Category Archives: Sergianism

The Russian Orthodox Church: Yesterday and Tomorrow

The Emperor and the Empress thought that they were dying for their homeland. But in fact they died for all mankind.

Pierre Gilliard, Swiss tutor to the Tsar’s children.

Foreword

Ten years ago, in 2005, debate raged in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) about our relations with the Church inside Russia. Was it at last free and so could we enter into canonical communion and work together, building the future? Such was the debate that a Pan-Diaspora Church Council was called in San Francisco in 2006 in order to answer the questions posed. At that time we had to counter some very false arguments which were advanced in favour of sectarian self-isolation, arguments that were shaped by the impurity of politics and psychology, and not by the purity of theology. Below are examples.

Yesterday

The human weakness of Metropolitan (later Patriarch) Sergius (+ 1944) and his followers, as revealed in compromises with the atheist persecutor Stalin, known as ‘sergianism’, was erected by some into a ‘theological’ heresy. In fact, it was just another form of erastianism, of placing the State above the Church, of which there had already been so many examples in other forms in the Old Testament and in 1900 years of Church history. There was nothing theological in this, for it was only human weakness on the part of one who had found himself under huge pressure from a militant atheist State. No-one is to judge him for his weakness, there is no place for phariseeism here, for God is the Judge of all.

Though there was nothing of a dogmatic or theological nature in such compromises, certain individuals, partly under the influence of North American political puritanism, even concluded that the present-day sacraments of the Church inside Russia had somehow mysteriously ‘lost grace’ on account of this compromise of three generations before. As a ROCOR priest, I first came across this astonishing piece of politics masquerading as theology in 1992 from someone who was under the influence of this North American error. In fact, of course, sergianism is not a heresy, whereas puritanism, with its inherent impurity of Novatianism, Donatism and Eustathianism, as seen in the light of the canons of the Council of Gangra of 340, most certainly is.

The political and diplomatic support which a few in the Church inside Russia sought from Roman Catholics and Protestants, and called ecumenism, was also condemned. However, it was a very curious idea that the opinions or actions of a handful of individuals could be held up as a sign that the whole of the Church inside Russia, 160,000,000 people, was therefore somehow tainted by the heresy of ecumenism! In reality, most of the faithful inside Russia had never heard of ecumenism and those who had were utterly opposed to it. This was all the stranger, in that by 2005 ecumenism had in any case come to mean something very different from in its political heyday between the 60s and 80s. Instead of concerning itself with politically-enforced syncretistic compromise, in fact heresy, it had turned to having good-neighbourly relations with heterodox, something that ROCOR, with the many mixed marriages among parishioners and regular need to use heterodox premises for services, had always cultivated.

The strangest argument heard at that time was that we could not associate ourselves with the Church inside Russia in any way because of the compromises of a few individuals in it. This was an appalling error, for it would have meant that we could not associate ourselves with the Church of the New Martyrs and Confessors. True, we, in freedom, had canonized the New Martyrs and Confessors first, in 1981, 19 years before the Church inside Russia had been able to do so by freeing itself. However, many, including myself, had wondered why we in the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), living in freedom, had so scandalously not canonized the New Martyrs and Confessors long before, from the 1920s on. We felt shame for ourselves.

The sad reason for the delay had been because elements in ROCOR were themselves contaminated with politics. Indeed, I well remember how in 1981 certain parishioners at the ROCOR Cathedral in London, as also elsewhere, had actually been opposed to the canonization. And in any case, the ROCOR canonization had only ever been a first step, a beginning. As I wrote at the time: What has begun in New York must come to completion in Moscow. Moreover, for lack of trustworthy information we had canonized only some 8,000; the Church inside Russia, with greater access to archives, has canonized well over 30,000 and that number is increasing.

Others said that we in ROCOR could have nothing to do with a Church whose bishops belonged to the KGB. I would have agreed with this – if any had belonged to the KGB, such as, we suspect, the defrocked schismatic Filaret Denisenko, now the darling of the CIA. In fact, they did not. The senior bishops inside Russia merely had KGB code names – in the same way as Western secular leaders, whom we prayed for in our services as civil leaders, had KGB code-names. The Church inside Russia could just as well have said: ‘We will have nothing to do with ROCOR because you pray for individuals who have KGB code-names’. It would have been just as false an argument.

Some in ROCOR admitted that there were members of our Church, in good standing, who worked or had worked for the CIA and other Western spy services. They countered this by saying that there were members of the KGB in churches inside Russia. This was totally false: the only KGB members who attended churches there were those who went there to spy, to note down names of priests or young people and create problems for them.

Sectarian elements in ROCOR objected that if we entered into canonical communion with the Church inside Russia, we would then be in communion with the rest of the Orthodox Church! I first heard this incredible argument, I think, in about 1999, when a ROCOR priest from London concelebrated with a priest of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. This had raised an objection from a sectarian priest trained in North America. In the Western European Diocese of ROCOR, where I had been ordained and celebrated until 1997, such concelebrations were perfectly normal and happened regularly. As a ROCOR priest, I was amazed at this sectarian spirit, which I had hardly met before. The logic of this argument would be that we in ROCOR were no longer in communion with Mt Athos, which is in the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Absolutely unthinkable! (Naturally, such sectarians later left ROCOR).

On a much more serious and practical level, there were those who pointed out that among representatives of the Church inside Russia in the Diaspora there were still corrupt and renovationist clergy at even the highest level, even though several had by then died out. This was a problem. Although these renovationists called us slanderers for telling the Truth and so shaming their false idols (as renovationists elsewhere still do), the problem was largely overcome in 2006, when most such clergy in England and France left the jurisdiction of the Church inside Russia in a schism which they created; since then, two or three other such individuals have simply been removed, so they can no longer cause scandal and can at last learn the basics of the Faith.

Finally, there were those who said that we could not work together with the Church inside Russia because the situation in Russia was not as it had been before the Revolution. Soviet practices had infiltrated Russian society, alcoholism, abortion, corruption and divorce were rife, the mummy of the Russophobic murderer Lenin still lay on Red Square, and the squares and streets of Russia were littered with his statues or named after his henchmen. They demandingly demanded in fact that the post-Soviet Russian State (in charge of such matters) behave as though it were part of the Russian Church! In the face of this argument we pointed out that pre-Revolutionary Russia had not been ideal either (otherwise there would never have been a Revolution), we asked for compassion for a people deprived for three generations of a free Church, asked for patience and said that with time the Church will influence the State, since repentance, which we too are in need of, changes people.

Victory

The above arguments were rejected, with repentance for ever having entertained them, by well over 95% of ROCOR, dismissed as the arguments of schismatic impurity, of a tiny, sectarian, inward-looking and politicized minority, which had been trying to take over ROCOR, holding us back and impeding us from fulfilling our universal calling together with the rest of the Russian Orthodox Church, the great majority. As we know, in 2007 the vast majority of the hierarchy, clergy and people of our little ROCOR were happy to enter at last into canonical communion with the vast majority of the rest of the Church, of which we had always spiritually been a part. The separation, caused purely by political events exterior to the Church, was over. We were sure that the Church inside Russia had freed itself, as had already been made evident by the Jubilee Council of 2000. At long last, our inward unity could become outwardly apparent and, impediments removed, we could progress together towards our common destiny and ever more urgent mission.

Tomorrow

A generation after the fall of State atheism in the Russian Federation, we see in Russia today most interesting developments, promising for the future. After the awful period of ‘law of the jungle’ capitalism in the 1990s, with its rule of seven bankers, ‘Wild East’ bandit privatizations and the appearance of pro-Western criminal oligarchs and liberals, Russia has largely seen through that alternative to Communism that was offered it by the consumerist Western world, which we too, living in the Western world itself, had already seen through.

Thanks largely to the chaos and misery that the Western Powers have been causing in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Libya, Syria and above all in the Ukraine, Russian society has seen through Eurosodom and Gomorrhica. If the CIA-installed Poroshenko junta, set up in Kiev, the Mother of Russian cities, wants the suicide of ‘European values’, it can have them. We will remain faithful to the values of St Vladimir and St Olga of Holy Kiev. Believing in Christ, Who trampled down death by death, we choose life. Believing in satan who tramples down life by death, they choose death. That is the difference between us.

