Category Archives: OCA

Which Jurisdiction of the Orthodox Church Should I Join?

Although fourteen Local Orthodox Churches make up the whole Orthodox Church of 216 million, only seven of them are represented by their jurisdictions outside the Local Orthodox Church homelands in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. However, since the Churches of Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria and Georgia generally care only for their own nationals, only three of these jurisdictions are open to Non-Orthodox. These three depend on the Patriarchates of Constantinople, Antioch and Moscow.

However, in Western Europe and North America there at present exist two groups in the Russian Church – that directly under Moscow and that under the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) and so indirectly under Moscow. In North America, there is actually a third group, known as the OCA (Orthodox Church in America), originally largely Carpatho-Russian but now basically English-language, which was founded by Moscow. Anyone wishing to join the Orthodox Church may therefore have a choice to make.

Generally speaking, in Western countries, where Orthodox Christians are only a small minority and Orthodox churches are few and far between, this choice will be decided geographically. If you only have one Orthodox church geographically near you, then that is the church to join. However, if you live in or near the capital of a Western country or in or near a large city or town, there may well be a choice to make between the various jurisdictions. What needs to be known in order to choose?

1. The Patriarchate of Constantinople

This jurisdiction is dominated by Greek nationalism (the Greek flag) and generally sends away any Non-Greeks who knock at its door. It should also be known that this Patriarchate is both heavily involved with the Vatican and is run by the US political elite. For it, Washington is the ‘Second Rome’ and therefore the official ethos is modernistic, ecumenistic and generally liberal Protestant, according to the anti-Russian, Anglo-Saxon Establishment model. This is true even of Non-Greek parts of it, even though they try and imitate a few selected Russian customs. Having said this, there are exceptions, with some excellent pastors and pious people, so that any generalizations can be disproved by exceptions to the rule. If you are fortunate, you may live near a church of this jurisdiction that is not nationalistic and so is interested in missions to the Non-Greek world and has spiritual depth and content.

2. The Patriarchate of Antioch

Part of this jurisdiction is dominated by Arab nationalism, but the other part, mainly in Western countries, is dominated by a spirit of mission with a conservative-evangelical Protestant style, with a certain, rather peculiar and amateurish imitation of a few selected Russian customs. The ethos of this part, largely run by ex-Evangelicals, is to proselytize, that is, its ethos is to recruit as many like-minded converts as possible to itself. Some criticize it for this because as a result it cuts corners, fails to observe the canons and has a Protestant feel to it that attracts few cradle Orthodox (and it is not even very interested in this), certainly none who are anchored in the Tradition. Having said this, no-one would criticize this part of Antioch for its lack of zeal, only for its lack of depth and of knowledge of the Tradition. If you are fortunate, you may live near a church of this jurisdiction that has spiritual depth and content.

3. The Patriarchate of Moscow

A criticism of this jurisdiction is that its Patriarch and hierarchy are corrupt. Those who make such assertions never have any proof of them and are engaged in Western-sponsored, anti-Russian politics. However, even if, for the sake of argument, we agree that they were true, we would answer: So what? The Patriarch is not the Head of the Church, for Christ is the Head of the Church and the Patriarch does not run the Church, for the Holy Spirit runs the Church. Such political criticisms show a Papist way of thinking. The parishes of the Patriarchate of Moscow outside the former Soviet Union, mainly in Western Europe and South America, display several tendencies. Some are nationalistic and, Soviet-style, arrogantly imperialistic, some are modernistic, others follow the Tradition and accept Non-Russians. If you are fortunate, you may live near a church of this jurisdiction that has spiritual depth and content.

4. ROCOR

The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) exists mainly in North America, Australasia and Western Europe. As such it has been responsible for much missionary and translation work. It has in its near-100 year history also been subject to many sufferings and persecution, as it has been without the political protection of a powerful State. Thus, the best of ROCOR has been a Church of Confessors and Missionaries, as in its saints like St John of Shanghai. However, other parts of it have been involved in nationalism, excessive strictness to the point of phariseeism and depressing right-wing politics. Today, as part of the Russian Orthodox Church, it has sometimes given the impression of drifting and having lost its identity. This drift has come about whenever its faithfulness to the Tradition has been in doubt. If you are fortunate, you may live near a church of this jurisdiction that has spiritual depth and content.

About Ionan Orthodoxy: An Interview with Archbishop George of London

12 May 2041

Q: What is the territory of your Archdiocese?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: What was that mistake?

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

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

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

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

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

Q: What about in other countries in Europe?

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

Q: And in England?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AG: Definitely. And especially in Western Europe.

Q: Why?

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

Q: Which extremes?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the Past Divisions in the Russian Orthodox Emigration

Why did divisions take place in the Russian emigration: I mean, there were some everywhere who chose the Non-Patriarchal ROCOR, a few stayed under Moscow, others locally in North America set up the OCA and yet some others locally set up the Paris group. Four groups! And a second question: what do you think will happen to them in the future?

D.O., Kent

The Past

A correction: Three groups: the OCA, as it is now called, was built on Non-Russians, ex-Uniats from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, who had emigrated to the USA and Canada well before the Russian Revolution, and, to a lesser degree, on native Alaskans. True, precedents of the OCA were under the Russian Church (either Moscow or else ROCOR) for periods, but it was never part of the Russian emigration. The only émigrés who joined it, and that after the Second World War, were elitist aristocrats with the Paris superiority complex, for instance, Fr Alexander Schmemann, Fr John Meyendorff and Sophia Kulomzina.

As regards the three Russian groups, they represented earlier social divisions – notice ‘represented’ in the past tense, since there are now essentially only two groups or, arguably, only one. One is minute and, as it is outside the Russian Church, in effect schismatic (Patriarch Alexei II’s words), the other is the Russian Church. These divisions existed well before the Revolution, even in the nineteenth century. Thus, those few who remained loyal to Moscow inherited to some extent the old Statist mentality of the pre-Revolutionary period. Their leaders remained loyal to the State, whatever, though there were also many very sincere Orthodox patriots among clergy and people. This mentality was inherent in the infamous decree of 1927, signed under duress by Metr Sergius, commanding all Orthodox outside Russia, including Non-Russians, to swear loyalty to the Church-persecuting, atheist State! A situation, which the Patriarchate in Moscow is still paying for, trying to retrieve the trust that it lost then, and again later, by appointing morally corrupt or renovationist individuals to its episcopate.

ROCOR, on the other hand, inherited the mentality of the pre-Revolutionary monastic revival. This was led by the neo-Patristic (and therefore slandered) figure of Metr Antony of Kiev, but had both positive and negative aspects. The positive aspects included faithfulness to the Tradition (and not to corrupt customs), with its ascetic, canonical and liturgical disciplines, and the love of the saints. The negative aspects, mainly on the fringes, included conservatism (instead of the Tradition), narrow Russian nationalism (instead of the multinational, Imperial Tradition), dry and formalist, at times pharisaic, ritualism, narrow negativism stifling any initiative, an elitist lack of pastoral understanding of and compassion for married clergy, children, parish life and the people in general, eccentric right-wingery and a sectarian mentality. It was these aspects that led some extremist individuals in ROCOR to support Hitler, to persecute and put on trial the spiritually vibrant St John of Shanghai and, more recently, to break away from the Church altogether, forming strange and tiny right-wing sects with all the usual sectarian infighting.

The Paris group, always very small, represented the pro-Western aristocrats and elitist intellectuals. They were already disloyal and even treacherous to Christ, both Church and State, long before the Revolution, going back to the Decembrist traitors of 1825. Many of them actually plotted and prepared the February 1917 Revolution with British and other anti-Christian foreign encouragement. That overthrew the legitimate rule of the Anointed Tsar and Orthodox Christian Empire, which ironically resulted in the self-punishment of their exile, once the ruthless Bolsheviks soon took over from their incompetent misrule in October 1917. (A similar situation to that of the corrupt English-speaking oligarchs who misrule the Ukraine today). Most of these emigres, mostly from Saint Petersburg, speaking fluent French, sometimes better than Russian, naturally headed for Paris. They were the oligarchs of their day.

The Present

Naturally, after the dissolution of the Soviet State in 1991, the first two groups, Moscow and ROCOR, joined together, but only once they had overcome their mutual political prejudices, which took them sixteen years to do. It is difficult and probably unfair to apportion blame for this lack of haste – history will do that. Clearly, there could be no unity until Moscow had at least on paper condemned co-operation with the atheist State and ecumenism (defined as intercommunion, prayer with heretics etc, and not simply talking to heterodox and witnessing to them) and canonized the New Martyrs and Confessors. All that happened in 2000. Nine years lost, but that is how long it took to overcome on paper the Statist Soviet mentality that refused to criticize even Stalin. On the other hand, many in ROCOR must bear a share of responsibility for their lack of haste too.

A few elderly, KGB-appointed individuals in the old Soviet Union never overcame the Statist mentality. Such is the tragic case of the 87-year old dinosaur, Michael Denysenko, who now calls himself ‘Metr Philaret of Kiev’. A provincial Party hack from the Ukraine of the old days, and reputedly an atheist, he is certainly married with two children. Obsessively jealous that he was not chosen Patriarch after the death of Patriarch Pimen in 1990 and seeing the way the tide was turning, he overnight converted himself to Ukrainian nationalism. This he had previously strongly and mockingly condemned, but he changed his ways in order to further his career, thus, like any vulgar vagans, giving himself the right to dress up in a patriarch’s costume! He depends entirely on political support from US-backed, neo-Nazi nationalists. What happens to him when the provincialist regime in Kiev, put in place by the US colonial administration, inevitably collapses, is unknown, but he may be dead by then anyway.

For its part, ROCOR had to lose its fringe sectarians and pharisees who had been troubling Church life since the 1960s. In the 1990s they even dared to forge alliances with old calendarists and received various mainly sectarian individuals on ex-Soviet territory into the Church, though these were never accepted by the unconsulted clergy and people in ROCOR. These sectarian elements actually claimed that the martyric Church in Russia was without grace and made political co-operation with the atheist State, i.e. the simple human sins of weakness and cowardice, into a new heresy! But if sin is heresy, then we are all heretics, the apostles and saints included. Their longer-term knowledge of Church history was extraordinarily weak and their practice of Orthodoxy seemed mainly to be limited to formalities and ritual.

The worst example was perhaps the politicking of the defrocked bishop, Barnabas (Prokofiev), in the south of France, who was later rightly put on trial and sentenced by the French government for embezzlement. In this country I know three laypeople, then in ROCOR, who, though too young to remember much about him, shocked me in the 1990s by telling me that they thought that Hitler had been a good thing. All three were extremely ignorant and all three unsurprisingly left the Church in 2007, joining various extremist sects. The strange thing is that two of them are married to Anglicans, i. e. in their own abrasive language, married to heretics!

