Category Archives: Constantinople

The End of a World

Politics

Catastrophic predictions and apocalyptic undertones are here. Even the name of a place in the Holy Land, Armageddon, is on some people’s lips. The US elite is threatening to invade Chinese Taiwan ‘in order to protect it from China’. In the US-backed ‘democratic’ Ukraine, that ‘bastion of Western ‘Civilisation’’ the most corrupt country in the world, which is now banning Christianity, 20,000 untrained and poorly-equipped Ukrainian conscripts are dying every month for the sake of dependence on the US, thousands more are shot in the back by the Ukrainian secret police for retreating, or else are deserting or surrendering. The Ukrainian birthrate has plummeted to 0.7 per woman and the population is now under 20 million, whereas just over thirty years ago it was 52 million.

Then there is the Holy Land, where Israeli colonists, 100% backed by US and Western European financial, and therefore political and media elites, but not by their peoples, are planning to genocide two million native Palestinians. Men, women and children are being murdered or dismembered by US bombs, dropped by US aircraft with Israeli insignia. The whole once disunited and warring Muslim world, from Morocco to Pakistan, from Iran to Turkey, from Saudi Arabia to Egypt, from Yemen to Syria, is united against the Israeli military machine and its Western sponsors. Mass demonstrations in support of the genocided Palestinians, largely unreported by Western State media, are taking place all over the world, including in Western countries. The US is isolated, faced down by the Global Majority, from Brazil to South Africa. Heads of countries even refuse to speak to the senile President Biden. It has sent aircraft carriers, but China has sent warships, as Russia also. Iran is threatening isolated Israel and its corrupt political leaders with destruction, if Israel invades Gaza. In Syria, part of which is illegally occupied by the US Army, which is pumping out stolen oil, Russian forces, present at the invitation of the Syrian government, are threatened by the US. They will react.

The problem is ‘Gentile Zionism’. This is the Non-Jewish, Western fantasy that all political decisions taken by Western countries are infallibly correct and that the superior Western ‘liberal’ world, as ‘an exceptional civilisation’ with ‘a manifest destiny’, must rule the planet as the unique model for all. All Non-Westerners are as nothing, just folklore to look at in a Disneyland zoo. The Global Majority, seven billion out of eight billion, do not agree with this Nazism and is at this moment preparing to intervene in the Holy Land to bring about a ceasefire. There has only ever been one way out of this, ‘the two-state solution’: one homeland for Jews and one homeland for Palestinians, as was agreed by Resolution 181 of the UN in 1947, but which has ever since been vetoed by the US.

Christianity

The largest nominal religion in the world, though still covering only a minority of the world, is Christianity. Two forms of it used to predominate in the Western world. The first, Roman Catholicism, invented a thousand years ago, has been undermined by unending scandals involving papal and episcopal corruption, clerical pedophilia and crime, misogyny and racism. Few Roman Catholic laypeople actually believe in or observe its controversial ideology. The second form, Protestantism, invented 500 years ago after dissatisfaction with Roman Catholicism, has nearly completely dissolved into the anti-Christian Secularism which both spawned. Protestant leaders widely predict that their own religion will die out by 2050. Who believes in the Western form of Protestantism any more? Most Protestant churches in the Western world are empty and many have been sold or are for sale.

As for the Non-Western, Orthodox Church, some of its main leaders are only politicians and not pastors, whose only concern seems to be power and money. Thus, the Greek Patriarch, out of communion with the Russian Church, set up an uncanonical Church in the Ukraine for a $25 million bribe from the US and his Patriarchate has been undermined by incessant sexual and financial scandals. Meanwhile, the Russian Patriarch, out of communion with the Greek Patriarch, thanks St Seraphim of Sarov for nuclear weapons! (1). His once multinational and united Church, undermined by centralisation and Russian nationalism, is utterly divided. It suffers from constant moral and financial scandals with bishops, divisions or schisms everywhere outside Russia, in Estonia, the Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania and Moldova (2). Tomorrow divisions may well begin in Belarus and Kazakhstan. Moreover, the Russian Church’s small, sectarian American branch has been in schism from its even smaller French branch for nearly three years. Nothing has been done about this schism except to encourage it, despite the appeals of its clergy to its now wealthy bishops to return from schism, the consequent collapse of the American branch in one country and the open persecution of theologically-educated and conscientious Orthodox. One of the American bishops scandalously and openly rebaptises, not just Non-Orthodox, but even other Orthodox (!). This is a sect, not part of the Church. Yet, apparently, the leaders of the Russian Church find this arrogant Americanisation and ‘One True Church’ sectarianisation normal.

We have seen it all before. Those who have not seen it all before can read about it in the history books. Although all may become a lot worse, we do not believe the apocalyptic hype. In the Holy Land the Global Majority (miscalled by some the ‘Global South’), Russia, China, India, Africa, Latin America, can still make peace between the two warring sides in the Holy Land. If US dollars were to be withdrawn from troubled places, Taiwan would peacefully return to China, the Ukraine would peacefully return to Russia, and the south and west of Israel would peacefully return to Palestine. There are solutions.

As for Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, these were only ever temporary, politically-shaped Western deviations of Christianity, with some very strange traits. Having served their time, they can now disappear and be replaced, perhaps even by historic Christianity and the historic Church. Their roots from the first millennium are still present. As for the Orthodox Church, we have also seen all the polarised divisions and sectarianism before (3). Leaders come and go. The head of the Church is Christ, not men. When men refuse to deal with the problems they have created, Christ will step in. All racism, schisms and sects can be overcome and dissolved by new, Christ-appointed leaders. We do not believe that this is the end of the world. However, it is the end of a world. We are surely present at the remaking of the world, at its reconfiguration, not at its end.

 

Notes:

  1. In French: https://orthodoxie.com/le-patriarche-cyrille-les-armes-nucleaires-par-linexprimable-providence-de-dieu-ont-ete-creees-sous-la-protection-de-saint-seraphin-de-sarov/
  2. Summarised in Romanian in: https://tv8.md/2023/20/10/dornici-sa-invete-limba-romana-6500-de-persoane-s-au-inscris-la-cursurile-organizate-de-stat-din-ce-domenii-vin-participantii/242307.

The full version of the still unanswered letter from 5 September, which is in fact an urgent appeal for autocephaly, with its clear emphasis on continuing Russian racism towards Moldovans, is available in Romanian-style Russian (Metr Vladimir’s native language is Romanian) on Facebook. If the Russian Patriarch ignores the appeal, the whole Moldovan Church may well join the Romanian Church. The absurd and uncanonical ‘defrockings’ of Moldovan (and other) priests who have already joined the Romanian Church will be rescinded – as they always are when they are purely political.

  1. For example, there was the scandal of the rebaptism of Orthodox by the selfsame Americanised branch of Russian Orthodoxy of neophytes in Guildford, England in 1976. The remnants of that Guildford group of pseudo-Orthodox are still rebaptising Orthodox today. Just another story of primitive neophytism, openly encouraged by its bishops, of whom some are themselves neophytes, despite the canons against the consecration of neophyte bishops. But the heretical rebaptism of Orthodox is itself only a repeat of the age-old phariseeism of the sectarian heresy of Donatism from the fourth, fifth and sixth centuries. There is nothing new under the sun. What is disgraceful that the leadership of the once theologically respectable Russian Church countenances such a heresy in its midst and the persecution and slandering of those who oppose it. Those who start receiving Non-Orthodox Christians by baptism end up receiving Orthodox by baptism too!

2. Practical Consequences of No Local Church: The Pastoral Situation in England

As one Serbian priest in France put it to me 30 years ago, living in Western culture for Orthodox Christians is like entering an acid bath. In other words, you face spiritual death through assimilation, unless you keep your identity – that is, the Orthodox Faith. And that is virtually impossible to do unless you have a normal parish church with services at least twice a week and which is accessible. Here I will speak of England because I have known the situation here for fifty years, seen them all come and go, and here is where I know today’s situation best. Here most churches are either dying out or have already died out.

1) ROCOR

ROCOR in England had completely died out after three generations (1917-1992). The faith had not been passed on at all. Typically, children, grandchildren and, even more, great-grandchildren abandoned Orthodoxy, the process sped up with intermarriage (with such tiny numbers, there was literally ‘no-one to marry’ inside the Church). With basically only one permanent church to go to in west London and living outside London, people lost a Church, which appeared to give them no pastoral care outside London. Some of the first generation, like the late Professor Nikolai Andreyev in Cambridge, themselves actually had their children baptised in the Church of England from the outset: ‘We are in England now’, he said.

Others changed their surnames to English surnames, Volkoff to Wolcough, Kalinsky to Kay, for instance. Some strove to eliminate any sign of an English accent in their speech. The old ROCOR priest in Bradford refused to baptise any Russian children and sent them to the Church of England for ‘christening’. He told his parishioners: ‘There’s no point. They won’t replace me, so the church will close down after me’. Of course, he was actually right. He died and that was it. His church disappeared many years ago. Most children said that Orthodoxy was only for old people: ‘It’s nothing to do with me, I’m English’ and ‘I don’t understand what it’s all about’. Two years ago, already tiny ROCOR lost by far its biggest parish, six other parishes and over half its clergy, half its jurisdiction, because of its now schismatic foreign nature and its arrogant refusal to listen to the local people. People and clergy voted with their feet and left.

ROCOR only continues to exist today because it ‘restocked’ over the last thirty years from the ex-Soviet Union (though Ukrainians have now left that aggressively Russian institution) and from a few American-style crazy converts with their sectarian views. I know only six of the old generation, whose Russian grandparents immigrated here. Three are atheists, one is Church of England, and one became a Jew by being circumcised when in his twenties. Only one, now in her eighties, remains Orthodox (though her children and grandchildren are all Church of England). However, she does not go to church, even though she lives only 30 minutes away from London, because of the sectarian nature of the new ROCOR regime.

Constantinople

The Patriarchate of Constantinople used to have by far the largest jurisdiction in England. It expanded greatly between the 1950s and 1970s through the mass immigration of Cypriots. At one time it had six bishops. Its new Archbishop has told me that he now has 100 priests who are very elderly, but only three candidates to replace them. Churches that were attended by 500-1,000 forty years ago now get congregations of 20-30 elderly. Many smaller seaside town parishes will probably close. Whenever children appear in them, you know that they are Romanians. There are also embarrassing rifts between Cypriots, Greeks and Cretans. The worst case by far was in Brighton, but it is not easy elsewhere, with Greeks looking down on Cypriots as provincials who cannot even speak Greek properly. There are large numbers of Anglican vicars of Greek descent, whose parents had immigrated here. I have come across over twenty of them (and one who is Russian). Why? Because they never understood a word of Greek services. On top of that, considering themselves to be English, they could get a well-paid job and a free house in the Church of England. Nothing like that in the Orthodox Church!

The Greeks have a reputation for the flag waving of extreme nationalism. It is probably unfair. Russians can be extremely racist. And others. However, I have to say that all the worst experiences I have come across over the last fifty years have been with Greeks, but perhaps simply because they were so numerous. I have met several English people who visited Greek churches and were told literally: ‘Go away’. (Also in far less polite language). One Greek priest told one Englishman: ‘Join the Church of England, you are English, you can’t join us, wrong nationality’. (The man in question later joined the Russian Church and became a priest there). Another case: ‘You can’t come here, you’re not dark enough’. It is a sad fact that most Greek churches (but in fairness, not only Greek ones) are merely ethnic clubs.

