Q: What is the role of ROCOR today?
A: The same as that of all Russian Orthodox – to remain faithful Imperial Christian clergy and laypeople, in other words, to keep faith with the best of the Christian Empire, Imperial Russia, working for its restoration and guarding the international and missionary approach of its saints like St Seraphim of Sarov, St Innocent of Moscow, St John of Kronstadt, St Nicholas of Japan, the Optina Saints, the martyred Tsar Nicholas II and those with him, St John of Riga, St Seraphim of Vyritsa, Metropolitan Pitirim (Oknov) of Saint Petersburg, of the fathers of ROCOR and above all of our three ROCOR saints, for we are the Church of the Three Saints: St John of Shanghai, St Jonah of Hangchow and St Seraphim of Sofia. However, I also firmly believe that there are many more ROCOR saints who will be revealed.
Q: When you say to keep faith with ‘the best’, I presume you mean that there has also been the ‘worst’?
A: Of course, the good and the bad, the wheat and the chaff, always go together. However, although Judas was indeed among the disciples, he notably failed to become an apostle. Such is the fate of all traitors. Who were the worst? Firstly, for example, some ill-informed say that our task is to restore Russia before the Revolution. This is blindness, for that would mean also restoring the worst from before the Revolution when it was precisely that bad that created the Revolution. Thus, if we restored all that went before, without distinction, we would simply have another Revolution. Therefore we must keep faith only with the best from before.
Secondly, and linked with this, there was in ROCOR, that is, after the Revolution, the presence of right-wing politics and racist nationalism inherited from before the Revolution and as a result elements in ROCOR were corrupted and compromised by Western spy services like the CIA, MI5, the DGSE in France, the BND in Germany and the CSIS in Canada. Such political operatives began from the 1960s on to encourage the infiltration of our part of the Russian Church by schismatic old calendarism. Fortunately, this spirit more or less died out after the Cold War, and by 2001 these fringe elements had at last been defeated by the majority whom they could no longer oppress.
Q: You say the good and the bad always go together. How do you resist such bad or secular influences and yet keep the good, the purity of Holy Orthodoxy? How can the wheat grow alongside the chaff which surely hinders it?
A: We carry on despite those influences that are always worldly, making opportunities out of the chaff, living for the long-term and so for the greater good of the Church, not living narrowly for the short-term, continuing to fight for the Faith. For example, the persecution (the word is not too strong) by several well-known bishops and senior clergy that I met both for the veneration of Western saints and for the New Martyrs and Confessors only spurred me on to promote them. If it had not been for such vigorous opposition, perhaps I would not have insisted so much. Now the same people or their heirs are falling over themselves to venerate them. Bad always withers away and dies, providing that we are patient. The chaff is here today, gone tomorrow. Only the good lasts on Christ’s winnowing floor. It is very important to understand that.
Q: If ROCOR had its problem, what was the problem of the Russian Patriarchal Church?
A: Without a doubt, its problem was renovationism, the rather pathetic, dying vestiges of which still survive here and there, both inside and outside Russia. However, apart from among a few elderly and marginal figures or unconverted intellectuals, these Soviet-period vestiges now mainly live on, outside the Russian Church, in schisms. For instance, there are the dying embers of the Paris group, founded by treasonous decadent aristocrats and freemasons from Saint Petersburg, or groups in Finland and Estonia, the latter of which had been infected by the masonic, Parisian YMCA movement before the Second World War.
This ‘democratic’ renovationism, or ‘Kerenskyism’, so obvious in politicized decisions of the 1917-18 Moscow Council (which, thank God, have never been implemented inside Russia), is in fact just protestantization. It is dismissed by such sterling contemporary hierarchs of the Russian Church inside Russia as Metr Onufry of Kiev, Metr Agafangel of Odessa or Metr Benjamin of Vladivostok, who, with so many others, guard the conscience of the Church today.
Q: There has yet again been talk of a ‘British Orthodox Church’. What do you say?
A: I think this theme has been exhausted. First of all, the word ‘British’ can simply not be used in a Church context. It is the local equivalent of ‘Soviet’, in other words, it defines a purely political myth, a fantasy and delusion. We do not talk of a ‘Soviet Church’, so why do we speak of a ‘British Church?’ Soon, there will be no Britain (UK) or EU left, like the already defunct SU (Soviet Union). The State concept of Britain has had its day and we shall at last move on to profounder things. Churches are named after geographical and spiritual realities, not passing political myths invented by political hacks. We should rather speak of the Church of the Isles.
But, in any case, at present, ‘Britain’ is home to only a tiny number of practising Orthodox, with hardly any infrastructure, without monastic life, even sometimes with an insular, provincial, visionless outlook and living in a kind of Anglican phyletism, and phyletism is always spiritual death, as we can see from all the phyletist parishes in this country that have closed or are closing. Phyletism always puts the State Establishment above the Gospel. Indeed, last year one such ex-Sourozhite convert actually wrote me a letter, vigorously accusing me of putting the Gospel above the Establishment and slating me for that! At present we should be taking the broad view of a Metropolia of Western Europe, which can later develop into a Local Church of Western Europe, not a narrow view of a tiny, insular one.
Q: Who could found such a Metropolia?
