Monthly Archives: August 2013

Syria: Another Western War Crime In The Making

http://ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2013/august/27/syria-another-western-war-crime-in-the-making.aspx

Syria: Another Western War Crime In The Making
Tuesday August 27, 2013
Refuse To Fight

The war criminals in Washington and other Western capitals are determined to maintain their lie that the Syrian government used chemical weapons. Having failed in efforts to intimidate the UN chemical inspectors in Syria, Washington has demanded that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon withdraw the chemical weapons inspectors before they can assess the evidence and make their report. The UN Secretary General stood up to the Washington war criminals and rejected their demand. However, as with Iraq, Washington’s decision to commit aggression against Syria is not based on any facts.

The US and UK governments have revealed none of the “conclusive evidence” they claim to have that the Syrian government used chemical weapons. Listening to their voices, observing their body language, and looking into their eyes, it is completely obvious that John Kerry and his British and German puppets are lying through their teeth. This is a far more shameful situation than the massive lies that former Secretary of State Colin Powell told the UN about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Colin Powell claims that he was deceived by the White House and did not know that he was lying. Kerry and the British, French, and German puppets know full well that they are lying.

The face that the West presents to the world is the brazen face of a liar.

Washington and its British and French puppet governments are poised to yet again reveal their criminality. The image of the West as War Criminal is not a propaganda image created by the West’s enemies, but the portrait that the West has painted of itself.

The UK Independent reports that over this past week-end Obama, Cameron, and Hollande agreed to launch cruise missile attacks against the Syrian government within two weeks despite the lack of any authorization from the UN and despite the absence of any evidence in behalf of Washington’s claim that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against the Washington-backed “rebels”, largely US supported external forces, seeking to overthrow the Syrian government.

Indeed, one reason for the rush to war is to prevent the UN inspection that Washington knows would disprove its claim and possibly implicate Washington in the false flag attack by the “rebels,” who assembled a large number of children into one area to be chemically murdered with the blame pinned by Washington on the Syrian government.

Another reason for the rush to war is that Cameron, the UK prime minister, wants to get the war going before the British parliament can block him for providing cover for Obama’s war crimes the way that Tony Blair provided cover for George W. Bush, for which Blair was duly rewarded. What does Cameron care about Syrian lives when he can leave office into the waiting arms of a $50 million fortune.

The Syrian government, knowing that it is not responsible for the chemical weapons incident, has agreed for the UN to send in chemical inspectors to determine the substance used and the method of delivery. However, Washington has declared that it is “too late” for UN inspectors and that Washington accepts the self-serving claim of the al Qaeda affiliated “rebels” that the Syrian government attacked civilians with chemical weapons.

In an attempt to prevent the UN chemical inspectors who arrived on the scene from doing their work, the inspectors were fired upon by snipers in “rebel” held territory and forced off site, although a later report from RT says the inspectors have returned to the site to conduct their inspection.

The corrupt British government has declared that Syria can be attacked without UN authorization, just as Serbia and Libya were militarily attacked without UN authorization. In other words, the Western democracies have already established precedents for violating international law. “International law? We don’t need no stinking international law!” The West knows only one rule: Might is Right. As long as the West has the Might, the West has the Right.

In a response to the news report that the US, UK, and France are preparing to attack Syria, the Russian Foreign Minister, Lavrov, said that such unilateral action is a “severe violation of international law,” and that the violation was not only a legal one but also an ethical and moral violation. Lavrov referred to the lies and deception used by the West to justify its grave violations of international law in military attacks on Serbia, Iraq, and Libya and how the US government used preemptive moves to undermine every hope for peaceful settlements in Iraq, Libya, and Syria.

Once again Washington has preempted any hope of peaceful settlement. By announcing the forthcoming attack, the US destroyed any incentive for the “rebels” to participate in the peace talks with the Syrian government. On the verge of these talks taking place, the “rebels” now have no incentive to participate as the West’s military is coming to their aid.

In his press conference Lavrov spoke of how the ruling parties in the US, UK, and France stir up emotions among poorly informed people that, once aroused, have to be satisfied by war. This, of course, is the way the US manipulated the public in order to attack Afghanistan and Iraq. But the American public is tired of the wars, the goal of which is never made clear, and has grown suspicious of the government’s justifications for more wars.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll finds that “Americans strongly oppose U.S. intervention in Syria’s civil war and believe Washington should stay out of the conflict even if reports that Syria’s government used deadly chemicals to attack civilians are confirmed.” However, Obama could not care less that only 9 percent of the public supports his warmongering. As former president Jimmy Carter recently stated, “America has no functioning democracy.” It has a police state in which the executive branch has placed itself above all law and the Constitution.

This police state is now going to commit yet another Nazi-style war crime of unprovoked aggression. At Nuremberg the Nazis were sentenced to death for precisely the identical actions being committed by Obama, Cameron, and Hollande. The West is banking on might, not right, to keep it out of the criminal dock.

The US, UK, and French governments have not explained why it matters whether people in the wars initiated by the West are killed by explosives made of depleted uranium or with chemical agents or any other weapon. It was obvious from the beginning that Obama was setting up the Syrian government for attack. Obama demonized chemical weapons–but not nuclear “bunker busters” that the US might use on Iran. Then Obama drew a red line, saying that the use of chemical weapons by the Syrians was such a great crime that the West would be obliged to attack Syria. Washington’s UK puppets, William Hague and Cameron, have just repeated this nonsensical claim. The final step in the frame-up was to orchestrate a chemical incident and blame the Syrian government.

What is the West’s real agenda? This is the unasked and unanswered question. Clearly, the US, UK, and French governments, which have displayed continuously their support for dictatorial regimes that serve their purposes, are not the least disturbed by dictatorships. They brand Assad a dictator as a means of demonizing him for the ill-informed Western masses. But Washington, UK, and France support any number of dictatorial regimes, such as the ones in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and now the military dictatorship in Egypt that is ruthlessly killing Egyptians without any Western government speaking of invading Egypt for “killing its own people.”

Clearly also, the forthcoming Western attack on Syria has nothing whatsoever to do with bringing “freedom and democracy” to Syria any more than freedom and democracy were reasons for the attacks on Iraq and Libya, neither of which gained any “freedom and democracy.”

The Western attack on Syria is unrelated to human rights, justice or any of the high sounding causes with which the West cloaks its criminality.

The Western media, and least of all the American presstitutes, never ask Obama, Cameron, or Hollande what the real agenda is. It is difficult to believe than any reporter is sufficiently stupid or gullible to believe that the agenda is bringing “freedom and democracy” to Syria or punishing Assad for allegedly using chemical weapons against murderous thugs trying to overthrow the Syrian government.

Of course, the question wouldn’t be answered if asked. But the act of asking it would help make the public aware that more is afoot than meets the eye. Originally, the excuse for Washington’s wars was to keep Americans safe from terrorists. Now Washington is endeavoring to turn Syria over to jihad terrorists by helping them to overthrow the secular, non-terrorist Assad government. What is the agenda behind Washington’s support of terrorism?

Perhaps the purpose of the wars is to radicalize Muslims and, thereby, destabilize Russia and even China. Russia has large populations of Muslims and is bordered by Muslim countries. Even China has some Muslim population. As radicalization spreads strife into the only two countries capable of being an obstacle to Washington’s world hegemony, Western media propaganda and the large number of US financed NGOs, posing as “human rights” organizations, can be counted on by Washington to demonize the Russian and Chinese governments for harsh measures against “rebels.”

Another advantage of the radicalization of Muslims is that it leaves former Muslim countries in long-term turmoil or civil wars, as is currently the case in Iraq and Libya, thus removing any organized state power from obstructing Israeli purposes.

