When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said ‘Let us pray.’ We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Fake News and Fake History
We are told that in 2017 43% of British people still trust the UK media to tell the truth, down from 50% in 2016 (1). Why is the figure still so amazingly high? After all, by the end of the old Soviet Union, the figure for trust in the Soviet media must have been 0%. And the fake news issued by all the Western Establishment media, from the BBC to the New York Times, from Le Monde to German Television, is no more truthful than the propaganda lies issued by the three generations of the Soviet Establishment. The reason for this high figure can only be because many Western people have been so deeply brainwashed by Establishment lies, not over three generations, but over a millennium, forty generations. In other words, what lies behind fake news is fake history.
This fake history actually began over a millennium ago, with the Frankish ‘Charlemagne’ (real name: Karl the Tall) in the First Reich centred in Aachen. He began the first post-Truth society with the news that he had the right to massacre any non-Frankish peoples (Saxons, Slavs or anyone else) who resisted him. This was because he had the self-created divine right to bring ‘barbarians’ to his ‘truth’ and if they refused to accept his truth, then they could be murdered en masse, which he did. As the ‘Father of Europe’ (2), the truth of the Holy Spirit flowed from him as vicar of God on earth – a conscious part of his filioque ideology. Fortunately, his propaganda myth was rejected in and immediately after his time, because Orthodox Christianity was still then strong enough, even in his Western tip of Eurasia, for it to be rejected.
Unfortunately, this spiritual strength did not last and by the mid-eleventh century his propaganda to mask plunder, that the task of Frankish ‘Europe’ was to spread ‘civilization’ among ‘primitive peoples’, had been revived under the popes. As a result, in 1066 the papally-sponsored, feudal Normans invaded, occupied and massacred their way through England (3) and then all Britain. A generation later Frankish Europe began the ‘crusades’, invading, occupying and massacring their way to the Holy Land. In 1204 their greed led them to plunder the Christian Capital of ‘Byzantium’ (real name: New Rome). Their cousins then attempted to plunder Russia under the name of the ‘Teutonic Knights’. In and after 1492 their ‘Frankish’ (4) Spanish and Portuguese spiritual cousins took part in the rape of South and Central America, as well as Mexico.
Later, other spiritual descendants of the Franks got rich quick by plundering Roman Catholicism, under the pretext of ‘The Reformation’. In England, the Tudor ‘reformers’ proved to be ruthless Machiavellians and their descendants massacred all who resisted them in civil wars in England and then in genocide in Ireland. In 1689 they usurped power from the legitimate Stuart Kings and invited Dutch and then German puppet monarchs to permit their merchant class to build an Empire based on slavery. They sang ‘Britons never, never, never will be slaves’, but did not add that everyone else would precisely be slaves, including their own voteless labouring masses. In the 19th century the elite of Western Europe plundered Asia and Africa, as described by the Polish novelist Joseph Conrad in his 1899 novel ‘The Heart of Darkness’.
Nineteenth-century ‘Frankish’ hypocrisy, wiping out the ‘Red Indians’, the Tasmanians, slaughtering spear-armed Africans with Maxim guns (5) and anyone else who stood in their way, led directly to two ‘World Wars’ (real name: inter-tribal European Wars), which Western Europe spread worldwide, not least through the descendants of European colonists in North America. The Western European ideologies of Capitalism, Communism and Fascism did untold damage, creating and using weapons of mass destruction, which killed tens of millions and can destroy the whole planet many times over. In the 21st century the continued neo-colonial attempts to impose Western values on the Middle East, notably on Iraq, called a ‘crusade’ by the Italian leader Berlusconi, in a bid to plunder and control, are still generating massive genocide.
Frangistan and Freedom
The above, presented by fake history as the ‘generous’ civilizing influence of the West among the Rest, ‘the barbarians’, is in fact the unjustifiable justification for the plunder and control of the Non-Western world by the Western world. Because of its origins in Continental Western Europe under the Frank Charlemagne, this Western world became known as ‘Frangistan’ in traditional Persian. However, long before, the Norman invasions of Scotland and Ireland in the 12th century were called ‘the coming of the Franks’, Arabs called Westerners ‘Faranga’ and when the Portuguese and Spaniards arrived off the coasts of China in the 16th century, locals called them ‘Fo-lang-ki’ – Franks. And in modern Hindi all Europeans in general are still referred to as ‘Firang’ (4). In other words, ‘Frangistan’ is the Western world.
With its modern acronyms of USA, EU, NATO and G7, Frangistan, represents much less than one seventh of the world, much less because many ordinary ‘Franks’ can themselves see through the fake history spun by the Frankish elite. In the real world, where live the other six and a half billion of the world’s population, this Western world seems to be isolated. Originally meaning only the Western tip of Northern Eurasia, the name Frangistan comes, as we have said, from the one Germanic tribe, the Franks. Ironically, this meant ‘the free’, but it has come to define the world’s greatest enslavers – whether literally, as before in the Americas and Africa, or else economically, as today. The endlessly greedy and aggressive ‘Franks’ not only destroyed the Christian Civilization of New Rome, but all other civilizations, whoseever assets could be stripped.
Thus, they destroyed the great civilization along the Amazon, reducing the cities by the banks of that river to jungle, they destroyed the other civilizations of South America, among them the Inca, those of Central America, among them the Aztec and the sophisticated Maya, and despised and laid waste to all others in North America, India, China, Japan and the rest of Asia, as well as in Africa. Only when the ‘free’ ‘Franks’, or at least the 43% of them who apparently still believe in the fake history told them, have delivered themselves from their self-justifying fake history, that they are ‘civilized’, demonizing the Non-Frankish peoples with their often far more advanced and humble civilizations, as ‘half-devil, half-child’ (Kipling), ‘wild animals’, ‘savages’ and ‘primitives’ and wishing them dead, will they really be free.
The self-justifying foundation of the ‘civilizing’ propaganda for plunder, ‘the white man’s burden’, is that the Franks persuaded themselves that they alone are ‘Christians’, that ‘God speaks only to them’ (George Bush (6)). But their god is not the Risen Christ, the Living God, Who is ‘an all-consuming fire’ (Hebrews 12, 29), but the sentimental, weak as water, bleeding Western man ‘Jesus’. Thus, there is nothing new in fake news. Western history is a thousand years of fake news. The news is: ‘We are bringing you ‘Christian’ civilization (meaning our plunder of your civilization), and if you reject it, ‘as true Christians’ we will be so kind as to bomb you back into the Stone Age’. Gun and Bible. Freedom will come for the ‘Franks’ only when they give up their thousand years of fake news and retrieve real Western history in the saints of the pre-Frankish past.
The word ‘Europe’ is said to mean ‘the West’ and the word ‘Asia’ ‘the East’. Hence ‘Eurasia’, where all civilization began, means ‘West-east’. By far the greatest part of ‘West-East’ Eurasia is united in the Eurasian Russian Federation. This developed and expanded by assimilation, not by massacre, quite rapidly from Muscovy to the Arctic north, then to the east, gradually heroically overcoming immense Tartar/Muslim opposition, as far as the shores of the Pacific and even across it, then to the south (although ‘Frangistan’ has challenged that expansion by aggressive wars and imposing German puppet kings in the Balkans, especially to the south-west, invading the Crimea twice in a century. With illegal sanctions it is still challenging today the overwhelming democratic will of Crimeans to return to and belong to the Federation (7)).
Indeed, even apart from the Crimea in the south-west, the Christian Federation of Russia (unlike the atheist USSR) has never been able to expand to the west, with Western Europe powers repeatedly invading Federation territory, four times between 1812 and 1941 alone. This tragedy has meant the self-isolation of Western Europe, cut off from Christian Northern Eurasia. Today’s great hope among many in the Federation is that it will at long last be able to establish a Metropolia in Western Europe, thus bringing the extreme Western territory at least into Church order out of its chaos. This will represent a spiritual victory, the victory over 1,000 years of fake news, the millennial fake history of ‘Frangistan’, delivering it and bringing it to rediscover the real Europe, the Free Christian Europe of the Saints of the first millennium, of the Church of God.
2. The monstrous Karl, founder of the First Reich in 800, the mass murderer and forerunner of Bismarck of the Second Reich and of Hitler of the Third Reich, is still quite seriously honoured as ‘The Father of Europe’, notably by the Fourth Reich EU elite.
3. The Norman occupiers wrote their own propaganda history, proclaiming that there had been no English kings or people before them, merely ‘primitive’ and ‘decadent’ ‘Anglo-Saxons’. To this day kings of England are numbered from the foreign kings from 1066 on; not one of them has been English.
4. For a full survey of the word ‘Frank’ to mean a Western European see ‘The Making of Europe’ (950-1350), by Robert Bartlett, 1993, especially pages 101-105.
5. See Hilaire Belloc, in the words of the figure “Blood” in his poem “The Modern Traveller”:
Whatever happens, we have got
The Maxim gun, and they have not.
7. The bilionaire leader of the genocidal, US-installed Kiev puppet junta, Poroshenko (real name: Waltzman) has only this week stated that all Ukrainians who do not accept his tyranny should go and live in Siberia. With these words he has repeated the ‘Drang nach Osten’, ‘Lebesnraum’ policy of Hitler, to exile all East Slavs to the east of the Urals in order to make room for ‘European’ expansion and exploitation in the east.
Q: What is the role of ROCOR today?
A: The same as that of all Russian Orthodox – to remain faithful Imperial Christian clergy and laypeople, in other words, to keep faith with the best of the Christian Empire, Imperial Russia, working for its restoration and guarding the international and missionary approach of its saints like St Seraphim of Sarov, St Innocent of Moscow, St John of Kronstadt, St Nicholas of Japan, the Optina Saints, the martyred Tsar Nicholas II and those with him, St John of Riga, St Seraphim of Vyritsa, Metropolitan Pitirim (Oknov) of Saint Petersburg, of the fathers of ROCOR and above all of our three ROCOR saints, for we are the Church of the Three Saints: St John of Shanghai, St Jonah of Hangchow and St Seraphim of Sofia. However, I also firmly believe that there are many more ROCOR saints who will be revealed.
Q: When you say to keep faith with ‘the best’, I presume you mean that there has also been the ‘worst’?
A: Of course, the good and the bad, the wheat and the chaff, always go together. However, although Judas was indeed among the disciples, he notably failed to become an apostle. Such is the fate of all traitors. Who were the worst? Firstly, for example, some ill-informed say that our task is to restore Russia before the Revolution. This is blindness, for that would mean also restoring the worst from before the Revolution when it was precisely that bad that created the Revolution. Thus, if we restored all that went before, without distinction, we would simply have another Revolution. Therefore we must keep faith only with the best from before.
