Category Archives: Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia

The History of the Schism of the New ROCOR from the Church

Introduction

The schism of the new ROCOR from the Orthodox Church has its origin in the mentality of certain US ROCOR converts, of woman-hating ‘incels’ and ‘orthobros’. This mentality first raised its head in US ROCOR under the influence of the neo-puritanical, Bostonite old calendarists as long ago as the 1960s. In other words, the ‘orthobros’ mentality today is ultimately the fruit of Gregory Grabbe’s old calendarist ‘We are the True Church’ fanaticism. (Boston’s twenty-year long reign ended in 1986 in unanswered charges by ROCOR of homosexuality and the extreme right-wing Gregory Grabbe, who had been secretary of the New York Synod for several decades, ended in 1995 in old age outside the Church, still calling himself ‘Bishop Gregory Grabbe’, having consecrated the pedophile Bishop Valentin (Rusantsov) in Suzdal in Russia, who was later imprisoned, and banning ROCOR members from attending his own funeral).

Let me say now that there is no personal animosity at all to those family-deprived ‘orthobros’ who are suffering, often from the temptations of sexual deviancy, and need Christ. They are deeply unhappy and lonely, not to say, disturbed individuals. However, the ideology that many of them have developed, once they have been given power over the Church and Orthodox families, is filled with hatred. Our Faith is not an ideology, for it is filled with Love. Hatred, especially towards normal families in the Church, is the unfailing warning sign of the sect. That is why they are so dangerous. That is why they must be prayed for. We still hope for the salvation of all, turning the other cheek. We publicise this simply because it is our duty to defend Church truth against sectarianism and its inevitable consequence which is, as we have seen with our own eyes, schism. And schism from the Church means precisely separation from Love, that is, schism is the path to hatred

The ROCOR schism that began in December 2020 in Cardiff, Wales. It was initiated by a very new ROCOR priest who had belonged to an old calendarist sect for some twenty years beforehand and who had previously been refused admission to the Church. His reception as a priest (without ordination) had therefore been very controversial. He objected to an even newer former Roman Catholic priest in the same city, who had been accepted into the Russian Orthodox Church in the usual way (see below).

Amazingly, instead of rebuking the former old calendarist priest for his ignorance and non-acceptance of Orthodox Tradition and ordering him to concelebrate with his brother-priest of the same jurisdiction, the local ROCOR bishop (himself a convert from Lutheranism who had been received by chrismation into the OCA some twenty years before) backed him and then his ROCOR colleagues backed the whole old calendarist mentality and schism. It was all part of the new ROCOR policy of expelling older, experienced, traditional ROCOR priests and laypeople and replacing them with crazy converts. Birds of a feather flock together….

Thus began an international schism and scandal. Some of course say that this Welsh incident was just a long-awaited trigger and any pretext would have done for those who were already possessed by a sectarian mentality and wanted revenge for the unity of 2007. Too proud to repent for the initial error of backing an old calendarist, ROCOR then launched itself into a vicious spiral of sectarianism and schism. This took it very, very far from the Church, the Tradition and the Love of Christ, Who wills all to salvation.

A Little History

In London the well-respected and unmercenary Fr George Sheremetiev (+ 1971), the spiritual father of the Tsar-Martyr’s sister, the late Xenia Alexandrovna, warned of this mentality in the 1960s. He persuaded the future and now late Metr Kallistos (Ware) to join the Greek Church, and not ROCOR, in order to avoid that new pharisaical censoriousness, as the then Fr Kallistos himself related to me in 1974. Also from London, the late scholar Fr Ambrose Pogodin, who went to the USA, later joined the OCA for exactly the same reason. Western European ROCOR always had a different mentality. This is Old Europe, next to the roots of the Faith, where we keep the Tradition and the canons.

The rebaptism of Non-Orthodox was never accepted by Western European ROCOR, which was faithful to the mainstream Russian Orthodox spiritual tradition of Metr Antony Khrapovitsky. He had consecrated St John of Shanghai and Western Europe (he spent 13 years here, the same period as in China). Naturally, St John did not rebaptise Non-Orthodox, apart from in two known exceptional cases. St John was succeeded by the ever-memorable Archbp Antony of Geneva, who ordained me and many others and who said that the reception of Non-Orthodox by baptism is simply ‘not necessary’. This was always our policy. And in the case of Roman Catholics, reception by confession and communion was always our policy also.

Non-rebaptism had also naturally been the practice of US ROCOR until the 1960s, as ROCOR then had, like the Moscow Patriarchate, kept faith with the pre-Revolutionary Russian Tradition. Look for example at how super-correct ‘Orthodox’ rebaptisers persecuted Fr Seraphim Rose, another disciple of St John of Shanghai. The latter was suspended and put on trial by the political US ROCOR bishops, which stress basically led to his early death three years later.

In 2007, led by the ever-memorable Carpatho-Russian Metr Lavr, we at last thought we had rid ROCOR of this schismatic and sectarian mentality by entering into canonical communion with Moscow. I was there as a speaker at the Fourth ROCOR Council in San Francisco in 2006, in Moscow in 2007 and again in 2012 for the fifth anniversary. Before 2007 those ROCOR bishops responsible had already abandoned their uncanonical old calendarist connections in the Balkans, which had been promoted by a tiny number of ROCOR bishops in the 1990s and rejected and ignored by everyone else. These included the link with the sect of the late Metropolitan Vlasie in Romania, who had preached purity, but before he died had fallen with a nun.

The New Sectarianism

However, in 2017 the mini-Synod took its revenge for the unity of 2007 and seized power after our beloved Metr Hilarion (Eternal Memory!) fell ill. Among other things, they wanted to ‘bring Western European ROCOR into line’ with the US, ‘to drain the swamp’, as they claimed. In fact they did exactly the opposite and brought the US swamp here, destroying the old ROCOR. Their first move was in 2018 when they ‘retired’ the local ROCOR Archbishop of Geneva and the pillars of the parish who had been there for generations, causing huge scandal there, and replacing him with a young and highly inexperienced American convert. The latter had been received into the OCA from Lutheranism by chrismation some 18 years before.

It was the start of a Stalinist purge and micromanagement. Then they insisted that we, who were Russian Orthodox before they were even born, speak American and use novel US liturgical customs! They are typical of the US converts who want to be ‘more Orthodox than the Orthodox’. Their whole reasoning is obsessed with Protestant-style ‘salvation’ and ‘baptism’, with the conservative Lutheran ‘promise’ of hellfire for any who disagree with them. What wonderful Christians!

All here are profoundly shocked by what has happened. Most pretend to ignore it, as ROCOR is so tiny. However, the Greeks here write of the scandal-ridden ROCOR: ‘Once a sect, always a sect’, they say. The MP Sourozh Diocese told us two years ago that American ROCOR needs a ‘psychiatric ambulance’ (It sounds better with a Russian accent). They actually laughed at the antics of these pretend Russian Orthodox and their Disneyfication of the Faith. To get an understanding, see the Polish psychiatrist Dr Andrew Lobaczewski in his book Political Ponerology, where he speaks of a pathological type known as “Schizoidia” or “schizoidal psychopathy“.

ROCOR ignored the advice of Patriarch Kyrill to simply write us letters of leave, as we had politely requested from the start, as we were willing to accept all their humiliations and had done so, but we were not willing to enter into a schism, as we had clearly explained four months before we left. Therefore, seeing the reckless stubbornness of ROCOR, Moscow arranged with their friend, Patriarch Daniel of Romania, for us to be taken into the Romanian Church (Patriarch Daniel’s main canonical adviser and professor of canon law is the brother-in-law of our Romanian priest), until the war in the Ukraine is over. The process of our reception took just four hours.

Moscow had arranged all beforehand. Only after the conflict in the Ukraine will Moscow at last have the opportunity to deal with the ROCOR schism. This means dealing with the crazy and uncanonical elements who seized power from Metr Hilarion and then created a schism with the MP’s Archdiocese of Western Europe, where we have had close family and friends for over 50 years.

If Moscow then offered us and all our churches to join Sourozh, as we had originally wanted in May 2021, I am not sure what we would do. The Romanians have been fantastic to us, real Christians, letting us remain Russian Orthodox, visiting us, concelebrating regularly and making us a real part of the Romanian Metropolia. Of course, we had always been good to them. They are paying us back. Why ever should we want to ask the Romanian Church for letters of leave? They do not try and destroy us and close our churches and they are not jealous, in love with money, are not spectacularly rude and do not bully and threaten. In a word, Romanian Orthodox are Christians.

Our minimum requirement would be for the schismatics to be removed, though frankly they should at least be suspended for creating a schism, which even ‘the blood of the martyrs cannot overcome’ and persecuting those who obey the canons. Then all 16 of us clergy who left ROCOR and did not return would have to receive some sort of compensation. This would be a bit like the slandered Fr Alexander (Belya) and all those with him (we have seen the papers where he was clearly elected by a majority of the Synod), the angelic Fr Christopher Stade, Abbot Tikhon (Gayfudinov), Metr Hilarion’s former private secretary, and Fr Edouard Chervinsky, priest at the Synod building. They all left in disgust at the new clique, which usurped power from the dementia-suffering Metr Hilarion. Their behaviour has been not just uncanonical, but shamelessly unChristian.

The New Rebaptism Book and the Reception of Non-Orthodox

The new American book on rebaptism was written in the convert style by an insecure convert priest in Greece, who had already been rejected by the US Assembly of Orthodox Bishops. I say insecure because none of this is an issue for secure Orthodox, in Greece, Russia, Romania, or anywhere else. It is, however, a perennial theme amongst those from a Protestant background, but who have not yet fully converted. Fr Peter Heers, if he is the author, has no known bishop (he is then on paper a Protestant), until he can prove otherwise. There is nothing new in this book, it repeats the vast debates around this subject to be found in Orthodox literature in the 70s and 80s (St Vladimir’s Quarterly, Eastern Churches Review, Sobornost, Orthodox Word etc, as well as in other languages for example in Le Messager of the Western European Diocese of ROCOR).

This new book appears to recount various practices from history, taking quotes of saints and elders out of context (as Protestants are wont to do) is certainly not sound traditional pastoral practice, but is inclined to the booklore of pharisees. The fact that at certain times and in certain places the reception of Roman Catholics by baptism has been practised is a well-known fact. It has always happened whenever Roman Catholicism was aggressive towards Orthodoxy and seems to have begun, unsurprisingly, with the sack of New Rome in 1204. However, it has not been the practice whenever Roman Catholics have treated Orthodox well and even respected us, in other words, whenever they have behaved like Christians towards us.

The demand for reception by baptism renounces the living Tradition, the Tradition of the Saints, of all the Local Churches, of the Moscow Patriarchate, of the pre-Revolutionary Church (the Tsaritsa St Alexandra was received by St John of Kronstadt by chrismation). Personally, I will always follow the practice of non-schismatic Orthodox bishops in this. Those who do not accept this practice risk putting themselves outside the Church, especially when they refuse to concelebrate with whole jurisdictions because they have received a priest from Roman Catholicism by confession and communion. What was good enough for St Seraphim of Sarov. St John of Kronstadt, the martyred Tsarina Alexandra and for 100% of non-schismatic, canonical Orthodox bishops today is certainly good enough for me.

Any who demand the rebaptism of someone who has already for years been in the Orthodox Church and taking communion also renounce the Creed: ‘I believe in One Baptism….’.

See youtube for how the Moscow Patriarchate today, as ever, receives Roman Catholic priests into the Church:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHjinL1OAGo

Outside of this book, which I have not had time to read, I would say the following about the whole invented issue of ‘corrective rebaptism’ – a totally unPatristic term, namely:

If you do not accept the above practice of the ROC, that Roman Catholic clergy are accepted into the Russian Church by confession and concelebration and you cut off communion with those who do accept this, then you are simply not Russian Orthodox, indeed you are simply not members of the Orthodox Church. You belong to a sect. You are schismatic. To cut off communion with others because of their traditional practices in this matter is a schism. That is the sin. And that is what has happened.

Of course, we all practise threefold baptism by immersion in the Name of the Holy Trinity (I do this at least twice a week on average), but watch the above video with one who had already been baptised in the Name of the Holy Trinity being received in the usual way into the Russian Church today. What we do not do is fall into schism and say that others are not Orthodox because they have been received in the way shown in the youtube video above, and not according to the strict teaching. That is anti-canonical – see Canon XV of the First and Second Council under St Photius the Great.

The Orthodox teaching on Non-Orthodox ‘sacraments’ is crystal clear and I will repeat it here for newcomers to the Church, who know nothing of the extensive literature about it written in the 19th and 20th centuries, for the umpteenth time:

There are no sacraments outside the Orthodox Church. However, there are sacramental forms or rites, which actually have the same names as ours and are outwardly very similar to Orthodox emergency baptisms. The spiritual presence that is missing in those forms or rites is obtained when a Non-Orthodox comes into the presence of the Church, the source of the Holy Spirit. The ritual form is then filled with the missing grace.