The Future

As regards the future of the fourth, in fact, Non-Russian, group, the OCA, who knows? It is certainly suffering from a severe identity crisis and undergoing great tensions, constantly changing metropolitans. Two questions can be asked about it: Will it be able to survive as one intact group or will it split into its artificially combined constituent fragments, with a large part returning to the Russian Church? And would that be a negative or a positive thing? These questions are not for us to answer; those who constitute the OCA will answer those questions themselves, voting with their feet. As they are outside the Russian Church, we are merely onlookers and can only observe events.

With the exception of some non-Saint Petersburgers, and despite repeated invitations, the tiny third group, centred in Paris, has no intention of returning to the Russian Church and Her ascetic, canonical and liturgical disciplines. It can therefore be termed ‘ex-Russian’. Such a state of politicized, adolescent rebellion does not bode well. Indeed, we can already see the ‘withered branch syndrome’, as this self-isolated group gets ever smaller, though with several dozen quite untrained clergy with tiny ‘parishes’ (often between five and ten!) who sometimes do the strangest things. It will inevitably die out, as it runs out of bishops and Church-educated people and veers towards full secularization by the local Western Establishments which for obvious reasons encourage it, losing the reason for its existence. But that is not a problem for the Russian Church, which it ignores.

This leaves us with the first two groups, now more or less united into one. Here also it is difficult to know what will happen. At present there is no case for an administrative merger of the two, despite them sometimes sharing the same territory. The Moscow group, which gets ever larger in Western Europe, is in drastic need of many more missionary-minded bishops and clergy and a less ‘Soviet’ mentality, adapted to local needs and languages. It also suffers from a lack of premises, the result of the chronic lack of vision and maladministration of the past. Often, but not always, it still appears to lack leadership, vision and dynamism, still dealing with the short-term situation on a day to day basis – a recipe for long-term disaster.

As for ROCOR, it urgently needs dynamic young bishops and priests. Some seem to forget that the canonical age for consecrating a bishop is 35: to have nearly all your bishops (and too many clergy) in their sixties and seventies is profoundly abnormal and makes it likely that any group will die out. Now is the time of the wake-up call for ROCOR, if it wishes to survive in some form or other in the longer term. The result of any lack of leadership and direction is always that you live in the past and do not look to the future. Any loss of dynamism has to be remedied now. However, it is not too late and everything is still possible. ROCOR still has huge potential: whether that will be squandered or not, we cannot say.

The Future of Russian Orthodox Outside the Canonical Territory of the Russian Orthodox Church

Introduction: A Definition of Terms

At the present time there are three groups of Russian Orthodox which have permanently settled outside the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church, but which are for the moment administratively separated. This canonical territory means China and Japan, where there are already Autonomous Churches, and above all the countries formed from the ex-Soviet Union, notably the Russian Federation, the Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania – with the exception of the canonical territory of the ancient Georgian Orthodox Church.

We naturally exclude from these three groups ex-Russian Orthodox: the Ukrainian nationalist group whose ancestors once mainly lived in Polish Galicia and most of whose descendants are in Canada; the small group whose ancestors once belonged to the Russian Church in Finland; very small communities sometimes of Russian descent in a few parts of Western Europe under the Paris Jurisdiction; even smaller sects which broke away from the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) between 2000 and 2007. These four groups have for purely political reasons consciously chosen to live outside the canonical unity of the Russian Church, the first three under the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

One Faith but Three Administrations

These three groups of Russian Orthodox are:

1. Those who have a disputed autocephalous status in North America. They include above all, but not only, those of ‘Ruthenian’ origin whose ancestors emigrated from the former Austro-Hungarian Empire and those who were converted in Alaska when it was still a Russian possession. With their presence dating back well over a century, that is, before the 1917 Revolution, they are grouped in what is called the OCA (Orthodox Church in America).

2. Those in the self-governing Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), whose ancestors either emigrated after the 1917 Revolution, or after 1945, or who have joined the Church since. This group is centred in the USA, but has many members in parts of Western Europe (principally in western Germany and Switzerland), Australasia and also some members in Latin America and the Holy Land.

3. Those who depend directly on Moscow, but live above all in dioceses in Western and Central Europe, but also in much smaller numbers in countries as diverse as the USA, Canada, Thailand, the Philippines, Iran and elsewhere. These are mainly those who have emigrated to these countries in the last twenty-five years since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

These three groups represent different periods and different generations of emigration. The first group dates back five generations and more, the second often dates back three or four generations, whereas the third often dates back only one generation. Is there a possibility that these three groups may one day join together? Surely, that would be a logical, canonical and indeed welcome outcome? And if not, what could prevent them from doing so? Let us look in detail at each of the three groups.

Is an Administrative Merger even Possible?

The first group, in its present form a product of the Cold War politics of nearly two generations ago, appears to be split into two factions. Some more traditional would like to have closer relations with those who in North America are happy to call themselves Russian Orthodox (those belonging to groups 2 and 3), but others for political reasons object to the term ‘Russian Orthodox’. They confuse this term with some narrow, ethnic identity instead of the multi-ethnic reality. These, sometimes quite Russophobic American nationalists, often not of Slav but of Protestant background, are generally very modernistic and have little understanding of the Tradition.

Therefore, they may wish to quit the OCA background which is in the disciplines of the Russian Church and Tradition. Like other political dissidents elsewhere, these latter may wish to join the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Their mentality is after all very similar to those ex-Russian Orthodox already in the Patriarchate of Constantinople, in the Paris Jurisdiction (including ex-Sourozh) and in Finland, whose mindset in the eyes of Russian Orthodox is more or less schismatic and even semi-treasonous. Under Constantinople, these dissidents would, like the others who have left the Russian Church, be allowed to operate outside the canonical and liturgical disciplines common to the Church.

The second group, ROCOR, should by its name unite all Orthodox outside Russia (Russia meaning the Russian Lands, that is, the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church, as defined at the beginning of this article). However, it does not do so at present, though it is now showing great openness at least in North America to groups 1 and 3, even receiving the former OCA leader. One of the problems for some in ROCOR is that as long as the Soviet Union existed, it had a very clear, even exaggerated identity, but that was a whole generation ago. As a result, some individuals prefer to pretend that the Soviet Union still exists, under the imaginary term of ‘Putinization’, but this fantasy is mere New Cold War propaganda of the basest kind and self-justification for the disobedience of schism and conforms at best to fantasy, at worst to paranoia. We must not live trapped in the past, for salvation can only come if we live in the present.

Today, ROCOR seems to be confining itself to North America and Australasia, with South America and Western Europe increasingly small and detached. Is it to confine itself in the future only to the English-speaking world? The direction of the ROCOR leadership seems to some unclear and ROCOR identity has perhaps been blurred by Western rite experiment. On the other hand, the membership of ROCOR has increased rapidly through recent emigration. All is still possible and ROCOR could still become a federation of regional Metropolias around the world, as Patriarch Kyrill would like. This process of Metropolitanization is precisely what has been carried out on Russian Orthodox canonical territory. However, time is passing and several years have gone by since such strategic decisions could have been taken.

The third group, directly under Moscow, is expanding rapidly by emigration, especially in Western Europe, where most countries are effectively now directly under Moscow and ROCOR is clearly an outnumbered minority, mainly by its own choices. It must be said that this situation looks like being replicated elsewhere too. The situation has indeed been transformed in the last 25 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Whereas once this group was tiny, today it is the biggest. We can remember the situation only thirty years ago of the dioceses in Brussels, Paris and London, where, all told, the flock numbered three bishops, a dozen or so priests and a few hundred faithful! In other words, three ‘dioceses’ totalled no more than a parish.

Today, with large new churches built or being built in Rome, Madrid, Paris, Strasbourg and in several cities in Germany, large dioceses in Italy and Scandinavia, several parishes in Portugal, Spain, Ireland and even Iceland, with well over a million faithful, the momentum is clearly here. However, there are difficulties. Some of its older and senior clergy seem to have problems adapting to life outside Russia and can have ‘Soviet’ reflexes. Not only do they not understand local cultures, mentalities and family life, but some do not understand the local language and so cannot even communicate with and confess the children of their flocks. This is a very, very serious pastoral problem. Little wonder that some recent and better integrated emigrants sometimes prefer to attend ROCOR churches or, in North America, traditional OCA churches.

Conclusion: Three in One in the Future?

One thing is clear – no solution to three separate administrations will ever be imposed from above. No-one in the Centre in Moscow wishes to be accused of imposing some Soviet-style structure or reorganization, as was disastrously tried in the 1920s. In the internet age top-down ‘Soviet Tank’ style is dead, belonging firmly in the past. Unity today can only come organically, from the grassroots. True, the Centre in Moscow strongly, but also understandably, dislikes the extremist fringes with their disloyalty and Russophobia, either of the left-wing Paris/Sourozh type, or of the right-wing sectarian type that once posed a problem in ROCOR. Perhaps the dream that the spiritually healthy parts of the OCA may one day merge with those directly under Moscow and with ROCOR in North America could come true. Thus, a newly formed group called something like The Russian Orthodox Metropolia in North America – ROMNA, could emerge from the past.

As for ROCOR in Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia, it could become part of some large Metropolia in Australasia, including parishes in Thailand, South-East Asia and the Philippines, called something like The Russian Orthodox Metropolia in Australasia – ROMA. Surviving ROCOR parishes in Western Europe could become part of a Metropolia, centred at the new Cathedral and seminary in Paris, perhaps called the Russian Orthodox Metropolia in Europe – ROME. As for Latin America surviving ROCOR parishes there could simply merge with local parishes under Moscow in one single Metropolia, The Russian Orthodox Metropolia in Latin America, perhaps called ROMLA. This would together make four Metropolias, together forming a renewed and expanded Russian Orthodox Church Outside the Russian Lands of over 1,000 parishes. Dreams? For the moment, yes, but at least food for thought for the long term.

From Recent Correspondence (Lent 2016)

Q: Why is there so much opposition among the Orthodox faithful to the forthcoming Council in Crete?

A: Because it promises to be merely a politicized meeting of bishops. First of all, how can you say that you are having a Council when you do not know if it is a Council, because you do not know if the Holy Spirit will be present? We must understand that a meeting can only become a Council if the Holy Spirit is present. This is why meetings only become Councils on their reception by the people of God, who recognize the inspiring presence of the Holy Spirit. So far this looks like a meeting of bishops, with the US, the EU and the Vatican in the background, which is not Pan-Orthodox because it does not include all the bishops or, for the moment, even representatives of all the Local Churches. To call a meeting a Council before the event is presumptious and pretentious, even more so when you call it ‘Great and Holy’.

Secondly, how can you have a Council when only a small selected minority of Orthodox bishops have been invited? Thirdly, how can you have a Council when the most important question, the calendar issue, has been removed from the agenda? Fourthly, how can you have a Council when several Local Churches or authoritative voices in Local Churches have been raised in particular against the anti-dogmatic contradictions in the proposed important document on relations with Non-Orthodox? Finally, many have been disturbed by the date of the opening of this meeting: 16/06/16. It contains the triple six of Antichrist. How could the organizers, so blind to any transparency, also be so provocative as to start the meeting on that date, so greatly perturbing the faithful?

