Personal Questions I Have Been Asked In The Last Three Months

Q: How could you have stayed with that nasty bunch of sectarians for so long?

A: St John of Shanghai a nasty sectarian? Hieromonk Seraphim Rose a nasty sectarian? The ever-memorable Archbishop Antony of Geneva a nasty sectarian? Metropolitan Laurus Skurla a nasty sectarian?  Metropolitan Hilarion Kapral a nasty sectarian? Just because a bunch of nasty sectarians opposed them, that does not mean that they too were nasty sectarians!

Q: Is this a personal rebellion?

A: After 32 years of faithful and unpaid missionary service, ever the defender of the traditional ROCOR? As for the rest, you must ask the fifteen members of clergy and the thousands of laypeople who left unanimously. That is, half of the former UK Diocese lost to ROCOR, all because no-one would listen to us for years. The only rebels are the two individuals in authority who have rebelled against the age-old practices and traditions of the Russian Orthodox Church in the name of a sectarian ideology and created a schism. Moreover, instead of resolving the problem, they have publicised it, deepened it and internationalised it.

Q: You have been accused of being unstable. What do you say?

A: The enemies of the Church always trot out the same two slanders. You are mentally ill/unstable. Alternatively, you are a homosexual/pedophile. Of course, they are talking about themselves. They cannot conceive of normal people and healthy human psychology.

Q: How did you react when they said you were senile?

A: We all fell about laughing. I was playing football in the park with some of my eleven grandchildren, a football team in themselves, when we heard about this one.

Q: What is your view of Fr/St Sophrony?

A: As someone who knew him well (I must have been present at about 100 liturgies he celebrated), I saw a wise and experienced old monk. He wrote some strange things, though perhaps not strange to a philosopher – I am not sure that any of us can understand or has understood his writings. He painted some strange icons – but he was trained in the Art Nouveau in Paris. However, there are many people who consider him a local saint and he has been canonised. He certainly did not oppose the Church with some schism or heresy or form a sect. And no-one would ever accuse him of being nasty. Many think he is a saint. There is no reason to think that he is not, though we may think that the Russian Diaspora produced even greater saints, like St John. But that is a personal view.

Q: Are you really a Socialist?

A: Very amusing! Yes, this accusation came from some Trumpist in the USA after I had praised the social policies, free education and free medical treatment, set up by Tsar Nicholas II (whom they claim to venerate!). The fact that the Soviet regime continued the Tsar’s policies (albeit in a more primitive and underfunded form) is nothing to do with Soviet Socialism, but everything to do with their inheritance of Tsar Nicholas’ love for his people.

I have all my life consistently opposed all extremists of both left and right, freemasons, modernists and ecumenists, as well as anti-semitics, past-worshippers and ultra-nationalists, New Calendarist and Old Calendarist. So when I get accused of being a Socialist, or then a Fascist, I think that is a good sign. I am clearly not with the extremes, because both extremes are attacking me.

Q: What will happen next?

A: We have no idea. All we can say is that we have a unique opportunity to form from the three broken bits of the Russian Orthodox Church the foundation for One United Local Orthodox Church in Western Europe and the foundation of another United Local Orthodox Church in the Americas, based on the three broken bits there. This is an opportunity which, like so many others before it, may tragically be missed yet again. But the opportunity is being offered on a plate. If all can get rid of their wholly secular and political ideologies and ignore their spiritually impure ideologues, this is possible. Otherwise they forfeit their right to call themselves Orthodox Christians. All we have to do is to be Orthodox Christians and stand up for what is right!

The Russian Orthodox Church claims to have a calling to set up new Local Churches. (No other Local Orthodox Church says that). If the Russian Church does not set up such new Local Churches, after all these wasted generations of descendants of immigrants assimilated into secular society, then people will stop believing in it. They will start believing that the Russian Church too is, finally, just one more ethnic and nationalist ghetto, which has no belief in itself and no belief in providing the religious infrastructure for the descendants of Orthodox immigrants born here to live as Orthodox Christians in the here and now.

Q: Are you frightened?

A: Frightened of the upstarts who persecute us? Not in the least. My conscience is clear. I fear God’s Judgement only for my personal sins. Others should also have that fear and also have fear of their sins against the Church, of their sects, schisms and heresies. For every sect and every schism is founded on personal pride. And when that personal pride grows, the sect and schism develop into a heresy.

So it was and ever will be, from the Disciple Judas to the Priest Arius, from Bishop Donatus to Archbishop Nestorius, from Pope Hildebrand to his compatriot the priest-monk Professor Martin Luther, from the Old Believers to the Old Calendarists, from the freemasonry of Patriarch Meletios Metaksakis to the Sophianism of Archpriest Sergei Bulgakov. But remember, all of you, that though man proposes, God disposes. And those are not idle words. I have seen it happen a hundred times in my lifetime. Here today, gone tomorrow. But God’s Words are Eternal.