Category Archives: The Exarchate

My Life, the Last Battle and the New Orthodox World (N.O.W.)

‘Tell the people: Although I have died, I am alive.’

St John of Shanghai

Foreword: The War

Forty-five years ago I was told by one who could have known better that, as I had been waiting for years to join the Orthodox Church, I now faced a choice: I could either join the Greek Church of Constantinople or the Church of Russia; it was all the same. But only to him was it all the same, as, in spite of, or rather because of, his great intellect, he was spiritually confused. He lived in an alien compromise, washing his hands before the critical choice. I joined the Russian Church because, since the age of twelve, I had known through revelations to my soul that my destiny was most definitely in the Russian Orthodox Church. However crippled it may have been after 1917, I was destined to share in that agony, indeed, although it seemed foolishness to the Jews and to the Greeks alike, only by sharing in that agony could I hope to find my own salvation. I sensed even then that what he had told me was somehow untrue. At best it could only have been a delusion. It was not all the same – and recent very sad events have shown this to all absolutely clearly. Let me explain:

The Church is not to be found in a people who believe that it is a chosen people. Many Hebrews believed that they were the chosen people, but they stoned the prophets and crucified the Son of God. To this day many of their descendants reject Christ, some considering themselves superior to the rest of humanity. Then the Western European elite came to believe in their ‘exceptionalism’ (that is, their claim that they too were above God) too, all in order to justify their organized barbaric aggression. So a thousand years after Christ, they too fell away from the Church, rejecting the Holy Spirit and seizing control of the Church in the West in order to justify their conquistador power-grab. So, like pirates, they began persecuting us ordinary Christians and conquering the rest of the world by fire and the sword. Then their secularist descendants, in turn the Portuguese, Spanish, French, British, German and finally American elites, did exactly the same, demanding world hegemony (‘globalism’), also rejecting Christ because they consider themselves superior to the rest of humanity. (Hence their anti-Semitism: the other ‘chosen people’, the Jews, were rivals to them, therefore they had to be eliminated). In the Church there has now come the turn of certain Greeks, telling us that only they are Christians, that God speaks only Greek, and, as one very well-known Cypriot archimandrite told me, even that their pagan ancestors had prepared the way for Christ! Many Russians fell victim to the same delusion, in the same way believing in themselves instead of believing in God, taking communion only once a year. So they lost everything and overthrew the God-appointed Christian Emperor in 1917. Only through the blood of the New Martyrs and the tears and sweat of the New Confessors did repentance eventually begin to come to them.

All these ‘chosen peoples’ failed to understand that salvation comes only from the Heavenly Jerusalem of the Church of Christ through the Mercy of God and the Holy Spirit – not from some earthly ‘Jewish Rome’ of some mythical ‘chosen people’. For this reason, once I had chosen the Russian Church, I was to spend the rest of my life at war, in tireless battles, in unceasing strife, in the trenches, on the Western Front, fighting for real Christianity, for the real Russian Orthodox Church, together, of course, with many others. We all fought against the narrow-minded, nationalist delusions and impurities of those who had lost the big picture, who could not see the wood for the trees. They told us that only Russians could be Orthodox, that only their own exclusive little fragments of the great Imperial Orthodoxy, which had not undergone the blood, tears and sweat of others, could be right, that God’s Church needed ‘saving’ or ‘reforming’ (naturally, by themselves!). Some of them even persecuted and took to court as a common criminal the greatest saint among them all, St John of Shanghai. Little wonder that the Lord sent me to a military Church. I never sought any of this; it was all imposed on me. My soul would have died had I not taken part in this spiritual warfare. My life has been unceasing warfare in four battles, all fought beneath the Protecting Veil, which my patron-saint saw and which is the only reason why I am still alive.