Providentially, through the Western attacks on Holy Rus, Russian society has for the most part now come to understand that the West is not the solution. Russia must follow its own, historic, God-given way, the way that our saints and other lucid elements in ROCOR have always preached. As for Russia, it must heal itself and restore Holy Rus. Outside Russia, we can only pray and encourage, learning as we go, for our main task is to spread Orthodoxy outside the Russian Lands in faithfulness to Holy Rus. We are only humble disciples who follow the precepts of Holy Rus.

Interestingly, voices have been saying that Russian society today resembles 1917 Russia. However, unlike in 1917 the direction of today’s Russia is not 1918, but 1916. In other words, although the situation is delicate, Russia is not heading towards catastrophe as it was in 1917, but is heading back from it. Here is the difference. If, God willing, we continue on this God-given path, the Church of Russia will lead us to our destiny. What is this?

On account of the utter failure of imposed Western ideas there, we can say that Russia has seen the future and knows from bitter experience that it does not work. Today it is struggling its way back up from the pit, at the same time as the Western world, led by the United States, is hurtling headlong into it. Today, some of the more aware Western politicians and thinkers are going to Russia or following events in Russia in order to learn. Gerhard Schroeder, Nicolas Sarkozy, Phillippe de Villiers, Pat Buchanan, Ron Paul, Paul Craig Roberts, Franklin Graham and others all follow events in Russia closely or visit.

Russia’s mystical and historic role now is to act as an intermediary between East and West, between China and Western Europe. For the spiritual destiny of China is to enter the authentic Orthodox Christian world, becoming the Eastern provinces of Holy Rus, just as the spiritual destiny of Western Europe, with its roots in Orthodox Christianity, is to return to it, with the help of its ancient saints, by becoming the Western provinces of Holy Rus. True, the towering national pride of Europeans largely prevents this, for where there is no humility, there is no salvation. Indeed, Russia’s task is now not to save Europe from the USA, as some have put it, but to save Europe from itself. Just as Russia, and not the West, was to blame for choosing the Western ideology that created the Russian Revolution in February 1917, we do not blame others for the present misfortune that Europeans have chosen for themselves.

The key to universal salvation in these last times is atonement, in the restoration of Holy Rus and in Holy Rus becoming universal. Following the Holy Trinity, we are called on not only to be Guardians and Gatherers of Holy Rus, following the Father and the Son, but also Spreaders of Holy Rus, following the Holy Spirit. Those, in East and West, who want to work with the Russian Orthodox Church and so, by following the Tradition, build up new Local Churches are welcome to do so. If some do not wish to do so and set themselves against the prophetic and mystical Church Tradition in tired, old, secularist and humanist neo-renovationism, then God be with them. We shall do God’s Will without them. We force no-one to follow the Church; the Church sails ahead without those who reject Her.

In 1917 the last Christian Emperor, the Tsar, did not abdicate. In 1917 Russia and the whole world abdicated from him, from the Christian Emperor and Christian Empire, and so from Christ. Since then there has been no peace on earth so that we have all had to atone, each receiving our penance in order to learn humility. Inside Russia the people faced the penances of persecution and Nazi invasion, outside Russia those in the emigration faced the penances of exile and isolation. As for Europe, like today’s USA also, it has faced the penance of war and humiliating loss of power and greatness. As for the rest of the world, it has faced constant strife and war, ever since ‘he who restrains’ (2 Thess 2, 7) was in 1917 removed. All the suffering of the world since 1917 has been the opportunity of all to learn humility.

Our destiny, mystical and prophetical, is to preach Holy Rus, the message of the last Christian Emperor, to the whole world for repentance before the end. The time is coming when the world will at last be ready to hear of Holy Rus, of the universality of the Incarnate Christ, authentic Christianity, and not the two diluted isms shaped by Western heathenism, pagan Romanism and northern barbarianism, that is, Roman Catholicism and Protestantism.

Afterword

My great-grandfather was born in the same year as Nicholas II, the last Christian Emperor who was martyred in Ekaterinburg in 1918. One hundred years after the Emperor’s birth and fifty years after his martyrdom, I, born on the anniversary of the day when the remains of the Imperial family were finally destroyed, received the message from the east that I was to learn and then go and speak of Holy Rus, Christ Incarnate, to those whom I met. This is not only my personal destiny, but also that of many others, as described so well in the poem ‘The Apostles’, written in exile in 1928 by the bard of the Tsar, Sergey Bekhteev:

Amid the darkness of the slavish world
We bear the spirit’s torch in victory
And we call loud to those chosen by God
To enter the hall where the Orthodox feast.

We walk along a road of thorns,
We soar above worldly vanity,
We are the apostles of Christ’s Faith,
We are the heralds of holy truth.

We call the races and the peoples,
Made scarlet with their brothers’ blood,
To the kingdom of true, eternal freedom,
To the kingdom of goodness, light and love.

The hopes and prayers for the future turn to Ekaterinburg, to restoration and coronation.

Resisting and Delaying Antichrist: The Prophetic Vision of the Russian Orthodox Church Questions and Answers from Recent Correspondence and Conversations

Q: What do you think from an Orthodox viewpoint of the recent G-20 meeting in Brisbane, where much was made of the war in the Ukraine.

A: In Brisbane Western politicians – not world leaders, as they pretentiously call themselves – made much of the civil war in the Ukraine. This was because they caused it and are continuing it. At Brisbane a clear message was given to the Western bullies by the free world, led by Russia: If the West continues to destabilize, overthrow democracy by bribing mobs and destroy the sovereignty of the Ukraine, then Russia will extend its sanctions against the Western world, possibly closing Russian air space to it. The Obamas, Bidens, Camerons, Hollandes and Merkels of the West face self-imposed isolation.

The Russian Federation, the Eurasian Economic Union, China, India, much of Latin America, nearly one half of the world, are working towards a new world order and will not tolerate arrogant Western bullying. That has already caused so much bloodshed and chaos in genocidal bombing, invasion and occupation of Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan and in CIA-organized ‘coloured revolutions’ in Libya, Syria and the Ukraine. Libya was the last straw, but even now there are aggressive individuals in the US, whose minds are so power-crazed that they openly talk of starting a Third World War against Russia and China.

Q: Do you think there is any hope that heads of some countries in the European Union will speak out against this US-centred bullying?

A: The EU has more or less become an island off the western coast of the USA, in other words, a US colony or ‘protectorate’, in effect its next state, and is governed by puppets and economic thugs, as we saw in Greece and Spain. The US has isolated Europe from its own roots and its own interests. Until the Paris-Berlin-Moscow axis is restored, as in the early 1900s, there is no hope for Europe. Remarkably, however, the leaders of some small countries in the EU have protested, notably the leaders of Hungary and the Czech Republic. They have of course been condemned for that by the US-run EU media.

Q: What about the leaders of once Orthodox countries like Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania and Non-EU Serbia and Montenegro?

A: Apart from Serbia, where Orthodoxy is still to some extent a political force, the elites of all those countries have betrayed the Orthodox Faith and their own peoples. We can expect nothing of such elites. They can only think of payments from Brussels into their Swiss bank accounts.

Q: When you say ‘the US has isolated Europe’, what do you mean by the US?

A: The US means the plutocratic financiers, industrialists and arms-merchants who saw their opportunity and immigrated to the US from Europe, from where they had already financed slavery, over 200 years ago and now run the US. I do not of course mean the American people. Until the end of the 1950s there was still among many ordinary Americans a small-town, Bible-based culture, however deficient and partial. That has been more or less destroyed by the plutocrats and is lamented by such popular American singers as Don McClean and Johnny Cash in nostalgic songs like American Pie and Family Bible. Americans were the first victims of the plutocrats, the first victims of the ‘US’, as we saw already in the US Civil War. There is nothing that Satan loves more than wars where brother kills brother, whether in the US or the Ukraine.

Q: Has not Russia suffered from the Western sanctions imposed because of the Ukraine?

A: There are naturally problems resulting from them, but the main result of Western bullying because of Russia’s protection of the Ukraine, so-called ‘sanctions’, has been for Russians to refind their identity. Providentially, the Ukraine, the cradle of Russian Orthodoxy, is preparing Russia for the future, preparing it to overcome the confusion and decadent westernization of the last 25 years, to realize that Russia has its own identity, path and role. If the Western elite really wants to start a Third World War, it must now realize that Russians will no longer simply lie down and agree to lose that War, their country and, above all, their Christian Faith to Mammon.

