Category Archives: Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia

Hopes for the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) Diocese in the British Isles and Ireland

55 years ago, in 1962, St John of Shanghai left London and our local ROCOR diocese with these prophetic words: ‘I entrust you to the care of St Alban, your Protomartyr’. This was indeed the case, for St John was succeeded by two elderly and ill bishops who spoke little English, and then for thirty years the Diocese had no resident bishop. With just occasional visits to the small London parish, the result was that the Diocese nearly died out. Everything changed in March 2016, when the parishes of the Diocese, in profound crisis, one by one asked for direct pastoral care from His Grace Metropolitan Hilarion (Kapral) and a young and dynamic assistant bishop in the USA, who at once saw the enormous frustrated potential and were in favour of venerating St Alban and all the local saints. This was effectively a ROCOR Brexit. (Moreover, with pressure from ROCOR in England, in March 2017 St Alban was at long last officially included in the Russian Orthodox calendar by the Synod in Moscow).

With a stream of new clergy and two more priests to come shortly, with, for the first time in its history, representatives in Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Cornwall, the Anglo-Celtic Orthodox Diocese of the Isles is at last moving forward. This is to be affirmed on 13 May with the first Diocesan pilgrimage to St Alban in St Albans, just as St John wanted 55 years ago. With support from new bishops, the once exhausted clergy and people of the Diocese are now looking to the future. In the Eastern half of England, with four priests (none of them Russian), two of them looking after the new parishes in Norwich and Bury St Edmunds and two in Colchester, and perhaps another priest and deacon to come, we can now at last look to catering for the vast and still unmet pastoral challenges in the region. Massive immigration from Orthodox Eastern Europe over the last twelve years has created a huge pastoral crisis, which official Orthodox representatives have failed to deal with.

True, the untrained, former Anglican clerics of the Antiochian jurisdiction, which has no ethnic constituency or liturgical or other tradition, has picked up mainly modernistic and unChurched immigrants who do not confess, but has not for the most part been able to Church them. The Balkan jurisdictions have shown little interest in pastoral care for their own economic refugees. The Russian jurisdictions also. One, until recently obsessed with the centralizing, inward-looking cult of a dead man and false ethnic problems, which together created a very harmful schism, is almost infrastructure-less as a result of a total lack of vision. The other, also once London-centred, long paralysed by a dead and inward-looking nationalistic cult of the past and unwilling to implement the missionary activity that would have taken place if it had not become nationalistic, has also lacked any sense of reality and hope for the future. A lack of vision always means a lack of mission. ‘Let the dead bury the dead’.

Cut free of the deadwood of the past, all is now possible, at least for ROCOR. What are our next targets after the new parishes of St John of Shanghai in Colchester (Essex), St Alexander Nevsky in Norwich (Norfolk) and St Edmund in Bury St Edmunds (Suffolk)? It is to set up five more viable communities, faithful to the uncompromised Orthodox Tradition of the Russian Church, but fully open to the native languages and peoples in the eastern half of England in:

1. Cambridgeshire – Ely / March/ Wisbech, dedicated to St Audrey.
2. Kent – Canterbury, dedicated to Christ the Saviour.
3. Yorkshire – York, dedicated to Sts Constantine and Helen.
4. South London – Croydon, dedicated to St John of Kronstadt.
5. North London – St Albans, dedicated to St Alban.

Outside the East, we also see possibilities.

6. Scotland, where there is a great need to incorporate the rich and pure Gaelic Orthodox Tradition of Mary, Columba and Brigid into the Church.

7. Cornwall, the peninsula of ancient Celtic saints, born out of the Egyptian monastic tradition of Orthodoxy, dedicated to St Antony the Great.

These seven targets are very modest: ultimately, beyond them there are many, many other places that need looking after, from Sussex to the Midlands and the North-East. Our ultimate aim is to own one permanent church and one trained priest, that is, to have liturgical centres, in each county of each of the four countries in the Isles, with at least four in London. At least continuing with these seven targets after the first three would start to reverse the disastrous decades of backward-looking and inward-looking indifference, abandonment and neglect. At least this would be a beginning. The long backlog of candidates for the clergy, who have been patiently waiting for years, are now being ordained. But there is far, very far, to go, after the four wasted decades in the battle for survival against all the odds. It has been the wait and weight of a lifetime.

