Talk:Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow

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Patriarch's Name[edit]

By custom and tradition, names of monarchs, popes and patriarchs are always translated into other established European languages, and are not phonetically transliterated, so Peter I is not Piotr or Pyotr or whatever but is Peter I in German and English, Pierre I in French, Eugen von Savoyen is Eugene of Savoy or to Russians Евгений Савойский, and Patriarch Joasaphus (either I or II) is Joasaphus, not Ioasaf or Yoasaf or Joasaf. Likewise Patriarch Alexius (either I or II) can be Алексий (I или II) but most certainly not Alexy Roobit (talk) 19:07, 12 December 2008 (UTC)


Footnotes[edit]


Expanding on scant evidence in a way that is UNDUE[edit]

The following quote:

"In July 2007, The Wall Street Journal quoted Indrek Jurjo, chief of the publications division of the State Archives of Estonia, as saying that one of the KGB informers that had "infiltrated churches for decades, reporting on clergy and parishioners, at home and abroad" was Patriarch Alexy II: the biographical details of an agent named Drozdov, found in a 1958 KGB annual report, match the cleric's Estonian background, year of birth, education and career path."

Gives undue weight to this person. He is an Archivist. He is basing his comments on the one document that was mentioned in the preceding paragraph:

"It has also been claimed, based on documents from the Estonian KGB archives that Alexy was a highly successful agent who "pacified" rebellious monks."

The same Wall Street Journal article is the source of both statements. The Archivist has no special information on this document. He has no additional information behind his statements. We could add redundant statements to this article till the cows come home, but this does not improve the article, it does not make it more balanced, nor does it make it more factual. On that basis, I would argue that it should be removed.Frjohnwhiteford (talk) 00:06, 11 December 2008 (UTC)

