It is now clear that the brutal war in Syria has become a watershed in twenty-first century history. 2013 is becoming an acid test, just like the events of 1913 in twentieth-century history. Thus, the elites of some countries have adopted a most hostile view towards the Syrian government and supported the terrorists; others, however, have supported the government and denied the terrorists. The same is true of all countries and institutions, from South Africa to the Vatican, from China to NATO, from Sweden to the Establishment BBC. More relevantly to us, the leaderships of various Local Orthodox Churches have also had to define their attitudes towards Syria and the merciless war there.
For example, the Arab-speaking Antiochian Orthodox Church is now drawing ever closer to the Russian Orthodox Church as a result of the Syrian crisis. On the other hand, there is the deafening silence of the US-backed Patriarchate of Constantinople – like the city of Antioch, the Patriarchate of Constantinople is in Turkey, the last remnant of the Ottoman Empire, and so is not free. Even more shocking are the anti-Christian and Russophobic criticisms of Russia by members of the immature OCA group is North America. However, unlike these, most Local Orthodox Churches are now realising that they have only one true friend – the Russian Church. They are leaning towards us and away from their pro-Western regimes.
As for the two parts of the Russian Church, the small Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) and the enormous Church Inside Russia (which we may here call ROCIR) are also drawing together. We have come a long way from our reconciliation of 2007. Since 2007 ROCOR has drawn closer to the Church Inside Russia, losing its politicised, Russophobic elements, whereas ROCIR in turn has been losing its old Soviet tinges. The two parts have been coming together, recognising how much we have in common. The same is true of individuals. Thus, one notable personality inside Russia, previously a pro-Western critic of the Tradition of his Church, has intelligently made a 180 degree turn and now fully supports his own Church.
It is indeed time to come together. A great question is now facing all the Local Orthodox Churches and, for that matter, all conscious Orthodox: whose side are we on? Previously, it was possible to dither and hesitate, to put off. Previously, it was possible to ‘be open’ and not take sides. But the opportunity for indecision is now rapidly coming to an end. The fact is that all who have not yet decided will have to make a decision – and soon. The Western elites have opted for the suicidal devaluation of marriage and at the same time support for Islamic terrorism. What do we do? Are we on the side of the Russian Church and Jerusalem – or are we on the side of the Western elites and Sodom?