Secretary of State John Kerry is working the phones using bribes and threats to build acceptance, if not support, for Washington’s war crime-in-the-making against Syria.

Washington is driving the world closer to nuclear war than it ever was even in the most dangerous periods of the Cold War. When Washington finishes with Syria, the next target is Iran. Russia and China will no longer be able to fool themselves that there is any system of international law or restraint on Western criminality. Western aggression is already forcing both countries to develop their strategic nuclear forces and to curtail the Western-financed NGOs that pose as “human rights organizations,” but in reality comprise a fifth column that Washington can use to destroy the legitimacy of the Russian and Chinese governments.

Russia and China have been extremely careless in their dealings with the United States. Essentially, the Russian political opposition is financed by Washington. Even the Chinese government is being undermined. When a US corporation opens a company in China, it creates a Chinese board on which are put relatives of the local political authorities. These boards create a conduit for payments that influence the decisions and loyalties of local and regional party members. The US has penetrated Chinese universities and intellectual attitudes. The Rockefeller University is active in China as is Rockefeller philanthropy. Dissenting voices are being created that are arrayed against the Chinese government. Demands for “liberalization” can resurrect regional and ethnic differences and undermine the cohesiveness of the national government.

Once Russia and China realize that they are riven with American fifth columns, isolated diplomatically, and outgunned militarily, nuclear weapons become the only guarantor of their sovereignty. This suggests that nuclear war is likely to terminate humanity well before humanity succumbs to global warming or rising national debts.

Flickr/Alan Denney
Tags – Syria
Written by Paul Craig Roberts

An Official Russian Orthodox View on Syria

Speaking to AsiaNews, Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev of Volokolamsk, head of the Russian Orthodox Foreign Affairs Department, condemned threats of NATO intervention without a UN mandate. As a Western military intervention against the Syrian government appears increasingly likely, He expressed “strong concern” about possible developments of the crisis, following unproven American charges that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against civilians. (Other sources suggest that the sarin gas employed was provided to the terrorists by a nearby foreign power). Metropolitan Hilarion said, “Once again, as was the case in Iraq, the USA is acting as an international executioner”. Speaking to AsiaNews, he strongly criticised the American position, calling it “completely one-sided”. He went on to say, “Without the endorsement of the UN, they want to decide the fate of a whole country of millions of inhabitants. Once again, they’ll sacrifice thousands of lives on the altar of an imaginary democracy; first of all, Christians, about whose fate no one cares. They’re at risk of becoming hostages to the situation and the main victims of radical extremist forces, who, with the help of the USA, will come to power. The international community must do everything to avoid events developing in this direction”.

27 August 2013

AsiaNews

The Future of the Multinational Russian Church and Repentance

The greatest crime committed in relation to the Sovereign must be erased by ardent veneration for him and the glorification of his feat. The Russian Lands must bow down before the humiliated, the slandered and the martyred…Then the Tsar-Passion-Bearer will be granted great audaciousness before God and his prayer will save the Russian land from the misfortunes that are borne by it. Then the Tsar-Martyr and those who suffered with him will become new heavenly advocates of Holy Russia. Innocently shed blood will regenerate Russia and cover it with new glory.

St John of Shanghai

We remember some twenty years ago a conversation on the future of Russia with a young Paris emigre of the third generation. He stated that there could never be reconciliation between the two parts of the Russian Church, inside and outside Russia, until the Patriarchal part inside Russia had repented. When he was asked what such repentance meant, he came out with an answer that was purely political and did not concern the Church. However, we did not believe then, and do not believe now, that repentance is political – it is always spiritual. Moreover, true repentance always begins with demands made of ourselves, not with demands made of others.

In today’s Russia many are at last realising that anti-Russian and anti-Orthodox Communism was the greatest illusion and greatest deceit in Russian history. It was in fact an anti-patriotic, foreign-imposed conspiracy whose aim was to destroy the Orthodox Empire, which naturally included destroying its spiritual essence and historic consciousness, its multinational Church. Indeed, the Russian Lands were to be saved only after a generation of brutal atheist persecution by another catastrophe – the Nazi invasion, which alone renewed national consciousness. However, it was not for another fifty years after that invasion that the country officially and finally rid itself of the atheist regime.

However, that political change, momentous though it was, did not and still does not mean full repentance. Today’s Russian Federation, and all the other now separated lands that made up the pre-1917 Russian Empire, are still not fully repentant – just as the Russian Emigration, its descendants and missions, are still not fully repentant – hence all the divisions between those lands and in the Emigration. Full repentance is when all, and not just some, repent for their ancestors’ sins of slander, deposition and regicide, the slaying of Tsar Nicholas II and the millions who died with him and after him. He who does not love the Tsar, does not truly love Holy Russia. And he who does not love Holy Russia does not truly love God.

Russia and all who belong by birth or by choice to the worldwide Russian Church, in Europe, in the Americas, in Australasia and elsewhere, will not walk the Earth as Resurrected until all realise who the Tsar was. Only when there is true repentance by all will the Tsar be truly glorified. And the Lord will not grant the Russian Lands a new Tsar, and so unity of all Russian Lands, until we sincerely repent for the fact that we allowed and still allow those who rejected and still reject our Faith to blacken his name and ritually murder him and his Family. The Lord will grant the Russian Lands a new Tsar and unity only after profound and general repentance, after ‘ardent veneration for him and the glorification of his feat’.

Here it must be said that it is only with a Tsar in Russia that Orthodox outside Russia will be strong again. For example, Tsar Nicholas II built seventeen churches in Western Europe and a magnificent Cathedral in New York. And that was at a time when there were few Russian Orthodox living there. Moreover, he ensured unity among Orthodox living outside Russia and the Orthodox homelands. It is for those of the Russian Emigration and its missions, including the disincarnate and so not belonging to the Church Outside Russia, to become aware of this. Let us of all nationalities everywhere bring forth fruit worthy of this repentance, as the Patron of the Russian Emigration, St John of Shanghai, calls us to do.

Orthodox Unity and the March of Western Decivilisation

Western Civilisation? An excellent idea.

Gandhi

Today in Russia, tomorrow in America.

Hieromonk Seraphim Rose

Introduction

At the Fourth All-Diaspora Russian Orthodox Council in San Francisco in 2006 the Church Outside Russia took the near-unanimous decision to enter into canonical communion with the Church inside Russia. Thus would be ended some eighty years of parallel existence for the two parts of the Russian Orthodox Church, which had been separated by the interfering atheist persecution by the Soviet State of the Church inside Russia. The reason for the decision was the long-prayed for liberation of the Church inside Russia from atheism, as began to be manifested at the miraculous Jubilee Council in 2000. Since 2006, both parts of the Church have co-operated together as a common bastion against the forces of this world. And since 2006 the need for this bastion has become ever more obvious and important, as we can see from the example below.

Decivilisation

Even as recently as 2006 no-one foresaw that the Western world would in 2013 be legitimising homosexual ‘marriage’. Countries that only a few years ago decriminalised homosexuality now proclaim that marriage, a Latin word which means ‘taking a husband’, is possible between two men or two women, between people of the same sex. Not only have fourteen countries now instituted same-sex ‘marriage’, so redefining marriage, but they are also bullying other countries into doing the same. Insulting intolerance and arrogance is such that Western secularism is attempting to blackmail, intimidate and humiliate other cultures, especially those of the Russian Federation, Eastern Europe and Africa, into accepting its policies. These in fact censor free speech and decivilise spiritually superior civilisations, cultures with more Christian content than secularist Western culture.