As a prison chaplain, I regularly see middle-aged Cypriots in prison. They are the children and grandchildren of the original immigrants. They do not speak a word of Greek and have not the least idea of Orthodoxy. One of them told me that when his grandmother had told him that he was ‘Orthodox’, he had thought that he was a Jew. The only bright spots are the convent/monastery in Tolleshunt Knights in Essex, now with 25 Romanian nuns, and at last building a larger church, and Bp Rafael, the new Greek bishop (and the only Orthodox bishop) in Scotland. Tolleshunt Knights has welcomed all nationalities. Bp Rafael has done the same, welcoming all nationalities and calendars and is in effect the Bishop of Scotland. Only he has the authority and openness. (A pity for us that he is not in England!). In both cases, there is real hope. Why? Because both put Christ first and not their nationality.

The Others

Leaving aside the post-1945 Belarussians, Latvians and Poles who all died out, also the tiny numbers of very inward-looking but still churched Georgians and Bulgarians, and the Paris Russians (ROCOR virtually killed them off with aid from the Moscow Patriarchate), we come to the Serbs, the Patriarchal Russians, the Antiochians, the Ukrainians and the Romanians. The Serbs have faced the same problems as the others and the wave of post-1945 immigrants died out; one of the last of them I buried in a Suffolk village a few years ago. He had not been to church since the 1950s. Few kept the Faith. Some changed their surnames, one Serbian priest I knew dressed like an Anglican minister also baptised like an Anglican minister, by splashing water on foreheads of babies, telling me that: ‘We are not in the Balkans now’.

The Patriarchal Russians, once Bloomites, have also largely died out, but have restocked from the ex-Soviet Union. Today their Church sometimes gives the impression (which may or may not be the case) of being an aggressively nationalistic ghetto, an extension of the Embassy, with all the faults that can be found in churches in post-Soviet Russia, all about money and ritualism. However, possibly things will improve after the conflict in the Ukraine ends. The Antiochians appear to be a group for dissatisfied Anglicans and elderly ex-vicars, who do not know how to celebrate the services, but perhaps if they get enough laypeople of other nationalities, something may come of it. Some of the converts are rather extreme Evangelicals, who have little idea of Orthodoxy. That is worrying, however, some of its clergy behave as real pastors. The Ukrainians are very divided into pre-2022 Ukrainians (under Constantinople, extremely nationalistic, elderly, dying out) and the refugees since the tragedy of 2022. The latter are very small in number for now (most of the refugees were atheists, schismatics or else Uniats) and live under the disputed jurisdiction of Kiev.

Finally, we come to the masses of Romanians (and Moldovans). Nearly all have come here recently and in huge numbers, over 400,000, perhaps 500,000 or even more, forming the vast majority of Orthodox in this country. However, although there are very big parishes, with hundreds coming every Sunday, there are still fewer than 40 priests, still no resident bishop and a small monastery under construction near Luton. This is a jurisdiction that is being formed, but with a chronic lack of infrastructure because all is new. However, it is very young and dynamic. One Romanian priest I know does nearly 1,000 baptisms a year, usually about 20 at a time, every week. This is the youth. Speaking a Latin language and with a surprisingly open mentality, Romanian parishes are generally by far the most welcoming and the most open to English. Hope is here, providing that we learn from the mistakes of the Greeks and Russians who went before us. The three-generation rule seems to be implacable: if you manage to transmit the Faith to the third generation, a new Local Church can be born. If not, you will die out.

 

 

Papism or Multipolarity: The Fake Church or the Real Church

Introduction: Conformism to the World

In the 1960s and 1970s, parts of the Orthodox Church outside the Communist bloc were affected by a creeping Protestantisation and sectarianisation. Here I am referring to the ecumenism, liberalism and modernism of that period. It was just another example of how some in the Church are willing to conform to the ways of the world, to swim with the tide. But what happens when the tide changes?

Since then the tide has indeed changed, ‘ecumenism’ has become a strangely old-fashioned and even largely unknown word. And even the word ‘modern’ is now also old-fashioned, replaced by ‘post-modern’. However, another secularising movement to imitate, this time perhaps even more dangerous, has appeared since then. This is the movement towards sectarian authoritarianism, that is, to Papism, on the part of a few Orthodox Patriarchates and even a few ordinary bishops.

The Church Leader is the Emperor

After an accumulation of occasional conflicts and disagreements that had begun with Charlemagne in 800, in 1054 the authorities of the Church in the West reached an end-point and broke off communion with the rest of the Church. Papism, the claim to universal domination, had appeared. Thus, Roman Catholicism was born and would develop step by step, taking on tentacular dimensions. Roman Catholicism, with its universalist pretensions, was an authoritarian attempt to take control not only of the Western world and all its emperors and kings, but also of the whole Church of God everywhere, in the west, east, south and north.

The new Papist or Roman Catholic ideology stated that the Pope of Rome is de facto Caesar, the supreme authority, the World Emperor, Pontifex Maximus, the successor to the pagan Roman Emperors. This ideology came to be called ‘Papocaesarism’, meaning the total, indeed totalitarian, Western control of the whole world by the Patriarch (Pope) of a single Local Church. It led almost immediately to the reactions of disagreement and persecution, which caused the Papal schism from the Orthodox Church in the eleventh century. It also gradually led to the political and ecclesiastical break-up of Western Europe itself in the 16th century and its permanent division into Roman Catholic and Protestant.

At first it meant continual wars and invasions in the name of the Popes of Rome, papal armies or papally-blessed armies massacring Jews and Muslims in Spain and Italy, invading and genociding Christian England in 1066 and later genociding Christian Ireland. Then came the so-called Crusades, the massacres of the Albigensians in France, the sack of the Christian Capital in Constantinople in 1204, the Teutonic Knights in Prussia and finally the so-called ‘Reformation’. Millions of dead. Papism also meant colossal centralisation, as described, for example, in such a basic historical account as Richard Southern’s ‘Western Society and the Church in the Middle Ages’. Paperwork, protocols, legal niceties and bureaucracy took over.

Sadly, it is this Papist ideology which in recent generations has become an admired model for certain Orthodox Patriarchs and bishops. Those who admire the Vatican repeat its errors and indeed its heresy. Both the Patriarchates of Constantinople (‘Eastern Papism’) and of Moscow, as well as some others, have been tempted by Vatican-style power. Indeed, whenever a Patriarchate (or ordinary bishop) draws near to Rome, the result is that they are tempted by secular power. It is a spiritual disease, an infection of the soul. The Patriarchates of Moscow and of Constantinople could not survive, if they were to continue. However, we believe that this is not a ‘sickness unto death’, but only a temporary infection. Healthy forces in both Patriarchates will fight back and even now are fighting back. They always do. The Church belongs to Christ, not to Patriarchs or bishops, whatever their thunderous titles and pretensions may be.

Orthodox Being Orthodox Christians

We have long stated that all the problems in Church life come about when Orthodox stop living as Orthodox Christians. There are so many clerical careerists, ‘professionals’, who demand that the faithful first make appointments with secretaries in order to see them, who call their flock ‘the mob’, who do not give confessions, as reality would disturb their delusions. These are the ones who have big black cars and properties, the monocle-wearers, who appear to be aware only of their own imaginary self-importance and their Papist ‘right’ to humiliate and condemn to hell those who disagree with them. Like the pharisees, who they are, they are obsessed with gold, their dress, formality, rites and rules. This is precisely what destroyed the Russian Church in 1917, when the Russian masses rejected such clericalism and self-importance.

As the New Martyrs and Confessors are forgotten by some in Russia, the bad spirit is coming back and being rejected again. Just as real Orthodoxy is not a religion and ritual, but faith in the Living God, so real Orthodox priests are not clerics, but pastors. They are shepherds of the flock and so are unmercenary, not interested in wallets, but in souls. They build communities, from which spring miracles and saints. ‘By their fruits, you shall know them’. Carpathian saints like Elder Cleopa do not demand that people make appointments with their secretaries to see them. They do not have any secretaries. Nor in the past did the Optina Elders, St Seraphim of Sarov or the Transvolgan hermits like St Nil of Sora. Nor in the distant past did St Cuthbert and St Chad or did the Irish saints in their island hermitages.

They had no possessions. In the Church of the Russian emigration, where I was brought up and spent fifty years, there was no such Papist nonsense, with all its paperwork, protocols, legal niceties and bureaucracy. For instance, Fr George Sheremetiev (+ 1971), Count Sheremetiev, from one of the richest families in Russia, lived in poverty in a tiny room in London, all his possessions were contained in one small suitcase. Why? He said that he lived so, because he had to repent, as his class had created the Revolution, since they had lived in luxury, while the masses had lived in poverty, on top of which his class had betrayed the Tsar and created catastrophe for all.

Archbishop George (Tarasov) in Paris lived in the same way as Fr George. Remember Archbishop Alipy of Erie in the USA? He made his own mitre, photocopying icons to stick on it, using lots of gold paper and cardboard. Remember Fr (Baron) Alexander Rehbinder? Several of his children slept in drawers. He had no beds for them. Most Orthodox emigres were like this. Most emigre churches were small and cosy, prayerful and simple – and poor. That is my Church. Think of St John of Shanghai giving away his shoes to beggars, not because his shoes were uncomfortable (as the papists will tell you), but because he had compassion. Renounce his way, and you renounce the way of all the saints.

A Centralised Church and a Multipolar Church

Ever since I returned to the Russian Federation in 2007 after an absence of forty-one years, I have said that the situation there was fragile, on a knife-edge. It could go one way or the other. Restoration was by no means guaranteed. And I also said from the beginning that what it had taken three generations to destroy between December 1916 and December 1991 would take three generations to restore. The Russia I saw in 2007, and have seen again several times since then, was not yet a Russian world, it was a post-Soviet world. Post-Soviet golden domes do not make a Church and saints.

And without saints, there will be no Church, just a post-Soviet religious-coloured national institution. And whoever says post-Soviet, says centralised and nationalist. For important parts of the post-Soviet Church are still centralised, nationalist and therefore saintless. And yet in our New World Order of 2023, the world of BRICS, we do not have centralism, but ‘multipolarity’, that is, polycentrism. Where did multipolarity come from? Multipolarity is precisely the Orthodox Christian structure on which the Confederation or Family of Local Orthodox Churches is founded.

A centralised and nationalist (and so anti-missionary) post-Soviet Church can have no place in Orthodoxy. Centralism, that is, unipolarity, is exactly the opposite of our Orthodox view of the world. Centralism, unipolarity, is the definition of Papist Roman Catholicism, not of Orthodoxy. And even though Papist Roman Catholicism has gone, its cultural reflexes have been inherited by the USA, today’s Uniparty Hegemon. Its ideology is Unipolarity, belief in a single totalitarian system all over the world, which they call Globalism. This tries to impose itself by intimidation, violence and regime change all over the world, Americanising by force and threat, as we who were in ROCOR in England know by heart. But we have resisted it and won.

