Moscow, April 26, 2017
Especially in this year of the centenary of the tragic Russian revolution, it is necessary to venerate the memory of and erect monuments to the New Martyrs persecuted for the Faith in the atheist Soviet years, and name streets in their honor, believes the head of Synodal Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev), reports Interfax-Religion.
“That’s who we ought to erect monuments to, and whose names we ought to give to streets and squares, instead of artificially maintaining reverence for torturers, terrorists, and murderers, immortalized in the names of the squares and streets of many cities of our great Russia,” the metropolitan said on Wednesday in St. Petersburg at a plenary session dedicated to contemplating the events of 1917.
He noted that tens of thousands of clergy and millions of laity were victims of repressions, just in the 1930s.
136,900 Orthodox clergymen suffered repression in 1937, 85,300 of them being executed. In 1938, 28,300 were arrested, and 21,500 executed. “The total number of believers who suffered in the years of persecution is known to God alone,” Met. Hilarion said. According to him, by 1939, only about 100 out of more than 60,000 churches that had been active in 1917 were still open. Only four ruling bishops remained free.
As he noted, more than 1,760 New Martyrs and Confessors have been officially glorified by the Russian Orthodox Church, and noted that “spiritual blindness” was the main cause of the revolutionary events of 1917.
“In the pre-revolutionary period, year after year the truth of God as the foundation of the people’s life was replaced under various influences by human truth. The Gospel principle of love for God and neighbor was replaced with hedonistic and egoistic phantasms. The image of Christ as the ideal for imitation was replaced with rebels and godless figures. The fashionable ideas of the liberal wing became more popular than the Gospel. Debauchery and drunkenness became the norm of life,” he stated.