Category Archives: Romania

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.


  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”.




Reflections on the New Offer to Join the Moscow Patriarchate

On Saturday 11 November 2023 we were asked by a bishop of the Moscow Patriarchate if our group of six parishes and 5,000 parishioners would like to transfer from the Patriarchate of Romania to the Moscow Patriarchate. He has told us that this can be arranged, apparently following new instructions from the now besieged Moscow, backtracking from the past. Here is our answer, reprinted and updated from 20 February 2022:


Even if I look at the situation as an outsider, just objectively, it will seem absurd, unthinkable and outrageous. There is a very small ROCOR diocese covering a sizeable part of Europe. Its bishop created a schism, causing a lot of damage and pain to many faithful and clergy, including to some widely-known priests. And its American Synod is paralysed due to Metr. Hilarion’s illness (dementia and cancer). And there is the Moscow Patriarchate, the main centre, which can take steps and heal the schism any time, and punish its instigator, any time it wishes. But, instead, it coldly and calmly observes the situation, pretending to ignore it, and in effect taking the perpetrator’s side, without protecting the suffering faithful and clergy. How does it look after that? As if the main centre is afraid of the instigator. Even if you look at this as a pure outsider, its behaviour appears absurd and far from Christian.

From a Correspondent in Moscow, February 2022


Many untruths, slander, vilification and much misinformation have been posted about us on the internet over the last thirty months. It is the same vilification as led to the unjust suspension of the great St John of Shanghai in his time, sixty years ago. These postings have clearly been centrally organised. Other lies, or simply misunderstandings, will follow.

This whole affair has been a story of bullying and then betrayal. Throughout the several months of this affair, a certain young, inexperienced and non-seminary trained neophyte bishop, formerly a tutor in a Roman Catholic college in the City of Oxford, has consistently portrayed our departure from the Russian Church as a ‘personal rebellion’. He did this in order to portray himself in a good light and to minimise the gravity of the situation, in which he has lost over half his diocese in the British Isles.

On 23 August 2021 16 clergy left ROCOR in the British Isles in all. True, three of them were Western rite and they are not involved in our group, now that we have been forced into leaving the Russian Church. The annual throughput of our six parishes (excluding the Western rite ones) is about 5,000 Orthodox.

This was never a ‘personal rebellion’, but the collective decision to reject the ROCOR schism from the MP Archdiocese of Western Europe on the issue of rebaptism, which began over a year ago in Cardiff and has now spread throughout both ROCOR dioceses in Western Europe.

ROCOR’s excessive reactions were caused by what really lies behind his attitude: the determination to seize our properties and extract more money from us by bullying over the last four years. We resisted this, but never dreamed of leaving his jurisdiction for reasons of disputes about property ownership, or his bullying, negativity and spectacular rudeness. We consider that you can only canonically leave a jurisdiction in cases of episcopal heresy, episcopal schism or episcopal attempts to force people into acts of gross immorality.

That very young and untrained bishop managed to offend everyone in our multinational group.

He offended our Russian core by writing the most untruthful and unChristian personal attacks against the popular Fr Andrew Phillips on the internet over the last thirty months. As one of our parishioners said: ‘Everyone who knows Fr Andrew and the other 25 members of his family knows all that to be lies. He is a well-known figure internationally, tireless worker for Russian Church unity over the decades, writer, hagiographer, European cultural historian, author of the Services to All the Saints of the Isles (of the North Atlantic) and to All the Saints of the Western\ Lands, and the greatest Russophile you can find in England, who has been faithful to the Russian Church despite continual persecution for nearly fifty years. Unlike his bishop, he speaks and writes fluent Russian and he does not tell Russians to ‘learn English’, so they can speak to him. If the Russian Church rejects him, it will have no friends left in Western Europe. What an appalling way to treat people who have sacrificed their whole lives for the Russian Church’.

The young neophyte bishop then offended the Romanians, telling them to their face that he did not like them and then offended  the Moldovans that he only half-liked them and then forbade them from kneeling on Sundays, something that Orthodox in Moldova have been doing for centuries.

He offended the Greeks by telling them publicly that they must not venerate the icon of St Sophrony, whom Fr Andrew knew well and who was also forced to leave the Moscow Patriarchate because of persecution, and that their Greek Patriarch is ‘possessed’.

He offended the French, with whom he communicates by Google translator, by excommunicating members of their family and friends of 50 years standing who live in France and have always belonged to the Western European Archdiocese of the Moscow Patriarchate. For decades Fr Andrew had battled for this Archdiocese to rejoin the Russian Church and he with others had been successful in this.

He offended the English in an act of swaggering American imperialism and crass cultural insensitivity by insisting that they speak American English, instead of their own native English, which they had been using in the Orthodox context for long before he had been born.

He insisted that we left ROCOR without letters of canonical leave. At any point he could have written those letters in a matter of 15 minutes. Although these letters were politely requested on several occasions by Metr Jean and then by Metr Joseph, he refused to write them. However, in reality no letters of canonical leave were ever necessary, since clergy do not need letters of canonical leave in order to quit a bishop who is in schism (Canon XV of the First and Second Council held under St Photius the Great).

After Metr Jean of the Moscow Patriarchal Archdiocese of Western Europe was forced, stabbed in the back by a certain MP Metropolitan (even younger than nearly all our children), to abandon us on 10 February 2022, with the words ‘I could not care less about them’, We discussed what to do. Tired of the utter divisiveness and sectarianism of the Russian Church, whose bishops are out of communion even with each other, we as a group considered offers from various Local Churches to join them.

We decided for the following reasons to join the Romanian Orthodox Church:

The Romanian Church is in communion with everyone. They are not involved in the Russian-Greek dispute, which began in the Ukraine and has already spread to Africa and elsewhere, isolating the Russian Church.

Over 60% of all Orthodox in England are Moldovans or Romanians. They have an Autonomous Synod of seven Bishops for Western and Southern Europe, nearly 700 parishes, a large number of parishes and two monasteries. No Local Church will ever be formed in the British Isles and Ireland without this majority.

Among our 13 clergy are two Moldovan priests, one Romanian priest, one Moldovan deacon, one Moldovan reader and one Romanian reader. Thus, nearly half our clergy are Romanian-speaking.

The majority of our people are Moldovans or Romanians. As we have so many Moldovans, Ukrainians and Russians, we remain on the old calendar and all our liturgical customs, with the full blessing of Metr Joseph. Nothing changes. Effectively we are a Diaspora part of the Metropolia of Bessarabia, which is under the Patriarchate of Romania.

There are 30,000 Moldovans in Essex and East London who have been pastorally neglected. We have a pastoral duty towards them.

All our six parishes and twelve clergy were received into the Patriarchate of Romania in just four hours on 16 February 2022, with the help of the leading Professor of Canon Law of the Patriarchate of Romania.

We believe that the four very aggressive clerical personalities in the Russian Church who are entirely responsible for the divisions and who have either created or else supported sectarian division inside it will in time be removed.

Then will have to begin the work of re-establishing canonical, and not political, principles of action. The present situation leaves the Russian Church in Western Europe in a state of three jurisdictions, divided and feeling betrayed. It has created great scandal among the people who can only see warring, aggressive and bullying bishops. This is all because of the lack of conciliarity between the three Russian jurisdictions. They ask: ‘Are those bishops even Christians?’

This whole intra-Russian situation reflects the wider and scandalous divisions between the Local Orthodox Churches, which can only be overcome through a return to canonical, and not political, practices, to be re-established by a Council of the whole Orthodox Church.

20 February 2022

This very cruel rejection and betrayal by the Russian Church of its greatest Non-Russian friends in the United Kingdom, ourselves, after nearly fifty years of faithfulness, has led to a spiral of departures from it caused by further astounding acts of Russian nationalism, resulting in November 2023 in its now disastrous situation in the Ukraine, Latvia and Moldova. In the last case, senior priests are now pleading with their Metropolitan to lead the remains of his Church and follow the 30% who have already left it into the Patriarchate of Romania (See the article below, Metropolitan Vladimir….). This is exactly what we did first, over twenty months ago on 16 February 2022, fleeing schism, sectarianism, cultishness, phariseeism, censoriousness, bigotry, greed, sheer lack of love and lack of pastoral care. We fled a very young, inexperienced neophyte bishop who knew very little about the realities of Orthodoxy, only bookish theories, and did not understand even the language of his Russian clergy and people. As by far the senior and most experienced priest in his diocese and financially and morally independent, I had the responsibility and duty of leading the exodus across the Red Sea of his old calendarist schism. What began then has now developed into the heresy (I do not use that word lightly) of the rebaptism of Orthodox who wish to join ROCOR. As the proverb says: ‘Those who sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind’.

City of Colchester

13 November 2023


Metropolitan Vladimir convenes a meeting with all the deacons, after receiving the letter from the priests from Botanica

On Thursday, at the Metropolia of Chisinau and All Moldavia, a meeting is to be held with all the archpriests and abbots of monasteries subordinate to Metropolitan Vladimir, at which the proposal of some priests regarding the in corpore accession of this Church structure to the Patriarchate will most likely be discussed in Romanian.

According to the priest Pavel Borsevschi, the Metropolitan convened the meeting, after receiving today the letter from the clerics of the Botanica Deanery of Chisinau, which urges him to switch to the Romanian Orthodox Church.

