Once upon a time the pseudo-science of Marxism used to proclaim that its claims, like death and taxes, were inevitable. In a similar way the supporters of the theory of evolution used to proclaim that it too was the only ‘truth’ that counted, until real scientists pointed out that it was only a theory among many. Similarly, the EU used to proclaim that its aim of a United States of Europe was also inevitable, ‘like a man riding a bicycle you have to carry on towards it, otherwise you will fall off’. Actually if you are cycling (especially towards a cliff edge), you can easily stop without falling off and turn back, which is exactly what the pragmatists of Brexit have done. Modernists also use the same pseudo-scientific argument of inevitability to justify themselves. In a post-modernist world, their argument is particularly absurd and old-fashioned.
Thus, forty years ago I remember a priest of a modernist Western diocese of the old Patriarchate of Moscow (who later defrocked himself, ran away from his wife and then committed suicide) using exactly the same argument. ‘The Catholics had Vatican II, and we will follow them. It is inevitable. We will get rid of the iconostasis, have women around the altar table, have deaconesses, do away with clerical clothing and be modern like the Protestants and then the Catholics. It is just that we Orthodox are behind the others’. I have been reminded of his words recently, as a member of the Paris Archdiocese has said that since one of their priests in Belgium already accepts homosexual ‘marriage’ and that a priest under Constantinople in Finland actually does such ‘weddings’, ‘the rest of the Church will follow’. Inevitability? As in Crete?
A member of the Constantinople Archdiocese in North America has also recently questioned why New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo was recently given the ‘Patriarch Athenagoras Human Rights Award’. After all, Cuomo is well known for his outspoken advocate of the pro-death (erroneously called pro-choice) movement. On 17 July 2014, Governor Cuomo referred to the defenders of the pre-born child as: “these extreme conservatives who are right-to-life … they have no place in the state of New York.” It seems a strange criticism when two years ago Vice-President Biden, who so lavishly praises the present Patriarch of Constantinople and has also tried hard to further the Church schism in the Ukraine and is another politician who is openly supportive of abortion, also received the same dubious masonic award.
To some it seems that an Orthodox Church accepting everything that liberal Protestantism and liberal Catholicism accept, including homosexual clergy, teenage girls ‘dancing’ around the altar and guitar ‘masses’, is inevitable. After all, they say, ‘we are all subject to the same sociological processes’. Such people, inherently secularist and faithless, have no understanding that this is a typically Catholic/Protestant/Secularist/Western attitude. The Church is precisely the only organism (not organization) that is not subject to ‘sociological processes’ (four Local Churches resisted Crete), but to the processes of the grace of God, processes of the Holy Spirit. If the apostles and martyrs had been subject to ‘sociological processes’, they would have censed the demons (‘gods’) as they were asked to. Instead, they refused – and became saints, the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
The point is that none of the incredible secularization undergone by Protestantism and Catholicism in the last fifty years (or in the previous centuries either) is inevitable. However, this is true only as long as long as we have the Holy Spirit and not empty-hearted rationalism, that is the ‘fleshly wisdom’ of the spirit of the world – and we know who the prince of the world is. As the apostate scholastic Abelard wrote 900 years ago in the Prologue to his work ‘Sic et Non’: ‘The Fathers had the Holy Spirit, but we do not’. For the interest of the apostate descendants of Abelard, the word ‘Fathers’ means ‘the (Orthodox) Church’, in other words: ‘The (Orthodox) Church has the Holy Spirit, but the others do not’. There is nothing inevitable about modernism, just as there is nothing inevitable about any other form of apostasy.
Answers to Questions from Recent Conversations and Correspondence
Q: When did you first become conscious of the Russian Orthodox Church?
A: My introduction to the Orthodox Church was through the local saints of England in my native north Essex, notably St Edmund, but also St Albright (Ethelbert), St Cedd, St Botolph and St Osyth. However, as regards the Russian Orthodox Church as such, my first encounter was almost fifty years ago, just after my 12th birthday, in August 1968. As a result of that revelation, I began teaching myself Russian in October of that year in Colchester because I already knew that the Russian Orthodox Church is my spiritual home. However, I had to wait nearly another seven years until I could take part in Russian Orthodox life, as in those days (it is not much better now) there were so few Russian churches anywhere. I only managed to visit any Russian churches in 1973.
Q: Which part of the Russian Church did you join?
A: Having been told by two of its members that the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) would not allow me to join it because I was English (I had no idea at that time that my great-grandmother was Russian, I only discovered that distant link much later), I had no alternative but to join the Moscow Patriarchate. They may have been many things in those distant days, but at least they were not racists.
Q: What was your path to the priesthood after that?
A: A very hard one. First of all, since I could not live and work in Russia on account of the Cold War at that time, for my first job I went to live and work in Greece. I thought that was the next best alternative. After a year there and visiting the then Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, I understood that the Balkan Churches were no solution to the need for a Local Orthodox Church in the West. They were all inward-looking, culturally very narrow and hopelessly nationalistic. Later, contacts with Romanians and Georgians told me the same about them and in the Romanian case there is the huge problem of simony. So, with Russia closed off, in 1979 with the blessing of Metr Antony (Bloom) I went to study at the St Sergius Theological Institute in Paris, which I had in my ignorance imagined to be a Russian Orthodox seminary.
Q: What was it in fact?
A: It was the remains of a Russian Orthodox seminary mingled with an institute of philosophy and, frankly, of heresy. It openly preached modernism or Renovationism, which is Protestant-based, and is therefore not even remotely interesting to someone coming from a country like England with a Protestant culture, so alien to me. One English priest, rather harshly, called St Serge a Methodist Sunday School. Very harsh, but there was some truth in it.
Q: Why did you not think of going to Jordanville in the USA?
A: For the same reason as before. I was repeatedly told by members of ROCOR that they only took Russians. Remember in those days there was no internet, no advice, you had to make your own way, you went by what local representatives told you, even if it was incorrect.
Q: What happened next?
A: In 1982 I was offered the priesthood by the Moscow Patriarchate on terms which I can only describe as scandalous. I walked out, never to return, and enquired again at the Church Outside Russia. I got the same answer as in 1974, though I noted that this time there were actually a few ex-Anglicans in a separate branch of ROCOR in England. However, these rather eccentric conservative Anglicans seemed to have no interest in the Russian Orthodox Church, but only in being anti-Anglican and they had a huge interest in fanatical Greek Orthodox sects. Never having been Anglican and having lived in Greece, I had no interest in either. This was all the more frustrating since ROCOR had just canonized the New Martyrs and Confessors and naturally I had their icons and venerated them. Nevertheless, in 1983, I decided to emigrate to France and join my wife’s jurisdiction, the Paris Jurisdiction.
Q: Wasn’t that foolhardy? I mean you already knew about the problem of modernism there?
A: What you have to understand is that in Paris in 1981 they had elected a new Archbishop. Under the very elderly and saintly old one, renovationists had come to the fore, taking advantage of his old age, but the new Archbishop promised us personally that he would sweep them away and return his jurisdiction to Orthodoxy and canonical Russian practice. So this was a time of great promise and even excitement. Patriarch Dimitrios of Constantinople even said at the time that the Paris Jurisdiction would be returned to the Russian Church as soon as it was free. So, with hope in a promising future, in January 1985 I was ordained deacon there.
Q: What happened next?
A: in May 1985 I was offered the priesthood providing that I would become a freemason. I refused, scandalized. Then we became witnesses to the complete takeover of the jurisdiction by renovationists. The new Archbishop ordained them one by one, completely breaking his promise – not because he was a liar, but because he was weak. It was the same problem as Metr Evlogy, the first Paris Jurisdiction ruling bishop; he had never wanted to leave the Russian Church, but he was a weak man surrounded by powerful laymen, mainly freemasons and those who had betrayed the Tsar and organized the February Revolution. It was the end of the possibility that that jurisdiction would ever return to the freed, restored and reunited Russian Church. But I only understood that the meaning of that bitter disappointment afterwards.
Q: Why did you not leave such a masonic group?
A: Not all by far were freemasons and I felt that I had to labour on until God’s will for me should be revealed.
Q: When was that?
A: Without doubt it was in summer 1988 when the Paris Jurisdiction celebrated the millennium of the Baptism of Rus. Instead of inviting the Russian bishops in Western Europe to the Cathedral on Rue Daru in Paris and returning to the Russian Church in unity, they railed against the Russian Church and invited the Roman Catholic Cardinal of Paris. I was not only scandalized but spiritually distraught. I was an eyewitness to treason and apostasy. It was the last straw. They preferred heresy to Orthodoxy.
Soon after, I met Archbishop Antony of Geneva of ROCOR, who told me that he would be happy to receive me and that I had no need whatsoever to labour on in such anti-canonical conditions. I jumped at the opportunity. 17 people left with me, including a priest. So we all joined the Church Outside Russia in January 1989. That was a transforming moment because previously I had only known the Church Outside Russia in England. On the other hand, Vladyka Antony, heir to Vladyka John of Shanghai, though traditional, was not racist or fanatical, but missionary-minded. He lived in a different world from the fanatics in England and we freely concelebrated with other Orthodox.
I remember him telling me about the extremists who were trying to take control of ROCOR in New York. He said: ‘But there’s nowhere else to go’. I have not the slightest doubt that he would have returned to Russia, if he had had the chance. I also remember conversations with him about Metr Antony of Kiev (Archbp Antony came from Kiev), whom he had known well in Belgrade and whose name he had taken. He was the real ROCOR. Real Russian Orthodox. At last. It had taken me 20 years to get to that point! 20 years of facing illusions, lies, broken promises and corruption. You would think it would have been easy, but nothing of the sort. All hell was against the Russian Orthodox Church, a sure sign of truth.
Q: What happened next?
A: Well, I was at last living as a proper Russian Orthodox. Nearly three years later, in December 1991 I was ordained priest for the new ROCOR parish in Lisbon in Portugal.
Q: What was your attitude to the Moscow Patriarchate?
A: We were all just impatiently waiting for it to become politically free and free of renovationism. That happened officially with the Jubilee Council in Moscow in 2000.
Q: So why didn’t the Church Outside Russia join up with the Patriarchate straightaway in 2000?
A: It is one thing to proclaim the truth at a Council, but another for the decisions of that Council to be implemented. For example, after that I can still remember how at the London Patriarchal Cathedral they refused to put up icons of the New Martyrs and also, incidentally, they refused to sell the books of Fr Seraphim (Rose) or anything traditional. Priests and people coming from Russia were persecuted by the renovationists because they were ‘too’ traditional. We had to wait for the Patriarchate to free itself from such Renovationism.
Also, it must be said, we had to wait until the fanatical elements that had done so much harm to ROCOR since they had started infiltrating the Church in the mid-sixties had left us. When the extremists did finally leave, almost at the same time, there was a huge sigh of relief, because then we could get on with being Orthodox. So it was we had to wait until 2007.
Q: How do you know that people are free of Renovationism?
A: Easy: The yardstick is veneration for the New Martyrs, especially the Imperial Martyrs. The renovationists hate them.
Q: How do you know that people are free of sectarian fanaticism of the sort you describe as having infiltrated ROCOR?
A: Easy: The yardstick is the willingness to concelebrate with other Orthodox Christians.
Q: What is going to happen in the future? At present there are countries like England where there are two parallel jurisdictions of the Russian Church, one dependent on Moscow, the other dependent on the Church Outside Russia?
