Category Archives: Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia

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.

The Errors of the Sectarians

Those who in 2006 were opposed to the unity of the two parts of the Russian Orthodox Church outside the Russian Lands and inside them, always put forward the same argument: the Church inside the Russian Lands (which they called the Moscow Patriarchate) is corrupt. Thus, on Red Square the mummy of the forerunner of Antichrist, Lenin, is still displayed, and those in control of State and Church, from President Putin to the Patriarch, were all brought up during the Soviet, atheist period and are therefore corrupt. (They who themselves opposed unity are of course not corrupt, but morally superior: the spiritual law is that pride is at the source of all schisms, throughout history).

This argument, conditioned by politics and not faith, has never taken into account the fact that State and Church in Russia are separate (unlike the Church of England, where all the bishops are appointed by the Prime Minister and the bishops follow whatever secular fashion prevails) and in Russia what the State does generally does not necessarily take into account the Church’s view. Neither does this argument take into account the fact that, as regards those brought up during the Soviet, atheist period, there was always the possibility of rejecting atheism at that time (the case of the Patriarch) and, if not, there is the possibility of rejecting that atheism by repentance later (the case of the President). However, the politically-minded never accept the reality of repentance, preferring to remain in the past, for that alone justifies them.

Worse still, the above argument does not take into account the longer-term view that is informed and shaped by Divine Providence. Limited by its short-termism, this argument quite fails to see what is beyond, that what we are about is not the present Russian President or Patriarch, but the restoration of the Christian Emperor and Empire, whose centre is in Moscow. The present bearers of the posts of President and Patriarch are only figures on the way to this restoration. We should not confuse the path, which leads us through ikonomia, but not compromises on issues of principle, with our destination, with where we are heading. And herein is the problem of those who broke away from both sides in 2006, falling away to left and right: they are so obsessed with their path that they have lost from sight the destination, for they are heading nowhere.

Christ the Invincible Power

Answers to Questions from Recent Conversations and Correspondence

Q: When did you first become conscious of the Russian Orthodox Church?

A: My introduction to the Orthodox Church was through the local saints of England in my native north Essex, notably St Edmund, but also St Albright (Ethelbert), St Cedd, St Botolph and St Osyth. However, as regards the Russian Orthodox Church as such, my first encounter was almost fifty years ago, just after my 12th birthday, in August 1968. As a result of that revelation, I began teaching myself Russian in October of that year in Colchester because I already knew that the Russian Orthodox Church is my spiritual home. However, I had to wait nearly another seven years until I could take part in Russian Orthodox life, as in those days (it is not much better now) there were so few Russian churches anywhere. I only managed to visit any Russian churches in 1973.

Q: Which part of the Russian Church did you join?

A: Having been told by two of its members that the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) would not allow me to join it because I was English (I had no idea at that time that my great-grandmother was Russian, I only discovered that distant link much later), I had no alternative but to join the Moscow Patriarchate. They may have been many things in those distant days, but at least they were not racists.

Q: What was your path to the priesthood after that?

A: A very hard one. First of all, since I could not live and work in Russia on account of the Cold War at that time, for my first job I went to live and work in Greece. I thought that was the next best alternative. After a year there and visiting the then Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, I understood that the Balkan Churches were no solution to the need for a Local Orthodox Church in the West. They were all inward-looking, culturally very narrow and hopelessly nationalistic. Later, contacts with Romanians and Georgians told me the same about them and in the Romanian case there is the huge problem of simony. So, with Russia closed off, in 1979 with the blessing of Metr Antony (Bloom) I went to study at the St Sergius Theological Institute in Paris, which I had in my ignorance imagined to be a Russian Orthodox seminary.

Q: What was it in fact?

A: It was the remains of a Russian Orthodox seminary mingled with an institute of philosophy and, frankly, of heresy. It openly preached modernism or Renovationism, which is Protestant-based, and is therefore not even remotely interesting to someone coming from a country like England with a Protestant culture, so alien to me. One English priest, rather harshly, called St Serge a Methodist Sunday School. Very harsh, but there was some truth in it.

Q: Why did you not think of going to Jordanville in the USA?

A: For the same reason as before. I was repeatedly told by members of ROCOR that they only took Russians. Remember in those days there was no internet, no advice, you had to make your own way, you went by what local representatives told you, even if it was incorrect.

Q: What happened next?

A: In 1982 I was offered the priesthood by the Moscow Patriarchate on terms which I can only describe as scandalous. I walked out, never to return, and enquired again at the Church Outside Russia. I got the same answer as in 1974, though I noted that this time there were actually a few ex-Anglicans in a separate branch of ROCOR in England. However, these rather eccentric conservative Anglicans seemed to have no interest in the Russian Orthodox Church, but only in being anti-Anglican and they had a huge interest in fanatical Greek Orthodox sects. Never having been Anglican and having lived in Greece, I had no interest in either. This was all the more frustrating since ROCOR had just canonized the New Martyrs and Confessors and naturally I had their icons and venerated them. Nevertheless, in 1983, I decided to emigrate to France and join my wife’s jurisdiction, the Paris Jurisdiction.

