Tag Archives: New Local Churches

On the Foundation of New Local Churches

Local Churches

There has been much talk since the 1960s about founding new Local Orthodox Churches, especially in North America and Western Europe. This was the result of the forced dissolution of the Russian Empire, with the foundation of new Local Churches in Poland and the Czech Lands and Slovakia, the autonomy given to the Churches of China and Japan and the needs of the Russian-speaking emigration. This was especially visible in North America, where the Communist-era ‘Moscow Patriarchate’ gave a much disputed autocephaly to an originally Uniat Carpatho-Russian group, called the OCA (Orthodox Church in America).

There have also been the Balkan foundations of the Church of Albania for Albanian Greeks, the much disputed foundation of the Church of Bulgaria which upset Greek nationalism, and the foundation of the Church of Romania, all under the influence of nineteenth-century Western nationalism. What today are the realistic prospects for the creation of new Local Churches by the Church of Russia? (No other Local Church has even contemplated such a move and indeed the tiny Church of Constantinople has categorically ruled it out, on the contrary imperialistically wishing to force others into its nationalistic jurisdiction).

It must be said that most of this talk has been premature, speculative hot air. For example, the Church of Russia was founded 600 years after the first missionaries arrived there. Such processes take time. Thus, the first stage in the foundation of a new Local Church is the foundation of a Diocese in a specific, well-defined territory, which may with time become an Archdiocese and then a Metropolia. A Metropolia means that the territory has a number of bishops under a Metropolitan bishop. Only with time may a Metropolia receive canonical autonomy and only then autocephaly, so becoming a new Local Church.

North America and Western Europe

We would do well at this point to define what a specific territory for a Local Church is. Just as imperialism, Greek, Russian or other, is to be rejected, so too is tribal or language nationalism. The model for Church life is the Holy Trinity, unity in diversity. Thus, a specific territory does not at all have to correspond to national borders. For example, if there were to be a Local Church in North America, it should surely not be a US or a Canadian Church; its territory should include at least both nations, if not Mexico too. Similarly in Western Europe, separate French, German, Italian, Spanish etc Orthodox Churches are to be avoided.

The only exception in Western Europe might be that one day there could be two separate Local Churches, one for Continental Western Europe and one for the Isles (the British Isles and Ireland), with their different history. We stress ‘might be’. Even in the latter case, no grounded Orthodox has ever considered a ‘British Orthodox Church’ (Britain is a purely political concept), still less an ‘English Orthodox Church’. The fact is that all the countries of the British Isles and Ireland are interwoven in a long history. Thus, the conversion of the Isles to Christianity was an Anglo-Celtic operation, with Italians, Greeks and others guiding it.

Currently, the Russian Church is keen to set up a Metropolia in Western Europe, where it already has several bishops, a new cathedral and seminary in Paris, several new churches in France, Italy and Spain, and well over two hundred parishes scattered throughout Western European countries, from Iceland to Portugal and Hungary to Norway. Already, after complex negotiations, in 2003 the Russian Orthodox Church had offered the Rue Daru group, centred in Paris and, then as now, still under the Patriarchate of Constantinople, the opportunity to become a Metropolia as the basis for a future Local Church.

However, before its members could even discuss the offer (which most would probably have rejected) and raise the matter with its masters in Constantinople, its last Russian Archbishop, Sergiy, died and the project died with him. In retrospect, Moscow knows that the offer was unrealistic, since the group had rejected the disciplines of the Russian Orthodox Tradition three generations before. Since then, in 2006, it received into itself dissident groups, once under Moscow, which also rejected the disciplines of the Russian Tradition (its traditional theology, spirituality, liturgical practices, the Orthodox calendar, vestments etc).

The Monastic Foundation

Let us now look at the basic building block of any future Metropolia (let alone Local Church), the Diocese. A Diocese ready to become an Archdiocese should have at least fifty parishes, each with hundreds of parishioners with their own buildings (not tiny groups of recent converts in hothouse front rooms and back gardens), and a viable monastic life, with at least one real monastery and one real convent (‘real’ meaning not with a few, but with numbers of trained monks and nuns). Let us recall the old Russian saying: ‘The Orthodox family is the primary school, the parish is the secondary school and the monastery is the university’.