Secondly, and linked with this, there was in ROCOR, that is, after the Revolution, the presence of right-wing politics and racist nationalism inherited from before the Revolution and as a result elements in ROCOR were corrupted and compromised by Western spy services like the CIA, MI5, the DGSE in France, the BND in Germany and the CSIS in Canada. Such political operatives began from the 1960s on to encourage the infiltration of our part of the Russian Church by schismatic old calendarism. Fortunately, this spirit more or less died out after the Cold War, and by 2001 these fringe elements had at last been defeated by the majority whom they could no longer oppress.
Q: You say the good and the bad always go together. How do you resist such bad or secular influences and yet keep the good, the purity of Holy Orthodoxy? How can the wheat grow alongside the chaff which surely hinders it?
A: We carry on despite those influences that are always worldly, making opportunities out of the chaff, living for the long-term and so for the greater good of the Church, not living narrowly for the short-term, continuing to fight for the Faith. For example, the persecution (the word is not too strong) by several well-known bishops and senior clergy that I met both for the veneration of Western saints and for the New Martyrs and Confessors only spurred me on to promote them. If it had not been for such vigorous opposition, perhaps I would not have insisted so much. Now the same people or their heirs are falling over themselves to venerate them. Bad always withers away and dies, providing that we are patient. The chaff is here today, gone tomorrow. Only the good lasts on Christ’s winnowing floor. It is very important to understand that.
Q: If ROCOR had its problem, what was the problem of the Russian Patriarchal Church?
A: Without a doubt, its problem was renovationism, the rather pathetic, dying vestiges of which still survive here and there, both inside and outside Russia. However, apart from among a few elderly and marginal figures or unconverted intellectuals, these Soviet-period vestiges now mainly live on, outside the Russian Church, in schisms. For instance, there are the dying embers of the Paris group, founded by treasonous decadent aristocrats and freemasons from Saint Petersburg, or groups in Finland and Estonia, the latter of which had been infected by the masonic, Parisian YMCA movement before the Second World War.
This ‘democratic’ renovationism, or ‘Kerenskyism’, so obvious in politicized decisions of the 1917-18 Moscow Council (which, thank God, have never been implemented inside Russia), is in fact just protestantization. It is dismissed by such sterling contemporary hierarchs of the Russian Church inside Russia as Metr Onufry of Kiev, Metr Agafangel of Odessa or Metr Benjamin of Vladivostok, who, with so many others, guard the conscience of the Church today.
Q: There has yet again been talk of a ‘British Orthodox Church’. What do you say?
A: I think this theme has been exhausted. First of all, the word ‘British’ can simply not be used in a Church context. It is the local equivalent of ‘Soviet’, in other words, it defines a purely political myth, a fantasy and delusion. We do not talk of a ‘Soviet Church’, so why do we speak of a ‘British Church?’ Soon, there will be no Britain (UK) or EU left, like the already defunct SU (Soviet Union). The State concept of Britain has had its day and we shall at last move on to profounder things. Churches are named after geographical and spiritual realities, not passing political myths invented by political hacks. We should rather speak of the Church of the Isles.
But, in any case, at present, ‘Britain’ is home to only a tiny number of practising Orthodox, with hardly any infrastructure, without monastic life, even sometimes with an insular, provincial, visionless outlook and living in a kind of Anglican phyletism, and phyletism is always spiritual death, as we can see from all the phyletist parishes in this country that have closed or are closing. Phyletism always puts the State Establishment above the Gospel. Indeed, last year one such ex-Sourozhite convert actually wrote me a letter, vigorously accusing me of putting the Gospel above the Establishment and slating me for that! At present we should be taking the broad view of a Metropolia of Western Europe, which can later develop into a Local Church of Western Europe, not a narrow view of a tiny, insular one.
Q: Who could found such a Metropolia?
A: No Local Church will ever found a Metropolia and future new Local Church in Western Europe, except the Russian Church. For example, of the seven groups that exist in the Diaspora, the four Local Churches of Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria and Georgia are all strictly mononational, with no interest in missionary work and founding new Local Churches. As for phyletist Constantinople, it has never freely given anyone autocephaly: the Russians had to wait for nearly 600 years until they seized it themselves and the Bulgarians had to wait for over a millennium and had to create a schism in order to obtain it! As for the Church of Antioch, the Church of four families, as some Antiochians themselves call it, with its all-Levantine episcopate, it even took back the limited autonomy it once gave its small archdiocese in North America. The Antiochians have an admirable though naive zeal, but you need knowledge as well as zeal. Naivety always ends up in disaster, as we have seen.
Q: What, spiritually, is naivety?
A: It is a lack of spiritual experience and so of spiritual maturity. It is always linked with superficiality and a lack of suffering. Real Orthodox live in the arena, are always ready for martyrdom, and are always persecuted and suffer.
Q: If there were one day to be a Local Church in Western Europe, how do you see it?
A: Clearly, without the arrogant mistakes made in the past by the OCA, for example. Firstly, it would use the Orthodox calendar and not impose the divisive Roman Catholic one (though some exceptions might have to be made for some spiritually weak communities) and would avoid modernism of all sorts, insisting for example on confession before prepared communion, modest dress and head coverings for women, correct services and correct liturgical language. All these are not some ‘local customs’, as mocking and despising modernists would have you believe, but are all integral parts of the Tradition.
Secondly, it would have to avoid esoteric Parisian personality cults, like those seen in England and France, of the sort whose first question is, ‘Have you got a doctorate?’ Thirdly, it would have to avoid the patronizing racist mentality of the type to be found in England, that of anti-spiritual, Anglican Establishment phyletism, which automatically excludes the vast masses of people and only ordains Anglican vicars to the priesthood. In a word, it would have to avoid all the falsehood and superficiality of academic, theoretical, convert Orthodoxy. It would have to be the real thing, showing integrity, which is sadly so rare, yet is the only thing that preserves us from the spiritual disease of modernism. Our aim is to become saints, not fantasists.
Q: What is the present situation in the Ukraine?
A: Although I have not been there since May, my impression is that the situation is largely calm on the surface, but underneath is volcanic. Nothing much may happen until the US elections in November, but then the volcano could well erupt. For example, there is already huge dissatisfaction with the ‘thieves and murderers’ (I quote from graffiti seen in Odessa) of the corrupt Poroshenko regime. This at present only controls the area around Kiev, rather like earlier corrupt Fascist US puppet regimes which controlled only Latin American capitals or capitals like Saigon, Manila, Athens, Pretoria, Kabul or Baghdad, but not the countries themselves.
The rest of the Ukraine is controlled by local oligarchs, the new princes. It seems that the component parts of this artificial conglomerate called the Ukraine are falling apart. Poland, Hungary and Romania are looking on, preparing to take back what Stalin stole from them some 75 years ago. The whole of the east and the south of the so-called Ukraine, over half of the country, stolen from Russia by Lenin in 1922, are also yearning to return to Russia and freedom, as the Crimea has already done. Only Little Russia, the region around Kiev, can survive as an independent entity, creating a country similar in size to Belarus to the north.
But I feel that nothing will happen until the Clinton-Trump contest is over. If Clinton the globalist neocon wins, the agony may well get worse and the war could become terrifying, but if Trump the American nationalist and anti-globalist wins, freedom may yet come.
Q: Are you saying that Trump is good?
A: No. I think we all agree that Trump is something of a clown, a primitive nationalist, aggressive, rude and strident like Jean-Marie Le Pen was in France or Nigel Farage was in England, but even if he is not a Christian, he could on balance still actually be the lesser evil. He may actually have a sense of social justice and is surely a social conservative, whereas Clinton calls abortion a blessing, supports the Fascist banksters and as a globalist and Zionist is preparing the coming of Antichrist. Of course, I don’t know for sure, Trump may or may not be the lesser evil: only people can make up their minds about who is the lesser evil.
Q: What is the greatest threat to the Orthodox Church? Politicians like Clinton or Trump?
A: Of course, not. The greatest threat is not others, but ourselves, our own nominalism, which precisely includes blaming others for our own shortcomings. Most Orthodox, 95%, here or elsewhere, are only nominally Orthodox. For example, in this country, how can you take Orthodox seriously when they are even unable to buy or build their own church-buildings? Academic dreamers who call themselves Orthodox rant on about their theories and fantasies, preaching about the ‘Beauty of Orthodoxy’, but when they are asked where their churches are and where authentic liturgical life can be experienced, they can provide nothing, it is all fictitious, in their heads and imaginations. Academics feed only the fantasy, not the heart, because they have no spiritual food to give.
Q: Given this level of nominalism, how can we not fall into despair?
A: Holy men have prophesied that, if we repent, we will be saved by some event in the East. This may mean China and the neocon war now being threatened against China by the hubris-obsessed Obama government in the South China Sea. But it may mean something else. We shall see. Only one thing is certain, and that is that only repentance leads to salvation.
Thirteen years after the invasion and occupation of Iraq and the overthrow of a CIA-installed genocidal monster (not Poroshenko, but Hussein), the report into this catastrophe that has destabilized the whole of Middle East and created ISIS has at last been published. It places the blame for the UK’s responsibility for untold human suffering, for the destruction of Iraq and for hundreds of thousands of dead and over a million refugees on an egomaniac called Tony Blair.
Since this report has taken seven years to publish, largely because of Establishment obstructionism, it raises a number of other questions:
When will the report into the UK’s responsibility for untold human suffering in ex-Yugoslavia (‘regime-change’ recommended by Blair) be commissioned?
When will the report into the UK’s responsibility for untold human suffering in Afghanistan (‘regime-change’ recommended by Blair) be commissioned?
When will the report into the UK’s responsibility for untold human suffering in Libya (‘regime-change’ recommended by Cameron) be commissioned?
When will the report into the UK’s responsibility for untold human suffering in Syria (‘regime-change’ recommended by Cameron) be commissioned?
When will the report into the UK’s responsibility for untold human suffering in the Ukraine (‘regime-change’ recommended by Cameron) which has so far resulted in over two million refugees and over 10,000 dead) be commissioned?
We are not expecting answers to these questions soon.
Many consider that Blair was and is a liar because he is still justifying himself. After all, his whole government was based on ‘spin’, a euphemism for lies. Indeed, it has even been said that the distrust of the Establishment which his government created led to the cynicism that caused the Brexit vote.
However, if we think more carefully, we cannot help believing that Tony Blair was and is utterly sincere. Suffering from the spiritual disease of narcissism, blinded by being in love with himself, he actually believes in himself and therefore in his own wishful thinking and presumptions. And that is why he continually justifies himself. Tony Blair is much worse than a liar, he is self-deluded and sincerely believes in his delusions.
After making a series of threats if the peoples of the UK vote for freedom next Thursday, including starting World War III, creating economic meltdown and mass employment, destroying the health system and bankrupting the State pension fund, the Remain enslaved to the EU lobby, has exploited the murder of one of theirs by a lunatic as yet another reason to intimidate the public. Having used the US and German leaders and every single member of the British Establishment, from former spies to the Canadian head of the Bank of England, from corrupt businessmen to the ever-sycophantic BBC to spread their propaganda, they then had to exploit a murder.