Q: Wasn’t that foolhardy? I mean you already knew about the problem of modernism there?

A: What you have to understand is that in Paris in 1981 they had elected a new Archbishop. Under the very elderly and saintly old one, renovationists had come to the fore, taking advantage of his old age, but the new Archbishop promised us personally that he would sweep them away and return his jurisdiction to Orthodoxy and canonical Russian practice. So this was a time of great promise and even excitement. Patriarch Dimitrios of Constantinople even said at the time that the Paris Jurisdiction would be returned to the Russian Church as soon as it was free. So, with hope in a promising future, in January 1985 I was ordained deacon there.

Q: What happened next?

A: in May 1985 I was offered the priesthood providing that I would become a freemason. I refused, scandalized. Then we became witnesses to the complete takeover of the jurisdiction by renovationists. The new Archbishop ordained them one by one, completely breaking his promise – not because he was a liar, but because he was weak. It was the same problem as Metr Evlogy, the first Paris Jurisdiction ruling bishop; he had never wanted to leave the Russian Church, but he was a weak man surrounded by powerful laymen, mainly freemasons and those who had betrayed the Tsar and organized the February Revolution. It was the end of the possibility that that jurisdiction would ever return to the freed, restored and reunited Russian Church. But I only understood that the meaning of that bitter disappointment afterwards.

Q: Why did you not leave such a masonic group?

A: Not all by far were freemasons and I felt that I had to labour on until God’s will for me should be revealed.

Q: When was that?

A: Without doubt it was in summer 1988 when the Paris Jurisdiction celebrated the millennium of the Baptism of Rus. Instead of inviting the Russian bishops in Western Europe to the Cathedral on Rue Daru in Paris and returning to the Russian Church in unity, they railed against the Russian Church and invited the Roman Catholic Cardinal of Paris. I was not only scandalized but spiritually distraught. I was an eyewitness to treason and apostasy. It was the last straw. They preferred heresy to Orthodoxy.

Soon after, I met Archbishop Antony of Geneva of ROCOR, who told me that he would be happy to receive me and that I had no need whatsoever to labour on in such anti-canonical conditions. I jumped at the opportunity. 17 people left with me, including a priest. So we all joined the Church Outside Russia in January 1989. That was a transforming moment because previously I had only known the Church Outside Russia in England. On the other hand, Vladyka Antony, heir to Vladyka John of Shanghai, though traditional, was not racist or fanatical, but missionary-minded. He lived in a different world from the fanatics in England and we freely concelebrated with other Orthodox.

I remember him telling me about the extremists who were trying to take control of ROCOR in New York. He said: ‘But there’s nowhere else to go’. I have not the slightest doubt that he would have returned to Russia, if he had had the chance. I also remember conversations with him about Metr Antony of Kiev (Archbp Antony came from Kiev), whom he had known well in Belgrade and whose name he had taken. He was the real ROCOR. Real Russian Orthodox. At last. It had taken me 20 years to get to that point! 20 years of facing illusions, lies, broken promises and corruption. You would think it would have been easy, but nothing of the sort. All hell was against the Russian Orthodox Church, a sure sign of truth.

Q: What happened next?

A: Well, I was at last living as a proper Russian Orthodox. Nearly three years later, in December 1991 I was ordained priest for the new ROCOR parish in Lisbon in Portugal.

Q: What was your attitude to the Moscow Patriarchate?

A: We were all just impatiently waiting for it to become politically free and free of renovationism. That happened officially with the Jubilee Council in Moscow in 2000.

Q: So why didn’t the Church Outside Russia join up with the Patriarchate straightaway in 2000?

A: It is one thing to proclaim the truth at a Council, but another for the decisions of that Council to be implemented. For example, after that I can still remember how at the London Patriarchal Cathedral they refused to put up icons of the New Martyrs and also, incidentally, they refused to sell the books of Fr Seraphim (Rose) or anything traditional. Priests and people coming from Russia were persecuted by the renovationists because they were ‘too’ traditional. We had to wait for the Patriarchate to free itself from such Renovationism.

Also, it must be said, we had to wait until the fanatical elements that had done so much harm to ROCOR since they had started infiltrating the Church in the mid-sixties had left us. When the extremists did finally leave, almost at the same time, there was a huge sigh of relief, because then we could get on with being Orthodox. So it was we had to wait until 2007.

Q: How do you know that people are free of Renovationism?

A: Easy: The yardstick is veneration for the New Martyrs, especially the Imperial Martyrs. The renovationists hate them.

Q: How do you know that people are free of sectarian fanaticism of the sort you describe as having infiltrated ROCOR?

A: Easy: The yardstick is the willingness to concelebrate with other Orthodox Christians.

Q: What is going to happen in the future? At present there are countries like England where there are two parallel jurisdictions of the Russian Church, one dependent on Moscow, the other dependent on the Church Outside Russia?