A single priest from the II Deanery of the Archdiocese of Chisinau spoke out against the accession of the Metropolia of Moldova to the Romanian Patriarchate. The Dean of Botanica, priest Pavel Borșevschi, said this for We mention that 30 churches from the Botanica Deanery, but also from the villages of Sângera, Revaca, Băcioi, Străsiteni and Brăila are part of the II Deanery of the Archdiocese of Chisinau.

“The letter is signed by most of the priests in the diocese. We do not propose to join the Metropolia of Bessarabia, but we demand that the entire Metropolia, as a canonical structure, led by Metropolitan Vladimir, renounce the Russian Church and Patriarch Kyrill and come under the jurisdiction of the Romanian Patriarchate. We cannot be in a church where the Patriarch blesses his priests to pray for the victory of the Russian army over Ukraine, which is our suffering sister. We have just had a war in Transnistria, with the blessing of Patriarch Alexiy II. In such cases, when we say “victory”, we are talking about humiliation. It is something that cannot be explained from a Christian point of view.

When he received the letter, the Metropolitan did not tell us either yes or no, but decided to summon all the deacons and abbots of the monasteries on Thursday to discuss this issue. I don’t think he has any reason to disagree with us, based on his letter to Patriarch Kyrill and considering that this opinion is not only ours, the priests’, but also that of the religious community, which we shepherd” . priest Pavel Borševschi reported.

We remind you that, on September 5 Metropolitan Vladimir addressed a letter to Patriarch Kyrill, in which he informs him that he cannot do anything to stop the rise of the Metropolia of Bessarabia in the Republic of Moldova and that the Russian Church is perceived in society as an outpost of the Kremlin and a supporter of the Russian intervention in Ukraine. The letter also states that “the people of Moldova have Latin roots and it is perfectly normal to aspire to remain in this civilizational space, after centuries of artificial division”.

The Moldovan Church Saga Continues

Moldova’s population is now only about 2.5 million after the immigration of some 1.2 million Moldovans to Western Europe began after the fall of the USSR, especially since Romania joined the EU. (Most Moldovans have Romanian passports; some 15 years ago they could be bought quite simply for only $10).

The Orthodox Church in 95% + Orthodox Moldova is divided into two. Firstly, since the Soviet Occupation that began in 1941 there has been the Moldovan Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, with seven bishops and some 1200 parishes. Secondly, since the fall of the USSR there has been a second Church, the Metropolia of Bessarabia. This reconstitutes the Church as it was before 1941 as part of the Patriarchate of Romania (over 80% of the Moldovan population is Romanian). Over the last thirty years that part has gradually built up, though even now only about 250 parishes belong to it. However, that number has increased particularly over the last eighteen months, since the conflict in the Ukraine entered its latest phase.

Metropolitan Vladimir (Cantarean), the leader of the Moscow part of the Church, is losing on 2 fronts; at home and abroad. At home priests and parishes are leaving for the Metropolia of Bessarabia, which is supported both by the Romanian government and by the pro-Western Moldovan government. His ‘competition’, the Metropolia of Bessarabia, is fully canonical. This is despite the usual absurd Russian propaganda from the extremists, who ridiculously claim that those in the Romanian Church are ‘schismatics’ or ‘have no grace’!

Abroad, Metr Vladimir is also losing: young people and clergy are leaving corrupt and impoverished Moldova for a better life and so churches back home have less income and few children. Abroad, the hundreds of Moldovan parishes, especially in Italy, Spain and Portugal, have to be under the Patriarchate of Moscow, which funnels money to Moscow – not to Metropolitan Vladimir.

What can Metr Vladimir do?

He could adopt the Latvian scenario, which is to get the Moldovan State to grant him ‘autocephaly’ (independence) and stop commemorating the Russian Patriarch, as Metropolitan Alexander, the leader of Russian Orthodox in Latvia, did. Now everybody, even in the first year of seminary, knows that this is uncanonical. Only a Mother-Church can grant autocephaly. Indeed, Metr Alexander’s policy in Latvia has proved to be disastrous.

A great many churches in Latvia are now empty. The Orthodox people, nearly all of whom are Russians, are boycotting a Church where their Russian Patriarch is not commemorated. Some Orthodox are travelling to church in Lithuania and Estonia to go to church. There they do commemorate the Russian Patriarch. The income of the Church in Latvia has dropped dramatically. Of the three priests I know who continued to commemorate the Russian Patriarch despite the instructions of Metr Alexander, one has stopped commemorating under pressure, a second has been suspended and the third continues for the moment.

Therefore, in the meantime, Metr Vladimir in Moldova has written a letter to the Russian Patriarch Kyrill asking for autocephaly. On top of that he has recently been travelling to parishes abroad, notably to England and Ireland to try and get Moldovan support for an Autocephalous Moldovan Orthodox Church. If he gets autocephaly (highly unlikely, it seems), then he can claim the Moldovan parishes abroad, which are at present under the Moscow Patriarchate’s Exarchate, which is centred in Paris. This would virtually wipe out that largely Moldovan-dependent Russian Exarchate in southern Europe and pose many questions for it in Switzerland, France, England and elsewhere.

The situation has not been helped by the racism that Moldovans have experienced on the part of Russians in Western Europe and the years-long corruption involving sums of Moldovan money funnelled to Moscow. That has already quite naturally made for bad feeling on the part of Moldovans towards Russians (‘I don’t like Romanians and only half-like Moldovans’, as one young and particularly tactful (!) Russian bishop said three years ago to an audience mainly of Romanians and Moldovans!)

Most likely of all, centralist Moscow will either ignore Metr Vladimir’s letter requesting autocephaly or reject it. If so, then Metr Vladimir has an alternative which Metr Alexander in Latvia does not have; that is, to join wholesale the Patriarchate of Romania and to become an Autonomous Church within that Patriarchate, which could give him the right to autonomous parishes in Western Europe. But what happens then to relations between Bucharest and Moscow? Especially when Moscow desperately needs Romanian support against Constantinople in Church matters in the Ukraine.


On the First Anniversary

The following wide-ranging compilation of nearly 4,000 words provides answers to several questions posed over the last twelve months by various correspondents. Here those answers are made public on this, the first anniversary of our life within the Patriarchate of Romania and among its saints.


Q: Was it difficult for all your parishes to transfer to the Romanian Orthodox Church on 16 February 2022?

A: No, it was very simple, very straightforward. The negotiations with the Metropolitan and the Patriarchal canonists took only four hours. The letters of reception were issued two days later and are available for all to see and the antimensia singed by Vladyka were issued ten days later. All was clear and the correctness of our reception was only confirmed by the contrary reactions and astonishing untruths told by certain individuals in ROCOR and even in the MP after our departure in the two weeks that followed, namely that we had not in fact been received! Metr Joseph was very shocked by that. Those untruths totally discredited their authors and the websites they operate.

I am afraid to say that ROCOR now does not have a good reputation among the Local Churches. Other Local Churches know what it has become and are happy to accept persecuted clergy and churches from ROCOR, providing that the vast majority of the people in the parishes want such a transfer. Our vast majority was 4,853 for and 15 (very naïve) people against. Of those 15, most only came to church from time to time and were not listed as parishioners. Tragically, one was persuaded not to come because a certain bishop, under political control, told her not to come here. The result of this is that she has deprived herself of Church life.

Q: Has anyone come back after leaving you?

A: Only one person. She said that she had been misled and was very regretful. But we welcomed her back with open arms and do not mention her mistake to her.

Q: Has the loss of 15 people affected you financially?

A: Collections have increased by over 20% since they left. This is probably because they have been replaced by 47 new parishioners. In order of numbers and nationality these are Russians, Moldovans, Romanians and Ukrainians.

Q: Had you thought of transferring to other Local Churches other than the Romanian?

A: We had not, but they had! We received various offers, but there was only one place we wanted to go after being forced to leave the Russian Church, and that was the Romanian Church, which is outside both Greek/American Democrat politics and Russian/American Republican politics.

Q: What fundamentally forced over half of the English Diocese of the Russian Church Outside Russia to leave it after decades of faithfulness? Was it a question of keeping your property, as some have said?

A: The last straw was its uncanonical actions and schism even with part of the Russian Orthodox Church. Now all that is left is the London Russian parish and a tiny set of mainly convert-run groups outside London with a total of under 200 people in them all told.

Q: Who forced you to leave the Russian Church?

A: Our departure happened through, but not because of, our old family friend, the then 78-year old Metr Jean Renneteau in Paris, although he himself very much wanted to keep us, as he has confirmed in several phone-calls over the last six months. He was very sad to lose us and wants us back. It was all against his will. Let you remind you that it was Metr Jean, whom we backed to the hilt, who finally brought 57%, the non-masonic part, of his Archdiocese, the part where we always had family, close friends and allies, out of schism back to the Russian Orthodox Church. His feat has gone down in history and we greeted it enthusiastically at the time in 2018, as you can read on this site.

However, to get back to the answer to your question, the problem was his superior, who is younger than our three eldest children! It was he who forced Metr Jean to abandon us against the interests of the Russian Orthodox Church, for purely political reasons. When he was informed that if he forced all 16 clerics and their parishes out, we would all go to the Patriarchate of Romania, he replied: ‘Too bad for them’. He had no interest in keeping us because we were not Russian. That is very significant.

For it means that the Russian Church in its present form does not want to do missionary work, does not respect or want to keep its clergy and people, even after a lifetime of unpaid service. It wants to disunite and scatter, rather than to gather together, to destruct rather than to construct. This is suicidal on its part because it means that there is no point in anyone joining or being part of the authentic millennial Russian Orthodox Church, especially those who follow its real Tradition, speak fluent Russian and are its greatest friends!

