At the present time, there are those who fear a schism in the Ukraine. However, there can never be schisms in the Church, only schisms away from the Church; the Church is never divided, but groups can fall away from Her, losing Her grace. We can at once identify three schisms in history, all of which took place for nationalistic reasons.
This was an invention of the Western European elite developed in the eleventh century, though it had already been prefigured at the very end of the eighth century under the Teutonic tyrant Charlemagne. Essentially it was an attempt by Western European barbarians to usurp the Church and replace the Mystery of Christ with provincial Roman pagan rationalism. In order to justify their schism, they invented with their rationalism a new and heretical doctrine about God. Amazingly, many fell for this myth, even to this day believing in it as part of their ‘European’ racial ‘superiority’.
First spread in the seventeenth century, though invented a few years earlier, this was an attempt to make out that you can still be an Orthodox Christian under the heretical Bishop of Rome. It attracted only those on the western fringes of Orthodox Civilization, who could be oppressed and bribed and who were so ignorant and superficial that they thought that Christianity is a mere ritual.
Invented for imperialistic reasons at the end of the nineteenth century by Roman Catholic Austro-Hungary, this was a purely political method of flattering an ethnic group into believing that they had their own religious identity, neither Roman Catholic nor Orthodox Christian. It was later used by Fascist Germany to massacre Jews and then by the Fascist United States, again for imperialistic reasons, to try to undermine and destroy multinational Holy Rus. This myth attracts only those for whom Christ has no importance, but their folklore does.
Every schism is tragic and only individuals return and then with difficulty. It is quite different from a division. This is temporary and occurs only for political reasons – such as the division between the Church inside Russia and the Church outside Russia between 1927 and 2007. Everything that is possible must therefore be done to avert a schism.
Metropolitan Ambrose (Orthodox Church of Greece), sent an open letter to Patriarch Bartholomew. AgionOros.ru published a translation of the most important provisions of the letter.
At the beginning of the letter, Metropolitan Ambrose reports the “deep sorrow and astonishment” that he experienced when he learned that the Patriarch of Constantinople in a letter to the Archbishop of Athens Hieronymus called to protect the Church from the “radical opinions of the Metropolitans of Kalavriti and Piraeus.”
Metropolitan stressed that such a letter can be viewed as a violation of the canons and “an attempt to carry out the primacy of power in relation to a fraternal Local Church”, although in fact the Patriarch of Constantinople has “primacy of honor, and not the primacy of power and values.”
According to Metropolitan Ambrose, the result of “the notorious” Holy and Great Council “in Kolymbari in Crete was that the Orthodox Church is divided into many parts, and the Christian people have fallen into confusion and a new schism “is actually developing.
Metr Ambrose believes that the so-called “Holy “and” Great “Council in Kolymbari has caused Orthodoxy the deepest wound.” “Erroneous decisions” in particular have been the recognition of the existence of several Christian Churches:
“So, there are many Churches? Then why in the Creed do we profess “One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church”? Is that not an ecclesiological contradiction, or even serious dogmatic distortion? Then what is the theological meaning and content of the dialogue (which you encourage) “with other Christian Churches and confessions”? Is remaining unwithdrawn and dogmatic deviations of the latter (despite decades of ongoing dialogues) to justify the possibility of non-Orthodox being called “church”? “.
Metropolitan Ambrose underlines that he would never accept such an “ecclesiological deviation”:
“Do not renounce, beloved Orthodoxy! We do not deceive you, honor, passed from the fathers! In you we are born, and you live and you die! And if you take time and die a thousand times for you ” (Joseph Monk Bryennios 1350-1431).
In the final part of his open letter, Metropolitan Ambrose calls on Patriarch Bartholomew “not to insist on a heretical and blasphemous position, according to which both Papists and Protestants make up the “Church. ” They are just the branches that have fallen away from the Church tree. Today the Church is only the Orthodox Church! “.
According to the Metropolitan the document on “Relations of the Orthodox Church with the rest of the Christian world” needs to be revised, otherwise there will be a possible split within the Orthodox Church.
Metr Ambrose calls on the Patriarch of Constantinople to stop the persecution of those who disagree with the decisions of the Council of Crete, and to hold a new “truly Holy and Great Council”, which will once again consider the “Church” and “Christian faith.”