Three Battles

My first battle was to take part in the struggle to help free that small part of the Russian Church Diaspora in England, which was dependent on Moscow, from spiritual impurity. After nine years, by 1983, I realized that I would fail in this. It was a task quite beyond me, with my very feeble abilities and from my modest, provincial, rural background; the enemies were invested with the strength of a personality cult, with all the authority of men and their city establishments, they had no time for a ploughman’s grandson. I was knocking my head against brick walls. So I left into exile, seeing my limitations. I understood that it would take far-reaching political changes inside Russia and indeed the departures or deaths of some outside Russia before this battle could be won (I did not know then that this would mean twenty-four years). Victory was inevitable, but only God Who created time, could in time bring the victory. My battle had been premature. By myself I could do nothing. It was good for me to know this.

My second battle was to take part in the struggle to help free that small part of the Russian Church Diaspora, which was dependent on Constantinople (Rue Daru), from spiritual impurity. I fought in Paris and thought that this battle was winnable. It was – almost. However, after six years in 1988 there came a turning-point when I saw that I would fail in this battle too. The intrigues of freemasons in high places meant that I could not help win this battle – all my friends were in low places. I knew then that this Paris group would eventually (I did not know then that this would mean thirty years) disappear into spiritual irrelevance. Those who had betrayed the Tsar and made him and his Family into martyrs had also betrayed the Church. So I left, having understood that here too it would take far-reaching political changes inside Russia and indeed the departures or deaths of some outside Russia before the battle to bring even a part of this group home to the Russian Church could be won. Victory was inevitable, but only God Who created time, could with time bring the victory. My battle had been premature. By myself I could do nothing. It was good for me to know this.

My third battle from the first day of 1989 onwards was to take part in the struggle to help free that part of the Russian Church Diaspora, which was dependent on New York (ROCOR), from spiritual impurity. Here there was a much greater chance of success, for the contaminating Protestant disease of ‘super-correctness’ (as another disciple of St John of Shanghai called it), with its ignorance, phariseeism, extremism, sectarianism, old calendarism, psychological (not theological) deviations of convertitis and Cold War money, had many opponents in the USA itself and even more in Western Europe where I was fighting on the Front. And above all, my Diocesan Archbishop supported me and I supported him. The ever-memorable Archbishop Antony of Geneva, a spiritual son of and the European successor to St John of Shanghai, was in effect the first real Orthodox bishop I had met. We had an identical understanding of the Church. By myself I could do nothing, but now I was far from being alone; I was simply one of very many, a little cog in a large machine. I did not know then that this struggle would take eighteen years, for only in 2007 did the Church win the day. I was taking part in our first victory, together with millions of others, in the Church of the New Martyrs and Confessors, to which I had always belonged in spirit. Only geography had ever divided us.

After the Three Battles

Once this battle, in which I had played only a tiny role, eventually from my provincial home-town, had been won by the many, especially by the bishops who had been inspired by the grace of God, I knew that the two other houses of cards where I had earlier lost the day would fall in their turn. I just did not know that it would take another twelve years. Between 2007 and today, in 2019, I have seen both these first lost battles won. History won them. What I knew in the past, that they would be won only in God’s own time, has come to pass. What we have fought long and hard for has been obtained. Thus, we now at last have for our Diocese of the British Isles and Ireland a bishop, pleaded for during over four decades. He is Orthodox, understanding the local language and people, not phyletist, venerating the local saints and not denying them, missionary-minded like us, encouraging us and not destroying us, not under the control of laypeople, in good health, and who will be resident here in just a few weeks from now.

Secondly, the Russian Orthodox Exarchate of Western Europe, awaited for over three decades, was at last established in Paris only a few weeks ago. This means that our House will be built on rock, not on sand, and that the ‘Euro-Orthodox’ fantasy of the Paris Brotherhood is now dead. The future Local Church of Western Europe will be authentically Orthodox. For what we have sought for and fought for since 1988 now is. There is now a real Orthodox Exarchate for Western Europe, with many regional dioceses and young bishops, hundreds of parishes and several monasteries, venerating the local saints and not denying them, the foundation of the new Local Church. Led by Metropolitan John in Paris, who bears the name of our missionary father in Christ, St John of (Shanghai and) Western Europe and so continues in the tradition of Archbishop Antony of Geneva, it will of course need much more time to develop. It consists of the generally newer Russian Orthodox parishes of Western Europe, in many dioceses and with many bishops. However, alongside it and complementing it, also stand the two (Western European and German) dioceses of ROCOR, with their five bishops, two of them younger and active. This consists of the generally older, more integrated, Russian Orthodox parishes of Western Europe, a few of them until recently under Constantinople, but now at last come home. The two parts need each other and hopefully their bishops will meet regularly in order to help each other in their own joint Synod.

