Category Archives: Metropolia

Temptation and Opportunity

The recent temptation experienced by the Patriarchate of Constantinople, under intense financial and political pressure from Washington, to set up schismatic Churches under its authority in the Ukraine and (North) Macedonia, has already been publicly condemned by the Churches of Russia, Poland, Serbia, Bulgaria and Georgia. The Churches of Antioch and Czechoslovakia will no doubt agree with them, tired of past meddling from Constantinople. Thus, some 85% of the Church has stood united against uncanonical political interference.

True, the Church of Greece, also tired of past interference from Constantinople, has stood on the fence, as no doubt will the four other tiny, Greek-controlled Churches (Alexandria, Cyprus, Albania and Jerusalem, with scarcely 2 million faithful between them). The Romanian decision, like other decisions there, may perhaps be taken by the US ambassador in Bucharest. The headline, ‘Constantinople falls into schism and is isolated’ is very unlikely, for we are all hoping and praying that this temptation will be resisted by those in the Phanar.

Against this disturbing background, the foundation by the Russian Orthodox Church of an Orthodox Metropolia of Western Europe, on hold for fifteen (and more) long years, is moving forwards despite delays. A great step forward was taken last December, when new bishops were appointed in Moscow for Russian Orthodox Dioceses in Western Europe, making the Metropolia inevitable. Only details such as ROCOR participation and timing remain to be resolved. 2018 is thus becoming another turning-point in the formation of this Metropolia.

Western Europe is after all simply the westernmost tip of Northern Eurasia, 90% of which has long been the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church, so that a Russian Orthodox Metropolia here is just a natural extension of this territory. It is rather like the Belarusian Exarchate, with its Metropolitan, eleven dioceses, four monasteries, seminary and five million faithful. With as many faithful, eight dioceses, monasteries and a seminary, Western Europe too will have its own Metropolitan, being the foundation of a new Local Church.

This is also like the Russian-founded Churches in Poland and in the Czech Lands and Slovakia. It may have eight dioceses: Italy and Malta; Spain, Portugal and their islands; France, southern Belgium and western Switzerland; the British Isles and Ireland; Scandinavia; Germany and German Switzerland; Dutch-speaking Benelux; Austria-Hungary. Such a Church will be a centre of resistance amidst anti-Christian and secularist Western Europe. It will be larger than the Western EU core, as it includes Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Brexit Britian.

After all, Brexit was never an objection to Europe, but only to the political construct of the European Union. A Russian Orthodox Metropolia of Western Europe is an answer to those who want some sort of ‘Euro-Orthodoxy’ or ‘Brussels Orthodoxy’, a salt that has lost its savour, an Orthodoxy mingled with secularism, new calendarist, masonic, liberal and modernist. For this is proposed by those who want to see in the Church of God female clergy and homosexual marriage! But there is no communion between Christ and Belial, God and Mammon.

It is appropriate to consider the foundation of the Metropolia in this centenary of the martyrdom of Tsar Nicholas II. It was he who built 17 churches in Western Europe, hoping to establish a church in every Western capital, including London, for which plans had been drawn up. Speaking fluent English, French, German and Danish and married to an English-educated, Hessian grand-daughter of Queen Victoria, who fully converted to the Orthodox Faith, he well understood the need for a Russian Orthodox Church of Western Europe. As do we.

 

Towards a Local Church of Western Europe

A Metropolia of Western Europe

It was in April 1988 that I first proposed in French a paper on a Metropolia of Western Europe, composed of six dioceses in six different linguistic and cultural areas (cross-border) which I called, Gallia, Germania, Iberia, Italia, Scandinavia and the Isles. (See, ‘A Vision for the Orthodox Churches of Western Europe’, published in Orthodox England, Vol 4, No 1, September 2001). My thought then was that this could become the foundation of a restored Local Church of Western Europe. This was a historic suggestion, as for well over 900 years this had ceased to exist.

Thirty Years Ago

The idea was dismissed in Paris, the historic centre of the Russian emigration in Western Europe, and the forward-looking project proved to be impossible then. There were only three groups who could realistically have contributed something towards it: the Rue Daru or Paris Exarchate group (RD); the Moscow Patriarchate Exarchate (MP) and the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR). Of these three, the old Rue Daru had tied itself up in modernist knots (nothing can be built on compromises) and in any case under US-run Constantinople it was not politically free to do anything of the sort.

As for the old MP, it was tiny because it was so distrusted by all. Run in fact by part of the Soviet Communist Party, it too was not politically free and moreover it had dangerously renovationist figures in it. As for the old ROCOR, it was small, disorganized, elderly and above all, inward-looking, as it still defined itself as being a group opposed to the atheist regime inside Russia, rather than as a key part of a future Local Church. It was living in reference to the past, not the future. The situation was to alter radically only after the year 2000, for those with the vision to see ahead.

Fifteen Years Ago

After the Moscow Council of August 2000, with a new archbishop after 1993, the Rue Daru group fell into conversations with the by then largely politically free MP, which was still very small in Western Europe. It was virtually agreed that RD would at last return to the jurisdiction of the MP and become an autonomous Metropolia within it, as a foundation for a future Local Church. However, Archbishop Serge (Konovalov) of the Rue Daru jurisdiction was to die tragically on 22 January 2003 and the next archbishop, Gabriel (De Vylder), was a furious Russophobe and strongly modernistic.

Indeed, since then, having missed the boat and set on a suicidal path, the Rue Daru group has largely fallen into irrelevance, its vital forces having quit it for one part or the other of the Russian Orthodox Church. Looking back, there was Providence here, since Archbishop Serge’s hopes would in any case have been dashed by the dominant wing of the Exarchate, represented by his successor. Today Rue Daru represents only 60 scattered parishes and communities, most of them very small. Most of its living parishes are in fact Moldovan and Romanian, with priests loaned by the MP.