A Diocese is Reborn

Within a few weeks, the Russian Orthodox Church has gained a new diocese. This is the Diocese of the British Isles and Ireland, which is part of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR).

For long become a tiny group of abandoned disparate parishes and orphaned, it has been reborn under His Grace Metropolitan Hilarion, whose secret is simply that he loves his flock. With many ordinations and tonsurings, we can now envisage a time when our diocese will grow enormously, with priests and parishes in Ireland north and south, in Wales, Cornwall, Scotland and in an ever increasing number of major cities and towns in England. Out with the old and in with the new.

In this way our ROCOR Diocese can further develop our identity, not just as faithful heirs to the authentic and uncompromised Russian Orthodox Tradition from pre-Revolutionary times, with our love for all the New Martyrs and Confessors, including the Imperial Martyrs, but also as faithful heirs to our local Anglo-Celtic saints and our local languages. We stand as a foundation of a future Local Church in Western Europe, for we are local, self-governing, independent, but also faithfully incarnated in the Russian Orthodox Tradition.
Thank you, Vladyko!

Why Some Rejoiced at the Restoration of Unity of the Russian Orthodox Church and Others Chose Division

The Romanov throne was destroyed not by young bomb-throwers or forerunners of the soviets, but by the bearers of aristocratic surnames and court titles, bankers, publishers, lawyers, professors and other public figures, who lived off the empire’s bounty…A description of the anti-government activities of the Russian aristocracy and intelligentsia could fill an entire volume – one that should be dedicated to the liberal émigrés who mourn ‘the good old days’ in the streets of various European cities.

From Chapter 16 of ‘The Eve’, by Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich, brother-in-law of Nicholas II

Ten years ago, in May 2007, the vast majority of the members of the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) and of the Church inside Russia were reunited at the Liturgy of the Feast of the Ascension in Moscow. After some eighty years of parallel and unwanted separation, enforced purely by external atheist political interference, unity was restored. Those who rejected this long-fought for unity were to be found on the politicized and sectarian spiritual fringes of the Church Outside Russia and among pseudo-representatives (in fact infiltrators) abroad of the Church inside Russia, as well as among émigré groups claiming to be of ‘the Russian Tradition’, but for long altogether outside the Russian Church and never wanting to return to Her. Those who rejected the restoration of unity left both parts of the Russian Church and went elsewhere. Why?

The ever-memorable Metropolitan Laurus explained the reason for this very well, albeit indirectly. He said that all depends on our understanding and devotion to the ideals of Holy Rus. These ideals mean standing up for three things: for the Faith (the purity of Holy Orthodoxy); the Tsar (the Christian Emperor Who incarnates Christian values in life); Rus (the ideal of the Christian Empire supporting the Church and supported by it in symphony). Wherever there was no understanding of and devotion to these ideals, there was no interest in the restoration of the unity of the Russian Church, but only negative, hair-splitting criticism and self-justification for schism. Those who rejected these ideals and thus restoration of Church unity were very diverse and belonged to three opposing groups of both left and right:

Firstly, there were the liberals, whose forbears had actively sought the 1917 Revolution and who had wanted to confuse the purity of the Faith with Western humanist ideology, creating a dreamy, disincarnate, spiritualistic, intellectualist, Gnostic ideology, such as the heretical Sophianism of Bulgakov, denounced by two saints, St John of Shanghai and St Seraphim of Sofia. These were heretics and schismatics, centred in the Paris School of émigrés from Saint Petersburg, and supported by the Russophobic, US-run Patriarchate of Constantinople.

Secondly, there were the anti-monarchists of various political denominations, both the semi-Communist left and the semi-Fascist right. They objected to any Church influence on the State and to any presence of the Church in social, economic and political life in general. They wanted a Non-Christian, secularist State, where they could live egoistic, disordered or even depraved lives for themselves, proudly independent of any Christian influence, values and conscience. The concept of a Christian Emperor (Tsar) was and is anathema to them.

