Category Archives: China

The Tortuous Path of Western Religion in the Global World

This April’s canonization of two twentieth-century Popes of Rome has only served to underline the gulf between the Church and Roman Catholicism as regards the criteria for sainthood. The first pope to be canonized, a jocular Italian peasant, and the second, a highly politicised Polish nationalist philosopher, were both enemies of the Orthodox Church. The first took part in anti-Orthodox activities in Bulgaria, the second in Yugoslavia and the Ukraine. This is no surprise, since both have been canonized by a Jesuit pope, who is a form backer of Galician Uniats and last weekend received the self-appointed Premier of the Ukraine, the scientologist and promoter of anti-Ukrainian terrorism Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

The present Pope’s support for the disintegration of the Ukraine probably comes under US orders, following President Obama’s recent visit to Rome, just as John Paul II made himself available to the US to help bring down the Soviet bloc in the 1980s. It was under the latter’s pontificate in particular that Catholicism was penetrated by pedophile priests, whose activities were camouflaged by Rome. Naturally, the double canonization in Rome was attended by a bishop from the Patriarchate of Constantinople, who sat with the other Uniats, not with the Protestants (Lutherans and Anglicans). In this way that Patriarchate can see what its fate will be if it does entirely join Rome – it will become just another Roman Catholic colonial subculture.

These papal canonizations, like that to follow later this year, illustrate the confusion of the Vatican of the last fifty years. It is not exact to say that Catholicism has lost the way; rather it has found a multitude of false ways. As they say: when you stop believing in something, you will believe in anything. The gap between official Vatican proclamations and what ordinary Catholics actually believe has grown and grown. However, the overall trend of the last fifty years has been towards a Catholicism that is ever more secularized, protestantized, politicized, turned away from God, symbolized by their priests who now turn their backs to God during their services and face the world instead. The Catholic merger with the world is also symbolized by the ‘modern’ ‘design’ of its church buildings, furnishings and vestments. And the modern designs of the 60s and 70s look very old-fashioned in today’s post-modern world.

Overall, Catholicism has shown a loss of the sense of the sacred, of Divinity, of holiness, a movement towards protestantization and so secularization. In the face of that, many of the most devout Catholics – as well as many ordinary Catholics – have abandoned Catholicism, since they have felt abandoned by their own hierarchy. Catholicism has lost the Western world. Its reality today is in Latin America, Africa and Asia, though here too there are losses, for example Brazil, where 40% of the population is said to have joined Protestant sects. Of the future it is hard to speak. The sectarian Muslim world and Hindu India remain mysteries, though it is said that by 2030 China will be the largest Christian nation on earth. And there, as everywhere else, the spiritually sensitive and the historically-minded will see through Western mythology and find their way to the Orthodox Church.

As a result of the collapse of Catholicism in the Western world, over the last two generations right-wing Catholics have joined the Catholic traditionalists; as for the moderate and the younger generation, faced with the spiritual desert of the West, they have been drawn into any number of sects and cults. There they seek a sense of belonging. The degeneration of modern Catholic worship, characterised by infantilism, the entertainment mentality, and the lack of spiritual understanding are reflections. They are reflections of the modern consumer mentality. This has conditioned and shaped modern Catholicism, like modern Protestantism, making it into a ‘cafeteria religion’, a ‘pick and mix’ consumerist supermarket. Today Western religion faces a civilizational dead end; the thread of its manmade life has been unwound. If the West wants to continue as a spiritually-based entity, and so a morally-based entity, it will have to look outside its apostatic self for sustenance.

The West Further Isolates Itself: Russia Faces its Eastern Destiny

US global influence outside the club of the world’s seven most insolvent nations – the now irrelevant G7 – has declined dramatically in the last few months. Firstly, there was the Western threat to bomb Syria, which failed when it was proved that the poison gas attack in Damascus had been carried out by Western-backed terrorists. Secondly, there were the bullying Western threats against the democratic and bloodless decision of Crimeans to return to Russia after the frightening Neo-Nazi coup d’etat in Kiev, which has so frightened so many other Ukrainians. Russia had already warned the tyrannical West several times that sanctions against the self-determination of the Crimea would be counterproductive and now three geopolitical shifts are afoot.

