Tag Archives: Catholicity

The Church After The Ukraine

Introduction: In the Ukraine

The Red Star USSR lasted for three generations after the Western-organised Palace coup of 1917. So too the White Star USA, which began its triumph in 1945, is also collapsing after the same three generations. At present we are all waiting for the end of the totally unnecessary American war in the Ukraine. According to official Ukrainian TV, Kiev losses in killed, wounded and captured troops are now 1,126,652. The Americans, who forbade the Ukraine to make peace in spring 2022, want indeed to fight to the last Ukrainian. However, as most Ukrainians are not going to commit suicide for the US elite, that elite will now have to blame someone else for its failure. In this new Greek tragedy, dramatic events are taking place in freezing and snowbound Kiev at this very moment. The main assistant of the commander of the Ukrainian Armed Forces has already been killed by a hand grenade sent to him as a ’present’ from the President’s office and the wife of the head of the dreaded Kiev secret police has been poisoned. Meanwhile, European elites are panicking, as they face the real possibility that a nationalist President Trump will make peace with Russia, at last dissolve NATO and desert a NATO-free Europe.

Talk in Kiev is of a coup, rejecting both President Zelensky and the commander of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, General Zaluzhny. The situation is even more dramatic on the front line, which is falling apart, as undertrained and underarmed, unarmed and untrained Ukrainian troops give up the unequal fight. In a war of attrition the collapse can come very fast. By Easter, 5 May 2024, the day before the feast of St George the Victorious, it will surely be over. Some say it will happen even as early as January or February, rather than April or early May. The CIA has always instrumentalised the worst elements in each client state to play the roles of heads of their puppet regimes. Thus, they used drug dealers in Latin America, fascist dictators in Spain and Portugal, mafiosi in Italy, colonels in Greece, gangsters in Vietnam, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Hussein in Iraq, Bin Laden in Afghanistan, hateful extremist nationalists in the Baltic States and in the Ukraine Galician Nazis with an atheist Jewish actor figurehead. Once the US no longer needs its handsomely-paid war criminals, they are exiled, dumped or assassinated, especially if they fail in a US election year.

This will be the fate of Zelensky and will also be that of the US-appointed and now panicking NATO and EU puppets, Stoltenberg, Scholz, Macron, Sunak, Pavel, the bankrupt Russophobic European elite, which is to be ejected by its electorates. With their tiny militaries, they are irrelevant.  Already largely demilitarised, they have to be denazified. The Europe problem will be solved at last. The political results of the Democrat delusions in Kiev and their open lies in the Western media (they declared President Putin ‘dead’ twice last month alone!) are colossal. Kiev is now spelled K-A-B-U-L, only this is Afghanistan multiplied by ten, because it is happening in Europe in full view of the whole world which can now see ten years of the lies of Western politicians and the Western media. The Ukraine is the European graveyard of the US. Former vassals, which like the Ukraine are dependent on US funds for their existence, such as Israel, Taiwan, South Korea, Kosovo and Kuwait, will also disappear. Eventually, the bankrupt US will have to abandon its peninsula outpost of Western Europe, NATO will disappear and the US-moulded EU will collapse, to be replaced by a Russian-founded, multipolar concert of the nations.

In the Church

However, what interests us much more are the results of the Ukrainian catastrophe for the Orthodox Church. These are the results for both what once was the most prestigious Local Church, Constantinople, and for today’s largest Local Church, Moscow, as well as for the fourteen other Local Churches.

Founded in the fourth century, this once prestigious Patriarchate in Istanbul was tempted by its glorious history a millennium and more ago as the capital of the Christian Roman Empire. Goaded and bribed by the White House in Washington, it thought it could rule over the Orthodox world through nationalist-imperialist politics. Now it is falling from its height and has to face the embarrassment of its fake Ukrainian Church, which is staffed by perverts, gangsters, thugs and Nazis. Was there ever such a shameful event in all of Church history? The existence of the US-established and US-financed fake Church in the Ukraine discredits this Patriarchate. Imperialist and nationalist politics have their price. The only way out would seem to be the ‘retirement’ of those responsible. Denials by papering over the cracks and sweeping under the carpet is no longer an option.

Founded in Soviet times in 1943, this largest Patriarchate in Moscow was tempted by its size, once nearly three quarters of the whole Church. It thought it could rule over the Orthodox world through nationalist-imperialist politics. Prey to the politics of the FSB and the CIA, it was infiltrated by traitors. Now it is falling from its height and has to face the embarrassment of its infiltration by the representatives of various secret services who betrayed it. It has lost, or is losing, many of its territories: the Ukraine, Latvia, Moldova and most of the Diaspora in the West, ultimately everything that it once controlled outside the Russian Federation. Imperialist and nationalist politics have their price. A Council or Synod in Moscow will have to enact a wave of decentralisation. If independence (autocephaly) is not given to Non-Russians by Moscow, it will be taken by them anyway.