Thirdly, there were the sectarians, both of the left or the right, who wanted a Faith for themselves or their political or nationalist groups, and not for the masses. Anti-incarnationalist by nature, they wanted not a Universal Christian Empire, but a private Church and ideology for the elect – themselves. They wanted to be a sect of purists, ‘walled off’ from others. For example, the typically Parisian late Fr Alexander Schmemann denied that ‘Holy Rus’ had even existed!

It has always been our mission, together with many, many others, more eloquent and better equipped than ourselves, to counter the propaganda against ‘The Faith, the Tsar and Rus’, understood as Orthodoxy Incarnate through the Christian Emperor in a Universal Empire. Many still believe the dubious memoirs of treacherous White Russian emigres after the Revolution, born of the parlour room gossip of anti-Orthodox aristocrats in St Petersburg, and to Bolshevik and the equally Russophobic propaganda of paid Western academics as regards ‘The Faith, the Tsar and Rus’. We reject all of that as untrue, because it is untrue, as we preach the Crucified and Risen Christ, Incarnate on Earth in the Church and in the Universal Orthodox Christian Empire, the restoration of which we believe in and eagerly await.

Spirit River Flows

He who was a Ukrainian farm boy from Spirit River in Alberta, Canada, has visited the few remaining parishes of what was once the largest Orthodox diocese in the British Isles and Ireland. However, that was a long time ago – the last Orthodox Bishop of London reposed in 1932.

Within days of his visit, people had been listened to, hopes for restoration had been rekindled, several readers tonsured, several subdeacons ordained, a new priest at last made and other long-awaited ordinations agreed on for a few weeks’ time, doubling the number of active clergy. For the first time, after decades of difficulties, all noticed that the few remaining parishes had now at last begun to become a real diocese, which could at last rapidly develop into many dozens of parishes and monasteries, and so fulfil its enormous potential, meeting the pastoral needs of a huge but until now neglected and so paralyzed flock.

Thank you, dear Vladyka Metropolitan Hilarion of New York, Eastern America, Sydney, Australia, New Zealand, Chiswick, the British Isles and Ireland, deliverer of peace and hope of the English-Speaking Orthodox World! The River of the Spirit does indeed flow through you.

Repose of Monk Joseph (Lambertson)

It is with great sadness that we report the repose of Isaac Lambertson, tonsured only a few weeks ago by His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion as Monk Joseph. Monk Joseph was the liturgical translator into English of a host of Orthodox service books, not least the twelve Menaia, as well as the composer of some 75 services to Western and Eastern saints, who had had no service previously. The whole Orthodox world in the Diaspora owes a huge debt of gratitude to him, and not just the English-speaking world, for his books are used to translate into other languages from French and Spanish to Swedish and Portuguese, as well as a host of Non-European languages.

To Monk Joseph – Eternal Memory!

Some Constructive Suggestions Towards Overcoming the Chronic Pastoral Crisis in Both Dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church in the British Isles and Ireland

Introduction: The Russian Orthodox Presence in the British Isles and Ireland

There has been a Russian Orthodox presence in England for 300 years. And yet, incredibly, both dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church in our countries (that of the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) and that of the Church based inside Russia (the Diocese of Sourozh)) have faced battles to get even the name of their diocese right! Although it is thirty years since the late Fr Mark (Meyrick) of the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) painted his Icon of All the Saints Who Have Shone Forth in the British Isles and Ireland with the correct title, we recently had a battle at the Theological Commission of the Inter-Orthodox Committee of Bishops even to establish this title, since most of the foreign bishops had no concept that there was a difference between Great Britain, the United Kingdom and the British Isles and whether any of these names included Ireland!

The Present Crisis

Both Russian Orthodox dioceses here have been in crisis in recent decades, facing three problems.

The first problem faced by the small Diocese of Sourozh, directly under Moscow, has been a mixture of modernism, liturgical renovationism and a personality cult characteristic of small organizations, all problems inherited from the Paris School of modernist Orthodoxy. This battle for the integrity of the Faith against what was in reality Protestantization resulted in the 2006 Sourozh schism, when the Diocese lost over half its mainly convert clergy and 300 people, also mainly converts. Though this is all in the past, there is still a hangover from that period. The second problem faced by that Diocese is its chronic lack of properties because of its defective ecclesiology in the past. This entailed dependence on Church of England for borrowing properties and so a lack of independence and freedom to preach the Gospel in the Orthodox way. All that the Diocese possesses is a smallish Cathedral in west London and tiny chapels in Oxford, Manchester and Nottingham. The third problem is its chronic lack of (overworked) clergy, whose average age is about 65 and few of whom speak the language of the masses of the Russian-speaking people, whose average age is about 35 (excluding children)!