This is the same situation as in the thirteenth century when the Mongols invaded Russia. Until then Russians had been divided; everything changed afterwards as they found unity against the common enemy and petty squabbles were forgotten. So today Russia was divided before the Western invasion of the Ukraine, now it is finding unity once more. Today’s extraordinary consensus of national unity around President Putin has not existed in Russia for exactly 100 years, since the First World War, when Russia also united against aggressive Western enemies.

Q: To move on, there has been talk recently of the forthcoming All-Orthodox Council in 2016 and much worry has been expressed about it. Do you share in those worries?

A: No. To worry about this is really to show a lack of faith in Divine Providence and in the Church, which is not a mere human institution, but a Divino-human organism. First of all, nobody knows if there will be a Council, let alone whether one is forthcoming; remember that ‘man proposes but God disposes’. True, a meeting of several Orthodox bishops is planned in two years’ time, but a meeting is not in itself a Council. And no-one knows with the situation between Constantinople and the Czechs and Slovaks if even that meeting will take place. And who knows who the Patriarch of Constantinople will be in two years’ time.

Even if a meeting does take place and politics takes over, it will remain an ineffectual without any consensus. However, if a ‘Council’ takes place, why should that be bad? Surely a Council – rather than a mere meeting – will proclaim the Church and our Orthodox Faith to the whole world, anathematizing all isms, atheism, consumerism, ecumenism, globalism etc. How can that be bad? Remember that only canonical Orthodox will attend, those of disputed canonicity like the OCA, those in schisms, as in the Ukraine, Macedonia, Montenegro and Estonia, those in sects like the old calendarists, as well as heterodox, will not take part.

Q: So why do some worry?

A: I think that those who are worried, for example old calendarists, have a psychological and not theological motivation. They are really just seeking to justify their schisms. For example, they point to the decadence inside the Patriarchate of Constantinople but then forget that Mt Athos and many faithful clergy and people outside the convert fringes are under that Patriarchate. The old calendarists want a Pharisee-like, black and white world, in which they are white and everyone else is black. Such a world does not exist and has never existed. The wheat has always grown alongside the tares. Look at the twelve apostles: most of them betrayed Christ, one did not even repent, but still eleven of them became saints. Old calendarist criticisms are psychologically-motivated self-justification.

Q: But we know there are many real problems between the Local Churches, for example there is the problem of the new calendar.

A: I can recall reading the words of St Justin (Popovich) in the 1970s who denounced the concept of a Council then because the vast majority of Orthodox were living under the yoke of Communism. Then he was right of course, but now the situation is quite different. Today most Orthodox, some 85% of all, are free. True there are some 15% who are not free, who live under what may be called ‘CIA Churches’, but they are a small minority.
Who knows, if this meeting does take place and does become a Council, this may mean that the new calendar hierarchies will repent and return to the Orthodox calendar, giving up the Roman Catholic calendar. Mt Athos gave up that calendar decades ago and now the Polish Church has done so. Others will surely follow. And remember too that the CIA Churches, subject to all manner of Uniatizing and Protestantizing manipulations, are mainly small and their senior representatives elderly. Most of the free Local Churches are young and follow the Tradition. Time is on our side.

Q: What do you mean by ‘CIA Churches’?

A: Those whose leaders are appointed by the CIA, or bribed by the EU and masonic circles, which amounts to the same thing.

Q: What is the role of the Russian Church among the other Local Churches?

A: As three-quarters of the whole Church, we have a special responsibility: our vision, mission and task are prophetic. Our vision, mission and task are resistance and delaying tactics in order to oppose the coming of Antichrist, towards whom the world has been hurtling for the last hundred years and especially for the last fifty years. You remember how Reagan called the Soviet Union ‘the evil empire’? Well, where did the demons who had entered the Russian Empire by 1917, tipped the balance against it and created that evil empire go? They did not disappear back to hell, but, seeing their battle largely lost in Russia, they went to infest the West, where, tragedy of tragedies, they were shown no resistance and even made welcome.

Here is the message of Russia to the West: After 1917 demons took over in Russia but we eventually fought them off because of the prayers of the New Martyrs and Confessors, because of the strength of the Orthodox Faith and Orthodox culture. Russia says to the West: Follow our example, return to the Orthodox Christ and you too can shake off the demons. But of course the West is so blinded by its towering racial and nationalistic pride that it cannot even see that is being tormented by demons. Indeed, it does not even believe in demons and it rejects the sweetness of the Resurrection of Christ, Whom it considers to be an ‘uneducated Asiatic’.

Q: To say that the Russian Church’s role is to oppose the coming of Antichrist is a very serious statement, with many implications.

A: Yes, it is very serious because it means that the Russian Orthodox Church is a sort of litmus test. The world can be divided into two parts, on the one hand those who are with us, our friends, those who are also resisting and delaying the coming of Antichrist, and, on the other hand, those who resist the Russian Church and, consciously or, more usually, unconsciously, are working for Antichrist’s coming. Those who unconscious and naively think they are working for ‘freedom, democracy and humanity’ etc are pawns in Antichrist’s game. They would be shocked if they realized it and then they would repent.

In that respect the Pussy Riot incident, so completely and so obviously stage-managed by the West, was highly symbolic. There we clearly saw who is for Antichrist and who is against. Those who supported Pussy Riot, words which are simple code for the sex and violence of modern Western ‘culture’, including fifth columnist, nominally Orthodox intellectuals, some of them even clergy, modernist heterodox, the Western media and so-called human rights activists, are all working for Antichrist.

Q: You say that to resist and delay Antichrist is the task of the Russian Church. But what practically can the Russian Church do that the other Local Churches cannot?

A: The Russian Church alone is able, when the time is ripe, to set up the infrastructure for Metropolias in the Americas, Asia, Australasia and Western Europe and also help the Patriarchate of Alexandria to become the true Church of Africa and stop being a Greek colony run by the EU-controlled Greek Foreign Ministry in Athens. The other Local Churches are too small, too weak, too nationalistic and, in the cases of the CIA Churches, too unfree, to do this.

Q: This sounds like papism, setting up a worldwide Church?

A: Not at all. Papism is about empire-building and centralization, which, true, has become the ethos of many in the modern Patriarchate of Constantinople and also in its time affected careerist, nationalistic State appointees in the Russian Church before the Revolution. Today the Russian Church is about setting up Metropolias as foundations for new Local Churches, as has already happened in Poland and the Czech Lands and Slovakia, and as is under way in Japan and China. These countries are parts of its canonical territory, but will remain so only for as long as the Churches there are too small to gain autocephaly.

The aim is not empire-building, which is centralization, but decentralization, through laying the foundations for and then establishing new autocephalous Local Churches, as His Holiness Patriarch Alexey II said in 2003 when speaking of a future Metropolia in Western Europe. We have as our model not the manmade, papist, unionist, filioquist, rationalist god of Western philosophers, but the real Christian God of the Holy Trinity revealed in all Power and Glory in the New Testament, unity in diversity.

Q: Do you think that other territories will be added to the canonical territory of Rus apart from China and Japan?

A: Certainly. I think that eventually in Europe Hungary may be added, and outside Europe in South-East Asia, with the Russian Orthodox missions already there, Thailand and Laos, and I think perhaps one day Iran too.

Q: So the rest of the world, except for Africa and the other territories in the jurisdiction of the other 13 canonical Local Churches, can be covered by the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR)?

A: Yes. The Church Outside Russia actually means the Church Outside Rus, outside the Russian lands. And Rus at present only covers lands of the former Soviet Union – except for Georgia – including the Ukraine, Estonia and so on, and, as we have said, China and Japan. ROCOR can cover the rest, except those countries that form the canonical territories of other Local Churches.

Q: But those countries ‘outside Rus’ often have Orthodox populations which are under other Local Churches. So how can they come under ROCOR?

A: They cannot ‘come under’ ROCOR, I said, ‘can be covered by ROCOR’, not ‘come under’. ROCOR is the Church Outside Rus. Unlike the Church inside Rus, which has a canonical territory, the Church Outside Rus has no canonical territory. However, we do have a shared territory, a territory which we can cover, and where we can have a canonical flock.

