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.
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