The first problem faced by the even smaller ROCOR Diocese of the British Isles and Ireland, has been a narrow nationalism mixed on the fringes with old-fashioned Anglo-Catholicism, which in the past created a dead end of insularity. This battle for the integrity of the Faith against such Sectarianism, mixed with personality conflicts characteristic of small organizations, resulted in the 2007 ROCOR schism, when the Diocese lost its only monastery and convent. Though this is all exactly ten years in the past, there is still a hangover from that period. The second problem faced by the Diocese is its chronic lack of properties because of its over-strict narrowness and rejection of any form of mission (there was even a missionary tax!) in the past. This entailed total exhaustion and demoralization of the clergy and so a lack of any encouragement to preach the Gospel in the Orthodox way. With one exception, the Diocese largely only exists in London (and missions dependent on London) and in East Anglia. All that the Diocese possesses is a very small Cathedral in a sidestreet in west London, the largest Russian Orthodox church in the British Isles and Ireland in Colchester (not London) and tiny chapels in a house in Essex, in a private garden in a Suffolk village, in Norwich in Norfolk and near a village in central Ireland, far from where Orthodox live. The third problem is its chronic lack of overworked clergy, whose average age is about 65 and few of whom speak the language of the masses of the Russian-speaking people, whose average age is about 35 (excluding children)!

A Future Solution?

As can be seen, the common crisis is today purely pastoral in nature. Given that two of the three problems of both dioceses, lack of church buildings and lack of clergy, who are elderly, overworked and exhausted, are identical, there should be some common solution. One shrewd commentator has said that the Diocese that will dominate will be the one that sets up proper, large churches in London to provide proper pastoral care for the tens of thousands of faithful there. Notably, churches are required in the south of London, around, Croydon, in the east, around Stratford and in the north, around St Albans. The scandal is that there is only one permanent Russian-speaking priest to cover the country to the east and south of London – one third of the whole country!

However, we should also take into account the wider Russian Orthodox world in continental Western Europe and beyond. The Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) dominates the Russian Orthodox presence in the English-speaking world, in North America and Australasia. However, the Russian Orthodox Church based inside Russia, dominates elsewhere, notably in South America and above all in Western Europe. Here, where 25 years ago ROCOR was dominant and representatives of the Church inside Russia hardly existed, today ROCOR hardly exists. Just the Diocese of the Church inside Russia in Italy is larger than all of ROCOR in Western Europe. This has only eight parishes outside its parishes in western Germany and the few in Switzerland. Surely it is the Russian Orthodox presence in continental Western Europe will one day come under representatives of the Church inside Russia, with its new Cathedral and seminary in Paris and active young bishops, large flocks and newly-built churches in Rome, Madrid and many other places?

On the other hand, perhaps at this point we should consider what can be called ‘the Brexit Factor’. With the United Kingdom, at least, leaving the European Union, it is inevitably returning to closer relations with the rest of the English-speaking world, former colonies, especially in North America and Australasia. Surely, ecclesiastically, this means the Russian Orthodox presence in the British Isles and Ireland one day coming under ROCOR? Rather than the canonically absurd arrangement of two dioceses of the same Local Church on the same territory, there should surely be some rearrangement, at least in the British Isles and Ireland. It may seem premature to talk of this to some, but, after all, the two parts of the Russian Church have been united for ten years now, since 2007. The only delay on such matters can be because of pastoral considerations, in the interests of economy, that the people may not be upset.

Conclusion: Divine not Human

Of course, none of this can take place without the right leader, that is, without the right bishop, one acceptable to both sides, and this must be a bishop who speaks English and understands English people. A pastor. It is no wish of ours to hurt anyone’s feelings with the above considerations. The above is all written in the spirit of throwing a stone into a pond and seeing what ripples there may be. In other words, surely it is time at least to begin discussing such possibilities as we have outlined above in the spirit of pastoral love and unity. Let us remember: All crises are man-made and all solutions are God-made. Let us all strive to discern and do God’s Will.