Q: What do you mean by canonical flock?

A: All those of all nationalities who live outside the canonical territory of Rus and freely belong to and confess the Russian Orthodox Church and Tradition. And at present nobody, including the US and EU elite, can stop us from belonging to ROCOR.

Q: With such a definition, where does the ‘Orthodox Church in America’, the OCA, come? That after all is in North America, on a territory covered by ROCOR, and the OCA was founded through the Russian Church.

A: I don’t know where the OCA comes. You must ask its members. The OCA was a temporary Cold War creation of Soviet times, largely made up not of descendants of subjects of the Russian Empire, but of descendants of subjects of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. For nearly 45 years now its canonicity has been disputed and it has been torn by internal dissensions. Like all conglomerates, its different parts are torn in different directions.

I think that instead of sitting between two (and sometimes more than two) chairs, one day it will split apart, with a small majority, especially but not only in Alaska, ‘Russian America’, returning to the Russian Church and spiritual freedom and integrity, and a large minority, under the influence of sectarian American nationalism and possibly under the direct influence of the US administration, going off to liberal, ecumenistic convert groups, the US-run Patriarchate of Constantinople and some to the Uniats.

Q: And what about the Paris Jurisdiction? It claims to be ‘of the Russian Tradition’. Where does that fit into such a definition?

A: It too left the Russian Church and therefore our affairs do not concern it. As regards its claim, as someone in Paris said to me earlier this year, although the Paris Jurisdiction may claim to be ‘of the Russian Tradition’, the Russian Tradition has not even ‘stayed overnight’ in most of its communities. When you live, as some do, on the Roman Catholic calendar, want the Roman Catholic Easter, have no iconostasis, wear Greek vestments, abbreviate the Liturgy, give communion to Roman Catholics, write against and condemn the Russian Church, refuse to venerate Her martyrs and belong to Her, what sort of ‘Russian Tradition’ is that? That is Uniatism, not Orthodoxy. Apart from in a few last outposts, that claim is a fiction.

Thus, it is very interesting to think back before 2007, before ROCOR and the Church inside Russia entered into canonical communion with one another. Then the Paris Jurisdiction – and its members who colonized the OCA in North America – used to condemn ROCOR as ‘a sect’ for not concelebrating with the Church inside Russia because ROCOR considered that the bishops of the Church inside Russia were not free and therefore could not act canonically. However, as soon as freedom came and ROCOR and the Church inside Russia did start concelebrating, the masonic ethos of the propaganda of the Paris swung around 180 degrees. Then representatives of the Paris Jurisdiction started condemning ROCOR precisely for concelebrating with the Church inside Russia, which they then said was not free!

So they went from criticizing ROCOR for being anti-Moscow to criticizing ROCOR for being pro-Moscow, never recognizing the transformation and liberation of Moscow. It is clear that the point of view of those who control the Paris Jurisdiction is mere self-justification, which is the same psychology for all extremists, whether for the Paris new calendarists or for the Greek old calendarists. In other words, their views are a political manipulation, conditioned by anti-Russian Western political propaganda, whether sent out to manipulate weak hearts and irrational minds by the CIA or by the Vatican, and has nothing to do with spiritual values.

Q: What was it that brought ROCOR and the Church inside Russia into canonical communion?

A: The August 2000 Jubilee Council of the Church inside Russia, which met all three conditions of ROCOR, the canonization of the New Martyrs, the condemnation of collusion with the atheist State, known as sergianism, and the complete rejection of the branch theory, known as ecumenism.

Q: In that case why did ROCOR not enter into communion with the Church inside Russia straightaway in 2000?

A: Very simply because it is one thing to proclaim something at a Council, but quite another to put it into practice. For example, even after the Jubilee Council, at the London Cathedral belonging to the Church inside Russia they still refused to put up icons of the New Martyrs, on the pretext that they had no space on their bare white walls! They also forbade the sale of books written by Fr Seraphim Rose, which were at that time so popular inside Russia. In England ROCOR had to wait for the death of one individual in 2004 and then the departure of other modernists in 2006 to the Paris Jurisdiction before a new Orthodox bishop could be sent from Russia, a bishop chosen on ROCOR’s recommendation, and so we could have local unity.

Many representatives of the Church inside Russia but who lived in the West had been betraying the Russian Church and Tradition for decades, they were compromised. This is partly why ROCOR was so popular. I can remember nearly forty years ago when on a Sunday 600 Russian emigres would be standing in the ROCOR Cathedral in London and at the Patriarchal Cathedral there would be perhaps 200, over half of whom were naïve Non-Russians and visitors who knew no better. In Brussels and Paris the Patriarchal churches were also no more than house chapels. Russians and those who knew the Tradition did not go there.

Remember how, just before the Church Outside Russia and the Church inside Russia entered into communion with one another, in 2006 a small convert part of the foreign representation of the Church inside Russia in England and France abandoned Her. Why did this betrayal of the Church which, ironically, was just about to be reunited, take place? Because of two local personality cults, mainly among unintegrated converts, who placed those peculiar cults above the Russian Church and unity with Her. The individualistic mantra of cults and cultishness came before the Church of Christ.

The manipulative leaders of the naïve and misinformed who left had been doing a disservice to the Church inside Russia for decades while Moscow, paralysed by an illegitimate, militant atheist regime, had been able to do nothing about it. The lesson we learn from this is that those who are not integrated into Church life, but have their own agendas, always disintegrate. Interestingly, those who left in England were ardently supported by a rabidly Russophobic British press and, naturally, the State-run BBC.

In other words, locally, it took years for the decisions of the Jubilee Council to be implemented. There were similar situations in other parts of the Church inside Russia, where Soviet-minded individuals and their followers had to leave the scene for the decisions of that Council to be implemented. That is why fundamentally it took seven years for us to progress.

Q: But that was not the only reason for seven years’ delay. ROCOR too had committed faults on its part too, didn’t it?

A: Of course, individuals in ROCOR and in the ROCOR hierarchy had made their mistakes too. This mistake was the confusion between the Soviet Union and Russia. Emigres who had been mere children before the Revolution or who had been born outside Russia or who had been born inside the Soviet Union before 1945 and been cruelly persecuted for the Faith, often could not tell the difference between the post-Stalinist Soviet Union and Russia. In reality, despite the anti-Russian Bolshevik ideology, imported from the West, the Soviet Union had kept much of Orthodox culture.

1917 was not a light switch when the light went off – there was continuity. The victory over Fascism in the Second World War, the education and medical system, the reflexes of justice for the poor and for the Third World, the qualities of generosity, hospitality and mercifulness – they were not Soviet, they are Russian, and come from the Orthodox world view and Orthodox reflexes. On the other hand, the materialistic philosophy of the Soviet Union, the vicious persecution of the Church, the Gulag, all that was of course profoundly evil, satanic. Communism was Orthodoxy without God, just as Mammonism is Protestantism without God.

The mistakes made by some in ROCOR were why the ROCOR hierarchs and those of the Church inside Russia asked each other forgiveness before 2007. Being human, we all make mistakes. No-one is perfect. As a result of mutually asking one another for forgiveness, since 2007 the Church inside Russia has become ever more ‘de-Sovietized’ and ROCOR has become ever more ‘de-ghettoized’, more open and more international. Both parts have benefited enormously, making great strides forward. To ask for forgiveness is always beneficial, creative and dynamic. God gave us all grace for repentance.

The failure of the Paris Jurisdiction to admit its mistakes, unlike the two parts of the Russian Church inside and outside Russia which admitted theirs, is precisely the essential problem of those who control the Paris Jurisdiction. This is due to the unrepentant arrogance usual for intellectuals. In Paris the heirs of those who caused the Revolution through treachery in 1917 are still justifying themselves and their ancestors. For those who are in control in Paris are the heirs of the degradation of the Westernized Russian intelligentsia before the Revolution and their mercilessness. For example, the sins of individual representatives in the Church inside Russia were the sins of political hostages, not of free men. And if you refuse to recognize the repentance of such, you make yourself like the elder brother of the prodigal son, a merciless mountain of towering pride, refusing to take part in the banquet of the loving Father.

Q: So you distinguish between those who ‘control the Paris Jurisdiction’ and its members?

