12 August 2017

Metropolitan Antony and Bishop Saint Tikhon on racism

Metropolitan Antony (Khrapovitsky) of blessed memory, the first primate of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, had this to say against pogroms and against violence toward Jews. Note that he did not only speak out against anti-Semitism, but also placed his own person in between a vengeful far-right mob in Volyn and their Jewish targets.
God’s recompense will fall upon those evil people who have shed blood which is of the same race as the Theanthropos, His most pure Mother, Apostles and Prophets. Do not suppose that this blood was sacred only in the past, but understand that even in the future reconciliation to the divine nature awaits them, as Christ’s chosen vessel further testifies, ‘For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written. There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.’

Let the savage know that they have slain future Christians who were yet in the loins of the present day Jews; let them know that they have shown themselves to be bankrupt opponents of God’s providence, persecutors of a people beloved by God, even after its rejection.

How sinful is enmity against Jews, based on an ignorance of God’s law, and how shall it be forgiven when it arises from abominable and disgraceful impulses. The robbers of the Jews did not do so as revenge for opposition to Christianity, rather they lusted for the property and possessions of others. Under the thin guise of zeal for the faith, they served the demon of covetousness. They resembled Judas who betrayed Christ with a kiss while blinded with the sickness of greed, but these murderers, hiding themselves behind Christ’s name, killed His kinsmen according to the flesh in order to rob them.

When have we beheld such fanaticism? In Western Europe during the middle ages, heretics and Jews were shamefully executed, but not by mobs intent on robbing them.

How can one begin to teach people who stifle their own conscience and mercy, who snuff out all fear of God and, departing from the holy temple even on the bright day of Christ’s Resurrection, a day dedicated to forgiveness and love, but which they rededicate to robbery and murder?
And here is Bishop Saint Tikhon (Bellavin) of Moscow taking on the more fundamental sin behind the phenomenon of racism, in a homily delivered in San Francisco to his American parishioners on 23 June, 1900, exhorting them to come to the aid of the Aleut and Inuit parishes in Alaska, who were suffering from dearth of food and medicine at the time:
We must help our brothers in the Faith. It does not matter that they belong to a different, less civilised race. It is not civilisation at all—which shamefully is preached by some—wherein the sole idea is that the white race must not only be prevailing in the world, but must wipe out the other ‘coloured’ races; and if the natives die, it’s for the better, so it’s not worth taking care of them. True civilisation consists in giving as many people as possible access to the benefits of life, to elevate the lower races to the level of the higher ones. Since all people originate from one man, all are children of one Heavenly Father; all were redeemed by the most pure blood of Christ; in Whom ‘there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free’. All are brothers and must love one another—love one another not only in words, but in deeds as well. And so in the name of this love of Christ, we must help our brothers of the far north.
And lest you think, in error, that this is merely the opinion of two lone Russian bishops, which may be safely ignored, here is the official Church teaching on racism, delivered at the Synod of Constantinople in 1872:
We renounce, censure and condemn racism, that is racial discrimination, ethnic feuds, hatreds and dissensions within the Church of Christ, as contrary to the teaching of the Gospel and the holy canons of our blessed fathers which ‘support the holy Church and the entire Christian world, embellish it and lead it to divine godliness’.
Holy Father Tikhon of Moscow, Metropolitan Antony of Kiev, and the Fathers of the 1872 Holy Synod of Constantinople, pray to God for us sinners. Pray that the spirit of peace and justice may come swiftly to us in America, and to the people of Charlottesville in particular. We ask your intercessions to God, for mercy upon the souls of Jay, Berke and the 34-year-old woman who lost her life at the protest there, that their memories be made eternal.


  1. Seems like the modern Russian Orthodox church has forgotten what they wrote in that statement in 1872 on ethnic feuds and hatreds.