The MP Needs a Partner

Why did the MP enter into such negotiations with Rue Daru? Simply because alone it could do nothing. Thus, even though the once few MP parishes of 30 years ago today number perhaps 250 in Western Europe with six bishops, dwarving the one-bishop Rue Daru group (ROCOR has about 100 parishes in Western Europe with three bishops), it is essentially an ethnic group. It is composed of recent immigrants, often  not understanding local languages and culture. The MP needs those who have this understanding. Let us compare as examples the MP and ROCOR dioceses in the Isles.

Although on paper the MP diocese here is much bigger, in reality most of its communities are tiny (less than ten!), often with only a few services a year, without property and without a regular priest. It is a paper empire, all its money expended on its ex-Anglican church in London. ROCOR probably actually has almost as many people, more property, is better established and tends to attract people who are better-established in these Isles. Often, those immigrants who have been here for more than ten years tend to drift across to ROCOR, their children more integrated into society.

Today

The old, inward-looking and too often politicized ROCOR, which largely died out in the 1980s and 1990s, could not have been a partner for the ultimate aim of building a new Local Church: however, the new ROCOR, born after the reconciliation with the MP in 2007, can be such a partner. The MP of the early 2000s, still with an old-fashioned, Sovietized cast of mind, could not see this and sought the wrong partner, one compromised in modernism. Today it needs a skeleton, a structure, solid Russian Orthodox people with local knowledge: it is only ROCOR that can provide this.

Towards a Local Church of Western Europe

Introduction: Local Churches

Over the years there has been much talk of creating Local Metropolias in the Orthodox Diaspora, which could with time become new Local Churches, uniting all Orthodox on their territory. Yet none has ever appeared. This is not only the case in North America, where there was once a (Carpatho-Russian) Metropolia, which then became the minority and for many uncanonical, but largely English-speaking ‘OCA’ (Orthodox Church in America), but it is also true of Western Europe. None of the talk of creating a new Local Church in any part of the Orthodox Diaspora has been fruitful, all the ideas have remained pipe-dreams. Why?

Ethnic projects

First of all, there have frequently been what may be called ‘ethnic projects’. This is the idea of granting autonomy, or even autocephaly, to an Archdiocese or Metropolia in a territory of the Diaspora. This simply amounts to treating the territory as an extension of another and foreign country. Notably, this means creating a Church in a place, rather than a Church of a place.

For example, the old translation of ROCOR (the Church Outside Russia) was ROCA (the Church Abroad). This is an absurd translation – unless what we mean is a temporary extension of a Church, which has been set up for immigrants who will sooner or later return to ‘the old country’ and their Church will then disappear. Those born locally who are part of ROCOR, whatever their origins, are not abroad. Officially, this translation was dropped in the 1970s – and yet is still frequently heard and used! Other national groups have done no better, everywhere it has been the same problem.

Only a Metropolia of a certain territory, and not in it, is the beginning of a Local Church, as by definition it uses mainly the local language or languages, since, in other words, it has integrated and cannot be transplanted elsewhere. If its members want to return somewhere else, always harping after a childhood home, then they will never become local – they will have no roots there. Thus, today, there are Russians, Romanians, Serbs, Bulgarians, Greeks etc in Western Europe who have no intention of staying here, of becoming of Western Europe. They can never form a Local Metropolia, let alone a new Local Church. They are certainly Orthodox, but they are definitely not Local.

Local Projects

On the other hand, there have also frequently been what may be called ‘local projects’. These have always been marked by what can be called ‘autocephalism’ or ‘autocephalitis’. This is the desire to assimilate the local culture, whether it be Catholic, Protestant, Muslim or whatever. In any words, they gain local-ness, but lose the Faith – they are no longer Orthodox.

For example, we have the case of Finland, where many parishes that I have seen appear not to be sure whether they are Lutheran or Orthodox. They say: use only the local language (a dogma more important to them than the Holy Trinity), take out the iconostasis, do away with fasting and confession (and any other ascetic discipline) and give communion to all. Be local, be like the others – conform. This often happens when the locally-born second generation comes to power. Fleeing their parents’ ghetto, they suffer from an inferiority complex. But in desiring the local, they lose the Faith.

Thus, they end up with something local, only it is not Orthodox. I remember forty years ago hearing a recording of an OCA Liturgy. It was not just American, it was super-American; at moments it seemed like listening to a cowboy film. Clearly, this had been done deliberately by people who were second-generation Americans, who wanted to be more American than Americans. Russian intellectuals and aristocrats in France did the same, making Orthodoxy into a bourgeois French philosophy. This was also the case in the old Sourozh project, which was Parisian pretending to be Russian. Phyletist to the core, they threw out anyone who was not ex-Anglican or was Russian-speaking.

Conclusion: Orthodoxy and Integration, Not Heterodoxy and Assimilation

In the real world, Local Churches start by learning Orthodoxy and then become Local. They have to keep the Orthodox Tradition, but also have to be local, inculturated, integrated, using the local language and not ‘translationese’. All must keep faith with the One Orthodox Tradition, without compromise, without assimilation, yet all must prove themselves to be Local, that is, as Churches that cannot be transferred elsewhere. Thus, all must start with the maximum, never the minimum, that is, we start with monasticism, whether it is Sts Cyril and Methodius among the Slavs, St Herman in Alaska or St Nicholas in Japan.

 

Even as a Hen Gathers Her Chickens Under Her Wings: The Future of the Prophetic Mission of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside the Russian Lands

The truth will set you free.

Blessed are you, when men shall revile you and persecute you and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my Name’s sake.

  1. Introduction

As a result of the tragedy that struck the Russian Empire in 1917, today there exist four Russian Orthodox-connected Church jurisdictions or groups outside the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church (that is, outside the former Soviet Union except for Georgia, plus China and Japan). These are, in order of size: The international ROCOR (Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia) group; the international Moscow Patriarchal group; the local OCA (Orthodox Church in America) group, geographically limited to North America; the local Paris group, geographically limited to a scattering in Western Europe. Their future is important because it will shape the now vital prophetic mission of the Russian Orthodox Church to today’s apostate and spiritually vacant Western world.

