Monthly Archives: December 2012

La Conferenza di Londra

e il futuro della Chiesa Ortodossa Russa fuori dalla Russia

Introduzione

I venti ierarchi riuniti a Londra per la prima conferenza in assoluto di tutti i vescovi ortodossi russi con diocesi di fuori del territorio canonico della Chiesa Ortodossa Russa avranno senza dubbio molto da discutere su molte e varie questioni. Tuttavia, il semplice fatto che questa storica conferenza storica – ed è storica – abbia luogo, ha prodotto diverse reazioni.

Gli autocefalisti

Prima di tutto, c’è il punto di vista degli “autocefalisti”, che hanno sede negli Stati Uniti (circa 30.000) e in Francia (circa 5.000). Questi sono in genere piuttosto russofobi; l’ostilità è diretta contro tutte le cose ‘russe’. Uno di loro ha recentemente chiamato la Chiesa russa ‘non una madre, ma una cinica matrigna’ (!). Egli ha anche affermato che ci sono oltre 700 parrocchie nella sua Chiesa con tre Metropoliti pensionati – il che significa che ogni ‘parrocchia’ ha, in media, meno di 50 individui. Questi individui sono generalmente filetisti occidentali, vale a dire persone che hanno messo il loro nazionalismo occidentale al di sopra dell’Ortodossia. La maggior parte di questi sono laici con scarsa comprensione di come funziona la Chiesa.

Questa conferenza, che è dominata dai vescovi autonomi della Chiesa ortodossa russa fuori dalla Russia (ROCOR), li rende nervosi. Essi sentono che le chiese ortodosse russe fuori dalla Russia sono ora dominate da ortodossi di tutte le nazionalità che tengono alla Tradizione, che non è ciò che loro, i rinnovatori, vogliono. Vivendo nella ‘comodità’ immaginaria del loro passato della Guerra Fredda, non vogliono che una realtà ortodossa russa multinazionale e multilingue domini la Chiesa. Se solo, dicono, ci fossero ancora l’Unione Sovietica e il centro della Chiesa a quel tempo paralizzato, potremmo andare avanti con le nostre fantasie liturgiche e ideologiche, secolarizzando e protestantizzando la Tradizione ortodossa a nostro capriccio.

I rulli compressori

All’altro estremo ci sono coloro che sono ugualmente filetisti, solo in un altro senso. Questi sono i “Russianisti”. Sono quelli della scuola sovietica dei ‘rulli compressori’, e anch’essi vivono nella ‘comodità’ del loro passato della Guerra Fredda. La loro visione della Chiesa è simile a quella di una brigata di carri armati dell’Armata Rossa in marcia su Berlino. Sono imperialisti e accentratori. Anche di questi la maggior parte è composta da laici con scarsa comprensione di come funziona la Chiesa. Anche loro sono nervosi per questa Conferenza, che è dominata dai vescovi autonomi della Chiesa ortodossa russa fuori dalla Russia (ROCOR).

Sentono che le chiese ortodosse russe fuori dalla Russia sono ora dominate da ortodossi di tutte le nazionalità che tengono alla Tradizione, che non è ciò che loro, i nazionalisti, vogliono. Vivendo nella ‘comodità’ immaginaria del loro passato della Guerra Fredda, non vogliono che una realtà ortodossa russa multinazionale e multilingue domini la Chiesa. Se solo, dicono, ci fosse ancora l’Unione Sovietica, potremmo andare avanti con le nostre fantasie imperialistiche e ideologiche, nazionalizzando la Tradizione ortodossa.