A: Of course. I have been an eyewitness of the process of return of many from the Paris Jurisdiction to both parts of the Russian Church since the 1980s. Sadly, the process of Uniatization that began there, above all from 1981 on, and which I personally tried to combat, has gone much further since then. I personally know of eight priests and deacons and four parishes which have returned from the Paris Jurisdiction since the late 1980s, when they saw through the betrayal of those in control and understood their underlying lack of love for the Russian Church.

Q: Why did Uniatization speed up there from 1981 on?

A: The disintegration of the Paris Jurisdiction began in 1981 after the repose of the ever-memorable Archbishop George (Tarasov), the last Archbishop who had been an adult before the Revolution, indeed a Russian pilot on the Western Front in the First World War. Those who returned after that to the Russian Church in order to keep their integrity, despite the slander that they faced, had realized that the Paris Jurisdiction would not return en masse as a group to the Russian Church, understanding that there were forces in it which were profoundly politicized and Russophobic, the very forces which proudly claim to be ‘apolitical!’ In fact, they are not apolitical, but simply disincarnate, ‘useful’ only to the enemies of the Church, such as the Vatican and Western spy agencies. Indeed, one of those who was in control in the Paris Jurisdiction in the 1980s has recently been proved to have been a senior agent of the French Secret Services. The exodus from there has been such that there are now only two ageing priests left in the Paris Jurisdiction who were brought up in ROCOR and so have a sense of the Tradition

Those of the Paris Jurisdiction who have now departed this life, Metr Evlogy and Vladimir, Archbishops George (Tarasov) and Sergiy (Konovalov), Bishops Methodius (Kulmann), Roman (Zolotov) and Alexander (Tian-Shansky), Protopresbyter Alexei Knyazev, Archpriests Alexander Rehbinder and Igor Vernik and a mass of others, clergy and people, would have returned to the Russian Church, if they were now alive. Some of these people I knew personally and I am convinced that they would be outraged by the attitude of those who refuse to return to the Russian Church today, 25 years on after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Q: Why?

A: Constantinople had for them only ever been a temporary refuge. It had always been their intention to return to the Russian Church, once She was free, just like us in ROCOR. Today there is no spiritual justification for staying in what is largely not just a Non-Russian, but an anti-Russian jurisdiction. And what is left of that jurisdiction? By and large, apart from a few unintegrated converts in each of a few dozen temporary premises and tiny chapels scattered across France and in neighbouring countries, there are only Rue Daru, mainly populated by those from the ex-Soviet Union, a tragically bankrupt St Sergius Institute, some four small Russian chapels in Paris, two convert groups in Paris, the crumbling church in Biarritz, which undemocratically has not been allowed to return to the Russian Church, and the convent in Bussy. Perhaps 5,000 people in all, and most of them arrivals from the former Soviet Union who have nowhere else to go. Since the 1980s the vital forces have left the Paris Jurisdiction. One priest who left, dear Fr Nikolai Soldatenkov, even took out Russian nationality, partly in order to be able to leave.

Q: Can you give other examples of those you mentioned above who you think would have returned to the Russian Church by now?

A: Yes. Take Metr Evlogy – he himself repented and returned, on paper, to the Russian Church twice, in 1934 and 1945, but was prevented by the freemasons in the Paris Jurisdiction from actually doing so. In the 1960s and 1970s both Bishop Methodius (Kulmann) and Protopresbyter Alexei Knyazev actively tried to return to the Russian Church and suffered for their efforts. As for Bishop Roman (Zolotov), he was a Cossack by family – we had no doubts about him. As for dear Fr Igor Vernik I remember how he used to support the Russian football team against the French football team! And Archpriest Alexander Rehbinder refused to move to the USA in the 1950s because he knew that his many children would lose the Faith in the land of mammon. Archbishop Sergiy (Konovalov), whom I knew when he was a priest, was about to persuade the whole Paris Jurisdiction to move to the Church inside Russia when he died. His Holiness Patriarch Alexey II had hoped that his jurisdiction would become the foundation stone of an autonomous Russian Orthodox Metropolia of Western Europe.

Q: Let us get back to ROCOR. Why did only 95% of ROCOR enter into communion with the Church inside Russia in 2007? What about the other 5%?

A: When I left Moscow after my second visit to Soviet Russia in 1976, I promised myself as a Russian Orthodox layman that I would not return until the Russian Church was free from an atheist leader and regime. And indeed when I did return, thirty-one years later, in 2007, it was to the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, where I concelebrated as a priest of the Church Outside Russia, together with a great many others, with his Holiness Patriarch Alexei II and in the presence of the Orthodox President of the Russian Federation. When in 2007 some 95% of the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) and the by then free Patriarchal Church inside Russia entered into communion with one another, true, some 5% of ROCOR did not follow precisely because they were in denial of the huge changes in Russia between 1976 and 2007. Some simply abandoned the Church, but others fell away into pro-CIA, schismatic sects based in the Ukraine, Russia and Greece. Why?

Firstly, there were the naïve idealists and the good-hearted but misinformed who were hoodwinked and have mainly since returned. Secondly, there were those who put personal grudges against individual ROCOR bishops, who had misunderstood their non-integrated convert ideas, above their own salvation. Thirdly, there were those who were on an ego trip, seeking a career. And finally, there was most of the 5% or so who left and have not since returned, who did so because they were politically-minded, as they were anti-Communist rather than pro-Orthodox. Among them were some extremists who had consciously and freely sided with Hitler in the 1940s.

It must be said that many of the ringleaders here were actually employees of the CIA or the Canadian Secret Service, just as there was at least one case of an employee of the French Secret Services in the Paris Jurisdiction. So politics and salaries paid by Western spy services, presented by the ringleaders as ‘freedom’ and an ‘apolitical stance’, were the real reason for their schisms. When Communism fell, such people had no further reason to frequent the Church, as for them the Church had mainly been only an expression of nationalistic anti-Communism. They ended up being anti-Russian, as they had not understood that anti-Soviet could also mean anti-Russian. They were unable to discern the Russian through the fog of the Soviet.

This was because fundamentally they had little loyalty to the real Russian Orthodox Church and her international ideal of Holy Rus, but rather to narrow-minded political nationalism. Their behaviour had always been the greatest discouragement to Non-Russians joining the Church. Many of us who came to the Church seeking bread were indeed actually told to go away by them and in no uncertain terms, in other words, we were given stones. As one ROCOR bishop, speaking of one well-known to me ROCOR parish in the 1980s, told me recently, ‘those people were not Christians’. As is usual, their lack of love towards others ended up by driving them themselves to leave the Church in 2007 and even before, starting in the 1990s. Today we are still here in the Church; they are the ones who have abandoned Her.

Q: To come back to the idea of a Metropolia for Western Europe that you mentioned above, how important is that concept for Western Europe itself?

A: It is vital. I know that I am about to give an absurd example because it touches such a tiny detail, but I have to tell you it because it is symbolic of the degeneration of Europe. Two weeks a Russian woman in Germany wrote to me and told me that for many Germans a woman wearing a skirt is seen either as a Russian or else as a prostitute. What I am saying through this perhaps ridiculous symbol is that even the culture of Christian vestiges that was alive in Europe 50 years ago in the normal way that people dressed then is now dead.

Young Western people whose souls are at least still alive today turn to strange subcultures or even Islam and even fight for Islamic State, since that counters the spiritually empty West of today. Their disaffection and alienation are so great that even such bizarre and lethal choices seem more logical to them than the deathly conformist consumerism, hellish vampires, aliens, monsters, drugs, drink, sex, obesity, depression, mental illness and suicide that is the modern West. Europe has zombified and infantilized itself by accepting Americanization, it has been robbed and stripped naked of its own culture and is on the point of spiritual death. Europe is the man who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho was robbed and left for dead. Only a Good Samaritan, one from outside the West but still linked with its roots and understanding it, can save Europe; no false priests can do anything for it, for they pass by on the other side.

How can Europe be regenerated without the Church and Her prophetic vision? It is not possible. Europe desperately needs to be raised up from the deathly spiritual filth of its vulgar, fleshly, bread and circuses consumerism, the tyranny of its Babylonian culture of death, the fruit of its thousand-year apostasy, to the vision of spiritual beauty, to spiritual purity and the culture of the soul, to the nobility of human destiny, to the heavenly Jerusalem, which are offered by the Russian Orthodox Church. We are talking here about salvation, about life and death.

