Category Archives: Corruption

Ideology Versus Faith and the Post-Ukrainian Russian Church

Introduction: Ideology versus Faith

Ideology and Faith are opposed to one another. As an example, I will describe the exact church situation in a small provincial town in eastern Russia today, where there are two churches and which I know well. This situation is very symbolic of my fifty-one years of experience of the Russian Church in Russia, the Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia and of the Russian Diaspora in Western Europe, the USA and Australia and how that situation has radically degenerated in recent years.

Those who knew and lived in the Russian Church before the last few years of decadence and who for generations had venerated the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia are shocked and disappointed by the unthinkable events that have happened since. The Church was purified by the blood and suffering of those new saints. Now there are those who are trying to sully the Church once more. This is the result of a Church administration which has, purely voluntarily, applied the dead hand of the State with its ever-corrupting ideology of power, money and careerism, to itself, under no obligation whatsoever from the State.

A Church of Ideology

The first church in this small provincial town in eastern Russia is a large, beautifully restored church with frescoes and golden domes. It looks like a picture postcard, a Russian church as it should be and as is portrayed in countless coffee-table books and tourist brochures. It attracts rather well-off people who want to be in such a church; it makes them feel that they are in a ’proper church’ and that they are doing everything ‘correctly’. Thirty years ago, the church was still a ruin, abandoned there by the atheists who had wrecked it and desecrated it before World War Two. Now the church is prosperous, there is an emphasis on donating money, it is frescoed and led by Fr Gennady, a priest who hands over a lot of money to his bishop, seems rather like a businessman, has many awards, is well-off, lives in a nice house and has a smart car.  At the end of every Sunday service he preaches about politics in a way which he believes to be patriotic, but which in fact is nationalistic. He repels the few Non-Russian Orthodox (mainly Ukrainians) who live in the town. It is also rather depressing, certainly for anyone who wants to get away from the oppressive spirit of this world and expects some uplifting words from the Church.

There is no parish life, in the sense that there is no unity among the ‘parishioners’, even the priest’s wife does not attend church because of her depression. The wife of the second priest, aged 33, left him for another man. These are just groups of people who attend the church, fewer in number than in the heady and idealistic days of Patriarch Alexij II and restoration twenty-five years ago. These people do not work together, for there is no sense of community. This church is the fruit of the ideology of ‘The Russian World’. Although the basic ‘Russian World’ ideology had evolved by the Year 2000 and then found favour with the State, it was only in 2009 that it was officially adopted by certain politically-minded Church hierarchs. Since then it has been promoted, has filtered down and some have adopted it, like the priest in this town. It is essentially an aggressive, even militaristic, self-righteous, Stalinistic Russian nationalism, as symbolised by the controversial Cathedral of the Russian Armed Forces, recently opened outside Moscow.

This ‘Russian World’ nationalism is an exact parallel to the equally self-righteous, political and aggressive Greek nationalism, or ‘Hellenism’, promoted by some in the US-backed Greek Patriarchate of Constantinople and other Greek Church institutions. Ultimately, the Russian World ideology goes back to the nationalistic ‘Moscow the Third Rome’ ideology, which gradually developed after the fall of Constantinople, ‘the Second Rome’, in 1453. Now, Hellenism was rejected by the Apostle Paul in the first century who described how the Cross is foolishness for the Hellenes (1 Cor 1, 23), that is, a form of paganism. As for ‘The Russian World’ ideology, it too has been rejected by the very eminent confessor of the Faith, Metr Onufry of Kiev and all the Ukraine. He has quite rightly said that we should not be aiming at creating a ‘Russian world’, but ‘God’s world’. https://spzh.media/en/news/79477-decr-uoc-comments-on-decree-of-the-25th-world-russian-peoples-assembly

A Church of Faith

The other church in this place is much older, on the edge of town, looks poorish and is really rather plain. There are no golden domes. Inside there is a great number of icons painted on wood and relics. Fr Leonty, the priest, is an older pastor and spiritual father and is ignored by his bishop. He does not have a car and never asks people to donate money. He is not interested in money. His sermons concern the Gospel and he never mentions politics in church, but speaks of repentance and a change of life for the better. He is very traditional in his faith, but is kind and open to everyone. Parish life is strong and people feel united. They love their pastor, as he loves them. The emphasis is on the spiritual, on confession and communion.

The second church is the fruit of the Faith of ‘The Orthodox Christian World’. This Faith goes back to the Resurrection of Christ in Jerusalem in the Year 33 and its Incarnation in the world as a way of life, and not some nationalist ideology or political philosophy, for it is not nationally exclusive. Indeed, on the Day of Pentecost in the Year 33, the apostles spoke in different languages, so that all could understand. No national or racial exclusivity here, for the Orthodox World is multinational and international, the expression of Catholicity.

This Faith has always been expressed by the Church and is lived by all who are devoted to the Church, as seen most obviously in the communion of the saints. In today’s world we could give this Faith the name of ‘The New Jerusalem’. This is simply another word for Orthodox Christianity, which is outside all petty nationalism and concerned with the spiritual and ascetic. It opposes ‘Moscow the Third Rome’ with what has in Russia since the seventeenth century been called ‘Moscow the Second Jerusalem’.

Faith Always Wins

The essential problem with the Third Rome ideology is that the ideal of Rome always degenerates into nationalism. For example, the ideal of the First Rome degenerated into what was at first a Germanic or Frankish-led Western ideology and superiority complex of infallibility in the eleventh century. Passing through Spanish, Dutch, French and then British nationalist leadership, a millennium on, this ideology is now US-led. The ideal of the Second Rome (Constantinople) also clearly degenerated – into a Greek nationalist ideology. The multinational ideal of Moscow the Third Rome has equally been degenerating into Russian nationalist ideology for a long time. This is why in the seventeenth century the then persecuted Russian Patriarch counterbalanced the ideal of the Third Rome with the ideal of the Second Jerusalem. This is the only way.

For the moment some in the Russian Church have rejected Non-Russians, thus rejecting centuries of missionaries and missionary activity outside itself and have degenerated the Christian Commonwealth ideal of the Third Rome into a mere nationalist ideology. Whether in the Ukraine, Latvia, England or elsewhere, all too many in the Russian Church have turned their backs on Non-Russians. Those who love the Church of God are at present often forced to look outside the Russian Church for spiritual life.

However, there is the same situation for those inside Russia who seek the spiritual. In the provincial town I know, they go to the second church, not to the first one. That is why we too have had to go elsewhere, still hopeful that certain Russian Church clergy can cast off the nationalistic and militaristic ‘Russian World’ ideology. Although it is clear that the Russian State is the great winner in the Ukraine, it is the Russian Church that is the great loser and although it is clear that the Ukrainian State is the great loser in the Ukraine, it is the Ukrainian Church that is the great winner. The need is to return to ‘God’s world’, as Metr Onufry of the Ukraine has said.

Conclusion: Towards the Future

This New Jerusalem Faith, the Faith of ‘God’s World’, is also that of the free Metr Hilarion of Budapest and Hungary. He stands out as an exception among the episcopate of the Russian Church. Principled, speaking Western languages and with connections all over the world, he occupies the high moral ground and has not compromised himself in ‘Russian World’ politics. He is surely to become the next, non-political and pastoral, Patriarch and Archpastor of the cleansed Russian Church. Indeed, his first act may have to be to reverse the appalling injustices and persecution committed inside the Russian Church against its faithful pastors in the last three years for their rejection of sectarian schism, greed and politicisation, which have so utterly discredited the Russian Church.

