By Hamish Fraser
PATRIARCH Alexis of Moscow has applied for . the admission of the Russian Orthodox Church to the World Council of Churches.
According to the Rev. Dr. Franklin Fry, chairman of the central committee of the council, the Patriarch has spoken of the need for "deepening of mutual understanding among divided Christians" and for strengthening "universal brotherhood, love and peace among nations on the basis of the Gospel."
All this, says Dr. Fry, signifies "an. act of faith" by the Russian Church in the Council.
The truth, of course, is that Patriarch Alexis is a tool in the hands of Khrushchev, as he was formerly a tool in the hands of Stalin. And the present step represents a strategic move by atheistic Moscow to obstruct the unifying influence which will emanate from the forthcoming Council of the Church.
It is certainly not the faith of Russia's Christians that is in question. The very fact that the Kremlin found it necessary to reestablish the Russian Orthodox Church demonstrates how ineradicable is the faith of the Steppes. The point is that Patriarch Alexis is no more representative of
Russian Christians than is Nikita Khruschev. And here is the proof: 1. When the exigencies of the " Great Patriotic War " made it necessary for Stalin to appease Christians, instead of restoring Christian freedom, he re-established the Russian Orthodox Church under Communist auspices.
2. A Council of State for Orthodox Affairs was established under the direction of Major General Georgi Karpov of the M.V.D.
3. It was also made abundantly clear that no decision by the Patriarch could he regarded as valid unless it had been countersigned by Karpov,
4. To make doubly sure of the subservience and impotence of the re-established Church, the Metropolitan Nikolai was installed as de facto Vice Regent of the Moscow Patriarchate.
The significance of this appointment derived from the fact that Metropolitan Nikolai, who had played an active part in the persecution of both Orthodox and Greek Christians in the Ukraine, was known to be an agent of the secret police.
5. Concerning Patriarch Alexis himself, the temper of his orthodoxy can be gauged from the letter he sent to Stalin on May 19, 1944, in which he stated: " My future activity will invariably be guided by your historic remarks , . Acting in complete union with the Council for Orthodox Affairs, I shall he sheltered, as will be the Holy Synod . . . . from all error and mistake."
6. Such were the conditions accepted by Patriarch Alexis prior to his coronation in January, 1945.
7. In the first issue of the Moscow Patriarchal Bulletin he went out of his way to affirm his belief that Stalin personified the Soviet man's ideal, and that there was no other country in the entire world where conditions were more favourable to the expansion of the Christian Church.
8. There could have been no suspicion that the latter statement was made, tongue in cheek, as an oblique reference to the blond of martyrs being the seed of the Church. For on August 23. 1947, Stalin decorated him with the Order of the Red Flag.