Category Archives: The Past

Stephen Lendman Reports President Putin’s Response To Obama’s New Sanctions

We republish the following article since it shows what a bad loser and gross hypocrite soon to be ex-President Obama is. Having interfered in democratic elections all over the world, unseating the democratically-elected President of the Ukraine in 2014 through mob law and massacre, he then tried to interfere in the UK’s Brexit referendum, threatening us with being ‘at the back of the queue’ in the ridiculous and arrogant attempt to intimidate the UK public in the ‘Project Fear’ campaign of Cameron. Obama then accused Russian hackers of interfering in the US election. Bad losers always explain away their incompetence with excuses. After all the CIA employs teams of hundreds of hackers and trolls to interfere in other countries’ elections. Why not explain away your loss by accusing others of what you yourself do?

Obama’s present Russophobic actions seem to be linked with his thirst for petty revenge after he lost the war in Syria, which now has a ceasefire brokered by the three countries who are not thousands of miles away, but are concerned neighbours: Russia, Turkey and Iran. This ceasefire has been carried out without the US. It now counts for little in the Middle East, for it comes after the US financing and arming of the now defeated ‘moderate rebels’ (= terrorists from all over the Muslim world), who in their war in Syria are responsible for the deaths of 315,000 people, blood that is on the conscience of the White House (if they have a conscience). Syria is now divided into zones of influence between these three neighbours, with Russia protecting the Christians in the Syrian east, fulfilling its historic destiny as the protector of Christians in the Holy Land. (This came about after the massacre and expulsion of virtually all the Christians in Iraq, where the USA infamously meddled in 2003. seeing the anti-Christian and irresponsible Western indifference to their tragic fate, who but Russia could then defend the Christians of Syria?).

Obama’s crass hypocrisy means that he leaves the White House a loser and miserable failure, his only ‘achievement’ having been to increase the US national debt to a staggering $20 trillion. Russia awaits common sense from the USA.

It is clear enough who is the real leader of the world. That person is not in the White House. Putin’s Response to Obama’s New Sanctions

by Stephen Lendman

What Is The Obama Regime Up To? — Paul Craig Roberts

Both leaders are polar opposites – a person of dignity and honour in Moscow on the right side of history compared to a US menace in Washington waging war on humanity.

In response to Obama’s new sanctions, a same day article quoted Sergey Lavrov, saying Russia “cannot leave unanswered insults of the kind, reciprocity is the law of diplomacy and foreign relations.”

He recommended Putin respond tit for tat while blasting Obama’s deplorable action. It seemed certain, but didn’t happen. Putin took the high ground, in stark contrast to his disgraceful US counterpart, issuing a statement, saying:

“We regard the recent unfriendly steps taken by the outgoing US administration as provocative and aimed at further weakening the Russia-US relationship.” “This runs contrary to the fundamental interests of both the Russian and American peoples. Considering the global security responsibilities of Russia and the United States, this is also damaging to international relations as a whole.”

“As it proceeds from international practice, Russia has reasons to respond in kind. Although we have the right to retaliate, we will not resort to irresponsible ‘kitchen’ diplomacy but will plan our further steps to restore Russian-US relations based on the policies of the Trump Administration.” “The diplomats who are returning to Russia will spend the New Year’s holidays with their families and friends. We will not create any problems for US diplomats.” “We will not expel anyone. We will not prevent their families and children from using their traditional leisure sites during the New Year’s holidays.” “Moreover, I invite all children of US diplomats accredited in Russia to the New Year and Christmas children’s parties in the Kremlin.” [The Russian Orthodox Church uses the Julian calendar for religious holidays, which puts Christmas on January 7.] “It is regrettable that the Obama Administration is ending its term in this manner. Nevertheless, I offer my New Year greetings to President Obama and his family.” “My season’s greetings also to President-elect Donald Trump and the American people.” “I wish all of you happiness and prosperity.”

Judge for yourself. Who’s the man of dignity and honour and who’s the menace? Which way will Trump go?

My personal year-end greetings and thanks to President Putin for doing the right thing consistently on major geopolitical issues. I proudly support his pre-eminent world leadership.

A Final Comment

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova explained that Obama’s expulsion order disrupts the lives of 96 Russian nationals – 35 diplomats and family members.

Some targeted diplomats only arrived in America two months ago. “It is not clear how they could have participated in (alleged) activities that, according to the secret services, took place in the spring of 2016,” Zakharova explained. They have until January 1 to leave – Obama’s happy new year greeting.

The Magic of the Mantra: On the Heresy of Name-Worship

The early twentieth-century heresy of name-worship, the worship of the name of God as if it were God Himself, is a curious amalgam of absurd and ignorant, magical and superstitious idolatry and pagan and intellectualist, Platonizing and Hinduizing pantheism. The crisis of name-worship came to a head in Russian monasteries and cells on Mt Athos in 1913 with acts of violence carried out by ‘name-worshippers’. After the heresy had been condemned by the Russian Holy Synod and the Patriarch of Constantinople as a heresy, the Russian authorities were frightened that the ultra-nationalist Greek authorities of the time, using a ‘foreign’ heresy as an excuse, would send troops and chase all 7,000 Russian monks off Mt Athos. Two Russian naval boats were sent therefore to prevent bloodshed and they took off Mt Athos 736 monks, with 26 ringleaders, who were involved in the heresy of name-worship. It was then found that some of the violent and leading name-worshippers were not monks at all, but novices, army deserters, runaway convicts and drunkards dressed as monks.

