Category Archives: Russian Church

On the Possible Reconfiguration of the Russian Orthodox Church

Foreword: Russia and the Ukraine in Conflict

The possible military, economic and geopolitical consequences of the conflict in the Ukraine are much discussed. But what can we say of the ecclesiastical consequences? Both Russia and the Ukraine are ethnically more or less identical, both have majorities which are nominally Russian Orthodox Christians, so that both are dependent on the same Russian Orthodox Church, centred in Moscow. And yet a military conflict is under way between the two countries and there are many in the Ukraine who now do not want to recognise any administration in Moscow, even stating that the Russian Orthodox Patriarch should be tried for war crimes. Let us look at the general background to this situation.

Introduction: The Orthodox Church and Geopolitics

The Orthodox Church is a Confederation or family of 14 universally recognised Autocephalous (= fully independent) Local Churches, with some 200 million adherents in all. Each Local Church is led by a Patriarch, Metropolitan or Archbishop, depending on its size. With 142 million members, over 70% of the total, the Russian Orthodox Church is by far the largest of these Local Churches, followed by the Romanian (19 million), the Greek (10 million) and the Serbian (8 million). The remaining 19 million Orthodox belong to the other 10 very small Local Churches, each numbering on average about 2 million members. Although these Churches are based in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, several of them have ‘diasporas’, that is, emigrant minorities and missions, often going back several generations, in Western Europe, North America, Australia and outside their Eurasian homelands. These diasporas number millions.

Most of these smaller Local Churches are precisely that – local, that is, national. Thus, it is extremely rare, for example, to find a Non-Albanian member of the Albanian Orthodox Church or a Non-Georgian member of the Georgian Orthodox Church. The largest exception is the Russian Orthodox Church, which is multinational, with over sixty nationalities inside and outside the Russian Federation. Indeed, well over a quarter of all Russian Orthodox churches and clergy are to be found in the Ukraine, even though the Russian Orthodox administrative centre is in Moscow. That administration, known as ‘The Moscow Patriarchate’, is led by its Patriarch, whose title is ‘of Moscow and All Rus’ (‘Rus’ meaning the East Slav lands).

For well over a century, the Western Powers, with their State-controlled religions, have been trying to control the Orthodox Church. This has followed the well-worn model of how the USA came to control Roman Catholicism after the Second World War, protestantising or secularising it at the Second Vatican Council between 1962 and 1965. Then, in 1978 it helped appoint the Polish Pope Woytila (‘John-Paul II’) to undermine the Soviet Union and in 2013 Jorge Bergoglio (‘Francis I’) to impose its post-Christian agenda. As for the Orthodox world, in 1948 the US State Department took over the small, politically weak but ancient Church of Constantinople in Istanbul, and has ever since tried to use it to manipulate the internal affairs of the whole Orthodox Church and ‘vaticanise’ it too.

It is in this context that the multinational nature of the Russian Orthodox Church is not only a strength, but also a weakness. For some Russian Orthodox living outside the Russian Federation and Belarus, ‘the Moscow Patriarchate’ administration, appears to be simply a department of the Russian State. This is nothing new. It happened during the pre-Soviet period and notably the Soviet period, when anti-Soviet Russian Orthodox immigrant groups, now variously called ROCOR, the OCA, the Paris Archdiocese, as well as Ukrainian and Belarusian jurisdictions, broke away from the enslaved Church administration held hostage in Moscow.

The pressure to split from the Mother-Church came and comes not only from the people, but also from political pressures from States under which Russian Orthodox have lived. We can see this very clearly in the USA, where émigré groups have been infiltrated, creating bishops, in fact CIA assets. In the UK, Germany and France a similar pattern can be observed. This movement is spreading to the hostage Russian Orthodox episcopate in the Russophobic Baltic States, Moldova and above all in the Ukraine, where several, large-scale splits have occurred, with millions leaving the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church. How can such nationalist splintering effects be avoided by Moscow?

Against Splintering

Unlike the Church of Constantinople in Turkey, which is financially dependent on politicised Greek Americans, the Russian Church is free of systematic US interference. However, as we have said, it does have its own internal traitors and they are US assets. Moreover, the Russian Church also has its own issues, all of which go back to the westernisation of Russia which began intensively 300 years ago, though all these issues have much worsened since 1917. These issues are: Russian nationalism (which undermines the ethos of a multinational Church), centralisation, bureaucracy and corruption.

As we have said, on top of these we now have the conflict in the Ukraine. This has caused division in the Russian Orthodox Church, not only among westernised fringe members of the Church, some of whom belong to an American-based marginal group called ‘Public Orthodoxy’, but above all in the Ukraine itself, as well as in the Baltics, Moldova and Western Europe. Although some of these divisions may be nationalistic or of the spiritually feeble politically correct variety, they are nevertheless very real and above all long-term, sometimes going back well over a century.

For instance, in the Ukraine itself a third of the canonical (let alone uncanonical) episcopate today refuses to commemorate the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kyrill at services, seeing in him an enemy of the Ukrainian people. For their people, even the word ‘Moscow’ in the title ‘Moscow Patriarchate’ is a dirty word and they see the Patriarch not as a representative multinational figure, but as a corrupt nationalist stooge of an enemy Russian government. Below we make suggestions which might be of use in finding solutions to these critical problems.

First of all, there is the very name ‘the Moscow Patriarchate’. Given how Western aggression has pushed the Russian Federation to embrace Asia and sometimes made the Russian Church favour relations with traditional Islam (and traditional Non-Christian religions in general) over relations with non-traditional secularist Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, some have suggested that the Russian capital itself could be moved from the megalopolis of Moscow. The new capital would be the Urals city of Ekaterinburg, on the very frontier of Europe and Asia. This city is also marked by the historic events surrounding the martyrdom of Tsar Nicholas II and his Family in 1918.