Q: You say that the US, the EU and the Vatican are in the background. What exactly do they want?

A: All thisworldly institutions want an aggiornamento of the Church, like that which Roman Catholicism underwent in the 1960s. They want to introduce into the Church secularism, humanism, new calendarism, homosexual marriage, banning fasting and monasticism. In other words, they want to destroy the Church, they want a modernist, spiritually toothless and spineless Church, degutted of ascetic life, spirituality and the sacred, so that they can adapt the Church to their worldly agenda, reducing it to a mere human institution, as they have done elsewhere. And who is their prince, the prince of this world? Satan.

Q: So you are against this meeting?

A: I did not say that. Let us wait and see. This meeting could produce schism, given the arrogant lack of consultation by its organizers with the monasteries, parish clergy and people, with the people of God. For example, why have they not invited a distinguished monastic elder from each Local Church to the meeting to represent the people of God? And, as I said, a meeting, however unpromising, can become a Council. All depends on the Holy Spirit. Man proposes, but God disposes. Sadly, for the moment, all we have seen is bureaucratic men proposing.

Q: You have reported elsewhere the opening of the Russian Cathedral in Paris in the autumn. What are your hopes?

A: Our hopes are that the statement of Patriarch Alexei II thirteen years ago will at last be realized. In other words, we hope that this will be the foundation stone of a Russian Orthodox Metropolia in Western Europe and that that will be the foundation of a future Local Church.

Q: So you want to see in Western Europe a kind of European OCA?

A: Before answering, I should perhaps say that what I want is not really relevant, what is important is what God wants. I will answer only because you have asked.

Not at all, we do not want another OCA. The OCA was a failure firstly because its foundation was politicized, being founded during the Cold War, secondly because it was granted autocephaly unilaterally without consultation with the other far more numerous dioceses of other Local Churches on the same territory, and thirdly because it was founded on compromises of ascetic, liturgical and canonical culture, caused by its protestantization, putting American culture above the Church. This meant that a great many English-speaking Orthodox in the USA, the ones whom it was allegedly designed for, simply ignored it. Personally, if I lived in the USA, I would not belong to the OCA. That is no judgement on the many sincere and pious people who do belong to it or the good work that parts of it do, this is merely a personal statement.

Q: So what do you want to see in Western Europe?

A: What we want to see is what we want to see everywhere, including in North America. That is, quite simply, a Local Church that is fully Orthodox, spiritually pure, politically independent and faithful to the Tradition, but which freely celebrates, whenever pastorally necessary, in the local language and venerates the local saints. What could be simpler? And yet human beings with their compromising political cults or narcissistic personality cults make it all so complicated.

Q: To come back to the OCA, what do you make of the concelebration between Patriarch Bartholomew and Metr Tikhon of the OCA?

A: There are modernist, political dissidents in the OCA who want to become a sub-department of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, in some special American Metropolia, just like the Rue Daru group of ex-Russians in Paris, the ex-Sourozhian schismatics in England, or some schismatic Diaspora Ukrainians. It seems to me that a battle is going on between the two factions there, the modernists who want to leave for Constantinople and those with at least some sense of the Tradition who want to stay as a group under the protection of the Russian Church. Personally, I have always thought that a split is inevitable, with all the parishes in Alaska and most in Canada and Pennsylvania around St Tikhon’s, returning to the Russian Church, perhaps within ROCOR, and the others, like those at St Vladimir’s, going over to the Greeks. That would be logical and at last clear up the canonical anomaly once and for all.

Q: The OCA was founded nearly two generations ago. Why has it taken so much longer to begin even thinking about a Local Church in Western Europe?

A: So much longer? We have been thinking about it for thirty years and more! On the other hand, you do not do things prematurely. In my view, the OCA was premature – it should have remained a Metropolia, English-speaking but faithful to Russian Orthodox Tradition, waiting for freedom in Russia, which came 20 years after its independence.

The main problem in Western Europe has been the delay caused by the Paris schism over eighty years ago. The divisive defection of Russophobic aristocrats and modernist intellectuals from the Russian Tradition to the Patriarchate of Constantinople and a self-invented ‘tradition’ meant that the development of an authentically Orthodox Local Church was greatly delayed because the Russian Orthodox presence was so weakened by their disaffection. For instance, although (or because) the Constantinople Parisians are bankrupt, they are still occupying the (smallish) 19th-century Russian Cathedral in Paris, and therefore a new Cathedral and seminary have had to built and equipped at vast expense and with great political complications.

Q: Does the Church Outside Russia, ROCOR, have a role in the construction of this Metropolia in Western Europe?

A: That depends on the leadership of ROCOR, not on mere parish priests like me.

Q: Does that answer mean that in Western Europe at least ROCOR will become dependent on the Church inside Russia?

A: Not necessarily. Everything is still possible. There are parishes in Western Europe dependent on the Church inside Russia and parishes dependent on the Church Outside Russia that are identical in ethos. Some, sadly, are definitely not identical in ethos because of the hangover from the Soviet past despite transfers of controversial clergy out of Europe by Moscow in the last few years. In ROCOR we patiently wait for that vestigial ethos to die out, as it is dying out. Once it has died out altogether, convergence will come.

Q: You mean that ROCOR in Western Europe will merge with the Church inside Russia or that the Church inside Russia in Western Europe will merge with ROCOR?

A: I don’t know. What I do know is that the most active and most missionary, the most spiritually alive, will dominate. Those who are spiritually asleep will be absorbed. If you do not have younger bishops, resident bishops, active bishops, missionary bishops, bishops who are interested in their flocks and local saints, you will die in your self-made ghetto. This is what happened to ROCOR in South America. This is of course true for all Local Churches and their dioceses in the Diaspora. If you do not live, you will die. Surely, that is not too complicated to understand?

For example, today, just in the eastern third of England, we need twelve priests who can speak at least some Russian and some English – if they are bilingual, that would be perfect. I could name the places where they are needed. But where are we going to find them? We have to encourage men to think about this. That requires leadership, time, effort and energy.

Q: How can you describe the ethos of ROCOR, as compared with the ethos of parishes dependent on the Church inside Russia?

A: The emphasis of ROCOR in the last 25 years especially has quite clearly been on the New Martyrs and Confessors, Anti-Sergianism and Anti-Ecumenism. Wherever within the jurisdiction of the Church inside Russia there is veneration for the New Martyrs and Confessors (and it is very extensive), wherever there is resistance to the ideas that the Church must swim with the secular tide of the State and resistance to ecumenist compromises (also extensive), there is joy in ROCOR. However, the fact is that some of the foreign parishes in the jurisdiction of the Church inside Russia, suffered in the past from modernism, ecumenism and liberalism, unlike parishes inside Russia. When the ethos becomes identical, then there will be a complete merger, though, as I say, it is not clear which part of the Church will dominate it. That will depend on the leadership of bishops.

Q: You mentioned local saints in Western Europe. Who at present venerates those local saints?

A: It mostly seems to be immigrants from Eastern Europe, who have the sense of saints and relics. Sadly, despite all our decades of efforts, there are few native Western European Orthodox.

Q: Why? I thought there were many converts?

A: That is a myth. There have never been ‘many’ converts. At most about 2,000-3,000 in the heyday and many of those soon lapsed because they were received into the Church for the wrong reasons or for ideological reasons, with certain clergy trying to build up artificial empires, which of course soon collapsed. Most of their children also lapsed. I doubt if there were ever more than 1,000 serious converts.

However, in the last ten years, I have witnessed a change. Converts started coming in numbers in the 1960s after the collapse of Anglicanism. In other words, most converts were from an Anglican background, often of a public school or wealthy background and most were at that time 30 or 40 years old. Well, that generation, what I call the ‘Kallistos generation’, is literally dying out. Some are still alive, but are in their late sixties or older. The vast majority of these are either in the Antiochian jurisdiction which at last has a new, young, local bishop, or else under the Constantinople Vicariate, which is dependent on an elderly French bishop in France, whom I knew when he was a young priest.

Together, about 600 in all, they together form a sort of Anglican Orthodoxy. For example, as far as I know, the Antiochian clergy are ex-Anglican vicars who have not received training in Orthodoxy and do not know how to do all the services; then the people do not know how to sing; the Vicariate situation is similar. I know one such Antiochian community, where the priest has banned any language other than English! This is racism, though I suspect partly it is because the priest does not understand any language other than English, let alone the Orthodox ethos.

Q: So converts are dying out?

A: Not exactly, rather their nature is changing. There are some new converts, but they do not usually have an Anglican background; after all very few English people nowadays do – even in the mid-19th century, only 50% of English people were ‘Anglican’, that is, they belonged to the Church of England. Although there are few of these new converts, at least they are converting properly and not creating a semi-Orthodoxy, an Anglican-Orthodox club.

Q: So what does that mean for these convert communities?

A: It means that many Vicariate communities number fewer than ten, usually quite elderly people, and form a kind of ex-Anglican clique, centred on the dead Metr Antony Bloom. Where they are more numerous, most of the people are Eastern Europeans. In a similar way, ageing Antiochian groups are being saved from extinction by Eastern Europeans, especially church-deprived Romanians. Most of these groups do not have their own premises and use Anglican churches.

Q: So what is the justification for using English in services, if there are fewer converts?

A: There are now three justifications. Firstly, there are still English people, converts or children and grandchildren of converts with the English husbands of Orthodox women, secondly, there are the English-speaking children of Eastern Europeans and thirdly, in mixed-nationality parishes, English is simply the common language. The future is with the second group, children of Eastern Europeans, because they are now the majority of English-speaking Orthodox.

Q: How are they to be kept in the Church?

A: That is the key question. In ROCOR, for example, the London Cathedral lost virtually everyone from its second generation, let alone from the third and fourth. And that is a typical story for all jurisdictions everywhere. Why? Because they had no identity, apart from an ethnic one, which they naturally disowned. It is vital for Orthodox children born here or going to school here to have an Orthodox identity, to know and appreciate our civilizational values, to know that we are simply Christians. The old generations generally failed to do this, their identity was purely ethnic, not spiritual.

Thus, the children went to school, lost their parents’ language and said, ‘I’m English, this is nothing to do with me, it’s only for old people’. Assimilation. For example, there are six Anglican Cypriot priests in the Diocese of London. Why? Because they did not understand Greek, so they left the Greek Orthodox Church. Of course, we can only give children this identity if parents bring their children to church regularly. Those children have to be instructed in Sunday schools and they have to have activities, which creates in them a sense of belonging to the Church. If parents do not bring up their children in the church, then they will be completely lost.

Q: Why do Protestants so value the Old Testament?

