KIEV: February 6, 2020
The Primate of the Russian Church Abroad sends greetings to the scholarly conference “A Church of Martyrs: Persecution of the Faith and the Church in the 20th Century”
To His Beatitude ONOUPHRY
Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine,
To the Participants of the International Conference “A Church of Martyrs: Persecution of the Faith and the Church in the 20th Century”
Your Beatitude, Brethren Archpastors, Honorable Fathers, Dear in the Lord Brothers and Sisters:
With all my soul I congratulate Your Beatitude and all the participants of this event, dedicated to the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Church of the 20th century, when a tidal wave of terrifying demonic wrath in those envious of the spiritual development of our people strove to overwhelm our faith. Our brethren then rose up, and with the shield of their faith resisted that godless ideology with which the enemy of mankind wished to replace our faith and instead of a loaf, give us a stone, instead of a fish, a scorpion.
They rose to their full spiritual stature and absorbed horrifying blows, but their faith was not shaken, to the contrary, it became more staunch, more firm. Their bones served as seeds for new ascetics of the Church to rise.
The first of these was Holy Hieromartyr Vladimir, Metropolitan of Kiev and Galicia, who had served at all the cathedras of the capital cities: Moscow, St Petersburg and Kiev. Alongside him were Metropolitan Veniamin of Petrograd, Metropolitan Kirill of Kazan, Metropolitan Anatoly of Odessa and a multitude of other hierarchs of Christ’s Church. And with them were priests, monastics and laity.
We in the West constantly lifted our prayers for all those who were subjected to persecution, for all those who were tormented, tortured, killed and upon whom brutality was inflicted. The Russian Church Abroad made its main goal to bear witness in the free world to that which was happening in the Fatherland, to the terrible persecutions and sufferings of those who desired to believe in God and confess His Name.
In 1981, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia added to the host of saints all the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors who suffered in the Homeland during the great persecution of the Church, to bear witness of our love for them before the entire world, that we are spiritually united with them, that we need their help and prayerful intercession for us. As recalled by my late predecessors and by Metropolitan Mark of Berlin and Germany, who participated in the Council of Bishops in 1981, the bishops, reading the names of the glorious martyrs and confessors, and reading brief descriptions of their sufferings and deaths, were shaken to the core from the inhuman evil and cruelty of the torturers. Truly, there was no torture, degradation, such excruciating torment and Satanic mockery that the sufferers for the Faith did not endure. Terrible is that bloody list. But it bears witness before the entire world that the faith in our people was firm, having been able to present such heroes of the spirit in such terrible times!
May they help us Orthodox Christians spiritually commune with their podvig and follow their example in our lives! Beholding this great cloud of witnesses, New Martyrs and Confessors, let us shed our own sins, so that the glorification of their memory and the study of their spiritual feats serve as a spiritual renewal to us. Amen.
With love in the Lord,
Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York,
First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.