We now need a multilingual website for Orthodox Europeans of all races, who have been praying, hoping and working for the establishment of a Russian Orthodox-led, Autonomous Metropolia of Western Europe. Through it, we can look for the long-awaited rebirth of the Local Church of Western Europe after a lapse of 1,000 years, a Church which wholly faithful to the Christian Orthodox Tradition of the Saints and Fathers of the Church. Among them we regard as our particular patrons the holy apostles Peter and Paul, martyred in Rome, and St Martin, born in what is now Hungary, who lived in Italy and became a great monastic founder and Bishop of Tours in western France.
From almost contemporary saints we regard as our patrons the last Christian Emperor, the martyred Tsar Nicholas II. He was half-Danish, spoke four Western languages fluently and had a European vision, founding seventeen churches in Western Europe. And his martyred Tsarina was born in an independent, pre-Prussian Hesse, the grand-daughter of Queen Victoria, thus with English cultural and Germanic racial origins. Our second patron saint is the former Archbishop of Paris and Western Europe, St John the Wonderworker, the hierarch of Shanghai and in fact first global saint, who revived the veneration of the Western saints, in whose footsteps we Orthodox Christians in Western Europe follow.
This Metropolia, composed initially of one metropolitan and perhaps twelve bishops (at present there are nine Russian Orthodox bishops in these territories), would cover the following seven Western European territories and dioceses, in order of size of population, which totals 400 million:
Germany, Austria, northern and eastern Switzerland and Liechtenstein (91 million and 3 dioceses: Berlin and Eastern Germany; Munich and Western Germany; Vienna, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein).
France, southern Belgium, western Switzerland and Monaco (71 million and 2 dioceses: Paris and the Northern French Lands; Nice and the Southern French Lands).
The British Isles and Ireland (70 million and 2 dioceses: London, England and Wales; Dublin, Ireland and Scotland).
Italy, San Marino and southern Switzerland (60.5 million and 2 dioceses: Rome and Southern Italy; Milan, Northern Italy, San Marino and Ticino).
Spain (with Catalonia and the Basque Country), Portugal, Andorra and Gibraltar 56.5 million and 2 dioceses: Madrid, Spain, Catalonia and the Basque Country; Lisbon and all Portugal).
Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland (26.5 million and I diocese: Stockholm and all Scandinavia).
The Netherlands, northern Belgium and Luxembourg (24 million and I diocese: Amsterdam, the Dutch Lands and Luxembourg).
Some will ask why we have not included Hungary in the above list of territories. This is because we believe that Hungary, with its longstanding Orthodox minorities, Carpatho-Russians, Serbs and others, unlike Western European countries for the foreseeable future, will one day have its own Local Church, like the other countries that neighbour the Russian Lands, Poland and the Czech Lands and Slovakia.
Unity in Diversity
Some will quite naturally ask why such a Metropolia should be led by Russian Orthodox. The answer has nothing to do with primitive nationalism or ecclesiastical imperialism (phyletism) – we leave that to others. It is simply because the other Local Churches have only narrow, mononational interests and are not interested in founding such a Church, whereas His Holiness Patriarch Alexey II of Moscow clearly stated in April 2003 that the Russian Orthodox Church, with its extensive multinational and missionary experience with dozens of nationalities, is more interested in this and some of us even see it as our historic, pastoral duty.
Such a Metropolia has been made possible because the Russian Orthodox Church is now politically free, which it was not, even two decades ago. Present in many Western European countries for some three centuries and with a new central Cathedral and seminary in Paris, only the Russian Orthodox Church can provide the necessary infrastructure for such an international Church, with our own monasteries, seminary, church buildings, facilities, translations and multinational Church music. All this enables us to be taken seriously and not to be seen as some irrelevant and tiny minority, without even its own proper church buildings.
Clearly, this does not mean that such a Metropolia would be centralized and that local customs observed, say, by the Churches of Romania, Serbia or Greece or in particular European countries with their local saints, would not be allowed. We follow the model of the Holy Trinity, of unity in diversity. There could be dioceses or deaneries of the smaller Local Churches present within such a Metropolia, should they wish to join in this united structure. Provincial parishes could even be temporarily allowed by pastoral condescension the use of the Roman Catholic calendar for the fixed feasts, if they were not yet spiritually strong enough to return to the Orthodox calendar.