A: According to the 2007 agreement, where there are two parallel jurisdictions, ROCOR should, in time, absorb the Patriarchal jurisdiction. This will probably take a generation, so that no-one will be under any pressure and everything will take place naturally, organically. However, in reality, already nine years have passed and we can see that in certain areas, like North America and Australasia, ROCOR will indeed clearly take over responsibility for those territories, whereas in other areas the Patriarchate will take over, as in South America, not to mention South-East Asia. The problem comes in the mixed area of Western Europe, including the British Isles and Ireland. In this area, only time will tell, clearly it is the more competent of the two that will take responsibility.

For the moment we shall lead parallel lives. There is in any case so much to do. I could start 12 parishes tomorrow, if I had the money to buy buildings and get candidates for the priesthood ordained. The state of Orthodox infrastructure and the general pastoral situation here are so appalling as to be scandalous; no wonder so many Orthodox lapse or become Roman Catholic or Protestant. All we pastors meet with is indifference. Those in authority should hang their heads in shame. Why is there not a church, our own property in every town over 100,000? This should have been done a generation ago. For example the teeming millions of London only have two small churches!

Colchester is the 50th largest town in England (and incidentally the 500th largest in Western Europe). It has a church that belongs to us. But want about the other 49 larger ones? Only five of them have their own churches: London, Manchester, Nottingham, Norwich, Birkenhead-Liverpool. That is a scandal. There is no missionary vision at all. Birmingham is the second largest city in the UK with a population of two million. And where do the faithful of the Patriarchate have ten liturgies a year on Saturdays (that’s all the priest can manage)? In the Ukrainian Uniat chapel. The next time you hear some naïve Orthodox boasting about his Church, tell him that. Orthodox should be ashamed of themselves.

Q: So is there competition between the two parts of the Russian Church locally?

A: No, not at all. It all depends on who has the priests and the buildings. A concrete example. I was asked to visit a prison in Cambridgeshire. Now, since there is no ROCOR presence in Cambridgeshire (because through incompetence it refused to set anything up there in the 1980s), I gave the prison authorities the references of the Patriarchal priest who lives in Cambridgeshire. On the other hand, when there was question of the Patriarchate setting something up in Norfolk (it had lost what it had had there a few years before, also through incompetence), but knowing that ROCOR had a presence there dating back to 1966, it was referred to me. So here is a territorial division. Now, where there is a double jurisdiction, as in London (the only case), something will have to be sorted out. But, as you can see, that will be as a result of competence. Only time can settle such matters. The more competent part, the more spiritual part of the Russian Church will prevail and form a united jurisdiction.

Q: So there is no rigid territorial division in Western Europe?

A: No, nobody wants to impose such a system. Let everything be done freely, let the people choose. Though, having said that, we can observe a tendency for ROCOR to dominate in the English-speaking world. Canada, the USA and Australasia are clear examples. For example, with Archbishop Mark of ROCOR retiring to Germany and the ROCOR Diocese of the British Isles and Ireland being taken over by Metr Hilarion of New York, we can even talk about a sort of ROCOR Brexit. Metr Hilarion will in fact be Metropolitan of New England and Old England. That is an exceptional event, historically speaking, and may be significant, a turning-point.

So it is possible that in a generation from now ROCOR will only exist in the English-speaking world, but will unite all Russian Orthodox there. ROCOR will become ROCA – the Russian Orthodox Church in the Anglosphere. That is one quite organic and natural possible scenario, a united Russian Orthodox Metropolia for the Anglosphere, the English-speaking world. The Patriarchate will look after everything else in various Metropolias, in Latin America, in Alaska, in Western Europe, in Asia etc.

Q: So Western Europe would completely go to the Patriarchate?

A: That is the way that things are developing at the moment. All the young bishops and all the dynamism in the Russian Church there is Patriarchal. ROCOR only has three ageing bishops and is not opening any new churches.

Q: Is there a difference between ROCOR churches and Patriarchal churches?

A: I think there is a small one, in general. Strangely enough, ROCOR is at one and the same time more Russian, but also more local, more integrated. We have done the translations, we print in English, we speak the local languages and know the local laws, we were born here. At the same time, however, we are utterly faithful to the best of the Tsar’s Russia, never having endured the Soviet period and Renovationism. ‘To quote the saintly Metr Laurus: ‘We are for the purity of Holy Orthodoxy’. We are Imperial priests and people.

Q: What about your own relations with the Russian Church inside Russia?

A: We are very close to all those who are Churched in Russia and they feel close to us. For example, in Moscow one of the closest friends of ROCOR has always been Bishop Tikhon (Shevkunov), whom some have even suggested will be the next Patriarch. (Bp Tikhon has been in the news recently, since he outraged the British Establishment by inviting students from Eton College to experience Christianity in Russia; not something the atheist Establishment likes). In general, those who especially venerate the New Martyrs and Confessors at once feel at home in ROCOR. I have this nearly every Sunday. People from different parts of Russia, from the Ukraine, from Moldova and elsewhere say that they feel at home, whatever the language, the atmosphere is like at home. In my native town of Colchester, that is a great thing that we have such an oasis of Orthodoxy.

