Sergius, Patriarch of Moscow

views updated


Patriarch of Moscow; b. Arzamas, Nizhni Novgorod region, Jan. 11, 1867; d. Moscow, May 15, 1944. Ivan Nikolaievich Stragorodsky (later Sergius) became, like his father, a priest in the Russian Orthodox Church after theological studies in Novgorod and St. Petersburg. In 1890 he became a monk and was sent, at his request, as missioner to Japan for three years, until recalled to St. Petersburg to teach the Old Testament. He was rector of the St. Petersburg Theological Academy, and became bishop of Yamburg (1901), archbishop of Finland and Vyborg (1905), member of the holy synod (1911), and metropolitan of Novgorod (1917).

When Patriarc tikhon was imprisoned (192223) for denouncing the Soviet antireligious campaign, Sergius supported the "Living Church," which was subservient to the Communists; but he publicly confessed his error after Tikhon's release. During 1925 Tikhon died and Metropolitan Peter of Krutitsky, the patriarchal administrator, went to prison. Sergius, his deputy, went into exile (192527). Soon after his release he issued a declaration, as acting head of the Orthodox Church, that all the faithful were duty-bound to support the Soviet regime, and that all the clergy must take this pledge of loyalty or lose their positions.

Despite mounting persecutions, Sergius denied in 1930 the existence of religious persecution in the U.S.S.R. The 1927 declaration by Sergius caused a split in the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia, up to then loyal to the Moscow patriarchate. When Sergius tried to deprive Metropolitan Eulogy of Paris in 1930 of his western European bishopric, Eulogy placed this section of the Church under the patriarch of Constantinople. In 1934 Sergius became metropolitan of Moscow. During World War II he supported the Soviet government. Stalin rewarded him in 1943 by allowing a synod to convene, which elected him patriarch, contrary to the election regulations approved in 1917. Sergius was also reputed for his writings on theology and the missions

Bibliography: j. s. curtiss, The Russian Church and the Soviet State, 19171950 (Boston 1953). m. spinka, The Church in Soviet Russia (New York 1956).

[g. a. maloney/eds.]