Category Archives: The Phanar

Papism or the Holy Trinity: The Multipolar Structure of the Orthodox Church

The only alternative to the Holy Trinity is hell.

Archpriest Sergij Bulgakov

Introduction: The Remaking of the World Order

The settlement after the Second World War made by a victorious USA and USSR is over. The red star Soviet Empire, given birth to by British-orchestrated regime change begun in blood on 30 December 1916, ended on 25 December 1991. The white star American Empire, given birth to by the Truman Doctrine, formulated on 22 February 1947, ended on 24 February 2022 with the tragic events in the Ukraine. Both had lasted for three generations. The Age of Empires is over. The whole World Order is being remade.

The Ukrainian Tragedy

The recent events in Ukraine, very accurately described by the President of Poland as ‘the drowning man who is drowning his rescuer together with himself’, can only be described as the Last Crusade of the West. However, those events do not just mean the dissolution of the old Ukraine, invented by the USSR from 1922 on, and of the old NATO, they are symptomatic of much more. The Ukraine is only one of the historic shifts that are taking place in the world, where we are witnessing the rebirth of a multipolar world.

That varied and multi-centred world existed a millennium ago, before ‘the West’ took on the demonic idea that it was exceptional, proclaiming that it had the right to dominate the whole world through the arrogance of the ‘crusades’. The first of these began officially in 1095, though in fact they had started before that, in Italy and Spain and in 1066 in England. The last one was not Pope George Bush’s ‘Crusade’ against Iraq in 2003. It is the attack on Russia today, Pope Joseph Biden’s Crusade, which is the Last Crusade.

The alphabet soup of old institutions that my generation has grown up with are gone or else will inevitably go: the USSR (gone already), NATO, the EU, ASEAN, the OECD, the IMF, the WTF, the G7, AUKUS, the UN, the UK (to split into its different countries), perhaps the USA too, are next. Through ‘BRICS’, which is set to replace them all, we are heading towards a Planetary Alliance of Sovereign Peoples. The alternative is a neocon-inspired nuclear Wasteland that even T.S. Eliot could not have nightmared of.

BRICS, already more powerful than the G7, soon with eleven members, is the future present. This is the multipolar world of Russia, China, India, Africa, Latin America, Oceania and all the others. This is the Alliance of the seven billion of Planet Earth. The remaining one billion on their islands and on their Western European peninsula will be obliged to join and co-operate with this Alliance as equals, or else die. The old Western millennium is over and, ironically, the new millennium has been given birth to by this Last Western Crusade.

The Multipolar Structure of the Orthodox Church

The old Western-controlled world had a unipolar or totalitarian structure, which has its origin in the unitary, centralised Papist structure of the second millennium of Western Europe. This is not the structure of the Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church, also called the Orthodox Churches, now numbers sixteen. Why the paradoxical use of the singular and the plural, Church and Churches? This use is only as paradoxical as that found in the essential Gospel Teaching of the Holy Trinity: God is One, but also Three.

It is this Tri-unity that is at the basis of this rebirth of a multipolar world that is taking place before our very eyes. In other words, the multipolar reality of the ever-expanding BRICS is based on the very description and definition of the structure of the Orthodox Church(es). The ‘Papism’ of the Western world is thus the opposite of the Trinitarian model of the Holy Trinity, as seen in the Orthodox Church(es). It is therefore no surprise that BRICS has basically been founded by Orthodox Christians from Russia.

The Orthodox Church(es) has also known the temptation of ’Papist’ or unitary rule. But each time those centripetal, that is, unipolar or ‘Papist’, tendencies have been defeated, just as centrifugal or splitting forces have also been defeated. The whole Orthodox world is now awaiting the outcome of the tragic conflict between NATO and Russia in the old Ukraine. We all know that the resulting New Ukraine will be one that is viable. (Remember how foolishly an unviable Germany was created after 1919, resulting in a new War).

The Russian President is not only a politician, but also a Russian Orthodox layman. As a provincial intelligence officer, he lived through the collapse of the USSR and the human catastrophes that ensued. As he proclaimed several years ago: ‘He who does not regret the USSR has no heart; he who wants to restore it has no brain’. As for the future structure of the Russian Orthodox Church, for example in the New Ukraine and in other former Soviet republics which are now independent nations, he has no interest in it. He is a politician.

Conclusion: Multipolar Orthodoxy

Such matters will be for the Russian Orthodox Church hierarchy to sort out, inevitably in consultation with the fifteen other Local Orthodox Churches. We believe that the Russian Orthodox Church will follow the multipolar model and grant independence (autocephaly) to its different constituent parts. This is not because the Russian Orthodox Church wants to follow multipolar politicians, but because it is part of the whole Orthodox Church, whose structure is inherently theologically multipolar, that is, Trinitarian.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Six Months On: The Completely Avoidable Tragedy of the Ukraine and the Curse of Nationalism

‘Two things are infinite: The universe and human stupidity, but I’m not so sure about the universe’.

Words Attributed to Albert Einstein

 

Foreword

We have never had any doubt that the Russian Federation would win militarily in the conflict in the Ukraine, for which eventuality it had carefully prepared for eight long years. (I stress the word ‘militarily’). During that time the West continually poked the bear and then was surprised when the bear’s patience ran out – on 24 February 2022. That does not mean that I approve of anything that has happened in the Ukraine since 2014. I visited different parts of the Ukraine six times between 2014 and 2021 and my many parishioners from all over the Ukraine only confirmed what I had seen.

I could see only too well its immense problems, the corruption which led to an infrastructure, far worse even than that in the oligarch-dominated UK, and the poverty of the masses, making it poorer than many African countries. In this article I take no sides. All wars are huge human tragedies and cannot be approved of. However, I am interested in the truth, not in propaganda, whichever side it comes from. And here, as everywhere and always on this site, without the burden of any careerism I am free to be interested only in the truth and its causes and consequences for Church life.

Introduction: The Tragedy: 2014-2022

After the 2014 US-organised coup d’etat (cost to the US taxpayer = $5 billion, as officially admitted by the US politician Victoria Nuland), one thing was at once obvious. This was that the new Kiev government needed to carry out internationally-observed referenda. Then they could let the various peoples in the Ukraine, with its purely artificial, Soviet-made borders, assigned to it by the atheist monsters Lenin, Stalin and Khrushchov, freely decide which country they wanted to belong to. Any enforcement of the old atheist centralisation from Kiev would, as in Yugoslavia, lead to exactly the same tragedy and war as in Yugoslavia. Both amalgams, Yugoslavia and the Ukraine, were hangovers from the Communist period with their absurd borders, jamming together peoples who had little in common and no desire to live in the same country as one another.

Sadly, the reality is that this current completely avoidable tragedy in the Ukraine is ‘Yugoslavia II’, that is, it the same thing again, only on a far greater and more serious scale. And here, unlike in Serbia, NATO cannot use its air force, for it will be shot down by superior Russian technology, and its army and navy are shut out.  In 2014 an internationally-observed referendum was held in the Crimea, and all went well, with a clear 97% majority choosing to return to Russia, after 60 years of enforced separation from it. However, Kiev itself refused to allow referenda anywhere, including in the Crimea. Therefore, the Kiev government, or rather those behind them who would not allow referenda, are responsible for today’s catastrophic consequences and tens and probably hundreds of thousands of deaths. They have blood, a lot of it, on their hands. What are those consequences?

The Catastrophe: 2022-

  1. Local Consequences: The Human Cost

In 2014 war broke out in the Ukraine, specifically in the Russian-speaking Donbass, whose language and culture were oppressed and mocked by the racist centralisers in Kiev. Up to 14,000 people, including 400 children, were massacred by the Kiev authorities and the other 6 million were told to leave the Ukraine, if they did not like Kiev’s new ‘democracy’. This year, there has been much worse. Six months of conflict have now passed, though it was clear from the beginning, like it or not, that the small Russian expeditionary force had already won in the first few weeks. Their feint to the North, as if to take Kiev, locked up the Kiev military there (the same tactic as the US used in Iraq with a feint from the sea), enabling Russian forces to achieve their aims of conquering much of the Russian-speaking East and take the Russian-speaking South as far as Kherson, where they were greeted by many as liberators. This was what the Russians had openly stated that they intended doing all along, but they had been disbelieved.