Q: Who are the unChurched in Russia?

A: You find all sorts of people. There are those on the right hand side who mingle superstition with Orthodoxy, for instance, those ritualists who think that holy water is more important than holy communion, who mix in pharisaic sectarianism, puritanism and judgementalism, or, on the other hand, those on the left hand side, who mix in Soviet nationalism, love of the tyrant Stalin, or modernism. But all that is superficial, the majority make their way to the Church sooner or later. You do not waste time on the convert fringes of the Church – otherwise you might end up thinking that that is the Church! A terrible delusion!

Q: Why have you stayed faithful to the Russian Church despite all the difficulties that you have faced over nearly fifty years?

A: Because the Russian Orthodox Church is the Invincible Power. History since 1917 proves it. The gates of hell have not prevailed – and shall not prevail – despite all the enemies and traitors, both external and internal, we have faced. Judas betrayed, but the other apostles triumphed. So tragedy becomes joy. The stone that was rejected is become the headstone of the corner. Thou hast conquered, O Galilean!

On Debolshevization and Bolshevization: Questions and Answers from Recent Correspondence

Q: Why is the Church Outside Russia in communion with the Moscow Patriarchate? It is a Soviet organization and you are, or at least were, free.

A: A Soviet organization? But there were Patriarchs in Moscow long before the Soviet Union ever existed. I do not understand you. If it is a Soviet organization (even though the Soviet Union ceased to exist 25 years ago), why is the whole Orthodox Church in communion with the Church Inside Russia (or the Moscow Patriarchate as you prefer to call it), including the Church Outside Russia? Simply because it is the now politically-free Church Inside Russia with some 160 million faithful and over 350 bishops, three quarters of the whole Orthodox Church. It has over 800 monasteries and convents, holy elders and no doubt saints. Where are the elders in the tiny but dynamic Church Outside Russia today? The question really is why are you not in communion with the Church Inside Russia? If you are not, then you are outside the Church. So you must belong to some brainwashing, politicized sect, subsidized by the CIA, or else to some esoteric, self-justifying sect or cult which thinks it is above the Church. Only such a sect would call the Russian Church ‘Soviet’.

Q: Yes, but your Patriarch Kyrill actually has a KGB code-name.

A: Well, first of all, the KGB no longer exists, so he had, not has, a KGB code-name would be correct. Secondly, everyone of importance had a KGB code-name, for example, the then Metropolitan Kyrill, but also Mrs Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. Are you suggesting therefore that Mrs Thatcher and Ronald Reagan were KGB agents?! To have a code-name is totally different from working as a spy. You seem very confused between the two. Western spy agencies also give their victims code-names. That does not mean that their victims are spies and murder people, they are victims.

Q: O.K., but you cannot deny that Patriarch Kyrill and Vladimir Putin were once Soviet citizens.

A: And so were hundreds of thousands of saints, New Martyrs and Confessors. You venerate canonized Soviet citizens and you are complaining that they are Soviet citizens!

On a political level, Alexander Solzhenitsyn and a dozen or so Soviet-era defectors were also Soviet citizens. They then went to work for the CIA and MI6 and no doubt were given code-names by those organizations. Some of them, like the late, London-based Litvinenko, worked as an MI6 spy.

As for people who were once Soviet citizens, that was automatic because of the country they were born in. Is it a sin to be born in a country? I cannot understand your logic. The apostles were born in the pagan Roman Empire which persecuted them and the Apostle Paul was actually a Roman citizen. Was that their fault? Was that a sin? Was it their sin that one of the twelve disciples was Judas Iscariot?

Of course, it is true that anyone born and brought up during the Soviet era, and that finished 25 years ago, was marked by that period. Thus, I see a great difference between ex-Soviet citizens under about 50 and those over about 50 and of course both Patriarch Kyrill and Vladimir Putin (the latter of whom is nothing to do with the Church hierarchy, though he is a baptized layman and churchgoer) are over 50. Those under about 25 are hardly marked at all by the Soviet era and on the other hand those over about 75 even tend to be pro-Stalin (and also unbaptized).

Q: What are the temptations of those who like them were born during the Soviet era, but have since been baptized Orthodox?

A: The main temptation is nationalism. There are even a few, mainly elderly Orthodox, now baptized, who admire Stalin for that reason. This is very similar to elderly Anglicans who admire Churchill. Yes, both were victorious war-leaders, but millions died under both, for example, Churchill organized the bloodbath at Gallipoli, gassed the Kurds, made strategic mistakes during World War II and he must also in part bear responsibility for the millions who died in the Bengal famine during that War. Similarly, in the US there are elderly people who admire President Truman, he who massacred 300,000 Japanese civilians, men, women and children, with atomic bombs and also threatened Patriarch Maximos of Constantinople with death. Such admiration is just misplaced and irrational nationalist nostalgia, the result of brainwashing by wartime propaganda.

