Category Archives: Faction

About Ionan Orthodoxy: An Interview with Archbishop George of London

12 May 2041

Q: What is the territory of your Archdiocese?

AG: As you know, our Archdiocese is part of the Russian Orthodox Metropolia in Europe under Metropolitan John. This stretches from Ireland to Austria and Iceland to Sicily and includes the Latin, Germanic, Celtic and Basque peoples of Western Europe. Our Archdiocese includes the four now sovereign nations of England, Ireland (which was finally reunited five years ago, if you remember), Scotland and Wales. At present we have four bishops, myself, Bishop Patrick in Dublin, Bishop Andrew in Edinburgh and Bishop David in Cardiff. For our Local Synods we always use our premises on the Isle of Man, the only place from which all our four nations are visible.

Q: Why did you take the name Ionan for your Archdiocese?

AG: Originally, the name ‘Diocese of the Isles’ was suggested for the Archdiocese, but this was considered too vague, since there are isles all over the world. Then the name ‘Isles of the North Atlantic’ was suggested, so forming the acronym I.O.N.A. This conveniently refers to the Ionan Orthodox monasticism of St Columba, which originated in Egypt and came to Ireland via Gaul. Since St Columba’s monastery on Iona spread to England via Lindisfarne and from there Orthodoxy went south, converting much of England, and authentic monasticism had always been the one thing missing here, we felt that this was a good name.

Q: How did ‘Ionan Orthodoxy’ come into being?

AG: As you know even into the early 21st century there were two forms of Orthodoxy in Western countries. The first was that which looked back to the ethnic homeland, which meant that in each Western European country there was a multitude of dioceses, called jurisdictions, each living in a sort of divisive ethnic ghetto and using mainly a language other than English. This was all right for first-generation immigrants, but it did not work for second and subsequent generations, who were simply assimilated into the Non-Orthodox milieu. And after three generations, 75 years, abroad, the first generation always died out and so the Church with it. It happened to the Russians in England (arrived by 1920) who had died out by 1995 and to the Greek-Cypriots in England (arrived by 1960) who had died out by 2035.

Q: What was the second form of Orthodoxy in the West?

AG: Seeing the obvious short-sightedness and failure of the above form, there were second and third-generation Russian intellectuals who by reaction took the opposite stance. Their second form of Orthodoxy consisted of merging all Orthodox, whatever their background, into a melting pot. Their common point was the lowest common denominator, that is, the ethnic identity of the (Non-Orthodox) host country. Their policy was then to sell this as the new and substitute ethnic identity of a new Local Church. This second form only developed in full in North America, where immigrants had begun arriving much earlier than in Western Europe, at the end of the nineteenth century, and where people were far more cut off from the roots of Orthodoxy than in Europe. In Europe we did not want to repeat that mistake.

Q: What was that mistake?

AG: It was the attempt to create an ‘American Orthodoxy’. That was a mistake because it put a culture, Non-Orthodox at that, above the Church. This was not a theological movement, but merely a sociological movement of adaptation and conformism. For example, through the inferiority complex of immigrants, most Orthodox churches in the US adopted pews and many of them organs, one institution tried to use a guitar accompaniment to the Divine Liturgy and adapt the theme tune of the cowboy film ‘Shenandoah’ to it. In other places the Divine Liturgy would be stopped at Christmas in order to sing Protestant Christmas carols!

Someone at the time drew a cartoon of an ‘All-American Patriarch’, a clean-shaven man in a clerical collar with a foolish grin on his face and a glass of coca-cola in his hand, like an advert for toothpaste. Of course, this was only a carton, but it did sum up the situation. At that time when the USA still ruled the world, there were actually individuals in the US who arrogantly and blindly imagined that this second form of Orthodoxy there was the only true form of Orthodoxy, that it was at the centre of the world and that it was their duty to colonize the rest of the world with it! In reality, of course, it was a mere provincial backwater experiment, to be allowed to die out quietly because this experiment simply pandered to the weaknesses of the host country. It placed the Church of God below heretical culture. That was blasphemous, which is why it was racked with scandals.

Q: But did the same temptation not occur in Europe, even if it did not have time to develop to the same extent as in the USA?

AG: Yes, of course, it occurred; human nature is the same everywhere, it was just that it took on different forms according to the local heterodox culture. The same thing has happened among unChurched, semi-Orthodox people in Greece, Romania and Russia. It is simply the heresy of phyletism. And make no mistake, it is a heresy because you can lose your soul in it – that is what a heresy is.

For example, in France a whole jurisdiction catered for a kind of ‘philosophical and aesthetic Orthodoxy’, ‘l’Orthodoxie a la francaise’, as one might say. This theory of Orthodoxy, or theorizing about Orthodoxy, did not present the Church as the Christian way of life, but as a complex and highly intellectual philosophy, full of long words and isms, which no-one really understood. Of course, it could have been expressed in very simple language, which everyone knew already. But as long as it sounded theoretically and philosophically fine, ‘cosmique’ as they used to say, all was fine, but of course, it was not fine and that jurisdiction died out, as it was built on sand, not on the Rock of the Faith. This theorizing was about the god of the philosophers in the language of philosophers, not the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the language of the fishermen of Galilee. You simply cannot build a Local Church based on Non-Orthodox culture! That is common sense, but you could not say that out loud to those who were taken up by such delusions.

Q: What about in other countries in Europe?

AG: It happened everywhere, not just in France. For example, in Germany the first liturgical book to be translated was the Typikon. In other words, Orthodoxy there was confused with the Non-Orthodox German mindset and produced an Orthodoxy of rules, a stubborn, black and white system, without any flexibility, any understanding of the human component, which is what it is all about. They lost their way by confusing the means (the services) with the ends (the salvation of the soul). For instance, I remember one German priest refusing to give a woman communion because she was dressed in trousers. Well, she was of course wrong, but a few decades ago there was a fashion for women to dress in trousers (fortunately, long since over now). That was bad, but what right did the German priest have to excommunicate that woman? Suppose she had died in the night after she had been refused communion? That sin would have been on the conscience of that priest.

Q: And in England?

AG: It was the same thing again. The national weakness here was not theorizing or creating a book of rules, but it was to adapt Orthodoxy to the British Establishment, to create a compromised ‘Establishment Orthodoxy’, a ‘British Orthodoxy’. This State-controlled and State-worshipping Orthodoxy, that of converts from Anglicanism, was of course just a repeat of the Anglicanism that had long ago been invented by Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. There were even two whole but tiny jurisdictions dedicated to this State-approved pietism. It was all salt that had lost its savour. Some such people used the treacherous, half-Norman Edward the Confessor as the mascot of their ‘Establishment Orthodoxy’. Of course, it all came to nothing and has died out now, largely a fantasy of the late-twentieth century and the curious personalities who reigned supreme in the bad old days then. It was very oppressive because, as they were emperors in new clothes, you were not allowed to contradict them!

All these examples show the danger of compromising the Faith with local culture. And all those who did so have now died out, as withered branches. And that is the answer to your question, how did ‘Ionan Orthodoxy’ come into being. It came into being as the only living alternative to the two false alternatives – the ghetto or worldly compromise.

Q: So what do you base ‘Ionan Orthodoxy’ on?

AG: Simply, we put the Church and the Faith first. If we put the Kingdom of God, Orthodoxy, first, then all will fall into place, including the language that we use in services, which today is for about 90% in English, regardless of the ethnic origin of the parishioners, regardless of how well or how badly they speak another language. We are united by Orthodox Christianity, not by ethnic origins, and we are carried forward by the faithfulness to the Church and Her Tradition of the younger generations, who are all primarily English-speakers.

Q: You now have over 350 parishes in the British Isles and Ireland, all established quite solidly and with their own clergy and premises. Every city and town over 50,000 and the area around it is covered. This is quite unlike even 25 years ago, when the Russian Church, a small minority at that time, had mostly tiny communities with services once a month, borrowed premises and a suffered from a huge shortage of priests to go out and do vital missionary work in the area surrounding their churches. What about the other jurisdictions, which collectively still have over 50 parishes outside the Archdiocese?

AG: We live with them as good neighbours. People are free to join us and free to remain outside us. As you know, the parishes outside our jurisdiction are composed mainly of elderly people who settled here from various countries 50 years ago or more and they use very little English in their services. Virtually all the young people come to us. Time will show which way things will go. Live and let live.

Q: What is the future? Do you think of autocephaly?

AG: The Western European Metropolia, with just over 2,000 parishes now, is united, with six archdioceses, Iona, Scandinavia, Germania, Gallia, Italia and Hispania. True, the Metropolia has autonomy, but at the present time there is no desire at all for autocephaly. True, 2,000 parishes is more than in some other Local Churches, like the 700 parishes of the Hungarian Orthodox Church which recently became autocephalous, but a lot fewer than in others. Take China for example. That is still also an autonomous part of the Russian Church, even though it now has over 25,000 parishes. And the Russian Church Herself did not become autonomous for centuries, only after the Empire had fallen in New Rome. At present, I cannot see any reason to become autocephalous. That situation may of course change, especially in China, but not yet. It all takes time.

Q: Are you saying that autocephaly granted prematurely can be dangerous?

AG: Definitely. And especially in Western Europe.

Q: Why?