It must be said that even after 1913 sympathy for name-worship remained, especially at St Panteleimon’s Russian monastery on Athos, petering out only after the last monks, who had been present in 1913, had either left or died out by the 1950s. Although this crisis only came to a head in 1913, provoked by a book about the so-called ‘Jesus Prayer’, written in 1907 (‘In the Mountains of the Caucasus’), it is clear that elements of the heresy were present in Russia even before this and can be found indirectly in the mid-nineteenth century Russian booklets ‘The Way of a Pilgrim’ and ‘The Pilgrim Continues His Way’. Far more popular among naïve and pietistic heterodox than in Russia (most Russian Orthodox have never heard of them), these booklets, which were in the nineteenth-century criticized by St Ignatius (Brianchaninov) and corrected by St Theophan the Recluse on account of their spiritual danger, do suggest that one can ‘see God’ quite easily. Living outside the Church and its spiritual disciplines of the Psalter and the liturgical cycle and entertaining intellectual and philosophical dreams and fantasies, many unChurched converts to Orthodoxy of all nationalities, Russian, Romanian, Greek and Western, have fallen into spiritual delusion (‘prelest’) as a result. The magic of the mantra indeed.

This explains why although name–worship initially attracted the attention of uneducated peasant-monks, it then became attractive to politicized liberal intellectuals, notably of the Paris School, notably the heresiarch Bulgakov. In their out-of-focus and wishy-washy, ‘spiritualist’ and anti-State philosophy of Disincarnation, some of these individuals found in name-worship a way to attack and undermine the Russian Church authorities, Church discipline and, in Protestant-style, denigrate the sacraments. Seeking self-justification under the mask of ‘spirituality’, they fell into the delusions of pride, abandoning the Russian Church and the Orthodox Tradition. Such pride can easily be identified because it leads its victims to sectarianism (celebrating the services differently from the rest of the Orthodox world) and aggressive and angry self-justification. Doubt them and they at once become enraged. Indeed, this is very common among such individuals, but we always pray both for those who love us and those who hate us, as St Basil the Great ordains. Fortunately, such delusions have never attracted rooted Orthodox in traditional monasteries and parishes, and those in such prelest remain very marginal, attracting unChurched converts and heterodox.

From Recent Correspondence (Lent 2016)

Q: Why is there so much opposition among the Orthodox faithful to the forthcoming Council in Crete?

A: Because it promises to be merely a politicized meeting of bishops. First of all, how can you say that you are having a Council when you do not know if it is a Council, because you do not know if the Holy Spirit will be present? We must understand that a meeting can only become a Council if the Holy Spirit is present. This is why meetings only become Councils on their reception by the people of God, who recognize the inspiring presence of the Holy Spirit. So far this looks like a meeting of bishops, with the US, the EU and the Vatican in the background, which is not Pan-Orthodox because it does not include all the bishops or, for the moment, even representatives of all the Local Churches. To call a meeting a Council before the event is presumptious and pretentious, even more so when you call it ‘Great and Holy’.

Secondly, how can you have a Council when only a small selected minority of Orthodox bishops have been invited? Thirdly, how can you have a Council when the most important question, the calendar issue, has been removed from the agenda? Fourthly, how can you have a Council when several Local Churches or authoritative voices in Local Churches have been raised in particular against the anti-dogmatic contradictions in the proposed important document on relations with Non-Orthodox? Finally, many have been disturbed by the date of the opening of this meeting: 16/06/16. It contains the triple six of Antichrist. How could the organizers, so blind to any transparency, also be so provocative as to start the meeting on that date, so greatly perturbing the faithful?

Q: You say that the US, the EU and the Vatican are in the background. What exactly do they want?

A: All thisworldly institutions want an aggiornamento of the Church, like that which Roman Catholicism underwent in the 1960s. They want to introduce into the Church secularism, humanism, new calendarism, homosexual marriage, banning fasting and monasticism. In other words, they want to destroy the Church, they want a modernist, spiritually toothless and spineless Church, degutted of ascetic life, spirituality and the sacred, so that they can adapt the Church to their worldly agenda, reducing it to a mere human institution, as they have done elsewhere. And who is their prince, the prince of this world? Satan.

Q: So you are against this meeting?

A: I did not say that. Let us wait and see. This meeting could produce schism, given the arrogant lack of consultation by its organizers with the monasteries, parish clergy and people, with the people of God. For example, why have they not invited a distinguished monastic elder from each Local Church to the meeting to represent the people of God? And, as I said, a meeting, however unpromising, can become a Council. All depends on the Holy Spirit. Man proposes, but God disposes. Sadly, for the moment, all we have seen is bureaucratic men proposing.

Q: You have reported elsewhere the opening of the Russian Cathedral in Paris in the autumn. What are your hopes?

A: Our hopes are that the statement of Patriarch Alexei II thirteen years ago will at last be realized. In other words, we hope that this will be the foundation stone of a Russian Orthodox Metropolia in Western Europe and that that will be the foundation of a future Local Church.

Q: So you want to see in Western Europe a kind of European OCA?

A: Before answering, I should perhaps say that what I want is not really relevant, what is important is what God wants. I will answer only because you have asked.