Here we come to your question about Patriarch Kyrill and President Putin. Both are of course marked or coloured by the Soviet period and are generally admired by nationalists. What critics like yourself fail to understand is that they are simply part of a process – President Putin and the Patriarch are only stages on the way, not the terminus, which is what we are looking at. The next Patriarch, perhaps someone like Metr Benjamin of Vladivostok, will be very different, free of any Soviet colouring at all. In the same way, a possible successor to President Putin has appeared (not Medvedev). The Russian Federation is not long for the world in its present form. All of this is a temporary arrangement to carry us through to where we want to be.

Q: What about renovationism, which still exists in Russia?

A: It is true that the vestiges of renovationism still exist there, for example, with the sect of Fr Kochetkov, who was so warmly invited by the now defrocked Bp Basil Osborne to take over the then Sourozh Diocese before he joined the Rue Daru group. Fr Kochetkov, who was beloved by the late modernist Rue Daru philosophers Olivier Clement and Nikita Struve, who so hated the Russian Church that they refused to belong to Her, has 2,000 followers. His sect is protected by a very elderly Soviet-era bishop, but, frankly, all this is dying out. It has no future. It is a phenomenon of Bolshevization, we are patiently working for Debolshevization. That will need time. Since we do not ask perfection of Western societies, but continue to live here despite their horrific apostasy and baby-killing, why should we demand instant Debolshevization in ex-Soviet societies? We live in the Church, not in society on the fringes of or outside the Church. As Christians the only perfection we are entitled to demand is of ourselves, not of others.

Q: But there are still strong vestiges of the Soviet mentality.

A: Yes, on the fringes, of course. These vestiges are still strong in remoter, provincial areas like Central Asia, the Baltics and, above all, in the Western-supported Ukraine, with its Fascist elements, who simply changed from being pro-Bolshevik to pro-Fascist overnight. The mentality of corrupt dictatorships is the same, whatever name you give them, Communist or Capitalist.

Q: What about nominalism? Most Orthodox in Russia, though baptized, simply do not go to church.

A: Of course, this is true – just as only a maximum of 10% of Russians before the Revolution and in the emigration went to Church. If you do not believe me for lack of living experience with the old emigration before they died out in the 1990s, read the report by St John of Shanghai on the state of the Russian emigration given at the Second All-Diaspora Council in 1938.

Having said that, you must also understand that Orthodox nominalism, however regrettable, is not the same nominalism as in the West. In the Roman Catholic-Protestant world, church-going, made an ‘obligation’ under threat of hellfire by the Roman Catholics and non-church-going made into an experience of guilt by the Protestants, is seen as the only sign of belonging to the Church. For Orthodox, Christianity is all about the way we live, not necessarily about church-going. For example, we do not have ‘Bible study’, a thoroughly Protestant concept, we live the Bible. Anyone who has experienced the friendliness and hospitality of Orthodox countries will know this. In Orthodox countries you have the Christian spirit of mutual support and love of the Truth, whereas Western countries are marked by materialist and calculating self-interest and the cult of self-admiration, the ‘I’ culture of consumerism. Orthodox, including non-Churchgoers, are horrified by Western people who proudly proclaim that they ‘do not believe in God’, just as they are horrified by the Western treatment of people in their slums and in their colonies in the ‘Third World’. To us it is all simply unnatural and inhuman. You cannot treat human-beings like that.

We Orthodox go to church when we need to, when we feel ill, when we need ‘the medicine of immortality’. It is not a guilt trip, as for heterodox. So do not be like the Protestant Pharisees and judge Orthodox by whether we are at church or not, it is our way of life that makes us Orthodox or not. For example last Sunday, we here only had some 200 at church, and yet there are 600 in the parish, and if I count all those Orthodox who come through the doors in any 12-month period, that figure would probably come to 2,000. This is what I mean by 10% maximum attending church, 200 out of 2,000.

Q: You said that some sects are CIA-financed. What proof do you have of that?

A: Well, first of all, these sects openly acknowledge it and are proud of the CIA as ‘patriotic Americans’. Secondly, there is the case inside the Church Outside Russia. It is a fact that as early as the 1960s a senior individual in the Church Outside Russia was given $38,000 by the CIA, as was revealed at the time. The receiver of the money, who died outside the Church in the 1990s and banned anyone from the Church Outside Russia attending his funeral, had a son, who sold off $6 million worth of Church property in Jerusalem. It was a huge scandal. The CIA always makes use of such ‘useful idiots’, those whom it can buy out. Other Western spy agencies did the same, Russian Parisians like Melnikov and Tiesenhausen openly worked for the French spy agency, in London émigré Russians worked for MI5 and MI6 and in Ottawa Russian émigrés worked for the Canadian spy agency. However, the Church goes on despite such politicking on the fringes.

Similarly, there are many Western journalists who receive CIA money to write anti-Russian articles. This is obvious to any reader of the Murdoch-owned ‘The Times’ in England, but this goes on in all Western-owned media in the US and Europe, including Western rags like ‘The Moscow Echo’ in Russia. Such journalists write the propaganda that they are paid to write by Western spy agencies. Some people will do anything for money because they put money above the Truth, as it is written, you cannot serve God and money.