Monastic life is also vital in order to produce candidates for the episcopate. For example, the tiny and unstable Rue Daru group based in Paris has had eight bishops in its ninety years of existence. The first two were monks, who were waiting to return to the Russian Church as soon as She was free (indeed the first one did, but was not followed by the liberals who were in control). Of the six who succeeded them, two were widowed Russian priests, one was a celibate academic, one was a former Catholic monk and the last two had to be imported from outside because there were no more candidates for the episcopate from inside.

In other words, if you do not have monastic life, you will eventually end up without bishops. The same has happened in ACROD, a small ex-Uniat Carpatho-Russian group in North America, which has recently had to import a Greek bishop. Church history clearly tells us that new Metropolias or new Local Churches always start with monasticism, whether it is St Nina in Georgia, Sts Cyril and Methodius in the Slav Lands, St Sava in Serbia, St Herman in Alaska or St Nicholas in Japan. In other words, they do not start with liberals, intellectuals and philosophers, but with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, men and women of faith.

100 Years On: The End of Anglican Orthodoxy and Reality

Within a few years of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the ensuing enslavement of the Russian Church inside Russia centred in Moscow, some 2,000 Russian émigrés had settled in England, mainly in London. They split into two Church groups, both independent of enslaved Moscow, a larger group of various origins, and a much smaller group, mainly of liberal aristocrats and intellectuals, mainly Anglophiles and mainly from Saint Petersburg. The first group formed a parish in London under the initially Moscow-established Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), which had four Metropolias, in China, Western Europe, Eastern Europe and the Americas, catering for all emigres. The second group also formed a parish in London, but under the small Parisian Rue Daru breakaway jurisdiction, outside the Russian Church, under the then largely Anglican-run and financed (now US-run and financed) Patriarchate of Constantinople.

After the Second World War the first group, under ROCOR, formed more parishes for several thousand refugees with Polish nationality, mainly Ukrainians and Belarussians but also some Russians, who all awaited freedom in the Russian Church inside Russia. (This was to come in 2007, only after most of them had died, bringing reconciliation between the Church inside Russia and the Church Outside Russia). On the other hand, after the Second World War the second group returned formally to the still unfree Russian Orthodox Church inside Russia, but on a special basis under the unique Parisian personality of the then Fr Antony Bloom, and developed into an independent group of several small communities. After he died in 2003, this group split in 2006, the majority remaining under Moscow and as a result, by 2007, the majority in the second group and the first group had entered into the unity of canonical communion with one another.

However, some 300 people, often of Anglican background and in small scattered communities, returned to the breakaway Paris Rue Daru group in 2006. Why did they avoid the reconciliation of the vast majority? It was because their leading ideology was that of an English-language Orthodoxy, which was in fact a Russophobic Anglican Orthodoxy. This has largely been invented by an Oxford Anglicanophile academic called Nicholas Zernov. Indeed, it could be called ‘Zernovism’, though in truth many individuals were involved in its formulation. This consisted of a sociological dream, that of reconciling a certain ‘embourgeoisé’ Russian Orthodoxy, liberal, intellectual, aristocratic and conformist, with an upper middle-class Anglo-Catholicism. This was a phyletist (racist) ideology that put a bourgeois and effete Russian Orthodoxy and the Anglican ‘public school and cricket’ Establishment, first – above Christ and His Truth. For when all is compromise, there is no place for Truth….

Those who had never been Anglican felt totally out of place in this group, indeed rejected by such a narrow and forced sociological concept of the Church. Today, their dream (a nightmare for others) is over. It has been made irrelevant by reality – for we do not live in the past. It is not at all that English-language Orthodoxy in itself is irrelevant, in fact just the opposite, today it is all the more important. For in today’s England there are not 2,000 or even 5,000 Russian Orthodox, but 300,000 Russian Orthodox. These come mainly from the Baltics, Moldova and the Ukraine, not to mention 220,000 Romanians and 80,000 Bulgarians, totalling 600,000 Orthodox from these three areas of the Orthodox world. This recent immigration, together with their English-born children, dwarfs all previous Orthodox emigrations, including the mainly 1950s-1960s 200,000-strong Greek-Cypriot immigration, which is now largely dying out after almost complete assimilation.

