Archbishop Fulton J Sheen: “Russia was Christian for 1000 years ... the philosophy of communism is NOT Russian. It came from the western world...it's very alien to the Russian people"
Editors Note: This is an old video from the American TV program of the famous Catholic bishop, Archbishop Fulton J Sheen. This is not an endorsement of ecumenism by Russian Faith; we don't even agree with everything he says. This video is interesting, however, and we selected it for its cultural value, as he says some things about Russia that might surprise you. He also had the courage to say he is "speaking in defense of the Russian people" at the height of McCarthyism. For that, at the very least, his video deserves a view.
Archbishop Fulton J Sheen was an interesting man, as was anyone brave enough to say these words in his era:
"I confess myself to a deep and profound love for the Russian people"
Sheen was famous for declaring that Stalin's days are numbered a week before Stalin died mysteriously of a stroke, but did you know he was a not-so-secret Russophile?
This video will shock any Russophobe who believes Russia is an unchristian, Communist country, reminding them that Russia had been Christian since 988 A.D. She was Communist for only 37 years at the time, and less than one hundred years after its appearance, Communism would fall.
At the height of McCarthyism, Sheen declared that Communism may be an ideology in Russia, but that doesn’t make it Russian. According to him, Russians themselves are people with hearts and souls, and Communist party members make up less than 3% of the Russian population (then 200 million people).
Moreover, we had a field day seeing him hammer down a fact that we've been screaming about for ages. That fact he so magnificently drives home, is that "communism is not a Russian philosophy" and that it came from the "western world, principally from Germany”.'
Indeed, communism's founder was a German, Karl Marx, who envisioned the philosophy for implementation in Western Europe, not in Holy Russia.
As Sheen explains, communism is not only anti-Russian but very alien to the Russian people; these are a people he openly says he wishes to defend.
He claims, interestingly enough, that every Catholic priest of the time prayed daily for Russia.
I only knew the Russian Church Abroad to do such a thing. He says all this while wearing the cross of a Russian bishop. The cross was brought to him by a friend, and he also claims he serves mass with a Russian chalice. (I admit I feel a bit uneasy about this, especially if the chalice had been used previously in Orthodox divine services, I am horrified by the thought of it being used outside the Church)
However, it is clear from his words that he just wants a Russian cross close to his heart when he speaks about Russia.
Finally, in his program, the Archbishop contrast the beliefs of two giants of their era, communism's founder Marx, and the legendary Dostoyevsky, a Russian writer of profound faith.
Sheen explains how 40 years before WW1, the prophetic Dostoyevsky predicted how moral chaos would lead to the plunging of civil society into mass chaos.
Dostoyevsky's words prove to be eerily true, especially in our times:
"Liberty today means doing whatever you please."
Dostoevsky warned that because men have lost all moral decency, you will find them in the future selling their true freedoms for a tiny bit of security.
Sheen, inspired by Dostoyevsky, compared communist Russia to the man whose daemons were cast into swine by the Lord, which later ran themselves off a cliff, and drowned in the sea.
Personally, I wonder if these daemons possessed porks didn't merely drown, but sailed westward, away from Russia, into a strange new land, to infect it with their poisonous errors.
Nevertheless, Sheen ends his speech with the thunderous words.
"Russia will sit at the feet of Christ and learn His gospel."
This reminds me of the legendary words of Saint John of Kronstadt who said:
"Russians must remember what Rus' (Russia) is. It is the footstool of the Throne of God!"
More About Archbishop Fulton Sheen:
Archbishop Fulton J Sheen was one of the earliest televangelists, hosting a famous show "Life is Worth Living" which ran from 1952 to 1957 and then another show from 1961 to 1968. Though he was Catholic, many orthodox Christians who lived when his show aired told me they've watched it with their parents because there was nothing close to Orthodoxy on television at the time. They did not watch it for the theology, as much as for his interesting understanding of human history from a Christian perspective. While we are not ecumenists, there are many issues and beliefs the Orthodox and Catholic Church share a position on.