The problem with any novel doctrine of rebaptism is that:

Its claims about the need to rebaptise Non-Orthodox are old-fashioned, done to death over the last 150 years. This issue was debated to death by Palmer and Khomyakov in the 19th century and thousands of pages were again written about it in the 1970s, especially after the uncanonical, indeed blasphemous, 1976 Guildford ROCOR rebaptisms by Grabbeites of those who had been Orthodox for some years. (This is still done by old calendarists, linked to the Guildford group in England). It came up yet again in the 1986 Boston schism and the Fontrier schism in Paris. Both ex-ROCOR groups went to the old calendarists. As Archbishop Antony of Geneva of ROCOR said to all of us at the time: ‘You receive by economy (chrismation). However, if someone insists on being baptised into the Church, you can do so, though it is not necessary’. When in the 1990s one Polish ROCOR nun at the Lesna Convent, Sister Varvara, learned of the new American ROCOR practice of obligatorily receiving Roman Catholics by baptism, she was horrified. As were we all – and still are.

In 1979 the now local saint, St Sophrony the Athonite, explained to us (and to me) the Orthodox teaching that there is no need to rebaptise. This followed the rebaptism of a Catholic priest by Abbot Aemilianos in 1978. Fr Sophrony had sent the Catholic priest, Fr Placide, to Athos to be received, but was horrified and very upset when Fr Aemilianos, behind his back, received Fr Placide by baptism. It did cause a quite unnecessary scandal at the time.  Whatever was missing in the heterodox sacramental form is made up for, and activated by, contact with the grace inherent in, and which radiates from, the Church of God – the Orthodox Church.

The rest is the Protestant-style fundamentalist literalism and ritualism of converts with their psychological fragility and insecurity. In other words, none of the rebaptism hysteria is to do with theology, only psychology and often an unhealthy psychology, even pathology (see above). Young men who come to our parishes for the first time, as they do, having spent hundreds of hours on the internet and are therefore ‘experts’, and at once demand that they be rebaptised, that they must dress in black, grow long beards and hair and change their names from ‘John’ and be called Moses or Seraphim, Silouan or Vladimir do not need a priest. They need a psychiatrist. Either they accept us Orthodox as we are, or else they go elsewhere. We do not have any in our parishes.

This is what Patriarch Alexei II meant some twenty-five years ago, when he spoke of the insecurity of certain small groups of introverted Russian emigrants, who lived in narrow, self-protecting and parochial ghettoes, frightened because ‘others are not like us’, ‘the others are not real Russians like us’ etc.

These claims about the need for rebaptism reject all the ROCOR bishops and priests of the past, those who taught us the Tradition. They were not upstart converts from a US Protestant background, but came from a millennium of Orthodox Tradition.

Rebaptism is obligatory claims mean that all the saints of the Old Testament and many post-New Testament martyrs of the calendar baptised in their blood, and not by triple immersion in water, are not even Orthodox, let alone saints.

Rebaptism is obligatory claims mean that the hundreds of thousands of Uniats received into the Russian Church in Belarus, the Ukraine and Carpatho-Russia in the 19th and 20th centuries by confession and communion (the third rite) never joined the Orthodox Church!

Rebaptism is obligatory claims mean that hundreds of Orthodox priests, received by chrismation as laypeople, are not priests and their sacraments are not valid!

These claims mean that some 100 million Russian Orthodox (some 35,000 of them now priests, at least one hundred are now bishops) are not baptised! Until 10-15 years ago most baptisees there had to stand kneeling forward with two hands in a bowl of water and had water poured over their heads. Quite simply, there were hardly any baptistries.

These claims deny the validity of baptisms by numbers of Serbian and Greek Diaspora (and not only in the Diaspora and not only Serbian and Greek) priests, who baptise by pouring water over the head.

These claims deny the validity of Orthodox emergency baptisms of babies and adults, done in hospital conditions.

The fact is that if you only practise akrivia (the strict teaching), you will wander as far from the truth as those who only practise ikonomia (dispensation). Pastors use both according to need. Intellectuals and theoreticians fall for one or the other, lapsing to the right side or to the left side. Pastors are practical and, by definition, pastoral.

Conclusion

Once the war that the US began in 2014 in the Ukraine is over, because this is of course a war between Moscow and Washington, for whose military-industrial complex 500,000 Ukrainian soldiers have already died, these matters will be sorted out. The events in the Ukraine and those ensuing in the Baltics, Moldova and Western Europe have distracted Moscow from the events here.

Eventually, the sectarians will refuse to repent and will no doubt found yet another wealthy (through internet influencing and podcasts) American sect, ROCOR – Russian Old Calendarists Outside Russia. However, Orthodoxy does not exist in podcasts and on the internet, it exists only in buildings, services and sacraments, in our incarnate Christian way of life. But sects do not want to know about that.

Those Orthodox who still remain in ROCOR, and these include some of their bitterly divided bishops – I am told by one source that the division is indeed bitter – will become part of the MP, or whatever it will come to be called after the conflict in the Ukraine is over. This is the future. Moscow will pick up the sane pieces, once the insane pieces have expelled themselves into their sects in a repeat of the 1986 Boston schism and the multiple schism between 2001 and 2007.  I have not the slightest doubt about it and have not doubted it since 2007. The post-2007 crisis of identity of ROCOR, with all its absurdities and now schism from the Moscow Patriarchate, would have been overcome by ROCOR in Europe, Latin America and Australia merging with the MP, or in North America with its local American branch, the OCA. It will happen anyway.

Then ROCOR would simply have merged with the MP and so become its missionary arm outside Russia. Providentially, it would then have helped the MP from sinking into disastrous Russian nationalism and Soviet-style centralism and injustices, like defrocking priests with differing political opinions about the Ukraine. And at the same time, through its engagement with the masses, and not with ghettos, ROCOR would have helped the imploding Western world to refind Christ.

Sadly, the new ROCOR, renouncing the old and traditional ROCOR with its pre-Revolutionary heritage, took the other sectarian, way. It sovietised itself and at the same time turned to the right-wing ghetto instead of to the mainstream. In the end, however, the forces of moderation and sanity will prevail. Light always wins against darkness in the end.

 

 

 

The Murk Lifts as the Saints Come in Victory

Four years ago now we were informed by a bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) that Fr Alexander Belya had been selected as a bishop by a majority of the old ROCOR Synod in New York. All had legitimately been signed off and sent to the Moscow for the final approval. Indeed, Metropolitan Hilarion (Kapral) had earlier personally spoken to us about Fr Alexander with great enthusiasm. However, the objections of a minority in the Synod were so strong that they launched what was in effect a coup d’etat, taking advantage of the late Metropolitan Hilarion’s dementia and cancer, creating a new ROCOR and beginning a campaign to discredit Fr Alexander’s candidacy. All manner of accusations were made, for which no proof has ever been offered.

Accusing someone of forgery and then spending two and a half years in the highest courts in the USA trying to avoid having to respond to evidence to the contrary does seem very strange. In any case, after losing its very expensive court cases against Fr Alexander Belya and awaiting the new one for defamation, the new ROCOR has lost yet another battle.  It can no longer resist the consecration of Fr Alexander Belya, already signed off by the old ROCOR under Metr Hilarion (Kapral). However, given the purging of the old canonical ROCOR by the dominant new ROCOR, the consecration will go ahead under the very unpopular and highly controversial Archbishop Elpidiphoros of the Church of Constantinople in North America. He has now called the bluff of very naïve, objecting bishops of other jurisdictions in Northern America and will proceed with the long-awaited consecration.

It is a great pity that few can trust Archbishop Elpidiphoros personally, but no doubt there was no other choice for Fr Alexander in the highly politicised American context. And so the vital forces of the Russian Church in Northern America are going under the Church of Constantinople, as the elderly who know the Tradition die out. We can only imagine the dissatisfaction with ROCOR in Moscow. A candidate for the episcopate and yet another set of good clergy and prosperous parishes lost by ROCOR and this time forced, however reluctantly, to join the Patriarchate of Constantinople, Moscow’s great rival. (Where part of the OCA also wants to go). The living elements of the old ROCOR, are fleeing its new marginality, in Northern America quite logically joining the largest jurisdiction there (the Patriarchate of Constantinople) and in Western Europe quite logically joining the largest jurisdiction there (the Patriarchate of Romania). In both cases all keep the old calendar and all other Russian liturgical customs.

All had been possible, but, according to some, on account of jealousy (Fr Alexander speaks and writes fluent Russian and Ukrainian, unlike those who oppose him), slander and sham ‘defrockings’, those who oppose him have lost nearly everything. First there came notoriety for receiving clergy without letters of release from canonical (= non-schismatic) Local Churches. (Letters of release are necessary to check on the moral conduct of clergy, not if the only objections to the clergy leaving are because they refuse schism, because of political disagreements or if they concern coveting of parishioners’ property on the part of those who do not wish them to leave.

The refusal to issue letters of release for purely political purposes or to try and obtain property illegally is not canonical. And there is no such thing as an oath of obedience to a schismatic bishop!). One Russian priest in London called ROCOR’s uncanonical suspensions ‘null and void’. And as another Russian priest said: ‘If there is no canonical crime, then it means that canon law is simply used as a mechanism of political repression’. (https://uk.yahoo.com/news/russian-orthodox-priests-face-persecution-062625884.html).

Thus, the clergy who left Constantinople for ROCOR were suspended by the Church of Constantinople. This is normal practice, as you do not ‘defrock’ clergy, if they are acting in integrity according to their conscience. Unless, that is, you are some sort of punitive, gaslighting, right-wing sect. Why did so many leave the new ROCOR elsewhere? The ROCOR schism from the Moscow Patriarchal Russian Orthodox Church (to which ROCOR supposedly belongs!) in Western Europe took its toll. This was because the Moscow group in Western Europe receives Catholic clergy in the same way as the rest of the Moscow Patriarchate and the pre-Revolutionary Russian Church, that is, not by rebaptism, like Greek Old Calendarists. This suicidal act of Russian old calendarism on the part of ROCOR cost it sixteen clergy and half of its Diocese in Great Britain. All refused to obey neophyte schismatics – see Canon XV of the First and Second Council. Now ROCOR in Great Britain will never be anything more than an irrelevant, tiny, closed marginal sect.

Then there was the use of electronic signatures, used in utterly vain attempts to bully, gaslight and intimidate. With these acts many have indeed discredited and isolated themselves from canonical Orthodoxy. How long will Moscow tolerate these losses and scandals? At a time like this, the already very isolated Moscow needs allies, not scandals. It has already suffered scandals in the tragic situations in Kiev, Riga, Amsterdam, Madrid, Vilnius and those that are rapidly developing elsewhere. There will come a point when Moscow, with its many parishes which use the new calendar, simply will not accept the threats made to it by the old calendarist American Synod. These threats involve boycotting the workings of the Moscow Patriarchate and are made by the New York Synod because it believes that it has Moscow over a barrel and can get away with anything. It is a dangerous game, because one day after the Ukraine is over Moscow will call its bluff and pull the plugs.

All this is a result of the ROCOR identity crisis. This began after its formal unity with Moscow in 2007, when it at last found universally recognised canonical status, for which we had battled for so long. However, instead of choosing to use this God-given opportunity to contribute to the positive and mainstream construction of new Local Churches in the Diaspora and show political independence from the secular Russian State, it chose negative and censorious self-isolation in an extreme right-wing ghetto and political co-operation with the secular Russian State. So it lost its Ukrainians – and many other normal families, purged by the alt right, long-bearded crazy converts it is introducing. It means that the only Russian Orthodox input into the inevitable new Local Churches in Northern America and Western Europe will come from the free Russian Orthodox, who belong to other Local Churches. Fringe groups with their extremism such as ROCOR will have no involvement. Just like all old calendarist groups, they have nothing to contribute.

Unless, that is, the few remaining Orthodox in ROCOR can at the last moment take back control of the Church from those who usurped power from the saintly, but very weak Metropolitan Hilarion (+ 2022) during the years of his dementia and cancer. This now seems very unlikely, unless the largely convert mini-Synod which took full control of ROCOR through its internal coup can be ousted. At present the new ROCOR is carrying out a purge of all its senior clergy of the St John tradition, all those who belonged to the old ROCOR and are being replaced by ‘Orthobros’ and incels.  Distracted by its loss of the Ukraine, Latvia etc and its desperate search for support in the Diaspora for the Russian State’s political and military battle against the USA in the Ukraine, the Moscow Patriarchate authorities have let things slide in the Diaspora. So badly indeed that the return of ROCOR to canonicity now seems virtually impossible. And that severely compromises Moscow’s own non-ROCOR existence outside Russia only more.

Interestingly, the news of Fr Alexander’s coming consecration was reported by the notoriously biased, American-run but Moscow-based, website ‘orthochristian.com’. This site is well-known for being backed by and publishing the works of very conservative ex-Evangelicals in Northern America. Some have even said that that website has been infiltrated by murky CIA/NATO assets, who started establishing themselves in ROCOR, Vlasovite and Russian-language publishing and broadcasting circles in the Diaspora in the 1960s. In any case that website never prints articles and comments that are critical of the practices of the MP and ROCOR or show up their hypocrisy and disrespect for human rights. It is surely being protected by someone important in the hierarchy in Russia, who knows the emigres well. According to some, he may himself, perhaps by naivety, have been turned and been involved in those murky dealings.