With 600,000 new Orthodox and their children, mainly in England, there is a huge mission-field for English-language Orthodoxy. However, most of these immigrants work on building sites, in car washes, in hotels and catering, or in farming and horticulture and food-processing factories. They certainly have no interest in an effete and intellectual-dream philosophy of Orthodoxy, but rather in a hands-on, down-to-earth Orthodoxy, which alone meets their simple and practical needs. They need an English-language Orthodoxy to meet the needs of their children, who are being brought up on council estates and in rented flats in the East End of London and the crowded suburbs of modest working towns up and down today’s England. We clergy will be judged on how well we meet their needs, keeping faith with Orthodoxy, but at the same time speaking in the language that their children and increasingly the immigrants themselves, communicate and socialize in. History moves on.

More on the Present Pastoral Crisis

Introduction

Apparently, according to one reader, a naïve convert recently accused me of romanticism!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. This much amused me. Of all my many faults, that is not one, as you can tell from the number of exclamation marks. I think one of my main faults is rather being the opposite of romantic, a wet blanket, pouring cold war on such fantasies as an imminent English Orthodox Church (a perennial favourite of the ex-vicar in question over the last 20 years). Let us be constructive and look at three traits required in dealing with the real pastoral crisis in this country, which must be resolved before we can even start dreaming about building a new Local Church here, which can only be built on the firm rock of faith – and not on the shifting sands of fantasy.

1. Patience with Outrageous and Monstrous Injustices

No Local Church can exist without bishops. But they must be the right bishops. Over the last forty odd years I have met scores of bishops. Among them I have met a pedophile (an Anglican convert), several homosexuals, one of whom used to ordain his boyfriends with disastrous consequences, two womanizers, two narcissists with strong personality cults, many corrupt and simoniac bureaucrats and empire-builders, but above all several righteous men and at least two saints. These latter do not pose any problems, as they work towards the formation of authentic Local Churches, However, the former do pose problems. So how do we deal with them?

First of all, you only leave a bishop if he publicly preaches heresy or asks you to do something immoral, to give concrete examples, if he asks to sleep with your wife in exchange for ordination or asks you to become a freemason. What of opinions? Now, among the saintly bishops that I have met there was one who believed in Atlantis. This was a private opinion and in no way contradicted the teachings of the Church. Similarly, some people, usually over-strict converts, get all het up when their bishops expresses a liberal opinion about Non-Orthodox. Again, this is a private opinion and no more. You do not leave a bishop for that. With all bishops, apart from those who publicly preach heresy or ask you to do what is immoral, we are called on to be patient and pray for them. Any other attitude and impatience smacks of pride.

2. Inclusive Churches

Any Church life must be inclusive of all Orthodox. No Local Church can be built on exclusivity – which, sadly, has been the pattern here for generations. The Church is not built on exclusive clubs, cliques and sects. This is a particular problem in England, where middle-class clubbiness and cliqueiness are very strong. This is why there are already two exclusive groups of Orthodox, which resemble ex-Anglican clubs (though, inward-looking and so unconscious, they would claim otherwise). Similarly, there are three small groups which seem to be clubs for intellectuals, which automatically repel ordinary Orthodox and their children. The discussion of doctorates and cultish esoteric interests do not attract ordinary Orthodox, who naturally feel excluded, as indeed they are. There is definitely a lack of a missionary outlook among such groups.

Other exclusive groups that repel rather than attract are sectarian groups. Fortunately, these are usually by definition tiny, based either around personality cults or else around new or old calendarism. Tiny old calendarist sects are strange since the members seem to be at each others’ throats. One can clearly see that the problem here is psychological (when not psychopathological), as most old calendarist groups are composed of ex-Protestants (Anglicans again). Similarly, there is little attraction to new calendarist sects, which are often highly intellectual, as with many churches in Finland and Paris. Someone also once said that old calendarist/traditionalist sects are replete with repressed homosexuals, whereas new calendarist/modernist (false style) sects are replete with practising homosexuals. Sadly, 43 years of seeing the world tells me that there is truth in this.