A: According to the 2007 agreement, where there are two parallel jurisdictions, ROCOR should, in time, absorb the Patriarchal jurisdiction. This will probably take a generation, so that no-one will be under any pressure and everything will take place naturally, organically. However, in reality, already nine years have passed and we can see that in certain areas, like North America and Australasia, ROCOR will indeed clearly take over responsibility for those territories, whereas in other areas the Patriarchate will take over, as in South America, not to mention South-East Asia. The problem comes in the mixed area of Western Europe, including the British Isles and Ireland. In this area, only time will tell, clearly it is the more competent of the two that will take responsibility.
For the moment we shall lead parallel lives. There is in any case so much to do. I could start 12 parishes tomorrow, if I had the money to buy buildings and get candidates for the priesthood ordained. The state of Orthodox infrastructure and the general pastoral situation here are so appalling as to be scandalous; no wonder so many Orthodox lapse or become Roman Catholic or Protestant. All we pastors meet with is indifference. Those in authority should hang their heads in shame. Why is there not a church, our own property in every town over 100,000? This should have been done a generation ago. For example the teeming millions of London only have two small churches!
Colchester is the 50th largest town in England (and incidentally the 500th largest in Western Europe). It has a church that belongs to us. But want about the other 49 larger ones? Only five of them have their own churches: London, Manchester, Nottingham, Norwich, Birkenhead-Liverpool. That is a scandal. There is no missionary vision at all. Birmingham is the second largest city in the UK with a population of two million. And where do the faithful of the Patriarchate have ten liturgies a year on Saturdays (that’s all the priest can manage)? In the Ukrainian Uniat chapel. The next time you hear some naïve Orthodox boasting about his Church, tell him that. Orthodox should be ashamed of themselves.
Q: So is there competition between the two parts of the Russian Church locally?
A: No, not at all. It all depends on who has the priests and the buildings. A concrete example. I was asked to visit a prison in Cambridgeshire. Now, since there is no ROCOR presence in Cambridgeshire (because through incompetence it refused to set anything up there in the 1980s), I gave the prison authorities the references of the Patriarchal priest who lives in Cambridgeshire. On the other hand, when there was question of the Patriarchate setting something up in Norfolk (it had lost what it had had there a few years before, also through incompetence), but knowing that ROCOR had a presence there dating back to 1966, it was referred to me. So here is a territorial division. Now, where there is a double jurisdiction, as in London (the only case), something will have to be sorted out. But, as you can see, that will be as a result of competence. Only time can settle such matters. The more competent part, the more spiritual part of the Russian Church will prevail and form a united jurisdiction.
Q: So there is no rigid territorial division in Western Europe?
A: No, nobody wants to impose such a system. Let everything be done freely, let the people choose. Though, having said that, we can observe a tendency for ROCOR to dominate in the English-speaking world. Canada, the USA and Australasia are clear examples. For example, with Archbishop Mark of ROCOR retiring to Germany and the ROCOR Diocese of the British Isles and Ireland being taken over by Metr Hilarion of New York, we can even talk about a sort of ROCOR Brexit. Metr Hilarion will in fact be Metropolitan of New England and Old England. That is an exceptional event, historically speaking, and may be significant, a turning-point.
So it is possible that in a generation from now ROCOR will only exist in the English-speaking world, but will unite all Russian Orthodox there. ROCOR will become ROCA – the Russian Orthodox Church in the Anglosphere. That is one quite organic and natural possible scenario, a united Russian Orthodox Metropolia for the Anglosphere, the English-speaking world. The Patriarchate will look after everything else in various Metropolias, in Latin America, in Alaska, in Western Europe, in Asia etc.
Q: So Western Europe would completely go to the Patriarchate?
A: That is the way that things are developing at the moment. All the young bishops and all the dynamism in the Russian Church there is Patriarchal. ROCOR only has three ageing bishops and is not opening any new churches.
Q: Is there a difference between ROCOR churches and Patriarchal churches?
A: I think there is a small one, in general. Strangely enough, ROCOR is at one and the same time more Russian, but also more local, more integrated. We have done the translations, we print in English, we speak the local languages and know the local laws, we were born here. At the same time, however, we are utterly faithful to the best of the Tsar’s Russia, never having endured the Soviet period and Renovationism. ‘To quote the saintly Metr Laurus: ‘We are for the purity of Holy Orthodoxy’. We are Imperial priests and people.
Q: What about your own relations with the Russian Church inside Russia?
A: We are very close to all those who are Churched in Russia and they feel close to us. For example, in Moscow one of the closest friends of ROCOR has always been Bishop Tikhon (Shevkunov), whom some have even suggested will be the next Patriarch. (Bp Tikhon has been in the news recently, since he outraged the British Establishment by inviting students from Eton College to experience Christianity in Russia; not something the atheist Establishment likes). In general, those who especially venerate the New Martyrs and Confessors at once feel at home in ROCOR. I have this nearly every Sunday. People from different parts of Russia, from the Ukraine, from Moldova and elsewhere say that they feel at home, whatever the language, the atmosphere is like at home. In my native town of Colchester, that is a great thing that we have such an oasis of Orthodoxy.
Q: Who are the unChurched in Russia?
A: You find all sorts of people. There are those on the right hand side who mingle superstition with Orthodoxy, for instance, those ritualists who think that holy water is more important than holy communion, who mix in pharisaic sectarianism, puritanism and judgementalism, or, on the other hand, those on the left hand side, who mix in Soviet nationalism, love of the tyrant Stalin, or modernism. But all that is superficial, the majority make their way to the Church sooner or later. You do not waste time on the convert fringes of the Church – otherwise you might end up thinking that that is the Church! A terrible delusion!
Q: Why have you stayed faithful to the Russian Church despite all the difficulties that you have faced over nearly fifty years?
A: Because the Russian Orthodox Church is the Invincible Power. History since 1917 proves it. The gates of hell have not prevailed – and shall not prevail – despite all the enemies and traitors, both external and internal, we have faced. Judas betrayed, but the other apostles triumphed. So tragedy becomes joy. The stone that was rejected is become the headstone of the corner. Thou hast conquered, O Galilean!
Over the last two weeks France and Germany have been deeply troubled by revolting murders carried out by Islamist psychopaths. In the latest tragedy, a devout 86-year old priest, ordained 58 years ago in 1958, had his throat slit while celebrating the mass. One of his assailants had been encouraged by the campaign of the Western media and politicians not so long ago to go to Syria and fight against the government there – a campaign now recognized as an error, though still not apologized for by the culprits. Their unpunished irresponsibility has now brought terror to their very doorstep.
The Middle East from Afghanistan to Libya is indeed littered with failed ‘democratic governments’, built in the ruins of stable but undemocratic countries, as created by Western meddlers. As one Iraqi citizen put it recently: ‘Before there was one Saddam Hussein, now thanks to the West there is a thousand’. More than this, the slaughter of Christians, ultimately caused and tolerated by the West all through the Middle East, has now arrived in Western Europe. Tonight, atheist French politicians, many of them lapsed Jews, most of them freemasons, have attended mass at Notre Dame in Paris.
We can only hope that they may one day be brought to repentance for the refugee crisis that they have created. However, at present these selfsame leaders are still backing the daily and unreported terrorism of the Kiev Army against Ukrainian civilians in Donbass, so there is little realistic hope. These leaders belong to the Western world of smartphones and smartbombs, which they do not know how to use wisely, as their ‘smart civilization’ has failed to invent wisephones and wisebombs. Before they act, they should first think what they are building – the Church of God or the Temple of Antichrist. We fear that when they reflect, if they ever reflect, they will find that it is the latter.
From Recent Correspondence on Modernism
Q: What is modernism?
A: Modernism, often called renovationism in Russian, is merely secularization, that is desacralization, under the camouflage of the word ‘modern’.
Q: How did you encounter modernism in the Orthodox Church?
A: Between 1973 and 1980, I met a great many modernists: Intellectuals and pseudo-intellectuals. First the Parisians living in England, then those in France itself, where Paris was the source of all the problems. In France in 1985 I also encountered freemasonry among such ‘Orthodox’ modernists. It was very widespread among them then and perhaps still is.
Q: So you met modernism very soon?
A: Yes, it was actually presented to me as the norm, as real Orthodoxy!
Q: But you rejected it?
A: I was seeking the source of the sacred, not the secular! So I instinctively and automatically felt that modernist Orthodoxy was a fake, not the real thing, but I also knew that from experience, my own and through having observed Church life, the real thing, in Russia.
Q: Which modernists did you meet?
A: The well-known names: in England, Nicholas Zernov, the then Fr Basil Osborne, Metr Antony Bloom, Fr Lev Gillet, Fr Sergei Hackel, Fr Nicholas Behr, and in France Fr Boris Bobrinsky, Fr Elie Melia, Olivier Clement, Elisabeth Behr-Sigel, Nikita Struve, Konstantin Andronikov, Fr Jean-Claude Roberti, Fr Jean Gueit, Fr Alexander Schmemann and many other lesser known names who simply followed the fashion that they set, including those active in Syndesmos.
I have to say that these figures are nearly all departed now, part of a generation that was deeply compromised by modernism. Indeed, I also met many who had personally known well those who had led modernism in the previous generation, for example Archbishop John (Shakhovskoy), Fr Nikolay Afanasyev, the former Marxists Fr Sergius Bulgakov and Berdyayev, Fr Paul Florensky, Yevdokimov, Fedotov, Zander, Zenkovsky, or Mother Maria Skobtsova. Many of them had relatives who disagreed with them completely.
Q: I notice that you have not mentioned two well-known members of modernist clergy in England.
A: There are two well-known exceptions because they are lesser, more subtle figures in modernism, shall we say, semi-modernist, that is, modernist under the cloak of traditional. One dead, one still alive, they belong to the ‘spiritual’ school of modernism, which is still popular and they are revered by naïve newcomers and all the Tradition-less.
It is important to distinguish between the different grades of modernism, from the primitive to the sophisticated. For example, I have seen Archbishop Basil (Krivoshein) mentioned as a modernist. I can see where that comes from (his interest in St Simeon the New Theologian and his ecumenical contacts), but he cannot be compared to the above.
Q: Why are such ‘moderate modernists’ revered?
A: As they say, in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.
Q: Did you meet Metr John Zizioulas?
A: Not then. I only met him about eight years ago.
Q: And Fr John Meyendorff?
A: No, I never met him, but he was among the more moderate, except on fasting.
Q: What was your reaction to all these figures?
A: I instinctively knew that they were wrong but at the time I could not explain why, because I did not have the tools or arguments from experience and from theological study to answer them. For example, I understood that their philosophy was characterized by pride, they all thought that they knew better than the Church. They were above the Church. And this pride was characterized by intellectual fantasies, the result of a lack of rootedness in reality and spiritual reality, the Tradition. And the characteristic of this was their inability to provide spiritual food. They fed the brain – to the point of their books and talks giving you headaches – but they were incapable of feeding your soul, leaving you dry.
Q: Why were there, and why are there still, so many modernists in the Orthodox Diaspora?
A: There were and are so many – relatively speaking – they are in fact very few, they just make a lot of noise – in the Diaspora because these people encountered the West directly and never having had any roots in the Tradition, they wanted to mix their superficial Orthodoxy with Western culture. Uprooted from an Orthodox context and denying monastic life, they did not want the spiritual purity of Holy Orthodoxy, but compromise, they wanted to swim with the Western tide. That is why all modernists are essentially ecumenists and secularists. They try to conform the Church to the world, instead of conforming themselves (the world) to the Church.