AG: Because Western Europe has for over a millennium veered between extremes which we do not want to repeat.

Q: Which extremes?

AG: The first is that of despotic centralism. This was the extreme of the pagan Roman Empire, which Charlemagne foolishly tried to revive and fortunately failed to, but it was indeed revived after 1050, causing Western Europe’s schism from the Church, and that lasted until the anti-Latin nationalist outburst of the Germanic Reformation. After that, despotic centralism was tried again by warmongers like Napoleon, the Kaiser and Hitler, and then by the EU Fourth Reich – and we all know how that ended.

Each time there was a reaction to this despotism – nationalism, and that led to terrible fratricidal wars in Europe, like the so-called ‘Wars of Religion’ in the 16th century, just as centralism created the World Wars. We do not want those extremes, we must follow the golden mean of unity in diversity, which is what we have in Ionan Orthodoxy and in the Russian Orthodox Metropolia in Europe in general. Europe has to be a Confederation of Nations, not a Union, a United States of Europe, but not a series of warring, nationalist states either.

In the same way, the Tsardom of Rus, as it is now called, successfully overcame provincial Ukrainian nationalism a generation ago and reunited huge territories, one sixth of the world. However, it only did this by rejecting the old centralism of the Soviet Union, which had done so much damage to its credibility. Once it had done that, again on the basis of unity in diversity, all of Eastern Europe joined in a free and mutually beneficial economic confederation with it, throwing off the shackles of the old European Union, which was in fact just a repeat of the Soviet Union.

Q: Will you drop the word ‘Russian’ from the name of the Russian Orthodox Metropolia in Europe? Most of your faithful are either not Russian or else do not speak it.

AG: In the bad old days of Western nationalism, for example in North America in the Cold War, they detested the word ‘Russian’ and dropped it. Now we are more enlightened and we all understand that ‘Russian’ does not mean nationalism and means uncompromised, unsecularized Orthodoxy. We exist because we have been helped to exist by the Russian Orthodox Church, the only multinational, Imperial Orthodox Church. I think we should keep it. Do you remember the old Roman Catholic Church, as it used to be called? Well, there were hardly any Romans in it!

Q: Why has the Western European Metropolia been so successful?

AG: Without doubt because of the sacrifices made to underpin it in the twentieth century and since. The Church is built on blood, sweat and tears. We should remember with gratitude the prayers and work of those who went before us. For example, I can remember decades ago, how people wanted more English in the services. So, one bishop said yes, do the service in English. What happened? The people who had been clamouring for more English could not even put a decent choir together to sing just the Liturgy! Some of them said that the singing was so bad that they preferred the Liturgy in a foreign language, in which it was properly sung. In other words, you have to make sacrifices in order to achieve anything. We owe a great deal to those who sang properly in English, showing others that the Liturgy in English could be just as beautiful as in Slavonic. Actions speak louder than words.

Yes, mistakes were made in the past, but we learned from those mistakes. Take for example our English translations which stretch back to the turn of the 20th century, nearly 150 years ago, those made in the USA with the blessing of the holy Patriarch Tikhon by an Episcopalian Isabel Hapgood and by Orlov in England. Those were foundation stones. Yes, those translations have been improved and on the way we have seen archaic translations in a Latinate, Victorian style like those of Hapgood or even with 16th century spelling, we have seen those made into street English as well as into soulless, jarring academic English, all sorts, but today we have definitive translations, avoiding all those extremes. It is easy to criticize, but the fact is that without those tireless efforts of the past, however mistaken they sometimes were, we would not be where we are now.

Let us first of all thank our recent fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters in Christ who went before us, who built our Church, our parishes and our souls. Our Metropolia, in effect, the Church of the Old and the New Europe, would not exist without them. But let us also thank the saints of the first millennium. Through venerating them, we have earned their prayers and because of their prayers we are here today. We are built not on dead souls, but on spiritually alive souls, whether of the distant past or of the recent past. Always on spiritually alive souls: Remember that.

An Old Man Remembers how the Great Apostasy Began in the 1960s

The European Orthodox Times, 16 July 2054

On this Day of Solemn Repentance, the Millennial Anniversary of the Western Folly, which started by replacing God with a small step for one sinful man and finished by replacing God with a giant leap into the abyss for sinful mankind, we publish an interview with one of the few remaining eyewitnesses of the tragic events which began in the 1960s.

Q: I know it is nearly a century ago, but can you tell us your memories of what really happened in the Great Apostasy, from the 1960s on? Many of our younger readers are fascinated by it. They simply cannot understand how so many people could have acted in such a suicidal way and yet still thought it normal. It sounds as though people were possessed by the spirit of folly.

A: Well, although I was only a child when it all began, I can still remember quite vividly what it was like. Possession by folly is indeed a good description of it. I think the process of apostasy suddenly sped up in about 1964. The old world petered out and the new world of the Great Apostasy began, a world of plastic, of false values, was born. Everything suddenly changed, as though an order had gone out from above and most people blindly obeyed it, like sheep to the slaughter.

Q: How had it all come to that? And why did it all happen so suddenly?

A: You have to remember that at that time there had still been no repentance for the two Great Wars of 1914 and 1939 and since then there had been various scandals and depravity among the ruling elite: that explains a lot, it meant the ground was ready for a fall. There was spiritual emptiness all around and the devil always fills a vacuum. So the masses at last began to say, ‘Well, we too have lost our Faith and we too declare that for us God is dead, just like you, the elite, and we will now live in the same folly as you’.

Of course, those words, ‘God is dead’, had first been pronounced almost 100 years before by a German philosopher who later went mad, but only the elite had ever heard of him. Following his words, there had taken place the two mass slaughters in Great Wars, carefully prepared and organized by the selfsame elite. However, it was only in the early 1960s that the folly of the elite finally filtered down and the masses lost their faith too, following the example of the ruling class.

In the 1960s in England, for example, there were corrupt politicians and faithless bishops from the State religious organization who, following the examples of German Protestant philosophers, committed apostasy, writing that they no longer believed in the Son of God become man. Rather they believed that they, the sons of men, fallen and sinful, had become gods. With their loss of faith, they at once lost all sense of the sacred. They began preaching intellectualism or infantilism, but in any case secularism, that is, they decided that merging with the world was the only way.

They wanted to be ‘like everyone else’, to renounce their Christian birthright as ‘a peculiar people’, nobody wanted to confess their faith, people were ashamed of it. One bishop called his loss of faith ‘honesty’. So, naturally, people deserted their churches in their masses. Outside England the same thing was happening, Roman Catholics also renounced their faith and the sense of the sacred in the 1960s. They too began to collapse into the same apostasy of secularism that gradually led to the folly of atheism. Thus, they abandoned fasting and within two generations they faced a crisis of obesity.

A: What happened in the Church Herself? Was Orthodoxy infected too?

Q: Only on the margins. From the 60s, and in some cases even before, the Westernmost fringes of the Orthodox world, in the USA and in Europe, for example in France and Finland, were infected by new calendarism and various other forms of secularism and aped the Western world. Many frauds appeared and the naïve were tricked and then disbelieved those who denounced the frauds. Fortunately, it was only on the fringes, where some, although baptized in Orthodoxy, lost the sense of the sacred. This was because they had stopped living an Orthodox life and began living like others, which they justified.

Of course, there were reactions to this decadence, some so negative that people began breaking away from the Church and founding old calendarist sects by reaction. This was understandable, but, as the old saying goes, although you can find some muddied water in a river, it is always muddied in a puddle. However, most of the Church world was protected from this decadence, ironically in part through the persecutions of atheist Communism. In the countries where that atheism had come to power officially, people retained their understanding of the Church and their sense of the sacred, helped by the witness of the New Martyrs and Confessors.

Q: What happened next in the West?

A: Well, as you know, every civilization, Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Greek, Pagan Roman, Inca, Aztec, Indian, Chinese or any other, is based on spiritual beliefs and values. So when Western people renounced the underlying, founding beliefs and values of Western civilization, it simply collapsed, just like a tower standing by the seashore that suddenly collapses because its foundations have been gradually washed away by the waves over the centuries.

You see, if you say that God is dead, that is a purely subjective statement. What you are saying in reality is that God is dead for you, that you have lost your faith in God, which means that your soul is empty, it has died, in other words, you are spiritually dead. God looks on and sees that He has been rejected by that individual soul and knows that only the suffering, created by His rejection, can bring that soul to repentance.

That was the case of Western civilization: it was rotten from inside. By rejecting the Church and Her Orthodox Faith, it showed that it had been carrying within it the seeds of its own destruction ever since 1054. When enough people in Western civilization said that ‘God is dead’ at the same time, then they effectively said that their civilization was dead. And spiritual death is always followed by physical death. It is a law of history. It is only a matter of time. For example, by the end of the nineteenth century the European elite had lost its faith and so within the first two generations of the twentieth century, they produced the suicide of two Great European Wars. Loss of faith always and inevitably leads to death for all around.

Q: But wasn’t Western civilization already so weak before the 1960s that its collapse was inevitable?

A: Of course, it had been greatly weakened by the two Great European Wars in the twentieth century, let alone before, but the point is that people could still have realized what the origin of their problems was and returned to the source, to Holy Orthodoxy, which they had had in the beginning. Even in the early 1960s it was still not too late. There were enough vestiges left for people to return to the fullness of the Faith.