He will also have to stand up to the absurd and novel demands of sectarians and schismatics, who claim to be ‘Russian Orthodox’ and claim that Non-Orthodox Christians, including Catholics, must be rebaptised to be received into the Orthodox Church. Then he can include more Western Orthodox saints into the Russian Church calendar. He will have to decentralise the Russian Church, granting autocephaly or autonomy to the Churches in republics outside the Russian Federation. Above all he will have to re-establish good relations with all the other Local Churches in the spirit of Catholicity and so move towards settling the century-old canonical irregularities within the Orthodox Diasporas through a politically free Council of the whole Church.

 

 

The World on the Brink

With events in the Holy Land following their course, America’s war in the Ukraine is now on the back burner. The Russian Federation is engaged in mopping up operations and President Zelensky will soon no longer be a useful asset and so will be disposed of, in one way or the other.

In West Asia (the former ‘Middle East’) Western propaganda has taken over. It is notorious for its lies. The First World War was justified because the propagandists proclaimed that ‘German soldiers are murdering Belgian babies’. Arming and training Islamists in the 1980s, including Bin Laden, was justified by the US because ‘The Soviets are parachuting bombs disguised as toys into Afghan villages to murder the children’. (More lies) NATO atrocities against Serbia were justified because ‘Serbian soldiers have raped 60,000 Muslim women’. (More lies). The first Western genocide of Iraq was justified because ‘Iraqi soldiers are killing Kuwaiti babies in their incubators’. (More lies and anyway Kuwaitis are Iraqis). ‘All Russians can be killed because of their atrocity in Bucha’ (in fact a Kiev atrocity against Russia-supporting Ukrainians). And so it goes on.

Now Palestinians can be genocided because ‘HAMAS has beheaded 40 Israeli babies’. (More lies, which also ignore that HAMAS was created by MOSSAD, the Israeli secret service and armed with US guns bought in the Ukraine). The last statement also ignores the fact that thousands of babies are murdered by abortion every day in the USA, but that is legal. Let alone that the Israeli Air Force, the creation of the USA, has already murdered hundreds of Palestinian children beneath their bombs. Moreover, according to the Israeli President: ‘There are no innocent civilians in Gaza’. If so, then there are no innocent civilians in Israel. Such extremism means total war. It was the same extremism that led to Anglo-American bombs murdering half a million German civilians between 1942 and 1945. Although civilian deaths are a war crime, the victors are never charged with war crimes, they are still war crimes and will be judged in the Court of the Most High.

Sadly, ‘everybody hates the Jews’, as the Jewish-American singer Tom Lehrer sang nearly sixty years ago. There has to be a reason for the hatred by many (in reality not by all). Could it be because so many Jewish leaders (clearly, Jewish people are another matter) are stuck in the blood of the Old Testament – ‘an eye for an eye’, and firmly reject Christian forgiveness, as also, ironically, did the neo-pagan Western leader Hitler. In 1947 the UN voted for two States in the Holy Land, a Jewish State and a Palestinian State. That resolution has still not been acted on and so here we are today.

However, are so-called Christian leaders any better? The latest disgraceful statement by an Orthodox Patriarch, welcoming the persecution of the Church in the Ukraine and the arrest and imprisonment of its bishops (1) by an atheist Jew suggests that certain so-called Christians are also stuck in the worst parts of the Old Testament. They still do not know Christ, on the same level as the present extremist and very unpopular minority Israeli leader. (Yes, there are lots of Jews who do not support him; there are good and bad everywhere).

That warlike Orthodox Patriarch is not the only Orthodox Patriarch to behave so strangely. Another scatters his faithful bishops to exile in the four winds and scatters his most conscientious clergy to other Local Churches. He also leaves his American Orthodox branch to be rent by extremism and the consequent unresolved American schism, now approaching its third anniversary, with its bishops warring with each other about the heresy of the ‘rebaptism’ of other Orthodox. Sad times. As for us, we shall keep our integrity and not enter the murky swamplands of anti-Orthodoxy, which now appear to be filling with Orthodox bishops.

Sadly, there is nothing new in any of this. Israeli leaders only treat the Palestinians as the Spanish and the Portuguese treated the peoples of what is now called Latin America, as North American settlers (most of them of British origin) treated Native American ‘savages’, as the British treated the natives of Australia and New Zealand (even making extinct the natives of Tasmania, hunting them ‘like vermin’), as the French treated the Arabs, as the Belgians treated the Congolese. And it was the treatment of Native Americans, which Hitler took as his example for his genocide of thirty million Slavs eighty years ago. He needed ‘living space’. That meant ethnic cleansing. And that is what is happening today in Gaza.

The world is on the brink. President Putin is in China, talking about West Asia. Moreover, these two Superpowers of Russia and China are closely allied with the Muslim world, India, Iran and Africa. Meanwhile, the US Secretary of State, the Jewish Antony Blinken was humiliated by the Egyptians and the Saudi Arabians and the octogenarian President Biden had to be called in to Israel to avert (or cause?) a Third World War. But now, after the latest atrocity at the hospital in Gaza, the senile President has nobody to talk to except the Israelis. Unlike President Putin, who in one day spoke to two Arab leaders, the President of Iran, the President of Israel, the President of Vietnam, the Prime Minister of Hungary and the President of China, President Biden is, like Israel, completely isolated – like all narcissists, whether secularists or in the Church.

Did the extremists really think they could get away with this?  We in the mainstream stand for moderation. There is no reason either for chaos in the world or in the Church. I am often asked why the world has gone crazy. I only have one answer: Because its leaders and many others have lost their faith in God. And when you stop worshipping the King of the Universe, you begin worshipping the prince of this world. This also needs saying to certain Orthodox bishops.

Note:

  1. https://spzh.news/en/news/76512-patriarch-bartholomew-approves-criminal-cases-against-uoc-hierarchs

 

The Force of White Orthodoxy

Foreword: Come a Long Way

Ten years ago on a rainy, autumn evening, the deserted, leaf-strewn pavements shining in the streetlight, I arrived at a small hotel in rue Alexandre I in Alencon in Normandy, France. A puzzled Frenchman asked me: ‘Have you come a long way’? To which I replied with a smile: ‘Yes, I have come a very long way…from the other end of history’. I did not add, but could have added: ‘I am a White Orthodox priest. There must come justice and restoration in Russia, after which justice and restoration will come elsewhere, including here in France too.’

Three Russias

In November 1721 we saw the establishment of Imperial Russia with its enslaving westernised aristocracy. In 1922 its injustices led to its fall and the establishment of the Soviet Union, Imperialist Marxist Russia with its enslaving centralised nomenklatura. In December 1991 its injustices led to its fall and the establishment of post-Soviet, American Russia with its enslaving dollarised oligarchate. On 24 February 2022 this Russia in turn fell, the victim of its internal contradictions, caused by its corruption.

The three versions of Russia had lasted 200 years, 70 years and 30 years respectively. Despite great achievements, all three versions ended badly, either in revolution and tyranny, or else in plunder and despair, or else in bloodshed and tragedy. This was because for 300 years none of them had respected its underlying Orthodox Russian identity and its calling to form a Multinational Civilisation. When you go against your true nature, you suffer. That is why Russia has had to suffer for 300 years.