3. Wood not Gold

The enormous pastoral crisis in this country is characterized by the immigration of large numbers of often unChurched Eastern European refugees fleeing the economic ruination of their homelands by the EU, for whom there are neither enough priests who understand them, nor churches nor church choirs. If this had happened last year, we could make excuses. However, it has been happening for the last fifteen years and hardly anything has been done about the situation. Indeed, the clergy of fifteen years ago have aged and have less energy now than then. In general, the average age of the clergy is very advanced. Huge efforts now have to be made to make up for the errors of the last fifteen years. Extremely common attitudes such as, ‘We will not busy ourselves with X or Y, because they are a different nationality to us’, are simply unacceptable. A Local Church is for all local Orthodox.

The need for a far greater number of churches is obvious. Due to the refusal and lack of vision of several hierarchs of the time to provide adequate infrastructure in the last quarter of the 20th century, when it was both cheap and available, we are now in crisis. We at the grassroots are having to appeal for funds, scraping together money to buy premises to set up chapels and churches in buildings that are not ideal. The greatest scandal here is when money is available and it is spent on unnecessary luxuries. We have no time for ignoble gold, we need noble wood. After all, that was what the cross, on which the victory over death took place, was made of.

On the Failure of Anglican Converts to Produce an Orthodox Culture

Introduction

It is now fifty years since Anglicans began to convert to the Orthodox Church in this country. In that time most have failed to incarnate themselves into Orthodox culture and then transmit that culture to succeeding generations, children and grandchildren, instead forming only small, short-term, ex-Anglican ghettos. Now hybrid Anglican Orthodoxy is dying out and disappearing. What went wrong? We believe that we can see four reasons for this failure, two of which are sociological, two of which are theological. What are they?

a) Sociological Reasons

1. Numbers

First of all, it must be said that only a relatively small number of Anglicans have entered the Orthodox Church in the last fifty years. I remember that at the Effingham Conference in 1975 I was told by one in authority at Ennismore Gardens (the jurisdiction of the late Metr Antony Bloom, who formed a self-justifying ‘mini-diocese’ out of ex-Anglicans) that 1,000 English people had been received by that date, the vast majority from an educated Anglican background. Since then, in the 1980s, a number of Anglicans were received by a dissident archbishop into the local diocese of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and, in the 1990s, some 300 were received into the Western European diocese of the Patriarchate of Antioch. But even so, it is unlikely that numbers of converts ever reached even 3,000, probably fewer at any one time. And this figure does not take into account numbers lapsing through being received prematurely, back into Anglicanism, into nothing, or else into Greek sects, or else dying of old age.

There have been several reasons for these small numbers. First, there has been the problem of language – most Orthodox use their native languages (i.e. not English) in Church services. This tends to create immigrant ghettos and does not reach down into English society, attracting only the well-educated and well-travelled. For example, some Greek parish priests, and in fairness representatives of all jurisdictions have done this, have shown hostility and sometimes downright rudeness to English people interested in the Orthodox Faith. Unedifying anecdotes abound. There is also the fact that after over some 900 years of being cast out of this country, the Orthodox Church has had to start here again from scratch as a poor immigrant Church, without funding, without church buildings, without infrastructure. This lack of infrastructure has discouraged many Anglicans because of the mentality described below

2. The Establishment Mentality

Anglicans generally suffer from an Establishment mentality. As an inherent and wealthy part of the Establishment, they usually expect everything to be done for them by their State authorities. As a State Church, they often suffer from the syndrome that expects everything to be provided. The problem of Anglican and Anglo-Catholic clericalism (‘the clergy will do it’) only makes the problem worse. This is utterly different from the Orthodox Church, where the impoverished faithful (priests and laity) have to do everything for themselves and can expect no financial or practical support from their impoverished bishops. This Anglican Establishment mentality, often public school and very patronising to ‘poor Eastern European peasants’, also leads to a class-based exclusiveness. This is basically racist and hypocritically but deliberately snubs those who do not belong to it, not only Non-English people, but also English people but who are not of Anglican and Establishment background.

