Category Archives: Orthodox Unity

The Future of Orthodox Christianity in Western Europe

Introduction: Orthodox Church Immigration to Western Europe

Since 1917 there have been three large-scale waves of immigration of Orthodox Christians from Eastern Europe to Western Europe. These have been: the Russian-speaking, mainly since 1917, though in four sociologically very different generations, the Greek-speaking, mainly since 1950, and the Romanian-speaking, mainly since 2000. This latest immigration is composed of well over four million Romanians with a million and a half Moldovans, probably six million people in all. Nearly half of these now live in Italy, Spain and Portugal, since Romanian is very similar to those languages. This recent immigration dwarves all previous Orthodox immigrations to Western Europe, not just the Russian and Greek, but also the much smaller ones, like the Serbian, the Ukrainian, the Belarussian, the Macedonian, the Bulgarian, the Antiochian (Arab) and the Georgian.

The Greek-speaking (Greek and Cypriot) immigration has remained very closed to others and remains stuck in its ethnic identity, but its leaders also have very strong pro-US politics. Both these factors alienate nearly everyone else from it. It does not in general and cannot in reality attract many native Europeans to its religious practice. As regards the Romanian and Moldovan immigration, it is still too early to say whether it will attract others to it in any number, though there are some promising signs of openings to others, as a result of its youthfulness, its ten bishops, including a French one, and some Non-Romanian clergy and people. The Romanians are helped here by their Latin language and by being very open and welcoming, but the infrastructure remains weak.

The Russian Immigration

What of the oldest, most political and most complex immigration, the Russian-speaking? In four waves, this consisted of anti-Bolsheviks from pre-1917 Russia, anti-Stalinists from pre-1945 Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, those from the small, largely ethnically Jewish, dissident intellectual immigration of the 1970s and 1980s, and those from the post-USSR but still Soviet immigration, especially from the Baltic States, Kazakhstan and Moldova. These waves of immigration are sadly divided into three different and quite disjointed ‘jurisdictions’ with separate episcopates, one of which (ROCOR) since January 2021 has officially decided to be in schism with and not concelebrate with one of the others (WEA). (See below).

  1. The MP

Firstly, there is the largest jurisdiction, that of the Mother-Church, the Moscow-based Moscow Patriarchate (MP), which is 99% of the whole Russian Church, mostly in the ex-Soviet Union, but also has eight bishops in Western Europe. This is organised under a Paris-based Exarchate and its people come from all over the ex-Soviet Union, especially from Moldova and the Baltic States, but also from the Ukraine, though in the last two years many Ukrainians have left it to help found yet another group of over eighty quite separate new Ukrainian Orthodox communities, mainly composed of Ukrainian refugees (most of whom appear not to be baptised Orthodox – the Orthodox have stayed in the Ukraine or in Eastern Europe). This MP Exarchate has been patterned by a number of Exarchs and bishops, who have embarrassingly compromised themselves in some way or other and so have met with failure.

One of the great current problems here is the dramatic events now going on in Moscow against the background of the war in the Ukraine. Here, ‘traitors’ are being tried by Church courts. These include the once senior Metropolitan Leonid (Gorbachov), the former Exarch in Africa, who is under suspicion of various misdeeds (1). If treachery to the Russian State is the real charge, then there must also be bishops in the very divided New York-based Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) (see below) who must also be trembling. Astonishingly, several of the latter have from the outset publicly called for the withdrawal of Russian troops from the Ukraine and openly supported anti-Russian US policies and persecuted pro-Russians. If there is one thing that Russians cannot support, it is treachery.

  1. b) The WEA

Secondly, there is by far the smallest group, the Paris-based Western European Archdiocese (WEA) with only three bishops, whose aristocratic founders from Saint Petersburg created it in the 1920s. This elitist intellectual group is now very small outside Paris. It has either not been able, or perhaps not wanted, to take off and expand outside the intellectual group. At the present time, most believe that its often elderly leaders will die out within the next generation. Essentially it has only three church properties of its own and these are all in Paris. The death or removal of two individuals would hasten the takeover of those properties by the much larger MP and its inevitable absorption of the small remains of this group.

  1. ROCOR

Thirdly, there is the New York-based ROCOR, which was formed over 100 years ago, in 1919 and has its own Synod, now of only thirteen active bishops. In Western Europe it has four bishops. By 2001 its first generation had essentially died out. Thus, in order to survive it had to reinvent itself. A few very elderly individuals, including its own Metropolitan, were expelled in what was essentially a coup d’etat. Having taken over, the new Synod, which had accepted large numbers of new immigrants from the ex-USSR, was then forced to reconcile itself with Moscow. However, it was also recruiting converts, especially in the USA. Unfortunately, it purposely recruited some very strange and right-wing extremist converts, many of whom it made priests and even bishops, putting them into oppositions of power. These now form a very powerful group and are harshly persecuting those who are Russian-speaking, pro-Russian and anti-schism.

Apart from about 150 communities, many of them very small, mainly in the USA, and about 30 communities in Australia, the other main centre of ROCOR is its 70 or so communities in Germany, where it has many historic and beautiful churches and a large flock, with both clergy and laity nearly all from the ex-USSR, especially from Kazakhstan. As well as these churches, it also has a few historic churches in Switzerland, two historic churches (recently taken from the WEA) in northern Italy and one in Brussels. Elsewhere it has virtually nothing, apart from some very small and often unstable communities, making some 300 communities in all and at least 50,000 people. It is clear that the MP is waiting to take over the historic churches in Western Europe from the declining ROCOR and add them to its Exarchate of Western Europe. The death or removal of two very divisive and very aggressive, US-trained individuals in Western Europe, who have very strong anti-Russian political backgrounds and connections, would hasten this process.

At the present time the New York Synod is very divided, not least about its heretical programme of rebaptising other Orthodox, in defiance of the teachings and practices of the Russian Church and of the whole of the Orthodox Church. Although there are three Russian bishops against a break with the MP (they have already broken with the WEA part of the MP), there are three bishops for, and the other seven are fence-sitting. We expect further events.

Conclusion: The Future

Most countries in Eastern Europe already have their own independent Local Orthodox Churches. It seems quite likely that the small Orthodox population (3% ?) from among the eleven million people of the Baltic States of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia and from Nordic Finland, whose language is related to Estonian, will form their own Local Baltic Orthodox Church. All these Eastern European countries have strong historic Russian connections and a current Russian presence and historic churches. Similarly, Eastern European Hungary, to which Carpatho-Russian Transcarpathia and its 600 Orthodox parishes may soon return, may also obtain its own Local Orthodox Church. This is just like the Church of Czechia and Slovakia, the main part of whose traditional flock also consists of Carpatho-Russians.

This would leave a geographical West of Europe, with an eastern border stretching from Norway down to Sweden, Germany, Austria and Italy, enclosing the at present twenty-one countries of Western Europe, with its population of 400 million and area of 3.5 million square kilometres. This has a population of some 10 million nominal Orthodox, about 40 bishops and perhaps 2,000 communities. If they banded together into eight multinational dioceses and worked towards forming their own Local Orthodox Church, they would then form the fourth largest Local Orthodox Church, after the Russian, Romanian and Greek.

These eight dioceses could cover the territories of: Italia (Italy, Malta and San Marino); Iberia (Spain, Portugal, Andorra and Gibraltar); Germania (Germany and Austria); Gallia (France, Wallonia (Southern Belgium), Luxembourg and Monaco); The Isles (the British Isles of England, Scotland, Wales etc, as well as the island of Ireland); Scandinavia (Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland); the Netherlands (the Netherlands plus Flanders (Northern Belgium)); Helvetia (Switzerland and Liechtenstein). The main task here would be to maintain Orthodox and their descendants in the Faith, protecting them from the surrounding ocean of ever more aggressive Western secularist atheism. However, it would also be for these dioceses to conduct missionary work among the native peoples of their territories, though in this profoundly atheist (ex-Catholic and ex-Protestant) region, the results of that work would be modest, for sadly few want real Orthodox Christianity, often preferring at best a virtual version of podcasts, internet nonsense and negativity.

Note:

  1. The retired Metropolitan Leonid (Gorbachev) of the ROC said the upcoming trial against him will be a betrayal of the Church and Fatherland” and “all who participate in this lawlessness are traitors”.

    Former African Exarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Leonid called the upcoming hearing on his case in the Supreme All-Church Court “a betrayal of the Church and the Fatherland” and said that “all those who participate in this lawlessness are traitors”. He wrote about this on his Telegram channel.

    According to him, with the upcoming trial, “we have passed the line of realisation of good and evil”.

    “Now everything is possible if you have uncontrolled power in your hands,” the retired bishop said, without specifying whom he meant.

    The hierarch is convinced that his work in the African Exarchate was “the first breakthrough since 988,” and Gorbachev appreciates its results very highly.

    The hierarch also noted that his trial benefits the Vatican and is “giving up one’s own people”, and that all those involved in it are “traitors”.

    The metropolitan threatened to “provide details afterwards,” adding that he “did not want this”.

 

 

 

Our Common Battle for Holy Rus

The Church is a space of love, freedom and Truth in Christ, rather than an administrative, bureaucratic and punitive apparatus.

https://spzh.news/en/zashhita-very/77938-banning-uminsky-as-a-temptation-by-orthodox-papism

 

Moscow and New York: The Dual Tragedy of Modernists and Sectarians

Fr Alexei Uminsky is a well-known liberal-modernist priest in Moscow, typical of many former hippy idealists who were ordained priests in Russia after the fall of the USSR in the 1990s. We have met several of them and first heard about his activities some fifteen years ago. He is a sincere pastor, nobody could doubt his sincerity, though he has some strange views, which are the fruit of his heady intellectualism. A few days ago, the Moscow Diocesan Court agreed that he should be defrocked, though the paper confirming this decision, which seems very harsh to many, has not been signed by the Patriarch. It is our personal belief that Fr Alexei is not a bad man, just a very naïve man, who has let himself be abused over and over again by the enemies of Russia, including the many US-financed agents there.