Not at all, we do not want another OCA. The OCA was a failure firstly because its foundation was politicized, being founded during the Cold War, secondly because it was granted autocephaly unilaterally without consultation with the other far more numerous dioceses of other Local Churches on the same territory, and thirdly because it was founded on compromises of ascetic, liturgical and canonical culture, caused by its protestantization, putting American culture above the Church. This meant that a great many English-speaking Orthodox in the USA, the ones whom it was allegedly designed for, simply ignored it. Personally, if I lived in the USA, I would not belong to the OCA. That is no judgement on the many sincere and pious people who do belong to it or the good work that parts of it do, this is merely a personal statement.

Q: So what do you want to see in Western Europe?

A: What we want to see is what we want to see everywhere, including in North America. That is, quite simply, a Local Church that is fully Orthodox, spiritually pure, politically independent and faithful to the Tradition, but which freely celebrates, whenever pastorally necessary, in the local language and venerates the local saints. What could be simpler? And yet human beings with their compromising political cults or narcissistic personality cults make it all so complicated.

Q: To come back to the OCA, what do you make of the concelebration between Patriarch Bartholomew and Metr Tikhon of the OCA?

A: There are modernist, political dissidents in the OCA who want to become a sub-department of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, in some special American Metropolia, just like the Rue Daru group of ex-Russians in Paris, the ex-Sourozhian schismatics in England, or some schismatic Diaspora Ukrainians. It seems to me that a battle is going on between the two factions there, the modernists who want to leave for Constantinople and those with at least some sense of the Tradition who want to stay as a group under the protection of the Russian Church. Personally, I have always thought that a split is inevitable, with all the parishes in Alaska and most in Canada and Pennsylvania around St Tikhon’s, returning to the Russian Church, perhaps within ROCOR, and the others, like those at St Vladimir’s, going over to the Greeks. That would be logical and at last clear up the canonical anomaly once and for all.

Q: The OCA was founded nearly two generations ago. Why has it taken so much longer to begin even thinking about a Local Church in Western Europe?

A: So much longer? We have been thinking about it for thirty years and more! On the other hand, you do not do things prematurely. In my view, the OCA was premature – it should have remained a Metropolia, English-speaking but faithful to Russian Orthodox Tradition, waiting for freedom in Russia, which came 20 years after its independence.

The main problem in Western Europe has been the delay caused by the Paris schism over eighty years ago. The divisive defection of Russophobic aristocrats and modernist intellectuals from the Russian Tradition to the Patriarchate of Constantinople and a self-invented ‘tradition’ meant that the development of an authentically Orthodox Local Church was greatly delayed because the Russian Orthodox presence was so weakened by their disaffection. For instance, although (or because) the Constantinople Parisians are bankrupt, they are still occupying the (smallish) 19th-century Russian Cathedral in Paris, and therefore a new Cathedral and seminary have had to built and equipped at vast expense and with great political complications.

Q: Does the Church Outside Russia, ROCOR, have a role in the construction of this Metropolia in Western Europe?

A: That depends on the leadership of ROCOR, not on mere parish priests like me.

Q: Does that answer mean that in Western Europe at least ROCOR will become dependent on the Church inside Russia?

A: Not necessarily. Everything is still possible. There are parishes in Western Europe dependent on the Church inside Russia and parishes dependent on the Church Outside Russia that are identical in ethos. Some, sadly, are definitely not identical in ethos because of the hangover from the Soviet past despite transfers of controversial clergy out of Europe by Moscow in the last few years. In ROCOR we patiently wait for that vestigial ethos to die out, as it is dying out. Once it has died out altogether, convergence will come.

Q: You mean that ROCOR in Western Europe will merge with the Church inside Russia or that the Church inside Russia in Western Europe will merge with ROCOR?

A: I don’t know. What I do know is that the most active and most missionary, the most spiritually alive, will dominate. Those who are spiritually asleep will be absorbed. If you do not have younger bishops, resident bishops, active bishops, missionary bishops, bishops who are interested in their flocks and local saints, you will die in your self-made ghetto. This is what happened to ROCOR in South America. This is of course true for all Local Churches and their dioceses in the Diaspora. If you do not live, you will die. Surely, that is not too complicated to understand?

For example, today, just in the eastern third of England, we need twelve priests who can speak at least some Russian and some English – if they are bilingual, that would be perfect. I could name the places where they are needed. But where are we going to find them? We have to encourage men to think about this. That requires leadership, time, effort and energy.

Q: How can you describe the ethos of ROCOR, as compared with the ethos of parishes dependent on the Church inside Russia?

A: The emphasis of ROCOR in the last 25 years especially has quite clearly been on the New Martyrs and Confessors, Anti-Sergianism and Anti-Ecumenism. Wherever within the jurisdiction of the Church inside Russia there is veneration for the New Martyrs and Confessors (and it is very extensive), wherever there is resistance to the ideas that the Church must swim with the secular tide of the State and resistance to ecumenist compromises (also extensive), there is joy in ROCOR. However, the fact is that some of the foreign parishes in the jurisdiction of the Church inside Russia, suffered in the past from modernism, ecumenism and liberalism, unlike parishes inside Russia. When the ethos becomes identical, then there will be a complete merger, though, as I say, it is not clear which part of the Church will dominate it. That will depend on the leadership of bishops.

Q: You mentioned local saints in Western Europe. Who at present venerates those local saints?