If that happened, the present ‘Moscow Patriarchate’ would have to be renamed ‘The Patriarchate of Ekaterinburg and All Rus’. However, this is for the moment a purely imaginary discussion. It is our suggestion that the administration of the Patriarchate of Moscow might rather be moved some thirty miles to the north-west of Moscow, to the historic, seventeenth-century monastery complex and patriarchal residence of New Jerusalem (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Jerusalem_Monastery#:~:text=History%20The%20New%20Jerusalem%20Monastery%20was%20founded%20in,its%20name%20from%20the%20concept%20of%20New%20Jerusalem). This would give the Patriarchate the new title of ‘The Patriarchate of New Jerusalem and All Rus’. This would avoid any Soviet connotations of the title ‘Patriarchate of Moscow’. Also totally unrealistic? Perhaps. However, we also have a solution other than renaming or ‘rebranding’.

The Solution of Autonomisation

At present the Russian Church is divided administratively into Autonomous (self-governing, but not fully independent) Churches, Exarchates and Metropolias. The difference between these administrative terms is the level of independence from the Centre, with an Autonomous Church being much more independent than an Exarchate and an Exarchate much more independent than a Metropolia. Each of these administrative divisions is composed of a number of dioceses, each of which is in turn headed by an archbishop (more senior) or a bishop (more junior), under each of whom there is a network of parish and monasteries.

In order to overcome the fourfold problems we mentioned above, Russian nationalism, centralisation and hence bureaucracy and hence corruption, we suggest that the whole multinational structure of the Russian Church be decentralised into regional Autonomous Churches. This would do away with the intermediate ‘Exarchates’ and keep Metropolias as structures only inside the Russian Church and inside each new Autonomous Church. Two such Autonomous Churches already exist – the Russian-founded Japanese and Chinese Orthodox Churches. These two are and must be autonomous because they are in the territories of different states. Why not be consistently logical and do the same elsewhere?

What we are suggesting is that this principle of Autonomous Churches be extended to replace the present Exarchates and Metropolias in Non-Russian territories. Only the heads of Autonomous Orthodox Churches, although still part of the Russian Orthodox Church, would actually commemorate the Russian Orthodox Patriarch. (This would avoid the present political tensions and conflicts about his commemoration). Thus, the following new Autonomous Orthodox Churches could be founded:

  1. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Replacing the present ‘Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate’, this would cover the territory of the new Ukraine. True, the latter’s borders are yet to be established, but it would surely include at least the nine central provinces of the present, Communist-created Ukraine. The seven provinces of the west of the present Ukraine, in Galicia and Transcarpathia (eastern Carpatho-Russia), might join, or rather return to, other countries politically, such as Belarus, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania. Ecclesiastically, local Orthodox there might join the Belarussian (see below), Polish, Czechoslovak and Romanian Local Orthodox Churches. Church autonomy in the new Ukraine would surely help lead to the collapse of present anti-Moscow nationalist and schismatic groups there.

  1. The Belarusian Orthodox Church

This would replace the present Exarchate of Belarus and cover the territory of Belarus.

  1. The Moldovan Orthodox Church

This would replace the present local structure and cover the territory of Moldova, minus Transdnestria, added to it by Stalin, which would certainly choose to become part of the Russian Federation.

  1. The Baltic Orthodox Church

This would group all Orthodox in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Autonomy here might well be the end of the present sectarian grouping in Estonia under the US-run Patriarchate of Constantinople, as well as quelling pressures from Russophobic Baltic State politicians for the local Orthodox to be more independent of Moscow. In Lithuania they are even attempting to ban the Moscow Patriarchate wholesale and a schism is already in progress.

  1. The Central Asian Orthodox Church.

This would group the two million plus Orthodox in the five ‘stans’ of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

  1. The North American Orthodox Church

This would cover the territories of the USA, for the moment including Alaska and Hawaii, and Canada. It could finally regroup the three present groups of Russian origin, as well as of other Orthodox origins, in English-speaking North America. By ending the old structures of the ‘Orthodox Church in America’ or ‘OCA’ (after over 50 years still not accepted as canonically autocephalous, or fully independent, by most Local Orthodox Churches) and of the rather sectarian American Synod called ‘ROCOR’, combining them with the parishes under the present Moscow Patriarchate in North America, a long-awaited move towards unity would take place.

  1. The Western European Orthodox Church

This would replace the present Western European Exarchate, which includes Russian Orthodox in many countries in Western Europe, but would be extended to include Russian Orthodox in Germany, Austria, Hungary, the Scandinavian countries and Finland. It would also provide the structure to integrate the canonical elements of the Western European churches of the American ROCOR (see above) and of the Paris Archdiocese. The latter two organisations are both left over from the post-1917 period and perhaps lost their relevance after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. It is time to recognise this and for them to become parts of an Autonomous Local Church here.

  1. The South-East Asian Orthodox Church

This would replace the present South-East Asian Exarchate, which includes countries as diverse as Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia, South Korea and the Philippines.

Now we come to even more adventurous possibilities – perhaps to come in the more distant future:

  1. The African Orthodox Church

This would replace the present Exarchate of Africa – if that controversial Exarchate is to be continued.

  1. The Orthodox Church of Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean

Based in Mexico City, this new structure would provide an opportunity to unite all present missions in this area.

  1. The South American Orthodox Church

Based in Brazil, this new structure would provide an opportunity to unite all present missions on this Continent.

  1. The Orthodox Church of Oceania

Based in Sydney, this new structure would provide an opportunity to unite all present missions in Australia, New Zealand and the islands of Oceania.

  1. The South Asian Orthodox Church

This would provide such a new structure to unite all present missions in India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan.

Conclusion

Such decentralisation would bring the total number of Autonomous Orthodox Churches within the Russian Orthodox Church to fifteen, up from the present two. It is our thought that if some such decentralisation is not allowed, then various groups will break off from the Russian Church altogether. It is in order to avoid any further divisions or splintering, promoted either by nationalism or by geopolitics, that we put forward this suggestion of decentralisation, that is, the right to diversity within Russian Orthodox unity.