His latest error is to refuse to pray for the victory of Holy Rus over its enemies. Like the other very naïve disciples of the late Metr Antony Bloom and of other Russian Parisian liberals such as Fr Alexander Schmemann, in Amsterdam, Madrid, Antioch (via Lisbon, where that one called his faithful ‘Orthodox witches’ and was sacked as a result) and elsewhere, who have mainly left the Russian Church and gone to the US-backed Greeks, Fr Alexey does not understand what Holy Rus is. A pacifist, he imagines that Holy Rus means the temporary political entity of the Russian Federation, which is not at all the case. Although conducting an operation to protect Russians who live in the Ukraine from Nazi genocide, the Russian Federation has never declared war on the Ukraine. However, the West did declare war on Russia through the Nazi proxies it installed and armed to the teeth there, and who created the tragedy. The Russian Church hope is that with the uniting of Rus, the ideal of Holy Rus can be reborn.

However, Fr Alexei and others like him are not the only ones who misunderstand Holy Rus. Today, large parts of the New York-based Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia have been taken over by sectarians. These are the spiritual descendants of those of that same fragment of the Church who openly supported the Nazis in World War Two – those selfsame Nazis who took over the Ukraine. Those traitors were known as Vlasovites and the new Vlasovites have the same views as them and so openly express American support for Nazism in the Ukraine. Whether eighty years ago or today, the treachery remains the same. Whether belonging to the Nazi Party or to the CIA (which was largely staffed by ‘former’ Nazis when it was founded in 1947), those who took and take enemy power and money are contaminated by the same disease. These extremists reject Holy Rus, the Orthodoxy of the faithful, and her universal Orthodox practices and traditions. They support only some reactionary, top-down, right-wing sectarianism.

The End of the Old History

Since the fall of the USSR, US leaders appear to have lost their minds. Craziness has taken over from reason with the hubristic desire to divide the whole world through chaos, in order better to rule it and asset strip it. Their chaos, injustice and genocide have been seen in Yugoslavia, the Northern Caucasus, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, the Lebanon, Georgia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Belarus, the Ukraine, Yemen, Iran, Taiwan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Armenia…the list goes on, throughout the countries of Eurasia and North Africa.

Over the last thirty years Western Europe has in turn chosen to turn its back on Russia and to kow-tow to the craziness of US leaders. As a result, today Russia has turned its back on isolated Western Europe and gone out to the 90% of the world, where it has been warmly greeted, unlike in Western Europe. But what does this mean for ‘indispensable’ Western Europe, especially in the near future when Western Europe realises that the USA does not want it either and that Russia has no interest whatsoever in invading and liberating it? Western Europe is not worth a drop of Russian blood, it is no longer important enough. Russia liberated Paris from Bonaparte in 1814 and Berlin from Hitler in 1945, it will no longer send a single soldier to liberate Western Europe from its American demons. Enough is enough. The local electorates must liberate themselves from those demons by ceasing to vote for war criminals, atheists and perverts, however much their zombifying State media tell them to do so.

The millennial domination and exploitation by the West of the Rest (of the world) is now coming to an end – by Western suicide. The West is killing itself. The Millennium of the West is over. It is hardly surprising that some even maintain that the standard-bearer of the West, the Pope of Rome, will be the last Pope. As for the current ideology of the West, it is not Catholicism or Americanism, it is sexual perversion, apparently in some way now supported by that Pope, though rejected by African and other healthy Catholics. Such is the ignominy which stands at the end of the millennium of Western apostasy. The only way forward is, paradoxically, to return to the time before that disastrous millennium began.

The Beginning of the New History

As Orthodox Christians we have a mystical view of the world, that is, mystical in the sense of real Christian. We believe that outward world affairs are defined by the inward state of human souls. Where there is faith in the existence of the world of the spirit, that is, the real world beyond the veil which underpins everyday life and is the world to come, there are different values from the values of this world.

In the Ukraine President Zelensky is an actor, whose script ran out after last week’s murder in a Ukrainian Secret Police prison of the American journalist, Gonzalo Lira. He was left to die by the US because he was telling the truth. In Russia the fight is on against the fifth column. We remember very well that dark time when the Russian Church was infiltrated by the KGB and how we resisted it. Now it is infiltrated by the CIA – and we resist it equally, before the whole world. The Russian Church, like Russia, is populated by patriots, but also infiltrated by those who have been spiritually colonised by the West, which is led by the CIA. Some there are now at last waking up.  The great cleansing of the Russian Church is under way.

The three Russian objectives in the Ukraine were its Demilitarisation, its Denazification and the Liberation of the Donbass from genocidal Nazism. After foolish Western interference, these three objectives have had to be expanded into something much greater: The Demilitarisation of all NATO through its weapons which have been offered up for destruction in the Ukraine; the Denazification of the Western world by the opposition to it of the 90% of the world which disagrees with Western leaders and is joining the multipolar BRICS; the Liberation of the whole of the Ukraine, and not just the Donbass, from genocidal Nazism.

England: The Victory of the New White Russia

We all want the victory of Holy Rus over Spiritless atheism, indifference, left-wing modernism and the right-wing fifth column of sectarians who have infiltrated the Church. This fifth column is the CIA-backed Americans who are also enemies of Holy Rus and have done their utmost to try and destroy us over the last seven years and utterly failed. We have worked all our lives for the victory of Holy Rus, indeed, we want its extension. As we declared at the Fourth and last Council of the then still free Church Outside Russia in San Francisco in 2006:

‘In Carpatho-Russia an elderly man asked me: ‘Father, where is your parish?’ I answered: ‘In Felixstowe’. He asked me a second question: ‘What province is that in?’ I answered ‘In the English province’. Yes, I rejoice that I serve in the English province of Holy Rus. I believe that you too rejoice, that you serve and pray in the American, Argentinian, Australian, Belgian, Brazilian, Canadian, Danish, French, German, Indonesian, Korean, Russian, Swiss, Ukrainian and Venezuelan provinces of Holy Rus. Whatever language we use, whatever local saints we venerate, we strive to preserve the spirit of Holy Rus, the spirit of Christ, our Orthodox roots’.

(http://www.orthodoxengland.org.uk/atcouncil.htm)

Holy Rus is challenged by the extremists of left and of right, as it always has been. We have all this time been on the front line, literally on the military road, fighting from the trenches against them all. We pray for the liberation of Holy Rus, in the Russian Federation, in the Ukraine, in Belarus and everywhere, from the US and its vassals, whether liberal LGBTs or sectarian Nazis. We are waiting and praying for the liberation of the Church, infiltrated by money-grubbing oligarchs, perverted homosexuals and self-admiring CIA agents. Moreover, we know that we shall win, for although man proposes, God disposes. God is with us!

 

 

 

Five Years of Schisms: The Church Torn by Needless Divisions

2024 opens in sadness for all the Local Orthodox Churches.

In 2021 well over half the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) Diocese in England left that New York-based branch of the Moscow Patriarchate. This was because of the new ROCOR schism against the Western European Archdiocese (WEA) branch of the same Moscow Patriarchate. The Archdiocese had accepted a Roman Catholic priest into its clergy in the normal Russian Orthodox way, by confession and concelebration. However, for that reason the new American ROCOR, strongly old calendarist and imposing a quite outrageous and very aggressive policy of Americanisation, to the point of imposing the American language (!), had broken off communion with the WEA. This was unthinkable under the old Russian European ROCOR. This schism then spread Europewide under another ex-Lutheran ROCOR bishop. And then the whole ROCOR Synod backed up its young, inexperienced and non-seminary trained American bishop, ‘converted’ from Lutheranism, who had instigated the schism.

In the meantime, the Moscow Mother-Church, of both ROCOR and the Western European Archdiocese, remained silent, for unexplained reasons known only to itself. Church discipline appeared and appears to be breaking down. However, any number of Orthodox bishops fell over themselves, and are still falling over themselves (too late), to receive the group of six parishes, including with by far the largest church, the senior priest of the Diocese (with nearly forty years of conscientious service), several other clergy and 5,000 people who left ROCOR on account of the American schism. This group are now thriving in the canonical Patriarchate of Romania, despite the absurd ‘suspensions’ and ‘defrockings’, with which they were punished by ROCOR after being received into the Romanian Church. Their position was all about standing up for the Orthodox Truth, canonical Church practice and generations of faithfulness to Russian Orthodoxy.

This is perhaps the fifth time (or is it more?) that ROCOR has faced schisms on account of its adoption of and (too late) abandonment of old calendarist positions on the reception of Non-Orthodox by rebaptism. All these occasions go back to its contamination by the fanatical Greek old calendarist ideology, with its easily identifiable convert language movement (‘Pascha’ for Easter, ‘Nativity’ for Christmas, ‘hierarch’ for bishop, ‘temple’ for church, ‘chant’ for sing etc), in the 1960s. The best-known occasions were perhaps the Guildford (England) schism of 1976, the Boston schism of 1986 and then the multiple schisms of 2007, including that of the Brookwood monastic community and London convent in England at that time.