Now I am reminded here of the events of 200 years ago, on 11 April 1814. This was when liberating Russian Orthodox troops celebrated Easter Night on the Place de la Concorde in Paris, where a field church had been set up. Having defeated Napoleon, who had taken a burned-out Moscow only some 18 months before, Tsar Alexander I stood in that great square, where the King of France had been beheaded less than a generation before, in 1792, and where the crowned Napoleon had stood in 1804 in front of a five-pointed red star, and heard thousands of Russian troops answering the priests’ ‘Christ is Risen!’ with the words ‘Truly He is Risen!’ This was the spiritual victory over the degenerate heart of atheist Europe which followed the physical victory over atheist Europe. This spiritual victory needs to be repeated in today’s atheist Europe. Otherwise geriatric Europe will go under completely, swept away by its own atheism and the tide of Islamic immigration.

Q: Why instead of subcultures and Islam do Western young people not choose Orthodoxy, when Orthodoxy is at the roots of the West, in its first millennium?

A: Firstly, because modern Western people have been cut off from those roots, their own history has been concealed from them, they can often mentally go no further back than 1945, let alone 1,000 years. And secondly because it is so difficult to find authentic Orthodoxy in Western Europe.

Q: Which countries would a Metropolia in Europe consist of?

A: Only those in Western Europe. Slovenia and Croatia already come under the Serbian Church. The Baltic States already come under the Russian Church. Poland and the Czech Lands and Slovakia already have their own autocephalous Churches. As for Hungary, given the fact that its first faith came in the tenth century from the East and not from Rome, then to my mind it too should one day have its own Local Church, just like Poland and the Czech Lands and Slovakia, which also originally received their faith from the East. Even today Hungarian Catholicism, as in certain neighbouring countries, is coloured by Orthodox values and, for example, the veneration of icons.

Twenty Western European countries are left, all post-Roman Catholic or post-Protestant, and where the Russian Church, in one or both its parts, is already present. They are: Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland; Ireland, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Austria; Portugal, Spain, France, Italy. They, together with the tiny Andorra, Liechtenstein and San Marino, would form the territory of this Metropolia.

A: Why can’t those countries have individual Local Churches?

Q: That is a hopelessly insular, narrow and nationalistic idea. It is the sort of thing that narrow, nationalistic ex-Anglicans dream of. Western Europe is a whole and individual countries in it are far too small to have their own Local Churches. Western Europe was the territory of a single Orthodox Patriarchate. We will never divide it. A Russian Orthodox Metropolia in Europe is the foundation for the restoration of the single, historic Local Church on this territory. We wish to keep that historic unity. Here in Sweden, for instance, you have two great saints, St Olaf and St Anna, and they are precisely part of the whole history of Europe, not narrow, nationalistic symbols, cut off from the rest, but linked in their cases with England and Russia

Q: What is the realistic hope for the foundation of such a Metropolia?

A: Officially today there are said to be 7,000,000 Russian Orthodox in Western Europe. That is far more than the four ancient Greek Orthodox Patriarchates of Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem combined, more than the Georgian, Polish, Cypriot and Czechoslovak Orthodox Churches put together, let alone the 30,000-100,000 who make up the OCA. Yet the infrastructure for us is pathetic. We still do not have the new Cathedral in Paris and we really need a large, purpose-built Cathedral in central London.

Altogether in Western Europe I doubt whether there are even 200 church buildings and 200 priests for these 7,000,000 Russian Orthodox. That is scandalous; at most one church and one priest for every 35,000 people! As I have said many times before, we need a huge church-building and infrastructure programme across a network of at least 500 cities and towns in Western Europe. Today, wherever you go in Western Europe, even in small towns, the flood of immigration has been such that you will meet at least one Russian Orthodox. Provision has to be made. Let every Western European town and city of over 100,000 have its own full-time bilingual Russian Orthodox church and let there be at least chapels elsewhere, so that nobody, whatever their origin and native language, is more than 50 kilometres from their own bilingual Russian Orthodox church and centre.

Q: Who is to blame for the present situation?

A: First and foremost, we are ourselves to blame for this situation. We have to make our own Church. The Church works from the grassroots. We should never blame others for this. However, it is true that if we can first show that we are motivated, then we can attract the attention of the hierarchy. Then we can attract help from above and, in terms of our Russian Orthodox world, that means help from Moscow. Economic refugees and their children, who make up the bulk of the 7,000,000, are by definition not the wealthiest people in the world. And how are Western Europeans, already Russian Orthodox or potentially Russian Orthodox, to be integrated into the Russian Orthodox Church in Europe, if there are so few churches, so few centres of Church culture?

Q: How do you see such a Metropolia?

A: For nearly a decade now I have belonged to an informal group of Russian Orthodox priests in some major towns and cities in Western Europe. We look at Western Europe as a whole, we want to draw the Orthodox Cross over Europe. We have a love of and an attachment to the Russian Orthodox Tradition but also a knowledge of local languages and local heterodox culture. We want to create bilingual oases of a Russian Orthodox Europe, where all can feel at home.

This is the opposite of the policy of the Paris Jurisdiction, which suffers from a lack of love of and a lack of knowledge of the Russian Orthodox Tradition, but instead an attachment to local languages and local heterodox culture. However, you cannot be Orthodox and at the same time have an attachment to heterodox culture. This is not Local Orthodoxy. Local Orthodoxy is created by integration into the Orthodox Faith, not by integration into heterodox culture, which disintegrates. The latter is salt that has lost its savour. Local Orthodoxy cannot grow by being attached to heterodoxy.

Q: What does this mean in practical terms?

A: All my adult life I have fought for the unity of the Russian Orthodox Church, Who is a mother gathering her chicks, like Jerusalem. I see a time, though it may still be far off, when there will be a Russian Orthodox Metropolia in Europe, whose church buildings and infrastructure will initially be financed from Russia, but whose clergy will be paid entirely locally by the faithful, thus remaining free and independent. But we need to form a grassroots Europe-wide Russian Orthodox Brotherhood or Russian Orthodox Union, blessed by our local bishops, to advance this process.

Q: You still have not answered my question: what is the realistic hope for such a Metropolia?

A: I have answered it, but here is my answer more directly. It is in a new consciousness, both here Europe-wide and in Moscow, at the grassroots and at the level of the hierarchy, a consciousness of the international calling of the Russian Orthodox Church. Here our Europe-wide unity is vital. And what is that unity based on? Our unity is based on our love for the Russian Church, just as disunity is in a lack of love for Her. We should have a patriotism for the Church, which by principle of the Incarnation spreads to every country inasmuch as that country is part of the Church.

In other words, Holy Rus is to be made global. For this we need spiritual purity, the pre-revolutionary Church purified – we must not forget that the pre-revolutionary Church had careerist traitors in Her who supported Kerensky. We must not forget that disunity is always caused by narrowness, whether sectarian or nationalist, as today in the Ukraine, Macedonia, Montenegro and Estonia. Disunity is caused by the primacy of fallen, human, political concerns instead of the primacy of the Faith and the lack of a coherent Russian Orthodox world view. We need unity around the Church.

Q: Who are you grateful to for this vision of Europe-wide Russian Orthodox unity that you have?

A: Four people in particular have inspired me and to them I will always be grateful. Firstly, to the ever-memorable Archpriest Lev Lebedev, whom I first met in Krasnodar in Russia in 1976, and, despite his later illness and tragedy, was one of the finest thinkers in the Russian Church; secondly to the ever-memorable Baroness Maria Rehbinder (Cattoire) of the Paris Jurisdiction, a young woman before the Revolution, a daughter of a New Martyr and a fine Russian European, whom I first met in her little flat in Passy in Paris in 1983; thirdly to the ever-memorable Archbishop Antony of Geneva of ROCOR, born in Kiev, a Belgrade disciple of the great Metr Antony of Kiev, once a priest of the Patriarchate and whom I first met in 1986 and who ordained me. And finally, to His Holiness Patriarch Kyrill, whom I met in Moscow in 2012 and who strengthened in me the understanding of the need for this Metropolia. Thank you to them all.

Archpriest Andrew Phillips
Representative of the ROCOR Missionary Department for Western Europe,
Halland, Sweden, November 2014

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

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.

