Category Archives: Orthodox Unity

It is time the whole Orthodox Church offered robust opposition to the Patriarchate of Constantinople which has fallen into the grip of Washington’s atheist intrigues.

In 1917 the British Establishment through its ambassador and spies in Saint Petersburg at last overthrew the Christian Empire in Russia, ensuring its replacement by militant atheism and the massacre of tens of millions of Christians. On this the then British Prime Minister, Lloyd George, at once proclaimed, ‘We have now achieved one of our war aims’. For those who had thought that the only British war aim was the defeat of Germany, all was clear. However, as is usual with the collapse of empires and countries engineered by enemies, the repercussions were horrible for the engineers. Within 30 years the British had in turn lost their Empire and had to hand over world power to the American Empire. Instead of the Christian Empire of the Tsars, Britain created both the Soviet and the American anti-Christian monsters.

The American Establishment began taking over from the British as the world’s policeman immediately after the so-called Russian Revolution in 1917, the British having done the dirty work for them, thus spilling the blood of young Americans in World War One. Next the Us Establishment had to have its Wall Street financiers back Hitler’s Fascist regime as a counterbalance to the Soviets. They did not foresee that Hitler’s Fascist regime would invade the Soviet Union, carrying out the holocaust of 30 million Slavs, and that the Soviet Union would only be saved by allowing the Russian Orthodox Church to call to Russian Christian patriotism to destroy Hitler. This was not only the end for Hitler, who committed suicide in Russian-liberated Berlin in 1945, but also for the Soviet Union. Christianity, against the calculations of Britain and the USA, would with time win the day and duly, in 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed, conquered by the martyrs and confessors of the Russian Orthodox Church.

In recent years the financially, spiritually and morally bankrupt US regime, now in its last gasps, has decided to attack the Christian Orthodox world more cunningly, through the weak underbelly of the Church of Christ, in Istanbul. Here, the Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, is the political and spiritual leader of some 3 million Greek Orthodox. Now, thanks to the White House’s instrumentalisation of his tiny Church to advance its geopolitical ambitions, the Istanbul-based Patriarchate finds itself operating against the rest of the 220-million strong Orthodox Church, bringing worldwide condemnation on himself.

As the multinational Russian Church has over 160 million Orthodox Christians, in Turkey Bartholomew finds himself a very witting competitor to the vast majority of the Orthodox world. And, naturally, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of NATO-member Turkey, sees it in his interest to work against the tiny Greek nationalist community. After all, Bartholomew receives the backing of the White House which tried to assassinate Erdogan in 2016. Obviously, both the vast majority of the Orthodox Christian world and Erdogan see the Greek Patriarchate for what it is, a feeble puppet and extension of anti-Christian US influence that threatens Orthodox Christian ambitions, and in the case of Erdogan, political ambitions.

The Ukrainian Puppet Regime as the catalyst of the White House’s fury

On 5 January 2019, under intense American pressure, Bartholomew signed a tomos (decree), setting up a schismatic pseudo-ecclesiastical body in the Ukraine, the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church. All free Orthodox (that is, everyone except the very small numbers who had been bribed and blackmailed by the White House into submission) agreed that this was utterly uncanonical.

The White House’s 2019 interference mirrored its overthrow of the democratic government in the Ukraine in its Revolution of Indignity in 2014. Having murdered dozens of Ukrainian patriots using Lithuanian mercenary snipers firing from the roof of the US Embassy in Kiev, US-installed Fascist Galician gangsters launched a civil war in the east of the Ukraine (until 1922 part of Russia) that has so far claimed some 50,000 lives and forced over 1.5 million Ukrainians to flee from their homes to Russia and many others to Poland.

When the Greek Patriarch announced his intention to start his Ukrainian schism in October 2018, his statement sent shockwaves throughout the Christian world. His bigoted Greek nationalism was now meeting bigoted Ukrainian nationalism. Birds of a feather flock together! This led directly to bloodshed in the Ukraine with some 400 churches being snatched from the faithful by State-sponsored thugs and hooligans and then padlocked so that nobody could use them. The faithful, often beaten up by the thugs, now pray in the open air or else collect money to build churches they can use. And this was encouraged by Bartholomew who tried to justify it as founding ‘a new church!’ And Bartholomew calls himself a Christian! All know that the Greek Patriarch in Turkey is simply a proxy for American and NATO interests.

Why Erdogan may join the Christian campaign

 While Ukraine’s geopolitical importance in Christian eyes is clear, it is also obvious why NATO-member Turkey echoes Christian views. Erdogan sees Turkey as a Sunni Muslim power – and he views Bartholomew as an extension of US influence and thus a threat to his plans. As a result the White House attacks both the whole Orthodox Church and the Turkish government through disinformation, conspiracies and hacking.

One month after the US-mounted July 2016 failed coup attempt, the Turkish daily Aksam published a piece revealing that Fethullah Gulen, a CIA-financed and US-based Turkish cleric, had masterminded the coup together with Bartholomew, to murder Erdogan. Last year Gercek Hayat, a Turkish magazine portrayed Bartholomew as a member of a clandestine terrorist network involving Gulen, the CIA, Britain’s MI6, Israel’s Mossad and freemasons. Nothing would surprise us.

The long fixation of the US with starting fifth columns

It is widely-held knowledge that Protestant ‘missionaries’ ­– many of whom were American at the turn of the last century – instigated the collapse of the Ottoman Empire 100 years ago. Nothing changes. After the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey a North Carolina pastor, Andrew Brunson, became the public face of such activity and spent two years in a Turkish prison on charges of coup plotting, military espionage and terrorism. Most likely he was simple a naïve stooge. However, the CIA is an expert at trying to use Protestant missionaries to engineer the collapse of governments in Latin America, the Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, post-Communist Russia, China, Iran and elsewhere. Some of these ‘missionaries’ are simply CIA spies dressed as pastors, some are simply naïve stooges, backed by huge amounts of US finance.

The Turkish government, meanwhile, retains leverage over the Greek nationalist Patriarchate in Istanbul. Turkish law stipulates that only a Turkish citizen can be the Patriarch of Constantinople. Given Turkey’s dwindling population of Greek Orthodox, now numbering fewer than 1,000 (there are some 15,000 Russian Orthodox in Turkey and at least as many Antiochian Orthodox), the Greek nationalist Patriarchate draws candidates from around the world who then receive citizenship by Ankara’s favour and US pressure.

Atheist Washington’s failure to take religion seriously

When the ultra-aggressive hawk and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Bartholomew in Istanbul in December 2020, a Turkish youth group accused Washington of ‘attempting to create a Vatican and a Pope from the Greek Church in Phanar’. Indeed, little wonder that the Patriarchate of Constantinople is now often mockingly called ‘The Patriarchate of Washington’. The Turks, all Muslims, were merely repeating the words of serious Orthodox Christian leaders worldwide. US leaders are so imbued with atheist secularism that they do not fully appreciate the role that politically free Churches, like the Russian Orthodox Church, can play, which vastly diminishes the White House’s support from Christians worldwide.

 

 

Why ‘Orthodox England’ and Why the Church Outside Russia?

Q: Why is the ‘Orthodox England’ site called that? Since you were born with British nationality and must have a British passport, why is it not called ‘Orthodox Britain’? And why are you, a Russophile, in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia and not directly under the Patriarchal Church in Moscow?

A: Here there are actually four different questions. Let me answer each of them in turn.

  1. Initially, ‘Orthodox England’ was a quarterly journal, first published on 1 September 1997, after some 25 years of wonderings. The actual website was launched over three years later in the first year of the new 21st century. Although the journal continued for twenty years, appearing every quarter without fail until 2017 when the website took over altogether, today it is the website which is much better known.

When the journal was launched in 1997, interest in the Orthodox Church and Faith among the native peoples of these Islands, as indeed ever since the first real interest appeared in the 1960s, was still often, though not always, coloured by two small groups. Unfortunately, these groups were encouraged by some of the local Orthodox episcopate. Hampered by the inferiority complex of the immigrant and refugee, they wanted to be more Establishment than the Establishment and forgot the people.

On the one hand, there was a conservative faction, sometimes quite wealthy, who at times imitated false ideas of Russianness or Greekness. In extreme cases, some of them even dressed like Russian peasants with huge beards (the last Russian peasants had stopped doing that 100 years ago and real Russians were naturally astonished at such eccentric behaviour, as were we). They spoke English, scattered with mispronounced and misunderstood Russian words. Or else there were those who bought second homes in Greece and mixed in a few words of Greek with upper-class accents and thought they were Greek Orthodox. I saw all this and wondered at the strangeness of it all.