Firstly, with the United States and much of the US-controlled European Union rejecting Russia, it is turning east for business, contracts and alliances. The US-staged and funded (5 billion dollars) coup d’etat in the Ukraine has already brought Russia and China together, encouraging bilateral trade and in the future possibly marginalising the dollar. With China refusing to vote against Russia over the Crimea at the UN (it has Taiwan in mind) and suing the bankrupt Ukraine for $3 billion for a loan repayment, the Chief Economist of Russia’s largest bank has stated that ‘China’s yuan may become the third reserve currency in the future’. If such a joint, commodity-backed reserve currency bypasses the dollar, Russia will become independent of Western financial markets.

While Europe seeks alternative sources of energy, in case Russia stops gas exports to it (the imminent rise in gas prices to the Ukraine by 40% is of great concern), Russia is preparing to announce a huge natural gas supply deal with China that is apparently close after years of negotiations. If it can be signed when President Putin visits China in May, he will be able to hold it up to show that global power has shifted eastwards and that he does not even need the West for exports, so binding Russia and China in an axis. It should be noted that China has already overtaken Germany as Russia’s biggest buyer of crude oil thanks to oil supplies via the East Siberia-Pacific Ocean pipeline and another crossing Kazakhstan.

Secondly, as if pushing Russia into the embrace of the world’s most populous nation was not enough, there is also the second most populated country in the world, India. The Russian government has taken the time to thank it too for its understanding over the Crimea – saying that India had shown restraint and objectivity. President Putin has called the Indian Prime Minister to discuss the crisis, suggesting that there is room for Russia’s ties with traditionally non-aligned India to flourish. Russian moves to regain the Crimea were seen very favourably by the Indian Establishment, which suffered enough from British colonialism and has little time for Western bullying and patronising.

Thirdly, the neo-conservative oligarchy that governs the Western world has also managed to undermine the European Union’s once good relations with the Russian Federation. Since, as they see it, Russia stands in the way of their New World Order hegemony and so has to be destroyed, if the Eurozone has to be destroyed in the process, then that too can be done, as Victoria Nuland has so ineloquently put it. Relations between the European Union and the US are, to say the least, cool, apart from with the UK government, which alone has always played the role of poodle to the US. The elite that runs the European Union has never been so unpopular with the peoples it dictates to and it risks being rejected in the May elections.

It should be noted that China and India are the two civilisations which have always resisted Westernisation and its Frankish Catholic/Protestant filioque ethos. If China and India should draw close to Russia, it may be that Russian Orthodoxy will at last become free to play its destined role in both those countries, bringing many souls to Christ. Having in its quest for global hegemony attempted to destroy Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, the neocon elite has in the Ukraine now declared war on the Russian Orthodox world, where it has no power to appoint masonic patriarchs, as elsewhere. In so doing, it has further isolated itself from the Church of God and is setting its Sodom against Jerusalem. That is to play with volcanic fire. Frankly, the Western elite seems to have been so blinded by its hubris that all it is doing now is re-arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.

Thoughts on Difficulties Facing the Church outside Russia

Introduction

Of problem areas facing the Russian Orthodox Church inside Russia in regions outside Russia, there now remain perhaps four of the original five. The first problem was what to do with the three tiny communities in Australia, still irregularly under the jurisdiction of the Church inside Russia, which had to be canonically unified with the far larger Church Outside Russia (ROCOR). Here the solution was simple, to hand over one community that was happy to come to ROCOR and grant temporary stavropegia (peculiar status) to the other two until they and their problems have been absorbed. What then are the other three problem areas that remain?

1. Asia

Problem One is what to do about China, if the Chinese government does after all grant freedom for Non-Western Orthodoxy in China, as we all hope. Here the problem is even greater because it is clear that at the present time, whichever hierarch is responsible for China, he will also have to be responsible for the moment for a further extension to Russian Orthodox canonical territory – in North Korea, Indo-China (Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia), Thailand and India. In other words, we are saying that the Russia Church may soon face the question of whom it can appoint as Metropolitan of China and beyond. However, there is perhaps an excellent candidate in Moscow, at present an Archbishop.

