Tag Archives: Church Unity

A Prophetic Anniversary

В Москве прошла конференция к 10-летию воссоединения Русской Церкви

Слово священника Андрея Филлипса о 10-летии объединения РПЦ и РПЦЗ

Fr. Andrew Phillips on the 10th anniversary of the ROC and ROCOR reunion

Christ is Risen!

Dear Fathers, Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Ten years ago, on 17 May 2007, during the Liturgy of the Ascension, at which the Act of Canonical Communion was signed, I stood in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour confessing. Among those confessing were senior military officials, in uniform, who had come to repent for persecuting the Church in Soviet times. They did not realize that they were confessing their sins to God in the presence of a priest from the Church Outside Russia. Never have I felt our unity so profoundly. It is from our mutual repentance, and both sides had to do this, that we took our profound unity and so could ask together for the prayers of the New Martyrs and Confessors. In particular we ask today for the prayers of the Royal Martyrs, whom we remember on this centenary of the tragic betrayal of the Russian Empire.

For decades I have belonged to the Church Outside Russia and have served her in France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Portugal and England, speaking for her in the USA, Australia and the Netherlands. For the Russian Federation is today only part of the Russian Orthodox world, of what we call Rus. Today, Rus is not only the Russian Federation, the Ukraine (despite the US-installed junta in Kiev) and Belarus, not only Moldova and Carpatho-Russia (Zakarpat’e). Rus is everywhere that the Russian Orthodox Faith is confessed, from Kazakhstan to the Baltics, from Japan to Thailand, from Germany to Venezuela, from Switzerland to Central Asia, from Italy to Indonesia, from Argentina to the USA, from Australia to England, from Canada to New Zealand. We too are Rus, together with you all.

In these latter times the Russian Orthodox Church has a worldwide mission to preach our common Faith without compromise, globally and in all languages, despite those who oppose us. Some of the greatest patriots of Rus belong to what Fr Andrei Tkachov rightly calls ‘our Church Outside Russia’. Our motto has always been ‘For the Faith, for the Tsar, for Rus’ and this is what our greatest saints, St Jonah of Hankou, St John of Shanghai and St Seraphim of Sofia, always proclaimed.

We are part of the Tsar’s Church, working in his spirit, for the Tsar-Martyr spoke five languages and built eighteen churches in Western Europe, desiring to see one built in each Western capital. (We still have one to build in central London in fulfilment of his desire). We in the Church Outside Russia are the outposts of Russian Orthodoxy, spiritual oases in an often hostile Western world. We are preparing, even in the West, for the coming Tsar of Rus. This is our unity. And our unity is our common victory!

Archpriest Andrew Phillips,
Parish of St John of Shanghai,
Colchester, England

Some Constructive Suggestions Towards Overcoming the Chronic Pastoral Crisis in Both Dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church in the British Isles and Ireland

Introduction: The Russian Orthodox Presence in the British Isles and Ireland

There has been a Russian Orthodox presence in England for 300 years. And yet, incredibly, both dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church in our countries (that of the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) and that of the Church based inside Russia (the Diocese of Sourozh)) have faced battles to get even the name of their diocese right! Although it is thirty years since the late Fr Mark (Meyrick) of the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) painted his Icon of All the Saints Who Have Shone Forth in the British Isles and Ireland with the correct title, we recently had a battle at the Theological Commission of the Inter-Orthodox Committee of Bishops even to establish this title, since most of the foreign bishops had no concept that there was a difference between Great Britain, the United Kingdom and the British Isles and whether any of these names included Ireland!

The Present Crisis

Both Russian Orthodox dioceses here have been in crisis in recent decades, facing three problems.

The first problem faced by the small Diocese of Sourozh, directly under Moscow, has been a mixture of modernism, liturgical renovationism and a personality cult characteristic of small organizations, all problems inherited from the Paris School of modernist Orthodoxy. This battle for the integrity of the Faith against what was in reality Protestantization resulted in the 2006 Sourozh schism, when the Diocese lost over half its mainly convert clergy and 300 people, also mainly converts. Though this is all in the past, there is still a hangover from that period. The second problem faced by that Diocese is its chronic lack of properties because of its defective ecclesiology in the past. This entailed dependence on Church of England for borrowing properties and so a lack of independence and freedom to preach the Gospel in the Orthodox way. All that the Diocese possesses is a smallish Cathedral in west London and tiny chapels in Oxford, Manchester and Nottingham. The third problem is its chronic lack of (overworked) clergy, whose average age is about 65 and few of whom speak the language of the masses of the Russian-speaking people, whose average age is about 35 (excluding children)!

The first problem faced by the even smaller ROCOR Diocese of the British Isles and Ireland, has been a narrow nationalism mixed on the fringes with old-fashioned Anglo-Catholicism, which in the past created a dead end of insularity. This battle for the integrity of the Faith against such Sectarianism, mixed with personality conflicts characteristic of small organizations, resulted in the 2007 ROCOR schism, when the Diocese lost its only monastery and convent. Though this is all exactly ten years in the past, there is still a hangover from that period. The second problem faced by the Diocese is its chronic lack of properties because of its over-strict narrowness and rejection of any form of mission (there was even a missionary tax!) in the past. This entailed total exhaustion and demoralization of the clergy and so a lack of any encouragement to preach the Gospel in the Orthodox way. With one exception, the Diocese largely only exists in London (and missions dependent on London) and in East Anglia. All that the Diocese possesses is a very small Cathedral in a sidestreet in west London, the largest Russian Orthodox church in the British Isles and Ireland in Colchester (not London) and tiny chapels in a house in Essex, in a private garden in a Suffolk village, in Norwich in Norfolk and near a village in central Ireland, far from where Orthodox live. The third problem is its chronic lack of overworked clergy, whose average age is about 65 and few of whom speak the language of the masses of the Russian-speaking people, whose average age is about 35 (excluding children)!

A Future Solution?

As can be seen, the common crisis is today purely pastoral in nature. Given that two of the three problems of both dioceses, lack of church buildings and lack of clergy, who are elderly, overworked and exhausted, are identical, there should be some common solution. One shrewd commentator has said that the Diocese that will dominate will be the one that sets up proper, large churches in London to provide proper pastoral care for the tens of thousands of faithful there. Notably, churches are required in the south of London, around, Croydon, in the east, around Stratford and in the north, around St Albans. The scandal is that there is only one permanent Russian-speaking priest to cover the country to the east and south of London – one third of the whole country!