I think such people mainly saw Orthodoxy as oriental exotica, perhaps useful to bolster souls that had been hurt and wanted to be different. Some, bored with financially secure and humdrum lives, gave an impression of Orthodoxy as though it were not actually Christianity, but some escapist and esoteric cult. They certainly did not want the riff-raff joining them, but wanted tiny, exclusive, private chapels. Some were in love with an idea and were looking for an intellectual plaything, a cult with a ‘mystical’ guru or ‘starets’, an ashram and a mantra for those with more money and philosophical books than common sense. And they soon found the pseudo-mystical Russians to exploit their romantic fantasies and take their money. This was certainly easier than living a Church Christian way of life, that is, loving the Cross of the Orthodox way of life.

On the other hand, there was a liberal faction, also sometimes quite wealthy, who appeared to want a kind of Anglican Orthodoxy, the ‘Byzantine Liturgy’ (whatever that is) with a Protestant mentality and hymns and, obviously, the Roman Catholic (so-called ‘new’) calendar. Some of these basically wanted to remain Anglican, but to have more exclusivity than wishy-washy, ‘make it up as you go’, ‘believe whatever you want’, State-invented Anglicanism could ever provide. This could be called ‘Anglican vicar syndrome’, and at times it seemed indeed to be about a misogynistic rejection of lady vicars, without love for the real Church and Her sufferings.

A very strange reason for joining the Orthodox Church. Such were often especially devoted either to Constantinople Orthodoxy (much more acceptable to the British Establishment, which had already vetted Prince Philip and loved that freemasonry), or else to the curious liberal and aristocratic deviations from Russian Orthodoxy within the Church of Constantinople (which was already then controlled by the CIA and before that had been controlled by MI6). Such people had little time for real, down-to-earth and martyred Russian Orthodoxy. Today the few such people still like this still tend to be Russophobes and also Liberal Democrat Remoaners.

As for us plebs, we were harshly persecuted and slandered by both the above conservative and liberal factions. And factions they were, as can be seen by their ever-continuing factionalism, with tiny schisms and continual infighting, all about nothing really. These splits of the ‘three men and a dog’ type were about divisive backbiting. This was brought as baggage into their fringes of the Church from the infighting of Protestantism, which mentality they did not exchange for Christianity.

Unlike them, I wanted to make clear that Orthodoxy and England can and must go together. If Christ had come for everyone, then it meant that He had come for us too. Orthodoxy and England need not be separate and disincarnate. Just as Christ has a Divine and a human nature in One Person, so there is Orthodox Russia, Orthodox Romania, Orthodox Greece, and so too there can be Orthodox England (as also Orthodox Ireland, Orthodox Scotland and Orthodox Wales), something really English and also Orthodox (and not half-Orthodox, Anglican and Non-Orthodox). For no Church can be founded on the basis of the psychological factionalism of the bruised ego, but only on the basis of the theological Tradition of the Holy Spirit.

  1. As regards Britain, it does not exist – it is a purely political construct. True, the Romans had governed ‘Britain’, but that was before the English arrived. The Normans wanted to recreate pagan Roman Britain, but they failed to reconstruct what had by then already become a myth. After all, the vast majority of the population were by then English, the best of whose elite the Normans exiled and the rest of whose population they decimated. Similarly, in order to subdue the Celtic ‘Welsh’, who had arrived here over 500 years before even the Romans and joined the original inhabitants, the Normans had to massacre and oppress them too with their giant castles.

It was only in the eighteenth century, on the basis of Protestant Tudor imperialism and piracy and afterwards of the appalling genocide of the Leninist monster Cromwell, that the idea of Britain was reborn. First, in 1707 corrupted and bribed Scots voted for union with (i.e. repression by) the slave-trading, ‘Rule Britannia’, John Bull merchants who had beheaded the King, seized control of Parliament and dubbed themselves ‘British’. Corrupted and bribed Irish followed into ‘union’ in 1801.

Today, many English people themselves want freedom from British (= Norman/Establishment/ London) oppression, let alone the Irish (true, they partly obtained it 100 years ago), the Scots and the Welsh. There is no such thing as Britain, let alone ‘British’ saints or ‘British Orthodoxy’, indeed there has never been a ‘British Church’. Like ‘Britishness’ itself, this is all an Establishment myth. The only fully Christian project on the cards today or tomorrow is to be part of the Russian Orthodox Church and its newly-founded Patriarchal Exarchate of Western Europe, at present under Metropolitan Antony.

There is no doubt that this is the foundational structure of the future Western European Orthodox Church, of which all full-hearted and politically free Orthodox will in due course become part. Together, whatever our present diocese, we can build this new Church on the firm rock of real Orthodoxy. We cannot build it on the shifting sand of some CIA-controlled political compromise with politically-appointed bishops and immensely provincial nationalism, including English nationalism. That puts a mere language and a mere culture above Christ. Nationalism is always at heart pagan, because it reveres part of Creation, not the Creator. Christ is spiritually and morally irrelevant to nationalism, as we saw with Hitler’s nationalism.

  1. I am no more Russophile than I am Greekophile, Romaniaophile, Moldovaophile (though I do have a soft spot for Moldovans!) or Anglophile. I am an Orthodoxophile, that is, a Christophile. And you?
  2. In the early sixties there began a period of spectacular injustices in the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), which opened with certain loveless bishops putting our saint, John of Shanghai and Western Europe, on trial in the USA. Such a thing was another act of the Pharisees and Pilate. It continued with the ordinations of bad men to the priesthood and the suspensions of good priests. This tried the long-suffering of us all. We sighed in resignation and put all our hope in God, not in men, and waited for better times. These aberrations were all due to a powerful minority in ROCOR who had lost their roots and wandered off into a US-financed nationalist darkness.

This was the dark night of the narrow and censorious ritualism of the political pharisees. They had quite cast aside compassionate love, the very chiefest idea of the founding First Hierarch of ROCOR, Metropolitan Antony of Kiev, and the only idea which bestows spiritual, moral and canonical authority and meaning on the Church organisation. Battling us and persecuting us, those elements received their first major defeat only in 2007, when at long last ROCOR managed to begin its long return to its historic and missionary destiny. That destiny was and is to remain faithful to the Orthodox Christianity of Holy Rus, but with one vital difference – to be local at the same time. This is possible (and necessary) precisely because we are ‘outside Russia’ and not in Moscow.

The Russian Orthodox Church, centred in Moscow, cannot found new Local Churches in Western Europe and the New World (North America, Latin America and Oceania) without us (and of course without others). Yes, they have administrative abilities, central infrastructure and, at least sometimes, the necessary missionary vision, but we have the local knowledge, the languages, the translations and the cultural references of the people. The people are with us. These are what is needed to gather the people together around Christ and establish new Local Churches which are to become part of the restored Orthodox Commonwealth.

Without us at the grassroots, all that exists is a hollow structure, diplomatic links with elites and, less attractively, the sad consequences of the errors of the Soviet past, from which I and many others have so much suffered. Once Moscow is fully freed of the bad habits dating back to Peter I, so disastrously multiplied by the Soviet period (centralisation, bureaucracy, temptations of power and money and false ‘spiritual fathers’), we will be able to found the new Local Churches which are our inevitable future. In the meantime, we have to continue to serve the people whom God sends us every day from everywhere.

I may not live to be a priest of the coming Western European Orthodox Church. I may not live to see an England liberated from the British myth and so obtain an English passport. I may not live to see the dream of an IONAn (Isles of the North Atlantic) Confederation of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, with a Confederal Assembly on the Isle of Man, looking out on the four nations. Nevertheless, I still believe that my direct descendants will see at least much of this. We work for a much greater idea than a bishop or patriarch or jurisdiction, we work for our common future, for the One Eternal Idea and Reality, for the Kingdom of God.

The Main Problem of the Contemporary Orthodox World

Introduction

From time to time over the decades I have heard conversations among Orthodox about ‘What the problem with the Orthodox world is’. Some I have heard say: ‘The episcopate’. Others say: ‘Lack of leadership’. Others: ‘Lack of pastors’. Others: ‘Uneducated clergy’. Others: ‘Infrequent communion’. Others: ‘There are not enough churches’. Others: ‘Politics’. Others: ‘There’s not enough money’. Others: ‘Too much money’. Others: ‘Ecumenism’ (how old-fashioned that word sounds now). Listening to such conversations among those older than myself, many years ago I came to my own much more radical, but perhaps also much more obvious, conclusion which I present below. Let me give some examples.

The Problem of the Episcopate

Here one of the great problems is that, with very weak monastic life, Orthodox bishops are drawn from a very small pool of candidates. Here we must also recall that, even if there were strong monastic life, most monks are in any case not at all suitable to become bishops: the very ‘monastic’ monk makes a disastrous bishop, as he has no concept of family life and the general realities of life in the world. If they do become bishops they make the most crass decisions out of naivety, ordaining bandits and perverts and not ordaining the suitable.