This is the end for the Russian Orthodox Church anywhere outside Russia and, for the moment, Belarus, for many years to come, depending on the new Patriarch. The Church as it is now will only attract the naïve, who will soon fall away once they see through it, or else right-wing converts with illusions. They were not even born when we were living Orthodoxy in the times of Martyrdom for the Faith and Confession of the Faith in the Soviet Union.

Q: 16 February marks the first anniversary of the transfer of the ‘mini-diocese’ of which you are part, from the Russian Church to the Patriarchate of Romania. Apart from no longer being in schism, what are the differences you have noticed?

A: I think I can sum it all up in just one word: Freedom. For example, in order of the least important to the most important:

Firstly, we can now use our own liturgical English and do not have to use American. So we are no longer being forced to use a foreign language and can carry on using the same liturgical language as we have always used for the last fifty years before others were even born! So we are not being forced to renounce the Tradition, as was definitely the case before.

Secondly, all our websites can operate freely, without censorship. Censorship and threats to free speech are over.

Thirdly, we can now do missionary activity, we are no longer prevented from doing so, with the result that we have already opened two new parishes in the past year and have hopes of opening others elsewhere, especially in the Midlands. Our main problem is lack of funds, so here we appeal to all those who support us to help with fund-raising.

Fourthly, we can now follow in everything the legacy of the ever-memorable Archbishop Antony of Geneva, who ordained me to the priesthood in 1991 after seven years serving as a deacon and which represents the old multinational ROCOR, the ROCOR of Orthodox Tradition, the Russian Orthodox Church, and not some administrative divisions of it made up over the last century. We so knew and loved the real Russian Orthodox Church so well, but it no longer exists. Archbishop Antony had under him the then only Romanian parish in Paris, which of course was on the new calendar. (In those days, there were several new calendar Orthodox parishes in ROCOR, even in the USA, and that raised no problems).

Now the favour is being returned with what is basically a multinational Russian/Moldovan deanery under the Romanian Church. This means that we are on the old calendar, but if some want to do services on the new calendar, that is possible. Though it does not interest me personally, I can understand that for some it may be important and I say: Please go ahead. It is a pastoral matter. We have Vladyka Joseph’s blessing. All this expresses the spirit of the future Local Church, and not of some ghetto-sect. There is no room for micro-management in such situations, you have to be broader-minded.

In general, I think this freedom to live as normal Orthodox comes from the fact that we are no longer held under by converts, who have only been Orthodox for a few years and are so insecure in the faith that they hold to rigid manmade rules, which nobody else holds to, including in the Moscow Patriarchate. One of the things that recent and inexperienced converts do not realise is that Love is much greater than narrow manmade rules, which are only guidelines.

Their disease is called convertitis, you know that defensive narrowness and headborne dryness of spirit that can also come from doctorates. That disease belongs to the pharisees, who think too much. It has become common in parts of ROCOR, where before it never existed, especially since about 2016. It is what Fr Seraphim Rose fought against in California – for that was and is where the evil began and is spreading from – in the 1970s, quite rightly calling it ‘super-correctness’. It is sounding brass. Now we are in communion with all and are not threatened by the sectarian trends and schismatic pressures of before.

Then, of course, already by Divine Providence in the Romanian Patriarchate, we avoided all the politics connected with the American-Russian war in the Ukraine, which reflects so badly on the Russian Orthodox Church because of its political involvement through its centralisation. At the time several of us said that we had ‘got the last flight out of Kabul’. We have Russians and Ukrainians in our churches, as well as many other nationalities. We can welcome all to our churches. You don’t have to belong to the grim and depressing, right-wing, Protestant-style, pseudo-Russian group of people who do not speak Russian.

Another thing that worries me is that aggressive Western governments may ban the Russian Church in their countries, as those governments have already done in the Ukraine and Latvia, where the local Orthodox have accepted a de facto (though highly providential) autocephaly of the Church, an independence from the highly centralised Russian Church, even though it may not officially be called ‘autocephaly’. If such a ban does happen in the future, at least we are already out of the mess and so will have been saved from such unpleasant problems and political manipulations. God saved us before time.

Q: What do you think the Russian hierarchy should have done on 24 February 2022?

A: Today is the feast day of St Nicholas of Japan, Equal-to the-Apostles. His icon is one of the twelve on the Colchester church iconostasis. He is the key. When in 1904 Japan, armed to the teeth by the Russophobic Western Powers, attacked an unprepared and unmilitarised Russia, Bishop Nicholas, a Russian living in Tokyo, simply locked himself away and prayed for peace. Here is our model. The Russian Church has to return to its multinational itself.

Q: Do you regret anything in the events around you and ROCOR?

A: For us, not at all. All this was the best possible thing that could have happened in those circumstances and all on the eve of that terrible war. For ROCOR, however, I regret greatly.

After the reconciliation with the rest of the Russian Church in 2007, which I witnessed and I had worked towards for decades, ROCOR for a period of about ten years enjoyed unprecedented global prestige in the Orthodox world. We were the Church which had canonised the New Martyrs, the Church which had been the politically-free voice of the Russian Church during its Soviet captivity, we were the Church of the Faithful Confessors, of St John of Shanghai, we had returned to communion with all and were welcomed and thanked for our witness. We received grace. The potential to help develop missions and work towards Local Churches, co-operating with other politically-free Orthodox, was there. Icons gave off myrrh in those days. Today it is a very different story. The acquisition of grace, which St Seraphim of Sarov explained is our aim, has been replaced by the acquisition of money, power and property.

Instead of nurturing that grace and co-operating with others, the grace was step by step misused and abused amid the sectarian spirit of exclusivism. This excluded even the then First Hierarch Metr Hilarion, well before his dementia. As a result, ROCOR is now mainly becoming a historical footnote as the American Synod, which is being even further discredited by the Belya affair, yet another affair of forged signatures. ROCOR has voluntarily Sovietised itself. It is very important to understand that this was all voluntary, it was never forced on ROCOR by Moscow. Certain figures are not so much interested in humility, fasting, poverty and prayer, as in power, luxury, money and property. The problem is lack of pastors. Some have been replaced by bureaucrats, ‘effective managers’, as the Russian jargon goes.

Its hope of survival in Northern America today is in being absorbed into the Moscow-founded OCA, which is about five times bigger. That is what Moscow wants and it is logical. Outside Northern America, ROCOR hardly exists in Latin America, where forty years ago it had, if I remember rightly, six dioceses. As for the thirty or so parishes of Australian ROCOR, they will now have to follow the fate of the Indonesian Mission which ROCOR handed over wholesale to Moscow. It abandoned its mission there, the same as it did here, only here to the Romanians. Australian ROCOR may as well become part of a new Autonomous Church, but under Moscow and linked up with its South-East Asian Exarchate.

Q: What about the ROCOR churches in Western Europe? There are still nearly 90 parishes or small communities there.

A: In Western Europe ROCOR is only really present in Western Germany and Switzerland. In the other Western European countries there is only a handful of parishes and communities, one, two or at most three in each country, if any at all. There is nothing in Scandinavia and Portugal has now been abandoned. In Spain there is one tiny convert group, in Italy there are two parishes on the French border and hardly anything is left in the Netherlands and France. Logically, the ROCOR parishes in Germany, which are in any case mainly peopled and clergied by expatriates from the ex-Soviet Union (and a few convert groups, with often fewer than 10 or at most 20 members) should join Moscow.

This is what Moscow asked for five years ago in exchange for its parishes in the Americas to be given to ROCOR. Sadly, ROCOR refused, missing the boat, the once in a lifetime offer, which will probably not be made again. Then it claimed that it will not join up with Moscow for 50-100 years! Moscow was very angry with the individual who said that. Moscow looks on Western Europe as its territory, as an integral part of Eurasia.

However, the situation has become very complex in Western Europe since the war in the Ukraine, as most of the Moscow parishes are themselves peopled by Ukrainians and especially Moldovans, as in Italy (70 out of 72 parishes). With over thirty new canonical Ukrainian parishes independent of Moscow in Western Europe founded in the last nine months and the possible mass defection of Moldovans to the Romanian Church, as is beginning to happen in Moldova itself and has in fact happened in England, it is difficult to see a future for the Moscow Exarchate. Russian nationalism rules and that means isolationism, being in communion with no-one. It is returning to the times of its tiny Exarchate of Soviet patriots of the 60s and 70s and the war in the Ukraine has isolated Most of the faithful have left its new Cathedral in Paris. Security men frisk you as you go in, as in an airport. I am told that congregations number about thirty. Even my friend Nikita, the very Russian nephew of the late Archbishop Basil Krivoshein, has left.

Q: Surely you regret having to leave the Russian Orthodox Church after nearly fifty years?

A: You misunderstand. We never left the Russian Orthodox Church, that is, we never left the spiritual world of the Russian Orthodox Church, which is part of the whole Orthodox world. All that happened is that we were forced to leave the administrative world, the bureaucracy, of the Russian Church. We are exactly the same as before and continue as before. Nothing has changed. When the administrative world with its protocols frees itself of politics and the spiritual world takes over once more, as it will, and sooner than some think after President Putin, then we shall see what will be decided. The mess will end and the injustices will be sorted out, but not yet. Then those who swim with the tide will swim in the opposite direction, as we have seen so many times before. In Russia they still have many things to suffer in repentance for the Soviet period.

Q: Did you know that your faith would be challenged in this way?

