Category Archives: Emigration

The Restoration of Orthodox Christianity in Europe and Russia

 Foreword: European Orthodoxy and Russian Orthodoxy

On my almost daily travels through Suffolk, I regularly see flying in gardens the Suffolk flag, the golden crown crossed by the two arrows of St Edmund on a blue background. It refers to the martyrdom by arrows of St Edmund, the last King of East Anglia, in the Year 869. This was part of European Orthodoxy, the England which was defending itself against paganism because it was in communion with, and part of, the Orthodox Christian world. This is just the opposite of today, when England has gradually returned to paganism because it has for nearly a millennium been out of communion with, and not part of, the Church.

In writing these words about the love for St Edmund, I am reminded how just over 14 years ago I sat with our own Suffolk Count and Countess Benckendorff in that oasis of culture, the Munnings Museum in Dedham, Essex. Then we discussed my recent visit to our Russian Orthodox ‘catacomb’ community in Old York and next fell to discussing the poetry of Masefield, a great friend of Sir Alfred Munnings, which we compared to that of Hoelderlin, de Vigny and Tyutchev. This is Russian Orthodoxy, not brash and alien, modern American or European anti-culture, which Sir Alfred used to mock. After that conversation the Benckendorffs returned to Church life, reassured that the Church at least locally survives.

On 5 April this year we and the Benckendorffs met again, at the Cock Inn in Polstead. This time we discussed a recent visit to our mutual friend, Baroness Olga Tiesenhausen, in Surrey, to whom I gave confession and communion. The daughter of a White Russian noble, turned seamstress in exile in Paris, she loved the old parish in Meudon outside Paris, where she grew up, and our then rector, Fr Alexander Trubnikov, who was one of us who love the Tradition and therefore hate extremism of both sorts. She had recently been made very unwelcome in both Russian churches in London; the one a political extension of the post-Soviet embassy; the other under the control of pathological crazies, fanatical and culture-less converts who hate all who are not schism and sect like themselves. Tragically, through their schism they missed the great opportunity to become a canonical, but also politically free and multinational part of the Russian Church, working with others in Catholicity. They have zero understanding of the real Russian Orthodox Tradition and Russian Orthodox culture.

They ‘defrock’ conscientious and principled Orthodox pastors of integrity and of the Tradition. This imaginary punishment, as it comes from schismatics, is worn by them as a badge of honour and makes them even more popular among ordinary Orthodox and proves that they are not unprincipled bureaucrat-clerics and careerists. It is all so different from the beloved real Russian Church and its European culture in which we were all brought up, like our parishioners in Old York too. With the Benckendorffs we fell to discussing the post-Soviet nightmare, which began in 1991 and continues today. We concluded that the solution can only be in the coming Tsar and the complete cleansing of Church and State of the pre-Soviet diseases of bureaucracy and corruption (as portrayed for example by Gogol), of the Soviet diseases of centralisation and persecution (as portrayed for example in the late Soviet film The Irony of Fate), and the post-Soviet diseases of (US-imposed) militarisation and nationalism.

Introduction: The Restoration of Russian Orthodox Culture

Just before the 1917 palace revolt in Russia, falsely known as the ‘Revolution’, British spies murdered Gregory Rasputin. It was the ‘first shot of the Revolution’. His name means ‘the parting of the ways’, whereas the name ‘Putin’ means ‘the way’. His way is not the way we want to take, but we believe that it will, by the paradox of Divine Providence, lead to where we need to be. This is a quite different place from now. We have far greater aims than post-Soviet deviations. These include the cleansing of the fringes of the post-Soviet Russian Church from American schism and hate-filled sectarianism, and of the post-Soviet Russian Church itself from politicking, financial corruption, careerism, moral decadence and the extremism bred by them.

Together with all our dear friends in the Patriarchate of Romania, gathered over the last three decades and who have welcomed us as refugees from the vicious persecution by Russian schismatics and hysterical converts, as well as with our dear friends all over Europe, in Russia, Moldova, the Ukraine, Greece, Cyprus, the Baltics, Belarus, Poland, Finland, Slovakia, Hungary, Albania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Czechia, in the cleansed St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Paris and our friends in the churches in Geneva and Baden-Baden, we will see the Russian Church restored to what Tsar Nicholas II wanted it to be. That is what the whole mainstream Orthodox world also needs it to be. The Orthodox world has been patiently awaiting this restoration for generations. The now very isolated Local Church of Russia has not yet taken up in the spirit of Catholicity the place waiting for it in the concert of the sixteen Local Churches, of which it is only one, albeit by far the largest in number. Only together can they be the voice of God.

Instead, it isolated itself by its refusal to turn the other cheek when uncanonically attacked by US-financed and homosexualised Constantinople in the Ukraine. Then it imposed on itself the further isolation of cutting of communion, followed by uncanonical revenge in Africa, and nationalistic and militaristic politics. The martyred Tsar’s vision of the restored, pre-Imperial Church, like the church of the Fyodorovsky Icon which he built in Tsarskoe Selo and which was restored over a decade ago, is also ours. It is like our church, also free of the decadence that began with Peter I, free of its decadent iconography and Italianate opera singing, its theatrical ritualism, bureaucratic clericalism, anti-pastoral, Statist rigidity, money-grubbing and love of luxury, nationalistic and militaristic phariseeism, hatred for others, and practice of rare communion – at best once a year.

The whole Orthodox world, not least here in Western Europe, awaits a restored, post-post-Soviet, broad and benevolent Russian Church, a Church of European culture, not of convert fanaticism or of narrow, nationalistic and militaristic post-Soviet politics, without sympathy for others and without mission. And we are the majority, the mainstream, representing all the free Local Churches, fourteen votes against two. This is the future of European Orthodox culture, though not of modern Europe. Modern Europe, for all of us heirs to Tsar Nicholas II, is like someone intent on committing suicide, both economic and moral, by hating Russia. Russia is poised to become the fourth largest economy in the world, overtaking Japan. (Russia has already overtaken Germany, indeed the latter is about to be overtaken by Indonesia). Let us look at the example of Great Britain to find the roots of this suicidal bent.

British Establishment Hatred for Imperial Russia

Emperors Paul I (+ 1801) and Nicholas II (+ 1918) of Russia were both removed and then murdered as a result of plots hatched by the British ambassadors in the Saint Petersburg of their times. As John Gleason points out in his 1952 book The Genesis of Russophobia in Great Britain, systematic and institutionalised British Establishment hatred for Russia began after the liberation of Paris by Russian troops in 1814, which had shocked Britain. This Russophobia was ‘an artificially manufactured product’ of ‘a campaign of a relatively small number of men’ who ‘won acceptance for their views by force of repetition’. In other words, if you repeat the lie often enough, it will stick. It was all about the British elite’s fanatical ambition for world hegemony. No rivals could be allowed.

Thus, the British ruling caste, ‘the Establishment’, engineered wars in which European countries destroyed one another, thus destroying any rivals. It was the same divide and rule policy of the pagan Romans, whom the British elite so admired. Thus, the Victorian Age became that of the purely British Establishment-invented ‘Great Game’, of which the Russians had never heard. In this the British Establishment obsessed itself with its deluded idea that Russia wanted to liberate British-occupied India. This self-delusion led the British Establishment to invade Afghanistan and lose three wars there, to occupy Cyprus (from where it now feeds the Israelis with bombs to genocide Palestine), to help finance the Suez Canal, to arm Japan to the teeth and get it to invade Russia, and then to invade and massacre in Tibet. All unnecessary.

Such British Establishment-orchestrated Russophobia was even reflected in the 1905 children’s book by Edith Nesbit, called The Railway Children. It came as no surprise, for London has long been a centre for plotting and exiled Russian traitors like Herzen, the murderous anarchist Bakunin and then the genocidal and Christ-hating Lenin. Even the evil Trotsky-Bronstein was later sent from arrest to Canada to foment revolution in Russia by the British elite. Today London is again the welcoming centre for anti-Russian oligarchs.

Conversely, the Suffolk Benckendorffs had a relative, Count Paul Benckendorff, who always remained faithful to the Tsar, as he recorded in his book The Last Days at Tsarskoe Selo. As the martyred Tsar’s noble sister, Olga Alexandrovna, who knew Count Paul, somewhat naively wrote: ‘My best friends and so many of my relations are British and I am devoted to them and to much in the English way of life….It has never been possible to discuss with them the utterly vile politics of successive British Parliaments. They were nearly all anti-Russian – and so often without the least cause. So much of British policy is wholly contrary to their own tradition of fair play’ (The Last Grand Duchess, Vorres, P. 240).

British Establishment Hatred for Soviet Russia

Through meddling in Russia in 1916 and 1917, the British elite inadvertently set up the USSR. They had imagined that they would remove the Tsar and then a group of selected oligarchs (that is, British-style aristocrats and ‘liberals’ like the transgender murderer Yusupov – there is nothing new in LGBT) would set up a British-style ‘constitutional’, that is, oligarchic, monarchy. It was clear to anyone outside the West that this would never happen in Russia. So the deluded British indirectly ended up imposing an evil Tsar, called Stalin. And then they sent Hitler to destroy the USSR. Only once again, it all went wrong. Instead of the Nazis destroying the USSR, the USSR defeated the Nazis.

Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz and the other horror camps of Western anti-Semitism, despite Churchill who unnecessarily genocided Leipzig civilians as a warning to Soviet troops. Yet they still arrived to liberate Berlin from the Western dictator Hitler, just as they will soon do when they liberate Kiev from the Western dictator Zelensky. The shock of 1945 Berlin was a repeat of 1814, when Russian troops liberated Paris from the Western dictator Napoleon. And so in 1945 Churchill thought up his ‘Operation Unthinkable’, in which the US, Germany and the UK would invade their supposed ‘Ally’, the USSR, and destroy it. Only nobody wanted that, though the Americans did drop nukes and kill 250,000 Japanese civilians as a warning to the USSR and began the ‘Cold War’, proclaimed by Churchill soon after.