The Orthodox attitude to homosexuality is defined, like everything else, by the words of the Gospel: ‘For there are some eunuchs, who were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, who were made eunuchs by men: and there are eunuchs, who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake’ (Matt. 19, 12). In other words there are those very few who through genetic accident are (homosexual and so) called to be celibate, those who through psychological conditioning by others or by Western social conditioning and fashion since the 1960s are (homosexual and so) called to be celibate, and those who through monastic vocation are celibate. It is clear that homosexuality is an illness or handicap that deserves compassion, not propaganda. Here the popular law of the Russian Federation against propaganda in favour of homosexuality among minors merely reflects the Gospel.

Homosexuals who seek salvation and so strive to be celibate against all temptations are welcomed in the Church, just as heterosexuals who also seek salvation and so strive to be celibate against all temptations. Knowing the power of human sexual energy and its potential destructiveness, the Church has from the beginning been constructive and tried to channel heterosexuality into family life, thus creating marriage, and tried to channel homosexuality into friendship, thus creating community. It is most significant that ever since the 1960s, collapsing Western societies have denigrated and destroyed both family life and friendship, suicidally creating broken homes and enmity. Until that period, 99.9% of people lived without homosexual temptations and with friendship. The collapse of family life, marriage, friendship and community are the consequences of Western Decivilisation.

The root of the problem is in the abnormal and deChristianising social changes accepted by Western societies over the last fifty years. Today countries that were protected from that period’s suicidal follies do not suffer as collapsing Western societies do. The Western world is now trying to spread the self-justifying propaganda that results from its illness and infect others with it, forcing spiritually healthier cultures to accept its contaminating disease. This is like the decivilising Western disease of drug-taking or abortion (3,000 killed per day in the USA, 500 killed per day in the UK), which also began in the same period. Today’s phase of aggressive Decivilisation was unforeseen even in 2006, in the same way as no-one foresaw then that the Western world was about to support Islamist terrorists and destabilise Iraq, Tunisia, Libya, Syria, the Lebanon and Egypt, with millions of victims.

Conclusion

In 2006 no-one foresaw that Western secularism would embark on a campaign of further destabilisation of marriage, spreading aggressive propaganda in favour of homosexuality. If we had foreseen this, the urge for Russian Orthodox unity would have been even stronger then. Given the increasing tempo of Western Decivilisation, it is now clear that if Orthodox Christians are to keep their integrity in the Western world, and that world now includes weaker Orthodox countries like Greece, Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria bribed into joining the homosexualised EU, as well as the long ago Westernised Patriarchates of Constantinople and Antioch, we Orthodox of all nationalities, not just Russian, Serbian and Georgian, have to work together with the moral, political and spiritual protection offered by the Russian Federation and its Orthodox Civilisation in order to counter Western Decivilisation.

Lourdes and Fatima: True or False?

And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun…

Rev. 12, 1

We will not dispute the miraculous character of the original appearance of the Mother of God (in Fatima), as we will not cast suspicion on the authenticity of some similar if less striking appearances…

Archimandrite Konstantin Zaytsev (1)

Introduction

Visions of the Mother of God granted to individuals are characteristic of recent, especially eighteenth-, nineteenth- and twentieth-century, Roman Catholic piety. Some of these visions can be doubted as spiritual delusion, hallucinations, and others as money-making frauds. Thus, the controversial ‘apparition’ in Knock in 1879 in Ireland seems strange, and the more recent and highly profitable ‘apparitions’ in Medjugorje since 1981 in ex-Yugoslavia are dismissed by the local Roman Catholic authorities as fraudulent. However, to dismiss all such visions seems not only uncharitable in relation to genuinely-felt piety, but also simply wrong.

The fact is that genuine heavenly visions do commonly take place outside the Church to Non-Orthodox. We know this, for example, from the vision of the Jewish rabbi Saul (later the Apostle Paul) on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). Some 900 years later, the pagan envoys of Vladimir of Kiev had a vision of heaven on earth in New Rome. Some 900 years after this we read how the future preaching of St Innocent of Alaska had been foretold to local pagan Alaskans through a vision of the Archangel Michael. How was all this possible? Because though outside the Church, all these people were touched by grace, for ‘the Spirit bloweth where it listeth’ (Jn 3, 8). The Church has all the generosity of the Sun, giving out rays of light and warmth to the outside world.

Lourdes

As regards appearances of the Mother of God inside the Church, the Russian Church calendar commemorates over 600 of her wonderworking icons, many of which first appeared to individuals in visions. As for the Roman Catholic world, there are the famous visions of the Mother of God to a peasant girl in Lourdes in south-western France in 1858. As we have written elsewhere over the decades, there are four reasons why these visions may have been real. Firstly, they happened to an innocent and pious peasant girl, Bernadette Soubirous (1844-1879), who had no clerical axe to grind. Secondly, when Bernadette was asked about the exact outward appearance of the Mother of God and was shown a catalogue of images, she innocently but truthfully at once chose not the resemblance of a Roman Catholic statue, but that of an Orthodox icon.

Thirdly, there are the well-documented and numerous miraculous healings in Lourdes, which cannot be explained by modern medicine. Finally, and most importantly of all, as the French-based Patriarchal Russian Orthodox religious writer, A. Merzlyukin described in 1960 (2), at a time when the Vatican machine was intent on finding support for its unOrthodox dogma of the Immaculate Conception of 1854, the message received by Bernadette was fully Orthodox. The words she allegedly heard from the mouth of the Mother of God were, ‘I am the Immaculate Conception’, not, ‘I was born by an immaculate conception’. This plainly contradicted the novel and recent Vatican dogma. It is precisely the Conception of Christ by the Mother of God which is ‘Immaculate’, that is, Most Pure, which is why we call her ‘Most Pure’. This is the age-old belief of the Church – not a nineteenth-century invention.

Orthodoxy has nothing to do with the unfortunate exploitation of this statement by the Vatican to support its novel dogma. By this, I refer to the authorities’ deliberate deformation of the message of Lourdes to make out that it was the conception of the Virgin Herself that was ‘Immaculate’. This myth-making has taken place to such an extent that many simple Roman Catholics today actually believe that the Virgin was conceived not by Sts Joachim and Anna, as Orthodox are reminded at every great dismissal, but in the same way as Christ – through the Holy Spirit and a virgin-mother.

This popular belief is not the official belief of Roman Catholicism. This is that the Virgin was conceived by human agency but with a special dispensation, relieving her of what it calls ‘original sin’. All of this is connected with ‘Augustinian’ doctrines, developed by medieval Scholasticism out of philosophical speculations in the writings of Blessed Augustine. These doctrines, ‘Augustinianism’, suggest predestination, a God Who does not love mankind, and are thus alien to the Orthodox Church and Her theology that loves mankind.

Fatima

Another example of deformation of visions comes in the case of Fatima. Here, unlike some, we believe that these original visions may also have been genuine (3). We first heard of Fatima in 1976, strangely enough from a Russian samizdat source, received by us from the late Archpriest Lev Lebedev from Kursk (4). The Catacomb belief expressed in this source was clearly that Fatima was authentic. We also tend to believe in the Fatima visions, for the seven following reasons:

1. They were granted to innocent and pious peasant children. The eldest of these, Lucia, whose name means ‘light’, is said to have spoken to the Mother of God and received messages from her. These small, illiterate children had no axe to grind, unlike the institutionalised Vatican machine. Indeed, most Portuguese clergy of the period of the visions did not believe in their authenticity and were even hostile to Lucia.