Like it or not, the ensuing decision by the USA/West/NATO to send billions of dollars of their weapons, disarming their own troops, to be destroyed by Russian missiles, sometimes before they can even be unpacked (as on 24 February at Borispol Airport), is only prolonging the inevitable defeat and making the bloodshed far worse. So far the Russians and their Allies have lost over 6,000 troops dead, although over the last two months since they took strategic Mariupol, casualties have been very low, as this has largely become a war of satellites, drones, artillery and precision missiles. On the other hand, the Kiev Army has lost some 250,000, at least 60,000 of them killed, and continues to lose many hundreds of ill-trained, ill-equipped and often very young or very old troops almost every day, whether killed, wounded, or by surrender and desertion.

You should not be fighting a modern war when you do not have air superiority. Kiev does not, as most of its air force was destroyed in the first few days. It is a catastrophe and leaves widows and orphans everywhere. Every son killed had a mother and a father, a brother and a sister. The whole country is in bitter mourning. Its population is now down to 30 million. Of 6 million refugees, Russia is the European country that has taken the most, with 2 million fleeing the bankrupt Ukraine. However, 4 million others have left futureless bankruptcy for various countries in Western Europe, over half going to Poland and Germany. It costs the US taxpayer $5 billion every month just to keep the Kiev government afloat, let alone the billions of dollars of destroyed US military equipment.

Unless the 13% of the world, which is all the Western world/G7/NATO is, really wants a nuclear war to annihilate humanity, as Mrs Truss says she does, the West will just have to accept that Russia has taken back the Russian Lands within the former Ukraine. People like Mrs Truss, with her extraordinary ignorance of the basic history and geography of the Ukraine, simply do not realise that this is an existential war for Russia on its doorstep, even though V. Putin explained this quite clearly. Russians will die to win this war to free their brothers and sisters in the East and South of the Ukraine.

However, despite what Mr Johnson has recently proclaimed, no-one in the UK has chosen to pay 400% more for fuel bills, let alone die for the Ukraine, of which country few in the UK had even heard until six months ago. The result of the UK government’s refusal to buy Russian gas and other commodities and to arm the Ukraine, without consulting the electorate, which is not even allowed to elect the next Prime Minister, is soaring inflation, social disruption, strikes and grinding poverty, which will probably topple the UK government in the near future. Here is the difference with Russia. Nobody in the UK wants to suffer, let alone die, for an unknown country.

Local Consequences: What Does the Future Ukraine Look Like?

It looks something like the following – something that could have happened without any bloodshed, had democratic referenda been allowed back in 2014:

The Real Ukraine of Ukrainian speakers, the ‘Kyiv Protectorate’, or whatever it will come to be called, may take 11 demilitarised central and western provinces of the former Soviet Ukraine: Sumy, Poltava, Kirovohrad, Chernihiv, Kyiv, Cherkasy, Zhytomyr, Vinnytsia, Rivne, Khmelnytskyi, Ternopil. Population: 11.2 million. This will be a landlocked nation, in effect a Second Belarus, with a population of just over a quarter of the 1991 Soviet Ukraine.

Russia may take the 9 Russian-speaking eastern and southern provinces: Lugansk, Donetsk, Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporozhe, Kherson, Crimea (Crimea of course already rejoined Russia in 2014), Nikolaev, Odessa. Population: 14.2 million.

Poland may, with Russia’s permission, take back the 3 far western ‘Habsburg’ provinces: Volyn (though a small number in the north of Volyn might want to join Belarus), Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk. Population: 3.2 million. This is the historic ‘Ukraina’ – the word that simply means the borderlands (that are next to Poland). Clearly, this real Ukraine would have to receive some sort of autonomy within the NATO-ruled Polish Republic as a demilitarised buffer-zone.

Hungary may take 1 province: Zakarpattia. Population: 0.85 million. This is providing that its mainly Carpatho-Russian people vote for this by referendum, though, true, many have already accepted Hungarian passports. This region would also have to receive some sort of autonomy within Hungary.

Romania may take 1 province: Chernivtsy. Population: 0.6 million. This is providing that its largely Romanian-speaking people vote for it by referendum, which seems highly likely.

  1. Global Consequences: Western Sanctions Cause Chaos in Western Europe

Why is the Russian campaign taking so long, why did Russia not use 25% or even 50% of its armed forces and take the whole of the Ukraine within a few weeks? Because that is not its strategy. By its own admission Russia has never had any intention of occupying the whole of the Ukraine and its capital Kiev. Therefore, only 5%-10% of the highly professional Russian Armed Forces have been engaged in order to take back the Russian-speaking areas, which were separated from it by Marxist diktat exactly 100 years ago. In any case, most of the fighting is being done by the local anti-Kiev Eastern Ukrainians and Chechen allies, who have suffered most of the casualties.

Then there is no hurry – the Russians want to conserve the lives of their own troops and of Ukrainian civilians and to conserve infrastructure. Time in any case is on the Russian side: their greatest ally is, as is usual in Russia, General Winter. By deliberately stretching the conflict out by agreeing to provide arms ‘until the last Ukrainian is dead’, Western European governments have foolishly fallen into the trap of extending the war into the winter. In this way they will have to suffer a winter with little fuel and face national emergencies, probable popular uprisings and riots and the fall of governments. The West has been completely outwitted – by its own stupidity.

Nowhere in Western Europe is the situation as grim as in the UK. With its privatised utilities, which are in reality unregulated, the law of the jungle prevails. For example the energy price cap imposed by the French government on its State energy monopolies is 4%. In the deregulated UK, prices by January will probably have increased by 400%. This is unsustainable. Expect a universal bill boycott, already started, and food riots. In the UK, Johnson’s words of 25 August, ‘You (note, ‘you’ not ‘we’) must endure to defeat Putin’ do not work. Nobody in the UK voted for this. Moreover, in the ‘democratic’ UK, 160,000 mainly elderly, wealthier people are taking two months just to choose the next Prime Minister, the fourth in six years. The UK used to mock political instability in Italy; it had better look at itself.

Global Consequences: Sanctions and Dedollarisation

Europe’s own anti-Russian sanctions, even though forced on it by the USA, are suicidal. Bankruptcy stares it in the face. The rouble has stabilised at a very healthy 60 to the dollar (before the conflict it was over 90 and briefly went up to 120) and money is flooding into Russian coffers as the whole Non-Western world wants its oil, gas, grain, fertilisers, rare earth metals, not to mention its highly effective arms. They are available to anyone in Western Europe who does not sanction them, as long as they pay for them in the Russian currency. On the other hand, the euro has sunk to parity with, or is even below, the dollar. The conspiracy theorists are even saying that the whole conflict was created by the USA to destroy, not Russia or even the Ukraine, but the EU, notably the German economy. Probably crazy, but actually quite logical.

China, India and indeed over 85% of the world have no sanctions against Russia, indeed they basically support Russia. The West is isolated, with its manufacturing dependent on China, which will soon claim back Taiwan. And Russia and other countries are now insisting on payment for their essential commodities in roubles or in their own currencies. The world economy is being dedollarised – that is a disaster for the USA.

  1. Church Consequences

Now we come to the second half of this article, what interests us most. What are the Church consequences of the conflict in the Ukraine, especially, what is happening to the Russian Orthodox Church, 75% of the whole Orthodox Church? Here the situation is grim indeed. On 25 August the Russian Church was forced to abandon plans for its Patriarch Kyrill, already sanctioned and banned from visiting the UK and Canada, to meet the Pope of Rome in Kazakhstan in September. Centralised Church authorities in Moscow had totally misread the public mood and the proposition had led to a huge scandal.

However, the misreading, or just plain non-understanding of the views of the local Orthodox grassroots, is far more generalised than this mere detail. The authorities of the formerly multinational Russian Orthodox Church has tried to impose the political views of Russia on its multinational flock. The result? Its Non-Russian flock has largely left it. This is a repeat of what happened in the 1920s when the leader of the Church then, Metropolitan Sergius, tried to enforce loyalty to the atheist Soviet State on his flock outside Russia. Result? He lost his flock outside the Soviet Union. We can see exactly the same result, all over again, in many regions of the world. For instance:

a) The Ukraine.

Few can describe the hatred felt by Ukrainians, mostly from central and western Ukraine, for Russia and Russians. They are simply boycotting the churches where the name of Patriarch Kyrill is mentioned. I speak from what I have seen. Even here, for example, Ukrainian refugees come to us and ask who our Patriarch is. When I reply that last February we were issued with letters of leave to quit the Moscow Patriarchate (its Western European Archdiocese) for Patriarch Daniel of Romania because of political persecution, they smile and say they will return to us. They feel at home with us; we are neutral. However, wherever the name Patriarch Kyrill is mentioned in church services, Ukrainian refugees, like many other Ukrainians who have already been here for some time, vote with their feet and leave. Understandably so.