This is possible. After all, we should recall that the US Establishment is now divided between the conservative nationalist patriots of the CIA and the woke cosmopolitan neocons of the Washington State Department. And this situation is strangely very similar to that in the Soviet Union just before its dissolution in 1991. Then that was divided between pro-American liberal Euro-Atlanticists, who overnight transformed themselves from Communists into Capitalist oligarchs, and the patriots/nationalists, centred in the Soviet equivalent to the CIA, which was then called the KGB. And one of the latter was the present Russian nationalist President Putin, at that time a lowly KGB operative in provincial East Germany.

We should not forget that the former US President George Bush Senior (his son was not bright enough) was head of the CIA before himself being elected. Does a parallel between today’s patriotic CIA and the then patriotic KGB exist? Does the collapse of the Soviet Empire in 1991 indicate the coming collapse of the American Empire? We remember how in the 1970s and then the 1980s, the right-wing Washington ROCOR, of which some were CIA assets (once an asset, always an asset, as the late Fr Mikhail Artsimovich commented to me in 1992), was warmly welcomed into the Reagan White House and the coffers of the CIA generously opened to it. Now it is payback time, return on investment. We gave you then, now you will obey us. You cannot escape the murk, once you have joined it, you are signed up for life. You have sold your soul.

What is clear is that the new ROCOR is collapsing. It is not for families. We have often asked ourselves what the righteous people, priests and bishops of the old ROCOR, so many of whom we knew well, would have done. What would the ever-memorable St John of Shanghai and Western Europe, Fr Seraphim (Rose), Archbishop Antony of Geneva (who never defrocked anyone) and Metr Laurus (Shkurla) have done, given the present convert sectarianisation? Their Church has now been taken over by the descendants of those who suspended and put St John on trial in 1964, who persecuted Fr Seraphim in the 1970s and Archbishop Antony in the 1980s and 1990s and ourselves since 2007.

Surely, if they had still been alive in the years following 2007 and saw they risked losing control of the New York Synod to the murky mini-Synod, which had already begun forming as long ago as 2001 after the Metr Vitaly fiasco, they would have closed down the separate Synod in New York. Then, seeing the convert immaturity and uncanonical actions, Moscow would have taken ROCOR under its direct control. Moscow then would surely have proceeded towards the regionalisation and Metropolitanisation of ROCOR, as so many of us and the Patriarch Kyrill of the time had so much wanted, as he told us quite clearly in the Danilov Monastery in Moscow in May 2012.

This would have helped towards founding the coming foundation of the four Diaspora Local Churches, in Western Europe, Northern America, Latin America and Oceania. In this way the New York Synod could never have been diverted from its Christian path by insecure ‘One True Church’ converts and the other psychologically troubled with their murky connections. It is probably too late for this, for the Persecuted Church has become the Persecuting Church and the way back seems impossible. It is too late for any ‘Make ROCOR Great Again’. This is what happens when the spiritual is supplanted by the political and the financial. In history such people were ruled by a Sanhedrin and they were called pharisees.

However, we should not doubt in Divine Providence. The saints came to rescue us from the ROCOR schism and even now they are gathering together with St John of Shanghai. We shall see great changes in the near future, as the Holy Spirit takes over from evil men, their hearts full of hatred. Thou hast conquered, O Galilean!

 

 

ROCOR shaken by yet another scandal of exactly the same sort, this time in the USA

Here is a letter that we could have written ourselves, word for word, It is the same playbook, elaborated by the same centralised secret document, the same intimidation, the same jealous persecution of the married clergy especially, the same aggression, the same bullying, the same threats, the same attempts to seize the properties of the faithful, the same basic ignorance of the Gospel of Christ, of the Liturgy, of Church history, of the Tradition, of ROCOR tradition, of pastoral sense, of the canons, the same arrogance – ‘I know everything and I am always right’, the same motives, the same Soviet mentality which demands obedience, not to the Gospel, but to the would-be oligarchs who seek property and income, the same imperialism, the same GI swagger that forbids you to speak your native language, the same racism, the same individuals, the same refusal to listen, communicate and consult those who are experienced, the same sectarian and cultish mentality, the same half-baked newcomers to the Church who never studied at seminary, who never knew the old ROCOR, or anything of the wider and deeper Orthodox Tradition.

We have seen it all before, all this voluntary Sovietisation which makes even those inside Russia blush, for it is all more Soviet than Soviet. It is clear that it has been orchestrated from on high, this is not a coincidence. The old and loved ROCOR of St John of Shanghai, Bishop Sava of Edmonton, Archbishop Antony of Geneva, Archbishop Seraphim of Brussels, Metr Lavr and the tragically ill Metr Hilarion, this latter usurped by coup d’etat, all of eternal memory, no longer exists. Those bishops were authentic Archpastors who were indifferent to money, they were not isolationist ideologues interested only in money and property. The new ROCOR, ruled by the well-known multi-millionaire family, is intent on chasing out all the educated priests and people, faithful to the old ROCOR, those of us who lived Church life before they were born, us who have a conscience and pastoral sense, until there is nothing left. They say: Bow down to Mammon. But we prefer Christ to Mammon, so we have no place there. As the y say in the US: ‘Money talks’, Thus, in England two years ago, 16 clerics and thousands of people left schismatic ROCOR for canonicity . None of us returned – a return to schism is unthinkable.

Who is paying them to commit spiritual suicide in this way? Redbank, House Springs, Geneva, Miami with its absurd accusations (there was never any forgery of documents by Fr Alexander Belya), Colchester and now Fr Tikhon, to name but the main cases, the tip of the iceberg. Thank God, in the USA all the conscientious will probably have to go to the Greek Archdiocese (since the OCA refuses to wake up from its weakness and so misses the opportunity to unite all Russian Orthodox in North America). In Western Europe we shall probably all go to the Patriarchate of Romania and its Moldovan sections (since the Paris Archdiocese, with which ROCOR created a schism nearly three years ago, was forbidden by Moscow to take us in February 2022 and they were too weak to stand up to Moscow because of internal traitors).

This is the ignominious end of ROCOR, replaced by the new Soviet ROCOR of the pretend oligarchs. Did they really think they could get away with this? Did they really think that we were so naive that we did not know what was going on? Did they really think we could not defend ourselves? Did they really think they could destroy the real Russian Church? Did they really think we wanted to belong to the Persecuting Church and not the Persecuted Church of the New Martyrs and Confessors? Did they really think they could destroy our life’s work? Did they really think that they could conceal from the world that they had entirely discredited themselves? If so, then what hubris on their part!

 

The Hermitage of The Holy Protection, 333 Weymouth Rd, Buena NJ 083I0

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As the days of Holy Paschal joy are with us, we see that the Lord, as always shows us His love, and leads us out of the darkness of ignorance into the light of prudence. The anniversary of the blessed death of our First Hierarch Metropolitan Hilarion is also approaching, let us spend this day in prayer and quiet joy for Vladyka.

My name is Abbot Tikhon (Gayfudinov). For 10 years I was the personal assistant of the late First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, Metropolitan Hilarion (Kapral). And for the last 8 years and up to the present, I have been entrusted as Abbot of The Hermitage of the Holy Protection (the Skete) in Buena, (in the village of New Kuban) in southern New Jersey. Since Passion Week there has been a wave of hatred directed against us, unfounded threats, lies, and accusations have rained down upon us. I consider it my duty to clarify the situation that has developed at The Hermitage of The Holy Protection.

The original Sviato Pokrovski church in New Kuban was left abandoned and in disrepair for more than 20 years. There are pictures of the Church and the cemetery, which shows the terrible condition in 2015, when the ever-memorable Vladyka Metropolitan Hilarion (Kapral) transferred the neglected property to the Hermitage of the Holy Protection. Metropolitan Hilarlon appointed me, a sinner, to be Rector. At that time, Vladyka blessed that the property of the Hermitage of the Holy Protection would be administered by trustees: Vladyka himself, and I, as the Rector.

By 2015, The Church in New Kuban, was in a deplorable state. The cross on the main dome had rotted and fell off, the roof was leaking, there was even a hole in the floor inside the church from rainwater damage over the years. From the outside, the plaster on the walls of the church had fallen off, the windows in the refectory were chipped and sealed with adhesive tape. There were no basic church utensils, liturgical vestments or books. Everything was abandoned, the cemetery was overgrown with bushes and trees. There was no proper care for the ownerless graves. Most importantly, there were no accurate records maintained for the graves of the deceased. I wondered how in the USA, without atheistic persecution of the Church, in our time, could an Orthodox temple be left in such desecration.

Over the course of 7 years by the prayers of our First Hierarch, Metropolitan Hilarion the life of the small Hermitage flourished. The number of parishioners increased. The church property, cemetery, and the church house were returned into functioning order.

The liturgical life was established. Colossal work was performed to return the holy place into its proper honorable state. In order to save money, I performed most of the labor myself. Initially, I lived in the church basement. Eventually, I turned the basement into a usable refectory; installed a bathroom for parishioner use with a new industrial septic system; but back in 2015 there were mountains of construction debris lying around; the wind was blowing through the broken windows and there was terrible dampness and mold everywhere. All the years I worked for free.

In 2019, Metropolitan Hilarion blessed the Fund for Assistance (FFA) to carry out a fundraising campaign for the needs of the Hermitage of the Holy Protection. Vladyka Hilarion appealed to donors through a film about the Skete for financial assistance. Vladyka requested that the donations be sent through the Fund for Assistance and many caring Christians responded to Metropolitan Hilarion’s request and signed up for monthly automatic transfers of funds or made one-time donations to the Hermitage. I deeply thank all the donors who generously gave to the Skete.

After the death of our beloved Archpastor Vladyka Hilarion in May 2022, the Fund for Assistance unexpectedly stopped sending funds from our donors to the Skete, but the automatic transfers from the donors’ accounts did NOT stop. When I asked Metropolitan Nicholas why donations through FFA ceased coming to the Skete, he replied that: “Metropolitan Hilarion has died, and now the Synod has more important projects to finance.” Over the ensuing months, the Treasurer of the Hermitage, as well as, our lawyer, sent letters to the administration of the FFA, to Metropolitan Nicholas, and other Bishops of the Synod of ROCOR with a request to audit the FFA and find out why the directed funds to the Hermitage of the Holy Protection were not being forwarded to the Skete? There was no reply from anyone.

In December 2022, I was invited to meet with Priest George Temidis, Diocesan Secretary and Archpriest David Straut. I was asked to sign the deed of the Hermitage to the Eastern American Diocese (EAD) as per the request of Met. Nicholas. I inquired if this was optional, or an order, but my question was left unanswered. I explained that I cannot speak on behalf of all of the Hermitage trustees, but that I would raise this issue at our annual meeting.

On December 28th, the Board of Trustees of the Hermitage met for their annual meeting. I raised the issue of Metropolitan Nicholas’s demand for us to transfer all Skete property to EAD. We decided that everything should remain the same, as blessed by Metropolitan Hilarion. Our decision was based due to our respect for the will of Metropolitan Hilarion, who founded and blessed the Hermitage. The Skete remains exactly as Met. Hilarion organized it to this day. It is the practice of many parishes and monasteries, which are canonically part of ROCOR, to own church property via incorporation outside of the diocese. These parishes and monasteries are responsible for covering maintenance, all repairs, utilities, heating, air conditioning, insurances, etc.

On March 21 of this year, at the meeting of clergy in the Holy Trinity Monastery of Jordanville, I was invited to meet with Metropolitan Nicholas, his vicar Bishop Luke, the Secretary of the Diocese, Priest George Temidis, as well as Archpriest David Straut, and Archpriest Serge Lukianov. The atmosphere was heavy. The topic of discussion was that I had to sign over the deed of the Hermitage to the Eastern American Diocese. If the property of the Hermitage of the Holy Protection is not transferred to EAD, that I will be banned from serving; I will not be able to perform my liturgical and pastoral activities.

Metropolitan Nicholas said that there would be no compromises on this issue. Bishop Luke insisted that I was neither a monk, nor a priest, that I did not have the proper humility and obedience to fulfill the will of the new First Hierarch. The Secretary of the Diocese said that in his opinion, I should have been banned by now. Arch priest Serge Lukianov demanded that I provide a precise and unambiguous answer: whether I will transfer the property of the Hermitage to the EAD or not. Arch priest David Straut was silent.

I tried to explain that I am not solely responsible for making this decision, as there is a Board of Trustees. Amongst other things, we needed to consider the blessing of our dear Metropolitan Hilarion, who had created the Hermitage and appointed the trustees. Metropolitan Hilarion, himself became the founder and trustee of the Hermitage together with me. Metropolitan Hilarion gave his blessing in 2015 to transfer the abandoned parish to the Hermitage of the Holy Protection. Is it possible to question Metropolitan Hilarion’s adequacy and foresight? They didn’t want to listen to me; they just wanted to take away the property, and threatened me to be banned from serving for no other reason. I was put against the wall and was left with no choice. I bowed to the ground to the new First Hierarch of ROCOR, and after spending a long time at the grave of dear Vladyka Hilarion in tears and prayers, I left Jordanville.