  1. The Past and the Present                                                                                                           a.The ROCOR group

The exiles in this group, born just before or after 1917 as well as their descendants, often had an unjustified admiration for the pre-Revolutionary Russian State. This émigré childhood nostalgia for the largely unknown past was to a considerable extent illusory. After all, the Church administration before the Revolution was dominated not by the spiritual, but by careerists, nationalists and bureaucrats, opposed by renovationists. Between them they managed to cause all the divisions inside and outside Russia after the Revolution. In March 1917 most of them at once betrayed the pious Tsar, whose desire to canonize the saints, like St Seraphim of Sarov, they had resisted – a clear resistance to the Holy Spirit! If everything had been so wonderful before 1917, there would indeed never have been a Revolution and if, impossibly, we recreated the past as it was, there would simply be another Revolution. Moreover, that Revolution was caused by the treason of the elite of aristocrats and intellectuals, so many of whom ended up as nostalgic emigres, leaving the Russian Empire and Church to its tragic fate that they had created.

Historically comprising the vast majority of Russian émigrés, ROCOR has always had two wings: a political wing and what may be called a ‘Johannite wing’. The political wing was always much concerned with political, administrative, nationalist, financial and property matters (even accepting money from the CIA during the Cold War, placing anti-Communism before Christ). The Johannite wing is that of the three saints, St John (from whom it takes its name) of Shanghai, Western Europe and San Francisco, St Jonah of Hankow and St Seraphim of Sofia. Of course, it also includes many others: Archbishop Antony of Geneva, Archbishop Averky, Bishop Sava, Bishop Nektary and a great number of clergy and faithful. It has always seen itself as an integral and organic part of the Russian Orthodox Church and Tradition, only temporarily separated from the then enslaved Church in Moscow. (I write as a spiritual son of the ever-memorable Archbishop Antony of Geneva, + 1993, who was in his turn a spiritual son of St John, + 1966).

Today, numbering several hundred thousand, ROCOR faces domination by American cultural conservatism. Centred in New York and with the vast majority of its parishes in North America and its Australian satellite, outside of which it has lost much of its former influence and numbers, it must look to reality and the future. It cannot be a prisoner of the past, for the authentic Tradition is always spiritual, radical and dynamic. It must conserve and live, not preserve and die, in other words, it must keep alive, not preserve as in a museum. It must resist the temptation of the New World which, without its own culture, tends to preserve and freeze all imported culture in the state in which it was first imported, regardless of its spiritual value, as a sort of ethnic curiosity from the Old World. Today, ROCOR has been much revitalized and renewed by immigration from the ex-Soviet Union and so links with reality. Its survival is dependent on these links with the living source of its Faith.

b. The Moscow Patriarchal group.

This group used to be tiny and paradoxically often expressed Soviet State nationalism. It was at times capable of being pro-Stalinist and often showed strong signs of the spiritual impurity of renovationist modernism. These spiritually repulsive abuses are rapidly disappearing into the darkness of the past. With huge immigration from the ex-Soviet Union, the group has now greatly expanded, especially, but not only, in Western Europe. Today in numbers it has begun to rival ROCOR, which it will soon overtake. With the gradual transfiguration of the Church inside the Russian Lands over the last generation, especially since the turning-point of the Council in 2000, the living Church inside the Russian Lands is the key on which this and all the other groups depend.

c. The OCA Group

The OCA group, numbering 90,000 faithful, grew out of Slav Uniat immigrants to North America from the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. At last free of Roman Catholic and State oppression, they joined their ancestral Russian Orthodox Church in the USA in the years around 1900. Today, the OCA is only indirectly under the patronage of the Russian Orthodox Church. This group has for 100 years been politically and culturally subject to domination by American cultural liberalism. This is not at all a question of the use of the English language, which of course is perfectly natural as language is only a missionary tool, but a question of the assimilation of an alien, anti-Orthodox American culture and so spiritual degradation.

The OCA will either remain anchored to the Orthodox Tradition of its Mother-Church or else it will die out as spiritually irrelevant, like parts of the Greek Archdiocese in North America, assimilated into the surrounding Non-Orthodox culture. Optimistically, over one quarter of it does remain faithful to the Tradition and parts of the rest have been revitalized and renewed by immigration from the ex-Soviet Union and so by links with reality. However, its future remains fragile and uncertain after a century of instability and there are voices in it which wish to betray the Mother-Church.

d. The Paris Group

The Paris group, by far the smallest of the four, was formed by pro-Western masonic aristocrats and emigre intellectuals who had plotted and created the anti-Tsar Revolution, setting up the brief, incompetent Kerensky dictatorship in 1917. This group was so politicized, anti-Russian and modernist that it rejected the Russian Orthodox Church and Tradition. Today, it has in part been renewed by Moldovan immigrants and so links with reality. However, it is not yet clear if the Paris group, controlled by ageing ideologues who have deliberately cut themselves off from the living Russian Church, will meet the spiritual needs of its flock, or if it will be assimilated into spiritual irrelevance.

  1. The Future: Making the Church Local

In the last few years before the Revolution there were between 142 and 163 bishops for some 117 million faithful in the Russian Orthodox Church. This was pitifully few bishops, on average about one for every 800,000 faithful. Today, for example, the Church of Greece has 100 bishops for 8,500 priests and 10 million people, one bishop for every 100,000 people. On this basis, the Russian Orthodox Church should today have 1,640 bishops and 139,000 priests for its 164 million faithful. Instead, there are only 368 bishops and a pitifully few 36,000 priests, one bishop for every 450,000 faithful and one priest for every 4,500 faithful! Bishops are still very distant figures. (In the Church of Jerusalem which has a flock of 130,000, there are 20 bishops, one for every 6,500 faithful).