May 4, 2017
There is nothing wrong with the human intellect in itself. It is a wonderful tool for expressing spiritual revelation. That is how the Church Fathers used it – as a tool – and no more. However, there is a danger – when the intellect turns into an ism, intellectualism, in other words, when the intellect is used idolatrously as an end in itself, when it is no longer at the service of the expression of the heart cleansed and enlightened by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Then theology, the knowledge of God granted to the cleansed heart, is no longer expressed and, though this knowledge may still be called theology, in fact it is mere philosophy, the speculations of the intellect become an end in itself.
All heretics committed this error. It was the error of Judas, who thought that he knew better than God and, wanting to correct Him, so killed Him (which is also the error of modern Western Secularism, which so admires Judas, with its ‘God is dead’). It was the error of the Gnostic Origen, who idolatrously put intellectualism in the place of God and so is admired by modern renovationists. It was the error of Arius and Nestorius, whose little minds could not accept the mystery of Christ the God-Man and so put the personal pride of their rationalistic speculations above God. It was the error of the filioquists, who put their reason above the mystery of the Holy Trinity.
It was the error of the Western Scholastics, whose Greek heir was the heretic Barlaam, who could not personally know God because of the impurity of his heart and asserted that therefore no-one could no God, but was put in his place by the great St Gregory Palamas, who had seen the glory of God. It was the error of Paisius Ligarides, the papist sodomite intellectual who tried to betray the Russian Church in the 17th century. And it was the fantasy and error of the Parisian heretic Fr Sergius Bulgakov with his Sophiology heresy, denounced by two 20th-century saints of the Church Outside Russia, St John of Shanghai and St Seraphim of Sofia.
Such facts should be taken to heart by those still unrepentant intellectuals, conditioned by doctorates given them by the Gregorian University in Rome and Protestant Universities in Germany, who try and foist their heresies on us, most recently through their meeting in Crete. The Local Churches of Bulgaria, Georgia, Antioch and Russia (the latter despite certain impure temptations among individuals in the hierarchy) have thoroughly rejected that meeting. So too have the leading lights of the episcopate in Greece and Serbia, reducing the documents issued by that meeting to shreds. There is no need for anti-ecumenist schisms, be patient, for the truth always triumphs in the end.
The phrase ‘Paris School’ (of Russian religious philosophy) is a vague phrase because many of its representatives ended up not living in Paris or even France and because it was such a very varied phenomenon. Thus, it included intellectuals mainly of Russian origin (but not all of them), who ended up living as far apart as the USA, England, Finland, Bulgaria (the anti-monarchist plotter, Fr George Shavelsky) and Constantinople (the philosopher Metr John Zisioulas). Some of these were close to Orthodoxy, others were in open heretical revolt against the Church and constructed anti-Church ideologies, others were simply harmless eccentrics who lived in the clouds.
A representative close to the Tradition, for example, was the academic theologian (and not philosopher!) Fr George Florovsky, who was ousted from St Vladimir’s Seminary by another much more Protestant-minded thinker of a Paris-born generation, Fr Alexander Schmemann. However, there were others like the notorious Fr Sergey Bulgakov, who founded a new heresy under the influence of the alcoholic Catholic occultist Vladimir Soloviov. The latter was the real founder of the School, who infected it with all its basic currents of Gnosticism, Origenism, liberalism and ecumenism and had a great influence on the enormous intellect of the polymath, Fr Paul Florensky.
Then in Paris there was also the esoteric philosopher Berdyayev, who was imbued with semi-Catholic mysticism and like Bulgakov never quite shook off his Marxism, but there was also the more Orthodox Fr Basil Zenkovsky who wrote a magisterial ‘History of Russian Philosophy’. Then there were Vladimir Lossky, trained in Scholasticism, but whose views were very close to the Tradition in many respects, but on the other hand, the fantasist Bishop John Kovalevsky or the recently deceased French ecumenists, the ex-pastor Elisabeth Behr-Sigel and Olivier Clement. Their views were respectively as close to Protestantism and Catholicism as is possible without lapsing.
In England there were other representatives of the Paris School. These included the late Metr Antony (Bloom), whose curious, personal views combined a theoretical conservatism with an extraordinary liberalism and influenced several convert followers, like the Jewish Fr Sergei Hackel. Then there was the late ex-Uniat Fr Lev Gillet, who appears to have died either as a Quaker or else a Buddhist (no-one is quite sure), or the Parisian artist and intellectual the late Fr Sophrony Sakharov, whose whole esoteric philosophy of Orthodoxy came to be shaped by the peasant St Silvanus whom he had met on the Holy Mountain, where he had been a librarian.
