Monthly Archives: May 2018

Autocephaly for the Schismatics?

As Moscow prepares for the worst but hopes for the best (‘keep your mind in hell, but do not despair’), drawing up plans for what to do if the US-appointed Patriarch of Constantinople grants Ukrainian schismatics autocephaly, here is one person’s take on the situation:

13 May 2018. To Be Or Not To Be… That’s the Question! Shall Bart Grant Autocephaly to the Uncanonical Ukrainians?

Three weeks ago, a news item flashed through the Orthosphere:

Poroshenko wants Bart to make Kiev an Autocephalous Church!

I decided to “wait and see”… this looked “interesting”, but would it have “legs?” A senior archpriest commented:

This move of granting autocephaly will completely disrupt the worldwide Orthodox Church into a mess that won’t be healed for a long time if ever.

Another senior voice said:

I can’t see it working out without lots of pain and suffering.

After getting communications like this, I decided to let the issue sit and develop. Interestingly, it seems to have gone doggo, if not dead. Buffeted from all sides, Bart checked himself into hospital, then, he left, apparently none the worse. It appears as though HH spoke and Bart listened. Patriarch Kirill is the effectual primus inter pares in Orthodoxy, and all know it. Apparently, Bart was getting pressure from both ends (his American minders and HH), so, he checked into hospital to cool things down. It appears to have simply fallen off the face of the earth. My guess is that American and Canadian Galician nutters working for the American and Canadian special services came up with this cockamamie idea, sold it to their superiors, getting Poroshenko on board, without really informing Bart of what was going on. After this hiatus, the whole thing does appear to be “something run up by the apprentice whilst the blacksmith was out”.

Is it dead? I think not. The Yanks are getting desperate, as none of their foreign policy initiatives are working out at all. China and Russia set up the historic peace meeting in Korea… China, Russia, and Iran stymied American efforts to topple the legitimate Syrian government… China and Russia, possibly joined by the Continental members of the EU, signalled their intent to ignore Trump’s ripping up of the Iranian nuclear accord… the Ukraine can’t get its act together; it can’t topple the patriot Peoples Republics. Therefore, the USA may continue to press Bart to do this. So far, he’s resisted them. It’s been a behind-the-scenes affair… but Bart knows that if events actually came up to a decision, if he didn’t give in to Washington, he’d suffer the same fate as Emmanuel Vaportzis in 1948… the CIA would depose him and replace him with a willing stooge. Would he stand firm or would he punk out? No one knows (I hope that we never have to come to that point).

If Bart were to do this, it’d set up a schism as serious as the one of 1054. Happily, he appears to realise this and isn’t eager to do the bidding of the Anglos. Shall it pass? Only time will tell us… what with the usual shortage of crystal balls and time machines, I don’t know what’ll happen… no one does. Pray for this chalice to pass…

On Church Life: Questions and Answers from Early May 2018

Q: Why did you end up in ROCOR (the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia) and not in the Sourozh Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church, which is now bigger?

A: As regards size, that is not the main thing, it is quality that counts. There were only 12 apostles, not 12,000.

The short answer is because the Church Outside Russia had a saint, St John of Shanghai, the Sourozh Diocese did not. Instead, it was renowned for intolerant renovationism that persecuted the faithful Orthodox minority, the real core of the Church. 25 years later, when there were more Orthodox faithful, this led directly and inevitably to an anti-Orthodox and anti-Russian schism from it by the new minority (which had been the persecuting majority earlier). And that led directly to the entry of the Sourozh Diocese into communion with ROCOR. There is nothing so intolerant as liberalism.

However, there were also all the usual reasons: For example, how could we outside Russia face lies about the nature of the Soviet regime in the Soviet-controlled Patriarchate? For example, the Church Outside Russian canonized the saints, St John of Kronstadt, St Xenia of Saint Petersburg, the New Martyrs and Confessors, which the enslaved Patriarchate could not, so who wanted to be subject to an enslaved Church, which was so weak that it could not even recognize its own saints? For example, quite a few of the senior clergy of the Patriarchate outside Russia were renovationists or in other ways corrupt.

Beyond all this, however, there is yet another reason, which is in the very names: ‘The Sourozh Diocese’. Or ‘The Russian Orthodox Diocese of Great Britain and Ireland’ (And our first bishop carried the title: ‘Bishop of London’). Obviously, for anyone born in this country, the second option is the clear winner. It is time that the name ‘Sourozh’ be dropped. Either we are the foundation of a new Local Church or else we are just another immigrant group with the name of an unknown place in a foreign country destined to be assimilated and so die out, like all those in the past. I do not wish to belong to such a group.

Q: Who are the renovationists inside Russia today?

A: There are the ageing ultra-modernists and ecumenists Fr George Kochetkov and his handful of followers, the anti-Russian academic Fr George Mitrofanov, other superficial academics like ‘I. V. Smyslov’ and D. Anashkin and the scandalous gossip and sacked Protodeacon Andrei Kuraev. But there are few of them, despite their noisy blogs, and they are discredited by real theology (which they condemn as ‘revisionism’ (sic!). Real theology lives in the monasteries, among the parish priests and the faithful, who are the real backbone of the Church and are ready to die for the authentic Faith – unlike the renovationists. They are here today, gone tomorrow. Nothing to worry about.

Q: What are the two most dangerous temptations for Orthodox today?

A: From the left side, there is so-called spirituality and from the right side there is so-called zeal.

Spirituality because it is most dangerous (the demons are spiritual beings and have spirituality). Only recently I heard of a woman who had interested herself in Hinduism and started meditation and yoga. Within two weeks she was hearing a voice and had become mentally fragile. Meditation of such a sort is infinitely harmful since it sets the imagination (the haunt of the demons) to work. There is something anti-Incarnational and therefore anti-Christian in this ‘spirituality’. It always ends up badly.

Zeal is also most dangerous because if it is not according to knowledge, as the apostle Paul says, it can cause great harm. For example, Muslim suicide-bombers are zealous and look where it leads them. All sects began with zeal. Most recently we can see it with old calendarists of various nationalities. Such zeal, not according to knowledge, however much it may be based on book knowledge, is always emotional and so leads to pride and division; authentic zeal, according to knowledge, is always sober and so leads to humility and unity.

Q: Why are Eastern European Orthodox countries so corrupt?

A: I think your question should be why are all countries so corrupt. Thus, the UK is run by freemasons (if not the Rotary Club or the golf club) and instead of bribes you constantly have to pay fines. France and Italy are mafia-run. Yes, Eastern Europe is also corrupt (Catholic or Orthodox). For example, in Lithuania (a Catholic country), they say that ‘Lithuania is the second most corrupt country in the world, but only because it bribed the actual second most corrupt country in the world to take its place as the most corrupt country in the world’. The reason for this corruption is two or three generations of atheism. You can have no morality under amoral atheism with its persecution of all spiritual values. Until these countries return from post-Communist money-grubbing Capitalism, they will remain utterly corrupt.

Q: What is essential before a Church can become Autonomous?

A: Apart from the request from a local Metropolia on a specific territory which wants Autonomy and the consent of the Mother-Church, which presupposes a certain maturity of infrastructure in the Metropolia – such as numbers of Orthodox bishops, priests, churches and faithful – there must be monastic life, a monastery and a convent, both with numbers of monks and nuns. That is essential.

Q: What are the political tendencies of the Diaspora?

A: In the USA we can see clearly how poor immigrants (Greeks, but not only) vote Democrat, the OCA is Democrat (in the UK they would be centre-left Liberal Democrats), whereas many White Russians are vaguely or clearly Republicans. Some are extremists, thus in academic theology there are two tendencies, to be moralisingly Evangelical-fundamentalist (Antiochians) or liberal-modernist (the Greeks outside Fr Ephraim) and the OCA. It is all wrong. We should be above politics and worldly academic theology, in the realm of the grace of the Holy Spirit.

In the UK we can see this in the fact that disused Protestant churches often either become mosques or else night clubs. It is the same anti-spiritual fundamentalist/liberal modernist divide.

Q: What is the origin of St Silouan the Athonite’s saying: ‘Keep your mind in hell and do not despair’?

A: There is nothing new here, it is simply the New Testament. There comes to mind the Apostle Peter’s saying: ‘Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour, whom resist, steadfast in the faith (I Peter 5, 8-9). In I Peter 5, 12 the apostle actually refers to Silvanus (Silouan in Russian!).

Q: Why do we wear our neck cross inside our clothes and not outside?

A: Because our Faith is not about showy externals, like that of the pharisees. Our cross remains next to our heart, on the inside. True, priests wear an external cross, but only doing the services and at formal occasions with a bishop etc. Otherwise they take it off. If we want to witness to our faith, it is not about wearing T-shirts with silly slogans, growing long beards, wearing crosses on the outside, it is about living a Christian way of life, loving our neighbours, whoever they are. This is what we shall be judged by, as Our Lord tells us quite clearly in the Gospels.

Q: Why are there different traditions in the Church regarding confession and communion?

A: There are not! The Tradition is confession before communion – unless you have a blessing from the priest not to come to confession every single time before communion (in the case of children, for example, or with several liturgies in the same week). Any other custom is pure decadence, usually a recent custom adopted from heterodoxy (as adopted in many Constantinople churches in recent decades).

Q: What is the origin of the Russian triple kiss?

A: The Russian triple kiss was universal among peasants (not among aristocrats) before the Revolution. Today it is common among family members and close friends, but you rarely see it in churches in Russia, where the sense of the parish was all but destroyed by the Soviets. This is ironic because its origin is purely Christian, it is the liturgical kiss of peace.

Q: If a miracle happened and the Russian Empire were restored – an impossible daydream as far as I am concerned – what sort of political union could be formed?

A: Who knows? Clearly, a restored Russian Empire would certainly have to cultivate good relations with China, with which it would have a huge border. But I could also suggest a global Northern Alliance between the lands of a restored Russian Empire, reunited with Alaska, together with Scandinavia (Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark), the British Isles and Ireland, Greenland and Canada. This northern quarter of the planet forms just over 25% of the world’s land surface, 37.7 million square kilometres out of the total of 149.6 million, but less than 6% of the world population.

Q: Is having a tattoo sinful?

A: I would say that it is a sign of suffering. The Gospel tells us that the whole of our faith consists in ‘loving God and loving our neighbour as ourselves’. Eight words. Do we really need a doctoral thesis to understand that? The modern world has ceased to love God (atheism), ceased to love its neighbour (genocide) and now hates itself – suicide and self-mutilation (that includes tattoos). Those who tattoo themselves are dissatisfied with themselves, they have a psychological problem, a ‘complex’, as they say. In other words, they are not simple, but complicated – like sin itself.

Q: Would you take part in an anti-abortion march or demonstration?

A: Only if I thought it would achieve something. I fear that in present-day post-Christian and anti-Christian society such outward displays of convert zeal might even be negative. Let us look to ourselves first. Only if inward mentalities change and a majority turns against abortion, should we hold processions behind the Cross held high.

Q: Who are the Jehovah’s witnesses?

A: They are Jews who venerate the prophet Jesus, never having accepted the New Testament, neither the Holy Trinity (which they regard as paganism), nor the God-man Christ.

Q: Why do so many Anglican churches fly the LGBT rainbow flag?

A: The Church of England is a State Church and was founded as such. It therefore does whatever the State orders it to do. Thus, now that the State, under Cameron and May, has approved LGBT, it flies their flag. What I have always wanted to know is why it is so strict on divorce when it was founded by Henry VIII, so that he could give himself a divorce.

Another Step Towards Armageddon

President Trump has recognized Jerusalem as the capital of the Zionist State and now reneges on the US deal with Iran, Europe objects. Of course, the views of the governments of Britain, France and Germany count for nothing: they have been mere occupied US vassals ever since 1945L: we all know what one US ‘diplomat’, Victoria Nuland, said of the whole EU. Within hours another US vassal, on US orders, nuclear-armed Israel, attacked Iranian weapons systems in Syria with American planes and bombs. The territory-greedy Israelis are perhaps preparing an invasion of that sad land, where the US and its tyrannical and fanatical Saudi and Qatari vassals have spent $1 billion a year, training and arming Muslim terrorists.

