Tag Archives: Corruption

Q and A May 2019

The Corruption of the Constantinople Episcopate

Q: What do you make of the appalling allegations against certain members of the episcopate of Constantinople, which are now making their rounds on the internet? Is this fake news? Or, if is true, is it time for us to have a married episcopate?

A: When I first saw the allegations, clearly not fake news, I wondered what the fuss was all about: these stories have been well-known for decades, though, true, they have never been issued on the internet. The corruption of Orthodox bishops in the Diaspora is well-known. There was the Russian bishop in Paris, sent to Siberia, when Moscow actually got to realize it was all true, the Serbian bishop who had to ‘retire’, the episcopate of a certain group in the USA known as ‘the gay mafia’, who therefore fell under the thumb of a certain priest who had the dirt on them, the Greek and Russian bishops in Europe with their boyfriends or multiple mistresses, the one they called ‘Johnny Walker’ (we know how he died) and the chain-smoking bishops from the Middle East and the alcoholic Slavs. All this has been well-known for decades and generations. However, the latest stories with Rolex watches worth 400,000 euros and all the sordid details worthy only of British gutter tabloids, do bring it down to a different level (or depth).

Of course, the Protestant-minded immediately call for married bishops. I am completely opposed to this. First of all, it would be completely unfair on their wives. It is difficult enough for the wife of a priest to have her husband. The wife of a bishop would never see him. Then, secondly, it would introduce nasty careerism among married clergy. It is bad enough among certain hieromonks and archimandrites, without polluting the married clergy.

There is only one solution: to stop electing bishops from among candidates who are candidates simply because they are not married. Otherwise you will simply end up, at worst, with pedophiles and homosexuals who only have contempt for married priests, women and children (as among the Catholics) or, at best (?), with narcissistic professional bachelors who have no love for anyone except themselves and their favourites and operate a mafia against real pastors. We have seen enough of both sorts and suffered enough from them during 40 years. They are the only enemies of the Church and always have been. They wreck dioceses and ruin lives. There is only one solution: monastic renewal. If you are not living a monastic life in a monastery and you have no pastoral experience and love for the people, you cannot become a bishop.

As for the sort of bishops described in Constantinople, they must all be defrocked asap. We have had enough of them. All they do is bring the Church into disrepute and upset and persecute the sincere parish priests and the pious faithful. And, above all, they can be corrupted by the US State Department which has all the dirt on them all and so can blackmail them – just like the KGB did in the days of the Soviet Union, just like the CIA does in the Ukraine today.

Q: What do you think of the appointment of Metr Elpidiphoros as the new Greek Archbishop of America?

A: His name means ‘bearer of hope’. However, he is the bearer of despair. Expect schisms in the Greek Church in the USA, Australia and Great Britain. Indeed, they have already begun, with priests and parishes leaving them for canonical Orthodoxy. It is the beginning of the end for the rule of Constantinople. Sad though it is, it is inevitable and, ultimately, this will be a positive event. God is not mocked. We have to live for the future, not for the corrupt past. All will be providential. And Providence is God’s Love in history.

Russian Orthodox Church Matters

Q: I recently visited Russia and saw and heard some strange things from some people. For example, someone told me he knew an Orthodox man who was sure that Stalin will one day be canonized. An Orthodox woman I met said that she thought the Russian Church should become like the Catholic Church. Are such views widespread?

A: Today’s Russian Church is 90% a Church of converts, so inevitably you do occasionally come across extremes and marginals, or to put it very frankly, ‘weirdos’, nationalists, ecumenists and what have you. On top of this, you can also encounter among some clergy the hangover from the Soviet period – centralization and bureaucracy (though this was to some extent also present before the Revolution). I should not worry about it. This will all pass, it is all a phase of growing up. And it all only affects some; most are solid. Remember to look at the wood, not at the trees.

Q: The Russian Orthodox Church has for several months now an Exarchate in Paris. You had written a lot about this before it happened. Why does the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (including yourself) not participate in it?

A: The Russian Exarchate is for the moment very much on paper only. It is centralized, bureaucratic, missing bishops on the ground in Italy and Scandinavia, which like Germany is not included in it. The Exarchate is so far not real, not local, not skilled, not pastoral. And I know this from concrete contacts at the very highest AND the very lowest level. It is not at all ready to operate like the best of the Church Outside Russia (where it exists) and does not even want us to take part in it! Our offers of help have been rebuffed, several times, as they prefer to take orders from Moscow, where they understand nothing of the situation on the ground. It is not ready – by far!

When the Russian Exarchate is ready to be pastoral and to become a real Exarchate of (and not merely in) Western Europe, then we shall see changes. For now it clearly lacks the necessary pastoral skills and local knowledge, being a disincarnate  export from Moscow. It will need several years to grow up. The task, duty and mission of the local Church Outside Russia in Western Europe are precisely to prepare the terrain for this moment, filling the largely empty infrastructure created by Moscow, going before, like St John the Baptist.

Speaking as the only priest in the Russian Church who has ever been awarded a jewelled cross by Patriarch Kyrill (seven years ago) and a second such cross by Metropolitan Hilarion of New York (three years later), I believe that the Exarchate is not viable without ROCOR.

Pastoral Psychology

Q: What is the difference between low self-esteem and humility?