God is patient and you can always turn back, even on your death-bed. But no, instead of turning back, even after the blinding light of the atrocities on the civilians of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, people refused to repent. A whole civilization gone. So sad. Instead of returning, people went even further in their folly of self-destruction in the next generation, that is, precisely in the 1960s. As a popular American song of the 1960s, written in regret for the past, said:

And in the streets, the children screamed,
The lovers cried and the poets dreamed,
But not a word was spoken,
The church bells all were broken.

And the three men I admire most,
The Father, Son and the Holy Ghost
They caught the last train to the coast,
The day the music died.

These words, ‘the church bells all were broken’ meant that society had renounced the Holy Trinity, they had departed ‘to the coast’, to the outskirts of Western society: the music of God had been silenced among men.

Q: Why did all this happen in the 1960s and not before or later?

A: Because, as I said, it is the next generation, the next 25 years. The first generation had seen the First European War in 1914, the second generation had seen the Second European War in 1939 and the third generation was 25 years later, in 1964. Degeneration, like regeneration, always takes three generations to become widespread throughout society, then it requires further generations for the rot to infect every branch of human life, right down to the level of the family and to the individual.

Q: So what happened in the 1960s, once the masses had been contaminated by the loss of faith, declaring that for them too ‘God is dead’?

A: All kinds of things. First of all, in the 60s there followed a wave of sexual depravity, people began living like cats and dogs. They called it ‘living together’, though old people called it ‘living in sin’. Divorce became the norm, the family began to die out. After a generation of that, husbands and wives ceased to exist and became ‘partners’, as in a business, because everything had become monetized, a question of money and contracts. There were no longer people, only consumers and customers. People were measured economically only, as units of cost and spending.

It no longer mattered who you were, but what you had. What was important was not to be, but to have. People became possessed by what they possessed. People had fewer and fewer children and, within two generations, you saw mainly older people on the streets. Most children were the children of immigrants, often Muslims. The talk was of retirement, pensions, dementia and old people’s diseases, as though that were normal. Society was quite literally dying out.

Q: Why was society ageing? Because of the breakdown of the family?

A: This ageing of society took place above all because hundreds of millions had been killed as a result of the depravity that began in the 1960s, I mean, as a result of abortion. Over the decades tens of millions of little babies were sent off to be turned into ashes in incinerators, just as the Nazis had done with the corpses of their slave camp workers. I think over forty years, it was about six million just in this country.

When you add in all the other Western countries, the figure came to well over one hundred million, far greater than in the two Great Wars. It was the greatest genocide in history, in fact a self-genocide, a suicide. As I said, when for you God is dead, then you are dead too and physical death inevitably follows. God, Who exists, despite the denials of those possessed by folly, looks on and weeps. It was a period of folly, for the greatest delusion, which rejoices Satan, is when people say that there is no God, as the Scriptures say.

Q: Did no-one protest at this wave of legalized mass murder that began in the 1960s?

A: Only small minorities. The masses actually soon began to consider abortion normal and, of course, the media all over the Western world supported this, brainwashing the people; any journalist who wrote otherwise was censored, sacked and would probably have been imprisoned for ‘infringement of human rights’. Abortion became a habit, like taking an aspirin. The profoundly abnormal became normal and the Western world actually condemned and boycotted societies that had normal values, whether their own society in the recent past or else others in the present outside the Western world. You can imagine the billions in profits made by the abortion industry over the decades. The main idea was profit, convenience and comfort, not moral principles, let alone the Truth.

Q: What happened to those who defended the Truth?

A: Defenders of the Truth were systematically accused of lieing….

Q: What happened next in society?

A: Well, having killed God inside themselves, hundreds of millions of people went berserk. All these people, either committing or approving of child murder, began to go mad, so that they needed large quantities of anti-depressants to live. Others poisoned themselves with tobacco, alcohol and other even more lethal drugs, trying to forget and escape. They had no-one to tell their sins to and no-one to receive absolution from and so mental illness reached all-time highs. Others placed images of the demons, reverse icons, around themselves, they bought costumes for their children so that they would look like demons, calling them aliens or witches. And of course the demons are aliens for normal human-beings, but, as I said the abnormal had become normal, exactly as the Apostle had foretold. Paradoxically, as people were unable to face death, people killed themselves. Suicide rates went up and up. There was only one taboo – death, and the dead were usually discreetly incinerated in special centres outside the towns.

At that time, whatever human-beings created tended to be contaminated by the lack of faith and ugliness in souls. Some were condemned to living in ‘blocks’ of concrete and glass and other hideous buildings that were called eyesores. It was a society with the cult of ugliness. They only rarely made anything beautiful or tasteful: music was often just loud noise which actually made some people deaf, and what they called art was often laughable – at best. Films were often obsessed with war, violence, depravity, horror, aliens, zombies and monsters. In a word, the monstrous began to take over life, as the demons came up from hell to the surface and there were demonic manifestations, ‘signs in the heavens’, and so on.

As the decades went by, some even began deforming themselves, destroying the image and likeness of the human in themselves. Some men and women began dressing in rags, as torn and worn clothing became popular. Then some men started dressing like women, some women like men. You could not tell the difference. It was called ‘unisex’. Some people shaved their heads. Others began colouring their hair pink, blue, yellow, green, later sometimes going bald as a result of all the chemicals they used, then inserting pieces of metal into their faces and tattooing themselves, because they were so unhappy with what God had given them. You felt so sorry for those people.

At the same time, in order to escape death, others became obsessed with their bodies, spending billions on special food and in restaurants, ‘sport’, ‘fitness’, gyms and slimming. There was a cult of ‘health and safety’. Others had operations on their bodies and changed their shapes, a few even changed their sex. This movement became quite hysterical and you were not allowed to criticize this, as it had been deemed normal by the State. In fact, you could be arrested for criticisms because by that time free speech was considered ‘intolerance’. Some people tanned their skins, catching skin cancer, others coloured their skin orange or covered their faces with thick layers of chemicals and creams.

Some further deformed their bodies by poisoning their food with chemicals, syrup, hormones and genetic modifications and eating so much of it quickly (called ‘fast food’) that they became obese and developed cancers, diabetes and heart disease. You could no longer recognize some people – they looked physically different, they changed, something had taken them over, as their souls died. So people began dying younger and younger. This was suicide and a great tragedy.

Q: How did people come to their senses?

A: Well, of course, this tragedy brought many tears and all had to come to a crisis. A permanent sense of crisis became apparent in the generations after the 1960s. Only suffering could bring people to their senses. So, in 1989, another generation on, the Western elite in its arrogance started wars of terror all over the world in order to strip other countries of their natural resources and dominate them economically. This was much more ruthless than the old colonialism in the nineteenth century, which had at times at least been patriarchal and even beneficial.

In this way Eastern Europe was impoverished, its factories closed, its young people turned into economic refugees who went westwards, and the whole of the Middle East, as far as the Himalayas and all Northern Africa, from the Ivory Coast and Kenya northwards as far as Pakistan and Afghanistan, was ravaged by Western occupations, bombings and terrorist groups, initially created by the Western elite in order to divide and rule.

All came to a head another generation later in what some called World War III in 2014. With the violent overthrow of the Ukrainian government in that year and tens of millions of wretched refugees, mainly from Syria, sent into Western Europe by the Turkish government, the persecution of Christians in the Ukraine and the Middle East and waves of revenge terrorism, there followed a very dark period indeed. It was only after this, through the interventions of the saints, that people gradually came to realize that if they continued, they would destroy the world and it would end very soon.

Many saw no hope. But then, quite miraculously, in the face of death, on the very brink of Armageddon, some began to choose life over death, drawing back from the edge at the very last moment. Little by little people began abandoning the hell that they had created for themselves, they saw through the myths that they had been fed, they came back to ideals, to God and common sense and started living normally again. At last they saw through the consequences of Filioquization and returned to the Church.

Q: What do you mean by Filioquization?

A: The millennial process by which sinless God was replaced by sinful man.

Q: What happened next?

A: As you know, knowledge of the Church began to spread throughout the paganized Western world and several tens of millions repented of secularism and became Orthodox Christians, starting to venerate their own saints again. And then Jerusalem was freed by the Orthodox Empire, as Imperial forces swept down from Russia, liberating Turkey on their way. That was a real miracle because they had been preparing it for Antichrist. That was the beginning of how the Church delayed Antichrist. And that is why we are still alive on this day in 2054, the thousandth anniversary to the day of the Western Folly, that ruthless lust for supremacy which led to the Great Apostasy in the first place.

An Old Man Remembers

The Englander, 31 January 2100

In this, the last week of the 21st century, we continue our series in which centenarians sum up for us their most vivid memories of turning points in the past century. Today, we hear from Tim Smith, aged 103, who recalls the events of 24 June 2016.

‘Even at my age I remember it well, though I was only a youngster then. The greatest turning-point of this ending century came for our country on 24 June 2016. There were masses of people celebrating in London, well over a million, they say, and of course millions of others in every town, city and village across the country. Everywhere we had Freedom parades and Victory meals – that’s what they were called. I was with the group on Freedom Square (in those days it was called Trafalgar Square), which we filled as well as all the streets around it.