2. The visions concerned future events in Russia – a Non-Catholic country of which the Portuguese children had never heard. Again there was no axe to grind here, all the more so as it was precisely the Western world which had organised, financed and greeted the pro-Western Russian Revolution of early 1917. We must remember that all the events at the other end of Europe in distant Fatima took place months before the atheist Bolsheviks usurped power in their turn. This was long before Russophobic right-wing groups were able to take over Fatima for militant Roman Catholic and anti-Communist Cold War purposes, creating, for example, ‘the Blue Army’.

3. The events of Fatima all happened after the Russian Revolution, during the months of anarchic misrule of the pro-Western Provisional Government, in other words, neither in 1916, nor in 1918, nor in some other year, but in mid-1917. This was at the most fateful turning point in Russian history. This was just before Russian forces would most probably have been victorious in the War, freeing Vienna and Berlin and the peoples oppressed by them, and before atheist Communist persecution began.

We recall that the Mother of God had already intervened in Russian history at this time through her Reigning Icon, the appearance of which took place immediately after the so-called abdication of the future Tsar-Martyr on 15 March 1917 according to the secular calendar. (We write ‘so-called abdication’ since the documents involved have now all been shown by the Russian historian Piotr Multatuli to have been forged; the Tsar never abdicated).

4. The visions all took place on dates significant in the Orthodox calendar – then universally adhered to. This is quite overlooked by Roman Catholic authors. Thus:
The first vision was on 13 May. In the Orthodox calendar in 1917 this was the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman. This was surely a clear call to the West to repent of the Revolution that it had carried out in Russia, which would lead to the bloodiest persecution of the Church ever seen in human history. In simple terms, this vision was a call to the spiritual Samaritans to repent for their crime against the Second Jerusalem of Moscow.

The second vision was on 13 June, the eve of the feast of St Justin the Philosopher of Rome, who came from Palestine to preach the Orthodox Christian way of life, the only true Philosophy, to the Rome.

The third vision was on 13 July, the Feast of the Twelve Apostles, who had converted the then known world to Orthodoxy. This is symbolic of the universal significance of Fatima.

The fourth vision was on Sunday 19 August (not on 13 August, since the three children were then being held prisoner and threatened by a prominent local freemason who had political power). 19 August is of course the Feast of the Transfiguration, the Transfiguration to which the Mother of God was calling the Western world, which was then embroiled in the slaughter of its own youth and the youth of countries of Eastern Europe, of Russia and of distant colonies.

The fifth vision was on 13 September, the eve of the Orthodox New Year. Surely the Mother of God was calling the Western Powers to a new beginning, a new year of peace.

The sixth and so far final vision was on 13 October, the eve of the Feast of the Protecting Veil of the Mother of God. In this vision, Lucia was told that ‘the war is going to end and the troops will come home soon’. This was indeed the case since, as a result of elections held the very next day, on 14 October, the Feast of the Protecting Veil, the 40,000 Portuguese troops who had first entered into action in France on precisely 13 May 1917, the date of the first vision, were brought home to Portugal early, in April 1918.

5. The essence of the words of the Mother of God was each time a call to prayer and repentance. These were the very words which Western Europe needed at a time when it was engaged in a suicidal war, which because of modern technology was by far the bloodiest in the history of mankind. The fact that the visions occurred in Portugal, rather than in a country that had originally or directly been involved in the War, showed neutrality. Indeed, the socialistic Portuguese government did not exploit the visions for propaganda purposes, as governments with large Roman Catholic populations, like France, Germany, Austro-Hungary and Italy, would certainly have done.

6. The events at Fatima, always coming down from the sky from east to west, always included several inexplicable atmospheric phenomena which were witnessed by many. These phenomena were witnessed by dozens, then thousands, and on 13 October, by tens of thousands of people, among them atheists and freemasons. This last vision, already foretold by the Mother of God on 19 August and 13 September, included the famous ‘dance of the sun’, witnessed by some 70,000 people. It is very difficult to reject the fact of this event, explaining it away in a facile manner as a ‘mass hallucination’, as atheists (and two Orthodox converts) have unconvincingly tried to do. Here is a key difference with other visions – at Fatima they were accompanied by inexplicable phenomena witnessed by crowds.

7. The message of the Mother of God was couched in a way that small Roman Catholic children could understand, but which is not necessarily in contradiction with Orthodox teaching. This especially concerns the details of the vision of 13 July.

For instance, the Mother of God did not mention souls in Purgatory on 13 July – that version of the message was based on a clear mistranslation, which was later corrected. As regards the mention of Purgatory in the part of the vision on 13 May regarding the soul of a peasant girl called Amelia, we would suggest that this is only a reflection of Lucia’s Roman Catholic conditioning. The Mother of God may well have said that the girl needed prayers, but this would have been interpreted by the child Lucia as meaning that her soul was in Purgatory.

On 13 July, the Mother of God foretold chastisement, ‘by means of war, famine and persecutions against the Church and the Holy Father’. There is no reason why this should be taken to refer to a pope of Rome; it surely refers to St Tikhon of Moscow, the Holy Father installed as Patriarch in November 1917. He reposed in 1925 after the terrible civil war, probably martyred by poisoning, after which there was artificial famine in the Soviet Union and the terrible persecutions of the 1930s. Roman Catholicism was not persecuted at this time – the Spanish Civil War came later. Rather it was Roman Catholicism that from the 1920s on persecuted, whether in Ireland and especially on territory occupied by Poland, or later in Nazi Slovakia and Vichy France.

Similarly, the prophecy on 13 July that a worse war would break out under Pope Pius XI (1922 – February 1939) after the appearance of ‘an unknown light’ in the sky, surely cannot refer to the Second World War, which began in September 1939 for most European countries. Nor need it refer to the aurora borealis of January 1938. The aurora (northern lights) occurs every eleven years and it was after the appearance in 1927 that the atheist war against Orthodoxy in Russia that worsened considerably.

In the vision of June 1917, the Mother of God referred to ‘My Most Pure Heart’ which, seen ‘surrounded by thorns’, ‘will be your refuge’. In the vision of July 1917, the Mother of God spoke of ‘sins against the Most Pure Heart of Mary’, she said that ‘to save sinners’ God wanted ‘to establish devotion to my Most Pure Heart’, she demanded ‘the consecration of Russia to my Most Pure Heart’ and she said that ‘in the end’ her Most Pure Heart would ‘triumph’.

These references to the heart, typical of rather sentimental ‘Sacred Heart’ Roman Catholic pietism, are alien to Orthodox teaching. Some Orthodox therefore dismiss the vision out of hand. However, the Mother of God was speaking to Roman Catholic children, to whom such language was familiar. From an Orthodox viewpoint, could such phrases mean something? Is there an Orthodox interpretation of such references to her heart?

Since the Church is the Body of Christ, why can we not take the Roman Catholic expression ‘the Sacred Heart of Jesus’ and translate it into Orthodox terminology as meaning ‘the essence of the Orthodox Church’? Similarly, since the Mother of God is the Mother of the Church, why can we not take the Fatima expression ‘the Most Pure Heart of Mary’ to mean ‘the essential teachings of the Church’, i.e. the purity of Holy Orthodoxy? What else would be in the heart of the Mother of God, if not the purity of Holy Orthodoxy? Surely, after all, Holy Orthodoxy is our ‘refuge’, the establishment of devotion to Holy Orthodoxy will ‘save sinners’, Russia must be ‘consecrated to’ Holy Orthodoxy and ‘in the end’ Holy Orthodoxy will ‘triumph’? Is this not what we all believe?