After World War II the half-American Churchill reluctantly handed over the tattered remnants of the British Empire to the Americans and the British Empire became the American Empire. However, the latter had no colonies, it was a rogue-state which camouflaged its hypocritical asset-stripping greed behind the excuse of bringing ‘freedom and democracy’. So it brought the debilitating slavery of poverty and the corrupt tyranny of capital to the banana republics it created. Who cares about freedom and democracy, when you have nothing to eat and drink? As in Latin America, Africa, Italy, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and Gaza.

Even in 1956, when the US abruptly shattered British delusions of empire at Suez, and the British Establishment finally began to admit that it was only a US satellite, the British flattered themselves that they still had ‘a special relationship’ with the US. It is special, like every master and slave relationship. However, such a relationship also infects the master, for he too becomes vain, just as emperors, including those who have no clothes, become vain when they are constantly flattered by yes-men courtiers like the British Cameron and court jesters like the British Johnson. Thus, when the USSR fell because of its economic failure, because, as they said at the time, its Marxist centralised economy could not even supply its women citizens with hygiene products, the US imagined that it had defeated Russia. It is as delusional as the British imagining that they still have an empire.

British Establishment Hatred for the Russian Federation

After 1991, the British took part in the general triumphalist contempt felt by the Western world for Russia, and in the rape of Russian assets, inviting thieving oligarchs to come and live in London. The West failed to understand that Russia had not been defeated. Certainly, in 1991 the Soviet system collapsed, just as in 1917 the Imperial system had collapsed. But a temporary political system is not a country, especially it is not the largest country on earth with its millennial civilisation. The transformation of the Russian Empire into the Soviet Empire and then into the Russian Federation did not persuade the West that the real Russia could survive the failed Western political and economic systems imposed on it.

This age-old Russophobia has been summed up in the recent book of the perceptive Swiss author, Guy Mettan, now translated into English: Creating Russophobia: From the Great Religious Schism to Anti-Putin Hysteria. When Britain finally began to understand that the West had not defeated Russia in the 1990s, it invented or took part in various sad conspiracies to frame and discredit the new Russia. First, there was Litvinenko, then the Skripals, then MH17, shot down by Ukrainian Nazis, then the plot to destroy the Russian Federation through helping to arm and train the Neo-Nazi Kiev regime in British military camps, the terrorist attack on Nordstream, the deployment of British Special Services to the Black Sea and British PR companies to the propaganda department in Kiev, with their invented ‘Bucha’ narrative myth and such like.

The British Establishment has shown itself to be the most aggressive of all the Western Establishments for absurd propaganda rhetoric during the US proxy war in the Ukraine and in the ‘Cancel Russia’ campaign. It is a fact that even at the height of Nazidom, there was never any ‘Cancel Germany’ campaign. Indeed, the British theme tune for the liberation of Western Europe from the German Nazis consisted of the opening notes of the German Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. The British Establishment took a zealous part in applying the 16,500 illegal and backfiring sanctions against Russia in order to destroy it. They failed and made Russia even stronger. It tried to regime-change Putin, quite possibly the most popular leader in Russian history. It failed and made him even more popular. It sent Kiev regime Nazis against the Ukrainian people. It failed and Ukrainians defected to Russia. It decided the only way of winning was through creating terrorist attacks such as that on Crocus City Hall. It failed and made tens of thousands of Russians volunteer to fight against the West in the Ukraine. Today the British MI6 continues to supply Neo-Nazis with weapons in the Ukraine and the Baltics, just as it did throughout the 1950s. In their vain imagination they are working for ‘the Anglosphere’. In fact, the reality is that they are slaves to the Americanosphere.

Russia will not disappear as a reality, whatever the wishful thinking of Hitler or Thatcher, who both equally wanted to reduce Russians to a few millions of people to be herded onto ‘reservations’ for the natives in Siberia, as they openly declared. Millennial Russia will always continue in one form or another, for the moment as the tripartite Union State of East Slav Rus. In the face of the new reality of the rout of its Kiev regime proxies and the cleansing of the Ukraine from Nazi tyrants, the USA will make peace with the Union State. After seeing the US abandoning its failed Ukrainian tool and with NATO and the EU collapsed, the Western European war party, including the British Establishment, if it is not first overthrown by the English, the Scottish and the Welsh who yearn for basic health care, schools, roads and social justice, will be replaced by real leaders. They will be the peace-party, who will make peace with the Union State of Rus, because they look eastwards to the future towards Eastern Europe and Eurasia, and not westwards to the past across a vast and empty ocean.

Conclusion: The End of Western Superiority

The Western war against Russia in the Ukraine is existential for Russia. It is in fact a repeat of the 1962 Turkish missile crisis, (known absurdly in the West as the ‘Cuban’ missile crisis) which the USSR won, when the US was forced to withdraw its missiles from the Turkish-Soviet border. However, this Ukrainian war is not at all existential for Western people, only for the Western ruling class, because it has invested everything in its superiority complex, of which this war is its expression. For the British and the Western Establishment in general, the war is existential because the mere existence and survival of Russia challenges its delusion that it is exceptional, superior and indispensable to all others.

American and Western European elites declare: ‘It is essential that the Ukraine win’. But it is not essential for the peoples of the West or for the peoples of the Ukraine, only for the Western and Ukrainian ruling class, so that they can cling on to their stolen power and stolen money a little longer. Western Europe is certainly not indispensable to Russia, though Russian culture, like Russian gas, is indispensable to Western European peoples. Russian gas can give physical energy back to Europeans. And real Russian culture, which is still largely buried beneath the weight of present post-Soviet Russia, is that of Europe. It is far more European than the modern, Americanised, cultureless Europe of today’s elite. Real Russian culture, once fully revealed, can give spiritual energy back to European people.

After Russia has discredited ‘Western values’ (= orders from the Washington elite), the Western millennium will be over. The time is over, when the American elite arrogantly tells the Central Asians, the British elite tells the Chinese, and the French elite tells the Africans, how to live their lives. Nobody wants to live in the decadence of the modern West. Today the USA has accumulated 34 trillion dollars of debt, which is increasing unsustainably by one trillion dollars every 90 days, 10 trillion dollars every 30 months. It is estimated that it will take 800 years to pay the debt off. Who wants to join bankruptcy? Geopolitical and geostrategic problems and the existence of real European Orthodox and Russian Orthodox culture are ultimately geotheological. It is all about spiritual values. One day the modern West will understand this. Only by then it may be too late.

In the meantime, we of Orthodox Europe will hold on to our European Orthodox and Russian Orthodox culture. One day, once all the post-Soviet extremes in the Russian Orthodox Church, both shrill, hysterical and homosexual American convertitis and Soviet careerism, militarism and financial corruption, have gone, Russian Orthodox culture will find its rightful place in the mainstream of the great conciliar symphony of multinational Orthodox culture. This is not a place of domination or of intimidation of the fourteen free Local Churches by politicised Greeks or politicised Russians, but a place of international co-operation and diplomacy, of the Catholicity of the Church, of the Word of God, not of the CIA or of Papal-style personality cults. Then the real Russia will be restored – after over 300 years of erring along the torturous paths of Imperialism, Marxism and post-Sovietism, imposed by Western hatred for Russia and accepted by the anti-patriotic inferiority complex of Russian traitors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Memoriam: The Russian Emigration Church

Those of us who became part of the Russian Emigration Church half-way through its life, back in the 1970s, have been betrayed by the direction of the post-Soviet Russian Orthodox Church. We knew quite well such figures as Metr Antony Bloom (I was tonsured reader by him in January 1981), Archbishop Basil Krivoshein, Archbishop George Tarasov, Archbishop Antony of Geneva, Archbishop Seraphim of Brussels. Whatever their ‘jurisdiction’, their spirit was the same – that of piety, that of non-possession, that of pastoral care, that of faithfulness to St Sergius of Radonezh, St Seraphim of Sarov, St John of Kronstadt, to the New Martyrs and Confessors. And their spirit was a missionary spirit, a multinational spirit, not a narrow nationalist spirit. Today all those bishops are spinning in their graves, as they see the spirit of materialist possession, nationalism and narcissism that has taken over the Russian Church administration and even filters down among priests. Of them there are two sorts: those who are hireling priests for career and ‘awards’ and those, like us, who cannot be supressed, because we are priests by destiny.

The Russian Orthodox administration, called the Moscow Patriarchate, will inevitably now lose all its churches outside Russia. We were the first to leave. The strangest thing is that the Patriarchate’s strongest ally outside Russia is ROCOR. What was in its first three generations the most spiritually independent, and could still be so, has now become the most loyal servant of compromise with the world. With its history, it should have been the first to ask the serious questions. It refuses and so the task has been left to us.

How sad that a few years after the Russian Church administration had been freed of atheist persecution, it began to behave towards its faithful children not as a mother, but as a stepmother, and began to persecute us. As a result of its political compromises and nationalism, the Moscow Patriarchate has lost all authority and influence with us in the Emigration and in general outside the Russian Federation. It can no longer be the Patriarchate of Orthodox in the Emigration in Western Europe, in the Ukraine, in the Baltic States, in Central Asia, in Moldova, in Belarus. As a result, it will lose all the once Russian Orthodox Churches, Metropolias and Dioceses outside the Russian Federation. The following article confirms exactly what we began to observe since 2016, forcing us in 2022 to leave the Russian Orthodox Church after nearly fifty years of loyalty to it. It had been disloyal to us and had abandoned us. We were left with no other choice. We thank God that we were well-known to many bishops who were happy to help us and ignore the uncanonical and absurd sanctions later taken against us after we had left.