In any case, the 2021 scandal in England spread back to North America. It turns out that there at least one ROCOR bishop there had actually been receiving unrebaptised Orthodox converts from Non-Orthodoxy by rebaptism, even though these converts (surely, by now former converts?) had been inside the Orthodox Church and receiving communion for years! This is despite the Nicene Creed, which states: ‘I believe in one Baptism for the remission of sins’. The ROCOR Synod appears to be in chaos, split down the middle. Not only does it face responsibilities for its uncanonical actions in England, but also in North America.

Here the recent concelebration of Fr Alexander Belya, (now again bishop-elect) with the Romanian Orthodox Church also has to be faced by the split ROCOR Synod. Fr Alexander, a former ROCOR priest chosen by the ROCOR Synod to be bishop and then suddenly dropped and ‘defrocked’ (!), was persecuted by the ROCOR Synod for still unknown reasons (the court case for libel is ongoing). Before being ‘defrocked’, he had already joined the Patriarchate of Constantinople with a large group of similarly appalled ex-ROCOR clergy and some 20 parishes. His concelebration with the Romanian Church means that, yet again, the Romanian Church does not recognise the actions of ROCOR. The latter is proving to be yet another (irrelevant) irritant to the Romanian Patriarch, who ignores all the increasingly strange letters from the New York group. The Moscow Mother-Church can be none too happy with its New York representatives who are discrediting themselves and the whole Russian Church through their eccentric, indeed scandalous, conduct and persecution of the faithful.

The latest twist to this sorry rebaptism saga is the case of at least one priest of the Antiochian Diocese in England, a certain Fr Matei. Having freely joined the Antiochian Diocese relatively recently, he decided that his bishop (and presumably therefore all Antiochian bishops) are heretical and stopped commemorating him. This was because this bishop follows the Orthodox practice of receiving Protestants who have been baptised by water in the Name of the Holy Trinity, by chrismation. (This is the normal practice of 1,000 Orthodox bishops – the opposite of the abnormal and new ROCOR practice). On top of this, this Fr Matei objects to the old Antiochian practice of giving Non-Chalcedonians communion, which is also a practice of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

Although all the Local Churches receive Protestant converts by chrismation, they do not give communion to Non-Chalcedonians. However, they do accept that Antioch and Constantinople do this as their local practice, and that is no reason to break off communion with them. What is very strange is that Fr Matei objects to these practices, as he must surely have known that these are old-established Antiochian practices from long before he so recently joined the Antiochian Diocese. (Here we see the other side of the coin to the ROCOR rebaptism schism, which is a recent innovation and quite unheard of in the old ROCOR in Western Europe). Nevertheless, in the USA, there are now other Antiochians who have suddenly woken up to the reality of long-held Antiochian practices and object to them. Where they have been all these decades remains a mystery.

All of this comes against the background of the 2018 schism between the Russian Church and various Greek Churches, such as the Patriarchates of Constantinople and Alexandria, as well as with individuals in the Greek and Cypriot Orthodox Churches, who supported setting up a fake Church on age-old Russian Orthodox canonical territory. As one correspondent has put it: ‘This is worse than Protestant dissension’.

Clearly, the solution to reverse this chaos is for all to return to canonical practices, namely of:

  1. Not setting up ‘Churches’ on the canonical territory of other Local Churches.
  2. Not refusing to concelebrate with and not breaking off communion with others because of their different practices regarding the reception of Non-Orthodox.
  3. Refusing to rebaptise those who have already been received by another Local Orthodox Church and who have taken communion in it.
  4. Suspending and defrocking only priests who have committed criminal acts (usually, the theft of money or property, or else who work as spies for the CIA or other spy agencies), or who have committed immoral acts (heterosexual, homosexual, or even pedophile), and not because priests refuse not to concelebrate with canonical Orthodox, or because they profess political opinions and vote for political parties, different from those of their bishop. (This, apparently, is considered to be disobedience and is therefore ‘uncanonical’!!).
  5. Suspending and defrocking bishops for criminal or immoral acts, instead of protecting them (for example the late Archbishop Nathanael of Vienna, (ROCOR)), Metropolitan Joseph of the Antiochian Archdiocese in North America. Apart from them, there are other immoral, homosexual and even pedophile bishops of all nationalities, who (out of jealousy?) persecute heterosexual priests and laymen who have normal family lives.

But will any of this return to canonical practices take place?

The Church After The Ukraine

Introduction: In the Ukraine

The Red Star USSR lasted for three generations after the Western-organised Palace coup of 1917. So too the White Star USA, which began its triumph in 1945, is also collapsing after the same three generations. At present we are all waiting for the end of the totally unnecessary American war in the Ukraine. According to official Ukrainian TV, Kiev losses in killed, wounded and captured troops are now 1,126,652. The Americans, who forbade the Ukraine to make peace in spring 2022, want indeed to fight to the last Ukrainian. However, as most Ukrainians are not going to commit suicide for the US elite, that elite will now have to blame someone else for its failure. In this new Greek tragedy, dramatic events are taking place in freezing and snowbound Kiev at this very moment. The main assistant of the commander of the Ukrainian Armed Forces has already been killed by a hand grenade sent to him as a ’present’ from the President’s office and the wife of the head of the dreaded Kiev secret police has been poisoned. Meanwhile, European elites are panicking, as they face the real possibility that a nationalist President Trump will make peace with Russia, at last dissolve NATO and desert a NATO-free Europe.

Talk in Kiev is of a coup, rejecting both President Zelensky and the commander of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, General Zaluzhny. The situation is even more dramatic on the front line, which is falling apart, as undertrained and underarmed, unarmed and untrained Ukrainian troops give up the unequal fight. In a war of attrition the collapse can come very fast. By Easter, 5 May 2024, the day before the feast of St George the Victorious, it will surely be over. Some say it will happen even as early as January or February, rather than April or early May. The CIA has always instrumentalised the worst elements in each client state to play the roles of heads of their puppet regimes. Thus, they used drug dealers in Latin America, fascist dictators in Spain and Portugal, mafiosi in Italy, colonels in Greece, gangsters in Vietnam, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Hussein in Iraq, Bin Laden in Afghanistan, hateful extremist nationalists in the Baltic States and in the Ukraine Galician Nazis with an atheist Jewish actor figurehead. Once the US no longer needs its handsomely-paid war criminals, they are exiled, dumped or assassinated, especially if they fail in a US election year.

This will be the fate of Zelensky and will also be that of the US-appointed and now panicking NATO and EU puppets, Stoltenberg, Scholz, Macron, Sunak, Pavel, the bankrupt Russophobic European elite, which is to be ejected by its electorates. With their tiny militaries, they are irrelevant.  Already largely demilitarised, they have to be denazified. The Europe problem will be solved at last. The political results of the Democrat delusions in Kiev and their open lies in the Western media (they declared President Putin ‘dead’ twice last month alone!) are colossal. Kiev is now spelled K-A-B-U-L, only this is Afghanistan multiplied by ten, because it is happening in Europe in full view of the whole world which can now see ten years of the lies of Western politicians and the Western media. The Ukraine is the European graveyard of the US. Former vassals, which like the Ukraine are dependent on US funds for their existence, such as Israel, Taiwan, South Korea, Kosovo and Kuwait, will also disappear. Eventually, the bankrupt US will have to abandon its peninsula outpost of Western Europe, NATO will disappear and the US-moulded EU will collapse, to be replaced by a Russian-founded, multipolar concert of the nations.

In the Church

However, what interests us much more are the results of the Ukrainian catastrophe for the Orthodox Church. These are the results for both what once was the most prestigious Local Church, Constantinople, and for today’s largest Local Church, Moscow, as well as for the fourteen other Local Churches.

Founded in the fourth century, this once prestigious Patriarchate in Istanbul was tempted by its glorious history a millennium and more ago as the capital of the Christian Roman Empire. Goaded and bribed by the White House in Washington, it thought it could rule over the Orthodox world through nationalist-imperialist politics. Now it is falling from its height and has to face the embarrassment of its fake Ukrainian Church, which is staffed by perverts, gangsters, thugs and Nazis. Was there ever such a shameful event in all of Church history? The existence of the US-established and US-financed fake Church in the Ukraine discredits this Patriarchate. Imperialist and nationalist politics have their price. The only way out would seem to be the ‘retirement’ of those responsible. Denials by papering over the cracks and sweeping under the carpet is no longer an option.

Founded in Soviet times in 1943, this largest Patriarchate in Moscow was tempted by its size, once nearly three quarters of the whole Church. It thought it could rule over the Orthodox world through nationalist-imperialist politics. Prey to the politics of the FSB and the CIA, it was infiltrated by traitors. Now it is falling from its height and has to face the embarrassment of its infiltration by the representatives of various secret services who betrayed it. It has lost, or is losing, many of its territories: the Ukraine, Latvia, Moldova and most of the Diaspora in the West, ultimately everything that it once controlled outside the Russian Federation. Imperialist and nationalist politics have their price. A Council or Synod in Moscow will have to enact a wave of decentralisation. If independence (autocephaly) is not given to Non-Russians by Moscow, it will be taken by them anyway.

Conclusion: The Triumph of Conciliarity

Once the war of America and its NATO vassal elite, launched against Russia and Europe, now coming to an end in the Ukraine, is over, the persecution of the heroic Church of the Ukraine will also be over. A New Ukraine will be established. And a New Ukrainian Church will also be established. And, regardless of what happens in Moscow, an independent Ukrainian Church under Metropolitan Onufry of Kiev will be supported everywhere that matters, not least by the Romanian Church. Independence for it was thirty years overdue, as for all parts of the Russian Church outside the Russian Federation. We await transformations of the centralised structures of the Church, which are now archaic, and await the removal of homosexual mafias of self-interest, corruption and power of the paid Church administrators, exactly those which St John Chrysostom denounced over 1600 years ago.