Indeed, real monks flee even the possibility of the episcopate and have to be taken kicking and screaming for consecration. In some Local Churches, the situation is so dire that just any celibate can become a bishop, especially if he belongs to the right local wealthy family (one of four?). His faith is not very important, but being celibate and being from the right local wealthy family are. As a result, there are a lot of bishops who are bureaucrats, diplomats or just academics. Faith in Christ really does not count very much with them at all.

The main aim of the bishop-bureaucrat, ‘administrator’ or ‘effective manager’ (the Russian jargon) is to collect money and property, so gathering power into his hands. After all, marble, gold and flashy vestments, flats and cars need hard cash. How else can you show off how prestigious and powerful you are? A few years ago we saw one who had been appointed to another diocese. His first act was to buy himself a very fancy car.

That was him finished. Half the flock turned away at once and never returned. And frankly, why should they have? The previous bishop had travelled by public transport and had been respected for that, though admittedly he had travelled very little. The new bishop still could not understand how he had alienated half his flock in his first week (he only realised this about a year afterwards). Some years later he was removed after a large amount of money had disappeared……Another failure in a long line in that particular diocese, which appears to have a suicide wish, ordaining the incompetent and banishing the competent.

But why does a bishop need a chauffeur or a cook or a chancellery and to issue decrees (which are usually ignored anyway)? Ordinary people do not have a chauffeur or a cook or a chancellery and does not issue decrees. If they did, they too would soon find themselves as despised and ignored as their bishops.

Bishops are given power, which some of them think means suspending, depriving of living and home or defrocking righteous priests (and others) and ordaining their corrupt yes-men favourites in their place. Some cultivate this power into a kind of feudal arbitrary rule, the ability to strike terror and intimidate. It is impossible to pray with such bishops because they are bullies who simply traumatise. Little wonder that in one Local Church there is actually a trade-union for priests to defend themselves against such bullies.

The fear of some Synods of bishops to stand up to such bullies whom they themselves appointed discredits the episcopate because there are whole Synods which fall into cowardice and let the corrupt go on for years. There has to be another way, the way of justice. Let us make clear that we are not talking about those who deserve suspension and defrocking according to the canons. The very real fear of priests of being utterly unjustly suspended and defrocked is not their fault. It is the fault of tyrannical and unChristian bishops, who do not know the word Love. Trauma reigns. As for trust, that went out of the window decades ago.

Then there are the bishops who are mere diplomats or book-lovers, who hide in their cathedrals, never visiting their crumbling dioceses, and remain unknown to their flocks. They prefer speaking at conferences for intellectuals.

We have witnessed the disgraceful conduct of certain bishops in the last year in relation to covid. Terrorised by the vague possibility of death with covid, they have closed themselves down and closed down their dioceses, threatening their priests with suspension and defrocking, if they so much as serve the liturgy or visit the sick, as in one group in one Diaspora country.  These conformists are those who, wishing to swim with the atheist State tide, go over and above even the demands of the atheist State in closing down their churches. The concept of churches in the catacombs is totally alien to such bishops, as they are totally integrated into the local Establishment (and local masonic lodge). I have had people asking if such bishops have any faith at all. In answer, I shrug my shoulders and look to the heavens. The fact is, I just don’t know.

On ordination 36 years ago I was told by an elderly Russian priest that ‘whatever you do, don’t contact the bishop unless it’s an emergency, you will annoy him’. Indeed, there are bishops I have heard of who actually forbid their clergy to contact them or make contact impossible because they refuse to answer any form of communication. They don’t want problems, and yet they are happy to interfere in the details of pastoral life and upset clergy and people alike, thus creating problems. Their heavy-handedness defies definition. One new and power-crazy bishop we know managed to alienate his whole diocese in just nine months. A quite remarkable feat. Surely a record? Unless you know better….

The Problem of the Priesthood

There are priest-careerists. You can tell them a mile off. Even the most unchurched person knows them. It is as though they carry an odour about them. And the odour is not that of eau-de-cologne, but the foul stench of money.

On the other hand, if you allow a married priesthood, as Christ did, it is only natural that the priest should earn enough money to look after his family. There are Orthodox bishops who condemn the cash-saving Roman Catholic solution, that is, imposing celibates only (sometimes homosexuals, sometimes worse). And that is exactly what some bishops do: ordain a 22-year-old, make him archimandrite and there you have it: a cheap parish priest.

Only, as happens quite often (I have known many examples), by the time they are 30 they want to get married. And they do. Not so far from here, we know a married archimandrite with two children, though his bishop left him priest. And actually I don’t blame him for doing so, but the bishop who ordained the married archimandrite at an uncanonical age. Another bishop we met, in the then Rue Daru group, would only ordain priests with two children or fewer. Those who did not use contraception could not be ordained: they were too expensive. The hypocrisy.

The problem is that such events do nothing to create respect for the clergy and parish life. The simple solution: in a small parish with 100 wage-earners, ask them to contribute 1% of their salary to the priest’s salary. This would mean that the priest would earn exactly the average salary of all his parishioners. If it is a medium-sized parish with 200 wage-earners, they will contribute 0.5% of their salary. Etc.

This brings us to the next and massive problem.

That is the lack of parishes. There are quite a few (though probably only a fifth of the number required) church buildings, but a parish is a different matter. A church is a building you ‘go to’ as often or as rarely as you want, for five minutes once a year (like the thousands who, I am told, ‘go to…’ (a church where there are never more than 200 present at any one time). There are others who attend a church at least three times a week and come before the start and leave after the end. Only they are parishioners. A parish is a community to which you belong, of which you are a member. And parishioners are people who socialise and help each other outside Sundays.

In Russia and most of ex-Communist Eastern Europe, parish life was almost completely destroyed by the Communists. Though, in truth, often parish life was very often very weak even before the Communists came. Which is precisely why the Communists came…..

To create a Church family, which is what a parish is, is not easy. It takes years. There are different nationalities, different ages, people live in different places, often far apart. And this brings us to our next section.

The Problem of the People

Most Orthodox Christians the world over are only nominal. This nominalism is the ‘hatch, match, dispatch’ variety. In other words, they go (at best) to church three times in a lifetime, for baptism, wedding and funeral. They are not Churched Orthodox, who belonged to the Church, whose priority is the Church. Some people ask why a Revolution in ‘Orthodox Russia’ took place. It was because of nominalism. When there is an attack on the Faith, the first people to lapse and even overnight become enemies of the Church are the nominal. Thus, in Soviet Russia, most of the militant Communists, from Stalin downwards, were baptised Orthodox. They were obviously not Churched Orthodox. Thus, we can see the fragility of ‘Orthodox countries’, where the majority are only nominal Orthodox. We can see the same fragility today in Greece and Romania, where the clergy are State-paid. A fragility which worries. Those countries hang by a thread.

Nominalism is precisely why confession and communion are infrequent. Confession and communion, though two separate sacraments, together form a statement that we are Christians, that we repent and that we partake of Christ, the Head of the Church. Both are equally important, which is why they are so frequent and so closely linked. Some common questions of the baptised but unChurched are: What is confession? What is communion? I have never had them. Why can’t you give communion to my (unbaptised) baby? We now have the extraordinary Roman Catholic practice in the Greek Churches of communion always, but confession never. And they actually justify that as normal! What is this world that we live in?

Many people like to blame ‘the Church’ for everything. This sounds like a blasphemy, as the Church is Christ’s, His Mother’s (Who is the Mother of the Church), His saints’ and His angels’. However, by ‘the Church’, they do not actually mean Christ (which is what ‘Church’ means), but the clergy.

Yes, we are aware of the faults of the clergy (see the extensive lists above), but what about the faults of the people? The people statistically make up 2,444 out of every 2,445 Orthodox (90,000 bishops, priests and deacons out of 220 million), 99.945% of the Church. Where is the responsibility for the Faith of the people, their consciousness of belonging to ‘the royal priesthood’? Why this passive, consumerist attitude? This is not the attitude of Church people.

Some people blame the clergy for the obvious lack of missionary work. But it is much more their responsibility, as they are the vast majority. If nothing is done inside parishes, in internal missionary work, nothing can be done outside parishes, in external missionary work. Why is that we have to wait for bishops and priests to set up parishes, buy church buildings, do missionary work? All should start at the grassroots. And where do the clergy come from? They come from the people. Clergy are not born clergy! Is there truth in the old and harsh saying that: ‘The people get the clergy they deserve?’ The lack of zeal among the people for upright bishops surely results in what we have. We should not complain about our situation when it is our own fault.

Conclusion

What is the main problem of the Orthodox world? In my view, it is undoubtedly its sheer lack of Orthodoxy. At all three levels, as described above. This means the lack of dogmatic understanding and the lack of works of love, in other words, the lack of love, which in fact are the result of each other. For if you do not love God, you will not love your neighbour or yourself. Put simply: No respect for God = no respect for others = no self-respect.