Of course, perhaps none of the above will happen and it will be up to other Local Churches to carry out missionary work. As we have said many, many times before over the decades, all is conditional. Suicidal and anti-missionary tendencies are clearly present in the Russian Church and maybe others will have to take up the beacon of missionary Orthodox work outside the Russian Federation, Belarus and the south-eastern Ukraine. Some, like the Patriarchates of Constantinople (especially in North America and Australia), Bucharest (especially in Western Europe) and Antioch (especially in South America), are already doing so. The future of the now highly politicised Russian Orthodox Church will remain in the balance, as long as it continues to place raison d’etat above the canons. Time will show us.

 

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Were their murderers Jews?

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

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

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

  1. Was their murder a ritual murder?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Holy Imperial Martyrs, Pray to God for us!

Archpriest Andrew Phillips

St John of Shanghai Church, Colchester, England

 

Blessed Xenia of Saint Petersburg

24 January/6 February 2021

 

Two Questions and Answers on the Contemporary Russian Orthodox Church

Questions: I have two questions.

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

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

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

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

A: Political Currents from the Past:

  1. Pre-Soviet Nationalist Nostalgia

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

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

  1. Soviet Nationalist Nostalgia

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

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

B: Political Currents from the Present:

  1. Post-Soviet Russian Nationalism

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

  1. Post-Soviet Euro-Americanism

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

C: The Two Neophyte Currents:

  1. The Ritualist Neophytes

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

  1. The Modernist Neophytes

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

D: The Two Main Currents:

  1. The Bureaucrats

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

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

  1. The Orthodox

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

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

In reply to your second question:

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

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

 

On the Contemporary Challenges Faced by the Russian Orthodox Church

Introduction: Excesses and Extremes on the Margins

After the fall of the militantly atheist Soviet Union nearly thirty years ago, the Russian Orthodox Church appears to have gone from strength to strength, both inside and outside Russia. In some respects this is clearly true, but in others it is not the case, as a whole set of enormous challenges remains. The Church suffers from the presence of many marginal individuals, including some clergy, and trends which are outside the mainstream of the Orthodox Tradition and so have little to do with Christianity. As a current example we have the case of Schema-abbot Sergei Romanov, whom I met in 2018 when I visited the Urals.

After meeting him, I was left with a whole set of questions: Why was such a man from a recent, violent criminal background ordained? Why did he have no qualifications? Where did all his great deal of money come from? Why was he left to conduct spurious exorcisms, humiliating his victims, creating obvious psychological damage and dependency? Why was he left in authority when he clearly set himself against Orthodox teachings? Why had he been allowed to set up a cult? Why did his bishop not act? Here are questions that are only now, two years on, being answered, only after much harm has already been caused.

  1. Organisational Temptations

Scandals

Like the case of Romanov, over the last thirty years many mistakes have been made. Desperate to cater to the spiritual needs of the scores of millions of newly baptised, the wrong people were sometimes ordained and consecrated. This is not an opinion, but a fact, as we can see from the number of defrockings and exiles of careerist bishops now in disgrace. There have been too many ‘young elders’, pseudo-elders, charlatans, money-extorters, perverts, careerists, obscurantists and also cultish sects, such as the neo-renovationist Kochetkovtsy. We cannot help thinking that at least some of these scandals are linked to money or else are sexual in nature.

Bureaucracy

The pre-Revolutionary Church already suffered from profound careerism and  bureaucratic centralisation, from the use of decrees and protocols – words that cannot be found in the Gospels. Today’s Soviet-style centralisation is even worse. Paperwork is one of the main complaints of parish priests in Russia. They are being made into administrators, ‘effective managers’, businessmen. This all means money: money-grasping bureaucrats have to be paid. The Apostle Paul did not suffer either from bureaucracy or money; he worked as a tent-maker, not as a careerist. Do we not confess the Apostolic Church? Should we not venerate the saints like him in deed, as well as in word? Why kiss the Gospels, if we are not going to live by them?

Money

This brings us to money problems. Some bishops and priests appear to be extremely rich and many think that all clergy live in their way, with 4 x 4s, Mercedes, yachts and villas. In reality, many clergy are poor. Here there is a total lack of transparency and also a poor distribution of resources. Partly this is to do with the post-Soviet nouveau riche class. They like to donate money to the Church – which is good – but why this obsession with gold, marble and luxury in church? They should first read the Gospels and find out about mammon, as their money so often acts as a source of temptation. For every ‘monumental church’ with its kilos of gold, ten plain but community/ congregational churches could have been built. Money is the rot in the Church today, an infectious disease that spreads everywhere.

  1. Internal Temptations

Churching Society

Three generations of militant atheism and violent persecution left Soviet society completely spiritually ignorant, ready to believe everything and anything, extraordinarily superstitious, with at one time almost African levels of animism at the extremes. In a society of converts, often ritualistic, and with very few experienced clergy and people, all kind of primitive errors still abound. The task of baptising society was not so difficult, but to change the faith of the people from nominal-instinctive to active-conscious is far more difficult. All the more so today when some representatives of the Church have discredited themselves through their careerist love of money and luxury and so made most indifferent.

Liberals

The educated extremes of Russian society (the masses are indifferent and look only to survival) have long been divided into Westernisers and Slavophiles. The very small but very active minority of extreme Westernisers are often highly-educated, with doctorates, and are liberal, modernistic, ecumenist. They condemn the Church, hate piety and support LGBT (they are often themselves homosexuals). As regards coronavirus, they are faithless and so wear masks at every opportunity. Clearly, they have no interest in missionary work, converting others to Christ, as they long ago rejected Christ in favour of the Secular West.

Conservatives

The conservatives are also very small in number but narrow and nationalistic. The extremists among them still think that Lenin and Stalin were wonderful. They rarely attend Church, which is just a nationalistic banner or flag for them to hide behind, so that can like the pharisees condemn others, in self-justification. Often Third Romists, they can often be paranoid in relation to the Western world, confess anti-Semitism, indeed, anti-everythingism, and love conspiracy theories. They would certainly never wear a mask, probably not even believing in the existence of coronavirus. Clearly, they have no interest in missionary work, converting others to Christ, as they consider that Christianity is purely nationalistic and probably think that God is Russian anyway.