With such a variety of individuals, some much closer to Orthodox Tradition than others, some more renovationist than others, some more fantasist than others, what do they all have in common? Negatively speaking, it is how far most of them seemed to have stood from the saints of the Church in the emigration like St John of Shanghai (also who also lived for many years in Paris and often came to London) or St Seraphim of Sofia, or from the genuine Orthodox philosopher of the emigration Ivan Ilyin. These followed the wholeness of the ascetic Tradition of the Church, and not selected fragments of it, which is why the Paris School was opposed to authentic monasticism.
However, this was not the essence of the Paris School. Its essence was its intellectual pretentiousness, which contains the pride which is at the heart of all deviations from the Church, without exception. Not understanding that enlightenment comes from the grace of God that alone cleanses the repentant heart, they all mistakenly believed that enlightenment comes from the purification of the intellect and the imagination. This tragic mis-take meant that their views were intellectual, philosophical, more or less renovationist, more or less fantasist, disincarnate from reality and from ordinary Orthodox and Orthodoxy, and so ultimately they became sectarian and cultish.
The proof of this thesis is in the fact that when the time came for the gradual liberation of the Russian Church inside Russia from Sergianism and Renovationism after 1991, they refused to re-enter Her fold and glorify the New Martyrs and Confessors together with Her. They had not been longing to return all along, as had the faithful, but had instead been cultivating their own intellectualist philosophies outside the Orthodox Tradition. Thus, cultivating private, personality-driven sidelines, they failed to see the mainstream of Church catholicity and ended up isolating themselves in the worst sort of isolation – isolation from the real saints, the New Martyrs and Confessors.
This meant that they allied themselves only with the vestigial renovationist and sectarian elements on the fringes of the Russian Church inside Russia. It also meant that they sullied themselves with politics (under the pretence of being apolitical!, which is always political). Thus, they allied themselves with Russophobic elements in the Western world, for example, with the self-justifying neocon hawks and past-worshipping warmongers of NATO, who never wanted the Cold War to end and in their ethnocentricity arrogantly never understand that the vibrant values of Orthodox Christian Civilization are quite different from their dying anti-Christian Western culture.
This is why, when at the end of 2016 the time of generational change had come for renewal in Russia and then, inspired by the Russian example, for the first glimmers of freedom and the hope of repentance in the West, the Paris School and its values stuck to the dead past. These last representatives were now aged, vestigial relics, whose rebellious and often absurd ideologies had been half-baked in the spiritual desert of the 1960s, which had been passed on to a few convert intellectuals in Russia who still had not caught up with the real world. As for the Church, we look as ever towards prophetic holiness and the dynamic restoration of the Tradition in the Holy Spirit that is happening now.
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!
100 years ago there began the last stages in the greatest injustice in world history – the betrayal of Imperial Christian Russia. Then on the point of victory in the First World War and so of liberating New Rome, called Constantinople, and also the Holy Land, it was also about to liberate the peoples of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Germany, so undoing the injustices in Central Europe and the Balkans and in the tyrannical Second Reich of Bismarck, so reconstituting a free Poland, and perhaps also righting the injustices of Western colonization worldwide. Had it not been betrayed, there would never have been any Bolshevik genocide (millions of dead), no Third Reich and no Hitler, no World War Two, no Teutonic holocaust of the Slavs (30 million dead) or of the Jews (over 5 million dead), no American fire bombs and atom bombs on Japanese civilians (1 million dead?), no Communist China (30 million dead?), no abortion holocaust (100 million dead?), no……
In May 1945 one Russian soldier – he later became a priest – was standing in the ruined Reichstag in Berlin. Surrounded by incredible destruction, but also great relief, victory had come at a huge price on the Russian Easter Day, which that year had coincided with the day of the feast of St George the Victorious Soldier-Martyr. There, in the Reichstag, the soldier saw Tsar Nicholas II surveying the scene, examining every detail, thinking that in 1917 he would already have stood there, surrounded however not by destruction but by an intact capital of culture. The ghost of Tsar Nicholas has haunted Europe ever since it betrayed him in 1917. He has been here all the time, to this very day, looking with eyes of pity at the merciless destruction and self-destruction of the Western world, as it sinks into its self-made abyss. Betrayed at the last moment in 1917, according to a plot prepared in detail in 1916, he looks on the lost souls and cultural heritage of the Western world and his heart weeps.