 

Another 13 parishes leave the Metropolia of Moldova and move to the Metropolia of Bessarabia. Another 50 will follow in the coming weeks

Next week, 13 churches from different districts will officially pass to the Metropolia of Bessarabia, sources close to these parishes told Radio Free Europe. Since the beginning of the Russian invasion in Ukraine, more than 60 priests from the Republic of Moldova have moved from the Metropolia of Moldova to that of Bessarabia.

Two weeks ago six priests were excommunicated by the Synod of the Orthodox Church of Moldova (canonically subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchate), because they Had joined the Metropolis of Bessarabia (part of the Romanian Patriarchate), in a few days another 13 parishes will leave the Metropolia of Moldova. Next week, these churches are to receive the re-registration documents from the Public Services Agency.

One of the parishes that has already changed its metropolitan in documents is the church of the Holy Archangels Mihail and Gavril from Malcoci village, Ialoveni district. Its parish priest, priest Andrei Oistric, was until recently Dean of the Faculty of Pastoral Theology at the Academy of Orthodox Theology, part of the Metropolia of Moldova.

“I studied in Suceava and Bucharest and I was always closer to the Metropolia of Bessarabia. I have dedicated more than half of my life to theological education: for 13 years I was a teacher, spiritual priest and deputy director at the “Regina Maria” girls’ high school theological seminary and for another 12 years I worked at the Academy of Theology, of which 10 years I was Dean. My feelings for Romanian Orthodoxy were not a secret. All my colleagues and students knew this,” priest Andrei Oistric told Radio Free Europe.

How does the transition from one Metropolia to another take place?

The parish priest from Malcoci says that he wanted to move to the Metropolia of Bessarabia 15 years ago, when he came to the village, but the people in the community were not ready. “Since the war started, I have had more and more requests from the parishioners: “Father, look at how the war is supported, it is not good like that!”. I was also affected by this war, and so was my family. I have relatives on both sides. I showed this desire at the end of February-beginning of March, and in August the parish of Malcoci village officially passed from the Metropolia of Moldova to that of Bessarabia”, explained the priest.

The transition from one Metropolia to another is done through a legal procedure. Parishes are re-registered with the Public Services Agency. “At our place, in the village of Malcoci, a meeting was held with the parishioners and minutes were drawn up. I submitted it to the Metropolia of Bessarabia, the Ministry of Justice and the Public Services Agency. The agency gave us a new tax code, the right to have a stamp, so all the legal rights”, states the parish priest from Malcoci.

“The Russian Church was not like a mother to us, but like a stepmother”

In practical terms, however, nothing changes in the parish, not even the calendar. The priest says that he will still keep all the holidays on the old calendar. Even before officially leaving the Metropolia of Moldova, he left the Academy of Theology. His resignation was approved at the same Synod on October 25 and he was replaced by Hieromonk Macarie Crudu.

“I retired from the academy. I tried to be as fair as possible in everything. Let someone come with new forces, with new ideas. Like it or not, our roots are Latin, we don’t have Slavic roots. The Russian Church was not like a mother to us, but like a stepmother. Nevertheless, it would have been nice to say now: «Return to your natural mother, we allow you». We want to remain on friendly terms with the Russian Church, as it has been throughout the centuries”, adds the parish priest from Malcoci.

This week, the founder and vice-rector of the Academy of Theology, Viacheslav Cazacu, also declared that he had left the Metropolia of Moldova and joined the Metropolia of Bessarabia. More such announcements are expected in the coming weeks.

“The parishes that want to join the Metropolia of Bessarabia are of an impressive number, but let’s see how they take the steps. About 50 have already applied. I cannot give you the names, because that was the deal, so as not to cause confusion. Certain parishes are now in the transition process, at the documentation stage,” said the representative of the Metropolia of Bessarabia, priest Ion Marian, to Radio Free Europe.

Two weeks ago, the Metropolia of Moldova defrocked six priests who had transferred to the Metropolia of Bessarabia. On the other hand, the Metropolia of Bessarabia considers that the decision to defrock the six priests is not valid, because it has no justification “from a theological and canonical perspective”. In a press release, the Metropolia of Bessarabia urged all clerics and monks who “feel constrained by the Russian dioceses to have the courage to get out of this slavery and return to the tradition and communion of the Romanian Orthodox Church”.

In a letter sent to Russian Patriarch Kyrill in September, Metropolitan Vladimir of Moldova complained that the Metropolia of Moldova is losing ground to the Republic of Moldova due to the war in the Ukraine and that more and more priests are moving to the Metropolia of Bessarabia.

The two Orthodox churches operating on the territory of the Republic of Moldova – subordinated to the Patriarchate of Moscow and the Romanian Patriarchate, respectively – have disputed their canonical status since 2002, when the Metropolia of Bessarabia was registered, following a decision of the European Court of Human Rights.

 

 

The End of the Two Russian Emigre Church Groups

Introduction

The two Russian émigré Church groupings that took shape in the 1920s in order to be independent of the by then Soviet-controlled Moscow Patriarchate were only ever meant to be temporary formations. Time and time again the leaders of both proclaimed that they would return to the Mother-Church inside Russia as soon as the Soviet Union had fallen. As we know, even though the USSR fell in 1991, it took many years after this before they eventually did reunite, in 2007 and 2018, but both for the same reason – that they could not canonically survive and function normally, if cut off from the far larger Mother-Church, centred in Moscow.

Unity Against Extremes

We in Western Europe, frightened especially of strange political and sectarian trends coming from the US since the 1960s, very much wanted to see both Russian émigré groupings reintegrate the Russian Church and canonical norms. And we also wanted to give them back their real missionary purpose. This was the purpose defined by, among others, St John of Shanghai and Western Europe, that of witnessing to and spreading Orthodoxy worldwide, helping to form new Local Churches, while still remaining faithful to the Orthodox Tradition. In other words, both groups had to avoid two temptations or extremes. The first was that of being a closed inward-looking, exclusivist and so sectarian ghetto, which would inevitably die out, as do all ghettoes and sects. The second was that of assimilating completely or else basically becoming an Eastern-rite Protestantism or Eastern-rite Catholicism, or in any case being absorbed by the local dominant culture and also dying out.

The small Paris group, where we have family and close friends, and which reunited with the Mother-Church only in 2018, lost over 40% of its strength in so doing, for the secularising, assimilationist party mostly left it. That was in fact a cleansing. It meant that the group could go on with its mission to help build up a Local Church in parts of Western Europe, but faithfully following the Russian Tradition, while remaining independent of Russian internal politics. In other words, it wished to become a European OCA (Orthodox Church in America). With three bishops at present, it hopes to consecrate another three bishops. However, it remains a Paris-centric Church and its presence in the British Isles, as in many other parts of Western Europe, is very small and very weak. Nevertheless, it has made and will continue to make an important contribution to a future Local Church in Western Europe, into which it will eventually merge.

Americanisation

The larger, though still small New York-based group, with twelve bishops, took another line. Unable to be an ethnic ghetto because of assimilation and the loss of Russian, it chose to become an ideological ghetto. In 2021 it duly cut itself off from the Paris group in a schism, even though both were supposed to be united in One Church. The New York group had seen most of its original Russian emigres and their descendants die out or be assimilated into secular culture despite – or perhaps because of – CIA funding. Thus, it had become almost wholly reliant either on parishioners from the former Soviet Union or else on poorly integrated and puritanical converts seeking their ideal of an exclusivist fundamentalist ‘One True Church’ sect. They knew nothing of the real Russia and real Russian Orthodoxy, but only a Disneyfied, made in the USA, fantasy version. It was this second and highly politicised convert ethos that came to dominate the New York group.

In order to assert its control elsewhere and ensure its power fantasy of ‘another century of existence’, New York decided to ‘retire’ the old school of bishops and clergy. It would send out cultish new bishops to intimidate and close down opponents and financially exploit the peripheries of its group in Australia and Western Europe. Ass imperialists they would force those peripheries into the unipolar, ultra-conservative, New York convert mould, even ‘correcting’ their language for Americanese! This would mean their group becoming ever smaller and narrower and more isolated, creating schisms with other Orthodox, cutting itself off from mainstream Orthodox, from the majority. Parishes in insular Australia were already largely Americanised, but Western European parishes, with their tradition handed down from St John of Shanghai and Western Europe, were not. Geographically next door to Russia, Russian Orthodox in Western Europe know the real Russia and Russian Orthodox culture. They could have nothing to do with the fantasy version, cultivated on the American island far away.

Western Europe

Thus, Western European dioceses would have to be repressed and basically destroyed to fit the new and loveless, unipolar ideology of the US imperialist mould with its power-seeking and money-making ethos. The American crazy convert mentality of ‘money, money, money’, podcasts for ‘incels’ and ‘orthobros’, with punishing homosexuals or misogynists a la Andrew Tate, was alien to Orthodox in Europe. Harsh and jealous right-wing Americans and Americanised extremists, with their politicking, Vlasovite, CIA-funded Possevs, Radio Liberties and Voices of America, would never be acceptable to genuine Russian Orthodoxy in Western Europe. Thus, the New York group with its aggressive Americanisation and bullying schismatic sectarianism signed its own death-warrant in Europe. A censorious and sectarian Russian old calendarism had no attraction for normal Orthodox Christians, whether for the converted, or for Russians. Isolationism and hate-filled sectarianism repelled.