2017: On the Spiritual Significance of the Church Outside Russia

On the eve of 2017, the centenary year of the catastrophic Russian Revolution and a decade since the triumphant reunion between the Patriarchal Church inside Russia and the emigre Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) in 2007, we may wonder what will become of the heritage of the Russian emigration of 1917? After all, the generation of adults that emigrated into exile in and soon after 1917 has long since died out and we are now onto the generation of their great-great-grandchildren. In Church terms, this emigration, almost wholly rejecting the compromised authority of the then enslaved Church inside Russia, consists not just of ROCOR, but also of the small Paris splinter group. What will survive spiritually from the two parts of the Russian emigration?

The tiny Paris Archdiocese part of the emigration, perhaps 10% of the whole, survives. However, as a splinter group of dissident and disincarnate philosophers, intellectuals and aristocrats that went into schism from the Russian Church for political reasons 85 years ago, it has long been without Russian bishops because of its inherent anti-monasticism. It is tending to become a sub-group of untrained convert clergy wishing to become a tiny ‘French Orthodox Church’, though some in it imagine becoming a ‘Western European Orthodox Church’. But that is megalomania. The group often reflects Schmemannite modernism, ecumenism and liberal French Catholicism (i.e. Protestantism), having steadily abandoned the Russian Orthodox Tradition.

True, there are still a few faithful, Orthodox calendar parishes run by priests mainly imported from Russia and the Ukraine and some selected Russian customs remain, though with little understanding of their meaning. The tendency is to try and proselytize middle-class liberal intellectuals, sometimes with contempt for ordinary people, an ethos that also used to infect parts of the OCA in North America and renovationist groups in the Soviet-period Patriarchate of Moscow. The Archdiocese generally tends to cut corners, failing to observe the canons and attract cradle Orthodox, whom as a non-inclusive group it rejects. Certainly it attracts none who is anchored in the Tradition.

However, the overwhelming majority of the emigration, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), exists outside France and French philosophical intellectualism, mainly in North America, Australasia and Western Europe. As such it has from the start been responsible for much missionary and translation work in many languages. Without the protection of any State it has in its near-100 year history also been subject to many slanders, mockery and persecution for its faithfulness to the Tradition. It has often been the voice crying in the wilderness of Secularist materialism, whether Communist or Capitalist, witnessing and prophetically calling like the Forerunner and Baptist John to repentance before the apocalyptic events of the last century.

However, it is also true that in the past parts of ROCOR were also compromised and infected by Russian nationalism, excessive strictness to the point of negative phariseeism and depressing right-wing politics – some fringe elements were even so blind as to support Hitler. However, the best of ROCOR has been revealed as a Church of Confessors and Missionaries, as in its three saints: St Jonah of Hankou, St Seraphim of Sofia and St John of Shanghai. Moreover, further saints are yet to be revealed. Whatever the future shape of the present administrative structures of ROCOR, these saints have given ROCOR eternal significance, as only the saints can do, as everything else gathers the dust of history, being only passing fashion and political intrigue.

Ten years ago, in 2007, seeing the Church inside Russia at last free, ROCOR rejoined Her and in the last ten years the two parts of the Church have worked closely together. Some therefore ask why does ROCOR still exist? The answer is simple: we have a mission to witness to the Orthodox Truth specifically outside Russia. When in the past the Church inside Holy Rus was enslaved and fell silent, with the representatives of the Soviet-period Patriarchate abroad mostly abandoning ideals, sometimes disgracefully compromising themselves in renovationism, ecumenism and other ills, ROCOR spoke out. So also today ROCOR continues to proclaim outside Russia what the best of the rest of the Church proclaims inside Russia – the ideals of Holy Rus. What are these?

