The peoples of Western Europe were betrayed by their elites and the elites of Western Europe were betrayed by their love of power and money.
Introduction: The Church of God in Western Europe
Why, when there is already a network of tens of thousands Roman Catholic churches all over Western Europe, is there a need for a smaller network of Orthodox churches covering the same territory? Roman Catholicism already has bishops, priests, sacraments and belief in saints. Why do Orthodox need their own structure? It is because the Roman Catholic structure is a post-Orthodox Christian structure of the second millennium and not one of the first millennium. This simple fact has many and complex ramifications, from the centralisation, clericalism, Inquisition and Jesuitry of the past to the scandals of Fascist Croatia and Kosovo, the Vatican Bank, the homosexualisation and pedophilia of the present.
Roman Catholic bishops and clergy, bachelors, often isolated and little known to the faithful, Roman Catholic ‘theology’ and ‘sacraments’, changed beyond recognition by dried out scholasticism, its ‘saints’, so often psychics or else inquisitors of a second millennium divorced from the Church, are not the same as those of the Orthodox. If it were otherwise, then the hopelessly old-fashioned ecumenical movement would have been successful, instead of being the failed, abstract project of elitist syncretists. Churched and even unChurched Orthodox of all nationalities who live in Western Europe simply do not feel at home in Roman Catholic churches. Why?
Free Grace, Acquired by Asceticism, not Moralising Law, Imposed by Guilt
To this question many would answer ‘because it does not feel right’, ‘there is something wrong in the atmosphere’, ‘it does not ‘smell’ Orthodox’. Certainly architecturally, it is uncommon to find a Catholic church that can be converted into an Orthodox church. They are often Gothic and colourless and feel empty, they are mournful, Crucifixion-, and not Resurrection-, focused, guilt-ridden and desacralised, not devoted to beauty; liturgies seem to be without spiritual food, not watering the spiritual desert. However, all these differences, obvious even to the least educated, ultimately go back to something profound, to the deformation of Orthodox teachings, the deformation of the heritage of the first millennium.
Firstly, outwardly, for Orthodox the Church means local authority and unity. It does not mean abstract authority and unity in a distant bureaucracy of eunuchs in the neo-pagan Renaissance Vatican Palace, built by lucre won from indulgences. The leader of a Local Orthodox Church, Archbishop, Metropolitan or Patriarch, is only the chief of a Synod – and it is the Synod that is the administrative guarantee of authority and unity. The chief of the Synod is not an imposer of dogmas who meddles in local affairs, sometimes by military force and bloodshed. It is the local diocesan bishop, one among many but still able even to canonise local saints, who is important above all, and the local married priest is simply one of us.
Secondly, inwardly, in the Church we live off the Holy Trinity, and therefore theology and sacramental life, as in the first millennium, are part of the continuous inspiration of the Holy Spirit, called the Tradition. Therefore, the immediacy and presence of the Spirit proceeding directly from the Father, is felt in the theology, practices and life of the Church. The Spirit is freely accessible to all, both in the sacraments of the Body of Christ, but also in personal and collective prayer, fasting and ascetic life, and revealed in the ‘coincidences’ that pattern Orthodox life, that is, in Providence, which witnesses to the fact that ‘the Spirit blows where it wishes’ – without moralising obligations and guilt.
Thirdly, the saints, like the Mother of God, are part of a living and continuing communion. There is no difference between the Apostles, the Fathers, the Martyrs, the Confessors of the first millennium and those of the second millennium. For there are new Apostles, new Fathers, new Martyrs and new Confessors, being canonised now or still alive today. And all of us belong to one continuous family, reigned over through the millennia by Christ, His Holy Mother, the Mother of the Church, the Mother of our whole Church family, and His multitude of saints, whose immediate presence and free grace are visible and tangible in the chain of miracles of daily Orthodox life, which is called Providence.
As we have predicted many times over the last four decades, with Western Europe in a state of apostasy, the hysterical rejection of its spiritual roots, as witnessed to by its very place-names referring to its founding saints, responsibility for the future spiritual destiny of its faithful will fall to the Russian Church. This means to a Russian Orthodox Metropolia in Europe (R.O.M.E.), part of the larger Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR). No other Local Church can do this, for other Local Churches are either not politically free (the Patriarchates of Constantinople and Antioch), or else too small, too provincial, too mononational (the three Balkan Churches and the Church of Georgia).
Here it must be understood that ‘Russian Orthodox’ does not necessarily mean ethnically ‘Russian’. This fact may seem obvious to us inside the multinational Russian Orthodox Church, but to our astonishment, phyletist members, including clergy, of the Patriarchate of Antioch and of the OCA (see below) have often told the author that they do not understand the words ‘Russian Orthodox’. Let it be said clearly now: ‘Russian Orthodox’ already includes over sixty nationalities, it means multilingual and multinational, Russian Orthodox simply means the Orthodox Tradition, free and uncompromised by outside political meddling from Western or other Powers.
Of course, representatives and parishes or even dioceses of other Local Churches could take part in such a united Metropolia, if they wished, but on a voluntary and flexible basis, under the authority of the Russian Church, just as other Local Churches took part in the united ‘Russian’ (i.e. not necessarily ethnically Russian) Orthodox Church in North America until some ninety years ago. Such participation would depend on episcopal blessing and local consciousness. The territory to be covered by such a Metropolia means the whole of Western Europe, which can be divided into six parts, ethnic, historic, linguistic and geographical. These are:
Francia, the French-speaking Lands (France, Monaco, the southern part of Belgium (Wallonia) and Switzerland).
Germania, the German-speaking Lands (Germany, Austria, most of Switzerland, Liechtenstein, the Netherlands, Flanders (northern Belgium) and Luxembourg).
Italia, the Italian-speaking Lands (Italy, Sicily, Sardinia, Ticino, San Marino).
Iberia (Spain, Portugal, the Azores, the Canaries, the Balearics and Andorra).
Britannia and Hibernia, The Isles (The British Isles and Ireland).
Scandinavia, The Nordic Lands, (Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark).
Many years ago a former Roman Catholic asked me the following: What would happen in the theoretical situation that all or most Roman Catholic believers in a particular Western European nation rejected the errors imposed on them by their elites and proclaimed that they wished to return to freedom and Orthodoxy after a thousand years? Thinking of the infrastructure problems of such a change, my first and humorous answer was, ‘I think there would be panic’. However, in reality, as I told her, there are people who would not panic and who could take control, accepting such a movement of grace and foreseeing what is necessary. It is a question of foresight and organisation.
First of all, we would earn from the two major mistakes of the small Cold War North American group known as the ‘Orthodox Church in America’, the ‘OCA’, which daydreamed of setting up a united Metropolia in North America. These mistakes were, firstly, its nationalistic (phyletist) demand for complete independence, that is, ‘autocephaly’ – which automatically meant that it would never win the canonical recognition of most Orthodox; secondly, there was its imposition of schismatic and divisive renovationism, including the secular calendar, made by clericalist pseudo-intellectuals, some of them ungrounded converts, from on high. These are two things not to be repeated.
As regards the chronic shortage of Russian Orthodox bishops who speak local languages, and even more importantly, know local mentalities, it is clear that present experienced and educated Orthodoxy clergy would have to be appointed ‘rural deans’, that is, deans over regions. These deans would have to be responsible for the reception of local people. Probably, as with the millions received back into the Church in freed Belarus in the 1830, or Carpatho-Russia in the 1920s, Roman Catholics would be received by chrismation or even communion. From them married men could be trained and ordained; it would be best not to ordain ex-clergy because of their alienating indoctrination in Roman Catholic ‘seminaries’.
As regards infrastructure, it would be most important to have suitable premises, premises where cradle Orthodox would feel at home, perhaps allowing a few chairs for the weak and using at first printed icons and frescoes. Initially, premises might be modest, former huts, wooden buildings and shops, even small factories – as we noted above, there are few Roman Catholic churches that can be converted. Generally, the simpler the premises, the more easily they can be made Orthodox. Although iconostases might at first be home-made and vestments home-sewn, clearly the Russian liturgical factory of Sofrino, which at present employs 3,000, would have to expand to cope with the demand.
Many have asked when such a Metropolia will be formed. The answer to this is that no-one knows, for it will happen in God’s own time. However, people must be ready for it and there are signs that this future is being prepared, however slowly. The foundation of a seminary in Paris, albeit still in its early days and with a teething problem, is a sign. The building of a Cathedral and spiritual centre in Paris, its design thankfully now being revised, will be another step forward. After this there will be the appointment of a Metropolitan, someone who speaks local languages and knows local mentalities and cultures, but is also utterly faithful to the Russian Orthodox Tradition, like our great patron St John of Shanghai.
There have already been setbacks on the path to the formation of the long-awaited Metropolia. In 2003 the refusal of the Rue Daru group to leave freemasonry behind it and to take part in the Metropolia proposed by the Patriarch was a loss to everyone, but above all to itself. That was a suicidal path for it. However, the reuniting of both parts of the Russian Orthodox Church in 2007 was a huge and indispensable step forward, for the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) is the basic building block of all Metropolias in the Western world. In 1986 we first put forward this vision of such a Metropolia with no hope of its realisation. Today, it is no longer a vision. Today the question is no longer if, but when.