A: No Local Church will ever found a Metropolia and future new Local Church in Western Europe, except the Russian Church. For example, of the seven groups that exist in the Diaspora, the four Local Churches of Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria and Georgia are all strictly mononational, with no interest in missionary work and founding new Local Churches. As for phyletist Constantinople, it has never freely given anyone autocephaly: the Russians had to wait for nearly 600 years until they seized it themselves and the Bulgarians had to wait for over a millennium and had to create a schism in order to obtain it! As for the Church of Antioch, the Church of four families, as some Antiochians themselves call it, with its all-Levantine episcopate, it even took back the limited autonomy it once gave its small archdiocese in North America. The Antiochians have an admirable though naive zeal, but you need knowledge as well as zeal. Naivety always ends up in disaster, as we have seen.
Q: What, spiritually, is naivety?
A: It is a lack of spiritual experience and so of spiritual maturity. It is always linked with superficiality and a lack of suffering. Real Orthodox live in the arena, are always ready for martyrdom, and are always persecuted and suffer.
Q: If there were one day to be a Local Church in Western Europe, how do you see it?
A: Clearly, without the arrogant mistakes made in the past by the OCA, for example. Firstly, it would use the Orthodox calendar and not impose the divisive Roman Catholic one (though some exceptions might have to be made for some spiritually weak communities) and would avoid modernism of all sorts, insisting for example on confession before prepared communion, modest dress and head coverings for women, correct services and correct liturgical language. All these are not some ‘local customs’, as mocking and despising modernists would have you believe, but are all integral parts of the Tradition.
Secondly, it would have to avoid esoteric Parisian personality cults, like those seen in England and France, of the sort whose first question is, ‘Have you got a doctorate?’ Thirdly, it would have to avoid the patronizing racist mentality of the type to be found in England, that of anti-spiritual, Anglican Establishment phyletism, which automatically excludes the vast masses of people and only ordains Anglican vicars to the priesthood. In a word, it would have to avoid all the falsehood and superficiality of academic, theoretical, convert Orthodoxy. It would have to be the real thing, showing integrity, which is sadly so rare, yet is the only thing that preserves us from the spiritual disease of modernism. Our aim is to become saints, not fantasists.
Q: What is the present situation in the Ukraine?
A: Although I have not been there since May, my impression is that the situation is largely calm on the surface, but underneath is volcanic. Nothing much may happen until the US elections in November, but then the volcano could well erupt. For example, there is already huge dissatisfaction with the ‘thieves and murderers’ (I quote from graffiti seen in Odessa) of the corrupt Poroshenko regime. This at present only controls the area around Kiev, rather like earlier corrupt Fascist US puppet regimes which controlled only Latin American capitals or capitals like Saigon, Manila, Athens, Pretoria, Kabul or Baghdad, but not the countries themselves.
The rest of the Ukraine is controlled by local oligarchs, the new princes. It seems that the component parts of this artificial conglomerate called the Ukraine are falling apart. Poland, Hungary and Romania are looking on, preparing to take back what Stalin stole from them some 75 years ago. The whole of the east and the south of the so-called Ukraine, over half of the country, stolen from Russia by Lenin in 1922, are also yearning to return to Russia and freedom, as the Crimea has already done. Only Little Russia, the region around Kiev, can survive as an independent entity, creating a country similar in size to Belarus to the north.
But I feel that nothing will happen until the Clinton-Trump contest is over. If Clinton the globalist neocon wins, the agony may well get worse and the war could become terrifying, but if Trump the American nationalist and anti-globalist wins, freedom may yet come.
Q: Are you saying that Trump is good?
A: No. I think we all agree that Trump is something of a clown, a primitive nationalist, aggressive, rude and strident like Jean-Marie Le Pen was in France or Nigel Farage was in England, but even if he is not a Christian, he could on balance still actually be the lesser evil. He may actually have a sense of social justice and is surely a social conservative, whereas Clinton calls abortion a blessing, supports the Fascist banksters and as a globalist and Zionist is preparing the coming of Antichrist. Of course, I don’t know for sure, Trump may or may not be the lesser evil: only people can make up their minds about who is the lesser evil.
Q: What is the greatest threat to the Orthodox Church? Politicians like Clinton or Trump?
A: Of course, not. The greatest threat is not others, but ourselves, our own nominalism, which precisely includes blaming others for our own shortcomings. Most Orthodox, 95%, here or elsewhere, are only nominally Orthodox. For example, in this country, how can you take Orthodox seriously when they are even unable to buy or build their own church-buildings? Academic dreamers who call themselves Orthodox rant on about their theories and fantasies, preaching about the ‘Beauty of Orthodoxy’, but when they are asked where their churches are and where authentic liturgical life can be experienced, they can provide nothing, it is all fictitious, in their heads and imaginations. Academics feed only the fantasy, not the heart, because they have no spiritual food to give.
Q: Given this level of nominalism, how can we not fall into despair?
A: Holy men have prophesied that, if we repent, we will be saved by some event in the East. This may mean China and the neocon war now being threatened against China by the hubris-obsessed Obama government in the South China Sea. But it may mean something else. We shall see. Only one thing is certain, and that is that only repentance leads to salvation.