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Stalin Could Have Become A Good Russian Orthodox Bishop, Moscow Patriarchate Says – OpEd


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 ( and (

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.”

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Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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