Some will ask why we are not hoping and working for the foundation of a series of Local Churches in Western Europe, for example, a French Orthodox Church, a German Orthodox Church, an Italian Orthodox Church, or a Church of the Isles, covering the British Isles and Ireland. Again the answer is simple. We are not interested in building small, nationalistic, hopelessly provincial, insular, inward-looking Orthodox Churches (such signs of nationalistic decadence already exist among a few on the Church fringes in England, France, Finland and elsewhere).
Rather we wish to see the restoration of the historic, multinational Western Patriarchate of the Tradition. An Autonomous Metropolia of 500 or more parishes is not large, but it is big enough to be viable as the basis for a future Local Church. On the other hand, small dioceses of 25-100 parishes are not viable alone and soon fall into provincialism, narrow jurisdictionalism and personality cults, as we have sadly already seen in the past, notably in England and France. We take the broad view of restoration and regeneration of the totality of Orthodox Western Europe. In the longer term, hundreds of years ahead, there could of course be developments in the direction of seven smaller Regional Churches, but to speak of this now is utterly unrealistic, far too premature.
We do not see any future Local Church being built on divisive compromises, for example using the so-called ‘new’ (= Roman Catholic) calendar instead of the Orthodox calendar, patronizingly called ‘old’ by modernists. A new Local Church can be built only on the fullness of Tradition, which has always been kept by genuine monasteries with traditional liturgical and ascetic life and spread through traditional parishes by faithful clergy and laity. Any attempt to build a Church on modernism (such signs of decadence have already been seen in England, France and Finland) will always fail. We build on rock, not on sand.
Two Injustices To Be Righted
We need to launch such a website at this time not only because the new Russian Orthodox Cathedral is about to open in Paris. This year also marks the anniversaries of two enormous historic injustices, which can only be spiritually reversed through the establishment of such a Metropolia. The first anniversary, a local one, also falls in October 2016, ironically coinciding with this year of Brexit, is the 950th anniversary of the genocidal invasion of England by Norman papal shock troops from the Continent, thus founding the treacherous British Establishment. This invasion forced Christians in England into the same schism as most others in Western Europe, already entirely cut off from communion with the Orthodox Church.
The second injustice is the 100th anniversary of the murder by British Establishment (= Norman) spies in December 1916 in Russia, which led directly to the Western-organized and financed coup d’etat of February 1917, commonly called the ‘Russian Revolution’, with universal implications. It was this coup that prevented the realization of the hopes of the pious Metr Pitirim (Oknov) of Saint Petersburg that all Western European capitals would become the sees of Russian Orthodox bishops and that all the Church’s service books would be translated into the various languages of Western Europe. Had the events of winter 1916-17 not taken place, the idea of a Russian Orthodox-led Metropolia of Western Europe might well have been advanced in, say, 1928, seventy-five years before 2003: through the insanity of 1917 we have lost three generations.
Such a website needs to be launched at a time when Western Europe faces two serious threats to its very survival. The first is internal, militant Secularism, and the second is external, militant Islamism. The first has its origins in the last phase of the millennial apostasy of the Western world from the Church of God and has led to the creation of an enslaving atheist Union, destructive of the local identities and sovereignties of all the European peoples, amid a spiritual vacuum. The second has been caused by the fanatical and terrorist reaction to this oppressive apostasy and vacuum by violent Arab Muslim nationalism and the refusal of secularist Western European countries to insist on the baptism of Muslim immigrants before their admission to them.
The origins of our hope for an Orthodox Metropolia of Western Europe lie exactly thirty years ago in our 1986 French document, Une Eglise Orthodoxe pour l’Europe Occidentale – Vision ou Reve? (An Orthodox Church for Western Europe – Vision or Dream?). This was immediately dismissed out of hand by the German Archbishop who had asked for it. As the Book of Proverbs (29, 18) says: ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish’. In Western Europe the straitjacket of political unity has failed, as also divisive xenophobic nationalism failed before it. The past and future Sovereign Nations of Western Europe now need spiritual unity. In an Orthodox Metropolia, and then a reborn Local Church, lie the hope for the restoration and regeneration of Western Europe from its present low point. As St Alexander Nevsky, who resisted both the tyrannical Eastern and the secularist Western yokes in the 13th century, said: ‘God is not in power, but in truth’.