All of this is a sign of their desperation. Of course, the chances are that their intimidation will work and the end of EU tyranny will not come next Thursday. The UK and 27 other European countries will not obtain their freedom from the Fourth Reich. The peoples of Europe, like those in the Netherlands, France and the Czech Republic, who have already requested it, will not be able to obtain free votes on ending tyranny. It does not matter. The end of the EU will inevitably come. It is only a matter of time. Nevertheless, it is a national sadness that in all probability it will not be the peoples of the UK who will fulfill their historic duty in bringing freedom to Europe, but some other people and event.
Most say that our earliest years are our most formative years, when all else is decided, and that much depends on the happiness or unhappiness of childhood, which determines all that follows. For my part, over six childhood years, between the ages of six and twelve I learned three truths, essentially the only truths I know, that have shaped the rest of my life. You may argue with how I have interpreted those truths, interpretations patterned also by other events and meetings, but I do not think that the truths themselves can be denied, however attached to the world, its Establishment and its delusions people may be.
Western Civilization Has Destroyed Itself
The first truth came to me in a realization when I was still an innocent six years old. I had been brought up on the phrases ‘before the war’, referring to the Second World War, and ‘nothing has ever been the same again’, referring to the First World War. Brought up surrounded by a grandfather who had fought in Baghdad, Jerusalem and Thessaloniki in the First World War, not to mention a host of nineteenth-century great-uncles and neighbours, who had been similarly involved elsewhere from France to Russia, and maiden aunts, maiden because there had been not enough men to marry after the War, I knew all about the tragic results of the Great War.
Born a few years after the end of the Second World War and listening to the stories of my father who had fought in Egypt, Italy and Austria, not to mention to a host of uncles and neighbours, who had been similarly involved elsewhere from France to Burma, and maiden aunts, maiden because there had been not enough men to marry after the War, and living in a tiny town sandwiched between two former wartime US airfields, I knew about that War too. And my father assured me that, even though Nazidom in Europe had in fact been defeated by the extraordinary sacrifices of the Russian peoples, and not by the USA, ever since the War we had been occupied by the United States.
He taught me too that, on account of the above, those who seemingly ruled over us had no power at all, but were just as much puppets and figureheads as the Queen who reigned over us. All was a sideshow in the great American circus. My child’s conclusion was that there had been something wrong with that world, something wrong with a British Empire and a Western Europe, both now collapsed, that had been Catholic and Protestant and had created World Wars and so been dominated by the Far West of America. And it was also clear to me that any solution to such universal wars must also be universal, must come from outside the Western world and must not involve new wars.
English Christian Civilization Was Martyred
The second truth came to me in a realization when I was nine years old, in fact exactly 50 years ago. This was the discovery at my rural primary school of the only figure in English history to be called ‘the Great’, the ninth-century King Alfred the Wise of England. This discovery explained to me that there was something far older that stood behind the plastic falsity of the 1960s that was being unfolded then and behind all the falsity of the old Victorian England (apparent to me as a child), with its hopeless provinciality and Protestant sectarianism, narrow literalism, hypocrisy, philistinism and rigid moralizing, that passed for ‘religion’, but was in fact State-invented idolatry.
A recent invention, that Protestantism had no concept of the Church, and so no concept of Oneness (except with its fellow-sectarians), of Holiness, of Catholicity and of Apostolicity. Its only thought was to reshape the world idolatrously, in its own image, not in the image of the Kingdom of God. Alfred explained to me that England had been founded at a time when we belonged to something far greater, indeed universal, and yet also local, a sunshone Civilization. It explained to me all the mysterious names of local ‘saints’ that in hints and gleams had shone to me, of Edmund, in whose domain my father’s family had always lived, of Albright, Audrey, Botolph, Cedd and Felix, of whom nobody seemed to know anything any more.
And I realized that these legends that had survived were mere crumbs from a huge and now lost banquet table, the hidden and forgotten ruins of a whole Civilization, and that if we could somehow return to that, then there would be no more World Wars and so no more destroyed lives. Soon I discovered that all had been slain with the Norman Invasion exactly 900 years before and that through their ‘Establishment’ they still occupied and polluted minds and hearts and that their invasion had come about because of the spiritual decadence of the English, shown by the martyrdom of the English hero St Edward the Martyr and the slaying of the English hope, Edmund Ironside.
Russia Has a Universal Significance
The third truth came to me when I was twelve years old. This was through the film Dr Zhivago, which I saw at that time. Although there were many things in it that I did not understand, I realized that Russia (then cast as the ever-menacing bogeyman, the Soviet Union, the S.U.) had not always been so, but had also lost its sunshone Civilization, and only fifty years before, in a great betrayal. And that that Civilization had been betrayed because it had confessed the authentic Christianity that had not been invented by self-justifying powermongers, grand inquisitors, to control the masses, like Protestantism or, before it, Catholicism, but had been different and also universal, indeed messianistic, and non-destructively so. And ever since that great betrayal, the world had not been the same.
As a result we lived under the apocalyptic threat of nuclear war and the obliteration of the planet, under the brainwashing and self-justifying propaganda that the other side, in fact also cowering, was going to bomb us into oblivion. And I realized that if nothing had ever been the same again, it had not been due to 1914, terrible though that was, or even to 1917, but due to 1918, the martyrdom of the Christian Emperor. And that as a result of that, the S.U. and the U.S. now menaced the world with its end; it made no difference whether the white star or the red star would unleash that war, it would be the end. Only afterwards did I discover that all such stars were from Antichrist. This most unlikely revelation came to me in October 1968 in my native town, in a place that I can take you to this day.
All this was most unlikely, for how could one believe in the Christian Empire of Russia when that Empire had been overthrown and all but lost and there seemed no hope of its resurrection? Yet I found my path. In order to follow it, I had to go against all the odds, past the traps and rejections of those whom the world had put in control, past the Establishment snobs, the narrow nationalists (of all nationalities), the morally corrupt and compromised, the spiritually deluded dreamers, the self-serving backbiters, the jealously destructive narcissists, until I came to the saints, whom I met and who taught me to ignore all the rest, like so much flotsam and jetsam, and to follow only the holy. They taught me: ‘I shall not die, but live and declare the works of the Lord’ and ‘Let the dead bury the dead’.
How much longer do we have to go? Perhaps not long, but perhaps we can still postpone the inevitable end. Now that the Russian leader has been greeted as a new Emperor Constantine on the increasingly Russian-dominated Holy Mountain, enthroned, unlike the petty EU freemasons who reign over Greece, standing side by side with the Russian Patriarch, celebrating a thousand years of presence there. He, of course, is not an emperor, but he may be the coming Emperor’s forerunner, lighting the way. Perhaps we may still be granted additional time, to restore what has been lost, and speak of mercy and truth and righteousness, those still unheard words of Christ, to the world.
Dedicated to our Serbian Readers
This is not a subject that I ever thought of writing about. After all, I do not even know if my own soul can be saved. However, on Thomas Sunday, something happened to me that made me think.
After the children’s procession and the Easter parish meal which we have every year on Thomas Sunday, I was standing outside the Church, when a man came from the street outside and spoke to me. He was in his thirties and he asked me what our church was and what we believed. I quickly realized that he was an ex-soldier and had personal problems, perhaps linked with alcoholism or drugs. I should explain that our church is in the military town of Colchester, where there are 4,000 troops and thousands of ex-soldiers, many of whom have psychological problems. (1)
In any case, when I asked the man where he had served as a soldier, he answered Iraq. He then asked me if I believed in forgiveness. I answered yes. He asked me if I had ever seen my best friends blown apart by a bomb. I answered no, but that it had happened to my father at the Battle of El Alamein in 1942 when he had lost his two best friends on either side of him, but he himself had only suffered leg wounds. He asked me again if I could forgive those responsible for murdering his friends. I replied that in a war you have to look at it from the enemy’s viewpoint, that those who had killed his friends were also just obeying orders. He said that he understood perfectly the Iraqi soldiers and he could forgive them, they were simply defending their country against invading and occupying British forces. The problem was not forgiving them, it was forgiving Tony Blair, who had sent British forces to invade and occupy Iraq, ensuring that his friends had been killed. ‘How’, he repeated’. ‘can I ever forgive Tony Blair?’
I did not answer this unexpected question at once. Then I said: ‘Only if he repents’. He answered, ‘You mean, if he says sorry? That’s just words’. I explained to him that repentance does not mean words, but actions. He thought for a moment, grunted and we shook hands and he walked away, an embittered, twisted, distraught and traumatized soul, his life ruined by what he had seen. After this meeting, on Sunday evening I thought about this conversation and lay awake till after midnight, searching for an answer and this is what came to me.
Now Tony Blair is a very rich man. The USA gave him many millions of dollars for taking part in the invasion and occupation of Iraq. According to media reports, he is worth at least £50 million, his money stashed away in tax havens where he does not pay any tax. Yes, it is true that he dare not walk the streets in the UK. At best he would be insulted and have eggs and tomatoes thrown at him. At worst, he would be beaten up and perhaps lynched by people like the ex-soldier I met. Clearly he dare not show his face in Afghanistan and Iraq, two countries which he helped invade and occupy, because he would be blown up or killed immediately. They are Islamic countries, without the concept of Christian forgiveness. They only know bitterness and revenge. However, there is a third country which he invaded and which has a Christian tradition. Could that become for him the place of his salvation?
I am speaking of course of Serbia. Every conscious human-being remembers the photograph of the mindless RAF serviceman chalking ‘Happy Easter’ on a bomb to kill and maim innocent civilians in Belgrade at Orthodox Easter 1999. Everybody remembers the ravages of NATO there, their uranium-tipped shells giving Serbian children cancer to this day. Everybody remembers the hundreds of thousands of Serbian refugees, torn from their ancestral lands by Western-backed ethnic cleansing in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. Everybody remembers how Bosnia, Macedonia, Kosovo and Montenegro were torn from unity with Serbia and how the US State Department created a purely political schism in the Serbian Church, notably in Kosovo, and how the new Serbian Patriarch was humiliated by being forced to visit a synagogue by the US/EU-appointed gauleiters of Serbia.
How could Tony Blair save his soul?
We suggest that if he were to give up his vast wealth and give it to the Serbian bishops in the Serbian Lands, perhaps especially in Kosovo, and then dedicate the rest of his life to working as an unpaid helper among the starving and deprived in Serbian refugee camps, doing the most menial tasks in kitchens and cleaning toilets, looking after and serving children and old people, maimed and traumatized Serbs in all the Serbian Lands, perhaps then he could save his soul. First of all, he could find forgiveness from the Serbian people, but, above all, he could find forgiveness from God for his war crimes, which must surely weigh so heavily on his conscience and haggard face.