  1. External Temptations

Dealing with the Post-Soviet State

The main problem here is the refusal of the State to change, to give up its Sovietism. There is post-Soviet, but there is also outright Soviet too. Thus, in Moscow still lie the remains of that revolting mass-murderer Lenin and in Ekaterinburg, where the Royal Martyrs were massacred 102 years ago, as everywhere, there are street names and statues of the murderers and the whole region is still named after one of them. The media and the education and health sectors (after all there is an abortion industry to support) are full of those opposed to the Church. The State still has little practical concern about the chronically low birth-rate, the chronically high divorce rate and does little to further the cause of ecology.

Relations with the Other Local Churches

Some of the Orthodox Local Churches basically support the Russian Church, some remain neutral, others have been bought out by US aggression. This is clear with regard to obvious US imperialism in the Ukraine and the Baltics, where its ambassadors, like pagan Roman governors, new Pilates, have bribed and blackmailed others.

Relations with the Non-Orthodox World

Here too the tensions are purely political. The Protestant world, consciously and unconsciously, has long been instrumentalised by the Western secret services to destroy the Orthodox world, in order to divide it and rule it. Since its 1960s protestantisation, much the same has happened in the Roman Catholic world, most obviously under the CIA-appointed Polish Pope. However, it was already opposed to Christ anyway and prepared to invade and destroy the Orthodox world at the drop of a hat, as can be seen in the history of the Crusades, in Uniatism and then in co-operation with the Bolsheviks. All this provokes Russian nationalism and makes many unable to appreciate the remnants of Orthodoxy in the Western world.

Conclusion: Towards the New Jerusalem (1) through Churching the Masses

The Russian Orthodox Church is three-quarters of the whole Church. Thus, its main challenge is that of responsibility. How can the mainstream, often paralysed by such excesses and extremes among certain bishops, priests and people, bring the world’s seven and a half billion people to Christ and His New Jerusalem without compromise? The answer is the same as that when the Twelve Apostles, opposed by all and compromised by Judas, also set out to do the impossible. The few must first Church the masses, the 2% of the Churched setting the example by converting the 98% of the unChurched and showing them that the Church is not about the money-grubbing of the new Judases. And how is that possible? Only by the Holy Spirit.

Feast of the Royal Martyrs, 4/17 July 2020

Note:

  1. The Cathedral of the Wisdom of God in Istanbul was long ago made into a mosque, then a museum and now is to become a mosque once more. Why? Because the local Orthodox have for 567 years failed to convert the local people to Christ. Failing to love their enemies, they have hated them and so made enemies for themselves. What are we to do? We are called on to create a new Church of the Wisdom of God, a New Jerusalem.

 

 

1 JULY: THE NEW CONSTITUTION FOR THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION

It may seem unusual for us to speak here of an internal change to the Russian Constitution, rather than to laws in, say, England, but the new Constitution does affect us here for the following reasons:

The proposed changes to the Russian Constitution, subject to referendum on 1 July, offer the possibility of moving away at last from the old post-Soviet constitution of 1993, largely dictated by the American elite in the 1990s. In other words, they mean moving away from colonial Western liberalism to sovereign, Christian, Russian Orthodox values. Christian Civilisation is being raised up to defend us from US, Euroatlantic, Secularism. (Symbolised by the US Embassy in Moscow, which flies the LGBT flag). This change has been slow, but has come at last. What does it mean?

Firstly, if passed, this will be a Constitution voted for by the people, and not imposed by American bureaucrats and Soviet oligarchs under an alcoholic President. Secondly, it will put Russian Orthodox law above International Secularist law, imposed by the West. Thirdly, it will confirm the territorial integrity and Russian language of the Russian Federation and forbid senior figures from having dual nationality and foreign bank accounts. Fourthly, it will call on the New Russia to keep the heritage of Imperial Russia (inherited by the Soviet Union) in the form of social justice, free education and health care, which was all but abandoned by the post-Soviet American Russia. Fifthly, it will at last strengthen the responsibilities of the Federation to come to the aid of Russians abroad. Sixthly, it affirms the role of the State Council, a kind of Nationwide Senate outside Party politics.

However, even more than this, the Constitution affirms the existence of God, making it quite distinct from Western Secularist countries. Unlike apostate nations, it also affirms marriage as the union of a man and a woman and affirms the family and children as a priority of Russian government policy. God, Marriage and the Family are the three main elements here. For us who live in the Anti-Christian West, this is invaluable support. Today, Western Europe faces the choice between the arrogance of ‘one-size fits all’, Secularist American Imperialism, ‘we know best and you must obey us’, or the support of Imperial Russia and her Church with its Exarchates and missions outside the Russian Federation. It is clear which we shall choose and all other Orthodox will do the same, if they are really Orthodox and overcome their racial prejudices and phyletism.

At last, post-Soviet Russia, with its putrid corpse of Lenin and statues and places named after Bolshevik monsters, is dying out. After thirty years we are moving ahead away from the old and dying Cold War foundations towards the literal Re-Constitution of Imperial, Christian Russia and support for the authentic Orthodox Christian heritage of the Western world. The writing is on the wall: let those who are able read it. The Future is arriving and it is Orthodox Christian.

 

An Inspiration for the Colchester Parish of St John of Shanghai and Western Europe: His Spiritual Son, the Ever-Memorable Archbishop Antony of Geneva and Western Europe

The future Archbishop Antony (Bartoshevich) was born into a pious family in Saint Petersburg in 1910 and baptised Andrei. After the illegitimate overthrow of the Tsar and his government by traitors from the aristocracy, intelligentsia and military in 1917, Andrei’s mother left with him for his grandmother’s home in Kiev, while his father joined the White Army. In 1921 the family emigrated, first to Germany and then to Yugoslavia. Here in Belgrade Andrei had initially thought of becoming an engineer like his father, but in the mid-1930s he abandoned engineering and chose instead to study theology.