However, in this Year of the Lord, 2019, there is the last mystical battle (last for me) in the series of mystical battles in this Hundred Years’ War, which for a century has so deformed Church structures in the Diaspora. This battle is also against spiritual impurity, against masonic ecumenist and modernist intrigues. However, this last battle is the battle inside the Russian Lands, inside historic Rus’; it is therefore not a local battle for English, French and American Rus’ in London, Paris and New York, for part of the small Russian Diaspora, it is a general battle which concerns the whole Church. This is taking place today in the Ukraine, but it affects all. For the Church is the mystical centre of the world and it is the Ukraine which is now the mystical centre of the Church. And this is why we have come here now, sent to fight from the Western Front to the Eastern Front. All will stand or fall by their attitude to what is happening in the Ukraine today, to this battle between Christ and Satan. Whose side are you on?

The Fourth Battle

The internal administrative centre of the false Orthodoxy against which I fought in all our four battles, was formed in Istanbul a century ago. It came into being only because of the long-planned overthrow of the restraining protection of Imperial Tsardom. However, the Western disease which had overthrown the Christian Emperor and so the Christian Empire and then brought that centre into being had already infected Russia and elsewhere before that. For the disease contaminated all nationalities, including many in the Russian Lands and from there in the Diaspora. The disease came to be called renovationism and the renovationists were keenly supported from Istanbul. Today it has become crystal clear that the whole of the supposed Orthodox world has now to side either with real Orthodoxy or else against real Orthodoxy. The time of reckoning has come; the time of compromise is over. No-one can stand by any longer with the indifference and conceit of Pilate. Even though this battle is of exactly the same nature as the series of three battles which we fought in the Diaspora before this one, now it is not the Diaspora, but the Ukraine which is the sword that divides. The battlefield has changed to the Ukraine, but the battle is the same one; it is the battle for spiritual purity, for canonicity, for real Orthodoxy.

Gradually, over the last two months, one Local Church after another has decided to side with spiritual purity, canonicity and real Orthodoxy and so support Metr Onufry and the Church of God of the Ukraine. The rest of the Russian Church with ROCOR was the first to support him wholeheartedly. The Local Churches of Serbia, Bulgaria, Antioch, Poland, the Czech Lands and Slovakia, Cyprus, and unofficial but spiritually free (= non-political) voices in the Churches of Greece, Jerusalem, Alexandria and Georgia, followed. So far, thirteen out of eighteen Athonite monasteries have joined us. And a few days ago the episcopate of the basically Carpatho-Russian OCA (Orthodox Church in America), which had dithered for several weeks and where some had for years even been threatening to desert the Church for Istanbul, decided the same. This is their spiritual victory and our very great comfort after decades of spiritual slumber, of wandering far from the Church with American phyletist delusions. It means that the little OCA is maturing, at last deciding to accept its destiny, abandoning its eccentric spiritual isolation and so finding its positive identity by returning to its roots under St Tikhon. Inspired by the breath of new life, it can at last begin to play a significant and fulfilling role as one of the component parts of the future, united, much larger, multinational Russian Orthodox Churches of the three continents of the New World, of the Americas and Oceania.