A: In September 2020, we went to Mt Athos to see the clairvoyant Fr Evthimios, the closest disciple of St Paisios the Athonite, whom I met in 1979 together with the ever-memorable Fr Ephraim of Arizona. We met him at the skete where he had built the first ever church dedicated to St Paisios and asked him what we should do, given the internal persecution against us. He said he would send me an answer. In May 2021, after the ROCOR schism had begun, I received a message from him and that was: ‘Do not fear the courts of men. Your case will be decided in the highest court’. And this is exactly what we did and exactly what has happened.

Q: You set up a church in Norfolk and two churches in Cambridgeshire for the people there. So effectively the Colchester parish is for Orthodox in Essex and Suffolk, your home counties, the other two counties in the East of England. Do you still visit Orthodox outside these counties?

A: Of course, I do. I visit my parishioners in many parts of the country among all those rendered Churchless by the absence of Church life which pervades the spiritual desert of modern England. Not just the new and young, but also the old, including the grandchildren of those who came here after 1917, who as adults had known the old Russia. Their parents departed over the last generation, so these grandchildren of emigres are now themselves elderly. These are the people who, like me, knew the traditional ROCOR priests like Fr George Sheremetiev (+ 1971), Fr Alexander Trubnikov (+ 1988) and Fr Mikhail Artsimovich (+ 2003). (Fr George was the one who advised the late Timothy Ware not to join ROCOR because it was being ‘taken over’.

Like them, my godfather, Nikolai Mikhailovich Zernov (+ 1980), however much I disagreed with him, would never have accepted the present situation. Even someone like the equally liberal, non-ROCOR Metr Antony Bloom (+ 2003), despite his well-known human weaknesses which scandalised so many, must be spinning in his grave at what is going on in the Russian Church today. Several of his disciples, for example in Amsterdam and Madrid, have actually left the Russian Church or been suspended by it and his disciple Metr Hilarion (Alfeev) has been exiled to Budapest. He would have been exiled also. As for the equally liberal, late Metr Kallistos (Ware), you can imagine….

In the days of the traditional ROCOR, there were no converts who wanted to rebaptise everyone. You know, the ones who are more Orthodox than the Orthodox, but have no idea that Orthodoxy is Christianity, just an exotic sectarian cult with its cultish podcast and zoom gurus. In the old days, there were few ill-educated, ritualist clergy with superstitions, money-grubbing, politics and phariseeism with as much spiritual refinement and subtlety as a Soviet tank, incapable of confessing or preaching. Lumps of cast iron against antique timepieces.

I recently visited and gave communion to just such a Russian daughter of White emigres in Esher in Surrey, who gave a lot of money in the 1990s to help build the church in Chiswick (like the late Golitsyns), but received bad treatment there. I knew her mother in Paris and have known her and her family for 35 years. Like so many rather aristocratic Russian émigré women, her mother, a child in pre-1917 Russia, became a seamstress in Paris in the 1930s. After the war she had opened her own fashion house and had the Audrey Hepburn elegance, style and class that no longer seems to exist anywhere today, though her daughter has inherited it:  ‘Elegance is the only beauty that never fades’. No botox and tooth-whitening for such people, unlike several Orthodox bishops and priests of all jurisdictions in California.

A spiritual daughter of the wonderful Fr Alexander Trubnikov from Tsarskoe Selo and Meudon, but now deprived of the Church, she talks to God in her garden. That is where she can pray. There are churches, but she cannot go to them, some people who control them are unChristian. But she remains Christian, Orthodox Christian.

Q: Were you hurt by the slanders against you?

A: No. Our first reaction was one of astonishment. Next came laughter at the attempts to manipulate the naive and ignorant who did not know us. These were so ridiculous. The came sadness that people who called themselves Christians could do such things, their souls full of hatred, covetousness and above all jealousy. All this only discredited their authors. It is called the boomerang effect. They reflect very badly on those who issued them. Did they really think that such novel New World manipulations could work among experienced Orthodox in old Europe?

Q: How would you sum up what happened to you last year?

A: I would say that ROCOR fell into a trap of its own making, it was put to the test and failed. In 2007 it was given an opportunity to behave like Christians, but instead, the culprits revealed who they are (both the ones in ROCOR and the few others elsewhere who repeated the untruths of ROCOR). We know their names. The internet knows their names. And above all God knows their names.

It is a tragic warning that if you desert God, He will desert you. And that is what is happening to it through its self-discrediting. The waste of potential is enormous. God gave them everything and they squandered it. What must St John of Shanghai be thinking of this spiritual suicide? Like the apostles, we have shaken the dust off our feet and moved on. May God grant them to know love for others before they reach their death-beds. I tremble in their place. But this is how the Church is cleansed.

Q: Do you feel as though this chapter is closed and you can slowly retire?

A: Now you make me laugh! That chapter was closed a year ago, but slowly retiring?! You haven’t seen anything yet. There is so much more to do. If God grants me life to do it all. The pastoral catastrophe in this country is such that I need another fifty years to contribute towards remedying it just in my little corner. I have only just started!

16 February 2023



























A Romanian Proposal for the UOC: A Wake-up Call for the Ukrainian Government

06 February 10:53


Author: Konstantin Shemliuk

The Romanian-speaking communities of the UOC have been invited to move to the Romanian Church.

Romanian public organizations have called on the Romanian-speaking parishes of the UOC to join the Romanian Church. Why is this a signal for the Ukrainian authorities?

At the end of January, a number of Romanian public and political organizations published an appeal to the Romanian-speaking Orthodox parishes of Ukraine with a call to join the Romanian Patriarchate. Among the signatories are the Romanian East Association, ProVita Bucharest Association, ROST Association, MORE Association and others.

The reason is the repression of the Ukrainian authorities of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. After all, out of 120 Romanian-speaking parishes in Ukraine, 110 belong to the jurisdiction of the UOC. So given the pressure that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is under today in Ukraine, the possibility of Ukrainian Romanians going under the leadership of the Romanian Patriarch appears quite probable. So what is really happening with these parishes, and is it only about them? Let’s figure it out.

Persecution of the UOC and the reaction of Romania

Tough statements from Romania about the persecution of the Orthodox in Bukovyna by the authorities are becoming increasingly louder. On January 15, 2023, ex-MP Gelu Visan spoke on Romania TV about “the crimes that they (the Ukrainian authorities) commit against the ministers of the Lord.” A week later, his rhetoric became even tougher. On television, he compared Zelensky’s actions against the UOC with the policies of the Nazis.

“I see that Zelensky, as the commander-in-chief of the army and law enforcement agencies, is committing an act of Nazism. This footage (SBU searches in the dioceses of the UOC – Ed.) should be sent directly to the European courts, because the most flagrant violation of religious and human rights, ethnic and religious cleansing can be seen here. All this is extremely serious,” the politician said.

At the end of January, Romanian politicians began to study the situation on the ground. MP Dumitru-Viorel Focsa came to Ukraine on purpose to meet with priests. He recorded several video interviews with them, blurring their faces and changing their voice.

According to Foksa, Zelenskyy’s repressions against the UOC are “complete madness.” He said that “Romanian priests are being terrorized and forced to leave the autonomous canonical church of Ukraine to enter the new political church.” The deputy of the Romanian parliament also said that the interviewed clerics of the UOC are “very scared” and “in need of protection”, but remain faithful to their Primate and do not want to go over to the Romanian Church.

But maybe Foksa is exaggerating and, in fact, no one touches the Romanian-speaking believers and their parishes in Ukraine?

No, he isn’t.

Because most of the “Romanian” churches in our country are located on the territory of the Chernivtsi-Bukovyna diocese. And we all remember very well that it was precisely this diocese that was demonstratively “nightmarized” by the SBU officers – with breaking down doors, stripping everyone who was in the diocesan premises to their underpants, throwing dirt on the Chernivtsi bishop, and so on. We also remember that simultaneously with the “searches” of the security forces, an incredible number of almost identical publications appeared in the media discrediting the clergy of the Chernivtsi diocese.

It is quite obvious that the searches and, moreover, the publications, and later also the scandalous video of Quarter 95, are links in the same chain. In other words, a political command.

And if so, is it possible to say that the defendant (Chernivtsi-Bukovyna diocese) of this order was chosen by chance? Of course not.

Firstly, this diocese is led by the head of the DECR UOC, Metropolitan Meletiy, who has already opened several dozen parishes of the UOC in Europe.

Secondly, this diocese is notable for its faithfulness to Orthodoxy. For reference, there is an UTC in the Chernivtsi region where not a single Uniat or Catholic parish is registered, and the parishes of the OCU exist only on paper.

Thirdly, this diocese is the birthplace of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry.

Fourthly, it is in the Chernivtsi-Bukovyna diocese that one of the most famous (including abroad) bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Longin (Zhar) of Bancheny, serves. To list all the merits of this man, a Hero of the Ukraine, is a thankless task. Suffice it to say that he fostered more than 300 children (many of whom are disabled) and that he is in charge of an orphanage in Molnytsia village.

An ethnic Romanian himself, Metropolitan Longin enjoys great prestige and respect among the local Romanian-speaking population, regardless of religion. Therefore, it is precisely for this reason that the blow to the Bukovynian diocese, to the metropolitans Meletiy and Longin, and indirectly to His Beatitude, echoes so painfully in Romania.

Thus, the authors of the appeal mentioned at the beginning of the article are sure that “taking note from the media of the dramatic reality that Metropolitan Longin (Zhar) faced”, he should “immediately become the head of the Romanian priests and believers in Ukraine and, together with them, demand re-jurisdiction with the Romanian Orthodox Church.”