Even Autonomy for the only canonical Orthodox Church in the Ukraine, that which is led by Metropolitan Onufry, is now no longer enough. It is too late. Moscow has totally lost control. It is Autocephaly that has to be granted, exactly as the saintly Serbian Patriarch Porfiry recently granted to the Church of North Macedonia. This simple message has yet to get through to Moscow, but it is a fact. Otherwise, the Ukrainian Church will simply be an empty shell. This need for Autocephaly is not a top-down case of political manoeuvrings by a nationalistic elite who want their ‘own’ National Church to command and control, as was the case of the Protestant Churches in Western Europe (e.g. the Church of England or those in Scandinavia) or the purely political group founded in the Ukraine in 2018 under the Church of Constantinople.  This is a case of the people demanding Autocephaly, it is a ‘down-top’ movement.

b. The Baltic States

Russophobia here is virulent. There are already two Churches in Estonia and there are about to be two in Lithuania because of nationalism and hatred for Russia. The US-sponsored Patriarchate of Constantinople stands behind both breakaway groups in Estonia and Lithuania. It seems to me that at the very least the three Baltic States must have their own Local, Autonomous, if not Autocephalous, Orthodox Church. Only that will stop the schisms. Again the message is clear to everyone, except to Moscow. Does Moscow really think it can weather the storms and hold on?

The situation in Lithuania is especially disastrous, where priests have been defrocked for a purely political disagreement with Moscow. This is an abuse of the canons. As our bishop, Metropolitan Joseph, said to us in a recent conversation, defrocking happens to clergy for moral, financial or criminal reasons, not because the clergy disagree with their bishop about politics or, as missionaries, are defending their churches from predatory and anti-missionary bishops. Nobody in the free Orthodox world recognises political defrockings. They are not only uncanonical, they are anti-canonical. They are particularly ironical, when those who should be defrocked for molesting women parishioners or stealing money from parish funds are not only not defrocked, but receive all manner of awards!

c. Moldova

Already 20% of churches in Moldova have left the Russian Church for the Patriarchate of Romania. The conflict in the Ukraine is making Moldovans shudder. Will we be next? The tiny Russian Transdnestria was of course long ago lost to Moldova, but what about Moldova itself? It seems inevitable that Moscow will lose the remaining 80% of its parishes there to the Romanian Church. Large parts of the Russian Diaspora are also composed of Moldovans, for example some 70 of the 72 Moscow Patriarchate parishes in Italy are Moldovan. Surely they too will leave for the Romanian Church?

Already in England most Moldovans have had to leave the Russian Church because of Slav nationalism and, sadly, a certain corruption. Here too, Russian nationalism appears to have destroyed the Russian Church’s once multinational character, as everywhere in the Western world. One nationalist bishop of the Russian Church in the Diaspora actually said in public: ‘I don’t like Romanians and I only half-like Moldovans’. That seemed to amuse him: it did not amuse the Romanians and Moldovans, or any of the Non-Russians, present. Here there is cause for the suspension of the bishop, if not for his actual defrocking. As far as I know, Christ never commanded us to hate other races.

d. The Western European Exarchate

In 2018 Moscow at last set up a Western European Exarchate, its centre in its brand-new, purpose-built Cathedral and centre in the most prestigious part of Paris, rumoured to have cost 50 million euros. Today, the Exarchate too is shattered, seemingly destroyed by Russian nationalism. Its first head lived in the Cathedral with his wife and child, and had another vice. He was duly sent away. (Though not sent so far as their Bishop Gury in the 1990s, who did something so serious that he ‘had to go’ and freeze in Magadan, opposite the Sea of Japan). The second head, a very politically-minded and very ecumenically-minded and very young man, who has not spent any time in a monastery and who speaks no French and poor English, now lives in Moscow and does administrative things.

Meanwhile, the Moscow Patriarchate Diocese in the UK no longer has a bishop, he is in Moscow. Few even remember who was the last Englishman to be ordained to the Russian Orthodox clergy in the UK. And the Moscow Patriarchate bishop in the Netherlands also seems to have disappeared. He got into great trouble with the Dutch government for threatening the clergy of his huge church in Amsterdam with ‘the Russian Embassy’, because, as Non-Russians, they had expressed purely political disagreement with the conflict in the Ukraine. As a result, the parish and about 70% of the people transferred to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, as did a parish in Italy and another in Germany. Frankly, it appears as if the Western European Exarchate had its chance and failed. Does it have any future after the events in the Ukraine? That it might become the foundation to set up a future Western European Orthodox Church, as Patriarch Alexiy II wanted twenty years ago, now sounds like a bad joke. Hopes have been dashed by those who have betrayed their pastoral duties.

e. North America and ROCOR

In the USA the Moscow Patriarchate has also lost its bishop. Its forty or so parishes are left without a leader and, it seems perhaps without any possibility of even survival through new ordinations, let alone expansion. However, in general, all parts of the Orthodox Church in North America are in chaos. The largest group by far, the Greek Archdiocese, is facing scandal and disorder with the probable deposition of its new, highly political and secularising Archbishop Elpidiphoros. The second largest group, the OCA, which has Russian origins, is facing many difficulties, mot least the behaviour of its administration in over-zealously closing churches and persecuting clergy during lockdowns. The third largest group, Antioch, sometimes called ‘The Church of the Four Families’, faces a scandal involving allegations against its Metropolitan Joseph.

The fourth largest group, quite small in fact, a Russian group, ROCOR (the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia), faces very embarrassing accusations of defamation, precisely from a Ukrainian priest, Fr Alexander Belya. The US courts will clearly favour him, though they must first justify his allegations to find out if they are true. Several other scandals in the USA involving properties and Russian clergy who have fled it for the Greek Church are also left unanswered. On top of all this, questions have been raised about the use of the electronic signature of the late Metropolitan Hilarion of ROCOR. He was clearly very ill for quite some time, at least for a year, if not for several years, before his death in May 2022, and yet all manner of very serious documents were being issued in his name by others. His death also leaves his Western Rite group, already dissolved in England, all at sea.

Moreover, ROCOR faces huge difficulties outside the USA. In Western Europe it lost half its English Diocese, 12 clergy, 5,000 people and two million pounds worth of Church buildings, ultimately to the Church of Romania, which canonically received them all, with the blessing of Patriarch Daniel himself. In 2007 they had already lost their only two monasteries in England to an Old Calendarist Church only because their analysis of the degree of the deSovietisation of the Church inside Russia varied with that of their bishop. On top of that, that English diocese then lost another four clergy to various other jurisdictions. Although still (!!) in complete denial of this reality, ROCOR here has now largely become an internet presence. The churches that left it for the Romanian Church are full and growing in clergy and people. Its very few remaining churches are very small. Meanwhile, in Geneva it also faces yet another court case on internal matters concerning administration and very embarrassing sackings, allegedly illegal, involving its appointment of freemasons.

From 1917-1991 ROCOR existed as the free and unpersecuted branch of the Russian Church outside the Soviet Union. After the atheist Soviet Union fell in 1991, and even more after ROCOR’s long-awaited reconciliation with the post-Soviet Russian Church in 2007, many began to question the reason for its continued existence. Some felt that Providence had given it a chance to justify its continued existence as the missionary part of the Russian Church outside Russia. It had the chance to prove itself as such from 2007 to 2017. Then all was still possible. Sadly, it failed to realise its potential and openly abandoned missionary work in whole areas of the world, such as Latin America, Indonesia and most of Western Europe, and instead concentrated on trying to amass money and striving to obtain impossible-to-obtain properties gained by previous unsupported missionary work. It seems as though the once persecuted Church has become the persecuting Church.

At the same time, some of its members turned inwards and selected Trumpism, and not Christ, as their ideology. It was clear that some in ROCOR had lost their way. Having chosen not faith, but a political ideology, and one which fails to work outside narrow US Republican ghettos, and lost most of itself outside North America, ROCOR may now be obliged to retreat to North America and lick its wounds. A well-known Russian Orthodox Metropolitan wrote to me only last week and told me that he does not think that it can survive at all; ROCOR risks becoming an embarrassment to the Russian Orthodox Church inside Russia. This is a Church Titanic, of which Fr Alexander Belya is only the tip of the iceberg.

Conclusion: Lose-Lose?