On March 23rd of this year, the Board of Trustees of the Hermitage of the Holy Protection discussed the evolving situation. The Hermitage’s future was at stake. EAD wanted to take the property away from the lawful Rector and eliminate the board of trustees, and ban the Abbot from serving.

Therefore, the Hermitage Board of Trustees, having assessed the situation, made the only decision possible to turn to the Chairman of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, His Eminence, Archbishop Elpidophoros, Head of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. We asked to be received under the omophorion of His Eminence, Archbishop Elpidophoros.

Archbishop Elpidophoros showed us not only his Archpastoral wisdom, but also his fatherly love. He learned about our situation and accepted the Skete under the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, as evidenced by the decree of His Eminence and the Holy Antimension issued to us for Divine service.

The Greek Orthodox Church was founded by the Apostle Andrew, the First-Called and has kept the canons of Holy Orthodoxy pure for many centuries. In July 1993 Patriarch Alexey II of Moscow said this about the Patriarchate of Constantinople: “In Constantinople, as the Russian people called the “City of King” with love from ancient times, the Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Princess Olga received the grace of baptism; her grandson, the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Prince Vladimir sent there his ambassadors, looking for the right faith. There are no words that could express the feelings of gratitude experienced by the Russian believing people to the Holy Church of Constantinople, which brought the saving Orthodox faith to Russia, which determined all spheres of life of Holy Russia”.

Since ancient times, the Patriarch of Constantinople has been the highest authority in the Orthodox world, where disputes, or interpretations regarding the canons of the Holy Church, or its administrative questions were resolved. The spiritual authority of the Patriarchate of Constantinople is still recognized by Orthodox churches throughout the world. Therefore, the Skete, in order to protect itself from uncanonical actions on the part of the new leadership of the Eastern American Diocese, had no other choice but to seek protection from Archbishop Elpidophoros. Dear brothers and sisters! I was and remain a faithful child of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. We remain a Russian Orthodox Hermitage, under the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. We preserve our liturgical traditions and our habitual way of life. Access to the Hermitage of the Holy Protection and its cemetery is still OPEN for everyone.

We honor and value the memory of the blessed venerable First Hierarch of ROCOR Metropolitan Hilarion. We pray for him and believe that he is with us, and will not leave his Hermitage in a difficult moment. We will not allow the Hermitage of the Holy Protection to be closed, we will not betray the works and prayers of Vladyka Metropolitan Hilarion, and with God’s Help, as planned, we will mount the sculpture of the blessed, reposed First Hierarch Metropolitan Hilarion at the Skete.

 

I remain faithful, with deep love and respect to the Russian Church Abroad. I know what great people stood at its origins, shaped its cultural and moral uniqueness, and what a colossal spiritual inheritance that the Russian Orthodox Church has left for all of us. I hope this legacy will not be forgotten. May God be merciful to all of us at the Great Judgement. The Paschal joy and the words of our Savior console us: “Blessed are you when they reproach you and persecute you and slander you unjustly in every possible way for Me. Rejoice and be glad, for great is your reward in heaven; so, they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11)

Christ is Risen! With love in Christ,

Abbot Tikhon, Rector of The Hermitage

Archimandrite Alexander Belya wins case against ROCOR Synod

“In an orders list released Monday morning, the Supreme Court denied without comment an appeal in the case of Faith Bible Chapel International v. Tucker, and the linked case of Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia v. Belya.”

“Religious freedom is not a license to harm others or prevent people from seeking justice in courts of law,” said President and CEO Rachel Laser in the emailed press release. “These cases are far from over, but Gregg Tucker and Father Alexander Belya now have a chance to vindicate their rights.”

 

This case, three years old, must be costing the ROCOR Synod a lot of money. The US Supreme Court is very expensive. Worse still, it is only the first of the many cases that accumulated during the dark period of the late Metropolitan Hilarion’s illness, when all kinds of strange documents were signed with his electronic signature.

Fr Alexander Belya must now file his defamation claim in the lower court. The process will involve both sides submitting their evidence / witness statements. This could be very embarrassing for ROCOR. It will take several months (maybe a year?) to get a judgment.

https://www.au.org/the-latest/press/victory-tucker-belya-supreme-court/

https://www.supremecourt.gov/search.aspx?filename=/docket/docketfiles/html/public/22-824.html

https://www.supremecourt.gov/search.aspx?filename=/docket/docketfiles/html/public/22-824.html

Questions and Answers on the Third Day of Pentecost 2023 After the Ukraine: Religion, Faith, the Orthodox Church and the Diaspora

Religion and Faith

Q: What is the point of religion?

A: Religion is pointless.

Q: What do you mean? You are a priest!

A: Religion is manmade and man-inspired. It is an invention, an institution, devised for use by States in order to manipulate their populations. This is the opposite of Faith, which is God-made and God-inspired. Unlike Religion, Faith is not devised by men, but revealed by God. The point of Faith is to know and acquire God, Who is Love. All words and phrases such as ‘salvation, going to church, praying, acquiring the Holy Spirit, repentance, redemption, overcoming sin, defeating death, venerating the saints, grace, the sacraments, understanding the Scriptures’, mean precisely this – knowing and acquiring Love.

Faith is then the opposite of religion, whose aim all too often becomes knowing and acquiring hatred. We can see this very clearly in the institutional Religion of the anti-Faith pharisees in the New Testament, who hated and then murdered Christ, the Son of God/Love – they murdered Love. And the modern pharisees, full of the same old hatred, just go on doing this today, as we have seen very recently! If Christ came back, they would most certainly crucify Him again, as the Greek author Kazantsakis wrote 75 years ago.

Q: Why then are there different faiths?

A: All faiths agree that humanity and all creation are at the bottom of the mountain and God/Love is at the top of the mountain. Faith is to help us climb the mountain, resisting all the temptations against Love. We all start at the bottom and inevitably take different paths up the mountain. At the bottom we can find many paths that lead upwards, but how far do they go and how will we best fight off the attacks from the demons who sit along those paths? What is the best and easiest path? Many paths seem to peter out quite soon or end in insurmountable heights and obstacles. And do they all lead upwards anyway? Or do they just go round and round the mountain? Do the other paths join the Orthodox Christian paths at a certain level?

Personally, I have no need to condemn others for taking other paths, as others inevitably do. All I have is my own spiritual experience, that the Orthodox saints have got to the top of the mountain on their paths, despite the enemy of humanity, the devil and his minions. Therefore, I try to follow those paths. As for those who take other paths, it is none of my business. I am not an insecure neophyte who needs to condemn others in order to justify himself.

The Ukraine

Q: Do you support the Russian side in the war in the Ukraine?

A: As a priest, I am on the side of all the suffering and on the side of peace. I cannot be anywhere else. I cannot support killing by anyone. This conflict was begun by the USA through its puppet government which it installed by violence in Kiev in 2014 with the support of its EU/NATO vassals. It is tragic and unnecessary. And sadly, as they say, those who sowed the wind are reaping the whirlwind. Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers have died so far, then there are the hundreds of thousands of maimed, psychologically crippled and bereaved. Let alone the millions of Ukrainian refugees (2 million in Russia) and millions of others in Europe, especially in Poland. And then there are the Russian dead (see below).

Q: Some American converts to ROCOR say that they support the Russian side against the Ukraine because that conflict is a battle for Holy Rus. What would you say?

A: The phrase ‘Holy Rus’ refers to the ancient past. After the ravages of Soviet atheism, it no longer exists – it has not been reconstituted. Today Russia still  has twice the abortion rate of the West and very high rates of divorce and alcoholism. Today, instead of ‘Holy Rus’, we use expressions like the Orthodox Christian world, Orthodox Civilisation, the Orthosphere. And if you kill others, you do not belong to the Orthodox world.

Q: What will happen to the ‘Orthodox Church in the Ukraine’, the OCU, so recently set up by Constantinople with US money?

A: It will die out and disappear because it is a temporary passing phenomenon, born out of the US State Department’s plotting imagination and the refusal by Moscow to give the Ukrainian Church autocephaly – which it almost did in the 1990s. The UOC was only ever a purely political organisation, born of the US-controlled Ukrainian State and the US-controlled Patriarchate of Constantinople.

Q: If you are neutral in this war, why are you convinced that Russia will defeat the Western-backed government in Kiev?

A: Quite simply, because I am a political realist, have sources in the Ukraine, and do not listen to tabloid/BBC/CNN type propaganda, which simply repeats the lies of the Kiev Department of Propaganda, which itself is run by American PR companies.  Look at the facts:

First of all, Russia will win, perhaps even in several months’ time, because this conflict is existential for it, but not at all for the Western elite. In other words, it is everything for Russia. It cannot lose. It has military, economic and diplomatic superiority, the backing of most of the world. It is not repeating the mistakes made by the Russian Empire in 1914, which naively thought that Britain and France were on its side, when in fact they fomented both the German attack and the overthrow of the Tsar, using internal traitors, lack of censorship and malcontents. Russia has learned from its mistakes then, it has at last lost its illusions.

Secondly, so far this is not even a war from the Russian viewpoint, let alone an ‘unprovoked full-scale invasion’, as the propagandists call it. The Russian Army has not yet even fought directly in it. The ‘Russian’ side is composed of the pro-Russian Ukrainian people’s militias from Lugansk and Donetsk (the Donbass), who are fighting for their freedom, Chechen volunteers and the 50,000-strong Wagner Company, which is composed of about 75% ex-convicts and about 25% of professional volunteers, the latter often officers recruited from the Russian Army. It is backed by vastly superior drone-guided Russian artillery, missiles and units from the Russian Air Force and the Black Sea Fleet. The always weak Kiev Navy no longer exists, its last ship was sunk last week, and the always weak Kiev Air Force has been virtually wiped out. Now, in modern warfare, the winner is always the one who has air superiority and can mount a naval blockade.

So far, since February 2022, it seems that some 20,000 pro-Russian Ukrainians and Chechens, 13,000 ex-convict volunteers and 4,000 Russian volunteers have died on the Russian side. Total casualties on the Russian side are therefore about 37,000. However, it appears that the Kiev Army has lost at least 300,000 dead, not including wounded. The ratio is 1:8 or even 1:10. Why? Because of the superiority of modern Russian technology (the Kiev forces have mainly used old Soviet arms or old NATO arms) and its vast quantity. The greatest Kiev defeat so far, greater even than Mariupol, was in Bakhmut, which fell on 20 May 2023 (this defeat was censored by the Western media, like so much else) after nine months of fighting in this horrible war of attrition. The town of Bakhmut, where some 70,000 people once lived, is in ruins. Whole blocks of flats were dynamited by the fleeing Kiev forces, just as they did in Mariupol.

The first NATO-trained Kiev Army was defeated in March 2022 and the war could have ended then. However, the second Kiev Army, rearmed with equipment from the former Soviet, now NATO, bloc in order to prolong the conflict, was defeated in the autumn of 2022. Now the third Kiev Army, armed to the teeth and trained by the US/NATO, is also being defeated. I would give it a maximum of another eleven months, simply because this is a war between Washington and Moscow, being fought on the battlefields of the Ukraine till the last Ukrainian cannon fodder is dead.

Since February 2022, the pro-Russian forces (and even Russia itself, in minor and suicidal incursions by Kiev forces, carried out for propaganda purposes) are being attacked from ever deeper inside Kiev-controlled territory. This means that pro-Russian forces, and probably eventually the million-strong Russian Army itself, will in turn be forced to penetrate ever deeper into Kiev-controlled territory and possibly (and unwillingly) even go as far as the Polish border. After it has set up a government in the New Ukraine, centred in a Kiev independent of the USA, it will withdraw.

Small parts of the old Soviet-established Ukraine (yes, the West is defending a purely Soviet creation in the Ukraine, 32 years after the disappearance of the Soviet Union) may be transferred to Poland, Hungary and Romania. There persecuted minorities have long laboured under Kiev’s dreaded secret police, the CIA-trained SBU. As for the south and east of the Ukraine, whose unhistoric borders were set by the USSR, probably including Odessa and as far as Transdnistria, they will go to Russia. An independent Ukraine, free of the US, will exist. Russia has no desire at all to occupy it, just to neutralise it as a threat to itself and free the Russian areas, part of Russia until 1954 or 1922.

Thirdly, the vast majority of the world either supports Russia (e.g. China, Iran etc) in this operation, or is neutral (e.g. India, Africa, Latin America etc) and does not support the West, which is only 12.5% of world population and whose GDP is quite outmatched by BRICS, even without the rest of the world, which is also dedollarising. Dedollarisation has been caused directly by sanctions against Russia, which have undermined all confidence in the dollar. The debt-ridden West is isolated in its G7 ghetto, its only weapons are boomeranging sanctions, which have caused huge inflation in their own countries, and plots to overthrow popular governments, as recently in the now chaotic Pakistan. The EU head of diplomacy, the unelected Josep Borrell, has admitted twice that the whole conflict in the Ukraine could end in days if the West stopped arming Kiev. By arming the Kiev forces against their own people, the West is simply prolonging the agony. Every death should be on the conscience of the Western elite.

The huge error of the Western elite in all this is its hubris in believing its own delusional propaganda. Russia is a Superpower, with advanced arms the USA simply does not have.