Their ideology is that one size fits all, like a MacDonald’s franchise, in Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and the Ukraine, in fact all over the world. Millions of dead. In other words, the US elite is a de facto Caesar, the supreme authority, the World Emperor, Pontifex Maximus, the POTUS, the successor to the pagan Roman Emperors, Papism, meaning the total, indeed totalitarian control of the whole world by the single leader of a single Nation. This is Neo-Papism.

Conclusion: Awaiting Resurrection

The above is not our Orthodox Christian spiritual and cultural inheritance. Our inheritance is the Holy Trinity, unity in diversity, the origin of multipolarity. We who were brought up in the real Russian, not Sovietised, Church await the Resurrection of the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate. As also faithful Greeks await the Resurrection of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. For the moment, however, we are closer to the stern prophecies of St Lavrentij of Chernigov (+ 1950), who warned us what to avoid:

‘Not long before Antichrist is enthroned, even those churches that have been closed will be repaired and restored — not only their exteriors, but their interiors, as well. They will gild the cupolas of bell-towers and cathedrals, alike…We will have unprecedented splendour’, Elder Lavrentii would say. ‘Do you see how craftily and insidiously all this is being prepared?… I repeat yet again that one must not attend those cathedrals; there will be no grace in them!’

 

News from the Orthodox World (2)

As a prison chaplain and clergyman of nearly forty years, I can confidently assert that all the worst individuals I have come across in this world were bishops. On the other hand, I can equally confidently assert that some of the saintliest individuals I have come across in this world were also bishops, including my own bishop. Thank God.

I lived through the Cold War, the 70s and the 80s. Spiritually, it was an awful period – there was no spiritually independent Orthodox Church to belong to. The episcopate of Moscow was subject to the KGB and they often made use of corrupt bishops, on whom they held ‘the dirt’, ‘compromising materials, (‘kompromat’). However, Constantinople was clearly run by the Americans and its episcopate were corrupt or homosexuals, often ecumenists (there was money in that and freemasons (there was money in that too). They are all dead now.

I remember one Constantinople metropolitan who used to celebrate the liturgy by his watch – 45 minutes was enough for him. Another future metropolitan, the late John Zizioulas, was thrown out of Edinburgh Theology Department for his open homosexuality and was forced to teach in Glasgow, where they were not particular. After all, ‘theology’ is just an academic discipline, like any other. Personal morality has nothing to do with academic disciplines. The Russians were no better. One Russian metropolitan had a string of mistresses. Then there was Bishop Gury in Paris who had a love affair with one of his equally homosexual priests. After ten years or so the scandal became so great that he was sacked and sent, literally, to Siberia, becoming the Bishop of Magadan, the equivalent of Australia for dud Anglican bishops in the past.

Talking to two Russian priests recently, one told me that all except one of the four bishops in his Metropolia is homosexual and the other told me that in his Metropolia, two bishops out of the five are utterly corrupt (‘business’ and women, their vices) and one is openly homosexual. There is a well-known pedophile metropolitan in the Ukrainian Church (MP) and another in the Russian Church (MP). The problem with the homosexuals is their hatred for normal married clergy and persecution of them through their jealousy, which causes them to try and destroy the clergy, their parishes and as a result utterly alienates the people, many of whom desert the Church in disgust. Such bishops’ constant demands for money make them especially unloved.

The Russian Church is supposed to be anti-LGBT. This is almost a joke, given some of its episcopate, who rule over a country, whose abortion rate is twice that of Western European countries. Since so many of its bishops are notorious homosexuals and even pedophiles, little wonder that so many of their golden-domed churches are empty. We really have come to the end times, which were prophesied by St Seraphim of Sarov. Churches will be open, but you will not be able to go there.

Little wonder that so many churches of the canonical Church in the Ukraine have been and are being closed down by Nazi thugs, openly backed by the Zelensky regime. Buildings in the Kiev Caves Monastery, where so many saints rest, are continually being occupied and stolen by such thugs who come from the dreaded Secret Police, the SBU, which is trained by MI6 and the CIA. (Indeed, many say that Zelensky is actually an MI6 agent).

Democracy in the Ukraine? Other political parties are outlawed and if you promote freedom for them, you may well find yourself dead in a back street in Kiev. Such is the regime supported by the West. Worse still, it is the Patriarchate of Constantinople that stands behind that ecclesiastical department of the Zelensky regime.

And that regime only has months to go before it collapses in its Kiev bunker beneath the weight of the most advanced armed forces of in the world. They belong to Russia, the most powerful economy in Europe, No 5 in the world, according to the World Bank, and not far behind Japan at No 4. This will be followed by the unconditional capitulation of the Kiev regime and the victory of nationalist Russia, which wants to achieve freedom for and unity with the Russian population in the Ukraine. (Nothing else interests it, despite the propaganda nonsense parroted by demented US and UK politicians about Russia wanting to reconstitute the Soviet Union and Communist Eastern Europe).

So the Church choice today is no longer the Cold War, but Greek nationalism or Russian nationalism. No choice at all. During the Cold War we chose to belong to a still spiritual part of the Russian Church, where it was still possible to venerate the Saints and Martyrs freely, even if by no means all did so). At that time, that possibility still existed. Now it too has gone, having been taken over by the same types. Corruption, ‘business’, sexual perversion and persecution of the parish clergy are the order of the day. The choice today appears to be Greek nationalism/corruption/perversion or Russian nationalism/corruption/ perversion.

That is also a false choice. There is the third way, the mystical way of the saints, not the way of all those pharisees, of whom Christ said (Jn 8, 44): You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

 

The Murk Lifts as the Saints Come in Victory

Four years ago now we were informed by a bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) that Fr Alexander Belya had been selected as a bishop by a majority of the old ROCOR Synod in New York. All had legitimately been signed off and sent to the Moscow for the final approval. Indeed, Metropolitan Hilarion (Kapral) had earlier personally spoken to us about Fr Alexander with great enthusiasm. However, the objections of a minority in the Synod were so strong that they launched what was in effect a coup d’etat, taking advantage of the late Metropolitan Hilarion’s dementia and cancer, creating a new ROCOR and beginning a campaign to discredit Fr Alexander’s candidacy. All manner of accusations were made, for which no proof has ever been offered.

Accusing someone of forgery and then spending two and a half years in the highest courts in the USA trying to avoid having to respond to evidence to the contrary does seem very strange. In any case, after losing its very expensive court cases against Fr Alexander Belya and awaiting the new one for defamation, the new ROCOR has lost yet another battle.  It can no longer resist the consecration of Fr Alexander Belya, already signed off by the old ROCOR under Metr Hilarion (Kapral). However, given the purging of the old canonical ROCOR by the dominant new ROCOR, the consecration will go ahead under the very unpopular and highly controversial Archbishop Elpidiphoros of the Church of Constantinople in North America. He has now called the bluff of very naïve, objecting bishops of other jurisdictions in Northern America and will proceed with the long-awaited consecration.

It is a great pity that few can trust Archbishop Elpidiphoros personally, but no doubt there was no other choice for Fr Alexander in the highly politicised American context. And so the vital forces of the Russian Church in Northern America are going under the Church of Constantinople, as the elderly who know the Tradition die out. We can only imagine the dissatisfaction with ROCOR in Moscow. A candidate for the episcopate and yet another set of good clergy and prosperous parishes lost by ROCOR and this time forced, however reluctantly, to join the Patriarchate of Constantinople, Moscow’s great rival. (Where part of the OCA also wants to go). The living elements of the old ROCOR, are fleeing its new marginality, in Northern America quite logically joining the largest jurisdiction there (the Patriarchate of Constantinople) and in Western Europe quite logically joining the largest jurisdiction there (the Patriarchate of Romania). In both cases all keep the old calendar and all other Russian liturgical customs.

All had been possible, but, according to some, on account of jealousy (Fr Alexander speaks and writes fluent Russian and Ukrainian, unlike those who oppose him), slander and sham ‘defrockings’, those who oppose him have lost nearly everything. First there came notoriety for receiving clergy without letters of release from canonical (= non-schismatic) Local Churches. (Letters of release are necessary to check on the moral conduct of clergy, not if the only objections to the clergy leaving are because they refuse schism, because of political disagreements or if they concern coveting of parishioners’ property on the part of those who do not wish them to leave.

The refusal to issue letters of release for purely political purposes or to try and obtain property illegally is not canonical. And there is no such thing as an oath of obedience to a schismatic bishop!). One Russian priest in London called ROCOR’s uncanonical suspensions ‘null and void’. And as another Russian priest said: ‘If there is no canonical crime, then it means that canon law is simply used as a mechanism of political repression’. (https://uk.yahoo.com/news/russian-orthodox-priests-face-persecution-062625884.html).

Thus, the clergy who left Constantinople for ROCOR were suspended by the Church of Constantinople. This is normal practice, as you do not ‘defrock’ clergy, if they are acting in integrity according to their conscience. Unless, that is, you are some sort of punitive, gaslighting, right-wing sect. Why did so many leave the new ROCOR elsewhere? The ROCOR schism from the Moscow Patriarchal Russian Orthodox Church (to which ROCOR supposedly belongs!) in Western Europe took its toll. This was because the Moscow group in Western Europe receives Catholic clergy in the same way as the rest of the Moscow Patriarchate and the pre-Revolutionary Russian Church, that is, not by rebaptism, like Greek Old Calendarists. This suicidal act of Russian old calendarism on the part of ROCOR cost it sixteen clergy and half of its Diocese in Great Britain. All refused to obey neophyte schismatics – see Canon XV of the First and Second Council. Now ROCOR in Great Britain will never be anything more than an irrelevant, tiny, closed marginal sect.

Then there was the use of electronic signatures, used in utterly vain attempts to bully, gaslight and intimidate. With these acts many have indeed discredited and isolated themselves from canonical Orthodoxy. How long will Moscow tolerate these losses and scandals? At a time like this, the already very isolated Moscow needs allies, not scandals. It has already suffered scandals in the tragic situations in Kiev, Riga, Amsterdam, Madrid, Vilnius and those that are rapidly developing elsewhere. There will come a point when Moscow, with its many parishes which use the new calendar, simply will not accept the threats made to it by the old calendarist American Synod. These threats involve boycotting the workings of the Moscow Patriarchate and are made by the New York Synod because it believes that it has Moscow over a barrel and can get away with anything. It is a dangerous game, because one day after the Ukraine is over Moscow will call its bluff and pull the plugs.

All this is a result of the ROCOR identity crisis. This began after its formal unity with Moscow in 2007, when it at last found universally recognised canonical status, for which we had battled for so long. However, instead of choosing to use this God-given opportunity to contribute to the positive and mainstream construction of new Local Churches in the Diaspora and show political independence from the secular Russian State, it chose negative and censorious self-isolation in an extreme right-wing ghetto and political co-operation with the secular Russian State. So it lost its Ukrainians – and many other normal families, purged by the alt right, long-bearded crazy converts it is introducing. It means that the only Russian Orthodox input into the inevitable new Local Churches in Northern America and Western Europe will come from the free Russian Orthodox, who belong to other Local Churches. Fringe groups with their extremism such as ROCOR will have no involvement. Just like all old calendarist groups, they have nothing to contribute.