It is clear that at least another 100,000 priests and churches are needed in the Russian Church, if ever this pastoral crisis of nominalism is to be overcome. Clearly, just as has long been done outside Russia, devout married men, financed by secular occupations, will have to receive basic practical training and then be ordained as ‘worker priests’. Under the direction of experienced full-time priests, they could serve in simple, cheap-to-build, wooden churches, without the golden luxury and marble pomp of cathedrals. Such ‘kit-churches’ would create real local parishes and pastoral centres, at last bringing the Church back home to the people at the local level. However, this ‘pastoralization’ and ‘localization’ of the Church is still for the future. But at least the first step in making the Church local has taken place in the process of ‘Metropolitanization’.

Here the principle of one bishop for about every 100 priests is now respected in the Russian Church. These 368 bishops have at last been arranged in groups, generally of four or five bishops, called Metropolias. The word ‘Metropolia’ means ‘the Church of the Mother-City’ and ‘Metropolitanization’ is an attempt to return to the practice of the first centuries and make the Church local. Metropolias are thus like miniature local churches within the Local Church. This ‘Metropolitanization’ of the Russian Church worldwide is a sign of health and is inevitable and irreversible. Non-Metropolitanization is a sign of distance and irrelevance of the Church to local life, its reduction from an incarnate way of life to a theatre of ideology.

However, outside the canonical territory of the Church, Metropolitanization is a gradual and complex process. This is firstly because there are two parts of the Russian Church outside the canonical territory, that directly under the Patriarchate and that under the self-governing Church Outside Russia (ROCOR). Both must first agree to co-operate and so it takes time to form new Russian Orthodox Metropolias worldwide (regardless of whether the two local fragments, the OCA and Paris, would one day want to take part – probably not). Secondly, and even more ambitiously, new Russian Orthodox Metropolias outside the canonical territories are ultimately called on to become the foundations for new Local Churches. This will be when other Orthodox, from far smaller Local Churches and living in those territories, wish to participate in them. This would be a purely voluntary process that could take another 100 years or more.

  1. Conclusion

This setting up of Metropolitan structures, foundations for new Local Churches, is a question of responsibility. There is no room here for destructive nationalism and centralization, either of the aristocratic emigre Russian sort or of the ‘Soviet tank’ sort. Instead sensitivity is required towards different peoples and their legitimate customs. In all these matters we would do well to recall the words of Christ in St Matthew’s Gospel concerning the phariseeism of the Old Jerusalem, which rejected the New Jerusalem: ‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stonest them which are sent to thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and ye would not’.

 

 

 

St John and What is Above Conservative and Liberal

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.

Einstein

There is nothing new in being conservative and being liberal. Some by nature will always prefer the old, others the new, some will always be pessimistic, others optimistic, some will always be negative, others positive, some will always be closed, others open, some will always be individual, others social, some will always be introverted, others extroverted, some will always be cautious, others visionary, some will always be literal, others allegorical, some will always be passive, others active, some will always be turned to the past, others to the future, some will always be turned to the Divine, others to the human.

In the time of Christ there were Pharisees (fundamentalist conservatives) and Saducees (syncretistic liberals). The former detested it when good was done on the Sabbath day, the latter rejected the Resurrection and miracles. After Christ there were Monophysite conservatives who saw Christ as God alone and liberal Arians who saw Christ as man alone. Then there was the literal school of Antioch and the allegorical school of Alexandria. Later, in Catholicism, there were liberal Scholastics and conservative Scholastics, and in Protestantism there were doom and gloom Calvinists and liberal protestors who rejected all authority.

In our own times, the Roman Catholic and Protestant worlds have long been much divided between conservative and liberal. This has become particularly clear in recent years with the appearance of the question of attitudes to homosexuality, but it has in fact been clear since the 1960s. It is a sad fact that such a division has also appeared in the Orthodox Churches, most obviously in the USA. Here there are old calendarist sects and new calendarist sects, even though the latter often infiltrate and hide behind the Church. They all claim to be Orthodox but, out of communion with the Church of the Tradition, they are not.

Even inside the Church, there are dioceses (‘jurisdictions’) of Local Churches that attract conservative Roman Catholics and Protestants and others that attract liberal Roman Catholics and Protestants. However, the conservatives are shocked when they learn that Orthodox have as a norm married priests, as well as allowing Church divorce, Church remarriage and allowing non-abortive contraception. The liberals are shocked by standing for long services, fasting, prayer rules, modest dress and saints’ names. All of them forget one thing and, if they do not recall it, they too will eventually find themselves outside the Church.

What they forget is the Spiritual. And the source of the Spiritual is the Holy Spirit, which unites both conservative and liberal, as it is beyond, higher than, both of them. We can see this in the life of St John of Shanghai. The ecumenist liberals hated his asceticism, the source of the grace he acquired, his love of the services, the saints, in a word, his love of Orthodox Tradition. Anti-missionary conservatives hated his missionary work, his consciousness that the Tradition of the Holy Spirit is for the whole world. That is why they, clergy and laity, nationalists, right-wing politicians and CIA agents, put him on trial – and lost.

As for us, we follow St John and the Tradition of the Holy Spirit, Holiness. Our spiritual father, Archbishop Antony of Geneva, was the spiritual son of St John (who was born in the same year as my grandfather) and so we are St John’s spiritual grandchildren. Many forget that St John was Archbishop of Western Europe (1951-1962), for far longer than he was Archbishop of San Francisco. Here in Western Europe he is our patron saint. He stands far above the anti-missionaries and nationalists, the intellectuals and modernists. He stands far above petty conservatism and liberalism, for he was and is inspired by the Holy Spirit.

It is on this basis alone that we can look forward to building an Orthodox Metropolia of Western Europe and from there a new Local Church. No Local Church can be built without the urge to acquire the Holy Spirit, that is, without the search for holiness. The quest for holiness means monastic and ascetic life, fasting, prayer and almsgiving, repentance, that is, confession and communion, and the veneration of the saints, including the local saints, who acquired the Holy Spirit.  And so we come back to St John of Shanghai, who all over Europe rejected both the ghettoes of the Pharisees and the Halfodoxy of the modernists.