However, we should also take into account the wider Russian Orthodox world in continental Western Europe and beyond. The Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) dominates the Russian Orthodox presence in the English-speaking world, in North America and Australasia. However, the Russian Orthodox Church based inside Russia, dominates elsewhere, notably in South America and above all in Western Europe. Here, where 25 years ago ROCOR was dominant and representatives of the Church inside Russia hardly existed, today ROCOR hardly exists. Just the Diocese of the Church inside Russia in Italy is larger than all of ROCOR in Western Europe. This has only eight parishes outside its parishes in western Germany and the few in Switzerland. Surely it is the Russian Orthodox presence in continental Western Europe will one day come under representatives of the Church inside Russia, with its new Cathedral and seminary in Paris and active young bishops, large flocks and newly-built churches in Rome, Madrid and many other places?

On the other hand, perhaps at this point we should consider what can be called ‘the Brexit Factor’. With the United Kingdom, at least, leaving the European Union, it is inevitably returning to closer relations with the rest of the English-speaking world, former colonies, especially in North America and Australasia. Surely, ecclesiastically, this means the Russian Orthodox presence in the British Isles and Ireland one day coming under ROCOR? Rather than the canonically absurd arrangement of two dioceses of the same Local Church on the same territory, there should surely be some rearrangement, at least in the British Isles and Ireland. It may seem premature to talk of this to some, but, after all, the two parts of the Russian Church have been united for ten years now, since 2007. The only delay on such matters can be because of pastoral considerations, in the interests of economy, that the people may not be upset.

Conclusion: Divine not Human

Of course, none of this can take place without the right leader, that is, without the right bishop, one acceptable to both sides, and this must be a bishop who speaks English and understands English people. A pastor. It is no wish of ours to hurt anyone’s feelings with the above considerations. The above is all written in the spirit of throwing a stone into a pond and seeing what ripples there may be. In other words, surely it is time at least to begin discussing such possibilities as we have outlined above in the spirit of pastoral love and unity. Let us remember: All crises are man-made and all solutions are God-made. Let us all strive to discern and do God’s Will.

On the Past Divisions in the Russian Orthodox Emigration

Why did divisions take place in the Russian emigration: I mean, there were some everywhere who chose the Non-Patriarchal ROCOR, a few stayed under Moscow, others locally in North America set up the OCA and yet some others locally set up the Paris group. Four groups! And a second question: what do you think will happen to them in the future?

D.O., Kent

The Past

A correction: Three groups: the OCA, as it is now called, was built on Non-Russians, ex-Uniats from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, who had emigrated to the USA and Canada well before the Russian Revolution, and, to a lesser degree, on native Alaskans. True, precedents of the OCA were under the Russian Church (either Moscow or else ROCOR) for periods, but it was never part of the Russian emigration. The only émigrés who joined it, and that after the Second World War, were elitist aristocrats with the Paris superiority complex, for instance, Fr Alexander Schmemann, Fr John Meyendorff and Sophia Kulomzina.

As regards the three Russian groups, they represented earlier social divisions – notice ‘represented’ in the past tense, since there are now essentially only two groups or, arguably, only one. One is minute and, as it is outside the Russian Church, in effect schismatic (Patriarch Alexei II’s words), the other is the Russian Church. These divisions existed well before the Revolution, even in the nineteenth century. Thus, those few who remained loyal to Moscow inherited to some extent the old Statist mentality of the pre-Revolutionary period. Their leaders remained loyal to the State, whatever, though there were also many very sincere Orthodox patriots among clergy and people. This mentality was inherent in the infamous decree of 1927, signed under duress by Metr Sergius, commanding all Orthodox outside Russia, including Non-Russians, to swear loyalty to the Church-persecuting, atheist State! A situation, which the Patriarchate in Moscow is still paying for, trying to retrieve the trust that it lost then, and again later, by appointing morally corrupt or renovationist individuals to its episcopate.

ROCOR, on the other hand, inherited the mentality of the pre-Revolutionary monastic revival. This was led by the neo-Patristic (and therefore slandered) figure of Metr Antony of Kiev, but had both positive and negative aspects. The positive aspects included faithfulness to the Tradition (and not to corrupt customs), with its ascetic, canonical and liturgical disciplines, and the love of the saints. The negative aspects, mainly on the fringes, included conservatism (instead of the Tradition), narrow Russian nationalism (instead of the multinational, Imperial Tradition), dry and formalist, at times pharisaic, ritualism, narrow negativism stifling any initiative, an elitist lack of pastoral understanding of and compassion for married clergy, children, parish life and the people in general, eccentric right-wingery and a sectarian mentality. It was these aspects that led some extremist individuals in ROCOR to support Hitler, to persecute and put on trial the spiritually vibrant St John of Shanghai and, more recently, to break away from the Church altogether, forming strange and tiny right-wing sects with all the usual sectarian infighting.

The Paris group, always very small, represented the pro-Western aristocrats and elitist intellectuals. They were already disloyal and even treacherous to Christ, both Church and State, long before the Revolution, going back to the Decembrist traitors of 1825. Many of them actually plotted and prepared the February 1917 Revolution with British and other anti-Christian foreign encouragement. That overthrew the legitimate rule of the Anointed Tsar and Orthodox Christian Empire, which ironically resulted in the self-punishment of their exile, once the ruthless Bolsheviks soon took over from their incompetent misrule in October 1917. (A similar situation to that of the corrupt English-speaking oligarchs who misrule the Ukraine today). Most of these emigres, mostly from Saint Petersburg, speaking fluent French, sometimes better than Russian, naturally headed for Paris. They were the oligarchs of their day.

The Present

Naturally, after the dissolution of the Soviet State in 1991, the first two groups, Moscow and ROCOR, joined together, but only once they had overcome their mutual political prejudices, which took them sixteen years to do. It is difficult and probably unfair to apportion blame for this lack of haste – history will do that. Clearly, there could be no unity until Moscow had at least on paper condemned co-operation with the atheist State and ecumenism (defined as intercommunion, prayer with heretics etc, and not simply talking to heterodox and witnessing to them) and canonized the New Martyrs and Confessors. All that happened in 2000. Nine years lost, but that is how long it took to overcome on paper the Statist Soviet mentality that refused to criticize even Stalin. On the other hand, many in ROCOR must bear a share of responsibility for their lack of haste too.

