There was a very stilted, jangly, and over-literal translation of this piece on the official ROCOR website. It was poor enough for me to go back to the Russian original and make a clear translation from the Russian original. The ROCOR translation STANK and it had fraudulent and unwarranted links to Maria Vladimirovna’s mendacious little website that weren’t in the patriarchia.ru original. In short, HH isn’t cheerleading for Maria Vladimirovna or her Western lickspittle son (he was an employee of the EU, after all). I’ll have more to say later, for now, here’s what HH really said.
“Your Holiness, please, tell me, in the light of the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty, how does the Orthodox Church assess its rule? Is it worth my while to celebrate this event, and are the claims of some members of the Romanov family to the Russian throne legitimate?”
A letter by Vladimir Petrovich Surov, Saratov
Vladimir Petrovich, firstly, I’d like to say that the Church has a view of history that you can understand only from the perspective of its mission. Often, the media and the public demand an immediate comment from the Church on political events. If the Church, especially, in the person of the Patriarch, doesn’t comment immediately, it causes upset; they pose additional questions, they issue allegations, and, sometimes, they accuse us of holding a position opposite to our real one.
Fundamentally, in addressing the public, the Church draws attention to and remarks on everything that has to do with salvation. Historical events might be relevant to mankind’s salvation… that is, their effects might have an influence on such, but the fact remains that most events have nothing to do with the Gospel. That’s why the Church shouldn’t issue immediate comment on political events. The Church isn’t an organ of political commentary; we don’t have the job of immediately assessing -everything that happens in our country, in society, in the world. Conversely, nevertheless, the Church can assess historical events with a soteriological understanding, that is, from the point of view of how it affects mankind’s salvation. I’d like to comment on your question from that point of view.
You can’t separate the rule of the Romanovs from that of the preceding Rurikid dynasty. You can’t talk about the Romanovs without mentioning Grand Prince St Vladimir, St Aleksandr Nevsky, St Dmitri Donskoi, Ivan III Vasilyevich the Great (The Gatherer of all Rus), and Ivan IV Vasilyevich Grozny… all of whom played a major role in the development of our state. The Romanov dynasty simply continued the path of service to the motherland and people taken by the previous rulers. If you take a close look at the history of the Russian monarchy, certainly, one can say that their rule benefitted the country and the people. Every age has its own particular emphasis, its own understanding, on what is good. The Middle Ages had one understanding of this; modern times accentuate other things. Therefore, formally, superficially, the rule of Pyotr Veliki was different, of course, from the rule of Ivan Grozny, but from the point of view of public benefit, their rule, of course, very much resembled each other. Indeed, the state didn’t decrease in area under any tsar… every tsar increased it. Evidently, some gains were only temporary; for example, such as when our troops occupied Königsberg in East Prussia in the time of Tsaritsa Yelizaveta Petrovna, then, Peter III ordered them to leave the occupied territory. However, such minutiae are irrelevant to the matter at hand. Of course, in augmenting the Russian state, the patriotic service of the Romanov dynasty is undeniable.
However, I’d like to say something else. When we evaluate the activities of a sovereign, of any public figure of such magnitude, in fact, we primarily assess it from the point of view of results, of what it did for our country, for the people, for the development of society, but we forget about their personal attributes… they’re left in the background. One must say that no Romanov was a saint, except for the last one, who was glorified amongst the saints not as a statesman, not as a military leader, not as a political leader, but as a Passionbearer (страстотерпец). Consequently, when we speak of the Romanov dynasty, we shouldn’t forget the general cultural background in which they evolved. In this general cultural background, not all was well. We all know what pernicious influences affected the lives of our people in the 18th century… doubtlessly, with the connivance of the sovereigns, who were themselves keen on the spirit of the time. There were problems in the 19th century, as well. Therefore, although the Church rendered the state authority all due respect, as the Gospel commands, however, one can’t help but notice that there was a certain distance between the spiritual life of the people and the spiritual life of our aristocracy.
Talking about all of this, once again, I want to say that the rule of the tsars of the Romanov dynasty led to undoubted, enormous, and positive achievements. In this sense, firstly, I think that that we contemporary Russians have to feel gratitude for those who led our motherland for over 300 years, to appreciate what they did. However, for all that, our appreciation shouldn’t be jingoistic (лубочной), cartoonish, and artificial. Indeed, we must understand that the intelligentsia, the educated classes, made some serious mistakes in shaping their fundamental ideology, which undoubtedly affected the lives of the people. Therefore, the Church, from its point of view, from its assessment of history, has both a positive and a critical assessment of the rulers of the Romanov dynasty. In conclusion, I’d like to say that everything is relative. if we compare the acts of the tsars with the activities with the activities of those who destroyed Great Russia, who ripped it to pieces, who caused enormous damage to the national interest in the 20th century, then, of course, the weltanshauung of the Romanov dynasty appears to be a high and a remarkable example of caring for the state and the people.