Q: And why was Paris the centre of modernism?
A: Paris was where the French-speaking aristocrats and intellectuals from Saint Petersburg who had carried out the Revolution under Western influence and with Western backing had chosen exile. A great many of them were freemasons, some, like Yusupov, had been very interested in the occult and hypnotism. Paris was the place of their exile, where they were called to repentance. In other words, this is where the most spiritually decadent Russians, nominal Orthodox, highly protestantized, in the sense of secularized, went to live.
There were two groups. First, there were left-wingers, like Bulgakov, Berdyayev and Mother Maria, but most were right-wing constitutionalists or republicans who wanted either the British model or else the French model of political organization. None of them of course wanted Orthodoxy. All broke away from the Russian Church and her liturgical and canonical disciplines, in other words, they broke entirely away from the Tradition. This they did on the pretext of seeking ‘freedom and creativity’! The saddest thing was that they did not understand repentance.
Q: Why did they not simply become Protestants or Uniats – that would have been honest?
A: Because they were pretentious, which is a disease of intellectuals. They wanted to be different and lord it over others through their ‘exotic’ differences. If they had simply been Protestants or Uniats, no Western-Establishment figures or ecumenists would even have looked at them, they would have lost their exotic tag and been forgotten as immigrants. But by setting up a Westernized branch of Orthodoxy, they attracted attention and admiration. In other words, they, or rather their descendants, were courted by those who wanted to destroy the very Soviet Russia which they had themselves created in 1917, in order to replace it with the sort of degutted Russia they did briefly create in the 1990s until the revival in 2000. For secularist Western Establishments they were all ‘useful idiots’.
Of course, these modernists were peddling a fake Orthodoxy, but Anglicans and others knew no better and gave these semi-Orthodox a false authority by buying their books and listening to their talks. If you say modernist things with a Russian accent, you are suddenly exotic and interesting. Some of these émigrés even faked Russian accents to sound more Russian! There was a lot of acting going on in order to hoodwink simple people, even hypnotism. If you look, you will see that almost all their books were bought and read either by Non-Orthodox or else by converts who knew no better.
Q: Why do so many intellectuals fall into modernism?
A: Because they live uprooted lives in their heads, and not their hearts. So they are prey to fantasies. If you are an intellectual type, you must have a strong spiritual or ascetic life to balance it out. For example St Justin (Popovich) was an intellectual, but it did not, forgive the pun, go to his head. So anyone can become a saint, even an intellectual, but such saintliness exists despite intellectualism, not because of it.
Q: What is the antidote to modernism?
A: First of all, let me say that the antidote is not the censorious condemnation and ritualism of the pharisees. That also comes from hardness and dryness of heart, lack of compassion. It fails to take account of the need for pastoral dispensation, true ‘ikonomia’. The first victims of modernism are the modernists themselves.
The antidote to modernism can never be in another ism, but in the Church. And that antidote is in seeking spiritual food, not intellectual food, and spiritual food comes from holiness, which comes from asceticism, which is exactly what the modernists reject. That is why they dislike people going to the sources in Eastern Europe and Russia, especially Mt Athos. In true Protestant style, modernists hate anything that is beyond the rational, mysterious. What can be more ‘irrational’ and mysterious than holiness? They lack the sense of the sacred.
Holiness is one of the four characteristics of the Church, which they reject, since they reject the Church. For them the Church is not One – there are many ‘Churches’; the Church is not Holy (which is why they desacralize everything), but to be reformed; the Church is not Catholic (in the Orthodox sense of being the same everywhere and at all times), because the modernists reject everything outside their 20th century mental ghetto; and the Church is not Apostolic, because they reject the Faith of the Apostles, the inherited Tradition. The antidote to modernism is in holiness, that is, in the saints.
Q: But some of these modernists were much interested in saints?
A: You have hit the nail on the head – ‘interested’ in saints. Interested in saints – how very fashionable! They were interested in the outward events in the lives of saints, but not in becoming saints. They intellectualized or externalized everything, making it abstract, into a philosophy – they did not live the Faith. Theirs is an outward or Uniat attitude to the Faith, which is of course why many of them had sympathies with Uniatism, like Solovyov did. They loved to talk about ‘techniques’, techniques of icon-painting, techniques of Church singing, techniques of celebration etc. These techniques they analyzed constantly. They spoke about hagiography – but did not want holiness. They spoke, they wrote, but they did not do, they did not fast and pray and there is no holiness without fasting and prayer.
Q: Do you think that modernism has a future?
A: Yes and no. Most of the well-known names of modernists belong to those who have died in the last 75 years, many in the last 25 years. And modernism is strangely old-fashioned in the present post-modernist world, which is characterized by cynicism. The only answer to cynicism is faith, not half-faith and half-faith is what modernism is: Halfodoxy instead of Orthodoxy. In that sense modernism is over because it has no answer to post-modernism, which it created. And yet it is not over.
For example, I remember the words of Metr Antony Bloom, when real Orthodox started coming to his church in London around the year 2000. They were naturally, like the rest of us had been decades before, very shocked by what they saw. He said that it would take fifty years to convert these people to Orthodoxy (that is, to his Bloomism). In other words, the truth is that it will take fifty years to convert the modernists to Orthodoxy. There is still the hangover from the past and it will take time for the vestiges of modernism to die out. In that sense, modernism is not over.
Q: Some would be shocked by your listing of Mother Maria Skobtsova as a modernist. She was canonized by the Rue Daru group with the blessing of the Patriarch of Constantinople.
A: As you know, that top-down canonization was controversial and you would be hard put to find a single icon of her even in any Greek Church in the world, let alone in others. In other words, her canonization was purely local and actually very political. Veneration for her simply does not exist in most of the Orthodox world, given her very strange life and anti-Orthodox writings. Having said that, however, we must say that in her concentration camp death, she, like millions of others, must have cleansed herself.
Q: So is she a saint?
A: I would say that her destiny has not been revealed to us. Let us remain silent. We do not know. We simply do not know the measure of her repentance in Ravensbruck. It may well have been deep and complete, as surely it was for millions of others. In the hour of death, people become realistic, which is why the memory of death is ascetically so important. Here we have a vital point. There is no place for personal dislike, still less hatred, for these individuals. Like the rest of us, they made their mistakes, it may be that many of them repented before the end, though of course the damage was done by then. We should pray for all of them. Some of them had good hearts – they were poisoned by their heads.
For instance, I remember Fr Alexander Schmemann, He was a charming and interesting man – though of course we agreed on nothing. But I still pray for him. Or there was Elisabeth Behr-Sigel the feminist Protestant pastor. She said appalling things about ROCOR, which just showed how ignorant she was of Orthodoxy. But I prayed for her when she died. Even though modernists persecuted us and slandered us, it is important to pray for them, not only does it help them, but it helps us too, it stops our hearts from growing hard. We must always pray for our enemies. We are Christians.
What is disturbing is that those who canonized Mother Maria canonized her not for her sacrificial death, but for her anti-Church musings – and that is not to venerate her, but to malign her. When people die, we should try to remember only the good things about them. Personally, I think her writings should be made secret because they are shameful, the fruit of someone who had not yet been converted from being a Social Revolutionary.
Q: What form does modernism take today?
A: Modernism now tends to have a more philosophical, ‘spiritual’ form, in any possible way so as to blur the clear and dogmatic. This is very cunning, as we have seen with the new documents for the Crete meeting next June (if it takes place). For example, in Greece, you have the case of the philosopher Yannaras, in Russia you have the case of the Kochetkovite sect, in Finland you have a very active group, including clergy, though they are so extreme that they are very isolated, even having abandoned Orthodox Easter. They go back to the notorious Archbishop Herman (Aav), and that continued through Archbishop Paul, Archbishop Leo and now Metr Ambrose. But this is purely modern Lutheranism.
Q: What are the themes of these modernists?
A: On the one hand, there are still the crude renovationist practices taken from 1920s Russia, where such modernism more or less died out under Stalin. Such practices include letting laypeople do the proskomidia in the middle of the church and generally desacralizing the services, which is an abandonment of the priesthood. Remember that modernism, as I said, is essentially secularization, the opposite of sacralization. So first it had to destroy the sacral Emperor (the Tsar), then their next task was to destroy the priesthood – equally sacral. Linked with this destruction of the priesthood are the many divorced and remarried priests among the modernists, the uncanonically ordained and all the anti-liturgical practices, which include shortening the services and introducing the so-called ‘new’ or Roman Catholic calendar, which has always been the first stage in falling away from Orthodoxy.
On the other hand, today, as a result of the tide of secularization or desacralization that the modernists have never been able to resist and even welcome, the latest fad among them is pushing to introduce female priests and homosexual marriage into the Church. The latter movement is strong in some of the parishes in Finland, which are basically Lutheran with icons. Of course, whenever there are homosexual clergy, that push is even stronger because there is self-interest, self-justification.
Q: Where is modernism in general strongest today?
A: Although there are the debased remnants in Europe in the ever smaller Paris Jurisdiction (all the big intellectuals are dead), and there are still those in the USA as well as in Finland, now there is a group of people connected with Fr George Kochetkov in Russia. The disgraced Protodeacon Andrei Kurayev is among them, and the murdered Uniat Fr Alexander Men still has a few disciples. Then there is the provocateur Fr George Mitrofanov, as well as Fr Alexei Uminsky. However, I think they were all stronger in the 1990s than today. They too are figures from the past and I think they will die out, like the others. Now we are in the 21st century, it is time to grow up.
Q: Given this continued modernism, aren’t you pessimistic about the future?
A: As regards modernism, our Christian life is a combat, a struggle, it always has been and always will be. We will fight these anti-dogmatic currents, just as we combated the old modernism. Thus, we, like all Orthodox, combat and reject the absurd documents prepared for the meeting in Crete in June. However, Christians are always optimists because however grim the situation is now, Christ will triumph at the end of history.
As 2015, with its interminable wars, terrorist horrors and torrents of wretched refugees, the results of rapacious Western invasions of countries which the West itself created by its abandonment of Christ’s commandment to love our neighbour, draws to an end, what hopes are there for 2016? Many are downcast and have little hope in the darkness, fearing yet another worldwide conflagration through the apostasy expressed in the anti-Christian New World Order imposed by genocide a generation ago. However, for those of us who are Christians, there is always hope in the darkness, for we know that if we pray and do our best, the rest is in God’s hands. And with Him what is impossible for mankind can become possible.
In Muslim countries where disastrous chaos and rage for revenge have been generated by the injustices of the Western Powers, there seems to be little cause for hope. In Iraq and Afghanistan the chaos-creating forces of NATO were routed by the Taliban and had to abandon their lost wars. They were evacuated to their distant homelands, having in vain sacrificed thousands of lives and wasted hundreds of billions of dollars, leaving only darkness. In Libya, its government overthrown by Western greed and injustice under the cloak of ‘humanitarian intervention’, there reigns chaos and bloodshed. In Turkey, its authoritarian and warlike regime being provoked to war by NATO, but also threatened by Russian sanctions and full-scale civil war with the Kurds, the future seems bleak. But this darkness is only part of the story.
