Russian Byzantine Religion

The Russian Byzantine Religion was founded by Vladimir Soloviev in the mid 19th century. Prior to this Russian Christians were unorganized groups who were in communion with the Church of Rome.

Note that the oldest Russian faith was and still is the Russian Orthodox Church which has never officially separated from the Church of Rome. Soloviev himself was received into the Church of Rome as a Catholic in 1896.

This caused problems for the educated and less so, as joining the Roman Catholic Church separated them from celebrating the Divine Liturgy of the Orthodox Church. Roman Catholics celebrated the Mass not the Divine Liturgy.

A part of the problem was that the Roman Catholic authorities wanted the Mass celebrated in Latin not Russian.

The practicing of the Russian Byzantine Religion in Russia was illegal until The Decree of Religious Tolerance in 1905. Russian Catholics stood firm to Soloviev's belief, that one could celebrate in the Orthodox tradition while being in communion with Rome, and to his dream of Church Unity which is unity of faith.

The Catholic Church continued to grow in Russia, thanks in no small part to Soloviev's influence and the desire to enter into full communion with the Church of Rome spread from Russia to Ukraine and Georgia.

The overthrow of Tsar Nicholas II, March 12, 1917, and the revolution and civil war which followed meant general upheaval to Russian society and religion. The Provisional Government established on March 14, 1917 granted religious rights to all, thus allowing Russian Catholics to continue to establish their parishes and Church hierarchy.

For a short period of time the Church was able to worship and grow in relative peace. This soon changed as the whole of Russian society experienced the affects of the October Revolution (1917) and the onset of civil war and Communist oppression of all religion began.

Executions of Catholic and Orthodox clergy abounded during the early years of the Soviet Union. In 1937, Russian Catholic clergy and faithful together with Georgian and Armenian Byzantine Catholics, and Roman Catholic clergy and faithful were put to death alongside countless Orthodox, Protestant and Jewish clergy. This event was possibly the largest mass execution, to date.

On November 21, 1964, as a decree of the Second Vatican Council, Unitatis Redintegratio (Decree on Ecumenism) was handed down. The decree begins, The restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council. Christ the Lord founded one Church and one Church only.

In the spirit of Vladimir Soloviev almost a century prior, Rome officially promotes the ideals of Church unity. Each rite, including the Russian Byzantine, are autonomous, yet one with Rome. Each is given equal dignity and status.

The various methods of worship are considered to enhance the rich history of Christianity and are not to be compromised. In fact, Rome strongly urges all Catholics to attend the services of their sister Catholic Churches and receive the Sacraments.

Today, there are numerous Russian Byzantine Religion parishes and eparchies in the U.S., Canada and the world.

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