Unless, that is, the few remaining Orthodox in ROCOR can at the last moment take back control of the Church from those who usurped power from the saintly, but very weak Metropolitan Hilarion (+ 2022) during the years of his dementia and cancer. This now seems very unlikely, unless the largely convert mini-Synod which took full control of ROCOR through its internal coup can be ousted. At present the new ROCOR is carrying out a purge of all its senior clergy of the St John tradition, all those who belonged to the old ROCOR and are being replaced by ‘Orthobros’ and incels.  Distracted by its loss of the Ukraine, Latvia etc and its desperate search for support in the Diaspora for the Russian State’s political and military battle against the USA in the Ukraine, the Moscow Patriarchate authorities have let things slide in the Diaspora. So badly indeed that the return of ROCOR to canonicity now seems virtually impossible. And that severely compromises Moscow’s own non-ROCOR existence outside Russia only more.

Interestingly, the news of Fr Alexander’s coming consecration was reported by the notoriously biased, American-run but Moscow-based, website ‘orthochristian.com’. This site is well-known for being backed by and publishing the works of very conservative ex-Evangelicals in Northern America. Some have even said that that website has been infiltrated by murky CIA/NATO assets, who started establishing themselves in ROCOR, Vlasovite and Russian-language publishing and broadcasting circles in the Diaspora in the 1960s. In any case that website never prints articles and comments that are critical of the practices of the MP and ROCOR or show up their hypocrisy and disrespect for human rights. It is surely being protected by someone important in the hierarchy in Russia, who knows the emigres well. According to some, he may himself, perhaps by naivety, have been turned and been involved in those murky dealings.

This is possible. After all, we should recall that the US Establishment is now divided between the conservative nationalist patriots of the CIA and the woke cosmopolitan neocons of the Washington State Department. And this situation is strangely very similar to that in the Soviet Union just before its dissolution in 1991. Then that was divided between pro-American liberal Euro-Atlanticists, who overnight transformed themselves from Communists into Capitalist oligarchs, and the patriots/nationalists, centred in the Soviet equivalent to the CIA, which was then called the KGB. And one of the latter was the present Russian nationalist President Putin, at that time a lowly KGB operative in provincial East Germany.

We should not forget that the former US President George Bush Senior (his son was not bright enough) was head of the CIA before himself being elected. Does a parallel between today’s patriotic CIA and the then patriotic KGB exist? Does the collapse of the Soviet Empire in 1991 indicate the coming collapse of the American Empire? We remember how in the 1970s and then the 1980s, the right-wing Washington ROCOR, of which some were CIA assets (once an asset, always an asset, as the late Fr Mikhail Artsimovich commented to me in 1992), was warmly welcomed into the Reagan White House and the coffers of the CIA generously opened to it. Now it is payback time, return on investment. We gave you then, now you will obey us. You cannot escape the murk, once you have joined it, you are signed up for life. You have sold your soul.

What is clear is that the new ROCOR is collapsing. It is not for families. We have often asked ourselves what the righteous people, priests and bishops of the old ROCOR, so many of whom we knew well, would have done. What would the ever-memorable St John of Shanghai and Western Europe, Fr Seraphim (Rose), Archbishop Antony of Geneva (who never defrocked anyone) and Metr Laurus (Shkurla) have done, given the present convert sectarianisation? Their Church has now been taken over by the descendants of those who suspended and put St John on trial in 1964, who persecuted Fr Seraphim in the 1970s and Archbishop Antony in the 1980s and 1990s and ourselves since 2007.

Surely, if they had still been alive in the years following 2007 and saw they risked losing control of the New York Synod to the murky mini-Synod, which had already begun forming as long ago as 2001 after the Metr Vitaly fiasco, they would have closed down the separate Synod in New York. Then, seeing the convert immaturity and uncanonical actions, Moscow would have taken ROCOR under its direct control. Moscow then would surely have proceeded towards the regionalisation and Metropolitanisation of ROCOR, as so many of us and the Patriarch Kyrill of the time had so much wanted, as he told us quite clearly in the Danilov Monastery in Moscow in May 2012.

This would have helped towards founding the coming foundation of the four Diaspora Local Churches, in Western Europe, Northern America, Latin America and Oceania. In this way the New York Synod could never have been diverted from its Christian path by insecure ‘One True Church’ converts and the other psychologically troubled with their murky connections. It is probably too late for this, for the Persecuted Church has become the Persecuting Church and the way back seems impossible. It is too late for any ‘Make ROCOR Great Again’. This is what happens when the spiritual is supplanted by the political and the financial. In history such people were ruled by a Sanhedrin and they were called pharisees.

However, we should not doubt in Divine Providence. The saints came to rescue us from the ROCOR schism and even now they are gathering together with St John of Shanghai. We shall see great changes in the near future, as the Holy Spirit takes over from evil men, their hearts full of hatred. Thou hast conquered, O Galilean!

 

 

A Glimmer of Hope?

https://spzh.news/en/zashhita-very/75099-auditor-is-going-to-kyiv-on-the-arrival-of-phanar-delegation-to-ukraine

 

Five years ago, in December 2018, under US political and financial pressure, the once prestigious Patriarchate of Constantinople set out on a disastrous course of setting up a tiny new ‘Church’ of its own in the Ukraine. It called this the OCU. At once it created a schism with the Russian Church, to whom that territory had belonged for some 340 years, though until then it had been under Constantinople. There were no more concelebrations between the two and an extremist part of the Russian Church in the Diaspora began taking clergy and parishes from Constantinople without letters of release. (That extremist part then, in December 2019, created a schism with another part of the Russian Church, creating an internal schism, which problem has still not been dealt with by Moscow, but which has led to clergy leaving the schismatic part, in accordance with Canon XV of the First and Second Council). On top of this, in December 2021 the Russian Church then set up a Church on the territory of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, allied to Constantinople, in Africa.

The spiral was out of control and now the only way of overcoming all these problems between Greeks and Russians is for Constantinople to repent for its initial action, which created the spiral in the first place. Today, having realised that the ‘Church’ that it set up in the Ukraine consists of villains, gangsters, men of violence and defrocked perverts, Constantinople has realised that it must do something. Metropolitan Savva of the Church of Poland, as well as all leaders of the other Local Churches which are politically free, has informed the Patriarch of Constantinople in conversations about this. Now comes the news that Metropolitan Emmanuel of Constantinople and a delegation of others are to visit the Ukraine to investigate the behaviour of those whom it has there promoted as the OCU. There is now a glimmer of light. If Metropolitan Emmanuel, who issued the ‘tomos’, the document that created its fake Church in the first place, were to rescind it, as is urgently and obviously required, the existence of this scandalous, fake American ‘Church’ would be over.

If, in a second phase, the Patriarch of Constantinople then reissued the ‘tomos’ and granted it to the authentic Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) under Metropolitan Onufry, that would solve all the problems. Metropolitan Onufry and his Church are canonical, they are not defrocked gangsters and perverts, they do not concelebrate with Roman Catholics and they observe the traditional Orthodox fixed calendar and not the Roman Catholic/Protestant calendar, as enthusiastically imposed on the fake OCU Church by US bureaucrats. Moreover, the UOC should have received autocephaly (independence) decades ago, and only because of Moscow’s Soviet-style imperialist centralism it did not. If Constantinople were to grant the UOC autocephaly, as it could do, other Local Churches would at once recognise it. Eventually, after all the others, Moscow would in turn be forced to recognise it as well. Thus, the machinations of both Washington and Moscow would fail. Furthermore, Constantinople would regain at least some of its lost prestige and Moscow would eventually have to end its schism with Constantinople.

Is it possible that this could happen? Does Constantinople have the courage to defy Washington? Does Constantinople have the courage to admit that it was deceived by the villains in the Ukraine in 2018 and made mistakes? We do not know, but what we do know is that man proposes, but God disposes.

 

 

The Spiritual Significance of the American-Inspired Conflict in the Ukraine

Introduction: Two Civilisations

The tragic Moscow-Washington war which is currently starting to come to an end after nine years on the battlefields of the Ukraine, where very many Ukrainian men are dying in futility, will continue for another year. The Western arming of the Kiev regime which has prolonged the war by years is the result of the attempt by the Western world to expand eastwards in yet another ‘Drang nach Osten’. Once more the West crossed over the civilisational line which runs through the far west of what is at present called the Ukraine, more exactly Galicia, formerly part of south-eastern Poland, formerly part of the ill-fated Habsburg Empire, centred in Lemberg/Lviv/Lvov. That line separates Western Secularist Civilisation from Orthodox Christian Civilisation. It is a civilisational line which should not be crossed. When France and its allies crossed it by invading what was then the Russian Empire in 1812, it led straight to the downfall of Napoleon. When Austro-Hungary crossed it by invading Serbia in 1914, it caused World War I and, ultimately, the tragedy of 1917, when a Western atheist ideology was imposed by Non-Russians on the former Russian Empire and killed tens of millions.

When Nazi Germany crossed that line by invading what was then the USSR in 1941, it led it to its suicidal downfall, the destruction of Berlin, and to lose World War II. After Washington crossed that same line by overthrowing the democratically-elected Ukrainian government in 2014, Washington suicidally signed the death-warrant of its own US-run, dollar-driven, unipolar Western world. For the centre of Western Secularism is today the American Empire elite  in Washington (however much it disguises itself with euphemisms like the EU, NATO, the G7, the ‘free world’, the ‘international community’, the ‘rules-based order’ etc). And the centre of Orthodox Christian Civilisation (however far it has fallen, lapsed and been deformed and divided) is still in Moscow. Whenever Western Secularism, as ever inspired by the Pagan Roman example, has tried to expand eastwards in order to steal land and exploit resources, whether it was under Charlemagne, the Teutonic Knights, the Poles, Charles XII, Napoleon, Hitler or Biden, it has failed. Such is the case again today. Some people never learn.

The Double Tragedy

Nevertheless, however much we reject Western Secularism, that does not mean that today’s post-Soviet Orthodox Christian world or post-American Orthodox Christian world are to be accepted. Far from it. They are both deeply compromised and flawed, politically dependent on Non-Orthodox Christian mentalities. For a long time those in the Western world who found their spiritual home in Orthodox Christianity and wished to join the Orthodox Church would join one of two Local Churches, either the Russian, whose centre is the Patriarchate of Moscow, or else the Greek, whose centre is the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Neither is very attractive today because neither is free of a secular mentality.

The tragedy of today’s Patriarchate of Moscow is that it has voluntarily become politically dependent on the post-Soviet mentality. Although much of what it does is Orthodox in intention, it still operates in a Soviet way. Hence the strange mixture. Thus, it has gone from being a multinational Church in a multinational country (the USSR) to becoming a multinational but also nationalist Church? That inherent contradiction is killing it. It is less and less attractive to all Non-Russians. The tragedy of today’s Patriarchate of Constantinople is that its leadership has gone from being an Imperial Church to becoming over the last three generations a subsection of the US State Department mentality. Whatever that orders, the politicised Patriarchate in Istanbul agrees with. It is less and less attractive to Non-Greeks.