Among his teachers was Fr (now St) Justin (Popovich) (+ 1979) and his mentors included Metr Antony (Khrapovitsky), First Hierarch of the Church Outside Russia and former Metropolitan of Kiev. Vladyka Antony told me himself in 1986 that if the great Metropolitan had not rid Russian academic theology of alien scholastic theology and the theory of satisfaction, he would not have come to serious Church life and to study theology. There was also the influence of the fathers of the Russian monastery in Milkovo and that of the icon-painter Pimen Sofronov, who taught Andrei iconography. In 1941 Andrei became a monk, taking the name Antony after St Antony of Kiev. He was soon ordained hierodeacon and in 1942 was ordained hieromonk by Metr Anastasy (Gribanovsky). He served in the Russian church in Belgrade and taught young people how to paint icons, drawing many to the Church.

In 1945 the church in Belgrade was placed under the Moscow Patriarchate. Patriarch Alexei I Himself made Fr Antony archimandrite on account of his zeal. Fr Antony wished to return to Russia to serve the Church there. However, here he was unwanted, his petitions ignored – no doubt providentially, because otherwise he would have been sent straight to the Gulag. Thus, after four years of patient waiting, Fr Antony accepted that it was God’s Will for him not to return to Russia, but to serve the Church in Western Europe.

In 1949 he went to Switzerland, where his saintly brother, Bp Leonty, was Bishop of Geneva. Fr Antony served in several parishes in this Western European Diocese of the Church Outside Russia. He painted the iconostasis for the parish in Lyon, including the icon of the local saint, the Church Father St Irenei. From 1952-57 he served in Brussels, taking care of all, travelling around and paying special attention to young people. After the repose of his brother, in 1957 Fr Antony was consecrated Bishop of Geneva by the future St John (Maximovich), who was then Archbishop of our Western European Diocese.

Archbishop Antony was a model Archpastor, he loved the services, which he celebrated with great care and prayer, and wrote for and edited the Diocesan magazine. He lived as a monk, reading or singing all the services every day, fasting strictly himself, though always indulgent towards the weaknesses of others, and took particular care of the young. He directed pilgrimages both to the Holy Land and also to the holy places of Western Europe like Lyon, the city of several early martyrs. In this he had been inspired by his spiritual father, the future St John, who had promoted the veneration of forgotten Western saints. Archbishop Antony always listened to the advice of others, other bishops and especially Athonite monks.

While remaining firmly Orthodox in the face of such heretical deviations as ecumenism and modernism, Archbishop Antony never fell into any extremes. At the Third Russian Church Council in Jordanville in 1974, he played a critical role in quelling the divisive passions of highly politicised extremists and sectarian isolationists in the USA, among them those who had put St John on trial in San Francisco. Thus, Archbishop Antony kept the unity of the Church, which had been endangered by these American extremists, who had lost their roots. He asked for understanding for those who were hostages in Russia and urged all to keep close links with the other Local Churches of the Universal Church. He asked all to look not at a few individual and unworthy clerics in Russia who compromised themselves under political pressure, but to look at the faithful there, as also elsewhere. For Vladyka the Church inside Russia always had grace, despite unworthy ‘representatives’ there or elsewhere.

All this time he organised the sending of spiritual literature to Russia and informed the West of the persecution of the Church there. He knew that the Faith there was being reborn. The canonisation of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia in 1981 under Metropolitan Philaret of New York was a great event in Archbishop Antony’s life and he played a key role in preparing their glorification, knowing that it would be a turning-point in history. For him the prayers of these new saints would give rebirth, as indeed they did. The Saints are the Unity of the Church. After the repose of Metropolitan Philaret in 1985, many bishops hoped that Archbishop Antony would become the next Metropolitan of ROCOR and indeed he received enough support to do so. Never ambitious, Vladyka did not want this, and ceded all interest to Archbishop Vitaly, as he related to me himself with great humour on his return from New York.

Always a man of unity, Vladyka worked hard to bring back the Rue Daru group, centred on his territory in Paris, from its schism. Thus, he concelebrated at the funeral of Metropolitan Vladimir (Tikhonitsky) and always concelebrated with others of the group, as had St John (Maximovich). Indeed, when he was still Bishop Antony, he showed quite willing not to take the title ‘Archbishop’ which had been offered him, and to cede that title to the Archbishop of the Rue Daru group once it had returned. At the Third Russian Council in 1974 he authored a message to the group, calling all back to unity. In this Vladyka was well ahead of his time, as we know that the Orthodox part of the group, some 60% of what then remained of it, did indeed return to the Russian Church, but only in 2019.

Just like St John, his predecessor as Archbishop of Western Europe, Archbishop Antony was a Russian patriot, but he was not some narrow nationalist or political bureaucrat. For him the Church was universal, as it was for his mentor Metr Antony (Khrapovitsky). He would serve in the Romanian and Serbian churches in Paris and loved to hear services in Greek. He was also very open to Swiss, Dutch, French and others who had embraced the Orthodox Faith and he served in French for them. He blessed the composition of the service to all the Saints of Switzerland for local use. He is remembered for his missionary work in Western Europe, keeping peace and love in his multinational Diocese, which he expanded to Portugal in 1992. True, he was let down by some. But when in 1987 a small group of extremist French people left him to join a Greek sect, he said to me, with a shrug of his shoulders, ‘ We’ll just have to start again’. Perhaps his missionary consciousness was partly due to the fact that his grandfather was a Polish Roman Catholic.

Almost exactly one year before his repose, the Archbishop had said that he had only one year to live. Just two weeks before he passed away, he consecrated two new bishops to replace him, Bishop Seraphim and Bishop Ambrose. He fell asleep in the Lord on 19 September/2 October 1993 and was laid to rest inside the Cathedral next to his brother, Bishop Leonty. Perhaps the greatest witness to his missionary efforts was the presence of ten different nationalities among the twenty-two priests who bore at various moments his coffin at his funeral: Russian, French, Swiss, Austrian, Serb, Romanian, Dutch, English, Spanish and Slovak, many of whom he had himself ordained since becoming diocesan bishop in 1963.

Vladyka Antony is remembered for his faithfulness to the end to his Diocese, his wisdom and openness to others, his love for the young, his personal generosity, warmth of character, humour, pastorship, his love of his homeland and also his efforts to spread Orthodoxy in Western Europe. Nor can we forget his efforts to rekindle the fire of uncompromised Orthodoxy inside Russia, where he was never able to return, though he often spoke of visiting, especially Kiev, where he had family. St Paisios the Athonite (+ 1994) said of him: ‘Your Antony is a hero. He is neither with the ecumenists, nor with the others’ (the sectarian zealots).

