2010-11-18 14:39:00

It is impossible to remove Tolstoy's excommunication, but Christian hearts can't be closed for a prayer for his soul - priest

Moscow, November 18, Interfax - Despite of high appraisal of Leo Tolstoy's works it is impossible to remove his excommunication from the Orthodox Church today, hundred years after his death as it was Tolstoy who excommunicated himself, executive secretary of the Patriarchal Council for Culture Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov) believes.

Responding with Patriarch Kirill's blessing to the Russian Book Union president Sergey Stepashin, Father Tikhon reminded that the Holy Synod by its decision of February 20, 1901, to excommunicate Tolstoy "only confirmed the already accomplished fact - Count Tolstoy excommunicated himself from the Church, fully broken with it and he didn't deny it, but even stressed when he had a good opportunity to do it."

When Tolstoy was 27 he had an idea of creating a new faith and his diaries of that period prove it, the priest reminds. When he grew old the writer felt he was close to his aim, created a small sect of his followers and wrote The Gospel of Tolstoy and the Russian Orthodox Church became the main object of his attacks.

"His words and his deeds directed against it were truly terrific for an Orthodox mind. Moreover, Tolstoy's work in last decades of his life was unfortunately destructive for Russia - the country he loved so much. It is not by chance that Bolshevist leader (Lenin - IF) highly approved of this branch in Tolstoy's work and called the novelist "a mirror of Russian revolution," Father Tikhon noted in his letter published by the Rossijskaya Gazeta on Thursday.

Fr. Tikhon stresses that several generations of Orthodox readers in Russia and abroad highly appraise Tolstoy's writings, "however as the writer did not reconcile with the Church (Tolstoy did not publicly deny his tragic spiritual delusions) excommunication by which he excommunicated himself from the Church cannot be removed" and it means that "canonically it is impossible for the Church to pray for him."

"Nevertheless compassionate heart of any Christian who reads the great writer's fiction can't be closed for sincere humble prayer for his soul," the priest sums up.