2. North America

In North America, the situation is far more complex since this is an area of mixed jurisdiction in which other Local Churches are present. Thus, the first problem is the much disputed autocephaly granted during the politically highly difficult Cold War period to the so-called English-speaking and new calendarist OCA (Orthodox Church in America). Controversially, its territory includes former Russian America (now Alaska) as well as Canada. Moreover, according to the Tomos of autocephaly, the Church inside Russia no longer has any right to found new parishes in North America.

Therefore, it now falls to ROCOR (not party to the Tomos) to open such new parishes and cater for the huge pastoral needs of the many new Russian Orthodox immigrants to North America, as it does already to all, of whatever nationality, who remain faithful to the Russian Orthodox Faith. In this matter ROCOR will certainly therefore need financial help from Russia. The future for the small number of parishes in North America still irregularly under the jurisdiction of the Church inside Russia, is to pass to the appropriate – and only – canonical part of the Russian Church outside Russia – that is, to ROCOR. Except for those who do not wish to go to ROCOR (like the two communities in Australia) and those whom ROCOR refuses as uncanonical (and there are some – perhaps they will join the OCA), the vast majority of parishes at present under the Church inside Russia will in time do exactly this.

This should be particularly easy in Canada, although none of this solves the problem of the huge territory granted to the OCA, including even Alaska. The OCA now also has a huge number of bishops, including four Metropolitans, yet probably numbers fewer than 30,000 active parishioners. We can only pray that in time the Church inside Russia, which is historically responsible for this situation, will find a canonical solution to it. Perhaps this will take the form of a revised Tomos, which will be canonically acceptable to all the Local Orthodox Churches.

3. Western Europe

Here is the most complex problem of all. Western Europe is not dominated by ROCOR, as Australia is, or for that matter North America. Instead the Russian Church presence here is divided into two halves, that of the canonical ROCOR and that of numerous parishes still irregularly under the Church inside Russia, even though they are outside Russia. For historical reasons it is only the German-speaking and French-speaking areas of Western Europe where ROCOR has a real presence and even here limited. Clearly, according to the Russian Orthodox canonical accords of 2007, the parishes of the Church inside Russia will have to be transferred and absorbed into the Church outside Russia with time. But how?

One of the major problems here is the weak episcopal presence on both sides, especially on the part of the Patriarchate. It urgently needs younger bishops who speak the local languages in Italy, Iberia, Scandinavia, Austria-Hungary and perhaps Benelux. It needs younger bishops who are not only bilingual, but also bicultural, thus understanding local people; the disastrous Sourozh episode of the early 2000s, of which the distracted Patriarchate in Moscow had been repeatedly alerted would happen, proves this point of the lack of understanding of the episcopate of local situations. Otherwise, it will simply be a Church of the ghetto, as ROCOR often used to be. As for ROCOR, it urgently needs a bishop in Great Britain (perhaps he could also cover Benelux, thus solving the problems of all Russian Orthodox parishes in Benelux). In Great Britain there has been no resident bishop in good health for nearly fifty years. It is a miracle that anything is left of the diocese here at all. All new bishops, of whatever background, should be trained at least to ROCOR pastoral standards.

Apart from the problems of elderly bishops or bishops who cannot communicate with and do not understand parts of their flocks, there are other Cold War canonical compromises that remain in several parishes in Western Europe which are still under the Church inside Russia – not least among these are also financial problems. However, with time, all these problems can be overcome. The absorption of these parishes into ROCOR can be managed, providing that time is taken over it.

4. Latin America

The difficulty here is that of the Great Britain Diocese writ large – the absence for many years of resident episcopal supervision. Gallantly Bishop John of Caracas carries out his duties in his now small diocese; but the horse has bolted. Meanwhile the parishes under the Church inside Russia that exist in South America have been left without a bishop at all. Latin America desperately needs bilingual Russian Orthodox Spanish-speaking and Portuguese-speaking clergy; a dozen of them, with adequate finance, would make a huge difference. However, that is only the start, millions of Maya in Guatemala and millions of Brazilians want Orthodoxy, but there is no infrastructure to take pastoral care of them. Nowhere are problems as great as in Latin America – South, Central and North (Mexico).