The first sign that the plot had been implemented was the assassination of the peasant-healer Rasputin in December 1916, betrayed by decadent Russian aristocrats, who hated the Christian peasantry, and murdered by British spies, who hated Russian Orthodox. Financed by its enemies (Germany and Austro-Hungary) and by its ‘allies’ (Britain, France and the US, who had already financed Japan’s transformation into militarism and its murderous attack on Russia in 1904), sabotage and treason laid the Tsar’s Russia low. In 1917 this developed into anarchy (the so-called ‘Revolution’), which was created by ‘liberal’ opportunist traitors in February and exploited by ‘Bolshevik’ opportunist traitors in October. Anarchy (falsely called ‘Revolution’) was fabricated in the salons of the jealous and the ignoble, grand dukes and princes, generals and politicians, freemasons and lawyers, industrialists and bourgeois – ‘have money, want power’ – traitors to the people and their Tsar.
All of them were utterly unfaithful to the three (three because Trinitarian) tenets and principles that had upheld the Christian Empire of the Tsar. These were: the Faith (uncompromised Orthodox Christianity); the Tsar (the Anointed Christian Sovereign); and Rus (the multinational Christian Empire). As atheists and apostates, they committed sabotage and treason with regard to all these values, which represent Faith in the Father, the Incarnation of the Son and the Presence of the Holy Spirit. Those who remained faithful to these three tenets inside Russia were the New Martyrs and Confessors and those who venerated them. The salt of the earth, they were the ones who were to begin the great restoration that has been under way since the official fall of Bolshevism twenty-five years ago, but in fact long before, from the moment of their exploits. Thus the traitors were countered by the saints and, although the traitors still do not understand how or why, the saints always win.
After the anarchy, there began the resistance and then the defeat and so emigration of those known as ‘White Russians’. Once in the emigration (though even before), it could plainly be seen that here too there were saints and traitors. To the left hand side there fell away those who betrayed the Faith and the Tsar. To the right hand side there fell away those who betrayed the Faith and Rus. On the left hand side were the renovationists, who so hated the Russian Church that they left Her, compromising Her Faith, and so hated the Tsar that they actually justified their treason, which had led them into the self-punishment of exile. On the right hand side were the nationalists, who so hated the Russian Church that they made Her into a narrow nationalist flag, forgetting Her multinational mission, and so hated Rus that they allied themselves with its crazed Teutonic enemy, not understanding that the victory of 1945 was the people’s victory, the victory of repentant Rus.
There were also those who understood that the task of the emigration was to keep faith with all three tenets. We knew that as long as all three principles were respected, all would be well and it would be simple to reunite with Russia once it was free again and restoration had begun, with the New Martyrs and Confessors officially venerated there. We understood that the Faith could not be compromised by heresies, dreamy and disincarnate renovationism and personality cults, regardless of the fact that we lived outside Russia. We understood that the memory of the Tsar, the universal Christian Emperor, had to be kept for restoration, in order for a new Christian Emperor to come and oppose the worldwide evil that has been unleashed ever since Tsar Nicholas was deposed. We understood that our mission is to make Rus universal, worldwide, regardless of race and language, and that our mission is among the people and must not be compromised by political Establishments.
In our own times we are seeing a daily miracle: over the last 25 years we have seen in the Russian Lands what we and those before us had been praying for over the previous 75 years, the slow restoration of the Tsar’s Christian Russia. Yes, it has been a slow and tortuous process, with many hesitations, deviations and falls, but the general direction has been right. This process of restoration is of course far from over, indeed, in many respects it has only just begun, but the icons of the New Martyrs, including those of the Royal Martyrs, are everywhere. As the new Cold War NATO occupies the Ukraine and Estonia, attempting to destabilize governments from Macedonia to Moldova and Armenia to Kazakhstan, and prepares to attack all along the Russian borders, its aircraft and submarines, tanks and troops everywhere threatening resurgent Russia, the last bastion of Christianity in the world, we see the desperation of the world’s elite in its bid to impose its New World Order.
Having destabilized all Latin America and much of Africa, striving to undermine China and India and using tides of poor Muslim immigrants to threaten European identities, having destroyed Afghanistan and Iraq, Libya and Syria, and attempting to destroy the Russian Orthodox Church and Faith, the satanic New World Order’s proposed Orthodox Council has led only to our clear identification of the unrepentant traitors in our midst – by waiting for them to reveal themselves, we now know who is ready for cleansing. The tiny but immensely powerful elite that stands behind the USA, the EU, NATO, the whole Western world indeed, and pulls the strings of its media, puppets and all the deceived and gullible, knows that if Russia resists it successfully, its aim of global domination and control will be foiled and the coming of the Kingdom of the Great Deceiver, Antichrist, that it knowingly and unknowingly seeks will be postponed, perhaps even for many years to come. May it be so, O Lord.