A: The Reformation was largely financed by Jews (despite Luther’s virulent anti-Jewishness) and most Protestants have always been pro-Jewish. Cromwell depended on them almost entirely. (Even today Israel depends entirely on Protestant countries, especially the USA; Catholics have always been more sceptical). Thus, the Protestants even use the Jewish Old Testament in favour of the Christian one! For Orthodox, by far the most important book of the Old Testament is the Psalter, which is why you rarely find Orthodox reading the Old Testament (other than Genesis and Exodus), but rather just the New Testament and the Psalms.

Q: Why is the USA forcing countries, like the Ukraine and also African countries, into accepting homosexual marriage? Is Obama a homosexual?

A: I have no idea what Obama is – except that he supported thuggery by toppling the democratically-elected government of the Ukraine and replacing it with a murderous Fascist junta, which has little control of the country outside Kiev. Then there are the US drones which can murder anyone anywhere. As regards his other personal inclinations, I would not rely on internet rumours.

Now for your main question, which needs a historical answer.

When, in the 11th century, Satan set about destroying Christendom, his first target was to desacralize, that is, secularize, the Church. Satan cannot stand the presence of the sacred, the sacred must be removed from the world because it prevents him from realizing his plans to take total control of the world. This he did by attacking the Church at its weakest point, that is, in the Western provinces, where all had been weakened by the barbarian invasions. In the 11th century the Western Patriarchate was converted to secularism, with what had been the Church becoming a State, becoming secular, changing the Creed, controlling murderous armies, the courts and sponsoring invasions etc. In history this is called papocaesarism.

In other words, the first step to Satanization, was to remove the Altar. The second step was to remove the Throne, that is, to remove the sacral monarchy. This act came later and was done in the 17th century in England, in the 18th century in France and in the 20th century in Russia, although it is true that the Western monarchies had been deformed before then, either by parliamentarianism, or else by absolutism, neither of which conforms to the Orthodox Christian understanding of monarchy, which is the presence of the Lord’s Anointed among the people.

Thus, having removed the spiritual content of the Faith and the Ruler, having desacralized the Faith and the King, there remained the third and final stage, to desacralize or secularize the Christian People and popular culture. This means destroying Christian cultural values (a process that was very rapid in the 20th century), destroying the family – very rapid from the 1960s on after the fall of the Second Vatican Council, when fasting was abolished and so now today we have an obesity crisis). Then they also started destroying the identity of the human person in the unisex movement that since the 1960s has resulted in only two generations in a transgender, transhuman society.

This enslavement is a form of suicide. It is why Russian Orthodox Tsardom, the Christian Empire, had to be destroyed in 1917. With its slogan of Orthodoxy, Sovereignty and the People, the Faith, Tsar and Rus, in English, Altar, Throne, Cottage, in French, Foi, Roi, Loi, its existence was the one thing that made upside down Satanism, with its aim of destroying the Church, the Ruler and the People, impossible.

Q: Can this situation of spiritual enslavement be reversed, or is an imminent end inevitable?

A: Nothing is inevitable because for human beings repentance is always possible. In Russia, the Church is slowly being restored and with Her the ideal of a Spiritual Empire, with a Christian Emperor and People. However, nothing is certain and there are reasons for both profound pessimism and profound optimism. May God’s will be done. On 18 December 1917 the Tsarina Alexandra wrote in her diary: (The Revolution in Russia) ‘is a disease, after which Russia will grow stronger. O Lord, be merciful and save Russia!’ May this hopeful prophecy be true.

An Appeal for Faithfulness and for Unity

The Past

When eight years ago in Moscow a senior archpriest of the Moscow Diocese asked me to write the full story of Metr Antony, I answered him that, straight after a schism, it was not yet time, that people were not ready for it. I maintain that point of view today – only bit by bit can the story be told, only inasmuch as it serves the edifying and overriding goal of faithfulness and so unity. A bit more has been told this month at the instigation of a ‘Patriarchal’ priest of the Russian Church in the Diaspora, and only in order to point the way towards further unity. All revelations are for a good reason, not by chance, and are thought out beforehand. As for the rest, I have maintained silence on the whole story for 33 years – it can wait longer.

Thus, the article we published on 25 July regarding the past of English Orthodoxy and, most importantly, to provide a vision for the future unity of Russian Orthodoxy and all Orthodoxy in Europe has been like a stone thrown into a pond – it has created ripples, many for and some against. That shows that people are alive. It also shows just how divisive Metr Antony was, especially considering that the article was written most diplomatically, quoting Metr Kallistos. The conclusion must be: divisive personalities create division. Let us recall that the goal of the Church is to bring down the Holy Spirit on earth to produce saints, like St John of Shanghai, not to produce personalities.

Sadly, the truth hurts. And the article pained some, especially the naïve who are still in denial. But without growing pains, there can be no maturity. I have been there. As they say: ‘No pains, no gains’. And, in this case, although we would rather not talk of any of this, but keep it quiet just as everyone else keeps it quiet, this truth that hurts must be heard now. This is because to keep quiet now is to impede unity and the prize of unity is too great, for no Church or spiritual life can ever be built on myths and illusions, just as no Church or spiritual life can ever be built on schism and fragmentation. And schism and fragmentation were the case of the old Sourozh Diocese and the Paris Exarchate and, indeed, to a lesser extent, the case of both once divided parts of the Russian Church Diaspora.

Some have criticized details in the article. Two criticisms were quite right. These mentioned quite correctly that the Greek Metropolitan for Benelux is Metr Atheagoras (not Panteleimon, who was his predecessor) and that Maximos is not a Greek name. Thank you. As these were mistakes, like all the mistakes that I make, they were corrected at once. As a matter of historical fact, the Fr Maximos in question (he formerly had the fine Christian name of Michael) quit the Greek Orthodox priesthood after only two weeks. (Sadly, not a record; last year this was beaten by one recent convert, ordained without preparation, who stayed for only one day).

Another correspondent asked what was wrong with Greek vestments. He had missed the point; there is nothing wrong with Greek vestments – except when you claim to be following ‘the Russian Tradition’. Or do those words mean a consumerist, ‘pick and mix’ attitude to the Church? Another asked about Russian dress code in the spirit of, ‘But I know someone who…’, and also missed the point. I was talking about the context of general Christian dress code (which only the Russian Orthodox Tradition seems to have kept), not about the exceptions of loose sharivari trousers as worn by some peasant women in Serbia or African or Asian native dress. Orthodox dress code is universal and can be summed up by the words, ‘modesty without provocation’. Sadly, some in the name of an ideology alien to the Church, but not alien to secularism, like to provoke.

One asked me about my view of the ‘unusual and unique practices’ of Fr Sophrony (Sakharov). To which I simply answered that it is hardly for me to judge the spiritual value of such practices which take place in the Patriarchate of Constantinople. That is for the Church and Her hierarchs to judge. In this matter I am a mere observer who simply states facts and accepts the judgement of the whole Church, whatever that will be.

Another asked why we should have confession before every communion. Again he had missed the point. I was talking not about a pious convert monk who took communion every day and did not need confession every day (though his inexperienced and over-rigid convert confessor was demanding it!), but about the average Orthodox in the average parish who takes communion every two or three months and therefore needs confession before each communion. Even more so for the Greek who takes communion at every liturgy, but hotly denies even the existence of confession; since he has never heard of it and as he has never been asked to do it, it does not exist for him.

In this context, confession before communion is not some exotic Russian Orthodox tradition, it is the universal tradition of the Church – visit any Local Church and ask the faithful; everything else is mere decadence. There is only one Tradition, despite the vain attempts by Protestant-minded and Protestant-backed liberals to invent a new and alternative one and then reject the Tradition as ‘old-fashioned’ or ultra-conservative’, so moving the goal posts so that they can justify their conformity to secularism. Their technique of calling the Tradition ‘ultra-conservative’ was well-practised by the modernist Catholics and Protestants long before fringe Orthodox blindly copied it.

One said that the article was simply untrue; however, he was quite unable to reject a single point, as he is in denial of reality. All such articles are written from experience. You can deny that someone has experienced something if you wish, but it makes no difference to the fact that the experience has taken place. You are simply in denial, because you have some personal axe to grind. You are welcome to disagree with my interpretations of the facts, but to deny the facts is to deny reality and dwell in fantasy. Another who had been there at the time, squirmed and then reluctantly admitted that the whole article was true. The truest statement came from a third person who simply said: ‘We all know that this is the truth, it is just that no-one has dared say it out loud until now’. Such is the fear of the political correctness of the modern Jews.

One asked about naïve young Russian women in Russia who admire Metr Antony’s Russian (not English) writings, which Patriarch Alexis II expressly asked him to write in the 1990s. In my view, they are right to admire them, they are very well-written, ideal for beginners, just as beginners in Russia also admire the writings of C.S. Lewis. New to the Church, they need food for the mind and the highly talented Metr Antony gives this. That is why he was so popular with Anglicans, others outside the Church and those on the fringes of the Church. He wrote for them. From an atheist and secular background, he was well able to address the rationalistic doubts of people from that secular background. However, if such young women wish to be Churched, to enter the Arena, they will need to move on beyond introductions and rationalizing food for the mind and find writings with food for the soul. As for the tragic legacy of Metr Antony in England, which is what we were writing about, such young women, new to the Church, have no idea about it. We do, because we were subjected to the tragedy which wasted so much and drove so many away.

One correspondent asked about the need for a European Metropolia, and not a local English Orthodox Church. It is my polite suggestion that he should think about what I wrote of a ‘British Orthodox Church’. I wrote that we must avoid nationalism on the one hand and on the other hand admit that we are far too small to dream about a Local Church now. There may be at least 300,000 Orthodox in the UK, but fewer than 10% (30,000) practise and of that 10% it is doubtful if even 5% (1,500) are English people who practise. And most of the 30,000, including hundreds of the English people, have no desire for an English Orthodox Church; they are quite happy to belong to a Church that is based in another country. This is exactly what happened in the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) – most Orthodox Americans of Non-Orthodox origin do not belong to it, thus making its claims strange.

In any case, who would provide the initiative for such a new Local Church? Not the Russian Church, for it has learned from its sad experience precisely with the OCA, whose canonicity is denied by most, as it received its contested Cold War autocephaly on a shared territory. What I was saying to this correspondent, and what I am saying here, is that now is the time for unity in a Metropolia, which could with time become autonomous and then, only with the consent of all, become a new Local Church. Now is not the time for narrow national division.

In a word, I am slightly disappointed, though not at all surprised, that some, perhaps a few on purpose, criticized the details of the trees, but forgot to look at the forest – which was, after all, the point. Above all I am disappointed that some seemed to pay less attention to the second part of the article, a vision of unity for the future, which to my mind is ten times more important than the first part. That simply lists the mistakes of the past and so explains how NOT to build unity and the future – on divisive personalities and divisive modernism. Perhaps some are not ready for the future. I am.

