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Russia Essay Research Paper Their chief stronghold

Russia Essay, Research Paper

Their chief stronghold is the Rogozhsky quarter in Moscow, where they have their

great cemetery, monastery, cathedral, church, and chapels. In 1863, at the time

of the Polish insurrection, the Raskolnik archbishop and his lay advisors sent out

an encyclical letter to the “Holy Catholic Apostolic Church of the Old Believers”,

supporting the tsar and declaring that on all main points they were in agreement

with the Established Church. This again split their church into two factions which

last to this day: the Okruzhniki or Encyclicalists, and the Raznordiki or

Controversialists, who denied the points of agreement with the national Church.

In addition to this the Established Church has set up a section of these

Raskolniks in union with it, but has permitted them to keep all their peculiar

practices, and these are called the Yedinovertsi or “Uniates”. A great many of

the Controversial section of the Raskolniks are coming into the Catholic Church,

and already some eight or ten priests have been received.

Bezpopovtsi, or the Priestless, seemed to represent the despairing side of the

schism. They have their greatest stronghold in the Preobrazhenky quarter in

Moscow, and are strong also in the Government of Archangel. They took the view

that Satan had so far conquered and throttled the Church that the clergy had

gone wrong and had become his servants, that the sacraments, except baptism,

were withdrawn from the laity, and that they were left leaderless. They claimed

the right of free interpretation of the Scriptures, and modelling their lives

accordingly. They recognize no ministers save their “readers” who are elected.

Lest this be said to duplicate Protestantism it must be said that they have kept

up all the Orthodox forms of service as far as possible, crossings, bowings,

icons, candles, fastings, and the like, and have regularly maintained monasteries

with their monks and nuns. But they have no element of stability; and their sects

have become innumerable, ever shifting and varying, with incessant divisions and

subdivisions. The chief of these subdivisions are: (1) Pomortsi; or dwellers near

the sea, a rural division which is very devout; (2) Feodocci (Theodosians) who

founded hospitals and laid emphasis on good works; (3) Bezbrachniki (free

lovers) who repudiated marriage, somewhat like the Oneida community in New

York; (4) Stranniki (wanderers) a peripatetic sect, who went over the country,

declaring their doctrines; (5) Molchalniki (mutes), who seldom spoke, believing

evil came through the tongue and idle conversation; and (6) Niemoliaki

(non-praying) who taught that, as God knows all things it is useless to pray to

him, as He knows what one needs. These various divisions of the priestless are

again divided into smaller ones, like many of the strange sects in England and

America, so that it is almost impossible to follow them. Often they indulge in the

wildest immorality, justifying it under the cover of some distorted text of Scripture

or some phrase of the ancient Church service.