Indrek Jürjo PhD (University of Hamburg) is not an Archivist but the Historian who found the documents on agent Drozdov while researching the KGB archives , see [1] and Indrek Jürjo @ google books or google scholar--Termer (talk) 01:33, 11 December 2008 (UTC)
Regardless, his commentary on the document in question adds nothing to the pool of facts here. What the document actually says has already been noted in the article. Why does it warrant twice the notice of anything else? If he had more facts to substantiate his comments, that might be different, as it is sort of like soviet swim wear, that doubles as casual wear, that doubles as evening wear -- it is the same outfit being trotted out each time.Frjohnwhiteford (talk)
The document Indrek Jürjo has discovered from KGB archives is the only publicly available piece of evidence there is on agent Drozdov. So I'd say it is relevant what the guy who discovered the piece has to say about it.--Termer (talk) 02:32, 11 December 2008 (UTC)
The fact that there is such scant evidence is no reason why the scant evidence should be made to appear more abundant than it is. There should be one reference to this document... not two that make it look like there are two independent sources of information. Frjohnwhiteford (talk) 04:15, 11 December 2008 (UTC)
There are two independent sources of information, if you read the article I left above, at first it was claimed so by the Russian parliamentary commission in Moscow who had access to KGB files in Russia. And then later the document on agent Drozdov was found from the KGB archives in Tallinn Estonia by the historian doing research in the archives.--Termer (talk) 04:37, 11 December 2008 (UTC)
The difference is one is a document that we have a text of, and the other is what people say they saw, which is far more subjective. But the fact that people claim to have seen things is also mentioned. In this case, however, we are talking about the same piece of evidence, but in two different places. Again, the question is why? Frjohnwhiteford (talk) 04:55, 11 December 2008 (UTC)
Again, there are 2 sources of information, first the KGB archives in Moscow cited by the the Russian parliamentary commission, and by Gleb Yakunin, Yevgenia Albats. And then there is the KGB archive in Tallinn Estonia from where the document found has been made public.--Termer (talk) 05:19, 11 December 2008 (UTC)
Again, that's two sources... but one source get's mentioned twice, as if it were two, thus making three. Why? Frjohnwhiteford (talk) 11:28, 11 December 2008 (UTC)
PS. I don't understand why to make such a big deal out of it. Patriarch himself has admitted that compromises with the KGB were made in order to "save the Church". As far as I'm concerned it's not that different than let's say Disney and McCarthyism. Disney named some names perhaps because he believed it was the right thing to do or perhaps in order to save his business and advance his career. And so did the Patriarch, perhaps because it was the only way to save the church, perhaps simply to advance his career in difficult circumstances. Does all this make Disney or the Patriarch less important historical figures? It's not our business to be judges since our job here should be listing all available facts in the article, not to work like somebodies public relations agency.--Termer (talk) 04:37, 11 December 2008 (UTC)
He acknowledged compromises. He did not acknowledge being a KGB agent. There is a difference. It is not the purpose of this article to judge who is right. The purpose is to accurately and fairly state what the evidence actually is. There are things that we can provde beyond any doubt. There are things we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt. There are things we can make a compelling case for. And then there are things that we can state to be possible, but have to note that the evidence is less compelling. As long as we accurately state what the evidence is, and don't make claims that the evidence does not support, we are being fair. By the way, there is a new book from Princeton that I have just ordered, and I am told gives a fairly favorable account of Patriarch Alexei's life, while the authors are neither Russian nor Orthodox. Frjohnwhiteford (talk) 04:55, 11 December 2008 (UTC)
I think the whole thing about "KGB agent" is overblown and gets misinterpreted. An example of an agent of an agency would be James Bond, or any agent working for FBI, CIA etc., meaning agents are professionals and in that sense it should be easy to say that the Patriarch was no agent of the KGB like Disney wasn't an agent of CIA. They were both informants, more specifically Political informers. --Termer (talk) 05:13, 11 December 2008 (UTC)
I would agree with you that it is overblown. It is actually quite a bit different than Disney however, in that Disney was not forced to work with the CIA because the alternative was that his family and employees might be sent to the gulags, if he didn't. The new book I mentioned maked the case that Patriarch Alexei did work with the Soviets, but that he only used his contacts with them to the advantage of the Church. Was it always the case that people in the Church benefited, and no one got hurt? I would say that in such business it is unlikely that he came away with completely clean hands, but I think that we should try to understand what his alternatives were, and that in his mind, under the circumstances he had to contend with, he believed he was doing the best he could for the Church.Frjohnwhiteford (talk) 11:28, 11 December 2008 (UTC)
Nobody was sent to the gulags in the 60's in USSR unlike during the era of Stalinism. And as far as I'm concerned nobody has ever claimed that the Patriarch worked for the NKVD.--Termer (talk) 15:02, 11 December 2008 (UTC)
This simply is contrary to fact. I refer you to "A Long Walk To Church: A Contemporary History of Russian Orthodoxy", by Nathaniel Davis, chapter 4, "Khrushchev's Attack". Frjohnwhiteford (talk) 00:04, 12 December 2008 (UTC)
This should be simply described as a part of his career. He was so successful precisely because he was first "a secret helper", and later more like a "trusted contact". He promoted front organizations abroad among other things. Gorbachev also started as a "secret KGB helper". This is nothing special.Biophys (talk) 05:24, 11 December 2008 (UTC)
Exactly my point what Biophys just said. In fact anybody in the USSR who had a considerable career was involved with the KGB and had to become a political informer. And in fact I think it was a necessity if someone needed to travel aboard. Not that different from McCarthyism in the US where anybody who wanted to work in the movie business in order to avoid the Hollywood blacklist had to cooperate with the McCarthy commission.--Termer (talk) 05:29, 11 December 2008 (UTC)
Remind me names of McCarthy's work camps in Alaska to prove Not that different. Xx236 (talk) 09:17, 11 December 2008 (UTC)
Remind me the names of KGB work camps in USSR! KGB used different methods than NKVD gulags during the era of Stalinism.--Termer (talk) 15:05, 11 December 2008 (UTC)
It should not simply be described as part of his career, when the whole issue is a matter of dispute. Frjohnwhiteford (talk) 11:28, 11 December 2008 (UTC)
  • John Whiteford, please due we have to go through each line of the article with a toothcomb to discuss every bit you dislike? This is a work of collaboration and a little give and take would be appreciated. The info currently under discussion is well-documented and important and deserves to stay. Malick78 (talk) 14:14, 11 December 2008 (UTC)
    • Discussing the lines that are problematic is the work of collaboration, and I am happy to give and take within the bounds of fact and Wiki Policy. See the section below. The section in question distorted a quote, and there is no doubt about it. Frjohnwhiteford (talk) 00:04, 12 December 2008 (UTC)

Not just UNDUE, but UNTRUE[edit]

The footnote to this new quote links to an article that can now only be seen if you are a subscriber to the Wall Street Journal. However, I found a version of the article that was cut and pasted to a live journal page, and the original quote is as follows:

"Archivists who have plumbed Soviet-era records say KGB informers infiltrated churches for decades, reporting on clergy and parishioners, at home and abroad. Indrek Jurjo, chief of the publications division of the State Archives of Estonia, says that one of those agents was Patriarch Alexy II, the current leader of the Moscow church. Mr. Jurjo says that biographical details of an agent named Drozdov, found in a 1958 KGB annual report, match the cleric's Estonian background, year of birth, education and career path."