Therefore, most ex-Soviet parishioners did not feel at home in the New York group in Western Europe and would have preferred to attend Patriarchal churches, linked with their homeland, had they been available. Talking to the Orthodox bishops with whom I had studied at seminary or whom I had known when they were young priests, the reaction to the Americanisation or ‘convertisation’ of the old European ROCOR was universally the same: amazement and sadness at the destruction of a genuine spiritual, ascetic and liturgical heritage and its slandering by know-nothing neophytes without monastic experience. However, looking at the schismatic and sectarian mentality responsible, the whole thing then began to appear laughable. The reaction confirmed just how bad the New York group’s reputation had become in recent years. ‘Oh, that uncanonical sect’, was the typical dismissive reaction among clergy of other Local Churches.

The Coming Collapse

Once the divisive conflict in the Ukraine is over and the Patriarchal Russian Church returns to its freedom and so destiny, the fate of the New York group will be decided. In Western Europe, it has no future. It is out of communion with the mainstream. Its remnants will flee its uncanonical extremism and be absorbed into the dioceses of canonical Local Churches, especially of Moscow, which will by then be free to receive them. That is, once Moscow has freed itself from the effects of the divisive and all-absorbing conflict in the Ukraine, when it can begin decentralisation through a sweeping programme of autocephalisation and autonomisation, eliminating oligarchic corruption and the gay mafia.

Thus, outside Western Europe and Africa, in Australia there will surely develop a separate Metropolia (especially if Australia and New Zealand come out of their US-imposed political control and isolationism and join the BRICS political and economic bloc), as also will Latin America. In Northern America (the USA and Canada) the New York group will slowly integrate the future Local Church, founded by the great St Tikhon, whose life-giving presence is still in the OCA, which will be redefined. Surely it will be joined by the 40 or so Moscow parishes, still for the moment outside it, and perhaps be renamed.

Conclusion

After the conflict in the Ukraine is over, now providentially to be hastened by Prigozhin’s treacherous mutiny, and with the removal of certain divisive traitors in the Church, the unity of the at present very divided Orthodox Family must be restored. This will have to be through an authentic Orthodox Council unifying the totality of the Local Churches, in which Catholicity and Conciliarity alone reside. Worldwide, this will mean radical changes to both leading Patriarchates, Constantinople and Moscow. Only the reaffirmation of the Catholicity of the whole Orthodox Church can deliver us from a narrow, centralised, political and ethnic model of Church life. This has already happened so many times in our two thousand-year history. Only a real Council can lead to canonical Orthodox unity everywhere, not least in the Diaspora of Western Europe, the Americas and Oceania.

 

The Tragedy of the Russian Emigration: The Land of Lost Opportunity

Since the reunion or reconciliation of the Russian emigration and the Moscow Patriarchate (MP) in recent years, many voices, both in Russia and also abroad, have asked: ‘Why continue a separate existence? Since the fall of the USSR, the 100-year old Russian emigration has no more reason to exist separately, it is an anachronism, it should fully integrate the MP’. The answers given by Russian emigration bishops said: ‘But we are distinctive. They wear black vestments during Lent, we wear violet; they wear red vestments for Easter, we wear white; after our bishops wash their hands before the Great Entrance, they shake the drops of water onto the people, MP bishops do not’. Other self-justifying and equally minor ritual variations were also quoted, most of the emigration variations wrong anyway! Some readers may think we are inventing these absurd justifications for separation. We are not. We can quote times, places and names.

We always took another line. That the Russian emigration could and should continue its distinctive traditions. Not the ritual ones, but the real ones:

  1. Instead of behaving like pre-Revolutionary (carriages with black horses) Soviet (luxury black Chayka and Zil cars) and post-Soviet (black Mercedes or SUVs) bishops and living in palaces in the lap of luxury, all emigration bishops could have continued to live humbly and modestly like the émigré bishops who had dominated the Russian emigration until about the Year 2000 when they died out, their model being St John of Shanghai. Instead: Often a purely voluntary imitation of the worst Soviet-style examples.
  2. Instead of having churches like railway stations, people going in and out just to light candles, giving the impression that few are praying, the Russian emigration could have continued as it used until about 2000, with real parishes, parishes as communities, where people knew one another and helped one another. Instead: Generally, an imitation in order to take more money for effeminate luxury and gain more power and impunity.
  3. Instead of doing whatever the post-Soviet State told it to do, the Russian emigration could have continued with politically independent views on issues such as the martyred Tsar and those close to him, the two 1917 Revolutions, the New Martyrs, the Soviet Union and, more recently, the Ukraine. Instead: Generally, political dependence, sounding brass and lack of Love.
  4. Instead of pursuing a policy of Russian nationalism, the Russian emigration could have continued with its old internationalism and multilingualism, actively helping to create and contribute to new Local Churches in all the Diasporas where it used to operate and so opening new parishes, boldly defying the MP wherever there were issues of principle. Instead: Fear and trembling.

As self-governing, virtually autocephalous parts of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Russian emigration was in an excellent position to be independent. It could have used that independence fearlessly to co-operate with other Local Churches, not least in Northern America with the Russian-founded OCA, and to help set up new Local Churches elsewhere. They chose not to and rather to be frightened of Soviet-style reflexes, punitive effeminacy, and protocols of bureaucracy of the worst parts of the MP and indeed to imitate them! Nobody forced them to do this. One of the reasons for it was that so many people of faith left the Diaspora Church because they feared compromises of the faith. Sadly, they joined schismatic, old calendarist groups.

Their departure created an imbalance, giving an opportunity to careerists, in love with power, money and above all with themselves, to take over. Thus, they chose the suicidal path of being inward-looking, polemical, aggressive, bullying, moralistic, right-wing, sectarian and turning into isolated ghettos, with a love of power and money. Little wonder that most Russians refuse to attend their churches. The result is that the Russian emigration is imploding. New Local Churches will be formed largely without the Russian emigration. The train has left the station. You missed it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the Ten Steps in the Formation of Sects: A Warning from the Russian Orthodox Emigration

Foreword

The growth of a sectarian mentality can be observed when any once healthy faith community declines and degenerates into a sect through spiritual decadence. Here we deal specifically with that decline in the Russian Orthodox emigration.

Introduction

After 1917 the Russian Orthodox Church fell captive to the persecutions of militant atheism. With the Centre captive, divisions took place in the Russian Church everywhere outside Russia. As ever, as a result of those divisions, the spirit of sectarianism appeared. All my adult life I have fought against that sectarianism in the Russian Orthodox Church in the emigration. Our struggle was to help create unity within the Church and unity with it, once it was free, so that then we could move towards the even greater project of creating new Local Churches. Therefore, from close observation of unhealthy psychology and pathologies over the last nearly fifty years, I have been able to identify ten steps in the formation of sects. This identification comes from observing the process of what specifically has happened to multiple fractions of the Russian Orthodox Church in the emigration, especially since 1986, when it had clearly started dying out.

As a result, a whole series of tiny but almost routine schisms began from it. These fractions have above all appeared as a result of the inherently sectarian and puritanical Protestant culture of North America or contact with it. (It is no coincidence that the first of those schisms took place in Puritan Boston in New England). The apostasy in North America of mainstream Non-Orthodox religion, mainly Protestantism, but also highly Protestantised Roman Catholicism, seems to have been the cause. The strict and rigid Protestant moralism of the American Puritan past has in the last sixty years broken down into today’s total amoralism. As a result, insecure and unstable individuals searching for certainties outside that amoralism have come to the Russian Orthodox Church, However, this was already riven and destabilised by divisions stemming from attitudes to the Church inside Russia. These divisions had grown deeper inasmuch as links with the Mother-Church had been lost.