This Archpastor’s very rare values, which coincided with our own and inspired us, were:

To keep the purity of Holy Orthodoxy free from political meddling and bureaucracy, from both the left (modernists and syncretists) and from the right (nationalists and sectarians), keeping to the royal path of the unity of Truth and Mercy.

To be faithful to the best of Imperial Russia and the spirit of the Imperial Family, who stood above factions, confessing the Faith as protectors of the unique Civilisation of the Orthodox world and standing up to be martyred when required.

To remain multinational, inevitable in the Western European context, carrying out the missionary task of the Russian emigration assigned to us by Providence among the peoples of the world, in faithfulness to the words of Christ (Matt, 28, 19-20).

To the Very Reverend and Ever-Memorable Antony, Archbishop of Geneva and Western Europe, Eternal Memory!

 

 

 

The White Guards’ Task in Helsingfors: 1920-2020

Behold, the wicked man conceives evil, and is pregnant with mischief, and brings forth lies. He makes a pit, digging it out, and falls into the hole which he has made. His mischief returns upon his own head and on his pate his violence descends.

(Psalm 7, 14-16)

Russian history was interrupted in March 1917 by a murderous, anti-human, anti-historical, Western ideology, inspired by the enemy of mankind, Satan. This interruption of Russian history by an alien philosophy in turn interrupted world history. Ever since, it has been unable to continue on its natural and progressive course, as willed by the Maker. Thus, it has constantly veered ever further from the Christian Civilisation of the Orthodox Gospel with the passing of the decades.

This apostasy was made clear only weeks after March 1917, in May, in Fatima in Portugal, while a cannibalistic Western Europe, bathed in the sacrificial blood of its young, received a heavenly message through the most humble and innocent peasant children to be found. This message said that if Western Europe did not repent for the atrocious sufferings which it had inflicted through its agents on Christian Civilisation in Russia, those sufferings would rebound on it.

Having failed to heed these heavenly words, Western Europe duly punished itself. This is the mystical meaning of history. Nothing happens by chance, all are free to choose to create happiness or unhappiness through the consequences of their actions. In Russia both left-wing apostates, atheists and imitators of Western Secularism, and right-wing apostates, pharisees and imitators of Western Chauvinism, all enemies of Christianity, chose Satan’s materialist trap and fell.

Our task as White Guards, who have remained faithful to authentic, multinational Orthodoxy, to the Tsar-Martyr and all his loyal and still much-slandered followers, and to the life of all the Orthodox peoples of the world, is the restoration of what was lost in 1917. This task is to reverse the catastrophe chosen four generations ago. And the path to that lies through Helsingfors in 1920. This is our mystical appointment with destiny. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

 

On the DeSovietisation of the Russian Orthodox Church

There was a time when some people called the (Patriarchal) Russian Orthodox Church inside Russia ‘The Soviet Church’. This was of course absurd. Whereas Soviet means atheist, Orthodox means Christian, and you cannot have atheist Christians. It is absurd as saying ‘Secular Christians’ (although they exist outside the Orthodox Church and are even proud of it). For us Mammon and Christ do not mix. You are either one or the other, as the New Martyrs of the Church inside Russia witness. On the other hand, it is true that some people in the Russian Orthodox Church inside Russia, oppressed by the illegitimate Soviet regime, did take on certain deformities. What were they?

Firstly, the Soviet Union was an imperialist power. Its ideology was that of the Third International, whose agenda was world conquest. Thus, still today among some individuals, supposedly Orthodox, we see a mentality of imperialism and domination, a racist arrogance towards Non-Russian nationalities. More than this, we see a certain love-of-money and prestige careerism with pseudo-intellectualism and banditry among certain clergy, who, as clericalists, treat the faithful with contempt, as a mob or cattle who have to be hosed down, as it were.

Secondly, as a result of this kow-towing to an imperialist ideology, there is among some a centralisation and bureaucracy of paperwork: nothing can be done without authorisation from a distant above and until huge numbers of forms have been filled in. As a result of such a delocalised, top-down system, many good bishops and good clergy can be transferred somewhere else, unsettling and making protest their flock, for whom they have shown pastoral care. This is because the Church administration is run like a corporation or department of State.

Thirdly, there is the disease of superstitious magic, the search for ‘miracles’, which is the result of 75 years of enforced ignorance by the Soviet regime. However, Soviet oppression ended thirty years ago and its continued existence today, in the age of free information on the internet, is simply a sign of voluntary ignorance, laziness and inertia. Therefore, still widespread is holy water idolatry and many other forms of ‘magic’ animism, comparable to those in pagan Africa.

These three attitudes, the will for domination, bureaucratic centralisation and superstitious magic, are evidence not of Christianity, but of love of power and love of money. These attitudes are opposed to the pastoral care for the faithful, to love. And without love, everything else, infrastructure, organisation, administration, websites, books, statistics, photographs, is merely a hollow shell, a house of cards and ‘sounding brass’. If there is no love, as the Apostle says, they are as nothing.

Of course, these attitudes are not at all unique to the Soviet and now post-Soviet Russian Orthodox Church dependent directly on Moscow. They can be found in every nation, in every age and in every Church, including in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, as a result of the desire for power and money. For example, they were all clearly manifest in the re-Revolutionary Russian Orthodox Church, as any historian, or anyone who knew the now departed representatives of that age, can tell you. Indeed, many would agree that if that Church fell victim to the Revolution, it was precisely because so many of its representatives confessed not Christianity, but an arrogant racism, a bureaucratic centralisation and a superstitious magic Beware: revolutions can happen a second time.

