The Old Believers movement Periodicals, 1905-1918 The series on the Old Believers provides a wide variety of materials that will help to shed new light on the fascinating history of this religious minority and its place in Russian history. The present installment includes the most prominent and widely read Old Believers’ periodicals published between 1905 and 1918. The collection includes, amongst others, journals of the
Zlatostrui, Mirskaia zhizni), of the so-called
Pomor´e Union (
Shchit very, Vestnik Vserossiĭ skogo soiuza khristian pomorskogo soglasiia), the Belokrinitskiĭ Hierarchy (
Tserkov’, Staroobriadcheskaia mysl’, Staroobriadets) and the Chapel Consent (
Ural´skiĭ staroobriadets). Published during one of the most dynamic and turbulent periods of Russian history, these periodicals allow us to appreciate the traditional, yet vibrant world of the Old Believers at the eve of the revolution.
The Old Believers movement Cyrillic-Script Books, 1906-1916 The printing of Old Believer books in
kirillicheskiĭ shrift is a unique phenomenon in book history. The Old Believer movement carried on the traditions of Russian Orthodox Christianity into the middle of the 20th century. The Old Believer culture was outstanding in its rigorous acceptance of Cyrillic Church Slavonic texts, and in its guarded attitude toward the same texts printed in
grazhdanskiĭ shrift, which were introduced by Peter I in 1708. The books printed in Cyrillic have therefore always been the main source of information concerning the history and spiritual faith of the Old Believers. The beginning of the 20th century witnessed an avalanche of printed Old Believer religious literature. This literature comprises a number of original monographs, titled books, and icon-painting originals, as well as reprinted anti-Old Believer pamphlets in
krillicheskiĭ shrift bearing polemic comments written by Old Believer adepts.
The Old Believers movement Old Believer Secular Literature, 1906-1918 At the dawn of the 20th century, the Old Believers exhibited an amazing ability to adapt to the new social and economic conditions without abandoning their traditional culture or their religious beliefs. This period saw the birth and subsequent blossoming of the widely known business dynasties. One of the main driving forces behind the printing of books in
grazhdanskiĭ shrift was the revival of the polemic disputes between the Old Believers and the official Church. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Old Believers printed their secular literature in
grazhdanskiĭ shrift, in order to draw attention to their crucial need for a greater number of sympathizers from the outside.
The variety of this type of Old Believer literature is extensive, ranging from historical and ethnographic works, polemic and political essays, scholarly works on philosophy, economics, and statistics, to works on theology and law, the minutes of Old Believer assemblies, fiction, and even poetry.
The recourse by the Old Believers to
grazhdanskiĭ shrift and their deliberate orientation toward the “outside” reader and secular themes, makes this literature both more accessible and richer in substance and variety of topics.
Gallicanism and Ultramontanism in Catholic Europe in the 18th Century Foreign correspondence and other documents from the archive of the Jansenist Archbishops of Utrecht, 1723-1808
From the Utrecht Archives, Utrecht, the Netherlands
Project advisor: Dale K. Van Kley, Ohio State University
General Background In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries two persistent and often intertwined controversies divided Catholics in Europe, one theological, the other political. The theological debate centered on the respective roles of divine grace and human free will in the work of eternal salvation. The position taken by the followers of the Dutch theologian Cornelis Jansen (1585-1638) was deeply pessimistic. “Fallen” humanity had no ability to do anything left to its own resources to merit salvation, which was either granted by the grace of God or was not. In some ways their position was close to that of the Protestant Calvinists concerning predestination. Theologians of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) who took an altogether more optimistic stance on the capacities of human nature for moral good without divine grace and to contribute of its own free will to the work of salvation opposed them from the start.
The political debate concerned relations of the Catholic churches in various countries with the state on the one hand and with the papacy in Rome on the other. In the so-called Gallican (named for the French Catholic Church) view, the church in a given country should enjoy a certain independence from Rome and largely govern itself, for example, in the matter of appointing bishops. They also believed that a general council of the Church was a higher authority than the pope. The so-called Ultramontanes ("beyond the mountains", meaning the party of the Papacy of Rome) on the other hand were convinced that local churches should always be subservient to Rome. The Jesuits in particular became associated with this view, while Gallicanism was especially strong among those of a Jansenist theological bent. This situation applies of course paradigmatically to France, where the controversies were particularly acute, but also characterized Catholicism in the Dutch Republic, which unlike France had been under Protestant rule since the late sixteenth century. The coalescence of these two controversies in the northern Netherlands in the early eighteenth century led to the foundation of a schismatic Catholic church, variously known as the Church of Holland, Church of Utrecht and later as the Old Catholic Church, which broke with Rome in 1723 under its own archbishop and hierarchy. Though always small in numbers the Church of Utrecht enjoyed a great deal of esteem and exercised considerable influence on Catholics elsewhere in Europe, especially with Jansenist clergy in France and the southern Netherlands (Belgium) and in exile in the Dutch Republic, who resisted the efforts of Pope and King to crush their movement.