We do not know how long Tony Blair has to live. Obviously, he has already had more than half his life. Obviously, every day that he lives he is a day nearer to his death. Obviously, every day that he lives without repentance is a day nearer to hell, the fires of which, judging by his awful appearance, he is already experiencing. Above, we have made a suggestion, that might bring him closer to salvation. It might also being an outraged and embittered soldier in Colchester closer to peace in his heart. And many others too.
We have suggested how Tony Blair could find salvation. We have expressed optimism. The question as to if he will find salvation remains open. Here we feel profound pessimism. None of us wants to stand at the Last Judgement. All of us tremble at the thought. But I would not like to be Tony Blair at the Last Judgement.
1. One elderly veteran, now dead, came to me in Colchester a few years ago and told me that as a Special Forces soldier he had been in Cyprus in the 1950s and had been ordered to assassinate Archbishop Makarios. The operation had failed and he told me that he was racked by guilt because he had been quite willing to follow British Establishment orders and murder a Christian Archbishop. I advised him to go into our church and light a candle for the Archbishop and pray for his soul every day for the rest of his life and ask for forgiveness for himself.
In the UK only last week Parliament decided to bomb IS in Syria. It seemed very strange when only two years ago, it was considering bombing the enemy of the IS, the Syrian Army. How you can change sides in just two years is something of a mystery. However, an even greater mystery is why you should bomb in a foreign country thousands of miles away without asking the permission of its government. Had President Assad requested British help, it would look very different. It seems that the UK Establishment is so arrogant that it thinks that it has the right to bomb other countries regardless of what the local government wishes. For example, the Syrian government does not vote on whether to bomb criminal groups in the UK. Apart from a murderous fanatic in east London, probably no-one is very alarmed by any of this token bombing, however. This is because the tiny number of air strikes by the tiny number of British aeroplanes from the tiny Royal Air Force will make very little difference at all.
In the US, Mr Trump, a Republican candidate for the Presidency has suggested that all Muslims should be banned from the USA. Of course this may simply be an attack on President Obama, whom a majority of Republicans believe to be a Muslim. It is true that at present, whether in the Middle East, or in Paris, or in California or in London, fanatics who are Muslims are murdering the innocent. It is also true that, like Judaism, Islam is inherently an Old Testament religion with an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, ethos, an ethos that encourages violence and revenge, that it has not known the Christian reality of love and forgiveness that flow from the Resurrection. On the other hand, it is also true that there are plenty of so-called Christians who are no less Old Testament in their mentality and have as little idea of love, forgiveness and the Resurrection as the average Muslim. Mr Trump may well be one of them.
Any reader of the history of how Charlemagne slaughtered the Saxons will confirm the Old Testament mentality of many so-called Christians. Any reader of the history of the Crusades will confirm this. Any reader of the history of how the Catholic conquistadors and the Protestant cowboys massacred Native Americans will confirm this. Any reader of the history of how Britain and France carved up the Ottoman Empire after the First World War and created artificial client states like the Lebanon, Syria, the Jordan and Iraq, thus guaranteeing civil wars, will confirm this. And any reader of the history of how the Western Powers have over the last 25 years massacred in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria will confirm this. Sad to say, for many tens of millions of Muslims the only terrorists in the world are the Western Powers which massacre in the Muslim world and bring the Western weapons of mass destruction to their bloodied lands. Mr Trump’s concept shows the sort of xenophobic arrogance and insular ignorance that is familiar in the UK only through its most crass and discredited tabloid newspapers.
At the present time the world is on fire. Madness has seized the world. It is as though new words from the Book of Revelation are being read every month. Hundreds are being massacred every day, in Syria, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Libya, in Mali and in Nigeria, and many others are drowning in desperate escape bids across the Mediterranean. What is required to avert an even more terrible and widespread war than those already taking place in North Africa and the Middle East is water, not oil.
Western secular news in November has been dominated by two stories. Firstly, there has been the athletics doping scandal with the disclosure of the hangover of old Soviet doping practices in Russia, though the practices were not much different in the so-called ‘free’ world. The only real difference was that in the free world they were not State-motivated, but money-motivated, as in the case of the notorious US cyclist Lance Armstrong. Secondly, there has been the Halloween crash of a Russian airliner over Sinai. The Western media have been hoping desperately that it was a terrorist attack, so as to support their view that Russia should not be defending the Syrian people against the terrorism of ‘opposition rebels’. Russophobic cartoons on the subject in the anti-Christian Charlie Hebdo in France have underlined this. Some have even suggested that, since IS terrorism like all other terrorism in Syria appears to be Western-sponsored, perhaps some Western organization lies behind the possible placing of a bomb on board the Russian airliner.
However, beyond this froth, there have been real though unreported stories, like the huge political demonstrations in Romania and changes in Moldova (ignored by the Western media – who cares about Eastern Europe?) and the continuing little reported invasion of Europe by millions of migrants. Nobody in the German-run Western EU (unlike Viktor Orban in Hungary and other Eastern European leaders) wants to face the real problem, which is the need for the Western world to stop creating chaos in the Middle East, North Africa and the Ukraine and instead create peace, the pre-condition for prosperity. If that could be achieved, no Asians and Africans would even want to emigrate to Western Europe. Here, embarrassingly for US-enslaved Western leaders, the only country that is doing anything positive is Russia, notably in Syria.
In the UK, however, the main story has been the British Prime Minister’s attempt to renegotiate UK membership of the EU. This is, of course, absurdly arrogant. When you belong to a club of 28 members whose rules are unacceptable to you, you do not try to impose your will on the 27 other members, you leave. Clearly, this is all mere shadow-boxing, a piece of political theatre, done for the sake of public relations. However, behind this farce, there are real questions about the future direction of the countries that have for nearly 100 years made up the UK, whether they liked it or not.
Since the invasion of the bankrupt UK by 2,000,000 US troops in 1942-4, the UK has been considered as a giant and unsinkable US aircraft carrier situated off the coast of Europe. When the Washington circus threw a ball, the British circus dog always went and fetched. This was called ‘the special relationship’, though for whom it was special was never clear. However, since disastrously losing two US-sponsored wars, that in Afghanistan which cost the British taxpayer £35 billion and that in Iraq, which cost £8 billion, and together cost hundreds of British lives, even scarred British MPs, a good number of whom are notorious for their venality and lack of principle, have said ‘No’ to further US meddling. They refused to allow the bombing of government forces in Syria in favour of US-sponsored ‘moderate terrorists’ and are now selling out the bankrupt UK to China and India – the allies of Russia.
Much to the public dismay of Obama and his henchmen, on top of all this, the UK government last year allowed Scottish people to vote on ending the UK (which is inevitable, later if not sooner) and will soon allow the British people to vote on leaving the EU Fourth Reich. Democracy? Whatever next? Little wonder that the US has been looking to Germany as its main vassal in Europe. For it appears that now Germany wants to be humiliated by Washington.
Of course, it is by no means certain that the British people will choose freedom from the Fourth Reich in the coming EU referendum. The City, Big Business, the BBC and the rest of the brainwashing Establishment media are clearly programmed against freedom by the powers of Mammon. In a country where the Establishment’s main magazine mouthpiece is called ‘The Economist’, we could hardly expect issues of morality and principle to dominate any argument where money is concerned. However, some of us do put principles, such as national sovereignty and identity, above filthy lucre. What a remarkable thing it would be if ‘some of us’ turned out to be the majority……….
God is not in Might, but in Right.
St Alexander of the Neva
I have been told that, ‘I tell it as it is’. Perhaps as a result, I have been asked to write of the contemporary situation of English Orthodoxy, with particular emphasis on the tragic legacy of the late Metr Antony (Bloom) and the resulting Sourozh schism. This I will do, as I knew the Metropolitan well, some forty years ago between 1974 and 1982, and in January 1981 he tonsured me reader. I also think it is worthwhile because the past and present situation in England reflects much that is true in the broader European picture. However, I still do this reluctantly as I dislike talking about the sad past and would much prefer to talk about the future. On the other hand, how can we have a vision of the future, if we do not first understand the past and the present?
True, I have few good memories of the past. However, apart from hundreds of young parishioners, of whose children I baptize up to fifty a year, I have six adult children as well as grandchildren and it is for their future, not for my past, that I live. This is why I think we should put the situation of English Orthodoxy into the general situation of all us Russian Orthodox in Western Europe. In so doing I also wish to avoid the common English (and not so English) disease of parochialism and insularity. The past is a dead country, all we can and must do is pray with compassion for those weak human beings like us who took part in it. One day we shall all stand side by side at the Dread Judgement. Let us look to the future, where all is possible. However, before we can do this I must do my duty and start at the beginning.
Part One: The Past and Present: English Orthodoxy
Today, around two thousand English Orthodox (the numbers of Scottish, Irish and Welsh Orthodox are even tinier – there being only a few dozen of each at most) and some seventy English clergy are divided among three main jurisdictions or dioceses. The other four jurisdictions present in England, as elsewhere, the Romanian, Serbian and tiny Bulgarian and Georgian Orthodox jurisdictions, are almost wholly mononational and have hardly any English members. The three jurisdictions or dioceses with English members are: the Patriarchate of Antioch, the Patriarchate of Constantinople (two groups) and the Russian Orthodox Church (two groups).
1. The Patriarchate of Antioch
Some twenty years ago about 300 dissatisfied Anglicans were received with their own agenda into this Patriarchate. They had previously been turned away by the Patriarchate of Constantinople and by the Sourozh Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church, which were both bound by their ecumenical ties with Canterbury. As Antioch had hardly existed in England until then, basically a new jurisdiction and so a further division were born. All the priests except for one now in this group were once Anglican priests, ordained as Orthodox priests with little training. One now suspended man was ordained within three days of being received.
Given this history, today the group seems to form a rather isolated ex-Anglican club, holding less attraction to the vast majority of English people. Indeed, some in the group seem to reject Non-Anglicans, one parish even banning the use of any language except English, and some call this group ‘Anglioch’. These ex-Anglican parishes appear to have little to do with Arab Orthodox and seem to avoid concelebrating with other jurisdictions, though they dress as Russian clergy. One person, perhaps unfairly, put it to me that: ‘Anti-Russian and Anti-Greek = Anti-och’.
Such a view represents only the negative half of the reality. On a positive side, this group is very dynamic, some parishes have their own properties and there are some younger clergy, over fifteen altogether now. Its larger parishes attract mainly Eastern Europeans, who are deprived of services in their own languages, or of once lapsed Greeks. Some of these people know their Faith and are able to educate the Antiochian clergy. The recent appointment for them, 20 years late, of an Antiochian bishop, who may get a visa to come to England this November, could at last mean the introduction of liturgical discipline and an entry into the mainstream of the Church from the margins. This should include teaching clergy how to serve, teaching people how to sing (at present Anglicanized ‘Russian-style’ singing is used), as well as stopping intercommunion, ‘charismatic’ and other alien practices, such as the commemoration of the Armenians and Ethiopians as Orthodox, using girl acolytes or making communion compulsory for all, as does happen in some parishes.