So the neocon plan of 2001 to ‘take out’ seven countries in five years, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and lastly Iran, approaches completion (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RC1Mepk_Sw). True, it has taken much longer than five years, but US terrorism (codenamed ‘shock and awe; Hitler called it Blitzkrieg) has been carried out. Chaos has resulted; millions are dead or mutilated; millions have become refugees; terrorist squads control most of the area, including Afghanistan, where the US puppet government controls little outside Kabul; the whole of the Middle East is at war. Oil and gas have been obtained, but the Zionist plan to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem is facing implementation.

The problem is that Iran is a large and powerful country, which may have nuclear weapons; in any case its two protectors, both Great Powers, Russia and China, do have nuclear weapons. China will not allow the USA access to Iran for strategic reasons. Russia will not allow the Zionists to rebuild the Temple for religious reasons. This time the world is on a knife-edge, brought to the brink of Armageddon by the US neocons.

Three Types of Clergy and Their Temptations

Introduction

As the decades roll by, we realize that we have in our lifetimes met several dozen Orthodox bishops and many hundreds of Orthodox priests, of different generations and different nationalities. Among them we can begin to see three different typologies, three tendencies. All of these are in themselves good, but all of them have their temptations. What are they?

The Administrator

Every bishop and every priest has, among other things, to be an administrator. If we take the finest saint of the Diaspora, St John of Shanghai, as an example, we know that he was a fine administrator (not at all a fool-for-Christ, as some have imagined), spending much of his time almost every day answering letters, dealing with financial and other difficulties, not least at his cathedrals in Shanghai and San Francisco, and pastoral questions, administrating. But he never confined himself to administration, becoming a bureaucrat, forgetting human-beings, leaving aside other necessary qualities, making it an end in itself. The description of a bishop or priest as ‘just an administrator’ or, in today’s jargon’, ‘an effective manager’, can be one of the worst insults. Why?

It is because such fall inevitably into the double temptation of money and power. They become civil servants, like so many State appointees before the Revolution in Russia and in State Churches today, in Greece and Romania. Their allegiance is therefore more with the State than the Church, with this world, not the other world. At worst, those who love money more than God become simoniacs and those who love power more than God ally themselves with the local national State apparatus – like the notorious defrocked ‘Patriarch of Kiev’, Filaret, who as a Communist spy built himself a palace and today calls for the genocide of the Ukrainian people. Such mercenary people end up losing their faith, believing in nothing at all – if they ever did.

The Intellectual

Every bishop and every priest has to be educated. The Church Fathers were highly educated. Indeed, they could in one sense be called intellectuals. If we take the finest saint of the Diaspora, St John of Shanghai, as an example, we know that he was well-educated and wrote several theological works. However, his theology, like that of the Fathers, was inspired by his prayer, not by his brain. In the Church, the brain is just a tool used to express the Holy Spirit, it is not an end in itself. It is embarrassing to meet a bishop or priest who lacks basic knowledge of the Church, the services, the lives of the saints, the Fathers and the Holy Scriptures. However, the description of a bishop or priest as ‘just an intellectual’ can be one of the worst insults. Why?

It is because those who confine themselves to intellectualism, making it an end in itself, are inevitably bad pastors, better with books than with people. If bishops, they dislike their priests and flocks and insult and condemn them, refusing to spend time with them; if priests, they dislike their flock, mock them and flee them. If bishops, they can wreck the Church, if allowed to do so, treating their flock like a mob. They dislike listening to confessions because they dislike people. Many such proud intellectuals, usually very vain to the point of narcissisism, are driven by some private ideology or pathology or both; to make of the Church an ideology or pathology is always fatal because it is to cease being a pastor, to cease loving others. That is spiritual death.