Whenever in Church history the faithful people, most parish priests and monastics and the freely-appointed bishops have combined to defend the Faith against tyrants and monsters, they have created an unstoppable force, a force which radically changes the course of history. Why? Because they realise that they, only together, are the Church.

 

Together in Life, Together in Heaven: Ten Questions and Answers on Martyrdom of the Russian Imperial Family

  1. Who ordered the murder of the Russian Imperial Family in 1918?

The seven members of the Imperial Family and their four faithful servants were shot and bayoneted to death in the very early morning, probably just before 1 a.m., of 17 July 1918. This took place in the requisitioned house of a military engineer called Nikolai N. Ipatiev in the city of Ekaterinburg in the Urals on the very limits of Europe and Asia. This house had been built on the site of the Church of the Ascension, which had stood there in the eighteenth century.

From studies in post-Soviet Russia, for example those by the senior official investigator,  V. N. Soloviov, it seems that the murder of the Imperial Family was carried out only on the initiative of the local Urals Regional Soviet. The Bolsheviks in the industrial city of ‘Red Ekaterinburg’ were particularly militant, hateful and also powerful, showing great independence from Moscow. In any case, no proof has been found of co-ordination between the local Bolsheviks in Ekaterinburg and Lenin in Moscow or anyone else.

However, it is clear that Lenin would have had the Imperial Family murdered in any case and with the backing of his financial and political sponsors abroad, for example in New York. However, Lenin had wanted some sort of show trial first. It is also clear that the Soviet leaders and ordinary Bolsheviks who did not actually order the murder were not upset when it did occur. Thus, although they did not order it, they were quite capable of doing so and would have done it anyway in time. Probably they even felt relief that others had done the dirty work for them so soon.

  1. Were their murderers Jews?

Although the top Bolshevik elite in 1917 was 90% Jewish by race (but militant atheists by religion and mocking their ancestral religion and mercilessly slaughtering Non-Bolshevik Jews), ordinary Bolsheviks were overwhelmingly Russian. As the Old Bolsheviks, largely Jewish, died (Lenin was only a quarter Jewish) or were murdered (like Trotsky), they were replaced by Russians or those of other nationalities, like the Georgians Stalin and Beria, or later the Ukrainian Khushchov. Of the ten murderers (not ‘executioners’, as the secular West calls them) of the Imperial Family, eight were Russian, one was, probably, Latvian and only one was Jewish, although he was in charge of the other killers. However, this latter, Yankel Yurovsky, was a Jew who had long before been baptised a Protestant and had nothing to do with his Jewish family or religion. Therefore, he was Jewish only by race.

Indeed, several foreign soldiers, perhaps Latvians or Austro-Hungarians, had categorically refused to pull the trigger and murder the Family, especially the children. The fact – however terrible – is that the ten murderers were all baptised Christians, eight of them Russians. Their names were: Yurovsky, Kabanov, M. Medvedev, P. Medvedev, Netrebin, Nikulin, Strekotin, Tselms (probably, and probably Latvian), Vaganov and Yermakov. This fact that they were all officially Christians should be reflected on.

This is also why the Church Outside Russia canonised the Imperial Family and their servants as martyrs, whereas in 2000 the Church inside Russia canonised only the Family as Passion-Bearers. The difference here is only that the term ‘Passion-Bearer’ is used only when the murderers are nominal Christians and not pagans. However, in reality the terms are largely interchangeable.

  1. Was their murder a ritual murder?

There is no such thing as a ’ritual murder’. This whole Non-Orthodox myth was invented in the Roman Catholic Middle Ages. It began in Norman England, with the notorious case of the murder of ‘William of Norwich’ in 1144, the first such case. The myth, based largely on jealousy of the wealth of certain elite-connected Jews, finally spread from Catholic Poland into the western Ukraine only in the late nineteenth century. Anyone who reads about the chaos of the murders at the Ipatiev House, carried out by militant atheists and Non-Jews, can see that there was no system (rituals are by definition always systematic) and had no connection with any religion whatsoever. The myth of ‘ritual murders’ is pure anti-Semitism, as is the myth of ‘kabbalistic’ signs on an inside wall of the Ipatiev House. They were simple scribbles.

  1. Why did many not believe that the remains of the nine victims, found in 1979, and those of the two victims, Alexei and Maria, found in 2007, were those of the Imperial Family and their servants?

The second early investigator of the murder, N. A. Sokolov, (well before him the first investigator, I. A. Sergiev, had done nearly all the work) was appointed by the White Army in 1919. He could not find the remains of the Imperial Family and therefore concluded that the victims’ bodies had been consumed by fire, petroleum and sulphuric acid. In reality, only the martyrs’ clothing and shoes had been burned on bonfires. His ‘conclusion’ – although in fairness it was only a preliminary conclusion because he had not had time to finish his investigation – came about simply because he could not find the remains, even though he had passed by their site. Many, if not all, at the time and for long afterwards, believed in his conclusions/suppositions for lack of any other information, and a few still do believe in him today.

Sokolov was not a chemist or a forensic scientist, just a legal man – and also a convinced anti-Semite – and did not realise that you need very high temperatures – about 1,000 C – and huge amounts of sulphuric acid in order to destroy eleven human bodies. These had not been available. Others blindly repeated his suppositions, even adding the speculation that the bodies had been burned to cinders and their heads had been sent to Moscow. This latter wild and proofless speculation was made only because the investigators had found no teeth – by far the most difficult part of a human body to destroy. In reality, there were no teeth, simply because the bodies with their heads and therefore teeth had not been found. However, there are still a few who believe these suppositions, even today, though probably for ideological (anti-Semitic) reasons or out of personal vanity and wish for publicity.

  1. How can we be sure that ‘the Ekaterinburg Remains’ are indeed the relics of the Imperial Family?

We are 99.999999% sure of this just from the two sets of extremely thorough genetic studies on the unique remains, conducted internationally. If you add to this the locations and the number of bodies (eleven), the post-Revolutionary period when they were killed, their ages, the way they were killed, the type of bullets and other fragments found with them, as well as the dental records showing very clearly that the victims’ teeth had been treated by world-class dentists, I can see no rational way in which there can be any doubt about their identity.

  1. In that case, why have the Church authorities been so slow in recognising the remains as the Imperial Family’s relics?

The first genetic tests were carried out in the 1990s under the Yeltsin government, which of course no-one trusted, as it was notorious for its lies, just as all the Communist governments before it had been notorious for their lies. After all, Yeltsin himself had ordered the destruction of the Ipatiev House less than twenty years earlier, in September 1977, for the sixtieth anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. Since the remains could eventually be venerated as holy relics, the Church authorities, also distrusting Yeltsin, had to be absolutely certain of their identity. You cannot make a mistake if you are going to present remains as relics. This is why a second batch of genetic tests were made on the basis of even more advanced DNA science, their results being released on the centenary of the martyrdom in 2018. The findings coincided with the first ones.

Secondly, perhaps more importantly still, the Church authorities have had to face the opposition of sectarian elements inside Russia, who are largely anti-Semitic. Only now are the Church authorities dealing with them. The bishops have always feared a schism, however small, on the subject of the identification of the remains.

Thirdly, the Church authorities know that in post-Soviet Russia there are those of the other extreme, opposed to the far right anti-Semites. These are the liberal and atheist elements opposed to the enshrinement of the relics, just as they were – and are – opposed to the very canonisation of the Imperial Martyrs. Indeed, inside Russia itself, the Church authorities have still not canonised three of the four servants of the Seven Imperial Martyrs (see below).

Outside Russia we should not be surprised at this or, even worse, feel smug. Even the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), supposedly free, only made up its mind about canonising the Imperial Martyrs and four of their servants in 1981, 63 years late! This is scandalous. And even here there were some members of the Church Outside Russia who opposed the canonisation, as I well remember. Anyone who remembers the very hostile reactions to the 1981 canonisation outside ROCOR, on the part of the liberal Paris Russian Jurisdiction (founded by the very Saint Petersburg aristocrats who had overthrown the Tsar) and the Parisian-influenced OCA, let alone the mocking reactions of the secular media, will recall just how virulent the opposition to the canonisation was.

  1. Why are there no miracles from the relics, which do not give out myrrh or perfume?

I think there are many miracles from them. The fall of the Soviet Union was only the first one.

As regards the actual relics, not all relics give off fragrance or myrrh. In any case, relics need faith to work miracles. This we can see time and again from Christ’s words in the Gospels – ‘according to your faith be it unto you’ (Matt. 9, 29). Christ Himself could not work miracles in Nazareth, where he had spent most of his life, precisely because of the faithlessness of the inhabitants (Matt 13, 58 and Mark 6, 5-6). In the Gospels Christ says time and again: ‘Thy faith has healed thee’. In other words, there is no healing without faith. At this moment, nine sets of relics, which lie in the St Catherine’s chapel in the Church of St Peter and Paul in its Fortress in Saint Petersburg, are closed off and cannot be venerated by the faithful. Disgracefully, the relics of St Alexei and St Maria are not even enshrined in the church. We cannot even venerate these relics physically.

