Category Archives: Sects and Cults

The Tortuous Path of Western Religion in the Global World

This April’s canonization of two twentieth-century Popes of Rome has only served to underline the gulf between the Church and Roman Catholicism as regards the criteria for sainthood. The first pope to be canonized, a jocular Italian peasant, and the second, a highly politicised Polish nationalist philosopher, were both enemies of the Orthodox Church. The first took part in anti-Orthodox activities in Bulgaria, the second in Yugoslavia and the Ukraine. This is no surprise, since both have been canonized by a Jesuit pope, who is a form backer of Galician Uniats and last weekend received the self-appointed Premier of the Ukraine, the scientologist and promoter of anti-Ukrainian terrorism Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

The present Pope’s support for the disintegration of the Ukraine probably comes under US orders, following President Obama’s recent visit to Rome, just as John Paul II made himself available to the US to help bring down the Soviet bloc in the 1980s. It was under the latter’s pontificate in particular that Catholicism was penetrated by pedophile priests, whose activities were camouflaged by Rome. Naturally, the double canonization in Rome was attended by a bishop from the Patriarchate of Constantinople, who sat with the other Uniats, not with the Protestants (Lutherans and Anglicans). In this way that Patriarchate can see what its fate will be if it does entirely join Rome – it will become just another Roman Catholic colonial subculture.

These papal canonizations, like that to follow later this year, illustrate the confusion of the Vatican of the last fifty years. It is not exact to say that Catholicism has lost the way; rather it has found a multitude of false ways. As they say: when you stop believing in something, you will believe in anything. The gap between official Vatican proclamations and what ordinary Catholics actually believe has grown and grown. However, the overall trend of the last fifty years has been towards a Catholicism that is ever more secularized, protestantized, politicized, turned away from God, symbolized by their priests who now turn their backs to God during their services and face the world instead. The Catholic merger with the world is also symbolized by the ‘modern’ ‘design’ of its church buildings, furnishings and vestments. And the modern designs of the 60s and 70s look very old-fashioned in today’s post-modern world.

Overall, Catholicism has shown a loss of the sense of the sacred, of Divinity, of holiness, a movement towards protestantization and so secularization. In the face of that, many of the most devout Catholics – as well as many ordinary Catholics – have abandoned Catholicism, since they have felt abandoned by their own hierarchy. Catholicism has lost the Western world. Its reality today is in Latin America, Africa and Asia, though here too there are losses, for example Brazil, where 40% of the population is said to have joined Protestant sects. Of the future it is hard to speak. The sectarian Muslim world and Hindu India remain mysteries, though it is said that by 2030 China will be the largest Christian nation on earth. And there, as everywhere else, the spiritually sensitive and the historically-minded will see through Western mythology and find their way to the Orthodox Church.

As a result of the collapse of Catholicism in the Western world, over the last two generations right-wing Catholics have joined the Catholic traditionalists; as for the moderate and the younger generation, faced with the spiritual desert of the West, they have been drawn into any number of sects and cults. There they seek a sense of belonging. The degeneration of modern Catholic worship, characterised by infantilism, the entertainment mentality, and the lack of spiritual understanding are reflections. They are reflections of the modern consumer mentality. This has conditioned and shaped modern Catholicism, like modern Protestantism, making it into a ‘cafeteria religion’, a ‘pick and mix’ consumerist supermarket. Today Western religion faces a civilizational dead end; the thread of its manmade life has been unwound. If the West wants to continue as a spiritually-based entity, and so a morally-based entity, it will have to look outside its apostatic self for sustenance.

The Purity of Holy Orthodoxy

The title is an expression used in an inspiring conversation with the ever-memorable Metropolitan Laurus at the ROCOR Council of San Francisco in 2006. Below are a number of recent conversations, both actual and also from correspondence by e-mail, regarding current Church matters, all of which illustrate the search of all conscious Orthodox for the purity of Holy Orthodoxy in the Light of the Resurrection.

Q: What recent changes have marked the Church inside Russia?

A: A generation has now passed since the commemoration of the millennium of the Baptism of Rus in 1988 and the world-changing events that followed it, namely the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union. As a result of the passing of that generation, in the last few months there have been major changes, with the retirement in Kiev and St Petersburg of both Metropolitans Vladimir and in Minsk that of Metr Philaret. Thus, all three most senior Metropolitans in the Russian Church inside Russia have retired through age and ill health. This is the end of the old generation of those who were connected with the highly controversial and politically-minded Metr Nikodim (Rotov) of the Soviet period.

Those of his disciples who are still alive have all had to adapt since the Jubilee Council of 2000 with its rejection of sergianism and ecumenism and canonisation of the New Martyrs and Confessors, including the Royal Martyrs, and then the acceptance of the reconciliation between the Church inside Russia and the Church Outside Russia in 2007. In other words we are now entering the second generation since the collapse of secularist-atheist ideology in the Russian Lands and so the resurrection by the purity of Holy Orthodoxy of the crucified Church inside Russia. These three senior posts that have changed hands are symbolic of a more general generational change, as Lazarus’ grave-clothes have fallen off.

Q: What do you mean by ‘Lazarus’ grave-clothes’?

A: I liken the resurrection of the Church inside Russia to the resurrection of Lazarus. This was an incredible and astounding miracle, but we should not forget that Lazarus’ grave-clothes did not smell good because the decomposition of his body had already begun. These grave-clothes are represented by the deathly, Soviet and post-Soviet (not yet Russian), phenomena and problems that have accompanied the resurrection of the Church inside Russia.

Q: What phenomena?

A: For example, inside Russia in the 1990s they were so short of priests that they ordained very easily. There were several disasters here with clearly unworthy ordinations and subsequent defrockings, sometimes for sexual misdemeanours, sometimes for financial misdemeanours. I have met such priests – I know what I speak of. Then there was the confusion between Stalinism and the Church and the total misunderstanding or even rejection of the Royal Martyrs – all as a result of the brainwashing from old Soviet propaganda and lies. Then there have been the phenomena of pro-Catholic clergy (like the assassinated Fr Alexander Men, a suspected Uniat) and the events surrounding Paris-style Russophobes, including the modernist, pro-Protestant Fr George Kochetkov, suspended at one point by Patriarch Alexis as a ‘neo-renovationist’, and the recent scandals concerning Protodeacon Andrei Kuraev and Professor Zubov (a close friend of the late Olivier Clement), who both had to be sacked. These are all people who to some extent still live in the Soviet thought world. They have never managed to shake off the spiritual and intellectual impurity of the past and so make the transition from that old-style Soviet conditioning, paradoxically mixed with a superficial Orthodoxy, to the purity of Holy Orthodoxy.

The same thing happened outside Russia, where the Church inside Russia had several unworthy and scandalous representatives, uncanonically ordained, or other representatives who are now very elderly as they were appointed in Soviet times. Fortunately, the unworthy ones have mostly died out or been moved, some very recently. According to the 2007 agreement the Church inside Russia has to prepare its parishes outside Russia (except in China and Japan, which is part of its canonical territory) for their canonical handover to ROCOR. His Holiness understandably wants this process to go smoothly, without hurting anyone’s feelings, especially those of the elderly. Therefore it will take a generation before it is completed and all moves to the purity of Holy Orthodoxy.

