THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
My Lords, I wish to ask His Majesty's Government whether they can give any information respecting the alleged arrest of the Patriarch of the Russian Church and the threatened execution of bishops and priests. The matter to which I call the attention of the Government is a grave and anxious one—more so, perhaps, than is apparent to all who have not gone through the history of what has been happening in this particular matter. A very few facts as to the past will, I think, make clear to your Lordships both the significance and the importance of the particular incident to which I am calling attention.
During the war, in the hurly-burly and the excitement which then existed all over Europe, matters ecclesiastical naturally were put in the background, and did not receive much public attention or consideration, and it came about that an ecclesiastical change of the first magnitude took place in the constitution of the Russian branch of the Eastern Church, which may have very far-reaching consequences hereafter. In the last months of 1917, or four and a half years ago, the constitution of the Russian Church was completely altered, or rather made to revert to what had been its constitution some three hundred years before.
In the time of Peter the Great, or just after, the old constitution of the Russian Church was altered, and a plan was started which gave a different character to that Church. In 1917 the people of Russia, quite apart from any question of revolution and race, decided to go back again to the old system whereby there was a Patriarch of All Russia, presiding over the whole Sobor of the nation in its ecclesiastical aspect, and that change was brought 772 about with the minimum of friction and opposition. The Patriarchate which existed for centuries before the time of Peter the Great was restored, and the man elected to the Patriarchate was the Metropolitan Tikhon, who holds the position to-day.
The Patriarch Tikhon, as he now is, is a remarkable man. He is fifty-six years old; a great scholar, a great theologian, a great teacher, a missionary of remarkable success and influence, and, by popular consent, a saint in the truest sense of that word. He is a man who holds, to the people of Russia as well as to the Church of Russia, a position of a very remarkable kind. He is in touch with much with which Russian ecclesiastics have not always been in touch, and he lived for some years in the United States. He is familiar with English literature and English modes of thought, and it was of no small advantage to Christendom generally, and above all to the relations which the Church of the West—our Church and other branches of the Western Church—might have to the Church of the East when in 1917 he was elected Metropolitan of Moscow, and when, as soon as the Patriarchate was restored, he was elected by acclamation to be the Patriarch of All Russia.
I was in frequent communication with the newly appointed Patriarch at that time. Communications which passed between us were made public, and all who read what he wrote and said at that time must have been struck alike by the dignity of his attitude in circumstances of extraordinary difficulty and by the wisdom of some of the things that he said. His relation to the Bolshevist Government was obviously one of extreme difficulty, and a few months after his accession to the Patriarchate he thought it right to issue a grave manifesto denouncing the lawlessness of some of the Bolshevist principles, pointing out how far they departed from the larger and truer ideals which he existed, like other Christian prelates and leaders, to set forth, and ending his manifesto with the words, "They that take the sword shall perish by the sword."
But, having thus delivered himself as to the large principles upon which he desired as far as possible that Russia and the Russian Church should be governed, he withheld himself absolutely from political strife; he abstained from intervening in matters in which his intervention would 773 undoubtedly have been possible, though, as he thought, it might have been mischievous. He deprecated an attack by any of us upon the Bolshevist Government as such, in relation particularly to its dealings with the Church, and he acquiesced in and practically recognised the Soviet Government as the Government de facto and the Government in power, to whom he and others owed in a large sense an element of allegiance. His position was compared, and rightly compared, to that which was taken in the earliest days of the Church, when the Apostles spoke of the powers that be, who were ordained of God, being constituted at that moment in the Emperor Nero. None the less they were authorities to whom deference was due as such. And that is the line throughout—this point is important—which the Patriarch has taken. He issued a pastoral letter in September, 1919, in which the central phrase was, "The establishment of one or other form of government is not a matter of the Church but of the people," and therefore, as he went on to say, all possible obedience must be paid to the powers that be in the land, though he had already shown what he felt about the principles underlying their régime.
During these years I have tried, difficult and even impossible as it has often been, to follow as closely as might be the story of the relation of the Bolshevist Government to the Church in Russia. The contradiction of statements that have been made public, the variety of incidents and relationship between Church and State in the different parts of Russia has been marked, and the whole thing has been shrouded in the confusion that has attended all recent history in Russia. As far as I can judge, there were different modes of treatment of the Church in different places. There were different modes according to who might be the ruling power or authority, the ruling individual or leader, and it would be difficult to generalise about Russia as a whole in any accurate manner.