After the shameful decadence of the minority Orthodox Conference in Crete in 2016, the Church authorities will have to proceed to a real Council to resolve the real problems of the Church. These issues were never even discussed at Crete, where some signatures of the relatively few attendees were even forged. The elites of the two Local Churches which tried to impose their will over all the others over the last thirty years will have to step back, one way or another. That time is over. Now we must proceed to Conciliarity, to reaffirming the Catholicity of the Church, to reaffirming that local nationalisms are always secondary to the Church, which will not be brought down to that level, to reaffirming that in the Church we have Trinitarian unity in diversity, ‘multipolarity’, that we only have one really important passport and identity, our spiritual passport and identity. We shall be victorious, because Christ, the Head of the real Church, is always victorious.

 

The Emperor is Coming And He Will Cleanse the Church of Corruption

‘Wherever Americans come to a region of the planet, they bring chaos’.

Sergei Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister speaking on RT, 15 November 2023

The American war against the Russian and Ukrainian peoples in the eastern Ukraine is now coming to an end. However, terror and genocide are breaking out in the Holy Land, which is a convenient get-out, or ‘off-ramp’, from their lost war in the Ukraine for the US elite. For that elite, which fights wars with the blood of others, is threatening even more wars and chaos in many other parts of the world with their same imperial ‘Divide and Rule’ policy. The world knows that we are seeing global transformations in these pre-apocalyptic times.

The post-1945 US-controlled world is over and US-led institutions are collapsing, from the EU to the UK, from NATO to the WTO. This is a parallel to the collapse of Soviet institutions from 1989 on, including the Soviet-created Ukraine which is only now disappearing. A great power shift, prophesied by many, is taking place, with the old Western elites falling everywhere. The time of the prophecies has come. These include the promised return of an Orthodox Emperor or Tsar, of whom we will now speak.

Over a century ago, apostate Orthodox Christian Russians betrayed the Orthodox Emperor, Tsar Nicholas II, his Family and his faithful servants.  Since then the vast majority of Russians have not yet woken up from their nightmare. The episcopate of the Orthodox Church has sunk into divisions and corruption, as though a mafia had come to reign there. However, prophetic voices have resounded. Thus, the great Elder Nikolai (+ 2002) of the Pskov Lake, answered pilgrims on three occasions that ‘The Tsar is coming’, when they doubted. On the first occasion, they objected:

‘St Seraphim of Sarov also made such prophecies, but there is no sign that a Tsar is coming. That those in the present government do not see him coming is clear, but the most terrible thing of all is that there are priests who are not waiting for the Tsar’. One metropolitan also objected: ‘What monarchy? That time is over, now we live in a democracy’. Fr Nikolai listened and said: ‘The Tsar is coming’. ‘How come? Who is coming?’ And again he answered: ‘The Tsar is coming’. They argued with him for a third time and once more he repeated: ‘The Tsar is coming’.

‘We left perplexed, but a little later this is what happened. We met a priest from Kiev, who told us how he had been in a car crash. The angels took him away, a bright light shone from above, his soul rejoiced and he thought: ‘Glory to God, I am home’. Suddenly he heard a voice: ‘Not yet, you have to go back’. ‘Why?’ ‘You are a convinced monarchist, you will pray for the Tsar’. ‘Who is the Tsar?’ ‘Only I and the Tsar know this. Even his parents and the Mother of God do not know this’. ‘Why?’ ‘Because as soon as people find out, they will immediately kill him’’.

Thus, there will be no revolutions, elections or councils. When the time comes, the Lord Himself will raise up the chosen Tsar. According to the prophecies, this will happen some time after a war. This is the American war that is now coming to an end in the Ukraine. By the prayers of the last Orthodox Emperor and Martyr and all the New Martyrs and Confessors, the Tsar will be enthroned in the coming years. Then he will cleanse the Church of corruption. As for us, we are simply forerunners, sent to announce this message, though we are unworthy even to untie his shoelaces.

 

The Coming Synod in Moscow: An Example to the Vatican?

Introduction

The Synod of the Patriarchate of Moscow will meet in just a few days’ time. Of the many issues the Synodal members will have to decide is that of possible autocephaly for the Orthodox in Moldova. As we know, Metr Vladimir of Moldova has asked for autocephaly in order to overcome the problems in his country. He fears either that the Moscow Patriarchate will be banned in Moldova or else that his flock will transfer en masse to the Patriarchate of Bucharest. This is difficult for Moscow. This thorny problem is, however, only the tip of the iceberg.

In the last century the Patriarchate of Moscow granted autocephaly to Orthodox in Poland, Czechoslovakia and to Carpatho-Russians in Northern America (the ‘OCA’). Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union into fifteen different republics 32 years ago, it has not given autocephaly to anyone. It seems to us that the granting of autocephaly to Orthodox who live in now independent republics is long overdue.

Thus, we would suggest that Orthodox in the Ukraine (all those on territory under the political control of the government in Kiev), Moldova, and the three Baltic States (Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia) should all receive autocephaly, but not be allowed a Diaspora presence (see below). This would mean that the Orthodox in Belarus would remain in their Exarchate, as they have not requested autonomy (as they have in Japan and China), let alone autocephaly.

However, if this Synod in Moscow were to become a Synod of Decentralisation, that is, of Autocephaly, Autonomy and Exarchate, we would suggest that perhaps further decentralisation should take place:

 

Why not give up the remaining thirty or so Moscow parishes in North America and give them to the OCA, on condition that the whole Autocephalous Church there be renamed the NAOC – the Northern American Orthodox Church? (Northern America being the USA, Canada, Greenland and a couple of dependent islands). Local bishops and parishes of the American Synod (called ROCOR)in Northern America should be informed that they must in time, say, over the coming five years, obey the Patriarchal Synod and also join, or else fall out of communion.

Thus: Three New Exarchates, making Four Autocephalous Churches: The Ukrainian, the Moldovan, the Baltic and the Northern American.

Why not grant the Western European Exarchate Autonomy, merging that Exarchate with the Archdiocese of Western Europe? With autonomy would come long-overdue internationalisation and the organisation’s indispensable acceptance by Non-Russian nationalities. This Autonomous Western European Orthodox Church would also include all bishops and parishes of the Ukrainian, Moldovan and Baltic Orthodox Churches. Local bishops and parishes of the American Synod (ROCOR) in Western Europe should be informed that they must in time, say, over the coming five years, obey the Patriarchal Synod and also join, or else fall out of communion.

Thus: One New Exarchate, making Three Autonomous Churches: The Western European, the Japanese and the Chinese.

Why not create one single Exarchate for the Metropolia of Kazakhstan and the Metropolia of Central Asia? Why not create an Exarchate for all parishes in Latin America, from Argentina through Central America to Mexico? Why not suggest creating an Exarchate of Oceania, based on the Russian parishes in Australia (at present under the American Synod)?

Thus: Two New Exarchates, making Five Exarchates: The Belarussian, the Kazakhstan and Central Asian, the African, the South-East Asian and the Latin American. And one new potential Exarchate for the future.

 

Conclusion

Such a Synod in Moscow would surely set an example of decentralisation to the current Roman Catholic ‘Synod on Synodality’, which is, among other immense problems of its own, also grappling with its historic and spiritually deadening problem of centralisation, caused by Papism.

Papism or the Holy Trinity: The Multipolar Structure of the Orthodox Church

The only alternative to the Holy Trinity is hell.

Archpriest Sergij Bulgakov

Introduction: The Remaking of the World Order

The settlement after the Second World War made by a victorious USA and USSR is over. The red star Soviet Empire, given birth to by British-orchestrated regime change begun in blood on 30 December 1916, ended on 25 December 1991. The white star American Empire, given birth to by the Truman Doctrine, formulated on 22 February 1947, ended on 24 February 2022 with the tragic events in the Ukraine. Both had lasted for three generations. The Age of Empires is over. The whole World Order is being remade.

The Ukrainian Tragedy

The recent events in Ukraine, very accurately described by the President of Poland as ‘the drowning man who is drowning his rescuer together with himself’, can only be described as the Last Crusade of the West. However, those events do not just mean the dissolution of the old Ukraine, invented by the USSR from 1922 on, and of the old NATO, they are symptomatic of much more. The Ukraine is only one of the historic shifts that are taking place in the world, where we are witnessing the rebirth of a multipolar world.

That varied and multi-centred world existed a millennium ago, before ‘the West’ took on the demonic idea that it was exceptional, proclaiming that it had the right to dominate the whole world through the arrogance of the ‘crusades’. The first of these began officially in 1095, though in fact they had started before that, in Italy and Spain and in 1066 in England. The last one was not Pope George Bush’s ‘Crusade’ against Iraq in 2003. It is the attack on Russia today, Pope Joseph Biden’s Crusade, which is the Last Crusade.

The alphabet soup of old institutions that my generation has grown up with are gone or else will inevitably go: the USSR (gone already), NATO, the EU, ASEAN, the OECD, the IMF, the WTF, the G7, AUKUS, the UN, the UK (to split into its different countries), perhaps the USA too, are next. Through ‘BRICS’, which is set to replace them all, we are heading towards a Planetary Alliance of Sovereign Peoples. The alternative is a neocon-inspired nuclear Wasteland that even T.S. Eliot could not have nightmared of.