The Future

On what then can future Church unity be built? It can only be built on faithfulness to the Tradition. You cannot build unity on faithfulness to compromise, as I remarked thirty years ago to Archbishop George (Wagner) in Rue Daru, who could provide no answer to this truism, after he had just preached about the need for faithfulness, but never explained faithfulness to what. Why faithfulness? Because the Church that is faithful produces saints and, as we said above, this bringing down of the Holy Spirit to produce saints is the goal of the Church. A so-called Church that is against fasting, monasticism and asceticism, radically shortens and changes the services, destroys a prayerful atmosphere, conforms to the secularist spirit of the Western world, constantly berates Mt Athos, compromises on everything, and does not prepare the next generation of spiritual heroes, the saints and martyrs, as were produced by the Russian Church in the nineteenth century, is not a Church.

In a word, that is a Church that is unfaithful, it is disrespectful of the saints, does not produce saints, it produces only intellectuals who have no role to play in an organism where all the most important and so saving knowledge comes from the Holy Spirit, not from dry books of philosophy that only give you headaches. That is the Church of the philosophers, not the Church of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, of illiterate Galilean fishermen, of the Saints of God. Such an unfaithful Church is no longer a Church at all and instead of saints produces only apostates, heretics and schismatics. A glance at twentieth-century Church history confirms this in abundance.

As I said to a former Sourozh priest in Cambridge in 1982, one who had just denied to me the need for spiritual heroes or even their existence and had just launched a magazine about such a new ‘Church’, that Church is just another rationalistic, secular and anti-spiritual organization, for it has nothing to feed our souls with. The Church has one foot in heaven and one foot on earth; the modernists want to make a Church with two feet on earth. They can do so if they want, but it will no longer be a Church, just a Protestant-type social club.

We have in recent years turned a generational corner in the Diaspora. Some in the old generation still seems to think that there are two parts to the Church, those who celebrate the services in ‘foreign’ languages and those who do not. At the mere mention of the word ‘faithful’, they think of their departed parents’ or still earlier generations who culted ‘the old country’ and a ‘foreign’ language. This old generation with all its complex of identity is hopelessly old-fashioned and is dying out. Today, everybody in all jurisdictions in the Diaspora uses English or another appropriate local language.

Today there are still two parts to the Church, but their division has nothing to do with language; of today’s two parts, the vast and often silent majority are trying to be faithful, a small but very vocal minority are not. The latter is not trying to be faithful because it believes in being ‘modern’, in other words, because of psychological and sociological complexes it is trying to conform to the world. ‘Faithful’ no longer means old-fashioned ethnicism; only old calendarists believe because of their chronic insecurity that faithful means a mere aping and anti-creative parroting of the past with pharisaical, imitative, almost Anglo-Catholic ritualism. Faithful means following the practices and spirit of the Church in whatever language we need. Language is totally irrelevant to faithfulness, languages are only permutations of a variety of consonants and vowels, of God-given human speech, of the Word and Breath of God that distinguishes men from animals.

True, one Georgian Orthodox priest did once tell me that God only speaks Georgian. And, some years before that, the same Archbishop George (Wagner), a convert from Catholicism and with an amazing complex about his Berlin past, while railing against the ‘modern’ Romanian use of Romanian in services, told me quite seriously that God only understands Latin, Greek and Slavonic in the services. (Little wonder that the Peckstadt parish and family, like so very many others, left his jurisdiction in those years). However, they were and are wrong! Thank God that that generation, the ones who said quite literally, ‘we would rather see our church close than hear French (or English) here’ has gone. Today, there are still two parts to the Church – but they are divided not according to language, as some in the old generation still think, they are divided according to faithfulness and lack of faithfulness. Agree with me or not, as you like, but my combat has always been with those who want to destroy the faithfulness of the Church and to pray for their enlightenment.

Faithfulness is so important because we know that our Russian Church has produced tens of thousands of saints and so survived, whereas renovationism has produced not a single one – it has produced only apostates, heretics and schismatics, those who conformed to the world, collaborated with atheists and secularists and persecuted and persecute the faithful. So why is faithfulness so necessary in the Diaspora just now?

I believe that we are now at a unique time, a turning point in our Russian Church Diaspora history. In both North America (ROCOR/MP/OCA) and Western Europe (ROCOR/MP/Paris Exarchate) there are three groups of Russian Orthodox (or at least two which are Russian Orthodox and one which has Russian Orthodox origins). All three groups are now faced with the possibility of further unity – or disunity. And unity becomes possible precisely through faithfulness, whereas disunity becomes possible precisely through lack of faithfulness, as we saw with all those tiny sects which rejected the unity between the two parts of the Russian Church in 2007, or with the old calendarists and their 12/13/14/15/16? tiny synods.

Today, in North America, the former leader of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) is a member of ROCOR – a unity unthinkable in the bad old days of the Cold War. The OCA itself is now held by a steady hand, Metropolitan Tikhon, whose very name takes the group back to its historic origins with a Saint of the Russian Church. It may be that unity is at hand, that the modernist-minded and divisive extremes, which have for so long impeded OCA unity with the rest of the Russian Church in North America, will leave the OCA, just as the extremes of ROCOR and the Sourozh Diocese had to leave before their unity and that of both parts of the wider Russian Church could be achieved in 2007. Extremes, mainly Protestant-minded, ‘autocephalist’, fringe modernists, who could not accept united episcopal authority could join the Greek Patriarchate of Constantinople or Antioch. This would leave the former OCA free to join a united Russian Orthodox Metropolia in North America.

Today, in Western Europe, the Paris Exarchate is now also held by a new hand, Archbishop Job, whose very name indicates the suffering that must be endured if this group is to return to unity. It may be that there too unity is at hand, that the modernist-minded and divisive extremes, which have for so long impeded Church unity with the rest of the Russian Church in Western Europe, will leave the Paris Exarchate, just as the extremes of ROCOR and the Sourozh Diocese had to leave before their unity and that of both parts of the wider Russian Church could be achieved in 2007. Extremes, mainly Protestant-minded, ‘autocephalist’ fringe modernists, who could not accept united episcopal authority could join the Greek Patriarchate of Constantinople or Antioch. This would leave the former Paris Exarchate free to join a united Russian Orthodox Metropolia in Europe.

I have always refused to take part in anti-unity, anti-mainstream, fragmenting, fringe movements, whether of the Sourozh Diocese, seeing where it was heading in 1982, or of the Paris Exarchate, seeing where it was moving in 1988, when Archbishop George (Wagner) preferred to celebrate the thousandth anniversary of the Baptism of Rus with a Catholic cardinal rather than with the Russian Church, or of old calendarism which had infiltrated the local Diocese of ROCOR in 1974 and was still there in 1997, but is now gone. This is because anti-unity movements are by definition unfaithful.

You can agree with me for wanting faithfulness and so unity, or else throw stones at me for wanting faithfulness and so unity, as some indeed have done. That is your choice, though God is your Judge too. But I will not change the fight for faithfulness and so unity, that is, for true unity, the unity that is founded only on the truth and which comes only from faithfulness, not founded on myths, delusions and faithlessness. For it is no use papering over the cracks and indeed the chasms, as old-fashioned ecumenists, stuck in the 1960s, do, unity is always in truth, that is, in faithfulness. Ask St Photius the Great, St Gregory Palamas and St Mark of Ephesus.

Let me be even clearer. What I am saying is this:

When ‘The History of the Orthodox Church Diaspora, 1917-2027’, comes to be written, what will it read? Perhaps:

‘The history of the Orthodox Church Diaspora is a sad one. Apart from the one bright moment of intra-Russian unity in 2007, it is a history of disunity and bickering because of divisive personalities with divisive policies. This has continued to this day and there is little hope for the future. Starting from Pan-Orthodox Diaspora unity under the Russian Orthodox Church in 1917, which was destroyed by the tragic Russian Revolution, Pan-Orthodox unity in the Diaspora has still not been restored after 110 years, to this very day’.

Or will it read like this? Perhaps:

‘Starting from Pan-Orthodox Diaspora unity in 1917, today, 110 years after the tragic Russian Revolution which destroyed that unity, unity is once more within our grasp. This has been achieved by restored Russian Church unity, the firm foundation of which was laid in 2007 by the adherence of both parts of the Russian Church, inside Russia and outside Russia, to the Russian Orthodox Tradition by the blood of the New Martyrs and Confessors, as represented in the Diaspora by the universal spirit of St John of Shanghai. Then came the confirmation of that unity when two former fragments, the former Orthodox Church in America (OCA) and the remains of the Paris Exarchate, overcame their politically-inspired Russophobia, as well as their equally divisive American and French phyletism, and, having jettisoned that secularism, joined in with Russian Church unity.

Today, other national groups in the Diaspora, now again faithfully adhering to the unity-creating principle of the Tradition, rediscovered after generations of decadence and conformism to the practices and values of the Non-Orthodox world (in North America thanks greatly to the monasteries founded by Fr Ephraim), are uniting around this example of responsibility. For they are joining in the life of the Four multinational Metropolias, formed on the initiative of the Russian Orthodox Church, in Western Europe, North America, Latin America and Australasia. The formation of four new multinational Local Churches, following the impetus and examples of these Russian Metropolias, is now within sight. The cleansing of Church life from spiritual impurity, from heterodox-inspired secularism and historic injustice, is now leading to restoration and the return to canonicity’.

In other words, Diaspora unity, which is what we all want, cannot be built on divisive compromises, but only on faithfulness to the One Saint-making Tradition, our lifetime combat.

In other words, the ship is preparing to leave the port. We should make sure that we have tickets for it. Otherwise we shall find ourselves isolated and stranded on the dilapidated jetty of the desert island of dying heterodoxy – a lonely place to be at the best of times.

From Recent Correspondence (June 2015)

Q: From the Church point of view, what do you find newsworthy this month?

A: What a difficult question! There has been so much and the month has not ended yet. There has been the declaration by the Pope of Rome that he may consider returning in repentance to the Church Easter (true, his declaration was very vague and there are other, less repentant interpretations), his meeting with President Putin (despite violent US opposition) and the Pope’s approval of the Russian struggle against the anti-Christian European elite. There has also been the tragic EU-manipulated Synod of the Church of Serbia. And then there has been the inevitable closure of the St Sergius Institute in Paris at long last – over 30 years in the making – after its Archbishop asked it to return to Orthodoxy and it refused.

Politically, there has been the G7 meeting in Hitler’s villa outside Munich and the realization that the G7 is now a rather irrelevant US-led Western ghetto, a little huddle with their backs to the wall, unable ever to pay off their own debts, all the more irrelevant since India has now signed a free trade agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union. Then there is the Greek debt crisis (Greece’s debt is only about half of US debt per capita) and the possibility that Greece will at last free itself from EU slavery, after so naively and foolishly joining it thirty years ago. Perhaps economic pain is what Greece needs to lead its people to repentance, just as atheist oppression led Russians to repentance.

