By Paul Goble
Joseph Stalin “could have become a good church leader if he had finished seminary and not left the church, according to Archpriest Maksim Kozlov, the chairman of the education committee of the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church (business-gazeta.ru/article/452618 and (patriarchia.ru/db/text/5559900.html).
Stalin “has the ability for administration and the global vision needed for the adoption of strategic decisions. If this individual in his time had not departed from the Christian tradition (or if he had not been driven from it), then these abilities … could have been combined with evangelical morality and recognition of the need for mercy and forgiveness.”
Had that occurred, the archpriest continues, “Stalin might have become a very good leader both of the church and of the state.” He clearly had “the potential” for “great growth.” The future Soviet dictator simply needed to be guided in the correct direction by others better versed in the Orthodox Christian tradition.
Kozlov’s observation came in response to a question about a recent book by Denis Dragunsky, The Architect and the Monk, in which the writer proposed an alternative history in which Hitler became an architect and Stalin a bishop of the church.
That book suggested, Kozlov says, that “Stalin could have become a not bad church hierarch.”