Conclusion: The Triumph of Conciliarity

Once the war of America and its NATO vassal elite, launched against Russia and Europe, now coming to an end in the Ukraine, is over, the persecution of the heroic Church of the Ukraine will also be over. A New Ukraine will be established. And a New Ukrainian Church will also be established. And, regardless of what happens in Moscow, an independent Ukrainian Church under Metropolitan Onufry of Kiev will be supported everywhere that matters, not least by the Romanian Church. Independence for it was thirty years overdue, as for all parts of the Russian Church outside the Russian Federation. We await transformations of the centralised structures of the Church, which are now archaic, and await the removal of homosexual mafias of self-interest, corruption and power of the paid Church administrators, exactly those which St John Chrysostom denounced over 1600 years ago.

After the shameful decadence of the minority Orthodox Conference in Crete in 2016, the Church authorities will have to proceed to a real Council to resolve the real problems of the Church. These issues were never even discussed at Crete, where some signatures of the relatively few attendees were even forged. The elites of the two Local Churches which tried to impose their will over all the others over the last thirty years will have to step back, one way or another. That time is over. Now we must proceed to Conciliarity, to reaffirming the Catholicity of the Church, to reaffirming that local nationalisms are always secondary to the Church, which will not be brought down to that level, to reaffirming that in the Church we have Trinitarian unity in diversity, ‘multipolarity’, that we only have one really important passport and identity, our spiritual passport and identity. We shall be victorious, because Christ, the Head of the real Church, is always victorious.

 

Unlocking the Crisis in the Orthodox World

The 200 million-strong Orthodox Church is in an unheard-of state of schism between the clerical leaders of 14 million Greek Orthodox and the clerical leaders of 140 million Russian Orthodox. This crisis has been caused by nationalism. Indeed, even the word heresy is being used of this schism.

Thus, Greeks accuse Russians of nationalism by promoting their concept of ‘the Russian world’, which Greeks find akin to the heresy of ‘phyletism’ (racist nationalism), which denies the Catholicity of the Church. For them this is what the conflict in the Ukraine is about – the nationalist desire of the Russian government to unite into Russia all Russians, including the Russians who were persecuted and massacred while living near the Russian borders in the east and the south of the old Ukraine and keeping the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under its control. In the nationalist Russian world, non-Russians, even if they are Orthodox, may be treated as second-class citizens.

Russians also accuse Greeks of the same heresy of phyletism, in their claim that the whole Orthodox world must be under the Greek Patriarch of Constantinople, who is effectively an Eastern Pope, and that all Non-Greeks, even if they are Orthodox, are therefore effectively second-class citizens. This we have seen in the Greek establishment of dependent ‘Churches’, led by some very dubious individuals and even criminals, in the Ukraine, Estonia and elsewhere. And all this on the age-old canonical territory of the Russian Church and under the political patronage and with the finance of the US State Department.

We are neither Greek nor Russian, as we are drawn from the other 46 million Orthodox. We, who belong to the majority of the fourteen other Local Orthodox Churches, with over a third of us belonging to the Romanian Orthodox Church, are left in the middle. We are in communion with both Russians and Greeks, but in disagreement with both. We find that they are influenced by extremism and that they should sort out their problems at a real Council of the whole Church. Sadly, the elderly Patriarch of Constantinople has rejected this, claiming that he is above Councils!

Given the Greek rejection of a Council, which Council has been promoted by us in an attempt to resolve their schism, cynics say that the Church will just have to wait until the two aged Patriarchs, of Moscow and Constantinople, have died. Only then will the situation be resolved, as the only way out of the crisis is for both patriarchs to pass on and be replaced by new, non-political patriarchs, free of nationalism and US interference. This is to reduce the whole affair to a mere personality issue. That is not at all the case, for here is a vital theological issue about putting the Catholicity of the Church above nationalism, and also we are not cynics. We are believers.

We have already lived through a similar situation of blockage, that of the Cold War, when Church affairs were blocked by politics, in the USSR for 75 years, in the rest of Eastern Europe for 45 years. (Although there was no Greco-Russian schism then). What happened? In 1991 the USSR fell overnight. The hand of God. The present schism is, we believe, not yet as serious and as long-lasting as the era of the Communist captivity of the Church. Those who despair have forgotten the Faith. The hand of God intervenes and all can change in a moment.

As we have seen, there is no possibility of a Council of the whole Church, as it will be boycotted by the Patriarch of Constantinople, as he has stated. What is possible, however, is a Council of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) which recognises that the USSR no longer exists. One country became 15 independent republics. Surely the ROC needs to decentralise and found new Local Churches, by giving independence/ autocephaly to those Russian Orthodox who for over thirty years have lived in other countries. If independence (autocephaly) were granted by a Church Council in Moscow to those Orthodox outside Russia, but who were formerly in the USSR, this would completely undermine Constantinople’s fake Churches in the Ukraine, Estonia and Lithuania (this latter created only by Moscow defrocking priests for no canonical reason), pulling the rug from under Greek feet.