One group there had a whole lot of European Union flags, some said they had been stolen from the offices of the Mayor of London, others said that the Mayor had personally donated them, and these were being burned. Huge cheers went up, as each one was burned. Then they burned effigies of various politicians, one of the old Prime Minister – sorry I’ve forgotten his name but I know it was Scottish – another of the German leader, a woman, though I can’t remember her name now either. It was all filmed, some of the footage must have survived. We were chanting ‘Freedom, Freedom’ and ‘Down with Tyranny’, until we were hoarse. That’s how 24 June came to be a national holiday in England.

Of course, lots of political changes followed, a new Prime Minister, a new political system, new alliances. I mean, think about it: the European Union, as it was called then, collapsed a few years afterwards. Now some say it would have happened anyway, but even if that’s true, the decision of what was then called the ‘United Kingdom’ – doesn’t that sound so old-fashioned! – to leave certainly hastened the end. Then Scotland became independent, a few years after that Ireland was reunited and Wales left in the 2030s. That’s how England got her independence back. But there were lots of other changes, I mean who could have predicted the break-up of what was then still called the United States of America?

The arguments that won? Well, of course there were some nationalists who said ‘we want our country back’. They were mainly poorer people, not very well-educated, unemployed and so on. Then there were the people who had principles, who just wanted freedom from Establishment tyranny – they were calling on Alfred the Great and other figures from history. They were called the ‘Anti-Normans’. Then there were right-wingers called ‘sovereignists’ and left-wingers called ‘anti-globalists’, but they were a mixture of left and right, as it used to be called. But that was far from the majority. Most people who voted for freedom said that we should continue as a global country and not be locked into a customs union in a little corner of Europe. They were internationalists – I was one of them – we wanted more trade with China, India, Russia and so on. They said staying in the Union would mean suffocation.

The people who did not want to leave were generally rich, in those days, they were what was known as ‘Establishment people’, people in Big Business and organizations that have long since disappeared like ‘The Church of England’ and the ‘BBC’, if you’ve heard of them – they were people who had second homes in Italy and France, that type. They used scare tactics, told everyone we would be dirt poor if we voted for freedom and left.

Then there were the Americans; in those days they controlled everything. They were furious with the vote for freedom and tried to make out the vote had been corrupted. They had various organizations under their colonial control, one was called NATO, another one called the IMF and another one called the World Bank. They’re all dead and buried now. Anyway, from that day on, 24th June, everything changed. I’ve told my great-great grandchildren about it – of course they can’t believe it!

The main thing is in those days a lot of people were very pessimistic, they used to say, if we go on like this, the world will end soon. Well, I’m going to be 104 next year and the world is still here and so am I!’

An Interview with the Most Reverend Metropolitan John, First Hierarch of R.O.M.E., the Russian Orthodox Metropolia in Europe

Q: Vladyko Metropolitan, this is the twentieth anniversary of the foundation of the Metropolia of Paris and Europe after the completion of the new Russian Cathedral in the centre of Paris. Can you say something about this moment?

A: Thank you. I have been asked to relate a few facts regarding our Metropolia in this interview. At this historic moment it is not only the twentieth anniversary of our Metropolia, but also 100 years since the Nazi-led European invasion of the Russian Lands – just as European and multinational an invasion as the 1812 invasion – on the feast of All the Russian Saints in 1941; 50 years since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991; and 25 years since the events in the then Ukraine and the 2016 Council – and we know how those ended.

And it is also 38 years since His Holiness Patriarch Alexei II announced – prophetically –remember this was before the 2007 reconciliation between the two parts of the Russian Church – the intention of establishing a Metropolia for Europe. This was to be built on the foundation laid by all those faithful to the Russian Church, then in three different jurisdictions, one completely outside the Russian Church, and as the foundation of a future new Local Church. As the now autonomous Metropolia, it is still towards this Local Church that we are working. It is not far away now – as the illusions and temptations of the past have fast receded.

Q: Which countries does the Metropolia cover?

A: Its territory covers all the European countries which are not already covered by a Local Church, such as the Serbian, Polish, Greek, Bulgarian, Romanian Churches and the Church of the Czechs and Slovaks. This means 20 mainly Western European countries which all have small Orthodox minorities, less than 5% of the total population, namely: Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Ireland, Wales, England, Scotland, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain and Italy.

Q: What were the most difficult tasks in establishing the Metropolia?

A: The two most difficult tasks were undoubtedly the struggle against provincialism and parochialism on the one hand and against disincarnate, intellectualized Orthodoxism on the other hand.

Q: Can you explain these words?

A: Provincialism and parochialism were in the twentieth century the bane of all the Local Churches. I remember how back in the early 2000s, Metr Amfilochie of Montenegro told us how when he had first become a bishop, he had decided to visit one of his remote parishes. Up in the mountains, where priests visiting parishioners used to wear a rifle strapped across their shoulders against marauding bears and wolves, there was one parish, which had not seen a bishop in years. In fact, when he got there, the first things the priest asked him was: ‘Who are you?’ He answered, ‘I am your bishop’. The priest asked: ‘What is a bishop?’

It turned out that the ‘priest’ was not a priest at all, he had become a ‘priest’ because his family had from father to son all become priests. The man had never even been ordained. Of course, the incident says much about the failure of bishops to visit their parishes – a common failing in Europe before the Metropolia came into existence – but the story illustrates a real problem – provincialism, even parochialism.

And provincialism and parochialism were always the bane of the Russian diaspora, whether in Paris or New York, with their strange fantasies, theories and cultish and sectarian mentalities, based around strong personalities who lived in isolation from the catholicity and wholeness of the Church. It was only after the fall of the atheist regime in the Soviet Union in 1991 that all the different parts of the broken Russian ship could come together again in synthesis, and by blood, sweat and tears we could overcome such parochialism and provincialism with all its sects and personality cults. Viewed from the Centre, spiritually speaking Europe is only a Western province, even further westwards than provincial Little Russia or Slovakia, far beyond the Carpathians. However, even though we are a province, that does not mean that we have to be provincial, even less parochial. We must value our spiritual attachment to the Centre.

Q: So much for provincialism and parochialism. But what do you mean by ‘a disincarnate, intellectualized Orthodoxism’? What was the difficulty there?

A: At the one extreme stood the provincials and parochials, basically phyletists, bigots and racists. However, on the other side of the same anti-Orthodox coin stood the self-important intellectuals. Their mistake was to imagine that they were important! They misunderstood, they imagined that the Church was based on brains and not on saints, on academia, not on holiness. The two things are quite different. In their way the intellectuals of Paris, like those of ancient Athens and Alexandria, were just as provincial and parochial as the uneducated because they missed the main point. They talked and philosophized, but did not do. Just so much hot air: Orthodoxism.

The uneducated provincials and parochials never understood that the Church is about the Holy Spirit and the transfiguration of fallen humanity despite nationalism, the attachment to this world. Earth is not to take over Heaven. However, the intellectuals never understood that the Church is about the Incarnation, that our Faith is not some vain private fantasy, a mere set of ideas or piece of idealism, but it is about incorporating the Faith into public life. Faith has consequences, it is not some Protestant-style Sunday ‘God-slot’ religion, an intellectual plaything, a hobby or amusement for those with overdeveloped brains and underdeveloped hearts. Faith embraces the whole of our life in all its aspects and inevitably moulds and reshapes the State, including the Western establishments with their idolatrous religion of secularism. Heaven is to be brought to earth.

Q: Twenty years ago did you have grassroots support in establishing the Metropolia?

A: Yes, there was keen and long-standing support from a network of many clergy and laypeople scattered throughout Europe, in all the European capitals and cities from Helsinki to Dublin, from Stockholm to Geneva, from Vienna to Brussels, from Amsterdam to Madrid, from Paris to Munich, from Lisbon to Budapest, from Oslo to London, from Edinburgh to Rome, as well as in many regional centres. However, since they had always lacked a central Metropolitan authority and the corresponding infrastructure, it was difficult to co-ordinate all those who had always shared the same though often unspoken fundamental Russian Orthodox Metropolia values. Many had been waiting for decades, even generations, for such a Metropolia. This is why our annual Metropolitan conferences are so important: they bring people together.

Q: Why does the Metropolia cover Finland? Surely there are parishes of the so-called autonomous Finnish Orthodox?

A: They are not autonomous, but depend entirely on the political situation in Istanbul and Helsinki and for generations there have been other parishes in Finland which have nothing to do with that so-called Finnish Orthodox group. We hold the Orthodox calendar and avoid all manner of Halfodox modernism, such as intercommunion, semi-Uniatism, concelebration with Lutheran bishops and bishopesses or absence of iconostases, the sort of practices that were commonplace only a few years ago among some of the ethnic jurisdictions, whose policies, just like those of the Catholics and Protestants, used to be dictated to them by the US State Department, rather than by the consensus of the Church Fathers.

We have built our Metropolia on this basis, on faithfulness to Orthodoxy. In any of the twenty countries where we have our multi-ethnic jurisdiction, we attract Orthodox of all nationalities. Of course we already have the multinational base of the Russian Church, parishioners originally from the Baltics, Moldova, Central Asia, Poland and Slovakia, as well as from the three Russian Lands themselves, and above all their European-born descendants. Other parishes are in any case composed of local people who for generations have been Orthodox within the Russian Orthodox Churches.

