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Hectic attempts to prevent canonization of Emperor Nicholas II

by Viktor Fomin
Sobornost 2000, 11 August 2000


With the approach of the day of opening of the bishops' council of the Russian Orthodox church it is becoming more and more obvious that the canonization of Nicholas and his family will happen. In connection with this a very small but very noisy group of church liberals have undertaken a desperate attempt to prevent this canonization come what may. Toward this end it has used a well-tested device, the press.

It should be noted that articles against the intended canonization of the last Russian emperor appeared earlier in various liberal publications, from Moscow News to Moskovskii komsomolets. But they all, because of their openly antichurch orientation and dismissive tone, could hardly have any influence upon the bishops' decision. Thus opponents of canonization have taken a different route.

The last issue of NG-religii, 9 August, was devoted entirely to the topic of the upcoming council and just about every article "followed the line" of the impermissibility of glorification of the last Russian tsar. But the lead article on this topic was Alexander Morozov's "What is behind the canonization of Nicholas II?" It was placed on the first page, directly beneath material signed by His Holiness Patriarch Alexis.

In this article Alexander Morozov abandoned his usual measured, analytical, cool, impartial style and with great passion tried to draw out a myth about the absence of canonical bases for the canonization of Emperor Nicholas II. For this the writer made all possible and impossible pirouettes.

Thus, Mr. Morozov declared that "after the bishops' council of 1997 there arose a whole 'industry' of miracle working around Nicholas II. Icons began weeping and sick persons were healed. . . ." The writer ignores that numerous miracles had been recorded long before 1997 and, in a way reminiscent of the most clear examples of bygone atheistic propaganda, he casually announces that all cases of miracle working and healings from the royal martyrs are the obscuratism of priests who are duping people. This leads one to recall the unforgettable works of Gubelmann--Yaroskavsky, who once was the unsurpassed master of the genre.

Further Mr. Morozov asserts that "nine out of ten of the overt advocates of canonization are people who are convinced that Nicholas II 'was ritually murdered by Jews as part of a world conspiracy.'" That's a rather strong point. It just is not quite clear what this has to do with the decision of the synodal commission on canonization (on the basis of the investigation of specialists of the Moscow Ecclesiastical Academy and other scholars) that the murder of 1918 did not have a ritualistic character. But for Mr. Morozov logic is not important in this case but the impression produced on the bishops. This becomes still more evident in the further course of the article.

After a malicious picture of the dismal assemblage of angry antisemites thirsting for the canonization of the murdered tsar as if for fresh blood, Mr. Morozov moves on to jamming up the bishops. We hear: "The canonization of Nicholas II under pressure from the 'catacombists' is a choice for a certain perspective on the understanding of the church's existence in the world. . . . In canonizing Nicholas II the church emphasizes its political ideal of monarchy. . . . The canonization of Nicholas II is a gigantic gesture in the direction of 'archaism,' that is, a deaf, mythologized, alarmist attitude toward the world. . . . The canonization of Nicholas II will be irrefutable evidence that that group of bishops on whose shoulders fell the tasks of leading the church out of the soviet era has lost a clear vision for the future."

Having exhausted all possible turns for jamming up the bishops, Mr. Morozov pins them to the wall with the following profoundly reasonable conclusion: "The patriarchate is proceeding to the canonization of the emperor without having any new serious arguments for canonization in comparison with October 1996, when there were none whatsoever." One must congratulate the writer; he has done everything within his power to bring the Moscow patriarchate to its senses. And woe to it if it does not change its mind!

Incidentally it should be noted that in order to spread its ideas the modest circulation of NG-religii (6,000-7,000 copies) this time was artificially swollen to 18,000. In order to fill with an understanding of the historical moment not only the bishops but also the nation that is befuddled by antisemites.

In any case it is good that at the time of the canonization of the holy passion bearers Boris and Gleb there was no press. (tr. by PDS, posted 13 August 2000)

The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Webmaster, St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, or the Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia.
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