexcusable compromise with the godless authorities; many of his spiritual children abandoned him, and he was severely criticized, even condemned by many in the Free World who boldly sat in judgment over a man whose Golgotha they had not experienced themselves.
weighed down by his own frailty, Fr. Dimitri asks to be mercifully forgiven by
those who showed no mercy in his hour of trial
As my appearance in print and on television continues to cause doubt and temptation among many, and my friends are not returning to me, I, too, cannot find peace. I regard my action as that of a traitor, if not in regard to God and the Church, then to those friends with whom I worked as one. I bow low to them, and likewise to those who have been misled by my action, and ask that they magnanimously forgive my cowardice. This is my first point. Further, I must recount what happened, but this should not be seen as an attempt at self-vindication. I went to my imprisonment ready to die, and said so to my family and spiritual children. For the first month I remained steadfast; I wrote a declaration to V.I. Alidin, the head of the KGB in the Moscow region, stating that I had been illegally arrested and that unlawful means had been applied tome, i.e., force instead of ideology. I received no reply. They began trying to pressure me to recant, going so far as to offer the form for recantation and showing me the declarations of recantation of others. This all seemed very insignificant to me, and somehow I quickly agreed ....
After I was released, having signed an undertaking not to leave the country, I came to realize the full meaning of my action. I spent nine years in the camps, and can recall no time when I was not persecuted; but this was nothing in comparison with The hell that dwelt in my soul. I was ready for anything--a new imprisonment, firing squad, any for of torment. I released a statement of recantation which, so they told me, was broadcast on foreign radio. I appealed to my spiritual children to forgive me, but it must have been hard for them to look upon my kindly--even though I was back on firm ground...
(Fr. Dimitri goes on to describe the problems he had with being assigned a parish, and the difficulties he has to contend with in his service at the present time.)
"...Recantation in the Soviet media is, I feel, the most frightening thing that can happen--it is far worse than imprisonment. Our country has embarked upon the path to reform and restructuring. God grant that now things will be called by their right names and assume their rightful place. I would like to consider the role of our church in this process, and to stress that in this sphere, too, reform is vital .... The Church must be free to deal solely with its mission--to bring spiritual sustenance to the people.
[...] "Atheism must be acknowledged as the most alien and merciless trap which has closed upon many: it has perverted moral principles, desecrated that which is holy, destroyed our history .... Yet ! believe in the prophesy of Saint Seraphim of Sarov, who said that the time. will come when "Pascha shall be sung in our land, although it will not be the time of Pascha." Russia will bring a new word to the world--this prophesy was, I believe, made by Dostoevsky.
"I am convinced that the fate of Russia shall influence the destiny of the whole world. The forthcoming Millennium of our Church has significance for all Christendom. Let it be so, O Lord! (Condensed from KNS 10/22/87)
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