Orthodox Christians still divided on authenticity of Ekaterinburg Remains

During an interview held earlier this week on the Echo of Moscow, the First Vice-President of the Center for the Political Technologies Dr. Alexei Makarkin, talked about the Ekaterinburg Remains:

On 17th June 2021, the Holy Synod reviewed a report from Metropolitan Tikhon on the genetic examinations of the Ekaterinburg remains, and with the information provided by the Investigative Committee of Russia regarding various examinations as part of the investigation of the criminal case on the murder of members of the Imperial Family. It was decided to publish information on the results of the examinations and submit them for consideration by the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), which will take place in the fall.

“Prior to this, the issue of the remains of the Imperial Family (the ROC officially refer to them as the “Ekaterinburg remains”) was discussed at the Bishops’ Council in 2016 and 2017 respectively. In 2017, it was expected that the remains of Tsesarevich Alexei and Grand Duchess Maria found in 2007 would take place on the centenary of the murder of the Imperial Family in 2018, however, this did not happen. Despite numerous exhaustive scientific tests carried out on the remains by experts, a significant number of Orthodox Christians in Russia still do not believe in the authenticity of the remains, nor do they want to recognize them as holy relics. It is psychologically impossible for them to imagine that both the Moscow Patriarchate and numerous pious believers were wrong, instead believing that the relics were destroyed with fire and acid in 1918, and that Boris Yeltsin and Boris Nemtsov, on whose initiative established the authenticity of the remains back in the 1990s, were right.

“The issue remains controversial to this day, but the position of the opponents of the recognition of the Ekaterinburg remains were weakened earlier this year following the scandalous story with the now former schema-abbot Sergius (Romanov), one of the main opponents of the recognition of the authenticity of the remains. There was concern that he, along with the priests and nuns loyal to him, would go into schism, protesting against the recognition of the Ekaterinburg remains, instead, Sergius was excommunicated by the Moscow Patriarchate. The problem of delimitation among believers still remains – but, as far as can be seen, the state authorities continue to show interest in the symbolic act of burying the last Tsar and members of his family. In order for this to take place, a decision by the Moscow Patriarchate is needed – so that the departed can be glorified as saints and their relics venerated by the faithful.

“So there will be internal church differences, and Patriarch Kirill and Metropolitan Tikhon will have to resolve them. Unfortunately, there is no ideal solution as there will most certainly be protests, regardless of the Church’s final verdict on the remains. But here’s what is interesting – a couple of decades ago, the topic of the authenticity of the remains was socially significant, it was actively discussed in circles far outside the Church. Sadly, most Russians have today lost interest, especially those who are not practicing believers. Interest in history (and, in particular, in the monarchy) has diminished, they are tired from all the arguments about the country’s past and, instead, desire to understand what the future holds for Russia and her people.”

© Paul Gilbert. 22 June 2021

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