"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.
In 1988 “(…) a special “Committee of the Russian Orthodox Church for Old Believer Issues and Interaction with the Old Believers” has been founded. The resolution to this effect has been taken 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, given 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. (Well, certain irreconcilable elements are calling them "Raskolniki" but do such minor groups have to be taken into consideration?) Calling Old Believers Raskolinki in our time looks like 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” has astonished me greatly. Used when? Used by whom? Used in what context? Unless it is being used by someone outside Russia, due to an excusable ignorance. The above-mentioned article stated, referring to the preceding “anti Old Believers” article, that it is “(…) absolutely unacceptable making statements in a (...) style, abounding with disdainful-pejorative expressions.”
I assure you that “Raskolnik” in our days is a quite disdainful expression. In Russian history the very use of this particular term has been prohibited twice, by Catherine II and by Nicholas II. I do not blame you personally, but your statement really has amazed me. Vasstar 12:07, August 11, 2008 (UTC)
Простите меня Христа ради. Forgive me if I have offended you in any way, for the Love of Christ.
- I'm not advocating the use of the term. I think it simply needs to be reported here as a historical reality. The same is essentially true with Uniat for the Eastern Catholics (although, unlike Raskolniki, it was not derogatory initially). The point is that Raskolniki has been used widely enough in history and even in academic writing that it's worth mentioning.
- Certainly, I would not suggest that articles be given the name Raskolniki or the like, but it's of enough historical note to warrant inclusion.
- Remember that OrthodoxWiki, as an encyclopedia, seeks to represent what is, to describe the various notable positions on an issue and report them. It does not "take sides." In other words, OrthodoxWiki articles aren't going to "call Old Believers Raskolniki," but they should certainly report that that term has historically been used. —Fr. Andrew talk contribs (THINK!) 22:20, August 11, 2008 (UTC)