 

The Mystical Meaning of the Establishment of a Russian Orthodox Metropolia of Europe (ROME)

‘Yes, it is Europe, from the Atlantic to the Urals, it is Europe, all of Europe, which will decide the fate of the world’.

President Charles de Gaulle, 22 November 1959

Introduction: Holy Rus

Having accepted the Orthodox Christian Church and Faith, Rus, the Russian Lands, became known as ’Holy’, for, alone out of all  other lands, holiness was its ideal. As a reward for being faithful to holiness, the Lord gave the Russian Lands immense territories, as far as the Pacific and even beyond, with great natural wealth and, above all, holy men and women. Indeed, after the final spiritual and physical fall of the Second Rome in 1453, its successor was this Holy Rus, the Third Rome, the last bastion of Universal Uncompromised Christianity. This last Christian Empire was called on to restrain the spread of global evil which has prepared the coming of Antichrist. For this reason, the Russian Lands have had many enemies. Some coveted her lands and resources, others wanted to destroy her Church and Faith, but always first by destroying her Sovereign Monarchy (Samoderzhavie, deliberately misleadingly translated by anti-Christians as ‘autocracy’).

The Overthrow of Holy Rus

Thus, nearly 200 years ago, Tsar Nicholas I (1796-1855) tried to cleanse and restore the Sovereign Monarchy of the atheist tyranny of anti-Christian absolutism, with which it had been stained by its enemies in the century before. He also knew that serfdom, introduced as such by the same Westernized absolutists in the same century, was not Christian, and began preparing its abolition. However, from 1908 on, the British elite began planning to overthrow the Sovereign Monarchy and replace it with a Protestant-style Constitution, thus enabling it to dismember and exploit the Christian Empire. From 1911 on, Germany similarly began planning to destroy the Russian Lands and colonize them. From 1915 on, the financial centres of Britain and Germany and of the USA began plotting against the Sovereign Monarchy, financing masonic liberals and atheist revolutionary allies to disrupt the Empire’s infrastructure and distribution system.

The Fall and Rising Again of Holy Rus

Indeed, by the early 20th century the Christian Faith had much weakened in the Russian Lands and with it the mystical sense of awe before the Lord’s Anointed, the Christian Emperor. ‘Treason and cowardice and deceit’ were all around, as Tsar Nicholas wrote in March 1917. And so, Christ-like, he went to his Gethsemane and then to his Golgotha, accepting God’s Will. As those who had risen against the God-given Tsar had risen against God, so the Christian Empire fell through apostasy. Without the Orthodox Faith, there could be no Sovereign Monarchy. However, the Lord had destined the Russian Lands to be the last bastion of Universal Christianity in the time of general apostasy before Antichrist. Thus, He has begun restoring the Russian Orthodox Church, which is called on to preserve the purity of the Faith before the Second Coming, in order to lead the repentant remnant of mankind to Christ, thus meeting the mission of the Third Rome.

The Russian Role in Restoring a Sovereign Europe

In 1959 the French statesman President De Gaulle had spoken of a united Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals, seeing Europe as an alliance of independent, sovereign states. He was right in that he fundamentally rejected a supranational character for Europe as ‘a supranational Europe is a Europe under American command’, a ‘Europe of the Americans’. Indeed, on 15 May 1962 he clearly declared that ‘there cannot be any Europe other than that of (nation) states, apart from in myths, fiction and parades’, which is precisely the present EU. However, he was wrong in that he identified such a Confederation of Sovereign States stretching only as far as the Urals: it must stretch to the Pacific. And here is the mystical meaning of the establishment of a Russian Orthodox Metropolia of Europe. It means that the still for the moment Tsarless Third Rome may stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific, uniting East and West, overcoming Europe’s self-imposed isolation.

Russia and Europe

The pure Christian roots of Western Europe can still redirect it to salvation from its present apostasy. But these roots have been conserved ecclesially only by the Russian Orthodox Church, which stretches to the Pacific and even across it. It is a mistake to try and isolate the culture of Europe, in the extreme western corner of Northern Eurasia, from its roots in Christ. The European attempt to isolate and nationalize Christ from Asia, to claim Him for itself, first resulted in the deformations of Rome and Geneva. Then apostate Europeans replaced Christ with anti-European ‘European values’. Among others, Austria, Hungary, the Czech Lands, Slovakia and Poland are now resisting this attempt. However, spiritually they can do little without Russian Orthodox support. Before the great European suicide of 1914-1918, there was hope that Paris-Berlin-Saint Petersburg could be united. Now, 100 years after the First War ended, we have the same hope again.

The Self-Annihilation of Europe

Today European peoples face their spiritual annihilation, imposed on them by the two-edged sword of the choice of the atheist European elite. On the one hand, there is its self-imposed abortion holocaust (2-3 million European children slaughtered each year for decades). On the other hand, there is its self-imposed, massive Muslim immigration of cheap labour, which will result in a generation’s time in large parts of Western Europe being peopled by a 25% Muslim population. Since renouncing the fullness of Christ’s Church 1,000 years ago, Europe has fallen prey to a host of self-imposed isms, from Catholicism to Protestantism, from Secularism to Communism, from Fascism to Capitalism, from Atheism to Globalism. Obsessed by its barbaric pagan past, whether Roman or Germanic, it renounced the Holy Spirit. It has forgotten the glory of its saints, its holiness, which blossomed in Europe for the first millennium and then dried up.

