The Orthodox Faith and Constantinople: The Fall from being the First among Equals to being the Last without Equals.
Q: What is the situation of the Rue Daru Archdiocese now at the end of this very important month for it?
A: As I understand it, after the meeting of its clergy in Paris on 28 September, some three-quarters of the parishes that had not already left (those in Scandinavia and the two in Italy) have remained faithful to Archbishop Jean. The exceptions appear to be only five communities in Continental Europe (mainly those under a troubled young priest in Belgium, the one in Germany and the modernist, anti-iconostasis group in Meudon near Paris). However, several tiny communities of Protestant-minded dissidents in England, who have existed as part of Rue Daru since 2006, when they were adopted into the Rue Daru set-up by the late Archbishop Gabriel, who did not understand the real problems. Among the Rue Daru Orthodox in Paris, these provincials are seen very much as trouble-makers.
Thus, it seems that the majority of Rue Daru have returned to the Russian Orthodox Church, scrambling up out of the ever-deeper ditch dug by the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which is now negotiating with Uniats in Rome, between itself and the rest of the Orthodox Church. In other words, 99% of the Orthodox world stands shoulder to shoulder with the Russian Orthodox Church, while the tiny, US-run Constantinople, stoops in unsplendid isolation
Q: There are Orthodox who say that the dispute between Constantinople and the Russian Church about the Ukraine is simply a racial and political one, all about power, and we should not get involved. What would you answer them?
A: This is the self-justification of those who, precisely, do not want to get involved, that is, who are disincarnate Orthodox, who think of Orthodoxy as a mere idea. These are the fence-sitters and, as they say, fence-sitters are those who refuse to climb the fence. The fact is that 12 Local Churches, including the Alexandrian, the Jerusalem, the Cypriot and the Albanian (their episcopates are all basically ethnic Greeks), the Romanians, the Georgians, the Arabs, as well as Slavs, support the Russian Church, against 1 Local Church, the US-controlled Constantinople. This is not therefore a racial argument. Nor is it a political one, for the Cold War is long over (except in the minds of those who like wars to make money from arms sales and like hating others). In fact, this is a dogmatic argument. Either you are Orthodox (13 Local Churches) or not (1 Local Church). Either you have an Orthodox understanding of the Church (ecclesiology) (13 Local Churches), or a Non-Orthodox one (1 Local Church).
Q: Will the Patriarchate of Constantinople be punished for its schismatic actions in the Ukraine?
A: It has already punished itself, as it has cut itself off from the majority of the Church. It has gone from being the first among equals to the last without equals. We must never forget that God is not mocked, for He is an all-consuming fire. I fear for the terrible events that will now follow if there is no repentance on the part of those in the Phanar who have carried out these acts because of US bribery and political threats.
The Russian Orthodox Church
Q: Many traditional aspects of the Russian Orthodox Church remind me of the Church of England and the Catholic Church before the 1960s. Surely, the Russian Orthodox Church is just backward? Once it catches up with the West, exactly the same things will happen to it as here. I mean Slavonic will be replaced by modern Russian, guitar music will accompany the liturgy, there will be happy-clappy services with people sitting down (as in Greek churches already), women will not cover their heads, there will be no Eucharistic fasts or fasts in general and no confession before communion, there will be women priests and gay marriage. Don’t you think so?
A: The idea of ‘catching up with the West’ is very amusing! I think in reality that it is the West that has to catch up with Russia, as the West is still stuck in its so-called ‘post-Christian’ and modernist time-warp dating back to the now old-fashioned 1960s. You are forgetting that today’s post-modernist, post-post-Christian Russia has seen the future already and not only survived and rejected it, but overcome it. The West, on the other hand, has still got to go through open persecution. However, I fear that the Catholic-Protestant West (and modernist Orthodox on the fringes, like some in Constantinople and Greece) will not survive that persecution. In which case, only faithful Orthodoxy will survive.
Orthodox Teaching and Practice
Q: What is the sense of the sacred?
A: The sense of the sacred is normal for anyone who has some sort of spiritual life or sense, who senses the spiritual presence of the other world, just beyond the veil of this world. It is why in Church we have an iconostasis, why there is no instrumental music, why icons have a different perspective, why we stand and do not sit and why we use an older form of liturgical language. Everything in Church is different from this world, which has no sense of the sacred.
Q: Do Orthodox believe the dogma that Adam and Eve were real people, from whom we are all descended? Or are they symbolic myths?