The Fall Into National Politics

Politicians were put in charge of the Church on earth. Not Churchmen. As a result, several of the Local Orthodox Churches are today riven by territorial, = political and national, disputes. However, the main dispute is that between precisely the Patriarchate of Moscow and the Patriarchate of Constantinople and concerns the territory of the Ukraine. Sadly, the two Patriarchates are not arguing about a territory where successful new missions have been working, they are arguing about a traditionally Orthodox, but today largely lapsed, territory. Sadly, neither are they arguing about who will restore to the Faith the largely lapsed people of that territory, but about to whom ecclesiastical jurisdiction over that largely lapsed people belongs. Meanwhile the actual Ukrainian Orthodox Church under Metropolitan Onufry, to which the faithful belong, is crushed by both sides.

That territory is also claimed by two different forms of Roman Catholicism, Greek and Latin, and a variety of Protestant sects. Little wonder that those two Patriarchates, that of the Russian Federation and that of Constantinople, are engaged in a conflict on Ukrainian territory. This Russo-American proxy war has been allowed by God as a punishment. All are unworthy of the Faith, so there is war, not peace. The conflict is meant to bring both sides, Ukrainian and Russian, back to their senses, for both sides suffer from the same disease of centralisation. This has infected these lands since the 17th century, when the Russian State began persecuting the Old Ritualists in order to impose conformity even to the point of tiny ritual detail. This disease worsened greatly during the Soviet period and since then both the post-Soviet Russian State and the post-Soviet Ukrainian State (the Ukrainian State is a purely Soviet invention) have persecuted minorities.

Nationalism

Today this centralisation essentially results in extreme nationalism. Thus, the Ukrainian State has as its slogan ‘Glory to the Ukraine’, not ‘Glory to God’. And the new nationalism of the Russian Orthodox Church, so far from the old multinational Russian Church of the Tsar’s age in which we were brought up, seems to be intent, consciously or unconsciously, on expelling from itself Non-Russians, and is even proud of such actions. Orthodox Russia has not been restored since the fall of the USSR. There is only post-Soviet Russia. The great tragedy is that the Russian Church, free from State interference, appears to want to take on itself the persecution of those who see a multinational future for the Church. However, a persecuting Church repels, whereas a persecuted Church attracts.

For example, one well-known Metropolitan of the Russian Church openly mocks the Ukrainian language as ‘a dialect’. As a result of such attitudes, even if the Russian State conquered the whole of the Ukraine (which it does not wish to do in any case), Ukrainians would still not attend churches where the name of the Patriarch of the Russian Federation, which is what he has become, is commemorated. Church-going is voluntary. No Non-Russian in the Ukraine is voluntarily going to attend a Russian church any longer, especially if his country has been at war with Russia and his compatriots, however misled, have been killed. In Latvia that Patriarch is already no longer commemorated – by order of the State. In Lithuania several priests have left the Moscow Patriarchate, as in Estonia nearly thirty years ago. How long before Western countries also ban churches which commemorate the Patriarch of Moscow?

Decentralisation

https://spzh.news/en/news/73915-cypriot-hierarch-moscow-should-have-granted-autocephaly-to-uoc-long-ago

Centralisation is voluntary; the Russian State did not force the Church administration to centralise. The two main parts of the Russian Church both had the freedom to proposed a decentralised and multinational future, both in the former USSR and outside it, and openly rejected it, choosing a sectarian future. What we have said also applies equally to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, whose stifling centralism caused so many divisions in history and already in ancient times was in part responsible for the departure of the Copts and the Armenians, as well as the peoples of Western Europe, from the Church. The Church is not a centralised State, but a Family or Confederation of Churches. The Apostle Paul wrote not to a Centralised Church, but to different local Churches, in Corinth, Thessalonica, Philippi, Ephesus, Rome etc. This follows the principle of the Incarnation, that the Church is incarnate locally.

Indeed, several Local Churches have been or still are involved in disputes about the territories they control. These territories include all the former Catholic and Protestant countries of Europe, except for Poland, but including Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. However, these territories also include the Ukraine, Moldova, possibly still North Macedonia and potentially Belarus. Here we do not mention Africa, the Americas, Oceania, as well as Asia, outside the Russian Federation, Georgia and the territories of the Patriarchates of Antioch and Jerusalem, which are also in dispute. Essentially, none of these disputes are about geographical problems, but spiritual problems. In reality, those who have spiritual food to give to the people will control any territory in question, not those who pretentiously claim and bully.

Conclusion: The Holy Trinity

In this month, when the post-Soviet Russian State has at long last handed back the Icon of the Holy Trinity, painted by St Andrei (Rubliov), to the Church, surely it is time to begin implementing the unity in diversity, which is the Holy Trinity, into Church life. We await the liberation of the Church from narrow nationalism, in order to lead the whole Orthodox Christian world into freedom, cleansing and deposing unworthy clerics – money-minded businessmen, protocolish bureaucrats, embittered homosexuals and convert schismatics, and rejecting their purely political decisions, which they cloak in their purely political interpretations of the canons

The latter appear for the moment to have taken over the administration of these two Local Churches of Moscow and Constantinople because there has been no-one, no international Synod and no Council, to keep the order of Catholicity. This is apocalyptic, for if this situation continues and no-one brings order on earth because we continue to be unworthy of it, then Christ Himself will come down again from heaven, just as He promised, and end it all. Then there will be a new heaven and a new earth, because of the best efforts of Satan to close churches and destroy mankind, which are so apparent just now. But our God is great because He works miracles.

 

 

Beyond the Three Romes: The People’s Orthodoxy

Part One: The Three Temptations of Roman Imperialism

The Temptation of the First Rome

Seeing the oppression of the Church by barbarian chiefs in Old Rome and by unworthy Emperors in New Rome, the capital of the Roman Empire, which was later called Constantinople, in the 11th century the leaders of Old Rome took a decision. This was to make their part of the Church, in what is now called Western Europe, into a State. The leader of their part, or Patriarchate, of the Church, called the Pope of Rome, would be placed above all leaders and dubbed ‘the Head of the Church’ and ‘the Vicar of Christ’. Their new filioque ideology would claim that the Holy Spirit, the source of all truth, authority and spirituality in the Church, proceeds from their Popes.

In other words, the solution to the problem of State oppression as proposed by Roman Catholicism is that the Church becomes greater than any State. It becomes a worldwide Super-State, inherently secularising and centralising, more secular than the secular. This was, put simply, a power grab. This ‘easy way out’ was, is and always will be, a spiritual suicide. Christ did not call on legions of angels to protect Him when He was under arrest (Matt. 26). He accepted His Cross and said: ‘Put away your sword’. And that is what He still says to all those who attempt to impose the outward ways of the Church by intimidation and violence.

Naturally, in the 11th century, the remaining Orthodox Christians, at that time, the vast majority of Christendom, at once rejected this novel ‘theology’, or rather ideology. The latter became known, contradictorily, as ‘Roman Catholicism’ – for you cannot be Roman and Catholic (universal). Today Roman Catholicism remains a ‘Church-State’, an example of papoceasarism, a very secular form of Christianity, and has split into a myriad of sects protesting against the centralism which the hundreds of millions of sectarians condemn as ‘Papism’. However, those sects, now dying out through secularisation, are also subject to the ways of the world and even more deeply than Roman Catholicism, which they have rejected for the last 500 years.

The Temptation of the Second Rome

The problem of State interference in Church life remained for the rest of the Church. This is clear from the later history of New, or the Second, Rome, Constantinople, which finally fell in 1453. The elite of Emperors and State-appointed bishops was always ready to sign away their souls, and those of their flocks, in exchange for military aid from Roman Catholic Western Europe. The history of the Council of Florence and the resistance to the imposition of the Western ideology by such Christian heroes as St Gregory Palamas (1296-1359) and his spiritual successor St Mark of Ephesus (c. 1392-1444), by the monasteries and unmercenary parish priest-pastors and the faithful, demonstrates our principled opposition to the corruption of the elite, always ready to compromise the Faith of Christ.

In more recent times, several Constantinople Patriarchs have appeared to want to imitate the centralist Popes of Rome, envying and admiring their power, riches and prestige, and so their policies are sometimes called ‘Eastern Papism’. As a result, a whole series of Local Churches, protesting against Constantinople centralism, has been born, in Serbia, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania and Macedonia in what is literally a Balkanisation of the Church of Constantinople. However, unlike the saintless Protestant sects which rejected the First Rome and justified their separations by changing the teachings of the Church, these Local Churches have in no way changed or compromised the teachings of the Church and have kept the Faith, as proved by their many saints.

However, like the National Protestant Churches, these new Local Churches have been oppressed by the national, or rather nationalist, ideologies of the States which they represent. They have accepted the Cross of Christ. Today, the Second Rome in what is now Istanbul remains, but as a shadow of its former self, for the last three generations as a tiny, compromised and highly politicised puppet of the US State Department. Its leaders have been highly engaged in unionist talks with Old Rome. No surprise here: birds of a feather flock together. Most recently, its subjection to US politics has been used to foment a violent Church schism in the Ukraine. This is the fruit of Constantinople Papism.

The Temptation of the Third Rome

This story has been repeated in the Third Rome, Moscow, which after persecution by Emperors and Empresses, especially in the 18th century, fell in 1917. And then the Third Rome became the Third International and the Gospel of Christ was exchanged for the Gospel of Soviet atheism – ‘the easy way’ to establish paradise on earth. Only the promised paradise was more like hell on earth because that ‘paradise’ was without and against Christ. The Third Rome, in Moscow, remains very large on paper, but it has a stubbornly nominal flock, who resist and resent the exploitative business model of the Church proposed in post-Soviet times.  As its righteous, like Matushka Alypia, prophesied: ‘Their golden domes will shine, but it will not be possible to worship in those churches’.

Just like Constantinople, Moscow to appears to want to imitate the centralist Pope of Rome, envying and admiring his power, riches and prestige. Its leaders have been highly engaged in unionist talks with Old Rome. No surprise here: birds of a feather flock together. This Muscovite Papism first appeared under Metropolitan, and later Patriarch, Sergius of Moscow (1867-1944), who considered that any compromises with the atheist State were justified because he had to ‘save the Church’, that is, to preserve its material assets, whatever the cost. This error became known as ‘Sergianism’ and was condemned, since it appeared to deny that Christ is the Saviour and that the Church does not need saving, only people need saving – and by the Church. This Sergianist Papism is still the model admired there today.

As a result, a whole series of National Churches, protesting against Muscovite centralism, has been born, in Poland, Czechoslovakia and today, being born in agony, in the Ukraine and in many other countries such as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and very probably elsewhere. For the Russian Church too is compromised, but this time by the post-Soviet (and often purely Soviet) mentality, that is, the Church is compromised by the not very Orthodox State heir to both the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. In other words, the spectre of the centralist Roman Empire haunts both centres of the Orthodox Church. And until there is repentance everywhere, the return to Orthodoxy everywhere, there is little hope of seeing a properly functioning Orthodox Christian world in either the Second or Third Romes, let alone in the First Rome, which wandered off from the Holy Spirit 1,000 years ago.

