861.404/2–248: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Smith) to the Secretary of State


185. Journal [of the] Moscow Patriarchate number 11, November 1947, just received, contains startling and weighty evidence of degree to which Russian Orthodox Church is now subservient to Soviet Government. Magazine prints text of pastoral letter addressed by Patriarch Alexei to his flock and, according to another statement [Page 802] in same issue, read in all the churches on occasion 30th anniversary Soviet regime. Text this letter from Russian church’s highest authority contains strikingly profound endorsement Soviet system and its leaders, which reaches climax in concluding paragraph:

“We shall redouble our prayers for the God-protected Russian state and for its authorities at whose head is the wise leader, whom the providence of God chose and put to lead our fatherland on the path of prosperity and glory.”

Such language is strongest Embassy has yet seen in this authoritative ecclesiastical publication. Moreover, fact that supreme ruler of church signed message and that it is first case of issuance of pastoral letter for such occasion emphasized importance of this document. Embassy does not believe that it marks any sharp change in relationship of church to state but rather new low point in long-term trend of ever-increasing public self abasement of former before superior forces of Soviet regime.1

Fuller coverage by pouch.

  1. Several days later in telegram 293 of February 13, the Ambassador informed the Department that in the December issue of the Journal for the first time an article was printed “wholly dedicated to propagandizing USSR’s current anti-western foreign policy” and strongly attacking the United States. This article “again emphasizes debasement of church to status unprincipled sycophant current regime, and undoubtedly presages increasing use church as propaganda organ for Soviet campaign of vituperation against USA.” (861.404/2–1348)