Firstly, a new Local Church for the New Ukraine is required, as Moscow mulled over doing in the 1990s. The New Ukraine is what will be left of the old and purely artificial Soviet Ukraine, once the latter has been dismantled. Already five provinces with the Crimea have been transferred to Russia. It is not known if other provinces, perhaps two (Nikolaev, Odessa?) or even two more than that (Kharkov, Dnipropetrovsk?), will be transferred to Russia, another two may return to Romania and Hungary. Russia has never wanted to invade or occupy the whole of the Ukraine. It has enough territory of its own and knows from recent history that it cannot occupy areas that are not Russian, where it is not accepted.

So a New Ukraine will still exist, not as large as the old Ukraine which is a construct invented from 1922 on, but still large, between half and three-quarters of the old one. It will be a Ukraine that does not have a US puppet government and one that is demilitarised and denazified, that is, neutral. Unlike the old Fascistic Ukraine which is now collapsing, it will also have to grant all its citizens democracy, freedom to practise their religion without fear of the secret police, and other essential human rights.

The New Ukraine will need a Church which is fully independent of the ROC in Moscow. Similarly, a new Local Church for the three Baltic statelets and another new Local Church for Moldova can end divisions there. However, if Moscow does not do this, Orthodox there and elsewhere, notably in Latvia, will precisely turn to Constantinople for autocephaly and Moscow will also lose Moldova to the Romanian Church. Ultimately, the same may well have to happen for Orthodox in Kazakhstan together with the other four ‘stans’ of Central Asia and then in Belarus.

The point is that Russian nationalism only works with Russians, just as Greek nationalism only works with Greeks. The situation with Greek nationalism is all the more critical for Constantinople. Still seemingly denying that the Greek Orthodox Empire fell in 1453 and still addicted to US dollars, the Patriarchate of Constantinople is going to have to deal with the consequences of the Russian military and technological victory in the Ukraine and its economic and diplomatic victory in BRICS +, which includes Africa, where the ROC is very active.

Both Russian victories already mean the humiliation of the United States and Western Europe, especially of the fatally divided NATO and the EU, which are both likely to collapse. For example, Turkiye, whose President was saved from US assassination by Russia on 15 July 2016 and who was recently in Moscow for talks, has shown great interest in joining BRICS + and so leaving NATO. And Turkiye, whose application to join the EU has been humiliatingly rejected by it on many occasions over the decades, is precisely where the Patriarchate of Constantinople is fixed.

If Turkiye, whose army is for now the second largest in NATO, joins BRICS +, US influence there will collapse, as also in the part of Syria which it occupies and exploits. BRICS + means the end of the prospect of a potential future World Dictatorship, as foretold in the prophecies of Antichrist. Since Russia has good relations with Turkiye and thousands of Russians live there permanently, it will not be long before the ROC opens an Exarchate there, as it has already done in Africa. In Africa it seems as though the Greek Patriarchate of Alexandria will go back to what it was 100 years ago and still essentially is, a small Greek diocese covering Egypt and Libya.

If Constantinople boycotts a Council of the Church, then a Council will go ahead without it. It will be its loss. If Constantinople does not need the Church, the Church will not need it. However, if Moscow does not give autocephalies to the Orthodox in the independent countries formed over thirty years ago, it will find that those countries will gain their Orthodox autocephaly without Moscow. This has already happened in Latvia, just as generations ago it happened in Poland, Czechoslovakia and North America. The peoples of the Church do not need bureaucracies, protocols and their pieces of paper to live and develop. They need freedom. This should be blatantly obvious. Sadly, to some it is not.

In any case, both Greeks and Russians will have to recognise that there is no future in phyletism, racist nationalism. Nationalism is the hatred of other countries and, as it is hatred, it can have no place in Christianity. Patriotism, however, is a Christian value, for it is the love of our native country and, as such, in no way excludes positive feelings towards other countries. Let both Greeks and Russians be patriotic, as much as they want, but let patriotism not degenerate into nationalism. The Church of God is much larger than Greeks and Russians. It is the Holy Spirit Who alone creates the spirit of Catholicity, uniting all peoples in their Local Churches. It is called Unity in Diversity and is the image of the Holy Trinity.

 

Orthodox Catholicity: Overcoming the Russo-Greek Schism

Introduction: The Church Under Attack

‘The One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church’. Unity, Holiness, Catholicity and Apostolicity are the four characteristics of the Church and at various times in history one or another of them has been overlooked. As a result, the integrity of Church life has suffered – until the restitution of that particular characteristic. That the Faith of the Church is One, that the Church creates Saints, that the Church goes back to Apostolic times is in no doubt now.