Q: Surely there were impurities in ROCOR also?

A: ROCOR had from the start two wings. One was the political wing whose identity was nationalistic, cultural and anti-Communist rather than simply Orthodox; the other wing, which could be called the ‘Johannite wing’, as represented by St John of Shanghai, was the mainstream of ROCOR. Our view was and is Christian. I can remember how the political and nationalist wing dominated in certain parishes, for example at the former ROCOR chapel in Paris or at the old London Cathedral, as it used to be, when it had several members who worked for MI5. Significantly, those parishes have not survived, but died.

This was because the politically-minded elements refused reconciliation with the Church inside Russia in 2007 or even before. As one of our archbishops said before 2007, reconciliation with the repentant Church inside Russia, the Church of the New Martyrs and Confessors, would lead to a ‘purification’ of ROCOR. That is exactly what happened. Spiritual impurities such as extremism, phariseeism, sectarianism and fanaticism could not bear reality and love others or the purity of Holy Orthodoxy, and so that political wing left the Church for various sects. Several of the small communities concerned in North America were dominated by individuals who worked for the CIA or the Canadian Secret Services.

Q: What do you make of current political changes in the Ukraine?

A: Two weeks ago the US removed the gold reserves of the Ukraine. Then the CIA took over a floor in the offices of the Ukrainian Secret Police in Kiev and the head of the CIA, John Brennan, went to Kiev on Lazarus Saturday. The head of the CIA does not visit a foreign country without a very good reason. It was no doubt with the intention of hoping to further destabilise the Ukraine and then run it, just as it did countless Latin America banana republics and Italy and Greece after the Second World War.

Sure enough, just after that, the CIA began issuing black propaganda, sheer lies, for example about alleged persecution of the Jews in the eastern Ukraine or that President Putin had tens of billions of dollars in private bank accounts in the West, implying that he was a thief. Naturally the Western-media were fed those lies and naturally reported them. The Times of London (part of the Murdoch tabloid empire) was especially keen to report these slanders and lies.

For instance, as regards the Jews, everybody knows that the Jews were massacred by the Uniat Ukrainian SS in Galicia, the western Ukraine, which welcomed Hitler and where earlier anti-Jewish pogroms had taken place. These are facts of history. Many members of the Ukrainian (= Galician) SS, with Polish nationality, came to live in the UK and especially the US, after World War II. I know; I met some of them 30-40 years ago; some of them were frightening and admitted to killing Jews.

Today, at least 150 US mercenaries, probably being paid for by the CIA, are active against the people of the Ukraine, given that most Ukrainian soldiers and police refuse to use violence against their own people – indeed 9,000 Ukrainian soldiers have already asked for Russian nationality. Other soldiers in the eastern Ukraine have simply joined the insurrection of the Ukrainian people against the junta. We cannot see this crucifixion of the Ukraine, orchestrated in Washington and Brussels and carried out by their paid puppets in Kiev, as being successful.

Q: Why not?

A: First of all, the Ukraine is bankrupt, which is why the bankrupt US called on the world to ‘save the Ukrainian economy’. But it is too late. Prices are doubling. The poor people of the Ukraine, exploited and impoverished for 23 years by corrupt oligarchs, are spontaneously rising up against the unrepresentative, US-installed, separatist Kiev junta and its terror tactics. That regime seized power from the democratically-elected government in Kiev by violence and murder; now it is facing opposition from the Ukrainian people, who are using the same techniques as it did, in order to seize back power from it in turn. As it is written, those who live by the sword shall die by the sword. But there is chaos.

Q: Does any of this have any significance in Orthodox terms? Is it not all political?

A: All of this is highly significant for us. Today’s Russia is at last just beginning to position itself as a spiritual power, opposing the secularist atheism of the Western elite. This was Russia’s traditional role – to protect Christian civilisation both from Western barbarians and from Eastern hordes. Thus, it repelled the Mongol-Tartar yoke, encouraged moderate Islam, repelled the Charleses, Napoleons and Hitlers, liberating both Paris and Berlin, and supported the Church in the Holy Land, the Patriarchates of Jerusalem and Antioch. Outside Eurasia Russia has always helped the peoples of the developing world, aiding them to throw off the yoke of colonialism, as did Tsar Nicholas II during the Boer War in South Africa and also in Tibet, Thailand and Ethiopia. Even the Soviet Union merely continued these policies in Africa (the territory of the Patriarchate of Alexandria), Asia and Latin America.

The Russian Orthodox civilisational model, the Christian one, is quite different from the Western Catholic/Protestant model, which calls itself ‘Judeo-Christian’. Thus, the ‘civilised’ Judeo-Christian West and ‘Western values’ destroyed the native peoples of the Americas and Africa, enslaving them, massacring them like wild animals, sending them into concentration camps (‘reservations’), as the British were still doing in Kenya and Malaysia in the 1950s. Christian Russia, on the other hand, spreading across Eurasia into Alaska, left the native peoples in peace, not enslaving them or systematically exploiting them, but making them into equal allies. Today Western ‘civilisation’, which has reached its final stage of degeneration in Europe and the USA, has come to a dead end by trying to subjugate the whole world to its ruling transnational atheist elite and its corrupt New World Order pseudo-democracy. That, in fact, only gives a false choice – between one atheist oligarch and another.

Only Russia can potentially deliver the world from this civilisational dead end by providing a Non-Western and spiritual alternative. This is a geopolitical challenge and a historic turning-point. The US military-industrial complex, to use Eisenhower’s terminology, has bankrupted itself with its lust for global hegemony and us finally meeting its match in the resurgent Russian Lands. The New World Order, the near-millennial and ever accelerating movement of the Western world to enthrone Antichrist in Jerusalem, has been stopped for the moment.

The Russian Lands (Rus) are, it seems, returning to fulfilling their destiny as the last restraining force in the world, the last bastion of True Christianity. The Ukraine is a litmus paper, an acid test of this. If the Ukraine were to fall, that is, to lose its Orthodoxy, that would lead to the enthronement of Antichrist. The situation is on a knife edge, which is why so many icons in Russia and the Ukraine are at this moment giving off myrrh. We have to understand that today’s division in the Ukraine exists as the result of two historic injustices, which have to be righted

Q: Which are these injustices?

A: These two historic injustices are the events of 1054 and 1917, which are interconnected. In 1054 semi-barbarian, provincial nationalists, filled with the pride, greed and ambition of Roman paganism, rose up in heresy against the Church of Christ, the Christian Roman Empire, and declared that they were the true Church! And persecution followed 1054, with 1204, the sack of New Rome by barbarian Catholics, which in turn led to 1453, the fall of New Rome, not to mention the Western Crusades against the Russian Lands (including today’s ‘Ukraine’), and all the anti-Church horrors that followed, including Uniatism.

The second historic injustice was in 1917 when the descendants of the same provincials performed a coup d’etat in St Petersburg, overthrowing the legitimate government of the Lord’s Anointed on behalf of traitors, cowards and deceivers from inside the country who had lost their Faith. This atheist coup resulted in the martyrdom of the Christian Emperor and the destruction of his Empire, which had been about to end the First European War and liberate Constantinople (so preventing the Armenian genocide), Vienna and Berlin.