The End of Post-Soviet Russia

The fall of Post-Soviet American Russia is very painful and very bloody, but also inevitable. Of course, there are those who opposed its end. These were the cosmopolitan westernisers and traitors, who last year ran away from Russia, to Finland, to Georgia, to Turkey, wherever they could go. They wanted their American Russia to continue, even though both sides of the Atlantic had ‘cancelled’ Russia. Some of them already lived in the West, some of them were represented in the Russian Church. Over the last year some of them have begun to return, realising that their flight had been based on lack of faith.

On the other hand, there are also the xenophobic Russian nationalists, the Prigozhinites. They too are ending badly, as they desire the restoration by violence of an Imperialist Russia, not understanding that Russia has moved on from Imperialism and Sovietism. They understand neither Orthodoxy, nor the multinational calling of Russia. They do not understand that they will lose everything if they continue clinging on to the disastrous centralism of the past. The Multipolar Age of BRICS has begun. Unipolarity, whether Russian or Western, is over.

The Fall of the Russian Church

The State-minded nationalists, the centralist controllers and their denouncing minders who accompany them everywhere, are over-represented in the Russian Church. Its fate is now on a knife edge because of their errors. Over the last fifty years since 1973, I have written much about the possible restoration of Sovereign Orthodox Russia, the Eurasian bulwark of worldwide Orthodox Civilisation. Shall I see it before I die? Unfortunately, its heart, the Russian Church, is still not free. True, it is no longer captive to anything so crude or primitive as Communism, but instead is captive to something far worse, far more insidious, to 300 years of the dead, corrupting hand of the State.

Thus, the Russian Church is captive to spiritual captivity, practical atheism, love of power and wealth, dictatorship and bureaucracy, arbitrary rule, cultish sectarianism, its believers are exiled, the corrupt take control, intent on destroying the Church. They are Black Orthodoxy. Their feudal despotism, blatant commercialism, clerical careerism, moral corruption and institutional simony are merely symptoms of the sickness, not causes. Here is why we are still very far from the restoration of Sovereign Russia. If it comes, it can only be after the Russian Church has been cleansed by the present very painful and very bloody events in the Soviet-established Ukraine.

The Fall of the West

Over the last fifty years since 1973, I have also written much about the coming millennial turning-point in world history. At last it has come, the fall of the West after a thousand years of its elite’s domination of the rest of the world through their technology of organised violence. It is time for the West to return to itself, to its roots, to its true nature, which is in its saints and in the culture of the spirit. This is the Truth of the West, as I have been affirming for fifty years.

The Truth of the West is not in power and mammon, as, sadly, even some modern Orthodox bishops, self-appointed ‘princes of the Church’, claim. We live far away from the love of luxury, academic theorising and effeminate worldliness of such nominal bishops. We strive to live in accord with the humble spirit of genuine Orthodoxy, of White Orthodoxy, spread from the Egyptian desert to the Atlantic Hebrides, from the East Anglian coasts to the Fen islands, from Sarov forests to Carpathian hermitages.

Afterword: The Multipolar Church

As for me, I shall continue here where God has put me, in the Kingdom of the East of England. It is where I was born and where I belong. Our task is to complete the noble mission allotted us by the last Christian Emperor, to build up the Church multinationally, accepting all inclusively. We are the Free Church, the White Church. We fight off the ‘protocols’ of the evil and the greedy, the scribes and the pharisees, the sectarians and the schismatics, who would close down all our churches and destroy us all. Those who persecuted us and tried to silence us unleashed an irresistible force, the Force of the Spirit, the Force of White Orthodoxy. God is with us.

St Andrew the Fool for Christ

2/15 October 2023

 

 

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.

 

Orthodox Catholicity: Overcoming the Russo-Greek Schism

Introduction: The Church Under Attack

‘The One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church’. Unity, Holiness, Catholicity and Apostolicity are the four characteristics of the Church and at various times in history one or another of them has been overlooked. As a result, the integrity of Church life has suffered – until the restitution of that particular characteristic. That the Faith of the Church is One, that the Church creates Saints, that the Church goes back to Apostolic times is in no doubt now.

However, at the present time, with the Church in crisis, in a state of worldwide administrative and jurisdictional schism, there is no doubt that it is rather the Catholicity of the Church that is being overlooked. This is the Universality of the Church, at all times and in all places. Catholicity is its Unity in Diversity, as at the first Pentecost and Coming of the Holy Spirit, as related in the Acts of the Apostles

Catholicity

The word Catholicity cannot be confused with Catholicism, which refers to Roman Catholicism, for the two words are different, However, there is a problem with the adjective ‘Catholic’. In English, as in all Western languages, this word is often confused with ‘Roman Catholic’, which is a contradiction in terms, as you cannot be universal at all times and in all places and yet attached to only one place, for example, Rome. This is very apparent when the Creed is sung or read in English or in other Western languages in our churches – ‘and in One. Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church’. Here the word ‘Catholic’ can sound strange.

This is not the case in Greek, from which comes the original word ‘katholiki’. Here instead of using ‘Roman Catholic’, they prefer to say ‘Latin’ or ‘Papal’, so that ambiguities are avoided. And Slavonic and Romanian have completely different words for ‘Roman Catholic’ and ‘Catholic’. Perhaps in English we need to translate ‘katholiki’ by ‘Orthodox Catholic’ or perhaps ‘Conciliar’, in order to avoid this ambiguity? For we are Orthodox Catholics, not Roman Catholics, as we confess that the Orthodox Church is ‘Conciliar’, based on Councils. Their decisions come from the Eternal Spirit of God and so are for all time, and not based on some passing administrative figure like a Pope or Patriarch, who is here today and gone tomorrow.

Here we should be particularly careful. For the Papal temptation of Rome, that of an individually or collectively-imposed imperialist superiority, racial, linguistic, cultural or otherwise, of one Local Church over all the others, can be a temptation for any Local Church. Here we do not speak of Roman Catholicism, which by definition long ago succumbed to this, thus losing its Unity with the Church, its Holiness and its Apostolicity. Here we speak of the Orthodox Church, which has not succumbed to imperialism, though certain ‘Orthodox’ personalities are and have been tempted.

In history, and especially at the present time, we have seen this temptation inside the Orthodox Church in both individual personalities and collective groups, notably in the Patriarchate of Constantinople and in the Patriarchate of Moscow. The term for the temptation of ‘Eastern Papism’ is, after all, well-known among Orthodox. There is only one solution to this problem of the ambition, personal or collective, to dominate others and lord it over them, it is the Catholicity of the Church. Indeed, as we have said, a possible translation of the Greek original for Catholicity is ‘Conciliarity’ and for ‘Catholic’ ‘Conciliar’.

Conciliarity

For Catholicity is always revealed at Councils, which are a primary source of the revelations of the Holy Spirit in our post-Scriptural Age. It is precisely this that is lacking in Roman Catholicism, whose head is the Pope of Rome. Now, some will say that Roman Catholicism does have Councils. The problem here is that those Councils are not Orthodox, not free, indeed its First Vatican Council (1869-1870) proclaimed the dogma of Papal Infallibility. In Roman Catholicism the task of Councils is only to rubber-stamp decisions of Popes, for, according to their theology, the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Popes, the Vicars of Christ. Councils do not have the same function there as in the Church, but take place only to confirm Papal decisions, being subservient to Popes.