A few elderly, KGB-appointed individuals in the old Soviet Union never overcame the Statist mentality. Such is the tragic case of the 87-year old dinosaur, Michael Denysenko, who now calls himself ‘Metr Philaret of Kiev’. A provincial Party hack from the Ukraine of the old days, and reputedly an atheist, he is certainly married with two children. Obsessively jealous that he was not chosen Patriarch after the death of Patriarch Pimen in 1990 and seeing the way the tide was turning, he overnight converted himself to Ukrainian nationalism. This he had previously strongly and mockingly condemned, but he changed his ways in order to further his career, thus, like any vulgar vagans, giving himself the right to dress up in a patriarch’s costume! He depends entirely on political support from US-backed, neo-Nazi nationalists. What happens to him when the provincialist regime in Kiev, put in place by the US colonial administration, inevitably collapses, is unknown, but he may be dead by then anyway.

For its part, ROCOR had to lose its fringe sectarians and pharisees who had been troubling Church life since the 1960s. In the 1990s they even dared to forge alliances with old calendarists and received various mainly sectarian individuals on ex-Soviet territory into the Church, though these were never accepted by the unconsulted clergy and people in ROCOR. These sectarian elements actually claimed that the martyric Church in Russia was without grace and made political co-operation with the atheist State, i.e. the simple human sins of weakness and cowardice, into a new heresy! But if sin is heresy, then we are all heretics, the apostles and saints included. Their longer-term knowledge of Church history was extraordinarily weak and their practice of Orthodoxy seemed mainly to be limited to formalities and ritual.

The worst example was perhaps the politicking of the defrocked bishop, Barnabas (Prokofiev), in the south of France, who was later rightly put on trial and sentenced by the French government for embezzlement. In this country I know three laypeople, then in ROCOR, who, though too young to remember much about him, shocked me in the 1990s by telling me that they thought that Hitler had been a good thing. All three were extremely ignorant and all three unsurprisingly left the Church in 2007, joining various extremist sects. The strange thing is that two of them are married to Anglicans, i. e. in their own abrasive language, married to heretics!

The Future

As regards the future of the fourth, in fact, Non-Russian, group, the OCA, who knows? It is certainly suffering from a severe identity crisis and undergoing great tensions, constantly changing metropolitans. Two questions can be asked about it: Will it be able to survive as one intact group or will it split into its artificially combined constituent fragments, with a large part returning to the Russian Church? And would that be a negative or a positive thing? These questions are not for us to answer; those who constitute the OCA will answer those questions themselves, voting with their feet. As they are outside the Russian Church, we are merely onlookers and can only observe events.

With the exception of some non-Saint Petersburgers, and despite repeated invitations, the tiny third group, centred in Paris, has no intention of returning to the Russian Church and Her ascetic, canonical and liturgical disciplines. It can therefore be termed ‘ex-Russian’. Such a state of politicized, adolescent rebellion does not bode well. Indeed, we can already see the ‘withered branch syndrome’, as this self-isolated group gets ever smaller, though with several dozen quite untrained clergy with tiny ‘parishes’ (often between five and ten!) who sometimes do the strangest things. It will inevitably die out, as it runs out of bishops and Church-educated people and veers towards full secularization by the local Western Establishments which for obvious reasons encourage it, losing the reason for its existence. But that is not a problem for the Russian Church, which it ignores.

This leaves us with the first two groups, now more or less united into one. Here also it is difficult to know what will happen. At present there is no case for an administrative merger of the two, despite them sometimes sharing the same territory. The Moscow group, which gets ever larger in Western Europe, is in drastic need of many more missionary-minded bishops and clergy and a less ‘Soviet’ mentality, adapted to local needs and languages. It also suffers from a lack of premises, the result of the chronic lack of vision and maladministration of the past. Often, but not always, it still appears to lack leadership, vision and dynamism, still dealing with the short-term situation on a day to day basis – a recipe for long-term disaster.

As for ROCOR, it urgently needs dynamic young bishops and priests. Some seem to forget that the canonical age for consecrating a bishop is 35: to have nearly all your bishops (and too many clergy) in their sixties and seventies is profoundly abnormal and makes it likely that any group will die out. Now is the time of the wake-up call for ROCOR, if it wishes to survive in some form or other in the longer term. The result of any lack of leadership and direction is always that you live in the past and do not look to the future. Any loss of dynamism has to be remedied now. However, it is not too late and everything is still possible. ROCOR still has huge potential: whether that will be squandered or not, we cannot say.

The Future of Russian Orthodox Outside the Canonical Territory of the Russian Orthodox Church

Introduction: A Definition of Terms

At the present time there are three groups of Russian Orthodox which have permanently settled outside the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church, but which are for the moment administratively separated. This canonical territory means China and Japan, where there are already Autonomous Churches, and above all the countries formed from the ex-Soviet Union, notably the Russian Federation, the Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania – with the exception of the canonical territory of the ancient Georgian Orthodox Church.

We naturally exclude from these three groups ex-Russian Orthodox: the Ukrainian nationalist group whose ancestors once mainly lived in Polish Galicia and most of whose descendants are in Canada; the small group whose ancestors once belonged to the Russian Church in Finland; very small communities sometimes of Russian descent in a few parts of Western Europe under the Paris Jurisdiction; even smaller sects which broke away from the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) between 2000 and 2007. These four groups have for purely political reasons consciously chosen to live outside the canonical unity of the Russian Church, the first three under the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

One Faith but Three Administrations

These three groups of Russian Orthodox are:

1. Those who have a disputed autocephalous status in North America. They include above all, but not only, those of ‘Ruthenian’ origin whose ancestors emigrated from the former Austro-Hungarian Empire and those who were converted in Alaska when it was still a Russian possession. With their presence dating back well over a century, that is, before the 1917 Revolution, they are grouped in what is called the OCA (Orthodox Church in America).