BRICS, already more powerful than the G7, soon with eleven members, is the future present. This is the multipolar world of Russia, China, India, Africa, Latin America, Oceania and all the others. This is the Alliance of the seven billion of Planet Earth. The remaining one billion on their islands and on their Western European peninsula will be obliged to join and co-operate with this Alliance as equals, or else die. The old Western millennium is over and, ironically, the new millennium has been given birth to by this Last Western Crusade.

The Multipolar Structure of the Orthodox Church

The old Western-controlled world had a unipolar or totalitarian structure, which has its origin in the unitary, centralised Papist structure of the second millennium of Western Europe. This is not the structure of the Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church, also called the Orthodox Churches, now numbers sixteen. Why the paradoxical use of the singular and the plural, Church and Churches? This use is only as paradoxical as that found in the essential Gospel Teaching of the Holy Trinity: God is One, but also Three.

It is this Tri-unity that is at the basis of this rebirth of a multipolar world that is taking place before our very eyes. In other words, the multipolar reality of the ever-expanding BRICS is based on the very description and definition of the structure of the Orthodox Church(es). The ‘Papism’ of the Western world is thus the opposite of the Trinitarian model of the Holy Trinity, as seen in the Orthodox Church(es). It is therefore no surprise that BRICS has basically been founded by Orthodox Christians from Russia.

The Orthodox Church(es) has also known the temptation of ’Papist’ or unitary rule. But each time those centripetal, that is, unipolar or ‘Papist’, tendencies have been defeated, just as centrifugal or splitting forces have also been defeated. The whole Orthodox world is now awaiting the outcome of the tragic conflict between NATO and Russia in the old Ukraine. We all know that the resulting New Ukraine will be one that is viable. (Remember how foolishly an unviable Germany was created after 1919, resulting in a new War).

The Russian President is not only a politician, but also a Russian Orthodox layman. As a provincial intelligence officer, he lived through the collapse of the USSR and the human catastrophes that ensued. As he proclaimed several years ago: ‘He who does not regret the USSR has no heart; he who wants to restore it has no brain’. As for the future structure of the Russian Orthodox Church, for example in the New Ukraine and in other former Soviet republics which are now independent nations, he has no interest in it. He is a politician.

Conclusion: Multipolar Orthodoxy

Such matters will be for the Russian Orthodox Church hierarchy to sort out, inevitably in consultation with the fifteen other Local Orthodox Churches. We believe that the Russian Orthodox Church will follow the multipolar model and grant independence (autocephaly) to its different constituent parts. This is not because the Russian Orthodox Church wants to follow multipolar politicians, but because it is part of the whole Orthodox Church, whose structure is inherently theologically multipolar, that is, Trinitarian.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Papism or Multipolarity: The Fake Church or the Real Church

Introduction: Conformism to the World

In the 1960s and 1970s, parts of the Orthodox Church outside the Communist bloc were affected by a creeping Protestantisation and sectarianisation. Here I am referring to the ecumenism, liberalism and modernism of that period. It was just another example of how some in the Church are willing to conform to the ways of the world, to swim with the tide. But what happens when the tide changes?

Since then the tide has indeed changed, ‘ecumenism’ has become a strangely old-fashioned and even largely unknown word. And even the word ‘modern’ is now also old-fashioned, replaced by ‘post-modern’. However, another secularising movement to imitate, this time perhaps even more dangerous, has appeared since then. This is the movement towards sectarian authoritarianism, that is, to Papism, on the part of a few Orthodox Patriarchates and even a few ordinary bishops.

The Church Leader is the Emperor

After an accumulation of occasional conflicts and disagreements that had begun with Charlemagne in 800, in 1054 the authorities of the Church in the West reached an end-point and broke off communion with the rest of the Church. Papism, the claim to universal domination, had appeared. Thus, Roman Catholicism was born and would develop step by step, taking on tentacular dimensions. Roman Catholicism, with its universalist pretensions, was an authoritarian attempt to take control not only of the Western world and all its emperors and kings, but also of the whole Church of God everywhere, in the west, east, south and north.

The new Papist or Roman Catholic ideology stated that the Pope of Rome is de facto Caesar, the supreme authority, the World Emperor, Pontifex Maximus, the successor to the pagan Roman Emperors. This ideology came to be called ‘Papocaesarism’, meaning the total, indeed totalitarian, Western control of the whole world by the Patriarch (Pope) of a single Local Church. It led almost immediately to the reactions of disagreement and persecution, which caused the Papal schism from the Orthodox Church in the eleventh century. It also gradually led to the political and ecclesiastical break-up of Western Europe itself in the 16th century and its permanent division into Roman Catholic and Protestant.

At first it meant continual wars and invasions in the name of the Popes of Rome, papal armies or papally-blessed armies massacring Jews and Muslims in Spain and Italy, invading and genociding Christian England in 1066 and later genociding Christian Ireland. Then came the so-called Crusades, the massacres of the Albigensians in France, the sack of the Christian Capital in Constantinople in 1204, the Teutonic Knights in Prussia and finally the so-called ‘Reformation’. Millions of dead. Papism also meant colossal centralisation, as described, for example, in such a basic historical account as Richard Southern’s ‘Western Society and the Church in the Middle Ages’. Paperwork, protocols, legal niceties and bureaucracy took over.

Sadly, it is this Papist ideology which in recent generations has become an admired model for certain Orthodox Patriarchs and bishops. Those who admire the Vatican repeat its errors and indeed its heresy. Both the Patriarchates of Constantinople (‘Eastern Papism’) and of Moscow, as well as some others, have been tempted by Vatican-style power. Indeed, whenever a Patriarchate (or ordinary bishop) draws near to Rome, the result is that they are tempted by secular power. It is a spiritual disease, an infection of the soul. The Patriarchates of Moscow and of Constantinople could not survive, if they were to continue. However, we believe that this is not a ‘sickness unto death’, but only a temporary infection. Healthy forces in both Patriarchates will fight back and even now are fighting back. They always do. The Church belongs to Christ, not to Patriarchs or bishops, whatever their thunderous titles and pretensions may be.

Orthodox Being Orthodox Christians

We have long stated that all the problems in Church life come about when Orthodox stop living as Orthodox Christians. There are so many clerical careerists, ‘professionals’, who demand that the faithful first make appointments with secretaries in order to see them, who call their flock ‘the mob’, who do not give confessions, as reality would disturb their delusions. These are the ones who have big black cars and properties, the monocle-wearers, who appear to be aware only of their own imaginary self-importance and their Papist ‘right’ to humiliate and condemn to hell those who disagree with them. Like the pharisees, who they are, they are obsessed with gold, their dress, formality, rites and rules. This is precisely what destroyed the Russian Church in 1917, when the Russian masses rejected such clericalism and self-importance.

As the New Martyrs and Confessors are forgotten by some in Russia, the bad spirit is coming back and being rejected again. Just as real Orthodoxy is not a religion and ritual, but faith in the Living God, so real Orthodox priests are not clerics, but pastors. They are shepherds of the flock and so are unmercenary, not interested in wallets, but in souls. They build communities, from which spring miracles and saints. ‘By their fruits, you shall know them’. Carpathian saints like Elder Cleopa do not demand that people make appointments with their secretaries to see them. They do not have any secretaries. Nor in the past did the Optina Elders, St Seraphim of Sarov or the Transvolgan hermits like St Nil of Sora. Nor in the distant past did St Cuthbert and St Chad or did the Irish saints in their island hermitages.

They had no possessions. In the Church of the Russian emigration, where I was brought up and spent fifty years, there was no such Papist nonsense, with all its paperwork, protocols, legal niceties and bureaucracy. For instance, Fr George Sheremetiev (+ 1971), Count Sheremetiev, from one of the richest families in Russia, lived in poverty in a tiny room in London, all his possessions were contained in one small suitcase. Why? He said that he lived so, because he had to repent, as his class had created the Revolution, since they had lived in luxury, while the masses had lived in poverty, on top of which his class had betrayed the Tsar and created catastrophe for all.

Archbishop George (Tarasov) in Paris lived in the same way as Fr George. Remember Archbishop Alipy of Erie in the USA? He made his own mitre, photocopying icons to stick on it, using lots of gold paper and cardboard. Remember Fr (Baron) Alexander Rehbinder? Several of his children slept in drawers. He had no beds for them. Most Orthodox emigres were like this. Most emigre churches were small and cosy, prayerful and simple – and poor. That is my Church. Think of St John of Shanghai giving away his shoes to beggars, not because his shoes were uncomfortable (as the papists will tell you), but because he had compassion. Renounce his way, and you renounce the way of all the saints.

A Centralised Church and a Multipolar Church

Ever since I returned to the Russian Federation in 2007 after an absence of forty-one years, I have said that the situation there was fragile, on a knife-edge. It could go one way or the other. Restoration was by no means guaranteed. And I also said from the beginning that what it had taken three generations to destroy between December 1916 and December 1991 would take three generations to restore. The Russia I saw in 2007, and have seen again several times since then, was not yet a Russian world, it was a post-Soviet world. Post-Soviet golden domes do not make a Church and saints.

And without saints, there will be no Church, just a post-Soviet religious-coloured national institution. And whoever says post-Soviet, says centralised and nationalist. For important parts of the post-Soviet Church are still centralised, nationalist and therefore saintless. And yet in our New World Order of 2023, the world of BRICS, we do not have centralism, but ‘multipolarity’, that is, polycentrism. Where did multipolarity come from? Multipolarity is precisely the Orthodox Christian structure on which the Confederation or Family of Local Orthodox Churches is founded.

