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Fr. Gregory Gapon

copticorthodoxboy

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Hello All

What is the view (if there is a view) of Fr. Gregory Gapon in the Orthodox (in particular, Russian) Church?  Particularly, in regards to Bloody Sunday, 1905?

Thanks

Shawn 
 

Heorhij

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Actually his name was Georgiy, not Grigoriy (from Greek Yiorgos, not from Latin Gregory). Russians pronounce it with hard "g," like in English "gum," "green," etc. The Ukrainian pronounciation of the consonant in Georgiy is more "breathing," closer to the way Greeks pronounce their "gammas," similar to the English "h" in "inhale."
 

Heorhij

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Shawn,

I found some info. Here: http://pravoslavye.org.ua/index.php?action=fullinfo&r_type=&id=5986, it's an official Web page of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and it has an article written by an archbishop of the Russian Orthodox Church (Vl. Constantine, archbishop of Tikhvin).

Vl. Constantine seems to be of an extremely low opinion of Fr. Hapon. (Since Hapon was a Ukrainian - born in Poltava region, graduated from the Poltava seminary, - I would, if you guys don't mind, stick to the Ukrainian phonetic spelling, not Russian. Hapon, not Gapon.) Fr. Hapon was ordained priest after he graduated from the seminary, but later, having become a widower, he re-married, not being wed in church (that is, simply started co-habitating with a woman). Besides, he taught classes at a girls' school and was removed from there, because parents complained on his flirting with girls. So, eventually, although Fr. Hapon was never defrocked, he was essentially removed from priesthood.

Beginning from 1899, Fr. Hapon served as a head of a civic organization known as "The Union of Russian Mill and Factory Workers of St. Petersburg," an organization that seems to have been pursuing a "social gospel" agenda. Around 1903, he became close to the Socialist-Revolutionary Party and its leader, Boris Savinkov. On the other hand, Fr. Hapon secretly met with the chief of the so-called Special Department of the Sanct-Petersburg Police Department ("Osoboe Otdelenie"), General Sergei Zubatov. In the two years preceding the so-called "First Russian Revolution" of 1905, Fr. Hapon, apparently, worked as a workers' union leader and, simultaneously, as an undercover police agent.

In December 1904 Fr. Hapon had a series of meetings with members of his "Union of Mill and Factory Workers," and, in a series of fiery social gospel sermons, convinced them to write a letter to Tsar Nicholas II, asking to improve the conditions of their work. He persuaded the workers to organize a procession to the Winter Palace. According to Fr. Hapon's plan, the workers were supposed to enter the palace and to press on the Tsar, so that he would grant them their requests, or else depose the Tsar (supposedly "peacefully," in a "velvet revolution" style). The procession, indeed, began on January 9, 1905, and was stopped by the soldiers loyal to the Tsar. The soldiers opened gunfire, and between 120 and 150 participants of the procession were killed. This event triggered a series of bloody riots all over the Russian Empire.

Fr. Hapon fled to Switzerland, then moved to France and then to England. He returned to St.Petersburg in early 1906. Soon after his return, he met in his apartment with one of his former Socialist Revolutionary friends, a man called Rutenberg. The latter, probably blaming Fr. Hapon for the death of workers on January 9, 1905, physically fought him, overpowered him and hanged him on a closet clothes hanger. The rope strangled Fr. Hapon to death.
 

copticorthodoxboy

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Heorhij,

Thanks for the correction.  I'm not too familiar with Russian/Ukranian; my joy (in linguistics) lies with Chinese.   :)

Right now I'm reading Robert Service's Lenin: A Biography  The book talks a little about Fr. Gapon.  Here is what Service writes:

"But then on 9 January 1905 a peaceful procession of men, women and children took place in St. Petersburg...
It was a Sunday.  The marchers were dressed in their best clothes.  The mood was firm but jovial.  A the head of the procession walked an Orthodox Church priest, Father Georgi Gapon...
Gapon acted as intermediary, but increasingly he took the workers' side against the authorties.  As they drew newar to the Winter Palace, the marchers were ordered to disperse but they ignored the instruction and walked on.  The troops in front of the building, in the Emperor's absence, were beginning to panin and thier commanding officers decided to fire upon the crowd.  Scored of innocent demonstrators were killed...
Weeks after 'Bloody Sunday' he [Lenin] met the fleeing Father Gapon.  Orther Marxists were cold-shouldering the Russian Orthodox priest, but Lenin talked with him at lenght.  They even exchanged copies of books they had written; this was not Lenin's usual reaction unless he was impressed with someone.  From the beginning there was a rapport between the two men.
And so Lenin welcomed him to the Rue de Carouge.  As they discussed current developments, peasants' son Gapon - charismatic, gruff, bearded, and hostile to both the Emperor and the Orthodox Church hierarchy - captivated him as someone who had a deep understanding of the feelings of ordinary Russians.  The fact that Gapan was neither a theorist nor a party member was all to the good; he knew things that were elusive to emigrants.  A former tsarist loyalist, Gapan had turned to Revolution only after the massacre outside the Winter Palace.  He could speak about haymaking, slums and Sunday schools - all subjects in which Lenin's knowledge was deficient.  Lenin was also intrigued by Gapon's slogan 'All the Land to the People'.  Obviously this went far beyond Lenin's demand that the cut-off strips should be restored to the peasants.  But Gapon insited that his own radicalism was justified.  God alone, said the priest, was the land's sole owner and peasants should be helped to rent it.  Needless to add, Lenin rejected the proposal in its religious encasement.  But Lenin drew inspiration from it in political terms.  Lenin was even more impressed when Gapon showed him his open letter to Russia's socialist parties, calling on them to come to an agreement and prepare the armed overthrow of tsarism.  Here was a man of the cloth who understood the practical tasks of the Revolution.  Lenin the militant atheist referred approvingly to Gapon's proposal in the Bolshevik newspaper Vpered."  (Service, Rober.  Lenin: A Biography Massachusetts.  Harvard University Press.  2000.  pg. 167 and 173)

Sorry, pretty long, but perhaps this will help in answering my original question (if there is an answer for it).

Thanks

Shawn
 

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Shawn,

Thank you, that was very interesting... I am sorry if I sounded like I tried to "correct" you - I know that the world is not terribly familiar with those Russian-Ukrainian differences. Not your fault!

I forgot to mention that Vl. Constantine also points at some influence of Tolstoy's disciples on young Fr. Hapon, during his seminary years.

G.
 

copticorthodoxboy

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Heorhij

Thanks for the link.  Seems Vl. Constantine's and Robert Service's views of Fr. Gapon's motives during Bloody Sunday contradict slightly.  I suppose the opinion of Fr. Gapon from an Orthodox perspective, at least from a Ukrainian Orthodox perspective, is a bit negative.

Thanks once more

Shawn
 

Heorhij

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Shawn, you are very welcome. Yes, the ROC archbishop's take on the personality of Fr. Hapon is very negative. Generally, from what I heard from some of my Ukrainian and Russian Orthodox friends (online, not in real life, b/c they are in Ukraine while I live permanently in the US), I understand that it's very common for both the clergy and the laity in these countries to have a very dark view on pretty much everything "left wing," "liberal" in their history. For example, while everyone loves Tolstoy as a writer, his and his followers' social views and especially attempts to reconcile their own version of Christianity with the "enlightenment" of the "oppressed" classes is anathema. On the contrary, everything ultra-conservative, extreme right-wing is highly praised and somewhat romanticized. The Tsar and his family are canonized martyrs. Figures like Pobedonostsev or Purishkevich are heroes. 
 
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