Whatever allowances may be made for exaggerations or difficulties in this place or that, however, the fact remains that the Bolshevist authorities themselves have admitted the doing to death el at least 1,700 priests. There is no question about that. At least 1,700 priests have been done to death by the Bolshevist authorities during that time. The bishops and Metropolitans in different places in Russia and on 774 the borders of Russia have again and again communicated with myself during these years, owing to the position I hold in the Church in this country, and telegrams have passed frequently. Some of them it was thought undesirable to publish in the public interest, and my answers have been duly published. But the Patriarch Tikhon has never appealed to me during that time, at least for the kind of aid that others have asked for. His original letter stood, but he has never appealed to me or, as far as I know, outside Russia, or within Russia at that time.
But it goes further than that. In the communications which I have had with the Patriarch—I will not say exactly by what means, but means which were absolutely trustworthy—he has expressed on more than one occasion his hope that, as things were going, I and others with me would not try to raise agitation on the subject, for the sake of Russia as a whole. He believed it to be undesirable. I accordingly have acted on what I knew to be his wish. Then there came a space during the year 1920 and part of 1921 when, as far as I know, there was no very special persecution of the Church in Russia, although undoubtedly there were grave wrongs in different places. Then came the famine. What effect did that have on the situation? In July, 1921, the Patriarch made an appeal. The form of his appeal was a telegram addressed to myself. As a matter of fact, that telegram did not reach me; at least, it did not reach me until months after it had been sent; but it found its way into the Press, both on the Continent and in England. So far as I know, it was the first document which revealed the real extent and gravity, and the ultimate danger, of the Russian famine. It was a document carefully balanced and worded, appealing for aid for the sufferers under the famine and promising the help, the guidance, the protection which would be gladly given by the Church in Russia in any distribution of funds which might be forthcoming.
Besides that, the Patriarch resolved at that time to do his utmost to make an appeal within Russia himself. When the All Russian Committee, as it was called—formed under Maxim Gorki in 1921 to make an appeal to meet Russian necessities—was set up, the Patriarch desired to take a full share on the Church's behalf in its action, with the one condition that representatives 775 of the Church should be privy to the disposition of the money that was raised. He thought that those whom he could influence to produce the money should be assured, and that he should be in a position to assure them, that the money would be properly expended; therefore, they must have access to the authorities with regard to the manner of its distribution. The request that he might do that was absolutely refused. No such appeal was allowed to be issued; no document was permitted to appear under the Patriarch's authority, or under the authority of the Church, or with his name attached to it. Public notices with the Patriarch's name upon them were not allowed to be made, and his request was absolutely declined.
Some little time passed, and in the autumn of last year the Patriarch again asked leave to make an appeal, not in conjunction with the appeal which Maxim Gorki had made and which at that time had either been withdrawn or dropped, but under the auspices of the Church far and near, for money to aid Russia in its terrible distress. Again he did not wish to mix it up with the Gorki plan which at that moment was not to the fore, but to do it independently. He also undertook, as before, that supervision should be given by the Church authorities to the manner in which the money was disposed of and that an account of it should be rendered. His request was absolutely refused. He was told that he must not do it and that nothing of the kind would be allowed.
Then, in March of the present year, the Bolshevist authorities ordered the Patriarch in a peremptory manner to issue an ecclesiastical edict bidding the bishops and clergy of the Russian Church to surrender the Church treasures throughout the country, for, as they put it, the famine, but without any kind of undertaking or even any suggestion that anyone but the Soviet authority was to be told what was done with the money which was procured by the seizure and sale or disposal in some fashion of such treasures. The Patriarch made the grave answer that he and his colleagues were forbidden by their sacred promises, by their oaths, and by the canons of the Church, to dispose of the property of the Church, which was and had been devoted from time immemorial to sacred purposes. He did not say that it could not by any means be disposed of, but that 776 it could not be disposed of in a reckless manner or without the Church knowing exactly what was done with it, and who was going to deal with it; that the danger of sacrilege would certainly arise, and that he was not, therefore, in a position, without violating his oath, to do what was requested.