Others come to us as whole communities and parishes because they feel that their identity is fully Orthodox but also European and no longer wish to be attached to their grandparents’ countries and their original ethnic jurisdiction. Others come to us as individuals because they feel that their ethnic jurisdiction, whether, say Greek, Roman Catholic or Protestant – and the two latter are also ethnic jurisdictions, make no mistake about it – has been spiritually corrupted.

Q: But surely the Metropolia is also attached to ‘the grandparents’ country’, to Russia?

A: Spiritually yes, but we have full autonomy, which will develop in time into autocephaly. Everyone knows that and knows also of our commitment to the use of European languages in our services and missionary work. None of the ethnic jurisdictions has such a commitment or such an infrastructure as the Metropolia. The fact is that we are the only multi-ethnic jurisdiction. This is the distinctive identity of the Metropolia.

Q: As we know, there are still parishes in the twenty countries of Europe which are outside the Metropolia. Do you not want to bring them into the Metropolia?

A: Why? Everyone is free. There is no question of coercion. For example, there are embassy churches which are attached to their homelands. They will never be part of the Metropolia as they are basically dependencies, metochia in Greek, of their home countries. Then there are the old, dying ethnic parishes, founded in the 20th century and now closing down one by one, having failed to keep the children and grandchildren. Then there are recent immigrants who speak the local European language poorly; they are hardly ready to integrate the Metropolia and often lack the broad catholic vision, they are still provincial, parochial, they tend to cluster together in small ethnic groups.

And then of course there is still a tiny hard core who for ideological and political reasons do not wish the Metropolia well. They are mainly Halfodox modernists and Russophobes who have hatred and jealousy in their hearts; frankly it would be more honest of them simply to join the dying remnants of Catholicism or Protestantism. They really are on the fringes and margins of the Church and would only bring strife and conflict into the Church if they were allowed to join the Metropolia.

Q: So what proportion of Orthodox in Europe do you actually represent today?

A: Over three-quarters. This means that those who choose to remain outside the Metropolia are outside the mainstream, in fact, to be brutal, they are increasingly irrelevant.

Q: How do you see future structures developing in the Metropolia?

A: As you know, we now have over twenty diocesan archbishops and bishops in the Metropolia and seminaries in Paris, Munich, Madrid and Rome. We expect further developments with time. Without doubt autocephaly, the foundation of a European Orthodox Church, both European and fully Orthodox, is the next step.

Q: As we come to the end of this interview, would you like to say anything to our podcast listeners?

A: Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace, goodwill among men!

+ John, Metropolitan of Paris and Western Europe

Paris, 7 May 2041

Answers to Questions from Letters

Below are some answers to questions in recent correspondence.

Q: In your recent article ‘Truth and Mercy’, were you expressing prophecy or just wishful thinking?

A: As usual, I wanted to make people think outside the restrictive box that the secular media offer and also to comfort the weaker from the despair that is offered by those media. In both these respects from feedback it is clear that the article was successful. That article describes a possible and spiritual outcome of present world events.

Obviously, I am not a prophet, but it is clear that what is being played out in the world today, in Gaza, with massacres by US-armed Zionists, in Iraq and Syria, with massacres of Christians by Qatari-financed terrorists, and in the Ukraine, with massacres of Ukrainians by CIA-organized terrorists and mercenaries (all these events are very closely interconnected) is of vital importance. This year we are reaching another huge turning point in history, as great as that of the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989.

However, there is a prophetic element. That article, ‘Truth and Mercy’, was based on prophecies of several holy people, of St John of Shanghai, Schemamonk Aristocleus, Blessed Pelagia of Ryazan, Fr Paisios the Athonite, Elder Jonah of Odessa and others. However, we must remember that all prophecies, theirs too, are conditional on repentance – and repentance is not certain. What I am saying is that if we do not go in the direction of ‘Truth and Mercy’, then we will go in the direction of the end of the world. There is no middle way, no compromise, as people of fantastical Anglican culture always imagine that there is. Today, we are going either towards repentance, or else, to Sodom and Gomorrah and unspeakable catastrophes before Antichrist. I want to give people hope. Catastrophe is not inevitable.

Those who think with worldly criteria do not understand that article, they find it fantasy. This is because they think in secularist, political terms only, which by definition exclude Providence, the Divine and the miraculous, from their thought processes. This is because their thought processes are not Orthodox, not Christian, they are deceived, for processes in the real world are not directed by secular forces. In reality, human affairs are directed by spiritual forces, either Divine or else, as we can see around us and throughout the history of the last 100 years, Satanic. The Divine is possible, but the Satanic, what in the Old Testament is called ‘the wrath of God’, is also possible. It is our choice. Such is human freewill.

Q: You mentioned St John of Shanghai. Why does he stand out as THE saint of the emigration?

A: Firstly, because he was a saint. That in itself is exceptional, especially with all the pseudo-saints and pseudo-elders of the Russian emigration, with false claims and personality cults, developed by themselves and then, much worse, by their disciples after their deaths. Secondly, because he was universal. He affected all Continents and spoke to all nationalities, Eastern (Chinese, Japanese and Filippino) and Western (European and American). And thirdly, because he was a monarchist, a ‘Tsarist’ to the core.

Q: Why is that significant?

A: Because that is the litmus test for the understanding of Orthodoxy today. The restoration of the monarchy in Russia for the benefit of the whole Orthodox world and indeed for the benefit of the whole world is the only direction in which we can go. Those who have not understood this have not really become Orthodox. They are disincarnate, semi-Protestant, they do not understand that Orthodoxy is the religion of the Incarnation, of the last two fingers when we make the sign of the cross. They think that Orthodoxy, and religion in general, is just a private matter, a personal theory, without any practical and public ramifications. That is a heresy. I wonder if they know how to make the sign of the cross properly. They may be full of doctorates, but I am sure they do not hold the last two fingers, representing the Divine and human natures of Christ, together. They would do well to learn from the last illiterate village greybeard in Moldova, or for that matter in Galilee.

St John is the guide to this as he possessed the purity of Holy Orthodoxy. So many converts treat Orthodoxy as ‘comfort Orthodoxy’, a kind of part-time hobby or ego-trip. Christ, that is, Orthodoxy, is not that. A hobby or ego-trip is starters, comfort eating; what we have to do is to get to the main course, the meat dish, which is in the arena. Only when we have been in the arena with the wild beasts that attack us, as they do because they are our main course – can we get to the sweet, dessert, which is paradise. As they say, you cannot get to paradise in a Rolls-Royce.

Q: What is the situation among new Orthodox (those who have been baptized in the last 20 years or so) in the Church inside Russia? Have they come to what you have called ‘the arena’, ‘the main course’?

A: That is an interesting question and the answer varies. I can remember how in the 1990s, many newly-baptized in Russia (and they numbered tens of millions) read books by Metr Anthony of Sourozh and other Russian purely intellectual and theoretical writers who wrote for Non-Orthodox in the West. In other words, they read what was appropriate for outsiders and beginners, introductions. Fortunately, a great many in Russia now, especially because of the influence of authentic monasticism (that is so sorely and disastrously lacking in the West) have got past that stage. They are no longer outsiders, converts, but insiders, Orthodox. Now they read the lives of the saints and of elders like Fr Paisios, Fr John Krestiankin and Fr Nikolai Guryanov. In other words, they have indeed got to the main course. This is encouraging.

Q: A historical question regarding the Tsarism of St John: Why did the White Counter-movement fail after the Revolution?

A: It failed precisely because it was not White. It had no single and unitive leader (that could only have been a Romanov) and it was not even firmly monarchist behind Tsar Nicholas. Even individual Whites like Wrangel and Kolchak were compromised by people around them, who were not white. Few had a pure motivation and so the White movement failed. Archbishop Averky writes very clearly about this, as several other Church writers too.

Q: Some say that St John would have been against the Church inside Russia. What would you reply?

A: The Slavonic service book that I have always used is that published under Metr Anastasy, the second First Hierarch of ROCOR. According to it, in the great litany we pray for ‘all the Orthodox Patriarchs’ before we pray for our own ROCOR bishops. This was the real Church’s position before sectarianism started creeping in through US old calendarism in the 1960s (I strongly suspect that that old calendarism was financed by the CIA), which tried to surround, abduct and divert spiritually the noble and venerable Metr Philaret, before being partly rejected by Metr Vitaly (who was then surrounded, abducted and diverted literally by it), and then rejected completely by Metr Laurus.

This traditional ecclesiological position was also the position of St John. One whom I knew, Fr Vladimir Rodzianko (later Bishop Basil), recorded St John’s words: ‘Every day I pray for Patriarch Alexis at the proskomidia. He is the Patriarch. And our prayer is still the same. By force of circumstance we have been cut off from one another, but we are still one liturgically. The Russian Church, like the whole Orthodox Church, is united in the eucharist, we are with Her and in Her. Administratively, for the sake of our flock and well-known principles, we have to take the way that we have taken, but this in no way breaks the sacramental unity of the whole Church’.

You see pre-2007 ROCOR had two parts – the main patriotic part (those who loved Russia because she is called to be Orthodox and to save the world) and a smaller, but powerful political/ideological part (nationalists who always put their personal advantage and interests, financial or political) above the Church. Remember how it was that political wing that actually put St John of Shanghai on trial in San Francisco in the early 60s.