Compare that to the quote in the article now:

"In July 2007, The Wall Street Journal quoted Indrek Jurjo, chief of the publications division of the State Archives of Estonia, as saying that one of the KGB informers that had "infiltrated churches for decades, reporting on clergy and parishioners, at home and abroad" was Patriarch Alexy II: the biographical details of an agent named Drozdov, found in a 1958 KGB annual report, match the cleric's Estonian background, year of birth, education and career path."

The quote in the article has distorted the quote in the original. In the original, Mr. Jurjo is say that KGB agents had done X, Y, and Z, and one of those KGB agents was Patriarch Alexy, based on this document that matches his biography. The article says that he said one of the KGB agents who did X, Y, and Z was Patriarch Alexy. That is a complete distortion of the quote. Mr. Jurjo only labeled Patriarch Alexy a KGB, he did not attribute to him personally everything that all KGB agents had done.Frjohnwhiteford (talk) 11:39, 11 December 2008 (UTC)

On the basis that this quote was clearly distorted, I have merged the factual elements of that quote into the preceeding paragraph. Here is how the paragraph reads after my edit... you can see the article for the footnote details:

"Patriarch Alexy II was alleged to have been a KGB agent according to multiple sources,[41][42][43][44][45][46] including Gleb Yakunin and Yevgenia Albats, who both were given access to the KGB archives.[47][48][43][49] He was mentioned in the KGB archives by the code name DROZDOV. It should be noted, however, that it was very unusual for any person to be referenced in KGB documents prior to 1980 without a code name, regardless of their affiliation with the KGB.[43] It has been alleged that archival documents seen by Yevgenia Albats stated that Alexy was awarded an Honorary Citation by the KGB chairman in 1988.[48] It has also been claimed, based on a document from the Estonian KGB archives, that Alexy was a highly successful agent who "pacified" rebellious monks.[50] This document provides biographical details about an agent which match those of Patriarch Alexy, though the Russian Orthodox Church has denied the authenticity of this document.[51]According to Oleg Gordievsky, Alexy had been working for the KGB for forty years, and his case officer was Nikolai Patrushev.[52] These claims are supported by the British-based Keston Institute.[53]"

I have to thank Termer for providing the link to the Guardian article. I knew that the MP had denied the authenticity of this specific document, but until now I did not have a reliable source that said so. Frjohnwhiteford (talk) 12:21, 11 December 2008 (UTC)

Q.[edit]

I wanted to comment before I edit the funeral story. Kirill is nauseous, Kirill faints, Kirill is in ecstasy? So what? This page is about Alexiy II.

Sincerely, David Snow —Preceding unsigned comment added by Dsnow75 (talkcontribs) 21:16, 12 December 2008 (UTC)

Views over abortion[edit]

This issue should also be mencioned, if he never opposed publicly the legality of abortion in Russia, the country of the world with more legal abortions, and pressured the russian orthodox politicians to back legislation that would restrict at least, this practise in Russia. Of course, this needs reliable sources.213.13.243.94 (talk) 18:36, 14 December 2008 (UTC)

Patriarch Alexei was very vocally opposed to abortion. He openly called it "murder". Frjohnwhiteford (talk) 11:56, 16 December 2008 (UTC)

I totally believe it´s true, but it needs sources. I also would like to see if he never pressured the russian Presidents, who have been all practising Orthodoxes, since Boris Ieltsin, for a law who, at least, would restrict abortion. I have this idea that the Orthodox Church isn´t very influencial in the orthodox countries in this issue.81.193.221.142 (talk) 21:11, 16 December 2008 (UTC)

I know Vladimir Putin had to be opposed to abortion to some extent. Putin had his own youth group called Nashi and they were very against abortion. The Orthodox Church is very against abortion, there is no doubt. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 70.234.160.81 (talk) 17:47, 25 July 2009 (UTC)

New "Controversies"[edit]

Termer has added two new "controversies", the first is "Apology to Germany." His new section reads:

":During Alexy II' first official visit to Germany in 1995 Patriarch publicly apologized for the Communist tyranny that had been imposed upon the German nation by the USSR. That resulted allegations of insulting the Russian nation and accusations of national treason by the Russian Communists and the Russian National Bolshevik Party.[45]"

I have followed events in the Russian Church very closely over the years, and I had never heard of this one. It may have been a controversy for the very small minority of people who are members of this political party in Russia. It is not noteworthy.