A: It mostly seems to be immigrants from Eastern Europe, who have the sense of saints and relics. Sadly, despite all our decades of efforts, there are few native Western European Orthodox.

Q: Why? I thought there were many converts?

A: That is a myth. There have never been ‘many’ converts. At most about 2,000-3,000 in the heyday and many of those soon lapsed because they were received into the Church for the wrong reasons or for ideological reasons, with certain clergy trying to build up artificial empires, which of course soon collapsed. Most of their children also lapsed. I doubt if there were ever more than 1,000 serious converts.

However, in the last ten years, I have witnessed a change. Converts started coming in numbers in the 1960s after the collapse of Anglicanism. In other words, most converts were from an Anglican background, often of a public school or wealthy background and most were at that time 30 or 40 years old. Well, that generation, what I call the ‘Kallistos generation’, is literally dying out. Some are still alive, but are in their late sixties or older. The vast majority of these are either in the Antiochian jurisdiction which at last has a new, young, local bishop, or else under the Constantinople Vicariate, which is dependent on an elderly French bishop in France, whom I knew when he was a young priest.

Together, about 600 in all, they together form a sort of Anglican Orthodoxy. For example, as far as I know, the Antiochian clergy are ex-Anglican vicars who have not received training in Orthodoxy and do not know how to do all the services; then the people do not know how to sing; the Vicariate situation is similar. I know one such Antiochian community, where the priest has banned any language other than English! This is racism, though I suspect partly it is because the priest does not understand any language other than English, let alone the Orthodox ethos.

Q: So converts are dying out?

A: Not exactly, rather their nature is changing. There are some new converts, but they do not usually have an Anglican background; after all very few English people nowadays do – even in the mid-19th century, only 50% of English people were ‘Anglican’, that is, they belonged to the Church of England. Although there are few of these new converts, at least they are converting properly and not creating a semi-Orthodoxy, an Anglican-Orthodox club.

Q: So what does that mean for these convert communities?

A: It means that many Vicariate communities number fewer than ten, usually quite elderly people, and form a kind of ex-Anglican clique, centred on the dead Metr Antony Bloom. Where they are more numerous, most of the people are Eastern Europeans. In a similar way, ageing Antiochian groups are being saved from extinction by Eastern Europeans, especially church-deprived Romanians. Most of these groups do not have their own premises and use Anglican churches.

Q: So what is the justification for using English in services, if there are fewer converts?

A: There are now three justifications. Firstly, there are still English people, converts or children and grandchildren of converts with the English husbands of Orthodox women, secondly, there are the English-speaking children of Eastern Europeans and thirdly, in mixed-nationality parishes, English is simply the common language. The future is with the second group, children of Eastern Europeans, because they are now the majority of English-speaking Orthodox.

Q: How are they to be kept in the Church?

A: That is the key question. In ROCOR, for example, the London Cathedral lost virtually everyone from its second generation, let alone from the third and fourth. And that is a typical story for all jurisdictions everywhere. Why? Because they had no identity, apart from an ethnic one, which they naturally disowned. It is vital for Orthodox children born here or going to school here to have an Orthodox identity, to know and appreciate our civilizational values, to know that we are simply Christians. The old generations generally failed to do this, their identity was purely ethnic, not spiritual.

Thus, the children went to school, lost their parents’ language and said, ‘I’m English, this is nothing to do with me, it’s only for old people’. Assimilation. For example, there are six Anglican Cypriot priests in the Diocese of London. Why? Because they did not understand Greek, so they left the Greek Orthodox Church. Of course, we can only give children this identity if parents bring their children to church regularly. Those children have to be instructed in Sunday schools and they have to have activities, which creates in them a sense of belonging to the Church. If parents do not bring up their children in the church, then they will be completely lost.

Q: Why do Protestants so value the Old Testament?

A: The Reformation was largely financed by Jews (despite Luther’s virulent anti-Jewishness) and most Protestants have always been pro-Jewish. Cromwell depended on them almost entirely. (Even today Israel depends entirely on Protestant countries, especially the USA; Catholics have always been more sceptical). Thus, the Protestants even use the Jewish Old Testament in favour of the Christian one! For Orthodox, by far the most important book of the Old Testament is the Psalter, which is why you rarely find Orthodox reading the Old Testament (other than Genesis and Exodus), but rather just the New Testament and the Psalms.

Q: Why is the USA forcing countries, like the Ukraine and also African countries, into accepting homosexual marriage? Is Obama a homosexual?

A: I have no idea what Obama is – except that he supported thuggery by toppling the democratically-elected government of the Ukraine and replacing it with a murderous Fascist junta, which has little control of the country outside Kiev. Then there are the US drones which can murder anyone anywhere. As regards his other personal inclinations, I would not rely on internet rumours.

Now for your main question, which needs a historical answer.

When, in the 11th century, Satan set about destroying Christendom, his first target was to desacralize, that is, secularize, the Church. Satan cannot stand the presence of the sacred, the sacred must be removed from the world because it prevents him from realizing his plans to take total control of the world. This he did by attacking the Church at its weakest point, that is, in the Western provinces, where all had been weakened by the barbarian invasions. In the 11th century the Western Patriarchate was converted to secularism, with what had been the Church becoming a State, becoming secular, changing the Creed, controlling murderous armies, the courts and sponsoring invasions etc. In history this is called papocaesarism.