La realtà

Stranamente, o forse non abbastanza stranamente, entrambi i gruppi di cui sopra, sotto minaccia, vogliono che la ROCOR sia ‘assorbita’ o ‘rilevata’ dal Patriarcato a Mosca. Questo è ridicolo. Non accadrà. La cosa molto più probabile è che la parte della Chiesa ortodossa russa, la ROCOR, che per il decreto patriarcale di San Tikhon è stata resa responsabile di tutti gli ortodossi russi al di fuori delle terre russe 92 anni fa, assorbirà e rileverà le parrocchie della Chiesa Ortodossa Russa che sono ancora direttamente dipendenti da Mosca. La situazione attuale è dopo tutto anormale. Chiaramente, la ROCOR non ha parrocchie nelle terre russe, perché allora tutte le parrocchie ortodosse russe sul territorio della ROCOR non sono nella sua giurisdizione? Il fatto della loro esistenza è un’aberrazione storica, un retaggio del passato.

La ROCOR esiste a causa della leale confessione di fede di generazioni di emigrati russi fuggiti dall’Unione Sovietica. È solo giusto che la loro fedeltà sia riconosciuta da tutte le chiese della Chiesa Ortodossa Russa al di fuori del territorio canonico ortodosso russo, con il loro ritorno a casa, sotto lo stesso tetto, nella ROCOR. Qui non c’è umiliazione per nessuno, solo un riconoscimento della realtà. Non si può essere ortodossi russi fuori dalla Russia e non appartenere alla ROCOR. Non ha alcun senso pratico o canonico. Questo era in effetti il ​​suggerimento del presidente Putin nella sua visita al Sinodo della ROCOR a New York nel 2003. Se tale evento si verifica, potrebbe anche significare che la ROCOR sarà ristrutturata, con almeno tre Metropolie (l’Europa occidentale, l’Oceania e le Americhe), in un ritorno alla sua struttura di distretti metropolitani precedente al 1945.

Conclusione

Può essere che Dio abbia per noi intenzioni diverse da quelle descritte qui sopra. Può essere che tutto ciò avvenga, ma solo molti anni in futuro. Nessuno sa cosa accadrà alla Conferenza dei gerarchi ortodossi russi a Londra. Questo è normale per qualsiasi riunione della Chiesa, perché noi attendiamo di essere mossi dallo Spirito Santo, non dall’immaginazione degli uomini. C’è solo una cosa che speriamo e per cui preghiamo per questa Conferenza – che sia fatta la volontà di Dio.

Arciprete Andrew Phillips
Londra

Santa Martire Caritina
Santi Ierarchi di Mosca
5/18 ottobre 2012

Savile and the Forest Fire

There has been a profound silence on the part of Christians in the UK about the Savile scandal. There is little doubt that the Roman Catholic world, to which Savile belonged, finds it difficult to say anything. This is because it has been so seriously compromised by its own very many paedophile priests and the cover-ups by their bishops, many of whom themselves have been involved. A visit to the Vatican and a brief examination of its frescoes would suggest that the popes responsible for them were themselves paedophiles. Certainly, the homosexuality of many Renaissance painters, some of them clergy, is an established fact. Such have been the sad results of compulsory priestly celibacy, as imposed by popes from the end of the 11th century on.

Strangely enough, the Church of England, in which clergy can actually marry, also seems to have fallen silent. This is perhaps because parts of it have also been compromised by paedophile and other sexual scandals, especially in its High Church and public school wings. Public schools with their false Puritanism (there is nothing as hypocritical as Puritanism) have always been a stereotypical bastion for sexual perversion. And therefore the whole Establishment, of which the BBC is an integral part, is affected. Is this why the Savile affair was hushed up for so many decades?

What can we as Orthodox Christians, who appear to come from another planet, certainly from another civilisation, say?

Perhaps the first comment we can make is that the human reproductive instinct, the instinct for survival, is natural, it is God-given. However, outside the Church that instinct has always been perverted, as can be seen from the history of Hinduism and other Non-Christian religions. This can also be seen in all pagan societies, among barbarians, most notoriously among the pagan Romans and Greeks. A visit to Pompeii or a brief study of pagan Roman and Greek history will confirm this. Only in the Church has the sexual instinct been channelled into constructive family life. Church Tradition has been based on this.