The Ten Steps

  1. Ignorance and a corresponding lack of any historical sense provides a fertile ground for the development of sectarianism. Ignorance to the point of obscurantism has been encouraged, educatedness being a common reproach in the Russian Orthodox emigration, where after the first generation illiteracy in Russian was common. Knowledge of the language was generally limited to kitchen Russian. For instance, we used to joke in the 1980s that for the mainly elderly members of the then Russian Church in the emigration in Western Europe there were only two besetting sins – youth and education. Both were despised and most churches were childless. They were dying out, turning into rather depressing museums of cultural nostalgia.
  2. The development of parochialism through isolationism, not frequenting and even despising other Orthodox parishes, deepens this ignorance. Indeed, the refusal to frequent others and even the censorious and judgemental condemnation of others for doing so is approved of. Contact with others is seen as disloyalty to the growing sectarian mentality. For example, home-schooling becomes common at this stage. Now begins the suspicion and condemnation of even the slightest contact with ‘impure’ Non-Orthodox, then of fellowship with Orthodox from other (also ‘impure’) Local Churches, and finally with Russian Orthodox from other (also ‘impure’) dioceses. They say of them: ‘They are not like us’. This tribalism means for them: ‘They are our enemies because they are different from us’.
  3. The next step is the exaggeration of the differences with others. ‘They don’t do things like we do’. ‘Our way is the only correct way’. Thus begins the judgementalism and censoriousness of the pharisees. Here we clearly see the priggish self-righteousness that comes from pride, from a superiority complex. ‘The others are sinful’, they say in condemnation, and their hearts swell with vain self-admiration. This exaggeration includes a great emphasis on tiny ritual differences. ‘Only we do that properly’. Generalisations are made on the basis of the behaviour of only one or a few others. ‘We can have nothing to do with any of them because so and so is one of them and he said or did that’. Thus: ‘The whole of the Moscow Patriarchate is corrupt because their bishop X said that. Thus, tens of millions of others were instantly condemned on the basis of the words of a bishop held hostage and speaking in a specific context. Here is the self-justification that stems from and then, in a spiral, creates, pride. Here begins the ‘we are the One True Church’ syndrome and ideology.
  4. It is at this point that cultish leaders, gurus, may appear. Sometimes they appear almost all by themselves, especially if inexperienced and uninstructed neophytes, who are out of touch with reality, are given positions of authority. At other times such gurus may be created by neophytes, who from instability and insecurity desperately want a ‘spiritual father’, even though they have no idea what that is. Their insecurity demands ‘a leader’. Through flattering the weak, they can manufacture such gurus. The gurus soon become increasingly tyrannical, confusing authority with authoritarianism and capricious despotism, and claim papal infallibility.
  5. Now inward-lookingness, introversion, reaches a degree which leads to a de facto lack of communion with others and the formation of a ghetto, headed by a ruling clique of ideologues, who are to be blindly obeyed. Indeed, they insist on blind obedience. Initially, the lack of communion will be selective and informal. In other words, communion will be retained with a select few elsewhere, a few contacts kept for form’s sake. They will claim these contacts as ‘theirs’. This is self-justification: ‘Look, we’re not a sect because we are in communion with so and so’. This stage does not last very long.
  6. From here adepts, led by the ruling clique, will start making more and more extreme accusations that others are ‘not Orthodox’ or ‘mentally ill’ etc. They slander and demonise in self-justification. Such is the pride of narcissistic self-love that gnaws away at their souls. They are pure and all others are impure. Thus, one of them said to me: ‘We are a glass of clean water. They are a glass of dirty water. Surely you do not expect us to mix the two glasses together by entering into communion with them?’ He was so blinded that he could not even see his own phariseeism and so ignorant that he could not even see the dirt in his own water.
  7. Now begins cloning. The cult adepts start dressing in the same way and adopting the same hairstyles or, for men, beardstyles, as those in the ruling clique. Any diversity is definitely forbidden at this stage of manipulation, indoctrination and brainwashing. Uniforms become the norm, the personality is repressed and depressed. Those who refuse to conform are coldly shut out. All the adepts look alike and relationships become almost incestuous, in the sense that there is no mixing with others, with ‘the impure’, outside the cult.
  8. This is now the stage when the group cuts off completely i.e. it finally becomes a sect, having cut off from others, that is, having performed a first schism. The word ‘sect’ means precisely ‘cutting’, as in the word ‘secateurs’. The sect now becomes ever more extreme and excommunicates (!) and ‘defrocks (!) others, even those in completely different dioceses (!), commonly declaring that the others have ‘no grace’. Indeed, the question of who has grace and who does not have ‘grace’ assumes great importance because the sect adepts have to justify their self-isolation and infallibility as the only ones who ‘have grace’. This is a kind of papism. ‘Either you are with us, or else you are against us’. All is black and white and those who oppose the sect are promised ‘hell’, for they will ‘not save their souls’ as they are ‘uncanonical’. Their god is the god of hatred. (We know what his real name is). So the sect becomes not only evil and nasty, but also absurd and makes itself into a laughing-stock. (The devil always mocks his own). Here we witness aggressiveness, harsh bullying, persecuting attempts to humiliate, intimidate and punish. These are all founded on the sect’s essential lack of love, because sects are never founded on Love, but on unhealthy and prideful psychology, which always requires heartless, ruthless and persecuting ideologies.
  9. Now the sect becomes ever smaller, as any last ‘impure’ are witch-hunted and cast out. From this point on, the already small sect grows no further and contracts. However, though the sect is tiny, it will have a large internet, that is, virtual, presence, as virtuality makes up for reality. Indeed, it can be noticed that large groups generally have a weak internet presence. This is because they are too busy with reality to bother. Sects are also desperate to obtain money and property. They need finance. This is because they are already by definition small (they have cut themselves off from the mainstream) and are limited to temporary rented premises and decorated garden sheds for their tabernacles. Expansion is only possibly through stealing the property or income of others.
  10. Soon infighting within the sect starts and further splits about extremely petty or abstract matters sooner or later follow. Introversion is such that such matters become vital dogmas. All is dogmatised. This infighting becomes ever more bitter and unloving and creates ever more tiny and more irrelevant splinter groups. These disputes often lead to expensive court cases about scarce resources, both resulting from and leading to moral and financial scandals.

Conclusion

Over the last two generations I have often seen all of the above among fringe groups, both on the left and on the right. Whether secularist liberalism or secularist conservatism, it makes no difference, both are secularism, that is, they are the abandonment of the Tradition of the Holy Spirit and Love. Such abandonment of the Holy Spirit always leads to the fringes or margins and from there on to the exit from the Church altogether. All this seems to have developed as a result of the instability of the 1960s, and the search for gurus, cults and the exotic, especially then in the USA, but not only. Such gurus prey particularly on the weak, the young, the ignorant and neophytes, as gurus manipulate the zeal and ignorance (‘zeal not according to knowledge’, as the Apostle writes) of converts.

In countries like Russia the Orthodox faith is not at all exotic and is a mass phenomenon. Mass phenomena prevent or greatly limit sectarian nonsense, unless politics or nationalism intervene, as for example in the Ukraine today. However, in the emigration it is possible for sects to be formed, unchallenged by the masses because the masses are not present. Today, the delusions thirsted for by the lonely, such as incels, mean that gurus have an ever greater field to recruit from, using their podcasts and zooms to build their largely virtual sects. Gurus always end up outside the Church, but so, sadly, do their followers, who eventually see through the gurus’ nonsense and become disillusioned and embittered. The straitjackets that the gurus try to impose are always shaken off, sooner by the aware and the strong, later by the naïve and the weak, and they always come to naught.

Afterword

Sects always dissolve, sect-leaders are always defeated and those who should have supervised and controlled their activities are shamed and die out as they too become spiritually irrelevant. This is the spiritual law. May they hear it and repent before it is too late. They cannot get away with it, for our God is not mocked.

 

 

The Russian Orthodox Émigré Contribution to the Future World Orthodox Church

A few years ago the now Metropolitan Tikhon of Pskov asked us the question: What distinctive contribution can the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) make to the Church inside Russia? Here is my answer to him in the light of the most recent events:

Our Orthodox Christian Faith is Trinitarian: God the Father, Who is the instinctive knowledge of the existence of God, God the Son, Who represents the Incarnation of the Faith in all human affairs on earth (as denied for a thousand years by the Western world), and God the Holy Spirit, Who sanctifies all the nations who accept Him. This Trinitarian knowledge has always been expressed in the Russian Orthodox words: ‘For the Faith, For the Tsar, For Rus’. This motto was in turn expressed in recent history by the three ROCOR Saints, the Three Saints of the Emigration:

‘For the Faith’ was expressed by St Jonah of Hankou (+ 1925), the first ROCOR saint. Fleeing as a refugee with the White Russians and absolutely faithful to the fullness of Russian Orthodoxy, within a very short time of becoming a bishop at a very young age in Manchuria, he established an orphanage, a school, and a dining hall for the poor. Thus he combined the love of the Liturgy with practical love for our neighbour, as the Gospel calls us to do. This is indeed the essence of the Orthodox Christian Faith.

‘For the Faith and for the Tsar’ was expressed a generation later by St Seraphim of Boguchar (+ 1950). He expressed the values of Russian Orthodoxy in his writings and was also the great defender of Orthodoxy against both the heresies of the renovationist Paris School in the 1930s and ecumenism, notably at the Inter-Orthodox Council of Moscow in July 1948. He asked: What is the role of the Tsar? He answered that he is the incarnation of the Faith in the life of the State, in social, political and economic affairs. This is why we await the coming of the next Tsar, the White Tsar, whether he is a man of piety, or Christ Himself in His Second Coming.

‘For the Faith, for the Tsar and for Rus’ was then expressed by St John of Shanghai (+ 1966). The first ‘universal saint’, as he has been called, he lived all over the planet and celebrated the Liturgy and preached in many languages, extending the understanding and practice of ‘Rus’ worldwide far beyond East Slavdom, which stretches from Slovakia to the shores of the Pacific. Now we talk about American Rus, Australian Rus, English Rus, French Rus, German Rus, Irish Rus, Peruvian Rus, Swiss Rus. Wherever, worldwide, there is the uncorrupted Christian Faith of the Russian Orthodox world, there is Rus.

Some in Russia would say that this is what they have always believed. True, but the emigration expressed it with a refined purity and much extended significance, all of which became possible only after the catastrophe of the 1917 Revolution.  All three saints together, the Three New Pillars of Orthodoxy, completed their lives on three different continents: St Jonah in China in Asia; St Seraphim in Bulgaria in Europe and St John in San Francisco in North America.

It is this, the global reality of Rus, which the Church inside Russia is now learning from us. Once captive inside the mental borders of the Soviet Union, the multinational Russian Orthodox Church has recently established a Western European Exarchate and a South-East Asian Exarchate, becoming ever more deeply the Church of Eurasia. Now, with the long-expected apostasy of Greek Churches, far too weak to stand up to corrupting American pressure, there has appeared the possibility of setting up a Turkish Exarchate in Asia and solving the old calendarist schism in Greece in Europe.

Moreover, extending to a new Continent, it could set up an African Orthodox Church with local, not colonial, bishops. Beyond this there is the possibility of founding a real North American Orthodox Church, with the future merger of the healthy elements of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) with ROCOR. And ROCOR in turn can, with canonical and practical support from inside Russia, help set up a Church of Oceania and a Church of South America. It is our hope that we shall yet see founded a church dedicated to the Three New Pillars of Orthodoxy, the Pillars of the Russian emigration of three different continents. The future begins now.