The atheist coup of 1917 also culminated in 1991 in the destruction of the legacy of the Christian Empire which had been built up over centuries by the Tsars and their peoples. That 1991 collapse of the legacy of the former Orthodox Empire, the Soviet Union, was inevitable because its atheism had denied the Faith of a Faith-based Empire. Today, in 2014, we are merely seeing the attempt to deepen that geopolitical fall, again using provincial nationalists, this time from the far west of the Ukraine, as its pawns. All that is happening now was prophesied by Solzhenitsyn in 1998. Thus, as he said then, the US and its EU colony want to dismember and separate the Ukrainian part of the remains of the Orthodox Empire, the Empire’s weakest link.

Q: Why is the Ukraine the weakest link of the former Orthodox Empire?

A: The word Ukraine is composed of two ancient Slavonic words meaning ‘at the border’ – though interestingly it could also be translated as ‘on the edge’. It was first recorded in the 12th century in this sense of a narrow strip of borderland and there exists an interesting academic article on its origins and uses for many geographical areas, including the area near Kazan. However, in its modern and non-historical sense – and so a sense completely unknown to the greatest ‘Ukrainian’ writer Gogol – the word ‘Ukraine’ was invented only in the late 19th century by the Hapsburgs. Then it was reused by the Soviets and the Nazis, and today by the US and the EU – by five empires all thoroughly hostile to the Orthodox Church. Indeed, decades ago I met old Ukrainian emigres, adults before the Revolution, who told me that they had never heard the word ‘Ukraine’ until the 1920s, when the atheists brought it in.

The contemporary Ukraine is the weakest link because at present it includes and is now run by never denazified, ultra-nationalist, Uniat Galicia, which until 1939 was part of eastern Poland. This is a schismatic, Catholicised area, which lived under foreign and anti-Orthodox – Polish and Austrian – rule for centuries. The majority of its population, just like that of the rest of Western Europe, now has no concept of uncompromised, unsecularised, non-1054 Christianity, that is, of Orthodox values. Until that area returns to Poland, or else becomes independent, it will continue to create chaos in the rest of the ‘Ukraine’, the 85% of it which is known to history not as ‘the Ukraine’, but significantly, going from east to west, as New Russia, Little Russia and Carpatho-Russia.

Q: So does this mean we should support President Putin?

A: He is only a politician and, like all politicians, he makes mistakes. The Ukraine, in some form or other, has a right to exist as an independent state, just like Belarus. It is an integral part of threefold Rus – Russia, the Ukraine and Belarus are the primary territory of Rus, the three Russias. I suspect that President Putin thinks the same thing. The last thing he wants to have to do is to send in tanks. However, he has to defend his country and Russian people against extreme Western aggression – which is what he did when he restored the Crimea to Russia amid the jubilation of its people. Otherwise the Crimea would have been invaded and occupied by the US military and its ports would have become NATO naval bases, closing off the Black Sea to Russia.

Our objection is not to an independent ‘Ukraine’, but to its domination and division by an anti-Orthodox and unrepresentative, US-installed, puppet clique in Kiev, which would mean that the Ukraine would become just another bankrupt and pillaged Western colony, like Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya etc. Divide and rule is ever the Western policy. Our support should go to the martyred Tsar Nicholas II, as he was the last ruler of All Rus, and not to politicians. We support the saints – politicians only count inasmuch as they support the saints. Again we fight for the purity of Holy Orthodoxy, not for politicians.

Q: Why has the BBC been so incredibly biased in its reporting of events in the Ukraine?

A: Since the Second World War the UK Establishment elite has become the poodle or colony of the US ruling elite (a relationship that the UK Establishment has flattered itself into calling ‘the special relationship’!) and it has taken no account of the peoples of these islands. The BBC, even more than other Western media, is biased because it is an inherent part of that Establishment elite, in the pay of a secularist-atheist regime and its secret services. It is therefore hostile to Christianity, especially to uncompromised Christianity, that is, Orthodoxy, just as it is hostile to the people, from which it is ever more distant.

The BBC has become particularly subservient to the Establishment since it dared to criticise the Blair regime’s invasion and occupation of Iraq, for which the Blairites sacked the BBC Director General and intimidated BBC journalists. Now the BBC just seems to parrot whatever MI5 and MI6 tell it. I know two BBC journalists who have also worked for the secret services, which infiltrated the BBC from its inception in the 1920s; there must be many more of them.

Thus the BBC talks of the Neo-Nazi Uniat Galician terrorists in Kiev, who overthrew a democratically-elected government as ‘heroes’, but calls the Ukrainian citizens who are rising up against foreign oppression and US mercenaries in the south-west, south, east and north, ‘pro-Russian activists!’ Nor has the BBC reported on the wave of dissatisfaction in Kiev at the doubling of many prices and the very large anti-junta demonstrations in Kiev….

Q: Some would say that your views on the Ukraine are political and that Orthodoxy should be apolitical. What would you say to this?

A: Precisely by saying that they are ‘apolitical’, such people are making a political statement. For them Orthodoxy is, like Protestantism, just a personal belief, a private affair, a mere theory or hobby, which has no public and practical ramifications, no Incarnational consequences. This is a denial of the Incarnation of Christ. What they are saying is that Christianity should have no influence at all on society, including on economics and politics, and should just be a set of private opinions or personal fantasies for futile discussion and theoretical debate.

In the meantime, they say, we should just swim with the secularist-atheist tide of US/EU apostasy, to which such people, some of them nominally Orthodox, are spiritually enslaved. However, our Faith, if it is real, has practical consequences. This is what these secularists refuse. For those who are secular-minded, religion has no importance, but for us what counts is the purity of Holy Orthodoxy. The many icons now giving off myrrh in Russia and the Ukraine only prove the spiritual significance of these current events.

Q: With the events in the Ukraine and the new puritanism of political correctness, will there be a witch-hunt and persecution of Russian Orthodoxy in the West?

A: Not yet. We have not yet come to this point; that will come later. Then we may need Russian passports and in any case have to take refuge in Russia in order to get baptized and practise our Faith. But we are not there yet.

Q: So much for the contemporary situation of the Church inside Russia. What is the situation of the Church Outside Russia, ROCOR? Some say that it no longer has any reason to exist, since the Church inside Russia also has parishes outside Russia. What is the role of ROCOR in this new reality?

A: The Orthodox diaspora, whether in Europe, the Americas or Australia, and of all nationalities, has experienced two temptation or deviations in the last 100 years or so. The role of ROCOR is to avoid them. These are the deviations of the superiority complex and the inferiority complex.

The first deviation is that of the nationalist ghetto, of the superiority complex. This means that the Orthodox Faith is preserved as if in a museum, without any reference to the surrounding world (because of the superiority complex towards it), to the reality in which the children and grandchildren of the immigrants go to school and grow up. This ethos can be called the ‘three-generational syndrome’, since after three generations such a faith dies out, as it no longer even speaks in a language comprehensible to the descendants of the original immigrants. ‘Three generations and you are out’. I have seen countless Russian parishes in France and England disappear completely because of this mentality. It was the fate of the old London ROCOR Cathedral (but this will not at all be the case of the new parish that has risen phoenix-like from its ruins), exactly as was foreseen by many in the 1970s and 1980s, but also of many parishes abroad under the Church inside Russia, which are not independent of Russia, as is today’s ROCOR.