2. Those in the self-governing Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), whose ancestors either emigrated after the 1917 Revolution, or after 1945, or who have joined the Church since. This group is centred in the USA, but has many members in parts of Western Europe (principally in western Germany and Switzerland), Australasia and also some members in Latin America and the Holy Land.

3. Those who depend directly on Moscow, but live above all in dioceses in Western and Central Europe, but also in much smaller numbers in countries as diverse as the USA, Canada, Thailand, the Philippines, Iran and elsewhere. These are mainly those who have emigrated to these countries in the last twenty-five years since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

These three groups represent different periods and different generations of emigration. The first group dates back five generations and more, the second often dates back three or four generations, whereas the third often dates back only one generation. Is there a possibility that these three groups may one day join together? Surely, that would be a logical, canonical and indeed welcome outcome? And if not, what could prevent them from doing so? Let us look in detail at each of the three groups.

Is an Administrative Merger even Possible?

The first group, in its present form a product of the Cold War politics of nearly two generations ago, appears to be split into two factions. Some more traditional would like to have closer relations with those who in North America are happy to call themselves Russian Orthodox (those belonging to groups 2 and 3), but others for political reasons object to the term ‘Russian Orthodox’. They confuse this term with some narrow, ethnic identity instead of the multi-ethnic reality. These, sometimes quite Russophobic American nationalists, often not of Slav but of Protestant background, are generally very modernistic and have little understanding of the Tradition.

Therefore, they may wish to quit the OCA background which is in the disciplines of the Russian Church and Tradition. Like other political dissidents elsewhere, these latter may wish to join the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Their mentality is after all very similar to those ex-Russian Orthodox already in the Patriarchate of Constantinople, in the Paris Jurisdiction (including ex-Sourozh) and in Finland, whose mindset in the eyes of Russian Orthodox is more or less schismatic and even semi-treasonous. Under Constantinople, these dissidents would, like the others who have left the Russian Church, be allowed to operate outside the canonical and liturgical disciplines common to the Church.

The second group, ROCOR, should by its name unite all Orthodox outside Russia (Russia meaning the Russian Lands, that is, the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church, as defined at the beginning of this article). However, it does not do so at present, though it is now showing great openness at least in North America to groups 1 and 3, even receiving the former OCA leader. One of the problems for some in ROCOR is that as long as the Soviet Union existed, it had a very clear, even exaggerated identity, but that was a whole generation ago. As a result, some individuals prefer to pretend that the Soviet Union still exists, under the imaginary term of ‘Putinization’, but this fantasy is mere New Cold War propaganda of the basest kind and self-justification for the disobedience of schism and conforms at best to fantasy, at worst to paranoia. We must not live trapped in the past, for salvation can only come if we live in the present.

Today, ROCOR seems to be confining itself to North America and Australasia, with South America and Western Europe increasingly small and detached. Is it to confine itself in the future only to the English-speaking world? The direction of the ROCOR leadership seems to some unclear and ROCOR identity has perhaps been blurred by Western rite experiment. On the other hand, the membership of ROCOR has increased rapidly through recent emigration. All is still possible and ROCOR could still become a federation of regional Metropolias around the world, as Patriarch Kyrill would like. This process of Metropolitanization is precisely what has been carried out on Russian Orthodox canonical territory. However, time is passing and several years have gone by since such strategic decisions could have been taken.

The third group, directly under Moscow, is expanding rapidly by emigration, especially in Western Europe, where most countries are effectively now directly under Moscow and ROCOR is clearly an outnumbered minority, mainly by its own choices. It must be said that this situation looks like being replicated elsewhere too. The situation has indeed been transformed in the last 25 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Whereas once this group was tiny, today it is the biggest. We can remember the situation only thirty years ago of the dioceses in Brussels, Paris and London, where, all told, the flock numbered three bishops, a dozen or so priests and a few hundred faithful! In other words, three ‘dioceses’ totalled no more than a parish.

Today, with large new churches built or being built in Rome, Madrid, Paris, Strasbourg and in several cities in Germany, large dioceses in Italy and Scandinavia, several parishes in Portugal, Spain, Ireland and even Iceland, with well over a million faithful, the momentum is clearly here. However, there are difficulties. Some of its older and senior clergy seem to have problems adapting to life outside Russia and can have ‘Soviet’ reflexes. Not only do they not understand local cultures, mentalities and family life, but some do not understand the local language and so cannot even communicate with and confess the children of their flocks. This is a very, very serious pastoral problem. Little wonder that some recent and better integrated emigrants sometimes prefer to attend ROCOR churches or, in North America, traditional OCA churches.

Conclusion: Three in One in the Future?

One thing is clear – no solution to three separate administrations will ever be imposed from above. No-one in the Centre in Moscow wishes to be accused of imposing some Soviet-style structure or reorganization, as was disastrously tried in the 1920s. In the internet age top-down ‘Soviet Tank’ style is dead, belonging firmly in the past. Unity today can only come organically, from the grassroots. True, the Centre in Moscow strongly, but also understandably, dislikes the extremist fringes with their disloyalty and Russophobia, either of the left-wing Paris/Sourozh type, or of the right-wing sectarian type that once posed a problem in ROCOR. Perhaps the dream that the spiritually healthy parts of the OCA may one day merge with those directly under Moscow and with ROCOR in North America could come true. Thus, a newly formed group called something like The Russian Orthodox Metropolia in North America – ROMNA, could emerge from the past.

As for ROCOR in Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia, it could become part of some large Metropolia in Australasia, including parishes in Thailand, South-East Asia and the Philippines, called something like The Russian Orthodox Metropolia in Australasia – ROMA. Surviving ROCOR parishes in Western Europe could become part of a Metropolia, centred at the new Cathedral and seminary in Paris, perhaps called the Russian Orthodox Metropolia in Europe – ROME. As for Latin America surviving ROCOR parishes there could simply merge with local parishes under Moscow in one single Metropolia, The Russian Orthodox Metropolia in Latin America, perhaps called ROMLA. This would together make four Metropolias, together forming a renewed and expanded Russian Orthodox Church Outside the Russian Lands of over 1,000 parishes. Dreams? For the moment, yes, but at least food for thought for the long term.

Why Do The Two Parts of the Russian Church Not Merge?