A centralised and nationalist (and so anti-missionary) post-Soviet Church can have no place in Orthodoxy. Centralism, that is, unipolarity, is exactly the opposite of our Orthodox view of the world. Centralism, unipolarity, is the definition of Papist Roman Catholicism, not of Orthodoxy. And even though Papist Roman Catholicism has gone, its cultural reflexes have been inherited by the USA, today’s Uniparty Hegemon. Its ideology is Unipolarity, belief in a single totalitarian system all over the world, which they call Globalism. This tries to impose itself by intimidation, violence and regime change all over the world, Americanising by force and threat, as we who were in ROCOR in England know by heart. But we have resisted it and won.

Their ideology is that one size fits all, like a MacDonald’s franchise, in Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and the Ukraine, in fact all over the world. Millions of dead. In other words, the US elite is a de facto Caesar, the supreme authority, the World Emperor, Pontifex Maximus, the POTUS, the successor to the pagan Roman Emperors, Papism, meaning the total, indeed totalitarian control of the whole world by the single leader of a single Nation. This is Neo-Papism.

Conclusion: Awaiting Resurrection

The above is not our Orthodox Christian spiritual and cultural inheritance. Our inheritance is the Holy Trinity, unity in diversity, the origin of multipolarity. We who were brought up in the real Russian, not Sovietised, Church await the Resurrection of the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate. As also faithful Greeks await the Resurrection of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. For the moment, however, we are closer to the stern prophecies of St Lavrentij of Chernigov (+ 1950), who warned us what to avoid:

‘Not long before Antichrist is enthroned, even those churches that have been closed will be repaired and restored — not only their exteriors, but their interiors, as well. They will gild the cupolas of bell-towers and cathedrals, alike…We will have unprecedented splendour’, Elder Lavrentii would say. ‘Do you see how craftily and insidiously all this is being prepared?… I repeat yet again that one must not attend those cathedrals; there will be no grace in them!’

 

Unlocking the Crisis in the Orthodox World

The 200 million-strong Orthodox Church is in an unheard-of state of schism between the clerical leaders of 14 million Greek Orthodox and the clerical leaders of 140 million Russian Orthodox. This crisis has been caused by nationalism. Indeed, even the word heresy is being used of this schism.

Thus, Greeks accuse Russians of nationalism by promoting their concept of ‘the Russian world’, which Greeks find akin to the heresy of ‘phyletism’ (racist nationalism), which denies the Catholicity of the Church. For them this is what the conflict in the Ukraine is about – the nationalist desire of the Russian government to unite into Russia all Russians, including the Russians who were persecuted and massacred while living near the Russian borders in the east and the south of the old Ukraine and keeping the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under its control. In the nationalist Russian world, non-Russians, even if they are Orthodox, may be treated as second-class citizens.

Russians also accuse Greeks of the same heresy of phyletism, in their claim that the whole Orthodox world must be under the Greek Patriarch of Constantinople, who is effectively an Eastern Pope, and that all Non-Greeks, even if they are Orthodox, are therefore effectively second-class citizens. This we have seen in the Greek establishment of dependent ‘Churches’, led by some very dubious individuals and even criminals, in the Ukraine, Estonia and elsewhere. And all this on the age-old canonical territory of the Russian Church and under the political patronage and with the finance of the US State Department.

We are neither Greek nor Russian, as we are drawn from the other 46 million Orthodox. We, who belong to the majority of the fourteen other Local Orthodox Churches, with over a third of us belonging to the Romanian Orthodox Church, are left in the middle. We are in communion with both Russians and Greeks, but in disagreement with both. We find that they are influenced by extremism and that they should sort out their problems at a real Council of the whole Church. Sadly, the elderly Patriarch of Constantinople has rejected this, claiming that he is above Councils!

Given the Greek rejection of a Council, which Council has been promoted by us in an attempt to resolve their schism, cynics say that the Church will just have to wait until the two aged Patriarchs, of Moscow and Constantinople, have died. Only then will the situation be resolved, as the only way out of the crisis is for both patriarchs to pass on and be replaced by new, non-political patriarchs, free of nationalism and US interference. This is to reduce the whole affair to a mere personality issue. That is not at all the case, for here is a vital theological issue about putting the Catholicity of the Church above nationalism, and also we are not cynics. We are believers.

We have already lived through a similar situation of blockage, that of the Cold War, when Church affairs were blocked by politics, in the USSR for 75 years, in the rest of Eastern Europe for 45 years. (Although there was no Greco-Russian schism then). What happened? In 1991 the USSR fell overnight. The hand of God. The present schism is, we believe, not yet as serious and as long-lasting as the era of the Communist captivity of the Church. Those who despair have forgotten the Faith. The hand of God intervenes and all can change in a moment.

As we have seen, there is no possibility of a Council of the whole Church, as it will be boycotted by the Patriarch of Constantinople, as he has stated. What is possible, however, is a Council of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) which recognises that the USSR no longer exists. One country became 15 independent republics. Surely the ROC needs to decentralise and found new Local Churches, by giving independence/ autocephaly to those Russian Orthodox who for over thirty years have lived in other countries. If independence (autocephaly) were granted by a Church Council in Moscow to those Orthodox outside Russia, but who were formerly in the USSR, this would completely undermine Constantinople’s fake Churches in the Ukraine, Estonia and Lithuania (this latter created only by Moscow defrocking priests for no canonical reason), pulling the rug from under Greek feet.

Firstly, a new Local Church for the New Ukraine is required, as Moscow mulled over doing in the 1990s. The New Ukraine is what will be left of the old and purely artificial Soviet Ukraine, once the latter has been dismantled. Already five provinces with the Crimea have been transferred to Russia. It is not known if other provinces, perhaps two (Nikolaev, Odessa?) or even two more than that (Kharkov, Dnipropetrovsk?), will be transferred to Russia, another two may return to Romania and Hungary. Russia has never wanted to invade or occupy the whole of the Ukraine. It has enough territory of its own and knows from recent history that it cannot occupy areas that are not Russian, where it is not accepted.

So a New Ukraine will still exist, not as large as the old Ukraine which is a construct invented from 1922 on, but still large, between half and three-quarters of the old one. It will be a Ukraine that does not have a US puppet government and one that is demilitarised and denazified, that is, neutral. Unlike the old Fascistic Ukraine which is now collapsing, it will also have to grant all its citizens democracy, freedom to practise their religion without fear of the secret police, and other essential human rights.

The New Ukraine will need a Church which is fully independent of the ROC in Moscow. Similarly, a new Local Church for the three Baltic statelets and another new Local Church for Moldova can end divisions there. However, if Moscow does not do this, Orthodox there and elsewhere, notably in Latvia, will precisely turn to Constantinople for autocephaly and Moscow will also lose Moldova to the Romanian Church. Ultimately, the same may well have to happen for Orthodox in Kazakhstan together with the other four ‘stans’ of Central Asia and then in Belarus.

The point is that Russian nationalism only works with Russians, just as Greek nationalism only works with Greeks. The situation with Greek nationalism is all the more critical for Constantinople. Still seemingly denying that the Greek Orthodox Empire fell in 1453 and still addicted to US dollars, the Patriarchate of Constantinople is going to have to deal with the consequences of the Russian military and technological victory in the Ukraine and its economic and diplomatic victory in BRICS +, which includes Africa, where the ROC is very active.

Both Russian victories already mean the humiliation of the United States and Western Europe, especially of the fatally divided NATO and the EU, which are both likely to collapse. For example, Turkiye, whose President was saved from US assassination by Russia on 15 July 2016 and who was recently in Moscow for talks, has shown great interest in joining BRICS + and so leaving NATO. And Turkiye, whose application to join the EU has been humiliatingly rejected by it on many occasions over the decades, is precisely where the Patriarchate of Constantinople is fixed.

If Turkiye, whose army is for now the second largest in NATO, joins BRICS +, US influence there will collapse, as also in the part of Syria which it occupies and exploits. BRICS + means the end of the prospect of a potential future World Dictatorship, as foretold in the prophecies of Antichrist. Since Russia has good relations with Turkiye and thousands of Russians live there permanently, it will not be long before the ROC opens an Exarchate there, as it has already done in Africa. In Africa it seems as though the Greek Patriarchate of Alexandria will go back to what it was 100 years ago and still essentially is, a small Greek diocese covering Egypt and Libya.

If Constantinople boycotts a Council of the Church, then a Council will go ahead without it. It will be its loss. If Constantinople does not need the Church, the Church will not need it. However, if Moscow does not give autocephalies to the Orthodox in the independent countries formed over thirty years ago, it will find that those countries will gain their Orthodox autocephaly without Moscow. This has already happened in Latvia, just as generations ago it happened in Poland, Czechoslovakia and North America. The peoples of the Church do not need bureaucracies, protocols and their pieces of paper to live and develop. They need freedom. This should be blatantly obvious. Sadly, to some it is not.

In any case, both Greeks and Russians will have to recognise that there is no future in phyletism, racist nationalism. Nationalism is the hatred of other countries and, as it is hatred, it can have no place in Christianity. Patriotism, however, is a Christian value, for it is the love of our native country and, as such, in no way excludes positive feelings towards other countries. Let both Greeks and Russians be patriotic, as much as they want, but let patriotism not degenerate into nationalism. The Church of God is much larger than Greeks and Russians. It is the Holy Spirit Who alone creates the spirit of Catholicity, uniting all peoples in their Local Churches. It is called Unity in Diversity and is the image of the Holy Trinity.

 

An Interview: On St John’s Church in Colchester, the Present Situation in the Romanian, Ukrainian, Russian and Greek Churches, St Sophrony and Metr Antony Bloom.

The following is the recap of an interview given in Colchester on the Feast of the Dormition, 28 August 2023, to pilgrims from Romania, one of whom, Starets Vikenty from Targoviste, concelebrated with us.