Antiochian services I have attended resemble a mixture of Anglicanism and a very confused knowledge of the Orthodox typicon with invented services, a kind of ‘make it up as you go’ approach. This style has discredited the Antiochian group. In conclusion, the Antiochians have zeal, which is admirable, but not knowledge, which is not admirable. The question is if they want the knowledge and have the humility to accept the discipline and traditions of the Orthodox Church and an Orthodox bishop, instead of imposing Anglican agendas on the faithful. Retired Anglican priests whose hobby is the ‘Eastern rite’ are one thing, the Orthodox Church is another.
2. The Patriarchate of Constantinople
a. The Archdiocese of Thyateira
This is a large and mostly Greek Cypriot Diocese, whose ruling hierarch must have either a Greek or Cypriot or Turkish passport. However, as the Greek Cypriots mainly moved to England from Commonwealth Cyprus between 1945 and 1975, they are now dying out. Nationalism is rife and English enquirers into Orthodoxy (as well as Romanians and others) are typically turned away from parishes and told to go and join the Anglican Church because they ‘are not Greeks’. The loss of young Cypriots is such that no fewer than six ethnic Cypriots are priests in the Anglican Diocese of London. At least there they can understand the services.
The hellenization of the few Anglicans who have been received and ordained is obligatory. Ultra-Greek names like Kallistos, Meliton, Aristobulos, Athanasios, Eleutherios, Dionysios, Christodoulos, Pankratios, Ephraim, Panteleimon, Palamas, Kosmas etc are placed on ex-Anglican vicars with perfectly good Orthodox names and they are ordained as cheap (unpaid) Greek Orthodox clergy. One of them is so hellenized that he even changed his surname to a Greek name. The best-known example of this group is the former Oxford academic, Timothy (Metr Kallistos) Ware, who lives very much as a retired parish priest and has never been a diocesan bishop, but rather a ‘conference bishop’. These hellenized ex-Anglicans use Russian-style singing in their services, probably because of the difficulty of using foreign-sounding Greek chant in any language other than Greek.
b. The Deanery of the Exarchate
As elsewhere in the world, the Patriarchate of Constantinople has for political reasons also taken into its jurisdiction dissidents such as Ukrainian nationalists and the Paris Exarchate. The latter group has again been present in England since 2006, refounded by 300 mainly ex-Anglican ‘Bloomites’, including over ten clergy. In other words, these were dissidents from the Sourozh Diocese of the then Moscow Patriarchate (MP), previously run by Metr Antony Bloom (see below, Paragraph 3b). After the death in 2004 of Metr Antony, their leader and protector, these did not want to adhere to the discipline and traditions of the real Russian Orthodox Church, which were then being reintroduced into their Diocese. Thus, they left for the Paris Exarchate, at first under the controversial Bishop Basil (Osborne), then after his defrocking becoming a small Deanery.
Here, under the Patriarchate of Constantinople, they would be allowed to do anything they wanted, including keeping the personal practices of Metr Antony (Bloom), without interference from either Constantinople or Thyateira or Paris, as one of their clergy proudly told me. For example, they could have communion without confession, give intercommunion (as their Amphipolis website used to proclaim, though now they tell me that intercommunion is limited to Monophysites), use the new calendar, celebrate the Proskomidia in the middle of the Church, wear Greek vestments (strange when you claim to be of the Russian Tradition) or shout out names during the service in Anglican ‘charismatic’ style, or make communion compulsory for all.
This group is very small, with several communities of ten or fewer people. Where it is bigger, it is because of the presence of Eastern Europeans, for example Church-deprived Romanians, who have no loyalty to or knowledge of Bloomite ideology. The Deanery has virtually no property of its own and although it has in recent years ordained several retired Anglican clergy virtually without any training, it seems to be dying out. The average age of its clergy is about 70 and many of the original laypeople are of the same generation.
It seems difficult to understand, if they wish to survive at all, why they do not simply join the ex-Anglican Antiochian group or at least join the ex-Anglicans in the mainstream Thyateira Diocese. Some have suggested that their isolation is to do with their ferocious Russophobia, which Antioch does not share. Indeed, some of their statements about other Christians makes it difficult to believe that they are Christians. Interestingly, their cause was backed to the hilt at the time by the Establishment Times and the MI5-fed Daily Telegraph. Others have suggested that there is a class reason, that it is because the Exarchate is largely composed of upper-class Anglicans, whereas the other ex-Anglicans are middle-class. Some call this group, like the Antiochian group, ‘Anglicans with icons’ or ‘Anglodox’, rather than Orthodox.
3. The Russian Church
a. The ROCOR (Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia) Diocese of the British Isles and Ireland
Having established the first ROCOR parish in England in 1919, ROCOR established a diocese in England in 1929 under Bishop Nicholas (Karpov), who uniquely was not given a fictitious title like ‘of Thyateira’ or ‘of Sourozh’, as given to other dioceses, but the real title ‘of London’. It was also the first Orthodox diocese to have any monastic life in England and the first diocese to use English, from the 1930s on. The diocese expanded after 1945 with a wave of new immigrants. However, after the departure of Archbishop John (Maksimovich) (now St John of Shanghai) in 1962, the diocese fell into nationalistic and sectarian currents and for a time became isolated.
From the 1970s on, a small group of unintegrated Anglo-Catholic converts began to impose old calendarism, imported from the USA under the influence of Bishop Gregory (Grabbe) in New York. Their views were marked by anti-Anglicanism rather than Orthodoxy, a negativity that came from spiritual pride. Given the failure of nationalistic Russians to pass on the Faith to their children and grandchildren and these sectarian trends, once far larger than the new Diocese of Sourozh, in the 70s and 80s the ROCOR Diocese began to die out. In the late 1970s and 1980s, in quick succession it lost its last two elderly and ill bishops, its London priest and its London church building. English people were turned away from the Russian parishes or were deterred by the sectarian old calendarism trying to take over diocesan life. It seemed as though the ROCOR Diocese would disappear altogether.
This period must be understood in the context of the then general internal battle in ROCOR between New York and Jordanville, that is, between the political, nationalist and sectarian wing of ROCOR and the spiritual wing, which saw in St John of Shanghai its figurehead. (Sadly, it is also true that when St John was in England, he was never frequented by personalities such as Metr Antony (Bloom) or Fr Sophrony (Sakharov), by both of whom he was at best ignored). In his later life in San Francisco, St John was much persecuted by this political wing of ROCOR because he was a missionary to Non-Russians, because he prayed for the captive Patriarchs of Moscow and because, like the mainstream in ROCOR, he knew that Church unity would come as soon as the Church inside Russia was free from atheist tyranny. This was denied by the political sectarians, who from the 1970s began to assert in justification for their sectarianism that the MP was ‘without grace’ and that somehow ROCOR was the last True Church on earth!
As the elderly Russians died out in the ROCOR British Diocese, in the 1990s it was providentially renewed by new arrivals from Russia, who found the same underlying ethos in it as in the MP inside Russia (unlike in the Sourozh Diocese, which, ironically, was officially part of the MP!). These new arrivals paid for the building of the small, Russian-style ROCOR Cathedral in London. As unity between ROCOR, under the ever-memorable Metr Laurus, and the MP, under the former émigré Patriarch Alexis II, approached in 2007, the long predicted schism occurred. Some forty mainly Anglo-Catholic converts and a few very right-wing individuals of Russian extraction (including even pro-Nazis) lapsed from ROCOR. This mirrored exactly the Sourozh schism (see Paragraph 3b below).
This was a spiritual tragedy for them but the relief felt by the faithful was palpable – the abscess which had been growing since the infiltration of sectarianism from the USA in the 1970s had at last burst. Peripheral and other problems also solved themselves as a few other individuals left and by 2009 all the extremes had fallen away, normal Church life could continue from a now healthy centre and the Church was ready to grow again. ROCOR was able to return to its destiny and pioneering historic path of being the integrated and bilingual Russian Orthodox Diocese, faithful to the Tradition, culturally at ease in the British Isles, and without fear of interference from outside forces. Having been through its adolescent growing pains, the ROCOR Diocese had overcome the crisis and become much stronger and adult.
What is the situation today? Today most members of ROCOR are people who have settled in England (and also in Wales and Ireland) from the ex-Soviet Union. In other words, the flock is virtually identical to the flock of the new Sourozh Diocese (see Paragraph 3b below). However, eight of the clergy are English, though there is also a Romanian deacon and two excellent Russian clergy from the ex-Soviet Union. In 2006 the future Archbishop Elisei of Sourozh was actually nominated to the Patriarchate in Moscow (then faced with the Sourozh schism) by the ROCOR ruling bishop, Archbishop Mark of Berlin.
Although most members of ROCOR come from the ex-Soviet Union, unlike Sourozh, the ROCOR Diocese has a long history, with memories going back before the Second World War and the Revolution to the time of the Tsar, a long and deep pastoral experience, including the use of English, its own church buildings and therefore a voice independent of heterodox organizations. In other words, ROCOR could certainly never be accused of being dependent on one personality or being ‘Soviet’, as the Sourozh Diocese sometimes is, and it is much better established than that Diocese. However, the weakness of the ROCOR Diocese is definitely its shortage of priests, especially in Wales and Ireland, and its lack of a resident ruling bishop. The main issue now is further growth.
b. The Diocese of Sourozh – the former Moscow Patriarchate (MP)
Several hundred English Orthodox find themselves in the Sourozh Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church inside Russia, which used to be known as the MP. Some go back to the time when that Diocese was ruled by Metr Antony (Bloom) (+ 2004), others have come more recently. I have been asked to set down a record of Metr Antony’s tragic legacy. This will be long, as it is complex.
When the small Paris Exarchate parish in London returned to the Moscow Patriarchate (MP) jurisdiction after the Second World War (following its leader in Paris, Metr Eulogius), Fr Antony (Bloom), a beardless hieromonk without theological education, was sent by Moscow from Paris to look after the group in question. The vast majority of Russian emigres in England, whether arrivals after 1917 or after 1945, would have nothing to do with the Moscow Patriarchate or the modernist-looking Fr Antony, and continued to belong to the far larger parishes of the Diocese of the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR).
Therefore, virtually without a flock, the very talented Fr Antony learned English and began to do missionary work among Anglicans, attracting several hundred into the former Anglican church he used in London. Over the years, their numbers swelled, perhaps to over 2,000, and he was able to form a tiny diocese which was given the title of Sourozh. This looked good in theory; the reality was quite different. The Sourozh Diocese was a paper diocese, an empire of the imagination. There were three reasons for this.
Firstly, Metr Antony, as he had become by the early 60s, anxious to create a diocese, would take people without preparation, that is, without relieving them of their Anglican baggage and so spiritual impurity first. As they had little idea of the Russian Orthodox Tradition, most of them lapsed very quickly, often within a few weeks or months. As an example of this, I will relate what five years ago one of the new Russian subdeacons from the Sourozh Cathedral in London told me about a weekend visit of the new ruling hierarch, Archbishop Elisei of Sourozh, to a provincial community.