Part Two: The People’s Orthodoxy

The Third Way

What remains? Is there an alternative? Where is there authentic Orthodox Christianity? Is there another way? Of course, there is, and none of the Roman Imperialism of the Second and Third Romes, let alone of the First Rome, is necessary. There is the other way, beyond the superficiality and pomp of the Three Romes, the path of the People’s Orthodoxy, of authentic monasteries, parish pastors and simple faithful, the way between and beyond the Imperialisms of Constantinople and Moscow. We can call this the way of the Orthodox Commonwealth, or of ‘Carpathian’ Orthodoxy, of ‘Carpathian’ spirituality, though this simply means the Orthodox Christian way, the royal way. We can use this expression because the Orthodox of the Carpathian mountain range live in Carpatho-Russia (currently mostly in south-western Ukraine and miscalled ‘Transcarpathia’), south-eastern Poland, eastern Slovakia, south-western Ukraine and northern Romania and ‘Carpathian Orthodoxy’ spills over easily into Serbia, Moldova, Bulgaria and northern Greece to Mt Athos.

As examples, two contemporary righteous Churchmen come out of this Carpathia, the Carpatho-Russian-speaking Metr Laurus (Shkurla) (1928-2008) and the Romanian-speaking Metr Onufry (Berezovsky) (1944- ) of Kiev. They are heirs of the Orthodox Renaissance of hesychasm (unceasing prayer), our Christian reply to the neo-pagan Western Renaissance. Hesychasm was spread into this huge area by a very international group of fathers from the Holy Mountain of Athos by St Gregory of Sinai (c. 1260-1346), a contemporary of St Gregory Palamas (1296-1359), and his many followers, such as St Kallistos the Patriarch (+ 1363) in what is now Greece, St Roman of Tarnovo (c.1310-1363) and St Theodosius of Tarnovo (1310-1370) in Bulgaria, St Romil of Ravannitsa (+ 1376), St Athanasius of Meteora (1305-1383), St Sisoes the Sinaite (+ c. 1400), St Gregory of Gornjak (c.1300-1406) and others in Serbia, St Sergius of Radonezh (1314-1392) and his Thebaid of followers in Russia, and St Nicodemus of Tismana (1320-1406) in Romania. In the 18th century, this ‘Carpathian’ spirituality gave birth to the Ukrainian-Moldavian St Paisius (Velichkovsky) of Neamt in Romania, in the last century to St Alexis of Carpatho-Russia (1877-1947) and in our own times to St Job of Ugol (1902-1985), Fr Cleopa (Ilie) (1912-1998) and the Romanian elders of Moldavia in the living tradition.

There is nothing new in this Real Orthodoxy beyond the Romes, which could be termed ‘Carpathian Orthodoxy’. It began with St John the Baptist in the Palestinian desert, it blossomed in the deserts of Egypt and Palestine in the 3rd, 4th and 5th centuries, was taken to both Constantinople and then northwards to the Balkans and then to the forests of Russia and Siberia, but also to Gaul and then to the wild coasts of Ireland and the Hebrides in the 6th and 7th centuries, from where it was taken to both England and Iceland. It is also this spirit of Orthodoxy that was once so alive in the Russian emigration, though now all but dead in the dead hands of the State mentality and the property-thirsty princes of this world. Carpathian Orthodoxy is simply Christianity in life, the uncompromised Christian way of life, Orthodox spirituality. Carpathian Orthodoxy is not Constantinopolitan or Muscovite, not Imperial, but ours, the people’s, that of families, guided by spiritual fathers, by our monasteries and hermits.

The Attack on ‘Carpathian’ Orthodoxy by the Sergianism of the Russian Emigration

The 2001 usurping of power in the emigre Russian Church, ROCOR, and the expulsion of its leader, Metropolitan Vitaly, gave rise to a series of schisms in 2007, which were only limited in Australia and Germany because those in power had made as sure as possible that local church properties belonged to them. Elsewhere the losses were far more serious, especially in South America, North America, France and England. There followed the sidelining of the next ‘Carpathian’ Metropolitans of ROCOR, Laurus and Hilarion, who succeeded Metr Vitaly, and were turned into mere figureheads by the clique that had taken charge.

The clique appeared to have little interest in Church life, in real and, not token, monasticism and pastors and prayer, only in being ‘princes of the Church’ (one of their favourite expressions), in power and riches, property and prestige. Church was no longer about the salvation of souls, but about the ‘salvation’ of property by bishops, who wanted to take property away from monastics, pastors and the people. Thus came about the quite unjust 2016 expulsion from London of an excellent priest, the 2018 excommunication from Geneva of lifelong devoted ROCOR Orthodox trustees who had controlled the Cathedral, the closure of a parish near Saint Louis in the USA in a property dispute, and the loss of the church in Miami (it too did not belong to the ROCOR administration), in yet another property dispute.

There followed in exactly the same way the attempt to destroy Church life in parishes in England and close their churches (those properties too did not belong to ROCOR bishops). None of this left anyone in any doubt as to the utter ruthlessness of the US-financed business clique in charge of the Russian emigration Church. And the situation is continuing in the USA today, as more leave. All of this was caused by the desire of the ruling clique to imitate the Sergianism of the Church inside Russia, of the Third Rome. That clique too was going to ‘save the Church’, that is, to seize and preserve power and riches, property and prestige. In their worldliness they too confused the salvation of the soul with the preservation of empty buildings beneath golden domes and soulless property portfolios.

The Failed Attempt to Close Down the People’s Churches in England

In our own cases, after insisting on keeping our church open, despite covid regulations and aggressive and bullying intimidation, we were at various points in 2020 and 2021 the only Orthodox priests in England celebrating normally. For this defiance of death and our will to keep our churches, bought with the people’s money, open, the elite clique in charge had to punish and try to destroy us. As a result, they initiated a schism with the Archdiocese of Western Europe of the Moscow Patriarchate in December 2020. As the senior priest in the Diocese, I, with all the others, was forced to seek canonicity away from schismatic bishops. We applied Canon XV of the First and Second Council under St Photius the Great and 317 other Fathers, that those who ‘have been diligent to rescue the Church from schisms and divisions’….’shall be deemed worthy to enjoy the honour which befits them among Orthodox Christians’.

Ironically, as we have said, this Archdiocese of Western Europe with which the clique began a very public schism, is under the Moscow Patriarchate. However, the then ROCOR First Hierarch, Metr Hilarion (Kapral), was far too ill to contain the sectarians of ROCOR and its mini-Synod which had for 20 years been running everything. Therefore, individuals with power in New York refused to listen to what was happening and rejected our request for stavropegia in early 2021, using the electronic signature of the ‘Carpathian’ Metr Hilarion to justify themselves. We had known Metr Hilarion since 1988 and he came to us twice, ordaining clergy and celebrating in our church before he fell ill. Persecution of us was not his will. After his illness came the end. After this and the rejection of our application to join the Moscow Patriarchate, which was frightened of New York, we had to move to another Local Church.

We had to find canonicity against the schism of the bullies and to protect our churches from their attempts to close them. They accused us of being ‘criminals’, of stealing money (!), slandered us, tried to put us on trial and then sentenced us uncanonically and illegally behind our backs. They repeated all the oldest tricks in the book, using their naïve, new followers and yesmen. This was the Golgotha that the new Sanhedrin had prepared for us. God was testing our patience and humility. So we accepted our Cross and so God led us to spiritual freedom in another Local Church and so they lost everything. The New York schism endures to this day, but many clergy and people have left ROCOR. Though we have gone to the Church of Romania, several others, controversially, have joined the Patriarchate of Constantinople, especially in the USA and the Netherlands (as also in the Ukraine and now Lithuania), and a few elsewhere. Meanwhile, in the USA all free churches are continuing to leave ROCOR one after the other.

Part Three: Survival and Victory

The Orthodox Way

Certain Greeks wanted us to join their local Archdiocese. This was not Divine destiny. We believed that the Constantinople leadership is compromised by its modernist history of ecumenism, new calendarism and other practices, and especially by its treacherous activities in the Ukraine and the persecution of our dear friends in the Czech Lands. True, Moscow has also acted uncanonically in Africa, just as Constantinople has done in the Ukraine. However, the Greek vengeance on simple Africans who want to see an African, and not Greek, Orthodoxy, with the help of Moscow has been quite as vicious as the New York vengeance on us and as the Moscow vengeance on those seeking political freedom outside the controls of Soviet nationalism, whether in the Netherlands, Lithuania or elsewhere.

Then, we have many parishioners from the much-suffering Ukraine. They are faithful to Metr Onufry of Kiev, who has been so mistreated both by Constantinople and by Moscow. This double persecution from both extremes, from Constantinople and Moscow, is a sure sign of his righteousness. True, in the US, there is a (Russian/Ukrainian) Slavic Vicariate for persecuted refugees from ROCOR, but in the US context, with others refusing to take refugees from ROCOR, there may be no alternative to this. We are free to do otherwise. Similarly, we do not judge those seven priests in Lithuania, forced to join Constantinople because of their mistreatment by Moscow. We are free to do otherwise.

Others called us to old calendarist groups. However, for us, schisms and sects of any sort are the unthinkable. That is the precise reason why we left ROCOR – because it suffers from the sectarian, old calendarist illness of schism. Being on the old calendar is very different from old calendarism, just as being on the new calendar is very different from new calendarism. For within the Romanian Metropolia of Western and Southern Europe, our ex-ROCOR group of six parishes is on the old calendar. We are following the Third Way between and beyond the Second and Third Romes. For we are turned towards St John of Shanghai (as also is the Romanian parish in Birmingham) and the New Martyrs and Confessors, and the local saints of the early centuries, to Moldovan spirituality and the heritage of St Paisius (Velichkovsky) (1722-1794) and Fr Cleopa Ilie, the great Carpathian elder (1912-1998), as well as to contemporary Ukrainian figures like Elder Iona of Odessa (1925-2012) and Metr Onufry of Kiev (1944 – ).

‘Carpathian’ Orthodoxy Survives in England

Thus, in February 2022, 6 parishes, 16 clergy, including 7 priests, and 5,000 laypeople moved away from the local ROCOR diocese. Nearly all went to the Patriarchate of Romania and not a single one returned to serve in ROCOR. The departure of over three-quarters of the ROCOR Diocese in England to the Patriarchate of Romania, left ROCOR with mainly a few new and untrained Non-Russian-speaking convert clergy, a tiny group of about 100 core faithful and 1500 nominal Orthodox. Moreover, our move took place eight days before the present phase of the conflict in the Ukraine in 2022 and the further tragic politicisation and disruption of Russian Church life.

A spiritual son of, and ordained priest by, the ever-memorable Archbishop Antony of Geneva, the successor in that see to St John of Shanghai and Western Europe, I believe that the positive heritage of the old ROCOR has to be saved. It was Archbishop Antony who had stopped the spread of sectarianism in ROCOR in the US already in the 1970s. We followed him. We are ever loyal to the memory and practices of St John of Shanghai and Western Europe and his successor Archbishop Antony, to the Presov Rusyn Metr Laurus (Shkurla) and to the west Ukrainian Metr Hilarion (Kapral) (1948-2022). We see in the politically free Autonomous Romanian Metropolitan of Western and Southern Europe, with nearly 3 million faithful, 700 parishes and several monasteries, the greatest hope for a future Local Church of Western Europe.