As a result of the actions of this political, ideological wing, many left ROCOR in England, for example, in the 70s, 80s and 90s. The sectarians tried to take over in London and elsewhere. We lost at least four priests at that time as a result of them – and that was just in one small diocese. The older generation were squeezed out; the situation by the mid-1980s was dire.

Q: Were you affected by that situation in England personally?

A: Very much so. We emigrated as a result of it. I came to ROCOR not through the situation in England, but through Archbishop Antony of Geneva, who had nothing to do with the old calendarist nonsense that had come over from America. He had remained faithful to the Tradition, to the ecclesiology of St John, who had preceded him in Western Europe. Like St John, he received by chrismation. Vladyka Anthony said that we must belong to a ROCOR that did not concelebrate with Moscow, but only as long as the Church inside Russia was not free. But he and his clergy concelebrated with everyone else, with all other Local Churches. Before he died 20 years ago, I know that one priest from inside Russia had already concelebrated with him, while remaining in the Patriarchate. Vladyka Antony, like St John, was a disciple of Metr Antony of Kiev, whom both had known in Belgrade. They are my spiritual lineage, my spiritual ancestry, that of Universal, and not sectarian, Orthodoxy. Metr Laurus belonged to the same spiritual family.

Such were the views too of hierarchs like Bp Alexander (Mileant) and Bishop Mitrofan (Znosko-Borovsky) of the generation before, whom I met. They were ardent patriots, not of Russia, but of Orthodox Russia. And that was the reason why we could not be under what was then called the Moscow Patriarchate, which outside Russia was dominated by individuals who displayed Soviet patriotism, which came from fear, and so was alien to us. All of us thought like Dostoyevsky – that a Russian who is not Orthodox is not a Russian. So there was no indiscriminate nationalism for us.

Q: What happened to the political wing?

A: It left the Church over a period of 20 years, from 1986 on, mainly leaving for various sects, including various old calendarist sects. I would remind all that both St John and Archbishop Antony had parishes under them on the new calendar (for the fixed feasts). In St John’s case, they were Western rite parishes.

Q: What about St John and the Western rite? Surely his support of Western rite means that we too should support Western rite today?

A: People who say such things have completely forgotten the historical context. St John’s Western rite worked with former Catholics (not with Anglicans and other Protestants) and he did this before the revolution of the Second Vatican Council, before, in other words, before the Protestantization or rather Americanization of Catholicism. At that time, in the 1950s, there still was a Western rite. That is the fundamental difference between then and now. St John was striying to save those who were at the end of a culture and bring them to Orthodoxy. Today that culture is all but dead – it only exists among a few upper class people or the very elderly and dying. There is no future to it, which is why the Western rite is also elderly and dying, where it is not actually dead.

For fifty years there has not been a living Western rite and you cannot renew and then modify a rite that is no more. This is why all Western rite experiments, though motivated by pastoral concerns, the best of intentions, have ended in failure. There is only one living rite today and that is the Orthodox rite. I know. I have seen the Western rite failure in France.

Q: How and why does the Russian Orthodox view of Catholics and Protestants inside Russia differ from that in the Church Outside Russia?

A: There is not a great deal of difference, but there is a difference. I would say that the view inside Russia is more pro-Catholic, but more anti-Protestant (indeed Protestants there are called ‘sectarians’). The reasons for this are as follows.

The Russian (not Ukrainian) experience of Catholicism is that of a pre-Vatican II, Eastern European confession which has a hierarchy, monastic life and sacraments, clergy who dress as clergy, believes in the Mother of God and the saints and even venerates icons. It therefore sees in Catholicism an admittedly provincialized and primitivized but still potentially Orthodox Church. It has no experience of the reality of the protestantized and infantilized Catholicism of the post-Vatican II world, as it is in Western Europe. When it discovers that, it is in a state of culture shock.

On the other hand, the Russian experience of Protestantism is that of sects which are rabidly anti-Orthodox and can hardly be recognized as Christian at all. This experience was much reinforced by aggressive American evangelical preachers who came to Russia in the 1990s and tried to bribe Orthodox into joining them. Clearly, the experience was entirely negative and hence in Russia Protestants are called sectarians.

Q: So who is right?

A: The Church inside Russia is right in Eastern Europe. The Church Outside Russia is right in its domain, in Western countries, among Western people. Catholicism and Protestantism are so variable, they are not monolithic; we have to look at the local realities of both before we decide on our attitude and the use of economy or akrivia.

Q: In various Local Churches you can find heterodox customs. How can we tolerate them?

A: We can tolerate them because we are not sectarian, but tolerant! However, that does not mean that we observe such provincial customs ourselves. We do not cultivate the fringes, but the broad mainstream of the Church. For example, I remember an ex-Anglican Antiochian priest (in England they are all ex-Anglicans, virtually without training), wanting to introduce little girls to serve in the altar because he had seen a bishop in Syria doing this! I told him that just because others had adopted Uniat customs out of pan-Arab nationalism, that did not mean that we have to. The same goes for so many customs, from certain Carpatho-Russian chants preserved in their emigration in the US and which are pure old-fashioned Catholic chants (which the Catholics have now lost), or Bulgarian icons, which are not iconography, but folk art, or beardless Ukrainian clergy as in the OCA (another Uniat hangover) etc. In other words, we do not prolong decadence, but let it die out by itself.

The lack of discrimination is typically Anglican. It is the inability to distinguish between the essential Tradition and eccentric local customs which may have nothing at all to do with Orthodoxy. Thus, in one community of the Rue Daru group in England an ex-Charismatic, ex-Anglican priest, also untrained, has his converts calling out names for commemoration during the service! It would be better if he joined the Pentecostals, especially since he maintains that he is better off without a bishop (who is in distant Paris), so that ‘I can do whatever I want’.

In general, Rue Daru claims to be of the ‘Russian Tradition’, but that was thrown out of the window there 26 years ago in 1988. If you are of the Russian Tradition, then you must be part of the Russian Church, observe the Orthodox calendar, have confession before communion, wear Russian vestments, have women wear headscarves, keep the canons and traditions of the Russian Church. As one correspondent in France wrote to me, the Russian Tradition never stayed a single night in the vast majority of the tiny convert Rue Daru communities, which Russians simply boycott because there is no Orthodox Tradition there. Once you have seen and above all experienced the real thing, you know what is false as soon as you see it.

Truth and Mercy: The Twentieth Century is At Last Over

The chimes of Big Ben. London speaking. This is the BBC. Here is the news at 6.00 pm on Wednesday 15 March 2017.

The conflagration that was spread by Western invasions and occupations throughout Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and the former Ukraine since the start of the calendar millennium is now extinguished. All these countries are now at peace, as new members of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). This brings the total number of its member-countries to 33, not including newly-united Korea, Japan, China, India and Thailand, which are still only associate members and await accession next year. Their accession will mean that over 35% of the world population will belong to the EEU, which was only founded three years ago.

Its members, in order of accession, are: The Russian Empire (formerly the Russian Federation), Kazakhstan, Belarus (the three founder-members), Novorossiya (in Soviet and capitalist times known as southern and eastern Ukraine), Malorossiya (in Soviet and capitalist times known as central and northern Ukraine), Carpathian Rus or Ruthenia (known in Soviet and capitalist times as Transcarpathian Ukraine), Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Tadjikistan. Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Mongolia, Serbia, Montenegro, Moldova, Bulgaria, Georgia, Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Macedonia, Iran, Norway, Iceland, Greenland, Palestine, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Meanwhile in Berlin, the German Chancellor has complained about the presence of thousands of refugee CIA spies and mercenaries in Galicia and the huge cost for Germany of denazifying and absorbing bankrupt Galicia (formerly north-western Ukraine, formerly Poland, formerly part of Austria-Hungary) into the ageing EU population. (We remind our listeners that the EU offices in Brussels were closed and demolished after the transfer of the EU bureaucracy to Berlin nine months ago, following the collapse of the Belgian government and the division of its territory between France, the Netherlands and Germany).

In strike-bound Paris the elderly and ill French Socialist President has in mitigation pointed out that several poorer countries, Greece, Cyprus, Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, had all left the ailing EU to join the Eurasian Economic Union. He also pleaded with Berlin for loans of 40 billion euros to prop up the French economy, which is now unable to pay its pension burden in full. In south-western Europe, Italy, Spain and Portugal have all stated that they will leave the EU and form the LEU (Latin Economic Union), if Germany does not abandon the euro, which has proved to be what they called a ‘Calvinist straitjacket’ for their economies. In France a spokeswoman for the National Front, which has just over 45% of the popular vote, said that it was time for France ‘to stop being a German colony and join the future LEU, so taking up her rightful place and destiny in the Latin world’.

Meanwhile, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Lands, Austria, newly-independent Scotland, newly-united Ireland, Finland, Sweden and Denmark have issued a joint statement, saying that they are about to enter into ‘serious negotiations’ on joining the EEU next year. These are aimed at regaining their sovereignty and freedom by quitting the EU. We remind listeners that Iceland, Greenland and Norway have already joined the EEU. Representatives of all these countries stated that last year’s transfer to Berlin of Lenin’s mummy and the construction of a mausoleum for him as ‘a hero of European thought’ in the German capital had been ‘the last straw’ for their patience.