The Centre Can Hold Because of the Cleansing of the Church

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

William Yeats, The Second Coming

 

All three groups of Russian Orthodox émigrés have now been cleansed off their extremes:

In 2006 the Patriarchate of Moscow suffered schism in Great Britain and France as the vestiges of old-fashioned modernism and ecumenism finally cast themselves off. Those who adhered to their Russophobic cultural prejudices and desire to dilute Orthodoxy into just another department of Western Establishment ideology left the Russian Orthodox Church for the pseudo-Orthodox US-run Phanariot group in Turkey. The Church was cleansed of those who had no love for the New Martyrs and Confessors of the Christian Empire of Orthodox Civilization and preferred compromised Western secularism to the fullness of the Church of God.

In 2007 ROCOR, the Church Outside Russia, in turn at last lost its censorious, sectarian fringes in tiny schisms to various strange and extremist sects which justify phariseeism. The Church was cleansed.

Now, in 2019, the Rue Daru Archdiocese (the former ‘Paris Jurisdiction’) has lost its extremists, in fact rather a large minority of modernist marginals. Why has it taken so long? Because this was the group most deeply infected by extremism, in this case, of the ‘liberal’ kind, so well-known for its intolerance and terrorist witch-hunts against faithful Orthodox over the decades. As a result, many had already left, even decades ago, persecuted by modernists and freemasons in the group. The minority dissidents, who prefer to celebrate Parisian philosophers who died 60-80 years ago rather than the Saints of God, will now fully merge with the US-run Turkish group in the Phanar (if they have not already done so).

Many of this dissident group are in England. There is also one parish in Brussels that has left for the Romanian Church (its Russophobic priest had already been suspended by the Turkish group a few years back, so he could not return there) and some parishes in France which still remain undecided. However, the fact is that Church has been cleansed, with the Orthodox returning to the Russian Church, the extremists falling away. Moreover, many in Paris who had left in disgust that the Church there was not commemorating the Orthodox Patriarch Kyrill, the leader of the Orthodox world, already returned last Sunday to congratulate Archbishop Jean, who was in tears of joy, on his final decision.

As perhaps the only priest who had suffered from ‘the blood-dimmed tide’ of all three groups of aggressive, troll-like extremists, I cannot but rejoice with our brothers and sisters who have at last escaped the clutches of the Phanariots. The plot of the Phanar to hand over St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Paris to Ukrainian schismatics and rededicate it to apostate traitors and mass-murderers like the robber of souls, Andrei Bobola or Josaphat, has failed.

Meanwhile, the Phanar’s incoherent and schismatic head, Patriarch Bartholomew, yesterday met Pope Francis and the head of the Ukrainian Uniats in Rome to discuss merging the Uniats with his tiny and failed OCU organization in the Ukraine. A joint Phanariot-Papist Galician Synagogue of Fascist Ukrainian xenophobes may soon be formed there, uniting all haters of the Church of God. It will be financed by the State Department in Washington, which has already sent out its ambassadors in the Balkans to bully and bribe Local Churches into recognizing the Galician Synagogue. In this they failed.

The centre can hold – because only extremes fall apart, and this is how the Church is cleansed. Glory to God for His Providence, for the evil inflicted by the Phanariots has had the reverse effect. The Orthodox have been strengthened, being cleansed from the pseudo-Orthodox fringes who have fallen away.

 

 

1917-2017: On the Holy Relics of the Imperial Family and Their Faithful Servants

Foreword

I write as a priest who has served the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia in Paris, Lisbon and England, who loves the Russian Orthodox Tradition, and as a monarchist who hopes for justice through the restoration of Tsardom in Russia. Since the 1970s I have venerated the saint-loving St John of Shanghai, founding the first church in Western Europe dedicated to him after his canonization. I have also always venerated the other saints of the Church Outside Russia, like St Seraphim of Sofia, and our founding bishops, all of whom revered the Tsar-Martyr. Part of my veneration also comes from the fact that the internationally-minded Tsar was a forward-looking missionary, building seventeen magnificent churches precisely in Western Europe for the Orthodox faithful, and looking after Orthodox on three continents.

Like all his followers, the Tsar-loving St John of Shanghai was opposed not only by liberals, ecumenists and modernists, who despised, compromised or had entirely lost the Faith, but also by narrow, Old Believer-type nationalists, some of whom put him on trial in San Francisco. In general, it can be said that attitudes to St John, as to the Tsar, are litmus papers that tell us of love for the Church or, on the other hand, contempt for the Church. I have now been asked what I think of the remains disinterred near Ekaterinburg in 1991 and claimed to be those of five members of the Tsar’s Family and their four servants. With my great-grandfather born in the same year as the Tsar-Martyr and myself born on 19 July, the day of the final disposal of the remains of the Imperial Martyrs, my eagerness to see truth and justice before I die is also personal.

How My Views Were Formed

I was brought up surrounded by the blasphemous Western propaganda which asserts that the last Christian Emperor, the Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II, was a weak-willed, decadent, incompetent reactionary, who was controlled by others, did not care about his people, and in general ‘got what he deserved’. Significantly, in those Cold War times, this propaganda was more or less identical to Soviet propaganda. This indicated that Western materialism and Soviet materialism were essentially the same. I disbelieved all such propaganda, sensing that it was lies with ulterior, power-grabbing motives, but I lacked arguments to counter it. In the 1960s I neither mastered Russian, nor had access to the often obscure émigré publications about the world-changing overthrow of the Tsar which told the truth. So I waited to discover more.

From the mid-1970s onwards I came to discover émigrés, truly White ones, all of whose words and writings have been confirmed by historians and researchers in the new, post-Soviet Russia, where truth is valued by many, even though a legitimate Tsar has not yet been restored. I understood that the Tsar had fallen victim, not to old-fashioned Marxists, but to an elitist conspiracy of aristocrats, generals and Duma masons, strongly backed by the Western Powers, supposed ‘Allies’. After very careful examination of the evidence over decades, I also came personally to venerate those around the Royal Martyrs. These included the much-slandered St Maria of Helsinki (Anna Vyrubova) and the Martyr Gregory (Rasputin), to whom I composed an akathist in English, published last year on the centenary of his martyrdom.

As a priest I met the last émigrés both in the Church Outside Russia and those in breakaway groups, like that in Paris. I was acquainted with many of the last exiled representatives of the Tsar’s Russia to have been adults before the Revolution. I knew both sides of the emigration. Some were truly White, patriots who honoured the Tsar, both when he was alive and afterwards. With others, it was the opposite, they simply wanted their money, estates and lost power back. They had little love for the Church, Russia or its people, contemptuously calling them ‘Soviets’, and many of them were compromised by sympathy for Hitler or by working for spy agencies, whether in Britain, France, Canada or the USA. They would never accept the miraculous 2007 act of repentance between the Patriarchate and the Church Outside Russia.

There was something rotten in parts of the emigration. It may be called ‘Paris-ism’. The aristocratic émigrés who confessed this ideology and who often lived in Paris had inverted the Imperial Christian motto of ‘Orthodoxy, Sovereignty and the People’, ‘the Faith, the Tsar and Rus’. They had abandoned the Russian Orthodox Church, were anti-Tsar and anti-people (by being anti-Rasputin – his great grand-daughter is still alive, despised by them, in Paris). It was precisely the Rus-hating oligarchic aristocracy, greedy for power, which had overthrown the Tsar. Those so-called ‘White’ émigrés, in fact not White at all, had carried out the February Revolution that had led directly to the Red Revolution of October. The noble Tsar, forced into abdication, had stood above them all, rejecting the bloodshed of civil war among his beloved peoples.

In the 1990s, amid the political manipulations of the shameful, anti-Russian, US-backed Yeltsin and his corrupt regime, like most other Orthodox I had not been convinced of the authenticity of the Ekaterinburg remains. I distrusted the political appointee investigator of the 1990s, V.N. Solovyov, a disrespectful non-Churchman. There were far too many contradictions and inconsistencies in the results, not least in the DNA results. Nothing was satisfying. In any case two of the eleven skeletons of the Imperial Family and their servants were still missing. Then, in 2007, the remains of two skeletons were found. One of our hierarchs, Bishop, now Archbishop, Agapit of Stuttgart, became convinced of the authenticity of the remains, which for him had become holy relics. For my part I awaited the results of a Church investigation with an open mind.

I wanted the list of questions about the remains submitted by the Church to be answered. At last, the much trusted Bishop Tikhon (Shevkunov) was put in charge of a new, Church-led investigation, to be published in this centenary year of the so-called ‘Russian Revolutions’ of 1917. On 3 July 2017 a first interview was published with Professor V.L. Popov, once a sceptic, confirming that the remains were authentic (http://www.pravoslavie.ru/104826.html). It seemed that Nikolai Sokolov, the White Army’s investigator into the Imperial Martyrs, had been mistaken in his report, which had been rushed, through no fault of his own. Not a chemist, he had thought the Martyrs’ bodies had been destroyed by fire and acid and so had not followed his investigation by digging at Porosenkov Log. My view of what had happened has become clear (1).

Afterword

With the results now appearing and publication of the vital DNA results eagerly awaited, it seems that the story has become clear. The remains entombed in the Sts Peter and Paul Cathedral and those of Sts Alexei and Maria kept in store are authentic and so must be enshrined. The great Church-on-the-Blood that stands on the site of the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg will continue to be a place of veneration. The shrine and the seven churches at Ganina Yama will remain as the first place where the martyrs’ relics were taken. However, at Porosenkov Log, a great new Cathedral has to be built, a Cathedral of Reparation for the greatest crime of the age, a twelve-domed Cathedral dedicated to the seven Royal Martyrs and their four martyred servants, who joined Christ. Building can begin on the centenary of their martyrdom, in 2018.