When Archbishop Elisei got up on the Sunday morning, the priest’s wife asked him whether he would like bacon and eggs for breakfast. Now that is a normal question in the Church of England (or even in parts of the Catholic Church today), where communion, if it is given at all, is simply a memorial of bread and wine and there is no fasting before it. For an Orthodox of course it is shocking that an Orthodox priest would have bacon and eggs before the Liturgy and communion. In fact, I was shocked by the subdeacon and said: ‘You mean to say that you did not know that that was how the whole Sourozh Diocese was run for decades?’ I was amazed by his naivety and told him: ‘Now you understand why serious Orthodox joined ROCOR’.
In 1976, falling foul of the Soviet government’s anti-Solzhenitsyn line (which it also forced onto the MP) and looking for political freedom from Soviet political pressure (especially distasteful to the upper-class Establishment Anglicans in his London Cathedral), Metr Antony asked to join ROCOR. As a result of his unOrthodox attitudes, illustrated above, he was refused. ROCOR did not want a bishop with unOrthodox practices; if ROCOR had accepted him, it would all have resulted in scandals.
Secondly, Metr Antony never reached out to the mass of English people, to whom he remained completely unknown despite his TV appearances (at a time when only the wealthier half of society had TV) and radio interviews. He concentrated on the upper class, especially wealthy academics, artists, novelists, musicians and poets, many of whom lived around his former Anglican Cathedral in the richest part of London. Metr Antony seemed to have little time for ordinary English people, if ever he knew we existed.
He was also notorious for never visiting his parishes and flock. Most of these had never seen him there and had no idea what an episcopal visit or service was. (Metr Antony usually served as a priest, refusing to celebrate episcopal services, if he knew how to do them). He was not a liturgist and did not teach anyone how to celebrate the services. His was a religion of the elite and it was often difficult to know exactly what he said – it all seemed to be the French philosophical style and not substance. In the 1970s and early 1980s, as I know only too well from personal experience, he had no time at all for the veneration of local saints, though he was later forced to change this attitude. And he also had no space in his Cathedral for icons of the New Martyrs, even after their later canonization in Moscow in 2000.
We should not forget that Metr Antony was himself from the Russian upper class and, partly as a result, his convert group seemed to be an upper-class Anglican club or clique. Conversations that I heard at his Cathedral revolved around villas in Tuscany and on Patmos which belonged to these people: hardly typical English people, who felt excluded by such snobbery. All this was combined with Metr Antony’s marked emotionalism, his strong psychic abilities and affectations, which lacked the sobriety of the Orthodox Tradition. Some middle-aged women fell in love with him and, with his good looks and exotic and exaggerated Russian-Parisian accent, by the 1970s his nicknames included ‘the guru’ and ‘the romantic bishop’. I remember one such tragic case very clearly. For us who came from solid and pragmatic English backgrounds, this was all nonsense. We would see through this act from miles away.
This brings us to the problem of Metr Antony’s personality cult. As we have said, he was an immensely talented man with a very strong personality. Indeed, his father, Boris Bloom (buried in Meudon outside Paris), a Tsarist diplomat who was well-known in Paris, had delved into the occult and taught his son how to hypnotize. I knew two women whom Metr Antony tried to hypnotize in the 1970s. For what reason I do not know. In such a Diocese there could be room for only one personality. This is why in 1965 an equally unusual Parisian personality, the former Hindu, Art Nouveau painter, personalist philosopher and one-time monk of Mt Athos, where he had met a saint, Fr Sophrony (Sakharov), left the Diocese of Sourozh. With his three monks. he switched back to the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the new calendar and introduced some very unusual and indeed unique practices. The fact that Metr Antony was notoriously anti-monastic did not help.
The cult of Metr Antony was also why his ordinations were generally controversial, often being those of men who for canonical reasons would never have been ordained by another bishop. This created a dependency of such clergy on Metr Antony, a misplaced sense of gratitude and idolization among weak personalities. This was also why Metr Antony strongly discouraged English people from visiting other parishes and travelling to Orthodox countries, especially Russia and Mt Athos; he did not want them to be exposed to the broader reality, which would raise awkward questions about his peculiar style and values.
Here I do not wish to go into the painful details and I would rather quote the Establishment figure of Metr Kallistos (Ware), who is now in his eighties. Known as ‘o anglikanos’ (the Anglican) by certain of his Greek brother bishops, Metr Kallistos is known for his caution in speaking. Although he has very curious and Phanariot views of the Diaspora, he is well-known for this Anglican-style diplomacy. In an interview with the liberal ‘Pravmir’ site, he has expressed the situation around Metr Antony as mildly as is possible:
‘Now the main criticism that I would make of Bishop (sic) Antony is that he would allow people to become colossally dependent upon him. They would idolize him. Perhaps that was not entirely his fault that they came to feel such ardent devotion towards him. But I felt there was something unhealthy here. It was too personal in the wrong sense, that they saw him almost as a god on earth. And he would allow people, particularly women, to become very closely dependent upon him. And then he would suddenly abandon them. I don’t think I am indulging here in malicious gossip, but I know a number of cases where he had spent a lot of time with people, particular people, and then suddenly he would cut off, not see them any more, not respond to their letters or telephone calls. Now I don’t know why he allowed such a close relationship to be built up and then abandoned them. But if I was to criticize his work, I would think there was the weakest point’.
In other words, it could be said that Metr Antony was the London equivalent of Bishop Jean (Evgraf) (Kovalevsky) in Paris, a bishop who set up a kind of fringe diocese on the edge of the Church and which also collapsed after his death. (However, many clergy and laity also left the Sourozh Diocese during Metr Antony’s lifetime, having seen through it). True, Bishop Jean attracted guenonists, occultists, freemasons and other marginals, ordaining them within days, whereas Metr Antony attracted those who fell in love with his personality and pseudo-mysticism. Sadly, Metr Antony’s existentialist personalism (mid-twentieth century French intellectual philosophy rather than the Church Fathers, whom Metr Antony hardly ever mentioned) had led to the construction of a mini-diocese ‘centred on his personality and not on the Church’. These are the exact words used to me by the present ruling bishop of Sourozh, Archbishop Elisei, soon after his appointment in 2006.
Now anything built on a personality, even more on a dead personality, is extremely fragile. People who idolize a personality are unable to pass on anything to their children, who cannot get to know the personality because he is dead, and so the members simply get old and die out, becoming historical sidelines, alienated from the mainstream. A diocese centred on a personality is a paper diocese. Thus, Sourozh still has hardly any Church property because everyone, as I was told in 1981, was expected to go to London and worship at the feet of the personality. So, nothing got built up. Tragically, the Sourozh Diocese still only has a fairly small Cathedral in west London (far too small for the flock) and four chapels in Oxford, Nottingham, Manchester and London, which can only contain a few dozen Orthodox. For the rest, the Sourozh Diocese is still dependent on borrowing mainly Anglican churches which it can occasionally use, often only once a month on a Saturday.
On top of this it suffers from a chronic shortage of priests with training. The average age is about 63. The disastrous personality cult in other words completely failed to set up the infrastructure necessary for a real diocese, however small. Everything had to be centred around the Cathedral in London because that is where ‘the personality’ was. This is the tragic legacy of Metr Antony, an utter lack of vision because there was no Tradition, only a personality. It contrasts very sadly with the radiant legacy of a saint in another island archipelago on the other side of Eurasia, St Nicholas of Japan, who built on the Tradition.
In 1982, a senior priest, the American Fr (later as Metr Antony’s successor, Bishop) Basil Osborne told me that ‘as soon as Metr Antony is dead, we’ll go to the Greeks’. This statement as well as the personality cult and renovationist practices (no confession before communion – as in Anglicanism – , the introduction of the new calendar, no Third and Sixth Hours before the Liturgy, no attempt to ask women to dress as Russian Orthodox etc.), caused us to leave the Diocese of Sourozh for good. I had wanted to be part of the Russian Orthodox Church, not of an émigré cocktail of modernist practices and fantasies, which had nothing to do with the Russian Orthodox Tradition. In such a way the Sourozh Diocese chased away those who were the most devoted to the Russian Orthodox Church. People were ready to die for the Church, for ‘the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church’, but in Sourozh the seed of the faithful was rejected – and so the Church did not grow. This was no way to treat the faithful.
In response to my view that the Church was failing to preach the Gospel to ordinary English people and was not providing food for the soul, but only intellectual philosophy, Fr Basil also told me that ‘there is no such thing as ordinary people’. Clearly, this said a great deal about him who became Metr Antony’s successor. Living in the ivory towers of Oxford, Fr Basil simply had no contact with the vast masses of English people. Later, an aristocratic priest-colleague of his, also ordained by Metr Antony, told me exactly the same thing. In 2005 it was Bishop Basil who provocatively invited the notorious neo-renovationist, Fr George Kochetkov, once suspended by Patriarch Alexis II, to come from Moscow and become the main priest at the London Sourozh Cathedral. This makes clear that the Sourozh schism was indeed a renovationist schism and it is indeed renovationists who revere Metr Antony’s memory.
Apart from his English convert adepts, it is true that Metr Antony was also idolized by some naïve Soviet convert dissidents, mainly of Jewish origin. These ‘intelligenty’ of the third wave started to arrive in London in the 1970s and fell in love with Metr Antony. I remember one of them telling me how he had first seen the Metropolitan cleaning the Cathedral floor, dressed in a simple undercassock. The dissident at once took him for a saint! I told him that all bishops and priests in the Diaspora lived like this and that if that was a criterion of sainthood, then we were all saints. Conditioned by Soviet practices of distant and unknown bishops sweeping past the people in big black cars under KGB surveillance, he could not make the cultural jump to Diaspora reality. Culture shock totally distorted his judgement.
From the 1990s, in the last years of Metr Antony’s life, as immigrants flooded in from the ex-Soviet Union, a virtual civil war began in his London Cathedral. The immigrants expected Russian Orthodoxy, not some pseudo-mystical convert personality cult. Apart from the small ROCOR Cathedral, there was no other church they could go to in London. Inevitably, only two years after Metr Antony’s death, with the young Bishop Hilarion expelled, the Sourozh Diocese collapsed. The bubble had finally burst. Metr Antony’s divisiveness and pastoral failure had led in turn to the divisiveness and pastoral failure of his pupil, Bishop Basil (Osborne).
Just as the Paris Exarchate’s modernist experiment failed (and Metr Antony was 100% Parisian), Metr Antony’s experiment failed because he had tried to build a Diocese on the divisive sand of a personality cult instead of on the collective rock of Russian Orthodox Tradition. This all came as no surprise to us who had known how it would all end since 1982 and had been pleading with the Moscow Patriarchate since 2000 to do something about the catastrophic pastoral situation in London. Nevertheless, we can at least learn from such failures.