With the rejection of the Church’s channelling of sexuality into family life from the 1960s on and the subsequent wave of neo-paganism that has virtually taken over Western societies as a result, those societies have become deregulated and disordered. Sexual licence and pornography, including homosexual practice, have become the norm in ‘the permissive society’. And so, consequently, have abortion, single parents and rape. For the last fifty years sex has been commercialised and sexual practice has been spread into all age groups. Most revoltingly, after the legalisation of homosexuality, paedophilia and other disgusting perversions became widespread, as children were sexualised. Sex ‘education’ in schools has become the norm. As one correspondent has put it:

‘Sex education in many schools promotes all kinds of sexual activity, even to primary school children. One lesson I overheard given to 12 year-old girls told them how to stimulate their sexual parts. Now no-one listens to protests that such programmes rob young children of their childhood. Many now tolerate child sexual activity. Even some senior police officers are reluctant to enforce the age of consent, because they no longer see 14 or 15-year-olds as children needing protection. Even much younger children are targeted by sexually explicit pop lyrics, magazine articles, cosmetics and tarty clothes. Treated as sexualised mini-adults, they behave accordingly’.

More hypocritically, many of the current critics of Savile themselves encouraged the liberalisation of sexual practice and even paedophilia. One of them, the feminist Blairite ex-Minister Harriet Harman, has recently said that Savile is ‘a stain on the BBC’. And yet ‘one or two of the most outspoken critics in Parliament were in 1978 prominent members of The National Council for Civil Liberties – known today as Liberty. The Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) affiliated itself to the NCCL; the former organisation- whose members were reportedly attracted to boys and girls and set out to make paedophilia respectable.

It campaigned to reduce the age of consent and resist controls on child pornography. Until it excluded PIE in 1983, the NCCL thus backed this agenda of child abuse.

Even before PIE was affiliated to it, the NCCL was campaigning to liberalise paedophilia and reduce the age of sexual consent to 14. In 1976, the NCCL argued ‘childhood sexual experiences, willingly engaged in with an adult, result in no identifiable damage’.

And in 1977 it said: ‘NCCL has no policy on [PIE’s] aims, other than the evidence that children are harmed if, after a mutual relationship with an adult, they are exposed to the attentions of the police, press and court’.

The great cover-up is now being uncovered. The activities of members of the Establishment, from narcissistic ‘media personalities’ to politicians, from ‘pop stars’ to businessmen, are now being uncovered. After the ‘feast’ comes the reckoning. Countless ‘personalities’ are now being exposed. The lesson is that we reject the 2,000 year experience of the Church at our peril. This is a forest fire. The human sexual instinct is a fire. If it is not contained, it causes untold destruction – whole forests are burned down. If it is contained, then it can be creatively sublimated and we can live a regulated, ordered life, with much artistic and family creativity. The 1960s played with fire; now society has to put out that fire. Very sadly, it is doubtful if it has the humility and courage to admit its mistakes and do so.

Patriarch Kyrill warns Russian Government against Unpopular Policies

Today, Saturday 3 November, the eve of Russia’s Day of National Unity, the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kyrill has urged Russians to keep faith with their own traditions. He cautioned that recipes for so-called ‘modernisation’ (1) and other Western meddling (2) could result in political turmoil.

In a clear warning to the present Putin Government, under which post-Communist corruption has multiplied, Patriarch Kyrill said that blindly following Western models and forgetting the country’s Christian roots could lead to a new ‘Time of Troubles’. This refers to the 400th anniversary of Russia’s liberation from Polish intervention in 1612, the ‘Time of Troubles’, a crisis ended only with the establishment of the Romanov dynasty in 1613.

‘We should first and foremost take care not to allow a ‘Time of Trouble’ in the mind, in the head, because today there are people who, like Moscow’s oligarchs, offer unacceptable recipes to modernise our life and improve living conditions for our people’, said the Patriarch, speaking on the weekly religious programme on the country’s most popular television channel.

The Patriarch did not name any names, but his message shows open hostility to the promotion of Western secular values by the present Government, as also opposed by all of Russia’s three largest Opposition parties (3). He added that Russians should learn from the country’s past and not make the same mistake twice by allowing foreigners to take control of Russia. After the Time of Troubles ended, he said, ‘Russia had a new lease of life, there was a huge, colossal development of national life, the economy, the government and the development of new lands’.

