Category Archives: Russian Church

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Were their murderers Jews?

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

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

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

  1. Was their murder a ritual murder?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Holy Imperial Martyrs, Pray to God for us!

Archpriest Andrew Phillips

St John of Shanghai Church, Colchester, England

 

Blessed Xenia of Saint Petersburg

24 January/6 February 2021

 

Two Questions and Answers on the Contemporary Russian Orthodox Church

Questions: I have two questions.

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

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

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

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

A: Political Currents from the Past:

  1. Pre-Soviet Nationalist Nostalgia

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

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

  1. Soviet Nationalist Nostalgia

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

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

B: Political Currents from the Present:

  1. Post-Soviet Russian Nationalism

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

  1. Post-Soviet Euro-Americanism

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

C: The Two Neophyte Currents:

  1. The Ritualist Neophytes

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

  1. The Modernist Neophytes

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

D: The Two Main Currents:

  1. The Bureaucrats

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

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

  1. The Orthodox

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

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

In reply to your second question:

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

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

 

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

Introduction

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

The Two Sides of the Past

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

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

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

In the Here and Now

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

 

 

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

Half of the Orthodox Local Churches basically support the Russian Church, but the other half, undermined by petty nationalism, has been bought out by US aggression. This is clear with regard to obvious US imperialism in the Ukraine, the Baltics and the Balkans, where its ambassadors, like pagan Roman governors, new Pilates, have bribed and blackmailed the tiny Greek Orthodox world into the crudest infringements of Canon Law and simple human justice. That world, only a few million in number, has thus discredited itself and it remains a mystery as to why anyone voluntarily belongs to it any more. This is the final Greek tragedy.

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.

 

 

Hot News: The Cold War Is Over!

The Church Has Only One Enemy: Ourselves.

 

The first Cold War ended some thirty years ago. True, forces in Washington and in poodle-town London and EU/NATO Brussels have tried to create a second one. True, those forces, have hesitated to turn their military might and huge deficit budgets against today’s Russia, but only because it is nuclear-armed. Instead, they have tried to take over Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia, thus aggressively encircling the Russian Federation with bases. They have also invaded Muslim countries, slaughtering many and losing many wars there at a cost of six trillion dollars. All this has forced the Russian Federation to ally itself with China and now to declare its sovereignty through a very popular new Constitution. This has brought countries like Iran, Syria and Turkey into the joint orbit of these Allies, making them invincible.

However, so far the end of the Cold War has not greatly affected Church life in the Diaspora. True, after the petering out of spiritually poisonous Soviet and American influences, in 2007 the Russian emigre Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) entered back into communion with the by then free Orthodox Church inside Russia. The small Parisian fragment of the Russian emigration, about one tenth of the size of ROCOR, did the same as recently as 2019. All fragments still have to work together with the Mother-Church, members of whose flock and clergy make up some 90% of their flock and clergy. The Mother-Church has its own newly-organised structures outside Russia, especially in Western Europe. So far only in South-East Asia has this integration already taken place, with former ROCOR communities in Indonesia entering the Mother-Church.

On the other hand, the end of the Cold War has affected other, far smaller and spiritually weaker Local Orthodox Churches, mainly in the Balkans or else those Greek-run. Indeed, there the situation has worsened by far, as some of these have been bribed, blackmailed and instrumentalised into becoming part of a second Cold War, launched by Washington against Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church. Most notably, there has been the tragic case of the gerontocrats who run the tiny and spiritually enfeebled Patriarchate of Constantinople in Istanbul. This has been pushed by the State Department in Washington into uncanonical and purely political actions in the Diaspora, in Estonia and, above all, in the far west of the Ukraine. ‘Divide and rule’ is the anti-Christian slogan of all these State and Church bureaucrats alike.

Not content with this, the aggressive Washington State Department elite has declared war against all Orthodox elsewhere, notably in Greece, Alexandria and Montenegro, and is also interfering in Romania, Moldova, Cyprus, Macedonia, Bulgaria and anywhere else it can, in an attempt to isolate as many Orthodox as possible from the Russian Orthodox Church, exploiting and stirring up the base motive of nationalism. The Church of Russia is, after all, three-quarters of the whole Orthodox Church and the only Local Church which is truly multinational and, quite often, missionary-minded. All the above has taken place in the last thirty years, since the fall of the Western-imposed Marxist yoke in Russia and Eastern Europe. So what could the next thirty years bring? In other words, what reconfigurations could there be by 2050?

Many scenarios are possible, but there is one which may seem more likely than others. The Western world, basically the USA alone, is already bankrupt, with 25 trillion dollars of unpayable debt. Moreover, the Western world is now only one eighth of the world population. Furthermore, China is today’s world leader, for the American century (1915-2015) is now over, just as the British century (1815-1915) before it and the French century (1715-1815) before that. Therefore, not only will the new Cold War fail politically, but it will also be unfinancable. Thus, the enemies of the Russian Orthodox world will also fail. However, this is on one condition: that the Russian Orthodox world proves that it can take responsibility for all Orthodox in an honest and non-nationalistic way, that it is not only the Patriarchate of Moscow, but also of New Jerusalem.

The mission is not to take over, it is nothing to do with ‘Soviet tank’ invasion, colonial bullying, oppressive exploitation or theft of money. The Church must never be a business. In the past many came to dislike and distrust ‘Russians’, confusing them with Soviets. Our mission is not to export kalashnikovs and missiles to the rest of the world, but to export Christ and His Church to the rest of the world, to bring as many as possible to Christ before the end, which now looms over us. The Cold War is over, despite the wishes of the aggressive warmongers to revive it. It is time to co-operate with Sovereign Orthodox Russia, seeing off the last vestiges of both Sovietism and Americanism – both arrogant, bullying and money-grubbing imperialisms are for us dead. We do not belong to either of them: we belong to Christ, as does His Holy Church.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

The Future of the Russian Orthodox Church in Western Europe

 

There are, as of 2020, three different episcopal-led groups of Russian Orthodox in Western Europe. Which are they?

  1. Russian: The Western European Exarchate of the Moscow Patriarchate, its Diocese in Germany and parishes in Scandinavia:

This is the largest of the three groups with seven bishops and the most people and also the most means, representing some 65% or two-thirds of the whole. However, it is not Local, but looks to Moscow and is often connected with Russian Embassies. These external links are partly because this group is largely composed of recent immigrants, often still with Russian passports, and mainly has recent or recently-acquired church buildings. Its roots are therefore not local and it has problems adapting to local cultures and mentalities and also a huge shortage of local clergy.

  1. Local: The Paris Metropolia, centred in Rue Daru in Paris

This is by far the smallest of the three groups, with approximately eight properties in Western Europe, mainly chapels, thus being only 10% of the whole. Representing 58% of the old Constantinople Archdiocese of the Russian Tradition, it has only one elderly bishop and outside Paris has only a very weak infrastructure. In many respects it has lost its roots in the Russian Tradition, having abandoned even the calendar of the Russian Church, but it does understand local cultures and mentalities.

  1. Russian and Local: The Western European and German Dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia

This is neither large, nor small and it does have four active bishops. On the one hand, it is very weak in the Nordic countries, Ireland and also in Italy, Spain and Portugal, but it does have stronger centres, in Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg and England. Although it only represents about 25% of the total, most of the historic churches in Western Europe belong to it. It is on the one hand Russian, but also Local, its bishops being the only ones with having local titles: London, Vevey, Berlin and Stuttgart. It is notable that many more recent immigrants from the ex-Soviet Union move to it after a few years and begin feeling that they have a dual identity, Russian and Local.

What will the future bring? This is in the judgement of God.