The Past Local Turmoil
Q: You spent nearly four decades serving as a clergyman, and were a layman for ten years before that, in the Russian Church, but in February 2022 you left, together with many others. Why the mass exodus?
A: The irony is that we did not leave, we were forced to leave. Why? Well, they know better than us why they acted in their bizarre and suicidal way and forced us out! Perhaps they do not want Non-Russians in the Russian Church? Perhaps they want to become as small as possible? I don’t know. But here is what happened to us:
At the end of our tethers after three years of persecution, at the beginning of May 2021 we alerted the authorities to the grabbing, alienisation, sectarianisation, papalisation, politicisation and so self-destruction of that part of the Russian Church. As we were whistle-blowers, we were persecuted and punished. Nobody wanted to know the Truth which we were clearly telling them. They preferred to brush the reality under the carpet. The problem is, and I have observed this so many times in my life, for example in the case of Metr Antony (Bloom) in the 1970s, which led straight to the Sourozh break-up in 2006, or in the case of Metr Vitaly (Ustinov) in the 1990s, which led straight to his deposition by the other bishops in 2001, that if you brush reality under the carpet, it will come back and hit you in the face with much greater force later on. This is exactly what happened to them when they tried to punish us for telling the Truth. As Christ says: ‘The Truth will set you free’. This means that telling untruths will enslave you. And that is exactly what has happened to them.
Part of the Russian Church fell into a top-down, colonial, sectarian and cultish schism, without any understanding of the Tradition of the Church or the need for missionary-work among local people, both Orthodox and Non-Orthodox, who live in this country and to whose language you must adapt, rather than try to impose on them a foreign jargon. This situation had obviously been carefully prepared for it as an entrapment by the infiltrators all through the Russian Church, including their agents in Moscow itself, but we acted canonically and tried to join one of the two other parts of the Russian Church. This was not allowed by one part since they too had been entrapped, and although the other part received us, they were not allowed by the powers behind them to keep us for more than six months. Both rejections were clearly 100% political acts.
In this way, ironically, they all condemned themselves as ‘Sergianists’, that is, people who put loyalty to their political masters above loyalty to Christ. In this, they simply showed their hypocrisy, for they had always condemned Sergianism in others who were forced to be Sergianists when they were political hostages, and yet when they themselves were politically free, they made themselves into Sergianists! The attempts to persecute the faithful and close our churches here differ in no way from what the Soviet State tried to do inside the USSR generations ago, or what the US-created Kiev government is doing against Metr Onuphry today. It suggests that they are all Trostkyists. Their underlying anti-Christian and ultimately Satanic ideology, whatever the various masks it may wear, is the same.
Q: So what did you do after you were forced out of the Russian Church?
A: If the Russian Church were to reject its own despite our loyalty to it, our Plan B had always been to join the Patriarchate of Romania. Discussion and consultation in mid-February 2022 only confirmed that Plan. So, having been released from the Moscow Patriarchate, this is exactly what we did. Indeed, our old family friend, going back nearly 50 years, Metropolitan Jean of the Western European Archdiocese of the Moscow Patriarchate, who had been forced to release us by certain individuals (we know their names), actually told us, after we had informed him that we had joined the Romanian Church: ‘That is exactly what I thought you would do and I actually told the Patriarchate that that is what you would probably do, to their loss. To which they had replied: ‘Too bad’’. He laughed ironically at the suicidal action of the Moscow Patriarchate. It had lost, discrediting itself, showing that it put careerist State politics first, spiritual integrity second. This act will go down in the history books as an act of self-destruction. Will the Russian Church here ever recover? Will it now only ever be an Embassy Church?
Q: Why had your Plan B always been the Romanian Church?