Commentary:

The Patriarch wants an end to the last twenty years of Westernisation that began under Yeltsin after the fall of Communism. This has only brought alcoholism, abortion, corruption, drug-taking, the end to free medical services, affordable accommodation and employment for all and what was probably the best educational system in the world – this latter the heritage of pre-Revolutionary Russia. The Patriarch, like many others, is looking beyond the tired Putin period. Russia can do better than Putin – by returning to Orthodox Christian values.

Notes:
1. = Anti-Christianity.

2. As in Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, Bahrein, Lybia and Syria.

3. It is notable that this comes on the same day that the British tabloid ‘The Daily Mail’ has reported what many suspected all along. This is that responsibility for the London murder of the Russian secret agent, Litvinenko, in November 2006 may lie with the billionaire, pro-Western oligarch Boris Berezovsky and the British Secret Services.

Rue Daru: The End-Game

Tragically, two fragments of the Russian Orthodox Church in the emigration have still not joined the reunited Russian Orthodox Church. Her recovered unity came into being in 2007, when the Patriarchal Church inside Russia finally accepted all the conditions set it by the multinational Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR). Since that time, over five years ago, the reunited Church has gone from strength to strength, whereas the two disunited fragments, isolated from their spiritual roots, have suffered profound internal troubles and dissension.

One of the fragments, called the OCA and based in North America, has gone from one financial and moral scandal to another and has sacked two Metropolitans within that time. Its behaviour, akin to that of a secular US corporation and not to a Church, has astounded the Orthodox world. The other émigré fragment, the Paris Exarchate, based in Rue Daru in Paris, has for over twenty years been deeply divided. Like the OCA, only even smaller, it has been riven by Russophobic Western nationalism and has desperately sought to survive in its schizophrenic, self-imposed isolation.

This Paris split resembles very closely that undergone by the Sourozh Diocese in Great Britain (though outside Russia, strangely enough in the jurisdiction of the Church inside Russia). The ignoring by the Sourozh bishop and clerical and convert elite of the wishes of the trampled faithful for 25 years, resulted in 2006 in a tragic schism. In this schism, 300 mainly ex-Anglican dissidents, including their bishop, left the Russian Church and its tens of thousands of faithful in Great Britain and transferred themselves to Rue Daru. Their motivation was their inability to accept Orthodoxy, wanting instead a Protestant-style sect.

Now we are seeing the same thing again in Rue Daru. The story here is that five members of the 12-strong Diocesan Council of the Paris Exarchate, at present under the Patriarchate of Constantinople, have fallen into disagreement with their own Archbishop Gabriel. The group of five (Deacon Ioann Drobot, Karin Wothe, Basil Tiesenhausen Victor Lupan, Vadim Tichonicky), backed by many of the faithful, have even filed a lawsuit against him, the only bishop of their grouping. This extraordinary action on the part of these well-respected and long-standing members of the Church has been motivated by a profound disagreement.

This disagreement has been going on for decades. The turning-point was undoubtedly the 1988 celebration of the Thousand Years of the Baptism of Russia. Then the Rue Daru authorities turned their backs on the Russian Church and the trampled faithful, preferring instead a celebration together with the Catholic Church, of which we are eyewitnesses. Superficially, the tragic dispute has come about because Archbishop Gabriel is ill with cancer and so has not appointed a warden for the Rue Daru Cathedral. However, in reality, the problem is the underlying very deep split between two groups.

The first group consists of the ever-growing multinational group in the Exarchate who are faithful to Orthodox Christian Tradition and want to return to the reunited Mother-Church. The second group consists of French-speaking modernists who wish to remain in the Patriarchate of Constantinople, where they are free to continue to introduce modernistic innovations. The inaction of Archbishop Gabriel, whether through illness or otherwise, strangely resembles the situation of the Sourozh Diocese, where the governing elite had for 25 years also ignored the heartfelt protest of the multinational grassroots.