In Syria, the government of President Assad has invited Russian support to defeat the Muslim terrorists, founded and until recently fully supported by the Western Powers. There is now cause for hope as the first areas have been liberated and refugees are returning. In the Ukraine, with the Fascist regime in Kiev bankrupt and unable to pay its international debts, there is hope that freedom will come to that sorry land, perhaps within only a few months, and millions of refugees will be able to return home. Meanwhile, spiritually healthy forces in Serbia, Montenegro and Moldova are fighting off quisling governments and NATO and EU colonialism. Much the same is happening in Central Asia, Georgia and Armenia.
‘Defend yourself in the West and find friends in the East’, said St Alexander Nevsky over 750 years ago. Thus, China and Russia have allied themselves after both became the victims of wild US aggression. Both countries are resisting the New World Order of the Zionist neocons and, together with them are allied India, much of the rest of Asia, Africa and Latin America, all the former Western colonies. These are all rejecting the US dollar as a currency. Only the crazed apostate leaders of the Western world, with their Israeli and Sunni vassals in Palestine, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, are still fully enslaved to the Machiavellian Prince of this world.
Throughout Eastern Europe, in the Baltic States, the Czech Lands, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Romania, Bulgaria and Greece, the peoples with the free governments, though not with corrupt puppet governments, are resisting EU tyranny and the Muslim invasion. Even in Western Europe, in France, Spain, Italy, the UK and Denmark, there are everywhere forces for national sovereignty and restoration that are at last waking up and wanting to return to their cultural roots. They say, ‘Enough, we want our countries back’. Such national liberation and globalist resistance movements, wishing to restore their countries’ sovereignty, look to Sovereign Russia for support.
Spiritually there are small numbers of heterodox in Western Europe who are at last awakening to Orthodoxy. They are finally realizing that the remnants of Orthodoxy in the West, in the form of Catholicism, have been so debilitated by filioquization (which makes the Church into a purely thisworldly institution, subjecting God to fallen human nature) and then by the virus of Protestantism and its Old Testament moneymasters, that they cannot return to the Church en masse. They must now make their path to the Church and so national restoration through personal repentance.
In the Church world, we prepare for the 2016 ‘Council’, much-feared since Washington has been trying to impose its agenda through its pawns, the State Department-appointed bishops and their paid hirelings. Here too there is good news. On 21 December Patriarch Kyrill of the Russian Orthodox Church, three-quarters of the Church and the only part that is completely free, stated categorically that our Church will hearken to the voice of the people, the guardians of the Faith, and will resist any attempt at apostasy from the Christian Faith.
If this so-called Council does take place (no-one is yet sure exactly where or when), this guarantees that it will be the opposite of the Vatican’s masonic Council over fifty years ago, it will be the affirmation of the Faith, not its rejection. And in that case it will be a real Council, a Council of St John the Baptist, a last rallying call to the whole world to enter the Church to fight against the world’s preparations for Antichrist. And if the secular-minded do attempt to corrupt the Faith, then either no ‘Council’ will take place or else this second ‘Council of Florence’ will be rejected by the boycott of the faithful clergy and people.
Thus, although there is much darkness in the world, there are also glimmers of light, indeed, the promise of brightness for ‘those that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death’. For now we repeat the words of the Prophet and Forerunner: ‘Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand’ and we say to the Pharisees and Saducees: ‘O generation of vipers, who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come?’ Unlike the renovationist ‘infil-traitors’ of the fifth column, there are those of us who fear nothing and will resist to the end in faithfulness to Christ and His Church, whatever the cost. For we shall win in the end, make no mistake.
Q: What is happening in the Serbian Orthodox Church at present?
A: As far as I can see, the Western neocon elite, which has been trying to manipulate the Serbian government ever since it bombed Serbia, is continuing the same old Communist policy of divide and rule. Just as the Communists separated Macedonia and set up an ‘Orthodox’ nationalist sect there in the 1960s, so Washington and its allies have since separated Montenegro and Kosovo from Serbia and are trying to set up nationalist sects there through their local puppets. Opposition is coming from the people. In Montenegro the people do not want to become another NATO base and in Macedonia they do not want to become another Muslim republic like Kosovo. This political opposition creates opposition to the nationalist and schismatic sects, as people realize that is what they are.
This is the very policy that the US is trying to implement in the Ukraine also. There, three different small, foreign, politically-concocted sects, one of which has a very aggressive leader, Denisenko, who has visited the State Department in Washington as an honoured guest, are trying to undermine the vast majority. They belong to the only Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is led by Metropolitan Onuphry.
Q: Isn’t it strange that the Yugoslav Communists fifty years ago under the Croat Tito and today’s neocons follow the same policy?
A: Not at all. The Yugoslav Communists were put into place by the Western Powers during World War II, with Churchill switching sides to them from the Orthodox Serbs and supporting them. The Communists and the neocons share the same basic materialistic ideology. The only difference is that the Communists promoted the materialistic concept of amassing State wealth, the neocons of amassing personal wealth. State Capitalism or individualist Capitalism, Mammon is the same everywhere.
Q: What can be done?
A: I am an outsider, so it is difficult for me to say anything about the Serbian Church. That is an internal matter. However, it does seem vital to me that in general all of us, whatever Local Church we belong to, must keep to Orthodox canonical principles and resist US/EU, or any other, political interference and, at the same time, we must advance non-nationalist, confederal structures. This is what the Russian Church did over 20 years ago, granting extensive autonomy to its local parts, for example to the Ukrainian Church, the Moldovan Church, the Latvian Church and the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR). If this is not done, there will be new schisms or else old schisms will continue.
Q: On the subject of schisms, who were the small groups of dissidents who went into schism from the two parts of the Russian Church at their reconciliation in 2007?
A: As I have said before, there were two groups. The first left English and French communities officially dependent on the Church inside Russia. Their leaders (and their naïve followers who knew no better) were renovationists, who had been poisoning Church life in the Diaspora for decades, in obedience to their by then mainly dead Paris-School ideologues. They left for the US-controlled Patriarchate of Constantinople, where freemasons, semi-Uniats and anti-Russian political or nationalist dissidents seem to be made welcome. The second group left ROCOR and were a strange mixture of operatives of the CIA and other Western spy services, right-wingers of the Peronista type in South America and ideologically-minded old calendarist converts who did not love the Russian Church and persecuted those of us who do.
Q: Looking back on your own life in the Church, do you regret the things that happened to you in the 70s and 80s?
A: If the things that happened to me had not happened, I would not know now what I have learned from bitter experience, however painful. So, in a sense how can I regret anything? Everything was necessary to learn a little wisdom and see through the myths of the ‘Orthodox’ Establishment. However, if we are to daydream (!) and I had known then what I know now, I would in 1971 have joined the London ROCOR parish. Then, having finished studies at University in London in 1977, I would have asked to go to Jordanville in 1977.
I greatly regret not only that in those pre-internet days I was given no facts, no guidance, but instead was given active misinformation and misdirection. Such was the spiritual corruption and prejudice against the Russian Church at that time. The scribes and pharisees of the Establishment did not want a Church outside its control, a free, uncompromised and spiritually independent Russian Orthodox Church, free of both left-wing renovationism and right-wing politicking. They wanted an impure, spiritually degutted and compromised Establishment organization. This is why they did their best to undermine us from both outside and, through their agents of both left and right, from inside.
Q: How do you see the future for the Russian Church in the East of England?
A: In recent years we have encouraged the establishment of both what became the little rural mission with Fr Anthony in Mettingham in Suffolk and of St Panteleimon’s skete outside Clacton in Essex. This latter is under Fr Sergei, whose simplicity is an example to us all. Now, with God’s help and that of many kind and generous benefactors, we are buying property for a church in the city of Norwich and hope to have a man ordained for the new parish in God’s good time. Perhaps this is all we can do; certainly we need more clergy in order to expand. One or two candidates now seem to be appearing at last, but we need more.
We can dream of parishes in the county centres elsewhere in the east: a church building for Suffolk in the county centre of Bury St Edmunds, a church dedicated to Sts Peter and Paul in Peterborough for Cambridgeshire, a church of the Resurrection in Bedford for Bedfordshire, a church dedicated to St Alban in St Albans for Hertfordshire, a church dedicated to St Nicholas in east London, a church dedicated to Sts Constantine and Helen in York for Yorkshire and a church dedicated to All the Saints in Canterbury as the centre for Kent. However, realistically, if that is not God’s will, none of this will happen.
Q: Why is it important to have property in central and populated places?
A: Because if we do not, the communities will die out as property promotes continuity. This is a law. When you have your own property, then you also have spiritual freedom. I have seen dozens of parishes closing in England and France over the last forty years. Why? Because they had no property. It is just a fact of life. And communities must always be in centres, in cities and large towns, where the people are. You do not open a church where no-one lives. Church buildings follow the people, for they are the Church. It is not the other way round. That is common sense.
Q: Some people fear the coming Pan-Orthodox Council in 2016, calling it the ‘Eighth Oecumenical Council’ that was denounced in the prophecies. What would you say?
A: There is a certain hysteria and paranoia among some who seem to know very little of Church history with respect to this meeting, which is most certainly not the ‘Eighth Oecumenical Council’. It is pure fantasy to call it that. The Inter-Orthodox meeting next year is not a Council, but a meeting of a minority of Orthodox bishops, about 25% of the total. It will discuss administrative and canonical issues; all the dogmatic issues have already been decided for all time by the Seven Universal (‘Oecumenical’ is a misleading translation) Councils.
No meeting can become a Council if its resolutions are not received by the faithful, but sadly we the faithful have never been consulted about the discussions leading to this present meeting. The whole thing is happening behind closed doors in Calvinist Geneva (of all places), a situation unheard of in Orthodox practice, and I think this is why a certain hysteria and paranoia is growing up in some circles. They are inevitable, given the near-total lack of transparency.
The faithful are the guardians of the Faith, which is why a meeting can only become a Council if its decisions are received by the faithful. If a meeting is a Council, then it means that the Holy Spirit is present there, as He is among the faithful. At present it seems that some of the 1960s-style liberal Protestant agenda being promoted by the Phanariots and which frightened us in the 1970s, has already had to be dropped at the preparatory meetings. That is good. We do not need any more old-fashioned modernism. However, there is no agreement among representatives of the Local Churches who are preparing this meeting on several important issues. Moreover, with the latest condemnation by Constantinople of Metr Rostislav of the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, this meeting may never even take place, for it cannot if one of the fourteen Local Churches is absent. So Greek nationalism may yet put an end to the meeting altogether.
More generally, the situation is so highly politicized that one wonders if anything meaningful can take place even if these bishops do meet. Let us recall that no fewer than three patriarchs of Local Churches are now US appointees (against the canons of the Church) and they repeat the policies of the State Department, that is, of Obama, who may be an atheist or may be a Muslim (no-one is sure), of the abortionist Biden and of the warmonger Kerry. Parts of the Church are simply not free to meet. Just as St Justin of Chelije called for a boycott of any such Inter-Orthodox meeting in the 1970s because so many Local Churches, notably the Russian, were then enslaved by the atheist SU, so today other Local Churches are enslaved by the atheist US.
Q: So can any meaningful meeting take place?
A: I think that in the longer term it may be irrelevant whether a meeting takes place or not. I see a different outcome. As the number of bishops in the Russian Church climbs inexorably to 400 and more, and the total will soon exceed 50% of the total number of Orthodox bishops, the meeting in Constantinople is becoming irrelevant. It may be that the Russian Orthodox Church, as the one and only obvious Centre of Orthodox Civilization, may soon hold an episcopal meeting together with the other free Local Churches, Antioch, Georgia, Poland, Czechoslovakia etc.