A: As soon as 2001, when Romanian immigration started, we had had Romanian parishioners, later a deacon and a priest, and by 2021 six of the twelve clergy and three-quarters of the people in our group of parishes were Romanian-speaking, that is Romanians or Moldovans. We were received into the Romanian Patriarchate on 16 February, within exactly four hours of applying, though we did not receive our signed antimensia until 27 February 2022. We had found canonicity and no longer feared having our property taken or being in a colonial and schismatic sect and alien, politicised cult, which is what that part of the Russian Church had become. Since then we have been in weekly contact with our Metropolitan Joseph, whom members of our family have known since the 90s, when he first moved to Paris.
When they tried to deny and complain about our reception in April, His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel rejected their nonsense, though they had actually dared to contact him in Bucharest personally not once, but twice! Since then all has been plain sailing, we soon opened two new parishes, receiving more antimensia from Metr Joseph. That had been on hold until then, and now other clergy and people are joining us, with a nice surprise coming in October, God willing. Every day we thank God for bringing us to the safe and canonical haven of the Romanian Orthodox Patriarchate. Glory to God for all things!
Q: So for your group, firmly entrenched inside the Romanian Metropolia, and consisting of six parishes, 5,000 faithful and 12 clergy, the turmoil has been over since 16 February, but for the rest of the Church, it started on 24 February.
A: Yes, and what an irony that was. We had found a safe and quiet canonical haven out of the awful political mess of the Russian Church, but for others the mess had only just begun. Actually, at the beginning of March, a priest from the MP Sourozh Diocese contacted us and told us he was jealous! Our situation shows Divine Providence towards us in getting us out of the Russian mess a few days before the Ukraine tragedy unfolded. We thank God.
Q: What is the situation of the Romanian Church in the Western European Diaspora?
A: As regards the Diaspora situation in Western Europe today there are just over 4 million Romanian speakers (Romanians and Moldovans) in Western Europe (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romanian_diaspora). This is by far the largest Orthodox group in Western Europe. They are everywhere, though half of them live in Spain and Italy. As one Londoner who frequents the ageing Cypriots in their emptying churches there told me: ‘When you see children in a Greek church, you know they are Romanians’. (Sadly, the Greek-Cypriots have repeated exactly the same error as the Russians two generations before them, that is, they have completely failed to pass on the Faith to their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren etc. And just like the post-1917 Russians, they are now dying out).
The Western European Metropolia of the Patriarchate of Romania, which is Autonomous, has six bishops, one of whom is French, several Non-Romanian clergy and it uses both calendars. Our Metropolitan Joseph, who is an engineer by education and a real monk, comes from the north of Romania near the Ukrainian border – Metr Onuphry comes from just across the border on the other side, where Ukrainians and Romanians live side by side and there are many bilingual churches. Metr Joseph is very active in promoting the use of local languages, especially French, as he realises that the children born in Western Europe need them. One of our parishioners is his distant cousin, from the same village as him. Metr Joseph has been active in helping Ukrainian refugees, who, quite naturally, refuse to attend any Russian churches.
The Present Universal Turmoil
Q: Leaving aside the actions of Divine Providence in your case, what would you say about the general turmoil that the Orthodox Church finds itself in today?
A: Well, first of all, at least the turmoil proves that the Church is living. We are not dead. On the other hand, there is good turmoil and bad turmoil. This is bad, though God can always bring good out of bad.
The turmoil was initially caused by the catastrophic and deliberate failure of the ideology-bound Western elites to recognise the human rights of the large Russian minority in the Ukraine. This was Russophobia. However, for the Ukrainian majority, even if compromised and manipulated by the West for its own political advantages and by the theft of Ukrainian land and resources by US corporations like Monsanto and that of Hunter Biden etc, this was no solution. We support the Romanian-speaking Metropolitan Onuphry and have prayed for him and his suffering flock at the Great Entrance at every Liturgy since 2018. We cannot support war. His line is ours. They tried to take our churches and failed; they are taking his churches and succeeding. So we understand and suffer with him.
For a long time, the Orthodox Church was seen as either Greek or Russian. The ‘Greek’ Church was seen as basically Greek-speaking – Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem, Greece, Romania, Cyprus and Albania on one side. The ‘Russian’ was seen as basically Slav – Moscow, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Georgia and the OCA on the other side.