This is not the case in the Church, although it is true that the Church in its bimillennial history has seen plenty of example of ‘Robber Councils’, or false Councils, the best known example of which was at Ephesus in 449, but the latest example of which was the 2016 pseudo-Council in Crete. How can such Robber Councils be avoided? Here we underline that in the Church no conference of bishops can be called a Council until after it has taken place, when its fruits, if there are any, can be seen and received or rejected by the people of God. A conference of bishops is merely a conference of bishops, but a Council of bishops is where the Holy Spirit is present. A conference of bishops is not a ‘Council’ because they forgot to invite the Holy Spirit to it and so can become a ‘Robber Council’. A Council implies the presence of the Holy Spirit, Who binds us together in Catholicity. For the Church is One at all times and in all places, only when She confesses the Holy Spirit.

Below are some suggestions of one who is not a bishop, not even a monk, merely a parish rector, though with nearly forty years of parish experience and having been a speaker at a Local Council (San Francisco, 2006) of the Russian Diaspora Church. There we defeated the spirit of pharisaic pride, made stubborn by psychological insecurity and political rancour. That spirit was rejecting both the repentance of others and Divine Providence, which was offering the long-awaited opportunity to restore canonical unity within the Russian Church.

Perhaps someone with influence may find the suggestions below, together with the many others, of interest.

Towards an Authentic Council

  1. Procedures

 

a. Unlike Crete, all Local Churches must be represented at a potential Universal Council.

 

b. Unlike Crete, no politically-imposed agenda should be presented at a potential future Council, that is, an agenda in the style of a secular meeting, programmed for one week in June 2016.

 

c. Unlike Crete, there should be no timetable to pressure delegates to make decisions within a very short period or to falsify the decisions reached with false signatures. The Seven Universal Councils were free to make decisions, often over many sessions and even months. The Holy Spirit is not limited by human timetables and pieces of paper.

  1. Where?

Like Crete, this Council should be held in a country where a majority of the people are at least nominally Orthodox, that is, there is locally some sense of the Tradition.

  1. Who?

Traditionally, meetings which became Councils were convened by the Emperor of the time. In the absence of an Emperor, they are called by the Patriarch of Constantinople in concert with the leaders of all the other Local Churches. If the Patriarch of Constantinople refuses for political reasons to convene a conference of bishops and many Local Churches still believe that such a conference (and potential Council) is necessary, then let them together call such a conference without the Patriarch of Constantinople. Then there can be a conference of bishops which may at least turn into a Local Council. Let us recall that apart from the Seven Universal Councils, there have in history been many Local Councils, which have reached important decisions, which have then had universal reception and application.

At present only 14 Local Churches are universally recognised. The OCA is disputed by some because it exists in North America, a territory shared by other Orthodox. And the Macedonian Church is disputed by some because of arcane arguments about its name. Perhaps these two Churches could at least be invited to send non-voting delegates to a conference of bishops, that could possibly become a Local or Universal Council, as any decisions reached could concern them very deeply.

Episcopal Corruption

As at Crete, we suggest that not all the world’s 1,000 Orthodox bishops be invited. This was never the case at the Universal Councils. Though attended by hundreds of bishops, they were never attended by all of them and some Local Churches such as the Roman Church, were represented by as few as two delegates. Conciliarity was and is expressed not by the presence of numbers of bishops, but by the presence of the Holy Spirit. Instead, let each Local Church be invited to send, say, a maximum of ten episcopal representatives, if they have that many bishops (a few smaller Local Churches do not). These representatives would have to be chosen beforehand by a Council of all Bishops (not just a Synod, let alone a mini-Synod) of their Local Church.

Here there is a problem, the elephant in the room, of which few speak. We know about this problem from the lives of St Photios (+ 893) and St Gregory Palamas (+ 1357), who were persecuted and whose teachings were opposed by Robber Councils before they were vindicated. We know about this also from the life of St Nectarios of Egina (+ 1920), who, instead of becoming a great missionary Patriarch of Alexandria, was slandered and cast out by jealous fellow-bishops, and from the life of the missionary bishop St John of Shanghai (+ 1966), who was slandered and suspended by his fellow-bishops, so did not become the Metropolitan of the Russian Church in the Diaspora and instead was hounded to an early death. The result was that that part of the Russian Church set out on a path of sectarianism, from which it has not yet been saved.

The world was unworthy of St John. His suspension in 1964 was related to me with great satisfaction 26 years later by one of his continuing slanderers, an extreme right-wing Russian racist from Los Angeles, to whom I had to listen in silence for two hours in a Paris traffic jam. He reminded me of the wise and prophetic words to me of St Sophrony the Athonite seven years before, forty years ago now, in 1983. In Essex Fr Sophrony warned me then of the cross I would have to bear, as he blessed me for my mission in the Russian Church, which he himself had had to abandon on account of persecution, to help work for unity with truth: ‘There are those in that group who lack love’, he said, indicating that we too would suffer like St John.

There is then the problem of the corruption of a significant minority of bishops. Why they are allowed to become and continue to be bishops and are not suspended or defrocked is not a question for us here, though it is a question of vital interest and concern to all responsible Orthodox and whose solution is long overdue. We suggest that delegates or bishop-representatives be chosen according to strict criteria in order to ensure that they are bishops who lead canonical lives.

Criteria for Presence

i. All representatives chosen by a Local Church must at the very least be in communion with all the bishops of their Local Church. Otherwise, they are uncanonical, de facto schismatics and should be suspended and sent to a monastery until they have repented or else defrocked.

ii. All representatives must take a solemn oath that they are bishops by free choice and not political appointees, like Patriarch Sergius of Moscow (+ 1944) (appointed by the Kremlin) or a generation later Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople (+ 1972) (appointed by the White House), as per the Canons of the Holy Apostles. This is to prove their canonicity.

iii. All representatives must take a solemn oath that they respect the three monastic vows of non-acquisition/poverty, chastity and obedience. The first vow means that they cannot be holders of, acquirers of or users of luxurious properties, objects and money, even if on paper, by subterfuge, the property, objects and money ‘belong to’ their diocese or are rented. The second vow means that they cannot be married or homosexual. The third vow means that they cannot be disobedient to the Church by being members of State secret services, masonic lodges or organisations that promote syncretism. This is to prove their canonicity.

iv. All representatives must be free of ongoing court cases for scandalous conduct involving, for instance, financial allegations; sexual allegations; allegations of slander of honest clergy; allegations of outbursts of rage and spectacular rudeness; allegations concerning persecution with threatening demands for more money, intimidation, bullying and even ‘defrocking’ for political reasons or reasons of personal hatred and jealousy of clergy, who have already been publicly accepted by other Patriarchates as legitimate, canonical and unjustly persecuted clergy, as they are faithful to Orthodoxy, but not to schismatic and uncanonical bishops. In other words, there must be no doubt as to the canonical life of the bishop in question (See Canon XV of the First and Second Council).

v. All representatives must be diocesan bishops, not ‘vicar-bishops’, whose status is not strictly canonical, as a bishop is married to his diocese.

vi. All representatives must have been diocesan bishops for at least ten years. Otherwise, they will lack experience.

vii. All representatives must be diocesan bishops of dioceses of at least 25 parishes (a parish being defined as a church where the Divine Liturgy is held at least every Sunday and is attended by at least 40 adult Orthodox each time. In other words, their diocese (whatever may be their pompous titles, ‘of All America’, ‘of Western Europe’ etc) actually has at least 1,000 practising adult Orthodox. (The average Orthodox bishop has a diocese of 200,000 nominal Orthodox). Otherwise, they will lack experience.

The selected representatives of each Local Church should attend the conference with any issues which their Local Church considers need resolving, following discussions and conferring with the other bishops, monks, priests and faithful in their Local Churches. Clearly, these issues would include the refusal at the present time of Russians and Greeks to concelebrate, who has the right to grant autocephaly and autonomy, and the universal recognition of uncanonically ‘defrocked’ clergy. However, other issues could easily arise.