Poland is also deeply divided on this issue, with Catholic and nationalist sections of the population now very hostile to Germany and its EU Reich, which is supported in Poland only by atheists and secularists. In Rome the much discredited and diminished pro-EU Papacy, weakened by years of moral and financial scandals and under pressure from Berlin, is hesitant about which side to support. The Anti-Calvinist League and pro-Freedom Party in Germany itself, especially in Bavaria, Mecklenburg, Pomerania and Saxony, also wants to leave the EU and abandon the euro, whose imposition by the German industrial and banking elite it considers to have been a catastrophe for the German peoples.

We should recall that England and Wales have finally been allowed to hold their referendum on leaving the remnants of the EU this September, three months before Wales is to hold its own keenly supported referendum on independence from England. Opinion polls show that the anti-EU and pro-English ‘Freedom and Sovereignty’ campaign, headed by the Free England Now (FEN) movement, can expect to obtain at least 75% of the vote in the anti-EU referendum. Plans are being drawn up for the House of Commons to become the new English Parliament and to build a centre for the Inter-Isle Council on the Isle of Man, from where all four countries of the future Island Confederation of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales can be seen.

Elsewhere in the northern hemisphere, the civil war in Turkey which began after the fall of the much hated American puppet government there last year has ended with the country being divided into three different countries: Rom (formerly Turkey in Europe), Asia Minor and Kurdistan. Transfers of populations are already under way. The new people’s governments in Libya, Bahrein and Saudi Arabia have released the many who had been imprisoned by the hated regimes there and begun trying representatives of those regimes for treason, murder and torture. Meanwhile, in the Far East, the virtually peaceful Chinese takeover of Taiwan is now complete and Tibet has been granted independence.

In North America, it is still not clear how Washington will react to oil-rich Alaska’s vote to rejoin the Russian Empire. After all, its bid for freedom is strictly constitutional. In general, the now bankrupt US administration, a pariah State hit hard by EEU sanctions for its trampling of human rights internationally, seems to have been paralysed by infighting. This began when the Chinese yuan became the world reserve currency two years ago, thus displacing the dollar just over 70 years after the Bretton-Woods accords came into force. In the southern US the pro-Confederation Anti-Tyranny Leage (ATL) has called for a vote for the Free South on leaving the Union, as in Alaska.

However, today all eyes have been on Moscow, where at 10.00 local time this morning the Coronation and Patriarchal Anointing of Tsar Nicholas III took place in the Cathedral Church of Christ the Saviour. Some 180 world leaders gathered there, with every single country from the EEU as well as from Asia, Africa and Latin America represented. Only 19 of the remaining 22 EU countries (Hungary, Slovakia and Finland excepted) and the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have not sent representatives or else not been invited. This was the result of their disastrous support for war crimes in the bitter, two-year long Ukrainian civil war. This ended last year after the collapse of the neo-Nazi junta in Kiev, support for which completely discredited and isolated the West from the international community.

After his Coronation Tsar Nicholas made a speech at a Lenten reception in the Kremlin, saying that ‘today, with the restoration of the Sovereignty of Russia, the real twentieth century, which began not in 1901, but in 1914, a century of unheard of Western barbarity, wars, slaughter and dictatorships, is now over’. He announced a five-year programme to build 100,000 churches worldwide, 60,000 in the Russian Empire, 20,000 in other EEU countries, 19,000 in Asia, Latin America and Africa and 1,000 in the Western world. He explained that ‘repentance for the 20th century could only take place on our knees’, He also announced large subsidies, generated from the new oligarch tax, for tens of millions of Russians to repopulate the countryside and made clear his view that Russia’s destiny was to become ‘the organic breadbasket of the world’.

In his speech Tsar Nicholas generously called for ‘truth and mercy’ for all the peoples of the world who for a millennium had been oppressed by colonialism. He advanced his hopes for ‘a new, just and independent International Court in the Hague’ to try the war criminals who had ‘bombed Serbia, supplied arms to Islamic terrorists in Kosovo, invaded and occupied Afghanistan and Iraq, bombed Libya and trained and armed terrorists in Syria’. No news has been heard from Anthony Blair, the former Prime Minister of the former UK, who is believed to be in hiding with Establishment cronies who are holed up on a ranch in Texas.

Tsar Nicholas’ words were greeted enthusiastically by all present at the reception, especially by Indians, Ethiopians, Tibetans, Thais, Serbs, Syrians, the representatives of the new Palestinian State centred in East Jerusalem and the assembled chiefs of the native North American tribes, all present in Moscow for the celebrations. Notably, the Chief of the Sioux Nation, Chief Whistling-Wind-that-Speaks-the-Truth, spoke of historic injustices against his peoples being righted. Prominent in Moscow too are former Buddhists from Mongolia and South-East Asia (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam) and former Catholics from Cuba, the Philippines and Maya areas in Central America, who have all been baptized into the Russian Orthodox Church in recent times.

With Tsar Nicholas’ enthronement the world breathes again with relief and an age of truth and mercy dawns at last. Now is the time for home truths, but also for the compassionate understanding that those responsible for the errors of the last millennium, and especially of the last century, and its human suffering have themselves only been foolish and deceived pawns in Satan’s hands. Further developments are imminent.

A Convent Conversation

From ‘The Herald of R.O.M.E’.
(The Herald of the Russian Orthodox Metropolia in Europe, No 8, 2026)

On 7 August 2026 we visited Sts Peter and Paul Convent just outside Rome and interviewed Archimandrite Pavel (Kirillov), the spiritual father, and some of the nuns.

Interviewer: Fr Pavel, you are an archimandrite and the senior priest and confessor here. Can you tell us something about yourself and the Convent?

Fr Pavel: I am Russian, but as a young man I worked as a cook in restaurants for many years in Ticino, the Italian part of Switzerland, before going back to study at seminary in Moscow. I became a hieromonk in Moscow in 2004 and, as I spoke Italian, I was sent straightaway to serve in Italy, where there was then a great shortage of Russian priests.

I am helped here by a young Italian priest Fr Ambroggio, who is married and lives near the Convent, and a Moldovan hieromonk, Fr Tarasy. Fr Tarasy serves a lot. Fr Ambroggio serves one week a month and the rest of the time looks after the main Italian-language parish in Rome as well as visiting many of the local families who come here for services. With the help of some laymen, he even set up a football team for the boys of the families who attend the Convent. The local boast is that we are the only convent in Italy with its own football team. And last year we even won our league!

I: What language do you use here?

FP: We use Italian as our main liturgical language, with Slavonic and Romanian as what I would call reserve languages. Most sisters speak at least one other language apart from Italian. At present we have 39 nuns of sixteen different nationalities, with twelve Moldovans and eight Italians. Moldovans have played a great role in Italy, helping to set an example and convert Italians. I think this is because the cultures and languages are so similar, but the Moldovans have Christ, whereas the Italians had lost Him.

I: Tell us something of the history of the Convent.

FP: Originally, there was a need for a Convent somewhere in Italy, but we did not know where to start and whom to dedicate it to. Once we had the buildings, the Abbess, Mother Paraskeva as she now is, had thought of dedicating the Convent to the Resurrection – Mother Paraskeva would dedicate everything to the Resurrection, if she could, since she says that Italians don’t know what the Resurrection is. That’s why there is always one Sister called Anastasia. In any case you can imagine what joyful Easter services we have here! However, when these buildings outside Rome came up for sale and we asked Metropolitan Nicholas in Paris about them, he decided that the dedication of the Convent should be to the great apostles and martyrs of Rome, Sts Peter and Paul. This year he came to our patronal feast together with Bishop Gregory, our diocesan bishop in Italy, and preached a sermon where he spoke of how very different Sts Peter and Paul are and yet how they complement each other. He said that this is what we have to do in our Convent. With so many nationalities, we have to complement one another. He told us that whenever we have an argument, we should look at the icon of Sts Peter and Paul embracing and pray to them to guide us.

I: What is the main problem for Italians in integrating the Orthodox Church?

FP: The same as for all people of a Western background. It is one thing to join the Orthodox Church and another to become Orthodox. And yet if you do not first become Orthodox, then you cannot remain Orthodox. That is why Metropolitan Nicholas and all the diocesan bishops of the Metropolia instruct their priests to prepare catechumens very carefully. The knowledge of facts that occurs in the head is of secondary importance. But Western culture puts knowledge first. What is in reality of primary importance is the understanding of facts. That is Orthodox culture. And since understanding is located in the heart, and not in the head, understanding therefore depends on the purity – or lack of purity – of the heart.

The greatest problem for Western people is to come to the understanding that Western culture must be subordinated to Orthodox culture. Culture is the world, not all culture can be absorbed into the Church. Whatever cannot be baptised into the Church, must leave – just as a catechumen leaves the Liturgy. If Western people do not do this, but idolise their Western culture instead and are offended when parts of that are rejected, they will never become Orthodox, for they are unworthy. The Gospel is what we always put first.

I: How do you maintain your own inner life?

FP: Every year I go to Optina in Russia for six weeks and there I am free to talk to my spiritual father. For me it’s very important to keep contacts with the Motherland.

I: I turn now to the Abbess of the Convent, Mother Paraskeva. Could you tell us something about yourself, Mother?