MP Dumitru-Viorel Focsa published a video in which a priest of the UOC, an ethnic Romanian, said that representatives of the OCU “behave like nationalists.” “We did not unite with them, because we realized that this is a religious-political movement, and we are Orthodox. We don’t do politics. We preach Christ. We do not go against the state, but we cannot violate the Word of God and His commandments,” says the clergyman.

He also said that no one supports the Ukrainian schismatics, and therefore they decided to “destroy us, because when we are gone, they will come instead of us.”

“In this chaos provoked by the war, using nationalist slogans, with the help of the military, they are trying to instil fear in us. Ukrainian parishes are subjected to even more harassment, but we also hear threats, and we were promised that as soon as the war ended, they would take over us too,” the priest said.

Focsa, in turn, reminded the audience that the OCU is backed by the President of the Ukraine, while “armed people and SBU officers come to the churches of the UOC with searches and threats, instil fear in the priests, forcibly undress them and take pictures” (note that all this took place precisely in the Bukovyna diocese – Ed.).

Summing up the results of his visit to the Ukraine, Foksa says that violence is used against the UOC, and many priests are “threatened with expulsion if they use the Romanian language in worship.” He also said that they are accused of being pro-Russian and pro-Putin.

“This is Stalinist rhetoric without evidence, shameful and stupid. So I will report to the European Parliament Commission on Violence. Ukraine does not know how to respect minorities, and the European Commission, the European Parliament should know what these Kyiv politicians are doing,” the Romanian MP said.

How “patriots” are pushing Ukrainians into the arms of Romanians

It is clear that the situation evolving around the UOC clearly plays against the image of the Ukraine in Europe and in the world. Such appeals, and most importantly, moods are supposed to somewhat moderate the ardour of the “patriots” and cool the “hot heads” in the Ukrainian politicum. But we do not notice either the former or the latter.

Thus, the Bukovynian publication “BukInfo” devoted an entire “revealing” article to Metropolitan Longin “The double game of Metropolitan Longin, or Who did the dirty on whom in Bukovyna.” The authors, without any scruples, accused Vladyka Longin of lying and further stated that he “decided to simply skedaddle to the Romanian Orthodox Church, using Romanian right-wing radical organizations and journalists who are fed by the Kremlin.”

Of course, such publications only “add fuel to the fire” of the Romanians’ dissatisfaction with everything that is happening today in Ukraine regarding the UOC and its Romanian-speaking parishes. All this leads to the Romanian media urging the President of the country, Klaus Iohanis, to ban Ukrainian citizens from entering the country, and to send all Ukrainian refugees, “especially the rich and in luxury cars” back to the Ukraine. At the same time, Romanian journalists believe, “Romanians from Northern Bukovyna, Gertsa and the Odessa region should leave the Ukraine for Romania until the situation in this country is resolved.”

“We have shown more than humanity, we have shown brotherly love for the Ukraine, and this is how Kyiv reacts: they persecute Romanian parishes and priests, and the children of Romanians are sent to war,” say outraged journalists.

In the light of the foregoing, it is not difficult to guess that if the authorities of Kyiv still ban the UOC, then none of the Romanian-speaking parishes, priests and parishioners will transfer to the OCU. Given the attitude of Romanians towards the Orthodox faith and the Church, as well as the Ukrainian schismatics, they will definitely prefer to accept the proposal of Romanian politicians and ask Patriarch Daniel to enter. Moreover, the Council in Feofaniya gave such an opportunity and even the right of each diocese to decide its own fate.

However, it can also be assumed that the ban on the UOC may result not only in the migration of Romanian-speaking parishes to the Romanian Patriarchate, but also in the migration of Transcarpathian communities to the Serbian Patriarchate and Galician communities to the Polish Orthodox Church.

Moreover, our compatriots are directly pushed to such a migration by those who consider themselves “patriots” of the Ukraine. For example, Volodymyr Viatrovych, MP from the European Solidarity faction, said that those who reject the OCU should leave the Ukraine or answer according to the law.

What will happen to the Ukraine in this case? And how will our country look in the eyes of the world community? The answer is obvious.

Not less obvious is what a Christian, if necessary, is going to choose between the Church of Christ and the “religious organization” created by Poroshenko. Because the Church for people who believe in God is not a part of political or national discourse, but a question of the eternal destiny of their souls. In the literal sense of the word.






Does England Have a Romanian Orthodox King?

The English name Charles comes directly from the French version of the name, Charles, which is itself their form of the late Latin Carolus. In German the name is Karl, which gives the Romanian form Carol. Romania had two kings of Germanic origin, King Carol I (+ 1914) and King Carol II (+ 1953). Now, according to some there is King Carol III. There is just one thing: he is not the King of Romania, but the King of England, or rather of the UK and the Commonwealth.

King Charles III has long been a lover of Romania, and owns property there. As one who has always been interested in the Orthodox Faith, makes pilgrimages to Mt Athos every year, making a generous donation to the Serbian Monastery of Hilandari after a fire there in 2004, and converses with Orthodox clergy. Years ago the now Metr Tikhon (Shevkunov) of Pskov assured me that the then Prince Charles had been received into the Orthodox Church. Indeed, rumour has it that he had been received into the Orthodox Church by a well-known Romanian Orthodox priest. Any search of the internet will confirm this, for example, An internet search also reveals a photograph of Prince Charles together with our His Beatitude, Patriarch Daniel, and making the Orthodox sign of the cross.

and several photos of him with our dear Metropolitan Joseph of Western and Southern Europe.


An Interview on the Turmoil in the Church

The Past Local Turmoil

Q: You spent nearly four decades serving as a clergyman, and were a layman for ten years before that, in the Russian Church, but in February 2022 you left, together with many others. Why the mass exodus?

A: The irony is that we did not leave, we were forced to leave. Why? Well, they know better than us why they acted in their bizarre and suicidal way and forced us out! Perhaps they do not want Non-Russians in the Russian Church? Perhaps they want to become as small as possible? I don’t know. But here is what happened to us:

At the end of our tethers after three years of persecution, at the beginning of May 2021 we alerted the authorities to the grabbing, alienisation, sectarianisation, papalisation, politicisation and so self-destruction of that part of the Russian Church. As we were whistle-blowers, we were persecuted and punished. Nobody wanted to know the Truth which we were clearly telling them. They preferred to brush the reality under the carpet. The problem is, and I have observed this so many times in my life, for example in the case of Metr Antony (Bloom) in the 1970s, which led straight to the Sourozh break-up in 2006, or in the case of Metr Vitaly (Ustinov) in the 1990s, which led straight to his deposition by the other bishops in 2001, that if you brush reality under the carpet, it will come back and hit you in the face with much greater force later on. This is exactly what happened to them when they tried to punish us for telling the Truth. As Christ says: ‘The Truth will set you free’. This means that telling untruths will enslave you. And that is exactly what has happened to them.

Part of the Russian Church fell into a top-down, colonial, sectarian and cultish schism, without any understanding of the Tradition of the Church or the need for missionary-work among local people, both Orthodox and Non-Orthodox, who live in this country and to whose language you must adapt, rather than try to impose on them a foreign jargon. This situation had obviously been carefully prepared for it as an entrapment by the infiltrators all through the Russian Church, including their agents in Moscow itself, but we acted canonically and tried to join one of the two other parts of the Russian Church. This was not allowed by one part since they too had been entrapped, and although the other part received us, they were not allowed by the powers behind them to keep us for more than six months. Both rejections were clearly 100% political acts.

In this way, ironically, they all condemned themselves as ‘Sergianists’, that is, people who put loyalty to their political masters above loyalty to Christ. In this, they simply showed their hypocrisy, for they had always condemned Sergianism in others who were forced to be Sergianists when they were political hostages, and yet when they themselves were politically free, they made themselves into Sergianists! The attempts to persecute the faithful and close our churches here differ in no way from what the Soviet State tried to do inside the USSR generations ago, or what the US-created Kiev government is doing against Metr Onuphry today. It suggests that they are all Trostkyists. Their underlying anti-Christian and ultimately Satanic ideology, whatever the various masks it may wear, is the same.

Q: So what did you do after you were forced out of the Russian Church?

A: If the Russian Church were to reject its own despite our loyalty to it, our Plan B had always been to join the Patriarchate of Romania. Discussion and consultation in mid-February 2022 only confirmed that Plan. So, having been released from the Moscow Patriarchate, this is exactly what we did. Indeed, our old family friend, going back nearly 50 years, Metropolitan Jean of the Western European Archdiocese of the Moscow Patriarchate, who had been forced to release us by certain individuals (we know their names), actually told us, after we had informed him that we had joined the Romanian Church: ‘That is exactly what I thought you would do and I actually told the Patriarchate that that is what you would probably do, to their loss. To which they had replied: ‘Too bad’’. He laughed ironically at the suicidal action of the Moscow Patriarchate. It had lost, discrediting itself, showing that it put careerist State politics first, spiritual integrity second. This act will go down in the history books as an act of self-destruction. Will the Russian Church here ever recover? Will it now only ever be an Embassy Church?

Q: Why had your Plan B always been the Romanian Church?

A: As soon as 2001, when Romanian immigration started, we had had Romanian parishioners, later a deacon and a priest, and by 2021 six of the twelve clergy and three-quarters of the people in our group of parishes were Romanian-speaking, that is Romanians or Moldovans. We were received into the Romanian Patriarchate on 16 February, within exactly four hours of applying, though we did not receive our signed antimensia until 27 February 2022. We had found canonicity and no longer feared having our property taken or being in a colonial and schismatic sect and alien, politicised cult, which is what that part of the Russian Church had become. Since then we have been in weekly contact with our Metropolitan Joseph, whom members of our family have known since the 90s, when he first moved to Paris.