After nearly fifty years of faithfulness to the Russian Church and over 36 years of unpaid service at the altar, this marked a new beginning, but one to which all had been moving in the recent period of the Sovietisation of ROCOR, which sees the Church as a Business. We twelve, five priests, two deacons and five readers who joined the Romanian Church, are an international group, profoundly opposed to the sectarian trends coming from the new ROCOR in the USA. We do not want to belong to the ghettoes of egomania or the sects of pathology. They are not the way forward. These trends were exported to England during the critical illness and loss of control of ROCOR by the ever-memorable Metropolitan Hilarion (Kapral). He was the last ROCOR First Hierarch able to keep ROCOR unity, before being struck down by his dementia and cancer well before his repose in 2022. We honour his memory, as also that of Metr Laurus.

Our Parish and the Future

On 20 May 2022, in one of her last acts, the late Queen Elizabeth made my native town a City. Its coat of arms, depicting St Helen and the three crowns of St Edmund, declares: No Cross, no Crown (of martyrdom). Our churches in the City of Colchester, the main one dedicated to St John of Shanghai and Western Europe, and the other dedicated to All the Saints of these Isles, have become a spiritual centre for Moldovans, Ukrainians, Romanians and all patriotic, but non-nationalist, Russians. We consider that we have only one passport and under ‘Nationality’ that passport says ‘Orthodox Christian’. We have trilingual services and an emphasis on personal confession and communion and the prayer of the heart, as well as rejecting the money-making mercenary spirit of marble and gold, so evident in so many churches, especially in London and other capitals.

For us the Patriarchate of Romania, which is in communion with all Orthodox, is the royal way forward, between the extremisms of Constantinople and Moscow, which are scandalously out of communion with one another, both effectively in schism with one another. Ignoring politics and nationalism, the Colchester parish has good relations with the Greek monastery at Tolleshunt Knights, where I often met the now St Sophrony in the 1970s and early 1980s, when the monastery was still poor. Attended on Sundays by between 200 and 400 faithful, communions at St John’s number between 100 and 300 on Sundays, with between 50 and 100 children, making it one of the three largest Orthodox parishes in England. We are followers of ‘Carpathian’ spirituality. The Carpathians are on the Western edge of the Orthodox world. So are we.

We continue in the path of the everyday spirituality of the people, of Carpathian Orthodoxy, outside the Romes, with their Spirit-quenching politics, soul-destroying bureaucracies and anti-spiritual ‘protocols’. This is the same as Hebridean, Ionan and Lindisfarnian spirituality of old, practised in these isles some fourteen centuries ago. It is the one and the same ‘Spiritodox’ world, the world of ordinary families who go to their pastors, monks and hermits for spiritual orientation, making pilgrimages to Mt Athos, Moldavia, Diveevo and Ekaterinburg, and St Spyridon and St Nicholas. This is not some sort of ‘neo-hesychasm’, for hesychasm never died. Last year at the Ascension the large icon of St John of Kronstadt in the Colchester church began to give off a fragrance, noticed by all, and the Icon of Christ on the iconostasis gave out a large droplet of myrrh. So does heaven reply to the persecutors of the Church, with Love, not with the aggressive bullying and attempted intimidation of the pharisees. We pray for them all, that they may be relieved of their burden of hatred and come to know Christ.

Part Four: The Future

Rejecting the Temptation of the Romes

There are those who ask how the present stand-off between Constantinople and Moscow, the Second and Third Romes, will end. Those pessimists who see only the acts of sinful men should know that there will not be an everlasting schism. Political personalities come and then they die. True, too many harsh words have been said and too many injustices have been committed by both sides. The use of ‘defrocking’ for purely political, and not canonical, purposes is absurd. All political ‘defrockings’ are reversible, as they have been reversed so many times before, when the injustices of previous regimes are overturned, just as the tables of the money-changers in the Temple were overturned by the Saviour, Who said: ‘My house shall be called the house of prayer; but you have made it a den of thieves’ (Matt 21, 12-13). Bishops who misapply the canons, those who themselves receive clergy without releases but then condemn others for receiving clergy without releases, because those selfsame bishops have instituted schisms, and in places as far apart as the USA, the Netherlands, England, Lithuania and Africa, only discredit themselves and make themselves into laughing-stocks.

There will have to be negotiations between them on territory. Moscow cannot go on behaving as though countries like Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, like Finland, Poland, the Czech Lands or Slovakia, are any different from the other countries of Roman Catholic and Protestant cultural background in Western and Central Europe. Those countries too are de facto shared territory like Western Europe. On the other hand, as regards Africa, perhaps Hellenist Alexandria will have to return to holding only the territory of Egypt and Libya, as a century ago, and leave the rest of Africa to missions from the Russian Church. And Hellenist Constantinople will have to abandon the domain of the East Slavs, Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine, to the jurisdiction of the Russian Church – for a moment.

For the coming political takeover of the Ukraine as a result of the Russian military operation against the US on the battlefield of the Ukraine and the conferring of the status of a pro-Russian Protectorate on the New Ukraine, will make no difference in the Russian Church sphere. Though the Russian State will surely win militarily in the Ukraine, as it is already winning, the Russian Church is already the great loser. It has lost through its involvement in politics and is discredited outside the Russian Federation, its churches in Western Europe often reduced to little more than embassy churches. If other Local Churches recognise the self-declared autocephaly of the canonical Ukrainian Church, this will hasten the inevitable end. The Russian Church will have to cede long-overdue autocephaly, both to the New Ukraine and then to Belarus. The three brother-peoples will belong to three Sister-Churches.

Thou Hast Conquered, O Galilean

As for us, we continue to stand in the centre. Some will say that we in East Anglian England are provincials, ‘rustics’. Well, we are provincials – but we are not ashamed of it. Though standing in the centre means that we are attacked by both extremes, this is the only valid position, for Christ was also crucified between two thieves. However despised provincial Galilee was, it was Galilee that defeated the Capital of Jerusalem, with its Sanhedrin of high priests, scribes and pharisees. Why? Because in fact Galilee was the centre, just as a cave in Bethlehem, not the Senate in Rome, was also in its time the centre. The People’s Orthodoxy is controversial to the Imperial elite, just as Christ was controversial to the scribes and pharisees. But woe unto them.

And so our ‘Carpathian’ Orthodoxy stands at the centre. We stand outside the politics of capitals, old and new. We reject the Three Romes and their Imperialism and Papism, both Phanariot and Muscovite, which are supported only by their readiness to compromise on everything with States. We reject both the Church-State of Old Rome and the State Churches of the Second and Third Romes. It is Imperial Orthodoxy, not ‘Carpathian’ Orthodoxy, that is marginal, because the Imperial Church is not the Faith of the people, of pastors, parish priests and monasteries, but of intriguing oligarchs, hard-hearted politicians and self-tortured ideologues.

In the 4th century the Roman Emperor Julian the Apostate (331-363), born in Constantinople and finishing his poisonous life in what is now Iraq, returned to persecuting the Church. He became known as ‘the last Pagan Emperor’, though, alas!, that is not true. Julian wrote an attack on Christianity, ‘Against the Galileans’. The trickery of the ‘Galileans’—his usual term for Orthodox Christians – had nothing divine in it, he claimed, it appealed to ‘rustics’ only, and it was made up of fables and irrational falsehoods. Here can be seen his intellectual snobbery, like that of our present persecutors, who claim to have some worldly academic qualifications. Julian’s plan to rebuild the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem had to be abandoned. He lost his fight against Christ, humiliated by ‘the rustics’. It is said that his last words were: ‘Thou hast conquered, O Galilean’. The provincial Galileans had even then won.

Towards a Local Church

Our Church is already a Local Church. Indeed, other Local Churches already exist. They begin not in capitals, where there is a separate church for each nationality, often de facto embassy churches, but in the provinces, where Orthodox of all nationalities are brought together and have to be together, living with one another. In the greater picture beyond this, there is the whole problem of Western Europe, the Americas and Oceania, where the absence of four Autocephalous Local Churches is absurd, despite over a century of Orthodox presence there and despite the presence there of some 10% of the Orthodox episcopate of 1,000 bishops.

We have always opposed those who tried to undermine the inevitability of new Local Churches in these Diaspora lands. They ruin all hope for them through extremism, whether of the modernist/secularist/new calendarist, or the pharisaic/ghettoist/old calendarist, variety. If your only selling-point is that you are like the whole secular world around you, whose values you share, then you have nothing to give to create a new Local Church. But if your only selling-point is your differences, or, worse still, that your differences make you ‘superior’ to all others, then you are a pharisee and you too are working against a new Local Church.

A Church of and for ‘incels’ and right-wing pharisees is not a Church. A Church of military rigidity, of the straitjacket and Stalinist conformism is not a Church. A Church of and for intellectuals is not a Church. A Church of wokeism, of anything goes, swimming with the tide and secularist conformism is not a Church. The Church is for all who accept Her as She is, the Church for all generations and all nationalities, for all who wish to live better lives and know that this is possible only through Christ. Our Church is the Church of the spiritual, not of the material and its obsessions with power and riches, property and prestige. Our Church is not the Church of politicians and businessmen, but the Church of the Saints. We too say: No Cross, No Crown. And again we say: Christ is Risen!

Archpriest Andrew Phillips,

City of Colchester, England,

Eastertide 2023

(The above is available as a printed brochure)

Double Suicide in Lithuania

Foreword

For those of us who were brought up in faithfulness to the values of the New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Church, the politicised captivity of any Local Orthodox Church is lamentable. Moreover, the shameful weaponisation of the canons for political, monetary or proprietary reasons not only betrays the witness of those Martyrs and Confessors, who had no love of power, money or property, but also plainly discredits those who undertake that weaponisation. We render to God what is God’s and to Caesar only what is Caesar’s.

The New Martyrs and Confessors are those Russians who were fearless and did not agree to become serfs, or obediently line up to go to Bolshevik concentration camps, or see their churches closed by today’s renegade foreign bishops, just like they now do in the Ukraine and in England, they offered resistance to Antichrist. Indeed, Canon XV of the First and Second Council, held in the year 861 under St Photius and 317 other Fathers, is quite clear that those who ‘have been diligent to rescue the Church from schisms and divisions’….’shall be deemed worthy to enjoy the honour which befits them among Orthodox Christians’. The world loves its own, but God loves His own.

Introduction: Lithuania is Now in the Diaspora

The news that the Patriarchate of Constantinople is setting up an Exarchate in Lithuania under Lithuanian (in other words, US) government sponsorship (https://d367rzjs5oyeba.cloudfront.net/_mobile_/ru/312734/) elicits sorrow in Moscow. This means that after Estonia nearly thirty years ago, then after the Ukraine nearly five years ago, and after Africa two years ago (1), Lithuania has now become yet another multi-jurisdictional Orthodox area region Moscow has lost its jurisdictional monopoly there too. However, Lithuania only joins the whole of Western Europe west of Poland, the Czech Lands, Romania and Slovenia, not to mention the Americas, Australia and Africa too, in becoming multi-jurisdictional.