  1. In Moscow the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate has not canonised three of the servants of the Family, though it did recently canonise one of them, Dr Eugene Botkin. Many say that it cannot canonise all of them in any case, since one was a Roman Catholic and another was a Protestant.

These four servants were all canonised by the Church Outside Russia in 1981 together with the Imperial Family. I questioned the very conservative Archbishop Antony of Los Angeles about this matter, when I accompanied him to visit Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich in Paris in autumn 1991. He explained to me that this issue had been discussed by the ROCOR Synod in New York well before the 1981 canonisation. The Synod had accepted the age-old practice of the Church that anyone who was martyred for the Faith, even though unbaptised, was considered to have been baptised in their blood.

There are many such examples of baptism in blood in Church history. The fact that of two Orthodox martyrs, one was a Roman Catholic and another was a Protestant, should surely be considered as Providential: this is a call to the Non-Orthodox world to follow in the footsteps of the Imperial servants, as indeed is the canonisation of the converted Tsarina Alexandra herself, though she had been chrismated into the Orthodox Faith before her wedding in 1894. We are all called to be Imperial servants, servants of the Christian Empire, the Empire of Christ.

  1. If the remains are eventually accepted by the whole Church as holy relics, should the relics be enshrined at Porosionkov Log, where they were found?

The area a few miles to the north of Ekaterinburg where the relics were found in 1979 and, 67 metres away, in 2007, was renamed Porosionkov Log (‘Piglet’s Ravine’) only in the nineteenth century, as a result of the amount of mud there which attracted pigs. Originally there had been a large lake here, but when the railway was built across this area, the land around the large pond became very boggy with no drainage. It would not be possible to build a large stone church here, but only a small wooden church on piles. This is the case four and a half miles away at Ganina Yama (‘Gabriel’s Pit’), where the murderers burned the victims’ clothes and belongings and first and unsuccessfully tried to dispose of the relics in the early morning of 17 July 1918. Here there now stand wooden churches dedicated to each of the Imperial Martyrs.

  1. In your view what should happen to the relics now?

Tsar Nicholas II repeatedly said that he wanted to be buried in Saint Petersburg. He spent most of his life as Tsar at Tsarskoe Selo (‘The Tsar’s Village’), just outside Saint Petersburg. Here the whole family was happy, rather than among the mean-minded gossip, criminal slander and treasonous intrigues of jealous aristocrats in Saint Petersburg. Surely, it is here in the spacious grounds of Tsarskoe Selo, where the Family spent so many happy times together, that a huge Cathedral dedicated to the Imperial Martyrs could be raised up, with the relics of all of them at last reunited and enshrined inside. This would become a pilgrimage centre for Orthodox the world over. The Imperial Family: Together in life, together in heaven. From here tiny splinters of relics could be sent out all over the world, so that their veneration could be confirmed as worldwide, as indeed it already is, and for the repentance of all. Then clearly visible miracles would begin, including the transfiguration of Post-Soviet Russia into Orthodox Russia and the beginning of the realisation in Western countries that they cannot continue as they are now, in their state of apostasy from Christ.

Holy Imperial Martyrs, Pray to God for us!

Archpriest Andrew Phillips

St John of Shanghai Church, Colchester, England

 

Blessed Xenia of Saint Petersburg

24 January/6 February 2021

 

Two Questions and Answers on the Contemporary Russian Orthodox Church

Questions: I have two questions.

Firstly: As you surely know, there are several currents in the contemporary Russian Orthodox Church. For example, you mentioned elsewhere the recent defrockings of two diametrically opposed personalities, Sergei Romanov and Andrei Kurayev, who represented two extreme currents. Which current do you belong to?

Secondly: Do you think there has there been mass repentance in Russia with the hundred million baptisms that followed the fall of the Soviet Union?

Answers: I am not keen on the word ‘current’, it suggests ‘school’, as though the Church were divided into different groups or subcultures. The Church has no need to be not divided and can still be broad on non-dogmatic questions. In other words, there is always diversity and different interpretations exist in the Church on non-essential issues. This is because we are not a sect, where only those with very narrow and intolerant minds are allowed. As long as we understand that these ‘currents’ overlap and are not rigidly self-exclusive, which would be sectarian and lead outside the Church, like the groups represented by the two extremists you mention above, then I can reply to your first question.

I can identify eight different ‘currents’ in the contemporary Russian Orthodox Church, in four groups of two. The first six currents are minority, even dying, currents, the last two are the majority currents.

A: Political Currents from the Past:

  1. Pre-Soviet Nationalist Nostalgia

Though they have now died, there used to be many aristocratic émigrés with their children who proclaimed that the pre-Revolutionary State was almost ideal. This was often really cultural nostalgia for a privileged childhood. It was precisely mainly the aristocrats and bureaucrats, often corrupt and some of whom emigrated, who betrayed and overthrew the Tsar. Once in the emigration, many of these people were more anti-Communists than Orthodox, all they wanted was their money and lands back from the Bolsheviks. The destiny and mission of the Church did not interest them. There was no theology here, just psychology.

Today, some of the descendants of those emigres follow in their footsteps, as well as some insecure converts in the ex-Soviet Union, who also suffer from nostalgia for an idealised past, which provides them with psychological security. They never ask themselves the question why the Revolution took place and why it was at least passively accepted by so many, if everybody had been so happy before it. If they studied the pre-Revolutionary Church in its 200-year state of enslavement to Germanic State bureaucracy, they would understand much. But many do not want to know about this because that would entail repentance on their part. They prefer to demand repentance from others, in the spirit of the Pharisees.

  1. Soviet Nationalist Nostalgia

There are still quite a few elderly or even middle-aged people inside the ex-Soviet Union who, though now baptised, have constructed a myth that the Soviet Union was Orthodox. This can even go to the extreme of idolising Stalin, whom they oppose to the foreign enemies of national Russia, Lenin and Trotsky (overlooking that Stalin was also a foreign enemy). This is largely nationalism, together with childhood nostalgia for the security and imagined prestige they had in the Soviet Union.

They forget the interminable queues, shortages, wastage, injustices and above all the red terror, genocides and Gulag, which were all inherent parts of Soviet ideology from Lenin onwards. Ultimately, such ‘Stalinist Orthodox’ are simply the victims of Soviet brainwashing. Their refusal to acknowledge the facts of history and the anti-Christian and other genocides carried out by the criminal monsters who ran the anti-Russian Soviet State from 1917 on is astounding. As usual with people like this, they do not want to know the truth because otherwise they would have to re-evaluate everything, above all their own lives.

B: Political Currents from the Present:

  1. Post-Soviet Russian Nationalism

There are those who are nominally Orthodox, but only because they are Russian and feel threatened by the wave of Westernisation that has unfurled on the ex-Soviet Union since 1991. You can read articles and books written by such people but they rarely attend Church services. Some of them revere imagined Slav paganism. For them the Church is often just an ideology which they try and use for their own ideological purposes and for defensive self-justification.

  1. Post-Soviet Euro-Americanism

Unlike the above, there are the rootless elitists who hate Russia. They are the spiritual descendants of the Westernisers of the nineteenth century. These modern Westernisers, like the CIA agent Navalny, want Russia to become just more American colonies, divided into various ‘protectorates’, as Hitler had intended, with the natives herded onto reservations, as the elite did to the natives of North America. They descend spiritually from the aristocratic and middle-class Europhile traitors who overthrew the Tsar in 1917 and had him and his family murdered, imagining they would retain their power and riches as Western puppets. They have clearly learned nothing from the recent Ukrainian catastrophe. For them the Church is irrelevant and has nothing to say to the world, but must instead slavishly ape the spiritually bankrupt West.

C: The Two Neophyte Currents:

  1. The Ritualist Neophytes

There are those who, new to the Faith, become very attached to external rituals to an almost superstitious or magical degree, that of folklore. They often elevate purely local customs such as bathing in holes in the ice on 19th January to some kind of obligation, far higher than holy communion. Sometimes this results in a certain phariseeism. In Greece such would be inclined to old calendarism, in the Russian context this comes out as an inclination to old ritualism. It is difficult to dissuade such narrow and closed neophytes that ritualism is to be avoided as we are saved not by rituals, but by Christ. This is because they are so emotional and irrational that they do not lend themselves to rational persuasion.

