Author: G. Codevilla
Publisher: Jaca Book
Publication Place: Milano
The four volumes cover the entire lifespan of the Russian State. The author introduces the principle of the "symphony between ecclesiastical and civil authority" which was to become a permanent architrave, although differently interpreted in subsequent historical periods, of the life and of the relationships between State and Church in Russia and bordering countries.
In the reconstruction of this articulated and compound period several chapters are of paramount importance to understand the future development of Church and State relations: the Council of 1503, which sees the opposition between the monastic currents represented by Nil Sorskij and Iosif Volockij, the unilateral claim of the autocephaly of Moscow, the idea of Moscow as Third Rome, the unusual procedure of recognition of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Union of Brest.
The first volume ends with an analysis of the period during which the patriarch Filaret and his son Zar Michail Fëdorovi? (1613-1645) were operating in their respective spheres, putting into practice the idea of symphony, the beginning of the Romanov dynasty, and later in the ecclesiastic field the time of the highly cultured Patriarch Nikon, and goes on to the theme of the great schism of the Old believers.
The second volume opens with the time of Peter the Great, who led an existence far removed from that of the life and feelings of the common Russian of that time, a contradictory behaviour which in time became publicly blasphemous and desecrating with regard to religion. The process of Europeanization of Russia also passed through symbology and clothing. Peter forced his subjects to cut their beards and to wear Saxon, German or French footwear and clothes, forbidding anything Russian except in the case of the clergy and state-employed peasants. The obligation to shave beards and moustaches constituted a serious violation of the regulations sanctioned by the Council of One Hundred Chapters (1551), which denied Christian burial for non-observance of the prohibition. The author sketches a precise analysis of Peter's reforms in the ecclesiastical sphere which led to subordination of the cross to the Crown at the end of a path leading to the abolition of the Patriarchate. In other words Peter ended up creating a subdued and fearful church, a clergy in good part the Zar's spy ready to violate the confessional secret in favour of the reason of State.
This volume analyzes also the ecclesiastic policy of Peter the Great's successors and the abundant, and sometimes contradictory, legislation emanated by them concerning the followers of the great schism of the Old believers (Raskol) as well as the regulation of monasteries.
Attention is given to the times of Nicholas 1st and his policy for the incorporation of the Greek-catholic Church into Orthodoxy. The portraits of the Ober-prokurory of the time and their rule are analyzed. The period regarding Imperial Russia ends with the legislation of tolerance issued in 1905, the February and October revolutions and the murder of Nicholas II and his family.
The third Volume confronts the Red Terror. It began with the unprecedented force of ideological violence, which led to the profanation of relics, the requisition of Church valuables, summary trials, and famine. The impetus of the Innovators’ movement (Obnovlency), to cause a schism in the patriarchal Church is examined in details. The book covers the bloody repression of the kulaks. The systematic emanation of unwritten legislation with the subordination of justice to politics led to the execution of a great number of the clergy and the bishopric. At the start of the Second World War, free bishops could be counted on the fingers of one hand.
The German advance drove Stalin to concede a longer rein and more freedom to the Church in order to unite the populace against the invaders. Thus began a new era in the history of the regime's relations with the Church, to which space for survival was granted in exchange for its enslavement to the ends of Soviet foreign policy.
A particular attention is given to the events regarding the Greek Catholic Church and the pseudo Council of L'viv in 1946, leading up to a precise account of the elimination of this Church in the Ukraine and various territories of the satellite countries. Thus we come to the epochal changes begun in 1986 and consolidated between 1988 and 1991, the final moment of a political experience which has left permanent aftermaths in the life and soul of Russia, and to the launching of the new legislation on religious freedom.
The last volume, “La Nuova Russia” (The new Russia), which deals with the modern era of the relations between State and Church in Russia, refers to the government policies of Gorba?ev, El'cin and the new zar Vladimir Putin, a leader who has been capable of rediscovering and rereading the principle of the symphony between ecclesiastical and civil authority and bending it into a new reconquest of territories lost following the dissolution of the soviet empire, at the same time having dismissed for ever the hope of a balanced and not ideological secularity in the Russian territories.
The new legislation on religious freedom and the situation of Orthodoxy in Russia and the eastern block countries are analyzed in details
A passage by Stefano Caprio gives a portrait of the new Russia and in particular of Patriarch Kirill and of president Vladimir Putin, pointing out the attitude of the latter towards Church and religion and his rereading of the principle of symphony between civil and ecclesiastical authority.
Table of contentsThe detailed table of contents in Italian is available for each volume on the OLIR website.