b) Theological Reasons

1. A Weak Dogmatic Consciousness

One of the main characteristics of Protestantism (and clearly this includes Anglicanism despite its outward pretence of catholicity, as invented in the 19th century) is its weak dogmatic consciousness – in other words, its lack of faith and so lack of spiritual depth. Thus, it has a concept of God, but only the dimmest concept of the Holy Trinity and is not even aware that it confesses the papal filioque (as well as the papal calendar). Thus, it has a concept of ‘Jesus’ (the human nature of Christ), but not of the Son of God, not of the God-man, and therefore not of the Incarnation. In addition it utterly confuses the Holy Spirit with psychic self-exaltation (a confusion that underpins the ‘charismatic’ movement). Indeed, it is difficult to know if modern Protestantism, dependent on Western States and secular cultures, without the dogmas contained in the sign of the cross, believes in anything.

Thus, it is said that 40% of Anglican clergy do not believe in God, let alone in the Holy Trinity, the Divinity of Christ, the Holy Spirit, Providence, the Resurrection, the Ever-Virgin Mother of God, the Saints, the Sacraments and prayer-deepening fasting. Certainly, especially at Easter time, we are accustomed to State-appointed Anglican bishops, let alone the laity, regularly saying that they do not believe in the Resurrection. Thus, for many Anglicans and sadly, ex-Anglicans, the Orthodox Faith appears only to be an intellectual hobby, a piece of snobbish exotica for outward mimicking and ritualism, an upper middle-class debating issue, at best a personal and private theory, at worst pure fantasy. And this problem of a lack of commitment has only been reinforced by another difficulty.

2. Personality Cults

Sadly, the Orthodox Diaspora has been dominated and divided by a series of mainly Russian personality cults. Alpha egos, all claiming some unique revelation or access to Divinity, shrouded in absurd foreign jargon, have split relatively small groups of immigrants and even smaller groups of converts. Each personality, preaching some pseudo-intellectual, pseudo-mystical and pseudo-esoteric cult and claiming holiness, has attracted the inexperienced and, frankly, the ignorant. With most of the real Orthodox world inaccessible because of Communist persecution and most of the Church paralysed because of Communist captivity, and so no checks and balances, such personalities were able to dominate small groups of naïve and inexperienced converts and even hoodwink them, almost hypnotically. This was especially the case in insular Britain, geographically cut off from a sense of catholicity, the wider Orthodox Church world and an overview of the civilizational and cultural reality of the Orthosphere.

Conclusion

Although the above description of the past is pessimistic, we are optimistic about the future. In recent decades atheist regimes collapsed and Churches were freed from their feudal shackles; the old personality cultists with their absurd claims are dead and their books gather dust; masses of immigrants from Orthodox Europe have renewed Church life and the Faith; finally, today’s converts are coming from the vast mass of English people who are not Anglican. They have no cultural prejudices, no baggage, and are therefore receptive to and can commit to genuine Orthodox culture, without simply mimicking it, just as Anglo-Catholics have always mimicked Catholicism. Today, with the services translated and more churches, the Orthodox Church can reach further into English society, far beyond the spiritually superficial and elitist Anglican Establishment, than ever before. In this way, and in this way alone, can an authentic local Orthodox culture be produced in this country, by becoming incarnate in the roots of the land. Reality is taking over from fantasy.

Towards New Local Churches in the Diaspora

Introduction: God’s Will

There will never be any new Local Churches in the Diaspora, if it is not God’s will. What is manmade, therefore in some way essentially denying God and replacing Him with a human institution, crumbles and becomes a Church in name only, calling itself after some human-being or nationality, for example: Papism, Lutheranism, Calvinism, Anglicanism, Wesleyanism etc. Man proposes, but God disposes. Therefore the questions that must be answered are what we can avoid from the past and how we can prepare for God’s will to be done amongst us in the future?