Q: What does Debolshevization mean in concrete terms?

A: To answer this question, we must understand what the Bolshevik regime tried to do. It had a threefold, anti-Trinitarian programme. Firstly, it wanted to destroy all Traditional Religion and above all, but not only, the Orthodox Church. Secondly, it wanted to destroy all National Identity. Thus, in its anti-Christian cosmopolitanism it banned the word ‘Russian’, used ‘Soviet’ and made the Soviet Union out of many different national identities. Thirdly, it wanted to destroy Family Life, virtually banning sacramental marriage, encouraging abortion and divorce, taking away children and putting them into crèches, schools and camps, all the while brainwashing them with Bolshevik ideology. Therefore, Debolshevization means exactly the opposite of all this, that is, a threefold restoration, that of Traditional Religion, National Identity and Family Life.

In all this the Soviet Union failed. However, Bolshevization still exists because it defines exactly what is happening in the neocon and Bolshevik West today. Firstly, today we see the destruction of all Traditional Religion, substituting for it some wishy-washy, spiritually emptied, anti-traditional, New Age humanism and secularism. That is modern Western religion. This spirit of apostasy dominates Protestantism, Roman Catholicism (since the 1960s) and the modernist, new calendarist, Westernized fringes of the Orthodox Church, for instance, among many Greek Americans and some Romanians. Secondly, today we see the destruction of the Sovereign Nation-State under the slogan Globalization (formerly this was called what it is – Americanization, but now the codeword Globalization is used), using mass immigration and social injustices to help it. Thirdly, today we see the destruction of Family Life, killing sacramental marriage with the cohabitation of ‘partners’, encouraging abortion and divorce, taking away children and putting them into crèches, schools and camps, all the while brainwashing them with secularist ideology, sex education, gender ideology and internet pornography from the State-controlled media.

The Bolshevik regime is dead in Russia, but it is very much alive under the politically correct dictatorship of neocon ‘liberalism’ in the Western world, the very liberalism that is so Russophobic. Why is it Russophobic? Because it is in fact Christianophobic. Liberalism is utterly intolerant of real Christianity, that is, of Orthodoxy, it only allows a castrated, secularized substitute which is powerless to save. Just when the Soviet Union died, the European Union was born as part of the whole Western Union. Next door to the EU headquarters in Brussels, what do you find? The headquarters of NATO. It is all part of the same Western Union.

Although forced collectivization failed under the Bolsheviks, voluntary collectivization through the illusion of consumerist individualism seems to have succeeded. Look around you: everywhere you see ‘individuals’ in the same US uniform of jeans, T-shirts, tennis shoes, I-phones, tablets, pokemon fads, tattoos, obesity-making, adulterated food and TV series (bread and circuses). This is the same brainwashing and zombifying secularist poison that makes people unable to think for themselves or to have any sort of spiritual life or values. All who work for Traditional Religion, National Identity and Family Life are mocked, scorned and persecuted in today’s West. The Soviet Union is dead in Russia, but Bolshevization is alive and prospering in the West. The only question is whether it will triumph altogether and completely wipe out the Western world, or whether the Western world will before it is too late take heed of Christian Civilization and values, alive in Russia, and repent.

Do not worry about Debolshevizing old people in Russia, our task is far more ambitious – Debolshevizing the Western world. That is why, for example, some Western people have actually gone to the Donbass to fight for the Ukraine against the Kiev puppet regime – in order to defend the sovereignty of Europe against the anti-Christian, Neo-Bolshevik world.

Archbishop Mark To Resign

It has been announced that Archbishop Mark of Berlin is ‘shortly’ to resign as bishop in charge of the ROCOR Diocese of the British Isles and Ireland. The Diocese will temporarily become stavropegic under Metroplitan Hilarion. It is hoped that the Metropolitan will deal with the backlog of ordinations and other issues before a permanent resident English-speaking bishop is at last installed in London next year.

Questions on ROCOR, a future Local Church in Western Europe, the Ukraine and Nominalism

Q: What is the role of ROCOR today?

A: The same as that of all Russian Orthodox – to remain faithful Imperial Christian clergy and laypeople, in other words, to keep faith with the best of the Christian Empire, Imperial Russia, working for its restoration and guarding the international and missionary approach of its saints like St Seraphim of Sarov, St Innocent of Moscow, St John of Kronstadt, St Nicholas of Japan, the Optina Saints, the martyred Tsar Nicholas II and those with him, St John of Riga, St Seraphim of Vyritsa, Metropolitan Pitirim (Oknov) of Saint Petersburg, of the fathers of ROCOR and above all of our three ROCOR saints, for we are the Church of the Three Saints: St John of Shanghai, St Jonah of Hangchow and St Seraphim of Sofia. However, I also firmly believe that there are many more ROCOR saints who will be revealed.

Q: When you say to keep faith with ‘the best’, I presume you mean that there has also been the ‘worst’?