 

 

Москва третий Рим? Взгляд священника Русской Православной Церкви из дальнего зарубежья

Предисловие:Советский Союз и Русь

Многие жители России, особенно пожилые, временами испытывают ностальгию по Советскому Союзу или, скорее, по отдельным аспектам советского государства (конечно, не по очередям за продуктами). И это не удивительно. Распад СССР, подготовленный Горбачевым и Ельциным под контролем США с их политикой «разделяй и властвуй», явился предательством и катастрофой. Безбожники (будь то советские или американские), ответственные за развал Советского Союза, не имели ни малейшего понятия о «Руси» – землях, принадлежавших народам исторической Руси, где Православие всегда было верой большинства.

«Русь», то есть нынешние Российская Федерация, Беларусь, большая часть Украины и половина Казахстана, нельзя было разделять – она должна была остаться единой. Также, в отличие от современной капиталистической России, в СССР были бесплатные медицина и образование, общественный порядок и культура. Однако, те кто предаются ностальгии по социальной справедливости, порядку и культуре Советского прошлого, не осознают, что и порядок, и бесплатные образование и медицина были также при царе Николае II. Все хорошее в Советском Союзе было унаследовано от Российской империи.

Империя в географическом смысле и в духовном

Причиной всех катастрофических ошибок Советского Союза стали его разрушительный и самоубийственный атеизм, гонения на Церковь и все религии. Подавление всего духовного в итоге подорвало культуру, которая всегда зиждется на духовных убеждениях. В результате этого советская элита (как и любые империалисты за всю историю, как и американская элита сегодня) считала, что великая империя имеет только географическое измерение. Конечно, это не так. Великая империя всегда имеет духовное измерение. Таким образом, ошибкой СССР было то, что он перепутал третий интернационал с третьим Римом и попытался построить Рай на земле – «светлое будущее»  – без Христа. Алкоголизм, аборты, коррупция, разводы и экологическая катастрофабыли лишь логическими последствиями.

Также, ошибочно приняв империю в географическом смысле за духовную, сегодня многие жители Восточной Европы ненавидят Россию, «империю зла»: достаточно приехать в западную Украину, Прибалтику, Польшу или Румынию, чтобы увидеть таких людей. И, к сожалению, эти ксенофобы ненавидят именно Россию, которую путают с Советским Союзом. Хуже того: некоторые из них питают ненависть к русским, не понимая, что многие русские, ставшие наивными из-за своего маловерия, испытывали комплекс неполноценности по отношению к Западу. Поэтому они стали жертвами большевиков (большинство из которых были нерусские) с принесенной ими извне марксистской идеологией – фантазиями внука немецкого раввина.

То что они путают Советский Союз и Россию отчасти можно понять, потому что некоторые негативные стороны немецкого марксизма СССР были унаследованы с более ранних времен, особенно с эпохи императрицы-немки Екатерины II. Понятия «Православие» и «Русь» так и остались для нее чуждыми, поэтому Екатерина сделала ошибку, присоединив к Российской империи всю Восточную Польшу, но в то же время позволив Австрийской империи контролировать и преследовать православных в Карпатской Руси. Последовали неверные действия в Финляндии, странах Балтии и других местах. Однако все это ничто по сравнению с ужасными промахами СССР в Восточной Европе начиная с 1939 года, которые гарантировали ненависть со стороны местного населения.

Настоящий третий Рим?

Все империалисты на протяжении истории представляли, что великая империя – понятие географическое, а не духовное. Таковым было заблуждение первого Рима с его католическими крестовыми походами и инквизицией, которые в XX веке породили фашизм. Что касается второго Рима с его эллинским национализмом, мы видим пагубные последствия последнего при нынешних фанариотах, которыми манипулируют США. Если Москва претендует на статус третьего Рима, то ей, следовательно, надо стать вторым Иерусалимом, Новым Иерусалимом (который Патриарх Никон пытался построить на реке Истра в XVII веке). Ибо лишь духовное является имперским; географическое же всегда является империалистическим и имеет плачевный конец, как было с первым и вторым Римом.

Таким образом, современную Церковь Руси нужно в первую очередь «перестроить». Русская Православная Церковь сегодня должна показать, что не компрометирует себя и не применяет двойные стандарты. Она может сделать это, подтвердив, что искренне отвергает три еретических «изма», которые сильно нарушали мир в Церкви последние 100 лет: модернизм, экуменизм (которые она переняла у протестантизма) и Восточный папизм (заимствован у римо-католицизма). И прежде чем Русская Православная Церковь сможет отвергнуть что-либо из этого, ей необходимо выйти из «всепротестантского» Всемирного совета Церквей и отказаться от того, что некоторые называют компромиссами с Ватиканом, то есть Западным папизмом.

Церковь всегда страдала из-за слабостей отдельных представителей своего духовенства, ставящих свою карьеру и личность выше Христа. Сегодня крайне необходимо возродить приходскую жизнь, уничтоженную атеизмом после 1917 года (она и до этого зачастую была слаба). Ее возрождение могут осуществить только пастыри, а не карьеристы. Приход – это семья, и финансовая отчетность приходов должна быть прозрачной.  Что же касается монастырей и епископата, то здесь не нужны интеллектуалы, безликие дипломаты, бюрократы и «эффективные менеджеры», а тем более– ревнивые «феодалы», не любящие женатых священников. Нам нужны любящие епископы-пастыри. Епископат должен любить, заботиться и проявлять понимание по отношению к священникам и диаконам, избегая несправедливости.

Заключение

Со времени подписания Акта о каноническом общении в 2007 году, основанная эмигрантами  Русская Православная Церковь Заграницей с административным центром в Нью-Йорке обновилась. Осуществляется ее преобразование в Русскую Православную Церковь англоязычного мира, Нового света – в основном, в Северной Америке и Океании – как «Североамериканскую Русь» и «Австралийскую Русь». Смелое учреждение в прошлом году Русской Православной Церковью долгожданных Патриарших экзархатов в Западной Европе и в юго-восточной Азии тоже является знаком того, что у Русской Православной Церкви международная миссия.