Anti-Missionary Principles

The development of new Local Churches in the Diaspora has been prevented in the past by nationalism and its squabbles – by anti-missionary principles. This can be seen particularly clearly in North America, where, until soon after the Russian Revolution, all Orthodox were in one Church. This Church was the Russian Church which contained autonomous ethnic dioceses and deaneries under a Russian-appointed Bishop. Why under the Russian Church? Because it was the first present there, the biggest, had the best infrastructure and the most multinational mentality. However, it is true that since 1917 this has by no means always been the case. Today’s Russian Church, suffering in both its parts from the consequences of the Western-planned and provoked 1917 Revolution, still, even 25 years after the collapse of the direct results of that Revolution, often has infrastructure and a multinational mentality which are severely compromised.

Deviations from the Past

There have been other anti-missionary principles at work in the past of the Diaspora. Firstly, there has been the problem of simony. Certain bishops of certain nationalities have been willing to ordain unworthy candidates for money – in 1991, for example, $20,000 was the going rate in one ancient Patriarchate to become a bishop. Secondly, there has been the problem of ego trips – front room Orthodoxy, garden folly Orthodox, the one man show, the big fish in the little pond – the individual who gets himself ordained by one means or another not in order to serve other Orthodox, but to serve himself. Thirdly, there has been the problem of convert ghetto Orthodoxy, in this country ex-Anglican ghettos, ‘Anglican vicar beard competition Orthodoxy’, often with as few as 5-10 individuals with a private club mentality or in inaccessible premises. None of these deviations from the past, examples of which are scattered throughout the Western world, have been of any help to genuine Orthodox missionary work and service to the Orthodox people.

Missionary Principles

Any new Local Church to be built in the Diaspora must be built on the fullness of the Tradition, on the maximum. Nothing can be built on compromises. New Local Churches are built on monastic life and holy life – examples are Sts Cyril and Methodius, St Herman of Alaska and St Nicholas of Tokyo. Any new Local Church in the Diaspora must therefore be built on the Orthodox (and not Papal/Protestant) calendar, on vigil services, in a word on the Tradition, and not on compromises. It must be clearly understood that there are not two traditions in the Orthodox Church – there is only the One Universal Orthodox Tradition. Anything else, with modernistic practices of doing away with confession before communion, the Orthodox calendar, the iconostasis, correct priestly dress, traditional liturgical language etc, is not at all part of the Tradition, of Orthodoxy, but merely part of decadence and compromise, of Halfodoxy.

Directions for the Future

To expand Church presence, we need to observe some basic Orthodox principles. Firstly, any new church must be based on the Gospel ‘where two or three are gathered together in My Name…’. In other words, there must be no ego trips and moreover at least one of these two or three must be able to sing prayerfully and form a choir – again in order to avoid ego-tripping. Premises used must be public access and located in a central city or town so that the church there can become a Regional or at least County Church centre. Premises must also be such that they can be converted for Orthodox use, so that an Orthodox atmosphere can be established in them. Little missions should not be set up from them for many, many years, otherwise this will merely disperses efforts and energies. One should be able to process around these premises, which should have facilities, toilets, and ideally a children’s room with baby changing, parking, a hall and a kitchen. These premises (owned or, if need be initially, rented) must be one’s own – they must not be shared with, for example, an Anglican church.

Conclusion: What is a Local Church?

An ethnic church is one that aims to gather together only one nationality and in a racist way has no time for those of other nationalities – a situation that is clearly against the spirit of the Gospels. An ideological church is one that aims to gather together only in the name of a narrow ideology, often personality cultish or sectarian, and not in the name of Christ – a situation that is clearly against the spirit of the Gospels. An authentic Local Church, however, is one that is made up of many local churches that gather together all local Orthodox, regardless of nationality and background, on the basis of the uncompromised Tradition, on the basis of Orthodoxy, not on the basis of Halfodoxy.

The Roman Catholic Crisis and the Orthodox Future

On July 18th, 1870, the (First Vatican) Council met for the last time. As the first of the Fathers stepped forward to declare his vote (on papal infallibility), a storm of lightning and thunder suddenly burst over St Peter’s. All through the morning the voting continued, and every vote was accompanied by a flash and a roar from heaven.