Twenty-one years after the fall of Communism and five years after the Patriarchal Church inside Russia finally reunited with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), this tragedy is now unfolding in Paris. It comes at the same time as in North America the OCA is about to elect yet another Metropolitan (there are now three who have been sacked) to lead it. It would seem that both these fragments of the emigration need our urgent prayers, that they may split no more and at last seek the cement of the Mother-Church before it is too late and they are assimilated and disappear into the Non-Orthodox mass.

Archpriest Andrew Phillips,

Colchester, England

23 October / 5 November 2012

Holy Apostle James

On the Second Vatican Council

Introduction: ‘We Have Lost Western Europe’

‘We have lost Western Europe’. These were the words that a senior Catholic layman said to me last week as we discussed organising the arrival in England of the Czestochowa Icon of the Most Holy Mother of God and its visit to the London Cathedral of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. His words are not exact, for Catholicism has lost not only Western Europe, but also North America and Australia.

The fact is that Catholicism in Africa, Asia, Latin America, let alone in Catholic Eastern Europe, is a very different sort of Catholicism from elsewhere. It is a sacral Christianity that values and respects the sense of the sacred – a Catholicism in other words far closer to the Christianity of the Orthodox Church than any other type of Catholicism. I know this as a Russian Orthodox priest, for on a weekly basis I meet Catholic Poles, Italians and Lithuanians who come to me and tell me that they want to come to our Church, because ‘Catholic churches in England are no good. They are Protestants’. Not my words, but theirs.

A Sad Fiftieth Anniversary

Most Catholics in Western Europe today are lapsed. It is an extreme rarity to find any Catholics, including practising ones, who agree with the official policies of their Church. There is no doubt that the Second Vatican Council that opened fifty years ago in Rome is in part responsible. Perhaps in great part. Certainly it led to the protestantisation of the vestiges of the Orthodox Christian Tradition of the first millennium, still kept by the then Catholic world, by introducing the desacralising rationalism and humanism of the Northern Protestant world.

Twenty years ago in France, where I then lived, a senior Catholic priest spoke to me of the effects of that Council, saying: ‘We created all the sects’. He was referring to the explosion of exotic sects in France since the 1960s. He blamed his own Church for this; the fact that the new Catholicism had removed all sense of mystery and the sacred from its services, demystifying the Church and no longer satisfying the spiritual needs of the people, was for him responsible for the disaffection of the masses and their absorption into all manners of sects, often founded by dangerous charlatans.

The Errors of the Council

We can see this clearly if we look at areas of change and unchangingness as a result of the Second Vatican Council. As regards change, the great change was in ‘the Mass’. Latin was replaced by local languages. This seems good in principle, but when we look in reality, we see that it was a disaster. You do not exchange something for something worse, but for something better. In other words, the vernacular translations were often vapid, spiritually uninspired. And once Latin was replaced, so a whole liturgical, cultural and musical tradition was also jettisoned – and not replaced. The whole feeling of the Mass changed, illustrated, for example, by the fact that Catholic priests no longer faced God, but turned to face the people, as though worshipping them and not Him.

For many, clergy included, the Catholic Eucharist became, as in Protestantism, a mere commemoration of bread and wine – or rather of biscuit-like hosts. Received in the hand, distributed by laypeople, crumbs swept away into bins, without any meaningful fast beforehand, without confession (now called ‘reconciliation’) beforehand, the Eucharist lost any remaining sacral reality. The same attitude was taken towards the Virgin Mary, relics, the priesthood and a multitude of practices of Catholic piety. Though most of these relatively recent practices were alien to ancient Orthodoxy, they at least represented popular piety – and they were not replaced. They were lost.

What Should Have Changed – and Did Not

As regards unchangingness, the first error was surely keeping Papal centralisation and infallibility – despite all the verbiage about promoting Local Churches. As regards birth control, there was another tactical error. To keep the ideal of no artificial contraception is good, but why make this into what many outside Catholicism now view as its central tenet? And what of pastoral economy or dispensation? The rigid dogmatism of this policy lost Catholicism hundreds of millions and made at a stroke almost all its married couples into hypocrites. Worse still. This policy was to be implemented by a priesthood on whom celibacy was enforced. Tens of thousands gave up the priesthood as a result and at the same time feminist revolt was ensured.