A: Of course, the good and the bad, the wheat and the chaff, always go together. However, although Judas was indeed among the disciples, he notably failed to become an apostle. Such is the fate of all traitors. Who were the worst? Firstly, for example, some ill-informed say that our task is to restore Russia before the Revolution. This is blindness, for that would mean also restoring the worst from before the Revolution when it was precisely that bad that created the Revolution. Thus, if we restored all that went before, without distinction, we would simply have another Revolution. Therefore we must keep faith only with the best from before.

Secondly, and linked with this, there was in ROCOR, that is, after the Revolution, the presence of right-wing politics and racist nationalism inherited from before the Revolution and as a result elements in ROCOR were corrupted and compromised by Western spy services like the CIA, MI5, the DGSE in France, the BND in Germany and the CSIS in Canada. Such political operatives began from the 1960s on to encourage the infiltration of our part of the Russian Church by schismatic old calendarism. Fortunately, this spirit more or less died out after the Cold War, and by 2001 these fringe elements had at last been defeated by the majority whom they could no longer oppress.

Q: You say the good and the bad always go together. How do you resist such bad or secular influences and yet keep the good, the purity of Holy Orthodoxy? How can the wheat grow alongside the chaff which surely hinders it?

A: We carry on despite those influences that are always worldly, making opportunities out of the chaff, living for the long-term and so for the greater good of the Church, not living narrowly for the short-term, continuing to fight for the Faith. For example, the persecution (the word is not too strong) by several well-known bishops and senior clergy that I met both for the veneration of Western saints and for the New Martyrs and Confessors only spurred me on to promote them. If it had not been for such vigorous opposition, perhaps I would not have insisted so much. Now the same people or their heirs are falling over themselves to venerate them. Bad always withers away and dies, providing that we are patient. The chaff is here today, gone tomorrow. Only the good lasts on Christ’s winnowing floor. It is very important to understand that.

Q: If ROCOR had its problem, what was the problem of the Russian Patriarchal Church?

A: Without a doubt, its problem was renovationism, the rather pathetic, dying vestiges of which still survive here and there, both inside and outside Russia. However, apart from among a few elderly and marginal figures or unconverted intellectuals, these Soviet-period vestiges now mainly live on, outside the Russian Church, in schisms. For instance, there are the dying embers of the Paris group, founded by treasonous decadent aristocrats and freemasons from Saint Petersburg, or groups in Finland and Estonia, the latter of which had been infected by the masonic, Parisian YMCA movement before the Second World War.

This ‘democratic’ renovationism, or ‘Kerenskyism’, so obvious in politicized decisions of the 1917-18 Moscow Council (which, thank God, have never been implemented inside Russia), is in fact just protestantization. It is dismissed by such sterling contemporary hierarchs of the Russian Church inside Russia as Metr Onufry of Kiev, Metr Agafangel of Odessa or Metr Benjamin of Vladivostok, who, with so many others, guard the conscience of the Church today.

Q: There has yet again been talk of a ‘British Orthodox Church’. What do you say?

A: I think this theme has been exhausted. First of all, the word ‘British’ can simply not be used in a Church context. It is the local equivalent of ‘Soviet’, in other words, it defines a purely political myth, a fantasy and delusion. We do not talk of a ‘Soviet Church’, so why do we speak of a ‘British Church?’ Soon, there will be no Britain (UK) or EU left, like the already defunct SU (Soviet Union). The State concept of Britain has had its day and we shall at last move on to profounder things. Churches are named after geographical and spiritual realities, not passing political myths invented by political hacks. We should rather speak of the Church of the Isles.

But, in any case, at present, ‘Britain’ is home to only a tiny number of practising Orthodox, with hardly any infrastructure, without monastic life, even sometimes with an insular, provincial, visionless outlook and living in a kind of Anglican phyletism, and phyletism is always spiritual death, as we can see from all the phyletist parishes in this country that have closed or are closing. Phyletism always puts the State Establishment above the Gospel. Indeed, last year one such ex-Sourozhite convert actually wrote me a letter, vigorously accusing me of putting the Gospel above the Establishment and slating me for that! At present we should be taking the broad view of a Metropolia of Western Europe, which can later develop into a Local Church of Western Europe, not a narrow view of a tiny, insular one.

Q: Who could found such a Metropolia?

A: No Local Church will ever found a Metropolia and future new Local Church in Western Europe, except the Russian Church. For example, of the seven groups that exist in the Diaspora, the four Local Churches of Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria and Georgia are all strictly mononational, with no interest in missionary work and founding new Local Churches. As for phyletist Constantinople, it has never freely given anyone autocephaly: the Russians had to wait for nearly 600 years until they seized it themselves and the Bulgarians had to wait for over a millennium and had to create a schism in order to obtain it! As for the Church of Antioch, the Church of four families, as some Antiochians themselves call it, with its all-Levantine episcopate, it even took back the limited autonomy it once gave its small archdiocese in North America. The Antiochians have an admirable though naive zeal, but you need knowledge as well as zeal. Naivety always ends up in disaster, as we have seen.