After discussions and conferring with the other bishops, monks, priests and faithful in their Local Churches, bishops could reconvene for another session at a maximum interval of three months. This process could be repeated for as often as is necessary for decisions to be reached and be approved by all bishops of the Local Churches. There should be no pressure of time, just as there was not in the Councils of Church history.

Conclusion: Towards the Holy Spirit

In the light of the above, it would seem that the Crete Conference was in fact a warning, with Providential rewards, which always come to those who have suffered sacrificially from the treachery of those who behaved uncanonically. As with the case of the Tower of Siloam, the meaning was: ‘If you do not repent, you will all finish like this’. For the upshot of the Crete Conference of 2016 was the present schism between the Patriarchates of Constantinople and Moscow.

This resulted from the former’s uncanonical actions in the Ukraine, apparently in revenge for Moscow’s non-attendance of the Crete Conference. This in turn led to Moscow’s uncanonical actions in Africa, technically the territory of the Patriarchate of Alexandria. It is clear to all that only a Council can break this spiral of uncanonical actions and schisms, with their purely political and uncanonical ‘defrockings’, which everyone ignores. Here the Churches of Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Antioch, Poland, Albania, Czechoslovakia and Jerusalem can play an important role as mediators between the racial clash of Greeks (Greece, Constantinople, Cyprus, Alexandria) and Russians.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where Are You Going, Russia?

The situation in the Ukraine is not a regional conflict, but the total opposition of the Collective West and the rest of the world, caused by diametrically opposed views about the future development of humanity…The hybrid war they are waging against us now is their last chance to maintain the status quo in their favour and not to lose their weakened power and influence…The aspiration for independence of the countries of the Global South and East is not at all to the liking of the former colonial powers, which cling to the past with all their might’.

Dmitry Medvedev, 2 July, https://news.mail.ru/politics/56860026/?frommail=1

Introduction: The Communists and Oligarchs of the Past

In Russia today you can still find Communists. They are mainly elderly, sometimes living in retirement homes, sometimes having held high positions in the old USSR, and never recovering from the shock of the collapse of the USSR, which they want back. President Putin long ago stated the obvious majority view of the USSR: ‘Those who are not nostalgic for it have no heart. Those who want it back have no brain’. The Communist Party is then basically the Pensioners’ Party and they have a dream of another 1917 Bolshevik takeover. But where is their leader, Lenin? Lenin is a rotting mummy, embalmed in a chemical soup in his Moscow ziggurat, the Time Museum. These are the dinosaurs – they have no future.

In Russia today, though above all outside Russia, you can still find the next generation, the oligarchs – those who robbed Russia blind (‘privatised’ it) in favour of the West. These are the fifth columnists, all manner of totalitarian liberals, such as the CIA asset Navalny, who worship the so-called values of the West. Most, however, long ago fled to London, New York and Tel Aviv, with some on the French Riviera or in Malaga. Those who remain in Russia and supported Prigozhin (who is one of them and is typical of their age group) may soon be getting a knock on the door from the FSB, which replaced the KGB, about a matter of treachery. The conflict in the Ukraine is the final nail in their coffin and they know it. They too belong to the past.

The Present

Such is the past. What of the present? As a result of constant Western aggression, President Putin, who came to power at the end of 1999, has over the last generation moved from a position that was rather favourable towards to the West to one that is completely hostile to it. This is no surprise, since the West through its organisations like NATO, the EU and the IMF, only even displayed a predatory Russophobia and since 2014 has declared war on Russia through its Nazified Ukrainian proxy, which it has armed to the teeth as an Anti-Russia, openly stating that its aim is to destroy Russia and kill all Russians. Therefore, as the primary Eurasian power and by far the largest country in the world, Russia has over the last fifteen years been forced to ally itself with others, with China, the most populous country in the world, and with what we may in general call the former Western colonies of the Global South and Global East. This means all Afro-Eurasia and Latin America.

Working in close collaboration with China, the world’s No 1 economy, the Russian Federation, the world’s No 5 economy, belongs to a multipolar world. There is no place here either for Soviet Communists or for post-Soviet oligarchs. How exactly will the recently Russian-founded economic and political organisations expand? Here we are speaking of the EEU (Eurasian Economic Union), the SCO (Shanghai Co-operation Organisation, now including Iran) and BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa). The latter already has many dozens of applicants, from Afghanistan to Algeria, Egypt to Indonesia, and will probably come to include the whole Non-Western world, including most of Eastern Europe, at present in the increasingly dysfunctional and defunct EU. What will that future BRICS be called? What will its common gold-backed reserve currency (unlike the dollar, which is backed only by debt and a printing press) be called? How will China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the Greater Eurasia Partnership work out?

Many such absolutely vital details have yet to be elaborated in the coming years, but clearly this is where Russia is today – defending the new multipolar world whose founding Russia has initiated and helping to elaborate it because Russia is the principal Eurasian Power. Above we wrote that there is no place here either for Soviet Communists or for post-Soviet oligarchs, but in a multipolar world there is no place either for narrow and sectarian Russian nationalism. And that is a huge problem for the Russian Orthodox Church, whose leading figures have got onto bad terms with almost everyone, losing sympathy and support everywhere. That is no way to conduct yourself in a multipolar world. It seems that the senior administration of the Russian Church is stuck in a narrow and sectarian mindset, painting itself into a very dark corner.

Forward to the Future

The two great Super-Power victors to emerge from 1945 were the white star American Empire and the red star Soviet Empire. As we know, after the fall forty-four years later of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the Soviet Empire crumbled. As we can see today, after the fall of the US puppet government in Afghanistan in 2021, it is now the turn of the American Empire to crumble. It too has had its day. In the twentieth century, over a period of seventy-five years, former Orthodox Christian countries fell to atheist Communism, ending in 1991. Former Roman Catholic countries fell to Fascism and that ended in suicide in a bunker in Berlin in 1945. As for former Protestant countries, they fell to Capitalism. Led by the USA and its senile President, with its nearly 32 trillion dollars of unpayable external debt (not to mention internal debt), Capitalism too is now failing.

As we have said, former Roman Catholic countries fell to Fascism until 1945. However, at the Second Vatican Council held under American pressure sixty years ago, they next fell to secularist Protestantism. From then on, the Americans began choosing the popes, most obviously the Polish John-Paul II (they appointed an English-speaking actor, just as later they appointed Zelensky). Official Roman Catholicism is like post-Protestantism now part of the Great Western Reset, and it is unclear what its present elderly and ill pope believes in. Conversely, in the twentieth century formerly Orthodox Christian Russia had fallen to Communism, but that ended in 1991. What replaced Communism? For some it was the apostasy of secularist American Capitalism – the ideology of the oligarchs. For most it is today the multipolar, Eurasian path of President Putin. However, there are others, who want to see Orthodoxy fully restored in a monarchy and a new Tsar.

For now this seems to many to be completely irrelevant and even laughable. However, in 2033, ten years on from now and forty-four years after 1989 (remember Communism emerged victorious in 1945 but lasted only forty-four years), President Putin will be 80 years old – if he lives that long. What and who will replace him? One possible answer is this Orthodox monarchist movement in contemporary Russia, which can be called ‘Forward to the Tsar’. This means the restoration of the People’s Orthodox Monarchy, Tsardom. This implies a prominent future role for the Russian Orthodox Church. This movement has support among a minority and there is a huge question mark as to how much support it has both inside and outside Russia. The problem is that the Church administration is severely compromised by the present.