«Русь Нового света», «Западно-европейская Русь» (формированию которой поспособствовало возвращение Парижской архиепископии к своим корням в РПЦ в ноябре этого года) и «Русь юго-восточной Азии» вполне могут стать реальностью. Однако Церковь на землях старой Руси, особенно в Российской Федерации, Беларуси и многострадальной Украине, тоже должна быть «перестроена». Только таким образом Русская Православная Церковь сможет продемонстрировать, что она в центре здоровых сил вселенской Православной Церкви, что она борется за благочестие и чистоту святого Православия. Москва заслужит любовь как настоящий «Рим», только когда  станет духовной империей.

 

Протоиерей Андрей Филлипс,

Храм свт Иоанна Шанхайского,

Колчестер, Англия

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moscow the Third Rome? A View from a Russian Orthodox Priest in the Far Abroad

Introduction: The Soviet Union and Rus

Many, especially older, Russians are at times nostalgic for the Soviet Union, or rather, for certain aspects of the Soviet Union (certainly not nostalgic for queuing for food). Little wonder they can be nostalgic. The break-up of the Soviet Union by Gorbachov and Yeltsin, carried out largely under American divide and rule supervision, was a treasonous catastrophe. The atheists in charge of the collapse of the Soviet Union, whether Soviet or American, had no concept of ‘Rus’, the lands of the peoples of historic Rus, wherever the majority Faith was clearly Orthodoxy.

‘Rus’, that is the Russian Federation, Belarus, most of the Ukraine and half of Kazakhstan, should have remained united, instead of being divided. Also, compared to today’s capitalist Russia, Soviet Union had free education and medicine and there was public order and culture. However, what those nostalgic for the social justice and order and culture of the Soviet past do not realize is that education and medicine were largely free under Tsar Nicholas II and order was kept. Everything that was good about the Soviet Union had been inherited from the Russian Empire.

A Geographical Empire and a Spiritual Empire

All the Soviet Union’s catastrophic mistakes came from its genocidal and suicidal atheism, the persecution of the Church and all faiths. The persecution of the spiritual undermined all culture, which is always founded on spiritual belief. As a result, the Soviet elite, like all imperialists in history, like the American elite today, thought that a great empire is always geographical. Of course, it is not – a great empire is always a spiritual one. Thus, the Soviet error consisted of confusing the Third International with the Third Rome, trying to build paradise on earth without Christ. The ravages of alcoholism, abortion, corruption, divorce and ecological disaster were only the logical consequences.

Also, as a result of this error of confusing a geographical empire with a spiritual empire, today many people in Eastern Europe hate Russia, ‘the evil empire’: you only have to visit the Western Ukraine, the Baltic States, Poland, Romania and elsewhere to meet them. And unfortunately these xenophobes hate precisely Russia, confusing it with the Soviet Union. Even worse, some of them hate Russians, not understanding that many Russians, made naïve by their weak faith, suffered from an inferiority complex vis a vis the West. This was why they were among the victims of the mainly foreign Bolsheviks with their alien imported ideology of Marxism, the fantasy of a German rabbi’s grandson.

Their confusion of the Soviet Union with Russia is partly understandable because certain negative aspects of the Marxist German Soviet Union were inherited from before, especially from the German Empress Catherine II. She had no understanding of Orthodoxy and of Rus, and so made the mistake of taking into the Empire of Rus the whole Eastern half of Poland, yet, for example, allowing Austria to control and persecute Orthodox in Carpatho-Russia. There followed errors in Finland, the Baltic States and elsewhere. However, none of this was comparable with the errors of the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe from 1939 on. Those errors guaranteed local hatred there.

A Real Third Rome?

Thus, all imperialists throughout history have imagined that a great empire is geographical, and not spiritual. This was the error of the First Rome, with its totalitarian Crusades and Inquisitions which ultimately produced Catholic Fascism in the last century. As for the Second Rome with its Greek racism, we can see its disaster under the US-manipulated Phanariots today. If Moscow is to be the Third Rome, it must therefore first be a Second Jerusalem, a New Jerusalem, as Patriarch Nikon wanted to create on the River Istra in the seventeenth century. For only the Spiritual is Imperial; the Geographical is merely Imperialist and always ends badly, like the First and Second Romes.

Therefore, today the Church of Rus has first to be rebuilt. Today the Russian Orthodox Church must show that it is in no way compromised by or practises double standards. It can do this by proving that it wholeheartedly rejects the three heretical isms which have so troubled the peace of the Church for a century: modernism and ecumenism (adopted from Protestantism) and Eastern Papism (adopted from Roman Catholicism). And the Russian Orthodox Church cannot reject any of these without first renouncing its membership of the Pan-Protestant World Council of Churches and renouncing what some see as compromises it has made with the Vatican, that is, with Western Papism.

The Church has always suffered from the failings of clergy who put their own careers and personalities above Christ. What is needed today is the restoration of parish life, wiped out by atheism after 1917 (and it was often weak before that). This restoration can only be led by pastors, not by careerists. The parish is a family and the financial affairs of parishes must be transparent. As for the monasteries and the episcopate, they do not need intellectuals, wishy-washy diplomats, bureaucrats and ‘managers’, or the feudal and jealous who dislike married clergy. We need loving pastor-bishops. The episcopate must love, care for and show understanding of priests and deacons, avoiding injustices.

Conclusion

Since signing the Act of Canonical Communion in 2007, the émigré-founded Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, based in New York, has begun a renewal. Its establishment as the Russian Orthodox Church of the English-speaking world, in the New Worlds of North America and Oceania, as North American Rus and Australian Rus, and perhaps elsewhere, is potentially under way. Last year’s bold establishment by the Russian Orthodox Church of a long-awaited Western European Exarchate and a South-East Asian Exarchate are also signs that the Russian Orthodox Church has an international mission.

A Rus of the New World, a Western European Rus, helped by the return this November of the Paris Archdiocese to its roots in the Russian Church, and a South-East Asian Rus could all become real. However, the Church inside the lands of Old Rus, especially in the Russian Federation, Belarus and the much-troubled Ukraine, also needs to be rebuilt. Only in this way can the Russian Orthodox Church show that it is at the centre of healthy forces in the wider Orthodox Church, that it fights for the piety and purity of Holy Orthodoxy. Only when Moscow is a spiritual empire will it earn love as a real ‘Rome’.