In other words, the first step to Satanization, was to remove the Altar. The second step was to remove the Throne, that is, to remove the sacral monarchy. This act came later and was done in the 17th century in England, in the 18th century in France and in the 20th century in Russia, although it is true that the Western monarchies had been deformed before then, either by parliamentarianism, or else by absolutism, neither of which conforms to the Orthodox Christian understanding of monarchy, which is the presence of the Lord’s Anointed among the people.

Thus, having removed the spiritual content of the Faith and the Ruler, having desacralized the Faith and the King, there remained the third and final stage, to desacralize or secularize the Christian People and popular culture. This means destroying Christian cultural values (a process that was very rapid in the 20th century), destroying the family – very rapid from the 1960s on after the fall of the Second Vatican Council, when fasting was abolished and so now today we have an obesity crisis). Then they also started destroying the identity of the human person in the unisex movement that since the 1960s has resulted in only two generations in a transgender, transhuman society.

This enslavement is a form of suicide. It is why Russian Orthodox Tsardom, the Christian Empire, had to be destroyed in 1917. With its slogan of Orthodoxy, Sovereignty and the People, the Faith, Tsar and Rus, in English, Altar, Throne, Cottage, in French, Foi, Roi, Loi, its existence was the one thing that made upside down Satanism, with its aim of destroying the Church, the Ruler and the People, impossible.

Q: Can this situation of spiritual enslavement be reversed, or is an imminent end inevitable?

A: Nothing is inevitable because for human beings repentance is always possible. In Russia, the Church is slowly being restored and with Her the ideal of a Spiritual Empire, with a Christian Emperor and People. However, nothing is certain and there are reasons for both profound pessimism and profound optimism. May God’s will be done. On 18 December 1917 the Tsarina Alexandra wrote in her diary: (The Revolution in Russia) ‘is a disease, after which Russia will grow stronger. O Lord, be merciful and save Russia!’ May this hopeful prophecy be true.

Our Man in Havana: From the Catacombs to the World Stage

Some Orthodox are, understandably, worried by next week’s meeting between the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Pope of Rome. However, perhaps they listen too much to the CIA-paid hacks of the Western media who are already presenting the meeting as a kind of Russian Orthodox prostration before the Pope of Rome, on the orders of President Putin who is, apparently, desperate for any kind of contact with the West! Having recalled that at the Victory Day parade in Moscow on the 9 May the Russian President stood side by side with the leaders of China, India and many other lands, representing virtually the whole Non-Western world, the vast majority of humanity, we shall laugh our fill at the Western media. It is the G7 Western world that is isolated, bunkered up in Hitler’s Villa outside Munich as in June 2015. The meeting at Havana Airport between the Russian Orthodox Patriarch and the Pope of Rome, between the past and the future, between Old Rome and the Third Rome, will be successful, but only if the Pope of Rome comes with repentance. Why?

First of all this is the first meeting in history between a Russian Orthodox Patriarch and a Pope of Rome (though not with a Pope of Alexandria). Ignorant Western media point to the fifteenth-century meeting between the then Pope of Rome and Metropolitan Isidore at the so-called ‘Council’ of Florence. However that Metropolitan was not a Patriarch, he was not Russian and, above all, he was not Orthodox. The truth is that this meeting could be a turning-point for discredited Catholicism. It now has a chance to repent before the Russian Orthodox Church for the crime of Uniatism. Just as the Polish Pope, himself a quarter Uniat by descent, did apologize for the Crusaders’ barbaric sacking of New Rome in 1204 (800 years late!), so now this Latin American Pope of Rome has the opportunity to ask forgiveness (420 years late) of the Russian Orthodox world. It knows that as long as there exists a single Uniat, it is stabbing the Church in the back. The Vatican now has to start behaving as though it were Christian.

The Russian Orthodox world has never been against a meeting with the Pope of Old Rome, but it has always had to be on our terms, not from a position of humiliation, but from a position of authority. It could never have happened with the aggressive Polish Pope; with the penitent Pope Benedict it could have happened, only he was removed for being too close to Orthodoxy; now with this Pope there has come a chance. Both leaders are making pastoral visits to Latin America and Catholicism is facing the ‘battle of the millennia’ and needs the Church. Catholicism, heir to 2,000 years of history, now has a vital choice to make, to choose between the first millennium, which was Orthodox, and the second millennium which was Catholic-Protestant. In this third millennium, either it will choose to protestantize itself completely, or else at least a small part of it can choose the path of repentance and return to the Orthodox Church, supporting the Russian Orthodox defence of the Christian Middle East or siding with the anti-Christian post-Protestant West.

A generation ago, until 1991, the Russian Orthodox Church was for the main part viciously hounded by politicians and mockingly despised by Non-Orthodox. We well remember the 70s and 80s when we were forced to live in an almost ghetto-like situation; we were indeed the last of the Mohicans. Whether inside or outside Russia, we lived in the catacombs. At that time there were only 40 bishops in Russia and 5,000 clergy; today there are 361 bishops and some 40,000 clergy. There is no reason to think that those figures will not double over the next generation. The miracle happened with us. Through the prayers of the New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Lands, at that time the atheist regime of the countries of the Soviet Union collapsed by self-chosen dissolution, but also the Western world chose to descend into the pit of hell by self-chosen dissolution. Exactly a generation after these events, in 2016 we are now entering a new age, the generation where we come out of the catacombs and the ghetto and move onto the world stage.