But he went on to say: "We are prepared on behalf of the Church to undertake to raise the very money you think you will get by the sale of these treasures, and to be responsible for seeing that the money so raised goes to the famine areas, if you will leave the treasures where they are and allow us to deal with them as seems to us to be consistent with the oaths we have taken and the promises we have made." I do not know in detail what the intention of the Church was, but presumably it was something in the way of allowing the treasures of the Church to be placed in trusted hands, who would see that there was no danger of their use for sacriligious purposes, and the raising of the money by the mortgage of the vessels, and so on. I do not know what the intention was, but the Patriarch said: "We are ready to find the money provided you will allow us to hold to our oaths. We cannot voluntarily consent to the giving up of these sacred things."
The answer came immediately: "We decline absolutely to allow any such arrangement to be made"; and the Commissars were ordered to go into the Churches, to tear down the ornaments, some of them, as your Lordships know, of extraordinary interest, antiquity, and beauty—ikons, vessels, books, hangings, and so on—to take them in defiance of their custodians, the priests of the Church, and to allow no interference at all. That process is going on now. Certain inflammatory accounts have appeared, for which I accept no responsibility, as to the horrible violence and roughness with which this has been done, violence which has sometimes provoked the resistance of the people, who in Russia put much value on these treasures, and are naturally provoked by what is going on. I do not know what has become of the money, said to be an enormous sum, which has already been secured by the taking away from the Churches of hangings, books, ikons, ornaments, and sacred vessels. The protest of the Patriarch against the violence that has been shown is the only means of any 777 knowledge that I have as to what has actually happened in the Churches, but the Patriarch has renewed his endeavour to persuade the authorities to allow the money to be raised in the way that he would desire to raise it.
What has happened now? I have a letter here, which I received a week ago from a Russian ecclesiastic of high authority, the Metropolitan Eulogius, who is the Russian Prelate who looks after congregations of Russians outside of Russia in Europe. He writes from Berlin, and his letter is dated May 11. In it he says:To-day's paper brought us the sad news of All Russia's Patriarch Tikhon's arrest by the Moscow Soviet authorities, who will not fail undoubtedly to inflict on him the severest penalty. The only accusation brought against him is his obedience to a sense of duty in refusing to submit to the theft of Church property, of sacred vessels, and relics, and all needed for holy services.In the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ we appeal to you and to all the Episcopalian members of the Church of England to lift your voice in protest of this act of unheard-of violence and illegality, directed against the highest representative of the Russian clergy. We implore you to use your influence to alleviate as much as possible Patriarch Tikhon's undeserved chastisement.With a feeling of deep reverence and brotherly love in Christ.On the receipt of that letter I proceeded to verify the statements by such means as are possible, though I have not been able to do it independently, and I am looking for the answer that the Government may be able to give me as to the facts regarding the Patriarch's arrest and present condition.
I ask now to be told what information is forthcoming here as to what seems to me to be a very grave outrage in Christendom. We are accustomed to the thought of grave outrages in connection with Russian affairs at the present time, but hitherto there has been a certain absence of this kind of direct and open attack upon the great ecclesiastical possessions, forces and influences in Russia. Now that attitude, so to say, seems to have come to an end, and if the accounts that are published are true— I have no means of knowing—the Patriarch has not only been arrested but removed from his ordinary home in Moscow and interned elsewhere in what is euphemistically described in a telegram from Russia to-day as "another monastery"—but to what is practically a prison. He was removed; he is gone, and that merely means that his arrest has taken place.
778 I no longer feel that I am under the pledge that I have felt myself to be under hitherto not to make the appeal, or to make public the needs, as it seems to me, of the Russian Church for at least the sympathy and the knowledge of the Christians of Europe generally as to what is now taking place. It is necessary to make some statement, for this reason: It is now being said with brazen effrontery and falsehood that the Church is being punished because she declined in the beginning to be helpful in respect to the famine. I have pointed out to your Lordships that on three or four separate occasions the Church had undertaken, in the fullest possible manner that it could officially do so, to raise larger sums of money than anybody was likely to have raised in any other manner; to see to it that the money so raised should be properly administered, and to help in every possible way. Those offers have been absolutely refused, and the man who has throughout with extraordinary public spirit, with reticence, with dignity, and with power, held himself in restraint during these years is now apparently under arrest, and perhaps in danger of death.
We are told that both bishops and clergy have not only been arrested but have already been done to death. It is on behalf of the Church in Russia that I appeal for information so that we may know how things stand. I am not asking, at this moment, for more than information about it. A great scholar, a great teacher, a great leader, with his followers, is now suffering in the way I have tried to describe, and is being maligned in a perfectly shameful manner for not doing the very thing which, throughout this time, he and his friends have been endeavouring to do. I do not think we, as Christians, can look on unmoved at such an incident as that, and I feel that I am fully justified, on behalf of the Church to which I belong, in raising this matter here.
