While the Moscow Patriarchate sat in stony silence in the face of an unprecedented persecution of Orthodox Christians and the use of cruel and unusual psychiatric tortures, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia issued an epistle appealing to the conscience of the world, and calling for prayers for the persecuted brethren.
This is one of many documents clearly revealing the difference between the fearless voice of the Church Abroad and the officially-approved testimony of silence carried by the Moscow Patriarchate into the World Council of Churches and other international fora.
The following declaration was adopted by the Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia at a meeting held in Frankfurt-am-Main on June 26-27, 1971.
Terrible news has reached us from Russia. The Soviet authroities have not been capable of fashioning a Soviet Man maleable in every respect to the pressures of a totalitarian government. Religious people, and those citizens vindicating their right to think otherwise than in terms of party directions, have been whisked away towards so-called “special psychiatric hostpitals”. Subjected to drugs, they are numbed and can no longer defend their faith; they are inevitably helpless.
Vassily Ivanovitch Chernyshev, professor of mathematics, who was confined in the Leningrad “Special Psychiatric Hospital”, writes: “Although I am afraid of death, I would rather be shot. How horrible, how loathsome is the mer thought that my soul will be soiled, crushed! Man’s individuality vanishes, his brain is numbed, his sensibility destroyed, his memory lost. But what is worse, as a result of the “treatment”, the delicate texture of human personality is coarsened, and this – brings death to creation. People forced tot ake “aminazin” cannot so much as read after taking the drug. Their mental process becomes an increasingly coarse and primitive one”.
N. I. Chernyshev testifies that for more than 25 years, N. I. Broslavsky – a sane man, has been languishing in the same “hospital”. He is offered freedom if he denies his faith in God.
Just recently, a work entitled “Notes from the Red House”, by Guenady Mikhailovich Shimanov, has reached the West. After further “treatment”, the author expects to be released from the “hospital” and sent back to his beloved wife, a “feeble-minded, slobbering-mouthed, giggling individual”.
– “There has been some progress!” – the psychiatrist will say, “he has already lost his faith in God. Yet it is true that he reasons with some difficulty and can hardly move his tongue around, but his previous logic was merely a superficial one; as a matter of fact, he was raving”.
G. N. Shimanov proclaims, nevertheless: “The Lord’s will be done in everything! Whether they drive me mad, whether they let me keep my mind, all is good and beautiful under God’s heaven. I accept everything as a child does from the hands of its father – be it joy, bitterness, reason or madness, be it light or darkness, good or evil…”
“Special Psychiatric Hospitals” are known to exist in Kazan, Sychevka (Smolensk region), Leningrad, Cherniahovsk, Minsk, Dniepropetrovsk, Orel. It is very likely that they are also to be found in other regions. In many psychiatric hospitals special wards have been set aside for “treatment” against dissidents of all complexions.
The names of 60 victims of such “treatment” have been published abroad.
The Moscow Patriarchate, recognized by the atheistic government of the USSR, and kept under its control, maintains a stony silence.
We, Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church, living abroad in freedom, cannot remain silent.
Alexander Soljenitzin has called the confinement of sane people in psychiatric hospitals as “tantamount to sending them to gas chambers”.
In the name of the
Russian Orthodox Church and in the name of our suffering nation, we are appealing to the conscience of the world.
It must condemn communist crimes as it condemned the crimes of National Socialism.
It must induce governments of the free countries to express their disapproval through the medium of international organizations and public communications. It must stand up for those people mutilated by doctors who have become executioners.
Prayers must be said for our persecuted brethren.
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+ Metropolitan Philaret, President of the Synod of Bishops of The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
Archbisjop Philotheos, Administrator of the Berlin and German Diocese
Archbishop Anthony of Geneva and Western Europe, Administrator of the Austrian Diocese
Bishop Nathanael, Father Superior of St. Job Pochaevsky’s Monastery in Munich
Bishop Jacob of The Hague, Head of the Russian Orthodox Mission in Holland
Bishop Paul of Stuttgart