However, at the present time, with the Church in crisis, in a state of worldwide administrative and jurisdictional schism, there is no doubt that it is rather the Catholicity of the Church that is being overlooked. This is the Universality of the Church, at all times and in all places. Catholicity is its Unity in Diversity, as at the first Pentecost and Coming of the Holy Spirit, as related in the Acts of the Apostles

Catholicity

The word Catholicity cannot be confused with Catholicism, which refers to Roman Catholicism, for the two words are different, However, there is a problem with the adjective ‘Catholic’. In English, as in all Western languages, this word is often confused with ‘Roman Catholic’, which is a contradiction in terms, as you cannot be universal at all times and in all places and yet attached to only one place, for example, Rome. This is very apparent when the Creed is sung or read in English or in other Western languages in our churches – ‘and in One. Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church’. Here the word ‘Catholic’ can sound strange.

This is not the case in Greek, from which comes the original word ‘katholiki’. Here instead of using ‘Roman Catholic’, they prefer to say ‘Latin’ or ‘Papal’, so that ambiguities are avoided. And Slavonic and Romanian have completely different words for ‘Roman Catholic’ and ‘Catholic’. Perhaps in English we need to translate ‘katholiki’ by ‘Orthodox Catholic’ or perhaps ‘Conciliar’, in order to avoid this ambiguity? For we are Orthodox Catholics, not Roman Catholics, as we confess that the Orthodox Church is ‘Conciliar’, based on Councils. Their decisions come from the Eternal Spirit of God and so are for all time, and not based on some passing administrative figure like a Pope or Patriarch, who is here today and gone tomorrow.

Here we should be particularly careful. For the Papal temptation of Rome, that of an individually or collectively-imposed imperialist superiority, racial, linguistic, cultural or otherwise, of one Local Church over all the others, can be a temptation for any Local Church. Here we do not speak of Roman Catholicism, which by definition long ago succumbed to this, thus losing its Unity with the Church, its Holiness and its Apostolicity. Here we speak of the Orthodox Church, which has not succumbed to imperialism, though certain ‘Orthodox’ personalities are and have been tempted.

In history, and especially at the present time, we have seen this temptation inside the Orthodox Church in both individual personalities and collective groups, notably in the Patriarchate of Constantinople and in the Patriarchate of Moscow. The term for the temptation of ‘Eastern Papism’ is, after all, well-known among Orthodox. There is only one solution to this problem of the ambition, personal or collective, to dominate others and lord it over them, it is the Catholicity of the Church. Indeed, as we have said, a possible translation of the Greek original for Catholicity is ‘Conciliarity’ and for ‘Catholic’ ‘Conciliar’.

Conciliarity

For Catholicity is always revealed at Councils, which are a primary source of the revelations of the Holy Spirit in our post-Scriptural Age. It is precisely this that is lacking in Roman Catholicism, whose head is the Pope of Rome. Now, some will say that Roman Catholicism does have Councils. The problem here is that those Councils are not Orthodox, not free, indeed its First Vatican Council (1869-1870) proclaimed the dogma of Papal Infallibility. In Roman Catholicism the task of Councils is only to rubber-stamp decisions of Popes, for, according to their theology, the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Popes, the Vicars of Christ. Councils do not have the same function there as in the Church, but take place only to confirm Papal decisions, being subservient to Popes.

This is not the case in the Church, although it is true that the Church in its bimillennial history has seen plenty of example of ‘Robber Councils’, or false Councils, the best known example of which was at Ephesus in 449, but the latest example of which was the 2016 pseudo-Council in Crete. How can such Robber Councils be avoided? Here we underline that in the Church no conference of bishops can be called a Council until after it has taken place, when its fruits, if there are any, can be seen and received or rejected by the people of God. A conference of bishops is merely a conference of bishops, but a Council of bishops is where the Holy Spirit is present. A conference of bishops is not a ‘Council’ because they forgot to invite the Holy Spirit to it and so can become a ‘Robber Council’. A Council implies the presence of the Holy Spirit, Who binds us together in Catholicity. For the Church is One at all times and in all places, only when She confesses the Holy Spirit.

Below are some suggestions of one who is not a bishop, not even a monk, merely a parish rector, though with nearly forty years of parish experience and having been a speaker at a Local Council (San Francisco, 2006) of the Russian Diaspora Church. There we defeated the spirit of pharisaic pride, made stubborn by psychological insecurity and political rancour. That spirit was rejecting both the repentance of others and Divine Providence, which was offering the long-awaited opportunity to restore canonical unity within the Russian Church.

Perhaps someone with influence may find the suggestions below, together with the many others, of interest.

Towards an Authentic Council

  1. Procedures

 

a. Unlike Crete, all Local Churches must be represented at a potential Universal Council.

 

b. Unlike Crete, no politically-imposed agenda should be presented at a potential future Council, that is, an agenda in the style of a secular meeting, programmed for one week in June 2016.

 

c. Unlike Crete, there should be no timetable to pressure delegates to make decisions within a very short period or to falsify the decisions reached with false signatures. The Seven Universal Councils were free to make decisions, often over many sessions and even months. The Holy Spirit is not limited by human timetables and pieces of paper.