Lytton Strachey, on ‘Cardinal Manning’ in his ‘Eminent Victorians’

The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI last week shocked many, not least Roman Catholics. Conspiracy theories are rife, all the more so since on the evening of his resignation a violent thunderstorm erupted over Rome and, dramatically, lightning struck St Peter’s Basilica. Some of these theories assert that the Pope of Rome is dying of cancer and has not long to live, others that he resigned in order to escape a deepening of the pedophile scandal, or else a financial scandal. Others believe that the next Pope will be the last Pope and will call a Third Vatican Council, which will be the end of millennial Roman Catholicism.

According to these crisis theories, this last Pope will either be a saintly man or else a profoundly evil one, and that either the Vatican will come under persecution and disappear, or else that a new Church will replace it. In the latter case, for us, this can only mean a Western European Metropolia under the Russian Orthodox Church, the only multinational Local Church, and the only Local Church large enough to establish such a Metropolia. One wonders if this Friday’s meteor that appeared over Russia and then exploded just south of Ekaterinburg, the place of martyrdom of the Royal Martyrs in 1918, is not linked with this.

Against this background do we not see the genocide of Orthodox Syria, organised and financed by the anti-Christian Western Powers and their Islamist allies? It is written: ‘Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom…land fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven…’ (Lk 21, 10-11). However, let us remain sober. What practically are the prospects for such a Metropolia to come into being? The Orthodox Diaspora seems to be divided into narrow ethnic ghettos, generally unable to see beyond temporary nationalistic or political interests. Such ghettos have only one destiny – to die out. They are history.

A great move forward occurred six years ago, when the two parts of the Russian Orthodox Church were reunited, after it had been proved that the Church inside Russia was free of State interference. Now together and growing with 824 parishes and monasteries in countries of the Diaspora, Russian Orthodox churches outside Russian Orthodox canonical territory are clearly a vital part of Orthodox life in the Diaspora. It is obvious then that no Metropolia can be built on political division, or on groups used for Cold War purposes and financed by Non-Orthodox Powers, who are at present orchestrating the destruction of Orthodox Syria.

The regular meetings of all local Orthodox Bishops in different countries or groups of countries (North America, Latin America, France, Great Britain and Ireland etc) only became possible after this reuniting of both parts of the Russian Orthodox Church in 2007. Until then the Russian Church of the Diaspora was excluded for political reasons and so any meetings were unrepresentative, political manipulations. The next step is an inter-Orthodox step to unite the Diaspora in regional Metropolias. Such regional Metropolias, in Western Europe, in the Americas and in Australasia, cannot be built on the lowest common denominator.

The fact is that Metropolias, the essential basis for new future Local Churches, will be built on the maximum of Orthodox practice, not on some artificially contrived minimum and compromise. The concept that a Church can be built on the lowest common denominator of different Orthodox dioceses (so-called ‘jurisdictions’) is surreal. It must be built on the maximum and only then can economy be applied. Any other ‘solution’ would be a grave mistake. Indeed, it was tried experimentally in the USA during the Cold War and has been a moral and financial fiasco. This is an experiment not to be repeated.

For example, all Local Churches believe that there are no sacraments outside the Orthodox Church; however, all regularly apply economy in their reception of heterodox. All Local Churches agree that there is only one Church calendar. However, all apply economy, that is allow temporarily for pastoral reasons, the use of the secular calendar for the fixed feasts, to those communities which are not spiritually strong enough to live the Orthodox calendar. Similarly, all Local Churches clearly need traditional monastic life, as with the Greek Archdiocese in the USA, which has been saved by the monasteries of Fr Ephraim.

Of course, all can also agree that some extreme practices are simply unacceptable, even out of economy. We can think of intercommunion, the abolition of fasting and confession, cremation, or other strange practices of small marginal convert groups, who have never integrated the Orthodox Faith. These of course we exclude. The time is coming when new Orthodox Metropolias, composed voluntarily, will be born. Orthodox need them so as to be stronger together. But also the failing heterodox world, which is clearly in crisis, needs a canonical Church with a married priesthood and sacraments. It has only one choice.