§ LORD EMMOTT
My Lords, before the noble Earl replies on behalf of the Government, may I add a few words to what the most rev. Primate has said? For the last two years the greater part of my time has been taken up in connection with Russia, in presiding over a Committee which the noble Marquess, the Leader of the House, asked me to take in hand, investigating the political and economic conditions of Russia, and, during the last six months, in connection with the Russian famine.
779 The subject raised by the most rev. Primate is, I think, one of very great importance, and I desire respectfully to associate myself with what he has said. I think that in the famine conditions of Russia and in the extreme poverty from which Russia suffers at the present time, there was a decided claim on the Russian Church to do what she could, but the most rev. Primate has made it perfectly clear that offer after offer of help was made, and that an agreement was made to submit to great sacrifices on behalf of the Church provided the funds raised by the Church were either administered by themselves or at any rate were administered by a committee on which the Church was represented. But this was not accepted. I say that that is a perfectly proper condition to lay down. From the very little I know of Russia I would not trust money, without conditions, to the tender mercies of the Russian Government. That was a perfectly proper stipulation to make.
Apparently, no agreement was come to in regard to this matter, and two months ago, as the most rev. Primate has said, the Decree confiscating the treasures of the Church was promulgated. There were riots. In some places priests were arraigned before the Extraordinary Commission and eight or nine of them lie in prison condemned to death. I sincerely hope they will not be executed. If the noble Earl can tell us anything about that matter to relieve our anxiety we should be very glad. I would even go further than the most rev. Primate. I would appeal to the Government to give a most emphatic warning to the Soviet Government that if any extreme measures be taken against either the Patriarch or his priests that would have the most deplorable results in this country upon the relief work in connection with the famine and also in regard to the wider question—a question of enormous importance—the general reconstruction of Russia.
We must always remember in regard to Russia that there is a struggle going on at the present time—I mean in Government circles—between moderates and extremists. The Government was founded by, and is based on, what are called class-conscious Communists, but they differ among themselves, as, indeed, other Governments in their time have differed, and the danger that I fear is that the extremists will gain the day. There are a good many other 780 signs, besides this particular incident which the most rev. Primate has brought before your Lordships' notice, which make me uneasy in regard to Russia. Not only is there the question of these priests, but there is also the question of the Social Revolutionaries who are to be tried, and in whose defence members of the Labour Party in this country are going to Russia.
Certain difficulties—I think my noble friend, Lord Weardale, will not object to my mentioning this—have arisen, particularly in regard to his own organisation, as to the personnel of the workers sent out to administer the relief subscribed for by people in this country. There are great difficulties about visas for perfectly proper people proposed by the Save the Children Fund to go out and administer this famine relief. After all, people at the present time do not go out to administer famine relief in Russia for the sake of their health, but only because they feel it is a sacred duty. How far this is due to Mr. Eiduck, who is head of the Commission in regard to the famine, I do not know, but this Mr. Eiduck was head of the special department of the Extraordinary Commission dealing with the counter-revolution. He is not a suitable man for his post in any way, and either he or the Government at the present time are making unnecessary difficulties about this question of visas. That is another of those signs that the extremists are gaining the upper hand in Soviet Russia.
Again, I am informed that the extremists have been making attempts, and with some success, to remove moderate Bolsheviks from Moscow to distant provinces. A very distingished man named Mr. Martens was recently ordered to go to South Russia. Whether his protests have availed, and he has not been sent, I am not sure, but he was not only a member of the Presidium but was assistant-President of the Presidium of the Supreme Economic Council. Sending him away from Moscow is not only a degradation, but it is a getting rid of a moderate element, and is another of those signs which I do not like. I do not want to weary your Lordships, but I would mention, in conclusion, that the official paper, the Pravda, has carried on all through the Genoa Conference a campaign of general abuse of the Conference as an attempt on the part of the capitalist power to crush the revolution in Russia. Those attacks have been 781 officially allowed, and very possibly officially prompted, because nothing can be published in Russia except by consent of the Government. These things all make me very uneasy, and more uneasy about this particular incident than I should have been otherwise. That this incident should occur now between Genoa and the Conference at The Hague is, I think, a very disquieting symptom.