Then we have the section currently entitled: "Opposition in the Church" which begins with this paragraph:

"Alexy II wasn an active supporter of inter-Christian ecumenism and has publicly praised a Russian journal of religion and Christian philosophy The Messenger of the Russian christian Movement as the best Orthodox publication.[46]"

It is not even clear what is being said here. Is there a missing "T" here, and should it thus read that he "wasn't" an active supporter of inter-Christian ecumenism? Or do we have a stray "N" and he is said to be a supporter. Also, "Ecumenism" is a very loaded term in the Orthodox Church. It would probably be fair to say that he supported inter-Christian dialogue. It would not be fair to say that he supported the kind of "Ecumenism" that sees the Church as being divided into various denominational branches that just need to work out their differences. See this document approved by the 2000 All-Russian Council. He was criticized by some of the left for not being ecumenical enough... and he was criticized by some on the right for being too ecumenical. But most Orthodox think he had it juuuuust right.

The new text continues:

"A group of Russian Orthodox clergy headed by Alexander Shargunov, formerly a dissident during the Soviet era, has made an alliance with the Russian Communis Party by openly supporting Gennady Zyuganov in parliamentary elections. Shargunovs weekly Antichrist in Moscow has condemned all forms of ecumenism as anti-Christian and The Messenger publication as serving the Antichrist.[46]"

Again, it is not clear what is being said here, or why this should not be in an article about Alexander Shargunov rather than Patriarch Alexei. The Russian Church is a very large Church. You could write many books cataloging the quirks of all of its clergy and people.

Continuing with the text:

"Father Dimitry Dudko, a former political prisoner during the era of Stalinism and oppressed by the KGB during the era of Brezhnev, who is now a member of the Russian National Bolshevik Party weekly editorial board Zentra, has called for an alliance of communists and Orthodox Christians by referring to modern Russian Communists as the "genuine Russian" versus the Communist regime of USSR as a "product of the Elders of Zion and their legacy"[46]"

Fr. Dimitri Dudko was a famous clergyman who openly spoke out about the repression of the Church by the Soviets... but he was also infamously broken by the Soviets, who used psychological torture (which probably included the use of psychoactive drugs) to force him to renounce his "anti-soviet activities." [2] He was never the same after that... and to toss in a quote from him he is not only irrelevant to this article, but it is unfair to Fr. Dimitri Dudko. In an article on Fr. Dimitri, it would be fair to mention it, so long as the whole story of his life was told.

The text continues:

"Patrairc Alexy II has reacted by saying in his statement that the group of clergy headed by Shargunov do not express the opinions of the Church but their own privat views as free citizens instead. Additionally Alexy II refused to participate at the consecration of a new iconostasis for the Shargunov's church.[46]"

I don't see how this is relevant either. Shargunov obviously hold some extreme political views... which are not relevant here; and Patriarch Alexei did not agree with them... true, but also not notable. Frjohnwhiteford (talk) 11:56, 16 December 2008 (UTC)