This leaves the episcopates of only two Local Churches, the large Romanian and the tiny Albanian, not politically free and sitting on the fence, paralysed like Pontius Pilate ‘for fear of the Jews’. They are silent, neither supporting nor rejecting, awaiting instructions from above on whether to support the petty nationalism of the phyletist schism of Constantinople or not. The false church in the Ukraine, founded by the US-backed separatists in Kiev, is officially under a certain Sergei Dumenko. He is actually a Vatican- and US-approved puppet-layman, therefore both pro-Uniat and pro-LGBT, and not a metropolitan, His false church has been seen to be without grace, without sacraments, without the Holy Spirit. His church is that of ‘the Ukrainian god’, as one Ukrainian minister has put it. His enthronement in Kiev six days ago was ignored by all the Local Churches. His so-called ‘Church’ is only a regime-manipulated charade of empty rituals, just another small ultra-nationalist organization – an absurd anachronism in this global world. It is supported by teams of police-backed Nazi bandits who intimidate and beat up Christians, because Nazis have no concept of the meaning of the word ‘Christian’. And these anti-Christian men of violence are directly supported by an alien and corrupt political regime in Kiev, supported by alien and corrupt regimes elsewhere, and, to their eternal shame, by Greek ‘bishops’ in Istanbul.

Afterword: The Victory

The decadent, self-appointed, Paris-School ‘theologians’ from the past slip away one by one. With them their secularizing ideologies from the past, Ecumenism (anti-Orthodoxy; against the Father), Modernism (anti-Sovereignty; against the Son) and Liberalism (anti-People; against the Holy Spirit), slip away into spiritual irrelevance. Their books of intellectual fantasy-philosophy are ready for the dust of forgotten library shelves. Those who frustrated, wasted, impeded and persecuted us for so many decades are leaving the stage and we are beginning to see the future clearly now. For the New Orthodox World (N.O.W.) is taking shape. The New Orthodox World (NOW) is led not by anachronisms, relics from the past in cities of empires which have not existed for centuries, but by vibrant and missionary multinational Local Churches, Autonomous Churches and Exarchates worldwide. These are not narrow and corrupted nationalist museums for State rituals, flag-waving and cultural nostalgia or the playthings of disincarnate but very aggressive, politicized and politically correct, liberal intellectuals, but living organisms, cleansed to prepare us all to meet the King before He returns in all His glory. And in the New Orthodox World, NOW, there is the Heavenly Jerusalem of the Church of Christ, awaiting Him and resisting the Enemy of Mankind, who comes before Christ in order to create disunity, disorder and distress among us.

The death-threat which I received three years ago, sent me because the pen is indeed mightier than the sword, did not stop me or deter me for a single second. In a dream, come to me after receiving that death-threat, I opened my front door and saw an agent on my doorstep. He at once fired his revolver at me, but the bullet rebounded off my priest’s cross, killing him instead of me. He fell to the ground and his corpse was dragged away to a waiting car by his colleague, who in fear and astonishment uttered powerless curses. I left and hid in a secret and remote place where I could not be found. I was rescued by the prayers of one who long, long ago had also taken refuge in such a place and I was taken to a faraway land. I have never paid any attention to dreams, especially such dramatic ones, but I remembered this one. However, I only really understood its meaning and symbolism on my first day here. It means that, like all of us, I will die when God decides, not when men decide, for though man proposes, God disposes. It means that the bullet rebounds, for if men want to kill the truth, they kill only themselves (exactly as they have done for the last one hundred and five years, with their atheist wars, one after another). And those who try to kill the Church in the Ukraine are committing spiritual suicide; indeed, their death-bearing bullet has already lethally rebounded onto themselves.

Victory has been ours in the Diaspora, because we have been willing to die for the Church of God and our enemies have not – because they are inherently attached to this world and so fear death which is of this world. Victory is ours in the Ukraine, because we are willing to die for the Church of God and our enemies are not – because they are inherently attached to this world and so fear death which is of this world. This is why we shall win this last battle now – because we do not fear death, for we believe and we know that Christ is the Life-Giving God, Who rose from the dead and freed the captives in hell. They, however, have only heard of the Risen Christ as a theory and symbolic myth for their heads. They believe it not in their hearts. Therefore their heads, like their lives, are full of the philosophies and works of death. But we do believe and we know and we tremble in awe before the Living God, Who is the Great God, Who works wonders and Who is with us, so that none is against us. Let the dead bury the dead. As for us, we shall not die, but live, and we shall declare the works of the Lord. The Lord is our Enlightenment and our Saviour, whom then shall we fear?

