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New York City: Orthodox Monarchy – Thing of the Past or Example for Emulation?

On Saturday, November 10, a symposium entitled "Monarchy, Modernity & Mythology from Babylon to Byzantium and Beyond" was held at the Synodal Headquarters in New York City. The symposium was organized by the St. Prince Vladimir Youth Association, and was the concluding event of the centennial celebrations of the martyrdom of the Holy Tsar-Passionbearer and the Royal Family, which has been marked throughout the year by Orthodox society both in Russia and the Russian Diaspora.

The main lecture at the symposium was delivered by Professor Nicholas Ganson of Hellenic College.

Taking part in the symposium was the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America & New York.

Delivering a detailed outline of monarchic forms of government through world history, Dr. Ganson focused particular attention on the monarchic order in Russia during the reign of Emperor Nicholas II, as well as the martyrdom of the Tsar-Passionbearer and the Royal Family. Of great interest was the comparative analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the Russian emperor’s rule from the points of view of secular individuals and those active in the Church.

After the lecture, a roundtable Q&A was held. Answering a question about monarchy in Russia, Metropolitan Hilarion cited the words of Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky), who called monarchy "the ideal form of rule for Russia," because Christian monarchy is grounded in the teachings of the Orthodox Church.

"Our Church [Abroad] is very closely bound to Russian history, because its members are Russians who were left without a homeland," says Isaiah Trofimenko, a singer in the Synodal choir and member of St. Prince Vladimir Youth Association. "I am glad that I had the opportunity to hear this lecture by a good professor, and to ask questions. In my opinion, such gatherings are very important. We have lived for a long time without monarchy. But we are taught that monarchy was the best system for Orthodox Christianity. Many questions come to mind. For instance, what should our attitude be toward monarchy today? We asked the lecturer, and others who know this topic, questions like that today. I asked about a constitutional monarchy. Maybe this would be the best system in Russia today, but I doubt it will ever happen."

"I came to this symposium to support the event and honor the martyrdom of the Royal Family together with our young people," says Archpriest Serafim Gan (chancellor of the Synod of Bishops, rector of St. Seraphim Memorial Church in Sea Cliff, NY). "For me, this is the most important thing: to participate, support our youth and Russian Orthodoxy. I think that clergymen should serve as an example."

"This symposium is a continuation of the events marking the centennial of the martyrdom of the Tsar-Passionbearer Nicholas and the Royal Family. Such discussions, symposia, are part of our church life, a continuation of the work begun in the 1950s with the St. Vladimir Circles, and our association is continuing that tradition. It is very important for our youth to continue the traditions of their predecessors," believes Archpriest Andrei Sommer (president of the St. Vladimir Youth Association and organizer of the symposium). "It is important to show our youth the reasons and significance of the martyric struggle of the Holy Tsar-Passionbearer and the way of life of the Royal Family, and to give them an understanding of monarchy from the point of view of the Orthodox Faith; indeed, the world today dictates its own worldview, its own opinion of Orthodox Christianity, of family life. That is why we must show our youth other examples. Especially since we already have them to show."

The discussion especially underscored how the Tsar accepted a martyric death as a true Orthodox Christian, as a passion-bearer. Dr. Nicholas Ganson noted that the holiness of Tsar Nicholas is beyond doubt, because he accepted his death with humility, having prepared for that moment throughout his entire life. "If he had not exhibited humility throughout his life, he could not have accepted the horrifying reality facing him, with confidence in the future eternal life, meekly and calmly accepting divine will over himself."

"It is very important to discuss this on the centennial of the martyrdom of the Holy Royal Passionbearers," continues Fr. Andrei. "And we strive to demonstrate their example through such symposia, through trips, for instance, like our trip to Yekaterinburg in July, where we saw thousands of people and sensed their love for the Royal Passionbearers."

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Eastern American Diocese | Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia