There are idealists who have not read the works of Orthodox authors (like the writings of Metr Antony Khrapovitsky) or are too young to have talked with those who were adults in pre-Revolutionary Russia and also do not know contemporary Russia. They often think that all was well in the Russian Church before the Revolution. This is wrong. Apart from a huge number of saints, sadly, the negative phenomena of spiritual impurity also came out of the Russian Church after the Revolution.
Firstly, there was the treachery that betrayed the Tsar (the same spirit that had rejected the restoration of the Patriarchate which Tsar Nicholas II had proposed in 1905) and greeted the new, anti-Church government of Kerensky. Secondly, there was the servile Protestant State-Churchism or erastianism that Peter I had imposed 200 years earlier, so that when the new Soviet atheist government put the Church under its control after 1917, it found some in the Church who were weak enough to obey. This servility was given the name sergianism. Thirdly, there was renovationism, a movement of intellectuals who wanted to protestantize the Church, imagining that the stones of their dry rationalism and intellectualism could feed the souls of pious Orthodox, hungry for spiritual bread. This caused a terrible schism inside Russia and a terrible schism outside Russia, where modernizers, freemasons and occultists, mainly from Saint Petersburg, detested the Russian Church so much that they left it for the Western-controlled Patriarchate of Constantinople.
None of the above is imagined. These three vices were exactly those which Tsar Nicholas referred to after his overthrow, when he spoke of ‘all around treachery, cowardice and deceit’. For the first group showed treachery, the second group, sergianists, showed cowardice and the third group, renovationists, calling themselves Orthodox when they were inwardly not, showed deceit, indeed, self-deceit. Each of the three groups represented unfaithfulness to each of the three foundation stones of the Orthodox Empire: Orthodoxy, Sovereign Independence and the People. The first were traitors to Orthodoxy, the second were cowards with regard to the Sovereign Independence of Church and State, the third deceived the People. As a result the Orthodox Empire fell, just as the Tsar described.
In history the three groups were represented by three separate groups in the Russian Church. The first group, some actually calling themselves ‘monarchists’, assassinated Rasputin and claimed to be ‘White’, but in fact they had little time for the real Church or the real Tsar or the real People, rather they played right-wing politics, wanted money and power and used the Church, the Tsar and the People as flags to conceal their real motives. Without the noble cause of the Tsar, they lost the war against Bolshevism and had to emigrate. These are exemplified by the nationalist and nominal Orthodox on the fringes of the Church of the Diaspora who later put the great saint of the emigration, St John of Shanghai, on trial and persecuted him.
The second group are those inside Russia who did not have the courage of the New Martyrs and Confessors and were not faithful to the Sovereign Independence (of the Tsar or of the Church), outwardly enslaving the latter to the atheist State. The third group, defeated inside Russia, are those who deceived the simple Orthodox people, turning their backs on the Russian Church entirely, though claiming to be of the Russian Orthodox Tradition, they were protestantizing philosophers and freemasons. Their centre was in Paris where they formed ‘the Paris Jurisdiction’ and from where they tried to colonize New York, where now they have lost many of their positions as reality dawns and fantasy fails.
The first two groups have shed the spiritual impurity of the past and are joined together as one. Now we await the repentance of the third and smallest group in Paris, whose doctrinal and practical eccentricities are immediately apparent to all but themselves and some of whom are still justifying themselves. Unlike his four predecessors, all of them well known to me, an outsider, a new Archpastor of the Paris Jurisdiction, Archbishop Job, also an outsider, has had the opportunity and the courage to confront the renovationists. He wants to restore Orthodoxy there, stopping the renovationist persecution of the faithful of whom so many have been forced to leave his ever smaller jurisdiction, a persecution that began in earnest in the 1980s and has lasted off and on for well over thirty years.
Now the St Sergius Institute has closed, ninety years after its foundation. Ironically, the Institute was the very reason why in 1925 the Paris group first fell into schism and quit the Church Outside Russia, soon after that leaving the Russian Church altogether. Its first dean, Fr Sergius Bulgakov, turned out to be a heresiarch, his fantastic theories condemned by the whole Russian Church. Now 90 years on it has fallen into schism even with its own Archbishop!
It is our impression that Archbishop Job realizes that if his tiny jurisdiction has a destiny, indeed if it has any future at all, then it must return to the canonicity after over thirty years of drifting away from the Russian Orthodox Tradition altogether. The Russian Church is preparing to establish a Metropolia in Western Europe, the foundation of a future new Local Church, far bigger than the small and increasingly irrelevant Paris group and with a large number of bishops, clergy, people and real churches. It is time for the fantasies of the isolated Paris group to cease and time for them to come back to earth. The Paris Jurisdiction is now like a huddle of castaways on a desert island, not sure whether to join the last boat that is leaving or to remain stranded in self-imposed isolation.
Of course, the Archbishop, an Athonite monk attached to a dependency of Simonopetra, is facing slander and intimidation from French nationalism (the oldest trick of the Parisians against outsiders), and the accusation that he is stopping ‘free thought’ and ‘creativity’ in the atheist Republic. In fact, he is supported by a great many who see through all the absurd accusations. Our task now, as before, is to pray for him in his task of restoring the Paris Jurisdiction to the mainstream of canonical Orthodoxy and the authentic Russian Tradition. Otherwise it will simply disappear and be forgotten, like other fringe phenomena of Church history and become a mere archaeological curiosity.