Archpriest Andrew Phillips

Kiev, 1-8 February 2019

 

 

 

 

Three Generations and Three Approaches to Orthodox Europe

Foreword

Although this brief article concerns the future of Russian Orthodoxy in Western Europe, it also concerns any nationality of any generation in the Orthodox Diasporas, for example, in the Americas and Australia, since human psychology and human nature are the same everywhere. The only difference is that historically the Diaspora in North America is a generation older than in Western Europe, which in turn is a generation older than in Australia.

Generation One: The Ghetto

The first generation of the Russian emigration, which was born before 1917, formed the ghetto. It therefore died out. This is a suicidal mentality, common to all the Russian jurisdictions. Thus, I saw ROCOR in England destroy itself and die out between the 1970s and the 1990s. I saw the Rue Daru jurisdiction in France do the same and that of Moscow too. The first generation dreamed of returning to an idealized Russia, which no longer existed – if it ever did. As a Non-Russian I, like the descendants of this first generation, was never going to move back to Russia.

This generation lived in Europe, but in no wise associated with it, it was in no wise ‘of’ Europe. Thus, I can remember the aristocratic Parisian mitred archpriest, Fr Alexander Rehbinder (+ 1980) condemning the use of French in France not just in church, but also at home! And he was typical of tens of thousands of others, who have now gone the way of all flesh. Their churches have nearly all closed, disappeared off the face of the earth. You have to live in the real world, not the ghetto, otherwise you will lose your children and grandchildren and certainly fail to convert the natives.

Generation Two: ‘European’ Orthodox

These are the children of the first émigrés. These are the rebels (‘soixante-huitards’, as the rector of Saint Serge Fr Alexei Kniazev (born 1913) termed them in 1979 to their face). These are those born in the emigration in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, who in revolt formed the OCA and tried and failed to do something similar in Paris. They wanted to conform to and integrate the world around them, rejecting their parents’ ghettoes. In France they were almost Uniats, in the USA almost Protestants. They have stood in the way of progress of Orthodox and of the next generation, dismissing them and chasing them out, rejecting authentic Orthodoxy (calling it Russophilia, which they so despise) and especially monastic life as relics of their parents’ age. Instead, they claim to be ‘relevant’, ‘modern’ and ‘European’, though they do not have a drop of Western European blood in their veins! Thus, they reject us, the real Europeans and also Orthodox! And they want to be ‘European’ Orthodox!

In reality, no new Local Church can be born if it is not based on Orthodoxy, the real thing. The rest is intellectual fantasy and dreamers’ folklore. In the case of the Rue Daru members (now aged mainly between 70 and 90 and, excluding the Moldovans and new Russians, less than 1,000 individuals), the only logical future is to do what the Greeks want them to do: they must integrate into the Greek dioceses of the countries where they live, mainly in France. Having two Constantinople bishops in Paris is uncanonical! They must get over their psychological complexes towards their parents’ generation and their illogical ideology, which is basically built on their own psychological problems. Either lose your imagined self-importance and superiority complex racism and go to the semi-Uniat and now uncanonical Greeks (they already have the ‘new’ (= Roman Catholic) calendar and Greek vestments), or else be assimilated and go straight to the Roman Catholics. You cannot be ‘of the Russian Tradition’ and yet hate Russia and the Russian Church.

Generation Three: Orthodox Europeans

This is the generation that wants to remain Orthodox, confessing a grounded Orthodoxy, with roots, that is, without compromise, but which also wants the services in the local languages and venerates the local saints of Europe. We are Orthodox Europeans, not ‘European’ (i.e. semi-Orthodox) Orthodox. This is the way ahead because this is the way of the coming generations, our children and grandchildren. This is Orthodox Europe, the path of Orthodox Europeans. And this is the way of the new Exarchate under the new Metropolitan John of Paris and Western Europe, following in the footsteps of his missionary patron, St John of Shanghai and Western Europe.