Contents of the Collection The collection contains original letters, writings and other documents, mostly in manuscript, produced by the Utrecht archbishops, other Dutch Jansenists and by hundreds of foreign correspondents, both major and minor figures of the Jansenist movement, its sympathizers and opponents from the early 18th century until the early 19th, ranging from the highest dignitaries of the church, such as cardinals, arch-bishops and bishops to simple priests and nuns. The laity is also well represented from the ranks of the nobility and magistracy to persons of lesser quality. Much of the corres pondence emanates from abroad, especially France and the southern Netherlands (Belgium), but also from Italy, and some others or comes from Jansenists living in exile in the Dutch Republic. The majority of the documents are in French, followed by Dutch and Latin, with some Italian and Spanish.
Its origin Since its inception, the WCC has taken a strong stance, namely that "any form of segregation based on race, color or ethnic origin is contrary to the gospel and is incompatible with the Christian doctrine of man and with the nature of the church of Christ" (WCC Evanston Assembly, 1954). But at its 1968 Uppsala Assembly, the delegates - many of whom were from third-world churches hitherto not represented at Assemblies - expressed themselves in more radical terms, demanding that the WCC move from words to action, and from giving charitable aid to victims to strengthening groups of the racially oppressed. Similarly, they felt that priority should be given to eliminating institutional racism, rather than concentrating on improving individual race relations.
Implications for South Africa This change in emphasis was to have far-reaching consequences for the WCC's relations with South Africa. The situation in that country had raised a number of theological issues, for example, the meaning of "Christ is on the side of the oppressed," the nature of the church in terms of its oneness and diversity, its solidarity with the oppressed and its reconciling task, and structural violence in the context of church-state relationships.
The initial five-year programme concentrated on white racism in South Africa. Specific action included the setting up of a special fund, which was largely based on the need to symbolize a redistribution of power. It was a sign expressing something greater than itself, a sign intended to set something in motion. Its main purpose was to strengthen the organizational capability of racially oppressed groups.
The PCR's next move was on disinvestment by the WCC and its member churches. Its conviction was that Christians must not abdicate ethical responsibility for the outcome of economic policies. The impact of the foreign economic support provided to racist and apartheid structures was seen to involve moral decisions which should not be left to technicians alone. The decision by the WCC to sell forthwith existing holdings and to make no further investments in corporations involved in South Africa, and, later, to deposit none of its funds in banks which maintained direct banking relations in South Africa, sparked heated debates at church synods and assemblies. The WCC's example confronted the member churches with their own policies and responsibilities in this field.
A programme for the whole WCC The issue of racism involved all units and sub-units of the WCC. Thus, the Faith and Order Commission co-sponsored a consultation on racism and theology, and the Education sub-unit co-sponsored a meeting on racism in school textbooks. The PCR also sponsored a number of important consultations between church and liberation movement leaders, which helped to chart the course of international church support for the struggle against apartheid.
Other forms of racism With the end of apartheid in South Africa, the PCR shifted its attention to the struggle of indigenous peoples and the problem of land rights, as well as to the plight of racially and ethnically oppressed minorities around the world, such as the Dalits in India. It also developed a programme on women under racism, which was designed to give visibility to the issues and concerns of women who suffer from triple oppression, namely racism, sexism and classism.
Impact on churches and beyond Since its inception, the PCR has been one of the most controversial of the WCC's initiatives. While there was strong support from many member churches, there was also criticism, especially about its boycott actions and its grants to liberation movements in South Africa.
One of the most important aspects of the programme has been its ability to mobilize local church and secular groups around the world, and to coordinate its activities with the worldwide anti-apartheid movement. As a result of its actions, the WCC has become more relevant to the majority of Christians and even to people of other faiths.
Baldwin Sjollema, First director of the WCC Programme to Combat Racism