 

Q: How did you obtain this enormous and beautiful church in Colchester, which is like a monastery?

A: It was through a miracle of St John of Shanghai. For eleven years we had been renting temporary premises and then this church came up for sale. We only had £4,000 in our account. So we prayed to St John and after six weeks, without even the slightest help from the Russian bishops or local Russians, we came to have £180,000 in our account. We bought the church. I still cannot believe this happened, even after 15 years.

Q: How did you come to be in the Romanian Church?

A: That too was a miracle of St John. You know for decades the Romanian church in Paris, where I studied, was under the Russian Church. This was through the kindness of St John and his successor Archbishop Antony of Geneva, who ordained me. It was on the new calendar – in those days the Russian Church had no problem with that. The Romanian problem was purely political, they were political refugees, so the Russian Church sheltered them until the political situation in Romania was resolved and the Paris parish could return to the freed Romanian Church, as it did twenty years ago.

Now when the Russian Church came quite recently into great political turmoil, we had to take refuge in the Romanian Church. I said to Metr Joseph at the time (we communicate in French): ‘We have Russian traditions and use the old calendar’. He answered: ‘No problem’. This was undoubtedly too by the prayers of St John. Here in Colchester we have been repaid for St John’s charity in Paris all those years ago. It is the spiritual law. Do good and good will come back to you. Do bad and bad will come back to you. It is the boomerang principle.

I would add also that in the 1970s the well-known Romanian ascetic, Fr Raphael (Noica), had a great influence on me. This gave me even then a very positive picture of the spiritual grandeur of the Romanian Church.

Q: You are now a well-established parish under Metr Joseph and his Synod of the Autonomous Romanian Metropolia of Western and Southern Europe. What has been the greatest change in recent years?

A: Without doubt, it was the government lockdowns during covid. Since we refused to close down and I said publicly that I was willing to go to prison for it, we doubled our congregation. True, that did make our then bishop very unhappy because his small church in London was forced to close. We were at some points the only Orthodox church open in England. We had people of all nationalities coming to us from all over the south and east of England, up to 150 miles away, from Brighton, Reading and Lincolnshire. Both Russian churches in London closed down, as well as the Greek churches, the Antiochian churches and the monastery in Tolleshunt Knights.

Recently someone told me how nostalgic he was for that time! We did not ring the bells, we did not switch on the lights, no parking was allowed in the Church car park and we never opened the front doors which had a notice on them saying: ‘Due to the government lockdown, these doors are closed’. It was absolutely true, we used the side door which people went in and out of in small numbers and people were told not to gather and talk outside in front of the Church. This man said to me: ‘It was like the catacomb Church’. He is nostalgic for that. I can understand him.

Q: What was your attitude to covid vaccination?

A: Neutral. It was not a dogmatic question, it was up to everyone personally. But I always told people to make the sign of the cross over the vaccine, if they had to receive it, just in case.

Q: The situation of having a church to go to was good for the people. But did it affect you?

A: Yes, definitely – apart from being constantly very tired from overwork! First of all, we realised that we as a church had been virtually unknown before. Suddenly hundreds, if not thousands, of Orthodox discovered us. It was the best advert we could ever have had. Secondly, I also went out, covering a thousand miles a week, and gave hundreds more people communion in their homes. I was never stopped by the police, the roads were more or less empty. I discovered that the Russian priests in London were refusing to go out and give communion. I was the only one doing so. Thirdly, I realised just how many Romanian Orthodox there were in England, realising that they were by then three-quarters of all Orthodox here. We could no longer remain as a small minority amidst this ocean of Romanian Orthodox. We had a pastoral responsibility towards them.

Q: Until the 1990s, the majority of Orthodox in England were Greeks. Why did you not think of joining them, as you later joined the majority Romanian Church?

A: First of all, from 1983 until 1997 I lived in Paris, the centre of the Russian emigration, where I studied at seminary and where there were and are very few Greeks or Orthodox of any other nationality except Russian. Secondly, sadly, the Greeks had always been hostile to Non-Greeks. I remember in the 1970s and 1980s how Greeks simply told Non-Greeks to go away (and sometimes not as politely as that). It does not matter how numerous you are, when you have that attitude, you condemn yourself to dying out – which is exactly what has happened. And thirdly the Greek hierarchy was always politically and masonically very compromised and I was very uncomfortable with that, whatever the ordinary priests and people. I did not want to have to become a freemason, as they offered me.

Q: So was this ‘ocean’ of Romanians the reason why you joined the Romanian Church?

A: No. The reason we joined the Romanian Church eighteen months ago, just before the conflict in the Ukraine entered its new and very violent phase, was the sectarianisation of the Russian Church Outside Russia.

The old Russian archbishop had been completely indifferent to us, celebrating in our church only once in 20 years! When I asked for his blessing to obtain the church in Colchester, he gave it, without hostility, but made it clear that he thought I was crazy to set up a large church and that he would not in any way help us. However, the new bishop, who replaced him, belonged to what we, and many others, came to call ‘ROCCOR’, ‘Russian Orthodox Crazy Converts Outside Russia’.

A very recent, inexperienced, young convert, with huge gaps in his knowledge, without seminary training and no pastoral experience, he was put in charge of the few remaining ROCOR parishes that remained in Western Europe and made mistake after mistake. He governed through google-translate! We had been members of the Russian Church before he was born and had known those who had been adults in Russia before 1917. He also told us all publicly that ‘I don’t like Romanians and only half-like Moldovans’. This was in front of a group of twenty of us, half Romanians or Moldovans!

It was one of the final acts of suicide for the ROCOR Diocese in Western Europe, the last in a long series. They had run out of competent bishops. All the older and experienced priests had to be cast out and replaced with crazy converts, neophytes. Fr Seraphim Rose’s ultimate nightmare from the 1970s had come true. ‘Super-correctness’ had taken over. (Remember that Fr Seraphim was a disciple of St John of Shanghai, and so was a sort of spiritual uncle to me).

In extreme cases, as in the USA, this meant expelling families, women and children from real parishes, and repopulating the tiny remaining groups with crazy converts, ‘internet Orthodox’, misogynists, repressed homosexuals, indifferent to the future of the Church, the children, incels and even youths who like toying with Nazi weapons. Such will debate at length the Typikon, fasting, any outward rules, taking on names like Seraphim, Moses, Vladmir and have long hair and beards like monks. However, real monks live in humility and obedience and do not hate others and do not hate themselves.

How did they imagine they could get away with this?! A Church which persecutes its faithful is no longer a Church. It is as simple as that. As it is written: ‘Blessed are you when men shall revile you and persecute you and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven. For so persecuted they the prophets who were before you’.

Q: So why did you not simply transfer from this new ROCOR to the Patriarchal Church, the Sourozh Diocese?

A: That was the first thing we tried, nine months before we joined the Romanian Church, but they turned us down! We had the impression that they had received strict instructions from Moscow not to take anyone from ROCOR. It seems to be their policy. It is of course their loss. We wanted to be in the Russian Church, but they did not want us and our parishes.

Q: Why was this ‘sectarianisation’ such a big deal for you?

A: First of all, because sects are always full of hatred. The historian Ammianus Marcellinus, (c. 330 – c. 391) wrote: ‘Not even wild beasts are as hostile to men as Christian sects’. I can assure you of the truth of this.

Secondly, because it had long ago become part of my destiny, with many others, to work for the reconciliation of the three parts of the Russian Church in the emigration, ROCOR, the Paris Archdiocese, and the tiny Moscow Patriarchate in the emigration. In May 2007, ROCOR was at last reconciled with the Patriarchate and then in December 2018, the Paris Archdiocese, where we have many family members and friends, was reconciled with the Patriarchate. We had achieved victory and everything I had worked for had come to fruition through all those long decades. For two years we had the miracle of unity! But, of course, the devil would not leave it there.

In December 2020 everything was completely ruined when the young crazy convert bishop created a schism with the Paris Archdiocese because it had received a Catholic priest in the usual Patriarchal (and pre-Revolutionary) way, by confession and communion. All of us, sixteen clerics and thousands of people, well over half the diocese, were horrified and were forced to stand up to his schism, which had created an international scandal. We acted in accordance with Canon XV of the First and Second Council under St Photios of Constantinople. We now understand what sectarianisation means, for the young bishop in question has been backed up by the whole of the americanised ROCOR. It is the end of that group, it had degenerated into a cultish sect. So sad to see. It is said, as we saw, that even the blood of martyrs cannot overcome schism.

Q: Did you ever regret leaving ROCOR?

A: Never. We acted according to our Orthodox conscience. We had no choice. It was an existential question. Either we belonged to the Church, or else we were a sect. We took the only possible path, to leave the sect and all its hatred and slanders. And persecution for righteousness sake is always spiritually rewarded, as we have seen.

Q: You mention crazy converts, but you are also a convert, aren’t you?

A: I was converted in 1971, 52 years ago, but I am not crazy! Ask our many parishioners in our parishes.

Craziness always comes from having no roots. I was saved from that by being rooted, coming from a literally down to earth family (my grandfather and those before him were ploughmen) on the Essex-Suffolk border, and by being a historian, hagiographer and, above all, by being a pastor. When you are a pastor, you work with real people, not with woolly ideas, which then turn into ideologies, which then turn into dangerous fantasies.

Q: One question before we move on from this. Did you think about joining the Church of Constantinople, given the political turmoil in the Russian Church?