These ideals are Trinitarian, reflecting on earth the heavenly reality of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. These Christian ideals can be expressed as: Faith, Throne and People, that is, the Orthodox Faith, the Christian Emperor, the Faithful. All three go together. If any one element is compromised, then all three are compromised. Thus, if we reject the Orthodox Faith, we do not build the Christian Empire among the People, as has happened in the Western world. If we reject the Incarnation of the Christian Empire, we fail to reflect the Faith in the Father and fail to preach the values of the Holy Spirit among the People, as has happened in disincarnate Parisian philosophy. And if the People lose the Orthodox Faith, there will be no Empire, as happened in 1917.

Just as we cannot have the Father without the Son and the Holy Spirit, so we confess all three of these ideals of Holy Rus together. This means that we are called on to proclaim the uncorrupted Orthodox Faith of the Church (the Father), the restoration of the Incarnate Christian Empire and Emperor (the Son) and that we call all the peoples of the world to join us (the Holy Spirit), as St Seraphim of Sarov prophesied nearly 200 years ago. These are the Trinitarian Orthodox Civilizational values of the Returning Christian Empire which is coming soon. Thus, we clergy and people of ROCOR are the free and conscious servants of the Faith and People of the Tsar-Martyr, called on to reverse the treason of 1917 and its disastrous worldwide consequences.

Which Jurisdiction of the Orthodox Church Should I Join?

Although fourteen Local Orthodox Churches make up the whole Orthodox Church of 216 million, only seven of them are represented by their jurisdictions outside the Local Orthodox Church homelands in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. However, since the Churches of Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria and Georgia generally care only for their own nationals, only three of these jurisdictions are open to Non-Orthodox. These three depend on the Patriarchates of Constantinople, Antioch and Moscow.

However, in Western Europe and North America there at present exist two groups in the Russian Church – that directly under Moscow and that under the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) and so indirectly under Moscow. In North America, there is actually a third group, known as the OCA (Orthodox Church in America), originally largely Carpatho-Russian but now basically English-language, which was founded by Moscow. Anyone wishing to join the Orthodox Church may therefore have a choice to make.

Generally speaking, in Western countries, where Orthodox Christians are only a small minority and Orthodox churches are few and far between, this choice will be decided geographically. If you only have one Orthodox church geographically near you, then that is the church to join. However, if you live in or near the capital of a Western country or in or near a large city or town, there may well be a choice to make between the various jurisdictions. What needs to be known in order to choose?

1. The Patriarchate of Constantinople

This jurisdiction is dominated by Greek nationalism (the Greek flag) and generally sends away any Non-Greeks who knock at its door. It should also be known that this Patriarchate is both heavily involved with the Vatican and is run by the US political elite. For it, Washington is the ‘Second Rome’ and therefore the official ethos is modernistic, ecumenistic and generally liberal Protestant, according to the anti-Russian, Anglo-Saxon Establishment model. This is true even of Non-Greek parts of it, even though they try and imitate a few selected Russian customs. Having said this, there are exceptions, with some excellent pastors and pious people, so that any generalizations can be disproved by exceptions to the rule. If you are fortunate, you may live near a church of this jurisdiction that is not nationalistic and so is interested in missions to the Non-Greek world and has spiritual depth and content.

2. The Patriarchate of Antioch

Part of this jurisdiction is dominated by Arab nationalism, but the other part, mainly in Western countries, is dominated by a spirit of mission with a conservative-evangelical Protestant style, with a certain, rather peculiar and amateurish imitation of a few selected Russian customs. The ethos of this part, largely run by ex-Evangelicals, is to proselytize, that is, its ethos is to recruit as many like-minded converts as possible to itself. Some criticize it for this because as a result it cuts corners, fails to observe the canons and has a Protestant feel to it that attracts few cradle Orthodox (and it is not even very interested in this), certainly none who are anchored in the Tradition. Having said this, no-one would criticize this part of Antioch for its lack of zeal, only for its lack of depth and of knowledge of the Tradition. If you are fortunate, you may live near a church of this jurisdiction that has spiritual depth and content.