From Recent Correspondence and Conversations – March 2013

Q: What dangers should those new to the Church especially try to avoid?

A: There are many dangers, just as many as for those of us who are not new to the Church, but the dangers are different ones. Those new to the Church are neophytes and that psychology, common to neophytes of all nationalities and in all religions, is particular.

For instance, I remember about 30 years ago meeting a young Irish woman who had converted to Judaism on marrying a Jew. She had taken up her new religion with all the zeal that you used to associate with Irish Catholicism. She was completely over the top, did not use birth control, wore rather strange clothes, had to eat kosher food, was incredibly pro-Israeli, read a lot etc. Her husband, who was a real Jew, could not have cared a less about any of this and had probably never read a book about Judaism in his life. She was the one who imposed Shabbat on him. In other words, there was no theology there, just the obsessive psychology of insecurity – she felt she had to prove herself by being more Jewish than the Jews. I suspect it all had to do with competition with her mother-in-law, rather than her husband.

Q: What can this type of neophyte insecurity lead to?

A: To extremes – and I think, essentially, the neophyte, like all of us, should avoid extremes. I would take as an example the late French convert, Olivier Clement. In his youth, he tried to be more Russian than the Russians, busying himself with wearing ‘Russian’ clothes and other externals and reading a lot, which he thought would make him Orthodox. Realising that this was absurd, he then went to the other extreme and began writing against the Russian Church, adopting semi-Catholic views and even taking communion in the Catholic Church. These same convert extremes can be seen in other personalities who in their youth were over-zealous, then became over-lax. In this country, for instance, I can think of cases of going from being more Greek than the Greeks to being more Anglican than the Anglicans

Q: How can you fight against such temptations?

A: Keeping a sense of reality. For example, this tendency to a lack of balance is greatly reinforced among intellectuals who do not have their feet on the ground in parish life, so that they have no living examples before them. The Church is not about reading, but about experience of real life. This is why mixed parishes with mixed languages are so vital. Little convert middle-class hothouses, passing themselves off as ‘Orthodox’, or even ‘more Orthodox than the Orthodox’, often trying to impose their own strange or eccentric agendas on the Church and always collapse.

In such groups ‘foreigners’ and ‘foreign languages’ are usually despised or made to feel not at home. Such inward-looking communities are just as much ethnic, ‘phyletist’ ghettos as immigrant or exile groups in big cities – but with a difference. Those groups are at least authentic, but the neophyte groups are pretending or playing, starting ‘beard competitions’, so beloved of ex-Anglicans, for example. This is because they have no roots in Orthodox reality, often, sadly, fleeing that reality. You really either have to get on the Orthodox train or else get off the tracks. If you do not, you will be run over – and it will be your own fault.

Q: Are there other consequences of such insecurity?

A: Yes, judgementalism. Censorious convert conversations like ‘this bishop does that’, or ‘that priest smokes’, or ‘there is a scandal there, so I cannot belong to that Local Church’ always display the same negativity. For example, I know a priest of the Antiochian jurisdiction who gives communion to anyone, Orthodox or not. Does that mean that I am not in communion with his Patriarch or all the many serious bishops and priests of his Church? Of course, I am.

Such conversations are very depressing, because they do not focus on reality, but only on the negative. Did the Apostles focus on Judas? No. So we too should focus on the 100 parishes where life is normal or even thriving and forget the one where there is some sort of scandal. This is not even a case of seeing a half-full glass as half-empty, this is a case of seeing a 99% full glass as 99% empty. The demon plays with our sense of reality and, sowing illusions in our minds, creates depressions, schisms and lapses. We do not lapse because of some scandal; a scandal should bring us zeal. ‘There but for the grace of God go I’, is what we should be saying. That is what the Apostles did after Judas. They had no illusions, but they also rejoiced in the Faith.

Q: What can we do to counter such thoughts?

A: Depression comes from pride. Be humble. Life is beautiful – God made it, not death. We should not expect others to be saints, when we ourselves are not saints. We should condemn only ourselves, others we should always find excuses for. We are responsible only for saving our own soul. Stop interfering, looking at your neighbour. Until we have learned this, we are not Christians, we are only sources of pride, for whom nothing is ever good enough. This is where neophyte idealism is dangerous. As they say: ‘If the grass is greener on the other side, start watering your own side’. We must stay with the mainstream and flee the fringes and margins around the Church. Of course, if we ourselves are asked to compromise, that is a different matter. But that is rare.

Q: How do we avoid compromising ourselves in such cases?

A: I remember a priest at a Diocesan Pastoral Conference in Frankfurt some years ago, asking what would happen when ROCOR and the Patriarchate of Moscow were in communion again, because he knew a particular Patriarchal priest who did totally uncanonical things and the priest who asked the question did not want to concelebrate with him. Archbishop Mark answered very simply and I think with great surprise at the strange question: ‘Then do not invite him to your parish. Then you will not have to concelebrate with him’. It is the same with those who use the Catholic calendar. We have no obligation to go to their parishes and concelebrate with them. But they are welcome to concelebrate with us and we invite them to. In that way they return to the calendar that the Church uses, for a day at least.

An example is from the contemporary OCA, where some ordinary Orthodox are at last revolting against certain converts who have tried to impose Evangelical-style right-wing censoriousness on them. Rooted Orthodox do not want hothouse politics and pseudo-Orthodoxy, they want real-world tolerance. But they do not want lax practice either, which is the other side of the extremist coin. They have suffered from this for over forty years and that has led to the present crisis in the OCA, which means that it has been isolated from World Orthodoxy and few concelebrate with it, as we saw at the recent enthronement of Patriarch John of Antioch.

With all its financial and moral scandals the OCA is suffering from the sort of problems that the Roman Catholics are suffering from – and for the same reason – loss of faith. But that does not mean that everyone there is involved. That is why we must pray for it especially now. It is always a noisy minority that compromises the outward life of the Church. But the angels are still here, in spite of us. Never forget that. We serve God, not man. The Church is God’s, not ours. As for us, today we are here, tomorrow we are gone, but the gates of hell will not prevail. The Church does not need us, we need the Church.

Q: Where can Russian Orthodox in the West go for training at seminary? Would you recommend the new seminary in Paris?

A: Definitely not Paris. It has failed to meet our hopes on all counts and is notoriously ecumenist, as everyone knows and as we have told the authorities in Moscow face to face. It is amazing to us that in Moscow they still naively think in pre-Revolutionary categories, that the Catholic Church is utterly serious and is not subject to the Protestant-style freemasonry, homosexuality and pedophilia that entered it massively after the Americanisation of the Second Vatican Council.

In Russia they never went through the 1960s, so in that sense they still largely retain the freshness and also naivety of the 1950s. However, by compromising themselves by fraternising with Catholics, as they do in Paris, they are also compromising themselves with pedophiles. They do not consider this. It is a great shame that in Moscow they still do not listen to us in ROCOR about such matters. We are the Church Outside Russia, we were born here, we live here, we are aware, we talk to Catholics every day as neighbours and we know what goes on there. There are plenty of ordinary, decent Catholics who look to the Orthodox Church to free them from such tyranny and deformations. But be patient, give them time in Moscow and they will learn.

To answer your question about seminary training today: Seek a blessing to go either to Jordanville or else, in certain cases, to the seminary at Sretensky Monastery in Moscow. One day Paris will be cured. It has only just started.

Q: What is our view today of Metropolitan/Patriarch Sergius (Stragorodsky)? In 1930 over 30 bishops rejected administrative submission to Metropolitan Sergius, disputing his compromise with the atheist authorities. Metropolitan Sergius found himself in isolation, face to face with an atheist orgy, that took on a larger and larger scale. Do we still agree with what Fr Seraphim Rose wrote in his book ‘The Catacomb Saints’?

A: I think our view of Metr Sergius today is very much what it always has been. We do not agree with him, but also we do not condemn him – we never went through what he had to go through and were never faced with the choice between martyrdom and compromise. Having said that, it is true, for example, that Fr Seraphim Rose’s book, ‘The Catacomb Saints’, reflects some of the unnecessarily negative polemics of the Cold War 1970s, but that book is still fundamentally right, despite the sharp language used in it sometimes and its strange title.