Some may find it difficult to adapt to this; others who were never comfortable in the ghetto find it easier. But the fact is that for the first time in history a Pope of Rome is meeting a Russian Orthodox Patriarch. The Church moves centre stage. It may be that the Russian Orthodox Church can save at least parts of Roman Catholicism from Protestantization. Certainly, with last week’s canonization of the ROCOR hierarch and wonderworker, St Seraphim of Sofia, who first exposed the heresy of Bulgakov and then the heresy of Ecumenism, there is no doubt that the Russian Church has moved far on from the provincial Orthodoxy of the fringes who are still stuck in old-fashioned modernism. The Russian Orthodox Church now takes the lead in the Orthodox world and has turned the leadership of Orthodoxy from a US-run masonic affair into the voice of the Church. Not only that, but it also reclaims the Ukraine from the Nazi Uniat junta in Kiev, which may have only a few months to live.

Sunday of the New Martyrs and Confessors

Some Autobiographical Notes

I have been asked a number of questions about how, coming from a simple, earthy English background in rural England, I came to be a Russian Orthodox priest of the Church Outside Russia. Making use of some unexpected time this week, I have looked back through some old papers which I had forgotten and can now answer those questions with some dates.

Q: How did you come to the Russian Church?

A: After a countryside childhood strangely filled with interest in faraway Russia, I started teaching myself Russian in October 1968. I was told to do so in a particular spot in Colchester, which I could take you to now, by a voice heard coming, brought as it were by a wind from the east. So I began to read a lot of Russian literature in translation and Russian history. Two years later, in 1970, I had decided that I wanted to be part of the Russian Church and had begun reading as much as I could to find out about it (very little was available at that time). However, it was only after my sixteenth birthday that I managed to visit Russian churches.

Q: Where? In London?

A: No, my family never went to London, which we always looked on as a different planet, ‘the smoke’ as we still called it. The countryside was our home. I won a bursary and at the end of February 1973 I managed to visit a Russian church in England. This was the tiny Russian Patriarchal house chapel in Oxford, where I prayed at vespers on two successive Saturdays. Then in the same year I won another bursary to visit the then Soviet Union; in fact the first church I visited there was St Vladimir’s Cathedral in Kiev. As I entered those churches, I knew that I wanted to be part of their inner life and that this was my destiny, the whole meaning of my life, regardless of all the barriers that would be put in front of me. I felt that I had always been here, that this was in my blood. (Only in 2004 did I discover any possible though very distant explanation in a Carpatho-Russian great-grandmother – my mother’s mother’s mother). At the end of 1973 I also managed to visit the Patriarchal Cathedral in London, of which I had heard. ROCOR then had no existence outside itself, being largely unknown to the outside world, at least in England.

Q: Which part of the Russian Church did you join?

A: As soon as I was free to do so at the age of 18, in 1974, I asked to join the Russian Church. Of course, there were two parts then. Firstly, I met two representatives of the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), who solemnly informed me that I would not be allowed to join their Church since it was in any case ‘for Russians only’. I also met other, rather fanatical and sectarian individuals from ROCOR, who completely turned me away. I therefore took the only option left to me and joined the Patriarchal Church, presuming that this was identical to the Church that I had seen in Russia and the Ukraine.

However, I very soon found out that the small Oxford Patriarchal parish was dominated by two opposing clans – on the one hand, by haughty Parisian-type modernists, and, on the other hand, by Soviet chauvinist nationalists, for whom the Communist Party could do no ill! I gave myself spiritual life by reading Russian theological books I ordered from Jordanville and elsewhere. Visiting Soviet Russia for a second time in 1976 and spending time there, I saw again how the real Russian Church was different from the Oxford cliques. In 1977 a priest I had met in Russia the year before suggested that I study at the Moscow Theological Academy. I would very much like to have done that, but at the height of the Cold War this was absolutely impossible. That was tragic.

Q: What did you do?

A: I did the next best thing and in 1978 went to live and work in Thessaloniki in Greece for one year. Here, I saw how traditional the ethos could be, quite different from the Church of Constantinople, which I had seen in England, but also, unfortunately, I saw narrow Balkan nationalism and came across the semi-Protestant Zoe and Sotir organizations – closer to Methodism than Orthodoxy! However, I also visited Mt Athos and was especially influenced by Fr Ephraim at Philotheou and the very poor and heroic monks at the Russian St Panteleimon’s Monastery. I remember especially Fr Seraphim, Fr Misail (who wanted me to join the monastery and be the librarian) and the choir director from Odessa. These were real, exemplary Orthodox. It was at this point that I decided that I should go and study at a Russian seminary.

Since I had been told (in fact lied to) that Jordanville only accepted Russians, I took the only option left and went to St Serge in Paris. (The two ‘seminary’ establishments of the OCA held no interest for me since they were both on the Catholic/Protestant calendar and deviated in other ways from the ethos and practice of the Russian Church inside Russia. I knew enough from talking to people who had been to them and from my visits to Russia to understand that they were not right for me. I wanted the real thing).

Q: What happened next?

A: I went to study at St Serge in Paris. There I experienced the battle royal between the two factions in Paris at that time. The first, led by Protopresbyter Alexis Knyazev, a wonderful teacher, was the pro-Russian one that was clear-sighted enough to see that the only future was to rejoin the Russian Church, but on some autonomous basis.