The West has yet to learn to respect different civilisations, which it has not been doing for exactly a millennium, when it definitively began to reconstitute the incredibly cruel pagan Roman Empire and adopted its techniques of ruthless organised violence to conquer and exploit the world (See Note 1 at the end). That organised violence began with its Crusades in the 1030s in Iberia, Sicily, England (in 1066), then in the Middle East and later in southern France, then developed into colonialism and imperialism, continuing to this day. This is clearly not Christian, but pagan.

Even today, what was once called Orthodox Christian Civilisation, however far it is from the actual practice of Orthodoxy – and it is far from it – is radically different from Western-Secularist Civilisation through its cultural values alone. And the fault-line between Orthodox Christian Civilisation and Western-Secularist Civilisation passes through the extreme west of today’s Ukraine, the part that used to belong to Catholic Poland and before that to Catholic Habsburg Austria and, frankly, it should return there.

The Future of the Russian Church

Q: So, after what you see as a Russian military and political victory, do you see the Moscow Patriarchate taking over the whole of the Church in the Ukraine?

A: No, not at all! Whatever the outcome, and regardless of whether I am right or wrong in my view that the Russian State will win against Washington’s war in the Ukraine, the great loser in this whole affair is the Moscow Patriarchate. It is a catastrophe for it, though it still does not seem to realise this.

First of all, the Russian State and the Orthodox Faith (unlike the Moscow Patriarchate) are two very different things. The Russian State wants to destroy anti-Russian Nazism in the Ukraine, so it will gain national security and US bases, biolabs and missiles aimed at Moscow will not exist on its borders. The Russian State wants a militarily and politically neutral Ukraine, like Austria and Finland used to be, before they were forced to join NATO. As regards the Orthodox Faith, it is obvious that the still largely atheist Russian State has no ability or desire to enforce churchgoing in the Ukraine in the future. People in the New Ukraine that may take shape a year from now, perhaps with a population of 10-20 million, will be free to go to any church they want. For most of them that will mean not going to any church at all (as in Russia, where also only about 2-3% go to church regularly).

However, churchgoing Ukrainians will certainly not go to Moscow Patriarchate churches after the conflict in the Ukraine is over, as they see in it an anti-Ukrainian Russian nationalist organisation. For example, just two weeks ago we were in Bari, where we concelebrated at the Liturgy for St Nicholas Day. It was interrupted by about 10 Ukrainians, including a Constantinople OCU priest, who shouted ‘Satanist’ at us. They were shouting not at us Romanians, Moldovans and English, but against the bishop who was from the Moscow Patriarchate. That is how they feel. The level of hatred is that great.

I think that Churched Ukrainians will only attend a future de facto and de jure autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church under Metr Onufry. In other words, Moscow will have to give autocephaly. The present de facto autocephaly may even get recognised by other Local Churches before Moscow actually gives it, exactly as happened with the Polish Orthodox Church in the 1920s (2). The UOC already gets great sympathy from other Local Churches, which see the Moscow Patriarchate as enslaved to the Russian State. The same is true for Russian churches in many other countries, where the Moscow Patriarchate, as a Soviet-era institution, is still in the grip of Soviet centralisation and, as a post-Soviet institution, is in the grip of oligarchic Business. Most Russian Orthodox churches outside Russia also want freedom, autocephaly, from the now nationalist Moscow Patriarchate, not just those in the Ukraine.

All those that received autocephaly from Moscow in the last century, in Poland and in Czechoslovakia and in the OCA in North America (even if the last case is disputed), are pleased to be outside Moscow’s control. So are most Orthodox in Latvia now, even if its autocephaly was uncanonically given it by the Latvian government (again, exactly as in Poland in the 1920s (2))! In Lithuania and Estonia, Orthodox are in great difficulty, as both have schisms, and, as in the Ukraine, this is because Moscow refused to give autocephaly in time, in the 1990s. One post-Revolutionary émigré fragment of the Moscow Patriarchate, the very Moscow-critical, very independent and very Western Archdiocese of Western Europe is also in great difficulty, because it does not have autocephaly and is at present trying to get another three bishops consecrated, but it needs Moscow’s approval. It may not get it.

Another post-Revolutionary emigre fragment, ROCOR, in New York, has done exactly the opposite to the above Archdiocese group, in quite suicidal fashion. Between 1927 and 2007 it had total independence, de facto autocephaly, from Moscow and canonised the New Martyrs and New Confessors. That was an act of spiritual courage and of independence, though it was not strictly canonical, as Moscow had not granted it permission to be autocephalous and canonise saints on its territory.

However, in 2007 an act of canonical unity between Moscow and ROCOR was agreed and signed. I was there. That was good, because it legitimised ROCOR independence and its acts, which previously had been disputed. However, tragically and dramatically, instead of using that de facto and de jure independence and freedom, ROCOR renounced it and came to enslave itself to Moscow. After exactly a decade of missed golden opportunities, since precisely 2017, the centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution, that spiritual unity has become a purely political union with the Moscow Patriarchate, exactly as Patriarch Kyrill quite specifically described it to a Russian Metropolitan friend in 2018.

As a result of this spiritual surrender six years ago, ROCOR decided to agree to anything that Soviet Centralising Moscow and post-Soviet oligarchic Business Moscow wants. The dollar above Christ. ROCOR has been bought out by money. The more gifts that were accepted, the less freedom it had. Even more tragically, it was not forced into this sell-out by Moscow, it was its own voluntary choice after ten years. What happened? Sadly, seeing how luxuriously the bishops lived in Moscow, they wanted the same. So they sold themselves. At one time ROCOR bishops lived as poor and humble monks. They, all gone now, must be spinning in their graves. How are the once (spiritually) mighty fallen….

Thus, ROCOR has lost its heritage of spiritual freedom and independence. And therefore it will not last much longer, for God is not mocked. Its sectarian extremism and nationalism, that is, the exclusion of all other Orthodox, including Ukrainians, will not last long where it is, outside Russia, in the Diaspora. The Diaspora is unkind to inward-looking, racially exclusive and extremist ghettos. The old humble ROCOR of saintly confessors has been replaced by the ethos of a right-wing American missionary sect, remarkably similar to the Mormons. This is completely alien to others and to all normal Orthodox, Serbian, Bulgarian, Moldovan, Romanian, Greek, who simply ignore it, which is not difficult, as ROCOR is so small. Byzantine-rite Mormonism only attracts the few, the wrong sort, the right-wing sectarian, the negative, not the many, the positive, on whom you can build. Such sectarianism does not export to territories outside the USA, where ROCOR is dying out in one suicidal act after another, from France to South America, from Indonesia to England.

Q: You sacrificed fifty years of your life for the unity of the Russian Orthodox Church, so how do you feel now that you are outside it and it is falling apart?

A: Well, that is not true. I am not outside it. I am in spiritual unity with the suffering Russian Church of the Saints and the New Martyrs and Confessors. I am only outside the Soviet-style administration, which, by the way, has always admired the immensely rich Vatican, like the Statist Metropolitan Nikodim of Leningrad, whom we remember dying in the arms of the Pope in 1978. This is because it has always admired the mentality of the State-Church or rather the Church-State. Power and riches. Such a view of the Church as a mere political administration based on power and riches does not have any canonical authority, just as forced episcopal signatures have no canonical authority.

As regards sacrificing my life, more exactly I have given fifty years of my life for the Orthodox Church in the Diaspora. In the 1970s and early 1980s I saw the Church of Constantinople reject a future for Orthodoxy by preferring nationalism and politics to transmitting the Tradition to others and to future generations. Now I have seen the Russian Church do the same, with its nationalism and politics, and so it is falling apart. If it continues, the only clergy that will be left are money-minded careerists who have little or no faith. Too bad for them. You cannot impose freedom on those who prefer tyranny, as we know from Dostoyevsky’s Legend of the Grand Inquisitor. There are those who do not want the Truth to set them free….

However, the Russian Church can fall apart positively, in the sense that it can unburden itself of its Soviet-style centralist administration and instead become a Family or Confederation of free Churches. Fortunately, there are other Orthodox, those of the spirit of the persecuted St Seraphim of Sarov, of the persecuted St Nectarios of Pentapolis, of the persecuted St John of Shanghai, of the persecuted Elder Nikolai (Guryanov), of the New Martyrs and Confessors. Long ago we committed ourselves to them and we will not renounce them and their spirit. We belong to the Persecuted Church, not to the Persecuting Church.

Q: But aren’t you frightened of what those Russians have tried to do to you?

A: St Paisios the Athonite, whom I met on Athos in 1979, said: ‘Believe in God and fear nothing’ (Πίστη στο Θεό και να μην φοβάστε τίποτα). That is what I have always done, come grasping greed, secret atheists, nationalist bureaucrats, modernists, ecumenists, freemasons, covid lockdown enforcers, perverts, spies and schismatic right-wing neophytes. We have seen all these enemies of the Church in power in Her administration from Judas until this very day, but the Church has always triumphed and will always triumph against all these extremists. Fear not!

Q: So does the Moscow Patriarchate have any future?

A: No, as such it does not. It has become a straitjacket and several conscientious priests are leaving it. As I said, the great loser in the conflict in the Ukraine is undoubtedly the Moscow Patriarchate, regardless of who wins militarily. It has lost credit and those clergy who have backed war have lost face. They are seen as militant nationalists, whose spirit is that of that very strange, nationalist, khaki-painted Cathedral of the Armed Forces of Russia, near Moscow (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/oct/20/orthodox-cathedral-of-the-armed-force-russian-national-identity-military-disneyland).

The Moscow Patriarchate has already lost a range of territories, the Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and is now losing Moldova and its Western Diaspora, and in a few years’ time most probably Belarus and Central Asia too, all through politics. It has not followed the Gospel. If you do not follow the Gospel, you will die spiritually. That is the spiritual law. It happens to them all. I have seen it so often over the last fifty years and recently here too. It is spiritual suicide not to follow the Gospel and to attack those in the Church who have integrity.

However, here we have to distinguish carefully between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church. The former is a purely Soviet and post-Soviet institution, like the émigré fragments in Paris and in New York, whose existence was also shaped by the Soviet Union, though by reaction. It is a historical blip, a temporary administrative arrangement that began in 1925 after the death (by poisoning?) of the holy Patriarch Tikhon, whose signatures were also forced. In 50 years’ time, the Moscow Patriarchate will no longer exist. In fact, I do not think any of these three fragments will exist even in 25 years’ time. In fact, I sometimes wonder if they will still exist even in two years’ time, in 2025. On the other hand, the Russian Orthodox Church with its thousand-year history of saints most certainly does have a future. It will continue to be by far the largest of the to-be-extended family of Local Orthodox Churches, even though autocephaly must go to its parts in the Ukraine, Central Asia (based in Kazakhstan), Moldova (if it is not too late – see below) and the Baltics, at the very least. The number of Local Orthodox Churches could then hit 20.

The Diaspora

Q: If they happened, how would such a series of new autocephalies affect the Diaspora?

A: We can already see the effect. The UOC has opened over 40 parishes in Western Europe and will open more. Why? Because Ukrainian refugees refuse to attend churches where Patriarch Kyrill is commemorated. Those Ukrainians who cannot go to their church in London come to us, as we are politically independent, unlike the Moscow Patriarchate and its ROCOR branch. If the Ukraine becomes autocephalous, Orthodox from Moldova and the Baltics will surely also open their own Diaspora churches.

On the one hand, this fragmentation is negative, because it further fragments the Diaspora, destroying the once multinational but now nationalist Moscow Patriarchate Exarchate of Western Europe, based in Paris (whose members are mainly Moldovan, Baltic or Ukrainian anyway). On the other hand, once the Diaspora is cleansed of the US-driven politics of Constantinople and the politics of the old-fashioned Soviet Centralist Moscow and post-Soviet oligarchic Business Moscow, some kind of Diaspora unity can be achieved, a unity which could never have been seen before. Diaspora disunity only ever existed because of politics. Diaspora unity will only ever exist because it will be free of politics.

Both the Greek and Russian Patriarchs are elderly. We await the new generation. God willing, there will be a reversal of policies and a great cleansing from the corruption and perversions which come from power and the love of money, with that taste for luxury products and big black cars.

Q: As you have so many Moldovan parishioners and clergy, how would the existence of an autocephalous Moldovan Church outside Moldova affect you?

A: Politically, Romanian-speaking Moldovans do not want to join Romania, despite the very unpopular US puppet government there. If it joins the EU (as long as the EU still exists), it will join it as an independent country. However, I think it is much more likely that Moldova, together with Turkiye, Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania and Montenegro, followed by Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Greece and Cyprus once freed from the EU, will join BRICS, the Planetary Alliance of Sovereign States (PASS), or whatever it will be called by then.

This would make a south-east European bloc within BRICS, reuniting that group of countries economically. This will pave the way for the other European countries to leave the doomed and collapsing EU, a temporary post-1945 organisation, and also enter BRICS. We have to go towards the future, not the past. This means economic integration and so political co-operation between Europe and Asia, Eurasia, led by Russia, China, Iran and India, which is inevitable.