It was precisely sins against the Orthodox Church and Holy Orthodoxy that had been caused by anti-Orthodox Western attitudes towards them, most clearly at the Russian Revolution. This event was greeted with enthusiasm by the Papacy. It would then co-operate with atheist Bolshevism throughout the 1920s under the Roman Catholic ‘missionary’ D’Herbigny in a futile and treacherous attempt to convert Russia to Roman Catholicism. And all this during the vicious persecution of the indigenous Church, whose lot the Vatican did nothing to ease.

These anti-Orthodox attitudes had been present in Western Europe ever since the time of the judaising iconoclasm and anti-Trinitarian heresy of the mass murderer Charlemagne (768-814 – called ‘Blessed Charlemagne’ by the Vatican). This was the very set of attitudes which dissented from and then took over the Church in Western Europe. By a process of despiritualisation, they evolved into Roman Catholicism in the eleventh century, into Protestantism in the sixteenth century and finally into modern secularism.

This latter is based on essentially atheistic nineteenth and twentieth century ideologies, of Marx, Darwin, Nietzsche, Freud etc. These thinkers did not in fact write about mankind, but only about their own spiritual emptiness, that is, their loss of faith and non-belief in the existence of the human soul, thus reducing human beings to animals. In this way, their ideologies dehumanised human beings through ‘class warfare’, ‘the survival of the fittest’ and ‘eugenics’ into ‘intelligent animals’, ‘naked apes’, in fact, pieces of meat. In turn, these resulted in World Wars – surplus men reduced to cannon fodder, in the abortion holocaust –surplus babies reduced to incinerator fodder, and in modern global consumerism – surplus human-beings worldwide reduced to debt fodder.

On 13 July and other occasions, the Mother of God referred to the rosary, as well as peace and the end of the war through prayer. The rosary is a vestige of Orthodox prayer-knots or beads, inherited by Roman Catholicism from the Orthodox West of the first millennium. Although the details of the contemporary Roman Catholic practice of the rosary are at variance with Orthodox practice, there is nothing unOrthodox about the use of prayer-beads in itself. Sincere prayer is always answered.

On 13 July the Mother of God said that the errors of Russia would spread worldwide, if the Western world did not listen to her. The errors of Russia were to adopt Western materialism (at the time of Fatima not in its Communist form, but in its bourgeois Capitalist form). It is indeed precisely this materialism, exported to Russia in 1917, that was since spread worldwide throughout the twentieth century, not so much in its inefficient and failed Communist form, but in its highly efficient Capitalist form.

On 13 July the Mother of God said that ‘the Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me and it will be converted’ and then will follow ‘a time of peace’. Is this not exactly what happened in 2000 when the Russian Patriarch at last confirmed the glorification of the New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Lands and since when conversion has been hastened?

Thus, we can see from the above interpretations of the visions of Fatima that there is nothing in contradiction with Orthodox teaching in them. In this light, these visions can be seen in an Orthodox spirit. The simple people of Western Europe are not to be blamed for the heresy of Roman Catholicism. A fish rots from the head, not from the tail. A heretic is by definition one who is consciously opposed to the Church. Portuguese peasant children one hundred years ago who knew nothing of Orthodoxy cannot be accused of being heretics. Only those who consciously reject Orthodoxy and teach heresy can be accused of heresy. This is clearly visible in pastoral practice today, where Non-Orthodox come to the Church for the first time, discover Orthodoxy, and say, ‘This is what I have always believed’, never having accepted the teachings their formal denomination.

Neither is there anything in the ‘third secret of Fatima’, revealed to Lucia in July 1917 and allegedly made public by the Vatican in June 2000, which contradicts Orthodoxy (5). Although it is possible that full details of the third secret have not been revealed, for lack of proof we must leave this possibility to conspiracy theorists. Nevertheless, it is remarkable that in the first appearance on 13 May, the Mother of God said that she would appear six times and then, ‘after six times, I will come back here a seventh time’. Is it possible that the Mother of God will again appear in Fatima, for a seventh time, and that another revelation will take place concerning the West’s present and future relation to Russia and Russian Orthodoxy?

Conclusion

Between 1992 and 1997 I was parish priest of the first Russian Orthodox parish in Portugal which we founded in February 1992. We dedicated it to the Protecting Veil of the Mother of God, whose feast falls on 14 October in the secular reckoning, the day after the last and sixth appearance at Fatima, the dance of the sun, exactly 75 years before. At that time it was suggested that I celebrate a liturgy in the Uniat church at the Roman Catholic shrine at Fatima. I categorically rejected this suggestion, as I did not wish then, and do not wish now, to lend credence to that later, superimposed interpretation of the Fatima events. However, I do believe that there is an Orthodox interpretation of the events of Fatima.

I believe that those events may well concern a Russia that is at this moment in the process of being converted. This process began when the prayers of the New Martyrs and Confessors began to destroy atheism after their glorification by the free Church Outside Russia in New York in 1981. This was most significant, since, according to the historian Piotr Multatuli, great-grandson of one of the martyrs, it was precisely from New York that the order to martyr the Royal Martyrs went forth in 1918. This 1981 glorification, which reversed the 1918 condemnation, was finally confirmed and upheld in the freed Church inside Russia by Patriarch Alexis II in Moscow in 2000. It is now for the increasingly atheistic Western world to heed the urgent and highly relevant message of post-atheist Russia to it, which is that atheism does not work, but that devotion to Orthodoxy does work.

Archpriest Andrew Phillips
Colchester, England

Notes:

1. Pastoral Theology, Part II, P.41, Jordanville, 1961

2. See Merzlyukin A., On the Catholic Dogma of 1854. (In Russian, 1960, in French, 1961).

3. Naturally, if an official Synodal statement were issued against the authenticity of Lourdes or Fatima, we would obey it and retract any of the above observations and tentative views that contradicted it. Our thoughts are only tentative suggestions which we hope will provoke thought and prayer on the subject. They are certainly not some kind of opinionated, dogmatic statement. The above suggestions seem to the author to be true, but we remain open to new and contradictory ideas on the subject.

However, we cannot help noticing that older Russians like Metr Evlogy (Georgievsky), as well as those whose Orthodoxy was beyond reproach, believed in Lourdes and Fatima (see A. Merzlyukin, also in his Russian book ‘The Star Who Gave Birth to the Sun’ (Paris, 1967), and Fr Konstantin Zaytsev above on Pp. 38-42). The only two sources known to us in recent decades suggesting that the Mother of God cannot appear to Non-Orthodox and categorically denying both Lourdes and Fatima, belonged to converts from heterodoxy. Through the extreme of an excess of zeal, zeal not according to knowledge, a desire to be ‘more Orthodox than the Orthodox’, they are now part of groups which are outside the Orthodox Church. Thus, we see how one extreme, ‘Super-Orthodoxy’, leads to the opposite extreme, being outside the Church.

4. In the mid-1980s we sent the samizdat source in question to Bishop (now Metr) Hilarion (Kapral). Fr Lev was then a priest of the Patriarchal part of the Church. Like many Patriarchal priests inside Russia he was also involved with Catacomb Christians, as I realised on meeting him in 1976. It is a modern myth that the two parts of the Church inside Russia in the Soviet period, the vast Patriarchal part and the minute Catacomb part, were completely separate.

5. See Orthodox England Vol 4 No 2 (December 2000)

Pope Francis I Speaks

The Orthodox Churches

“The Orthodox Churches have preserved the liturgy which is so beautiful. We have lost sight slightly of the meaning of worship. They worship God and they sing about it; time is immaterial to them. One day we were speaking about Western Europe and they said that “ex Oriente lux” “ex Occidente luxus”, meaning that light comes from the East and consumerism and wealth which do a lot of harm, come from the West. The Orthodox Church preserves the beauty of God being at the centre of everything. When you read Dostoevsky you can really feel the Russian and Eastern spirit. We deeply need this breath of fresh air, this light from the East.”