The curse of nationalism has been lose-lose for all who have taken that particular acid bath. The Kiev government has lost by persecuting its own people and playing with several different nationalist and schismatic ‘Glory to the Ukraine churches’ and persecuting its only canonical Glory to God Church. Its false ‘churches’ have not only not created unity, but they have destroyed all remaining unity by persecuting and striving to seize the properties of the canonical Church (more parallels with the situation in the Diaspora). The Church of Constantinople has lost by playing with Greek and then Ukrainian nationalism. Western Europe has lost by playing with European nationalism (its ‘freedom and democracy’ myths) and enforcing Russophobic sanctions to cut off its nose to spite its face. ROCOR has lost by playing with American nationalism, exactly as the much persecuted St John of Shanghai prophesied. And the once multinational Russian Church has lost most of all by betraying its multinational vocation, that very vocation set by Tsar Nicholas II, with Russian nationalism, thus wrecking its multinational reputation. It will not recover from that for at least a generation.

Everyone is a loser. However, Divine Providence can and does make good out of bad. You will see and are already seeing it. Here is the possible end of schisms in the Ukraine and its opportunity, shorn of its Russian territories, to find its true identity and unite around a liberated and demilitarised Kiev. Here is the opportunity for scandal-ridden Constantinople to become a missionary Church, having understood that nobody is interested in a secular-minded, political and racist Church. Here is the opportunity for Europe, including the UK, to make peace with Russia after nearly 1,000 years of hatred based on jealousy and intolerance. Here is the opportunity for the two parts of the Russian Church in North America, the OCA and ROCOR, together with the bishopless Moscow parishes, to unite and love one another, instead of hating one another. (The apparently still unknown commandment of loving one another is to be found in the Gospels). It is all so simple. Here is the opportunity for the Russian Church, having for now lost Europe, to turn to serious missionary work in Asia and in Africa. God always gives opportunities. Sadly, men do not always take them.

 

On Empire Building

Over the past few decades we encountered several groups on the fringes of the Church whose manipulative leaders were engaged in ecclesiastical empire building, recruiting all and sundry. These included more recently ‘the Kiev Patriarchate’, various old calendarist groups, including one in Portugal, and before that the Kovalevsky group (l’ECOF) in France, the latter two both claiming on paper to have some 100 priests and parishes. However, as soon as their leaders died, the groups suddenly dissolved and disappeared. They had had virtually no property. Their technique was to ordain any man who came to them, usually an individual on an ego-trip, sometimes someone quite spiritually ill, within a month or two of his appearance. He and his fictitious community would disappear very quickly after the death of the cult leader.

Thus were created impressive-looking lists of parishes and clergy – on paper. In reality, very few of their clergy had any idea how to celebrate, sing, be pastors or anything else. All the cracks in the façade were papered over – until the inevitable scandals began. Some personalities in canonical groups were allowed to do similar things, but none of it lasted; fragmentation always took place within a decade or two of the death of the personality. Unity cannot exist amid sectarianism and personality cults. One tiny diocese created by such a personality, is now split into three even tinier groups, and another elderly group is now literally dying out.

The current administration of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, based in Turkey and backed to the hilt by the US State Department, is set on building just such an ecclesiastical, or rather political, empire, pins in maps and the whole works. Why? Because it is in reality very small and very weak. Real Churches do not engage in such empires of the imagination. For the trouble with all empire building is that it focuses on quantity, not on quality, on surface, not on depth. The result always means dirtying yourself in politics, which in turn means anti-canonical actions. It is much better to stay small and be authentic. Artificial empires never last very long because they are built on fantasies and fictions, not on spiritual realities; they are houses built on sand, not on the Rock of Christ.

This we have seen over the last fifteen months in the far west of the Ukraine with the violent sect established there by the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Now we are seeing it in the Diaspora, especially in the USA with another group:

https://www.helleniscope.com/2020/03/10/many-new-vicars-no-real-orthodox-leadership/ If some Orthodox in the USA, the Ukraine or elsewhere wish to become second-class citizens in the Patriarchate of Constantinople, never receiving authentic autocephaly, and wish to consort with some whose legality, let alone canonicity, is questionable, they are welcome to do so. Unity is good: but that does not mean that God can be united with Mammon. There is such a thing as morality – right and wrong. Anyone, including bishops, who claims that he is a Christian and yet does not know the difference between right and wrong should return to Sunday School for Lesson One: Secular Empires always crash.

 

Conclusions

Introduction

When we realize that we may not have much longer to live, it is time to set down for posterity the conclusions that we have reached from our experience of life about the Church, from which all else flows.

For us the Church means the Orthodox Church: there is no other. Outside the Church there are only breakaway fragments with their historic remains, either greater or lesser vestiges of the Church. Similarly, Christianity means Orthodox Christianity or, for short, Orthodoxy – it is the same thing. Outside Christianity there can only be vestiges of Christianity.

Russia

Ever since the fall of the Second Rome (New Rome or Constantinople) in 1453, Russia has been the Third Rome. Some little-believing Russians have interpreted this in a crude, nationalistic way. Such should keep their primitivism to themselves, with their wild ideas that the centralizing Ivan IV or even the odious atheist and executioner of millions, Stalin, might be saints. It is notable that such nationalism is always centralizing, as we saw in the case of the disastrous centralism of the Soviet Union, which was so detested by all its victims. There is no place for such nationalism in the Church, which confesses the unity in diversity of Trinitarian theology and culture.

Since the Apostasy of the Third and Last Rome in 1917, the world has been living on borrowed time, for a Fourth Rome there shall not be. This extra time has been loaned to us so that many new saints, mainly martyrs, could appear, that is, this extra time has been and is still for the sake of repentance. Only when there is no more repentance will there be no more saints, and only then will the world end. Moreover, through the Mercy of God, Who allowed the sacrifice of these saints, it is possible that the Third Rome may yet be restored.

As the Third Rome has not been restored as yet, this must be because the people have only half-repented. Thus, the revolting remains of the atheist monster Lenin lie in Moscow and his name and statues still pollute the whole of the Russian Federation. The areas around Saint Petersburg and Ekaterinburg are still called Leningrad and Sverdlovsk, named after those mass-murderers, just as very many other places and streets are named after other mass-murderers. And all this meets with acceptance by the masses of unrepentant.

Elder Nikolai (Guryanov) said: Russia will not be raised up until people realize who our Tsar Nicholas was’. Indeed, many of those who died for the Royal Martyrs have not yet been canonized and are still despised and denounced, including by so-called ‘theologians’. As mere rationalists, intellectually full but spiritually empty, they do not have the mystical sense of history which is vital to understand spiritual reality. And much else in the restoration of Christianity in Russia is, like such ‘theologians’, still very superficial and nominal. There is much gold in a few places with much corruption, superstition and careerism, and there is still very far to go elsewhere.

The Patriarchate of Constantinople

In 1917 the Tsar was betrayed by the Russian elite in 1917, which event the world calls in its way ‘the Russian Revolution’, though it was in fact nothing of the sort but rather a descent into hell on earth. After this, it was almost inevitable that the leadership of the tiny Patriarchate of Constantinople – and others allied to its worldly spirit – would take, as they saw it, advantage of the situation, so falling into temptation.

Thus, the temptation of its Greek nationalism, which had already led to the initial downfall of the Second Rome in 1453, meant that after the fall of Orthodox Russia the Second Rome would make an uncanonical bid to dominate the whole Church. This would mean once more compromising itself in syncretism, putting its racial pride above Christ, like the Jews of old.

This is what that Patriarchate had already done at the so-called Council of Florence almost 500 years before 1917, just as the Papacy of Rome had already done in the eleventh century. So New Rome tragically engineered its final downfall, just like Old Rome before it. Although the nationalism with which Constantinople is infected is only anti-Christian worldliness, that Patriarchate has fallen to this spiritual disease.

This disease broke out again nearly 100 years ago under the British-appointed Patriarch Meletios (at a cost of £100,000 in the money of that time) and, from 1948 on, under the US-appointed Patriarch Athenagoras and his successors, like the present one (at a cost today, it is said, of $25,000,000). We now see a Patriarchate of Constantinople (and its branch in the Ukraine) which advocates homosexuality – no surprise given that many of its representatives are more or less openly so and are friends with similar – and worse – circles in the Vatican. But we still hope for repentance.

The Western World and Europe

Creating itself 1,000 years ago on the ruins of Roman Imperialist paganism and Germanic barbarism, the Western world was from the start inherently built on racial pride. It claimed, through what it called its ‘theology’, in fact its self-justifying ideology, that God through the Holy Spirit had given it absolute authority over the whole world. Its leader, variously called pope, emperor, king and, today, president, had replaced God. God, apparently, has always whispered in their ears and told them what to do, ensuring that Western leaders have always been right, infallible.