The early twentieth-century heresy of name-worship, the worship of the name of God as if it were God Himself, is a curious amalgam of absurd and ignorant, magical and superstitious idolatry and pagan and intellectualist, Platonizing and Hinduizing pantheism. The crisis of name-worship came to a head in Russian monasteries and cells on Mt Athos in 1913 with acts of violence carried out by ‘name-worshippers’. After the heresy had been condemned by the Russian Holy Synod and the Patriarch of Constantinople as a heresy, the Russian authorities were frightened that the ultra-nationalist Greek authorities of the time, using a ‘foreign’ heresy as an excuse, would send troops and chase all 7,000 Russian monks off Mt Athos. Two Russian naval boats were sent therefore to prevent bloodshed and they took off Mt Athos 736 monks, with 26 ringleaders, who were involved in the heresy of name-worship. It was then found that some of the violent and leading name-worshippers were not monks at all, but novices, army deserters, runaway convicts and drunkards dressed as monks.
It must be said that even after 1913 sympathy for name-worship remained, especially at St Panteleimon’s Russian monastery on Athos, petering out only after the last monks, who had been present in 1913, had either left or died out by the 1950s. Although this crisis only came to a head in 1913, provoked by a book about the so-called ‘Jesus Prayer’, written in 1907 (‘In the Mountains of the Caucasus’), it is clear that elements of the heresy were present in Russia even before this and can be found indirectly in the mid-nineteenth century Russian booklets ‘The Way of a Pilgrim’ and ‘The Pilgrim Continues His Way’. Far more popular among naïve and pietistic heterodox than in Russia (most Russian Orthodox have never heard of them), these booklets, which were in the nineteenth-century criticized by St Ignatius (Brianchaninov) and corrected by St Theophan the Recluse on account of their spiritual danger, do suggest that one can ‘see God’ quite easily. Living outside the Church and its spiritual disciplines of the Psalter and the liturgical cycle and entertaining intellectual and philosophical dreams and fantasies, many unChurched converts to Orthodoxy of all nationalities, Russian, Romanian, Greek and Western, have fallen into spiritual delusion (‘prelest’) as a result. The magic of the mantra indeed.
This explains why although name–worship initially attracted the attention of uneducated peasant-monks, it then became attractive to politicized liberal intellectuals, notably of the Paris School, notably the heresiarch Bulgakov. In their out-of-focus and wishy-washy, ‘spiritualist’ and anti-State philosophy of Disincarnation, some of these individuals found in name-worship a way to attack and undermine the Russian Church authorities, Church discipline and, in Protestant-style, denigrate the sacraments. Seeking self-justification under the mask of ‘spirituality’, they fell into the delusions of pride, abandoning the Russian Church and the Orthodox Tradition. Such pride can easily be identified because it leads its victims to sectarianism (celebrating the services differently from the rest of the Orthodox world) and aggressive and angry self-justification. Doubt them and they at once become enraged. Indeed, this is very common among such individuals, but we always pray both for those who love us and those who hate us, as St Basil the Great ordains. Fortunately, such delusions have never attracted rooted Orthodox in traditional monasteries and parishes, and those in such prelest remain very marginal, attracting unChurched converts and heterodox.
12 May 2041
Q: What is the territory of your Archdiocese?
AG: As you know, our Archdiocese is part of the Russian Orthodox Metropolia in Europe under Metropolitan John. This stretches from Ireland to Austria and Iceland to Sicily and includes the Latin, Germanic, Celtic and Basque peoples of Western Europe. Our Archdiocese includes the four now sovereign nations of England, Ireland (which was finally reunited five years ago, if you remember), Scotland and Wales. At present we have four bishops, myself, Bishop Patrick in Dublin, Bishop Andrew in Edinburgh and Bishop David in Cardiff. For our Local Synods we always use our premises on the Isle of Man, the only place from which all our four nations are visible.
Q: Why did you take the name Ionan for your Archdiocese?
AG: Originally, the name ‘Diocese of the Isles’ was suggested for the Archdiocese, but this was considered too vague, since there are isles all over the world. Then the name ‘Isles of the North Atlantic’ was suggested, so forming the acronym I.O.N.A. This conveniently refers to the Ionan Orthodox monasticism of St Columba, which originated in Egypt and came to Ireland via Gaul. Since St Columba’s monastery on Iona spread to England via Lindisfarne and from there Orthodoxy went south, converting much of England, and authentic monasticism had always been the one thing missing here, we felt that this was a good name.