Q: There are two small dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church in Great Britain and Ireland. The larger one, called ‘the Diocese of Sourozh’, is directly under Moscow and has a bishop in London and 27 clergy, the smaller one is under ROCOR (the Church Outside Russia) and has a bishop in Germany and 12 clergy. Surely it would make sense if they merged. Why don’t they?

T.P. London

A: Your timely question will be of interest not just to Russian Orthodox in these islands, but to others elsewhere. This is because there is for the time being a similar pattern of double dioceses in other parts of Western Europe, in the Americas and elsewhere. For example, there are even two Russian Orthodox Archbishops of Berlin of different dioceses – a situation which of course goes back to the division of Berlin and Germany during the Cold War. Therefore, I will give an answer that is first local and then general.

Locally

First of all, there is the historical reason why this abnormal situation of two dioceses on the same territory exists and then the consequences of that history. For instance, with its origin in the White Russian emigration of four generations ago, the ROCOR Diocese in this country consequently tends to be more independent, better integrated and better established than the newer, more ‘Soviet’, Sourozh Diocese and overall it has a more widespread use of English. It is not without significance that its first bishop had the title ‘of London’ and later two others with the title ‘of Richmond’, which the ‘Sourozh’ Diocese has never had – even its very name refers directly to Russia. Moreover, many of its clergy are recent arrivals from Russia who may only be staying here temporarily.

The Sourozh Diocese has also been through a turbulent and difficult period in recent decades as a result of the controversial personality and practices of the Parisian Metr Antony Bloom, as divisive in death as in life. For instance, it still has two small parishes, founded by him, that use the so-called ‘new’ calendar as well as in some places his practices, like no confession before communion or allowing cremation, that would appear to have been adopted from liberal Anglicanism. The ROCOR Diocese in this country is ‘stricter’, that is, traditional in its practices and its members are very loyal to its stand for the truth. In its day it was mocked and persecuted for this – though now it is admired for that stand, sometimes by the very people who once mocked it.

However, it is also true that there is now increasing convergence as the Sourozh Diocese largely returns to Russian Orthodox norms, and ROCOR has been helped by the fact that some disruptive fringe Anglo-Catholic converts left it some years ago for various sects. Although on paper Sourozh has grown bigger than the ROCOR diocese over the last forty years (the opposite was once the case), its many communities are generally very small and use temporary and borrowed premises with an ageing clergy. It is difficult to foresee which diocese will be bigger in the future, but it is true that ROCOR still does not have a resident bishop.

Thus, each diocese has its own history, with differences of emphasis, one older, one younger. Given these historical differences, which could create human frictions if the two dioceses were merged by force, it was decided at the 2007 agreement between the two parts of the Russian Church to let all such dioceses on the same territory evolve organically before any voluntary merger. This is especially important, given that emigration from the former Soviet Union is continuing and so the situation is fluid.

Thus, any process leading to a voluntary merger will take time – perhaps a whole generation. The main principle is never to force anyone to do anything, but to let the situation develop by itself, as any movement must be purely voluntary. Here is the basic answer to your question. However, nine years after the 2007 agreement we can already make some observations about possible future developments.

Generally

Originally, some, including myself, thought that all parishes outside the Church’s canonical territory of the former Soviet Union/Russian Empire and Japan, would simply gradually join ROCOR and that there would be a sort of merger between the two groups, thus creating an expanded ROCOR. However, we can now see a pattern with some interesting developments. I must emphasize that these have not taken place as a result of some top-down decree, but quite naturally, as a result of grassroots evolution.

This pattern is worldwide and it is basically towards a jurisdiction of ROCOR in US-dominated / largely English-speaking countries and of dioceses and parishes being dependent directly on Moscow elsewhere. All this is because such an arrangement is politically expedient and pragmatic. For example:

From the very beginning of ROCOR, Japan always remained dependent directly on Moscow, as part of its canonical territory, albeit outside the Soviet Union. After 1945 former ROCOR dioceses and parishes in China and Eastern Europe were directly absorbed into Moscow. Of course, that was for purely political reasons – they had no choice, However, today, most significantly, there is no movement in any of those countries back to ROCOR. And during that time Orthodox in Poland and Czechoslovakia even formed autocephalous Churches and Orthodox in China became autonomous. In the last five years we have seen that China, like Japan, has also become part of Moscow’s official canonical territory.

Other Asian countries like Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam are heading the same way, simply because ROCOR has never had any presence there, whereas Moscow has. Moreover, the same thing is happening with parishes in Africa (with the blessing of the Patriarch of Alexandria), India, Iran, the Middle East, Cuba, North Korea and the Philippines. In most of these areas existing parishes basically depend directly on Moscow, mainly because Moscow has political access, a recent emigration, missionary and building activity or simply priests there, which ROCOR does not.

On account of the undermining schism in ROCOR in South America nine years ago, which took place largely because of the inability of ROCOR to appoint a local bishop, it would seem that South and even Central America now also seem to be entering into the direct orbit of Moscow. It seems likely that Moscow will set up a Metropolia at least for South America. ROCOR is simply too small to do this.

On the other hand, in North America (Canada, the USA and also, it seems, Mexico), in Australia and New Zealand (including Indonesia and Polynesia), it is clear that ROCOR is in control. In Australasia, Moscow is more or less inexistent and in North America it cannot expand, but only contract. This is as a result of the agreement of its own making with the Non-Russian Orthodox OCA, which still has a canonical decision to make as to whether it will reintegrate the mainstream Russian Orthodox Church or else continue on the margins.

However, we have also seen that ROCOR has more or less ceded territory in both the south and the north of Western Europe – Portugal, Spain, Italy, Austria (with two exceptions) and Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and also the Netherlands – to Moscow. For example, in Italy there is now the largest Russian Orthodox diocese in Western Europe, with over 70, mainly Moldovan, parishes and a bishop with a purpose-built Cathedral in Rome. By and large, ROCOR remains present only in former western Germany, Switzerland (its three European bishops are here), Great Britain, Ireland, Luxembourg, Belgium, France and Denmark. However, in Belgium and even in western Germany new churches directly under Moscow are opening.

Thus, although it is still much too early to come to any firm conclusions, it appears that the ROCOR jurisdiction may become limited to all Russian Orthodox in and around the English-speaking world – in North America, including Mexico, Australasia and that part of continental Europe which happens to be nearest the British Isles. They may yet come to form three distinct Metropolias, in New York, Sydney and a third somewhere in North-Western Europe, perhaps in Geneva, or else in Munich or Brussels.