When they tried to deny and complain about our reception in April, His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel rejected their nonsense, though they had actually dared to contact him in Bucharest personally not once, but twice! Since then all has been plain sailing, we soon opened two new parishes, receiving more antimensia from Metr Joseph. That had been on hold until then, and now other clergy and people are joining us, with a nice surprise coming in October, God willing. Every day we thank God for bringing us to the safe and canonical haven of the Romanian Orthodox Patriarchate. Glory to God for all things!

Q: So for your group, firmly entrenched inside the Romanian Metropolia, and consisting of six parishes, 5,000 faithful and 12 clergy, the turmoil has been over since 16 February, but for the rest of the Church, it started on 24 February.

A: Yes, and what an irony that was. We had found a safe and quiet canonical haven out of the awful political mess of the Russian Church, but for others the mess had only just begun. Actually, at the beginning of March, a priest from the MP Sourozh Diocese contacted us and told us he was jealous! Our situation shows Divine Providence towards us in getting us out of the Russian mess a few days before the Ukraine tragedy unfolded. We thank God.

Q: What is the situation of the Romanian Church in the Western European Diaspora?

A: As regards the Diaspora situation in Western Europe today there are just over 4 million Romanian speakers (Romanians and Moldovans) in Western Europe ( This is by far the largest Orthodox group in Western Europe. They are everywhere, though half of them live in Spain and Italy. As one Londoner who frequents the ageing Cypriots in their emptying churches there told me: ‘When you see children in a Greek church, you know they are Romanians’. (Sadly, the Greek-Cypriots have repeated exactly the same error as the Russians two generations before them, that is, they have completely failed to pass on the Faith to their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren etc. And just like the post-1917 Russians, they are now dying out).

The Western European Metropolia of the Patriarchate of Romania, which is Autonomous, has six bishops, one of whom is French, several Non-Romanian clergy and it uses both calendars. Our Metropolitan Joseph, who is an engineer by education and a real monk, comes from the north of Romania near the Ukrainian border – Metr Onuphry comes from just across the border on the other side, where Ukrainians and Romanians live side by side and there are many bilingual churches. Metr Joseph is very active in promoting the use of local languages, especially French, as he realises that the children born in Western Europe need them. One of our parishioners is his distant cousin, from the same village as him. Metr Joseph has been active in helping Ukrainian refugees, who, quite naturally, refuse to attend any Russian churches.

The Present Universal Turmoil

Q: Leaving aside the actions of Divine Providence in your case, what would you say about the general turmoil that the Orthodox Church finds itself in today?

A: Well, first of all, at least the turmoil proves that the Church is living. We are not dead. On the other hand, there is good turmoil and bad turmoil. This is bad, though God can always bring good out of bad.

The turmoil was initially caused by the catastrophic and deliberate failure of the ideology-bound Western elites to recognise the human rights of the large Russian minority in the Ukraine. This was Russophobia. However, for the Ukrainian majority, even if compromised and manipulated by the West for its own political advantages and by the theft of Ukrainian land and resources by US corporations like Monsanto and that of Hunter Biden etc, this was no solution. We support the Romanian-speaking Metropolitan Onuphry and have prayed for him and his suffering flock at the Great Entrance at every Liturgy since 2018. We cannot support war. His line is ours. They tried to take our churches and failed; they are taking his churches and succeeding. So we understand and suffer with him.

For a long time, the Orthodox Church was seen as either Greek or Russian. The ‘Greek’ Church was seen as basically Greek-speaking – Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem, Greece, Romania, Cyprus and Albania on one side. The ‘Russian’ was seen as basically Slav – Moscow, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Georgia and the OCA on the other side.

In fact, that was never true, as, for example, Romanians, Georgians, Arabs and Albanians are neither Greeks nor Slavs. Today, it has become quite untrue, because both certain Greek and Russian bishops have played politics – and lost the sympathy of their own Greek-speakers and Slavs alike. In reality, the Church is like a see-saw, with Greek extremists at one end and Russian extremists at the other end. The balance is maintained by those inbetween, including non-political Greeks and Russians. At the centre of the whole contemporary storm is the provincial Ukraine, which is only a plaything in the hands of the geopoliticians. Make no mistake, this is a war of the USA and its vassals against Russia and China. The Ukraine is just a location, a battlefield. This is not a war between Russians and Ukrainians, this is not a racial or a religious war, but a political and economic war for the future of the world.

As you know, in 2018 Constantinople agreed, under the bribery of American ‘pressure’, to set up a pro-American, pro–LGBT etc, pseudo-‘Church’ in the Ukraine. This was a scandalous act, as it meant that it had accepted the morally fallen and Neo-Nazi nationalists, thugs and criminals and proclaimed that they were Orthodox clergy and laity! In a word, the ‘Greeks’ had sided with the persecutors of the Church for a mess of American pottage. They had lost any moral high ground that remained to them. At once they found that they had not only caused a schism in the Ukraine, but that the ‘Russians’ refused to concelebrate with them, that they had virtually caused schisms inside the Churches of Greece and Cyprus, that the Churches of Romania, Antioch and Albania did not support them and that the Church of Alexandria had lost half its clergy and people to the new Russian Exarchate in Africa. Constantinople had lost all down the line, isolating itself from the Orthodox world in its own self-made schism.

A Russian victory? No!

As you know, from February 2022 Moscow began persecuting its own, first us in England, then others, in the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Lithuania, Spain, and now Latvia and, above all, in the tragic Ukraine. The ‘Russians’ had stabbed their own most loyal supporters in the back, also for a mess of political pottage! They too had lost any moral high ground that remained to them. At once they found that they had not only isolated themselves from their own Church in the Ukraine, but that the world had seen that the ‘Russians’ were quite capable of betraying their own all over Western Europe and creating a division on the canonical territory of another Patriarchate (Alexandria), in exactly the same way as the ‘Greeks’ had done on the canonical territory of another Patriarchate (Moscow). Their natural supporters in the Churches of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Georgia and the OCA stood aside in silence and either failed to support the Russian Church or else outright opposed it. Moscow had lost all down the line, it too had isolated itself from the Orthodox world.

Holy Rus is a fine ideal, but you will never spread it with missiles and shelling. We had warned about the danger of this temptation continually for fifteen years! Go back to your Sergianism at your peril! Or else prefer the freedom that God has given you. All was possible, we said, one or the other. Well, they chose the other, the rejection of mass repentance.

As we have already said, for a long time the Orthodox Church was seen as either Greek or Russian. Today, both Constantinople and Moscow have disqualified themselves from the moral leadership of the Church. Both have shown themselves to be victims of their own nationalist and racial politics, the ‘Greek world’ and the ‘Russian world’. Neither talked about the Orthodox world! Non-Russians are not interested in the Russian world. Non-Greeks are not interested in the Greek world. We need the Orthodox world. This means that both Constantinople and Moscow have lost the moral high ground, including the chance to lead the cause of unity in the Diaspora. Neither Greek nor Russian is now the future, precisely because of Greek and Russian misbehaviour. It is now up to all the other Local Churches to lead the way.

A Council

Q: Do you see any end to this turmoil between the Greeks and the Russians?

A:  Only a Church Council can resolve all the Inter-Orthodox problems. Not the political manipulation of a Council of Moscow in 1948 or of a Council of Crete in 2016, but a real Council of all the Churches, a Council that is politically free of both Washington and Moscow. Sadly, for the moment, that is not going to happen. Constantinople is enslaved to its US-backed and quite absurd project of universal domination. Everyone must become a Greek! Moscow is enslaved to supporting the Russian State, come what may – regardless of whether the Russian State even wants its support! It is a catastrophe and plunges the Church into a new period of paralysis.

However, there is hope. The Greek Patriarch is in his 80s, the Russian in his 70s. Great changes lie ahead, as US hegemony falls after the routs of the US and its NATO vassals in Iraq, Afghanistan and now in the Ukraine. It is yet another disastrously lost war for the overweening and now bankrupt West, which through its military incompetence and immense hubris has not won a single war since 1945.

However, when the ‘Greeks’ lose their US backers, that does not at all mean that the Russians will have won. The Russian State can win the war in the Ukraine, but how will it win the peace? That is quite another matter. The Moscow Patriarchate has betrayed its multinational vocation through backing narrow Russian nationalism, just as the Patriarchate of Constantinople backed provincial Greek nationalism before it and lost the broad, imperial vision of the old Constantinople. The only hope for Constantinople is a generation of bishops who were not bishops in the ‘US’ period of Constantinople, and for the Russian Church a generation of bishops who were not bishops in the Soviet period and so do not have that State mentality.

Q: What should be on the agenda of a free Council?

A: It hardly depends on me! But there are some problems which everyone can see and which have been crying out for solutions for generations.