Such a meeting of over 500 bishops would be far more representative that that the Geneva-prepared one in the Phanar, and would be more likely to become a Council. It could take place at the New Jerusalem Monastery outside Moscow, which is now nearly fully restored. This is what the Russian Church intended the Monastery for in the seventeenth century, as a centre of World Orthodoxy, but was prevented from becoming by the interference of the Russian State both then and since. Such a Council could speak freely, without reserve ‘for fear of the Jews’, that is, unintimidated by the Soviet-style censorship of political correctness.
Such a situation would reflect the reality of the Church today, not the situation of a thousand years ago when Greek ruled the roost. It is time to catch up with reality. The Greek-ruled Churches, mostly with flocks of scarcely a million and nationalist outlooks, are simply unable to cope with the reality of today’s global world. In order to respond, the Church today must also be global. Only the Russian Church is that.
Q: Some would call that ‘Russian Imperialism’.
A: Imperialism of any sort is to be condemned because it is nationalism. What we are talking about is an Imperial Church, the Church of the Christian Empire. Imperial means multinational unity in diversity, with new autocephalous Local Churches being born through missionary activity, whereas Imperialism means nationalism, central control and the ‘one size fits all’ mentality of the papist model, which, sadly, now exists in Istanbul.
Q: What is the situation after the latest round of episcopal consecrations announced by the Russian Church on 23 October?
A: The news that Fr Tikhon (Shevkunov) is now a bishop is most welcome, and the news that Italy now has for the first time ever a resident Russian Orthodox bishop in Bishop Antony (Sevryuk) is historic. It seems that we are at last seeing the appearance of a young generation of bishops, all at least trilingual (the local language, English and Russian), resident in the country, with an understanding of the local culture and politically free. We also noted that Fr Gennady Andreyev of the Sourozh Diocese in Manchester has been nominated bishop.
But there are other welcome events. Despite vigorous French political opposition which much delayed the project, the cupolas are now on the new Russian Cathedral in Paris and all should be finished within twelve months. We are moving ahead at last.
And as regards the veneration of the local Western saints, 60 years after St John, we are now moving forward to their inclusion in the Russian calendar inside Russia and perhaps even elsewhere. It is not just a case of better late than never, this represents real repentance on the part of those who resisted, reproached and actively persecuted us for venerating them for over 40 years. It is sad that several of the persecutors are now dead and therefore cannot repent, so we will have to pray for them, for Christ calls us to pray for our enemies, regardless of whether they are dead or alive. It is the same situation as with those who refused to venerate the New Martyrs and Confessors and put icons of them in their churches. They have all been proved wrong as well.
Q: Many people are very pessimistic about the situation in Russia and criticize it. What would you answer them?
A: There is a huge amount to criticize in post-Soviet Russia, the old classic of ABC – Alcoholism (nearly as high as in Finland), ‘Bortion (abortion) (near Asian levels) and Corruption (about the same as in Italy), to which could be added D for both Divorce (nearly as high as in the USA) and Drug-taking (not yet at the levels of Western Europe). However, the Russophobes and their propaganda deliberately omit the vital fact: the direction Russia is going in is right, whereas the direction that the West is going in is wrong. It is a huge historical irony that in proportion as Russia is deSovietized (a process well under way despite the propaganda, opposition and fear of the West), the West is being Sovietized.
Q: Who are these Russophobes who criticize?
A: There are two groups. Firstly, there are the neo-colonial Western ideologues who, still living in the imperialist arrogance of the nineteenth century, are convinced that ‘West is best’ and as for ‘the rest’, they can go to hell. These people are in reality mere primitive racists and extremists, like the Russophobe Senator John McCain who has now been photographed at a meeting with Islamic State, so anxious is he to be anti-Russian! (Here is the proof that the Westernists are at one with Islamists, whose movement they founded in Afghanistan in the 1980s and who have always supported the murderous regime in Saudi Arabia with its beheadings, crucifixions and massive bombings, with US warplanes and British bombs, of civilians in the Yemen. The extremes always meet, in the same way that the British imperialist and Jewish convert Disraeli backed the Ottoman massacres of Bulgarian Christians in the 19th century).
Secondly, there are the Russian Westernizers, many of them oligarchs, Jews or homosexuals. They are often to be seen at the US embassy in Moscow. They represent the same aristocratic, military and industrialist class (senior Romanovs among them), and also renovationist career clergy in the Church, that betrayed Russia in 1917 (when they were to be seen at the British Embassy in Saint Petersburg), overthrowing the Tsar because they wanted power (and even more money) for themselves.
They have their exact parallel in the Ukraine today, where the legitimate and democratically elected Yanukovich government (whatever its many shortcomings) was overthrown by the nationalist Galician Uniat minority, led by oligarchs like the Jewish Poroshenko and other billionaire industrialists who sold their souls to the CIA in exchange for its backing. Elected by 25% of the people, and that was only achieved with harsh Secret Police repression and US PR propaganda, these people are ruthless because they are completely without principle. That is why they hate the Ukrainian people and Orthodoxy. Unlike them, we Christians have principles.
In fact, it would be more exact to call such individuals Orthodoxophobes than Russophobes and Ukrainophobes, because that is the essence of their hatred, hatred for Christ, however deludedly they may claim that they are for Christ. As with the Bolsheviks in Alexander Blok’s revolutionary poem, ‘The Twelve’, they think that they are following Christ, but in reality they are following Antichrist. And he will lead them to the perdition of their souls in Gehenna. That is how serious their situation is.
Q: What is happening to the ‘British Orthodox Church’?
A: The so-called ‘British Orthodox Church’, in fact neither British, nor Orthodox, was a tiny group of vagantes and other eccentric Anglo-Catholics, whose leader used to call himself ‘the Patriarch of Glastonbury’(!). However, they were received and ordained by the Coptic Church some 20 years ago. In 1999 they had one bishop, 18 vicars (clergy) and 72 faithful! In early October this year they left the Miaphysite Church and, apparently, have now gone back to being vagantes. The problem was that the ex-Anglicans in question could not accept the inherent anti-Chalcedonianism which is now once more coming to the fore among the Copts in what I think is an outburst of nationalism. (Anti-Chalcedonianism goes hand in hand with local nationalism, which to a great extent caused it).
I am told that the group now has one bishop, 2 priests and about 100 faithful, mainly Establishment ex-Anglicans, mainly, I am told, elderly, though I am not sure if that is true. What the group will do now is unclear. Sadly, I doubt that they will wish to join the Orthodox Church because that would mean accepting catechism and being received as laypeople. I very much hope that I am wrong in this pessimistic view of their clericalism. There is one ex-Anglican group which they might join; it ordains ex-Anglican vicars almost immediately and virtually without training. Who knows? I think it will make little difference because it is such a tiny group, not even one normal parish.
Q: Given its critical situation, it has been suggested that the Rue Daru jurisdiction be directly governed by the Patriarchate of Constantinople and join the local Constantinople dioceses, like that of Metropolitan Emmanuel in Paris. What do you think of that?
A: I agree. I think that this is so logical that it is inevitable. Once all those who love the Russian Tradition have left Rue Daru, as they have been doing over the last thirty and more years since the repose of the saintly Archbishop George (Tarasov) and the fall into decadence after him, what will be left? Freemasons and naïve converts, new calendarist modernists and ecumenists. Obviously, they should all be together in Constantinople’s local diocesan structures and lodges. On the other hand, they should first have the honesty to hand back Russian Church property, which they are effectively occupying.
Q: What do you make of the recent Roman Catholic Synod in Rome?
A: Catholicism is now at a turning point. Will it keep the remnants of Catholicism (which date back in one form or another to Orthodoxy), or will it become completely Protestantized, a process that was initiated by wealthy US, German and other liberal cardinals over fifty years ago at the Second Vatican Council. With the present Jesuit Pope, for whom the means seem to justify the ends and who seems to agree with everyone and no-one, it is impossible to say what will happen, but that is what is at stake. This is important because Roman Catholicism is the very last Western European institution with an Orthodox past to survive. However, today Roman Catholicism, Uniatism included, looks so weak, so Americanized, that is, so Protestantized, that there seems little hope for it. I have always believed that only Orthodoxy can fill the spiritual abyss left by it.
Its situation is symbolic of Western Europe in general, whose cities now seem to be on the verge of disappearing beneath the tidal wave of the Muslim invasion. This was brought about by Western interference in the Middle East and North Africa, the notorious CIA-orchestrated ‘Arab spring’, which has cost the lives of hundreds of thousands. Will Western Europe survive at all? That is now the question. However, I would like to disagree with the Western xenophobes, who blame ‘Arabs’ or ‘Muslims’. These wretched people are not the cause of the problem. The cause of the problem is Western apostasy, the fact that Western people have abandoned Christ. As nature abhors a vacuum, so it is being filled – and by Islam. If Western people had not abandoned Christ and Christian culture, there would be no spiritual vacuum and no Muslims here to fill it.
Q: How should we look at the situation in Syria?
A: We live in times when the prophecies are being accomplished before our very eyes – in Iraq, in Syria and in Turkey. The present catastrophe began in 1991 with the beginning of the fall of Babylon (Iraq) in the first Gulf War. This was accomplished in 2003. In 2000 Iraq had nearly 2,000,000 Christians, now there are fewer than 200,000. Even someone as obtuse and deluded as Blair is just now beginning to admit that he is partly responsible. As for Syria, it is next to Armageddon. The third player is Turkey, whose fall is also prophesied. Then will come the drying up of the Euphrates. Before that I think we shall also see changes in the Ukraine next year.
Following Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and now Libya have all called for Russian help. It is difficult to know whether Russia will be able to put out all the conflagrations started by incredible Western hubris, but we shall see. It is not easy to be the world’s fireman when you face American arsonists.
Q: What lies behind this hubris which is inherent in the West?
A: Historically, it is a mixture of the imperialist superiority of the pagan Romans mixed with the ruthless plundering of the barbarian Germanic peoples being harnessed by Satanic powers. Thus, what is at the origin of the British Establishment? It is the Norman mentality, in other words, the mentality of a Viking warband, which is what the Normans were. When they came to England in 1066, having already destroyed the older Christian traditions of pre-Norman Normandy, they came to plunder the gold and riches of a Christian kingdom and destroy its half-millennial Church.
The gleam in Norman eyes then was the same as that in the eyes of the gold-hungry Spanish conquistadors five centuries later, and the same as that in the eyes of Texan oilmen when they got their greedy hands on Iraqi oil five centuries after that. Even modern Western science fiction talks of asset-stripping and strip-mining other planets in exactly the same way. Exploit the mineral resources of a country until they are exhausted and then move on to the next country, or planet, and strip it bare too, plunder and pillage ruthlessly – all under the pretext of freedom and democracy. As the imperialist British Prime Minister Palmerston said 150 years ago, Britain has ‘no friends and no enemies, only interests’. In other words, the Western Establishment is nothing but a Viking warband intent on plunder and pillage, intent on its own interests, and without any principles whatsoever.
Q: What would you say of the general situation? Doesn’t it make you despair?
A: No. The world, as ever, is divided into three groups: God’s, Satan’s and the undecided. This means: the real Orthodox (those who are willing to die for Orthodoxy); Satan’s people (including so-called ‘Orthodox’ apostates); and the rest, including many nominal Orthodox, who have not made up their mind whose they are. Some among the rest are two-faced and agree with everyone, but among the rest there are also those who one day will be willing to die for Orthodoxy. It is in the hope of the repentance of all that the world continues through the mercy of God.
