Introduction: Two Generations Ago
When I at last (I had been waiting for five years) managed to find an Orthodox church to attend, exactly fifty years ago, it was a Russian church. This was because in those days there were very few churches and all of them, except some of the Russian churches, were completely closed to other nationalities. Hardly any English people had any attraction to Greek, Serbian, Ukrainian or Romanian churches. (There were no others at that time). They were all, in other words, nationalist ghetto churches. Moreover, the Greek churches were well-known for being compromised politically through the alliances of their bishops with Western politicians and freemasons. However, there were a few Russian churches which were open to others. Moreover, at that time the Russian Church was very attractive as it was the Persecuted Church, the Church of the Martyrs and Confessors. For any who sought food for their souls, here it was.
Despite the large number of churches here fifty years on, the situation is in some regards even worse. Here is what the internet reports about one very senior Greek bishop.
His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America Delivers Historic Address to the US Intelligence Community at The National Intelligence University in Washington, DC – Ορθοδοξία News Agency (orthodoxianewsagency.gr)
Of course, we draw no conclusions about ordinary churchgoers and clergy of Greek churches, but this is what one, among others, of their ‘leaders’ does. It does not bode well.
Some would say no change here as regards the Greek Church run from Constantinople, but the various branches of the Russian Church have now also fallen. The Russian Church is no longer the Persecuted Church, but the Persecuting Church. Who wants to support that? Unprincipled yesmen and careerist clergy on the make? In Russia they have now ‘defrocked’ Archdeacon Andrei Kuraev. We never agreed with his ultra-liberal, almost eccentric and really unspiritual views. But that is not the point. ‘Defrockings’ now take place because of different opinions. However, you cannot take grace away with bits of paper. The bishops who issue such bits of paper only defrock themselves. They alone lose grace by their own political actions. This is all control freakery.
Given the behaviour of Greeks and Russians alike, persecuting the humble, the devout, the zealous, the apostolic, today the biggest Orthodox jurisdiction has increased in size again. It consists of those who do not go to any church. Why should they, when Greek and Russian bishops behave like this?
However, not all is black. Here is a report from one parish:
‘Our life in … is unfolding in a surprisingly peaceful way, despite the upheavals of the last year. Perhaps a quarter of a century of stubborn insistence on openness to all cultures, services in many languages, welcoming minorities and so on has achieved some modicum of success: we managed to alienate all the partisans of various national ideas, who fled and that left an open field to those interested in Christ and the Gospel’.
This repeats our own experience, except that we have been doing the same thing not for a quarter of a century, but for nearly forty years. And the partisans of various national ideas have fled. Thank God!
Conclusion: Real Bishops
Today the Church is dominated by bishops who choose to live in posh suburbs in the rich world (sic), loving bling and power, constantly trying to grasp property and demanding with threats and slander from their faithful clergy and craving ever more money. They try and close down churches like vulgar Communist commissars, despise and mock women and children (for obvious reasons – it shows what sort of ‘men’ they are), and cannot be bothered to listen to the confessions of the faithful. We know such bishops only too well. The Persecuted Church has indeed become the Persecuting Church. But we the new New Confessors fight against them, and unto blood if it takes that. We are not afraid of you, for God is with us.
There is a story from seventh-century Orthodox England of how a certain bishop, known now as St Chad, used to visit the faithful on foot, not on horseback, and had to be lifted onto a horse so he could continue his ministry more effectively. Such was his humility.
In our own sad twenty-first century, it is related how just a few years ago the late Patriarch Irenei of Serbia, who was presiding a Synod of his bishops, took a look out of the window and saw a car park full of expensive cars. When he asked who they belonged to and was told that they belonged to his bishops, he said to his bishops: ‘Just think what sort of cars you would have had, if you had not taken a vow of poverty’?
Such are the times we live in. Corrupt and persecuting bishops are now begging Antichrist to come into the world. We know your names. So does he.