The second group, the Fraternite Orthodoxe, led basically by the Jesuit-educated Count, Fr Boris Bobrinskoy, notorious for having celebrated the liturgy in a Catholic convent with the filioque (!) – so as ‘not to offend our Catholic brethren’, was virtually composed of Uniats. Other members included the fantasist and Athos-hater Olivier Clement and a Georgian priest who spent his time extolling the Second Vatican Council. I soon gave up going to their courses. The modernist and manipulative Fraternite was populated by patronizing aristocrats and fantasist ideologues who preyed on naïve Catholics and converts. Descendants of those who had carried out the Revolution, they absolutely hated Russia and had no intention of ever returning to the sobriety and discipline of the Russian Church. Naturally, I supported the first group which alone was authentic and also realistic.

These two groups depended on the Rue Daru bishop, the weak, elderly but saintly Archbishop George (Tarasov). The Fraternite was clearly waiting for him to die and then seize power, which they only managed to do in full twenty years later. Members of the Fraternite, some soon to become priests, used to hiss, mock and boo Archbishop George publicly. It was awful. I believe that Archbishop George, a former WWI Russian pilot from the Western Front, was a saint. Had he been in good health and lived another fifteen years, he would have returned the group to the Russian Church with the status of an autonomous Metropolia.

Q: Where did you go after St Serge?

A: Having met my wife, who is basically of Anglo-Italian-Romanian origin, and married in Paris, we returned to England. We stayed here for three years, trying to find some sort of balanced spiritual life between the extremes of the pseudo-Patriarchal Church and the Church Outside Russia, with their cliques which were not Churchly at all, quite different from the Church inside Russia, which I had seen in 1972 and 1976, and again at St Panteleimon’s on Mt Athos.

Having discovered the scandalous truths about the extremists dominating both groups in England, we returned disillusioned to France and my wife’s jurisdiction (Rue Daru). Here the new German Archbishop had personally promised us that he was going to steer the Church away from the modernist and ecumenist Fraternite Orthodoxe and back to Russian Orthodox Tradition, but using Western languages whenever necessary. Enthused by this sensible direction and the support of Fr Alexis Knyazev, who was still alive then, I was ordained in Paris in January 1985.

Q: What happened?

A: I had fallen from the frying pan into the fire. Within four months I was asked to become a freemason, which I refused to do, thus signing a kind of spiritual death warrant for myself. Through weakness of character, the new Archbishop had by then taken a suicidal path. He was ordaining freemasons and other members of the Fraternite, while also forbidding the use of local languages, doing exactly the opposite of everything he had promised. He was guaranteeing the death of Rue Daru, whose only hope for survival was in fact to return to one or other of the parts of the Russian Church.

So I surrendered to God’s Will. And in 1987 I was granted the grace of meeting the ever-memorable Archbishop Antony of Geneva, a representative of the real ROCOR, just waiting to return to a politically free Russian Church. Coming from Kiev, where I had first been to an Orthodox service, Archbishop Antony showed me the real, multinational ROCOR, which I had read about, but totally failed to meet in London with its nationalism and sectarianism. In July 1988, Rue Daru held a service in honour of the millennium of Orthodoxy in Rus, attended by the modernist Catholic Cardinal of Paris, but from which all Russian bishops had been banned!

It was the last straw and, thanks to God, Archbishop Antony gladly received a group of 17 of us spiritual refugees into ROCOR at the end of that year. This was actually a turning-point for the Rue Daru group, as ever since then the flow of serious Orthodox leaving it has not ceased, giving up the fight to save it. We now realize of course that that fight was impossible and we had undertaken it out of misplaced idealism. The well had been poisoned from the outset. It was also a turning-point for us, from which we have never looked back.

Q: Looking back, what would you do if you had your time again?

A: A purely hypothetical question. Hindsight, as they say, is a wonderful thing. At the time I had no advice at all, except for very bad advice, and there was no internet. Today, there is no doubt in my mind at all that I should have studied in London and then, in 1977, gone and studied at Jordanville. However, if I had not done what I had done then, how could I know all this now? Only experience teaches.

If I had not done what I did do, I would never have understood the Church of Greece, I would never have met the saintly Archbishop George Tarasov, the heroic Archbishop Antony of Geneva and so many other saintly figures, like the last representatives of the real White Russian movement, Fr Silouan of Athos of the Patriarchate (the disciple of St Silouan), the wonderful Baroness Maria Rehbinder, that exquisite Parisian poetess Lyudmila Sergeevna Brizhatova, the last White officer Vladimir Ivanovich Labunsky, and so many others, the representatives of the real Holy Rus in all jurisdictions of the Russian emigration.

Neither would I ever have understood the tragic renovationist decadence and absurd Soviet nationalism within parts of the Patriarchate outside Russia at that time, the two sides of the suicidal Rue Daru jurisdiction (sadly, today there is largely only one side left) and how ROCOR was nearly enveloped by the marginal extremes of narrow Russian nationalist chauvinism and fanatical old calendarist converts, but saved by the holiness of Metropolitan Laurus and the many with him, who so exactly expressed our values in Holy Rus, Eternal Russia.