I think in dealing with the things of the world (political events etc), we have to be in the know, but not despair. Be as gentle as doves and wise as serpents, says Christ. We must always remember that though man proposes, God disposes. Satan’s forces do what they want, but it does not mean that they will win. They will not. We know that for a fact. The scheme of the prince of this world and his over-educated minions is obvious – their great plan is to restore the Temple in Jerusalem so that they can enthrone Antichrist there. But it may be hundreds of years till they achieve that, even though there are days when it seems that it is going to happen within just a few years.
God, not man, disposes. Do not despair. We have already seen one miracle – the fall of militant atheism in the old Soviet Unionand the beginning of the restoration of the Christian Empire there. Other miracles are possible. Never underestimate either the wisdom of God or the foolishness of man. Never doubt God’s power.
There is now great dissatisfaction in the Paris Exarchate (‘Rue Daru’) with its new archbishop. In blogs and comments, criticisms abound. Whatever the truth behind the sometimes serious accusations, one thing stands out. This is that Archbishop Job’s critics appear to have no concept of what a bishop (or a liturgist) is. Some of the behaviour criticized is that of almost any bishop of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and of other bishops in other Local Churches. We fail to be scandalized by this. A bishop who quotes the canons and is guided by them is a normal bishop. The impression of some of those who complain is of a group of people who have been living without the canons for a very long time. After all the liberals and modernists who are complaining are the very people who persecuted ordinary Orthodox for decades and chased them out of the Church. Now they are suffering in their turn and now they know what it feels like. There really is no-one as intolerant as a liberal.
The fact is that the Rue Daru jurisdiction always had weak bishops, who were appointed by exiled laypeople, at first by aristocrats, who had wanted the anti-Church Revolution and so power for themselves, and then by intellectuals. Whether it was Metr Eulogius, who was so indecisive that he kept changing jurisdictions, or the saintly but weak and openly mocked Metr Vladimir and Archbishop George (Tarasov), or the bishops born in Western Europe who followed them, the Paris Exarchate never had a bishop who stood up to its powerful laypeople, least of all Archbishop George (Wagner), who ordained several of those who are now in trouble. Now that the jurisdiction has an appointee of Patriarch Bartholomew, of course some in it are very dissatisfied. The problem is that when your Patriarch has appointed your bishop, who is a Phanariot loyalist, there is only one way you can avoid him and that is to leave his jurisdiction. Essentially, what is happening is that the jurisdiction is at last having to face reality after decades of fantasy.
After all, the Rue Daru jurisdiction has always been a ‘Protestant’ jurisdiction, both in the sense that its elite is composed of protestors (les ‘frondeurs’ et ‘soixante-huitards’, as Protopresbyter Alexis Knyazev used to call them) and also in the sense that it is composed of rationalists (like Protestants). This is clear from the code of camouflaged words, with which its elite defines itself. For example, they talk of their spirit of ‘renewal’ ( = in fact, pseudo-intellectual, renovationist modernism), their combination of ‘Orthodoxy with Western rationalism’ (= in fact, desacralization and spiritual decadence), their ‘creativity’ (= in fact, the condescending pride of those who imagine themselves to be the centre of the world, when it is in fact marginal French navel-gazing, ‘du nombrilisme hexagonal’) and of course ‘ecumenism’ (= in fact, apostasy from the Tradition). In many respects, it would make sense for the Roman Catholics to set up a Russian Uniat Exarchate in Paris which such individuals could join, as modern Catholic values differ little from rationalistic Protestant values.
It is said that Rue Daru is divided between those who want to remain ‘Russians’ and those who are ‘open’ and want to build a ‘Local Church’. What utter nonsense! All that was 30-40 years ago under Archbishop George (Wagner). This is now just self-justification for a gerontocratic ideology, which lives on notions removed from reality (sobornost, being, communion), and consistently avoids everything that is practically and concretely Orthodox. The daydream of ‘building a Local Church’, or rather, talking about building a Local Church, purely secular-liberal in its progressivism, is leading nowhere in Rue Daru. Elsewhere we are faithful to the Russian Tradition and also celebrate in the local languages and venerate the local saints. There is no either/or between faithfulness to the Russian Tradition and being a Local Church, it is both/and. The modernists play on the ambiguity of locality, appropriating arguments which require an Orthodox Church to be an Orthodox Church in a particular location. It then misuses those arguments to claim that therefore their own secularist foibles – which they have managed to enforce in that particular locality (Paris) – should be normative for the Orthodox Church there.
All of this illustrates the identity crisis of Rue Daru, a jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, supposedly of the Russian Tradition (though as someone said to me, the Russian Tradition never even stayed the night in most places in Rue Daru). Is it Greek or is it Russian? Before its former representative in England, Bp Basil (Osborne), was defrocked, he had the title of Bishops of ‘Amphipolis’. Various wags soon deformed this into Bishop of ‘Amphibious’ and Bishop of ‘Ambivalence’. Joking apart, there is here a serious question. Who do you think you are? The clergy that I knew and knew of in Rue Daru were all clergy who wanted Rue Daru to return to the Russian Orthodox Church as soon as the political obscenities in Russia were over. They have long been over. Archbishop George (Tarasov), Archbishop Sergiy (Konovalov), Bishop Alexander (Tian-Shansky), Bishop Methodius (Kulmann), Bishop Roman (Zolotov), Protopresbyter Alexis Knyazev, Archpriest Alexander Rehbinder, Archpriest Vsevolod Dunaev, Archpriest Igor Vernik, must all be turning in their graves at what is happening today. They would all long ago have returned to the Mother-Church, together with a mass of laypeople, who wanted none of this nonsense.
Apart from the hopelessly old-fashioned modernist ideology of its elite (an anachronism in a post-modernist world) Rue Daru has enormous financial problems. The Cathedral on Rue Daru needs two million euros, St Serge appears to be bankrupt and the pre-revolutionary church in Biarritz needs expensive repairs. It is difficult to see how such a group can maintain the pre-revolutionary churches in Florence and San Remo – also part of the Russian (not Greek) Orthodox heritage in Europe. Then there is the problem of finding priests to serve – more and more of them come from Eastern Europe and have no time for or understanding of the modernist ideology of the elite or its liturgical fantasies. Two people have said to me that one day Rue Daru will have more defrocked than frocked clergy. Here is the result of decades of easy ordinations of the untrained and uncanonical, showered with high awards – presumably for chasing out and persecuting faithful Orthodox. All this was carried out in order to build a jurisdictional empire. As a parting thought, perhaps if we do not get the bishop we need, then we get the bishop we deserve.
The Path to Unity
Woe unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the Lord…And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries where I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase.
Jeremiah 23, 1 and 3
The Path to Disunity
Since 1917 and the Western-organized fall of the Christian Empire, the Third Rome, the forces of this world have contrived to divide the Confederation of Local Churches which forms the Orthodox Church. This they have done in three stages.
Their first aim was to attack, paralyse, dupe and so divide those in the key Church, by far the biggest, the most multinational and missionary-minded and that on which the others largely depended, the Russian Orthodox Church. If extremists of any sort, whether modernists, nationalists or sectarians, could be brought to divide this Church, its territory being one sixth of the planet, then its influence there and all over the world could be destroyed. Thus, the forces of this world provoked Protestant-minded, renovationist modernists, both inside Russia (the Communist-sponsored Vvedensky and those with him, including the present neo-renovationists) and outside Russia (the Protestant-sponsored YMCA Paris Schism), nationalist groups (Ukrainians – Galician autocephalists and the present careerist Philaretists, Belarussians – autocephalists, misled Carpatho-Russian Americans – autocephalists) and tiny right-wing sects (Suzdalites, Agathangelites, Tikhonites (from Tikhon Paseka), Diomidites etc). It did not matter to them what ism they used in order to attack, paralyse, dupe and so divide, whether Marxist Communism, Hitlerite Fascism or liberal-consumerist Capitalism. More directly they also used other isms, Catholicism and Protestantism, sending in the 1920s Catholics (D’Herbigny) and in the 1990s more Uniats and US Protestant sectarians to try and divide the Russian Church.
Although the struggle continues, against all that the forces of this world planned, the Russian Church and so Orthodox Russia are gradually being restored. The forces of this world have largely failed and will fail, as long as the blood and seed of the New Martyrs and the tears and sweat of the Confessors who are rebuilding the Russian Church oppose them.
The forces of this world then set out on the second part of their campaign. This was to attack, paralyse, dupe and so divide those in the other, smaller Local Churches by introducing modernism and its symbol, the Catholic-Protestant calendar. They started in the weakest link in the chain, Turkish-occupied Constantinople, and began replacing its Patriarchs with Western puppets. This of course created schism. The forces of this world expanded their activities, interfering in the other four Greek Churches (the Church of Greece, its autocephalous offshoot in Greek Albania, the Church of Cyprus and the Patriarchate of Alexandria) as well as in the Latin Church (Romania, where they have yet again recently meddled in the appointment of a Patriarch), in the weakest of the Slav Churches (Bulgaria) and in the Arab Patriarchate of Antioch (where they have created a terrorist war), as well as trying to subjugate the Czechoslovak and Polish Churches. Everywhere they tried to introduce the Catholic-Protestant calendar and other modernist practices. Thus, altogether 20% of the Church was contaminated.
They have succeeded only in part and only temporarily.
The 20% contamination by modernism left the other 80% of the Church, in the Russian Lands, Serbia, Georgia and Jerusalem, all but uncontaminated. As they could not be allowed to remain intact, the forces of this world proceeded to the third and most recent part of their campaign. They have attacked the Serbian Church (dividing its territory, handing over some to Catholic control, some to Muslim control, some to Macedonian and Montenegrin nationalist schismatic control, and then trying to divide its episcopate), the Georgian Church (supporting a pro-modernist and anti-patriotic coup d’etat, calling it ‘regime change’ and trying to introduce consumerist sodomy), the Patriarchate of Jerusalem (where the previous Patriarch strangely languishes in prison and a schism has been established via the former US ambassador in Qatar, who allowed US premises to be used for services outside the canonical territory of Jerusalem on that of the Patriarchate of Antioch) and again in Russia (a coup d’etat by Western-backed Catholic nationalists from Galicia who have started massacring the Ukrainian Orthodox people. Everywhere they have also used the tiny, US-controlled Patriarchate of Constantinople to sow discord and division against the Russian Church, whether in Finland and Estonia (age-old territories of the Russian Church), using dissidents in the Russian emigration in France, North America and England, or more recently in Czechoslovakia (refusing to recognize its autocephaly and dividing its episcopate) and the Ukraine (where the Patriarchate’s US masters are tempting it to recognize politically-backed, uncanonical schismatics, as they have already done in Estonia)).
Here too, in this still continuing third part of their campaign, what the forces of this world have forgotten is that though they propose, God disposes. For only He lives in eternity and shows His loving and visionful Providence, whereas they live in their visionless spiral of infernal hatred, which they are trying to establish as an earthly kingdom.
The Path to Unity?
We do not know the future, how God will dispose. That is in His hands. But we can already see where the forces of this world may lose their way:
In Syria, as a result of the US-fomented war, contrary to what was proposed, the Patriarchate of Antioch has recognized who its friends are. Recognizing that it has no support from Constantinople, which is in the hands of the US-backed, anti-Syrian Turks, the Patriarchate of Antioch is now looking to the Russian Church.
