Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God….and I will write upon him….the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem…
Revelation 3, 11-12
And I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God…
Revelation 21, 2
Shine, shine, O New Jerusalem! The Glory of the Lord has shone on Thee!
From Easter Matins
The term ‘Moscow Patriarchate’ was to some extent discredited in the Soviet period. For some even now it suggests political compromise with an atheist State, as well as ritualism, bureaucracy and centralization. Indeed, for extremists, the very words are literally anathema. For example, the present Ukrainian crisis is coloured by so-called ‘Christian’ (whether nominally Catholic or nominally Orthodox and actually atheists), now sponsored by the Phanar, chant, ‘Death to the Muscovites!’ It seems to us that their extremist nationalism must be countered by Russian Orthodox Church internationalism. What does this mean? Let me explain.
We can see both from the history books and contemporary newspapers with their Roman Catholic clerical scandals how the First Rome ended up. And now in the last few weeks, after centuries of extraordinary decadence culminating in the Ukraine, we have seen how the Second Rome (‘New Rome’) has ended up. Therefore, the alternative rallying call of ‘Moscow the Third Rome’ seems to us less attractive. There is an alternative: This is ‘Moscow the Second Jerusalem’. And outside the secular and post-Soviet Russian Federation government and secular metropolis that is today’s Moscow, this is possible in a place that has now been restored.
After the historic events of the reunion of the Russian Church on Ascension Day in Moscow, soon after, on 18 May 2007 I gave a talk at the Moscow Institute of Philosophy entitled ‘Orthodox Russia and a World Council of Orthodoxy’. This was of the possible future importance of the New Jerusalem Monastery complex outside Moscow, where restoration after the ravages of both Soviet Russian and Nazi German atheism was then about to start. Founded by Patriarch Nikon in the 17th century, the whole complex had been intended to recreate the Holy Land in the area of Moscow by the River Istra, which takes the role of the Holy River Jordan.
In the main church there is indeed a place for the Patriarch of each Local Church to stand. It was conceived as the Church of International Orthodoxy. I said then that this might one day become the centre of World Orthodoxy, a place of Church Councils. I said: ‘Indeed, we would dare to suggest an actual location for this World Council – at the New Jerusalem complex, west of Moscow. Built in the seventeenth century as a counterbalance to Imperial ideas of the State, this complex, centred around the Monastery of the Resurrection, was chosen to embody parts of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, with the River Istra representing the River Jordan.
It was meant to be open to all peoples and there monks of different nationalities, including those converted from the West, strove together in true catholic unity. Although still to be restored, this site is surely most appropriate, since it is centred around a Monastery, dedicated to the Resurrection of Christ. It stands in stark contrast to Chambesy in Calvinist Switzerland. There, Protestantism financed a basically secular conference centre for the Patriarchate of Constantinople, with its pseudo-Orthodox ‘cinema’ chapel’. Those were my words then, printed in a bilingual booklet in Russian and English. They were spoken with prayer and hope.
As Ukrainian Fascists cry with hatred their slogan ‘Death to the Muscovites’, perhaps the time has come. As the Russian Orthodox Church at the end of December set up two new missionary Exarchates, ‘of Paris and Western Europe’ and ‘of Singapore and South-East Asia’, uniting East and West beneath the double-headed eagle, perhaps the time has come. To do what? In these eschatological times, to rename the Patriarchate of Moscow, ‘The Patriarchate of New Jerusalem and All Rus’. It seems to us that nationalism must be countered by internationalism. For, ‘The Lord doth build up Jerusalem: He gathereth together the outcast of Israel’. (Ps. 146, 2).