In order to prove this spiritual delusion, ‘the West’ became the ruthless enemy of ‘the Rest’, and so the destroyer of all other world civilizations through organized violence with astonishing military technology, born of its aggressive and arrogant self-belief. It has always attempted to undermine the elites of other civilizations through its ideology and so sabotage the religious foundations of other civilizations (all civilizations are founded on religious belief) by secularizing them and so overthrowing them. This we can see very clearly in the history of Russia and, again today, in the classic case of the Westernization of the once glorious and famous, but now inglorious and shameless, Patriarchate of Constantinople.

Western ideology replaced God with man, for it is Anti-Trinitarian and therefore Anti-God, Anti-Patriotic and Anti-Family. It replaced God the Father with the idol of Money (Mammon), which is why the linchpin of its ideology is called ‘Capital-ism’. It replaced the Incarnation of the Son into social life with the ideology of Power and so created artificial Unions of countries where Power could be concentrated among the oligarchic few of the elite or ‘establishment’. And it replaced the Sanctification by the Holy Spirit of personal life with Sin, disguised with words like humanism, individualism, freedom and democracy. Thus, its idolization of the Anti-Trinity of Money, Power and Sin, which sum up its ideology. And it is precisely these idolatrous values, which began in Europe which will lead to the end of the world.

Europe is a purely artificial construct – it does not exist. In reality, Europe, meaning ‘the West’ is only the north-westernmost tip of the single Continent of Eurasia, meaning ‘the West-East’. Its Asian part is the foundation of all World Religions: Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam. Today’s European Union is thus an isolationist myth, a power-grab of its elite, and it will not survive. Having now abandoned both its Roman Catholic and its Protestant forms of Secularism, its remaining atheist form of Secularism is bringing it to suicide. Europe can now only survive if it becomes part of a Northern Eurasian Confederation, that is, if it repents for its thousand-year long apostasy and returns to being part of Orthodox Christian Civilization.

England and My Destiny

‘Heaven take my soul, and England keep my bones’.

King John 4, 3. 10

England is my home. My home is not Britain, which is an artificial invention of foreign political elites and establishments, whether pagan Roman, barbarian Norman or atheist Hanoverian. As the political construct of a foreign elite, Britain as a political unit is destined to disappear.

The three countries of the British Isles, England, Scotland and Wales, soon all to gain independence from the British Establishment elite, together with a fourth, the still-to-be-reunited Ireland, may yet one day, after independence, form a loose and voluntary Confederation. This will perhaps be called ‘Iona’, ‘The Isles of the North Atlantic’, as its peoples learn to live together in peace, respecting one another.

I have had a destiny, I have had to follow the law of my being. I have had a very long way to go. The great-grandson of a Suffolk ploughman had to become a Russian Orthodox priest, against all the odds of all the elites.

In common with St John of Shanghai, I have been internationally-minded and have been put on trial by nationalists and secularists hiding inside the Church, who have continually frustrated my hopes.  I could have done so much more, but was not allowed to. A little like the island-Elder Nikolai (Guryanov), I have in my poor little way lived in isolation, as on an island.

Three Miracles

Nevertheless, as only the Truth sets free, I have always battled against injustices, even if I had had little hope of success either in my lifetime or ever. However, as God is great and many others have also fought against the same injustices, I have seen three extraordinary miracles worked in my lifetime.

After a near ninety-year wait, I have seen a Bishop at last appointed for our Diocese of the British Isles and Ireland, as the Church Outside Russia comes to be the Church of the English-speaking world. This I struggled for unceasingly.

After a near sixty-year wait, I have seen the English, Irish and all Western Saints accepted back into the Church. That was a tremendous battle in the pre-internet age against the bishops who were so hostile, even as recently as 2016. Now, with several of these saints included in the Russian Orthodox calendar, the dam has burst. Now others, in the USA, Switzerland and Russia, younger than me and with more time and means, have taken up the writing of their Lives and continue what we began.

After a near thirty-year wait, I have seen the miracle of unity, the reunion of all three parts of the Russian Church, for which, together with thousands of others, I battled. As a result, I have also at last seen a Russian Orthodox Exarchate formed in Western Europe (with another one in South-East Asia).

Conclusion

Everything comes to him who waits and persists, for patience is the mother of virtues. I thank God for these and many other, personal, miracles. What I have prayed for these fifty years, and what others before me have prayed for, has eventually come to pass, in ways and at times far beyond what I expected. God’s Providence is always far greater and far better than we expect. True, the historic injustice of the overthrow of England and its substitution by an alien Establishment, committed in 1066, and the historic injustice of the overthrow of Tsar Nicholas by the betrayal of the Russian elite in 1917, have not yet been righted through restorations, though even here I still have hope.

Today, against the deviations of nationalist and modernist Constantinople, we offer the White Russian and the Old English, the Imperial and the Fair, the Spiritual and the Free, the Noble and the Elegant, the Manly and the Womanly. Whatever they have done to me, it has not mattered, because I have always known that the last words in history will be Christ’s. And if we remain faithful to them, then all will be well.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s 1055 in Lubbock

By Dionysius Redington

The appointment (one can call it “election” only in the narrowest etymological sense) of Metropolitan Elpidophoros (Lambriniadis) as Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America will no doubt be remembered as a significant turning point in the history of the twenty-first Century Church. Whatever hope might have existed that the schism between Constantinople and Moscow over Ukraine is merely a temporary, unimportant event has surely now been extinguished

Archbishop Elpidophoros is a distinguished and knowledgeable theologian. As a Turkish citizen, he is a leading and obvious candidate someday to succeed His All-Holiness Bartholomew on the Ecumenical Throne. In the major controversies of Bartholomew’s reign (the Cretan Council as well as the Ukrainian schism) he has consistently and staunchly defended the Patriarch’s positions and authority. While there is no reason to doubt the sincerity with which he has taken these stances, it is evident that he has a vested interest in strengthening a presently feeble jurisdiction which he is one day likely to command.

Thus his appointment to the second-most powerful post in the Ecumenical Patriarchate has a two-fold significance.

On the one hand, it telegraphs that there is unlikely to be any backtracking at the Phanar when Patriarch Bartholomew leaves the scene. On the other, it raises the theological stakes, because Archbishop Elpidophoros does not consider the Ukrainian affair a trivial matter of reasserting Constantinopolitan control over a wayward province illegally dominated for a few centuries by Moscow.

On the contrary, he uses the most serious term of opprobrium in all of Orthodoxy to describe his opponents, one the Phanar generally goes out of its way to avoid employing. He says they are heretics.

In 2009, then-Archimandrite Elpidophoros delivered a memorable speech at Holy Cross School of Theology which may still be found online, for example at https://www.aoiusa.org/ecumenical-patriarchate-american-diaspora-must-submit-to-mother-church/. In this speech he makes the following interesting statements, which he has elsewhere expanded into his well-known thesis that the Ecumenical Patriarch is “primus sine paribus”:

“Let me add that the refusal to recognize primacy within the Orthodox Church, a primacy that necessarily cannot but be embodied by a primus (that is by a bishop who has the prerogative of being the first among his fellow bishops) constitutes nothing less than heresy. It cannot be accepted, as often it is said, that the unity among the Orthodox Churches is safeguarded by either a common norm of faith and worship or by the Ecumenical Council as an institution. Both of these factors are impersonal while in our Orthodox theology the principle of unity is always a person. Indeed, in the level of the Holy Trinity the principle of unity is not the divine essence but the Person of the Father (“Monarchy” of the Father), at the ecclesiological level of the local Church the principle of unity is not the presbyterium or the common worship of the Christians but the person of the Bishop, so to in the Pan-Orthodox level the principle of unity cannot be an idea nor an institution but it needs to be, if we are to be consistent with our theology, a person… In the Orthodox Church we have one primus and he is the Patriarch of Constantinople.”

Note first the phrase “constitutes nothing less than a heresy”.

Note second the theologoumenon that the person who acts as the principle of unity for the Church Universal is not Christ Himself, but rather some bishop.

Note finally that the bishop in question is not (as a naively literal reading of the Holy Canons would seem to indicate) the bishop of Rome, but that of New Rome. (This latter is a serious point much neglected in the present controversy. Whatever the role of the Primus may be in Orthodoxy—i.e. whether the he is “primus inter pares” or “primus sine paribus”—there is no doubt that for centuries the historical Primus was the Roman Pope. The only reason for rejecting Roman primacy today is that the Roman Church has abandoned Orthodox teaching. And yet Constantinople, with its lifted anathemas, has more than any other Orthodox Patriarchate seemed to imply that no such apostasy exists. How then can the Phanar claim to be essential to the Church, when the Vatican would have to have a stronger claim? If the ecumenical movement were to succeed and full communion with Rome be re-established, would Constantinople gladly cede its primacy? And how does the existence, if only formerly, of Orthodox Rome agree with the Phanar’s claim that the Church “cannot exist” without the Patriarch of Constantinople?)