The second deviation is that of the conformist ghetto, of the inferiority complex. This means the ‘let’s swim with the tide’ mentality. Again I have seen countless examples in France and England. ‘Let’s give communion to Catholics, after all they are Christians’ (Paris jurisdiction). ‘Now we are in England, we baptize our children in the Church of England’ (as one well-known Russian academic in Cambridge did). ‘After all, we really do not want to be different from the others’. ‘The English do cremations, so we’ll do them as well’ (the old Sourozh jurisdiction). ‘The Protestants have pews in church, so shall we’ (Greeks and Antiochians). This is the deviation of those of weak faith, the ecumenists, liberals and modernists, who do not really believe in Orthodoxy, just like the Uniats. Indeed, the atmosphere in modernist churches (as sometimes in Finland, for example) is exactly that of Uniat churches.

It is to be noted, however, that, initially at least, both these deviations are psychological, and not at root theological, though in a second phase, they are then justified theologically, clearly by a false theology. ROCOR must avoid both these deviations.
Q: So what is the role of ROCOR? What is authentic Orthodoxy in the Western world?

A: Authenticity is faithfulness to the best, and not to the worst, in both attitudes. This means being both traditional and open, both strict and merciful, but without excesses and extremes, which would mean being unfaithful. We must be faithful to the incarnation and to the spiritual, to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. Our calling, the establishment of authentic European Orthodox culture, as also of authentic American and Australian Orthodox culture, means being both faithful and international = fruitful. ROCOR has an opportunity to do this, depending on the purity of Holy Orthodoxy, that is, inasmuch as we can be both faithful to the Russian Orthodox Church and also be incarnate, settled and permanent here (unlike most parishes dependent on the Church inside Russia). At least, this can be the case, for as long as our spiritual existence is tolerated in the increasingly intolerant West.

Q: Do you have examples of these deviations in the specific situation of Orthodoxy in the UK?

A: Here in the UK we have two ‘renewed’ jurisdictions, those of the Romanian and Russian Churches, which in recent years have increased in size from one parish or a few parishes to many parishes, simply by immigration. However, we also have the older jurisdictions like the Greek, which used to be the biggest but is now beginning to die out, just like the Russian in the 1970s and 1980s. The Russians immigrated in about 1920 and so after 50-60 years, in the third generation, began to die out. The Greeks (more precisely Cypriots) mainly immigrated here in the 1950s and 1960s – 50-60 years ago – and so too are now dying out. This is the ‘three generational syndrome’, which I mentioned above.

There are also two tiny ethnic English jurisdictions under the Patriarchate of Antioch (anti-Greek, anti-Russian, Antiochian’, as some Anglicans say) and the Paris Exarchate (the old Bloomite Sourozh jurisdiction). These are deaneries because they are both only a few hundred strong and mostly composed of ex-vicars and converts from Anglicanism. The Exarchate is particularly weak and small and is tending to die out. They failing to pass on their ‘Anglican-Orthodox’ Faith to children and grandchildren and so are dying. Their possible possible survival can only come from attracting Greeks, Romanians and others, not from attracting Anglicans.

Here I am much more optimistic about the future survival of the Antiochian Deanery, which is rapidly becoming Romanian. However, it still has to ordain clergy who are not ex-Anglican vicars. Here there is a very useful lesson to learn: all ethnic jurisdictions die out – including ethnic English jurisdictions. In other words, successful parishes – of all jurisdictions – are non-ethnic, that is, they live if they accept those whom God sends to them, without ethnic ghettoism, including Anglican or ex-Anglican clubbishness. In other words, they live only if they put the Faith above nationality, only if they put the Kingdom of God first.

Q: Does this mean that the convert movement in the UK has stopped?

A: The convert movement (I would prefer the word ‘trickle’) in the UK was only ever basically in England and it was always very small, concerning at most 2,000-3,000, many of whom were received by various jurisdictions without preparation and soon lapsed. There is still at least one ex-Anglican priest, like the late Metr Antony Bloom, who perhaps is his model, who receives within one week! You can imagine that his turnover is large. In 18 years he has not grown. It is true that the convert ‘movement’ has declined as the old generation of converts dies out, but it has not stopped. What it happening today is that Anglicans have largely stopped joining the Orthodox Church and trying to become Orthodox, which actually they often did not succeed in doing in any case.

Q: Why have they stopped?

Firstly, because Anglicanism is itself dying out, so there are even fewer Anglicans than before. Secondly, because those who are interested generally find Orthodoxy ‘too hard’ and either do not try to become Orthodox (if they try at all) or else give up very quickly, especially if they have been received prematurely by one of the ethnic English groups.

Q: So there are no more converts?

A: There are still converts, but they come more and more from the vast majority of English people who are not Anglicans. However, though there are fewer converts, they are now generally more serious. They are refreshing, blank sheets, without the cultural prejudices and baggage of Anglicanism. Here there is a future. English Orthodox culture could only be born when that prejudiced Establishment Anglican culture was dead. Authentic Orthodox culture could never be built on a compromised, semi-Orthodox, semi-Anglican faith.

Q: How are people being converted today?

A: There are two ways. One is through information about Orthodoxy which is today on the internet and then brings them to Church services. The other is through Orthodox wives whom they marry and who convert them. Orthodox wives are often very good missionaries.

Q: You have not mentioned those who did not support the reconciliation between the two parts of the Russian Church in 2007 and left to join various sects which existed already. How do they fit into the picture? Do they suffer from the superiority complex of the nationalist ghetto? Surely they do not suffer from the inferiority complex of the conformists?

A: They do not belong to nationalist ghettoes, as much as to ideological or psychological, sectarian, ghettoes, usually very Russophobic and very right-wing – such was the case even before they left ROCOR. In the USA, from what one of their bishops proudly writes and tells me, they seem to be linked to the CIA. There are among these people, and most are converts from Anglicanism or other forms of Protestantism, some very sincere and pious people, but also some with psychological problems. It is tragic. Sects are always based on hurt pride which then turns to hatred.

Such protest sects make themselves irrelevant, not only because they are tiny (often fewer than ten in number over the whole country), but also because they have played into the hands of this world by painting themselves into irrelevant corners. They have no influence because they focus so much on small and often ritualistic detail and individual opinions, with a negative, ‘anti-everything’ mentality. What they lack is a conscious, logically consistent and integral Orthodox world view, an overview. That is very important and all Orthodox need to develop such a world view.

Q: Do you think that the Inter-Orthodox Council will actually take place in 2016?

A: On paper, no, especially since the amazing, absurd and pretentious claims of the Patriarchate of Constantinople to the Ukraine, as described in the statement of Patriarch Bartholomew on Palm Sunday, which was surely written by the CIA. In the 1970s there could be no Council because the Russian Church inside Russia was controlled by the KGB; now we have Constantinople controlled by the CIA. That statement alone has surely set everything back until after the death of Patriarch Bartholomew.

