The Repentance of Dudko, 20 June 1980 (57.8)

<<No 57 : 3 August 1980>>

Father Dmitry DUDKO was arrested on 15 January 1980 (CCE 56).

On 20 June, his “statement of repentance” was broadcast on television. On 21 June, a similar statement was published in the Moscow evening issue of Izvestiya:

“… At first, I denied my guilt and stated that I had never spoken out against the Soviet system, but that as a priest I struggled against godlessness. Afterwards I realized that I had been arrested not for believing in God, but for a crime.

“I continued further and further in my reflections and remembered what I had written and published abroad. I was especially distressed by the contents of my books and articles. I felt embarrassed when I remembered the anti-Soviet expressions and slander, they contained; I blushed, I was upset, I felt guilty…. Repent, then!

“I went further and further, recalling step by step what I had done. Finally, look and see which of your works the West is printing most keenly, which it is attempting to broadcast over the radio? Take your pastoral newspaper In the Light of the Transfiguration. Every time it’s the passages defaming our country. And the newspaper also contains unchecked material.

“I saw that I had succumbed to the message of those voices of propaganda whose aim is to undermine our system and had not seen what is in fact being done in our country for tine; welfare of the people.

“Moreover, while considering myself a member of the Russian Orthodox Church, I refused to walk in step with her, forgetting that our Church is doing precisely what she needs to.

“I renounce what I have done and consider my so-called struggle against godlessness to have been a struggle against the Soviet system.

“My activities assumed an even more anti-Soviet character because they were at first fomented, then in essence also directed, from abroad. Slanderous materials received from me by the New York Times newspaper correspondent C. Wren, the American Professor A. R. Nebolsine, Archbishop Vasily of Brussels and Belgium and other foreign citizens were used in hostile propaganda against our State. I had never been an admirer of foreign countries, and I am now convinced that foreigners who interfere in our internal affairs bring us nothing but harm.

“I wish to state also that I renounce the slanderous books and articles I have produced, and as their author I forbid future publication of them.”

*

Father Dmitry Dudko, 1922-2004

On 21 June 1980, Father Dmitry was released from the Lefortovo KGB Investigations Prison; however, the investigation of his case continues. On 24 June Dudko issued a “Statement for the Western Press”:

“I have been made into a political figure, I have been used as a pawn, I can see that clearly … Now I have given up everything reminiscent of politics. As I stated to the Soviet press, ! want to engage only in religious work, as a faithful son of the Church and the fatherland. Leave me alone, do not keep dragging me into any politics of any kind; I am only an Orthodox priest, moreover in the land of Russia which — this I stress — I must be concerned for…

“I have not betrayed my faith at all: I remain faithful to God and to the Church; I love my poor Russian people, against whom such a spiteful campaign has arisen all over the world. I do not close my eyes to the fact that there are shortcomings, but f must grieve over them, not exaggerate them.

“I repeat: Dudko is not a political activist, but an Orthodox priest in the land of Russia …”

At the same time Dudko informed his Western publishers that he was not renouncing his books and requested them to publish till the manuscripts in their possession. The investigators asked Dudko to leave Moscow immediately; he went to a village in Tula Region.

*

On 7 July Marina Lepeshinskaya sent a letter to the KGB:

“To all concerned with the case of Father D. Dudko.

“I, Marina Yuryevna Lepeshinskaya, charge the State Security organs with the murder of my spiritual father, Dmitry Sergeyevich Dudko.

“After keeping an elderly man, exhausted by suffering, in a cell for half a year, with despicable cunning you violated his will and forced him to sign a false testimony.”

On the same day she issued a “Statement for the Press”:

“The day after the televised humiliation our dear Father, wearing a suit specially tailored for this masquerade, was led out of Lefortovo Prison …

“I ask everyone not to believe a single word! Remember that anything said under threat of prison, camp or even — they will not shrink from this! — execution by shooting, has no legal validity, not to mention moral validity. Any shameful farce to which they are willing to subject my unfortunate spiritual father can only inspire disgust with his aggressors, who spare nothing for the sake of a momentary political victory and force a priest to make a hideous recantation and statements which do not contain a shadow or the slightest trace of truth.”

*

On 27 July 1980, Father Dmitry Dudko issued the following statement:

To all my Spiritual Children

“My dear spiritual children … I cannot forgive myself for being so faint-hearted. My heart is torn with grief at the sight of your confusion, amazement and division, and on hearing all these false rumours. I cannot help shuddering when I envisage how I appeared in front of the whole world, and what temptation ! imposed on people, and how I disarmed the hearts I had previously armed. I prostrate myself before you and ask you to forgive me …

“Now more than ever, we must unite in the face of danger. lt is not only your spiritual father who is being tried by the KGB organs or anyone else — it is the Russian Orthodox Church that is on trial …”

At the same time, he wrote to Archbishop Vasily of Brussels:

“… It would have given me the greatest joy to have withstood the attack of the enemies of the Church, but I was reduced by them to ashes, and what was worse, I besmirched your holy name. I have no excuse to give you; but then there is no excuse at all for me.

“If anyone had told me that I would behave in such a way, I would have considered it slander. But now it is clear that I overestimated my strength; I have fallen lower than anyone else. I have never before experienced such torment as I feel now. I understand from my own experience what Hell is. Now I am prepared to do anything to make amends, but I have not yet thought of a way.”