On the other hand, Russian Orthodox in the rest of the world, that is, outside the canonical territories of the thirteen other Local Churches, may come to belong directly to the jurisdiction of the Church based in Moscow, again forming Metropolias. Here we are concerned with Western Europe, South America and Asia. For example, we can foresee a possible Metropolia for South-Western Europe, centred perhaps at the new Cathedral and seminary in Paris. Then there could be a Metropolia centred in South America, perhaps centred at the new Cathedral in Caracas.

As regards Asia, we can foresee that one day the autonomous Chinese Church may have the freedom to become a Metropolia, centred in Beijing. There should surely be a Metropolia in South-East Asia, perhaps centred in Bangkok. Beyond that, one can dream of Metropolias in New Delhi, covering the Indian subcontinent, and in Teheran, covering the Middle East. But that is far off. We stress that all this is an organic process and not a premeditated plan. However, we do not know the future and unexpected events may still occur before the situation settles.

The Future

To those who may be alarmed at these possibilities and see in them a sort of competition for jurisdiction or Moscow imperialism, we would say that such alarm belongs to the past. There is no such competition or imperialism. The fact is that with the present convergence between the Church Inside Russia (and its dependent dioceses and parishes outside it) and the Church Outside Russia, the distinctions between the two parts of the Church are increasingly irrelevant. For the younger and even middle-aged generations, there is now little difference, for people go freely from one parish to the other, without any distinction.

When, in Russia and the Ukraine, monasteries, convents and churches dedicated to St John of Shanghai open, and books written by ROCOR clergy, like Archbp Averky (Taushev), Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose) and Fr Seraphim Slobodskoy, against modernism and ecumenism or about the Royal Martyrs are reprinted in large numbers, and when outside Russia we read books written inside Russia on similar themes, there is complete convergence. With more and more contacts between the two parts of the Russian Church, a merger is happening from the grassroots.

There is no greater example of this than that of the newly-canonized St Seraphim of Sofia, for 25 years the ROCOR hierarch in Bulgaria, denouncer of the heresies of Paris and the error of the new calendar, but also the towering voice of Orthodoxy at the 1948 Council of Moscow. A figure of unity indeed. And he may yet be followed by the ever-memorable ROCOR Metr Philaret of New York, canonizer of the New Martyrs and Confessors, whose relics are incorrupt – for many years a priest under Moscow and his widowed father a bishop there. As post-Soviet Russia heads towards the restoration of a Christian Emperor, the future and unity are being lived today.

On the Foolishness of Schism

There is now almost hysteria among a few, as we predicted in our article after the release of the draft documents for the Crete meeting, as regards relations between the Church and the heterodox world. This hysteria began when those draft documents were released, but since then there has also been the meeting between Patriarch Kyrill and Pope Francis and its joint statement. What we have seen so far is that a few simple and little-educated, seeing everything in terms of black and white, sometimes out of insecurity in the faith, sometimes out of an incredible lack of faith and loyalty, have been very upset by the vagueness of expressions used in documents issued at both events. We agree that vagueness of terminology is to be avoided, but we would never agree with making schism out of vagueness.

The Gospel of St Matthew tells us that we are to be ‘as wise as serpents and as gentle as doves’. On the left side there are those who are only doves and on the right side there are those who are only serpents. We are told to love the sinner but hate the sin. On the left side there are those who love the sinner but also love the sin. On the right side there are those who hate the sin but also hate the sinner. In other words those who have created schisms from vagueness of words, lack subtlety and have over-reacted – just as the enemy wanted. They have fallen into the hands of the enemy! What is the real problem?

The real problem is very simple: the Patriarchate of Constantinople had throughout the nineteenth century been a plaything of the British and French ambassadors in Istanbul and their rivalry to control was exploited by the Ottomans. In the early 1920s the Anglicans actually handed over £100,000 to get the British freemason Meletios Metaksakis elected as Patriarch. He then pushed through various modernist and anti-Orthodox changes, for which he was chased out of the City by the enraged faithful, though too late. However, in 1948, with Britain bankrupt, the US took control of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. The late Greek Bishop of Birmingham in England was the Patriarch’s deacon at the time and as an eyewitness told us the story.

Flying in on the personal aeroplane of President Truman (he who had massacred almost 250,000 Japanese civilians with just two bombs in three days), a group of CIA gangsters (there is no other word for them) told Patriarch Maximos that he had to leave for Switzerland and that if he resisted he would be tortured and killed. He left, saying the words, ‘The City (= Constantinople) is lost’. On the aeroplane that had flown in sat the next Patriarch, the freemason from the US Greek Archdiocese, the notorious modernist Archbishop Athenagoras. Since then the City has indeed been lost.

The US elite wants to finish off the Orthodox Church, just as it did Roman Catholicism 50 years ago, reducing most of it to the malleable, spiritually empty Judeo-Protestant culture of the West. This takeover of all ‘organized religion’ is merely an excuse for the longer-term plan, already obvious in the 1960s, to promote secularism and through it anti-Christianity. In order to finish off the Orthodox Church, the US elite is using the ‘weak underbelly’ of the Church, that which has been weak ever since the fifteenth-century treachery at the ‘Council’ of Florence, elements in the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and also elsewhere by interfering in Patriarchal elections.

Sadly for the US elite, the plan is doomed to failure (although it can create a lot of chaos and division on the way). This is because the Orthodox Church is the Church, not an ‘organized religion’, that is, not a top-down clericalist club, like the Protestant denominations or Catholicism. With them, all they had to do was infiltrate the leaders and future leaders, the episcopate or the Vatican, spread some money around, blackmail the corrupted, and they had complete control. In the Orthodox Church, on the other hand, the episcopate is only a very small part of the Church. We can already see how the US plan is failing:

Firstly, the Russian Church insisted that no document could be accepted by any future ‘Council’ without unanimity. Individuals in the Patriarchate of Constantinople, urged on by Biden, launched a propaganda campaign using Greek clerics in the USA and the compliant, State-controlled US media, to cast the Russian Church as the villain that would sabotage ‘the Council’, because it does not want to be friendly to Non-Orthodox and in any case, is ‘only a tool of the Russian State’. To that last September the Russian Church replied by organizing the February meeting between Patriarch Kyrill and the Bishop of Rome.