This is called on to become a great centre of pilgrimage, the third and final destination for the faithful after Ekaterinburg and Ganina Yama. The holy relics can there be enshrined for the veneration of pilgrims from all over the world. We have no doubt that then, once the relics are properly enshrined and honoured, long-awaited miracles will begin. Tiny fragments of the relics may be distributed elsewhere, especially in Saint Petersburg, but the place where their relics were finally buried is to become a centre of worldwide repentance for all, Russians and Non-Russians alike, who committed ‘treason, cowardice and deceit’ against the Faith, the Tsar and Rus. Only then can the injustice committed 100 years ago be paid for and humanity, descended since the Pigs’ Ravine to the level of the Gergesene swine, turn back from the brink.

1. What Happened

The seven Royal Martyrs and their four servants were horribly and brutally martyred in the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg, in the Urals between Europe and Asia, in the darkness just after midnight on 17 July 1918. Their bodies were taken some nine miles north by lorry to marshy ground called Ganina Yama (Gabriel’s Hole). Here, the lorry bogged down, the bodies were laid on the grass, stripped, burned, dumped into a supposed mineshaft and sprinkled with sulphuric acid.

We now know that only then was it discovered that the supposed mineshaft was quite shallow, only some three metres deep. The exhausted murderers learned of deeper mines west of Ekaterinburg, some four miles away. They obtained barrels of petrol, kerosene, sulphuric acid and firewood and returned at about 4.00 am on 18 July. They hauled the corpses out of the shaft and loaded them back onto the lorry, awaiting final disposal in the new location under cover of night.

In the early morning of 19 July, the lorry transporting the bodies again got stuck in mud on the Koptyaki Road near a place called Porosenkov Log (Pigs’ Ravine). The exhausted murderers decided to bury them here. They dug a shallow grave, doused the bodies in sulphuric acid again, smashed their faces with rifle butts and buried nine of them, covering them with quicklime, hoping to prevent identification, and placed railway sleepers over the grave so as to disguise their crime.

In an attempt to confuse anyone who might discover the first grave with only nine, and not eleven, bodies (the confusion caused was for long successful), the murderers had separated the bodies of the Tsarevich Alexei and one of his sisters from the nine others. These were to be buried about fifteen metres (fifty feet) away. These two bodies were also burned, their remaining bones smashed and then they were thrown into a smaller pit. The burial was completed at 6.00 am on 19 July.

After Ekaterinburg was liberated by the White Army on 25 July, a Commission was established under a legal investigator called Nikolai Sokolov. He discovered a number of the Romanovs’ belongings in and around Ganina Yama where the bodies had first been buried. However, not a chemist, he wrongly concluded that the bodies had been utterly destroyed (an impossibility) in a bonfire there with petrol and sulphuric acid. He had failed to find the real burial place on the Koptyaki Road.

The return of Bolshevik forces in July 1919 forced the conscientious Sokolov to leave in haste, his enquiry incomplete, taking only the box containing the items that he had recovered. His preliminary report was published that same year. On 30-31 May 1979, after years of research, a local amateur and a film-maker located the grave. They removed three skulls but, worried about the consequences of finding the grave, they reburied them. Only on 10 April 1989 was the find publicly revealed.

As a result, all the remains were disinterred in 1991 by Soviet officials in a hasty ‘official exhumation’ that destroyed precious evidence. In February 1998 the Yeltsin regime (twenty-one years before, Yeltsin had been responsible for destroying the Ipatiev House) decided to reinter the remains in the Sts Peter and Paul Cathedral in Saint Petersburg. Although they were interred here in July 1998, their identity had still not been authenticated beyond doubt, leaving many questions unanswered.

On 29 July 2007 amateur investigators found the small pit containing the remains of Alexei and his sister, located not far from the main grave on the Koptyaki Road. Although criminal investigators and geneticists initially identified them as Alexei and Maria, they were stored pending a decision from the Russian Orthodox Church, which had requested a thorough and detailed authentication to eliminate all doubts. This has only recently been allowed and the results, positive, are now being published.

Questions and Answers from Recent Correspondence (May-June 2017)

Q: What is your deepest childhood impression?

A: My first memories go back to when I was two and a half, but I always felt in childhood that I was in Paradise and that God was just beyond the horizon, not far away at all. That was my first and deepest impression. That is why I have always wanted to re-enter my childhood, or at least, its spirit.

Q: Who were the people you met who impressed you the most?

A: First of all, there were all those of my parents’ generation, who had been through World War II, and of my grandparents’ generation, who had been through World War I. I heard so many stories from them, stories which you never read in the books or see in propaganda films.

Q: What did you understand from their stories?

A: I understood that World War II in Europe had actually been a continuation of the still unfinished World War I. I understood even then that that War had actually been a series of different wars. Later, as an adult, I understood in detail that in the Pacific there had been a contest for dominance in Eastern Asia and the Pacific between Japan, ironically Western-armed and Western-trained, and Great Britain, which Japan has easily won. However, it had then lost the contest when the USA had taken over from defeated Great Britain and beaten it, finally by dropping A-bombs on its civilians. Then there had been the war for oil resources in North Africa and the Middle East, which Great Britain had won against Germany, but only because the USA had armed and helped it. Then there was the war on the Eastern Front in Europe, where the Western Powers had hoped that Germany would exhaust itself by destroying the USSR, so losing two enemies at the same time. In fact, the USSR had defeated and contained Germany, but only for two generations, until the Fourth Reich EU taken over Eastern Europe. Finally, there had been the war on the Western Front, which Germany had lost militarily, but won economically through its EU.

Q: Was there anyone else who shaped you?

A: Beyond them, there were representatives of an even older generation still alive then, those who had been born as far back as the 1870s. One elderly lady I met had been at Queen Victoria’s funeral, another remembered the Relief of Mafeking in 1900. (A third, in France, though I was an adult then, told me how her grandmother had told her how she had seen Napoleon riding through Versailles. I had no reason to disbelieve her). They all impressed me because they were living history, representing something that had disappeared, for good and for ill. History is real, it all happened.

Q: But what about the Orthodox you met after childhood? You knew very well Metr Antony Bloom, Fr Sophrony Sakharov, Fr Alexander Schmemann and other clergy.

A: True, but apart from Archbishop Antony of Geneva, who was a disciple of Metr Antony of Kiev and spoke to me about him, the other clergy you mention did not impress me very much. It was more laypeople who impressed me. For instance, there was Princess Kutaisova the elegant Oxford teacher, Elena Grigorievna Evdokimova who had greeted the Tsar before the First World War, Vladimir Ivanovich Labunsky who was the last White officer in Paris, the genial Prince Boris Galitsin, the noble Ekaterina Osipova, Maria Cattoir, or Lyudmila Brizhatova the poetess, and many others. They were all the best of the White emigration, because that emigration had been divided into two parts, those who were really White, that is the penitent, and on the other hand, those who had betrayed the Tsar. The penitent were not only penitent for themselves, even though they had often had little to repent for, but above all repented on behalf of others.

Q: When did you first begin writing?

A: Before I could write!

Q: What do you mean?

A: When I was four, I used to take scrap paper and draw wavy lines on it; it was my writing. All my childhood and long after I carried pen and paper with me. I was always noting things down. The first piece that was published was when I was eleven. I had an aunt who had written an unpublished novel and my father, who had left school before he was 14, had written poetry. So there was something in the family.

Q: Is there anything you would you like to write in the future?

A: For forty years I have wanted to write a novel about the Russian emigration in Europe. There is a huge untold story there. True, there is a French film specifically about those who returned to the USSR after 1945 and the American film ‘The White Countess’ about the emigration in Shanghai and an immense number of memoirs of individual emigres, but that is not the same. I would like to tell a saga, an epic, though I suppose I never will, as I do not have such talent. I would like to tell of the refugees who had nothing to eat, the Tsar’s generals who became housepainters, the princes who were taxi-drivers, the Cossacks who worked at Renault and went to the church in Boulogne-Billancourt, where I married. There is so much to say here.

Q: Would you say that you are political?

A: Not in any party political sense, but only through the eyes of the Church, in the sense that, as we live in the world, we must understand what is going on in the world, either to encourage and try to channel it, or else to oppose it. Some people say that they are apolitical. Well, that is already a political stance. That is to be disincarnate, futile, to waste yourself on dreams and lose yourself in illusions. That is wrong, spiritually dangerous, even demonic. Real Christians all believe in the Incarnation, therefore we must have an interest in politics, so that we can influence the world.

Q: Do you hope for the restoration of the monarchy in Russia?

A: Of course, but it must be the restoration of the Orthodox monarchy, Sacred Monarchy, not just some token monarchism, as in the UK. This restoration is essential, not just for the Russian Lands, not just for the Orthodox Church (in which so much decadence began after the overthrow of the Orthodox monarchy in 1917), but for the whole world, which became unbalanced afterwards. The Second World War would never have happened, nor would the so-called Cold War (in fact a Hot War with millions of victims in the Third World), if the Orthodox Monarchy had not been betrayed, for the monarchy is the last bastion of Orthodox power.

However, we must be realistic. To have Orthodox monarchy, you must deserve it, you must have the right spiritual level; contemporary Russia is very far from that. It will need mass repentance for the monarchy to be restored. That is not happening yet. Our role is that of St John the Baptist, to be forerunners who preach repentance, who prepare the way. What we feared in the 60s, 70s and 80s, the end of the world, will certainly still come, if there is not mass repentance. We have been given a stay of execution with events in Russia, especially since 2000, but no more than that. All is fragile, hanging by a thread.