  1. The Modernist Neophytes

There are those who, new to the Faith, become very attached to a merely intellectual knowledge of the Faith. They are the modern saducees, renovationists, liberals and westernisers, intellectual neophytes – rationalists, who do not believe in very much, except their own intellectual concepts. Many of them follow the Moscow renovationist Kochetkov, whom the ex-Bishop Basil (Osborne) wanted to appoint rector of his London Cathedral before his Sourozh schism and who was adored by the late French modernist philosopher Olivier Clement, who so heartily detested the Russian Church. Such people may well read the CIA newspaper The Moscow Echo or listen to the CIA Radio Liberty and read books written by the notorious ‘Paris’ philosophers, whether they lived in France, England or the USA.

D: The Two Main Currents:

  1. The Bureaucrats

There are the bureaucrats, centralisers, careerists, who love money, power and protocols far more than Christ, who always slavishly follow the State, whether it is in Russia, Romania, Greece or, in England, the Anglican Establishment. These are the sort who put St John of Shanghai on trial because they hated the Truth. The diplomacy of lies prevails amongst them, for they have little sense of reality, for they have never suffered, living in clouds of naïve unreality, surrounded by flattering yes-men favourites. These are the anti-missionaries, who destroy Church life instead of spreading it, who suspend and defrock good priests and promote grasping bandits, discrediting the Church among the faithful.

These are the sort who, obsessed by paperwork, implement covid rules with more zeal than even the unbelieving Anglican elite. They refuse to understand that covid was sent to them to bring them to repentance. These are the anti-pastors, the anti-missionaries, the dessicated bishops, the dried-out and formalist monks, who have no love, especially hating married clergy and families. They have little pastoral understanding or sympathy, for they hate the truth about themselves and their persecuting jealousy. They prefer to fill their few churches with gold and marble, as hard as their souls, for they do not love the poor, even if they do understand that the poor exist; they prefer rituals. This is the type of dried-up bishop who was exactly portrayed by Paul Chavchavadze in his novel ‘Father Vikenty’ (London 1957).

  1. The Orthodox

We belong not to Paul, or to Apollos or to Cephas, but to Christ and His Saints and Martyrs, in the spirit of St John of Shanghai. We Orthodox are those whom the secular world calls ‘the mystically aware’, to whom Christ said, ‘As the world hated me, it will hate you’. Despite their very mean persecution for this faithfulness and even their censorship, we venerate all the saints, ancient and contemporary, including the recent saints, the Tsar, his Family and all his servants, together with all the New Martyrs and New Confessors, for the Church is founded on the blood of the martyrs and the faithfulness of the confessors.

However, the world and the worldly hate the saints and permanently rebuke us for our zeal. We follow the miracle-working St John of Kronstadt, whose bureaucrat-bishop appointed him rector of the parish that he had founded and built only after 40 years. We follow the holy elder Fr Nikolai Guryanov, alone on his island and ignored until great old age. We believe in the international mission and destiny of the Russian Orthodox Church to bring to Christ willing people from all the nations, regardless of nationality and tongue. We will always be persecuted by the truth-hating bureaucrats who have no love for us and our worldwide missionary work.

In reply to your second question:

In the ex-Soviet Union there has been mass superficial conversion, but no deep mass repentance. The latter has concerned perhaps only 5% of the population. This has been made clear by the facts that Lenin’s rotten corpse still lies by the Moscow Kremlin, where stands a monument to Stalin, and the whole Russian Federation is littered with statues and place-names celebrating the atheist brutes who murdered tens of millions of baptised Orthodox and other innocents. The refusal of many to discover and venerate the Royal Martyrs, to read and love the Lives of the New Martyrs in general, the failure to stop mass abortion and divorce, the existence of mass corruption, cremation and other pagan practices prove that Orthodox Russia does not yet exist.

This is why there can be no restoration of the Orthodox monarchy and so re-creation of the Orthodox Empire yet. The existence of the Phanariot nationalist schism in the Ukraine, the failure to bring to Christ millions of the peoples of the former Russian Empire, Kazakhs, Latvians, Yakuts, Mongols and so on, shows that all that exists is post-Soviet Russia, not Orthodox Russia. If Russia were Orthodox, its neighbours would also be Orthodox. They are not. There is far to go. The calls to repentance are to be repeated for long until the long-awaited day of justice and restoration comes.

 

Convergence through Purification: The Future of Post-Soviet and Post-Émigré Russian Orthodoxy

Introduction

Following the 2007 reconciliation of 90% of the Russian Orthodox world outside Russia and the much larger Russian Orthodox world inside Russia, some wondered how the two parts would converge. After all, the two parts had distinctive identities, and little wonder, given the ninety years of mutual separation. That separation had been forced on the faithful by the 1917 overthrow of the old, Faith-based, Imperial Orthodox Civilisation by power-seeking Westernised aristocrats and money-loving bourgeois. The main part of the Church inside the Soviet Union had been cruelly persecuted and its organisation taken hostage by the atheist State for three generations of captivity. As for the much smaller part in exile, it had suffered from those who had little interest in the Gospel of Christ, of Orthodox Civilisation, but much interest in the Gospel of Mammon, of the unprincipled Capitalist West.

The Two Sides of the Past

Both parts shared in ideologies which at times were totally irrational, and dominated by reflexes which were certainly not theological, but emotional, folkloric, psychological and even, in some cases, pathological.

On the one hand, the post-Soviet part could display immense nationalism – to the incredible point of admiring its persecutor, Stalin – and had a centralised and bureaucratic State mentality, reflected in the indifferent attitudes of some careerist paid clergy who perhaps did not even believe in God. Certainly these showed little visible signs of faith. This went hand in hand with the attitudes of secularist Westernisers who admired the power and wealth of the Vatican (another State-Church, or rather Church-State). Among the post-Soviet people, deprived of Church education for 75 years, could be found an incredible range of absurd extremes and phariseeism, superstitions based on extraordinary ignorance, resulting in misunderstandings and false problems, which had long ago been solved by Orthodox living in the Western world, from whom they refused to learn, blinkered by their nationalism.

On the other hand, the émigré part could also display immense nationalism, only an anti-Soviet nationalism, with a cultural nostalgia for a disappeared past and phariseeism. It refused to understand mass Orthodoxy, rejecting it, isolating itself in the cosy, inward-looking clubbiness of tiny ghettos. It would refuse any non-Russians, making absurd demands of them. To quote many real examples, there were those who preferred to see their church close rather than see non-Russians there. ‘After us, the deluge’. Others said: Let the church close, we will be dead soon and no-one will need it’. One elderly priest told his parishioners that there was no point in his baptising their children, as soon he would be dead and no-one would replace him. Indeed, he soon died and no-one did replace him. I also heard 35 years ago: ‘I would sooner see our church close than hear a word that is not Russian inside it’.

In the Here and Now

Today we live in a world which is both post-Soviet and post-émigré. Both died out and are buried. Those aged under thirty scarcely understand what the words Soviet and émigré mean. They live in the real world.

In the real Orthodox world we see small, provincial, Balkanised churches, in other words, mere nationalist clubs. In the words of members of the Patriarchate of Constantinople (including priests): ‘You cannot join us, you are not dark enough to be Orthodox’ (= Greek). Or: ‘Romanians only’. Or, in one Ukrainian church: ‘If you are not Ukrainian, go away’. Or in one Serbian church: ‘If you are not Serb, you may come in, but you may not kiss the icon of St Sava, as you are not Serb’. Or, as one Georgian priest told me: ‘God only speaks Georgian’. And an elderly Russian woman, sunk in her dark and unrebuked ignorance, told me that ‘God only understands Slavonic’. Such churches have no spiritual relevance and will, as they deserve, die out as most of them already have. Their disappearance is no loss, as their museum existence has no spiritual significance or justification.

The only Local Orthodox Church which is large enough and has the spiritual and intellectual breadth to overcome such petty and divisive nationalism, the curse of the small Local Churches, is the Russian Church. Three-quarters of the whole Church of God, the multinational Russian Church alone has the potential to overcome such provincial narrowness. Its imperial past, its double-headed eagle looking and uniting east and west, is the point around which both groups, inside Russia and outside Russia, and other Local Churches, can converge. For the Soviet period is just as much in the past as is that of the Russian emigration. We do not live in history books, we read them. We live, and are saved, in the here and now. Today, as never before, the Church faces a global challenge and it can only meet this by showing Her catholicity, Her unity in diversity, Her unity of faith at all times and in all places.

Conclusion

In order to overcome the nationalism, provincialism and parochial narrowness of many and to be relevant in today’s global world, the Russian Orthodox Church has to show Her multinationalism. In order to overcome Her former division, She has to show that She is above all provincial variations. The convergence of all requires the courage of purification. And there is no greater example of this than the courage and purification of the one figure who unites us unanimously, the Emperor and Saint, Tsar Nicholas II. He was of international origin, his mother Danish, he spoke five languages and intended to build a church in every European capital and translate the service books into the European languages. And his Tsarina was an Anglo-German convert. They, their five children and their servants, are saints. We need no greater example of multinational Churchliness for our future.

