Q: I am Catholic, initially because I was born into a Catholic family of Irish origin. But I have been going to Orthodox churches and travelling in countries where there are lots of Orthodox for twenty years. I have also read a lot, starting off with Timothy Ware’s The Orthodox Church. I am familiar with all the Orthodox views about the Catholic Church. I am myself against the filioque and against compulsory celibacy for clergy, though I have remained Catholic. I also know about the pedophile scandals in Catholicism.
I have a question, but will you have the courage to answer it and then publish it? If you will, I shall respect you, but if you do not, I don’t think I will ever read anything Orthodox again. Now I come to my question:
In the last six months I have read about a pedophile Orthodox bishop in Canada, who was sent to prison, a Greek Orthodox bishop in France involved in homosexual orgies and an Orthodox bishop in Britain who spent the night in a hotel with his boyfriend, but did not know that the manager of the hotel was Orthodox and so was caught out. None of this is hearsay, it is all facts. I have checked them several times. So what is the real difference between Catholics and Orthodox? Do not mention the word ‘filioque’ in your answer.
A: The difference? Simple:
In Catholicism corruption is systematic, institutional, ingrained among the clergy. True, there are many ordinary Catholics, including some priests (usually secretly married) who are very good people, but this is because they defied the system. The Hungarian Fr Gabriel Patacsi, who was a teacher of mine in Paris 44 years ago, was an example, though he later joined the Orthodox Church.
On the other hand, in the Orthodox Church corruption among the clergy is personal. For every bishop you find like those you mention above or who is a CIA spy, and I have come across them all and so can confirm what you say, you will find another who is not only normal, but also pious.
In Russian there is a popular saying that when a man is ordained, and even more so, when he is consecrated bishop, a demon enters into him. Some are shocked by this saying, because theologically it is the Holy Spirit that enters into him. However, there is profound truth here. The theological fact is that when a man is ordained/consecrated, whatever is inside him gets reinforced because of the presence of the Holy Spirit – or else because of that man’s resistance to the Holy Spirit, in other words, because of demonic activity in him. If he is pious, then piety will become stronger. If he is wicked and can only think about money or perversion, then that tendency will also get worse. Here is the great danger of ordaining/consecrating the corrupt or the perverted.
Thus, we know of one bishop who loves trying to close churches, which are the fruits of decades of missionary work. All the people who visit those churches which have remained open despite him, and there are thousands of those people, are disgusted with him. But because he is a careerist and was never interested in authentic Church life, he does the devil’s work instead.
If you read Fr Tikhon’s best-selling books, Everyday Saints (when he asked me before it was translated what the English title should be, my suggestion was Saints and Sinners), there is the story from the Prologue about an awful bishop. When people asked as to why he was a bishop, the answer was: ‘Because we could not find anyone worse’. Here is the reality. Here is why the main task of pastors today is to protect the flocks entrusted to them from wolves in sheep’s clothing and also from wolves in shepherd’s clothing.
Q: Does Russia have a future after what has happened in the Ukraine? Surely the Russian Patriarch Kyrill is finished?
A: Your question seems to confuse three different things, Russia, Patriarch Kyrill, and the Russian Orthodox Church.
As regards Russia, I think it ultimately has a great future, unlike Europe, which is in a huge mess, even more since the US sabotaged its economies by blowing up the Nordstream pipelines and forcing it to impose on itself suicidal sanctions against cheap Russian oil, gas and cereals. Russia, China, India Iran and, frankly, nearly all of Africa, Asia and Latin America, seven-eighths of the world together, can be unbeatable. The sooner Western Europe abandons its exceptionalism and joins them, the better for it.
As for Patriarch Kyrill, let us leave persons aside. He is only a Patriarch, not the Church, so that is not important and any views just end up being speculative. Let us look at the third matter, the Russian Orthodox Church, which is a different matter from Russia. Here we have to go back into history.
The Russian Church has been betrayed for over 300 years.
Read about what Peter I and the German Catherine II did to the Church 250-300 years ago. Then the Patriarch was replaced by an Erastian, State-worshipping, Protestant-style, German-named minister, who sometimes was an atheist or a freemason, nearly always anti-monastic, anti-Tradition, anti-Patriarchal and so anti-canonical. That Church enslavement to the Russian State was typical of the situation for 200 years, until 1917. They betrayed the Church.