Q: What can be done here in concrete terms for restoration?

A: We need to establish a Russian Orthodox Monarchist Association (ROMA) today, on the centenary of the epic tragedy of the so-called Russian Revolution. This needs to commemorate the last Tsar and his family, martyred ninety-nine years ago on the confines of Europe and Asia. Their martyrdom was a catastrophe for the whole world, particularly for the Christian world, which has fallen apart without a strong Christian Russian Empire, going from disaster to disaster.

Such an Association also needs to help prepare the Western world for the coming Russian Emperor, who will have an even greater international significance than the Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II, because he may well be the last Christian Emperor before the end. As such, he will be the only protector of the Church of God against all the pseudo-Christian and anti-Christian forces that have surfaced on the world, both before and since the fall of the Russian Empire one hundred years ago.

Q: What do you mean exactly by repentance for any of this to happen?

A: The Faith of many has been made impure. It is polluted and corrupted by superficiality. We can see this in the liberalism of intellectual or academic theology. I remember in Paris how a divorced subdeacon and teacher of such ‘theology’, an author of many books on ‘theology’, never fasted, even in Holy Week. What sort of theology could he write, when he did not fast, when he did not clean his soul first, when he wrote against asceticism and monasticism? This sort of attitude, very common among such people, is just decadence. This has to be repented for – not justified, as many do.

We can also see this superficiality in extreme conservatism. Just recently someone wrote to me that he believed that the earth was flat and that dinosaurs never existed because their fossils had only recently been discovered. Yet the Psalms say that: ‘He hath made the round world so sure, that it cannot be moved’. To be very old-fashioned is not the same as following the Tradition, which is much more radical than being old-fashioned. Such extreme conservatism also has to be repented for.
We can see this superficiality in nationalism, which tries to put the Truth for all time and all peoples into the narrow container of one nationality. In one Balkan church I visited years ago, I was told that I could not venerate the icons because I was not of the nationality of the church! Such ignorant nationalism or racism, called phyletism, which is simply attachment to this world, has to be repented for.

We can see this superficiality also in the attitude of certain ex-Soviet people who treat the Faith in a consumerist way, as a sort of magic. Magic happens automatically regardless of the efforts you make, whereas prayer, the sacraments and Church life depend on the efforts that we make to cleanse ourselves and receive grace. Such people are always upset when they pay their money and do not get the magic result that they expect. Faith does not work like that. Such an attitude to the Faith has to be repented for. We have to work for the Faith.

Q: What would you say of the future of the world?

A: Only God knows our future. But some things are clear. We now have to meet the obligations imposed on us by the collapse of the heterodox world, the spiritual and moral collapse of Catholicism and Protestantism.

Q: What do you hope to see in the future?

A: In the years that remain to me, I hope to see the establishment of the Metropolia in Western Europe, which is a single whole, and the restoration of our Diocese of the Anglo-Celtic British Isles and Ireland, after so many decades of spiritual decadence and alien ‘Britishism’. Let us here restore the ideal of the Anglo-Celtic St Cuthbert.

An Interview: University College, Oxford and Russian Orthodoxy in Oxford (1974-77)

Christ is Risen!

He is risen indeed!

What made you choose Oxford to study over forty years ago?

I did not choose to go to Oxford, Oxford chose me. Had I known what it would be like, I would have chosen to study at the School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies in London. But I was given no advice and so knew no better.

What did you make of Oxford University in general?

At that time it was a University of public school snobs, a clique who froze out anyone unlike themselves. Those who did not come from public schools and rich families either, as Establishment careerists, conformed and pretended to be public school elitists, or else, like myself, as free spirits, effectively had as little as possible to do with the University. Thus, I spent my time at the Russian Orthodox church in Oxford and reading about Orthodox theology and history, Russian literature and history and the history of England – my three great interests.

Which college did you study at?

University College, the oldest in the University.

What did you make of University College?

University College was and is famous for Alfred the Great and infamous for the decadent Prince Felix Yusupov. The first is said to be its founder. Of course, this is a myth, but with my lifelong veneration for King Alfred and later as the compiler of the Church service to him, it was pleasant to think of this while I was there. As for the transvestite occultist Yusupov, a graduate of the College, his room was still there and he is infamous as the sadistic torturer and mutilator of the holy monk Gregory Rasputin-Novy. Called Gregory the New, he was the first martyr of the British-orchestrated Russian Revolution and was murdered by a British spy, whom Yusupov had met in Oxford.

Did you meet anyone well-known at the College?

Two of my contemporaries became government ministers. Lord Moynihan and Philip Hammond, but I had and have nothing in common with them. Others are millionaires, academics, judges, barristers, businessmen, civil servants, writers and so on. There were other famous/infamous people at the University then, such as the assassinated President Benazir Bhutto and a couple of BBC correspondents who are very well-known in the UK. But they were Establishment types, without independent personalities, just tide-swimmers, and I had little to do with them.

What did you think of your tutors?

They were very clever people and I profited from listening to their knowledge. But I also saw their severe limitations and they helped me to understand once and for all that the aim of human life is not to collect knowledge and that the source of knowledge is not in books, but in a clean soul.

What did you specialize in as part of your course?

Russian religious thought. The tutor was an Anglican vicar and the course was very disappointing, as it referred only to the thought of intellectuals and philosophers of the Parisian type, whereas I was interested in real Russian Church thought, which is totally different, as it is the thought of saints, gathered from a clean soul.

What did you learn from Oxford?

I learned about the arrogance and elitism of the Establishment and learned distrust for its inherent corruption and decadence.

How did Oxford shape you?

I am not sure that it shaped me, as I already knew what I wanted and where I was going in life, that my place was in the Russian Orthodox Church, beyond all sectional labels. The essentials of my world view had already been formed. But in Oxford I was able to work out details and to verify what I knew by instinct.

What was the most memorable phrase you heard in your time there?

I think it was when a typically elitist Oxford Orthodox priest (now defrocked) told me in 1975 that ‘there is no such thing as ordinary people’. He was effectively saying that the vast bulk of humanity, myself included, had no existence or reality for him. At that point I became interested in the real Russian Orthodox Church elsewhere, outside the limited confines of academic intellectualism, in the real world, where I had come from.

What can you say about Russian Orthodoxy in Oxford of that time?

What was interesting here is that all the different trends, both good and bad, were present. This was because the University had attracted Russian academics.

For example, there were a mother and daughter who were very right-wing, sectarian and nationalistic and would only attend the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) Cathedral in London and like several there had probably worked for the British secret services. Anti-Communism seemed to be far above Orthodoxy for them. They were also so nationalistic, not to say racist, that they were opposed, like most of the ROCOR emigration in London, to the use of a single word of English in services. At the other extreme there were the Patriarchal Lamperts, equally nationalistic and racist, but in the Soviet sense. They were convinced that Communism, Lenin and Stalin, were wonderful and that there had never been any persecution of the Church in the Soviet Union. Their nationalism had also made them completely blind to reality. Extraordinary!

Inbetween, there was the third extreme, equally blind, the extreme of him who had chosen to be my godfather Nicholas Zernov (which was the extreme of most of the others in Oxford). He was Parisian to the core and preached a sort of Anglican Orthodoxy, in which he saw no contradiction between conservative High Anglicanism and the very bourgeois Parisian Orthodoxy of liberal intellectuals and freemasons. Among such people there was the Anglican convert, Fr Kallistos, a public-school gentleman of the old type, who had made a liberal, ecumenical compromise between Establishment High Anglicanism and Paris Orthodoxy under the US-run (formerly Anglican-run) Patriarchate of Constantinople. He was beloved by Anglicans and ex-Anglicans, but did not appeal to those of other cultural backgrounds and never became a diocesan bishop.

Where did you fit into this panorama?

I would say that there were three people whom I admired in Oxford. One was an elderly Russian peasant woman from Latvia called Ala. She had settled in Oxford after 1945 and was very simple and lived in a council flat in the poorest part of the town, well outside the elitist and wealthy University. She was a granny with a heart of gold and had nothing to do with Parisian professors, who ignored her anyway as a result of their academic snobbery. As for her, she had no understanding of their prejudices and ideologies and also little understanding of English. To me she was a beacon of real Orthodoxy.

Then there was the elderly Countess Elizabeth Kutaisova, from a famous aristocratic family. She was the epitome of the best of White Russia, a real gentlewoman, noble, traditional, elegant, tasteful and patriotic. I will always remember her sitting on a bench in front of a flowering shrub in the Oxford park after church, reading the Russian emigre newspaper Russkaya Mysl.

And finally there was Sir Dimitri Obolensky, whose lectures on King Arthur I attended. A distinguished scholar, he was both a Russian prince and a courteous English gentleman. I discovered more about him in the 1990s through a parishioner and his childhood friend, Baroness Olga von Uxkull, who so fondly referred to him simply as ‘Dima’ and gave me a 1930s photograph of him, which I still have. Dimitri had fallen neither into émigré right-wingery, which put anti-Communism above the Church, nor into the illusions of Soviet patriotism, which put the Soviet Establishment (and personality cults) above the Church, nor into bourgeois Parisian Orthodoxy which so despised Russia that it put the West above it, but had remained faithful to the eternal Russian Orthodox Church, where I too belonged and belong.

In other words, unlike the vast majority, the above did not put their secular prejudices higher than the Church. I think all three of them represented the real Church beyond man-made jurisdictionalism and narrow sectionalism, which had so divided the Church in the emigration. They were all waiting for the great restoration, which has been under way in Russia for the last 25 years, but which still has so far to go. They were what the Church outside Russia should really be about, instead of various sorts of sectarianism.

Thank you.