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Russian Church official urges reflection on centenary of czar’s murder

The secretary-general of the Russian bishops’ conference urged Catholics to remember the 1918 murder of Czar Nicholas II and his family with “penance and reflection,” while suggesting Catholics could participate in future commemorations.

“The killing of this family was one of the first steps on a path of mass murder, forced labour, religious persecution and genocide which led on through the Stalinist period,” said Mgr Igor Kovalevsky, secretary-general.

“Although not officially engaged in these centenary events, the Catholic Church must do something – so the best is to reflect deeply, in a spirit of penance, on all those tragic times.”

The priest spoke after 100,000 people – led by Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill – attended a pilgrimage and religious observances in Yekaterinburg.

Mgr Kovalevsky said the country’s million-strong Catholic Church had not been involved in past commemorations of the czar and his family, nor in their canonisation by the Orthodox Church.

However, he added that Nicholas II’s murdered entourage had included at least one Catholic, the Latvian-born footman Alexei Yegorovich Trupp, and said he believed members of Yekaterinburg’s Catholic parish had taken part in the 12th to 17th July events.

“We should remember Nicholas II had voluntarily given up his throne the previous year, so it’s more historically accurate to mourn the killing of a family than the death of a czar,” Mgr Kovalevsky told Catholic News Service.

Picture: An Orthodox woman holds a portrait of Czar Nicholas II during a 2012 gathering in Moscow. The secretary-general of the Russian bishops’ conference urged Catholics to remember the 1918 murder of Nicholas II and his family with “penance and reflection,” while suggesting Catholics could participate in future commemorations. (CNS photo/Maxim Shemetov, Reuters).