Q: What, spiritually, is naivety?

A: It is a lack of spiritual experience and so of spiritual maturity. It is always linked with superficiality and a lack of suffering. Real Orthodox live in the arena, are always ready for martyrdom, and are always persecuted and suffer.

Q: If there were one day to be a Local Church in Western Europe, how do you see it?

A: Clearly, without the arrogant mistakes made in the past by the OCA, for example. Firstly, it would use the Orthodox calendar and not impose the divisive Roman Catholic one (though some exceptions might have to be made for some spiritually weak communities) and would avoid modernism of all sorts, insisting for example on confession before prepared communion, modest dress and head coverings for women, correct services and correct liturgical language. All these are not some ‘local customs’, as mocking and despising modernists would have you believe, but are all integral parts of the Tradition.

Secondly, it would have to avoid esoteric Parisian personality cults, like those seen in England and France, of the sort whose first question is, ‘Have you got a doctorate?’ Thirdly, it would have to avoid the patronizing racist mentality of the type to be found in England, that of anti-spiritual, Anglican Establishment phyletism, which automatically excludes the vast masses of people and only ordains Anglican vicars to the priesthood. In a word, it would have to avoid all the falsehood and superficiality of academic, theoretical, convert Orthodoxy. It would have to be the real thing, showing integrity, which is sadly so rare, yet is the only thing that preserves us from the spiritual disease of modernism. Our aim is to become saints, not fantasists.

Q: What is the present situation in the Ukraine?

A: Although I have not been there since May, my impression is that the situation is largely calm on the surface, but underneath is volcanic. Nothing much may happen until the US elections in November, but then the volcano could well erupt. For example, there is already huge dissatisfaction with the ‘thieves and murderers’ (I quote from graffiti seen in Odessa) of the corrupt Poroshenko regime. This at present only controls the area around Kiev, rather like earlier corrupt Fascist US puppet regimes which controlled only Latin American capitals or capitals like Saigon, Manila, Athens, Pretoria, Kabul or Baghdad, but not the countries themselves.

The rest of the Ukraine is controlled by local oligarchs, the new princes. It seems that the component parts of this artificial conglomerate called the Ukraine are falling apart. Poland, Hungary and Romania are looking on, preparing to take back what Stalin stole from them some 75 years ago. The whole of the east and the south of the so-called Ukraine, over half of the country, stolen from Russia by Lenin in 1922, are also yearning to return to Russia and freedom, as the Crimea has already done. Only Little Russia, the region around Kiev, can survive as an independent entity, creating a country similar in size to Belarus to the north.
But I feel that nothing will happen until the Clinton-Trump contest is over. If Clinton the globalist neocon wins, the agony may well get worse and the war could become terrifying, but if Trump the American nationalist and anti-globalist wins, freedom may yet come.

Q: Are you saying that Trump is good?

A: No. I think we all agree that Trump is something of a clown, a primitive nationalist, aggressive, rude and strident like Jean-Marie Le Pen was in France or Nigel Farage was in England, but even if he is not a Christian, he could on balance still actually be the lesser evil. He may actually have a sense of social justice and is surely a social conservative, whereas Clinton calls abortion a blessing, supports the Fascist banksters and as a globalist and Zionist is preparing the coming of Antichrist. Of course, I don’t know for sure, Trump may or may not be the lesser evil: only people can make up their minds about who is the lesser evil.

Q: What is the greatest threat to the Orthodox Church? Politicians like Clinton or Trump?

A: Of course, not. The greatest threat is not others, but ourselves, our own nominalism, which precisely includes blaming others for our own shortcomings. Most Orthodox, 95%, here or elsewhere, are only nominally Orthodox. For example, in this country, how can you take Orthodox seriously when they are even unable to buy or build their own church-buildings? Academic dreamers who call themselves Orthodox rant on about their theories and fantasies, preaching about the ‘Beauty of Orthodoxy’, but when they are asked where their churches are and where authentic liturgical life can be experienced, they can provide nothing, it is all fictitious, in their heads and imaginations. Academics feed only the fantasy, not the heart, because they have no spiritual food to give.

Q: Given this level of nominalism, how can we not fall into despair?

A: Holy men have prophesied that, if we repent, we will be saved by some event in the East. This may mean China and the neocon war now being threatened against China by the hubris-obsessed Obama government in the South China Sea. But it may mean something else. We shall see. Only one thing is certain, and that is that only repentance leads to salvation.

A New Bishop for ROCOR

It has been announced in accounts of the meeting of the Synod in Moscow that Archimandrite Irenei (Steenberg) is to be consecrated Bishop of Sacramento, as vicar bishop for Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco.

Apart from his wonderful title (in effect ‘Bishop of the Sacrament’), Fr Irenei is well-known in England as he lived here teaching theology for many years and visited the Colchester parish as a layman.

He is the fifth Non-Slav bishop in the present episcopate of the Church Outside Russia.

We wish Fr Irinei God’s blessing and hope that one day he may visit us again.