‘If marriage is forbidden to priests, they will fall into sins worse than mere fornication, not abhorring the embrace of other men.’
Bishop Ulric of Imola, The Rescript, c. 1060
The resignation in Scotland of Cardinal Keith O’Brien has come a day after claims by three priests and a former priest emerged in the Observer newspaper. These claims date back to the 1980s and concern ‘inappropriate behaviour’. Yet another scandal for Catholicism, coming only days after the revelations in Ireland about tens of thousands of young women, more or less imprisoned as slave labourers in laundries run by nuns.
Last week, the self-same Cardinal called for Roman Catholicism to end its celibacy rule for the priesthood. He told the BBC: ‘I realise that many priests have found it very difficult to cope with celibacy as they lived out their priesthood, and felt the need of a companion, of a woman, to whom they could get married and raise a family of their own’.
Nearly thirty years ago now, I remember talking to an Italian Catholic priest about clerical celibacy. As a married Orthodox cleric, I asked him how Catholic priests coped with the imposition of celibacy. He told me in his honest Italian way: ‘It depends. In Germany the priests are overweight – they eat to compensate. In Ireland they drink Guinness. In England, they are uptight and frustrated. And in Italy, well, we just ignore it’.
I have to say that he was one of only two Catholic priests I have ever met (true, I have not met many) who was not homosexual. The other one was Portuguese and he of course was married and had two children. In the north of Portugal this is not only acceptable but normal and parishioners would not even accept ‘celibates’, full well knowing what they really were.
This situation is common in Spain, the south of Italy, Africa and Latin America. Latin and African blood will not take this nonsense. Only a few months ago I was talking to a Polish taxi-driver in Colchester. He was from Krakow, the centre of Polish Catholicism, and he described to me how much of his income there had come from taxiing Polish priests and seminarians to and from local brothels…
It is time to do away with the piece of jesuitical word-play which says: ‘On no, we don’t have compulsory clerical celibacy; priesthood in Catholicism is voluntary’. The fact is that celibacy is compulsory, if you are a Catholic priest. (Unless, of course, you are a Uniat in distant lands, banned from ever coming to Western Europe or North America, or, only very recently, an ex-Anglican).
This nonsense of compulsory clerical celibacy, introduced by force into the West in the late eleventh century, has to stop. It is the source of that ugly distortion, clericalism, and, by reaction, secularist feminism, which thinks it is being deprived by not being admitted to the priesthood. But even worse than all this, it is the source of perversion and hypocrisy.
Such a rejection of perversion and hypocrisy seems unlikely, because it would mean that the Vatican would have to admit that it has persisted in its anti-Apostolic error for nearly a thousand years – as we Orthodox have always known. The real question therefore is – does the Vatican have the humility and spirit of repentance necessary for it to return to the Evangelical Faith of the first millennium?
If it does, then who knows, perhaps it will even return to the Faith of the Apostles, the Fathers and the Seven Universal Councils, even reinstating the Christian Creed. Perhaps then its various branches, Anglican, Protestant etc., might do the same. Humility and repentance are always miraculous. Perversion and hypocrisy never are.
There are many views of Pope Benedict’s recent shock resignation. Some see just an old and failing man who cannot go on any longer, who is exhausted by ‘the heat of the day’. Others see more sinister forces at work. Some believe that his resignation came about as a result of pressure from various international groups, political and financial lobbies or pro-homosexual and pro-contraceptive lobbies. They believe that the Pope, ‘the infallible Vicar of Christ’, was forced to leave his post because he was resisting those secularist lobbies. There are after all groups who are working towards the New World Order, in which there is no place for sovereign institutions such as the Vatican, or indeed anyone who shows spiritual independence from the financial domination of a future Global Government. If this is all so, at present, it seems, these powers are operating a two-pronged attack, financial and political.
Firstly, they are setting the stage for a World Bank, required because of the present purely artificial financial crisis, a worldwide manipulation which is now in its sixth year. This was caused by indebtedness, which was long promoted by Western governments and banks, Secondly, these powers are sowing chaos in the Arab World, taking back Arab countries to the Middle Ages. The influence of these powers in Rome seems to be clear from the Vatican’s silence on Libya and its apparent abandonment of Egyptian and Syrian Christians, like Christians in Iraq before them and Christians in Serbia before them. Already on 5 September 2011, the then French President Nicolas Sarkozy, himself of Jewish descent, openly announced to the Roman Catholic Maronite Cardinal of Antioch that, with the coming to power of Western-backed Islamists in Syria, Christians there would have to flee to Europe.