A: Low self-esteem comes from being humiliated, insulted and bullied. The victim of humiliation and bullying stops believing in themselves and doubts everyone and everything and can hate themselves and even self-mutilate. However, this is in contradiction with the last two words of the commandments, to love God and love our neighbour as ourselves. We must love ourselves. Not because we are anything other than sinners, but because God loves us. Anyone who believes or has experienced that fact that God loves them, will not fall victim to low self-esteem, but will become humble. Low self-esteem is the result of believing in the opinions and actions of nasty narcissists and sadistic bullies, whatever rank they may hold, more than in God.

Q: Is it true that there are only two choices in the Church, marriage or monasticism?

A: Only as an ideal. I would say, and I think I have said this before, that in reality there are two and a quarter choices. The quarter choice is for all those who for some reason do not fit in to either of the main choices at present. In other words, we must always be prepared for exceptions and exceptional circumstances. For example, there are, though they are very rare, celibate priests, neither married, nor monastic.

 

 

A Fools’ Paradise

And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees.

Lk 3, 9

Election results in Italy have brought political instability and ungovernability. So read the headlines. Of course, some would say that political instability has been the order of the day in Italy since the fall of the Western fragment of the Roman Empire in the year 476. Yet Italy is still there.

More seriously, however, the current political stalemate in Italy has in part been caused by the appearance of a new populist protest party, the ‘Five-Star Movement’, which is fed up at the corruption of the whole political elite, the euro it imposed and the austerity policies of an unelected, German-style, technocrat Prime Minister, imposed by Brussels and the US. No-one should be surprised. The same thing has already happened in many European countries, where many others are also fed up with the democratic deficit of EU-imposed policies, not to mention mass immigration and yet at the same time mass unemployment.

‘A plague on both your houses’ comes from Italy, but it is universal. In France there is the Front National, which under its present leader is breaking the mould of the old identical left-right technocrats, who all come from the same elitist schools. In Greece a rather extreme political protest party called Syriza has moved out of the old and corrupt two-party system of left and right. In Great Britain the Independence Party (UKIP) is upsetting the old two/three party system and its public school boys. The old political mafia of Western Europe, shown to be incompetent by the financial crisis which it directly created but refuses to take responsibility for, is falling.

In Italy, the situation was made all the more complex – and corrupt – by the situation whereby for some fifty years after 1945 the right was kept in power, government after government, by corruption and US dollars, in order to prevent Italy falling to Communism. The corruption was guaranteed by a self-perpetuating elite, kept in power by mythical democracy. The democracy was mythical because the electorates were only ever given a choice between two self-interested and almost identical individuals, who between periodical elections did whatever they wanted, regardless of what the electorates may have wanted.

However, it is unlikely that anti-elite populist protest parties will actually bring a solution, at least not in the long-term. The underlying problem of Western Europe is debt and bankruptcy. For a generation and more, government after government in country after country has avoided the essential issue of debt. All political parties, including the new anti-elite populist parties, are quite unwilling to make the drastic cuts to budgets that all Western European countries have to make if they are to stave off ever closer bankruptcy in their ever closer union.

One of the essential weaknesses of Western so-called ‘democracies’, run by accountants, is short-termism. No political party actually thinks of national well-being, only of its own well-being – and survival through the next elections – so each party simply makes promises that it can never keep. As they say, ‘if it is too good to be true, it is’. No political party wants to do something openly and immediately unpopular – such as cutting State spending and employment by the huge amounts necessary if Western Europe (+ the USA + Japan) is to avoid a bankrupt future. So instead there is slow but inevitable decline.

Does this mean that austerity, in a far harsher form than even at present, is necessary? Does this mean that we approve of Thatcherite economics, that is, of economic egoism which panders to the basest and greediest instincts of humanity, to the idolatry of Mammon? Does this mean that we approve of an ideology which denies that society exists and has turned tens of millions into economic refugees, creating mass emigration and mass immigration, uprooting communities and destroying family life across Europe, East especially, but also West?

No. In reality, there are huge amounts of money in the world; it is just that so much of it is in the hands of very few. If austerity is shared by all, then that austerity can be bearable. What is unbearable is when the poorer half of society has to bear everything. Some kind of austerity is inevitable, but that does not mean, as in Spain and Greece and Italy, as in Latvia and Estonia and Hungary, that people literally have to starve and the young have to emigrate to Canada and Australia, if they can. Austerity has to be, but it also has to be fair.

Forty years ago, amidst the consumerist frenzies of 1970s materialism, the Russian writer Solzhenitsyn pleaded with the selfish Western world for ‘self-limitation’. What he meant by this was the necessity for it to distinguish between selfish wants and actual needs. Most Western ‘wants’, artificially created by manipulative advertising and publicity, are not what we need. Most of Western Europe, merely copying its US idol before it, has been living in a fantasy world of debt for over forty years. With the ‘revelation’ (at least, to some) that banks had been lending money which they did not have for much of that time, reality is now dawning. And that reality is past selfishness, because it never thought of how children and grandchildren would cope with the accumulated debt.

However, this ‘Third Way’ of self-limitation is not a political problem; it is a spiritual problem. And here is the rub. Self-limitation means repentance for greed and selfishness, acceptance of needs and rejection of wants. And that means a shift in values and a shift in ideology and a shift in the whole pseudo-democratic Capitalist Western system, a fools’ paradise. And this is not going to happen because the Western world agrees to it. But it is going to happen – because the Western world is rapidly coming to the point when it will have no say in the matter. A bankrupt has to live within his means, whether he wants to or not.