The YMCA & Russian Emigration: Halloween Trick - or genuine treat ?

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Barbara
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The YMCA & Russian Emigration: Halloween Trick - or genuine treat ?

Postby Barbara » Thu 1 November 2018 4:45 am

I have been reading up on the role of the YMCA [ and YWCA, at times ] in trying to either infiltrate or help -- depending on one's point of view -- the Russian Orthodox both in immediately pre-revolutionary Russia and in the early decades of Communist rule, as well as in the Russian Emigration in Europe, ranging elsewhere even as far as Harbin, Manchuria.

There were massive efforts to rally the Russian youth into Protestant-led YMCA groups and activities, while a YMCA Press which is apparently still functioning today churned books in both the orthography and the new soviet style of writing to reach Russian-speaking emigres of both time periods.

The YMCA's motives and behavior during these decades of upheaval is a complex subject, so I am starting the thread to which anyone can add views or information.

For the moment, I want to copy the Ukaz of "the Karlovtzi Synod Against the YMCA< YWCA and WSCF " [ the latter acronym means World Student Christian Federation ] as probably translated into English by American YMCA staff. Hence a few of the awkward spellings. Released on St Sergius' Day, the Ukaz [ I assume it is one, though the miffed YMCA terms it "Pronouncement" ] is a masterpiece of speaking out unpopular truth.


"Kingdom of SHS
Sremski Karlovtzi
5/18 July, 1926
Number 837

To the Bureau of the Conference of the Russian Christian Student Movement in Western Europe :

Having read the address of the Bureau of the Conference sent to the Holy Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church in Foreign Countries...the Council of Bishops resolved, June 17/30, No. 8 :

"To bless and accept for guidance and protection, all Orthodox student groups in the statutes of which the name 'Orthodox' is clearly and officially accepted, which organize their inner and outward life in full accord with the principles of the Holy Orthodox Church, and which have definite dependence on the guidance of the Orthodox clergy or of persons having the confidence of the latter, undertaking nothing without their blessing.

"Further, having listened to the report of the Most Reverend Archbishop Feofan regarding the American Association of Christian Young Men [YMCA], the Council of Bishops, after lengthy discussion and on the basis of former decisions, resolved :

1. As regards the American interconfessional organization, the YMCA and YWCA and the World Student Christian Federation, to confirm the resolution of the Russian Church Council in Foreign Countries of 1921, convoked in Sremski Karlovtzi, (1) recognize those organizations as openly Masonic and anti-Christian, and therefore, (2) members of the Orthodox Church are forbidden to organize themselves into groups under the guidance of these or similar non-Orthodox organizations, or to be under their influence.

The Bureau of the Conference of the Russian Student Christian Movement in Western Europe is to be informed of this resolution.

Secretary of the Synod Chancellery
(Signed) E. Makharablidze

[ We wonder how a Georgian became Secretary of the Rocor Synod ?

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Re: The YMCA & Russian Emigration: Halloween Trick - or genuine treat ?

Postby Barbara » Thu 1 November 2018 5:03 am

To be balanced, here is the contention of a pro-YMCA writer regarding the usefulness of the YMCA Press to the Russian Orthodox Church :


The [ YMCA ] Press played a major role in preserving an important aspect of prerevolutionary Russian culture in Western Europe during the Soviet period until the repatriation of this culture following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In this way, the Press contributed to the expansion and enrichment of Eastern Orthodox Christianity.

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10 ... ccess=true

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Re: The YMCA & Russian Emigration: Halloween Trick - or genuine treat ?

Postby d9popov » Wed 7 November 2018 3:42 am

The YMCA certainly supported the Russian emigres financially, especially in book publishing. But it expected this help to "modernize" and hence Protestantize the Russians to some degree. The WCC supposedly channeled money to ROCOR clergy salaries in Germany and the CIA to ROCOR in the US. They all had their reasons: both to help the persecuted anti-Communists Russians, but also with a hope for gratitude and loyalty. The Anglicans did the same in Serbia and they bought Patriarch German off

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Re: The YMCA & Russian Emigration: Halloween Trick - or genuine treat ?

Postby Barbara » Wed 7 November 2018 4:24 am

Strangely [ to me ], the YMCA and its affiliated organizations operated in newly Soviet Russia with a little persecution, being American capitalists. But still carried on the pre-revolutionary endeavors, whether for good or for ill.

Tomorrow being the anniversary of the dreadful Bolshevik Revolution, it's worth taking a second to mention that the YMCA's policy was to help across the board Russian Communists of all stripes, centrists and conservatives. [ In short, with no discernment in my book ! ] YMCA leaders boasted about how impartial the organization was, but to me that's extremely strange that an American Protestant group would not have shied away from leftists, anarchists, atheists, etc. like the plague. This more than open attitude was a proverbial Red flag.

YMCA authors employed Bolshevik-sounding terms for monarchists. These YMCA functionaries described the latter with a pejorative tone and dripping condescension as "reactionaries". It's difficult to believe, but from clues like this, one gathers that there could have been a tilt toward the revolutionaries which was reflected in the overall American foreign policy toward Red Russia.