Firstly, in order of size, the Churches of Romania, Ukraine (which, like it or not, is now de facto, though not de jure, an Autocephalous Church under Metr Onuphry), Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Antioch, North Macedonia (presumably all recognise it), Poland, Cyprus, Alexandria, Czechoslovakia, Albania and Jerusalem, all the universally-recognised Local Churches, except for Constantinople and Moscow, will have to meet initially and discuss something like the following:

  1. The canons must no longer be weaponised for political, racial and territorial reasons. For example, let us drop the nonsense of the deliberate Greek misinterpretation of Canon 28 of Chalcedon, which was introduced 100 years ago. Let us drop the gagging, sacking and even ‘defrocking’ of clergy, as in Lithuania, because they do not vote for the same political party as their bishops! This was not in the Gospels!
  2. You cannot go back on autocephalies and territories recognised by the whole Church as granted to Local Churches in the past. Canonical territories must be respected. Stop the Greek nonsense in Estonia, the Ukraine and elsewhere. Stop the Russian nonsense in Africa or at least, divide the African territory into two, North Africa for the Greeks and Black Africa for the Russians, for example, or something like it was 100 years ago, so that there are no overlaps.
  3. There must be four new Autocephalous Churches for the Diasporas, in Western Europe, North America (which would solve the OCA problem), Latin America and Oceania. New, multinational Local Church structures are the only way the Church can exist long-term outside the old homelands. This is a problem that should have been solved 100 years ago, but instead we have had 60 years of hot air and the loss of generations of Orthodox who were assimilated because they could not understand anything in their parents’ churches. If the Church authorities had put pastoral care first and not political and racial ideologies first, this problem would have been solved long ago.
  4. The great crisis in the Church, arguably for centuries, has been the lack of leadership. The essence of this crisis is that the authorities have not for the most part appointed genuine monks to the episcopate, but only single men, ‘monks’ in name only. Thus, they have appointed careerist bureaucrats and scandalous homosexuals (‘the lavender mafia’, as is so often the case with the Greeks), not to mention secular failures, alcoholics, freemasons, womanisers and ‘secretly’ married men (as is so often the case with the Russians), to the episcopate. A Council should proclaim and enforce a canon that all candidates for the episcopate should be monks who have spent at least ten years in a genuine, working monastery, or else that married bishops should be allowed. It must be one or the other – or both.

Once these matters have been discussed by all the other Local Churches, Constantinople and Moscow could be invited to a full Council to take them further, provided that they show that they are at last politically free, have repented for their past and so are worthy of taking part in a non-political Council.


Towards a Western European Orthodox Church


Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain (Psalm 126:1) 

Orthodoxy in the West will revive. There will be Orthodoxy in Britain and Ireland, in France and Germany, in Holland and Spain and in America, too. Every people and nation will have Holy Orthodoxy. This is the charge laid on our Russian Emigration for our repentance.

Prophecy of St John of Shanghai (+ 1966)

Introduction: The Four Diasporas and the OCA

There are four areas of Orthodox Diaspora, that is, four parts of the world to which Orthodox Christians have emigrated. These are: North America, Latin America, Western Europe and Oceania. So far, only in one of these areas has there been any attempt to set up a new Church to care for all the Orthodox immigrants, or rather for the descendants of those immigrants and those who have been drawn to the Orthodox Church since immigration and witness began, in that territory.

This is North America, where in 1970 the Russian Orthodox Church set up a Church called the OCA (Orthodox Church in America). Why? Simply because the bedrock of its members had immigrated there long before, already starting in the late nineteenth century, and their immigration was permanent, for the immigrants lost the country they could have returned to in 1918, as it had collapsed. In any case, there was little desire to go back to grinding poverty. They needed something local.

North America: A Flawed Foundation

  1. The OCA

Recently some here have expressed regret that there is no equivalent to the OCA in Western Europe. I can understand this perfectly well for various reasons, not least because of the good intentions and hopes for unity that the OCA began with. It was pastorally very necessary, even long overdue, and very brave and very far-sighted. And we hope that something very positive and permanent can come out of the ‘OCA’ phase of Orthodox history in North America – hopefully, it will be the foundation-stone on the path to something much bigger that will lead to a genuine, all-encompassing, North American Orthodox Church.

  1. Recognition

The first way in which the OCA has been flawed is the fact that though over 50 years have passed since it was established, only five of the Local Orthodox Churches out of the fifteen (fifteen, counting the new North Macedonian Church) have recognised it as canonical in the shared immigrant space of North America. Moreover, arguably, these five are those that were controlled or influenced by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1970, that is, at the height of the Cold War. In other words, if political strings had not been pulled at the time, possibly nobody would have recognised it apart from the Russian Church itself. This means that the OCA appears to be a Cold War product and as such is a temporary phenomenon, an indispensable stepping-stone to move onwards to the future, but still temporary.

  1. Smallness

Secondly, even today it is reliably reported that the OCA has only 84,900 total adherents and 33,800 regular attendees. This is despite the fact that there are over 1,000,000 (some say over 2,000,000 and even 3,000,000) practising Orthodox in North America. It is clear that the OCA has failed in its fundamental mission of gathering all Orthodox in North America together, notably it has not attracted by far the most numerous ethnic Orthodox group – the Greeks. Instead it represents at best 9%, at worst only 3%, of Orthodox in North America. Moreover, it has also failed to make any substantial inroads into converting the 360 million North Americans who are not Orthodox Christians. This can be seen even in its name which is, ‘the Orthodox Church in America’, not ‘The American Orthodox Church’. Without wishing to be unduly critical or demanding, there is clearly a problem here.

  1. Lack of Breadth

Thirdly, a great many who had ties with an Orthodox homeland felt excluded from the OCA, as the OCA founders wanted an ‘All-American Church’ and immediately began trying to erase any hints of ‘the old country’, also siding with the American Establishment in political matters (this was seen very clearly during the covid crisis, when the OCA leadership associated with the State and, incredibly, zealously closed churches). This was disturbing. Perhaps this was because so many of its people were ex-Uniat Carpatho-Russians, who had never been part of the Russian Empire, but of the Hapsburg Austro-Hungarian Empire, which had terribly oppressed them, refusing them even permission to be Orthodox Christians, and had left them in wretched poverty. As the Uniat Carpatho-Russians had had no loyalty whatsoever to that Empire which they had fled, once they were politically free in their new homes in USA and Canada they returned to the Orthodox Faith of their ancestors. After the collapse of that highly oppressive Hapsburg Empire in 1918, they had little desire to return. Their situation was completely unlike that of other immigrants to the USA, who generally kept close ties with their homelands or, in newer generations, with the homeland of their ancestors.

  1. Modernism

Fourthly and finally, the ex-Uniat Carpatho-Russians, with modernist Paris Russians ideologues in charge – and the latter were virtually Russian Protestants both by disposition and by intellectual training – initially imposed a liberal, new calendarist ideology and mocked all others. This automatically excluded a great many Orthodox, in fact, all those who valued the old calendar and genuine liturgical and monastic traditions. Some, being mocked, left. Many were not attracted. This mentality was made clear to me by the OCA’s effective co-founder, Fr Alexander Schmemann, in conversations in Paris in 1980. It was why I refused his invitation to complete a further degree at St Vladimir’s Seminary in New York.

  1. Overcoming the Flaws

It is clear that if we are to see a Local Western European Orthodox Church (or indeed an inclusive Local Church in another Diaspora), we must avoid the four above flaws of the OCA, however necessary, valuable, brave and far-sighted its creation was. A new Church must be outside politics, attractive to all Orthodox and to well-disposed Non-Orthodox, it must not exclude attachments to Orthodox homelands, their traditions, calendars and languages. Finally, it must be non-ideological, independent of the local State and its security apparatus, overcoming liberal/conservative polarisation by following the Tradition, instead of following purely secular currents, whether Democrat or Republican, left or right. This may seem demanding – but it is necessary.

Western Europe: A Story of Missed Greek and Russian Opportunities

  1. Culture and Geography

This Diaspora is quite different from the Diasporas in the New Worlds, the Americas and Australia. This is because it is part of the Old World, with a first millennium of Orthodox history and local saints underlying it and so has a completely different mentality. For instance, some Americans do not understand this and certain Americans come here with a crass lack of understanding, culture and subtlety and all they do is upset everyone, trying to impose a brash and brutal corporate American mentality and language, as if they were running a US franchise outlet for profit.

In our Orthodox context, Western Europe can be defined as all of ex-Catholic and ex-Protestant Europe, except for the largely ex-Catholic or ex-Protestant Slav and Baltic countries. These already have their own Local Churches that cover their territory, for example, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are all covered by the Russian Orthodox Church. Poland, and the Czech Lands and Slovakia have their own Churches. As for Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro, their territories are covered by the Serbian Orthodox Church. (Largely ex-Muslim and ex-Catholic Albania is covered by the Albanian Church).

This leaves twenty-five Non-Slav countries in all, geographically in Western and Central Europe, which, arguably, can be divided into eight geographical and cultural groups, the first two largely Germanic and ex-Protestant, the middle three racially mixed ex-Catholic/ex-Protestant, and the last three basically Latin and ex-Catholic. These are: the British Isles (which we count here as three countries, England, Scotland, Wales) and Ireland; the Five Nordic Countries (Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland); Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg); Germany; Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Hungary; France, Monaco; Spain, Andorra, Portugal; Italy, San Marino, Malta.

  1. The Patriarchate of Constantinople

During the Cold War and the political captivity and subsequent missionary paralysis of the very large Patriarchal Russian Orthodox Church, based in Moscow, and given the nature of its emigrant groups, a broken nature because of their politicisation, there was a chance for the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople to found a Western European Orthodox Church (WEOC). However, the Patriarchate of Constantinople excluded itself from this by its stubborn ‘phyletism’ (Greek racial and racist exclusiveness). Although there were a million immigrants from Greece and Cyprus in Western Europe at the time, the Patriarchal authorities and parish priests determined that only Greeks could be members of it.