Q: How did ‘Ionan Orthodoxy’ come into being?
AG: As you know even into the early 21st century there were two forms of Orthodoxy in Western countries. The first was that which looked back to the ethnic homeland, which meant that in each Western European country there was a multitude of dioceses, called jurisdictions, each living in a sort of divisive ethnic ghetto and using mainly a language other than English. This was all right for first-generation immigrants, but it did not work for second and subsequent generations, who were simply assimilated into the Non-Orthodox milieu. And after three generations, 75 years, abroad, the first generation always died out and so the Church with it. It happened to the Russians in England (arrived by 1920) who had died out by 1995 and to the Greek-Cypriots in England (arrived by 1960) who had died out by 2035.
Q: What was the second form of Orthodoxy in the West?
AG: Seeing the obvious short-sightedness and failure of the above form, there were second and third-generation Russian intellectuals who by reaction took the opposite stance. Their second form of Orthodoxy consisted of merging all Orthodox, whatever their background, into a melting pot. Their common point was the lowest common denominator, that is, the ethnic identity of the (Non-Orthodox) host country. Their policy was then to sell this as the new and substitute ethnic identity of a new Local Church. This second form only developed in full in North America, where immigrants had begun arriving much earlier than in Western Europe, at the end of the nineteenth century, and where people were far more cut off from the roots of Orthodoxy than in Europe. In Europe we did not want to repeat that mistake.
Q: What was that mistake?
AG: It was the attempt to create an ‘American Orthodoxy’. That was a mistake because it put a culture, Non-Orthodox at that, above the Church. This was not a theological movement, but merely a sociological movement of adaptation and conformism. For example, through the inferiority complex of immigrants, most Orthodox churches in the US adopted pews and many of them organs, one institution tried to use a guitar accompaniment to the Divine Liturgy and adapt the theme tune of the cowboy film ‘Shenandoah’ to it. In other places the Divine Liturgy would be stopped at Christmas in order to sing Protestant Christmas carols!
Someone at the time drew a cartoon of an ‘All-American Patriarch’, a clean-shaven man in a clerical collar with a foolish grin on his face and a glass of coca-cola in his hand, like an advert for toothpaste. Of course, this was only a carton, but it did sum up the situation. At that time when the USA still ruled the world, there were actually individuals in the US who arrogantly and blindly imagined that this second form of Orthodoxy there was the only true form of Orthodoxy, that it was at the centre of the world and that it was their duty to colonize the rest of the world with it! In reality, of course, it was a mere provincial backwater experiment, to be allowed to die out quietly because this experiment simply pandered to the weaknesses of the host country. It placed the Church of God below heretical culture. That was blasphemous, which is why it was racked with scandals.
Q: But did the same temptation not occur in Europe, even if it did not have time to develop to the same extent as in the USA?
AG: Yes, of course, it occurred; human nature is the same everywhere, it was just that it took on different forms according to the local heterodox culture. The same thing has happened among unChurched, semi-Orthodox people in Greece, Romania and Russia. It is simply the heresy of phyletism. And make no mistake, it is a heresy because you can lose your soul in it – that is what a heresy is.
For example, in France a whole jurisdiction catered for a kind of ‘philosophical and aesthetic Orthodoxy’, ‘l’Orthodoxie a la francaise’, as one might say. This theory of Orthodoxy, or theorizing about Orthodoxy, did not present the Church as the Christian way of life, but as a complex and highly intellectual philosophy, full of long words and isms, which no-one really understood. Of course, it could have been expressed in very simple language, which everyone knew already. But as long as it sounded theoretically and philosophically fine, ‘cosmique’ as they used to say, all was fine, but of course, it was not fine and that jurisdiction died out, as it was built on sand, not on the Rock of the Faith. This theorizing was about the god of the philosophers in the language of philosophers, not the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the language of the fishermen of Galilee. You simply cannot build a Local Church based on Non-Orthodox culture! That is common sense, but you could not say that out loud to those who were taken up by such delusions.
Q: What about in other countries in Europe?
AG: It happened everywhere, not just in France. For example, in Germany the first liturgical book to be translated was the Typikon. In other words, Orthodoxy there was confused with the Non-Orthodox German mindset and produced an Orthodoxy of rules, a stubborn, black and white system, without any flexibility, any understanding of the human component, which is what it is all about. They lost their way by confusing the means (the services) with the ends (the salvation of the soul). For instance, I remember one German priest refusing to give a woman communion because she was dressed in trousers. Well, she was of course wrong, but a few decades ago there was a fashion for women to dress in trousers (fortunately, long since over now). That was bad, but what right did the German priest have to excommunicate that woman? Suppose she had died in the night after she had been refused communion? That sin would have been on the conscience of that priest.