Conclusion

Since the fall of atheist rule in Russia, an enormous amount has been done to sort out the problems of the Russian Church both inside Russia and, in recent years, outside Russia. However, much still remains to be done. A brief outline of the problem areas has been given above. As long as all takes place peacefully and in freedom, in due course the worldwide situation of the whole Church outside Russia, at present with over 820 parishes, many monasteries and two seminaries, will continue to improve.

Archpriest Andrew Phillips
Moscow, 31 May 2013

Today China, Tomorrow…

The visit of His Holiness Patriarch Kyrill to China is over. He has travelled widely, celebrating notably in Beijing and in the Cathedrals in Harbin and Shanghai, remembering the work of the Russian and Chinese clergy and faithful of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia there, notably of St John of Shanghai. Thus, the groundwork is being laid for the restoration of the national Chinese Church, dependent neither on the Catholic Vatican nor on Protestant America.

Professor Yury Kosov, Dean of the Faculty of International Relations of the North-Western Academy in Russia, commented today: ‘Not so long ago I was attending the defence of a doctoral thesis at the Faculty of International Relations in St Petersburg, entitled ‘Orthodox spiritual mission in the context of global processes of modernisation’. ‘Today we see that the Orthodox mission of the Russian Church is spreading the faith not only among Russian citizens, but worldwide. The Russian Church is active in furthering the spread of Orthodox values wherever it is possible…We must understand that in our world politics and spirituality are interconnected. If we do not defend national sovereignty…it is hard to keep spirituality in a country’.

The Russian Church also has a role to play in freeing bankrupt Cyprus and Greece and NATO-occupied Serbia. It is also active in Syria. Here it seems that the attempt to seize power by mainly foreign Islamist terrorists, financed by Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and backed by Western Special Services in the Jordan and Turkey, and armed even with chemical weapons to commit their atrocities, is failing. What they achieved with Western backing and arms in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt is perhaps not going to succeed in Syria. What the Islamists achieved in Iraq, with 80% of the Christians now expelled, and what they are trying to achieve in Egypt with the expulsion and massacre of the Copts, may not work here. The Patriarchate of Antioch, its flock often in exile in the Lebanon and Europe, may be reformed under the Russian Church.

Whatever criticisms may be levelled at the Russian Church inside Russia and its unworthy representatives outside Russia for their compromises in the past, it has to be recognised that with its canonical territory of 26.2 million square kilometres, between one fifth and one sixth of the world’s land area, and with that population, 1.755 billion, exactly one quarter of the world’s population, the Russian Church as a global power must now be recognised. In the last forty years we in the Russian Orthodox Church have come a long way, even from only a few years ago, when we were still a persecuted minority, mocked, buffeted and spat upon by all and sundry, both locally and globally.

Patriarch Kyrill in China

Twenty five years ago the largest country in the world, the Soviet Union, began to throw off official atheism, allowing the Russian Orthodox Church to celebrate publicly the 1,000th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus. Is it possible that today, a generation later, the most populous country in the world, China, will also throw off official atheism, at last giving freedom to the Chinese Orthodox Church to operate there?

Today, 10 May 2013, Patriarch Kyrill has arrived in China and been in talks with the Chinese President. During his visit he will celebrate the liturgy in Orthodox churches and meet senior Chinese officials. The Patriarch’s press service told the RIA-Novosti news agency, ‘Our First Hierarch will meet government leaders in China, leaders of religious groups, and also Chinese officials responsible for religious affairs”. During his five-day visit, the Patriarch will serve at the Cathedral of the Protecting Veil in Harbin and meet Orthodox from China at the Russian Embassy in Beijing’.

The Russian Mission in China stretches back to the seventeenth century; by 1949 over 100 Orthodox Churches existed in China. However, after Communist China was established, the USSR signed agreements with the new government that it would transfer jurisdiction over those churches to the Communists and effectively they were closed. The Chinese Orthodox Church became autonomous in 1956, ending the Russian Mission. Today, although there are thirteen active parishes in the country, their activities are strictly limited. However, China, part of the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church, may now at last be opening itself to take part in the worldwide mission of Russian Orthodoxy.
http://en.rian.ru/russia/20130510/181065570.html