NEW YORK: September 8, 2009
The Synod of Bishops Sends a Letter to Protopriest Georgy Mitrofanov
(Read the original Russian here.)
To Protopriest Georgy Mitrofanov
The Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia would like to express its profound gratitude for your book, The Tragedy of Russia.
The articles and sermons collected in your book pose the most important of questions before today’s Russia. In part, they also answer them, for they are unified by a Christian outlook, which is crucial, which unfortunately is often abandoned for the sake of the usual stereotypes and standards.
Emancipation from the narrow and distorted conceptions imposed by long decades of atheist rule is of utmost importance. The return of the root values of Orthodox Russia is the legacy of a future Russia, and not only of Russia but all the neighboring peoples.
Today, on the 70th anniversary of the beginning of World War II, we are reminded that Russia is called upon to make sense of the fate of the world. Along what paths did Russia travel, and the peoples whose fate was tied to her? What was her spiritual struggle, her possibilities, and the as-yet-unfulfilled striving towards one thing: towards Divine truth, the Kingdom of Christ?
Grasping the essence of the challenge, you as an historian and as a pastor did not shy away from a series of questions which long ago became “forbidden.” They became “forbidden” for reasons which you also reveal in your book. You write of the spiritual resistance to bolshevism, of the White Movement, the ROA (Russian Freedom Army, called the “Vlasovites”), the work of Alexander Solzhenitsyn… You precisely describe the failings and dangers inherent in various efforts of the Russian people. You evaluate the efforts today to make sense of these phenomena against the backdrop of the evils of the day, and you investigate them together with the reader. In this way you manifest the inner concept which guided all these people, who under tragic circumstances sought the way to heed the call of God.
We knew many of them personally. We live among the faithful descendants of the White Movement and Vlasov’s forces, we see those whose life’s work bore witness to their love for the Church of Christ and to their Homeland.
We will bring up the most controversial topic: the name of the Orthodox Christian Andrei Vlasov evokes hatred as a result of ignorance of historic fact due to the godless, totalitarian propaganda aimed at falsifying history. Is it not characteristic that when he was expelled from the Union of Soviet Writers, the defenders of the regime called Solzhenitsyn a “literary Vlasovite,” long before he even touched upon this topic in his book The Gulag Archipelago?
The topic is complicated, and the facts must be examined. We can point to the book of an eyewitness, Protopresbyter Alexander Kiselev, The Image of General AA Vlasov. Fr Alexander, a clergymen also esteemed in Russia today, was the spiritual father of the Russian Freedom Army with the blessing of the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, Metropolitan Anastassy. Out of his love for Russia, Fr Alexander intentionally never denounced this.
Yes, Stalin and Hitler distorted the striving towards freedom of the Russian people. Stalin managed to obfuscate everything. You now call upon Russia to discern the spirits. The matter of fully making sense of Russian history of the 20th century is obviously only beginning.
Your book has evoked enormous interest among the emigration, and for many a sigh of relief. The honesty and straightforwardness in your words consoles us and our flock. Your words instill hope that even in the most complicated historic and moral questions, answers may be finally found and expressed which are worthy of Holy Russia—words which do not breathe the spirit of deceit and division of the last century, but in concordance with Christ and the life of the age to come, these words are filled with the spirit of unity, generosity, truth and love.