A: We thought about it, but dismissed it, because Constantinople was, and still is, in schism with the Russian Church. We wanted to be in communion with everyone, as we are (except with the tiny ROCCOR, though they are de facto in communion with no-one and do not wish to be and do not allow their clergy, at least those here, to be in communion with others).

Q: So, given this schism inside the Moscow Patriarchate, how do you see your future?

A: The internal schism in the Russian Orthodox Church, caused by the new ROCOR episcopate, is now nothing to do with us, thank God. They must clean up their own mess, which sleeping Moscow has allowed to develop. Far worse than that is the external schism between Moscow and Constantinople. Fortunately, we in the Romanian Church, as those in several other local Churches, are in communion with both sides. And that therefore is something to do with us.

I have worked for Orthodox Church unity all my life. Now the Russian Church is outside unity with the Greek Local Churches and vice versa. There must be a way out of that, but that way out can only open up once the Ukrainian conflict is over, probably next year. Those of us who are neutral, neither Greek, nor Russian, can help here.

Though I suspect that the Russian State can also help here. It has a very broad vision of traditional values, which it has expressed in BRICS, which is Orthodox, Muslim, Hindu, Confucian, Catholic and Protestant. It is this building on traditional values between nationalities which can help overcome parochial splits between the Local Orthodox Churches. Only a broad vision can overcome ‘jurisdictionalism’. This latter is only an advanced form of the spiritual disease of parochialism. This means narrow and racist bigotry – the concept born from total inexperience that ‘only the church I go to is good and everyone else is wrong’.

Q: But what about the schism in the Ukraine between the Orthodox under Metr Onufry and those under Constantinople? How can that be overcome? A merger?

A: There is right and wrong in the Ukraine, no merger between the Church and the schismatics is possible. We know what we are talking about. For example, just as in the Ukraine, so here too renegade bishops want to steal our churches and when they fail, they try and close them down. There is no difference between atheism coming from the Ukraine and atheism coming from the USA – atheism is atheism.

We all know that there is only one real Church in the Ukraine, that of Metr Onufry. Metr Onufry and his Church find themselves persecuted by both sides. He is the answer. Autocephaly given to him will solve all the problems, once the military conflict is over. Once that conflict has been addressed, then there will have to be a Council of the Church and both Moscow and Constantinople will have to grant autocephaly to the canonical Church in the Ukraine and not to some band of Nazi gangsters. Then we in the rest of the Church can return to normality and canonicity.

Q: The Church situation in Moldova also seems to be dire. The Moscow Church there claims that the Romanian speakers who join the Romanian Church there have no grace. What do you think of this?

A: It is very sad to see.  Bishops who lose property and money by driving clergy and people away through aggressive bullying and jealousy always claim that those who leave them (with the property and money, which never anyway belonged to those bishops anyway) ‘have no grace’ or are ‘uncanonical’ or are ‘schismatics’. This went on for generations in the Russian Church in the emigration. I have seen it all before! Then, suddenly, one day, they all said, yes, we hated each other for decades, but we did not mean it! It was all politics! (Which of course, it was). Nobody believes their nonsense about those who fight for truth and justice against schism and injustice having ‘no grace’. Those who claim such nonsense merely discredit themselves and are laughed at by other bishops.

Another example. In 2006 in these islands there took place the so-called ‘Sourozh schism’, when half of the local Moscow Patriarchate Sourozh Diocese left Moscow and joined Constantinople. The half that left had been the liberal half created by the late Metropolitan Antony Bloom. And he had been allowed to create that. Now that half had already told me in 1982 that they intended to leave Sourozh for Constantinople! They had made no secret about it.

It is a typical example. There are those who do nothing about a potentially critical situation for 25 years and then over-react in a completely over the top way. They then find they have to start all over again. The usual story. It seems to be something in their psyche. The Ukraine is another example. If the Ukraine had received autocephaly in the 1990s, there would never have been the temptation of setting up a Constantinople Church there.

Another small example was the little monastic community at Brookwood outside London. For years it had been concelebrating with Greek Old Calendarists and saying quite openly that they would leave for that group if ROCOR agreed to unity with Moscow. When ROCOR declared its intention of doing just that, Brookwood left. I had the job of announcing their departure to their archbishop. He refused to believe me! And yet Brookwood had never made the slightest secret of its views. And then the ROCOR episcopate, as usual, went completely over the top in reaction, and declared that somehow, mysteriously, Brookwood ‘no longer has any grace’! The grace switch had been turned off! No wonder nobody believes anything that the ROCOR episcopate says.

The problem is that once Brookwood had gone to the Greek Old Calendarists and any chance of negotiation to return had been very aggressively rejected by its ROCOR bishop, who denounced Brookwood as ‘graceless’, leaving it no way of going back, Brookwood became ever more extreme. For example, it has recently rebaptised a man who was baptised into ROCOR some years ago and had received confession and communion in it for several years. This act denies the Creed: ‘I believe in one baptism for the remission of sins’. This is psychopathology, the crazy convert syndrome.

As for Moldova, as in the Ukraine, as usual, extremists will commit suicide by their typical over the top ‘no grace’ reaction. They will lose everything there. They may as well give up now. If they continue, they will fall out of communion with the Romanian Church, on top of everything else. They do risk total and self-imposed isolation.

Q: You mentioned Metr Antony Bloom. You knew them both very well and I believe that Metr Antony tonsured you reader in 1980. Can you explain to us the argument between him and St Sophrony of Essex?

To answer that, I have to explain the whole historical background.

Q: Go ahead.

A: After 1917 the Russian emigration divided into three groups along political lines (divisions in the Church are always because of politics). The largest group was the monarchist and right-wing ROCOR, attached to pre-1917 Russia and also largely pro-German (later some of its members, called Vlasovtsy, became traitors by actually fighting with Hitler in order to ‘liberate Russia’). Then came the group in Paris, where the French-speaking Saint Petersburg aristocrats (who had the money) and leftist intellectuals and anti-monastic freemasons had gone. Under Constantinople, they controlled most of Russian Orthodox France, as well as the fringes around the French borders, for example, in Belgium, north-west Italy, western Germany, as well as a parish in London, but they had little influence outside that Paris-centric world. Finally, came the tiny Moscow Patriarchate, which the mass of emigres saw as a Soviet organisation. In reality, it attracted only Russian patriots and ultra-nationalists, for whom Russia, even Soviet Russia, could do no wrong.

Now both St Sophrony the Athonite (that is his official title, not St Sophrony ‘of Essex’) and Metr Antony Bloom came from wealthy families in Russia, who had quite naturally gravitated to Paris. After the future Fr Sophrony had been through his Hinduism and liberal Art Nouveau phases and the future Metropolitan had been through his atheist and liberal intellectual phases, both gravitated to the Moscow Patriarchate. However, they had totally different experiences there.

The future Fr Sophrony went to Mt Athos, where he, a young intellectual and philosopher, met the great but semi-literate peasant saint, Fr Silvanus, or Silouan in its Russian form. It was the making of him, a huge revelation. Then Fr Sophrony had to go through the Nazi occupation of Athos, when the Nazis forced the Russian monastery there to hang up a picture of Hitler. On the other hand, the future Metr Antony, a young doctor, had remained in Nazi-occupied Paris, where he helped the French Resistance. After the war this Andrei Bloom became a hieromonk with the name of Antony and was sent to England. Meanwhile, Fr Sophrony and two others were expelled from Mt Athos by the Greek authorities, who very unjustly accused them of collaboration with the Nazis. From there he went back to Paris to write his great work, the saint’s life. This is most of our source about the future St Silouan. Then, in 1959, Fr Sophrony moved to England.

So it was that two ex-Parisians met in England. Fr Sophrony and his tiny monastic community of three came under the jurisdiction of Metr Antony in England. The former was obviously pro-monastic, the latter ferociously anti-monastic, in the Paris tradition. Thus, in 1965 Fr Sophrony, the Moscow loyalist, was forced to cross over to the Patriarchate of Constantinople. It was a fatal loss for Moscow. I saw some of the correspondence about it in the 1970s.

I was actually present on a Saturday in summer 1981 or 1982 at the formal reconciliation of the two men. However, it was only formal, the fact is that the Russians never accepted Fr Sophrony, seeing him as a traitor. When in 2019 he was canonised by Patriarch Bartholomew, at a time when Constantinople had set up a new Church in the Ukraine, it was not accepted by the Russians either. Thus, we were not allowed to venerate St Sophrony when we were under ROCOR. Our first act on leaving ROCOR was to get out his icon and put it out in church for veneration.

Q: So you clearly accept him as a saint?

A: Yes, I am now free to say so and will not be attacked for it, as I was when I was under ROCOR. It is because Fr Sophrony reflected some of the glory of the great saint, Silouan. This is shown in the excellent Tolleshunt Knights icon where St Sophrony is depicted holding the icon of St Silouan.

Here we have to understand that there are international saints, national saints and local saints. International saints are the apostles, St Spyridon, St Nicholas, St Nectarios of Aegina, St Silouan the Athonite, St John of Shanghai, St Paisios the Athonite etc. Then come national saints: St John of Rila (Bulgaria), St Sava (Serbia), St Sergius of Radonezh (Russia), St Daniel of Sihastra (Romania), St Gregory V of Constantinople (Greece), who are little known outside their own countries. And finally there are local saints, commemorated only in one place or local region, like the Irish saints of old and also like St Sophrony. He is a local saint.

Interestingly, after going through an early Russian phase, then a Greek phase, St Sophrony’s convent (?) in Tolleshunt Knights in Essex is now going through a Romanian phase, with 25 Romanian nuns and a Romanian deacon. This binds it and us in Colchester even closer together.

Q: Thank you.