  • It was late night when I added those facts, and there might be typos and things that need copy editing since it can get twisted when you trying to avoid copyvio.The source is available online at googe books, so feel free to make anything more clear.
How everything is relevant? If anybody asks who would be motivated accusing the Patriach of being an agent, there is your answer. There are some former Soviet dissidents, few mentioned now in the article, who think the Soviet regime in USSR was a foreign import. If you can't make it out what it says between the lines, I can't help you there. In case anybody suggest that accusations against the patriarch come from literally crazy people who think that the Soviet regime was a Jewish conspiracy that the Patriarch was involved with...and in that sense it's not fair to this Dudko guy, I disagree. This article is about being fair about the allegations and accusations that have been raised against the Patrairch. --Termer (talk) 23:45, 16 December 2008 (UTC)
What does this text about Fr. Dimitri's opinion on Communism really have to do with Patriarch Alexei?:
""Father Dimitry Dudko, a former political prisoner during the era of Stalinism and oppressed by the KGB during the era of Brezhnev, who is now a member of the Russian National Bolshevik Party weekly editorial board Zentra, has called for an alliance of communists and Orthodox Christians by referring to modern Russian Communists as the "genuine Russian" versus the Communist regime of USSR as a "product of the Elders of Zion and their legacy"[46]"
Everything is not irrelevant... but this stuff is. This has nothing to do with the Patriarch. It might be worth noting in an article on Fr. Dimitri Dudko, but not here. But it is not just irrelevant, some of what you inserted is incomprehensible. It simply makes no sense in English. Frjohnwhiteford (talk) 00:27, 17 December 2008 (UTC)

I guess you have a point there, it needs to be spelled out better and much more clearly that Dimitri Dudko's anti-Semitic views were in opposition with Alexy II who had condemned antisemitism.--Termer (talk) 03:19, 17 December 2008 (UTC)

PS. other than that, it doesn't make any sense in any language that someone would accuse the Jews for the Soviet regime and for the acts of the KGB. And then after spending years in communist prisons the guy made an alliance with the Russian communist party because they were "genuine Russian", meaning, not Jewish according to him. And on top of that, even though the communist regime that oppressed him was Jewish in his opinion, he still praised Stalin, the architect of the regime. Now Since Alexy II has openly condemned such antisemitic views, it is relevant to the article. And since the 2 sources given, the book written by Pospielovsky and the UCSJ Report do mention the guy in the context, the fact is notable for WP purposes.
PPS. facts like the left criticized Alexy II for "not being ecumenical enough" and "most Orthodox think he got it juuuuust right" etc. should be also added to this article as long as it's properly sourced.--Termer (talk) 04:22, 17 December 2008 (UTC)

The BBC article posted does not identify the writer; furthermore, only one person is interviewed - Michael Bordeaux (who makes hostile unsupported statements regarding the Patriarch) - the article is decidedly POV. Let's stop with allegations and stick to facts! Rusmeister (talk) 13:15, 2 January 2009 (UTC)

  • Rusmeister, i suspect you haven't read WP:NPOV (please read what it actually says: in 2 words -- statements should be attributed to sources). Allegations made in reliable sources are facts in themselves; moreover the section in question is called "Opinions", not "Facts").Muscovite99 (talk) 22:43, 3 January 2009 (UTC)

Ecumenism vs. Ecumenical[edit]

The most authoritative document of the ROC on the question of interaction with the non-Orthodox is the Basic Principles of the Attitude of the Russian Orthodox Church Toward the Other Christian Confessions. The only time the word Ecumenism occurs in this document is in reference to criticism of ecumenical activity. This is because Ecumenism has been defined as a heresy. The term is thus extremely loaded from an Orthodox perspective, I am not sure if Muscovite99 unfamiliarity with English is the reason why he does not see the distinction, but it is important. Frjohnwhiteford (talk) 20:28, 27 December 2008 (UTC)

  • I could accept a small part of the above: the terms are indeed not equivalent (in pure semantics, as Ecumenical can be used in the senior-most Patriarch's title, for instance). Ecumenism has never been condemned as a heresy by any canonical Orthodox grouping (it was by the ROCOR prior to the reconciliation); moreover, it could not possibly have been as this would require the judgment of an Ecumenical (no pun here) Council. As for the ROC, the document you refer here is a very recent one and was drawn at the end of the 90s which were marked by a very strong "anti-ecumenical" grass-roots movement in the ROC. The facts are plain: the ROC has been an active member (and still is, albeit arguably less active and with some provisos) of the major Christian "Ecumenical" (Ecumenism being their officially proclaimed ideology and ecclesiology) organisations, namely the World Council of Churches and Conference of European Churches (read this). This article is nor exactly about the ROC, though, but about a person, who for decades was personally not simply involved but at the head of the latter (in fact, he remained President of the CEC Presidium until August 1990, already being Patriarch).Muscovite99 (talk) 22:36, 3 January 2009 (UTC)
Anyway, i have dispensed with "Ecumenism" and added some explanatory information (facts).Muscovite99 (talk) 22:55, 3 January 2009 (UTC)