861.404/11–2844: Telegram

The Chargé in the Soviet Union (Kennan) to the Secretary of State

4548. Council of Bishops of Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow November 21–23 which made plans for Council of Russian Orthodox Church to be held January 31, 1945 to elect Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia is announced in Moscow newspapers for November 28.

Council was opened by Patriarch Locum Tenens Alexis who set forth tasks facing Bishops. Following also spoke: Rector of Orthodox Theological Institute, Archpriest Popov, regarding activity of Institute and theological courses;1 Administrative Officer of Moscow Patriarchate, Archpriest Kolchitski, regarding proposed convocation of Council, and Metropolitan Krutitski, Nikolai, regarding current church problems. Congress of Bishops unanimously adopted resolution for convocation of “local” Council of Orthodox Church to elect Patriarch, Council to be attended also by representatives of clergy and laymen of each bishopric.

Meeting also decided to invite to forthcoming Council as honored guests, Universal Patriarch and Archbishop of Constantinople, Benjamin; Patriarch of Antioch and the East, Alexander III; Patriarch of Alexandria, Christopher; Patriarch of Jerusalem, Timothy; and Catholicos of Georgia, Kallistrat.

  1. Ambassador Harriman had already sent information in telegram 3266, September 1, 1944, about the opening ceremonies of the Theological Institute and Theological Training School at their sites in the old Novodyevichi Monastery at Moscow on June 14, 1944. The speeches here delivered gave “evidence of the role which Orthodox Church is now playing as a servant of the state in furthering patriotism and loyalty to authority and of the corresponding help being furnished church by the government.” (861.404/9–144) Earlier in the year a member of the American Embassy had been told by the Metropolitan Nikolay that a higher Theological Institute would have a 2-year course to which graduates of the 10-year schools could come from all over the Soviet Union. When conditions were more suitable, higher institutes might also be set up in Kiev and Leningrad. The lower Theological Training School, with a 3-year course, would take graduates of the 7-year school only from the Moscow oblast (county). In lime it was intended to open these lower schools in each oblast center. (861.404/558)