Secondly, the Russian Church and others threw out the pro-gay agenda that Obama and Kerry tried to impose on the future ‘Council’. This was a defeat for those who were trying to promote it for personal reasons.

Thirdly, the Russian Church has forced individuals in the Patriarchate of Constantinople in a humiliating climbdown to accept Metr Rostislav as leader of the Church of the Czechs and Slovaks.

Fourthly, the Russian Church has obliged the Patriarchate of Constantinople to promise never to interfere in the Ukraine, as the US State Department was urging it to do.

Fifthly, the Russian Church has forced the venue for the meeting to be moved from premises in NATO Istanbul, filled with CIA bugs, to Crete. Here the premises can be swept for bugs by Russian security men.

Sixthly, the Patriarch of Constantinople has now stated that not all the Local Churches have to be represented for there to be a Council. The Russian Church and others are resisting this by refusing any change to the original agreement.

On each occasion the Russian Church has replied to the attempts to weaken Orthodoxy and has won the day.

Those hotheads who are too simple to see this and are entering or are promoting schism are not strategically-minded, but literally-minded. Their danger is that of phariseeism – an enemy of the Church. For phariseeism always divides, which is exactly what the devil wants because it weakens the Church. Today the draft documents for the Crete meeting are being torn apart by the Churches of Georgia and Antioch, not to mention the severe criticism they are undergoing throughout the Orthodox world, not least in Greece and Cyprus. For the moment at least the Russian Church can leave protests at the draft documents for Crete to others.

The Path to Unity

The Path to Unity

Woe unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the Lord…And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries where I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase.

Jeremiah 23, 1 and 3

The Path to Disunity

Since 1917 and the Western-organized fall of the Christian Empire, the Third Rome, the forces of this world have contrived to divide the Confederation of Local Churches which forms the Orthodox Church. This they have done in three stages.

Their first aim was to attack, paralyse, dupe and so divide those in the key Church, by far the biggest, the most multinational and missionary-minded and that on which the others largely depended, the Russian Orthodox Church. If extremists of any sort, whether modernists, nationalists or sectarians, could be brought to divide this Church, its territory being one sixth of the planet, then its influence there and all over the world could be destroyed. Thus, the forces of this world provoked Protestant-minded, renovationist modernists, both inside Russia (the Communist-sponsored Vvedensky and those with him, including the present neo-renovationists) and outside Russia (the Protestant-sponsored YMCA Paris Schism), nationalist groups (Ukrainians – Galician autocephalists and the present careerist Philaretists, Belarussians – autocephalists, misled Carpatho-Russian Americans – autocephalists) and tiny right-wing sects (Suzdalites, Agathangelites, Tikhonites (from Tikhon Paseka), Diomidites etc). It did not matter to them what ism they used in order to attack, paralyse, dupe and so divide, whether Marxist Communism, Hitlerite Fascism or liberal-consumerist Capitalism. More directly they also used other isms, Catholicism and Protestantism, sending in the 1920s Catholics (D’Herbigny) and in the 1990s more Uniats and US Protestant sectarians to try and divide the Russian Church.

Although the struggle continues, against all that the forces of this world planned, the Russian Church and so Orthodox Russia are gradually being restored. The forces of this world have largely failed and will fail, as long as the blood and seed of the New Martyrs and the tears and sweat of the Confessors who are rebuilding the Russian Church oppose them.

The forces of this world then set out on the second part of their campaign. This was to attack, paralyse, dupe and so divide those in the other, smaller Local Churches by introducing modernism and its symbol, the Catholic-Protestant calendar. They started in the weakest link in the chain, Turkish-occupied Constantinople, and began replacing its Patriarchs with Western puppets. This of course created schism. The forces of this world expanded their activities, interfering in the other four Greek Churches (the Church of Greece, its autocephalous offshoot in Greek Albania, the Church of Cyprus and the Patriarchate of Alexandria) as well as in the Latin Church (Romania, where they have yet again recently meddled in the appointment of a Patriarch), in the weakest of the Slav Churches (Bulgaria) and in the Arab Patriarchate of Antioch (where they have created a terrorist war), as well as trying to subjugate the Czechoslovak and Polish Churches. Everywhere they tried to introduce the Catholic-Protestant calendar and other modernist practices. Thus, altogether 20% of the Church was contaminated.

They have succeeded only in part and only temporarily.

The 20% contamination by modernism left the other 80% of the Church, in the Russian Lands, Serbia, Georgia and Jerusalem, all but uncontaminated. As they could not be allowed to remain intact, the forces of this world proceeded to the third and most recent part of their campaign. They have attacked the Serbian Church (dividing its territory, handing over some to Catholic control, some to Muslim control, some to Macedonian and Montenegrin nationalist schismatic control, and then trying to divide its episcopate), the Georgian Church (supporting a pro-modernist and anti-patriotic coup d’etat, calling it ‘regime change’ and trying to introduce consumerist sodomy), the Patriarchate of Jerusalem (where the previous Patriarch strangely languishes in prison and a schism has been established via the former US ambassador in Qatar, who allowed US premises to be used for services outside the canonical territory of Jerusalem on that of the Patriarchate of Antioch) and again in Russia (a coup d’etat by Western-backed Catholic nationalists from Galicia who have started massacring the Ukrainian Orthodox people. Everywhere they have also used the tiny, US-controlled Patriarchate of Constantinople to sow discord and division against the Russian Church, whether in Finland and Estonia (age-old territories of the Russian Church), using dissidents in the Russian emigration in France, North America and England, or more recently in Czechoslovakia (refusing to recognize its autocephaly and dividing its episcopate) and the Ukraine (where the Patriarchate’s US masters are tempting it to recognize politically-backed, uncanonical schismatics, as they have already done in Estonia)).

Here too, in this still continuing third part of their campaign, what the forces of this world have forgotten is that though they propose, God disposes. For only He lives in eternity and shows His loving and visionful Providence, whereas they live in their visionless spiral of infernal hatred, which they are trying to establish as an earthly kingdom.

The Path to Unity?