Some Notes on Anti-Russian Propaganda and the Pogroms

In any war, including in a cold war, it is usual to dehumanise and even demonise the enemy by telling lies, known as ‘propaganda’, about him. In this country we saw it in the First World War, when invading Germans were falsely accused of butchering Belgian babies. There are elderly people who still believe this. In recent years, in the NATO bombing of Serbia, the double Western invasion and ruining of Iraq and takeover of its oil and gas, the bombing and ruining of Libya and takeover of its oil and gas, and in the support offered by Western governments and media for fanatical Sunni Islamic terrorists against the Syrian government (‘regime’), the leaders and armed forces of those countries have been accused of all sorts of atrocities.

These propaganda accusations include ‘ethnic cleansing’ (as opposed to protecting the Serbian people and their ancestral territory), possessing ‘weapons of mass destruction’ (as opposed to Western governments supplying and using them), ‘torture’ (as opposed to Western secret services carrying out torture on their territories), suppression of ‘freedom and democracy’ (when it is in fact Western countries that are tyrannical and anti-democratic), and using ‘chemical weapons’ (as invented by Western countries and used by Churchill against the Kurds in 1930s Iraq, by the US in 1970s Vietnam, and by NATO and the US in the form of uranium-enriched munitions causing ‘Gulf War Syndrome’ in Iraq and the same radioactive poisoning in Serbia).

Thus, in reality, it is more commonly Western countries that carry out or allow the atrocities. This most common, hypocritical and outrageous propaganda technique, used expertly by Nazi Germany, is always to accuse your enemies of doing the terrible things that you do yourself. In this context anti-Russian propaganda has taken various forms according to the period. For instance, hatred and jealousy of Russia in the nineteenth century tried to discredit it in as many ways as possible, even by going back into history to try and ‘barbarise’ ancient Kiev, a civilisation far in advance of Western societies of the time and which it protected from the Tartars. It also deemed as ‘barbaric’ Russian Tsars, who were in fact ten times less ‘barbaric’ than Western rulers of the same period. We have the example of Ivan the Threatening – called by Western propaganda ‘the Terrible’ – as compared to the truly terrible Henry VIII and Elizabeth I.

In that nineteenth century, first Napoleon invaded Russia without provocation, and then France and Great Britain together invaded during the Crimean War, which they still justify. Some fifty years later Great Britain invaded Tibet and massacred Tibetans for the sake of control and warding off an imaginary Russian threat. At the same time, through a compliant jingoistic press, partly owned by arms manufacturers, it accused Russia of anti-Jewish pogroms and anti-revolutionary activities (see the propaganda even in Nesbitt’s children’s story ‘The Railway Children’) and in the Russo-Japanese War it financed and sided with Japan, provoking the Hull incident. Incidentally, this War broke out when the Japanese behaved just as treacherously as in World War II. (Port Arthur and Pearl Harbour almost rhyme).

In its hatred of Tsar Nicholas II, this anti-Russian propaganda even used to accuse him of being both weak and tyrannical at the same time! In 1916 British spies murdered Gregory Rasputin and then Buchanan, the British ambassador in Saint Petersburg, organised the Russian Revolution and the captivity of the Tsar. Lies about all this, still widely repeated and even believed!, were merely the result of ‘The Great Game’, a rivalry with Russia, imagined and fomented by British imperialism. This used systematic and highly-organised anti-Russian propaganda, because British imperialism (‘civilisation’) wanted total, or rather totalitarian, control of the globe, just as American imperialism (‘globalism’) does today.

Post-World War I anti-Russian propaganda asserted – and still asserts – that the reign of the Tsars (‘Tsarism’) was far worse than Communism, despite the Gulag and the obvious evidence that the reign of Tsars was a thousand times better. It even asserted that Russian losses in the First World War had been very high, ignoring outrageous Western losses (‘the generals were donkeys, the men were lions’), the fact that Russia had been relatively demilitarised and that the Russian Army had had to face alone far higher numbers of the enemy than the Allies on the Western Front.

In the 1930s American propaganda invented ‘Russian roulette’, which was and still is quite unknown in Russia. As for post-World War II anti-Russian propaganda, it wants us to forget that it was Western ‘civilisation’ that invented the genocide of the Jews and concentration camps. The latter were arguably invented by the US in the form of ‘Indian’ ‘reservations’, then used by the Spanish in Cuba, but much developed soon after by the British in their genocidal anti-Boer War and again used in the 1950s in British genocide in Kenya.

This propaganda that Russia persecuted the Jews also conveniently ignores the fact that the greatest recent Western genocide was not against the Jews, but against the Slavs, some 30 million of whom were slaughtered by Nazi Germany, over 25 million of them, mainly civilians, being from the Soviet Union. It also ignores the horror of hardened Red Army soldiers when they discovered anti-Jewish German atrocities in the Ukraine, for example at Baby Yar, and when they liberated most of the German slave camps, like that at Auschwitz.

Typically, such anti-Russian propaganda also invented the myth that virtually every Red Army soldier in 1944-45 was a rapist. This ignored the real figures and also the huge number of rapes previously carried out on the Eastern Front by German soldiers, the 10,000 rapes carried out in Britain (!) by US soldiers between 1942 and 1944 and the many rapes carried out by Allied soldiers when they invaded France and Germany (Dieppe and Stuttgart come to mind). It is typical therefore that such propaganda forgets that the greatest anti-Jewish pogroms of the early 20th century took place not on the territory of the Russian Empire, but in Berlin and Vienna.

What can we say about the pogroms that took place on the territory of Imperial Russia at that time? Firstly, why were there so many Jews living on the territory of the Russian Empire? Simply because the Jews had been viciously persecuted in Western Europe from the late eleventh century on, at that time by the ‘Crusaders’ who massacred all who were different from them. Finally, the Jews were thrown out of Western Europe during the Middle Ages and emigrated to the far more tolerant Eastern Europe. Thus, their large presence in Poland and Romanian-speaking Bessarabia, as well as in Russia and the Ukraine, was due to Western ‘pogroms’ – which became even more systematically and brutally apparent under the Nazis – another product of ‘Western civilisation’.

Incidentally, Jewish minorities, who survived in or returned to Western Europe, were still much disliked there, as can be seen from the 19th and early 20th century history of all Western European countries (Roman Catholic anti-semitism, the Dreyfus case in France, pre-World War II British anti-semitism and anti-semitic ‘jokes’ as in Noel Coward songs, pre-Nazi German and Austrian anti-semitism etc).

The Russian Empire inherited Jewish refugees when Poland was partitioned in the 18th century under the German Empress Catherine II (called ‘the Great’ despite her destruction of two thirds of Russian monasteries and immoral life). Under her Russia freed Polish-occupied western Belarus, western Ukraine, Lithuania and also occupied eastern Poland as a buffer against Prussian and Austro-Hungarian aggression, at the same time liberating Orthodox Bessarabia from the Ottomans. In all these places, the Jews lived in relative peace until the late 19th century.

Unfortunately, the money-lending activities of some of the wealthiest Jews and the subsequent chronic indebtedness of Slav and Romanian peasants often got them into trouble. (Their tendency to drink, encouraged by Jewish innkeepers, was similar to the enslaving alcoholism encouraged by Western traders, ‘Indian agents’, among Native Americans). Seeing their exploitation and oppression by certain Jews, by the early 20th century there was great local anger against Jews who were seen as ruthless exploiters. Mutual antagonism led to clashes between Jews, workers and peasants in these areas, so-called ‘pogroms’. 57% of the victims were Non-Jews. It is often forgotten that many of the pogroms were actually started by Jews, armed with revolvers. Between 1903 and 1907, ther were over 1600 deaths, mainly of Non-Jews, in these Non-Russian parts of the Empire.