However, everything is still possible – if the Greek Churches can overcome their vanity and inferiority complex, which the American State Department so plays on and exploits, and if they and the other Balkan Churches can overcome their phyletism (nationalism). Thus, at present three problems are outstanding and until they are solved they will stop this Council taking place.

Q: Which are?

A: Firstly, there is the territorial dispute between the Patriarchates of Antioch and Jerusalem. Secondly, there is the dispute between the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia and, thirdly, that between the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Orthodox Church in America (OCA).

These three problems all have to be solved before even a proper agenda (rather than the old, secularist, Protestant-style 1970s one) can be agreed. So 2016 is possible, but the Patriarchate of Constantinople will first have to liberate itself from outside political interference from the US government, which is forcing it to interfere in the Ukraine and Mt Athos, and from the Vatican. So Constantinople must demonstrate that it is free and independent and can actually speak with an Orthodox voice and not a Greek nationalist and Uniat voice. Metropolitans Andrew and Seraphim of the Church of Greece have already warned it about this quite clearly in their 89-page letter asking for the repentance of Pope Francis.

Q: Do you think in this context that the Church inside Russia could take back the autocephaly of the OCA in order to ease negotiations with Constantinople?

A: I think that for the Church inside Russia the OCA is a bargaining counter. We all know that there is a problem with the autocephaly of the OCA, the brainchild (not heartchild) of the highly controversial Fr Alexander Schmemann. Firstly, it was granted during the Cold War by the self-same, highly controversial Metr Nikodim (Rotov), whom we mentioned at the beginning of this conversation, and whom the Roman Catholics claim to have been one of their cardinals. So it was dubious from the start.

However, secondly and much more importantly, how can you give a jurisdiction autocephaly when it has been in schism from you for decades (as was the pre-OCA Metropolia) and, above all, when it only includes a minority of the Orthodox who live on the same geographical territory? However, the Church inside Russia will not cede these points if Constantinople does not first abandon its own anti-canonical errors elsewhere, for example on Mt Athos, in the Ukraine, Estonia, Finland and Paris, returning Russian Church property to the Russian Church.

Q: What could happen to the OCA, if Constantinople did stop such anti-canonical interventions?

That would be a miracle, so who knows? I suppose one solution would be to take back the OCA’s autocephaly and grant it autonomy instead. Alternatively, you could wait until the present generation of OCA bishops, many of them in difficult and compromised situations or retired, die out. Then, after that generational change, you could pick up the pieces and reincorporate the ex-OCA into the Russian Church in North America, though letting ultra-liberal, dissident pieces which are perhaps beyond redemption (St Vladimir’s Seminary?) join Constantinople or simply go back to the Episcopalians. The OCA too can only survive if it moves towards being a group based on the purity of Holy Orthodoxy.

Bright Monday 2014

On the Importance of Sobriety

Questions and answers compiled from recent conversations and correspondence

Q: In an article in ‘Orthodox Christianity and the English Tradition’ entitled ‘The Present Situation of the Orthodox Church’ and written nearly 25 years ago in July 1989, you wrote about the two extremes to be found on the fringes of the Orthodox world, new calendarism and old calendarism, and the pressures they exerted on the free voice of the Church, the voice of the New Martyrs. You said that these New Martyrs would be canonised inside Russia, providing that the Church could free itself from the Communist government. This happened. So my question is if these two isms or extremes, which were then a considerable problem, are still a problem despite that canonisation?

A: Yes, they are definitely still present, though they are not as influential as they were. This is because the Centre of the Church, that which is outside the extremes, has been much strengthened through the prayers of the now universally canonised New Martyrs.

Q: But why do these isms still exist?

A: Both extremist isms still exist for historical reasons, appearing after the Centre fell, that is, after the Russian Revolution in 1917. The Centre ‘did not hold’, ‘things fell apart’, that is, there was a polarisation. This became clearly and immediately visible in Russia in the 1920s with the renovationist new calendarism – although the renovationist temptation had existed for several years before the Revolution, certainly since Gapon in 1905. (Incidentally, Patriarch Kyrill’s grandfather, Fr Vasily Gundyaev, suffered much from that renovationism). And of course there were individuals who then went to the opposite extreme of renovationism, falling into a sort of old calendarist sectarianism.

At the same time Renovationism also became visible outside Russia in Constantinople, which had long been under British masonic influence. Thus, the renovationist Constantinople hierarchy actually recognised the renovationists in Russia, rejecting the saintly Patriarch Tikhon and the legitimate Church. Then, together with the Church of Greece, it introduced the secular (so-called ‘new’) calendar for the fixed feasts. Here a lot of Anglican money, £100,000 of that time, changed hands. Immediately, there was a reaction to all this and old calendarism began.

Q: What has your position been towards these two extremes?

A: It has always been to stand in the middle and support the Centre, even though it fell in 1917. My position has been a consistent straight line, from which I have never wavered, and this as early as 1973 in a booklet which I wrote then and which was published a few years ago in ‘Orthodox England’. My support has always been for a free Russian Orthodoxy, uncompromised by either extreme.

Q: Are you not criticised for this unwavering line?

A: Of course. But, in fact, pressure from the extremist margins only strengthens us. As an example of this, I would like to mention a fellow priest in Bulgaria who wrote to me a little while ago. He has one of the Church calendar parishes in Bulgaria which is under the new calendar Church. Thus he remains faithful to the Tradition, but does not participate in schism. And he receives as much criticism from new calendarism as from old calendarism. This is exactly our situation here, where both fringes criticise us. Interestingly, the fringes often work together and are friends. As they say, ‘extremes meet’. And when we are criticised by both extremes, it is a sure sign that we are doing something right, standing in the middle. Remember that the middle is where Christ was crucified, between the two thieves.

Q: You mentioned how it all began in 1917 with the fall of the Centre in Moscow. But did the extremist pressures get worse?

A: Yes, they did. The Cold War after 1945 definitely made it all worse. For example, in 1948 the USA installed a new Patriarch of Constantinople called Athenagoras. He was flown in by the CIA on Truman’s personal plane from America. When the legitimate Patriarch, Maximos, was deposed and exiled by the CIA, he was heard to say, ‘The City is lost’. This is a close parallel to the situation in the first millennium when a number of heretical patriarchs of Constantinople were installed by heretical emperors. Interestingly, the legitimate Patriarch Maximos V, supposedly ‘ill’, died three decades later in 1972, the same year as the illegitimate Patriarch. Since 1948 Constantinople, co-opted into the anti-Soviet and then anti-Russian war of the USA, has been the plaything of the ‘iconoclastic’ US State Department. The City is lost indeed – but the Church lives on outside the City. Fortunately, the Church does not depend on a geographical location – otherwise there would still be nothing outside Jerusalem.

The situation was no better in the Local Churches that survived under Communism during the Cold War. As regards the Russian Church, the situation worsened greatly under Khrushchev, a virulent and primitive atheist, not just because he persecuted the Church physically, but also because he and the Soviet Communist Party imposed ecumenism on the Church as a political tool in the early 1960s. The other Communist Parties in Eastern Europe did the same to their Local Churches. The idea was to make ecumenism and ecumenical organisations into tools for Soviet propaganda.