However, although it is a very minor event internationally, I would like to mention the transfer of the dismissed Metropolitan Jonah of the group known as ‘The Orthodox Church in America’ (OCA) to the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR). Even ten years ago, let alone thirty years ago, such a move would have been unthinkable, even impossible. The only similar event was in 1976 when Metr Antony (Bloom) requested a transfer to ROCOR. (Ironically, that was at the same time as Metr Antony (Bloom) had himself so wrongly refused to receive the then Fr Kallistos (Ware) into the Russian Church from Constantinople.) Metr Antony’s request was quite rightly refused by Metr Philaret for very good canonical reasons. However, in this very different case Metropolitan Jonah has been accepted by the ROCOR Synod in his retired status.

Q: Could this be the beginning of a movement towards ROCOR?

A: Not necessarily, I think it is a personal choice, but it is still symptomatic of a movement of repentance. The OCA is canonically adrift. Where is it going? What is its identity? What is its future? It is a fragment of the Russian Church adrift for the understandable historical reasons of former Uniatism and for political reasons. It used to be a hotbed of modernism. But today if you look at the most solid parts of the OCA, in Alaska, in Canada and in Pennsylvania around St Tikhon’s, it is clear that it is part of the Russian Church, but, for historical reasons, it is not yet part of the canonical and universally recognized Church Outside Russia. And yet that is clearly what the majority of the OCA is, part of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia. I think this event marks the beginning of healing for the OCA.

Q: Surely part of the original problem was ROCOR itself?

A: There was once a problem with politically-minded, nationalistic individuals in ROCOR, but that is in the past. We have moved on and that generation has left or else died out. Today we are in a completely different situation. Indeed, the last two Metropolitans of ROCOR have been Non-Russian, one a Carpatho-Russian Slovak, the present one a Canadian of Ukrainian origin. This means an opening to the whole multinational Russian Orthodox world outside the Russian Lands. ROCOR is moving towards our ultimate aim, to our universal mission, to prepare the path, as St John the Baptist of old.

Q: You ask questions about the identity and future of the OCA, but surely the same questions can be asked of ROCOR?

A: I disagree with you. Our identity is clear, it is in our name. We are that part of the Russian Orthodox Church that is Outside Russia, that is, outside the Russian Lands. On the one hand we have to be absolutely faithful to the Russian Orthodox Church and its Tradition, on the other hand, we have to express ourselves in the language of the country where we live and through the culture of that country, as seen through Russian Orthodox eyes. That is our missionary witness. And that is our future.

Q: Is that not what the OCA has done?

A: The best of it yes, but sadly some in it have lost, or never even had, the Tradition of the Russian Orthodox Church. For example, only a quarter of the OCA parishes keep the Church calendar, others in it have misunderstood and imagined that just because they live in another country and culture, they can therefore compromise our Faith. Instead of looking at the world through Russian Orthodox eyes, they tend to see Russian Orthodoxy through the eyes of the world. That is very clearly the path of apostasy.

Q: You mention the Synod of the Serbian Church. What is the problem?

A: The problem is the new persecution of the Serbian Church. It is worse than the Communist persecution. The episcopate of the Serbian Church is being herded like a flock of intimidated sheep into a corner, threatened by the EU wolf, behind which stand the USA and the new threat of NATO bombing, uranium-tipped shells and even nuclear war. And do not judge, until you have faced persecution yourself.

Q: Why do Serbs not stand up to defend their Church?

A: Because there are too many ‘Serbian Orthodox’, but not enough Orthodox Serbs.

Q: What do you mean by that?

A: I mean that any country only has value inasmuch as it is Orthodox or has values which are accepting of Orthodoxy. As Dostoyevsky said: ‘A Russian without Orthodoxy is rubbish’. That is the same for every country in the world. When I read of drunken British yobs on a stag night in Prague, do I think that they are English? Of course not. Sadly, the same disease is affecting every country in the world. It is the disease of apostasy. And nominal Orthodoxy is not enough to resist that disease.

Q: What has happened to the St Sergius Institute in Paris?

A: It has closed. A lot of money has disappeared. Archbishop Job is trying to restore Orthodoxy there after thirty years of weak bishops who allowed anarchy by promoting the anarchists. It may never re-open. It is another nail in the coffin of the Paris Exarchate.

Q: What is the situation in the Ukraine?

A: The civil war goes on as the puppet junta in Kiev kills the Ukrainian people. The US State Department is now bribing the Patriarchate of Constantinople to involve itself in schismatic groups in the Ukraine, thus compromising next year’s potential Council. But we have hope that by next year the war will all be over and the Ukraine will be free again. Sadly, however, I do not see any sign of repentance on the part of the US and the EU which, as one British politician rightly said, has blood on its hands in the Ukraine.

Q: And in Syria?

A: There too the war goes on, financed by fanatics in Western-backed Saudi Arabia and Qatar, who have created millions of refugees. In Libya Western intervention has also once more proved to be catastrophic and now 65% of Libyans want to flee, looking back on the Khadafi period almost as paradise, rather as many in impoverished and colonized Eastern Europe now regret the Soviet bloc with all its obvious faults. Today, for instance, a decent salary in Romania is 150 euros – per month – if you can get a job at all. This is all the fruit of Western meddling, divide and rule by reducing to poverty. The result of such meddling is mass migration and the break-up of families. The West has caused this. Rule Number One is that you do not destroy something until you have something better to replace it with. But that is exactly what the West did to the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, as also in Syria, Iraq, Libya etc.

Q: As regards Syria, surely it is the Muslims who are themselves to blame? They are killing each other?

A: When children argue and those children follow a religion which, like Judaism, has no concept of forgiveness, of turning the other cheek, you do not give them expensive arms to kill each other with. But that is precisely what Saudi Arabia and Qatar (and Israel), backed by the USA, have done, whether in Syria, the Lebanon or elsewhere. Remember that Al-Qaeda and Islamic State are CIA inventions to defeat the Soviet Union and divide the Muslim world. The whole Muslim problem began when Britain and then the USA backed Israel as a Western bridgehead in the Arab world. When Western nations turn into terrorist states (that is how Western nations are perceived in the Muslim world) and invade Afghanistan and Iraq, do not be surprised when Muslims turn to terrorism. The radicalization of Muslims was caused by Western governments. Appalling Western terrorism breeds appalling Islamic terrorism.

Q: When did the West set out on this path of apostasy? To what extent was race a factor?

A: I think that there are many misconceptions as regards race and the Western Schism. For example the Neo-Platonist Philip Sherrard presented the Schism as a kind of philosophical dispute between ‘East and West’, between ‘Greek and Latin’ between Plato and Aristotle. True, there was the problem of the Franks, but not for inherent racial reasons, as some modern and rather embittered modern Greek philosophers would have it, but simply because of the mentality which the Franks happened to be the first to adopt. And any race can adopt an anti-Church mentality, as the 20th century showed us. Such racial simplifications completely overlook the multinational nature of the Church. The Church includes Latins like St Hilary of Poitiers and St Ambrose of Milan, Syrians like St Ephraim and St Isaac of Nineveh, Egyptians like St Antony the Great, Georgians like St Nino, not to mention Slavs and so many other nationalities, including Orthodox ‘Franks’ from the period before Charlemagne and from today.

Another point is that although, quite rightly, historians look back to Charlemagne as the real initiator of all the problems, with his massacre of the Saxons and corruption of the Creed, his ramshackle so-called empire was very short-lived. There was a revival of Orthodoxy in the West after him, for example under the Empress Theophano at the end of the tenth century. There was no Schism until the eleventh century and that lasted 100 years; in other words the Schism was not a single event, but a process.

We can do no better than quote the Catholic religious historian, Christopher Dawson: ‘It was not until the eleventh century that the religious bond which united East and West was finally destroyed and Western Christendom emerges as an independent unity, separated alike in culture and religion from the rest of the old Roman world’ (The Making of Europe, P. 47). He relates this to the tenth century and whether ‘feudal barbarism was to capture and absorb the peace-society of the Church or whether the latter could succeed in imposing its ideals and its higher culture on the feudal nobility’ (P. 271). ‘It was not until the eleventh century that the military society (of the barbaric world of northern paganism) was incorporated into the spiritual polity of Western Christendom’ (Pp. 287-288).

In other words the tragedy of the West was that it left the Church and adopted instead the aggressiveness of ‘feudal barbarism’. This, allied with technology, is what lies behind the West’s aggressive imperialism of the second millennium, from 1066 and a couple of decades before that, onwards, and also of the opening years of this already deeply tragic third millennium. We can see this quite clearly in today’s regular gun massacres in the USA. What a culture! Aggression and violence and a society of obesity and mental illness….And you call this civilization?

Q: There is much criticism in the West of President Putin. They have demonized him, making him into a hate-figure. What is the truth?

A: The CIA-fed propaganda is quite shameless, not to say primitive. Of course President Putin, like contemporary Russia, has many faults, but unlike the West, they are both going in the right direction. That is what is important. The name Putin comes from the word ‘put’ which means ‘the path’, ‘the way’. And that is exactly the spiritual meaning of his name, for he is only an instrument. He is not the destination, just part of the way to where we want to go.

Q: What is that destination?

A: Today the atheist West is preaching spiritual death throughout the world. Russia’s spiritual meaning is to preach spiritual life. This is the universal meaning of the coming resurrection of St Seraphim of Sarov for which we must prepare. The West has chosen vulgarity over nobility. We shall not follow. Sadly, we must recognize that when Antichrist comes, he will speak English. It is for us to show him that not all English people will listen to him, that there is a faithful remnant, as in every country throughout the world, that we can speak of nobility, not of vulgarity. It is becoming rapidly apparent, even to those who before resisted – such is repentance – that Orthodox need a Protector, a Guardian, a restored Emperor. A repentant Greece today looks to Russia, a Russia that has thrown off the curse of atheism and apostasy. Many others do the same. We shall not surrender! Christ is victorious!

Questions and Answers from Recent Correspondence (January-February 2015)

Q: Some consider that the Orthodox world was very weak in the 20th century. Would you agree?

A: 20th century Orthodoxy produced more martyrs than any other century, as well as a great many confessors, so I do not see how you can call the 20th century Orthodox world ‘weak’.

Q: But what about the betrayals of the Faith by certain bishops and even patriarchs in the 20th century?

A: This existed, but we get what we deserve. If we were real Orthodox, we would be strong and so would all our bishops be strong, but we are nominal and therefore decadent Orthodox. The whole problem is not with others, but with ourselves. The Church is us. To think otherwise is an unChristian path which leads directly to the sect. We find fault with ourselves, not with others. Hate the sin, but love the sinner. Only the Non-Orthodox-minded hate sinners and, in so doing, love the sin. We Orthodox know that all of us are sinners, even if some perhaps more than others, we know that all of us are the victims of Satan and therefore we should feel more solidarity with one another, knowing that we have only one common enemy, not each other, but Satan and Satan alone. ‘Bear one another’s burdens’, as the Apostle says.