Interestingly, the Western Roman Catholic Press attacked this same Roman Catholic Cardinal’s denunciations of the West for its support of Islamist terrorism in Syria. The Vatican’s silence and even encouragement of Western interventionism, exactly as in Yugoslavia in the 1990s, suggests that it may already have become the puppet of the New World Order project, which only further weakens its spiritual authority. The global elite behind the New World Order project is not so much saying, ‘If you do not go along with us, your country will descend into chaos’, but rather, ‘If you do not go along with us, we will ensure that your country descends into chaos’. It has already happened in fragmented Yugoslavia, and now in Afghanistan, Iraq, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. Now it is happening in Syria, with its ‘Somali-isation’, that is, division by bandit warlords into rival fiefs.
If all this is so, then the Cardinal-electors of the new Pope face a stark choice. Are they going to assert their independence from the New World Order, or are they going to fall for globalism and ‘global governance’, as it is called? This is very much their last chance to choose. After a thousand years of compromise with this world, this may well be the Vatican’s final choice. In today’s terms, it means a choice between the continued desacralisation of protestantisation and secularisation, begun fifty years ago with the Second Vatican Council, and spiritual resistance to secularisation by siding with Non-Western countries. Undermined and discredited by the pedophile scandal, which was completely of its own making, the Vatican may well choose secularisation. That would make it popular with the highly-controlled Western media. But that would also be its suicide, the end of the road.
The crisis in Rome is nothing new. In the past the Papacy has continually been manipulated by foreign and often atheist powers, from Medieval Monarchs to Napoleon and from Republicans to Fascists. Thus, only recently, there was a Polish Pope, elected to destroy Communism. And the present German Pope reflects the Western Schism of 1054, which occurred as the result of another carefully chosen German Pope, Leo IX. However, if the present crisis is the final crisis, one of its results will surely be the exile of Orthodox refugees from the West to Russia. After all, in her time Catherine II gave refuge to Serb, Bulgarian and Greek Orthodox from Turkish oppression and Tsar Nicholas I gave refuge to French citizens from Revolutionary oppression. Some of their descendants fought for Russia against France during the allied Western/Ottoman invasion of Russia known as the Crimean War.
Although the Russian Federation and Church seem to have defeated last year’s orchestrated media attacks from the West, the rest of the Orthodox world is in chaos, not least in the Ukraine and Georgia. The four Orthodox countries that were seduced by Western money to join the EU are now in crisis: Greece has gone bankrupt and Cyprus is going bankrupt amid elections; the Bulgarian government has just resigned amid demonstrations; poverty-stricken Romania is on the verge of bankruptcy – as also the depopulated Baltic States with their Orthodox minorities. Orthodox Syria is being divided and returned to the Middle Ages by 65,000 foreign Islamist terrorists, financed largely by Qatar and flown there by the USA under its divide and rule policy. The only light is the sight of Patriarch Theodore II of Alexandria and Africa aboard a Russian warship in Dar es Salaam on 17 February.
Little wonder that eyes are turning with hope to a future when a restored Orthodox Russian Federation could once more become the visible centre of the Orthodox and so Christian world. At this moment when we celebrate the 400th anniversary of the House of Romanov and the 1700th anniversary of the Incarnational Edict of Milan, our prayers turn to a new Tsar, who could renew the monarchy of St Constantine. Soon the Orthodox Patriarchs will be gathering in Nish in Serbia to commemorate the Edict. As Orthodox, we should beware, however, of extremists on the left (disincarnate, liberal, ecumenist and modernist) and on the right (sectarian, nationalist and zealous not according to knowledge) fringes of the Church who have tried, try and will try to stop the restoration of Orthodox Russia to her inter-Orthodox calling. Only the Royal Way, the Tsar’s Path, will save us from such temptations.
On July 18th, 1870, the (First Vatican) Council met for the last time. As the first of the Fathers stepped forward to declare his vote (on papal infallibility), a storm of lightning and thunder suddenly burst over St Peter’s. All through the morning the voting continued, and every vote was accompanied by a flash and a roar from heaven.