Q: What happened when the Cold War ended?

A: Just because the Cold War officially ended, that does not mean that persecution is over. Today the militant atheism of the Soviet Union is gone, but now we have the militant atheism of the European Union. The EU ideology is trying to destroy not only the Local Churches of EU member countries in Romania, Greece, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and Cyprus, but also the Churches of countries which the EU one day hopes to colonise: Serbia, Moldova, Georgia, even the Ukraine. The victims of such political pressures, some senior bishops, are hostages to this, so we do not listen to the things that their political masters force them to say, especially in Serbia.

Q: Do others listen to these bishop-hostages?

A: You should not listen to hostages. Unfortunately, old calendarists do listen to these bishop-hostages and, in search of self-justification for their schisms, quote them. Thus, they deliberately ignore the 99.999% of the Local Church which is solidly Orthodox and with whom they put themselves out of communion. They want black and white situations, everyone else must be black and therefore only they can be white. This is pride and it is also to fall into the divide and rule game of the powers of this world, which want to divide the Church in order to rule it. It is like refusing to be baptized by the disciples because Judas had been a disciple. And so you remain unbaptized, outside the Church, all because of someone else who put himself outside the Church. This is to cut off your nose to spite your face, to deprive yourself because another has deprived himself.

I would add that old calendarism itself is no better in terms of political dependence. I will always remember one of their bishops writing to me six year ago and complaining that I did not support the CIA. He actually said with great pride that some of his best parishioners in the USA work for the CIA! We also recall how the US ambassador in Kiev actually plotted a schism in the Ukraine. This we know because we stood in front of him as he plotted it with a bishop at the Russian Church’s San Francisco Council of 2006. And that is exactly what that bishop then did and he is now in communion with the CIA-supporting old calendarist bishop. It is a small world!

Q: Obviously, the liberal and modernist threat to the Church, with ecumenism, liturgical modernism, intercommunion and so on, is well-known. But is it still a reality?

A: It is a reality, but mainly for old people. Today, for instance, ecumenism is largely dead. This is why old calendarists are always quoting events from the 60s, 70s and 80s. They look to the past when ecumenism was active. Thus, a favourite hate figure of theirs is Patriarch Sergius – but he died in 1944! The dead present no threat. And most of the modernists I can think of are either dead or else in their 70s and 80s. They are very old-fashioned. All we can do is pray for them that they might repent before their end. But even if we see them as our enemies, the Gospel tells us to love our enemies. Here we see that old calendarism lacks love.

Q: Do the old calendarist fractions have points in common with the new calendarist fractions?

A: Yes, they do, and several things. For example, both are old-fashioned, many of their people are elderly. Both are extremely Russophobic. And both the new calendarist and old calendarist movements are utterly split. This is because they are concerned not with the unity of the Church, which comes from following Christ, but with following personal opinions, which are always divisive, precisely because they are personal. They do not understand the importance of the conciliar mind of the Church, which is above opinions, because it follows the Holy Spirit.

Old calendarism in particular wants dogmatic precision in every detail from every individual. This is not how the Church works, the Church is not a totalitarian monolith. For instance, I have been told that there are now 14 old calendarist synods in Greece, all, it seems, hating each other. Often when one of their metropolitans dies, they split again. Many of these synods only have a few dozen communities under them and often the communities themselves are tiny, at most a few dozen. The synods are often dominated by clericalism. And here we should remember the ordinary people who are hoodwinked into following them. These synods have a large turnover of sincere, but naïve neophytes. I am sometimes contacted by such people from this country. They want to leave the sects where they are and come to the Orthodox Church, which they have just discovered. Such ordinary people are not guilty. This is why they are received into the Church by confession and communion.

Q: Why are both new calendarism and old calendarism Russophobic?

A: Out of self-justification. Both denigrate the Russian Church especially because She is old calendar and therefore from their viewpoint a competitor. They need to justify their isolation from Her and desperately want to see scandals and corruption. Thus, they will repeat anti-Church Cold War propaganda against the Russian Church, whatever the origin, atheist or other. Thus, they seize on the most minor scandal, blow it up out of all proportion and generalise it, rather like the anti-clerical media. One priest is bad, therefore all are bad, therefore they cannot be in communion with a whole Local Church. This is self-justification and also Donatism, as the righteous Metr Philaret of New York described old calendarism.

However, the main impression is not so much of Russophobia, nor even of the rejection of episcopal authority, but of the rejection of the people of the Church, the unChurched but recently baptised masses both of the Russian Church and other Local Churches, who are not good enough for them. This is the contempt of the elder brother who rejected the Prodigal Son. It is the refusal to recognise repentance that is characteristic of old calendarism and also new calendarism. That is another thing they have in common – their elitist, esoteric disdain for the masses. It is just another sign of the pride that infects all schism.

Q: To what extent was the Church inside Russia affected by new calendarism, what Russians call renovationism?

A: There was a serious battle against renovationism inside Russia, but it was over by the 1930s. Renovationism simply died out there for lack of support. People knew that it was a Communist trick. However, it did survive far longer in the foreign parishes of the Church inside Russia and in the Paris Jurisdiction, where many of the renovationists went, so intense was their hatred of the Russian Church. Many of the old emigres brought this renovationism, in fact a sort of ‘art nouveau’ pre-Revolutionary decadence, into the emigration with them and preserved it abroad, long after it was dead inside the Soviet Union. So it survived as a curiosity. However, most of its last elderly supporters have died in the last twenty years.

Q: Wasn’t ROCOR, on the other hand, affected by the opposite extreme, old calendarism or traditionalism?

A: Yes. Communism inside Russia created renovationism which the Church there had to defeat. However, during the Cold War Capitalism created anti-Communism. In ROCOR in the USA this took the form of a nationalist right-wing movement. The supporters of this movement were the very ones who put St John on trial in San Francisco fifty years ago. In the 1960s they accepted a Greek old calendarist monastery into the Church. To their horror the old calendarists turned against the hand that had fed them and tried to take over ROCOR.

Realising that they had failed in their takeover bid, in 1986 many of the old calendarists left ROCOR, but their influence lingered on and the 1990s were a battle ground between that influence and the original ROCOR Tradition. The battle was between the Tradition, such as we knew it in the Western European Diocese of ROCOR, the Tradition which had come out of pre-Revolutionary Russia, and that new and alien old calendarist influence. As you know, in the end, the old ROCOR was triumphant. The alien influence reality affected very few, about 5% of the whole, but led them to leaving the Church in the early 2000s, which was tragic for them, but at the same time allowed the restoration of ROCOR’s old spiritual independence and integrity.

Q: How do you try and remain faithful in the middle?

A: Sobriety is the key to this. The left, or new calendarism, and the right, old calendarism, are equally self-exalted. The Centre is not self-exalted at all and remains sober. Both new calendarism (renovationism) and old calendarism (traditionalism) must be avoided because both equally lead to schism. Schism is always caused by a lack of sobriety. We steer our course by the star of Christ, the star of Bethlehem, in other words, by grace.