  1. Where?

Like Crete, this Council should be held in a country where a majority of the people are at least nominally Orthodox, that is, there is locally some sense of the Tradition.

  1. Who?

Traditionally, meetings which became Councils were convened by the Emperor of the time. In the absence of an Emperor, they are called by the Patriarch of Constantinople in concert with the leaders of all the other Local Churches. If the Patriarch of Constantinople refuses for political reasons to convene a conference of bishops and many Local Churches still believe that such a conference (and potential Council) is necessary, then let them together call such a conference without the Patriarch of Constantinople. Then there can be a conference of bishops which may at least turn into a Local Council. Let us recall that apart from the Seven Universal Councils, there have in history been many Local Councils, which have reached important decisions, which have then had universal reception and application.

At present only 14 Local Churches are universally recognised. The OCA is disputed by some because it exists in North America, a territory shared by other Orthodox. And the Macedonian Church is disputed by some because of arcane arguments about its name. Perhaps these two Churches could at least be invited to send non-voting delegates to a conference of bishops, that could possibly become a Local or Universal Council, as any decisions reached could concern them very deeply.

Episcopal Corruption

As at Crete, we suggest that not all the world’s 1,000 Orthodox bishops be invited. This was never the case at the Universal Councils. Though attended by hundreds of bishops, they were never attended by all of them and some Local Churches such as the Roman Church, were represented by as few as two delegates. Conciliarity was and is expressed not by the presence of numbers of bishops, but by the presence of the Holy Spirit. Instead, let each Local Church be invited to send, say, a maximum of ten episcopal representatives, if they have that many bishops (a few smaller Local Churches do not). These representatives would have to be chosen beforehand by a Council of all Bishops (not just a Synod, let alone a mini-Synod) of their Local Church.

Here there is a problem, the elephant in the room, of which few speak. We know about this problem from the lives of St Photios (+ 893) and St Gregory Palamas (+ 1357), who were persecuted and whose teachings were opposed by Robber Councils before they were vindicated. We know about this also from the life of St Nectarios of Egina (+ 1920), who, instead of becoming a great missionary Patriarch of Alexandria, was slandered and cast out by jealous fellow-bishops, and from the life of the missionary bishop St John of Shanghai (+ 1966), who was slandered and suspended by his fellow-bishops, so did not become the Metropolitan of the Russian Church in the Diaspora and instead was hounded to an early death. The result was that that part of the Russian Church set out on a path of sectarianism, from which it has not yet been saved.

The world was unworthy of St John. His suspension in 1964 was related to me with great satisfaction 26 years later by one of his continuing slanderers, an extreme right-wing Russian racist from Los Angeles, to whom I had to listen in silence for two hours in a Paris traffic jam. He reminded me of the wise and prophetic words to me of St Sophrony the Athonite seven years before, forty years ago now, in 1983. In Essex Fr Sophrony warned me then of the cross I would have to bear, as he blessed me for my mission in the Russian Church, which he himself had had to abandon on account of persecution, to help work for unity with truth: ‘There are those in that group who lack love’, he said, indicating that we too would suffer like St John.

There is then the problem of the corruption of a significant minority of bishops. Why they are allowed to become and continue to be bishops and are not suspended or defrocked is not a question for us here, though it is a question of vital interest and concern to all responsible Orthodox and whose solution is long overdue. We suggest that delegates or bishop-representatives be chosen according to strict criteria in order to ensure that they are bishops who lead canonical lives.

Criteria for Presence

i. All representatives chosen by a Local Church must at the very least be in communion with all the bishops of their Local Church. Otherwise, they are uncanonical, de facto schismatics and should be suspended and sent to a monastery until they have repented or else defrocked.

ii. All representatives must take a solemn oath that they are bishops by free choice and not political appointees, like Patriarch Sergius of Moscow (+ 1944) (appointed by the Kremlin) or a generation later Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople (+ 1972) (appointed by the White House), as per the Canons of the Holy Apostles. This is to prove their canonicity.

iii. All representatives must take a solemn oath that they respect the three monastic vows of non-acquisition/poverty, chastity and obedience. The first vow means that they cannot be holders of, acquirers of or users of luxurious properties, objects and money, even if on paper, by subterfuge, the property, objects and money ‘belong to’ their diocese or are rented. The second vow means that they cannot be married or homosexual. The third vow means that they cannot be disobedient to the Church by being members of State secret services, masonic lodges or organisations that promote syncretism. This is to prove their canonicity.

iv. All representatives must be free of ongoing court cases for scandalous conduct involving, for instance, financial allegations; sexual allegations; allegations of slander of honest clergy; allegations of outbursts of rage and spectacular rudeness; allegations concerning persecution with threatening demands for more money, intimidation, bullying and even ‘defrocking’ for political reasons or reasons of personal hatred and jealousy of clergy, who have already been publicly accepted by other Patriarchates as legitimate, canonical and unjustly persecuted clergy, as they are faithful to Orthodoxy, but not to schismatic and uncanonical bishops. In other words, there must be no doubt as to the canonical life of the bishop in question (See Canon XV of the First and Second Council).

v. All representatives must be diocesan bishops, not ‘vicar-bishops’, whose status is not strictly canonical, as a bishop is married to his diocese.

vi. All representatives must have been diocesan bishops for at least ten years. Otherwise, they will lack experience.

vii. All representatives must be diocesan bishops of dioceses of at least 25 parishes (a parish being defined as a church where the Divine Liturgy is held at least every Sunday and is attended by at least 40 adult Orthodox each time. In other words, their diocese (whatever may be their pompous titles, ‘of All America’, ‘of Western Europe’ etc) actually has at least 1,000 practising adult Orthodox. (The average Orthodox bishop has a diocese of 200,000 nominal Orthodox). Otherwise, they will lack experience.

The selected representatives of each Local Church should attend the conference with any issues which their Local Church considers need resolving, following discussions and conferring with the other bishops, monks, priests and faithful in their Local Churches. Clearly, these issues would include the refusal at the present time of Russians and Greeks to concelebrate, who has the right to grant autocephaly and autonomy, and the universal recognition of uncanonically ‘defrocked’ clergy. However, other issues could easily arise.

After discussions and conferring with the other bishops, monks, priests and faithful in their Local Churches, bishops could reconvene for another session at a maximum interval of three months. This process could be repeated for as often as is necessary for decisions to be reached and be approved by all bishops of the Local Churches. There should be no pressure of time, just as there was not in the Councils of Church history.

Conclusion: Towards the Holy Spirit

In the light of the above, it would seem that the Crete Conference was in fact a warning, with Providential rewards, which always come to those who have suffered sacrificially from the treachery of those who behaved uncanonically. As with the case of the Tower of Siloam, the meaning was: ‘If you do not repent, you will all finish like this’. For the upshot of the Crete Conference of 2016 was the present schism between the Patriarchates of Constantinople and Moscow.

This resulted from the former’s uncanonical actions in the Ukraine, apparently in revenge for Moscow’s non-attendance of the Crete Conference. This in turn led to Moscow’s uncanonical actions in Africa, technically the territory of the Patriarchate of Alexandria. It is clear to all that only a Council can break this spiral of uncanonical actions and schisms, with their purely political and uncanonical ‘defrockings’, which everyone ignores. Here the Churches of Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Antioch, Poland, Albania, Czechoslovakia and Jerusalem can play an important role as mediators between the racial clash of Greeks (Greece, Constantinople, Cyprus, Alexandria) and Russians.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JFK: 1963-2023: Though the Man be Gone, that the Promise of his Spirit be Fulfilled

There are people who see everything in terms of black and white. For example, in the Russian context, there are those who declare that everything in Russia was perfect before 1917 and everything was bad after it. Of course, a little logic such as: ‘If everything was so perfect, why did everything turn so bad?’ would help such people. Alternatively, read a Russian novel from before 1917, or a newspaper from the period, or else, as was still just possible only a generation ago, you could have talked to someone who had been adult in Russia before 1917. The fact is that black and white do not exist outside hell and heaven. This world is unremittingly grey – though, admittedly, there is a huge difference between light grey and dark grey.

The same is true in the American context of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. There are those who say that his 1963 murder (let us call it what it was) was a turning-point, that all was white before it and all was black after it, that he was basically a kind of martyr. I suspect that childhood nostalgia plays a part here in the views of now elderly people. Nostalgia is a funny thing, the sun always shone in childhood. It is called selective memory. We will briefly consider some of the issues below. As for the conspiracy theories as to who murdered Kennedy and why, there are hundreds of them. Of course, that does not mean that one of them is not true. God knows the Truth.

I am surely far from being the only person in the world who has met people who as adults had met both Tsar Nicholas II and John Fitzgerald Kennedy. (Though certainly, I am the only person from the small town where I was born to have done so.  Which is not saying very much).  Still, it is a curious fact that JFK was born in 1917, the year that Tsar Nicholas was deposed by Russian traitors. But much more significantly, their deaths have fascinated generations and spawned a mass of conspiracy theories and black and white ideologies. Most notably, many books of suppositional history have been written about them both, about ‘what might have been’. Could what might have been find its fulfilment? That is our question.

It was in Paris in 1996 that I met an American woman from a well-connected family in Massachusetts. She was then in her fifties. She told me that when she was eighteen, she had met JFK. ‘He took one look at me’, she said, ‘and undressed me with his eyes. I felt humiliated’. It is a story that only confirms the stories about Kennedy’s ‘strong libido’. Let us recall at least a few facts from the life of this man who promised so much, who was so charismatic and such a brilliant speaker, and was so cruelly murdered on 22 November 1963 at the age of 46.