Lytton Strachey, on ‘Cardinal Manning’ in his ‘Eminent Victorians’
The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI last week shocked many, not least Roman Catholics. Conspiracy theories are rife, all the more so since on the evening of his resignation a violent thunderstorm erupted over Rome and, dramatically, lightning struck St Peter’s Basilica. Some of these theories assert that the Pope of Rome is dying of cancer and has not long to live, others that he resigned in order to escape a deepening of the pedophile scandal, or else a financial scandal. Others believe that the next Pope will be the last Pope and will call a Third Vatican Council, which will be the end of millennial Roman Catholicism.
According to these crisis theories, this last Pope will either be a saintly man or else a profoundly evil one, and that either the Vatican will come under persecution and disappear, or else that a new Church will replace it. In the latter case, for us, this can only mean a Western European Metropolia under the Russian Orthodox Church, the only multinational Local Church, and the only Local Church large enough to establish such a Metropolia. One wonders if this Friday’s meteor that appeared over Russia and then exploded just south of Ekaterinburg, the place of martyrdom of the Royal Martyrs in 1918, is not linked with this.
Against this background do we not see the genocide of Orthodox Syria, organised and financed by the anti-Christian Western Powers and their Islamist allies? It is written: ‘Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom…land fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven…’ (Lk 21, 10-11). However, let us remain sober. What practically are the prospects for such a Metropolia to come into being? The Orthodox Diaspora seems to be divided into narrow ethnic ghettos, generally unable to see beyond temporary nationalistic or political interests. Such ghettos have only one destiny – to die out. They are history.
A great move forward occurred six years ago, when the two parts of the Russian Orthodox Church were reunited, after it had been proved that the Church inside Russia was free of State interference. Now together and growing with 824 parishes and monasteries in countries of the Diaspora, Russian Orthodox churches outside Russian Orthodox canonical territory are clearly a vital part of Orthodox life in the Diaspora. It is obvious then that no Metropolia can be built on political division, or on groups used for Cold War purposes and financed by Non-Orthodox Powers, who are at present orchestrating the destruction of Orthodox Syria.
The regular meetings of all local Orthodox Bishops in different countries or groups of countries (North America, Latin America, France, Great Britain and Ireland etc) only became possible after this reuniting of both parts of the Russian Orthodox Church in 2007. Until then the Russian Church of the Diaspora was excluded for political reasons and so any meetings were unrepresentative, political manipulations. The next step is an inter-Orthodox step to unite the Diaspora in regional Metropolias. Such regional Metropolias, in Western Europe, in the Americas and in Australasia, cannot be built on the lowest common denominator.
The fact is that Metropolias, the essential basis for new future Local Churches, will be built on the maximum of Orthodox practice, not on some artificially contrived minimum and compromise. The concept that a Church can be built on the lowest common denominator of different Orthodox dioceses (so-called ‘jurisdictions’) is surreal. It must be built on the maximum and only then can economy be applied. Any other ‘solution’ would be a grave mistake. Indeed, it was tried experimentally in the USA during the Cold War and has been a moral and financial fiasco. This is an experiment not to be repeated.
For example, all Local Churches believe that there are no sacraments outside the Orthodox Church; however, all regularly apply economy in their reception of heterodox. All Local Churches agree that there is only one Church calendar. However, all apply economy, that is allow temporarily for pastoral reasons, the use of the secular calendar for the fixed feasts, to those communities which are not spiritually strong enough to live the Orthodox calendar. Similarly, all Local Churches clearly need traditional monastic life, as with the Greek Archdiocese in the USA, which has been saved by the monasteries of Fr Ephraim.
Of course, all can also agree that some extreme practices are simply unacceptable, even out of economy. We can think of intercommunion, the abolition of fasting and confession, cremation, or other strange practices of small marginal convert groups, who have never integrated the Orthodox Faith. These of course we exclude. The time is coming when new Orthodox Metropolias, composed voluntarily, will be born. Orthodox need them so as to be stronger together. But also the failing heterodox world, which is clearly in crisis, needs a canonical Church with a married priesthood and sacraments. It has only one choice.