The Repentance of Europe

Only by appealing to the glory of these, its own saints, and repenting and returning to the Church and Faith in which they gained their holiness, the grace of the Holy Spirit, can Europe be saved. Western Europe must renounce its self-isolation that it so fatefully chose in 1054 and tragically repeated in 1914. Otherwise it will disappear into the abyss of its suicidal isolation. In order to do this, it must make its peace with the remains of the Christian Empire in the Russian Lands. Western Europe has continually attempted to destroy this Empire, most notably in the four multinational invasions that it so aggressively and barbarically launched against it in the space of only 130 years between 1812 and 1941. In order to do this, it must repent for continually attempting to undermine its Faith and Sovereign Monarchy and commit genocide against its Peoples and those of other Orthodox Christian lands. This is going on right now, from Kosovo to the Ukraine.

Conclusion: The Salvation of Europe

The mystical meaning of a Russian Orthodox Metropolia of Europe is the opportunity for salvation, the return to the Church of God of the living souls of those Europeans still spiritually sensitive and not yet zombified by EU bread and US circuses. A Russian Orthodox Metropolia of Europe (ROME) (not just in Europe) is, in the words of its former Patriarch, the foundation of a future Local Church, which will be reborn, as soon as Europe is worthy of it. It can gather together not only the Orthodox of all nationalities who already live and pray in Western Europe now, but also can gather together all the saints of Europe, those who lived and prayed here in the distant past, and their descendants. All this is in order to prepare for the future. This will be a Europe cleansed of its atheism and of its spiritually impure institutions, polluted by their refusal to accept the Holy Spirit Who proceeds from the Father. This will be a Europe that can seek – and find – holiness, the Spirit of God.

 

 

 

Possible Forms for the Russian Orthodox Metropolia of Europe (ROME)

The Russian Orthodox Church from Moscow now has six active bishops in Western Europe: Archbishop Simon of Brussels and Belgium; Archbishop Elisei of the Hague and the Netherlands; Bishop Nestor of Paris, France, Spain and Portugal; Bishop Tikhon of Podolsk for Germany; Bishop Antony of Italy, Austria and Hungary; Bishop Matvei for the British Isles and Ireland. The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) has only three bishops. Moreover, one of them, the elderly Archbishop Mark, may retire to Mt Athos, as he already expressed the desire several times over the last two years, leaving only two ROCOR bishops in Western Europe.

We know that one day a Russian Orthodox Metropolia of Europe will be formed, though we do not know when or who will be the Metropolitan. Nobody knows what the future will bring, but perhaps it could be something like this: The Paris-born ROCOR Archbishop Michael (Donskov – formerly of Geneva) could become Metropolitan of Paris and Western Europe. The ROCOR Archbishop Agapit of Stuttgart could look after the 50 ROCOR parishes in Germany, Austria and Denmark. Then ROCOR could appoint deans for its parishes in shared territories such as Switzerland, under the supervision of the Metropolitan, who would in any case care for the ROCOR parishes in France and Benelux.

In such a case, the much younger Bishop Nestor of Paris could become bishop at the restored Cathedral in Nice, remaining the closest advisor and then successor to Metropolitan Michael. From Moscow it would be necessary to appoint three more bishops: one in Vienna for historic Austria-Hungary, leaving Bishop Antony to look after the 70 or so parishes in Italy; one in Madrid for Spain and Portugal, leaving Bishop Nestor to look after France; and one for Scandinavia, perhaps in Helsinki, where there is a desperate need for a missionary bishop of the Russian Orthodox Tradition, looking after the many Russians in Finland, as also in Sweden, Norway and Iceland.

This would create a Metropolia of eleven bishops, nine from Moscow and two, including the Metropolitan, from ROCOR. Of course, there are many practical and financial problems and many points here may be quite, quite unrealistic. Only those in charge can see the big picture. There are also many variations. For example, in the British Isles and Ireland if Moscow blessed it, ROCOR could permanently appoint a bishop from the USA to look after all the parishes there. Or, in the case of a retirement, the Netherlands Diocese could take over parishes in northern Belgium, those in southern Belgium joining the French diocese. But not as we will, or imagine, but as God wills.

Archpriest Andrew Phillips M.A. (Oxon), Cert. Theology (Paris)

Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR)

Member of the ROCOR/Patriarchal Commission for the Diaspora

Representative for Western Europe of the ROCOR Missionary Department

Member of the Ecclesiastical Court of the ROCOR Diocese of the British Isles

Member of the Theological Committee of the Orthodox Bishops in the British Isles

 

The Metropolia of Western Europe Takes Shape

The nightmare is over.

Just over a generation ago the Russian Orthodox Church in Western Europe was divided into two warring groups. One group, the MP, tiny, was influenced in part by scandalous spiritual and moral compromises and was under the control of militant atheists who ruled in Moscow. The other group, ROCOR, much larger but very elderly and clearly dying out, was in part influenced by a right-wing, nationalist movement, influenced by the Vlasovites of World War II. Some, refusing to take part in either politicized group, had already joined another politicized group, the ‘Paris Jurisdiction’, entirely outside the Russian Church, under the US-run and largely masonic Patriarchate of Constantinople.

Abandoned and without leadership, we had to ‘do the Church’ ourselves. We became independent-minded. We had no choice. In 1988 I wrote down some ideas for the future. It was thrown away into a rubbish bin by the Archbishop who had requested it. With radical changes within the last twelve months to the configuration of the three ROCOR dioceses in Western Europe and yesterday’s radical changes to the now six MP dioceses in Western Europe, we are seeing many of our hopes of exactly thirty years ago at last coming true, but in the form of one single Russian Orthodox and multi-diocesan Metropolia of Western Europe. Here is what we wrote then:

A VISION FOR THE ORTHODOX CHURCHES OF WESTERN EUROPE

The twentieth century in particular has seen decade after decade of immigration to Western Europe from the contemporary homelands of Orthodox Christianity, from Russia, the Balkans and the Near and Middle East. At the same time there has taken place the conversion of small numbers of Western Europeans to the Orthodox Christian Faith. As a result, there are now not insignificant groups of Orthodox Christians of diverse background in Western European countries.