Non-Orthodox who asked to be received into the Patriarchate were told to go away (often in the rudest possible terms) and become Catholics and Protestants: ‘You are not Greek’. ‘Only Greeks can be Orthodox’. We heard those phrases from Greek bishops, priests and laypeople literally dozens of times. For them, it was clear that doctrinally they could see no difference whatsoever between Orthodoxy and Catholicism and Protestantism. Indeed, as one Greek priest put it to me nearly fifty years ago: ‘There is no difference between any of us, except that the Catholics and Protestants are better organised than the Orthodox’. It was a purely ethnic, nationalist and also ecumenist view of the Church of God and, as such, led nowhere except to a spiritual desert. As a result a great many Constantinople parishes in Western Europe are today dying out and anxious to recruit Romanians and others, who are everywhere, to fill their emptying churches.

  1. Paris Russian Protestantism

During the 1980s (specifically, in 1985), the smallest Russian group, the Paris Group, excluded itself from the project of founding a new Local Church, declaring that its exclusively Protestant-style, lay-dominated, liberal ideology, promoted by centralising Paris intellectuals, was in effect too limited to carry out large-scale missionary work in Western Europe outside the Paris ghetto. Sadly, despite the goodwill and positivity of its present inspired Metropolitan, a man of integrity, sincerity and honesty, the group remains a captive of secular liberals. Thus, it has continued its old divisive, political and modernist policy, in spite of the renewed opportunity for missionary work after its return to the Patriarchal Mother-Church in 2019. Its lack of Orthodox vision, largely replaced by secularist lay liberalism, means that it is now very small indeed.

  1. New York Russian Sectarianism

The second and larger immigrant group, the US-based ROCOR (Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia), had a huge missionary window of opportunity in the 2000s. This was specifically after its potentially life-changing reconciliation with the Patriarchal Mother-Church in 2007. This saved it from falling into right-wing sectarianism which had troubled it in the USA (but much less in Western Europe) for over two generations. We had worked for that reconciliation for two decades. Making one catastrophic error after another, it contracted. This became a severe embarrassment after the election of the American nationalist (‘America First’) money-dealer Trump in 2016. For after that, Outside America ROCOR increasingly became an AOCOA, an American Orthodox Church Outside America. It largely renounced co-operation with other Orthodox, often preaching an exclusivist, ultra-conservative, nationalist ideology, similar to that of right-wing US Protestantism, gradually retreating further into a highly political and sectarian money-making All-American ethnic shell.

It often abandoned or persecuted its sincerest clergy and faithful in Indonesia, Western Europe (the scandals in London and Geneva, for example) and even in rare cases within North America (the notorious case of House Springs and the courtroom property disputes in Brooklyn and Miami). Sectarians and cultists had come back in revenge for what they saw as their defeat in 2007. They expelled regular Orthodox and concentrated on trying to seize their churches. ‘We want the keys to your church’ was the mantra and also sorts of strange techniques to try and intimidate were used. This was a spiritual dead end, suicidal behaviour, which meant that ROCOR was shooting itself in the foot, discrediting itself before the Orthodox world. It lost every time, to the advantage of others who did behave like Christians and took no malicious and anti-missionary pleasure in striving, and failing, to close down churches or striving, and failing, to ruin the life’s work of the devoted. Shamefully, the persecuted Church had become the persecuting Church. The Church will never recover from this until it has a new hierarchy.

However, there are still healthy elements within the New York Synod, so perhaps not all is lost. Miracles happen. Those elements at least have heeded the New Testament: ‘Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have’ (Hebrews 13, 5). May they heed the prophetic words of St John of Shanghai about the USA, who did not buy $500 shoes, but gave his shoes away to the poor. Those elements also realise that their old parishioners with their pre-Revolutionary traditions have long since died out. Moreover, since over 95% of their present parishioners come from the ex-Soviet Union, the only reason for them to continue to exist is to keep close to the Moscow Mother-Church and then to merge with it in the very short-term. Many have been saying for years that the merger is long overdue, and that this group can no longer justify its existence at all. Indeed, the Russian Orthodox Patriarch told a small group of us in late 2019 that Moscow’s interest in reconciliation with ROCOR had only ever been of political interest. Those sad words spoke volumes to us.

  1. The Moscow Patriarchal Mother-Church and Russian Nationalism

Finally, there is the far, far larger third group, with nearly 75% of all Orthodox worldwide, the Moscow Patriarchal Mother-Church. Enslaved for three generations by militant atheism with its centralised bureaucracy and love of money, it was finally able in 2000 to condemn its former Soviet atheist captivity and began the long task of canonising its host of New Martyrs and Confessors who were, are, and always will be its glory. It was only in this way that it managed reconciliation with the above two tiny emigrant groups. This was a time of great hope, but as I and others constantly warned from 2007 onwards, the situation was on a knife-edge, it could go one way or another, towards, or away from, authentic Orthodoxy. For fifteen years this knife-edge situation endured until, in 2022, the mainly unrepentant peoples of Russia and the Ukraine (95% or so) were given a war resulting from their stubborn lack of repentance.

Endowed with infrastructure and funds, it had at long last set up a long-awaited Western European Exarchate on 28 December 2018, which initially gave great hope to all of us. However, in the 2020s, specifically from 2022 on via that conflict in the Ukraine, the Moscow Patriarchal Church managed to alienate other Orthodox by imposing a political, anti-missionary ideology: ‘Russians only’.  Non-Russians were either expelled or abandoned: ‘Too bad for their souls’, said one of their young but powerful bishops when lifelong Orthodox, born before he was born, left the Russian Church because of the persecution they received, persecution they had never encountered even in Soviet times! He had condemned himself out of his own mouth. Even the highly conservative, American-run Patriarchal Russian Orthodox website ‘orthochristian’ had to switch off comments because it received so many negative ones as a result of all this. It is shameful. The Patriarchal Church had fallen into the same old CIA-promoted trap of effectively proclaiming that it is only about Russian nationalism, just as the Patriarchate of Constantinople had before it fallen into exactly the same CIA-promoted trap of effectively proclaiming that it is only about Greek nationalism. It even lost its bishop in Great Britain and Ireland.

  1. Divine Chastisement

Thus, so far, all three of the ‘divisionist’ Russian Orthodox groups have also gradually excluded themselves from the basic pastoral responsibility for founding a Western European Orthodox Church (WEOC). There is here a kind of self-inflicted, but Divine, shameful punishment on all four groups. The Greek group and the three Russian groups had all been granted God-given opportunities and all, very sadly, dismissed them, blinded by their petty and irrelevant rivalries between the Second Rome and the Third Rome, both of which have long ago fallen in any case. They all had their chances at various moments, but threw them away because of secularist, sectarian, ethnic, political ideologies and intrigues for love of money and petty power, axes they had and have to grind. This is the writing on the wall for all to see:  ‘God has numbered thy kingdom and finished it. Thou art weighed in the balances and art found wanting. Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians’. Unless they repent, they will not be given another chance after this Belshazzar’s Feast.

Conclusion: The Future

So for people like me, whose life’s work has been to work towards the construction of a new Local Church for the sake of future generations, is there any hope of one day seeing a Local Western European Orthodox Church after all these wasted opportunities by the two major Orthodox players? Are there any Orthodox Medes and Persians? Hope here begins with weight of numbers. We are referring to the unprecedented and massive immigration to Western Europe of well over 3,000,000 Romanian and Moldovan Orthodox in the last fifteen years. If minority Balkan Orthodox nationalities, Serbs, North Macedonians, Bulgarians and now, added to them, the new Ukrainian refugees, who have no desire to be with branches of the Russian Church, together they would number well over 75% of all Orthodox in Western Europe. Already the six bishops of the Romanian Metropolia of Western and Southern Europe have autonomy and have taken in Orthodox refugees from elsewhere. If others wished to co-operate with it, they could jointly found the infrastructure for the new Local Western European Orthodox Church. The Romanians and Moldovans alone far outnumber the ethnicised Greeks and the politicised Russians. From dominating majorities Greeks and Russians have become small minorities.

This hope is all provided that these Local Churches can co-operate (and, true, there is little history of this) and that they do not have an ideological, political or above all ethnic axe to grind, as the Greeks and Russians have had before them. Can they learn from the errors of those before them, or, are they too doomed to repeat them? Can they, unlike the Russians and Greeks before them, move into using local languages for the Western European-born children of Romanians, Moldovans and others? If they can remain free of previous errors and accept others not of their own ethnicity, the tiny numbers of members of the Churches of Antioch and Georgia in Western Europe might also take part, though this is not yet clear. As for Greeks and Russians, perhaps individual priests and people, and in numbers, might join the movement. After all, people do vote with their feet….All is still possible. Will we one day see a multinational, bicalendar Western European Orthodox Church, with 3,000,000-4,000,000 faithful, 2,000-4,000 parishes, 20-40 bishops?

If we pray for long enough, we shall find out….






Invited as head of the Vatican State by the Romanian President and Prime Minister (both fake Christians) Pope Francis has broken into the Romanian Garden of the Mother of God.

The Papal Drug


Fallen angel, into the house,

Dressed in white like the sun at noon,

Broke like a thirsty, hungry mouse,

Guard cats looking at a cartoon.


Drops of poison, like dew looking,

Honey-coated and counterfeit,

All the citizens are tasting,

From the poor to the high and great.


By the Papal drug bedazzled,

An ice storm will soon be received;

The love of Christ is bedraggled,

The Mother of God is deceived.


Nicuşor Gliga

Bucharest, 2nd June 2019