The Imperial authorities did their best to stop these pogroms, but felt that unscrupulous Jewish money-lenders were the real cause of the problem, drawing hostility towards all Jews. The Russian Orthodox Church, for example with Bp (later Metr) Antony (Khrapovitsky) in largely Jewish Zhitomir, also did her best to stop the pogroms, but had little influence among the Non-Orthodox population.

Meanwhile, the relatively few Jews in Russia proper lived in relative peace and many prospered, although their career options were limited. The fact that it was basically Non-Russian and Non-Orthodox peasants who carried out the pogroms is naturally overlooked by ‘Great Game’ propaganda. Particularly unpleasant were the activities of Uniat populations, notorious for their nationalism – which is the main reason for the existence of Western-backed Uniatism. It is notable that later Nazi anti-semitism found fertile recruiting grounds for the SS precisely among western Ukrainian (by nationality Polish) Uniats and Baltic Catholics and Lutherans, whether in Lithuania, Latvia or Estonia.

Pogroms did take place in the Russian Empire, though on a much lesser level than in Berlin and Roman Catholic Vienna. Jews fleeing from pogroms all over Central and Eastern Europe took refuge above all in Great Britain and the USA. Today we are in a US-fomented post-Cold War Cold War, with, for example, the absurd, Western-orchestrated ‘Pussy Riot’ incident and the criticism of Russian laws against homosexual propaganda. However, as we have said above, all this propaganda, of every cold war period, does not want to admit that anti-Jewish persecutions were above all a Western problem. These persecutions spilled over into the Russian Empire and were disguised by propagandists (= liars) under a Russian name – ‘pogroms’.

A Convent Conversation

From ‘The Herald of R.O.M.E’.
(The Herald of the Russian Orthodox Metropolia in Europe, No 8, 2026)

On 7 August 2026 we visited Sts Peter and Paul Convent just outside Rome and interviewed Archimandrite Pavel (Kirillov), the spiritual father, and some of the nuns.

Interviewer: Fr Pavel, you are an archimandrite and the senior priest and confessor here. Can you tell us something about yourself and the Convent?

Fr Pavel: I am Russian, but as a young man I worked as a cook in restaurants for many years in Ticino, the Italian part of Switzerland, before going back to study at seminary in Moscow. I became a hieromonk in Moscow in 2004 and, as I spoke Italian, I was sent straightaway to serve in Italy, where there was then a great shortage of Russian priests.

I am helped here by a young Italian priest Fr Ambroggio, who is married and lives near the Convent, and a Moldovan hieromonk, Fr Tarasy. Fr Tarasy serves a lot. Fr Ambroggio serves one week a month and the rest of the time looks after the main Italian-language parish in Rome as well as visiting many of the local families who come here for services. With the help of some laymen, he even set up a football team for the boys of the families who attend the Convent. The local boast is that we are the only convent in Italy with its own football team. And last year we even won our league!

I: What language do you use here?

FP: We use Italian as our main liturgical language, with Slavonic and Romanian as what I would call reserve languages. Most sisters speak at least one other language apart from Italian. At present we have 39 nuns of sixteen different nationalities, with twelve Moldovans and eight Italians. Moldovans have played a great role in Italy, helping to set an example and convert Italians. I think this is because the cultures and languages are so similar, but the Moldovans have Christ, whereas the Italians had lost Him.

I: Tell us something of the history of the Convent.

FP: Originally, there was a need for a Convent somewhere in Italy, but we did not know where to start and whom to dedicate it to. Once we had the buildings, the Abbess, Mother Paraskeva as she now is, had thought of dedicating the Convent to the Resurrection – Mother Paraskeva would dedicate everything to the Resurrection, if she could, since she says that Italians don’t know what the Resurrection is. That’s why there is always one Sister called Anastasia. In any case you can imagine what joyful Easter services we have here! However, when these buildings outside Rome came up for sale and we asked Metropolitan Nicholas in Paris about them, he decided that the dedication of the Convent should be to the great apostles and martyrs of Rome, Sts Peter and Paul. This year he came to our patronal feast together with Bishop Gregory, our diocesan bishop in Italy, and preached a sermon where he spoke of how very different Sts Peter and Paul are and yet how they complement each other. He said that this is what we have to do in our Convent. With so many nationalities, we have to complement one another. He told us that whenever we have an argument, we should look at the icon of Sts Peter and Paul embracing and pray to them to guide us.

I: What is the main problem for Italians in integrating the Orthodox Church?

FP: The same as for all people of a Western background. It is one thing to join the Orthodox Church and another to become Orthodox. And yet if you do not first become Orthodox, then you cannot remain Orthodox. That is why Metropolitan Nicholas and all the diocesan bishops of the Metropolia instruct their priests to prepare catechumens very carefully. The knowledge of facts that occurs in the head is of secondary importance. But Western culture puts knowledge first. What is in reality of primary importance is the understanding of facts. That is Orthodox culture. And since understanding is located in the heart, and not in the head, understanding therefore depends on the purity – or lack of purity – of the heart.

The greatest problem for Western people is to come to the understanding that Western culture must be subordinated to Orthodox culture. Culture is the world, not all culture can be absorbed into the Church. Whatever cannot be baptised into the Church, must leave – just as a catechumen leaves the Liturgy. If Western people do not do this, but idolise their Western culture instead and are offended when parts of that are rejected, they will never become Orthodox, for they are unworthy. The Gospel is what we always put first.

I: How do you maintain your own inner life?

FP: Every year I go to Optina in Russia for six weeks and there I am free to talk to my spiritual father. For me it’s very important to keep contacts with the Motherland.

I: I turn now to the Abbess of the Convent, Mother Paraskeva. Could you tell us something about yourself, Mother?

Mother Paraskeva: Like many in the convent, I am Moldovan, but I came to Italy in the early 2000s, seeking work, sending money home to help my family. I was already at that time a Churchgoer and was thinking of monastic life, but could not find the right place. It was only after several years of searching that I found a convent in Moldova in 2012. It was a huge relief to me. I felt as though I had come home. Then I was sent here as an obedience when this Convent opened in 2019. I had no idea that after only one year I would be made Abbess – if I had known, I don’t think I would have come! When Bp Gregory made me Abbess, instead of congratulating me, Fr Pavel said to me: ‘My condolences’. He was right!

I: What Italian people come to services at the Convent?

MP: We have a whole group of Italian men who were in the Italian Army, sent as peacekeepers in Kosovo for NATO. When they saw the injustices that were happening there and the anti-Serb persecutions, many of them became Orthodox, some of them even married Serbian women. They have remained faithful even though all the north of Kosovo long ago returned to Serbia. But apart from these families, we have families from Romania, Moldova, Russia and the Ukraine in particular. But Italian is our common language.

I: What does the Convent live off?

MP: We sew vestments, bake prosphora, make candles and, above all, make soap. Soap-making is our most financially profitable activity. Thanks to it we have been able to restore all the buildings in the complex that we have and we can now take another twenty nuns, if there are suitable candidates.

I: I will now turn to some of the nuns who are here with us. Sister Clotilde, what about you? Where are you from?

Sister Clotilde: I am French, a Parisian, where I was born in 1996. I joined the Russian Orthodox Church in Paris in 2015 after realising that atheism brought no answers and is even irrational – for nobody can prove that God does not exist. Since I studied Italian and Russian, an unusual combination, and I felt that my future was in a convent, I came here after I had finished my studies in 2019.