However, whatever the politics, given that the Moscow Patriarchate refuses outright to give the Moldovan Church autocephaly, ever more Moldovan parishes are now leaving the Moldovan Church of the Moscow Patriarchate for the Moldovan Church of the Romanian Patriarchate. This latter group, for now called the ‘Metropolia of Bessarabia’, carefully observes all Moldovan customs and keeps the old calendar. It now has some 25% of all Moldovan Orthodox in Moldova. Its bishops are monks.

The movement to it is accelerating rapidly because of the conflict in the Ukraine, because of Moscow’s centralisation, because of corruption, and because of the mistreatment of Moldovans in the Diaspora under the ever more Russian nationalist Moscow Patriarchate. Nobody wants to be treated as a second-class citizen, neither Moldovans, nor English.

The only areas of Moldova where there is loyalty to the Moscow Patriarchate is the almost wholly Soviet Transdnistria and the autonomous pro-Russian Gagauz region (the total population of both regions is about 500,000, with an area similar to a large English county). These will join the Russian Federation anyway.

What is possible is that the many Moldovan parishes and their clergy (70 in Italy alone) in Western Europe may leave the Moscow Patriarchate and open some kind of autonomous Moldovan/Bessarabian Archdiocese under the Romanian Church in the Diaspora. The Romanian Orthodox Church outside Romania is now the largest Diaspora Church, with well over five million people, nearly 1500 parishes and over 70 monasteries and convents. Whatever its weaknesses, it dwarves the Russian and the Greek Diasporas, let alone the other Diasporas, which are relatively very small. The Romanian Diaspora is not dying out like them, but is full of young people and children. If the Moldovans join this Diaspora, as an autonomous old calendar Archdiocese under the Romanian Church in the Diaspora, it will grow even bigger.

However, a word of warning. In my lifetime I have already seen two Churches die out. The first was ROCOR in England. I remember how 40 years ago its large London Cathedral (it now has a very small church instead) was full, with 400 people every Sunday; however, the average age was about 80. They have all gone. Today, apart from a few strange converts, ROCOR is populated by those from the ex-Soviet Union who have no ROCOR tradition, the old emigres have all gone. It died out because the old emigres totally failed to hand on their faith to their descendants.

Now, 40 years on, I see the same in the Greek Church. One parish in London that used to get at least 800 people every Sunday even 30 years ago is now down to 30. The average age is also 80. The same problem. Almost the only children in Greek churches in London are Romanian/Moldovan. However, what will happen in 40 years’ time to the Romanians and Moldovans? Will their children and grandchildren fill their churches or will they too be virtually empty?

The Romanian language does have two advantages:  It is a Latin language and it uses the Latin alphabet. As such it is much closer to Western languages in terms of vocabulary and alphabet than Greek and Russian. But that is not enough. The faith has to be transmitted to the next generations. I already do baptisms completely in English for the children of Romanians and Moldovans who came here as children twenty years ago. I have spoken to our bishop, Metropolitan Joseph, about this reality, but as a pastor he is already well aware. For the moment in England there are only four Non-Romanian priests, those of our group. In France and Belgium, however, he has in his Autonomous Metropolia one French bishop and 15 French priests. So there is hope.

 

Notes:

  1. Below are quotations from an account of the history of the Roman Empire some 2,000 years ago. Do they sound familiar? The contemporary oligarchic American Empire comes immediately to mind…..

Might is right and military power is the only international law. The …… had no problem demolishing whatever stood in their way.

Those who opposed ……. domination, and who tried to defend the traditional values of their own people, faced a double enemy: the one without and the one within.

Robber, slaughter and plunder they misname ‘Empire’; they make a wilderness and call it peace.

They were offered …. citizenship, so long as they had enough money and an urban residence.

The unsuspecting Non- ….. spoke of these new habits as civilisation, when in fact they were only a feature of enslavement.

In this way, the 10% of ….. who lived in the cities exploited the 90% who lived outside.

The name of …… citizens, at one time not only greatly valued but dearly bought, is now repudiated and fled from, and it is almost considered not only base but even deserving of abhorrence.

When it came to institutionalised cruelty on an industrial scale, the ……. could teach the others a thing or two.

He makes it quite clear that ………’s objective was the enslavement of the world.

The ideology of that Empire was an ideology of power and world dominance.

….. established its Empire by destroying other civilisations.

……. lived behind frontiers, and what lay beyond was dangerous. That applied as much to their mental world as to their geography.

The Empire was, by this time, an economic basket-case. The machine had to keep feeding itself with plunder.

It’s surprsing his name is not better known in the West. But then, in the West it is only the ….. version of events that counts, and that does not include successful enemies.

….. needed to build an ideology that encouraged people to see their rulers not just as overlords, but as the defenders of civilised values, and they knew a thing or two about propaganda.

…… emphasised its transcendent magisterial authority, its right to judge the living and the dead and to determine people’s fate for all eternity.

  1. https://www.rocorstudies.org/2023/05/30/autocephaly-and-principles-of-its-application-with-reference-to-the-church-of-poland/?utm_source=mailpoet&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=demo-newsletter_1

 

 

 

 

 

Belya (and all the other defamation cases in the long pipeline) versus ROCOR

https://www.reuters.com/legal/litigation/court-wont-revisit-ruling-allowing-priest-sue-church-defamation-2023-02-08/

Court won’t revisit ruling allowing priest to sue church for defamation

February 8, 2023

By Daniel Wiessner

Split court says lawsuit doesn’t implicate religious matters

Dissenting judge says ruling will destroy church autonomy

(Reuters) – A sharply divided U.S. appeals court on Wednesday declined to reconsider a ruling that said a former Russian Orthodox priest could sue the church for defamation without interfering with its internal governance.

The Manhattan-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a 6-6 vote denied en banc review of a three-judge panel’s September ruling, with the dissenting judges claiming the decision would eviscerate church autonomy protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The panel had rejected the Russian Orthodox Church’s bid to dismiss a lawsuit by Alexander Belya, who claims church officials’ false accusations of fraud and forgery led to him losing an appointment to become the bishop of Miami.

Lawyers for Belya and the defendants did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The panel, affirming a New York federal judge, had held that because the lawsuit focuses on “neutral principles” and not matters of faith or religious doctrine, the church was not shielded from Belya’s claims.

But in a dissenting opinion on Wednesday, Circuit Judge Michael Park said church autonomy applies not only to religious matters but issues involving internal governance.

“It is difficult to see how a court could assess [Belya’s] claim without considering the reasons for the church’s decisions, including whether Defendants correctly determined that Belya was never elected Bishop of Miami and whether they acted in good faith,” Park wrote.

Park, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, was joined by four other Republican appointees and Circuit Judge Jose Cabranes, who was appointed by Democratic President Bill Clinton.

In an opinion backing the denial of en banc review, Circuit Judge Raymond Lohier said Park had improperly implied that Belya purposely styled his lawsuit as a defamation case to get around the doctrine of church autonomy.

“At this stage, Belya’s claim is a genuine defamation claim that, as the dissent’s refusal to take it at face value suggests, would not implicate church autonomy,” wrote Lohier, an appointee of former President Barack Obama.

Lohier was joined by fellow Obama appointee Circuit Judge Denny Chin and four appointees of President Joe Biden.

The case is Belya v. Kapral, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 21-1498.

For Belya: Bradley Girard of Americans United for Separation of Church and State

For the defendants: Diana Thomson of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

 

Case 21-1498, Document 297, 02/08/2023, 3465457, Page 2 of 12

“First, the Dissent writes that “[t]his case arises from a minister’s suspension

by his church,” and that the lawsuit “is styled as a defamation claim.” Dissent at

  1. The suggestion is that this case is not really a defamation case, but instead

seeks to intrude on a church’s autonomy by subjecting Defendants “to litigation

over religious matters.” Id. at 10. In fact, this is a defamation case and not a case

over religious matters. If Belya’s allegations are true — and we must assume they

are for now — this is, as the first amended complaint (the “Complaint”) declares, “a

case of egregious defamation.” J. App’x at 87. If the allegations are true,

Defendants made public accusations that Belya forged and fabricated certain

documents, including accusations that Belya forged the signature of the “ruling

bishop” of ROCOR onto two letters, that he fabricated or otherwise improperly

obtained official letterhead, and that he falsely affixed to the letters what appeared

to be the ruling bishop’s official seal. See id. at 95-97. The allegation that Belya

committed forgery was posted on the church’s social media site by one or more of

the Defendants and was re-posted and circulated by religious news outlets and

publications. Id. at 98.

 

Case 21-1498, Document 297, 02/08/2023, 3465457, Page 3 of 12

“Simple, non-ecclesiastical factual questions are presented: Did Belya forge

the letters in question? Or did the ruling bishop actually sign the letters? Were

the letters on the ruling bishop’s official letterhead? Were the letters stamped

with the purported signatory’s official seal? Or were the purported letterhead

and stamps a fabrication? These are factual questions that a fact-finder could

answer without delving into matters of faith and doctrine.

Significantly, the Complaint seeks only damages (and attorney’s fees and

costs) and not injunctive or declaratory relief. The Complaint does not seek an

order declaring that Belya was in fact elected to the position of Bishop of Miami or

an injunction requiring Defendants to install him into that or any other position;

nor does it seek to vacate Belya’s suspension from the church. See Belya v.

Hilarion, No. 20-CV-6597, 2021 WL 1997547, at *4 (S.D.N.Y. May 19, 2021) (district

court noting that “Belya does not ask this Court to determine whether his election

was proper or whether he should be reinstated to his role as Bishop of Miami”).

Rather, the Complaint asserts only three defamation claims and a fourth claim for

vicarious liability related to the defamation claims, and it seeks only damages.

This is, indeed, a defamation case.”

https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/USCOURTS-ca2-21-01498/pdf/USCOURTS-ca2-21-01498-5.pdf

https://www.govinfo.gov/app/details/USCOURTS-ca2-21-01498/USCOURTS-ca2-21-01498-2/context

 

 

Divisions of the Russian Orthodox Church

Introduction: Divisions Outside the Church

The Western world began its separate and exclusivist existence when the Roman Papacy destroyed the Local Church entrusted to its care by enforcing a radical separation between clergy and laity, depriving the latter of communion with Christ. In this way Christians were no longer members of the Church, but subjugated to political clericalism. This centralising ideology of Papal supremacy replacing Christ dominated Western European history from the Gregorian Reform of the mid-eleventh century on, causing divisions everywhere. It was a radical departure from Orthodox Christianity, which the new ideologues hypocritically derided as ‘caesaropapism’. Moreover, it was the First Germanic Reformation of the mid-eleventh century, often called ‘the Gregorian Reform’ after the German Pope Gregory VII (c. 1015-1085), which led directly to the Second Germanic Reform, which essentially began in 1517. From here on, already much divided Catholicism split into thousands of protesting sects.

Divisions of the Russian Orthodox Church

Divisions Caused by Statism

Right-Leaning Groups: Nationalists and Provincials

In the 17th century changes in ritual in Russia, enforced by the State, created the tragic Old Ritualist schism. If the changes had not been enforced by the State and had been left to be enacted voluntarily, this schism would not have occurred. Indeed, under Tsar Nicholas II, the Church accepted both rituals, old and new, as equally valid. However, round about the same time, other State bureaucrats enforced a persecution of simple and pious Russian monks on Mt Athos, who considered that the Name of God was in itself holy. Instead of leaving the pious if simple and uneducated alone, State persecution created another unnecessary, though this time far smaller, division.

Atheist persecution in the USSR, tacitly complied with by weak bishop-survivors, again created division. Small groups of Russian Orthodox celebrated secret services in the ‘catacombs’. They were soon divided from one another and, with time, became increasingly small and sectarian, attracting only the uneducated. It was zeal without knowledge. The same atheist persecution also led to potential divisions among Russian exiles outside Russia in the small Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR). Already in the late 1940s there were zealous but poorly-educated individuals in it who began to propound the Cold War theory that the Russian Church inside Russia had somehow, at some point, mysteriously, ‘lost grace’ and therefore that its sacraments were no longer valid. This piece of self-flattery would mean that those individuals, living in the USA, formed the ‘One True Church’. Free of extreme right-wing political prejudices, the reasonable and the holy in Europe like St Seraphim of Boguchar and St John of Shanghai, or in Serbia, St Nikolai of Ochrid and St Justin of Chelije, naturally rejected such fantastic delusions.

Left-Leaning Groups: Modernists and Liberals

Already before 1917 there was a group of modernists in Saint Petersburg. Profoundly Westernised, they basically wanted to make Orthodoxy into Protestantism. The notorious seductor-priest George Gapon, encouraged and not defrocked by his liberal bishop, was a typical representative. After 1917 these proto-Protestants formed the renovationist movement, a schism actively encouraged and enforced by the atheist Communist Party in order to weaken the Church.

Meanwhile, outside the former Russian Empire, Russian emigres in the USA, in Paris and in the Paris-based Sourozh Diocese in the UK continued the legacy of Renovationism, though in much more moderate forms. It was partly the fault of such semi-renovationists that there was no jurisdictional unity within the Russian emigration either in Western Europe or in Northern America. Those more traditional could not accept the left-wing and sometimes iconoclastic politics of these semi-renovationists.