Future Restoration Compromised

The fact is that several senior administrators of the Russian Orthodox Church (not ordinary clergy, monastics and people, who in the past were martyred in their millions and who in the present remain faithful to the memory of those martyrs) have long compromised themselves with the State authorities. Not to the extent of changing the Faith, but to the extent that they have collaborated with State authorities. This is the error of what in Protestant history is called ‘erastianism’, the unprincipled collaboration with the State (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Thomas_Erastus). The most obvious Russian examples up until early 1917 were in seventeenth century Russia, when many senior Church administrators took part in the State persecution of Old Ritualists, and then at the Russian February Revolution, when they abruptly renounced their oath of faithfulness to the Tsar in favour of Kerensky. They were swimming with the tide.

Then, later in the twentieth century, came another example with ‘Sergianism’, named after the Soviet Metropolitan and then Patriarch Sergius (+ 1944). Here supposed churchmen collaborated with the Soviet atheist State, making themselves into ‘Orthodox atheists’, holding to a rite without any Christian content, to the scandal of the faithful. And after the collapse of Soviet Communism, some such senior ‘churchmen’ promptly made themselves into mini-oligarchs, simply copying the example of secular post-Soviet oligarchs. As a result of their yet again swimming with the tide, ‘the Church’ understandably came to be perceived by the masses as a mere Business, a money-making institution, exploiting the zeal of sincere priests and the superstitious and sectarian desire for ritualistic magic of the by then baptised but still unChurched post-Soviet masses. As a result, the huge problems of post-Soviet Russia, alcoholism, abortion, divorce, very low demographics, have not been solved.  The masses do not attend Church or follow Her ways. Simply because they are not led by example. ‘Why should I bother? The senior ones don’t’.

Apart from the corruption of several senior Church administrators, there is also the threefold problem of their homosexuality, their work as minders and assets for secret services (mainly FSB, but also CIA), and their compromises with the Vatican. Curiously, these three problems often go together. It is exactly the same liberalism, homosexuality and collaboration with spies as in the seventeenth century, for example, the notorious Paisios Ligarides, ‘Orthodox’ bishop and Roman Catholic cardinal, business fraudster who sold indulgences and spy, traitor and intriguer, schismatic and sodomite. (https://www.historytoday.com/archive/ strange-case-paisios-ligarides). These liberal, homosexual, secret agent ‘Sergianists’, lovers of the State-Church, quite naturally love the Vatican Church-State. As they say, ‘birds of a feather flock together’.

The Third Rome or The Second Jerusalem?

The Russian Orthodox Church is still cruelly suffering from Soviet-style centralisation – Communists relied on central planning. As a result, the Church has largely ceased to be multinational. This centralisation is key to understanding why so many believing Ukrainians rejected the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church, preferring their own Ukrainian Orthodox Church, sometimes preferring Orthodox, Roman Catholic or Protestant sects, and even atheist secularism. However, the Russian Church has as a result of nationalism lost not only the territory of the Ukraine to its jurisdiction, but also Latvia and is now rapidly losing Moldova (to the Romanian Church) and Lithuania as well as many, many other countries. The Russian Church is then going in precisely the opposite direction to the multipolar President Putin.

A nationalist, and not multinational, multipolar Russian Church, an inward-looking, for-Russians-only ghetto, attracts neither Ukrainians, nor anyone else. Such a Church does not export outside Russia. Moreover, many faithful priests have in recent years been defrocked by the Russian Church merely for protecting their church properties and flocks from corrupt and predatory oligarchic bishops, or simply for expressing different political viewpoints from senior figures. To put it mildly, this does nothing for the reputation of the Church. The absurd and over the top ‘defrocking’ of faithful clergy, as practised by Russian Church administrators all over the world, have made those same administrators the laughing-stock of the world. In other words, nationalist sectarianism repels all Russian Orthodox who are of Non-Russian ethnicity from the Russian Church. And that is some 35% of the whole.

After the fall of the Second Rome, Constantinople, in 1453, the concept of Moscow the Third Rome came to Russia and was first clearly formulated in 1492. However, being Rome is automatically a temptation. The First, Second and Third Romes all fell because power went to their heads. The Gospel says nothing positive of Rome. Salvation came not through Rome, but through the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, which took place not in Rome, but in Jerusalem. Let us stop speaking of a Third Rome. It would be more helpful to speak of a Second Jerusalem. This is why we some time ago suggested that the Russian Orthodox Church administration should change its name from the Soviet-invented ‘Patriarchate of Moscow (MP in Russian)’ to the ‘Patriarchate of New Jerusalem’ (NP in Russian) and move to headquarters in the New Jerusalem Monastery outside Moscow.

Conclusion: The Cleansing of the Russian Orthodox Church

It is clear that Russia and its Church are far from ready to bring forth an Orthodox Tsar even ten years from now. Of course, a lot could happen within future years – nobody predicted the present conflict in the Ukraine between the USA and its vassals on the one hand and Russia on the other hand. The conflict in the Ukraine is clearly a historic turning-point. It could lead to a great cleansing of Russian society and also to the cleansing of its Church. After all, you have to be worthy of a Tsar. The Russian Orthodox Church I grew up in was a Church of Saints, of New Martyrs and Confessors, a Persecuted Church and not a Persecuting Church, the Church of the New Jerusalem, not of Soviet or post-Soviet Moscow. It can still (just) survive as a multinational Church, but only as a decentralised Family of Russian-founded Autocephalous and Autonomous Churches reflecting the broader Family of the sixteen multinational Local Orthodox Churches. Otherwise, it will just slip into sectarian and nationalistic irrelevance.

If the faithful of the Russian Orthodox Church should by some miracle bring forth a Tsar, He will first cleanse its administration of spiritual corruption and nationalist centralisation and so serve the whole multinational Confederation of the fifteen other Local Orthodox Churches. A cleansed Russian Orthodox Church would be a Godsent opportunity to witness to Christ amid the spiritual, moral and financial bankruptcy of the Western world, now led by a senile old man, appointed as puppet by business interests in Washington. In Europe new national-oriented governments have already come to power in Hungary, Italy and Finland. Now France has burned, increasing the popularity of the anti-EU National Party of Le Pen. Germany is in recession and the AdF (the German equivalent of Le Pen’s National Party) is ever more popular. As for the now bankrupt and freedom-hating UK, anti-EU brexiteers see their former leader, Farage, about to be exiled from his native land by the corrupt British Establishment. In a world like this, where populist patriots are making elitist globalists tremble, anything is possible.

St Alban’s Day, 5 July 2023

 

 

The Lavra in Kiev

Exactly fifty years ago, in July 1973, I visited the Kiev Caves Lavra (Monastery) for the first time. Or rather I did not visit it. I was not allowed in, as militiamen stood on guard outside with sub-machine guns, forbidding entrance to all. The Lavra was closed. Such was the Communist persecution of the 1970s. What is happening there today is also persecution, but certainly not as bad as in the 20s and 30s when the torture chambers and then the firing squads made short work of all Orthodox clergy. Today State-recruited hooligans outside the Lavra, wearing T-shirts with ‘I love Satan’ on them, protest against Christ. Let them. There has been no bloodshed here so far.