In Russia today there is still a hangover from the Soviet period and deSovietisation has not run its course completely. It will take another generation for deSovietisation to be completed. For this reason there are still those there who praise Metr Sergius. However, we should not feel superior, in the West we also underwent the censorious and condemnatory, judgemental pharisee attitudes of ‘ColdWarisation’. But I think most have been able to rid themselves of that alien influence quicker than they have in Russia. Those who did not rid themselves of such attitudes have left us.

Q: What do we make of Metr Sergius’ role in rallying Russians during WWII?

A: As for rallying Russians in World War II, it could easily be argued that the Church survived DESPITE Metr Sergius. Stalin realised he could not win the war without the Church. The Nazi attack on the Russian Lands, on the feast day of All the Saints of the Russian Lands, 22 June 1941, was, paradoxically, what freed the Church, not the compromises of Metr Sergius. And from then on, until Stalin’s death and after that, the Church was not decimated as before 1941. True, Stalin and Khrushchev after him did of course close many, many churches which Stalin had allowed to reopen and still sent many to camps and prisons, but there were no longer the mass shootings etc.

We, who never had to go through Sovietisation, should concentrate on the New Martyrs themselves, on the canonised, for example, on the holy Metr Kyrill of Kazan, and not on such divisive and controversial figures as Metr Sergius. I know that in Russia they are already heading the same way and Metr Sergius is being forgotten by the faithful as, if anything, an embarrassing compromiser. Leave him to the dusty tomes of historians. Let us keep our eyes on the saints, not on the non-saints.

Q: Why does the Church of Constantinople use lots of clerical titles? I know of several bishops and even a metropolitan who are only glorified hieromonks. And the titles of protopresbyter and archimandrite are becoming meaningless as they have become so common there.

A; I think it is quite unfair to say that it is only the Patriarchate of Constantinople that gives out such titles so freely. True, the title protopresbyter seems now to be given there to any priest who has a doctorate and archimandrite is rather used as ‘hieromonk’ is used in the Russian Church. On the other hand, in the Russian Church ‘Metropolitan’ is sometimes used in a titular way as ‘Cardinal’ in the Catholic Church and there is a system of awards in the Russian Church that is often abused. So I cannot see that this is any better than in the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Some people are a little vain and like titles and can be bought with them. Sadly, people have their price and in a world where many priests are not paid in money, they can get paid in titles.

Q: As Orthodox what should we think of Eurasianism?

A: There is something called the International Eurasian Movement, which is Russian-based and developed after the fall of Communism in 1991, though on the basis of a pre-Revolutionary movement. On the surface, Eurasianism has links with Orthodoxy, whose emblem is the double-headed eagle, looking east and west. The Church of God, Orthodox Christianity, has the task and mission of uniting the world, east and west, Europe and Asia, in unity in diversity. (This is quite unlike the Vatican sense of unity – inherited also by the Protestants – which allows little diversity and imposes a totalitarian unitary model on all. This we can see in the EU model, which is a secular form of the Vatican model, and in the US model, which is a secular form of the Protestant model. Such people look at the diversity of Orthodoxy and call it disunity! This is only because they are used to such monolithic, totalitarian heterodox styles).

Generally speaking, Eurasianism sees the modern West (not the historic Old West) as having taken a destructive path, especially since the Reformation and especially since the so-called ‘Enlightenment’. Western culture today has been spiritually emptied, it has lost its soul, abandoning its roots in the Christian Orthodox first millennium, decadently reverting to barbarianism. In other words, behind incredible Western economic and technological sophistication, there is spiritual barbarianism, as can be seen in the Western promotion of sodomy and other politically correct but spiritually pernicious views.

Eurasianism sees the future in Russia, not in the West, which in its decadence ever more resembles the Western Roman Empire just before it fell over fifteen centuries ago. Insofar as this is self-evident, we as Orthodox agree with Eurasianism. However, the problem is that Eurasianism is essentially politics, another ism or ideology, not the Church.

Q: Who founded this Eurasian movement?

A: The founder of modern Eurasianism is the Russian Orthodox philosopher Alexander Dugin, who was born in 1962. Typical of the post-Communist generation, at first, in the 1990s, he tried to reconcile Bolshevism or Stalinism with Orthodoxy. In so doing he also got caught up with post-Soviet right-wing nationalist movements like ‘Pamyat’. His Eurasianism developed out of this spiritual impurity. He has since moved on somewhat and begun to free himself, expressing more traditional Orthodox views, though still remaining a nationalist. However, what is written about him on Wikipedia is probably the work of a CIA hack. There is little truth in that.

I met Alexander Dugin at a Conference in London about eight years ago and had a clear impression of him. He is intellectually clever, but still suffers from spiritual confusion. This is why he mixes Orthodoxy with politics of all sorts, though particularly with right-wing views. His closest disciple is a young intellectual called Natella Speranskaya, who heads the Eurasian Youth Movement, but she also suffers in the same way as Dugin. Dugin is linked with the Greek Orthodox intellectual Dimitrios Kitsikis, an elderly geopolitician of the previous generation. Although also a friend of the Orthodox Tradition – Kitsikis wants the Greek Church to return to the Orthodox calendar – he too suffers from spiritual and nationalist confusion and has been closely linked with Maoism!

What is interesting with both these Orthodox thinkers is that they have both been inspired by the father of geopolitics, the Non-Orthodox English geographer Sir Halford John Mackinder. Mackinder called Eurasia (basically Russia and the Orthosphere, or the Orthodox civilisational world), what we call ‘the Centre’, ‘The Heartland’. This is what Kitsikis calls the Intermediate Region and, I suppose, if we use Tolkien’s terminology, we could also call it ‘Middle Earth’.

In other words, there is no doubt that all three geopoliticians, Englishman, Greek and Russian, completely agree that he who controls Russia / Eurasia controls the world. This is why the territory of the Russian Empire, or Soviet Union, or Russian Federation, whatever the name, has been so much attacked down the centuries – because of its geostrategic significance.

Q: What is happening in Syria?

A: I am only an observer. It is difficult for me to say anything. However, I cannot help observing certain public tendencies in US policies since Mr Obama was re-elected last year. Until then his policies seem to have been Republican and Bushite.

First of all, the US right-wing hawk General Petraeus who wanted to invade Syria and perhaps bomb Iran was sacked, having been compromised, and perhaps framed, in an affair. There followed a root and branch change in US foreign personnel. Most notably the hawkish Russophobe Hillary Clinton was replaced as Secretary of State by John Kerry, formerly a personal friend of President Assad of Syria. Clinton had been blamed for the death of the US ambassador in Benghazi in Libya, killed by Islamic terrorists, armed to the teeth with weapons allowed to them by the US. I think that the US administration realised that it had been arming its enemies. This was seen in Mali too, which Islamists had been conquering with weapons stolen as a result of NATO bombing in Libya. I remember the old saying: ‘Do not spit in the sky, it will fall back on your face’.

Then there was the appointment of the new US Defence Secretary, Chuck Hagel, a Vietnam veteran and hero, who called the bankrupting invasion of Iraq one of the greatest blunders in US history. It had completely destabilised the whole region, creating a whole chain of liabilities for the US. This involved Iraq, Iran, Syria, Turkey (where anti-US attacks have taken place), the Kurds, the Jordan, the Lebanon and the money-pit of Israel – the US had lit a fuse on a powder keg and is now trying to extinguish it before it is too late.

Thus, the realisation that many of the foreign mercenaries fighting President Assad’s government in Syria are terrorists seems at last to have come to the US. From what I understand, I have the impression, and it is only an impression, that the US may have realised that the real danger from its point of view is China and that perhaps it had better leave the Middle East to Russia. It cannot fight both at the same time. Even tiny but incredibly wealthy Saudi Arabian and Qatari dictatorships, which financed and armed the tens of thousands of Sunni Islamist mercenaries in Syria, are worried now. The genie was let out of the bottle. It has to be put back. I think only Russia, which has over one million Russian speakers in Israel and influence in Syria, can do this. Someone has to clean up the mess the West has made.

Q: What are we to think of Columbus?

A: I think he was an Italian sailor who got lost at sea, thought he had found India, but in fact had found some Caribbean islands. So he landed in someone else’s country and decided to steal it by massacring and enslaving the inhabitants.