Divisions Caused by Nationalism

After the fall of the Russian Empire in 1917, various national groups of the former Empire began forming their own nationalist ‘Churches’, separated from the Russian Orthodox Church. This was especially the case in the Ukraine and indeed, over 100 years on, the same Ukrainian nationalist separatism has been behind much of the present catastrophe in the Ukraine. They shout ‘Glory to the Ukraine’, and not ‘Glory to God’. They destroy themselves.

However, separatist and nationalist movements began elsewhere in the coming decades, notably in Latvia and Belarus, from where emigres formed separate Churches after 1945. In 1994, after the fall of the USSR, another division took place in Estonia, promoted by the power-hungry and dollar-backed Patriarchate of Constantinople and lately, after its similar disastrous recent adventure in the Ukraine, it has been tempted to start nationalist schisms in Belarus and Lithuania.

Divisions Caused by Sectarianism

Until the fall of the USSR at the end of 1991, the Church Outside Russia, ROCOR, had a clear self-identity as the politically free part of the Russian Orthodox Church, free because it was outside Russia. As such it at last canonised the New Martyrs and Confessors. However, once atheist Communism had fallen inside the USSR, which then disappeared, ROCOR lost its identity. It had no more reason to exist as a separate entity. However, instead of taking up the cause of helping the Russian Orthodox Mother-Church in Moscow to form new Local Churches on the continents where it existed, ROCOR gradually adopted a sectarian identity. In the 1990s some of its bishops uncanonically opened tiny communities inside (not outside!) the ex-USSR. This was in defiance of the views of such as Metr Anastasy and St John of Shanghai that ROCOR’s separate existence could only be temporary and that its meaning was to bring Orthodoxy to the rest of the world. At the same time some ROCOR bishops took up with sectarian Old Calendarists in Greece, Bulgaria and Romania, though they were ignored by other bishops and the mass of the clergy and faithful.

When in 2007 the anti-sectarian part of ROCOR at last forced the sectarians to abandon such Old Calendarist fantasies and enter into canonical communion with the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow, small groups left ROCOR and actually joined or formed various sectarian groups, some of them in effect becoming Russian Old Calendarists. Naturally, they were all divided from each other and warred with one another. However, this was not the end of the sectarian spirit in ROCOR. Despite strong and reasoned opposition, at the end of 2020 it returned with a vengeance and ROCOR created a schism with the Paris Archdiocese, both of them parts of the same Mother-Church! Worse still, this schism was suicidally encouraged by political elements in Moscow itself! Naturally, those who valued canonicity and moral justice left ROCOR for the canonical Orthodox Church. There now began in ROCOR a right-wing, Protestant-style, convert cult of isolationism, with some very strange and queer undercurrents.

Conclusion

Statism, Nationalism and Sectarianism. All are isms. The solution to overcoming all such temptations is to cease isolationism and engage constructively in forming and taking part in new Local Churches.

 

 

Q and A on the Shipwreck of the Russian Orthodox Church, 1 December 2022: Follow the Money or Follow the Saints

The darker the night, the brighter the stars.

Q: Why did the émigré Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), based in New York, enter into communion with the Moscow Patriarchate (MP), based in Moscow, in 2007? I heard it was for money.

A: It was definitely not for money. No money was involved. This story comes from the self-justification of old calendarists, who left ROCOR rather than enter into communion with the MP and had to give a reason for it. Ironically, some ignorant people in Moscow at the time – and I was there – said that the link-up was because Moscow wanted ‘all the ROCOR money’! Of course, that was an inherited Soviet fantasy, which imagined that all emigres were wealthy aristocrats. ROCOR, which was and is in any case only 1% of the size of the MP, had very little money in those days and Jordanville had survived till the mid-1980s only thanks to handouts from the CIA.

Q: Why did Moscow want to enter into communion?

A: Moscow wanted the link-up for political prestige: if the anti-Communist ROCOR entered into communion, it would mean that Moscow was clearly no longer tainted by Communism, which had fallen 16 years before 2007 in 1991. They needed the ROCOR rubber stamp on that. Patriarch Kyrill himself told a Russian Orthodox Metropolitan whom I know well this very fact.

Q: But surely the MP bishops had KGB code-names?

A: When it still existed, the KGB gave everyone code-names, including Mrs Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. Neither of them was a KGB agent – as far as I know! Who knows, maybe they had a code-name for you!

Q: But weren’t the old calendarists justified? Surely the MP was corrupt and controlled by the KGB?

A: The MP? You mean the MP bishops? Bishops are not the Church. The MP hierarchy had been held hostage before under the Soviets, yes. And it is true that bishops then were forbidden to speak freely under the Soviet Union, when the KGB still existed. But actually ‘controlled by the KGB’? I spoke to many bishops, priests and laypeople of the MP in private conversations and they were quite free with me! In any case, all that was over 30 years ago. The KGB no longer existed in 2007 and most of the men who were bishops in the KGB’s time are no longer alive today.

True, some of the MP bishops were then, and are now, corrupted by power and money, but that is nothing to do with Soviet rule. Some of the Russian bishops before the Revolution – and judging by their behaviour after the February Revolution perhaps most of them – were corrupted by power and money. That is just human, not systematic. That is and that was their personal choice, not a Church dogma or because of a political system.

For instance, one of the present defrocked MP bishops, Maxim, is in London now. He was already notorious as a loose-living young priest in London a few years ago, but he still got made a bishop, after which he was accused of drug-dealing (no surprises there, for those who knew him) and ran away from police arrest in Russia. Of course, here the authorities gave this criminal asylum. All he had to say to get asylum was that he was against Putin! Two other bishops, both called Ignaty, are in monasteries in Russia, for repentance after moral crimes. What is remarkable is that all three unworthy candidates somehow got made bishops. How was that possible? That is the real question. Why are there so many clearly unworthy bishops in both parts of the Russian Church?

Q: So why did the link-up take place in 2007, if no money was involved? What was in it for ROCOR?

A: It was to stop the already very isolated ROCOR becoming a Protestant-style right-wing sect of the old calendarist variety (which it has now largely become). Unity was the great desire of Metr Laurus and all the Church wing in ROCOR, who could see the danger and temptation of becoming a sect. ROCOR’s only remaining friends, the Serbian Church and the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, both advised ROCOR to enter communion with the MP, or else it would become a sect and fall out of communion even with them.

However, the desire of the political wing in ROCOR was to be sectarian, they liked their isolation and life in the ‘One True Church’ ghetto. So some of the isolationists left in 2007 for multiple old calendarist-style, sectarian ‘One True Church’ groups, one of them CIA-financed. Others stayed behind. Those who stayed behind have contributed to some of the present problems. For example, they took in an extremist priest who was with the right-wing mob at the Capitol on 6 January 2021 (the OCA quite rightly did not want him any more after that). Then there were the open recommendations to vote Trump from ROCOR bishops. In other words, American ROCOR refused to keep out of US party politics and even told us, Non-Americans, to support Trump!

Q: Where exactly do the problems and scandals in ROCOR today come from?

A: The problems come from the corruption by power and money of individuals in ROCOR, which at one time was mostly above and outside that. There was, after all, in those days, no money to be corrupted by in ROCOR. There was still nobility and honour, bishops were still servants of the Church, and nobody mentioned the dread phrase, ‘we bishops are princes of the Church’. ROCOR decided to be corrupted, it was under no obligation to be so. In other words, individuals in ROCOR corrupted themselves with American money, the dollar.

This was a tendency that was already present among a few in the 1960s (the ones who put St John of Shanghai and Western Europe on trial in the fleshpots of San Francisco), but the trend grew enormously in the 2000s. The younger generation, who never knew the old, principled and poor emigre ROCOR of St John of Shanghai and others, fell, and they took ROCOR down with them. This will go into the history books and be marvelled at by future generations.

Going to the USA after World War II finished ROCOR, not going to the post-USSR. ROCOR was corrupted by the USA, not by the USSR! That is the irony of it. ROCOR’s corruption was nothing to do with the MP. That is not to say that there are not parallels or that the MP does not have the same problems and even worse. As we have said, what is sad is that corrupt individuals have been made bishops in both parts of the Russian Church, rather than being exposed beforehand and dealt with before they could bring their corruption up to the episcopal level. These anti-pastors and anti-missionaries who with their profound desire for money and property, are mini-oligarchs and have wrecked whole dioceses. They are wolves in archpastors’ clothing

How did they get away with it? How did they deceive those above them? Were those above them blind? Did these individuals corrupt or bribe those above them? Here there are many, many unanswered questions. We understand that the Russian Church only had 150 bishops at the time in 2007. Another 250 have been made since then. But was there no examination of the candidates first? We have indeed returned to the scandals of the fourth century when most bishops were corrupt.

Q: Is the Ukraine affair and ROCOR support for President Putin the end of ROCOR?

A: Yes, it probably is, but only as the last nail in the coffin, which ROCOR had already decided to make for itself long before 24 February 2022. If the Ukraine had not happened, there would have been something else. ROCOR was already on its way out, as it had refused to take the only logical path of survival, that of helping to build up Local Churches. With so little humility, mercy and love, it had become spiritually irrelevant, a tiny Church of tiny ghetto communities in rented properties and wooden sheds, with very little idea of the authentic Russian Orthodox tradition, let alone other Orthodox traditions.

Q: What about the Ukraine and the MP?

A: Above all, the Ukrainian affair is the end of the highly centralised Soviet and post-Soviet Moscow Patriarchate, as it developed after 1925, after the repose/martyrdom of the holy Patriarch Tikhon, who was also, by the way, an American citizen and after whom a New York street has now been named. It is the end of the ‘Soviet Orthodoxy’ of Metropolitan Sergius and those who admire him, the end of erastianism, the end of that strange mixture of centralised bureaucracy, protocols, narrow nationalism, ritualism and superstition that was accepted on account of the ignorance of people, who had been held captive by Soviet atheism for three generations.

Q: What is the future?

A: Today the whole Russian Church, the MP and ROCOR, has to be recast. Both will have to change names, restructuring themselves completely and granting autocephalies, founding new Local Churches. They will both have to stop living in the past, whether centralising Soviet or CIA-funded anti-Soviet. That period is over. Both terms, MP and ROCOR, are purely Soviet and anti-Soviet, purely political and belong to a historical period in the past. They are not relevant today. An anti-corruption purge among senior clergy must take place before both parts of the Russian Church can recover and become credible once more. Now is an incredibly decadent period, when both the Church hierarchies are living under the shadow of the money-money corruption that began in the 1990s. However, great potential is still there, the potential of the New Martyrs and the New Confessors. All the corrupt have to do is to recognise and to repent for their huge errors and only then can they both move forwards.

Q: How could ROCOR have avoided compromising itself on the Ukrainian question?

A: As I said, by providing three foundation-stones for new Local Churches, that is, in Western Europe, North America and Australia. Instead of that, ROCOR continued to make out that it was Russian and a kind of super-territorial Church, refusing to work together with other local Orthodox, pridefully placing itself above them and persecuting its own clergy and people, siding with Moscow like obedient slaves. The fall from grace, from the moral high ground, has been great. But, as ever, a fall is always preceded by pride and it was the towering pride of the pharisees that destroyed ROCOR.

The refusal to help build Local Churches, to live in the here and now, thus losing generations of young people who found it all so alien, is in defiance of the Dogma of the Incarnation. The rejection of the implications of that Dogma has been an open invitation to cultivate phariseeism, sectarianism and Californian-style cultishness. And that is precisely how it has ended up: a right-wing, Protestant-style sect, like so many others in the USA, only with the folklore of exotic, purposely untranslated words to mystify the uneducated, with vestments, ritual and incense.

It is also hypocritical because today the language of the New York Synod is English. Most of its bishops cannot speak Russian correctly or grammatically. It grates on the ears of real Russians. In conversation they break into English as soon as possible. Thus, we have a pretend-Russian Church. Why not be honest and co-operate with other Orthodox locally and help build up new Local Churches? Instead of that, ROCOR has pridefully said that it is better than others, superior to them, whom it despises.

It has also been uncanonically stealing priests from Constantinople and uncanonically ‘defrocking’ pastors and even attempting to close down the communities of the canonically-minded, who with integrity object to ROCOR’s uncanonical and schismatic activities, as well as to ROCOR’s illegal attempts to seize property. (This is exactly what the present regime in Kiev is doing to canonical churches in the Ukraine, seizing them in order to close them down. Nobody will go to the seized and uncanonical churches. So that is the same situation as here).

As a result, other Local Churches are, quite rightly, refusing to concelebrate with this new ROCOR. In Europe, ROCOR is not even in communion with the MP’s own very small Parisian Archdiocese of Western Europe. It is sheer hypocrisy.

Q: But isn’t the MP also corrupt, perhaps even more so?

A: Individuals in both parts of the Russian Church have been corrupted by power and money. In the MP it is only worse because it has access to greater temptations – more power and more money. That is why all the mini-oligarchs now face the same chastisement – the war in the Ukraine. This has for ever divided both parts of the Russian Church. The Russian Church is no longer an agent of unity between Russia and the Ukraine, but an agent of division.