Q: What about the historic injustices that the Orthodox world has suffered, the sack of Constantinople in 1204, the many Western invasions of Russia? Did they not weaken the Orthodox world too?

A: It is true that there have been many historic injustices and betrayals of the Church by the West which wanted to substitute itself for the Church.

Just in the second millennium, there were the invasion and occupation of England in 1066, the pillage of Constantinople in 1204 which led to its fall in 1453, the invasion of Russia by the Teutonic Knights in the 13th century, by the Poles in the 17th century and then by the Europeans under Napoleon in 1812, the 19th century imposition of German princes on Greece and Bulgaria, the Western invasion of the Crimea and the invasion and occupation of Cyprus by the British.

In the 20th century there were the invasions of Serbia and Russia by the Central Powers in 1914, the Western-organized Russian Revolution in 1917, the invasions by Germany and its allies of several parts of the Orthodox world in 1940-41, the CIA-installed, banana-republic colonels’ regime in Greece in the 1960s-70s, the Western genocide in Serbia in the 1990s, the EU colonization of Orthodox Eastern Europe and today the bloodthirsty Western puppet regime in Kiev. However, we should not make excuses out of these historic injustices that our civilization has suffered. The source of all these historical injustices is in our own decadence. If we had been faithful, these injustices would never have occurred.

Q: So much for the past and today. Do you think that the 21st century overall will be positive or negative for the Orthodox world?

A: Who am I to answer such a question? It is not yet clear which way the Christian Church, that is, the Orthodox world, is going. On the one hand, there are signs of hope, the renewal of monastic life on Mt Athos since the 1960s, the fall of atheism in Eastern Europe and Russia since 1989, the spread of Orthodoxy worldwide. On the other hand, there is much that is profoundly decadent and a cause for pessimism. The President of Estonia is an American, the new President of Romania is a German, there are American-appointed Non-Ukrainian ministers in the Ukraine, the President of Montenegro is an EU puppet etc. However, the Orthodox people can resist the EU/US imposed Establishment and choose freedom, as we have just seen in Greece, though of course the leaders who choose freedom usually get assassinated.

Q: By ‘much that is profoundly decadent’ are you also thinking of corruption? For example, the political, business, banking, police and justice systems in Romania, Greece, the Ukraine or Russia and so on are steeped in corruption and bribe-taking, even more than in countries like Italy, Spain and France. Why is there so much corruption in Orthodox countries, why are Orthodox so corrupt?

A: First of all, today there is, sadly, no such thing as ‘an Orthodox country’. There are only ex-Orthodox countries or, optimistically speaking, ‘pre-Orthodox countries’, which we hope will become Orthodox countries again. Secondly, Orthodox are not corrupt, only ex-Orthodox are corrupt. Our Orthodox Faith is everything. Destroy it and you destroy the source of all our morality and our whole political, social and economic system. We have only one ideal – Orthodoxy, the Church. Take that away from us and the corrupting passions of this world rule.

The West has never understood that. It thinks that if you destroy someone else’s civilization, then you can almost automatically make it into part of Western ‘civilization’. That is the greatest of illusions. If you destroy, you destroy. Full stop. Western ‘civilization’ does not work outside the Western world. When the West destroys someone else’s civilization in the name of ‘freedom and democracy’ by bombing it back to the Stone Age, all it produces is the Stone Age, not Western ‘civilization’.

That is why after the Western coup d’etat in 1917, the Russian Empire became a corrupt mafia regime of criminals and bandits, the Soviet Union, created by the West. We Orthodox have no other values, no other source of morality, justice and honesty than our Faith. In the Christian Church, the Orthodox world, we only have the Church. It is all or nothing for us. Thus, the corruption in Greece, when the elite bankrupted the nation and the people after the imposition of the euro, exists because the elite is not Orthodox. He who is not Orthodox in a once Orthodox country is corrupt. The same is true of Romania, Russia, Bulgaria and so on.

In the West it is different. In the West, at least in the part that has Protestant culture, there is an elaborate half-way house between the Church and corruption, a set of legalistic and humanistic balances and checks, ultimately Christian in origin, which are the substitute for the fullness of Orthodoxy. Having said that, the West is still corrupt. The EU cannot even be audited. In England your career will never go very far if you are not a mason or at least a member of some paramasonic club like the Rotarians. And as an Italian told me decades ago: ‘In England you have taxes, in Italy we have bribes. It is the same thing – payment for a protection racket; it is just that in England the protection racket is State-run, in Italy it is private’.

Q: Has the decadence in what you call ‘ex-Orthodox countries’ or ‘pre-Orthodox countries’ affected the Diaspora?

A: That decadence has affected us profoundly. Quite simply, it has made the foundation of new Local Churches in the Diaspora impossible because the necessary conditions for their establishment have not been in place in the homelands, where the leaders of the Local Churches were all politically enslaved and so spiritually compromised. No new Local Church can be built on spiritual compromise.

As regards the Diaspora itself, it has been unable to do anything alone because it lacks the spiritual level. To have a spiritual level implies having monastic foundations, which the refugees, political or economic, who formed the Diaspora have also largely lacked. In other words, even regardless of the captivity of all the Local Churches in the homelands, the Diaspora has not been spiritually mature enough to form new Local Churches.

Q: What do you mean by spiritual maturity?

A: Spiritual maturity is the spiritual growth that comes from suffering. This, incidentally, is why modern Western societies, spoilt by superficial consumerism, are so infantile, so immature. The majority in them do not know suffering.

Q: Can you give examples of this spiritual immaturity in the Church context?

A: We have the example of the OCA (Orthodox Church in America), which was granted a disputed autocephaly by the Patriarchate of Moscow at a time when it was in Soviet captivity. Nearly fifty years after the OCA received this disputed autocephaly, it is still riven by sectarian, spiritually immature, politically-minded, modernistic factions. They ignore and even despise and deny the two spiritual roots of the OCA, of American Rus in Alaska and of Carpatho-Rus in Pennsylvania, that is, of two strands of the Russian Orthodox Tradition, and want to substitute some kind of superficial, compromising, ephemeral, Protestant American cultural customs for those roots. It is like replacing the hymnography of Orthodox Christmas with ‘Jingle Bells’ (I quote from the practice of one ‘Orthodox’ parish of converts in California) or a fine French wine with Coca-Cola (I paraphrase the words of a well-known and more traditional OCA bishop from the past).

To be fair to OCA laypeople, many or most of whom reject these extremist factions and their modernism, we have to mention the problem of hundreds of former members of the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR). Also spiritually immature and politically-minded and ignorant of or rejecting the traditional practices and spiritual roots of the Church Outside Russia which were obvious before the mid-1960s, they tried to innovate and, on finally failing, abandoned ROCOR for various extra-ecclesial sects. This happened over a period of two decades between 1986 and 2007 before the reconciliation of ROCOR and the Church inside Russia. (In the same way, some renovationist intellectuals also left the Church inside Russia before its reconciliation with ROCOR, since they could not accept the reality of Church life). Extremists of any type cannot abide unity and reality and always fall for fantasies and sectarian mentalities

Q: Who were these renovationists in the Church inside Russia who left? I thought renovationism in Russia had been defeated in the 1920s and 1930s.

A: Yes, it was very much defeated, but only inside Russia. I meant the sectarian renovationism in foreign parishes in the jurisdiction of the Church inside Russia. This had been allowed to develop and was still preventing unity and reconciliation between the two parts of the Russian Church after the Jubilee Council in 2000.

Q: What conditions would you say need to be in place for any legitimate autocephaly in the Diaspora

A: There are two conditions, one concerning the Diaspora, the other concerning the Local Churches involved. 1. Freedom from spiritual compromise in the Diaspora, that is, the consciousness among a sufficient number (I mean at least 10,000s, not a few hundred) of rooted and mature Orthodox in the Diaspora that they need status as a new Local Church through autocephaly. 2. Freedom from spiritual compromise, that is, agreement among the seven Local Churches which have jurisdictions in the Diaspora on the granting of such an autocephaly.

Q: Leaving aside the first condition and agreement among the seven Churches, why can the Russian Church today not provide autocephaly for the Diaspora and found new Local Churches in, say, Western Europe, Australasia, North America and Latin America? After all, the atheist regime in Russia died a generation ago and today the Church there is politically free, free of State interference. Otherwise, there would never have been any reconciliation between it and the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR).

A: True, the Church inside Russia is politically free and the reunited Russian Church now has 342 bishops, about half the total number of Orthodox bishops worldwide, and nearly 40,000 clergymen, with 4,000 being ordained the last two years alone. However, merely being politically free is not the same as being free of ‘spiritual compromise’. There are other problems which create what I call ‘spiritual compromise’. For example, unlike in the atheist period, the masses in the Russian Lands are at least baptized, but that is not enough. You have to live the Faith to be Orthodox.

Only a minority of the people and of the elite in the Russian Lands are living Orthodoxy. Many middle-aged people in the bureaucracy still think in the old Soviet mafia ways – otherwise there would not be corruption, oligarchs and even a civil war going on for oligarch control in the Ukraine. All those phenomena are due to the atheist Soviet heritage. It is why you have so much alcoholism, abortion, corruption and divorce (ABCD). The Church inside Russia is still not spiritually strong enough. You can also see this in nationalistic tendencies in sections of the Russian population.

Q: What nationalistic tendencies?

A: In Russia today there are nationalists, that is semi-Orthodox, who still have a Soviet mentality even though they have been baptized. For instance, they can speak of such opposites as the Tsar-Martyr and Stalin as ‘Russian heroes’ in the same breath. Or they speak of ‘the Russian world’, instead of the Russian Orthodox world. Or they speak of commemorating Vladimir (Putin) by name at the liturgy.

Q: What is wrong with praying for your political leader by name?

A: Everyone agrees that Vladimir Putin is by far the best leader Russia has had since 1917, but he is not the Anointed Tsar, he is at best the politician who, God willing, is preparing the way for the restoration of a legitimate Tsar. But he is not the Tsar himself, only a forerunner. And only an Anointed Tsar is prayed for by name at the liturgy. To pray for a secular leader at the liturgy by name is a form of nationalism, however positive the underlying motivation. Worse than that, in a multinational Church, I think with 62 nationalities in all, you do not offer public prayers for the leader of only one nationality. That would be divisive. If some wish to pray for ‘Vladimir’ in their personal prayers, that is fine, but at the liturgy, in public prayer, we pray only for the authorities in general.

Q: How can such nationalism be overcome?

A: In order to overcome such nationalism we must develop the awareness of what the word ‘Rus’ means.

Q: And what does ‘Rus’ mean?

A: Our Patriarch is called Patriarch of ‘All Rus’, that is, of All the Russias. And ‘Rus’, as in ‘Holy Rus’, the phrase which expresses the Church’s ideal, means multinational, for it includes all the dozens of different races who confess the uncompromised Russian Orthodox Faith, not just Russians. The enemies of the Church, whether nominal, nationalistic Orthodox or Western heterodox – and both groups are actually enemies of the Church – are terrified of a Church which is multinational and uncompromised. Because their souls are narrow, both suffer from the same narrow, reductionist nationalism.

Q: If the Russian Church is at the moment unable to do anything in the Diaspora, then why, if the other conditions were met, could the Patriarchate of Constantinople not provide autocephaly for the Diaspora and found new Local Churches in, say, Western Europe, Australasia, North America and Latin America?

A: Now you are out of the frying pan and into the fire. First of all, unlike the Russian Church, the Patriarchate of Constantinople has never freely given any people autocephaly; Greek imperialism is a great hindrance here. Secondly, that Patriarchate is not only enslaved by US politics – since 1948 its Patriarchs have been nominated by the CIA – but it is also very nationalistic. Hellenism is stronger than Christianity. I can name three Greek priests in England who have in the last 15 months refused to baptize unbaptized English people into the Patriarchate of Constantinople for the simple reason that they ‘are not Greek’. So I baptized them in their place. Such clergy see the Church as a mere Greek club. This is characteristic in general. Whatever you say about Russians, they are not as nationalistic as this. I will always remember attending the Greek Cathedral in Paris on a Sunday, now 35 years ago; the Liturgy was stopped because the Greek ambassador entered – late. This is highly symbolic. A representative of the Greek State was considered to be more important than Christ.

Q: What is nationalism, spiritually?

A: Nationalism is a spiritual disease – a sign of a lack of spiritual experience and spiritual consciousness. It is what lies behind the absurd and violently nationalistic schisms in the Ukraine, in Macedonia, in Montenegro and in Moldova, which are so eagerly and mockingly exploited by the West as the movements of provincial bumpkins (which is what they are). Wherever you get decadence, you get nationalism, nationalistic tendencies and wherever you get nationalism, you get decadence. You can dress this up in a name like phyletism, but it is still nationalism, racism.

Q: Is nationalism only a sign of decadence among Orthodox?

A: Not in the least. In the 5th century it already lay behind the Coptic/Monophysite schism and the Nestorian schism. In the 11th century, it lay behind the Western schism, when the West wanted to replace the Church with its own ethnic identity (‘Roman’ Catholic, not Catholic) and began to deride the Church as ‘Greeks’ and ‘Byzantines’, so reducing it to an ethnic identity. In the 16th century it lay behind the Protestant Reformation, which was essentially an anti-Latin revolt of the Germanic peoples.

Nowhere is this more obvious than in the invention of Anglicanism by the bloodthirsty Tudor monarchs, who, like the popes of Rome before them, supplanted Jesus Christ as heads of the Church in a purely ethnic operation. Unlike in the Orthodox Churches, however much they may suffer from nationalism, in Anglicanism the monarchs (or nowadays atheist and agnostic prime ministers) appoint the bishops and actually influence and shape Anglican doctrines and beliefs, whether it is the sacraments or a female episcopate.

Q: Why is nationalism so poisonous in Church life?

A: Simply because nationalism is another word for worldliness.

Q: If the Russian Church and the Patriarchate of Constantinople cannot act in the Diaspora, what about the Romanian Church? That is the second largest Local Church. Could it not act, if the other conditions were right?

A: No, the Romanians are also unable to do anything. Sadly, their country has now become an EU colony and so, like the Patriarchate of Constantinople, it is US-run. Apart from nationalism (fully backed by Washington, which is eager to cultivate and exploit that weakness – ‘every man has his price’ is the motto), there is a second and closely related disease in Romania, which has evolved directly from nationalism. That is ecumenism.

For instance, in Italy, where the Romanian jurisdiction is by far the largest Orthodox jurisdiction, the impression given by representatives of the Romanian Church is that ‘we are Catholics who use Romanian in our services, instead of Italian. There is no other difference between us’. (Some Romanian priests even use white wine in the Eucharist so as to be ‘like the Catholics’). Romanian Church representatives are so poor that they will compromise on almost anything with the Vatican to get the free use of redundant Catholic churches in Italy. Nationalism stands behind this ecumenism because Romanians and Italians are of the same Latin race, a racial fact which the Vatican exploits to the maximum. This is only one step away from Uniatism and the Vatican knows this and exploits this – Romanian Catholic and Roman Catholic do sound very similar.

The Romanian situation closely reminds me of the relations of the Patriarchate of Constantinople with the Anglicans when they sit the Archbishop of Canterbury on the bishop’s throne in their churches, or with the Catholics, whom they ban themselves from receiving into the Church, even though they plead to be received. (Thus if a Catholic priest wishes to be received into the Rue Daru jurisdiction (Patriarchate of Constantinople), he has to be sent to the OCA to be received, in other words, he is received through the back door).

Only recently in Germany two Romanian Orthodox priests became Catholic priests. Why not? The local Romanian bishop had been saying for years that ‘there is no difference between the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church’. His priests were just being logical. On top of that the Catholics pay better. For an Orthodox who has no dogmatic consciousness of Orthodoxy, i.e. who is an apostate, it is only logical to be Catholic.

What I am saying is that any Local Church which is reduced to nationalism is very easily exploited by the enemies of the Church, whether the enemy is Protestantism or the Vatican, or secular-Protestant Washington or its secular-Catholic EU vassal or, perhaps the worst enemy, nominal, nationalistic Orthodoxy. Nationalism is the result of decadence, a low spiritual level, which causes a weak dogmatic consciousness, in other words, which creates an attachment to this world, which is much stronger than an attachment to the Kingdom of God, the values of the Church.

Q: So if at the present time no Local Church can act in the Diaspora, what is the solution?

A: There is no solution to the Diaspora problem at the present time because the solution is much more practical than that dreamed up by a few disincarnate intellectuals in ‘theological’ institutes. It is in the Incarnation of the Faith in international life, that is, in the restoration of the legitimate multinational Christian secular authority, the restoration of the Orthodox Emperor and Empire. Once this is restored, there will be the multinational support for the Diaspora and new Local Churches there. There were no jurisdictional disputes in the Diaspora before 1917, when there was an Orthodox Emperor. Once the Orthodox Emperor is restored, there will be the necessary finance, say, 200 billion roubles (£2 billion / $3 billion) for new Local Churches, the necessary infrastructure will be created and all the jurisdictional problems will be solved worldwide, as they were before the Revolution of 1917.

Q: What is preventing this?

A: Ourselves. We Orthodox first have to want and to be worthy of a restored Emperor and Empire. In 1917 the Orthodox elite had so far lapsed from the Faith that they actually rejected a Christian Emperor and Empire. The question is when will Orthodox stop being ‘ex-Orthodox’ or optimistically speaking, ‘pre-Orthodox’, and become worthy, ready to accept an Orthodox Emperor and Empire again. Only then, with an end to decadence, with a developed Orthodox consciousness, shall we see an end to the problems of the Diaspora.

Russian Orthodox are Pro-European, Pro-Greek and Pro-American because we are Pro-Christian

Although the revolution in the values expressed and lived by the Russian Federation over the last generation is far from complete, nevertheless it is not an exaggeration to call that transformation in question a revolution. From a consistently militant atheist ideology, that which produced the horrors of the Gulag and lasted for seventy-five years, it has passed in twenty-five years to an ever more Christian stance, one which shames the modern West. Little wonder that today’s militant atheist Western governments, whether in the US, Western Europe or among their nationalist puppets in Eastern Europe and Istanbul, are annoyed. This revolution in values has taken place through mass baptism and the return of many Russian Orthodox to uncompromised Christian values, known as Russian Orthodox values.

This means that we sympathize with all who confess those values or values close to them, whatever their label. As the Western ruling class has ever more quickly abandoned those Christian values in recent decades and reverted to the pagan values of Ancient Rome, it has distanced itself and isolated itself from its own faithful people, the patriotic Christian minorities of Western Europe and North America. Moreover, at the same time that ruling class has distanced itself from the faithful in countries which are at least formally still respectful of Christianity, whether in Africa, Asia, Latin America or in still free, non-EU Eastern Europe, in Serbia, Montenegro, Moldova, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia, the Ukraine and, above all, the Russian Federation, which stands apart because of its size and importance.

Here we speak not only of the apostasy of the Western ruling class by its imposition by force and intimidation of State-run abortion and euthanasia, ‘gay parades’ and ‘homosexual marriage’ or of the establishment of satanic organizations. Here we speak not only of the moral and cultural imperialism which ends the freedom of other countries to live by their traditional values. Here we speak not only of political correctness, that intolerant, neo-puritan ideology just as Spirit-less as the materialism of the old Soviet Union. We also speak of imposing sanctions on other countries for their Christian behaviour and fomenting civil wars in them, supplying arms, indebting them, supporting genocide in them and invading them either militarily or economically in order to exploit their natural resources and markets.

These Russian Orthodox, or uncompromised Christian, values tie in not only with traditional Western Christian, but also to a surprising extent with traditional Islamic, Judaic, Hindu and Buddhist values. The Russian Orthodox support for Tradition is all the more striking when we look at certain smaller Local Orthodox Churches, members of whose elites have under political pressure shown tendencies to abandon the integrity of the Faith, despite the Universal Orthodox Tradition dating back nearly 2,000 years and the views of their own faithful. Having lived and worked in Greece for one year, learned Greek, loved Greece and made pilgrimages to Mt Athos and in 1979 met there Fr Ephraim (now in the USA), I have in recent days been warmed by the support of the Greek faithful for the Tradition.

Thus, the current petition against the ‘new’ pro-Vatican ecclesiology of the Phanar (in fact an ecclesiology that was evolved in the 1920s) with its neo-imperialist, eastern papist interpretation of Canon 28 of the Council of Chalcedon, is spreading through Greece and Cyprus and the Greek Diaspora. Although an internal petition addressed to the Greek faithful, it has the full support of Russian Orthodox faithful and the faithful of many other Local Churches whose hierarchies are free and have not been subjected to foreign political and financial pressure. For just as the Russian faithful are pro-European inasmuch as we support the True West, the Orthodox West of the first millennium, the Russian Orthodox Church cannot be anything but pro-Greek Orthodox, for She received the faith from Greek Orthodox.

And just as the Russian faithful support True Greece, Orthodox Greece, the Athonite elders, not the fake, masonic Greece that the Western elites are trying to foist on Greeks, so also we support True America, not the warmongering, anti-Christian America that we see today. Thus, the present visit of Metropolitan Tikhon of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) to the Russian Church is symbolic of the Russian Church’s love for all who confess Orthodoxy. After years and even decades of internal troubles, the OCA may at last be returning to the confession of Orthodoxy as her new relations with the Russian Orthodox Mother Church show. For the OCA, the time of decision is here – to reintegrate the Russian Orthodox Tradition by giving up the fantasies of the decadent past or else to remain outside the mainstream on a compromised limb.