 

 

Towards the Worldwide Mission of the Church of God

This week’s long-awaited admission by a senior Russian Church diplomat that his astounding naivety in trusting Patriarch Bartholomew, who is in fact an untrustworthy and unprincipled US political pawn, was partly to blame for the Ukrainian Church schism, is to be welcomed. Fancy even suggesting that he thought that Patriarch Bartholomew was telling the truth! Of course, it had been obvious from the beginning, and indeed we had been warning him about precisely that for two decades. And now it is too late. The Phanariot schism is spreading worldwide. Worse still, this admission of guilt and responsibility follows the amazing (and by one person actually justified!) naivety in Moscow of blessing Bishop Ambrose (Munteanu) to attend and take part in an anti-Orthodox ecumenical jamboree on 20 October with Pope Francis, Patriarch Bartholomew and other religious politicians in Rome. This is all extraordinary naivety. Diplomacy, yes, compromise, no. The faithful are scandalised. When will lessons be learned?

It would be good if the Church Inside Russia would listen to the experience of the Church Outside Russia. On the one hand, we get on very well with ordinary Non-Orthodox people and parish clergy, meet them and talk to them every day, are very open to them, far more so than those inside Russia, and welcome them, as we speak the same languages as they do. On the other hand, we have not the slightest illusion about the politicised powerbrokers and manipulators at the top of Western religious institutions and isms, and we refuse to compromise with them. Such has been our policy for 100 years, always sharply distinguishing between our friends, ordinary Western people, and manipulative Western religious leaders, so many of whom are pedophiles or else compromised and corrupted by politics and money. We understand that the Soviet Union was cut off from the reality of the Western world for 75 years, but the Soviet Union and both its extremes of ignorance, the liberal and pro-Western as well as the conservative and xenophobic, should have disappeared nearly 30 years ago. It is time to catch up with reality!

Let us return to the Tradition, to the time and values of the holy Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow. He wholly united us. He was not only an American citizen, a missionary, a diplomat, but also the Russian Patriarch, the uncompromising leader of the Orthodox world and founder of the Church Outside Russia 100 years ago, who was persecuted and died for the Orthodox Faith inside the Soviet Union. Let us all learn from him and leave the Soviet past where it belongs, in the past. We today must live for the future. Today Orthodox Christianity has to be preached worldwide before the end. Now that the tiny group of inward-looking Greek Orthodox nationalists, who have never had any international vision and always very little faith, have fallen into schism from World Orthodoxy, it is clear that the Russian Orthodox Church must take the lead. This is because it alone can preach the authentic and uncompromised Orthodox Christian Faith, not only in the deChristianised and anti-Christian Americas and Oceania, but also throughout Eurasia, including in Western Europe, as well as in Africa.

We look forward to the future, when the Russian Church will establish Exarchates in all the continents and subcontinents, where they do not yet exist, to bring the faithful among the nations into the authentic Christian Church, of which most of them have never even heard. Let us not waste any more time and begin now. This is the work of Love.

How the Orthodox Church Was Restructured

From the Introduction to the Online Encyclopedia of the Orthodox Church, 1 December 2045

Introduction: From Moscow to Jakarta

The potential beginning of the solution to the century-old canonical problem of the Orthodox Diaspora first glimmered in the Year 2000. After the repentance for its politically-enforced paralysis expressed at its Jubilee Council in Moscow in August 2000, the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) was reconciled to the Synod of ROCOR (the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia) in 2007. Both sides had dropped nonsensical Cold War political claims and lost the often naïve extremists who had actually believed in those claims. Following their liberation from politics, new horizons for the unity of the whole Church were gradually opening up.

Thus, the first little-noticed step towards structural canonical unity at last came twelve years later. Then, in November 2019 the ROCOR Synod gave up its parishes in Eurasian Indonesia to the new South-East Asian Exarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church, as the ROCOR Synod was no longer able to care for them. However, the very next month phyletist Constantinople and Alexandria fell into schism and in 2020 other Greek nationalist organisations in Greece and Cyprus fell in the same way. This happened during the chastisement of all the Local Churches by the Covid pandemic. All had now become possible. In just one generation, between 2020 and 2045, long anachronistic Church structures were to be wiped away, like a house of cards collapsing.

Africa and the AOC: 2025

After the phyletist Greek Patriarchate of Alexandria had fallen into schism in 2019 under pressure from the US-manipulated Greek Foreign Ministry, pleas from the African faithful eventually forced the pastoral conscience of the ROC to set up an African Exarchate. This was done in 2022. At last freed of Greek nationalist control from Alexandria, a Patriarchate which a century before, already absurdly enough, had claimed the territory of Egypt, let alone all Africa, at last African Orthodox set out on their path of destiny to their own Continental Church. For the ROC at once set about consecrating twenty African bishops for the Exarchate.

Finally, in 2025 the autocephalous African Orthodox Church (AOC) was at last born. Only the historic title ‘of Alexandria’ was retained by the new black Metropolitan Nectarios in Nairobi. He was enthroned 105 years after the repose of the great and much slandered frustrated Alexandrian missionary St Nectarios of Pentapolis. The old schismatic and now bankrupt Greek Patriarchate of Alexandria finally died out altogether in 2029, ten years after its fall into schism. At last the black African people and clergy now had their own black African Metropolitan and Synod of bishops of All Africa. Since then promising talks have been taking place between it and the Miaphysite Coptic, Ethiopian and Eritrean National Churches.

Western Europe and the EOC: 2028

In 2025 ROCOR parishes in Western Europe, at the other end of Eurasia from Indonesia (see above), became part of the by then decentralised and internationalised Western European Exarchate, originally set up by the ROC in 2018. They were soon after joined by hundreds of parishes from other Local Churches. Together they formed a large and multinational Exarchate and in 2028, exactly ten years after the Exarchate had been born, the new European Orthodox Church (EOC) was born, its first Metropolitan, John of Paris and Western Europe.

Oceania and the OOC: 2031

In 2028 the ROC set up an Exarchate for Oceania. Three years later, in 2031, ROCOR and other parishes in Australia and New Zealand, as well as those on Pacific islands, formed the Oceanic Orthodox Church (OOC). Its first Metropolitan was Thomas of Sydney and All Oceania.

Latin America and the LAOC: 2034

In 2031 the ROC set up an Exarchate for Latin America. At last, in 2034, much neglected Latin America also came to have its own Latin American Orthodox Church (called IOAL in both Spanish and Portuguese). Centred in Rio de Janeiro, its first Metropolitan was called James.

North America and the NAOC: 2037

In 2034 ROCOR and ‘OCA’ parishes in North America joined to form a new autonomous North American Orthodox Exarchate under the ROC. ROCOR had made up with the OCA, both Cold War structures, but only once the OCA had rid itself of its Schmemannite Protestant modernists. (They had left for the then still existing, but ultra-modernist and much diminished schismatic Greek-Protestant Archdiocese – much to everyone’s relief). Only with such mutual maturity, at last freed of Cold War politics, was this unity possible.

This unity was sealed by hundreds of parishes of other Local Churches which joined the united Exarchate. They had also abandoned both the backwards-looking petty nationalism of the immigrant ghetto, so much exploited by impoverished Mother-Churches, and the new calendar inferiority complex imitation by Orthodox immigrants of American Protestantism. In 2037 all the Orthodox-believing elements in North America in this Exarchate became part of the new North American Orthodox Church (NAOC). Centred in Washington, its first Metropolitan was called George.

Conclusion: The Ten Local Churches

Thus, in a matter of only twelve years, both the tens of millions of Orthodox of Africa and the tens of millions of Orthodox of the New World Diasporas found themselves belonging to five new Local Churches. It was not long before the twelve other Local Churches in Eurasia, chastised by Covid, regrouped themselves canonically into five Patriarchates. Thus, the old anachronisms and nationalisms disappeared before the worldwide mission God had called on the Church to undertake.

In 2037 in the Balkans a new multinational Church was formed. Calling itself the Patriarchate of Constantinople (the Greek nationalist version of which had died out in Istanbul in 2034), it was centred in Bucharest. It included six former Local Churches, those of Romania, Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria, Cyprus and Albania and their canonical territories. In 2039 the Patriarchate of Antioch helped organise large-scale missions to Turkey and the Arab World, its headquarters at last moving back to Antakya in Turkey, the real Antioch. In 2041 the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, at last freed from Greek colonial status and with a new multinational episcopate became the international centre for Orthodox pilgrims to the Holy Land.

In 2043 the now decentralised Patriarchate of New Jerusalem and All Rus (formerly ‘of Moscow’) was joined by the former Churches of Poland and Czechoslovakia, which became Exarchates, like that in Belarus. At the same time the Patriarchate also granted autonomy to its missions in South-East Asia and the Indian Subcontinent, making altogether four Autonomous Churches in its jurisdiction (Japan, China, South-East Asia, the Indian Subcontinent). As for the once small Patriarchate of Georgia, in 2045 it took responsibility for the great mission to Iran. The Orthodox Church had remoulded itself as a family and confederation of Ten Local Churches, five Patriarchates and five Metropolias, covering the whole world, and looking forward to the birth of four more Autocephalous Metropolitan Churches from the Autonomous Churches in due course.

