Daily Archives: November 2, 2022

On the Sadness of Mammon: Whatever Happened to the Russian Orthodox Church? (1992-2022)

Thirty years have gone by since Communism fell and the Russian Orthodox Church began to revive on a mass level. But over the last three or four years, before the events in the Ukraine, more and more have become disgusted with the behaviour of some in the Russian Orthodox episcopate, both in the Moscow Patriarchate (MP), based in the former Soviet Union, and in the émigré Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), based in New York. When did this decadence among the Russian episcopate begin?

The historically-minded would go back to the Judaisers of Skhariya in fifteenth century Russia, or to the Old Ritualist schism in the seventeenth century, yet others to Peter I and the German Catherine II (both dubbed by Westernisers ‘the Great’). In any case, the decadence certainly began well before 1917 and there are probably very few nowadays who still believe the old ‘lightswitch’ myths of the children of émigrés about how everything was perfect before 1917 and suddenly everything was awful afterwards. Revolutions do not happen without a cause.

A reading of the early volumes of the works of the incredibly frank Metr Antony (Khrapovitsky) (+ 1936) or of ‘The Russian Ideology’ by St Seraphim of Boguchar (Sofia) (+ 1950), describing the deviations of a State Church, is enough to see through that nonsense. As the ever-memorable Archbishop Antony of Geneva used to point out to us with a shrug of his shoulders: ‘They complain about the Russian bishops inside Russia who have swish black cars. Well, before the Revolution they had swish black carriages with swish black horses’.

However, none of the above distant historical references explain, let alone justify, what is going on today, with calls to ‘cancel’ (1) scandalous Russian Orthodox bishops, both in the Moscow Patriarchate and in its ROCOR subsidiary, for whom everything is wonderful. We are talking about the here and now. As one recent correspondent has put it: ‘I really think this is the reason why Orthodoxy is in such a mess today, it comes from the top down. Nowadays bishops have no humility, they’re full of pride and have a never-ending love of luxury which is corrupting them. Bishops in the MP and ROCOR live in a far more luxurious way them the vast majority of their parishioners and the worst thing is they think it’s normal.’

We were used to the old decadence of the Patriarchate of Constantinople: its careerist bishops, usually homosexuals, ordaining their boyfriend who then turned alcoholic, occasionally pedophiles, the womanisers with their mistress(es), the amassing of money for a villa in Greece, getting their teeth whitened in Turkey so they could look even more like the Hollywood stars they adore. But then exactly the selfsame disease spread to the Russian Church. What is the difference?

We can remember Metropolitan Philaret Denysenko of Kiev who in the 1970s (!) built himself a palace with the help of his Communist friends. The fact that he was married and had two children bothered no-one: in Moscow they turned a blind eye to married bishops – there were a lot of them then (as there are today, including in Western Europe), with at least one in the then ROCOR. The only problem was that Denysenko, like all careerists, wanted to be the Patriarch and then, like so many Communists, in 1992 turned overnight into a nationalist in the hope of achieving his aim (2). So he created a schism. Understandably, Moscow turned against him then. You could turn a blind eye to his moral weakness and his pickpocketing of money from the Church till, but not to schism. He is now defrocked, a shame, but also one who makes you shudder.

I remember Dmitry, an old émigré of the second generation (those nostalgic for something they had never known were always the worst – the real emigres, adults before the Revolution, knew all about what it had really been like and all the scandals). He told me in 2005 that ROCOR could not possibly be linked to the Moscow Patriarchate because that would be like a glass of pure water being mixed with a glass of dirty water. Pure phariseeism. I mentioned the word ‘Grabbe’ to him. Not the CIA and freemason father George/Gregory or Nasty News Nastia, but the notorious womanising son (3), Antony, who in ROCOR was called ‘the six-million dollar man’. That, after all, is how much he had made by selling Russian Church property in the Holy Land to the Jews. Poor old Dmitry pretended to know nothing about it. But he did, just as he knew about the alcoholic ROCOR protodeacon, the defrocked ROCOR priest, the womanising ROCOR priest who stole tens of thousands from his church and was awarded for it all by his naïve (or not so naïve?) archbishop. No, Dmitry, there were two glasses of dirty water.

Inside Russia, some blame the 250 bishops consecrated over the last 14 years by Patriarch Kyrill, too many of whom were clearly unworthy. Yet the search for more bishops was necessary. True, too many of them were not men of prayer, just ‘effective managers’ (code for ‘fundraising bureaucrats’) and they turned out to be just homosexuals and careerists (often one and the same, as among the Greeks), on the thrones of whose vacant souls sat the mocking satan. But despite even their numbers, the Russian Church still needs to find another 1,000 bishops, build another 100,000 churches and real Christian communities (rather than trying to persecute them and close them down) and find another 100,000 priests (rather than expelling them to other Local Churches), before it can say that it has really revived. The path for them has barely begun, as I have said time and time again.

Sadly, since the fall of Communism and the USSR in December 1991, many have fallen by the wayside in Russia. First there were the liberals like Kuraev, who adored Bulgakov, Schmemann and Meyendorff etc more than the saints. Then there were the ‘Orthodox Stalinists’, yesterday’s left-wing Bolsheviks who became today’s right-wing nationalists, under the cloak of Orthodoxy (2). These extremes all lead nowhere. The liberal Kuraev is defrocked, just as the anti-Semitic, right-wing ‘worshipper of Tsar as God’ Sergei Romanov from the Urals Convent. I met them both.

