How Communism corrupted the Russian soul
Catholic Herald, 11 November 2017
100 years on, the Russian Orthodox Church still hasn't overcome brutal state atheism
The spiritual significance of the October Revolution – which actually took place in November 1917 according to our calendar – has largely been viewed by Catholics through the lens of that year’s apparitions at Fatima. Fatima, in turn, read through the life of St John Paul II, has led to a Catholic view that the challenge of 20th-century communism was a time of great persecution but also great heroism, leading to the ultimate triumph of Christian humanism.
The view from Russia itself would be rather different. Consider that, for John Paul II, the aftermath of the Great War meant the return of Poland to independence, and a rebirth of Polish freedom, subsequently to be tested. For his fellow Slav, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the end of World War I meant the end of Russian freedom. Both of course are true. In last week’s issue, Jonathan Luxmoore gave some of the highlights of the Catholic heroism in which Poles played a prominent part. However, the Fatima/John Paul lens does shift attention away from one of the principal religious dramas of our time – the October Revolution’s execution of Orthodoxy.
The persecution of the Russian Orthodox Church – the largest by far of the patriarchates in the Orthodox Church – was brutal and total. The figures are staggering. More than 100,000 Russian Orthodox priests were killed, some by crucifixion on their own churches. A Church that had over 300 bishops in 1917 was reduced to a mere handful by World War II. So fierce was the totalitarian atheism of Lenin and Stalin that the possibility of an underground “church of the catacombs” was practically foreclosed. A regime prepared to kill millions of its own for ideological purposes left no ground upon which resisters could stand, or under which they could hide.
Read more at the Catholic Herald: