A Metropolia of Western Europe
It was in April 1988 that I first proposed in French a paper on a Metropolia of Western Europe, composed of six dioceses in six different linguistic and cultural areas (cross-border) which I called, Gallia, Germania, Iberia, Italia, Scandinavia and the Isles. (See, ‘A Vision for the Orthodox Churches of Western Europe’, published in Orthodox England, Vol 4, No 1, September 2001). My thought then was that this could become the foundation of a restored Local Church of Western Europe. This was a historic suggestion, as for well over 900 years this had ceased to exist.
Thirty Years Ago
The idea was dismissed in Paris, the historic centre of the Russian emigration in Western Europe, and the forward-looking project proved to be impossible then. There were only three groups who could realistically have contributed something towards it: the Rue Daru or Paris Exarchate group (RD); the Moscow Patriarchate Exarchate (MP) and the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR). Of these three, the old Rue Daru had tied itself up in modernist knots (nothing can be built on compromises) and in any case under US-run Constantinople it was not politically free to do anything of the sort.
As for the old MP, it was tiny because it was so distrusted by all. Run in fact by part of the Soviet Communist Party, it too was not politically free and moreover it had dangerously renovationist figures in it. As for the old ROCOR, it was small, disorganized, elderly and above all, inward-looking, as it still defined itself as being a group opposed to the atheist regime inside Russia, rather than as a key part of a future Local Church. It was living in reference to the past, not the future. The situation was to alter radically only after the year 2000, for those with the vision to see ahead.
Fifteen Years Ago
After the Moscow Council of August 2000, with a new archbishop after 1993, the Rue Daru group fell into conversations with the by then largely politically free MP, which was still very small in Western Europe. It was virtually agreed that RD would at last return to the jurisdiction of the MP and become an autonomous Metropolia within it, as a foundation for a future Local Church. However, Archbishop Serge (Konovalov) of the Rue Daru jurisdiction was to die tragically on 22 January 2003 and the next archbishop, Gabriel (De Vylder), was a furious Russophobe and strongly modernistic.
Indeed, since then, having missed the boat and set on a suicidal path, the Rue Daru group has largely fallen into irrelevance, its vital forces having quit it for one part or the other of the Russian Orthodox Church. Looking back, there was Providence here, since Archbishop Serge’s hopes would in any case have been dashed by the dominant wing of the Exarchate, represented by his successor. Today Rue Daru represents only 60 scattered parishes and communities, most of them very small. Most of its living parishes are in fact Moldovan and Romanian, with priests loaned by the MP.
The MP Needs a Partner
Why did the MP enter into such negotiations with Rue Daru? Simply because alone it could do nothing. Thus, even though the once few MP parishes of 30 years ago today number perhaps 250 in Western Europe with six bishops, dwarving the one-bishop Rue Daru group (ROCOR has about 100 parishes in Western Europe with three bishops), it is essentially an ethnic group. It is composed of recent immigrants, often not understanding local languages and culture. The MP needs those who have this understanding. Let us compare as examples the MP and ROCOR dioceses in the Isles.
Although on paper the MP diocese here is much bigger, in reality most of its communities are tiny (less than ten!), often with only a few services a year, without property and without a regular priest. It is a paper empire, all its money expended on its ex-Anglican church in London. ROCOR probably actually has almost as many people, more property, is better established and tends to attract people who are better-established in these Isles. Often, those immigrants who have been here for more than ten years tend to drift across to ROCOR, their children more integrated into society.
The old, inward-looking and too often politicized ROCOR, which largely died out in the 1980s and 1990s, could not have been a partner for the ultimate aim of building a new Local Church: however, the new ROCOR, born after the reconciliation with the MP in 2007, can be such a partner. The MP of the early 2000s, still with an old-fashioned, Sovietized cast of mind, could not see this and sought the wrong partner, one compromised in modernism. Today it needs a skeleton, a structure, solid Russian Orthodox people with local knowledge: it is only ROCOR that can provide this.
The Church, the Incarnate Body of Christ, has always been the central battlefield between God and the world, whose prince is Satan. It is for this reason that the world constantly tries to destroy and corrupt the Church, infiltrating it with those who foolishly and blindly do Satan’s will. History is full of notorious examples of internal enemies and traitors in Church life. Indeed this was the foundation of monastic life in the fourth century. All this is because the presence of Christ is abhorrent to Satan, who wants the world for himself, as we see in the temptations of Christ, related in the Gospel of Matthew 4. Satan has always tried to make the Church into the world, to make Faith into a mere State or institutional ‘religion’. He makes bishops and priests into anti-pastors, into scribes (vain and pompous intellectuals like Arius and so many pompous academics who, puffed up with futile knowledge as the Apostle Paul describes (2 Tim 3, 4), think that they know everything) and pharisees (ritualists), not to mention persecutors and bureaucrats. Thus, in Church history, every heresy and every schism has been an attempt, usually unconscious because of the spiritual delusion of those who lead heresy and schism, to compromise the Church with the world.
Thus, in the seventh century in these Isles, disorganized but holy Irish monks were bewildered by organized but cold Roman religion; during the later first millennium the zealous monks of New Rome (Constantinople) were cruelly persecuted by iconoclast emperors and empresses with their pro-Islamic political projects; in the eleventh century Old Rome fell into the temptation of making its bishop into a universal emperor who commanded armies and tortureers, replaced God and from whom, they said, proceeded the Holy Spirit and so all truth and authority; a few centuries ago in Russia a great debate arose between non-possessing hermits and those who ran monasteries as economic units with farmlands and peasants; a little over a century ago the Russian Church, though with great institutions, was compromised as part of State machinery and the people flocked not to wealthy bishop-bureaucrats, city career priests and professional Italianate opera choirs in stone city churches, but to poor spirit-bearing elders in wooden chapels in provincial monasteries; and in our own times the greatest saint of the Diaspora, St John of Shanghai, was put on trial by bishops who backed secular-minded people who had money and power, and not the faithful and the true.
What are we to do in the face of injustices in Church life?
Firstly, we may be wrong: we can only know that we are right, if we are persecuted. Christ tells us so (Lk 21 and Jn. 16). So let us accept persecution provided that it does not force us into breaking the commandments. If it does mean compromising the commandments, we must leave for another canonical, and not uncanonical, diocese. For persecution is no self-justifying excuse for falling away into schism. The Church is everywhere littered with little groups, or rather sects of extreme, for instance of new calendarists and old calendarists, who were often initially victims of episcopal injustices, but who now have no canonical status and so have discredited themselves. But the Church calendar is also everywhere littered with those who bore injustices, only recently St Nectarius of Egina and St John of Shanghai, and so became saints. They did not take off their crowns.
Secondly, while you stay in the Church with those who cause injustice, do not participate in that injustice, side with the victims of the injustice. They are anti-pastors, but you must remain pastors, your conscience clean. The bullies, narcissists and manipulators of the naive, with their ‘gaslighting’ lies, hypocrisy and attempts to discredit, will not win. They do not think of the Last Judgement and tremble at it, but you do think of it and tremble at it.
Thirdly, we must know that, as they say, what goes round, comes round. Our persecutors should be trembling – in any case, they soon will be. I have seen so many who have persecuted Church people, terrible things have happened to them all sooner or later, without exception. Over the last forty years and more, I have seen them, bishops and priests dying suddenly after acting outrageously. They thought they could get away with it: they could not. Be patient: the Truth will out. God is always on the side of the good and the faithful. Be patient, justice is always done, for man proposes, but God disposes: Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap (Galatians 6, 7).
After almost dying out by 2007, the Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) in Great Britain and Ireland has in the very recent past begun to be rebuilt. Now with twelve parishes (London, Colchester, Birkenhead, Norwich, Cardiff, Stradbally, Belfast, Mettingham, Cheltenham, Bury St Edmunds, Wisbech and Ashford), it has hopes of opening a monastery, new parishes in four more places in different parts of our four countries as well as many hopes beyond that. Moreover, it already possesses many premises of its own, including unique, purpose-built churches in the Russian Orthodox style and also the largest Russian Orthodox church in these islands, if not in Western Europe.
This September, the bishops of the Church Outside Russia will be meeting in Synod in London. This will be a historic meeting at which decisions may be made for the longer-term future. The saints of the Isles and of all Europe are calling us: The time for sleep is over, wake up!
The news has come that last week’s Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow agreed to include the names of three Irish missionary saints in Western Europe, Sts Gall, Fridolin and Columban, into the Russian Orthodox calendar. It is yet another step in bringing the Church inside Russia into line with the practices of the Church Outside Russia, which has a far greater experience of local Orthodox life and missionary work.
The Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) began introducing such local saints into its calendar over 60 years ago with St John of Shanghai, his disciples Bishop (later Archbishop) Nathanael (L’vov) and Archbishop Antony of Geneva and then their disciples in England and the USA, just as it began using local languages in services. Thus, 40 years ago, the Church Outside Russia accepted St Edward the Martyr into its calendar, painted his icon and composed a service to him.
It now remains for the whole Church to accept all 10,000 Saints of Orthodox Christian Europe into its calendar, as was proposed by ourselves 43 years ago, in 1975, and has been ever since. The acceptance of the local languages and local saints of Orthodox Christian Western Europe into the Russian Orthodox Church’s spiritual and liturgical life and the rejection of divisive petty nationalism sets the Church against Western Europe.
Western Europe has consistently abandoned its saints, replacing them with popes, kings, knights, soldiers, philosophers, architects, conquerors, artists, explorers, inventors, writers, nationalists, dictators, scientists and mass murderers. It has, in other words, consistently abandoned the things of God for the things of man, it has abandoned the Spirit for the worship and justification of fallen man, of sin, of Heaven for Earth, of sacrifice for comfort.
As a result of this abandonment of Orthodox Christianity and the mixture of its vestiges with a host of isms issued from Roman paganism and barbarian heathenism, it did not adopt Orthodox saints into its calendar. Rather it set about attempting to destroy their Christian world and its civilization, notably in 1204 sacking and looting the Christian capital of New Rome, and then in 1917 sacking and looting the Christian Empire itself.
The European Orthodox thinker wonders and asks: ‘Where will all this end?’ And he receives the answer: ‘It will end with the end’.
On Saturday 19th May the Orthodox Community of the Royal Martyrs in Ashford, Kent, like many others all over the world, commemorated the 150th anniversary of the birth of Tsar Nicholas II. Soon we shall be on pilgrimage in Ekaterinburg to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his martyrdom and that of his Family and Servants, following which the world went insane.
All this comes against the background of the temptation which the Patriarchate of Constantinople is now undergoing: to appoint a new Metropolitan of Kiev and grant his Metropolia autocephaly, as they already in part did in Estonia. By thus invading the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church yet again, the Patriarchate of Constantinople will fall away from communion with the Orthodox Church. Bribed by US dollars, this schismatic activity will be a fatal mistake for it. It will be supported by few; the Patriarchate of Antioch and the Polish Orthodox Church have already raised their voices against its intended schism. Others will follow.
Tsar Nicholas II and his Family were taken out of this world because this world was unworthy of him. They now pray for the restitution and resurrection of Orthodox Russia and of the whole Orthodox world against such petty nationalism of schismatics in Constantinople, the Ukraine and elsewhere. The multinational Russian Orthodox Church, of over 70 different nationalities, prays to them for restoration. We pray that the ageing authorities in Istanbul may yet step back from the brink of their insanity before it is too late.
Q: How can you belong to ROCOR, a Church that in the 1990s uncanonically opened parishes inside Russia and entered into communion with schismatic Greek Old Calendarists?
A: I could not and did not. I am afraid you have your facts wrong. Two (but possibly more) ROCOR bishops did what you describe. And in the Western European Diocese of ROCOR, to which I then belonged, we categorically refused to engage in either of the above because both these actions were and are uncanonical.
Q: Why do Catholics make the sign of the cross backwards?
A: Christ sits on the right hand of the Father. The Tradition has always been to start with the right – right foot first. Thus, just like Orthodox, even Catholics make the sign of the cross with the right hand and not the left. Priests turn to their right to say to the people ‘Peace be unto all’, we cross our hands left over right before communion, priests (as did laity once) receive communion with their right hand cupped in the left, which is how laypeople cup their hands to take a priest’s blessing.
The fact is that in the West people used to make the sign of the cross as Orthodox still do, from right to left. Thus, in the 1713 French ‘Simple, Literal and Historical Explanations of the Ceremonies of the Church’ by Dom Claude de Vert, Page 6, Rubric 1, we read: ‘The priest makes the sign of the cross with his five fingers (and not with the first three only according to the old practice – as some bishops, the Chartreuses and the Jacobins still do, being careful to extend only the thumb and the next two fingers, as in times past).
And if the priest touches the left shoulder before the right, it is not a matter of indifference, as we can see from a letter of Pope Leo IV (790-855) that formerly the right shoulder was indeed touched before the left’.
The question as to why Catholics changed from the Orthodox practice (after all, they keep Orthodox practices in many other domains) is unanswerable. However, the most likely suggestion is that Catholic laity wanted to do what they saw the Catholic priests doing when they face the people and bless them, that is, when they cross the people from left to right (which appears to laity as right to left, as they face the clergy). In other words, the change was caused by clericalism, by wanting to imitate the clergy.
Q: Why in the British Isles do you say ‘He is risen indeed’ in answer to ‘Christ is risen’? Elsewhere the response is ‘Truly He is risen’, which, after all, is the literal translation.
A: This relates to the King James translation of the words of Luke and Cleopas to the other disciples in Luke 24, 34, after they had come back from Emmaus and talked to Christ: ‘Saying, the Lord is risen indeed’. (In the Greek, ‘ondos’ – really, in the Russian ‘istinno’ – truly). This translation simply relates to the emphatic British English usage of the word ‘indeed’ (for example, the phrase, ‘Did he indeed?’), whereas other English-speaking peoples would use ‘truly’ or ‘really’. The merit of the translation ‘indeed’ is that it implies ‘in action’, not just ‘in theory’.
Q: Why are some converts eccentric?
A: I recently visited a ‘convert church’ which had a notice by the entrance with the words: ‘Warning: This Church May Contain Nuts’.
We are talking now about a small minority, an eccentric fringe, so we should not get things out of proportion. I think that those who consider that they are ‘converts’ are not Orthodox; those for whom Orthodoxy is a way of life and have forgotten a time when they were not in the Church are simply Orthodox. Orthodoxy is second nature to us. But ‘converts’ (that is, a minority of converts) seem to cultivate exotic eccentricity, especially strange dress and hairstyles. And yet the Mother of God was a ‘convert’, as were all the apostles. But they never spoke of themselves as ‘converts’ and we never think of them as ‘converts’. Of course not – because they were converted – i.e. finished products.
Here we come to the essence of the matter: there are ‘converts’ and there are the converted. The difference is that ‘converts’ are people who want to remain in a stew for beginners, for ever and ever, and there are people who have been converted and are trying to improve themselves. In other words, quite simply, there are neophytes and there are Christians.
Those who are neophytes want to remain at the Church doors, for ever ranting against their former beliefs (there is nothing so anti-Anglican as an ex-Anglican) and there are those who have entered the Church and really cannot be bothered by what goes on at the Church doors. Those who remain at the doors for ever read books for converts (Bloom, Ware, Schmemann, The Way of a Pilgrim, Kalomiros etc) and cultivate eccentricity and exoticism in dress, hairstyle or speech, sometimes for some pathological reason (to look different from others); they are ‘converts’. It is time for them to move on and become normal Christians, which is what the word Orthodox actually means.
The word ‘eccentric’ is another word for vanity, the desire to be different, to be attention-seeking. Such ‘converts’ need to move on from the first course to the main course, with its meat, which has the promise of the sweet dessert to come. Those who remain converts need to be converted. But they must first want to be converted and not remain ‘converts’.
Q: What do you think of the opinion ‘Religion is the opium of the people’?
A: Personally, I am against religion, that is, the artificial invention by States of religious establishments in order to repress people. However, I am for faith, that is, for spiritual experience, the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, which is the foundation of the Orthodox Church. To Marx, whose birth was 200 years ago and who wrote this opinion 175 years ago, I would say: ‘And atheism is the opium of the intellectuals’.
Q: Are some people chosen by God to carry out some special task, to fulfil some special destiny in this world? Are you such a person?
A: All of us without exception have been chosen by God for some special task, it is just that only some are aware of it. As for myself, I have been aware for over four decades that I have to preach Orthodoxy in Western Europe. This is in order to gather the lost sheep together, that is, to reintegrate at least a small number of Western Europeans and our saints back into the Church. This is to make ready for the restoration of the Christian Empire in Russia to resist Antichrist, whose coming the globalists are preparing.
Introduction: Local Churches
Over the years there has been much talk of creating Local Metropolias in the Orthodox Diaspora, which could with time become new Local Churches, uniting all Orthodox on their territory. Yet none has ever appeared. This is not only the case in North America, where there was once a (Carpatho-Russian) Metropolia, which then became the minority and for many uncanonical, but largely English-speaking ‘OCA’ (Orthodox Church in America), but it is also true of Western Europe. None of the talk of creating a new Local Church in any part of the Orthodox Diaspora has been fruitful, all the ideas have remained pipe-dreams. Why?
First of all, there have frequently been what may be called ‘ethnic projects’. This is the idea of granting autonomy, or even autocephaly, to an Archdiocese or Metropolia in a territory of the Diaspora. This simply amounts to treating the territory as an extension of another and foreign country. Notably, this means creating a Church in a place, rather than a Church of a place.
For example, the old translation of ROCOR (the Church Outside Russia) was ROCA (the Church Abroad). This is an absurd translation – unless what we mean is a temporary extension of a Church, which has been set up for immigrants who will sooner or later return to ‘the old country’ and their Church will then disappear. Those born locally who are part of ROCOR, whatever their origins, are not abroad. Officially, this translation was dropped in the 1970s – and yet is still frequently heard and used! Other national groups have done no better, everywhere it has been the same problem.
Only a Metropolia of a certain territory, and not in it, is the beginning of a Local Church, as by definition it uses mainly the local language or languages, since, in other words, it has integrated and cannot be transplanted elsewhere. If its members want to return somewhere else, always harping after a childhood home, then they will never become local – they will have no roots there. Thus, today, there are Russians, Romanians, Serbs, Bulgarians, Greeks etc in Western Europe who have no intention of staying here, of becoming of Western Europe. They can never form a Local Metropolia, let alone a new Local Church. They are certainly Orthodox, but they are definitely not Local.
On the other hand, there have also frequently been what may be called ‘local projects’. These have always been marked by what can be called ‘autocephalism’ or ‘autocephalitis’. This is the desire to assimilate the local culture, whether it be Catholic, Protestant, Muslim or whatever. In any words, they gain local-ness, but lose the Faith – they are no longer Orthodox.