If I may add one or two words it would be on the rather wider question, and I hope your Lordships will forgive me for touching upon this. So far as I am concerned, I can take no part in attacking the objects aimed at by the Genoa Conference. I believe that the great mass of non-Bolskevik Russians—this is information given to me by Englishmen who have recently been in Russia, who speak the Russian language, and who communicated with the people—looked with hope to the Genoa Conference. Personally, I think that what I have done shows I have every wish to help Russia, and there is nothing that I desire more than to see her included in the comity of nations. But such matters as have been brought before your Lordships this afternoon by the most rev. Primate endanger that. Political matters in Russia are inextricably mixed up obviously with economic matters, and I have great doubt whether Europe is treating Russia on the right lines at the present time.
In The Times to-day there is an extract from a speech by Dr. Benes, one of the notable figures at the Genoa Conference, and a distinguished European statesman. In this he says:Real agreement with Russia was only possible by the open abandonment by the Soviet of the strict Communistic standpoint, and by its making a compromise not only in international policy but also in its home policy toward the non-Communistic population of Russia.If that is the fundamental minimum, and I think it is, I wonder whether we are going the right way to bring anything of the kind about. I suggest that discussions would be far better carried on in Moscow than elsewhere in Europe. I should have had much more hope of the Hague Conference if there was some delay, and if there was some attempt at discussions of these political and economic questions in the meantime, not in the limelight of a European Conference, but quietly by suitable negotiators, who could really talk matters out with the Russians. I apologise if I have 782 opened up rather large questions, and I cannot expect the noble Earl who is to reply for the Foreign Office to deal with them this afternoon. But the subject raised by the most rev. Primate is part of these larger questions, and I entertain some little doubt as to whether we are dealing with Russia on quite the right lines.
My Lords, I should not have intervened in this debate had it not been for the fact that my noble friend has made some reference to the particular fund with which I am associated. I confirm frankly and openly in some respects the account he has given of the difficulties we have encountered with regard to our agents in Russia. It must be understood that our fund and, I believe, all the other funds have adopted as a principle that they will only employ British subjects, of course, men intimately acquainted with the Russian tongue, for the administration of their relief in Russia. In order to obtain suitable men for that purpose there is rather a limited choice. There are a great number of men who are not, unfortunately, qualified for this particular office. When you consider the claims of these men it is almost impossible to find any of them who, in some form or other, have not been interested in action of some kind in Russia since the Revolutionary period. Although many of them have not been engaged in any actual warlike expedition, still the mere fact of their having been in Russia at all is regarded with suspicion by the Soviet authorities, who make it an excuse for refusing to accord them a visa.
I have been informed in recent correspondence that there is at this moment a change of sentiment on the part of the Soviet authorities with regard to visas, and it has taken place simultaneously with the Genoa Conference. What the impression conveyed by the Genoa Conference on the Moscow authorities may have been, I do not know, but it has had a bad effect on their action in according facilities for our work in Russia. That is a fact we have to deplore. On the other hand, our action has not been impeded by the Soviet authorities. It is going on with regularity, and I am glad to say that our supplies are arriving with much greater rapidity and regularity than before. In that respect we have praise rather than criticism to offer, and I hope the particular 783 difficulty, which I trust is only momentary, with regard to the visas, will be overcome and that we shall arrive at a more reasonable situation.
May I also say, with regard to visas, that there has been a little misunderstanding as to the exact way they should be obtained. All the societies are working in Russia under what is known as the Nansen Agreement, and the Soviet authorities argue that all visas should be obtained exclusively through the representatives of Dr. Nansen. I think there have been cases in which visas have been applied for without recourse to the assistance of Dr. Nansen's representatives, and that may have been the cause of certain embarrassment. I wish to make this explanation, which I fear is not very clear, with regard to the difficulties we have encountered, because I should be extremely sorry if it were popularly supposed that these difficulties are seriously interfering with our relief work.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
My Lords, the announcement which has just been made by Lord Weardale will give widespread gratification. I acknowledge that he and his friends are subjected to these worries, annoyances and obstructions in carrying out the work they have undertaken. But, notwithstanding the difficulty of which the noble Lord has spoken, the fundamental fact remains that the work is progressing well, and, what is still more satisfactory—a fact which Lord Weardale confirms, and more than confirms, to-day—that recently there has been a material improvement in the transport arrangements upon which the whole efficacy of these relief movements depends. I am glad the noble Lord has made that statement, because I am afraid it is the only consoling statement your Lordships are likely to hear this afternoon.