After 1917 Russia was for a few months dominated by the ‘Whites’. The first and main ‘Revolution’ in February 1917 was a palace revolt, carried out by Great Britain with help from other Western countries, above all by incompetent, aristocratic ‘White’ Russian traitors, ones who today would be called oligarchs. The Whites, for the most part so-called Whites, betrayed the Church. Perhaps 90% of them committed atrocities in the Civil War and abandoned the Church. The 90% were only really interested in getting back their properties and their wealth. They betrayed the Church – and the Tsar and therefore the people, whom he represented. Incompetent, they lost power to the ‘Reds’.
The Reds took everything that was anti-Russian before the two 1917 Revolutions and multiplied it by ten. They betrayed the Church. The second ‘Revolution’, in October 1917, was a Bolshevik mob takeover, carried out by atheist Jews like Trotsky, financed from New York, and they were even more anti-Russian, killing millions of Russians (though a lot fewer than the CIA claimed), destroying Russian churches and Russian values for decades.
After the collapse of all that in 1991, for thirty years, post-Soviet Russia was created and ruled by Western-controlled, money-grubbing Russian oligarchs and traitors. They betrayed the Church, but from inside, through oligarchs in cassocks.
Only since the turning-point of 24 February 2022, exactly 100 years since the USSR was established and exactly 300 years since the foundation of the Russian Empire, has change begun. Then traitors began to flee abroad to their masters and post-Soviet Russia at last began to crumble. For the West’s actions in the Ukraine since 2014 has made all Russians at last face up to the question, which question they wanted to avoid answering, so they could continue living in the illusions of their fools’ paradise. This question was:
Do you support the real Orthodox Russia or do you support the anti-Russian West?
Now this Western-imposed question is a providential sword which forces all Russians to take up a position. And that includes the Russian Church. Here the question is:
Do you side with historic Orthodox Christianity, or with the Western-created decadence of post-Soviet Russia with its adoration of the CIA values of money and luxury, with centralised bureaucracy and nationalism, superstition and ritualism, homosexuality and modernism, mindless ignorance and heartless formalism, which sees the Church as a mere Business.
If you side with the latter, then the Church will return to what it was before the Revolution. And if this is so, then there will be another Revolution. Only in the first case does the Russian Church have a future.
All this is quite independent of the Ukraine problem, which is only a symptom, not the cause. Let me explain:
Since 2007 I have travelled a lot in the Ukraine and in Russia. My last visit to the Ukraine was in October 2021. I have seen both saints and sinners among the clergy. So much is superficial there, all about careerism, awards and money. Buy yourself a mitre, make a nice present to your bishop and after ten years of priesthood, he will award you the mitre, even if you are a rascal. That is so typically Ukrainian, though common in Russia too. I remember at one concelebration with about forty priests in the Ukraine, where I was by far the oldest priest, half of the priests had mitres. The average age? About 40. How can a Church like that survive? It is all so superficial. God is not mocked. Here there is simply a lack of love, it is a Church for show.
The point is that you cannot be a ‘post-Soviet’ Church, just as you could not be a ‘Soviet Church’ or, for that matter, ‘a ‘CIA Church’. If so, then you are siding with hell on earth and that means that you are bent on self-destruction. I am not talking about some personal theory. I have seen this. It is factual.
Or else post-Soviet can mean ‘pre-Orthodox’. And that means that a Tsar is coming and he will cleanse the Russian Church of its wicked clergy. Which way will it go with the Church? I do not know and I have been saying that since 2007. If a Tsar is not coming, then Antichrist will come instead. And that is exactly what is happening in the Ukraine now. That is why I say that is a symptom, not a cause, a symptom of the lack of faith. The war is there because God is not mocked. They mocked Him, so there is war.
In the end the apostles, prophets and fools for Christ who preach of the Holy Spirit will win against the bureaucrats and formalists, against Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin, who have no love, who only have self-interest in their careers and bank accounts, in the ‘system’, like the pharisees of old. They always do win. Here is what I mean by the Triumph of Orthodoxy. The war in the Ukraine is the Judgement of God. The Russian Church in Russia and in the Ukraine is being judged NOW for the heartless formalism of its Spirit-quenchers, just as it was in 1917. This judgement is happening now at the Front in the Ukraine, where hundreds of thousands have died over the last year. Now is the Judgement of the Nations. The outcome? Don’t ask me, I am not a prophet.