In fact, that was never true, as, for example, Romanians, Georgians, Arabs and Albanians are neither Greeks nor Slavs. Today, it has become quite untrue, because both certain Greek and Russian bishops have played politics – and lost the sympathy of their own Greek-speakers and Slavs alike. In reality, the Church is like a see-saw, with Greek extremists at one end and Russian extremists at the other end. The balance is maintained by those inbetween, including non-political Greeks and Russians. At the centre of the whole contemporary storm is the provincial Ukraine, which is only a plaything in the hands of the geopoliticians. Make no mistake, this is a war of the USA and its vassals against Russia and China. The Ukraine is just a location, a battlefield. This is not a war between Russians and Ukrainians, this is not a racial or a religious war, but a political and economic war for the future of the world.
As you know, in 2018 Constantinople agreed, under the bribery of American ‘pressure’, to set up a pro-American, pro–LGBT etc, pseudo-‘Church’ in the Ukraine. This was a scandalous act, as it meant that it had accepted the morally fallen and Neo-Nazi nationalists, thugs and criminals and proclaimed that they were Orthodox clergy and laity! In a word, the ‘Greeks’ had sided with the persecutors of the Church for a mess of American pottage. They had lost any moral high ground that remained to them. At once they found that they had not only caused a schism in the Ukraine, but that the ‘Russians’ refused to concelebrate with them, that they had virtually caused schisms inside the Churches of Greece and Cyprus, that the Churches of Romania, Antioch and Albania did not support them and that the Church of Alexandria had lost half its clergy and people to the new Russian Exarchate in Africa. Constantinople had lost all down the line, isolating itself from the Orthodox world in its own self-made schism.
A Russian victory? No!
As you know, from February 2022 Moscow began persecuting its own, first us in England, then others, in the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Lithuania, Spain, and now Latvia and, above all, in the tragic Ukraine. The ‘Russians’ had stabbed their own most loyal supporters in the back, also for a mess of political pottage! They too had lost any moral high ground that remained to them. At once they found that they had not only isolated themselves from their own Church in the Ukraine, but that the world had seen that the ‘Russians’ were quite capable of betraying their own all over Western Europe and creating a division on the canonical territory of another Patriarchate (Alexandria), in exactly the same way as the ‘Greeks’ had done on the canonical territory of another Patriarchate (Moscow). Their natural supporters in the Churches of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Georgia and the OCA stood aside in silence and either failed to support the Russian Church or else outright opposed it. Moscow had lost all down the line, it too had isolated itself from the Orthodox world.
Holy Rus is a fine ideal, but you will never spread it with missiles and shelling. We had warned about the danger of this temptation continually for fifteen years! Go back to your Sergianism at your peril! Or else prefer the freedom that God has given you. All was possible, we said, one or the other. Well, they chose the other, the rejection of mass repentance.
As we have already said, for a long time the Orthodox Church was seen as either Greek or Russian. Today, both Constantinople and Moscow have disqualified themselves from the moral leadership of the Church. Both have shown themselves to be victims of their own nationalist and racial politics, the ‘Greek world’ and the ‘Russian world’. Neither talked about the Orthodox world! Non-Russians are not interested in the Russian world. Non-Greeks are not interested in the Greek world. We need the Orthodox world. This means that both Constantinople and Moscow have lost the moral high ground, including the chance to lead the cause of unity in the Diaspora. Neither Greek nor Russian is now the future, precisely because of Greek and Russian misbehaviour. It is now up to all the other Local Churches to lead the way.
Q: Do you see any end to this turmoil between the Greeks and the Russians?