Perhaps his words are subject to misinterpretation, but Abp. Elpidophoros seems to believe that the Ecumenical Patriarch is a sort of Pope, the Vicar not of Christ, apparently, but of God the Father! He also seems to believe that those who disagree with this view are heretics.

This is a rather more serious claim than “You know, now that the USSR is gone, there really should be an autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church free from Moscow.”

How can world Orthodoxy maintain communion with a Patriarchate that promotes an alien ecclesiology, and refers to those who object as “heretics” (a term it does not apply to Roman Catholics and Protestants)?

There is another aspect to Elpidophoros’s elevation that the 2009 speech also illuminates. Although the Phanar has historically been very opposed to ethnophyletism (in part to stop the incursions of the Bulgarian and other churches into its canonical territory), it is a matter of historical record that the Patriarchate has always seen itself as the bulwark of Greek nationalism. (Patriarch Bartholomew himself would probably neither deny this nor see any problem with it, as is clear from his 2018 remarks about the “predecence” of “our people”.)

In his speech, delivered at America’s only Greek seminary, Elpidophoros is largely concerned with this exact issue. He says that “ecumenicity is the heart of Hellenism and by definition alien to any form of nationalism or cultural chauvinism.” He adds that “diaspora” refers not to people temporarily living in lands beyond the Roman Empire, but to those who live there permanently. Nevertheless, in a seeming contradiction, his vision of these people is limited to immigrants from traditionally Orthodox countries and their progeny. His primary concern is the maintenance of (in this case Greek) culture and tradition without assimilation, and he has this to say about “converts”:

“Another great number of candidates to the priesthood come from converts, who possess little, if any, familiarity with the Orthodox experience and they are usually characterized by their overzealous behavior and mentality. It is of interest that the converts who become ordained into priesthood represent a disproportionally greater percentage than the converts among the faithful. The result of this disanalogous representation is that, more often than not, convert priests shepherd flocks that are bearers of some cultural tradition, but because their pastors either lack the necessary familiarity with that tradition or even consciously oppose it, they succeed in devaluing and gradually eradicating those cultural elements that have been the expression of the parishes that they serve.”

While this is a legitimate concern, it is notable that Elpidophoros nowhere talks about an evangelical mandate to bring Americans as an whole into Orthodoxy, nor does he discuss parishes which do not have a single (or any) ethnicity. In the context of a talk at a seminary (where the Dean at the time was named Fitzgerald) the speech seemed to have a clear message summed up in the sarcastic nickname some people gave to it: the “Too Many Xenoi” speech.

I am a xenos. So far as I know, the interaction of my post-Schism ancestors with Orthodox Christians was limited to fighting them on the Eastern Front. My wife and I converted to Orthodoxy in 1988 at the OCA cathedral in Boston. We were the founders and editors of the now-dormant Saint Pachomius Library, one of the first Orthodox patristics websites, in 1994. We used to teach Church history online, and I was involved for a number of years in Orthodox evangelical outreach to the Rastafarian sect. In 1997, we moved from Boston to Lubbock, Texas, where I was ordained a reader in GOARCH and served as a chanter at Saint Andrew Greek Orthodox Church until last October.

Lubbock is a university town with a population of about a quarter-million. It lies in the center of the Llano Estacado, a vast thinly-populated plateau straddling the Texas-New Mexico state border. The first Orthodox in Lubbock were probably Lebanese merchants who arrived around 1900, but there was no parish until a few Greeks decided to found one in the 1970s. They succeeded, after great struggle and many difficulties: Lubbock, although fairly large, is invisible to most Americans because of its isolation. St. Andrew did not have a priest until 1996; before that, people would drive over 100 miles to Amarillo for liturgy.

When my wife and I arrived, we were not sure what to expect. We found a parish that was part of the Greek Archdiocese, but also very multi-ethnic and welcoming. The liturgical rubrics and music were Byzantine, but the services were entirely in English, and every effort was made to accommodate people of different backgrounds: Greeks of course, and converts, and Arabs, Ukrainians, Russians, Serbs, Romanians, Bulgarians… and probably members of other nationalities I am forgetting. The “Greeks” in the parish were themselves a mixture of recent immigrants and families that had been in the US for several generations. Both of the priests who served in my 21 years at Saint Andrew parish were graduates of Saint Vladimir’s (OCA) Seminary.

The parish was not utopia, but it had its successes. Two of the parish’s young men (both of them converts, as Archbishop Elpidophoros might have predicted) went on to become priests of the Greek Archdiocese, a remarkable record for a parish so small and young by Greek standards. They are both, I might add, outstanding, even saintly, clergymen. One of them, whom I especially admire, was featured on the national GOARCH webpage in March. Neither of them answers to Abp. Elpidophoros’s caricature of the convert-priest as a fanatic ignorant of Greek culture (indeed, both of them married Greeks!)

My wife and I were very impressed by the generosity of the Greek parishioners at St. Andrew, their commitment to the religious education of their children, and above all by their sheer persistence in keeping alive a parish in an uncomprehending Protestant fundamentalist town, ignored by the rest of the country, always on the edge of financial collapse. At least twice, the parish seemed certain to close; once it was saved by an “anonymous” donation actually from the diocesan bishop, a very good and holy man.

Then in 2018, the current schism happened. My wife and I had been unhappy with the direction of the Greek Archdiocese for some time (I had been parish council president during the Council of Crete) but had always managed to convince ourselves to stay, if only because there was nowhere else to go: The Amarillo parish 100 miles away was still the nearest, and it, too, is Greek. Moreover, we did not want to cause a division in the already embattled local community; we respected our metropolitan; and (as I remember saying on more than one occasion) “If this were really heresy, and not just rhetoric, surely at least one of the other Orthodox churches would break communion over it”.

The Ukraine issue, however, made Patriarch Bartholomew’s more-than-papalising claim of being “primus sine paribus” impossible to ignore. We decided to leave the parish, and to hold reader’s services privately. We did not however tell anyone what we were doing except for the parish priest. We did not wish to be seen as sowing dissension, and we still hoped that the affair would be resolved in a few weeks. Then we found out that other people had noticed our absence, and eventually we decided to announce publically that we were starting a new parish, under the protection of St. Catherine of Alexandria.

At first we had no place to meet, so we met outdoors, at a park bench on the university campus, with the dome of heaven over our heads, flocks of pigeons (and the occasional hawk) circling above us. A few joggers looked at us in amazement, but for the most part we were ignored. For three months, this was our church.

I had imagined that once we announced our existence, many of our fellow-parishioners at Saint Andrew would wish to join; after all, the theological issues seemed rather clear-cut. This did not happen. Instead, the old parish split along neatly ethnic lines. Nearly all of the parishioners who came from the former Soviet Union joined our group; almost no-one else did. (It might interest Archbishop Elpidophoros that the converts have—so far—stayed with GOARCH.)

This is the tragedy of what is happening: an already barely-viable multi-ethnic parish has become two. Our parish is, I am confident, the Orthodox one, and the other is under a Patriarch and an Archbishop who are in communion with schismatics. But this is not the fault of the remaining parishioners of Saint Andrew. Few if any of them care at all about Constantinopolitan hegemony, much less Ukrainian autocephaly. For them, the parish of Saint Andrew is the Orthodox church, the church they or their parents built from nothing with sweat and sacrifice, the church where they were baptized or married or where they expect their funerals to be served. It is where they have met the Lord every Sunday in the Eucharist. Perhaps it is as impossible for them to leave GOARCH as for French peasants in the twelfth Century to have repudiated papism; for them, it would be “leaving the Church”.

But with the elevation of Archbishop Elpidophoros, surely that is what things are coming down to.

At the mission parish of Saint Catherine, we have had rapid progress.  We were accepted into the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia almost immediately. The Dean of Texas, Fr. John Whiteford, has been named our acting Rector; although distance has prevented him from yet visiting in person, we have had two liturgies served by Hieromonk Aidan (Keller) from Austin.