Probably the most famous event in Kennedy’s Presidency is the so-called ‘Cuban Missile Crisis’ of 1962, which should have been called the Turkish Missile Crisis. For once the U.S. had publicly promised never to invade Cuba again and secretly agreed to remove its Jupiter missiles from near Soviet borders in Turkey, placed there as a provocation by US hawks, the Ukrainian peasant-leader Khrushchov agreed to dismantle Soviet missile sites in Cuba, subject to UN inspections. Thanks in part to Kennedy’s humanity, the US had backed down, though the Soviet side, with no less humanity, had agreed not to make it public. The US had not lost face publicly and indeed there are still some naïve people who think that the ‘Cuban Crisis’ was an ‘American victory’!!! In any case, World War III had been averted and Kennedy was in part responsible for that.

As regards Latin America, in 1962, Kennedy had also had the wisdom to declare that: ‘Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable’. He sought to contain Communism in Latin America by establishing the ‘Alliance for Progress’, which sent aid to some countries and sought greater human rights standards in the region.

Regarding Vietnam, in April 1963 Kennedy said prophetically: ‘We don’t have a prayer of staying in Vietnam. Those people hate us. They are going to throw our asses out of there at any point’. Though Kennedy’s Vietnam policies seem inconsistent, nevertheless the Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara stated that Kennedy was strongly considering pulling the United States out of Vietnam after the 1964 election. (McNamara also much too late declared that Vietnam had been a mistake and that he had known it all along and should have gotten out in 1963, when fewer than 100 Americans had been killed). Certainly, Kennedy signed National Security Action Memorandum (NSAM) 263, dated 11 October, which ordered the withdrawal of 1,000 US military personnel by the end of 1964 and the bulk of them by 1965. Indeed, Kennedy had been moving in this peaceful direction since his speech on world peace on 10 June 1963.

Israeli interests were also countered by Kennedy’s endorsement of the United Nation’s Johnson Plan, which wanted to return a number of expelled Palestinians from the war of 1948 into what was by then Israel. This continuation of the justice plan of the assassinated UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold for Palestinian repatriation disturbed those who had a negative view of Arab resettlement in their own country, let alone full repatriation.

In general, it seems to us that Kennedy unconsciously expressed the more collective values of Catholicism over the individualism of Protestantism. This sense of solidarity with the rest of the world and collective responsibility for it, which comes from the Catholicity of the Church, was at his time still present in Roman Catholicism, part of its legacy from Orthodoxy. It is sad that after him the US elite lapsed into an individualistic, not to say thoroughly sectarian, view of the world. It started in Vietnam and has since gone through Iraq and Afghanistan, Libya and Syria, and today has reached the Ukraine.

Regardless of the many academic and conspiratorial debates around Kennedy and regardless of whether the great hopes placed in him were realistic, there is no doubt that he was the great hope of a great many in the Western world. It may not be the real Kennedy who is admirable, but rather his spirit and the hope inspired by his spirit. Under Kennedy there could have been Another America and so quite another course of world history over the last sixty years. The fact is that after his murder, the nightmare of the 1960s began and the Western world has not yet woken up from that nightmare. Indeed, though the Western world now proclaims that it is ‘woke’, in reality it is still fast asleep in its delusions. True or false is not the point here. The fact is that it is the youthful and energetic Kennedy, whether his myth or his reality, who represented hope. As the elderly English poet laureate of the time wrote after Kennedy’s murder:

All generous hearts lament the leader killed

The young chief with the smile, the radiant face,

The winning way that turned a wondrous race

Into sublimest pathways, leading on.

 

Grant to us Life that though the man be gone

The promise of his spirit be fulfilled.

November 2023 will mark the 60th anniversary of JFK’s murder. How fine it would be if we felt that the promise of his spirit might be fulfilled by then. However, is that realistic?

 

 

 

 

Akrivia and Ikonomia

The above two words are Greek. The first means the strict or exact teaching of the Church, the second means its practice, what is done as pastoral dispensation. For example, akrivia states that no-one should be ordained deacon until the age of 25, priest until 30 and bishop until 35. However, in reality the canons giving these ages are broken by the vast majority of the world’s 750 or so Orthodox bishops, sometimes exceptionally, sometimes regularly. Why? Because the bishop in question considers that in certain cases, it is for the benefit of the majority not to practise or take literally that particular canon. Indeed, if we were to take every canon literally, the Church would long ago have ceased to exist on earth because all clergy, bishops included, would have been defrocked and all laypeople excommunicated because the canons are strict. Not taking or practising literally a canon is called ‘ikonomia’, the opposite is ‘akrivia’.