A: Only a Church Council can resolve all the Inter-Orthodox problems. Not the political manipulation of a Council of Moscow in 1948 or of a Council of Crete in 2016, but a real Council of all the Churches, a Council that is politically free of both Washington and Moscow. Sadly, for the moment, that is not going to happen. Constantinople is enslaved to its US-backed and quite absurd project of universal domination. Everyone must become a Greek! Moscow is enslaved to supporting the Russian State, come what may – regardless of whether the Russian State even wants its support! It is a catastrophe and plunges the Church into a new period of paralysis.
However, there is hope. The Greek Patriarch is in his 80s, the Russian in his 70s. Great changes lie ahead, as US hegemony falls after the routs of the US and its NATO vassals in Iraq, Afghanistan and now in the Ukraine. It is yet another disastrously lost war for the overweening and now bankrupt West, which through its military incompetence and immense hubris has not won a single war since 1945.
However, when the ‘Greeks’ lose their US backers, that does not at all mean that the Russians will have won. The Russian State can win the war in the Ukraine, but how will it win the peace? That is quite another matter. The Moscow Patriarchate has betrayed its multinational vocation through backing narrow Russian nationalism, just as the Patriarchate of Constantinople backed provincial Greek nationalism before it and lost the broad, imperial vision of the old Constantinople. The only hope for Constantinople is a generation of bishops who were not bishops in the ‘US’ period of Constantinople, and for the Russian Church a generation of bishops who were not bishops in the Soviet period and so do not have that State mentality.
Q: What should be on the agenda of a free Council?
A: It hardly depends on me! But there are some problems which everyone can see and which have been crying out for solutions for generations.
Firstly, in order of size, the Churches of Romania, Ukraine (which, like it or not, is now de facto, though not de jure, an Autocephalous Church under Metr Onuphry), Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Antioch, North Macedonia (presumably all recognise it), Poland, Cyprus, Alexandria, Czechoslovakia, Albania and Jerusalem, all the universally-recognised Local Churches, except for Constantinople and Moscow, will have to meet initially and discuss something like the following:
- The canons must no longer be weaponised for political, racial and territorial reasons. For example, let us drop the nonsense of the deliberate Greek misinterpretation of Canon 28 of Chalcedon, which was introduced 100 years ago. Let us drop the gagging, sacking and even ‘defrocking’ of clergy, as in Lithuania, because they do not vote for the same political party as their bishops! This was not in the Gospels!
- You cannot go back on autocephalies and territories recognised by the whole Church as granted to Local Churches in the past. Canonical territories must be respected. Stop the Greek nonsense in Estonia, the Ukraine and elsewhere. Stop the Russian nonsense in Africa or at least, divide the African territory into two, North Africa for the Greeks and Black Africa for the Russians, for example, or something like it was 100 years ago, so that there are no overlaps.
- There must be four new Autocephalous Churches for the Diasporas, in Western Europe, North America (which would solve the OCA problem), Latin America and Oceania. New, multinational Local Church structures are the only way the Church can exist long-term outside the old homelands. This is a problem that should have been solved 100 years ago, but instead we have had 60 years of hot air and the loss of generations of Orthodox who were assimilated because they could not understand anything in their parents’ churches. If the Church authorities had put pastoral care first and not political and racial ideologies first, this problem would have been solved long ago.
- The great crisis in the Church, arguably for centuries, has been the lack of leadership. The essence of this crisis is that the authorities have not for the most part appointed genuine monks to the episcopate, but only single men, ‘monks’ in name only. Thus, they have appointed careerist bureaucrats and scandalous homosexuals (‘the lavender mafia’, as is so often the case with the Greeks), not to mention secular failures, alcoholics, freemasons, womanisers and ‘secretly’ married men (as is so often the case with the Russians), to the episcopate. A Council should proclaim and enforce a canon that all candidates for the episcopate should be monks who have spent at least ten years in a genuine, working monastery, or else that married bishops should be allowed. It must be one or the other – or both.
Once these matters have been discussed by all the other Local Churches, Constantinople and Moscow could be invited to a full Council to take them further, provided that they show that they are at last politically free, have repented for their past and so are worthy of taking part in a non-political Council.