We no longer have to worship on a park bench; an Anglican parish allowed us the use of their abandoned Sunday School chapel, complete with amusing stained-glass windows depicting happy 1930s children from around the world. A parishioner (Alexey Ageev, who deserves mention by name) built a traditional wooden altar and donated some hundred icon prints. God willing, through the prayers of St. Catherine the Great Martyr (and of St. Andrew the First-Called!), we will perhaps, despite our sins and weaknesses, be able to ensure a witness for Christ on the Llano Estacado.

But what about the other parish? What about the Greek “diaspora”? How will they fare under Archbishop Elpidophoros?

The year is now 1055.

 

Fantasies and Reality: Towards a Local Orthodox Church of Western Europe

Introduction

Since at least the 1970s, there has been talk of founding a Local Church in various parts of Western Europe, especially in France under the Fraternite Orthodoxe, but also in Great Britain and, strangely enough, in faraway Turkey.

The Continental Fantasists

French intellectualism, expressed mainly by descendants of Russian aristocrats, freemasons and dreamers in the Rue Daru emigration of those who had betrayed the Tsar, proposed a Paris-centred (how could it be otherwise in the land of Napoleon?) Jurisdiction. Naturally, they themselves would be in power. Their models were political – the deeply-troubled OCA and the highly controversial parishes in Finland under Constantinople. Lost in clouds of philosophy, they expressed words and not deeds and forgot that such a Jurisdiction would need the canonical support of at least one Patriarchate, financial backing from the grassroots and also an infrastructure in the form of a property network of monasteries and parishes.

Of course, it never had any of these and today has no candidates even to be its next bishop after the present 75-year old ex-Catholic Archbishop Jean. Neither the Patriarchate of Constantinople nor anyone else was ever going to support autocephaly for such a tiny and inward-looking group. Financial backing to any appreciable extent was quite absent. And one Rue Daru parish or family after another returned to the Russian Church, went bankrupt, fell into disrepair or simply closed down, forcing the ever smaller group to rely on rented premises. The whole arrogant project, not passed on to the following generation, isolated from the Orthodox mainstream and marred by aggressive new calendarism and ecumenism which mocked the values of faithful Orthodox, seemed more like just another irrelevant sub-department of the Vatican’s Uniat fantasy. Perhaps it was.

The Anglican Fantasists

So much for the navel-gazing in Continental Western Europe. In Great Britain, actually England, insularist Anglican academic Establishmentism proposed a ‘British Orthodox Church’. Made up largely of elderly upper middle-class people, retired vicars and academics, with direct or indirect links to the Rue Daru elite, its philosophy was equally unreal. Born from the tiny elite of the British Establishment, it took no note at all of the fact that the oppressive Establishment is alien to most people who live in the British Isles, and even more in the inherent geographical part of the Isles, in Ireland. After all, the Establishment is originally a blood-soaked import from the barbaric Norman elite in 1066. This compromised itself successively in the oppression of the English, the Welsh, the Irish and the Scots, and then the rest of the world, in slave-trading and exploitative imperialist genocides. In a word, there is no such thing as Britain. Like ‘the Ukraine’, it is a purely political construct and therefore there can never be any such thing as ‘British Orthodoxy’.

Curiously for academics so closely linked to the failed Rue Daru fantasy, these fantasists never noticed that the number of active Orthodox in the British Isles and Ireland is so small that to build a Local Church here is fantasy. And without canonical backing from a Patriarchate, grassroots financial support from large numbers and property infrastructure, the whole project is impossible. This is why no Local Church has ever contemplated founding an Autocephalous Church in the British Isles. The failure was encapsulated in the city of dreaming spires (and lost causes), Oxford. Here the professorial fantasy of combining different groups of Orthodox, new calendar, old calendar, in a modernist chapel, part-financed by Anglicans, with little to do with ordinary people, came to nothing. I said so in 1975, whereupon the fantasist priest (who was later defrocked) told me that ‘there is no such thing as ordinary people’. Later a dozen or so disgruntled and mainly pensioned-off Anglican vicars, ordained overnight and with little concept of the reality of Orthodoxy and how to do the services, sealed the failure. The fantasy was not passed on to the following generation. Time to move on.

The Turkish Fantasists

With the vast majority of Orthodox in the Russian Church paralysed for most of the twentieth century, but reviving dangerously, in their view, since the official fall of atheism in Moscow in 1991, in Turkey the Greek racist Phanariots panicked. So these pro-LGBT gerontocrats and Young Turks further extended and developed the use of the code-word for Greek Imperialism, ‘Pan-Orthodox’. How could these fantasists justify the universal rule of a non-universal Empire which in any case had been wiped off the face of the earth five and a half centuries before? They spent a large amount of US dollars on a pseudo-Council in Crete and then set about shamelessly invading the canonical territories of other Local Churches, under US State Department orders. (This was instead of sending out missions to the 7.3 billion of the Non-Orthodox world; no doubt they can wait another millennium to hear the Gospel).

However, today Phanariot corruption by embezzlement, bribery and blackmail, has been displayed before the whole world. Their megalomaniac and navel-gazing talking shops, ‘Pan-Orthodox’ Episcopal Assemblies, agreed to by Russian naivety, are now thankfully dead. Phyletist (the Greek word for racist) Greek grandstanding is dead with it. The Papist project of making the whole world into Greek-controlled ‘autonomous’ parts of the absurdly-named, Turkish ‘Oecumenical Patriarchate’ has become the laughing-stock of the whole still Orthodox world. The days of treachery, cowardice and deceit, to use the concise and precise formula of the martyred Tsar Nicholas II, are over. Another fantasy has bitten the dust. So where do we go from here?

Conclusion

One thing is clear: no Local Orthodox Church of Western Europe will ever be built on fantasies. Three such fantasies have been tried and all failed miserably. No more fantasies, just reality. Since the Phanariot project is now well and truly in the dustbin of history, we have to look at the other six Local Churches present in Western Europe. Of these six remaining Orthodox groups in Western Europe, five, the Romanian, Antiochian and Serbian, as well as the tiny Bulgarian and the newly-appeared Georgian, are not going to do anything to promote a Local Church. This is because they are all mononational and have only one interest: preserving their own national identity and national flags. Their outreach, if it exists at all, is virtually only to their own nationality.

Reluctantly, despite the incredible incompetence, frustrating irresponsibility, paranoid centralization, personality cult narcissism, contempt for local people, waste of human resources  and alcoholism, there is therefore only one alternative. This, like it or not, is ‘the only show in town’, the Russian Church. Under two administrations, the largest one centred in Moscow thanks to its presence in Italy, Germany, France, Iberia and Scandinavia, this is now setting up an Exarchate, with a group of bishops and a network of parishes, some newly-built. It is early days yet, but this is the only hope – and, actually, long has been. May the Russian Orthodox Church in Western Europe at last be empowered to take the multinational responsibility for Orthodoxy which it has always so sadly refused and shown itself incapable of.

 

On President Erdogan and the Church of the Holy Wisdom

I have been asked by a US correspondent about our attitude to President Erdogan of Turkey, who has recently spoken about the massacre of Muslims by a Fascist fanatic in New Zealand and about turning Agia Sofia into a mosque again. Now, we have in our parish three Turkish Orthodox parishioners and soon there will be a fourth. Interestingly, they all have the same attitude to President Erdogan, the neo-Ottoman ‘Sultan of Turkey’: they consider that he is a nationalist dictator and find him very unpleasant and distasteful.

In this way, he is perhaps similar to many another tyrannical Middle Eastern ruler. We think immediately of the rulers of Saudi Arabia, who behead people by the dozens every year, keep most of the people dirt-poor and the rich ultra-rich, and have carried out a huge genocide (with enthusiastic Western backing) against the people of the Yemen. Not to mention the fact that they tortured and cut into little pieces a Saudi journalist in their consulate in Istanbul last October. Apparently this barbaric behaviour is quite agreeable to the Saudis and their Western sponsors and guardians. In other words, there is always worse than Erdogan, but, true, there could be better, only be careful – you may end up with worse. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and the Ukraine are outstanding examples. Thus, in Turkey, the US attempt to assassinate President Erdogan in July 2016 would surely have led to incredible strife and thousands of deaths.

Of course, there are Orthodox who strongly dislike President Erdogan, not because they are Turkish, but because they hate his threat that the Church of the Holy Wisdom in Istanbul, for long a tourist site, may yet again become a mosque. However, this is a false problem. The real problem is that the Orthodox have shown themselves unworthy of having an Empire and a Capital. Until the Russians repent for their betrayal in 1917, there will be no Orthodox Emperor, and until the Greeks repent for their betrayal of Christianity which led to 1453, they will never have any power, and until they repent for their latest crimes in the Ukraine in 2019, Agia Sofia will become a mosque. The same is true for apostate Greek Cypriots, the northern third of whose island was occupied 45 years ago by Turkey, with full Western backing, and true for the Serbs in Kosovo, who forgot their Faith and were outpopulated by Albanians.