Part Two: The Future: European Orthodoxy
I have done my duty in answering questions about the past and present situation of English Orthodoxy and Russian Orthodoxy in England. I hope that this will help us to avoid repeating the errors and extremes of the past and will also help us to pray for those involved, whether living or departed. That is our duty, for we are no better than they. I would now like to speak of something much more positive, much closer to my heart, the future.
1. The European Dimension of the Orthodox Church
In this context of the future people ask me about the possibility of there one day being a ‘British’ Orthodox Church. Since the 1990s I have written about such a possibility – and always negatively, even though I have since 1975 championed the use of local languages in services, whether English or French, and at great personal cost from hostile clergy. Why, this refusal of even the concept of a ‘British Orthodox Church’?
Firstly, it is because there is no such thing as ‘British’. Just as we do not talk about a ‘Soviet’ Orthodox Church, so we do not talk about a ‘British’ Orthodox Church. The word ‘British’ has only been used on three occasions in history and always by foreign invaders. Once by the Romans, then by the Normans and lastly by the Hanoverians and their Germanic followers among the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha Victorians and those nostalgic for their imperialism like Thatcher, Blair and Cameron. In other words, ‘British’ is a word for an artificial, colonial conglomerate of countries and as such is used by London imperialists; the Irish rightly long ago rejected it as a dirty word and the Scots are now in open revolt against it. Personally, like everyone I grew up with in the English countryside, I have never recognized myself as ‘British’, but as English, and I hope that the Irish, Scots, Welsh and we English will soon gain complete freedom from the ‘British’ and their tyrannical and foreign Establishment, to which the alien ‘British’ alone belong.
Secondly, all European countries, including Britain, are in any case far too small to have their own Local Orthodox Churches and, thirdly, Europe has anyway suffered quite enough from nationalism. We do not want any more insularity and nationalism in the Church – there is enough of that in the Balkans. What we need today is vision. Now, in this context, nearly thirty years ago, in 1986, I wrote a paper at the request of Archbishop George (Wagner) of the Rue Daru Paris Jurisdiction (Patriarchate of Constantinople) entitled, ‘Une Eglise Orthodoxe pour l’Europe: Vision ou Reve’ (‘An Orthodox Church for Europe: Vision or Dream’). As he was German, I thought he might be interested, especially as I had envisioned the Rue Daru jurisdiction as the possible kernel of such a future Local Church – in 2004 Patriarch Alexis II was to make the same mistake. I later found the paper thrown away into his kitchen wastepaper bin. Such were those visionless days – and he was by far from being the only bishop who had no vision for an Orthodox Europe.
Since that time it is true that we have seen the development of the pompously-named ‘Pan-Orthodox Episcopal Assemblies’ (= bishops’ meetings) in Western Europe. This is the imperialistic concept of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, rather naively promoted by Metr Kallistos (Ware) and Metr Athenagoras (Peckstadt) in Belgium. Of course, it is good that now the Orthodox bishops of any territory actually meet each other and know what each other looks like, but we all know that these meetings are going nowhere; they are often talking shops which occasionally meet, but at which no decisions of any consequence are ever taken. They just give a superficial prestige to Constantinople.
What I am saying from both the above examples is that we can expect nothing for the future of Orthodoxy in Western Europe from the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which has never freely given any Church autocephaly and has continually tried to take back autocephaly even when political circumstances forced it to grant it – as in the Ukraine, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia etc. In this way Constantinople, fallen since 1453, politically captive since 1948, and through Greek nationalism totally failing to recognize that Church leadership long ago passed to the Russian Church, today resembles the other Balkan Churches. None of them has the vision, is big enough, is missionary-minded enough or is unphyletist and mutinational enough to set up the Pan-European Metropolitan structure necessary for the foundation of any future Orthodox Church in Europe.
2. The Duty of Care of the Russian Orthodox Church in Europe
This leaves the Russian Orthodox Church, fifty times larger than the Patriarchate of Constantinople, as the only Local Orthodox Church which can do anything for European Orthodoxy. After all, of all the Local Churches only the Russian Orthodox Church is large and supra-national. Its name in Russian is ‘Russkaya’, meaning ‘of Rus’, not ‘Rossiyskaya’, meaning ‘of the Russian Federation’. In other words, it alone is multinational – like its Patriarch, the Russian Orthodox Church is the Church of All Rus and this means not just Russia, the Orthodox Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova and Carpatho-Russia, but any part of the world where Russian Orthodox faithful live. It alone has kept the old multinational Orthodox ideal of ‘romaiosini’, of the unity in diversity of the Christian Empire. Indeed, in 2004 Patriarch Alexis II at last spoke precisely of the need to establish a Russian Orthodox Metropolia in Western Europe. However, in 2004 the proposition of Patriarch Alexis II could only be theoretical. Only since 2007 has the Russian Orthodox Church even been in a theoretical position to establish such a Metropolia. Why?
a. Russian Orthodox Church Unity
In May 2007, the MP and ROCOR signed the Act of Canonical Communion in Moscow. With this one act, the division that began after the Russian Revolution between the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) and the Church Inside Russia (then called the MP) and was forced onto the Church by atheist persecution inside the Soviet Union ceased. According to the 2007 agreement, ROCOR was gradually to give up its few small temporary communities on the territory of the ex-Soviet Union (the canonical territory of the Church Inside Russia) and in return, in time, the Church Inside Russia would, as is only logical, cede its relatively few but sometimes large communities outside Russia to ROCOR.
The first part of this agreement took place fairly swiftly, but the second part of the agreement, for perfectly good pastoral reasons, can only be implemented with time. This situation concerns above all the shared territories of Western Europe and Latin America, since the vast majority of Russian Orthodox parishes in its other territories in Oceania and North America are in any case under ROCOR. Thus, for the moment, we still have the absurd situation of two Russian Orthodox bishops of Berlin, Archbishop Theophan and Archbishop Mark. However, all agree that this will not last.
In effect, both the old MP and the old ROCOR ceased to exist on that day in May 2007. What came into being was a reunited and worldwide Russian Orthodox Church, three-quarters of the whole Orthodox Church, with the same Faith and under the same Patriarch, politically free but administratively in two parts, inside Russia and outside Russia, so that both parts are Patriarchal, but one is based in Moscow and the other, much smaller, is based in New York. The unique canonical territory of the Church inside Russia covers all the countries of the former Soviet Union (except Georgia) and countries where all the missions were founded by it, officially only China and Japan, but in reality also Thailand, Iran, Cuba and North Korea.
The territories of the Church Outside Russia, and these are territories mainly shared with other Orthodox, include Western Europe, North America, Latin America and Oceania (including Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia). Thus the new ROCOR has the potential to become again (as it was in the beginning) a multi-Metropolia Church, with four Metropolias, one in Western Europe, one in North America, one in Latin America and one in Oceania. Perhaps one day it could also include Alaska as a fifth Metropolia, but only if that territory returns to the Russian Orthodox Church from its present American administration.
b. The Territory of Europe to be United in a Metropolia
Europe, that is Western Europe, is a cultural ensemble, because it is all basically ex-Orthodox (1,000 years ago) and now, as it has largely lapsed into its Gadarene secularism, ex-Catholic (historically ex-Protestant also means ex-Catholic). I am speaking of the following 25 countries: Iceland, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, England, Norway, Denmark (with the Faeroes), Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, France, Monaco, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Hungary, Portugal, Spain (and the part of Spain called Gibraltar), Andorra, Italy, San Marino and Malta. I exclude from this definition of Western Europe Poland, the Czech Lands and Slovakia, as they already have their own Local Churches and canonical territory. Similarly, I also exclude Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, since, like Montenegro and Macedonia, they are part of the canonical territory of the Serbian Church. As for Albania, like Romania, Greece, Bulgaria and Cyprus, it already has its own Local Church.
It is true that Finland, which is in this list of 25 countries, has over 20 parishes and other communities that at present belong to the Patriarchate of Constantinople and celebrate Easter on the Catholic calendar (similar to a non-canonical group in Estonia). However, Russian Orthodox do not frequent such churches, whose Faith has been called ‘Lutheranism with icons’. They prefer to attend the quite separate and canonical Russian Orthodox churches in Finland, which are growing. Also there are those who consider that Hungary, also in the list of 25 countries, should have its own Local Church, like the Poles and the Czechs and Slovaks. However, we live in the world as it is now, not as it may be one day. For the moment, therefore, Hungary must be included in the territory of a European Metropolia, as defined above.
3. A Future Metropolia
Now as regards a future European Metropolia under the Patriarchal Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), it is clear that this will be a real Metropolia with several hundred real parishes and real churches and, very importantly, real monasteries. This will not be like the Paris Exarchate or the old Sourozh Diocese, a paper empire, a series of modernistic, semo-Uniat communities often fewer than ten or twenty in number, celebrating in front rooms and garden sheds, or composed of clergy who were ordained with little training because no-one else would ordain them or even who use blackmail against their Archbishop in Paris: ‘If you do not allow me to do what I want, I will join the Greeks’. (Or the Romanians or someone else. Much more rarely, this blackmail may involve a threat of passage to ‘the Russians’. However, this threat is rarely used because those who today remain in the Exarchate generally believe in Russophobia – the ideology which justifies the continued existence of the Exarchate).
Where should the geographical centre of such a Metropolia be? Until recently I had always thought of it as Paris, the historical centre of the Russian emigration, where there is, in temporary premises, a Russian Orthodox seminary and where a Cathedral complex has long been planned. However, as a Metropolitan centre this choice is threatened by two things, the ecumenism and modernism apparently ingrained in the Paris air and the Russophobic policies of the present US-controlled French government. Today France is in a state of social chaos and disintegration. It may therefore be that we should think more radically. Indeed, two other possible centres for a Russian Orthodox Metropolia in Europe exist: they are Berlin (there are large numbers of Russian Orthodox in Germany) and Rome (where there is the large Russian church of St Catherine’s and above all which is the historical centre of the Western Patriarchate. After all, the initials of the English words ‘Russian Orthodox Metropolia in Europe’ spell R.O.M.E.).
It now seems to me that there should initially be seven dioceses in such a Metropolia. These are: Germania (Germany, German-speaking Switzerland and the Netherlands, including Flemish-speaking Belgium); Gallia (France, French-speaking Belgium, French-speaking Switzerland, Luxembourg and Monaco); Iberia (Spain, Gibraltar, Portugal and Andorra); the Isles (the British Isles and Ireland); Italia (Italy, San Marino, Italian-speaking Switzerland and Malta); Scandinavia (Iceland, the Faeroes, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland); Austria-Hungaria (Austria and Hungary). With time two or three bishops could be appointed to such large dioceses, under an archbishop. For example, Germania could have an archbishop in Berlin, a bishop for western Germany, a bishop for the Dutch-speaking areas and a fourth for Switzerland. Scandinavia could have an archbishop in Stockholm who would also look after Denmark, a bishop in Helsinki and another for Norway and Iceland. These are mere possible examples for two dioceses or future archdioceses. Who knows the future?