Most Orthodox no longer want to go to Russian churches. The Cathedral they built in Paris ten years ago for 50 million euros is virtually empty, the oligarchs gone, the local people rejected, no parish community has been formed. The same in the Cathedral in Nice, where they spent 20 million euros on restoration. They have all put their petty nationalism and ritualism above Christ. The fact that they can have a war with each other shows how low the spiritual level is in both countries. I have seen this coming over the last fifteen years on frequent visits to Russia and the Ukraine, as well as here. Golden or blue cupolas, gold decorations, colourful frescoes, but empty churches. No pastors, and so no parishes, just priests carrying out rituals.

Q: When did the situation for ROCOR change?

A: I think the turning-point here came in 2018. That was the beginning of the end. The leader of ROCOR, the meek and weak Metr Hilarion, became prey to dementia and cancer. Others around him, lacking the traditional Orthodox Christian spirit, read and signed his letters in his place and he had no idea what was going on behind his back.

Q: And in the MP?

A: In the MP the weight of careerists hit a tipping-point around the same time too, in about 2018, having, just like ROCOR, also failed to drain its swamp. The results: lack of prayer, the refusal to take the sacraments, churches like railway stations with people going in and coming out, the lack of any parish communities, the need for paid choirs (or else there will be no-one to sing) and no sense of belonging. Superficiality and folklore, passed down from great-grandparents. Money, money, money. No wonder so many Russian Orthodox have become Protestants, especially in the Ukraine and in the West. In the Ukraine it is said that up to 18% are Evangelicals. Outside San Francisco there is a huge Russian Protestant/Pentecostal church. In London, UK, too.

All of this is the result of almost total pastoral failure, which has brought with it the persecution of the pastors who do exist. There are clergy, whether MP or ROCOR, who are clergy simply because it is a career and they would fail or have failed in a secular career. The careerists are notable for their ‘Popeness’, their narcissism and total lack of love. They are heartless. Some of them are not even believers, let alone were pious laypeople before ordination.

Now they are paying the price. How did they think they could ever get away with it? The only solution is repentance. Because otherwise: ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord’ (Rom. 12: 19). And that vengeance is terrible, as we can already see in the Ukraine and it is not finished yet. Once you cut yourself off from God and commit blasphemy, like these careerists have, you have no more spiritual protection from the demons.

Q: How do you feel about having left the Russian Church after nearly 50 years?

A: I think we all feel the same – we feel a huge sense of relief. We got off the Titanic eight days before it hit the Ukrainian iceberg. We left a nightmare, which has become far worse since last February. We got out just in time and feel sorry for those who did not leave then. We were on the last flight out of Kabul. That was Divine Providence for us. But we still hope that good can come out of evil. We await the great cleansing of the Russian Church and so its re-formation, reconfiguration and restructuring. The old is completely compromised; they decided to follow the money instead of following the saints. The Russian Church has to return to being a Church of the Saints, of the New Martyrs. Otherwise it has no reason to exist, except as a money-making business organisation, if you consider that that is  a reason to exist.

Today, more and more are coming to us, refugees from the Russian Church, Russians and Ukrainians, who put Christ above their passports. They are all disgusted with what is happening there. So we have become an oasis for the refugees from the very real shipwreck that is the Russian Church today.

 

 

On the Sadness of Mammon: Whatever Happened to the Russian Orthodox Church? (1992-2022)

Thirty years have gone by since Communism fell and the Russian Orthodox Church began to revive on a mass level. But over the last three or four years, before the events in the Ukraine, more and more have become disgusted with the behaviour of some in the Russian Orthodox episcopate, both in the Moscow Patriarchate (MP), based in the former Soviet Union, and in the émigré Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), based in New York. When did this decadence among the Russian episcopate begin?

The historically-minded would go back to the Judaisers of Skhariya in fifteenth century Russia, or to the Old Ritualist schism in the seventeenth century, yet others to Peter I and the German Catherine II (both dubbed by Westernisers ‘the Great’). In any case, the decadence certainly began well before 1917 and there are probably very few nowadays who still believe the old ‘lightswitch’ myths of the children of émigrés about how everything was perfect before 1917 and suddenly everything was awful afterwards. Revolutions do not happen without a cause.

A reading of the early volumes of the works of the incredibly frank Metr Antony (Khrapovitsky) (+ 1936) or of ‘The Russian Ideology’ by St Seraphim of Boguchar (Sofia) (+ 1950), describing the deviations of a State Church, is enough to see through that nonsense. As the ever-memorable Archbishop Antony of Geneva used to point out to us with a shrug of his shoulders: ‘They complain about the Russian bishops inside Russia who have swish black cars. Well, before the Revolution they had swish black carriages with swish black horses’.

However, none of the above distant historical references explain, let alone justify, what is going on today, with calls to ‘cancel’ (1) scandalous Russian Orthodox bishops, both in the Moscow Patriarchate and in its ROCOR subsidiary, for whom everything is wonderful. We are talking about the here and now. As one recent correspondent has put it: ‘I really think this is the reason why Orthodoxy is in such a mess today, it comes from the top down. Nowadays bishops have no humility, they’re full of pride and have a never-ending love of luxury which is corrupting them. Bishops in the MP and ROCOR live in a far more luxurious way them the vast majority of their parishioners and the worst thing is they think it’s normal.’

We were used to the old decadence of the Patriarchate of Constantinople: its careerist bishops, usually homosexuals, ordaining their boyfriend who then turned alcoholic, occasionally pedophiles, the womanisers with their mistress(es), the amassing of money for a villa in Greece, getting their teeth whitened in Turkey so they could look even more like the Hollywood stars they adore. But then exactly the selfsame disease spread to the Russian Church. What is the difference?

We can remember Metropolitan Philaret Denysenko of Kiev who in the 1970s (!) built himself a palace with the help of his Communist friends. The fact that he was married and had two children bothered no-one: in Moscow they turned a blind eye to married bishops – there were a lot of them then (as there are today, including in Western Europe), with at least one in the then ROCOR. The only problem was that Denysenko, like all careerists, wanted to be the Patriarch and then, like so many Communists, in 1992 turned overnight into a nationalist in the hope of achieving his aim (2). So he created a schism. Understandably, Moscow turned against him then. You could turn a blind eye to his moral weakness and his pickpocketing of money from the Church till, but not to schism. He is now defrocked, a shame, but also one who makes you shudder.

I remember Dmitry, an old émigré of the second generation (those nostalgic for something they had never known were always the worst – the real emigres, adults before the Revolution, knew all about what it had really been like and all the scandals). He told me in 2005 that ROCOR could not possibly be linked to the Moscow Patriarchate because that would be like a glass of pure water being mixed with a glass of dirty water. Pure phariseeism. I mentioned the word ‘Grabbe’ to him. Not the CIA and freemason father George/Gregory or Nasty News Nastia, but the notorious womanising son (3), Antony, who in ROCOR was called ‘the six-million dollar man’. That, after all, is how much he had made by selling Russian Church property in the Holy Land to the Jews. Poor old Dmitry pretended to know nothing about it. But he did, just as he knew about the alcoholic ROCOR protodeacon, the defrocked ROCOR priest, the womanising ROCOR priest who stole tens of thousands from his church and was awarded for it all by his naïve (or not so naïve?) archbishop. No, Dmitry, there were two glasses of dirty water.

Inside Russia, some blame the 250 bishops consecrated over the last 14 years by Patriarch Kyrill, too many of whom were clearly unworthy. Yet the search for more bishops was necessary. True, too many of them were not men of prayer, just ‘effective managers’ (code for ‘fundraising bureaucrats’) and they turned out to be just homosexuals and careerists (often one and the same, as among the Greeks), on the thrones of whose vacant souls sat the mocking satan. But despite even their numbers, the Russian Church still needs to find another 1,000 bishops, build another 100,000 churches and real Christian communities (rather than trying to persecute them and close them down) and find another 100,000 priests (rather than expelling them to other Local Churches), before it can say that it has really revived. The path for them has barely begun, as I have said time and time again.

Sadly, since the fall of Communism and the USSR in December 1991, many have fallen by the wayside in Russia. First there were the liberals like Kuraev, who adored Bulgakov, Schmemann and Meyendorff etc more than the saints. Then there were the ‘Orthodox Stalinists’, yesterday’s left-wing Bolsheviks who became today’s right-wing nationalists, under the cloak of Orthodoxy (2). These extremes all lead nowhere. The liberal Kuraev is defrocked, just as the anti-Semitic, right-wing ‘worshipper of Tsar as God’ Sergei Romanov from the Urals Convent. I met them both.

But perhaps the worst cases are in the Russian emigration. How we recall a very naïve young man from the ex-USSR seeing in Europe in the 1990s an elderly emigre bishop sweeping the floor of his church. He blurted out: ‘Clearly, he is a saint’. What nonsense. All émigré bishops and priests swept (and some of us still sweep) the floors of our churches. Are we all saints then?! We well remember the old school, of all jurisdictions: Archbishop George Tarasov in Paris, the widowed World War One pilot who became a bishop and had no clothes to wear; Archbishop Seraphim (Dulgov), the ROCOR bishop who lived in poverty and was happy so; Metropolitan Benjamin (Fedchenkov), whose only food was that given to him by his few parishioners and who slept on a concrete floor because he had given his bed to a beggar. Let me assure you that all this was completely normal. We never thought of ourselves as saints. We were, and are, simply confessing Orthodox Christians. It is you who are abnormal, which is why we are calling you to shame and repentance now.

And then in recent years there have come to Europe new ‘princes of the Church’, as they call themselves. There were a young bishop whose first act was to buy himself a fancy car and another even younger one, who refused to live next to his church and instead rented a whole very expensive house miles away, near a foreign embassy, from where he took his orders as their asset, so depriving a married priest of a salary! Both then tried to grab properties and cash, bullying like racketeering Chicago gangsters. Both discredited themselves immediately among their flocks, though they were lauded by their fellow-bishops. They convinced no-one and their dioceses are visibly and actually quite rapidly contracting as a direct result. But they say that everything is wonderful. Because they cannot see the elephants in the room. Themselves.

The curse of today’s Russian Orthodoxy, MP and ROCOR, is undoubtedly love of money. And this is not because ROCOR has been corrupted by the money of the MP. The MP never gave ROCOR a penny. You could perhaps argue just the opposite: ROCOR corrupted the MP with its American love of money. Already fifty years ago, the new ROCOR celibate priests sent to Europe in the 70s and 80s were not like the old ones, the authentic poor monks and probable saints. Fr George Sheremetiev (+ 1971) warned us even then of ‘the American disease’ coming to ROCOR. The new ones all wanted to live like the wealthy Americans they already were or else wanted to be. One turned out to be a pedophile, others were long ago defrocked. On the other hand, in 2018 I met a priest in Russia, who had been through the Americanisation of Russia in the 1990s, who boasted that he had 15 kilos of gold inside the magnificent church he had built. I told him to sell it and give it to the poor. ‘In England we use gold paint. That’s good enough for us’.

We know all their stories and all their names, from the photos with the ostrich feathers down. (You know who you are). But as St Paisios the Athonite told me in 1979: ‘When you see the excrement of wild animals on a path between monasteries, you gather it together and throw it away into the bushes, so that the next passer-by does not walk in it and spread it around’. As with the excrement of wild animals, so we do with the scandals of bishops.

I remember that same old son of an émigré, Dmitry, who told me that we in ROCOR could not possibly concelebrate with the corrupt of the Moscow Patriarchate. I quietly reminded him that all the New Martyrs belonged to the Moscow Patriarchate, for there were none in ROCOR, and that we belonged to the New Martyrs. He had no answer. We Orthodox belong to the Persecuted Church, not to the Persecuting Church and we are not afraid, for as it is written:

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, incontinent, fierce, haters of the good, traitors, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God. Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. From such turn away…But they will not get very far: for their folly shall be made plain to all.

Prophecies of Paul the Apostle, 2 Timothy 3, 1-5, 9

And if you are disheartened by all this, know that we are still here, despite all the mud they have slung at us and which has stuck only to them. And then read the prophecies from outside Russia and from inside Russia:

The Lord has already chosen the future Tsar. He will be a man of fiery faith, having the mind of a genius and a will of iron. First of all, he will introduce order into the Orthodox Church, removing all the untrue, heretical and lukewarm hierarchs. And many, very many – with few exceptions, all – will be deposed, and new, true, unshakeable hierarchs will take their place.

Archbishop Theophan of Poltava, in exile in France (+ 1940)

The bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church will fall away from the truth of the Orthodox Faith, they will not believe in the prophecies of the resurrection of Russia. To reprove them, St Seraphim of Sarov will be raised from the dead. He will reprove the clergy for their treachery and betrayal and will preach repentance to the whole world.

Blessed Pelagia of Ryazan (+ 1968)

Judgement Day is coming.

 

Notes:

  1. In the same way as the recent ‘cancelling’ of the scandalous Metr Joseph of the Antiochian Archdiocese in the USA has already led to his ‘retirement’.
  2. Communists who see that they have lost always then play the nationalist card, as in Russia, the Ukraine, Poland, Yugoslavia etc. And in China. The overnight techniques are the same, as are the results. The biggest Nazis in today’s Ukraine were the biggest Communists thirty years ago. Denysenko is but one example.
  3. The old ROCOR quip on father and son clerics has always been: ‘Yes, I saw the father and the son, only I didn’t see the Holy Spirit’.