It is this which is called on to become the Autonomous Church of (and not ‘in’) Western Europe and in due course the Autocephalous Church of (and not ‘in’) Western Europe. The Exarchate of the future, composed of 23 countries (Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Spain, Sweden, France, Switzerland and the UK), is our future, regardless of our nationality and background. Let us leave the past to the past, for we leave the dead to bury the dead and look to the future of our children and grandchildren.

 

To the Younger Generation of the Future Orthodox Church of Western Europe

As soon as the tiny Rue Daru Exarchate in Paris under the ex-Patriarchate of Constantinople was closed down just a few weeks ago on account of its Phanariot Russophobia, so the Russian Orthodox Church opened its own Exarchate of Paris and Western Europe, centred in the new Cathedral there. It is led by Metr John of Western Europe, whose patron saint is our very own St John of Shanghai. This, my vision of thirty years ago in 1988, which was almost immediately dismissed as a dream and contemptuously thrown away by a German Archbishop into the waste paper basket of his study in Asnieres sur Seine came true in 2018.

Indeed, the reality thirty years on is even better than my vision of a Western European Metropolia, because we now have an Exarchate, a step above a Metropolia, just a step beneath an Autonomous Orthodox Church of Western Europe. Time and time again we see that those who have no vision die. And that is the way it is. They have all died out, the opportunities missed. Here is simply the greatest example. In one sense now, my hopes have been realized. I can now rest and disappear, all my hopes which seemed impossible even 15 years ago, let alone 30 years ago, let alone 45 years ago when they were first born, have been achieved.

However, many unresolved problems remain. For instance, the Iberian Peninsula today has its own Orthodox Archbishop Nestor of Madrid, and celebrates its own saints. It follows the list that I drew up 25 years ago when I was the rector of the first ever Russian Orthodox parish in Portugal. On the other hand, the Exarchate includes only thirteen countries. Austria and Hungary and the Nordic countries (Scandinavia) are not yet  included in the Exarchate and the Nordics still do not have their own bishop. Then France and Italy (with San Marino and Malta, we presume) must share Metropolitan John. And there are local problems in Benelux and especially in the British Isles and Ireland, which have to share their bishop with parishes in North America.

Then there is the problem that Germany is not included in the Exarchate either. No doubt this is connected with the problem that the 70 or so ROCOR parishes in Western Europe are not part of the Exarchate. And many of these parishes are bigger than the Exarchate parishes. For example at the Paris Cathedral with its three priests there were only 170 communions at Orthodox Christmas, not much different from 7 January in provincial Colchester (the 500th largest town in Western Europe) with its three priests. There is much to do! Above all we need hundreds more priests, hundreds more parishes, hundreds more church buildings of our own.

We need far better pastoral care and internal mission. Thirty years ago my vision did not exist. Today it does. In thirty years time we should be aiming at another vision – at least 1,500 parishes in a united Exarchate of 23 countries, with their own buildings, one Metropolitan and at least eight dioceses (Germany, German Switzerland and Liechtenstein; France, French Belgium, Monaco, French Switzerland and Luxembourg; Italy, Italian Switzerland, San Marino and Malta; the Isles; Iberia with Andorra; Scandinavia; Austria-Hungary; the Netherlands; with at least fifteen diocesan archbishops and bishops, 1750 priests, 250 deacons and numerous monasteries and convents, Orthodox parishes accessible to the whole population of Western and Central Europe.

And we need an Exarchate which, though faithful to Orthodoxy and our calendar, is truly multinational and multilingual, and where Non-Russians (priests and people) are not treated as second-class citizens by phyletist bishops and their favourites, who continually persecute and abuse them, sacking them for no reason, never giving justice. Give us Christians and Christian attitudes! Here is a vision and here is a challenge for you, the coming generation. We have exhausted ourselves, having done our part without the slightest support and against all the odds in constant battle. Now it is your turn. Do not be disheartened. God is with us!