After the issuance of the July 1926 Ukaz copied in the original post on this thread, a YMCA in house writer complained loudly that the YMCA had 'fallen under the hammer of 'the arch-conservative bishops'. Elsewhere, he also disparaged the Rocor Synod as 'the Karlovtzi group'. It sounds almost the same as early Soviet leaders who seized every opportunity to scream shrilly against the Bishops in exile, thereby betraying their insecurity in the face of the righteous stance of the early Rocor.

Part of the American social outlook has always been a disdain for nobility and monarchy. This may have come through in the description of a YMCA center started in Istanbul in 1920 for the White Russian emigration there from the Crimea of the following list which begged the organization for clothes : " Seven princes, three barons, five counts, unnumbered generals and lesser officers..."

I thought I detected a smirk by the fact that this fact was highlighted in a history of the "Miyak", as early YMCA outlets were called.

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Re: The YMCA & Russian Emigration: Halloween Trick - or genuine treat ?

Postby d9popov » Wed 7 November 2018 11:47 pm

Also, Father Georges Florovsky's magnum opus _Ways of Russian Theology_ (1937) was published by YMCA-Press (supposedly headquetared in Paris), but the book was actually printed by Svetlost in Belgrade, Serbia, Yugoslavia. Father Georges was in Serbia for a time and came under the jurisdiction of ROCOR at that time. That fact is often omitted, for example, from his Wikipedia entry.

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Re: The YMCA & Russian Emigration: Halloween Trick - or genuine treat ?

Postby Barbara » Fri 9 November 2018 5:39 am

Oh, sorry, I missed your 2 inputs, d9popov. Thanks for contributing information to help all of us gain a better picture of the YMCA's activities amongst the Russian emigres.

So the 1st Serbian Patriarch during the stay of the Russians in Yugoslavia was bought off ? I had no idea. Did this allegiance to Britain however vast or miniscule, affect the attitudes Serbian churchman and others showed toward the undoubtedly more traditional, conservative Russian Orthodox clergy who had took refuge in a fellow Slavic country ? In short, was the Patriarch more tepid in his offer of help to Metropolitan Anthony and the budding ROCOR ?

What about his successor, Patriarch Varnava, who seems to have been more pro-Russian emigres and their Church ? Is that impression right ?

About Fr Florovsky, that sounds so typical of how facts that become later inconvenient just vanish from the records !
It's so unfair. [ I didn't have any idea of that myself. ]

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Re: The YMCA & Russian Emigration: Halloween Trick - or genuine treat ?

Postby Barbara » Sun 11 November 2018 4:46 am

I never liked Nikolai Berdyaev, even the name makes me feel uncomfortable. I never knew much about him except that he was a big liberal. Having read that he wrote fiery accusations against ROCOR probably at the bidding of his YMCA cronies, I began to wonder who he was. Probably readers of this site will know much more than I did, but looking him up, I was shocked to see he was a radical Marxist when young. Later, he drifted back in the direction of Orthodoxy, but published an angry treatise in 1913 against the removal of the contingent of the Name-Worshipping Russian monks on Mt Athos by Russian troops. Thus he might have been sympathetic to Name-Worshipping or else just anti-monarchical.

Here is a picture of Berdyaev, to me extremely disturbing

Image

Ever the obedient son of the YMCA and its probable sponsors behind the scenes, Berdyaev wrote regarding Rocor and its principled rejection of the YMCA as Masonic or quasi-Masonic :

The Association in its desire to receive the approval and blessing from certain higher hierarchs of the Church [ ie the Karlovci Synod which became Rocor ] has met insurmountable difficulties. It must definitely discontinue attaching significance to the denunciations and charges which come from the extreme right reactionary tendency [ one hears the echo of Berdyaev's early Marxist years in that word choice ].

The winning of support from that quarter is hopeless. The Sobor itself has no canonical status. The Patriarch Tikhon denied its legality, denounced it, and ordered its dissolution. This unfavorable attitude toward it is found even in the most conservative Orthodox groups in Moscow. They consider it a reactionary ecclesiastical - political tendency, such as was the party of the old Synod, tied up with the autocratic monarchy and consisting of bishops who had left their flocks and were not attached to any dioceses... The Sobor members think of the Orthodox Church only as a part of autocratic monarchy and dream of restoration. They desire to break with the Orthodox Church in Russia ...

This is an unhealthy development, and one sees clearly the line which the Young Men's Christian Association must take. It has nothing in common with the reactionary and dying tendencies."

And so Berdyaev rambles on, spouting the exact line of the Soviets. Could he have been their agent in the West all along ? All of his disparaging remarks amount to propaganda for the early Soviet leaders, as though they were speaking through his [ far more credible with Westerners ] voice.

Lo and behold, it turns out that of the 3 Russian jurisdictions operating in Western Europe at the time, Berdyaev chose the Moscow Patriarchate. He remained a loyal MP member all his life. Thus one can conjecture that he might conceivably have had some controllers in the NKVD and other similar proto-KGB organizations directing his every move, at least those aiming to discredit the young Rocor. Also Berdyaev loyally defended what he saw as the YMCA's interests in the conflict. He made sure to deepen the gulf between Met Anthony [Khrapovitsky]'s Synod and the protestant-run and staffed YMCA. In whose interests would that have been ? Surely the NKVD's.

The divide and conquer strategy is a telltale tactic of every Soviet espionage agency. No wonder I have a sick feeling every time I inadvertently see this picture above.


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