Old Believers or Raskolniki?
Dear Father Andrew, I would like to bring to your attention the following – some excerpts from an article about relations with Old Believers, published in a well-known Russian magazine, “Russkij Dom”, being published with the blessing of Patriarch Alexei II of Russia. Perhaps you know Russian, but for those who don’t, I’ve translated the text to the best of my abilities. This article has been written as a reaction to another article, where the Old Believers were being taunted ad infinitum.
In 1988 “(…) a special “Committee of the Russian Orthodox Church for Old Believer Issues and Interaction with the Old Believers” has been founded. This resolution has been made after the speech of (…) metropolite Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, who analyzed the relations with the Old Believers of the Russian Orthodox Church and who came to the conclusion of the necessity to continue cooperation and strengthening ties with them in order to establish “kind and confidential interaction”, which is especially needed given the threat of globalization. There is no need to convince Russian orthodox that, our national Russian identity being threatened, the Old Believers are our closest allies. At any rate, there are objective preconditions supporting this idea: we have a common Motherland, a common history, a common faith and common ethical values. Why then spoil our relations with the Old Believers which are gradually indeed becoming kind and confidential? (…) However, the reached level of interaction is still feeble, we’ve got many ill-wishers, in who’s interest it is to maintain the old Schism and provoke some new ones.”
“We’d like to remind of a most important and relatively unknown document approved by the Church (…). This is about the resolution of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, taken at the 4th June 1999: “…Call upon publishers, issuing Church literature, to apply a critical approach concerning reprinting pre-revolutionary literature, when under the influence of civil authorities the Old Believers were criticized using incorrect and unacceptable methods.” Unfortunately, such literature is being reprinted from time to time.”''
Father Ioann Mirolyubov, theologian, secretary of the Committee of the Russian Orthodox Church for Old Believer Issues and Interaction with the Old Believers” “Russkij Dom” No. 7, 2007, pp. 46-47
No need to say, giving the above, that the derogating term Raskolnik – for those unfamiliar with Russian history and the Russian language: it is a pejorative term – is definitely not the one used nowadays in any official (or unofficial, for that matter) statement, be it in writing of by mouth, be it by critics or not. Calling Old Believers Raskolinki in our time is a remnant of the time when the Russian State and the Russian State Church regarded the Old Believers as enemies and when both the Schism and the Old Believers were covered in a biased manner. Sadly, not all relicts of those days have vanished, especially in Russia. One would almost say that calling Old Believers Raskolniki in our time does not at all comply with “political correctness.”
So, Father, reading stating you that “This is the term that is used” had astonished me greatly. Used when? Used by whom? Used in what context? Unless it is being used by someone outside Russia, due to a certain ignorance. The above-mentioned article stated, referring to the preceding “anti Old Believers” article, that it is “(…) absolutely unacceptable making statements in a newspaper style, abounding with disdainful-pejorative expressions.” I assure you that “Raskolnik” in our days is quite a disdainful-pejorative expression. I do not blame you personally, but your statement really has amazed me. Vasstar 12:07, August 11, 2008 (UTC)