I: And you, Sister Odile?

Sister Odile: I am from Germany, but my mother was Italian. I come from just near Alsace, across the French border. So I would say that I am Alsatian, which is why I have a French name. I have been here for four years. My background is in history and I worked for eight years as a history teacher at a university in Germany.

I: How did you come to the Church?

Sister Odile: As a historian I had a great interest in Napoleon, who was the first to try and unite Germany. Through him I became interested in Tsar Alexander I, the mystical Tsar who defeated Napoleon. My other great interest was in the Crusades. My conversion came about when I started reading about the Fourth Crusade and the sack of Constantinople in 1204, even though many ordinary people in the West opposed the Crusades. Then I read on the internet an Orthodox writer who said simply: 1204 = 1453 = 1812 = 1917. In other words, he was saying that the sack of Constantinople by the West led to its occupation by the Muslims in 1453 and that 1812, the occupation of Moscow by Napoleon and his 12 tribes, led to 1917, the sack of Moscow by the West through their Provisional and then Bolshevik agents. These historical connections and their injustices, 1204 = 1453 = 1812 = 1917, and their implications converted me. I ended up coming here four years ago, together with Sister Mauricia, who is Swiss and was also a history teacher.

I: Mother Thecla: I believe you are Russian?

Mother Thecla: Yes, there are four Russian nuns here. Myself, Sister Matrona from Moscow, Sister Lydia the choir director and Sister Marina, but she has gone on a pilgrimage to her patron in San Marino with the parish there. However, most of the Moldovan sisters speak good Russian and several others, like Sister Gabriela from Poland and Sister Maria from Austria, understand it. I was born in Ryazan but came to Italy in 2007. I became a spiritual daughter of Fr Pavel when he was parish priest in Turin and then followed him when he was appointed here.

I: Sister Lydia, how do you find the adaptation to Italian life?

Sister Lydia: That is something of the past for me. Today this is my place, my home. Sometimes I even find myself forgetting Russian words. I can only think of the Italian ones. I love singing in Italian. It is just as musical as Slavonic.

I: And you, Sister Agatha? You’re Italian, aren’t you?

Sister Agatha: I’d like to say not Italian, but Sicilian. We have another Sicilian sister here, Sister Pancratia from Taormina, as well as a Corsican sister, Sister Giulia, and we all feel the same, not really Italian. We’re pleased to be from the islands and to have this identity. But, of course, our real nationality is Orthodox.

I: How did you come to the Church?

Sister Agatha: I’m a cradle Orthodox, my parents converted. They were Catholics but were so disgusted by various compromises that they became Orthodox in Palermo. That’s where my brother is an Orthodox priest. However, we realised that we must have Orthodox origins. My father’s mother, Sicilian born and bred, spoke a dialect of Greek. Once all Sicily was Orthodox, it’s in our folklore. Catholicism was imposed on us, it’s superficial. So Orthodoxy is like a liberation for us, it is what is underneath us all, our buried identity.

I: And you, Sister Theodora? Are you Italian?

Sister Theodora: I’m Greek, but was born in Italy, actually in Venice, where my parents studied, met and then stayed on to work. So actually I speak better Italian than Greek. I feel at home here. So to be an Orthodox nun in Italy is the best of both worlds.

I: What about your, Sister Tatiana, Are you from Moldova too?

Sister Tatiana: Not at all. I am Italian, a pure Roman, like St Tatiana herself. Mother Paraskeva likes to give us the names of the saints who lived in the places where we lived before we came here. She says that the saints are our spiritual identity, so we must carry that identity in our names. So we have Sister Sofia, Sister Lorenza and Sister Alexia, who are all from Rome like me and Sister Januaria, who is from Naples. Then many of the Moldovan sisters, Sisters Anastasia, Sabina and Melania, also from Rome, Sister Agnes the Hungarian, from Rome too, Sister Paula who is Maltese, and other Moldovans, Sister Ambrosia from Milan, Sister Nicola from Bari and Sister Apollinaria from Ravenna.

I: And what about you, Mother Eulalia?

Mother Eulalia: I am Catalan from Barcelona, but I have been living in the Convent since the beginning. Because I spoke Italian, Mother Sebastiana sent me from the Convent in Madrid right at the beginning in 2019 to help. I look after novices and guests.

I: Mother Paraskeva, if I can return to you, what are your relations with local Roman Catholic convents like?

MP: We don’t really have any relations. That does not mean that they are bad, it’s just that there are so few Catholic convents left nowadays and most of the nuns in them are in their eighties. It’s like two parallel worlds, we just do not have much to talk about. Their life is totally different from ours, for us they are like retired social workers, devout laywomen who live in retirement homes. Our nuns are young. We only have three mothers, the other 36 are still sisters, riasophore nuns, and then there are seven novices at the moment.

On the other hand, we have a lot of contact, and not only by e-mail, with other Orthodox convents in the Metropolia, in Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Austria, England, Germany, the two in France, the Netherlands and also the new convent in Copenhagen, where we have just sent our Danish sister, Sister Anna, and our Swedish sister, Sister Olga. We also have a lot of contact with other ROCOR convents in the USA and Australia, not to mention with two convents in Moldova and one in the Ukraine. Metr Nicholas is very keen for us to have these contracts. He says it is especially important for us in our Metropolia, so that our different countries are bound together by bonds of spiritual love. This is why we have a meeting of all the abbesses of the Metropolia once every two years, in a different convent each time. The abbots from the Metropolia monasteries do the same. Metr Nicholas says the Church is a family and we must keep together and see each other, like a family.

Last year we had our meeting in Paris, during which Vladyka’s namesday fell, on 17 July. Thanks to the meetings we realise how different our situations are. For example, here we are very multinational, but the Convent in Germany is nearly all Russians and Ukrainians. In Portugal, they have three Brazilians and two Angolans, in Spain they helped set up the Convent in Peru and train a lot of Peruvian and Bolivian nuns. In England the Convent was founded from the USA and they have two Australian nuns. One of the Convents in France is half-Romanian, whereas we only have one Romanian, Sister Paisia. The new Convent in Denmark has two Norwegian novices and one Icelandic novice. And so the differences are enormous.

Sometimes we also have visits from hieromonks and monastic fathers. For example, last December Fr Columba came to us from his hermitage on Iona in Scotland. He is a fascinating man, a real ascetic, but also well-read. He knows the Psalter by heart – but more than that, he understands it and can interpret it too. He has read the Fathers.

He spoke to us in English, but our English sister translated into Italian. He said that for our Metropolia of Europe to be successful, we must, ‘Take the Napoleon out of the French, the Prussian out of the German and the British out of the English’. We all laughed when he said that last part because he is Irish and so he would say that! But Sister Elizabeth, who was interpreting and is English, reminded us how in the life of her patron, the martyred Grand Duchess, her parents were very upset when the Prussians forced unification on her native Hesse. Sister Ursula, who is German from Cologne, agreed and said that the Prussianisation of Germany was its downfall. With Prussianisation German people went from music and opera and culture and dancing to warfare in less than two generations.

I: Mother, could you leave us with a parting word, something edifying?

MP: Well, I think I would end with Fr Columba’s words, which echo the words of the Gospel. In other words, in order to live an Orthodox life, especially nowadays, when the masses are atheists, we have to take out the old man out of our old identities and know that, whatever our native language and whatever our origin and background, our unity is in the New Man, in Christ. While we are in the world, we are all a little spiritual Prussians and spiritual Napoleons and spiritual British, but we all have to get rid of that and become true Orthodox Christians. Only so can we live in Christ, and not live in the world.

I: Thank you, Mother Paraskeva.