1 December 2045

 

How Will the Church in the Diaspora Survive Covid?

Introduction: The Orthodox Diaspora

Although the Orthodox Diaspora in Western Europe, the Americas and Australia has existed for well over a century, it represented little more than embassy churches until 1917. Then, after the overthrow of the Russian Empire by Westernised aristocratic atheists and then Westernised middle-class atheists, it grew enormously. Without the Russian Empire to protect them, there followed the political and economic collapse of Greece, Cyprus, Orthodox communities under the Patriarchates of Antioch and Jerusalem and more immigration, especially after 1945.

More recently the Diaspora greatly expanded after the fall of  the post-1945 Stalinist Empire all over Eastern Europe and, in 1991, the Soviet Union. This collapse has especially affected now EU countries, with Orthodox populations, like Romania, Bulgaria and the Baltics. But what spiritual, and therefore real, identity and significance does the Diaspora have? Does it have any long-term future or will it inevitably disappear into the Western atheist melting-pot of assimilation? What identity can the Orthodox Diaspora have in a spiritually alien and hostile environment?

Two Negative Identities

On the one hand, some look on the Diaspora as merely nationalistic entities. They see it as a mere conduit for cultural nostalgia for a distant and long-abandoned ‘old country’, for flag-waving. But those who hold processions headed by flags, and not by the Cross, are doomed to die out. It comes as no surprise that, generally, the more nationalistic the community, the more its churches closed during covid. After all, one can wave flags at home; why take risks by going to church? Only those who live by faith do not fear death and take communion. The rest, who live by nationalism, disappeared ‘for fear of the Jews’. Moreover, many of them may never return.

On the other hand, some look on the Diaspora as a set of groups which will be assimilated – inevitably. Diaspora-born children and succeeding generations lose their parents’ language and culture; what possible interest can they have in the cultures of countries which they do not know and whose languages they can barely speak? Either the children and grandchildren have adopted another language and another flag, or else they are indifferent to any language except the one they use at school and to all flags. Covid will hardly bring them back to church. If they have been given no spiritual identity, they assimilate.

Conclusion: A Positive Identity

The Church in the Diaspora can only survive, especially after covid, if it is a Local Church. This means a Church which brings together all the Orthodox of whatever nationality and language in the local area and gives them the Orthodox Christian spiritual  and therefore cultural – not nationalistic – identity. Moreover, such ‘local’ Orthodox can only be brought together on the basis of real Faith, on the basis of uncompromised Orthodoxy, and not on the basis of the lowest common denominators of a hotchpotch of folklore. That only produces the escapism of fakery, the irrelevant fairy-tale pretence of being something you are not.

If any jurisdiction is to survive in the post-covid Diaspora (and many are already dying out or have died out), it will be the one which by origin is multinational and also uses the local language – though not exclusively. Such a jurisdiction will give a spiritual identity to its people as the exclusive bearers of local and universal real Christianity, not of folklore or a foreign language – though many may speak one – but of the unique Christian Civilisation, of the unique Christian values which only Orthodox who go to Church hold and live by. Our Orthodox Christianity is a way of life, not an exotic hobby.

 

 

 

From Recent Correspondence (September 2020)

Q: Very recently you returned to Mt Athos for the first time in many years. What changes have you noticed since you last went?

A: I went to Athos twice in 1979 and spent time there. Now again I have been there. There have been enormous changes.

I think it was better before because it was poor then and there were virtually no roads, no vehicles, no electricity, no telephones and of course no internet. Today there is all this. There are roads everywhere, new road-building is very noisy and disturbs both the holy silence and unspoilt nature, and there must be some 1,000 vehicles on the mountain now. All of this has been done with EU money. Each monastery, much refurnished and repainted, now has a shop and, ominously, a museum (always a sign of the end, because it shows that it is dead, not living). It is clear that the Greek government, whose flag flies everywhere on the mountain, even on monasteries (you will not find a single Russian flag at St Panteleimon’s) is preparing to open the mountain up to mass tourism some time in the future. Greek nationalism and money are killing the mountain. Instead of being a multinational Orthodox centre, it is slowly becoming a department of the atheistic Greek State.

Q: Is it likely that one day there will be new monasteries on Mt Athos for, say, English, French, German, Italian etc monks?

A: As long as Greek nationalism rules on Mt Athos, that is unthinkable. Out of some 2,000 monks today, 1800 are Greek. It is forbidden by the nationalists to have more than 20 monasteries, which is why the Romanians, say, only have a skete, though with more monks than a couple of the smaller Greek monasteries, why the Georgians lost Iviron to the Greeks and the Russians lost the huge so-called sketes of the Prophet Elijah and St Andrew to the Greeks. Then, there is also the fact that anyone who becomes a monk on Mt Athos must become a Greek citizen! For the moment Mt Athos is a fragment, albeit with some holy people, of the Second Rome, it still has to enter post-1453 reality.

Although I have met, seen or heard of two English monks, two French monks, two Finnish monks and two black African monks on Mt Athos, two is hardly enough to open a monastery. In any case, what we first need to do is to have authentic monasteries in Western countries, using the native language. So far this exists only in France and the USA. The number of vocations is tiny at present.

Q: Should people not leave the Patriarchate of Constantinople because their Patriarch acts heretically?

A: I think it is far more likely that the very elderly Patriarch Bartholomew will soon die. So he will be leaving, not his three million-strong flock.

Q: Recently the Greek Archbishop of America, Elpidiforos, stated to Roman Catholics that the unity of Orthodox and Roman Catholics is not a question of if, but when. What do you answer?

A: He was talking only about himself. His Uniatism is already well-known. In his personal case it is indeed just a matter of when and not if.

Q: Is the Russian Church the centre of the Orthodox world?

A: Like it or not, Russia is the centre of Orthodox Civilisation, even secular historians like Toynbee and Huntington recognised it. How blindly nationalistic do you have to be not to see this? On the other hand, the Russian Church must behave responsibly. It has often failed to do, treating Non-Russians as second-class citizens. Leadership simply because you are nearly ten times bigger than any other Local Church is not automatic, you have to earn leadership and deserve it. As I said – like it or not. The Russian Church still has to overcome suicidal Soviet tendencies and become the Third Rome again. The dead hand of the Soviet Union with its bureaucracy and centralisation is still too close.

Q: Is it true that the Russian Orthodox Church is heretical because it blesses icons and even crosses with holy water?

A: This is an old chestnut that comes up every decade, usually written by a crazy literalist convert or a polemical Greek, together with the accusation that the Russian Church is heretical because we bless icons and crosses!

Of course, it is not heretical. But of course it is not strictly necessary to bless icons and crosses, we do it out of piety. We do all sorts of things that are not strictly necessary – for example drinking a little wine after communion in the Russian Church, blessing kolyva at memorials, especially in the Greek Church, and kneeling on Sundays, especially in the Romanian Church. Such an accusation of heresy because of piety is all on the same level as the ‘no kneeling on Sundays’ convert pride syndrome. We are not supposed to do it, but we do it for piety’s sake. Let the semi-intellectuals, aggressive fault-finders and proud self-justifiers fall silent, also for piety’s sake!

Q: What is needed for unity in the Diaspora?

A: Trust in one bishop by members of every jurisdiction. At present the bishops of most jurisdictions are not even trusted by their own members, let alone by members of other jurisdictions. Trust will bring the leadership and authority essential for unity. A bishop who is subject to some nationalistic group, financial interest or political party earns no trust. Ultimately trust means holiness.

Q: A certain priest recently told me that anyone who chooses to belong to ROCOR is nuts. What would you answer?

A: The priest in question has clearly met such a person who is nuts. However, he has made the mistake of generalising. It is as if I said that you must not join, for example, the Patriarchate of Antioch because all its priests are heretics, when in fact only one is. It would be just as silly.

Q: What are the origins of the Greek priest’s chimney pot hat, the Greek monk’s headware and the Russian skufia?

A: The Balkan chimney pot hat for priests is simply the old Turkish top hat but black, the low cylindrical hat worn by Balkan monks is simply the Turkish fez but black, and the Russian skoufia is simply to keep you warm in the Russian winter.

Q: Where does the Roman Catholic anti-woman spirit come from?

A: It comes right from the beginning, in the second half of the 11th century, when the German Popes forbade married priests. Married men are not anti-woman; bachelors often are. This same innovation introduced institutional clericalism and also, incidentally, led to the disappearance of monks who were not priests and also of deacons; everyone had to be a priest – ‘a mini-pope’.