But perhaps the worst cases are in the Russian emigration. How we recall a very naïve young man from the ex-USSR seeing in Europe in the 1990s an elderly emigre bishop sweeping the floor of his church. He blurted out: ‘Clearly, he is a saint’. What nonsense. All émigré bishops and priests swept (and some of us still sweep) the floors of our churches. Are we all saints then?! We well remember the old school, of all jurisdictions: Archbishop George Tarasov in Paris, the widowed World War One pilot who became a bishop and had no clothes to wear; Archbishop Seraphim (Dulgov), the ROCOR bishop who lived in poverty and was happy so; Metropolitan Benjamin (Fedchenkov), whose only food was that given to him by his few parishioners and who slept on a concrete floor because he had given his bed to a beggar. Let me assure you that all this was completely normal. We never thought of ourselves as saints. We were, and are, simply confessing Orthodox Christians. It is you who are abnormal, which is why we are calling you to shame and repentance now.

And then in recent years there have come to Europe new ‘princes of the Church’, as they call themselves. There were a young bishop whose first act was to buy himself a fancy car and another even younger one, who refused to live next to his church and instead rented a whole very expensive house miles away, near a foreign embassy, from where he took his orders as their asset, so depriving a married priest of a salary! Both then tried to grab properties and cash, bullying like racketeering Chicago gangsters. Both discredited themselves immediately among their flocks, though they were lauded by their fellow-bishops. They convinced no-one and their dioceses are visibly and actually quite rapidly contracting as a direct result. But they say that everything is wonderful. Because they cannot see the elephants in the room. Themselves.

The curse of today’s Russian Orthodoxy, MP and ROCOR, is undoubtedly love of money. And this is not because ROCOR has been corrupted by the money of the MP. The MP never gave ROCOR a penny. You could perhaps argue just the opposite: ROCOR corrupted the MP with its American love of money. Already fifty years ago, the new ROCOR celibate priests sent to Europe in the 70s and 80s were not like the old ones, the authentic poor monks and probable saints. Fr George Sheremetiev (+ 1971) warned us even then of ‘the American disease’ coming to ROCOR. The new ones all wanted to live like the wealthy Americans they already were or else wanted to be. One turned out to be a pedophile, others were long ago defrocked. On the other hand, in 2018 I met a priest in Russia, who had been through the Americanisation of Russia in the 1990s, who boasted that he had 15 kilos of gold inside the magnificent church he had built. I told him to sell it and give it to the poor. ‘In England we use gold paint. That’s good enough for us’.

We know all their stories and all their names, from the photos with the ostrich feathers down. (You know who you are). But as St Paisios the Athonite told me in 1979: ‘When you see the excrement of wild animals on a path between monasteries, you gather it together and throw it away into the bushes, so that the next passer-by does not walk in it and spread it around’. As with the excrement of wild animals, so we do with the scandals of bishops.

I remember that same old son of an émigré, Dmitry, who told me that we in ROCOR could not possibly concelebrate with the corrupt of the Moscow Patriarchate. I quietly reminded him that all the New Martyrs belonged to the Moscow Patriarchate, for there were none in ROCOR, and that we belonged to the New Martyrs. He had no answer. We Orthodox belong to the Persecuted Church, not to the Persecuting Church and we are not afraid, for as it is written:

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, incontinent, fierce, haters of the good, traitors, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God. Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. From such turn away…But they will not get very far: for their folly shall be made plain to all.

Prophecies of Paul the Apostle, 2 Timothy 3, 1-5, 9

And if you are disheartened by all this, know that we are still here, despite all the mud they have slung at us and which has stuck only to them. And then read the prophecies from outside Russia and from inside Russia:

The Lord has already chosen the future Tsar. He will be a man of fiery faith, having the mind of a genius and a will of iron. First of all, he will introduce order into the Orthodox Church, removing all the untrue, heretical and lukewarm hierarchs. And many, very many – with few exceptions, all – will be deposed, and new, true, unshakeable hierarchs will take their place.

Archbishop Theophan of Poltava, in exile in France (+ 1940)

The bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church will fall away from the truth of the Orthodox Faith, they will not believe in the prophecies of the resurrection of Russia. To reprove them, St Seraphim of Sarov will be raised from the dead. He will reprove the clergy for their treachery and betrayal and will preach repentance to the whole world.

Blessed Pelagia of Ryazan (+ 1968)

Judgement Day is coming.



  1. In the same way as the recent ‘cancelling’ of the scandalous Metr Joseph of the Antiochian Archdiocese in the USA has already led to his ‘retirement’.
  2. Communists who see that they have lost always then play the nationalist card, as in Russia, the Ukraine, Poland, Yugoslavia etc. And in China. The overnight techniques are the same, as are the results. The biggest Nazis in today’s Ukraine were the biggest Communists thirty years ago. Denysenko is but one example.
  3. The old ROCOR quip on father and son clerics has always been: ‘Yes, I saw the father and the son, only I didn’t see the Holy Spirit’.