Q: And in England?
AG: It was the same thing again. The national weakness here was not theorizing or creating a book of rules, but it was to adapt Orthodoxy to the British Establishment, to create a compromised ‘Establishment Orthodoxy’, a ‘British Orthodoxy’. This State-controlled and State-worshipping Orthodoxy, that of converts from Anglicanism, was of course just a repeat of the Anglicanism that had long ago been invented by Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. There were even two whole but tiny jurisdictions dedicated to this State-approved pietism. It was all salt that had lost its savour. Some such people used the treacherous, half-Norman Edward the Confessor as the mascot of their ‘Establishment Orthodoxy’. Of course, it all came to nothing and has died out now, largely a fantasy of the late-twentieth century and the curious personalities who reigned supreme in the bad old days then. It was very oppressive because, as they were emperors in new clothes, you were not allowed to contradict them!
All these examples show the danger of compromising the Faith with local culture. And all those who did so have now died out, as withered branches. And that is the answer to your question, how did ‘Ionan Orthodoxy’ come into being. It came into being as the only living alternative to the two false alternatives – the ghetto or worldly compromise.
Q: So what do you base ‘Ionan Orthodoxy’ on?
AG: Simply, we put the Church and the Faith first. If we put the Kingdom of God, Orthodoxy, first, then all will fall into place, including the language that we use in services, which today is for about 90% in English, regardless of the ethnic origin of the parishioners, regardless of how well or how badly they speak another language. We are united by Orthodox Christianity, not by ethnic origins, and we are carried forward by the faithfulness to the Church and Her Tradition of the younger generations, who are all primarily English-speakers.
Q: You now have over 350 parishes in the British Isles and Ireland, all established quite solidly and with their own clergy and premises. Every city and town over 50,000 and the area around it is covered. This is quite unlike even 25 years ago, when the Russian Church, a small minority at that time, had mostly tiny communities with services once a month, borrowed premises and a suffered from a huge shortage of priests to go out and do vital missionary work in the area surrounding their churches. What about the other jurisdictions, which collectively still have over 50 parishes outside the Archdiocese?
AG: We live with them as good neighbours. People are free to join us and free to remain outside us. As you know, the parishes outside our jurisdiction are composed mainly of elderly people who settled here from various countries 50 years ago or more and they use very little English in their services. Virtually all the young people come to us. Time will show which way things will go. Live and let live.
Q: What is the future? Do you think of autocephaly?
AG: The Western European Metropolia, with just over 2,000 parishes now, is united, with six archdioceses, Iona, Scandinavia, Germania, Gallia, Italia and Hispania. True, the Metropolia has autonomy, but at the present time there is no desire at all for autocephaly. True, 2,000 parishes is more than in some other Local Churches, like the 700 parishes of the Hungarian Orthodox Church which recently became autocephalous, but a lot fewer than in others. Take China for example. That is still also an autonomous part of the Russian Church, even though it now has over 25,000 parishes. And the Russian Church Herself did not become autonomous for centuries, only after the Empire had fallen in New Rome. At present, I cannot see any reason to become autocephalous. That situation may of course change, especially in China, but not yet. It all takes time.
Q: Are you saying that autocephaly granted prematurely can be dangerous?
AG: Definitely. And especially in Western Europe.
AG: Because Western Europe has for over a millennium veered between extremes which we do not want to repeat.
Q: Which extremes?
AG: The first is that of despotic centralism. This was the extreme of the pagan Roman Empire, which Charlemagne foolishly tried to revive and fortunately failed to, but it was indeed revived after 1050, causing Western Europe’s schism from the Church, and that lasted until the anti-Latin nationalist outburst of the Germanic Reformation. After that, despotic centralism was tried again by warmongers like Napoleon, the Kaiser and Hitler, and then by the EU Fourth Reich – and we all know how that ended.
Each time there was a reaction to this despotism – nationalism, and that led to terrible fratricidal wars in Europe, like the so-called ‘Wars of Religion’ in the 16th century, just as centralism created the World Wars. We do not want those extremes, we must follow the golden mean of unity in diversity, which is what we have in Ionan Orthodoxy and in the Russian Orthodox Metropolia in Europe in general. Europe has to be a Confederation of Nations, not a Union, a United States of Europe, but not a series of warring, nationalist states either.