A: Of course, we are descended from them. They are portrayed in the Icon of the Resurrection, being freed from hades. We also inherited ‘the sin of Adam’, ancestral sin, from them. Moreover, DNA is now confirming our descent from them. However, this is not a dogma. A dogma is the Holy Trinity or that Christ is true God and true man, that He has two natures in one Person. That Adam and Eve are our ancestors is a belief, not a dogma.
Q: Do Uniats have the same three-bar cross as the Russian Orthodox world?
A: Interestingly, not quite, for of course like everything Uniat, it is not quite the same, it is ‘off’, askew. Significantly, the lowest bar of the Uniat three-bar cross does not point to the right, to Dismas, the good thief who repented, but it is always horizontal. This signifies that the Uniats have not repented. This is clearly the case, since they are Uniat, i.e. in a state of non-repentance for their apostasy.
Q: Why is the old calendar so important?
A: First of all, it is not ‘the old calendar’, but the Church calendar, which all the Fathers, East and West, agreed to at the First Universal Council in 325, nearly 1700 years ago. It was accepted by all until the end of the 16th century, when for purely secular reasons a change was made by heterodox, who had long before already split away from the Church and introduced a heretical teaching on the Holy Trinity. Their calendar is called the (Roman) Catholic calendar.
First, the Bolsheviks under Lenin tried to impose this Catholic calendar, then in Finland the Lutheran Finnish State persecuted churches there under the homosexual Archbishop German Aav, in Greece there was and is St Catherine the New Martyr who was martyred resisting it, then there were the Fascists under Hitler in the Ukraine who also tried to impose it. We too shall resist to the end, remaining faithful to the Church. Are you faithful – or not?
Q: Have you ever served on the new calendar and would you ever do so?
A: I never have done and would certainly avoid doing so. However, I have served and would serve with clergy who are obliged to serve the fixed feasts on the new calendar out of obedience. As I said to one who used to be a member of ROCOR (why, I am not sure), I have never been, am not and never will be an old calendarist – which is quite a different thing from being on the old calendar. Interestingly, the priest I said this to, in despair that ROCOR would not support old calendarism, left ROCOR and joined a sect which in his heart he had always wanted to belong to.
Q: How do we answer feminists who say that God is as much a woman as a man and the term ‘God the Mother’ is quite acceptable?
A: First of all, they contradict the words of Christ, the Son of God (not the Daughter of God), Who always refers to God the Father, as recorded in the Gospels. So to refer to ‘God the Mother’ is anti-biblical, anti-apostolic, anti-patristic, anti-spiritual, anti-Church and by origin worldly or secular, contradicting 2,000 years of revelations of the Holy Spirit. I think it is interesting, that such extremists want God to be female. So why don’t they want the devil to be female too? After all, in the name of equality, it should be so!
Q: Surely St Paul’s command that women should cover their heads in church (1 Cor 11) is just Jewish ritualism? Why should we observe it? Especially when Orthodox clergy have long hair!
A: Some things are Jewish (or rather Middle Eastern) hygiene ritualism, for example, circumcision or not eating pork, as it is observed by both Jews and their Muslim cousins. Other things are not and this is one of them – it is universal.
Thus, in English, we have the expression ‘to let your hair down’. This means to stop being sober and modest. In English history we can see how the Cavaliers, who were morally rather loose, especially in sexual matters, had long hair, but the Puritans were ‘roundheads’, with short back and sides – still the British and US Army haircut even today. In the 1960s sexual ‘liberation’ was marked by young people growing their hair long, throwing off the old restraints of Protestant moralism. It is everywhere well-known that women can make themselves sexually attractive with long hair – you only have to look at any street and you will see three or four times as many women’s hairdressers as men’s barbers, and women spend far more on haircare than men. The Apostle’s instruction is simply about modesty and sobriety.
As regards long hair as worn by some Orthodox clergy (probably a minority), this started to come in very late, probably in about the 15th century, under the influence of ascetics and hermits, who did not trim their hair (head or facial), simply because they had no scissors. Thus, the Old Ritualists in Russia, who date from the 17th century, still never trim their beards, but always have very short hair. In the early centuries laymen and clergy always trimmed their hair (and monastics wore tonsures, like St Gregory Palamas), as the Apostle commands (1 Cor 11, 14). When clergy do have long hair (this is usually monastic clergy), then they tie it back neatly, still not ‘letting it down’. Anything else seems either vain or else effeminate.