I remember in 2007, just after the concelebration between Patriarch Alexis and Metropolitan Laurus in Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow, in which we had all participated with great joy at our unity, two senior ROCOR priests were speaking. One said: ‘Well, we’ve done it’. The other answered, ‘No, father, the grace of God has done it’. And this is exactly the case. The grace of God brings unity in truth (and that is the only real unity, the only unity that exists); the devil brings disunity and untruth.

Q: How do such new calendarist and old calendarist schisms arise from inside the Church?

A: The leaders of the small groups that leave the Church for either extreme are people who have been in difficulty in Church life for decades. But they are tolerated because God tolerates them. Eventually, such people are either healed by the patience shown to them, or else they leave the Church of their own accord.

Q: What lies behind schisms? Why are theological and historical arguments not successful with those who leave? Why can’t the leaders of schism see their error?

A: It is not theology or history that lies behind most schisms, but psychology, that is, personality conflicts. And that is always irrational. Irrational psychology cuts off its nose to spite its face, it resists grace and grace is always rational. For example, seven years ago I predicted that few would return from the Sourozh schism in England, though we would remain open to their return. And, just as predicted, few did come back. Why? Why do tiny minorities, which will clearly die out, prefer occasional services in ‘voluntary catacombs’, in back rooms and sheds, temporary rented premises, to regular services in normal churches? It is because they do not want the Church, they want the inward-looking, sectarian atmosphere of cliques and clubs, of small ponds, where they can be ‘big fish’.

Q: What is the psychology of traditionalist and modernist schisms?

A: I will take one example which I know well – the Sourozh new calendarist schism. This came about from the convert desire to merge Orthodoxy with Anglicanism (the Establishment). This is why the schism was supported at the time by the Establishment Church of England, albeit discreetly, but quite openly by newspapers like The Times and The Daily Telegraph, which support the British Establishment and whose journalists are fed by MI5 and the CIA, just like BBC journalists. However, to wish to merge Orthodoxy with Anglicanism is in fact to state that you remain unconverted to Orthodoxy, under the cloak of culture, hiding behind cultural excuses.

To take a minor detail as an example, they said: ‘Orthodoxy will have to adapt to us because we are English and so, for example, we have milk in our tea even on fast days’. Although this is a very minor detail, it is symptomatic of a far more serious spiritual illness – cultural arrogance, worldliness and nationalism. Thus, I remember that I was contacted at the time by one who complained that I had written that her group practised intercommunion and that was quite untrue. However, I pointed out to her that I had only been quoting from her group’s website which openly boasted that it allowed intercommunion!

As regards traditionalist or old calendarist schisms, they come from convert insecurity, the neophyte’s need to be against other Christians (especially against other Orthodox), rather than for Christ. It is interesting that such groups pride themselves on being ‘converts’. It is strange because we stop being converts once we are integrated, which should happen, at most, within a few years of reception into the Church. For example, the apostles do not speak of themselves as converts. That is unthinkable because they are part of the Church. And this was the same throughout history. Those who are part of the Church are not converts.

Q: Why are so many Anglican converts involved in schisms and hardly any Russians, at least in England?

A: Interestingly, a few Russians are involved, but they are always highly anglicised and want to become part of the Establishment despite their origins. Anglicans are Protestants and they have a very weak sense of the Incarnation. Therefore, for them the Church is just an individual choice, a personal matter, a private opinion, without any collective or social repercussions and so the Church is just a club. In Protestantism individualism is so highly developed that if you do not like the Church where you are, you simply go off and start another one. There is an inability to get on with others, to adapt, to accept and tolerate other opinions in community. That is why there are thousands of Protestant denominations, which to us Orthodox all look the same and indeed are essentially the same.

So the collective, the community, the Church, suffers at the hands of individualism, sectarianism. That is why in England, for example, there are five different small groups of ex-Anglicans who have joined the local dioceses of Orthodox Churches, but they are all split up. They cannot get on with each other or with other Orthodox. The only ex-Anglicans who do get on with each other are those who get on with other Orthodox of other nationalities, who are already integrated into Local Churches and multinational parishes and have forgotten that they were once Anglicans. They are Orthodox.

Q: When will old calendarist and new calendarist schisms end?

A: Only when the Centre has been fully re-established, when we reverse all the decadence of the past 96 years, when we go back to the pre-1917 situation. Thus, old calendarist schisms will exist for as long as the Greek, Romanian and Bulgarian Churches remain officially on the secular calendar for the fixed feasts. Once those Churches have returned to the Church calendar, and they would never have dared leave it before 1917 because the Russian Church would not have allowed it, those schisms will fall apart, only clerical careerists or the ill will be left. As regards new calendarist schisms, they will last for as long as the Centre is not strong enough to quell them, as long as there are conformists whose faith is weak, who swim with the Western tide, who are too weak to stand up to the passing fashions of this world.

Q: If we can slightly move away from this theme, what can we say about the future of diaspora unity between the parishes of the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) and the foreign parishes of the Church inside Russian, outside Russia but still not under ROCOR, as they logically and canonically should be?

A: As you say, logic and the canons say they should be, but there is such a thing as economy – a temporary dispensation for pastoral reasons, for the greater benefit. Much patience is needed to implement the 2007 agreement between the two parts of the Russian Church. We knew this at the time. As you know that agreement involved the Church Outside Russia giving up its representations inside Russia and the Church inside Russia giving up its representations outside Russia. However, as the Church Outside Russia had very few and only very recent representations inside Russia, it was easy to give them up. On the other hand, the Church inside Russia had a lot of longstanding representations and property outside Russia – as a result of the Cold War.

Wisely, no timetable was agreed on the issue of transfer of parishes to ROCOR because this is a pastoral issue. This should all happen calmly, as has happened in Australia, without anyone’s feelings being hurt. So what has been happening since the 2007 agreement is that the foreign parishes of the Church inside Russia are being readied for their transfer to the Church Outside Russia – but I would say that this process will take a generation. We are only at the beginning.

Q: How can such a transfer work in terms of practices? For example, ROCOR practises reception of heterodox by baptism, foreign parishes of the Church inside Russia practise reception of heterodox by chrismation?

A: That is untrue. Practices vary in both ROCOR and in the Church inside Russia. For example, in the Western European Diocese of ROCOR, we generally received by chrismation, as was the universal tradition of ROCOR until the 1970s. The priest would offer reception by baptism or chrismation, explaining why the choice was available. We always found that most chose to be received by chrismation. Practices in the Church inside Russia also vary. I think that once all the 825 or so parishes outside Russia are united under ROCOR, this mixed practice will continue according to the pastoral conscience of each priest. This is not a dogmatic issue, but a pastoral one. We all agree that there are no sacraments outside the Church, but approaches vary as regards the sacramental forms that have survived outside the Church and how we deal with them.

Q: You described how foreign parishes of the Church inside Russia were much affected by the renovationism or new calendarism that was brought out of Russia by certain emigres. Is this still a problem?