In the same way, the Tsardom of Rus, as it is now called, successfully overcame provincial Ukrainian nationalism a generation ago and reunited huge territories, one sixth of the world. However, it only did this by rejecting the old centralism of the Soviet Union, which had done so much damage to its credibility. Once it had done that, again on the basis of unity in diversity, all of Eastern Europe joined in a free and mutually beneficial economic confederation with it, throwing off the shackles of the old European Union, which was in fact just a repeat of the Soviet Union.
Q: Will you drop the word ‘Russian’ from the name of the Russian Orthodox Metropolia in Europe? Most of your faithful are either not Russian or else do not speak it.
AG: In the bad old days of Western nationalism, for example in North America in the Cold War, they detested the word ‘Russian’ and dropped it. Now we are more enlightened and we all understand that ‘Russian’ does not mean nationalism and means uncompromised, unsecularized Orthodoxy. We exist because we have been helped to exist by the Russian Orthodox Church, the only multinational, Imperial Orthodox Church. I think we should keep it. Do you remember the old Roman Catholic Church, as it used to be called? Well, there were hardly any Romans in it!
Q: Why has the Western European Metropolia been so successful?
AG: Without doubt because of the sacrifices made to underpin it in the twentieth century and since. The Church is built on blood, sweat and tears. We should remember with gratitude the prayers and work of those who went before us. For example, I can remember decades ago, how people wanted more English in the services. So, one bishop said yes, do the service in English. What happened? The people who had been clamouring for more English could not even put a decent choir together to sing just the Liturgy! Some of them said that the singing was so bad that they preferred the Liturgy in a foreign language, in which it was properly sung. In other words, you have to make sacrifices in order to achieve anything. We owe a great deal to those who sang properly in English, showing others that the Liturgy in English could be just as beautiful as in Slavonic. Actions speak louder than words.
Yes, mistakes were made in the past, but we learned from those mistakes. Take for example our English translations which stretch back to the turn of the 20th century, nearly 150 years ago, those made in the USA with the blessing of the holy Patriarch Tikhon by an Episcopalian Isabel Hapgood and by Orlov in England. Those were foundation stones. Yes, those translations have been improved and on the way we have seen archaic translations in a Latinate, Victorian style like those of Hapgood or even with 16th century spelling, we have seen those made into street English as well as into soulless, jarring academic English, all sorts, but today we have definitive translations, avoiding all those extremes. It is easy to criticize, but the fact is that without those tireless efforts of the past, however mistaken they sometimes were, we would not be where we are now.
Let us first of all thank our recent fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters in Christ who went before us, who built our Church, our parishes and our souls. Our Metropolia, in effect, the Church of the Old and the New Europe, would not exist without them. But let us also thank the saints of the first millennium. Through venerating them, we have earned their prayers and because of their prayers we are here today. We are built not on dead souls, but on spiritually alive souls, whether of the distant past or of the recent past. Always on spiritually alive souls: Remember that.
The Holy Mountain Reacts Vigorously and Robustly to the Drafts for the So-Called Pan-Orthodox Council
The Holy Monasteries of Mt. Athos have responded to the draft documents and methodology of the Pan Orthodox Council strongly and powerfully. The Letters of the Athonite Monasteries, sent to the Holy Community of Mt. Athos, have been released to the public. The letters were written in reaction to the Pan-Orthodox draft documents sent to the Holy Monasteries by the Patriarchate of Constantinople. On account of the seriousness of the matter, it was unanimously decided that the texts prepared for approval by the Council should be examined in a specially-called Meeting of the Representatives and Abbots of the Holy Monasteries, scheduled to take place after Bright Week.
The Athonite Fathers call attention to the danger presented by the Pan-Orthodox Council, as it is being carried out. Namely, among other things, they see:
* the concilarity of the Church being undermined and a theology supportive of primacy being promoted (due to the limited participation of bishops and an excessive authority given to the primates of each Local Church).
*an unacceptable ambiguity in the pre-synodical texts, allowing for interpretations which diverge from Orthodox dogma.
*a placing, as the basis of the dialogues, of “the faith and tradition of the ancient Church and the Seven Ecumenical Councils,” such that the subsequent history of the Orthodox Church appears to be somehow lacking or impaired.
*an attempt by some to gain Pan-Orthodox confirmation of the scandalous and totally unacceptable texts approved by the World Council of Churches.
*and the unacceptable application of the term “church” to schisms and heresies.
Excerpts and full translations of the letters will be forthcoming.
Below you can read (in Greek) several of the letters sent to the Holy Community.