Let’s move on to the second part of your question… you asked whether there’s a legitimate claim on the part of this-or-that Romanov family member to the Russian throne. From the outset, I’d like to point up no such claims exist. Today, none of the descendants of the Romanovs claims the Russian throne. However, Grand Princess Maria Vladimirovna and her son Georgi maintain the continuity of the Romanov line… not in terms of the Russian imperial throne, but simply as historic fact. I thank this family, and many other Romanovs, for their present contribution to the life of our motherland. Maria Vladimirovna supports many good causes, she visits Russia, she meets with people, and she elevates commoners to noble rank for their achievements. I remember how she elevated an old peasant woman from Smolensk to the nobility, to recognise the efforts that she’d make during the war and during the post-war years. Therefore, the cultural contributions of the Romanovs remain in our society to this very day.
Now, let’s address that part of the question that concerns a celebration… do we need to celebrate this? Yes, of course, it’s necessary to do this. It’s a great date in history. Regardless of people’s attitudes to the monarchy, or to the possibility of its restoration at present, the 400th anniversary gives us an opportunity to evaluate history. As I said, we must remember with gratitude the works of those who led the Russian state, who enabled our great achievements in the development of our country. They created our vast public infrastructure, including great works in transportation, and fostered the development of science, art, and industry. After all, suffice it to say that, on the eve of the First World War, Russia had almost become the second-highest GDP in the world, and had the Great War not intervened, then, surely, it would’ve reached second place. All this suggests that the tsars made a very important contribution to the development of our country, so, of course, to celebrate that is natural.
The celebration won’t be an official state holiday, but it’s still an important historical date, so, the Church will mark it with a Divine Liturgy at the Assumption Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin to remember all of the Romanovs, from Mikhail Fyodorovich, Aleksei Mikhailovich, Pyotr Veliki, all the way up to the Holy Passionbearer Nikolai Aleksandrovich. We prayerfully remember these people, with thanks to God for their work, and with the prayer that the Lord give rest to their souls in the abode of the righteous. It’s pleasing to relate that the media, including television, is responding to this date. Today, you can see many interesting historical films, materials, and discussions on the subject. Even though it isn’t an official state holiday, the celebration is quite widespread throughout our society. Once again, I reiterate that the Church will make its own observation in its own way on this historical occasion, so, firstly, we’ll offer prayers to the Lord for the repose of the souls of the Romanovs to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty.
9 March 2013
Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias
A Pastoral Word
Official MP Website
Everyone knows how, in particular, Jordanville sucked up to the claims of Kirill Vladimirovich, Ducky, and their children. Hence, when this piece came out, it translated it in a hurry, without thought (or even careful reading of the text). HH didn’t endorse Maria Vladimirovna. HH didn’t endorse the dubious additions that the ROCOR official site webmaster made to the piece. Before running this, I had some long discussions with Russian contacts on the implied claims made by the ROCOR post. One Russian contact said:
You Americans have a saying, “As dumb as a box of rocks”. Well… Maria Vladimirovna is dumber than that. His Holiness was searching for something nice to say about her because she’s been savaged by her Romanov relatives, who don’t consider her the pretender because of the Salic Law. Some don’t even consider her or her son to be “real royals”. Her son is even stupider than she is… he was supposed to study in a Russian military academy, but he was so dumb that the faculty revolted and refused to admit him.
In short, Maria Vladimirovna isn’t going anywhere fast. HH refused to acknowledge her status as pretender to the throne. He wasn’t nasty about it, but he refused to acknowledge it, all the same. She and her son exist on Western sufferance… without that (especially, King Juan Carlos’ material aid), they’d be toast. Don’t forget… they live in France and Spain… NOT in Russia (although they do visit, and sometimes, Georgi acts as a gofer flunky to this-or-that oligarch). One can’t be angry with the monarchists in the ROCOR; most of them are simply people living in “Cloud Cuckoo Land”, as the Germans put it. This predilection allows charlatans such as Victor Potapov to push forward their crank agendas in the form of “monarchism” and “restorationism”. To say the least, the Romanov pretenders “have learned nothing, and forgotten nothing”. Yet, they’re more pathetic rather than dangerous… avoid them… they’re toothless curiosities.
In all the discussions that I’ve had with Russian contacts, all are clear that HH isn’t backing Maria Vladimirovna and all reiterate that he hasn’t gone back on any of his “left” social statements. Consider the source of the ROCOR post… and do notice that they did a “shoemaker” job of translation (piss-poor in the extreme). Sad, ain’t it? Don’t kick such sorts, it ain’t nice to mock the feeble-minded…