The Unworldly

Every bishop and every priest has to be unworldly. If we take the finest saint of the Diaspora, St John of Shanghai, as an example, we know that he was unworldly, without any attachment to the things of this world. Such unworldliness may mean that they are impractical or incompetent – which is why most monks make neither parish priests nor bishops. However, this is not necessarily always so. This is because the unworldly can delegate – to the right people, which is vital. If they are married priests, they can be supported by the right wife. Many an unworldly married priest depends on his wife in this way. Unworldliness seems therefore to be essential and yet the description of a bishop or priest as ‘unworldly’ can be one of the worst insults. Why?

It is because there are the false unworldly, those who pretend to be unworldly, the frauds. They make themselves into gurus, imitating real pastors with long hair and long beards. We have seen their affectations, which deceive only the new or the naïve. In fact, such are not unworldly at all, but are attached to their own persons. Their desire and ability are not in gaining money or power, in the sense of obtaining power the Church, but in gaining power over human souls. Sometimes using the power of hypnotism to create dependency on themselves, such frauds are known as false elders. Lacking spiritual experience and so discernment, they want to control and, deluded themselves, they give deluded advice, which leads to catastrophe, loss of faith or even suicide.

Conclusion

Of course, the separation of the above tendencies is very rare. In reality, the best clergy have mixtures of all three of these qualities, being good administrators, educated and unworldly, like St John. Only a few fall into the temptations which exclude the qualities. Nevertheless, the temptations have to be resisted. We have seen too many falls.

 

7 July 2030: Historic Autonomy for the Ionan Orthodox Church

The Address of Metropolitan John of London and All Iona in the Church of the Four Saints on the Snowy Mountain, Isle of Man, Feast of All the Saints of the Isles, 7 July 2030.

 

‘It was in 1970 that our sister, the Japanese Orthodox Church, received its autonomy from our Russian Orthodox Mother Church. Its Metropolitan Nicholas of Tokyo stands here beside me today as an honoured guest. Now, sixty years later, our island archipelago, on the other side of the Eurasian continent from Japan, has in its turn received its autonomy from the Mother-Church. Today, our Church of the Isles of the North Atlantic – I.O.N.A. – has received autonomy from Patriarch Tikhon II and the Holy Synod in Moscow. The Patriarchal representative, our dear friend Metropolitan Seraphim of Volokolamsk, stands here beside me, together with the personal representative of Tsar Nicholas III, the servant of God Gregory Efimov. This is a most solemn day of victory, for which so many of us have waited and worked for so long.

From this place, the highest point on the Isle of Man, this isolated and yet central point, are visible the four nations that make up our Ionan Confederation. From here we can see England, for which I bear pastoral responsibility, and Ireland, Scotland and Wales, for which my dear friends and colleagues, Archbishop Patrick of Dublin, Bishop Andrew of Edinburgh and Bishop David of Cardiff, bear responsibility. Today we gather on this feast day of All the Saints of the Isles, who are present here with us spiritually, and we recall our long struggles. After and despite many false starts and many errors and many divisive events, our Church began to develop only over the last generation, when She at last started to obtain and build so many of her own churches and give financial help to our priests, thus rapidly expanding all through our lands.

Within a generation we have built a network of over 120 of our own churches and their full-time priests, one each in most counties and several in each capital city. We have even been able to build churches in Iceland and the Faeroes, also isles of the North Atlantic. From our pilgrimage centres in St Albans, on Lindisfarne, Skellig Michael, Iona and at St Davids, our first martyr, St Alban, the Wonderworker of Britain, St Cuthbert, the monks inspired by Egypt on Skellig Michael, the Irish monks of Iona, St David, consecrated, some say, in Jerusalem and now those from the Russian Church join with us. With autonomy, we have the best of both worlds, an ideal and balanced situation. On the one hand, no-one can suggest that we are a foreign colony, but on the one hand we receive vital spiritual support from our Mother-Church, for which we are so very grateful’.

 

After this address ‘Many Years’ was sung to His Holiness Patriarch Tikhon II and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, heartily thanking them all for all their assistance and generosity.