Lord Emmott was very far from hopeful. He referred to the general uneasiness which prevails and recommended an attitude of severity on the part of the British Government as contrasted from what he regards as the rather benevolent attitude which prevailed in the Genoa Conference. I am not qualified to discuss that question. I merely content myself by saying that the central and governing idea of the Government in promoting that Conference, and in carrying it through, was the profound hope and conviction that 784 a broad attitude of pacification, or at any rate of non-aggression, affords the only sure basis upon which economic peace, quite apart from other advantages, can be secured to Europe as a whole. The attitude may have been right, or it may have been wrong; but it may be argued that an attitude of severity, of aloofness, towards Russia would have made that country more sensitive to the views which prevail over Western Europe.
§ LORD EMMOTT
If I gave the impression that I was advocating an attitude of severity towards Russia it was far from my intention. My criticism, so far as it was a criticism, was rather to the fact that I believe quiet conversations without so much limelight, where matters could be discussed without the attention of the Press, would be more likely to achieve results than the conditions which are necessary in the case of great European Conferences.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
I hope the noble Lord will acquit me of intentionally misrepresenting him. I agree with his sentiment. I abominate limelight, but if you have a number of countries, twenty or thirty, represented in a single town is it not impossible to prevent anyone who has the right and power to play the limelight on their proceedings from doing so? Is it possible, assuming that a Conference of ten or twenty or thirty Powers is necessary in order to discuss things in a free and, moreover, in a rapid manner—is it possible to say that limelight and all the abominations that it involves can be excluded? I am afraid not. I am afraid that we have to recognise the fact that, if Conferences take place, if anything takes place, and limelight is a source of amusement to the public, limelight will be provided.
Let me turn to the very much narrower but intensely important Question raised by the most rev. Primate. I will inform him in brief of the whole of the information which is at the disposal of Lord Curzon. Your Lordships will see from my reply that the Lord Archbishop has special means of access to information which is not at the disposal of the Diplomatic Service, but all the knowledge at the disposal of the Foreign Office confirms, and more than confirms, His Grace's tribute to the personality, distinction, and high character of the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church. I will recount very briefly what has passed so far as our official knowledge goes.
785 The recent Decree of the Soviet Government, ordering the confiscation of all Church valuables in the interests of the famine, led to riots in various parts of Russia when the valuables were being taken from the churches. Sa far as His Majesty's Government are aware, these riots, to which the Archbishop referred, were spontaneous outbreaks, and there is no evidence to show that they formed part of a conspiracy in which either the Patriarch or the responsible representatives of the Russian Church were implicated. It is understood that a number of people were arrested in connection with these outbreaks and, amongst others, eight priests, as Lord Emmott has just said, were condemned to be shot. Sentence has not yet been carried out, but there is reason to believe that the Soviet Government does not at present intend to reverse the decision.
During the trial of these priests, the Patriarch was summoned to give evidence, and was accused of having used his influence to frustrate the execution of the Soviet Decree for the confiscation of Church property. As the Lord Archbishop has recounted, the Patriarch, in his defence, maintained that he had never opposed the principle that the Church should contribute to the utmost of its capacity to the relief of the famine-stricken, but that he claimed the right, as trustee of the property of the Church, to have some control over the distribution of the supplies obtained from the sale or mortgage of Church property. The attitude adopted by the Patriarch led to his arrest and to his removal to the Donskoi monastery, where he is now being kept in close confinement. It is understood that he is shortly to be tried, but it is not clear when and exactly on what charge the trial is to be carried out.
Lord Curzon's attention has been called to reports appearing in the Soviet Press to the effect that the action taken by the Patriarch has caused a division amongst the bishops of the Russian Church, and that he has in consequence resigned his office. I understand that these reports are not correct; that, though considerable pressure has been brought to bear upon him, he has refused to resign; and that his resignation would not be considered valid without the consent of Conclave. In conclusion it is naturally not within the province of His Majesty's Government to pass judgment on the issues involved in the trial of the Patriarch, but it is a well- 786 known fact that the Patriarch, as already outlined to your Lordships, has shown great sympathy towards the population of the famine area since the outbreak of the famine last year.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
Does the noble Earl, or do the Government, propose to take any steps, in conformity with the suggestion of the most reverend Primate and of the noble Lord below the gangway, to make representations to the Russian Government on this matter?
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
If the Foreign Office had thought that representations of this kind would at the present moment be profitable, I should have made the announcement to your Lordships.