We do not know the future, how God will dispose. That is in His hands. But we can already see where the forces of this world may lose their way:

In Syria, as a result of the US-fomented war, contrary to what was proposed, the Patriarchate of Antioch has recognized who its friends are. Recognizing that it has no support from Constantinople, which is in the hands of the US-backed, anti-Syrian Turks, the Patriarchate of Antioch is now looking to the Russian Church.

In Africa, the Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa, once run as a colonial department of the Greek Foreign Ministry, is too poor to expand very much. It needs Russian help and such help would inevitably be anti-phyletist. In such a case the Patriarchate could be taken over, as would only be just, by native African bishops, just as the once-Greek colony of Antioch was taken over by native Arab bishops with anti-phyletist Russian help.

In another Greek colony, Jerusalem (as also in Constantinople), most of the faithful are now Russian. And in Jerusalem Russians support, as is only just, native Arab candidates as future bishops.

Many in the Churches of Greece (and so also in the Church of Greek Albania) and Cyprus (here the US-backed Turks were allowed to invade and occupy the island, which made anti-US feeling even stronger), their economies brought low and their peoples impoverished by joining the neo-feudal EU vassal of the US, are now looking to Russia for help.

The Church of Serbia still looks to Russia and adheres to the Orthodox calendar despite EU-backed political interference in its internal affairs and the now US-owned media.

The Churches of Romania and Bulgaria, in difficulty as the old generation of monastic elders has died out and members of the spiritually impoverished and so pro-Uniat middle generation, which grew up in the simoniac Communist period, has come to power, still have spiritual power in the monasteries and among many in the younger generation.

The Church of Georgia still has excellent relations with the Russian Church, despite US attempts to destroy them by encouraging the 2008 Georgian invasion of Russia-protected territory, where the US-run regime slaughtered 2,000 civilians in half an hour in an unprovoked and compassionless attack by its puppet government.

The Churches of Poland and Czechoslovakia are allied to Russia, the latter all the more so after recent US-backed Greek meddling there.

The Church of Constantinople looks ever weaker, as the rest of the world begins to recognize that it has since 1453, quite literally, been wearing the Emperor’s (new) clothes, that the real leader of the Orthodox world is the Russian Patriarch and that they have to talk to him if they want to talk about serious problems. More and more members of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and not only on Mt Athos, can see this themselves. The illusion of the absurd but vanity-consoling US interpretation of Canon 28 of Chalcedon is transparent to nearly all. Even some in the US are wondering whether it is worth spending more money that they do not have in Istanbul in order to maintain the vain illusion.

In the Diaspora, the Russian Church, recovering from paralysis, has begun to take responsibility and bring unity. And in the Ukraine itself, where the forces of this world thought they could destroy the Russian Church, their plans are backfiring. Most are now talking about the disintegration and dissolution of the purely artificial Ukrainian ‘State’, a conglomerate creation of four imperialist tyrannies, the Habsburg, the Leninist, the Stalinist and that of Washington. Its collapse is for many now just a question of time (according to some, months, though others reckon a few years). 84% of the Ukrainian people are now publically asking for their country to be run by President Putin – far better than continuing under the tyranny and poverty of the corrupt and unrepresentative Kiev puppet junta. This is completely reliant on US subsidies for survival, at great expense to the EU, whose members are suffering bitterly from its anti-Russian, or rather anti-European, sanctions.

Some 55% of the Ukraine, the east and the south, together with Transdnestria, may well return after nearly 95 years to Russia (some of it, the Crimea, already has done so by democratic referendum). 25% of it, centred around Kiev, may become once more the ancient Malorossiya, a southern variant of Belarus. The only part, some 15%, that is really Ukrainian and where the various dialects of Ukrainian are spoken, the largely Catholic Galician borderland, which is what the word ‘Ukraine’ means, may mostly return to Poland. It was from here that the Georgian tyrant Stalin tore it away in 1939, earning the undying and understandable hatred of its people. The two small remaining parts of the present Ukraine, some 5%, may return to Romania (the Orthodox calendar intact, so again helping the Romanian Church to return to the Tradition) and Hungary. And the part that may return to Hungary, that which the Kiev bureaucrats still call ‘Transcarpathia’, even though they are the only Transcarpathians, as they are the ones who live across the Carpathians, could become the kernel of a fifteenth Local Church, a Hungarian Orthodox Church.

Given the excellent relations between Hungary, which has a democratically-elected anti-EU government, and the Russian Federation, which supports all National Resistance and Sovereignist movements against the tyrannical EU, this could happen. Only a few years ago the Russian Church won its legal battle for control of the Budapest Orthodox Cathedral – all is set for a new Local Church to be born. Thus the 500 parishes of ‘Transcarpathians’, that is Carpatho-Russians (or Ruthenians = Latin for Russians), would be at the heart of another Local Church. For it is they who are at the heart of the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, they who have contributed to the Polish Church, one of whose constituent peoples is the Lemkos (north-western Carpatho-Russians), and it is they who through their noble and illustrious son from Presov Rus, Metr Lavr (Skhkurla), contributed to Diaspora unity between the Russian Church and one of its constituent parts, the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR). The vast majority in the latter had only been waiting for freedom at the Centre of the Church to be reconciled with Her.

Of course, nothing is certain; the above are all possible scenarios, only some of which may actually happen. Nevertheless, they are possible, whereas only a few decades ago, when we lived oppressed and isolated by all the forces of this world, they seemed impossible. The visionless who thought short-term, unlike St John of Shanghai and those like him, whose world-view they should have been trying to live by instead of studying philosophy, failed to see that the world would change. Today, we live in a different world from the past. Now a small minority of countries that have stopped being Christian huddle together in a bankrupt union of less than a billion, a union of Eurosodom and Gomorrhica. And the three largest Christian countries, Brazil, Russia and China, are bound together in a union with others, covering half the world’s population.

What the forces of this world were proposing only three or four decades ago, and which made those who had no faith in the Holy Spirit despair, today seems ever less probable. Then the Establishment-compromised, who had in their youth taken the easy, Establishment-approved path and refused to take up the Cross of the Russian Church, mocked us, denounced us and despised us. Now, older, they have only to take up the Cross and they too will walk. Unlike the Donatists and Neo-Donatists, we will welcome them back with open arms, as the loving Father did the Prodigal Son of old.