True, Metropolitan Paul has been placed under house arrest. He is popularly known as ‘Pasha (Paul) Mercedes’, for he has a lot of them in his private palace. He is well-known as a corrupt careerist. A bit of persecution is doing good. cleansing of teh post-Soviet corruption. Already another of the200 monks of the Lavra has been found out. He sold his soul to the devil in exchange for being made ‘Abbot’ in the schismatic American ‘Church’ of Epiphanius. The Church is not about golden domes, it is about golden souls. Perhaps some will begin to understand this. In the New Church, after this period is over, let us ban gold and marble in the churches and sell what we have and give the money to the poor.

Meanwhile, the Churches of Constantinople and Alexandria, less so the Churches of Greece and Cyprus, though individuals within them are compromised, are totally discredited. Their silence before the persecution in the Ukraine, persecution which they have sponsored, condemns them. As are any, including certain individuals in the Moscow Patriarchate, including in the imploding ROCOR, who deride and rail against Metropolitan Onuphry. A yardstick of Orthodoxy, he is supported 100% by the rest of the Orthodox world, the free Orthodox world. Metr Onuphry has now become the most authoritative hierarch in the Orthodox world. He is one of the few who is not compromised by any political regime.

We continue to pray for him, commemorating him and his Church at the Great Entrance, as ever over the last four years, and all the persecuted in the Ukraine. For we too belong to the Persecuted Church – and not the Persecuting Church. Just as the atheists tried to close us, so they are now trying to close the Lavra.

 

The Church and the Holy Spirit

Quench not the Spirit.

1 Thess. 5, 19

When the Son of Man comes, shall He find faith on the earth?

Lk 18, 8

It seems strange that we should talk about the Church and the Holy Spirit, as if they were in some way contradictory. Surely the Church is the Body of Christ which radiates the Holy Spirit? Sadly, sometimes this is not the case, though only when we talk of the Church in the sense of the Church authorities. There is such a thing as the persecution of the faithful by Church authorities and this has been seen very many times in Church history.

This always happens whenever the Church authorities (not the Church) have allied themselves with the rich and mighty of this world, seeing the Church only as an opportunity for power and a well-paid career and church buildings as mere real estate, and not seeing the Church as the Body of Christ and suffering human souls who seek the Revelation of God.

Of course, this does not excuse the sectarian counter-reactions to them which often occur at the grassroots, at the present time in the form of old calendarist groups, which repeat the errors of Donatism of long ago. We have quite recently seen these phenomena even in the question of mask wearing.

Thus, just like atheists, the careerist, modernistic, liberal-inclined and secular-minded Church establishment, those who want and are the institutionalisation of the Church, are for masks. Seeing the Church as a mere corporate organisation, an anti-missionary business, they are also for many almost blasphemous practices which appear to deny the holiness of the sacraments. Some of them clearly think that the Body and Blood of Christ are merely bread and wine, just like those others who long ago lapsed from the Church, the Protestants and increasing numbers of Roman Catholics. Like secular people who so weakly believe, they fear death.

On the other hand, there are those whose faith is blind, having zeal not according to reason, and who behave irresponsibly. They would take no precautions whatsoever, sure that you can catch nothing from other people inside a church building. This is clearly a mistake. If there were an outbreak of cholera or the plague, they would not frequent other people, including inside the church building. Just because Covid-19 is less serious, it does not mean that we should not avoid it. We do not fear death, but this does not mean that we seek death.

We Orthodox, in the mainstream between the persecuting extremes, keep our churches open as far as State persecution, widespread now, allows us. We take reasonable precautions in obedience, but we do not avoid God’s Will, knowing that all is in His hands. In the past we have seen off perverts, freemasons, slanderers. We are not frightened of a new wave of persecution by the jealous. We shall stand up to the new persecution, wherever it comes from, left or right, with three unconquerable weapons:

The prayers of the Old Saints of Europe, the Saints of the First Millennium.

The prayers of the New Saints of Europe, the New Martyrs and Confessors.

The prayers of the Imperial Martyrs, the Royal and Holy Family of Europe.

Nobody, however jealous, rapacious and cunning they are, can take these away from us.

 

 

On the Contemporary Challenges Faced by the Russian Orthodox Church

Introduction: Excesses and Extremes on the Margins

After the fall of the militantly atheist Soviet Union nearly thirty years ago, the Russian Orthodox Church appears to have gone from strength to strength, both inside and outside Russia. In some respects this is clearly true, but in others it is not the case, as a whole set of enormous challenges remains. The Church suffers from the presence of many marginal individuals, including some clergy, and trends which are outside the mainstream of the Orthodox Tradition and so have little to do with Christianity. As a current example we have the case of Schema-abbot Sergei Romanov, whom I met in 2018 when I visited the Urals.

After meeting him, I was left with a whole set of questions: Why was such a man from a recent, violent criminal background ordained? Why did he have no qualifications? Where did all his great deal of money come from? Why was he left to conduct spurious exorcisms, humiliating his victims, creating obvious psychological damage and dependency? Why was he left in authority when he clearly set himself against Orthodox teachings? Why had he been allowed to set up a cult? Why did his bishop not act? Here are questions that are only now, two years on, being answered, only after much harm has already been caused.

  1. Organisational Temptations

Scandals

Like the case of Romanov, over the last thirty years many mistakes have been made. Desperate to cater to the spiritual needs of the scores of millions of newly baptised, the wrong people were sometimes ordained and consecrated. This is not an opinion, but a fact, as we can see from the number of defrockings and exiles of careerist bishops now in disgrace. There have been too many ‘young elders’, pseudo-elders, charlatans, money-extorters, perverts, careerists, obscurantists and also cultish sects, such as the neo-renovationist Kochetkovtsy. We cannot help thinking that at least some of these scandals are linked to money or else are sexual in nature.

Bureaucracy

The pre-Revolutionary Church already suffered from profound careerism and  bureaucratic centralisation, from the use of decrees and protocols – words that cannot be found in the Gospels. Today’s Soviet-style centralisation is even worse. Paperwork is one of the main complaints of parish priests in Russia. They are being made into administrators, ‘effective managers’, businessmen. This all means money: money-grasping bureaucrats have to be paid. The Apostle Paul did not suffer either from bureaucracy or money; he worked as a tent-maker, not as a careerist. Do we not confess the Apostolic Church? Should we not venerate the saints like him in deed, as well as in word? Why kiss the Gospels, if we are not going to live by them?

Money

This brings us to money problems. Some bishops and priests appear to be extremely rich and many think that all clergy live in their way, with 4 x 4s, Mercedes, yachts and villas. In reality, many clergy are poor. Here there is a total lack of transparency and also a poor distribution of resources. Partly this is to do with the post-Soviet nouveau riche class. They like to donate money to the Church – which is good – but why this obsession with gold, marble and luxury in church? They should first read the Gospels and find out about mammon, as their money so often acts as a source of temptation. For every ‘monumental church’ with its kilos of gold, ten plain but community/ congregational churches could have been built. Money is the rot in the Church today, an infectious disease that spreads everywhere.

  1. Internal Temptations

Churching Society

Three generations of militant atheism and violent persecution left Soviet society completely spiritually ignorant, ready to believe everything and anything, extraordinarily superstitious, with at one time almost African levels of animism at the extremes. In a society of converts, often ritualistic, and with very few experienced clergy and people, all kind of primitive errors still abound. The task of baptising society was not so difficult, but to change the faith of the people from nominal-instinctive to active-conscious is far more difficult. All the more so today when some representatives of the Church have discredited themselves through their careerist love of money and luxury and so made most indifferent.