These facts raise many questions. What might be the future in the twenty-first Century of those groups? Will they remain attached to foreign homelands and the linguistic, political and regional divisions of those lands? Will number of converts and their non-convert descendants be content to remain in the dioceses of culturally and linguistically foreign Churches? What will happen to immigrant groups within a generation of the fall of the Berlin Wall, when the generation of gerontocrats who ran the Communist Empire have died out and are replaced by young Western-style technocrats? What will happen as the old State Church mentalities of Eastern Europe are offloaded with the new globalized mentalities of the Internet generation?

Nobody can answer such questions with any degree of assurance, but we could perhaps at least express some idea of what might be desirable, but to do that we must start off from reality. Firstly, let no mistake be made, there are large numbers of immigrants who do not wish for any change to the present situation. In other words they are happy to live in Western Europe in a mental and ecclesiastical extension of their homelands. The fact that as a result there are, contrary to the canons, several Orthodox bishops, admittedly of different nationalities, on the same territory, is of no significance to them. Indeed official Church hierarchies have actually encouraged this uncanonical development by giving their bishops titles of disappeared sees in foreign countries.

For example, in this country the Greek Archbishop has taken the title of a village in Turkey and the Russian Patriarchal Metropolitan that of a ruined town on the Black Sea coast, rather than take the title ‘of London’. In other words, the sense of ethnic identity and loyalty of many remains strong. (And it must be said that that is not always a bad thing). However, it does mean that the numbers of those who consciously wish to see local and self-governing Orthodox Churches develop in Western Europe are still relatively small. Secondly, we must recognize that Western Europe itself is by no means homogeneous. There runs through it a North-South fault-line which by and large separates the Germanic and Protestant North from the Latin and Roman Catholic South.

Mentalities are not the same to either side of that line. For instance, the North is more liberal, but paradoxically more rigid, the South more flexible but paradoxically less open to Orthodoxy. In addition to this, despite the influx of Greeks and Cypriots, the North of Western Europe has been culturally affected more by the settlement of Russian Orthodox refugees, the South more by the settlement of the Greeks. As a result of these factors, there have been more converts in the North of Western Europe than in the South. Despite the ineffectual intellectualizing of some Russians, the attraction of converts in the North has been overwhelmingly to the various parts of the Russian Church or even to Russian practices, even if under the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Peoples here are more attracted to the more European mentalities of Russian Orthodoxy than the Mediterranean and Oriental ways of Greek Orthodoxy.

In the South of Western Europe, however, a different situation has developed. Here most immigrants have come from Greece. Nevertheless, in their political pact with the Vatican, the Patriarchate of Constantinople responsible for these immigrants agreed not to witness to Orthodox Christianity in those predominantly Roman Catholic countries of south-western Europe. Thus those who wished to become Orthodox in these areas were forced to become Orthodox in Greek Old Calendarist groups, outside the control of both Constantinople and the Vatican. This situation was then further complicated by the realization of those convert groups that they had become members of sects. Thus, one after another, most of these groups, whether in Portugal and Spain, or in Catalonia and south-western France, or in Italy, have left Old Calendarism and joined Slav Churches, respectively the Polish, Serbian and Russian Churches.

From this ethnic, political and jurisdictional chaos, how can any semblance of order evolve? It would seem to the present writer that a starting point for those who wish to belong to future Orthodox Churches of Western Europe would be the following: to group themselves into Deaneries whose shape would correspond to the linguistic, geographical, historical, cultural and national realities of Western Europe. (This presumes, of course, that such Orthodox, whatever their background, convert or immigrant, are sufficiently numerous to be able to persuade canonical Orthodox bishops to agree to the establishment of such Deaneries).

In such a scenario, the territory of Western Europe could first be divided into two Dioceses comprising its two racial and cultural components – Germanic North and Latin South. These two Dioceses could be structured into a pattern of Deaneries as follows:

1) The Diocese of North-Western Europe. This part of Western Europe can be subdivided into three separate cultural areas:

a) A Deanery of the Isles. This would cover the whole of the British Isles, with a Metropolitan base presumably in a historic centre such as York, the Imperial City of Constantine.

b) A Deanery of Germania. This would cover Germany, Austria, Holland, Luxembourg and much of Alsace, Switzerland and Belgium, with a Metropolitan See in some historic Patristic centre such as Trier, the City of St. Athanasius the Great.

c) A Deanery of Scandinavia. This would cover Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark, with a base perhaps in Roskilde, where the Orthodox Faith entered into Scandinavian territorial consciousness.

2) The Diocese of South-Western Europe This part of Western Europe can also be subdivided into three separate cultural areas:

a) A Deanery of Gallia. This would comprise France (including Brittany, Occitania, Provence and French-speaking Alsace), and also French-speaking Belgium and Switzerland, with a base perhaps in the historic Orthodox Patristic Metropolitan See of Lyons.

b) A Deanery of Iberia. This would comprise Spain (including all the Basque Country on both sides of the Franco-Spanish border, Catalonia and Galicia) and Portugal, with a base in a historic Apostolic centre, for example, Santiago de Compostela.

c) A Deanery of Italia. This would comprise Italy, Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica and Italian-speaking Switzerland, with its centre in the Apostolic Orthodox See of Rome.

If ever this vision came to pass, these two Dioceses of Western Europe, North and South, could become Archdioceses and their six Deaneries, Dioceses. Eventually the six Dioceses would then themselves become Archdioceses with their own internal regional dioceses. In turn these six Archdioceses would then become self-governing regional Orthodox Churches. Thus Western Europe would become home to no fewer than six regional Orthodox Churches. These Churches would not be Churches in a place (implying that they were foreign churches imposed on the places without being acculturated), rather they would be Churches of a place:

The Church of the Isles.

The Church of Germania.

The Church of Scandinavia.

The Church of Gallia.

The Church of Iberia.

The Church of Italia.