3. The Patriarchate of Moscow

A criticism of this jurisdiction is that its Patriarch and hierarchy are corrupt. Those who make such assertions never have any proof of them and are engaged in Western-sponsored, anti-Russian politics. However, even if, for the sake of argument, we agree that they were true, we would answer: So what? The Patriarch is not the Head of the Church, for Christ is the Head of the Church and the Patriarch does not run the Church, for the Holy Spirit runs the Church. Such political criticisms show a Papist way of thinking. The parishes of the Patriarchate of Moscow outside the former Soviet Union, mainly in Western Europe and South America, display several tendencies. Some are nationalistic and, Soviet-style, arrogantly imperialistic, some are modernistic, others follow the Tradition and accept Non-Russians. If you are fortunate, you may live near a church of this jurisdiction that has spiritual depth and content.

4. ROCOR

The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) exists mainly in North America, Australasia and Western Europe. As such it has been responsible for much missionary and translation work. It has in its near-100 year history also been subject to many sufferings and persecution, as it has been without the political protection of a powerful State. Thus, the best of ROCOR has been a Church of Confessors and Missionaries, as in its saints like St John of Shanghai. However, other parts of it have been involved in nationalism, excessive strictness to the point of phariseeism and depressing right-wing politics. Today, as part of the Russian Orthodox Church, it has sometimes given the impression of drifting and having lost its identity. This drift has come about whenever its faithfulness to the Tradition has been in doubt. If you are fortunate, you may live near a church of this jurisdiction that has spiritual depth and content.

Why the Crisis in the ROCOR Diocese of the British Isles and Ireland Should Matter to ROCOR

It is a sad fact that most members of ROCOR outside the British Isles and Ireland who read this will be bewildered at the mention of the word ‘crisis’. What crisis? Yet, those who follow Church life should know. After all, fifty years ago ROCOR was a global Church and even a few years ago it still had that potential. Today, for various reasons, this is no longer the case. ROCOR lost its outposts in Africa, then in 2007 to all intents and purposes it lost South America and in the last few years most of Western Europe, in particular Italy, Spain, Portugal, Scandinavia, the Netherlands and most of France and Austria. Moscow now dominates Western Europe, its Italian Diocese alone being bigger than all the remaining fragments of ROCOR in Western Europe, which are mainly in parts of western Germany and Switzerland, with a few isolated survivors in the British Isles and Ireland and elsewhere.

ROCOR is now de facto reduced to the English-speaking world (above all the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) and countries politically dependent on the USA, for example, Israel, the Philippines, South Korea, Indonesia, Pakistan, Haiti, Costa Rica. The presence of Moscow in any of those countries seems absurd. Surely, it should simply hand over its parishes there to ROCOR. However, some would say that ROCOR’s presence in Western Europe is equally absurd – it should in turn hand over its presence here. However, an exception could be made for the UK and Ireland. After all, these countries are nowadays also largely dependent on the US. Moreover, just recently, the UK has taken a step away from Western Europe and closer to the USA with Brexit, and the US has taken a step closer to the UK with the election of Donald Trump, the only US politician who welcomed the popular decision in favour of Brexit.

It could also be argued that ROCOR should take care of the survivors in its Diocese in the British Isles and Ireland because these countries are the source of the English-speaking world. And yet, the ROCOR Diocese here has been much neglected, without a resident bishop of English culture for 30 (!) years, with an overworked bishop who was far too busy to give pastoral oversight to it. As a result, it has greatly contracted, with loss after loss. Today, the vultures are gathering, believing that ROCOR here, even with all its property, is only a corpse. The tiny Paris Exarchate, with very few Russian-speaking priests and even less property, is trying to poach. Then there is the vastly under-priested Sourozh Diocese of the Moscow Patriarchate. One or two individuals are interested in obtaining property, which it so sorely lacks through past errors, and one person in ROCOR has offered the Diocese to it.

For 30 years few in ROCOR outside the British Isles and Ireland have been interested in any of this or were aware of any of this. Some did not even know that our Diocese existed, most who knew that we existed did not even know the correct geographical name of our Diocese, even fewer know of the crisis that has been brewing for decades. Equally, internally, we have been deliberately kept in the dark about the most basic events in the wider ROCOR. This neglect has produced a crisis, a word which in Greek means ‘judgement’. Now is the time for judgement. Little time remains: the faithful are pleading with the Church authorities to save us. Who is the father who gives stones to his children who plead for bread? Treason is in the air. Offers are being made. If ROCOR is to keep our Diocese and not retreat even further into North America, it has to take urgent action. May God’s Will be done.