A: Much less of a problem every year. For instance, I remember someone telling me how when Bishop Elisey, the new Sourozh bishop appointed after the schism there in 2006, first came to England, he visited one of his communities in the provinces. The priest was an ex-Anglican and when Bishop Elisey got up on Sunday morning to serve the liturgy, he was asked by the priest’s wife whether he wanted a cooked breakfast, like her husband, or not. This came as a shock to him, but not to us, who knew exactly what had been going on in Sourozh for decades.

This was typical of the old Sourozh under Metr Antony Bloom and Bp Basil Osborne, where ‘English culture’ was more important than Church culture, where in fact phyletism reigned. They received Anglicans into the Church very quickly, never taught them much about Orthodoxy, ordained them and then never visited them or checked up on them. Cooked breakfasts before communion, just as in the Church of England, were the result. However, now that the Sourozh Diocese has been brought back to the normal practices of the Russian Church, such peculiar situations belong to the past.

Q: What is the main problem of doing missionary work in the West?

A: Most of our work is with immigrant Orthodox from Eastern Europe and it is a matter of Churching people who were baptised in the last few years. So our problems here are exactly the same as elsewhere in the post-Communist Orthodox world.

However, there is a second layer of work, which is with the mass of Western people who have no concept of what the Orthodox Church is. I would say that here our work is in overcoming a barrier of prejudices, what I call the ‘Dawkins Delusion’, which is the modern Western delusion. This is the problem of very primitive Neo-Darwinianism. This is actually irrelevant to those who have never held Protestant fundamentalist beliefs, like the Orthodox. So first of all you have to explain to these people that the Church has never held weird Protestant beliefs, which they are in revolt against, and then you have to explain that this is why we have no need to revolt against beliefs which we have never had anyway. This makes their Neo-Darwinianism irrelevant. In Catholic countries it is much the same story, but there they are in revolt against Papism. So the problem comes in explaining that we are not anti-Papist like them because we have never been Papist. It is irrelevant to us

Q: Do you not work to convert Anglicans, Protestants and Catholics?

A: First of all, in today’s West there are very few of those and they are mainly very elderly. We do not proselytise among them. We tend to find that those who have actually believed in Protestantism or Catholicism all their lives never become Orthodox. They are unable to learn to think and act as Orthodox. Of course, if they come to us, having understood the errors of what they have been taught, that is a different matter. But we do not proselytise. We wait for the grace of God to touch them. We do not work by human artifice. They must become natural, integrated Orthodox.

Local and Faithful, or Westernised and Hellenised

Since the Russian Revolution the Patriarchate of Constantinople has taken into its jurisdiction a variety of Russophobic dissidents. Their schisms have come about because the dissidents have been too spiritually weak to remain faithful to the Russian Tradition and so have been dragged down into party politics or personality cults. Thus, they have either been virulent nationalists or else anti-Tradition liberals and freemasons, cultivating political and theological schisms caused by that Revolution. Having lost sight of the big picture of Orthodox civilisational values, the Orthodox world-view, they have been brought down into petty, provincial concerns.

Some of the dissidents have been Slavs – Russians, Ukrainians or ex-Catholic Carpatho-Russians – others have been Western converts – Finnish, American, French, Estonian or ex-Anglican. Here we look at the dissidents, originally Russophobic, pro-Kerensky aristocrats from Saint Petersburg, who, leaving Russia, then the Church outside Russia and then the Church inside Russia for Constantinople, over 80 years ago formed the Rue Daru jurisdiction in Paris. After nearly a year without a leader, they are now hoping to elect a new archbishop in November 2013.

Although issued from the Russian Tradition and even claiming to belong to it, since they left the Mother-Church these dissidents have gradually become more and more Westernised and absorbed into the US and Turkish-controlled Greek Patriarchate in Istanbul. This can clearly be seen in their forsaking of the Orthodox liturgical calendar and Orthodox liturgical, dogmatic and pastoral practices for modernist, Western, secular practices. This simultaneous Westernisation and Hellenisation is inevitable and can only be avoided by their leaving schism and taking the path back to the Mother-Church.

If, after the election of a new archbishop, they cannot return to the Mother-Church, they will consign themselves to remaining a small archdiocese of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, perhaps 5,000 in number in all, most of their parishes set up in temporary or rented premises and less than 25 strong. Their ethos will continue to be intellectual, not spiritual, philosophical, not theological, disincarnate, not incarnate, with mainly untrained clergy, without a living Tradition and without a Mother-Church, yet dependent on the Russian Church for vestments, literature, musical culture and people to fill its small parishes. Clearly, eventually, they will disappear, absorbed into Greek Church structures and practices.

However, if, after the election of a new archbishop, they can return to the Mother-Church, they will be able to rejoin the multinational and multilingual free Russian Orthodox Church, fifty times bigger than the tiny and captive Patriarchate of Constantinople. They will be able to take part in the construction of the Metropolia of Western Europe, with its hundreds and hundreds of real parishes and historic churches all over Western Europe, the stepping-stone to a future new Local Church and yet at the same time authentically faithful to the Russian Orthodox Tradition and Church in all ways. Local and Faithful, or Westernised and Hellenised: this is the choice that they face.

‘Members Only’: The Church is not a Club

It is well-known that small parts of the Church can degenerate into sects and cults. This can happen when a church is small, set up in private chapels or domestic dwellings, and also when there is no local bishop (stavropegic churches) or where there is contact with only one bishop in a very small diocese. Here it is vital that clergy and people alike have a consciousness of the synodality and broad catholicity of the Church, of what goes on outside their little world, – a particular and shocking problem on a small island like Britain.

Sects can be defined as small groups which put forward a personal opinion or opinions as Church dogma. For example, you may the find the sect of those who only use olive oil in lamps, or only use beeswax in candles, or only have handpainted icons, or in which all men have long hair and beards and all women wear a uniform of long dresses, and which condemn all others who do otherwise. To the normal, outside the sect, all this seems strange, but those inside the cult are cut off from normality and imagine that the4y are normal. Such is fantasy.

Cults can be defined as small groups which put forward a personality in place of Christ, ‘Apollo’ or ‘Cephas’, see I Cor 1, 12. If the personality is strong, self-willed or particularly ambitious, the cult becomes even more well-defined and isolated. Soon intolerance of others is bred and the cult becomes sectarian, casting out and condemning others, often with curious customs or its own uniform. Cults were a particular danger during the Cold War period in the lives of Moscow Patriarchal parishes outside Russia due to their isolation, but not only here.

All sects and cults, ‘private churches’, eventually die out, though it can take time. They generally become increasingly decadent as time goes by – thus sects often become cultish and cults sectarian, especially if the cult founder has died. There is a particular danger in an island like Britain and among ex-Anglicans. Anglicanism can often resemble an insular, middle-class club, with no concept of concelebration and a profound, if often unconscious, racism. However, this bourgeois mentality can also be found among the Continental-based Rue Daru splinter group.

We have already said that it is vital that there be a consciousness of the catholicity of the Church. This has been a problem in an immigrant splinter group, the OCA, in North America. Isolated and with its canonicity not accepted by most Orthodox in North America, some parts of it have wandered far from the Orthodox Tradition. Consciouness of the catholicity of the Church is manifested not by passively being in communion (everyone in the canonical Orthodox Church is in communion with one another), but by actively concelebrating.