This also guaranteed that a large number of homosexuals and pedophiles were drawn into the Catholic priesthood – in Ireland the figure in a much depleted priesthood is said to be 25%. This was already hypocrisy, since for centuries Catholicism had allowed a married priesthood for its Uniats and today allows a married priesthood for its ex-Anglican Ordinariate. It was even more hypocrisy in Africa and Latin America (not to mention France, Italy, Spain and Portugal), where many priests are in reality married and have families – and always have been. But the main result of compulsory celibacy for the Catholic priesthood is simply a chronic lack of priests and hosts distributed by laypeople.

Conclusion: The Baby and the Bathwater

By the early 1960s a Roman Catholic Council was needed – if only to attempt to shake off the vestiges of Fascism, with which Catholicism had so cruelly compromised itself during and after the Second World War – not least in Croatia. However, it has often been said by Catholics themselves that the Second Vatican Council threw out the baby (the essentials) with the bathwater (the non-esssentials). But not even this is not true. The Second Council threw out the baby BUT KEPT the bathwater. More exactly, the Second Vatican Council threw out the remaining traditions of the Orthodox Christian First Millennium and kept the inessentials of its semi-secular Second Millennium.

The present ‘celebrations’ of the Council in the Vatican by a Pope who supported the changes then but regrets them now, are highly symbolic. Many have called for a Third Vatican Council. However, this means two different things. Some want a Third Council that will sweep away any heritage that remains and fully desacralise, rationalise and humanise Catholicism. Others want to restore the old-fashioned Catholicism and its Latin Mass, taking it back to the past before the Council. Neither is the solution. Let him who has ears hear.

Archpriest Andrew Phillips,
London

4/17 October 2012

On the Future Archbishop of Canterbury

Like many others in this country, I am the same age and nationality as Justin Welby, the new Archbishop of Canterbury. Unlike many others, but like him, I had six children, lived in Paris and attempt to serve Christ. At this point, resemblances cease. Cynics say that the future Archbishop has been chosen by the Prime Minister’s office merely because he went to the Establishment school of Eton – like the Prime Minister himself. This seems grossly unfair.

The two pronouncements made by the future Archbishop do not necessarily set him apart as negative in Orthodox eyes. One is his opposition to homophobia, but at the same time his firm opposition to homosexual ‘marriage’. With this we can agree. The other is his approval of female bishops. Of course, female bishops are unthinkable, in fact laughable, in our Orthodox Church context, but if we step outside our Church, we can see the logic in the Anglican scheme of things.

Anglican doctrine was written largely by a woman, Elizabeth I, is headed by a woman, Elizabeth II, and Anglicans do not, for the vast majority, believe in sacraments or, sometimes, have even heard of them. In a religious institution in which male and female ministers are basically social workers, there is no reason why there should not be female ‘bishops’. Without a theological understanding of sacraments, priesthood and episcopate, without Orthodox Church Tradition, the only reason for resistance to a female episcopate must be misogyny. Anglicans who are opposed to a female episcopate should have joined the Roman Catholic world when a female ministry was introduced into their Church in the last century.

The future Archbishop is clearly a Protestant, an Evangelical, like the vast majority in the Church of England. In this he is different from his predecessor, a liberal academic who had difficulty dealing with reality. We wish him well. We only hope that he may evolve towards a deeper understanding of Christianity, towards the fifteen centuries of the Church which lie beyond the Reformation, towards an understanding of the still living Biblical, Apostolic and Patristic Church, of sacramental life, the Mother of God, the communion of the saints and holiness through the Holy Spirit. May he be guided in this by St Justus, Archbishop of Canterbury (+ 627), whose feast day it is this very day.

Archpriest Andrew Phillips,

Colchester

10 November 2012