For example, we have the case of Finland, where many parishes that I have seen appear not to be sure whether they are Lutheran or Orthodox. They say: use only the local language (a dogma more important to them than the Holy Trinity), take out the iconostasis, do away with fasting and confession (and any other ascetic discipline) and give communion to all. Be local, be like the others – conform. This often happens when the locally-born second generation comes to power. Fleeing their parents’ ghetto, they suffer from an inferiority complex. But in desiring the local, they lose the Faith.
Thus, they end up with something local, only it is not Orthodox. I remember forty years ago hearing a recording of an OCA Liturgy. It was not just American, it was super-American; at moments it seemed like listening to a cowboy film. Clearly, this had been done deliberately by people who were second-generation Americans, who wanted to be more American than Americans. Russian intellectuals and aristocrats in France did the same, making Orthodoxy into a bourgeois French philosophy. This was also the case in the old Sourozh project, which was Parisian pretending to be Russian. Phyletist to the core, they threw out anyone who was not ex-Anglican or was Russian-speaking.
Conclusion: Orthodoxy and Integration, Not Heterodoxy and Assimilation
In the real world, Local Churches start by learning Orthodoxy and then become Local. They have to keep the Orthodox Tradition, but also have to be local, inculturated, integrated, using the local language and not ‘translationese’. All must keep faith with the One Orthodox Tradition, without compromise, without assimilation, yet all must prove themselves to be Local, that is, as Churches that cannot be transferred elsewhere. Thus, all must start with the maximum, never the minimum, that is, we start with monasticism, whether it is Sts Cyril and Methodius among the Slavs, St Herman in Alaska or St Nicholas in Japan.
Israel was proclaimed an independent State on 14 May 1948: exactly seventy years later the crazed elite of the USA has recognized its capital as Jerusalem: in one day over 50 people are dead, 2,000 are injured. According to Israel, it is ‘a glorious day’. This does not include those who have already died under illegal Israeli bombardments in Syria. There are those who consider that Israel is a US puppet-State; others consider that the USA is an Israeli puppet-State.
Why has the US elite done this, knowing that Israel has illegally occupied Jerusalem, setting the Muslim world against itself? It can only be because once Israel controls Jerusalem with the support of the world’s only Superpower, it can then at last start building the third Temple so that Antichrist can be enthroned there. His horns are already visible in globalism, both political and electronic, which is only the preparation for his global rule, and in the acceptance of dehumanizing perversions which destroy family life and so increase dependency on Antichrist.
There are those who say that all this is inevitable because the last remaining faithful Christians are few in number. So what? The pagan Roman Empire was brought down by twelve men. The remains of the Christian Empire, Holy Rus, are rising up despite the vicious Soviet culture which tried to suffocate it. It exists in order to counter the rising culture of Antichrist, to be a place of refuge for those who flee the world outside it, all those who still believe in the real Christ.
The responsibility of Holy Rus for the future of mankind is enormous. First the Russian Lands must themselves be fully transfigured, throwing off the old materialistic Soviet culture. Only then can its influence spread elsewhere. Only then can the coming Christian Tsar be chosen. His coming was already prepared by the self-sacrifice of the last Tsar and His Family, Who have been glorified. Only the presence of a new Christian Emperor, representing the Messiah, can stop Antichrist, the false Messiah. The Orthodox task is the opposite of that of the genocidal Israel-USA.
The coming Christian Emperor, the restored Tsar, will continue the work of his spiritual forebears. He will gather all the Orthodox lands and peoples together, opposing the new Sodom and Gomorrah, proposed by those very agents who have built an Embassy in Jerusalem and by the new Euro-order which has thrown out Christ from its money-changers and tells hateful lies about Russia. The coming Christian Emperor and his repented people will be able to counter Antichrist. So he will serve all the peoples of the earth who seek refuge from the demonic rule of him who will sit on his throne in the Temple in Jerusalem, the capital of the New World Order.