There is in even this short, forty-year experience a lifetime of joys and sorrows. I have been privileged to know it all. In that sense I do not regret anything, even though I have met many tragic individuals, seen much waste and many lost opportunities, and seen parts of the Russian Diaspora committing suicide through spiritual impurity. However, I have been even more privileged in that I have also seen the old and artificial disunity fall away and become heartfelt unity and so life in the dynamic present and future. The worst, and it was really bad, is over and the best is now and in the future. Over nearly the last twenty years Providence has allowed me to work freely for the Russian Orthodox Church in missionary work in my own homeland of the three counties of the East of England.

A New Year Message: Flee Extremes!

One of my favourite photographs in our Church hall shows the Serb St Justin of Chelije standing side by side with the Romanian Fr Cleopa (Ilie). The former lived and became a saint on the old calendar. The latter, his saintly fellow-ascetic, lived on the new calendar. Despite his views that this calendar was an error, he naturally, as all must, preferred humble obedience to the pride of schism. The photograph shows the balance that I have always sought, away from the ridiculous extremes of the trolls, be they naïve and deluded amateurs or paid and hardened professionals. Although I have only ever seen physical violence from two old calendarists, it is today the new calendarist ones who are the most violent verbally, even to the point of issuing a death-threat. It is interesting that such people call themselves Orthodox Christians!

Looking back at controversies in the USA in the late sixties, seventies and onwards, the state of polarization between those on the old calendar and the new calendar made such photographs and such harmony impossible. Why? Because of extremism, that is, not so much because of the old calendar and the new calendar as because of old calendarism and new calendarism. The dread isms again. In the 70s and 80s I met representatives of the two groups, who summed up the two extremes for me. One was Bishop Gregory (Grabbe), an old calendarist. I met him and discovered in him an incredible and depressing negativity. He later died tragically, in a sect outside the Church. The other was Fr Alexander Schmemann, a new calendarist. I met him in 1980 when he was dressed as an American businessman and discovered that he was a chain-smoker who was not strong-willed enough to give up the deadly habit.

The old calendarist tendency was profoundly negative and gloomy, indeed depressing. It appeared to have no hope, mankind was doomed, almost Calvinistically. (And Calvin is a heretic). Everything new was bad, mankind faced the Apocalypse tomorrow. Possible salvation could come only through hiding out in ghettos. For the rest of the world there was only criticism and censorious condemnation; conspiracy theories thrived. This was the ideology of the sect and the pharisee. The attitude to regular communion was singularly negative – only with the strictest preparation could it possibly be contemplated. I remember well being told that I was unacceptable to membership of such groups – apart from being the wrong nationality (!), I was too young and too well-educated. Two cardinal sins, ‘unforgivable’, as one such senior and very elderly ‘Christian’ said to me in 1986! I was certainly destined for hellfire.

The new calendarist tendency was over-positive and over-optimistic to the point of fantasy. Everything was possible, the modernist fantasy of salvation for all (the heresy of Origenism, so beloved of Protestants claiming to be Orthodox) was on the agenda; no room for gloom and doom here. With an unreal ideology, it was over-open to the world, wanting somehow wanting to merge the Church with it, it was ecumenically-minded, wanted to revolutionize and change everything and had only spite for those who thought otherwise. The attitude to communion was singularly positive – it was more or less open to all without any preparation at all. I remember being welcomed on first meeting members of such groups – I was young and well-educated. As to whether I believed in anything, that seemed to be totally irrelevant. Far from the dark, all was light. With them I was certainly destined for heaven.

The two things that both tendencies had in common were intolerance and narrow-mindedness.

Looking back, as a Non-American, ironically I see in the culture of Bishop Gregory (Grabbe) and Fr Alexander Schmemann, both apparently Russians, the extremes of American culture. Bishop Gregory appeared not so much to represent Russian Orthodoxy as New England doom and gloom Calvinism (Let us remember that the Calvinists left England because of their intolerance). The world was predestined to perish and there was no hope. Ahead there was only darkness. Fr Alexander, as his Swiss cousin, a faithful of ROCOR, said to me in 1989, had ‘become a Protestant’. For him, in typical 60s, Kennedy-like fashion, the future was with the young and everything was possible for such ‘All-Americans’, as can be heard in SVS recordings of the time. Sometimes Fr Alexander sounded like a US self-help manual: ‘Just do it’ seemed to be his slogan.

All of this was alien to sceptical Europeans who found such Americans naïve and extreme. Fortunately, both tendencies are now dying out, apart from among the to be ignored, anonymous trolls, as we mentioned above. Thus, the extremist fringes and margins of the Church Outside Russia, infected by old calendarist sectarianism, have gone, just as the extremist fringes and margins of the Orthodox Church in America are apparently being buried with the plastic 1960s, where they came from. The Church, now in unity with the freed Church inside Russia, has moved on and both extremes now seem hopelessly old-fashioned, museum-pieces, indeed, totally irrelevant to the new generations.

The extremes forgot that Christ is both the Merciful Saviour and the Just Judge, that both Truth and Mercy are met together (Ps 84, 11). To the old calendarists let us recall that we are called to save the one lost sheep among the ninety-nine (Luke 15), that, as the proverb says, it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness, that repentance happens even on the death-bed, for God does not want the death of a sinner (Ezekiel 33, 11) and with Him all things are possible (Luke 18). To the new calendarists let us recall that death is the one thing inevitable, that the Apocalypse and the Second Coming are drawing closer with the passing of every single day, that the Last Judgement will certainly follow and that not all will be saved, for not all will repent.