Q: How should we react to the many stories throughout history, but especially today, of clerical corruption, for example, of priests stealing money, committing crimes and bishops who are morally corrupt or perverts etc?
A: Firstly, many of these stories may well be slanders. How do we know that they are true? Where is the proof? A lot of people (especially atheistic journalists) invent such stories in order to justify their own corruption and laziness, saying: ‘If priests and bishops do it, then I can too’. It is so often just self-justification and it is very easy to slander. Such slanders do great harm. Let us not forget how St Nectarios of Aegina was slandered and how St John was slandered by his fellow-bishops who put him on trial. The righteous need the patience of Job.
But even if all such stories were true, so what? Corruption is the problem of those who are corrupt. Tomorrow they will die and their bodies will rot in their graves and their souls will go down to hell. Let them do their worst – they will suffer terribly for it and their names will go down in history as the monsters they are. They will have to answer for their corruption at the Last Judgement.
God only wants one thing from us, to save our own souls, not to save the world or to save corrupt bishops and priests, but just to save ourselves. Let us do simply that and leave the others in their self-made mess. They will either repent or else will have to face God, Who is not mocked. I tremble for them.
Let us interest ourselves not in scandalous stories, but in real stories, in the Lives of the Saints.
Q: Some people say that all the problems of Orthodox come from others, for example, from Communists, Catholics or Jews. Do you agree?
A: No, this is complete nonsense. The problems of Orthodox come from Orthodox, from ourselves. The grave error of all conspiracy theories is that they blame others for our own failures. They reject the concept and reality of personal sin. This is anti-Christian. Yes, there are many siren voices who urge us to shipwreck. True, they are all enemies of Christ (whom, by the way, we are called on to love, not to hate), but there is no need to listen to such voices. If we do listen to them and obey them, then we become the enemies of Christ, we are entirely to blame, responsible for rejecting Christ, instead of rejecting the siren voices. We do not blame others, we blame ourselves. That is called Christianity. Self-reproach is the beginning of salvation.
Q: Why after 1917 did the White Movement fail and not defeat Communism, the Reds?
A: Simply because there was no such thing as the ‘White Movement’. Most so-called Whites were merely anti-Bolsheviks, not White at all, but February revolutionaries, Kerenskyites. Just because they were against Communism, it does not at all mean they were ‘White’. Many, perhaps most, so-called ‘White’ anti-Communists, were crude nationalists and atheists, so in fact traitors to the real Whites. Many were no better than the Reds and indeed committed the same atrocities. This is an excellent example of ‘the enemies of my enemies are not necessarily my friends’. It has been estimated that only 10% of the so-called Whites were actually White, that is, actually Orthodox, fighting for the restoration of Orthodox government. Yudenich, Kornilov, Kolchak, Denikin and so many well-known generals were not White – after all, the Tsar was brought down by the treason of generals. The only well-known Generals who were White were Diterichs and, to a lesser extent, Wrangel.
Q: Is today’s Russia close to being Orthodox?
A: No, it still has very far to go. For example, there is always the danger both from Western-style ‘liberals’ (militant atheists) as well as from unChurched nationalists. It is because of them all that Lenin’s mummy still lies in its stew in the centre of Moscow. Statues to him still stand in provincial Russian towns. (Just like the statues of the equally evil Cromwell and Napoleon, which defile England and France). You cannot glorify the New Martyrs and the new torturers, God and the devil. Many such unChurched nationalist ‘Orthodox’ also still admire the Georgian bandit and mass-murderer Stalin. Why?
This is simply because he was on the winning side in World War II. In reality, that war was won by the generals and above all the sacrifices of the people, not by the disastrous Communists, who shot brave soldiers in the back and in 1945 sent millions of freed Russians, who had been captured by the Nazis, to Siberia, to perish there. Stalin was a disastrous and incompetent leader who allowed the enemy to get to the gates of Moscow and Saint Petersburg within six months. Thus, nearly 30 million citizens of the USSR were slaughtered in World War II under Stalin, whereas under Tsar Nicholas II in World War I just over one million died and the Germans had only conquered Russian Poland and a small part of Lithuania after three years of huge losses for them. As for the Austro-Hungarians and Turks in World War I, they were defeated by Russia.
And then there are still many place names of those like Lenin, Stalin, Sverdlov and others who committed the obscenities of the USSR. President Putin has been unable to undo all this and that is clearly his greatest failure.
Q: What does the Church say about racism?
A: The Pharisees said that too many ‘foreign’ Greeks had become Christians and this was one of the reasons they refused to become Christians. Thus they lost the Church which passed into the hands of others. All nationalities have committed the same error and so lost the Church, in 1453 and most recently in 1917. There is no place for racism in the Church.
Those who were racist to me in my youth are all dead now. Let that be a warning.
Q: Are some nationalities privileged in the Church?
A: Sadly, often yes. But this always ends up badly, as we can see in ROCOR in Miami today, not to mention several other places.
Q: How do we avoid negativity?
A: By focusing on Christ and the saints. However, this does not mean that we should be dreamers and live in the clouds, like those who do not want to know about the real world. Such people call those who tell them the truth ‘negative’. Such dreamers never achieve anything, however much money they are given by the deluded, as they are disincarnate.
Q: Can ordinary Greeks take communion in our Russian churches?
A: Yes, of course, I give them communion every Sunday. Ordinary members of the Patriarchate of Constantinople are not directly concerned by the actions of their treasonous elite. But I now make a habit of asking Greeks who are unknown to me whether they are actually Orthodox or Eastern Catholics (‘Eastern Papists’) at the confession which is obligatory for adults before communion. As the Ukrainian Archbishop Theodosy of Boyarka has said:
‘Orthodoxy versus ‘Phanarodoxy’ runs as a line not just between Churches, but within the Local Churches themselves; that is, between the ascetics of faith and zealots of the canons of Orthodoxy on the one hand, and ecumenists, religious liberals and Greek ethnophyletists on the other hand. And if, by God’s intervention and admonition, the Phanariots – the new Papists – do not come to understand the Truth and come to repentance, then such a global division between Orthodoxy and ‘Phanarodoxy’ is wholly possible and not far off. But in that case, the Orthodox Church will only be cleansed of a foreign element, of new heresies.
If we are speaking about a schism between individual Local Orthodox Churches within their borders as a consequence of the current inter-Orthodox situation, then theoretically, unfortunately, even this is possible. And by human reasoning, everything is leading to this. But I hope the Lord will not allow this, otherwise, the prophecies of the saints, including of recent times, would have said a lot about it. But they did not. On the contrary, they spoke otherwise, saying a lot that inspires optimism. I believe the Lord will correct the situation with such circumstances so that over time, Orthodox will only remember with a smile the miniscule but proud heresy of Eastern Papism, which will by then have sunk into oblivion’.
Q: What is the most urgent need for Orthodox in Western Europe?
A: I can tell you now that it is NOT writing books about ‘Orthodox’ philosophical theories of ‘spirituality’ and academic theology, where the authors describe what they do not do and cannot provide. Our most urgent need is premises, parish churches. The RCs and C of E have them and they are fully equipped, with Church halls and clergy houses. Why can’t Orthodox do that? Shame on us.