ABSTRACT

The autocephalous Orthodox churches outside the Soviet Union present a special case. Being ecclesiastically independent bodies, they offered no canonical grounds for their subjection to Moscow jurisdiction, while their location restricted the Kremlin’s capacity for intervening in their domestic affairs. In the case of these autocephalies, however, Soviet policy did not pursue their direct subjection to the Moscow Patriarchate. Such an approach would have confi rmed anti-Soviet statements that the church in Russia had betrayed Orthodoxy and was serving the political ends of its godless regime. The Kremlin’s aim was different: Through the medium of the Moscow Patriarchate, it hoped to bring these churches into the Soviet orbit. To achieve this aim, Stalin not only used the resources of Soviet diplomacy and propaganda but also revived some of the methods employed by the former Russian Empire. For example, he expected to gain the loyalty of these churches by offering fi nancial subsidies to their leaders. The Moscow Patriarchate also had an interest in this enterprise, as it would restore the infl uence that the imperial Russian Church had had on the Orthodox people in the Balkans and the Middle East. In addition, it pursued the specifi c goal of establishing control over the Russian parishes and properties in the Middle East and in the Balkans, thus dislodging the Karlovci Synod from these areas.