Sadly then, there is nothing new in this. The real question is why Lithuania, or all the Baltic countries together, like many other countries, regions or continents, cannot simply belong to one administratively united Local Church. This would be the only canonical alternative (the principle of one bishop per city) to belonging to different jurisdictions, all moreover dependent on the ebb and flow of the political tides of foreign capitals and foreign politics. In none of this multiplicity of jurisdictions is there any intention to do missionary work, there are only vulgar and petty disputes about nationalistic power, and already existing income and property. As this is not how Christians behave, our only conclusion can only be that those who take part in it are not Christians. Can we imagine the apostles disputing in this way like children in the playground about jurisdiction over the Orthodox in Rome or Corinth or Ephesus or anywhere else? ‘This is my church, not yours’. No, it isn’t. Yes, it is’. Childishness among adults.

Politics

In Lithuania the appeal by Constantinople to Ukrainian and even Belarussian ‘refugees’ to join their new Church is clearly a political manipulation by the local US ambassador, in obedience to his employers in the US State Department. It is very likely that, as in Estonia and in the Ukraine, very few in Lithuania (where there are fewer than 100,000 nominal Orthodox anyway) will leave Moscow for Constantinople. What premises could the new jurisdiction use? Or will the Lithuanian State set about ejecting Orthodox from their churches by violence in order to establish a property portfolio of empty church buildings, as the US-backed Kiev regime does in the Ukraine? That is, few, apart from the original five priests who have left Moscow for Constantinople and were then defrocked by Moscow for purely political reasons, as Constantinople has recognised (2). It is Moscow’s suicidal tragedy which created this second suicidal tragedy on the part of Constantinople. Moscow must now be regretting its original injustice. As the proverb says, you reap what you sow. However, what will happen to all these Constantinople creations in Lithuania, the Ukraine and Estonia after the Russian military victory in the Ukraine?

Indeed, what will happen to the Ukraine, the Baltic States and indeed all of strike-bound and riot-torn Europe, Eastern and Western, including insurrectional France and its watch-loving President, after the US has to cut its losses in Europe, as it did in Kabul, and run away in order to face the war that it has been fomenting with China? Inevitably, once abandoned by its feudal US master, these countries like all the others in Europe will have to make up with Russia. However, the political and military victory of the Russian Federation will be no victory for the Moscow Patriarchate. People only go to church if it is not money-driven and if it is politically free, and that means neither to a careerist, money-driven and politically-subservient Moscow Patriarchate and its, nor to the clearly US-run Patriarchate of Constantinople. Through their politicking, both the largest (Moscow), and the most prestigious (Constantinople), Local Churches for now have disqualified themselves from spiritual leadership and the moral high ground of the Orthodox world. A double suicide. The result, after the conflict in the Ukraine is over, will surely be several new Local Churches, freed from the jurisdictions of either of the above. Notably, neither Constantinople nor Moscow with their Church structures in Lithuania ever mentions doing missionary work among Lithuanians! Only about stealing already existing flocks! What claim can either have to Lithuania?

Two Questions

Two questions arise. Firstly: Why is it that since 1900 – a long time ago now – no new, all-encompassing Local Church has been set up in any of the countries and continents where there is an Orthodox Diaspora, in Western Europe, the Americas or Australia? Then, there is a second question: Just over fifty years ago, there was a valiant attempt to do something towards building a Local Church for Northern America (the USA and Canada) with the OCA, the Orthodox Church in America, but that was a failure. Why? After all, according to the latest survey, 77% of all Orthodox parish clergy in the USA support the creation of a Local Church, either autocephalous or autonomous.

Of course, that above survey is of parish clergy, not of the episcopate or of laypeople. However, we suspect that most laypeople think the same as parish clergy. Those of the old emigration, of 50-100 years ago, especially in Western Europe, always had the intention of returning to the countries from which they had been expelled, either by Communist oppression or else by Capitalist poverty. This is no longer the case. Today’s emigrants, parish clergy and people, are here to stay. They want a better future for themselves, for their children and their grandchildren. They are establishing Local Orthodox Churches, as never before. However, their episcopate is another story.

More Politics: The Episcopate

The problem here is that the episcopate, those who have power, is often very closely attached, either for political or monetary or for ideological reasons, to a Mother-Church in Eastern Europe or the Middle East. For example, the Patriarchate of Antioch clearly allows no Non-Arab bishops. But the situation in other jurisdictions in North America, apart from in the OCA, is very similar. Clearly, only some sort of rejection of foreign candidates by the people could change that situation. But then there is the problem of candidates. It is all very well to declare that there should be more American-born bishops, but are there any suitable American-born candidates? And they must be suitable candidates, because crazy convert sectarian candidates, who live in a fantasy world, only lead to the destruction of the Church, as all have seen. The same goes for Western Europe and Australia.

On the other hand, in the recent Antiochian scandal, it was revealed to naïve Americans that most Arab bishops are in fact married. Thus, what the former Metropolitan was doing was not so unusual in the old country. We have known this for decades. It is common knowledge in Europe. There are plenty of (unofficially) married Orthodox bishops of all nationalities, we will not tire readers with a list. The first case we came across was that of a Greek bishop over forty years ago (3). And Orthodox parish clergy much prefer dealing with such married bishops to dealing with repressed homosexuals, who pretend that they are not what they are. The latter can be sadistic on account of their jealousy of married clergy, who have everything that they have chosen not to have, in order to further their power-driven careers.

On Being Broad-Based

Now we come to the oner attempt to set up a Local Church, the question of the failure of the OCA, the Orthodox Church in America. Why has it not achieved unity in Northern America after over fifty years? It was after all set up as autocephalous. Here, those of us who met and knew the pragmatic Fr Alexander Schmemann, the main inspiration behind the OCA, and remember the events of the 1970s will recall how the newly autocephalous but very controversial OCA episcopate immediately tried to impose a new calendarist ideology on all. This was suicidal. Immediately, the they failed to recruit anyone who was faithful to the old calendar and lost many who wanted to continue in that faithfulness. Secondly, its equally aggressive policy of nationalistic Americanisation discouraged anyone who was not US-born and had an attachment to another culture from joining it or even staying with it. It led to many a rather harsh quip at the time about ‘the Coca-Cola Church’.

In other words, our suggestion is that a Local Church in any part of the Western world must not be narrow and intolerant, but broad-based, inclusive of all Orthodox, ignoring political and nationalistic ideologies, accepting all, whatever their ethnic origin, and accepting both the calendars that Orthodox use. It is notable that the least broad-based, least tolerant and so smallest jurisdictions in Northern America, are those who do not want to belong to a Local Church, as they have a suicidal policy of sectarian isolationism. Its error is the opposite of the OCA’s. The first went to the new calendarist extreme of ‘almost anything goes’ and ‘we’re as American as apple pie’. On the other hand, smaller groups go to the old calendarist extreme of ‘hardly anything goes’ and experiencing an attack of sectarian ‘One True Churchism’.

Conclusion: The Answers to Two Questions

Extraordinarily, although their practising flock numbers fewer than one million out of perhaps five million nominal Orthodox, there are now 55 Orthodox bishops in Northern America. This is far more than in all Local Churches, except for Moscow (419 bishops for a nominal 144 million), Constantinople (much over-bishoped with 128 bishops for a nominal three million), Greece (over-bishoped with 100 bishops for a nominal 10 million) and Romania (59 bishops for a nominal 19 million). It can be said that Northern America is over-bishoped. Something similar can be said about Western Europe.
If you are interested in prostitutes of Bishkek, you can find in bipopka.

Here there are probably about one million practising Orthodox out of about seven million nominal, but over 30 bishops. The above number of bishops is again greater than in many Local Churches. But there is still no Local Church. Indeed, the only Western European Metropolia which even has autonomy is the Romanian, though that does have most of the faithful in Western Europe. Why is there no all-encompassing, autocephalous Local Church anywhere? We repeat: Any Local Church in the Western world must be broad-based, inclusive of all Orthodox, ignoring political and nationalistic ideologies, accepting all, whatever their ethnic origin, and accepting both the calendars that Orthodox use.

 

Notes:

  1. In 2021 Moscow received parishes in Africa into its jurisdiction as a result of the betrayal of Moscow by the Patriarchate of Alexandria (a US gun was being held in its back) on the issue of jurisdiction in the Ukraine. Since Moscow opened its Exarchate in Africa, the flock there has been divided between US-backed Greek Alexandria and Moscow. However, all this is against the background of the huge political, economic and military struggle between the US and Russia-China to dominate the African Continent. In other words, the whole affair is highly political.
  2. The canons are quite clear about defrocking. The cases in Lithuania have nothing to do with the personal morality of the priests defrocked, only about the twisting of the interpretation of the canons for purely political ends. In another case, a bishop uncanonically received several priests from the Patriarchate of Constantinople and yet objected when other Patriarchates received and canonically protected those whom he had unjustly treated. Like St Nectarios, who formed a Trust to protect the Convent he had founded, they also formed a Trust to protect the Church property they had founded and did not hand over the keys to those who wanted to destroy the parishes that had carefully been built up over the decades.

Those events certainly sounded like hypocrisy to all observers, including to onlooking bishops. The mass reception by Constantinople of bishops and priests in the Ukraine and the mass reception by Moscow of priests from Alexandria in Africa has done nothing to alleviate this impression of hypocrisy and once more undermines the authority of the episcopates concerned. It is clear that once this new Cold War is over, all these absurd decisions will be rescinded, just as those taken during the old Cold War were also rescinded by a mere stroke of the pen in the recent past.

  1. The open and well-known existence of married bishops sounds like one rule for the rulers and another rule for the ruled. In any case, once again it does nothing to give the bishops in question any authority or credit.

 

 

News from Lithuania

Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople has announced that his Synod has unanimously reversed the defrocking of five priests in Lithuania who were defrocked for disagreeing with the conflict in the Ukraine and the apparent support for it by the Russian Church authorities. As the vast majority of Orthodox bishops agree, defrocking cannot take place because of a difference of political opinions. This is a question of basic human rights. The priests in question have been received into the Patriarchate of Constantinople, meaning that there are now two jurisdictions in Lithuania, as there have been for nearly thirty years in Estonia. Of course, in Western Europe there are multiple jurisdictions and have been for over a century. The five priests also expect that others in Lithuania will follow their example.

Some will object that the priests in question did not receive letters of dismissal to leave from their Russian bishop (they were defrocked after they had already asked to leave). However, it is the common practice of at least one part of the Russian Church, ROCOR, to receive any number of clerics and parishes from the Patriarchate of Constantinople without letters of dismissal. This seems to be because ROCOR claims that it can receive clerics without letters of dismissal when there is an issue of conscience. And yet when clerics are leaving for reasons of conscience a ROCOR schism, as, for instance, the clerics who left ROCOR because of its schism with the Paris Archdiocese of the Russian Tradition (part of the same Local Church!) and were received into it without letters of dismissal (merely because ROCOR refused to write them!), ROCOR still defrocked them after they had been canonically received. Here we have the same situation and practice in reverse, from the Russian Church to Constantinople.

Further developments are expected.