On Empire Building

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

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

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

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

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