In Africa, the Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa, once run as a colonial department of the Greek Foreign Ministry, is too poor to expand very much. It needs Russian help and such help would inevitably be anti-phyletist. In such a case the Patriarchate could be taken over, as would only be just, by native African bishops, just as the once-Greek colony of Antioch was taken over by native Arab bishops with anti-phyletist Russian help.
In another Greek colony, Jerusalem (as also in Constantinople), most of the faithful are now Russian. And in Jerusalem Russians support, as is only just, native Arab candidates as future bishops.
Many in the Churches of Greece (and so also in the Church of Greek Albania) and Cyprus (here the US-backed Turks were allowed to invade and occupy the island, which made anti-US feeling even stronger), their economies brought low and their peoples impoverished by joining the neo-feudal EU vassal of the US, are now looking to Russia for help.
The Church of Serbia still looks to Russia and adheres to the Orthodox calendar despite EU-backed political interference in its internal affairs and the now US-owned media.
The Churches of Romania and Bulgaria, in difficulty as the old generation of monastic elders has died out and members of the spiritually impoverished and so pro-Uniat middle generation, which grew up in the simoniac Communist period, has come to power, still have spiritual power in the monasteries and among many in the younger generation.
The Church of Georgia still has excellent relations with the Russian Church, despite US attempts to destroy them by encouraging the 2008 Georgian invasion of Russia-protected territory, where the US-run regime slaughtered 2,000 civilians in half an hour in an unprovoked and compassionless attack by its puppet government.
The Churches of Poland and Czechoslovakia are allied to Russia, the latter all the more so after recent US-backed Greek meddling there.
The Church of Constantinople looks ever weaker, as the rest of the world begins to recognize that it has since 1453, quite literally, been wearing the Emperor’s (new) clothes, that the real leader of the Orthodox world is the Russian Patriarch and that they have to talk to him if they want to talk about serious problems. More and more members of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and not only on Mt Athos, can see this themselves. The illusion of the absurd but vanity-consoling US interpretation of Canon 28 of Chalcedon is transparent to nearly all. Even some in the US are wondering whether it is worth spending more money that they do not have in Istanbul in order to maintain the vain illusion.
In the Diaspora, the Russian Church, recovering from paralysis, has begun to take responsibility and bring unity. And in the Ukraine itself, where the forces of this world thought they could destroy the Russian Church, their plans are backfiring. Most are now talking about the disintegration and dissolution of the purely artificial Ukrainian ‘State’, a conglomerate creation of four imperialist tyrannies, the Habsburg, the Leninist, the Stalinist and that of Washington. Its collapse is for many now just a question of time (according to some, months, though others reckon a few years). 84% of the Ukrainian people are now publically asking for their country to be run by President Putin – far better than continuing under the tyranny and poverty of the corrupt and unrepresentative Kiev puppet junta. This is completely reliant on US subsidies for survival, at great expense to the EU, whose members are suffering bitterly from its anti-Russian, or rather anti-European, sanctions.
Some 55% of the Ukraine, the east and the south, together with Transdnestria, may well return after nearly 95 years to Russia (some of it, the Crimea, already has done so by democratic referendum). 25% of it, centred around Kiev, may become once more the ancient Malorossiya, a southern variant of Belarus. The only part, some 15%, that is really Ukrainian and where the various dialects of Ukrainian are spoken, the largely Catholic Galician borderland, which is what the word ‘Ukraine’ means, may mostly return to Poland. It was from here that the Georgian tyrant Stalin tore it away in 1939, earning the undying and understandable hatred of its people. The two small remaining parts of the present Ukraine, some 5%, may return to Romania (the Orthodox calendar intact, so again helping the Romanian Church to return to the Tradition) and Hungary. And the part that may return to Hungary, that which the Kiev bureaucrats still call ‘Transcarpathia’, even though they are the only Transcarpathians, as they are the ones who live across the Carpathians, could become the kernel of a fifteenth Local Church, a Hungarian Orthodox Church.
Given the excellent relations between Hungary, which has a democratically-elected anti-EU government, and the Russian Federation, which supports all National Resistance and Sovereignist movements against the tyrannical EU, this could happen. Only a few years ago the Russian Church won its legal battle for control of the Budapest Orthodox Cathedral – all is set for a new Local Church to be born. Thus the 500 parishes of ‘Transcarpathians’, that is Carpatho-Russians (or Ruthenians = Latin for Russians), would be at the heart of another Local Church. For it is they who are at the heart of the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, they who have contributed to the Polish Church, one of whose constituent peoples is the Lemkos (north-western Carpatho-Russians), and it is they who through their noble and illustrious son from Presov Rus, Metr Lavr (Skhkurla), contributed to Diaspora unity between the Russian Church and one of its constituent parts, the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR). The vast majority in the latter had only been waiting for freedom at the Centre of the Church to be reconciled with Her.
Of course, nothing is certain; the above are all possible scenarios, only some of which may actually happen. Nevertheless, they are possible, whereas only a few decades ago, when we lived oppressed and isolated by all the forces of this world, they seemed impossible. The visionless who thought short-term, unlike St John of Shanghai and those like him, whose world-view they should have been trying to live by instead of studying philosophy, failed to see that the world would change. Today, we live in a different world from the past. Now a small minority of countries that have stopped being Christian huddle together in a bankrupt union of less than a billion, a union of Eurosodom and Gomorrhica. And the three largest Christian countries, Brazil, Russia and China, are bound together in a union with others, covering half the world’s population.
What the forces of this world were proposing only three or four decades ago, and which made those who had no faith in the Holy Spirit despair, today seems ever less probable. Then the Establishment-compromised, who had in their youth taken the easy, Establishment-approved path and refused to take up the Cross of the Russian Church, mocked us, denounced us and despised us. Now, older, they have only to take up the Cross and they too will walk. Unlike the Donatists and Neo-Donatists, we will welcome them back with open arms, as the loving Father did the Prodigal Son of old.
When eight years ago in Moscow a senior archpriest of the Moscow Diocese asked me to write the full story of Metr Antony, I answered him that, straight after a schism, it was not yet time, that people were not ready for it. I maintain that point of view today – only bit by bit can the story be told, only inasmuch as it serves the edifying and overriding goal of faithfulness and so unity. A bit more has been told this month at the instigation of a ‘Patriarchal’ priest of the Russian Church in the Diaspora, and only in order to point the way towards further unity. All revelations are for a good reason, not by chance, and are thought out beforehand. As for the rest, I have maintained silence on the whole story for 33 years – it can wait longer.
Thus, the article we published on 25 July regarding the past of English Orthodoxy and, most importantly, to provide a vision for the future unity of Russian Orthodoxy and all Orthodoxy in Europe has been like a stone thrown into a pond – it has created ripples, many for and some against. That shows that people are alive. It also shows just how divisive Metr Antony was, especially considering that the article was written most diplomatically, quoting Metr Kallistos. The conclusion must be: divisive personalities create division. Let us recall that the goal of the Church is to bring down the Holy Spirit on earth to produce saints, like St John of Shanghai, not to produce personalities.
Sadly, the truth hurts. And the article pained some, especially the naïve who are still in denial. But without growing pains, there can be no maturity. I have been there. As they say: ‘No pains, no gains’. And, in this case, although we would rather not talk of any of this, but keep it quiet just as everyone else keeps it quiet, this truth that hurts must be heard now. This is because to keep quiet now is to impede unity and the prize of unity is too great, for no Church or spiritual life can ever be built on myths and illusions, just as no Church or spiritual life can ever be built on schism and fragmentation. And schism and fragmentation were the case of the old Sourozh Diocese and the Paris Exarchate and, indeed, to a lesser extent, the case of both once divided parts of the Russian Church Diaspora.
Some have criticized details in the article. Two criticisms were quite right. These mentioned quite correctly that the Greek Metropolitan for Benelux is Metr Atheagoras (not Panteleimon, who was his predecessor) and that Maximos is not a Greek name. Thank you. As these were mistakes, like all the mistakes that I make, they were corrected at once. As a matter of historical fact, the Fr Maximos in question (he formerly had the fine Christian name of Michael) quit the Greek Orthodox priesthood after only two weeks. (Sadly, not a record; last year this was beaten by one recent convert, ordained without preparation, who stayed for only one day).
Another correspondent asked what was wrong with Greek vestments. He had missed the point; there is nothing wrong with Greek vestments – except when you claim to be following ‘the Russian Tradition’. Or do those words mean a consumerist, ‘pick and mix’ attitude to the Church? Another asked about Russian dress code in the spirit of, ‘But I know someone who…’, and also missed the point. I was talking about the context of general Christian dress code (which only the Russian Orthodox Tradition seems to have kept), not about the exceptions of loose sharivari trousers as worn by some peasant women in Serbia or African or Asian native dress. Orthodox dress code is universal and can be summed up by the words, ‘modesty without provocation’. Sadly, some in the name of an ideology alien to the Church, but not alien to secularism, like to provoke.
One asked me about my view of the ‘unusual and unique practices’ of Fr Sophrony (Sakharov). To which I simply answered that it is hardly for me to judge the spiritual value of such practices which take place in the Patriarchate of Constantinople. That is for the Church and Her hierarchs to judge. In this matter I am a mere observer who simply states facts and accepts the judgement of the whole Church, whatever that will be.
Another asked why we should have confession before every communion. Again he had missed the point. I was talking not about a pious convert monk who took communion every day and did not need confession every day (though his inexperienced and over-rigid convert confessor was demanding it!), but about the average Orthodox in the average parish who takes communion every two or three months and therefore needs confession before each communion. Even more so for the Greek who takes communion at every liturgy, but hotly denies even the existence of confession; since he has never heard of it and as he has never been asked to do it, it does not exist for him.
In this context, confession before communion is not some exotic Russian Orthodox tradition, it is the universal tradition of the Church – visit any Local Church and ask the faithful; everything else is mere decadence. There is only one Tradition, despite the vain attempts by Protestant-minded and Protestant-backed liberals to invent a new and alternative one and then reject the Tradition as ‘old-fashioned’ or ultra-conservative’, so moving the goal posts so that they can justify their conformity to secularism. Their technique of calling the Tradition ‘ultra-conservative’ was well-practised by the modernist Catholics and Protestants long before fringe Orthodox blindly copied it.
One said that the article was simply untrue; however, he was quite unable to reject a single point, as he is in denial of reality. All such articles are written from experience. You can deny that someone has experienced something if you wish, but it makes no difference to the fact that the experience has taken place. You are simply in denial, because you have some personal axe to grind. You are welcome to disagree with my interpretations of the facts, but to deny the facts is to deny reality and dwell in fantasy. Another who had been there at the time, squirmed and then reluctantly admitted that the whole article was true. The truest statement came from a third person who simply said: ‘We all know that this is the truth, it is just that no-one has dared say it out loud until now’. Such is the fear of the political correctness of the modern Jews.
One asked about naïve young Russian women in Russia who admire Metr Antony’s Russian (not English) writings, which Patriarch Alexis II expressly asked him to write in the 1990s. In my view, they are right to admire them, they are very well-written, ideal for beginners, just as beginners in Russia also admire the writings of C.S. Lewis. New to the Church, they need food for the mind and the highly talented Metr Antony gives this. That is why he was so popular with Anglicans, others outside the Church and those on the fringes of the Church. He wrote for them. From an atheist and secular background, he was well able to address the rationalistic doubts of people from that secular background. However, if such young women wish to be Churched, to enter the Arena, they will need to move on beyond introductions and rationalizing food for the mind and find writings with food for the soul. As for the tragic legacy of Metr Antony in England, which is what we were writing about, such young women, new to the Church, have no idea about it. We do, because we were subjected to the tragedy which wasted so much and drove so many away.