You always lose your territory when you show yourselves unworthy of having it. You bring it on yourself. Territory does not belong to us, it belongs to God and is only on loan to us for as long as we remain faithful to Him. Thus, Belgium was devastated in the First European War because of its crimes in Central Africa (millions of Africans mutilated or murdered), Britain lost its Empire because it swapped the Bible for the exploitation of natural resources and the same can be said for umpteen other empires throughout history, ancient and modern, from China to Babylon, from the Hindus to the Egyptians, from Timbuktu to Machu Picchu, from the Mayas to Zimbabwe, from France to Austro-Hungary. Power hangs by a thread; it is an illusion to think we have any power, we only have what is granted by God. The USA will lose its power for the same reasons. Spiritual and moral decadence is always followed by catastrophic collapse.

When Greeks or Russians begin converting Turkey to Christ, instead of hiding in their ethnic corners, then Istanbul will become Constantinople again and the Church of the Holy Wisdom will echo to praise for Christ in Turkish from the Turkish Orthodox faithful. But until then, expect only worse and worse. The fruit of non-repentance and self-justification is humiliation. It is the only thing that can bring humility to the unrepentant. In other words, there will be no Church of the Holy Wisdom until you have shown Holy Wisdom.

 

Questions and Answers (March 2019) From Recent Correspondence

The Parish Church

Q: Where is the Colchester church financed from?

A: St John of Shanghai Church in Colchester was bought and equipped in 2008 with money donated for 95% by English Orthodox. The rest came from various kind individuals in ROCOR, from Venezuela to Alaska. Not a penny came from inside Russia. We had no support from there at all, or from many obvious rich people in London or locally, who could have helped us. One English convert used to boast that he had £2 million – he never gave us even £1!

Over the first ten years we spent a lot more money on getting an abandoned building up to scratch. Almost all that money has come from the faithful. They are nearly all quite poor Eastern Europeans, not wealthy ex-Anglicans, so of course every penny they have given us has been valued.

Q: You are part of ROCOR, so is your ethos in the Colchester church Russian?

A: Our ethos is Orthodox. Inevitably, as part of the new ROCOR (not the old ROCOR, which was often nationalistic and even racist), we are multinational, 24 nationalities, with three languages and a Romanian second priest. We are in effect an ‘Imperial’ church, that is a multinational church, simply the church for all faithful and traditional Orthodox locally, that is, within a radius of 50 miles.

Nationalism

Q: Why did the Patriarchate of Constantinople set up a new organization in the Ukraine for schismatics and heretics and then recognize it?

A: Over two decades ago the Polish-American Zbigniew Brzezinski was proclaiming the need for the US State Department to implement a schism in the Orthodox world, following the US takeover of that Patriarchate in 1948. The US has now done this through flattering Greek nationalism in Istanbul, keenly supported by the notorious US ambassadors in Kiev and Athens. There is now little doubt that this schism from the Orthodox Faith will prove to be permanent and that nationalists and other secularists (liberals and LGBT activists) who have infiltrated a few other Local Churches will join that schismatic-supporting Patriarchate.

However, there will also be faithful Orthodox in the Patriarchate of Constantinople who will join us. This is above all the long-awaited schism of the Greek Orthodox world which has undergone Westernization for the last 100 years. Westernization always ends in schism, as we saw in Russia in the 1920s. However, the schism is small, that of a Westernized splinter-group, that of a few hundred thousand against over 220 million in the Church

Q: Why are there still people in Russia who think that Stalin was a great man?

A: Why are there still people in the UK who think that Churchill was a great man? In other words, the answer is because he was the country’s leader at the time of the victory over Fascism in 1945. In other words, the answer is because of nationalism. Churchill was in fact very unpopular with ordinary people in the UK (that is why he was voted out by a very large majority in 1945). He was hated for Gallipoli, his hatred of the miners, his complete lack of understanding for the poor and, abroad, for the gassing of the Kurds, the Bengali Famine in which millions died, and his astounding racism, which was similar to Hitler’s, only towards Non-White races.

Just as some nationalistic Russians forget that Stalin was a foreigner, a Georgian, and caused the deaths of millions and millions of Slavs, people also forget that Churchill was half-American and a profound White Supremacist. In Russia, such marginal nationalists and xenophobes (often anti-Semites) also adore Ivan IV (‘the Terrible’) who was responsible for the deaths of at least 2,000 innocent people. (Though this means that he was a lot less ‘terrible’ than his contemporaries, the Tudors: Henry VIII and Elizabeth I killed at least 150,000 between them).

Q: Did you mention the terror attack in New Zealand in your sermons last Sunday? And what do you think of this massacre?

A: Of course, I did not mention it! People come to church to get away from such grisly secularism. It is the last thing they want to hear about. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s.

What do I think of it? I am shocked that Tarrant, this Neo-Nazi White Supremacist, was allowed the freedom to do this. Tarrant had already been reported several times to the Australian government by Semyon Baykov, the ataman of the Zabaykal Cossacks in Sydney, for his terrorist activities in the Ukraine. He had been fighting for the Kiev Fascist regime against the Orthodox freedom-fighters in the Donbass. (The Australian government had ignored his reports). Birds of a feather flock together, fascists fight with fascists.

Missionary Work in Western Europe

Q: Why have only small numbers of Western Europeans joined the Russian Orthodox Church in the last hundred years?

A: It is because most Western people are attached to their very nationalistic culture, which thinks that it is superior to all other cultures, in other words, they are attached to Western worldliness. (Nationalism is by definition worldliness). Let me explain

In order to be an Orthodox Christian, you have to reject the deformations of the last thousand years of Western history. If you do not, but still join the Church, you will not last in it, but will lapse quickly. In other words, you may join the Orthodox Church, but you will never become Orthodox. For example, the later Metr Antony (Bloom) used to chrismate heterodox into Orthodoxy just a few days after meeting them. In this way he received at least a thousand people; but they virtually all lapsed from the Russian Church, attached only to his highly controversial but hypnotic (look at photos of his cold eyes) personality. Most of them lapsed very quickly, though some lapsed only many years later after he had died and therefore the cult was over.

This lapsing was because these ‘converts’ had held on to Western heterodox culture and never accepted Western Orthodox culture from the first millennium and its continuation in the reality of Russian Orthodox culture of today. The same thing happened for the same reason in Paris (where Metr Antony was from), where also at least a thousand heterodox were received into the Paris Jurisdiction (the ex-Exarchate and ex-Russian Church), mainly over the last 60 years, but virtually all of them lapsed. However, here, the ex-Exarchate has actually always boasted that it is ‘Western’, i.e. spiritually impure!! Such impurity cultivates only disincarnate narcissistic intellectual and emotional fantasies, but not spiritual life. To use the language of the Gospels, you cannot build a Church on sand, only on rock. In other words, you cannot be Orthodox without spiritual purity.

Orthodox Life

Q: Is it true that most baptised Orthodox do not attend church?

A: Yes, it is true that most baptised Orthodox only attend church when they have a problem. This is different to the mass of baptised Non-Orthodox, who take to drink, drugs and anti-depressants when they have a problem.

Global Warming

Q:  What is your position on manmade global warming as a religion and political ideology?

A: Basically:

  1. Clearly, it is not good to pollute. Thus, China today is similar to England 150 years ago in terms of pollution. (Thus, when the West boasts of being clean, it is hypocritical because its production for its consumer society and so its pollution has simply been transferred to China etc). Pollution is bad because we should respect and not destroy and disfigure the environment because God made it. Clean air, water and land are literally vital. But does (manmade) pollution create global warming?
  2. Global warming exists, but that is the nature of climate: it always changes. Currently, having come out of the period of the medieval ice age (global cooling), we are simply returning to the climate of 1,000 years ago. So perhaps this climate change is quite natural.
  3. The opinion of most scientists that it is manmade is clearly coloured by the business and political lobbies who pay them very richly for their reports. Significantly, a minority of independent scientists contradict the majority opinion. Are they right? I don’t know, but I wonder.
  4. Spiritually, it is clear that the Western world has entered a period of paganism, nature-worship (‘tree-hugging’). For many, ecologism is the new religion, which has replaced the worship of the Creator with the worship of creation. This is called idolatry and pantheism.