Mother Paraskeva: Like many in the convent, I am Moldovan, but I came to Italy in the early 2000s, seeking work, sending money home to help my family. I was already at that time a Churchgoer and was thinking of monastic life, but could not find the right place. It was only after several years of searching that I found a convent in Moldova in 2012. It was a huge relief to me. I felt as though I had come home. Then I was sent here as an obedience when this Convent opened in 2019. I had no idea that after only one year I would be made Abbess – if I had known, I don’t think I would have come! When Bp Gregory made me Abbess, instead of congratulating me, Fr Pavel said to me: ‘My condolences’. He was right!

I: What Italian people come to services at the Convent?

MP: We have a whole group of Italian men who were in the Italian Army, sent as peacekeepers in Kosovo for NATO. When they saw the injustices that were happening there and the anti-Serb persecutions, many of them became Orthodox, some of them even married Serbian women. They have remained faithful even though all the north of Kosovo long ago returned to Serbia. But apart from these families, we have families from Romania, Moldova, Russia and the Ukraine in particular. But Italian is our common language.

I: What does the Convent live off?

MP: We sew vestments, bake prosphora, make candles and, above all, make soap. Soap-making is our most financially profitable activity. Thanks to it we have been able to restore all the buildings in the complex that we have and we can now take another twenty nuns, if there are suitable candidates.

I: I will now turn to some of the nuns who are here with us. Sister Clotilde, what about you? Where are you from?

Sister Clotilde: I am French, a Parisian, where I was born in 1996. I joined the Russian Orthodox Church in Paris in 2015 after realising that atheism brought no answers and is even irrational – for nobody can prove that God does not exist. Since I studied Italian and Russian, an unusual combination, and I felt that my future was in a convent, I came here after I had finished my studies in 2019.

I: And you, Sister Odile?

Sister Odile: I am from Germany, but my mother was Italian. I come from just near Alsace, across the French border. So I would say that I am Alsatian, which is why I have a French name. I have been here for four years. My background is in history and I worked for eight years as a history teacher at a university in Germany.

I: How did you come to the Church?

Sister Odile: As a historian I had a great interest in Napoleon, who was the first to try and unite Germany. Through him I became interested in Tsar Alexander I, the mystical Tsar who defeated Napoleon. My other great interest was in the Crusades. My conversion came about when I started reading about the Fourth Crusade and the sack of Constantinople in 1204, even though many ordinary people in the West opposed the Crusades. Then I read on the internet an Orthodox writer who said simply: 1204 = 1453 = 1812 = 1917. In other words, he was saying that the sack of Constantinople by the West led to its occupation by the Muslims in 1453 and that 1812, the occupation of Moscow by Napoleon and his 12 tribes, led to 1917, the sack of Moscow by the West through their Provisional and then Bolshevik agents. These historical connections and their injustices, 1204 = 1453 = 1812 = 1917, and their implications converted me. I ended up coming here four years ago, together with Sister Mauricia, who is Swiss and was also a history teacher.

I: Mother Thecla: I believe you are Russian?

Mother Thecla: Yes, there are four Russian nuns here. Myself, Sister Matrona from Moscow, Sister Lydia the choir director and Sister Marina, but she has gone on a pilgrimage to her patron in San Marino with the parish there. However, most of the Moldovan sisters speak good Russian and several others, like Sister Gabriela from Poland and Sister Maria from Austria, understand it. I was born in Ryazan but came to Italy in 2007. I became a spiritual daughter of Fr Pavel when he was parish priest in Turin and then followed him when he was appointed here.

I: Sister Lydia, how do you find the adaptation to Italian life?

Sister Lydia: That is something of the past for me. Today this is my place, my home. Sometimes I even find myself forgetting Russian words. I can only think of the Italian ones. I love singing in Italian. It is just as musical as Slavonic.

I: And you, Sister Agatha? You’re Italian, aren’t you?

Sister Agatha: I’d like to say not Italian, but Sicilian. We have another Sicilian sister here, Sister Pancratia from Taormina, as well as a Corsican sister, Sister Giulia, and we all feel the same, not really Italian. We’re pleased to be from the islands and to have this identity. But, of course, our real nationality is Orthodox.

I: How did you come to the Church?

Sister Agatha: I’m a cradle Orthodox, my parents converted. They were Catholics but were so disgusted by various compromises that they became Orthodox in Palermo. That’s where my brother is an Orthodox priest. However, we realised that we must have Orthodox origins. My father’s mother, Sicilian born and bred, spoke a dialect of Greek. Once all Sicily was Orthodox, it’s in our folklore. Catholicism was imposed on us, it’s superficial. So Orthodoxy is like a liberation for us, it is what is underneath us all, our buried identity.

I: And you, Sister Theodora? Are you Italian?

Sister Theodora: I’m Greek, but was born in Italy, actually in Venice, where my parents studied, met and then stayed on to work. So actually I speak better Italian than Greek. I feel at home here. So to be an Orthodox nun in Italy is the best of both worlds.

I: What about your, Sister Tatiana, Are you from Moldova too?

Sister Tatiana: Not at all. I am Italian, a pure Roman, like St Tatiana herself. Mother Paraskeva likes to give us the names of the saints who lived in the places where we lived before we came here. She says that the saints are our spiritual identity, so we must carry that identity in our names. So we have Sister Sofia, Sister Lorenza and Sister Alexia, who are all from Rome like me and Sister Januaria, who is from Naples. Then many of the Moldovan sisters, Sisters Anastasia, Sabina and Melania, also from Rome, Sister Agnes the Hungarian, from Rome too, Sister Paula who is Maltese, and other Moldovans, Sister Ambrosia from Milan, Sister Nicola from Bari and Sister Apollinaria from Ravenna.

I: And what about you, Mother Eulalia?

Mother Eulalia: I am Catalan from Barcelona, but I have been living in the Convent since the beginning. Because I spoke Italian, Mother Sebastiana sent me from the Convent in Madrid right at the beginning in 2019 to help. I look after novices and guests.

I: Mother Paraskeva, if I can return to you, what are your relations with local Roman Catholic convents like?

MP: We don’t really have any relations. That does not mean that they are bad, it’s just that there are so few Catholic convents left nowadays and most of the nuns in them are in their eighties. It’s like two parallel worlds, we just do not have much to talk about. Their life is totally different from ours, for us they are like retired social workers, devout laywomen who live in retirement homes. Our nuns are young. We only have three mothers, the other 36 are still sisters, riasophore nuns, and then there are seven novices at the moment.

On the other hand, we have a lot of contact, and not only by e-mail, with other Orthodox convents in the Metropolia, in Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Austria, England, Germany, the two in France, the Netherlands and also the new convent in Copenhagen, where we have just sent our Danish sister, Sister Anna, and our Swedish sister, Sister Olga. We also have a lot of contact with other ROCOR convents in the USA and Australia, not to mention with two convents in Moldova and one in the Ukraine. Metr Nicholas is very keen for us to have these contracts. He says it is especially important for us in our Metropolia, so that our different countries are bound together by bonds of spiritual love. This is why we have a meeting of all the abbesses of the Metropolia once every two years, in a different convent each time. The abbots from the Metropolia monasteries do the same. Metr Nicholas says the Church is a family and we must keep together and see each other, like a family.

Last year we had our meeting in Paris, during which Vladyka’s namesday fell, on 17 July. Thanks to the meetings we realise how different our situations are. For example, here we are very multinational, but the Convent in Germany is nearly all Russians and Ukrainians. In Portugal, they have three Brazilians and two Angolans, in Spain they helped set up the Convent in Peru and train a lot of Peruvian and Bolivian nuns. In England the Convent was founded from the USA and they have two Australian nuns. One of the Convents in France is half-Romanian, whereas we only have one Romanian, Sister Paisia. The new Convent in Denmark has two Norwegian novices and one Icelandic novice. And so the differences are enormous.

Sometimes we also have visits from hieromonks and monastic fathers. For example, last December Fr Columba came to us from his hermitage on Iona in Scotland. He is a fascinating man, a real ascetic, but also well-read. He knows the Psalter by heart – but more than that, he understands it and can interpret it too. He has read the Fathers.

He spoke to us in English, but our English sister translated into Italian. He said that for our Metropolia of Europe to be successful, we must, ‘Take the Napoleon out of the French, the Prussian out of the German and the British out of the English’. We all laughed when he said that last part because he is Irish and so he would say that! But Sister Elizabeth, who was interpreting and is English, reminded us how in the life of her patron, the martyred Grand Duchess, her parents were very upset when the Prussians forced unification on her native Hesse. Sister Ursula, who is German from Cologne, agreed and said that the Prussianisation of Germany was its downfall. With Prussianisation German people went from music and opera and culture and dancing to warfare in less than two generations.

I: Mother, could you leave us with a parting word, something edifying?

MP: Well, I think I would end with Fr Columba’s words, which echo the words of the Gospel. In other words, in order to live an Orthodox life, especially nowadays, when the masses are atheists, we have to take out the old man out of our old identities and know that, whatever our native language and whatever our origin and background, our unity is in the New Man, in Christ. While we are in the world, we are all a little spiritual Prussians and spiritual Napoleons and spiritual British, but we all have to get rid of that and become true Orthodox Christians. Only so can we live in Christ, and not live in the world.

I: Thank you, Mother Paraskeva.