One correspondent asked about the need for a European Metropolia, and not a local English Orthodox Church. It is my polite suggestion that he should think about what I wrote of a ‘British Orthodox Church’. I wrote that we must avoid nationalism on the one hand and on the other hand admit that we are far too small to dream about a Local Church now. There may be at least 300,000 Orthodox in the UK, but fewer than 10% (30,000) practise and of that 10% it is doubtful if even 5% (1,500) are English people who practise. And most of the 30,000, including hundreds of the English people, have no desire for an English Orthodox Church; they are quite happy to belong to a Church that is based in another country. This is exactly what happened in the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) – most Orthodox Americans of Non-Orthodox origin do not belong to it, thus making its claims strange.
In any case, who would provide the initiative for such a new Local Church? Not the Russian Church, for it has learned from its sad experience precisely with the OCA, whose canonicity is denied by most, as it received its contested Cold War autocephaly on a shared territory. What I was saying to this correspondent, and what I am saying here, is that now is the time for unity in a Metropolia, which could with time become autonomous and then, only with the consent of all, become a new Local Church. Now is not the time for narrow national division.
In a word, I am slightly disappointed, though not at all surprised, that some, perhaps a few on purpose, criticized the details of the trees, but forgot to look at the forest – which was, after all, the point. Above all I am disappointed that some seemed to pay less attention to the second part of the article, a vision of unity for the future, which to my mind is ten times more important than the first part. That simply lists the mistakes of the past and so explains how NOT to build unity and the future – on divisive personalities and divisive modernism. Perhaps some are not ready for the future. I am.
On what then can future Church unity be built? It can only be built on faithfulness to the Tradition. You cannot build unity on faithfulness to compromise, as I remarked thirty years ago to Archbishop George (Wagner) in Rue Daru, who could provide no answer to this truism, after he had just preached about the need for faithfulness, but never explained faithfulness to what. Why faithfulness? Because the Church that is faithful produces saints and, as we said above, this bringing down of the Holy Spirit to produce saints is the goal of the Church. A so-called Church that is against fasting, monasticism and asceticism, radically shortens and changes the services, destroys a prayerful atmosphere, conforms to the secularist spirit of the Western world, constantly berates Mt Athos, compromises on everything, and does not prepare the next generation of spiritual heroes, the saints and martyrs, as were produced by the Russian Church in the nineteenth century, is not a Church.
In a word, that is a Church that is unfaithful, it is disrespectful of the saints, does not produce saints, it produces only intellectuals who have no role to play in an organism where all the most important and so saving knowledge comes from the Holy Spirit, not from dry books of philosophy that only give you headaches. That is the Church of the philosophers, not the Church of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, of illiterate Galilean fishermen, of the Saints of God. Such an unfaithful Church is no longer a Church at all and instead of saints produces only apostates, heretics and schismatics. A glance at twentieth-century Church history confirms this in abundance.
As I said to a former Sourozh priest in Cambridge in 1982, one who had just denied to me the need for spiritual heroes or even their existence and had just launched a magazine about such a new ‘Church’, that Church is just another rationalistic, secular and anti-spiritual organization, for it has nothing to feed our souls with. The Church has one foot in heaven and one foot on earth; the modernists want to make a Church with two feet on earth. They can do so if they want, but it will no longer be a Church, just a Protestant-type social club.
We have in recent years turned a generational corner in the Diaspora. Some in the old generation still seems to think that there are two parts to the Church, those who celebrate the services in ‘foreign’ languages and those who do not. At the mere mention of the word ‘faithful’, they think of their departed parents’ or still earlier generations who culted ‘the old country’ and a ‘foreign’ language. This old generation with all its complex of identity is hopelessly old-fashioned and is dying out. Today, everybody in all jurisdictions in the Diaspora uses English or another appropriate local language.
Today there are still two parts to the Church, but their division has nothing to do with language; of today’s two parts, the vast and often silent majority are trying to be faithful, a small but very vocal minority are not. The latter is not trying to be faithful because it believes in being ‘modern’, in other words, because of psychological and sociological complexes it is trying to conform to the world. ‘Faithful’ no longer means old-fashioned ethnicism; only old calendarists believe because of their chronic insecurity that faithful means a mere aping and anti-creative parroting of the past with pharisaical, imitative, almost Anglo-Catholic ritualism. Faithful means following the practices and spirit of the Church in whatever language we need. Language is totally irrelevant to faithfulness, languages are only permutations of a variety of consonants and vowels, of God-given human speech, of the Word and Breath of God that distinguishes men from animals.
True, one Georgian Orthodox priest did once tell me that God only speaks Georgian. And, some years before that, the same Archbishop George (Wagner), a convert from Catholicism and with an amazing complex about his Berlin past, while railing against the ‘modern’ Romanian use of Romanian in services, told me quite seriously that God only understands Latin, Greek and Slavonic in the services. (Little wonder that the Peckstadt parish and family, like so very many others, left his jurisdiction in those years). However, they were and are wrong! Thank God that that generation, the ones who said quite literally, ‘we would rather see our church close than hear French (or English) here’ has gone. Today, there are still two parts to the Church – but they are divided not according to language, as some in the old generation still think, they are divided according to faithfulness and lack of faithfulness. Agree with me or not, as you like, but my combat has always been with those who want to destroy the faithfulness of the Church and to pray for their enlightenment.
Faithfulness is so important because we know that our Russian Church has produced tens of thousands of saints and so survived, whereas renovationism has produced not a single one – it has produced only apostates, heretics and schismatics, those who conformed to the world, collaborated with atheists and secularists and persecuted and persecute the faithful. So why is faithfulness so necessary in the Diaspora just now?
I believe that we are now at a unique time, a turning point in our Russian Church Diaspora history. In both North America (ROCOR/MP/OCA) and Western Europe (ROCOR/MP/Paris Exarchate) there are three groups of Russian Orthodox (or at least two which are Russian Orthodox and one which has Russian Orthodox origins). All three groups are now faced with the possibility of further unity – or disunity. And unity becomes possible precisely through faithfulness, whereas disunity becomes possible precisely through lack of faithfulness, as we saw with all those tiny sects which rejected the unity between the two parts of the Russian Church in 2007, or with the old calendarists and their 12/13/14/15/16? tiny synods.
Today, in North America, the former leader of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) is a member of ROCOR – a unity unthinkable in the bad old days of the Cold War. The OCA itself is now held by a steady hand, Metropolitan Tikhon, whose very name takes the group back to its historic origins with a Saint of the Russian Church. It may be that unity is at hand, that the modernist-minded and divisive extremes, which have for so long impeded OCA unity with the rest of the Russian Church in North America, will leave the OCA, just as the extremes of ROCOR and the Sourozh Diocese had to leave before their unity and that of both parts of the wider Russian Church could be achieved in 2007. Extremes, mainly Protestant-minded, ‘autocephalist’, fringe modernists, who could not accept united episcopal authority could join the Greek Patriarchate of Constantinople or Antioch. This would leave the former OCA free to join a united Russian Orthodox Metropolia in North America.
Today, in Western Europe, the Paris Exarchate is now also held by a new hand, Archbishop Job, whose very name indicates the suffering that must be endured if this group is to return to unity. It may be that there too unity is at hand, that the modernist-minded and divisive extremes, which have for so long impeded Church unity with the rest of the Russian Church in Western Europe, will leave the Paris Exarchate, just as the extremes of ROCOR and the Sourozh Diocese had to leave before their unity and that of both parts of the wider Russian Church could be achieved in 2007. Extremes, mainly Protestant-minded, ‘autocephalist’ fringe modernists, who could not accept united episcopal authority could join the Greek Patriarchate of Constantinople or Antioch. This would leave the former Paris Exarchate free to join a united Russian Orthodox Metropolia in Europe.
I have always refused to take part in anti-unity, anti-mainstream, fragmenting, fringe movements, whether of the Sourozh Diocese, seeing where it was heading in 1982, or of the Paris Exarchate, seeing where it was moving in 1988, when Archbishop George (Wagner) preferred to celebrate the thousandth anniversary of the Baptism of Rus with a Catholic cardinal rather than with the Russian Church, or of old calendarism which had infiltrated the local Diocese of ROCOR in 1974 and was still there in 1997, but is now gone. This is because anti-unity movements are by definition unfaithful.
You can agree with me for wanting faithfulness and so unity, or else throw stones at me for wanting faithfulness and so unity, as some indeed have done. That is your choice, though God is your Judge too. But I will not change the fight for faithfulness and so unity, that is, for true unity, the unity that is founded only on the truth and which comes only from faithfulness, not founded on myths, delusions and faithlessness. For it is no use papering over the cracks and indeed the chasms, as old-fashioned ecumenists, stuck in the 1960s, do, unity is always in truth, that is, in faithfulness. Ask St Photius the Great, St Gregory Palamas and St Mark of Ephesus.
Let me be even clearer. What I am saying is this:
When ‘The History of the Orthodox Church Diaspora, 1917-2027’, comes to be written, what will it read? Perhaps:
‘The history of the Orthodox Church Diaspora is a sad one. Apart from the one bright moment of intra-Russian unity in 2007, it is a history of disunity and bickering because of divisive personalities with divisive policies. This has continued to this day and there is little hope for the future. Starting from Pan-Orthodox Diaspora unity under the Russian Orthodox Church in 1917, which was destroyed by the tragic Russian Revolution, Pan-Orthodox unity in the Diaspora has still not been restored after 110 years, to this very day’.
Or will it read like this? Perhaps:
‘Starting from Pan-Orthodox Diaspora unity in 1917, today, 110 years after the tragic Russian Revolution which destroyed that unity, unity is once more within our grasp. This has been achieved by restored Russian Church unity, the firm foundation of which was laid in 2007 by the adherence of both parts of the Russian Church, inside Russia and outside Russia, to the Russian Orthodox Tradition by the blood of the New Martyrs and Confessors, as represented in the Diaspora by the universal spirit of St John of Shanghai. Then came the confirmation of that unity when two former fragments, the former Orthodox Church in America (OCA) and the remains of the Paris Exarchate, overcame their politically-inspired Russophobia, as well as their equally divisive American and French phyletism, and, having jettisoned that secularism, joined in with Russian Church unity.
Today, other national groups in the Diaspora, now again faithfully adhering to the unity-creating principle of the Tradition, rediscovered after generations of decadence and conformism to the practices and values of the Non-Orthodox world (in North America thanks greatly to the monasteries founded by Fr Ephraim), are uniting around this example of responsibility. For they are joining in the life of the Four multinational Metropolias, formed on the initiative of the Russian Orthodox Church, in Western Europe, North America, Latin America and Australasia. The formation of four new multinational Local Churches, following the impetus and examples of these Russian Metropolias, is now within sight. The cleansing of Church life from spiritual impurity, from heterodox-inspired secularism and historic injustice, is now leading to restoration and the return to canonicity’.
In other words, Diaspora unity, which is what we all want, cannot be built on divisive compromises, but only on faithfulness to the One Saint-making Tradition, our lifetime combat.
In other words, the ship is preparing to leave the port. We should make sure that we have tickets for it. Otherwise we shall find ourselves isolated and stranded on the dilapidated jetty of the desert island of dying heterodoxy – a lonely place to be at the best of times.