This may seem like a defence of ‘ikonomia’. It is not. Sadly, especially in Western countries, ‘ikonomia’ seems to be the norm. It should not be. When Orthodox of all nationalities in Western countries hear about akrivia, they can be shocked. In other words, they have never heard, for example, that we should always read morning and evening prayers; that we should always read the full rule before taking communion (three canons and prayers); they have never heard that we should not take communion without first attending the vigil service; they have never heard that confession before communion is the norm; that confession and communion should be taken several times a year; that he who does not take communion at least once every three weeks is excommunicated (according to the canons); that the place where we live should be blessed; that there is a pious custom for widows and widowers to take up monastic life (and not remarry); that the Orthodox ideal is not to use contraception; that the fasts are not just fasting from meat, but from meat, fish, eggs and all dairy produce; that we do not sit down at church but stand through all services, except during the kathismas etc etc.

Yes, all the above is true. However, none of it is absolute. One of the problems in contemporary Church life is that on the fringes of the Church there are those who wish to absolutize ‘akrivia’ and those who wish to absolutize ‘ikonomia’. Both are in error. Does this mean that there is no absolute truth in Church life, that ‘all is relative’?

Of course not. All the absolute truths of the Church are enshrined as dogmas, they are in the Creed: the Holy Trinity, the Creator God, the two natures of Christ, the Incarnation, the Virgin Birth, the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ become man, the Second Coming, the Last Judgement, the Procession of the Holy Spirit, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, One Baptism, the Life of the World to Come. If you do not believe in these things, you are not a member of the Church, you are not Orthodox, you are not a Christian, but something less. The Creed of the Church is not a consumerist supermarket, where you can pick and choose. However, whatever is not in the Creed, is subject to pastoral dispensation, to ‘ikonomia’.

‘Too much of anything is bad for you’. So goes the saying of popular wisdom. In other words, too much akrivia will lead people to the depression and despair of the sect and phariseeism. On the other hand, too much ikonomia will lead people to laxist leniency, to relativism and to anything goes. Too much akrivia and too much ikonomia both lead people out of the Church. It is for us to flee the extremes, not to seek the opinions of individuals, like Protestants (1), but to find the consensus of the Church. Only thus can we avoid the fringes and margins and keep in the mainstream. This means a balance between strictness, which is good where it is necessary for the salvation of the soul, and pastoral dispensation, which is good where it is necessary for the salvation of the soul. It is never a question of akrivia or ikonomia, but always akrivia and ikonomia.

Note:

1. Many Protestants and sectarians appear to seek not after Christ, but after ‘Apollos and Cephas’, after isms such as those named after Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Joseph Smith (Mormonism), Charles Russell (Jehovah’s Witnesses) or Rev. Moon. Similarly, there are some Orthodox who seek after the views of individual, non-canonized elders, whose sayings, made to one person in one particular context, they may then take out of that context and generalize. This is dangerous, as it can create movements that go against the catholicity of the Church. It is notable that many Protestants and sectarians (as well, ironically, as many Roman Catholics) have no concept of the catholicity of the Church; in the case of Orthodox, this tendency tends to concern those, and of all nationalities, who are new to the Church and have not yet had experience of wider Church life. We seek the consensus of the Fathers, the consensus of the Church, not individualistic concepts.

The All-Orthodox Council and the Second Vatican Council

I can remember in the 1970s a modernist priest of the Parisian School declaring that ‘just as the Catholics had to ‘modernise’ at the Second Vatican Council, so too the same would happen with the Orthodox’. Tragically, that priest later gave up the priesthood and committed suicide. Nevertheless, after over 50 years of talk, a Council of all the Orthodox Churches is being planned for 2016. So was that priest right?

No, he was profoundly wrong. And for the following reasons:

First of all, nobody knows whether that Council will actually take place. In the highly politicized environment of the Orthodox world, in which the USA and the EU are continually meddling, for example in Syria and the Ukraine, nothing is certain. True, the Russian Church is now free, but some of the EU Local Churches are not; in fact two Local Churches have Patriarchs appointed by the CIA. What hope is there for a free Council in such conditions? At present there are free Local Churches and those that are not free.

Secondly, at present this will not be a Council of all Orthodox (‘Pan’- Orthodox in Greek) because the Czechoslovak Church is at present not taking part. Until the Church of Constantinople frees itself from its imperialistic policies, there is little hope for a resolution of this problem.

Thirdly, a Council can be summoned, but it cannot be recognized as a Council until its decisions have been ‘received’ by the people of God. Until that time, it is only a meeting or conference.

Fourthly, it has already been agreed that no decision taken at the Council will contradict the Tradition of the Church and that all Local Churches un catholicity (in Catholicism there is no such real concept, only monolithic papist centralization) will have to be unanimous regarding any decision taken. This is perhaps the most important factor which heterodox cannot get their heads around. In the Orthodox Church there is no centralizing Pope, who can freely flaunt Church Tradition and the Church Councils, that is, who can contradict the Holy Spirit, as happened at the Second Vatican Council, where political appointees, bureaucrats and hirelings ruled the day.

Whether an All-Orthodox Council will take place or not is by no means certain. However, it may do and it may also be a very positive Council, with the affirmation of the Truths of Orthodox Christianity, of which the apostatic heterodox world is in so desperate need.