Liberals

The educated extremes of Russian society (the masses are indifferent and look only to survival) have long been divided into Westernisers and Slavophiles. The very small but very active minority of extreme Westernisers are often highly-educated, with doctorates, and are liberal, modernistic, ecumenist. They condemn the Church, hate piety and support LGBT (they are often themselves homosexuals). As regards coronavirus, they are faithless and so wear masks at every opportunity. Clearly, they have no interest in missionary work, converting others to Christ, as they long ago rejected Christ in favour of the Secular West.

Conservatives

The conservatives are also very small in number but narrow and nationalistic. The extremists among them still think that Lenin and Stalin were wonderful. They rarely attend Church, which is just a nationalistic banner or flag for them to hide behind, so that can like the pharisees condemn others, in self-justification. Often Third Romists, they can often be paranoid in relation to the Western world, confess anti-Semitism, indeed, anti-everythingism, and love conspiracy theories. They would certainly never wear a mask, probably not even believing in the existence of coronavirus. Clearly, they have no interest in missionary work, converting others to Christ, as they consider that Christianity is purely nationalistic and probably think that God is Russian anyway.

  1. External Temptations

Dealing with the Post-Soviet State

The main problem here is the refusal of the State to change, to give up its Sovietism. There is post-Soviet, but there is also outright Soviet too. Thus, in Moscow still lie the remains of that revolting mass-murderer Lenin and in Ekaterinburg, where the Royal Martyrs were massacred 102 years ago, as everywhere, there are street names and statues of the murderers and the whole region is still named after one of them. The media and the education and health sectors (after all there is an abortion industry to support) are full of those opposed to the Church. The State still has little practical concern about the chronically low birth-rate, the chronically high divorce rate and does little to further the cause of ecology.

Relations with the Other Local Churches

Some of the Orthodox Local Churches basically support the Russian Church, some remain neutral, others have been bought out by US aggression. This is clear with regard to obvious US imperialism in the Ukraine and the Baltics, where its ambassadors, like pagan Roman governors, new Pilates, have bribed and blackmailed others.

Relations with the Non-Orthodox World

Here too the tensions are purely political. The Protestant world, consciously and unconsciously, has long been instrumentalised by the Western secret services to destroy the Orthodox world, in order to divide it and rule it. Since its 1960s protestantisation, much the same has happened in the Roman Catholic world, most obviously under the CIA-appointed Polish Pope. However, it was already opposed to Christ anyway and prepared to invade and destroy the Orthodox world at the drop of a hat, as can be seen in the history of the Crusades, in Uniatism and then in co-operation with the Bolsheviks. All this provokes Russian nationalism and makes many unable to appreciate the remnants of Orthodoxy in the Western world.

Conclusion: Towards the New Jerusalem (1) through Churching the Masses

The Russian Orthodox Church is three-quarters of the whole Church. Thus, its main challenge is that of responsibility. How can the mainstream, often paralysed by such excesses and extremes among certain bishops, priests and people, bring the world’s seven and a half billion people to Christ and His New Jerusalem without compromise? The answer is the same as that when the Twelve Apostles, opposed by all and compromised by Judas, also set out to do the impossible. The few must first Church the masses, the 2% of the Churched setting the example by converting the 98% of the unChurched and showing them that the Church is not about the money-grubbing of the new Judases. And how is that possible? Only by the Holy Spirit.

Feast of the Royal Martyrs, 4/17 July 2020

Note:

  1. The Cathedral of the Wisdom of God in Istanbul was long ago made into a mosque, then a museum and now is to become a mosque once more. Why? Because the local Orthodox have for 567 years failed to convert the local people to Christ. Failing to love their enemies, they have hated them and so made enemies for themselves. What are we to do? We are called on to create a new Church of the Wisdom of God, a New Jerusalem.

 

 

Samaritans, Scribes, Pharisees, Saducees and Prophets

The coronavirus epidemic has, officially, infected 0.02 % of the world population, 5% of whom, officially, have died from it. It has now taken as many victims as swine flu did in 2009-10. According to UK government statistics, 85% of victims are aged over 70, the average age of victims in the UK is 84, the over 90s have an 85% chance of recovery and 96% of victims had serious underlying health problems. The lives of most of these victims have been shortened by several weeks and even months.

However, the virus has also revealed that there are those who are called Christians, including certain clergy, who are actually afraid of death. The scandal among the faithful is naturally enormous. Clearly, there are those who claim to be Christians who do not seem to be in reality. All has been revealed.

What can we say of these false or weak Christians? As I have grown older, I have realised that there is indeed nothing new under the Sun. Human nature and the results of spiritual impurity do not change and we can categorise those who call themselves Christians into exactly the same categories as those whom Christ encountered when He lived on earth. Namely:

The Samaritans

These are the nominal masses who identify the faith with a particular place, like the Samaritans who would only worship on Mt Gerizim. Their faith decides events because, with their mood swinging one way or the other depending on the elite, it affects the whole of history, as we saw in Russia in 1917. The battle is to Church them –our Faith does not depend on a place or a nationality. We have to bring them onto the side of Christ, telling them that ‘God is a spirit and that they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth’ (Jn. 4, 24).

The Scribes

These are the modern intellectuals and dreamers, who make the faith into some sort of Protestant personal opinion in a completely disincarnate way. They will refuse to baptise babies until their parents and godparents have been made into intellectuals like themselves. They love to read and write books, whose titles are barely comprehensible. However, they despise others and consider themselves to be ‘very spiritual’, far above the common masses, who for them are just peasants not clever enough to understand them. In fact, the Scribes are not spiritual at all, because they live in their brains and imaginations. They do not supply spiritual food, but only wordy, academic food, nourishment for the brain in clubs for intellectuals. Woe unto them.

The Pharisees

These make the spiritually living faith into a mere institutional religion, the manipulating arm of the State. In history the Pharisees, rich men who lived luxuriously next to the Temple in Jerusalem, operated a money racket. Why else did Christ overturn the tables of the moneychangers in His Temple? (Matt. 21, 12). The Pharisees co-operated closely with the Roman oppressors, shouting ‘We have no king but Caesar’ (Jn. 19, 15), since their interest was to be next to money and power wherever it was. Today, the Pharisees represent the episcopal tyranny of the ‘princes of the Church’, clericalism, and love being close to the State, to orders, protocols and driving fancy cars. They have no love for the people, for the faithful parish priests whom they persecute and for the monks. They hate confessing and mixing with the flock. They seek the support of the nominal masses by asserting only their ethnic, that is, worldly, identity. Woe unto them.

The Saducees

The Saducees rejected the Resurrection, for it was a miracle too far for their narrow and unbelieving minds. These are the liberals, modernists and ecumenists who follow the secular tide, whatever it is and wherever it goes. They are ‘woke’, supporters of LGBT, they are the politically correct who follow health and safety rules and the recommendations on coronavirus to the letter, making them into legally binding laws, which they are not, masking themselves and masking others, preventing them from worshipping Christ. They can have no principles because they have no beliefs. Conformists to the core, they will obey whatever the spiritually impure tell them to do.

The Prophets

These are the faithful, the Orthodox, who venerate the persecuted Saints of God. They may not be Prophets as such, but they are infused with the spirit of prophecy, the Holy Spirit. These are the spiritually living, the real Orthodox, the pillars of the Church, who live the faith despite the oppression of bishops and false pastors, who are Scribes, Pharisees and Saducees. The Prophets spend their time fighting for and maintaining the Faith and Churching the Samaritan masses. We are responsible and do not seek death, but we certainly do not fear it, for Christ long ago defeated it and all the machinations of the Scribes, the Pharisees and the Saducees.