At present the episcopate of the Russian Orthodox Church in Western Europe is not organized as one and some members are elderly. ROCOR is concentrated in Western Germany and Switzerland, though with several parishes in France, Belgium, Denmark and England, but it has virtually no existence in Italy, Spain and Portugal or in the rest of Scandinavia, in which countries the Church Inside Russia has over 100 parishes. ROCOR has three bishops, the youngest of whom is aged about sixty. ROCOR certainly has experience, but it will need new bishops. Some of the dioceses in Europe, which are still for the moment dependent on the Church Inside Russia, will also need new bishops in the future. Episcopal candidates must speak languages apart from Russian, know the cultures and cultural references of the countries where they will live and have a dynamic and missionary view of their episcopate. In other words, they must realize that their task is not just to look after immigrants from the ex-Soviet Union. They must be able to communicate with the children and grandchildren of such immigrants, as well as with the descendants of the centennial emigration, now in its fifth generation, and the native people of European countries, both Orthodox and Non-Orthodox.
For example, we know of one episcopal appointee whose first act was to buy an expensive black car. On that day he lost the confidence of his diocese. He did not understand that being a Russian Orthodox bishop in Europe is not at all the same as being a Russian Orthodox bishop in the former Soviet Union. Secondly, any diocesan bishop must also be a uniter – in Europe we still have bad memories of the late Metropolitan Nikodim (Rotov) who was an ecumenist and intercommunionist (in Rome) and did not want to do missionary work among native Europeans. Such figures were ultimately partly responsible for the Sourozh schism and the lack of trust among European Orthodox in bishops who were visiting them from the Soviet Union. On the other hand, we have an excellent memory of Archbishop Basil (Krivoshein) who warned Metr Nikodim precisely against his political policies. Who then could be the Metropolitan of the Russian Orthodox Metropolia in Europe? We believe that there is already at least one suitable candidate, at present an Archbishop.
It is now becoming urgent to establish such a Metropolitan structure. Millions of Orthodox have had to flee Orthodox Eastern Europe in the last 25 years for economic reasons. Since the fall of Communism, Eastern Europe has been seized by a wave of post-Communist corruption. Combined with the deindustrialization forced onto Eastern European countries when they joined the EU, millions of young people have been forced to leave their homes and families to take on mainly menial jobs in the building sites, factories and offices of Western Europe. There are now more Orthodox in Western Europe, the territory of the future Metropolia, than there are in the four ancient Patriarchates of Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem, combined. How then can this Metropolia be organized?
Before such a Metropolia could come into existence, all kinds of groundwork have to be laid. First of all, who should be the patron saint of such a Metropolia? To our mind, there can only be one candidate, the only saint of the Russian Orthodox Church who in the twentieth century lived for well over a decade in Western Europe – St John of Shanghai. He is the only canonized member of the Russian Orthodox Church in Western Europe. He stands head and shoulders above all the personalities, intellectuals, artists, writers and philosophers of the emigration, for he was a saint and a universal saint at that. Strictly faithful to the Russian Orthodox Tradition, for which he was much despised by modernists, he was also open to the pastoral needs of local people, encouraged the veneration of the historical saints of Europe and was the inspiration for Fr Seraphim of Platina, for which he was much despised by nationalists. In my view, St John has no rivals. However, the appointment of such a patron saint must be made by the Russian Orthodox bishops in Europe. We are not an anti-episcopal organization like the ‘Fraternite Orthodoxe’ in Paris, so we can only suggest to our bishops.
Secondly, we need a Metropolia website, run by people who have the skills and time to devote to this. Their skills must not only be technological but also linguistic. The website should, we believe, be in Russian, Romanian for our many Moldovan parishioners, English (as the international language) and, in the appropriate sections, in one of the other thirteen local languages of the Metropolia (German, French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Hungarian, Portuguese, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Finnish, Maltese and Icelandic). Perhaps, eventually, as pastoral need dictates, there could be pages in minority languages like Basque, Gaelic, Sorbian, Breton, Welsh etc. Who are the Russian Orthodox bishops in Europe? Such a website could present them with their photos. How many Russian Orthodox priests are there in Europe today? 200? That is only our guess; we do not have the information. The website could provide it.
Such a website could provide a calendar including the local saints of Europe, for example, Clotilde, Alban, Agnes, Ursula, Eulalia, Senhorina, Leander, Columba, Blandine, Olaf, Maurice, Kevin, Willibrord, Anschar, Sigfrid, Audrey, Corbinian, Illtyd, Odile, Devota, Publius, Gertrude, little known outside their own countries and regions, whose prayers can bind us together. There is a practical and a mystical necessity to link ourselves to them for it is ultimately on their noble Orthodoxy that European culture was built. The fact that modern Europe in its ignoble rush for self-destruction has turned its back on them only means that we should venerate them all the more. The website could present such information along with parish profiles, the addresses and phone numbers of individual parishes, their websites, histories, pictures of their church buildings, their clergy and parishioners, details of languages used in services, timetables and other activities and publications. And all our vital monasteries must have their place there too. There should also be some kind of resource of services in the many languages of the Metropolia and a simple vocabulary in the sixteen languages. How do you say ‘Orthodox Church’ in Hungarian, ‘priest’ in Finnish, ‘confession’ in Maltese or ‘candle’ in Norwegian? The website could tell us. Again, all this can only be done with the blessing of the Russian Orthodox bishops in Europe.
Thirdly, we need to hold a conference of Russian Orthodox clergy in Europe. We do not know each other. Initially, there could be a small conference with, say, two representatives from each country. One priest from Italy has already suggested the excellent idea of twinning parishes. Knowledge of one another could also be obtained from pilgrimages to local saints or relics or on the basis of visits to priests or laypeople who are already linked. Europe is rich in shrines, in Bari, in Rome, in Turin, in Milan, in Compostella, in Cologne, in Paris, in Lyons: Why not organize Europe-wide Russian Orthodox pilgrimages to such shrines? Alternatively, there could be pilgrimages to some of our wonderful churches in Europe, built under Tsar Nicholas II, in Wiesbaden, Geneva, Nice etc., or others built more recently in Brussels, Rome and Madrid. In such a way, by meeting, we can begin the most important task of praying for one another. Again, all this can only be done with the blessing of the Russian Orthodox bishops in Europe.
Two years ago I was contacted by a Russian woman in a province of France. She was in tears, very upset. She had been to a so-called monastery of the Paris Exarchate, where she had been refused confession because ‘she had not murdered anyone’. This meant that she had also been deprived of communion. She had found me on the internet, not knowing any priest in France. She told me her story on the telephone, how she and her son had been abandoned by her French husband and how she desperately needed a priest to talk to. Now, such things are happening all over Europe. The duty of care of the Russian Orthodox Church in Europe is to its faithful of all nationalities, to people like her. Let us begin by appointing a priest or priests whose duty it will be to look after the Russian Orthodox flock in any particular region of Europe. Since the above 25 European countries are divided into some eighty regions and there are a lot more than 80 Russian Orthodox priests in Europe, this can be done and the sort of incident that I have related above can be avoided. Everyone must have a priest to go to.
Some, reading the above, might ask about the role of Non-Orthodox in this. We believe in good-neighbourly relations with those who do not belong to the Orthodox Church. After a thousand years outside the Orthodox Church, many of them still believe in the Holy Trinity and the Divinity of Christ. Some, especially Catholics, go further than this and believe in the Virgin Birth, the Mother of God, the saints and the sacraments. Some share our moral views on such issues as abortion and euthanasia. The fact that the faith they have inherited is deficient in the understanding of the Holy Spirit, and therefore lacks an authentic spiritual and ascetic life, only means that it is remarkable how close some of them are to us. We have no reason not to be on good terms with them. However, this does not mean that we do not freely practise our Faith without compromise. Most Europeans have in the last generation or so decided to be atheists or at least agnostics, Europe today is a mission territory open to all. Conversely, most in the Russian Lands have in the last generation or so chosen to be baptized Orthodox. We should respect each other’s differences. We may be Europeans, but we are also firmly Christian and follow the Russian Orthodox Church in full.
Some, reading the above, might ask about the role of other jurisdictions in the shared territory of Europe, such as Constantinople’s Greeks and its political dissidents. In our view, the establishment of a Russian Metropolia in no way means that they cannot continue just as now. They could even establish their own international structures if they wish. The difference will always be that the Russian Orthodox Metropolia will alone be Europe-wide and multinational, not mononational, and therefore with the potential of growing into a new Local Church, as Patriarch Alexis II hoped. In the long term, as we know from experience, the jurisdiction that will survive in Europe will be the spiritually serious one, not the ones that wave nationalistic or ideological flags and so automatically alienate others and lose the second and following generations, who find such nationalism and ideologism foreign and irrelevant. Just as the fringes attract the fringes, vagantes attract vagantes, sectarians attract sectarians, personality cults attract personality cultists, so serious jurisdictions will attract serious people.
In recent years I have visited Russian Orthodox in Austria, Hungary, Germany, Switzerland, the Czech Lands, Slovakia, Belgium, Portugal, the Netherlands, France, Sweden and Finland, as well as receiving visits from Russian Orthodox from many of these countries and from Norway, Ireland, Spain and Italy. In all of them I have noticed the consistent ability of many Russian Orthodox to keep the best of Russian culture and to absorb the best of Western culture at the same time. This is because of our ability to see and live European life and culture through the correcting prism and filter of Orthodox Christianity. It is the pastoral duty of the Russian Orthodox Church to its own flock and to all European Orthodox to live like this, keeping faith and yet being European, not repeating the errors of either sectarian nationalists or of the equally sectarian modernists of the Paris Jurisdiction and the old Sourozh Diocese.
We European Orthodox have four layers of identity: local, national and continental (= cultural) and spiritual. In my own case, this means the East of England, England, Europe and Russian Orthodoxy (= Rus). All of these layers of identity can be combined by saying that I belong to the East of England Rus (Vostochnoangliyskaya Rus’), to the Russian Orthodox world that is planted in the East of England. Others can say the same thing, that in Sweden they belong to Scanian Rus, in Spain to Catalan Rus or Galician Rus, in Italy to Sub-alpine Rus or Sardinian Rus, in the Netherlands to Frisian Rus, in Scotland to Hebridean Rus, in Germany to Bavarian Rus or Saxon Rus, in France to Breton Rus or Occitan Rus, in Austria to Carinthian Rus or Tyrolean Rus etc. This is the unity on which our future Russian Orthodox Metropolia in Europe (R.O.M.E.) can be built, from Iceland to the plains of Hungary, from Lapland to the islands of Malta, in the local regions of the 25 nations of the continent of Europe where we live, and on our complete faithfulness to the integral Russian Orthodox Faith and Tradition.
Archpriest Andrew Phillips
ROCOR Missionary Representative for Western Europe
Brittany, 24 July 2015