Such a division of Western Europe into regional Churches could avoid the monolithic temptations of a sole centre which led in history to the pride of the Roman See and its falling away from the Orthodox Faith. At the same time, however, the existence of regional Churches would also avoid the balkanized nationalism to be found in ‘local’ national Churches. Thus a ‘Church of the Isles’ could not fall victim to, say, English or Irish nationalism, for both nationalities, together with the Scottish and the Welsh, would be ‘conjoined’ in one ‘confederal’ regional Orthodox Church. This is why Metropolitan centres should not be in secular capitals but in historic Orthodox centres, spiritual capitals – York, Trier, Roskilde, Lyons, Santiago and Rome. This would avoid the danger implied in such terms as ‘Russian Orthodox’ (centred in the secular capital of Moscow) and ‘Greek Orthodox’ (centred in the secular capital of Athens), when what is really meant is ‘The Church of Russia’ and ‘The Church of the Hellenes’.

Perhaps some, on reading this, will grow excited, while others will condemn it as fantasy. It has to be said that the first are wrong, because the spirit of Orthodox Christianity is one of sobriety and not excitement. And it must be said that the others may be right. For it we are honest, we are still a century or more away from any of this. And if the present situation of human degeneration is anything to go by, the world and Western Europe with it, may not even last until the twenty-second century. And however it may be, we personally will not last until the twenty-second century.

Some may agree that indeed we will not be here to see this Vision made reality, but that we are working for our children and our children’s children. To those, however, I would say this: let us first of all simply work for our own salvation – for if we do not save ourselves, how can we possibly say that we are working for our children and our children’s children? If we cannot save ourselves, how will others be saved around us? First things first – for all the rest will only come to pass if it is God’s Will. For this after all is the essence of Vision – to see what is God’s Will and do it.

Translated from the consultative paper ‘L’Eglise Orthodoxe de L’Europe Occidentale – Vision ou Rêve’ by Deacon Andrew Phillips, Paris, April 1988.

The Future Metropolia Receives New and Young Strength

At the latest Synod Meeting in Moscow today:

Archbishop  Elisei  of Sourozh has been appointed Archbishop of the Hague and the Netherlands. Bishop Matvei of Bogorodsk (formerly Fr Gennady Andreev from Manchester) has been appointed Bishop of Sourozh.

Bishop Tikhon of Podolsk has been appointed Bishop for Berlin and Germany, replacing the elderly Archbishop Theophan who died earlier this year. He does not take the title ‘of Berlin and Germany’ because that for the moment still belongs to Archbishop Mark.

Bishop Antony of Zvenigorod has been appointed Bishop of Vienna and Budapest, replacing Bishop Tikhon of Podolsk, and Bishop Antony also returns to his post as Bishop for Italy.

Meanwhile, Bishop Nestor remains in charge of France, Spain and Portugal and Archbishop Simon becomes Bishop of Belgium, having been relieved of the Netherlands.

The average age of all these bishops is about 45. A new generation is in charge. Thanks be to God.

 

 

The Sins of the Fathers: On the Coming Russian Orthodox Church Administrative Unity in Western Europe

 

The Russian Orthodox Church exists in two separate administrations in Western Europe. Although both have the same Patriarch in Moscow, one is directly dependent on Moscow, the other only indirectly on him, as it is primarily dependent on a Metropolitan in New York. The Moscow group numbers some 210 parishes in several dioceses, the New York group some 70 parishes in three dioceses, one third of that under Moscow, though in some local regions it is still a majority. On the other hand Moscow has more or less complete control in Austria, Italy, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands and Scandinavia.

As we slowly move towards future administrative unity in a single Russian Orthodox Metropolia of Europe (ROME), all over Western Europe a choice will have to be made: Which administration do parishes wish to belong to? In other words, ultimately, which group is to be absorbed by the other? And will that absorption take place all over Western Europe, or only in some areas? This is not a simple matter because this implies that each administration is going to have to answer for the very saddening errors of the past.  And there were many of these and their consequences have been postponed for a generation and more.

These include political and moral compromises, which, even if forgiven, are not forgotten, incompetence in failing to build up infrastructure, obtaining and building churches and encouraging and training local clergy, refusal to look after local people and locally-born children and grandchildren and general lack of pastoral and missionary effort. Refusal to take responsibility and ask for forgiveness with repentance will be dismissed. Childish phrases like ‘We’re right because we’re bigger than you…’, or ‘We were here first’, or ‘We’ve got more money than you’, do not wash with people made distrustful by past sins and errors.

The people, and ultimately the clergy with them, will not choose a cold manager or bureaucrat, but the pastoral bishop who shows genuine love for them and does not neglect, ignore and insult them. However, the lack of love of the past is about to receive its just rewards. The people will choose genuine communities. Parishes where people know one another and to which people feel a sense of belonging will win the day. People will not choose parishes which they pass through like railway stations, which are money-making machines, or are centres of cold and formal ritualism in foreign and unknown languages.

There is a moment of danger here, for Western Europe is already littered with the wreckage of small ex-Russian Orthodox communities, alienated by the heavy-handedness of both administrations. These include the tiny marginal communities of the ‘Paris Jurisdiction’ on the one hand, which on paper are canonical, as well as the tiny fringe communities of various ‘Pure’ or ’True’ sectarian jurisdictions, which even on paper are not canonical. For those who suffered under both administrations and never received an apology, we leave the choice to Divine guidance. The chickens come home to roost; the sins of the fathers have a price.

In 2003 the Paris Jurisdiction, then under Archbishop Sergiy, was negotiating its return to the Russian Orthodox Church. It would have become the local element in hopes for a future Russian Orthodox Metropolia of Western Europe, the foundation of a new Local Orthodox Church. It was not to be. Archbishop Sergiy died, and his successors took a virulent anti-Russian line. Now it is on the way to becoming a deanery of the Greek Orthodox Church in Paris. However, together with the 70 parishes established in Western Europe for up to 100 years, Moscow can still establish a joint Metropolia. This can heal both past injustices and avoid future injustices.